What I learned in March

 

Happy Thursday!

It’s almost the end of March and look, we’re already one month into autumn.

Before I tell you about what I learned this month, here are some fun links you may have missed:

If you’re doing a 52 photo project, you should be on week 12 or 13, depending on which day you started. Here are some tips.

For the stationery lovers out there

For those who hate filing (I’m with you!)

Do you believe in life balance?

Fresh takes on relationships and connection

Here’s what I learned this month:

Having mental and emotional stress weighs you down physiologically

I had a meeting this month and seeing this person this time vs last time was amazing. He’d made a decision in his business to ease some considerable mental stress and you could visibly see how lighter he felt 🙂

It was quite eye-opening and a good reminder that we may not say things but our bodies are shouting them loud and clear.

A podcast is all about the sound… and voice

I actually told a friend about a new (at the time) podcast, listened to a few episodes myself and decided I didn’t enjoy it.

I decided to try again after about 4 – 5 months so I downloaded 4 episodes based on their description but no, I could not even finish listening to one 30-minute episode.

“I can’t stand all the laughing” – something I never thought I’d say but it’s true.

I can read the blog, but the podcast drives me nuts… in a bad way 🙂

My imagination is worse than reality

I had my dental procedure scheduled for the first week of March.

I don’t like the dentist at the best of times so I was really very anxious.

And…. it was a million times better than I expected.

The only real pain was on the days I did lots of talking, like weekends with the kids 🙂

It’s so much fun shopping for others

I’m participating again in my friend’s library project so I briefed the kids, and off we went to the bookshop to choose 4 books to help build a library.

My gosh, it was so fun choosing books – much negotiation happened but finally we chose 4 Enid Blyton books in a series as we felt that would stand the test of time 🙂

If you believe in the value of reading and would like to participate in some way, please click over, read and order a book or more for the project. If you’re not local, Readers Warehouse, Takealot and many other online retailers offer shipping directly to the Cape Town address.

And that’s all for now.

What did you learn this month?

My word of the year quarterly review

My word for 2017 is give. You can read all about why I chose it here.

Here are a few questions I asked myself to see how my word’s been working for me:

what have I learned?

Interestingly, but probably not a surprise to God (Gal 6:7), I’ve been receiving more than I’ve been giving

I’ve paid for some lunches for friends which has been really nice. I hadn’t set out to do it like this but there has been one every month.

It’s not only money – I’ve been spending out in time with people, consciously taking time out of a busy schedule to phone/ whatsapp/ leave voicemails/ go see friends to engage with and encourage them.

what’s working really well?

I gave to myself by being brave and making all my health appointments early this year – gynae, mammogram and dental procedures. The worst of the dental is past and the last bit will be fixed in June this year.

I’m also giving myself relaxation in the form of enough sleep and the freedom to read (a lot of) books.

And grace. I’m recognising when things are hectic and that I might need to go a little bit easier on myself. In years past, I would still be up at all ours trying to get everything done, but now – sleep is more important.

The 5 love languages

You may know that I teach workshops on the 5 love languages.

I’ve been consciously asking myself how I can give love in the particular person’s love language – for Dion and the kids, and for my friends.

I said to a friend a few weeks ago, “I would LOVE it if all my friends would just take the love languages quiz and the MBTI, so I could know how to be an amazing friend to them all”.

A cool thing is that a good number of my friends came to a workshop I held last year so I wrote down all their love languages and now, I can show them love in the way they prefer.

What do I want to do for the next quarter?

  1. I want to arrange a 7-day #givechallenge on Instagram for me and whoever else wants to join me.
  2. I want to get my Bible reading going again.
  3. I want to start the day off and ask, “who can I give to today?”

How about you? How’s your word of the year working for you?

What’s working/ not working/ what have you learned/ what do you want to change?

5 favourite posts about…. how I do my goals!

If you’re a longtime reader, you’ll know I’m fairly passionate about goals, but not only for nerdiness’ sake, but because I’ve seen and tested them in my own life for over 20 years.

Here are 5 of my favourite posts on goal-setting (and goal getting), basically how I do goals:

How I choose my goals for the month

My favourite night of the month, Goals Night

I started doing my goals like this, and it continued into this year

A mind-shift to change your thinking about goals

Weekly goals

Which is your favourite post?

Soul care vs self-care

If I speak to a group of 10 women, I can guarantee that the majority feels like they don’t have enough time for themselves.

We all have many roles in life. I’d guess that if you’re reading this post, you probably fulfill 5 to 7 of these roles: a wife, mother, homemaker, daughter, sister, friend, business owner, employee or employer.

What then happens is that you tend to the more urgent roles and your personal time is usually the last thing on the list.

As a result, you start feeling resentful but also you may soon burn out.

That’s the point when people usually contact me.

This is great because I love working with people who are ready to take action and make changes in their lives.

Do you just accept this as your lot in life while you have young kids in the house or what do you do?

  1. Decide that you are also important

I never ever believe that we need to sacrifice the parts of us that make us feel most alive.

This is a mindshift change from mothers being the martyrs so take your time and work on this mental adjustment.

We can only input into others when we are replenished. I read a great parenting book, Parenting without Power Struggles, and in the book, she says we have to be calm before we can correct or parent our kids. I can tell you that a mother who has not had any time for herself is not going to be calm.

  1. Identify soul and self-care activities

Self-care activities are activities like a manicure, pedicure, hair appointment or massage.

Soul-care activities are those that feed your soul like sewing, mosaics, scrapbooking, painting and decorating. Still others are time, either by yourself to recharge (often the introverts) or with a couple of close girl friends to connect with yourself again (often for introverts).

Soul care is deeper and more nurturing than self-care, but both are good.

  1. Choose the minimum response that will make you feel like your needs are prioritised

In my work I talk about always knowing your minimum effective responses.

When my twins were newborns, life was crazy. I felt like I had no time to do anything for myself as I was running around washing bottles, making bottles, feeding, burping, bathing, changing, getting the baby to sleep, and then the other one would wake!

During those crazy times, I was happy if I could have just 5 minutes to sit, drink a hot cup of tea in peace and eat breakfast. Seriously, my expectations were just that low.

That was my minimum effective response.

Now, I expect to have hours every day to “do my thing” and I have that time because I’ve set things up that way.

But I started very, very small.

What is the minimum effective response for you to feel like you’re prioritising your needs?

Now that you have those questions sorted out, start creating the time for yourself.

Free digital audio and e-books with Overdrive

I get my books from 4 sources: library, buy on Kindle, buy on Audible and physical books from my shelf.

Recently though I discovered the Overdrive app.

I’d heard about this on the US blogs I follow and first thought it was an American thing.

Until I saw an Australian person comment on one such bookish post and so the wheels started turning.

I then investigated further and discovered that we also have Overdrive in South Africa.

Yay!

I’ve only been able to find one library in Johannesburg that my library card works at – the Gauteng Provincial Library Service – but one is enough…. at least for now 🙂

So far I’ve borrowed 2 audio books and about 6 ebooks in the last month.

Here are my notes:

  1. You have to be a member of the library (this is easy enough – pop into your local library, fill in a form and pay what they want – usually less than R50).
  2. Overdrive is a digital library so if you want to borrow “real books”, you go into the library as usual to get those, but this way, you can borrow audio and ebooks. I’ve seen that they also have videos but I have no interest in those 🙂
  3. You’re allowed to borrow 3 digital titles and put about 15 on hold. If you reserve a title (on the wait list) they will email you when it becomes available.
  4. You are allowed to keep the title for 14 days. It will automatically disappear from your account when this happens so allow enough time to read it. My first audio book was over 10 hours long and I thought I’d run out of time but I made it just in time 🙂
  5. I’ve only just discovered (in checking out a few things for this blog post) that you can return titles earlier than the 14 days. It worked for 2 of my 3 titles but somehow doesn’t want to let me return the 3rd one.
  6. For audiobooks, it is a little more cumbersome to use than audible but hey, it’s for free 🙂 You have to download a number of files (roughly 1 file per hour of listening time) but you can set it up to keep playing. And I delete files as I move through the book to save space on my 16 GB iphone.
  7. For ebooks, they can be read through the overdrive app on the ipad but I actually prefer reading in the ipad’s browser. You can access cool stats like how many times you’ve picked up the book, how long you’ve been reading, etc.

Are you intrigued, South Africans?

Please let me know if you use this service.

I see that there are libraries in each of the provinces so check it all out – you might save yourself some audible/ kindle costs 🙂

PS there aren’t tons of books (well, that I’m interested in reading) but I have placed holds on everything that does interest me so I can at least read all of those.

How to write a friendship manifesto

After working through my Shining Year workbook and having a bash at writing my Secrets of Adulthood, I thought I’d try my hand at writing a friendship manifesto.

There was a comment asking more about it – click through on the Instagram post above to read my response.

Meanwhile, this is how I start almost anything – with a mindmap.

I also use mindmaps for my monthly review, for my project life, for planning articles and blog posts, and definitely as a base to plan any talks.

I started with 4 questions:

  1. how do I want my friends to feel?
  2. what is my contribution?
  3. how do I want to feel?
  4. what are my boundaries?

I filled up this page very quickly, looked for common themes and then typed out my friendship manifesto. Here’s half of it 🙂

So why do this?

It helps clarify in your own mind what you stand for, what you’re looking for and what you offer.

Let me know what you might put on your own friendship manifesto.

What I want less of this year

A few weeks ago I wrote a post, what I want more of this year, and so this is the companion post to that one 🙂

I just mindmapped it and quickly came up with 8 things, but I’ll share 5 here today 😉

reading bad books

Part of my personality is that I’m a great completer of projects, persistent and I follow through. The shadow side to that means that I have a problem letting go.

I abandoned about 4 books last year which is AWESOME for me, since I just never could ever stop reading a bad book.

So while I’m not as bad as I was, I could get much better at this.

commuting time

I have a very flexible role at the moment which means I don’t need to be as office-based as before. Yet, I love the energy of my team and I’m an extrovert (ESTJ – with a driver function of extroverted sensing) so I’m probably in the office a bit more than I need to be.

This year I want to commute less than last year and use my time more productively.

Instagram coma

Instagram coma is a term I use to describe the state where you go into a trance just scrolling all the pretty pics, liking, commenting, etc. It’s addictive and often a lot more time passes than you realise.

A few weeks ago I realised it was getting worse so I’m trying to do something productive instead of that coma, like write a blog post, organise something quickly, throw in a load of laundry. Anything to break that trance-like state.


Being a firstborn at work

When I read The Firstborn Advantage last year, I realised that a lot of my tendencies at work are actually firstborn traits.

Like being the one to log a call for the printer cartridges to be replaced, volunteering for things no-one else wants to do, being the first to actually do and submit reports, etc.

I think it’s related but I also realised at the end of last year that sometimes I fight the point because I’m right instead of choosing the work relationship and letting them figure it out in their own time that a solution was the right way.

So I’m going to be super relaxed this year with things that don’t matter, saving my energy for the real stuff I’m employed to do 🙂

weak boundaries

This is an interesting one but there is one relationship in my life where I have very weak boundaries. My husband even commented recently that this is not like me!

I think it’s because this relationship is linked to something I consider a big part of my identity and I don’t want to mess that up. Still, it’s not good because it leaves me feeling resentful and frustrated when I feel my boundaries are being pushed time and time again.

I would love some ideas for gentle boundary strengthening 🙂

What do you want less of this year?

How I get it “all” done

When people hear that I work full-time, am married, have twins and coach time management part-time, they often ask me how I get it all done.

First I laugh and then I realise that it’s a serious question.

The short answer is that I don’t.

Yes, I do a lot but the bigger question is what I don’t get done.

Let me explain and also help you to get it “all” done:

  1. Get very clear on your life’s purpose

I have a life mission typed out and I know my definition of success in life.

I also know my values. A quick secret – one of those values is not to have the laundry perfectly done (I don’t ever do ironing!), but it is to take action and just get the clothes clean.

Are you clear on your life purpose?

  1. Make friends with “good enough”

It’s better to have something done than to have it perfect.

If you’re cringing at that sentence, know that I used to be you. That was until I realized that trying to get the last 20% of any project perfect usually takes more time than the previous 80%.

E.g. If we were to make a picture collage, it would take just a few minutes to select photos and group them in a collage. The playing around to get the best configuration with the best background and font, and so on takes 3 – 5 times longer than just creating the initial collage.  If you organize a space, decluttering and arranging the zones takes less time than all the faffing afterwards to make it “Pinterest-perfect”.

There is a time and place for prettying something up – maybe for your children’s birthday party but for general sending out of occasional photos to family or just tidying your desk, that level of extreme detail is not necessary.

Do you know when 80% is enough in your life, or are you still stuck on being perfect?

  1. Make a To Not Do list

We all know there are 24 hours in a day and there is not enough time to do everything.

It’s far more important these days to know which things to leave on the To Not Do list.

  • In my business, I do only things that need my “essence” and delegate the rest to my virtual assistant.
  • In my personal life, it’s important for me to cook from scratch but it’s not important for me to peel and chop all the vegetables myself.

Can you see the difference?

  1. Decide where you want to use your time and don’t feel guilty about it

Be intentional about your time usage. If reading is your thing like it is with me, then don’t feel guilty about cuddling up with a book and a mug of tea every day for an hour after supper.

If you scroll Instagram to unwind, then be conscious that you’re doing that and own it. Admit that you want to scroll Instagram for an hour every evening, and enjoy it.

Don’t feel guilty about the time but know why you’re doing it.

Of course I do procrastinate sometimes by too much time on blogs or Instagram but since I generally get things done, occasionally if I slip up, I don’t beat myself up about it.

How about you?

Where do you want to be spending your time and why? Are you intentional about it?

  1. Take consistent action

Unfortunately getting things done is not going to just happen unless you take consistent action.

Whether it’s moving forward with a big leap or lots of little leaps, I try to take some action every day.

I’m fairly good at constantly reviewing where I am in relation to my goals weekly and monthly.

Do you take enough regular action?

To end off, let me leave you with one of my favourite quotes:

Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone.  The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.

-Lin Yutang 

 

I’m curious.

What’s on your to not do list? (we all have one)

Where in your life have you let go of perfectionism?

My happiness project for March

Here’s my happiness project for February if you want to have a look.

So this month, March, my intentional calendar says this:

What’s working for you well so far in 2017? How can you replicate this in other areas of your life?

Well, a few things immediately came to mind:

  1. If I schedule “fun things” like book club and podcast club, they actually happen 🙂
  2. I’m reading a ton and that’s because I’m consciously leaving my phone to charge in another room, and of course, I always have a book ready to go on my phone too. My environment is set up for success in this area.
  3. When I batch things, the doing and thinking goes very well. This works mostly for kitchen things like cooking and making lunches.

So are there places in my life I can replicate these ideas?

My focus areas for March

Scheduling

  • Schedule all dates with Dion and the kids for the rest of this year.
  • Schedule weekly planning in my diary
  • Schedule quarterly dates with my university friends
  • Schedule quarterly dates with the supper club

Environment

  • Be very strict about no phone in the bedroom every night, not just most nights
  • Computer off at 10:30 Sun – Thurs

Batching

  • Write blogs on only one night every week without listening to podcasts so I fully focus
  • Do photos on another night

And that’s enough for March – I’ll report back in four weeks time.

What’s working well for you so far in 2017?

Can you replicate that in other areas of your life?

What I learned in February

I love doing these monthly round-up posts.

The only snag is I feel like I’m talking to myself and just to one other person 🙂 So this month, can I ask you to just write a little comment and tell me ONE thing that stood out about your month – good, bad, ugly, whatever. It’s so good to share.

This month has been interesting in that it’s the first month of My Year of Happy.

My focus was on relationships and increasing connection, and here’s how that went:

  1. after getting lazy about Valentine’s presents and such, I actually bought one for D, arranged notes and chocolates for the kids, and for their teachers (when does the teacher thing stop?)
  2. D and I also set a small goal for the rest of the year – to do one thing each month for us. This month it was to properly talk every day, even if just for 5 minutes. And it’s been great not talking only about logistics 🙂
  3. I’ve had dates with both kids, and D and I went to see West Side Story.
  4. I’ve made time for friends. This one is interesting because I always do, but I think I’ve found the perfect comfort number for socials per week (2!), whether in-person or phone dates.
  5. I sent out three birthday cards (it’s a big birthday month), a get well soon card and temporary tattoos to my niece and nephew.
  6. I think the biggest change for me was this – because I was conscious about my month’s intention to connect more fully, the minute someone popped into my mind, I phoned/ whatsapped/ smsd/ made the lunch date/ tea instead of saying “I’ll do it later”. And I’m so glad I did because life is short!

Other things I learned:

  1. I love the cooler weather and really am happier and more productive when the weather’s not as hot. If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I love grey skies (#marcialoveswinter and #marcialovesautumn).
  2. Book club is a good thing. I started a book club and we had our first meeting on the first Saturday of Feb to discuss Big, Little Lies by Liane Moriarty.
  3. I discovered that we can access free ebooks and audio books through our libraries’ Overdrive app. Here’s a  post I wrote about Overdrive for South Africans.
  4. Podcast club – like book club, but for podcasts. I started a God Centered Mom Podcast Club with a friend. At the moment it’s just the two of us but it’s so easy. We agree which episode to listen to and chat every second Thursday evening for an hour on the telephone. If you live near a like-minded friend, you could meet at each others’ houses for tea but alas, she’s in Cape Town.
  5. My head is much clearer when important things are either done or scheduled. I had some financial things to finalise, all my medical stuff to do and I scheduled a dental procedure for next week (which I’m not thinking about at all :))

Did you have a focus for this month?

What is ONE thing you loved/ hated/ learned this month?

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