{What’s making me happier?} 10 – The number 1 rule for good sleep

I believe I’ve mentioned sleep on this blog a time or two 🙂

I’m a big believer in getting plenty of good sleep.

Last year I read Arianna Huffington’s book, Thrive. She’s released a new one this year, The Sleep Revolution.

I haven’t read it yet but I’ve heard her being interviewed 2 – 3 times.

The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time by [Huffington, Arianna]

One of the things she’s mentioned on all of these interviews is to not be on your phone at least 30 – 60 mins before bed. And actually, to charge your phone outside your bedroom.

I don’t know about you but if my phone is right next to my bed, I’m more likely to be on it right up until I need to sleep, and then first thing in the morning, I’m on it again.

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I was in a really good habit of charging the phone outside my bedroom at the old house but sadly, over the last month, I’ve fallen into my bad habits again. I can see the difference – my sleep time has reduced (obviously) but more importantly, I’m reading less and I’m on that phone immediately when I wake up (before my glasses are even on).

So that’s not acceptable to me.

I’m challenging myself and I’ll come back at the end of the month to tell you how many days I’ve charged my phone outside the bedroom.

Anyone want to take up this challenge with me?

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A space to create

When we moved into this new house, I had pages of drawings in my bullet journal on where we would place all furniture.

I planned a craft space downstairs and just a desk in the study.

But soon I realised that I didn’t even have a place to wrap a gift since the laptop is permanently on the desk.

I moved my favourite green table upstairs and voila! I was in business.

I was so inspired to get creative again.

I think I wrapped/ assembled about 5 gifts in less than 30 minutes simply because I once again had a space to create.

This is not just about creating.

It could be space for reading, space to try out new recipes, space to do your budget and financial planning, space to set up a command centre, space to plan your week…

Where in your life do you need to create space for what you need?

{What’s making me happier?} 9 – Uber

In January when we were in Cape Town, someone drove into our rental car and, long story short, the rental company tried to claim other people’s damages plus the ones incurred while the car was in our possession.

Fortunately, my attention to detail picked that up and after many, many emails, they eventually reduced the bill by a third. It still cost us R15 000 which made me feel very cross and left a very bad taste in my mouth.

I can’t deal with companies who have no integrity so I told Dion, I will NEVER use them again. I will either Uber if it operates in the area, or use the other vendor who we used to use years ago.

So for this holiday in Ballito, I did some research and Uber operates all over the north coast. YAY.

We ubered to the airport from our home, to the holiday accommodation, around Ballito for 10 days, back to the airport, and again home from OR Tambo, all for the sum of…………………wait for this………………… R962 total.

I sent Dion an uber code which entitled us to two free trips – his one and my one for referring him. If not for those two free trips, we would have paid at most R1038 (the most we’d paid to that shopping centre over the 10 days).

The rental car for the same period would have cost R3 500 (after using all our loyalty partner discounts) plus the valet parking service we usually use would have been R550 totalling R4050.

We saved R3 000 !

Can you tell how happy that makes me?

Sure there was some inconvenience waiting 6 minutes here and there, but R15 000 vs slight inconvenience means I’d take the inconvenience any day.

I do like that it made us be more intentional about our holiday, so we planned our trips to the big shopping centres better, and relaxed more 🙂

Over to you.

Do you use Uber? Would you use Uber for a family holiday?

I’ve been uber-ing for over a year now for both business and personal use. I love that I don’t have to have cash handy, I can estimate my arrival time and that I can also send an Uber to pick up other people 🙂

If you’re not already an Uber user, download the app and use promo code marciaf201ue to get your first ride free. I will then also get a ride free.

This is not a sponsored post!

On thank-you notes and words of affirmation

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Gretchen Rubin and her sister chatted at length (three different podcasts!) about thank-you notes after Elizabeth confessed that they had 30 kids over for her son’s birthday party and she still hadn’t done any thank-you notes, months later.

They invite people to chat back via the blog comments or voicemail and wow, people had all sorts of opinions.

This is how I commented on the blog:

If I were Elizabeth, I’d write individual emails (most of it a standard template) and say, “sorry this thank-you note is so late but we’re very grateful and I didn’t want to let the lateness put me off. Thank you so much for Jack’s _______.” Done – no more guilt!

On the matter of lateness, I personally feel in life we get hooked on that and forget the bigger picture. People say I’ve been saying hi to the same person for so long and I still don’t know his/ her name but it’s too late to ask now.

My view is ASK! I have had this happen to me and I say, “oh I’m so sorry. We’ve been saying hello for months now and I completely forgot your name”. Then they tell me and I tell them, and then I try to remember!

Does this happen to you? How do you deal with it?

THANK YOU CARDS

You all know my feelings on the subject of thank-you notes, but in case you don’t want to go read this post and this one, here is the highlights package:

1. I hate going to crowded shops but yet I love giving gifts, especially thoughtful ones. So too, I always appreciate that others took the time to shop for me or the kids and even if just for that, I want us to be appreciative and grateful and thank them properly.

2. My kids have always been required to do thank-yous. In the very early days, I’d write out the notes and have them do a squiggle, to just their name, to the whole note. Last year (6th birthday), we went away for a holiday the day after their birthday party and I wanted to get the thank-yous done before we left, so I had them record voice messages and we sent those out. The recipients LOVED them (i must say, better than the paper notes!) so we might do the same this year.

3. I definitely like to know if people have received gifts I’ve sent, and I think it is just good manners to acknowledge the gift.

4. I personally thank the giver in person, but I will send an SMS afterwards to thank them again. Another thing I like to do is if I’m using the thing, I’ll send a quick SMS to say, “oh, I’ve just opened the body wash you gave me (or whatever) and I love the fragrance – thanks again”.

5. I’ve given gifts before (posted) and if the recipient hasn’t even acknowledged it, they won’t get a gift from me again!

6. I suppose in summary, I feel like the how isn’t important, just that it is done. Some people (like me) love a thank-you in words so I try to remember who prefers auditory and who prefers written. One time the kids slaved over their written thank-you notes and the recipient read and tossed it in front of the kids. I remember Connor’s shocked face. He is an acts of service boy so by him writing it out so nicely and it being tossed, it hurt him.

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Aunty Funso loves written thank-you notes 🙂

For the birthday that just passed, we did whatsapp voicemail messages to all the kids (this is apparently our new thing) but proper phone calls to the family. Some people gave experience gifts (Spur gift vouchers) so when we were there using the vouchers, we took photos and sent it to them.

What is your take on the thank-you notes saga?

Do you do thank-you notes?

What’s making me happier? 8 – Old-school party planning

I really thought that this year would be the first year of separate parties for my kids but… not.

You see, the kids are both in the same class so they have a good few friends in common.

But next year they will have separate parties 🙂

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This was the photo I used for the invite – week 24 of our Project 52

Since we’d just bought a new house, I explained to them that we could either go on holiday for their birthday or we could have a party.

They chose to go on holiday.

But then I decided that I could do a party cheap and easy-breezy, and so we decided on a Doughnuts and Hot Chocolate party.

No point avoiding the fact that they have a birthday in the heart of winter, so it was to be inside.

Kids were to come in their pyjamas since it was early (9am) and have breakfast with us.

I decided on a blue and yellow theme since I seemed to have enough blue and yellow decor/ plates/ cups/ serviettes.

We served breakfast food – fun cereals, yoghurts, scones, muffins, cocktail sausages, and breakfast juices.

The cake was the best idea ever. I ordered cocktail doughnuts from Pick and Pay (10 each for R26) – white glaze, chocolate glaze and jam.

I arranged all the white and chocolate ones in the shape of pyramids, stuck skewers in to which I’d attached doughnut cake toppers with the number 7, we stuck candles all over and those were the cakes.

Best idea ever!

I had three activities – a colouring-in competition (free printables of a mug and doughnut from the internet), doughnut necklaces and some wanted to watch cartoons while having their breakfast.

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I also had the kids bring outdoor shoes since this house has a whole hiking thing going on at the back. After the kids were fuelled by doughnuts and hot chocolate, and after I got some photos (!), the kids changed shoes and went exploring.

And then they left.

Party packs were cute notebooks and fun pencils – I didn’t have to buy a thing!

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Nothing fancy but all the food was eaten, all the cake was eaten, and most important of all, my kids had a ball with their friends.

What’s been one of your most low-key parties?

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July review and August goals

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July was interesting 🙂

It felt a lot worse than it actually was.

But actually, when I stopped and did a proper review writing it all down, I realised that I actually got a lot done.

This is the point of doing a monthly goals review – to stop and notice the things you did do, instead of only the things you didn’t.

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Just a few highlights:

  1. we had a wonderful family holiday in Ballito – lots of good food, walks, times of connection and reading
  2. we moved house (!) – I think if we did nothing else this is AWESOME 🙂
  3. I met up with 5 different friends, all one-on-one
  4. I read 8 books, none of them audible books. I bought 3 books on Tuesday morning because this month is a normal working month, not one where I take 2.5 weeks holiday.
  5. I got my hair done. My appointment was moved out due to the holiday and move, and you know how you can’t WAIT to get your hair sorted again? Yes, that was me 🙂
  6. My tax was done!

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A few goals for August:

  1. Sell old house (please pray – the pray without ceasing praying – for God to send people who will love that house and who can afford it)
  2. Organise handyman to put up shelves and get all our photo frames up
  3. Write the paying off the house post – this may be more than 1 post, depending on how much I have to say.
  4. Participate in #AugustBreak2016 on Instagram. I think this is my third year and I love it. I enjoy the prompts, the community and it’s a good time of year for me as I’m feeling reflective (it’s my birthday on Saturday!) and the weather is still cool enough to wander around getting nice photos.
  5. Organise July photos and select photos from Ballito holiday for printing.
  6. Write for 20 minutes a day.

Over to you.

What are you going to read, what are you going to listen to and what will you do to keep yourself sane this month?

And a very happy birthday to Terisha who started out as a reader and has now become a friend!

What’s making me happier? 7 Power Hour

Happy August!

It’s my birthday month 🙂

I also can’t believe winter’s nearly over 🙁 As you know, I love winter

Last Monday night I posted a pic on Instagram of a few things I intended to do during my Power Hour.

I got my tax documents together at home, one was on my work laptop and one I emailed the company about there and then.

The company in question sent me my tax certificate mid-morning on Tuesday, I was out of a meeting after lunch, compiled all the things and emailed them off to my Tax Guy.

He did the calcs, sent to me to review, and after I paid him, he submitted it to SARS.

All on Tuesday.

My refund was in my bank account on Thursday morning.

Happy days!

Getting money is always a source of happiness but the real thing that made me happy was the efficiency of people who are expert and get things done.

It is well worth the money to me yearly to pay him to do my tax. Yes, I could do it myself and in fact, I used to, but because it was a once a year thing, I’d have to figure out the system again and all that learning is not necessary when he works with this stuff daily.

One email and a proof of payment later, and it’s done. Literally minutes on my side.

So, if you’re South African and you need a tax guy, I can recommend him because this is year 4 I’ve used him – contact me in the comments. I also have an ex-coaching client who does tax who I can also recommend.

But otherwise, think about something you battle with that someone else can quite easily do because it’s their area of expertise. Now book that person.

Where do you need help in your life?

(I booked a handyman for our old house – best money spent. His team whizzed around the house fixing all the bits and pieces, and things that were intimidating to us were taken care of.)

Do you follow Organising Queen on Instagram? I’ll post some goals review photos during this week.

What are your bond/ mortgage questions?

I’ve not hidden the fact before that we paid off a number of homes very quickly over the years.

The last one was paid off in 5 years.

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We plan to do the same for this new house too 🙂

At this point, people ask, how on earth did you do that?

So I outlined a post with all the things I thought I should say.

Before I write it though, I want to hear your questions so I can incorporate them into the post.

Have at it – comment here (anonymously if you’re shy) and write your question. I prefer that to you emailing me because then others can see that a question has been asked.

If I get no questions, I’ll just write the post as I initially intended 🙂

Also, next week is August so I’ll increasing my blogging again.

Some of you are saying, “I didn’t even notice you hadn’t been blogging that much”. I don’t feel at all offended 😉

If you missed pretty pics and the like, please do check out my Instagram feed at Organising Queen. If you tap the second option under the bio section, you can scroll through and read/ look at all my posts with captions. And if you’re not yet following, do follow. I share my own and sometimes others’ organising/ planning solutions, especially if I spy them in the office.

Enjoy the last few days of July – I’ll be reading up a storm to reach my reading goal!

This moving house business

I’m going to be honest here – for the first 5 days of moving house, I was not okay at all.

I suppose I thought that because I’m organised, things would move along swiftly and in an efficient manner. When they didn’t, it kind of threw me for a loop.

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Let’s go back a little bit to late 2005 when we moved into the previous house…

  • I was much more of a hoarder then
  • The prior house had TONS of storage space
  • and still we moved out and were unpacked in two days

This time I’d Konmari’d, I’m now the Organising Queen (HA!) and 11 days after the move, there are still 6 of D’s boxes unpacked. Granted, the fact that they’re not mine doesn’t bother me in the slightest.

We moved on a Friday.

On Saturday morning I was up at 6 am (unheard of!); on Sunday morning I was up at 3 am. No, I wasn’t keen to get up and started with the day; it was my busy brain thinking of everything I had to do.

After the 3am wake-up, I realised I just have to work like a slave because I’m quite fond of my sleep and can’t afford to have it interrupted on a daily basis. Happy to say I’ve slept well since.

I know there are others reading who are like me – your environment has to be in order for you to be able to breathe….

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So what made me feel better?

  1. Getting the kitchen sorted first because the kids keep asking for food…
  2. Knowing that most of my things were in place – clothes, toiletries, technology (cables, chargers, etc.) – and sadly, once the internet was working on Sunday, I felt connected again and happy!
  3. I went to the hairdresser and chatted to her, and guess what she told me? I’m being too hard on myself. She reminded me that she and two teenage kids moved into a new house last year. It took her a full week to unpack all the boxes, and a month to get everything in place like she wanted. So to expect things to be in order within 5 days was a tad unrealistic.
  4. And then Jess Lively. She did a podcast recently and she said something like this (I may be mis-quoting a bit) – you haven’t lost the ability to create a beautiful home. Wow. Because everything has felt out of place, with photo frames all over, definitely not intentional and deliberate.

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To that last point, everything in our old home had a place and felt right. While things are unpacked, we are not at that place yet. So I needed that reminder that I created a beautiful home once or twice before, and I will do so again… in time.

Who knows why I’m telling you all these things but I feel like someone needed to hear these words tonight.

Stop being so hard on yourself. You haven’t lost the gifts, skills and abilities you had, and you will exercise them again when the time is right.

Tell me your moving house stories. Did you need to read this today? Let me know so I know I’m not talking to the walls 😉

PS all pics of the old house. I have taken a few pics of “select” areas in this new house but they’re still on my camera 🙂

What’s making me happier? 6

This is a story about a kettle.

Before we moved to our old house nearly 11 years ago, I bought a new kettle thinking surely this one would break soon.

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We’d already had it for about two years then, and this is not an expensive kettle by any means.

Well, we moved in, kept waiting for this kettle to expire and it just never did.

Last year when I Konmari’d the house, I finally donated the other kettle which was still new and in its box! You see, I have a strange attachment to this one now and I’m rather keen to see how long it will last.

It’s about 13 years old, and still going strong!

So here we are, 3 days in the new house, and I’m going to just keep enjoying using it. And when it needs to be replaced, I’ll go out and get a new kettle then.

This week, my 13-year-old kettle is making me very happy!

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What’s making you happier this week?

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