If it has to be done, you might as well enjoy it

I’m learning more and more that everything in life comes down to perspective.

And we can either get really annoyed with things, do something about them or do the best we can.


A few examples:

1. I really don’t enjoy driving in peak hour traffic at all. And that’s a very polite way of stating how I feel.

So since I have to do it, I make it as enjoyable as I can – I listen to podcasts or audio books on the way to work.

It has to be done so that’s one way to enjoy it.

These days I actually look forward to my days in the car to listen to a current book or catch up on my podcasts.


2. Related to driving, some days I don’t have early morning meetings. Instead of still rushing into the office, I take some time and have slow mornings.

Once D and the kids leave, I make a mug of tea and go read my book for a half hour before getting ready for work. It’s such a gift in my busy day because it feels really decadent, almost like I’m on holiday.


3. I don’t know why I hate packing my lunch bag so much. It’s got to get done though because we don’t have a canteen at work and no way am I walking to the mall to spend unnecessary money on food.

So I make sure I’m listening to a podcast and I focus on how all that walking up and down my kitchen is also good for my Fitbit steps ๐Ÿ™‚

Over to you!

What do you have to do, but hate doing?

How can you make it more enjoyable? Music? Get a friend (or kid) involved?

So I did a social media fast


I’ve only done a social media fast once before, about 3 years ago.

I can’t remember exactly what my restrictions were then, but I do remember not blogging or reading blogs was one of the big things.

This time I just had a sense that I needed to stop the noise for a bit and use that time to pray.

And then our church just finished a celebration week called #nationscalledtoprayer which inspired me to get going.

I chatted to a friend who agreed to do it with me but I would have gone the distance alone too (I’m an Upholder, remember?).


Some of my self-imposed rules:

  • only allowed to post to Instagram and reply to my own posts’ comments
  • no random Facebook scrolling
  • I don’t do twitter or snapchat or any of those other things
  • no blogging – both posting and reading – I had two posts scheduled
  • no non-Christian podcasts
  • no fiction; only allowed to read the Bible and non-fiction Christian (more on this later)
  • email was allowed


Here are some of the things I learned over the week:

  1. When I posted on Monday morning, I asked for prayer requests. As these came in, I wrote them down in my bullet journal and prayed over them faithfully every day. I’m still taking prayer requests and I won’t stop praying for your situations. I honestly felt privileged to pray and while prayer is not really my thing, I love praying for others. I prayed a lot for rain (it rained twice!).
  2. I’m a more engaged mother, wife, friend, colleague when I’m not seeing my phone blinking at me. No surprise.
  3. I read some hard bits in the Bible that spoke to some things I’m going through. I learned that I need to be unplugged to hear some things clearly.
  4. I have to leave my phone to charge outside my bedroom every single night (I’d got lazy over the months). It’s amazing how focussed you are with reading when there isn’t a blinking phone to distract you.
  5. By the same token, life is better when I leave my phone in my bag when at work. One day I worked from home, my computer was having trouble connecting to my work emails but my phone was working, so I was answering work emails on my phone. And if you saw comments or “accidental” likes on your posts, it probably happened that day ๐Ÿ˜ฎ
  6. I loved checking in with my friend to encourage and be encouraged by her. We spoke twice last week, and whatsapped daily, and emailed a couple of times. All of this was great to keep us both on track and remind us both to stay focussed.
  7. It was hard for me to see my podcasts piling up……. but awesome to get up to date with my photos.
  8. There’s so much time without social media. Seriously, hours and hours in the evening. I practised my Spanish, cooked, ate, and then there were still 3 – 4 hours left before sleep.
  9. I felt like while I connected less on social media, I connected more fully when I did engage with people whether in person, on the telephone or even via whatsapp.
  10. I really need to be reading fiction. My usual routine is to start a book on a Thursday night, just enough to whet my appetite for my weekend reading. On Friday I could no longer resist and I started a book which felt all the sweeter because I hadn’t read any fiction for 4 whole days ๐Ÿ™‚ To make up for my lapse, I made sure to finish my non-fiction book on the weekend.

That’s it.


Will I do it again?

Undoubtedly. It was one of the most fun weeks I’ve had this year, a wonderful time of sharing with my friend and a great time of praying for other people.

In fact, I think I want to do something like this for a couple of days a month but

How might I change things?

Next time I will allow myself some fiction reading daily so I don’t binge when I start (I read that book in about 6 hours flat).

Have you ever done a social media fast? What were some of your restrictions?

What’s making me happier? Organising my Kindle

I was sorting out my Kindle the other day and realised this might make me a bit weird but it’s a weirdness that makes me very happy.

I have folders to organise my downloaded Kindle books.


I have the obvious ones like Books read, and then the unread books go into either Fiction or Non-Fiction so depending what I’m in the mood for, I go directly to that section to find a book.

I also have a folder for Children’s books.

I leave sample books out of folders so that they’ll “bother” me and I’ll read them quickly ๐Ÿ™‚

It makes me super happy when I finish a book and I can happily file it away in its folder.


If only Audible let me create folders, I’d have a very happy time organising my audio books too ๐Ÿ™‚

And now, I wish you 30 very happy minutes organising your Kindle. Take a screenshot and tag me @OrganisingQueen so I can come do the happy dance with you.

Do you have a Kindle?

Do you use folders? What are some of your folders called?

Questions from the paying off your house posts – food, savings and utilities

I promised I’d address some questions I had from the paying off your bond posts.

From MamaCat

What about ensuring you have available cash already saved? For emergency situations?

The way we do it is to have a set amount that you automate to go into normal savings, in addition to the increased amount to pay off your house quicker.

The trick with savings is to do it first. For me, it’s the second thing I pay – first, my tithe and then my savings. I tried for a month or two in 1998 when I got serious about money to see what was left at the end of the month, and that just never worked.

The best is to decide which amount you want to save and move it out of your main bank account immediately – you will somehow make the rest of the money work if that’s all you see.

Your savings will then be used for true emergencies (not “we need new furniture”, but insurance excesses and such) and infrequent expenses, like TV licences, car services and so on.

The financial gurus recommend that you save at least 10% of your income; my aim is much higher ๐Ÿ™‚


From Jacqui

How do you handle the ever escalating food/petrol/utilities prices? I feel I need my annual increase to fund all these unavoidable increases in daily expenses.

I feel your pain. Really I do.

Electricity – we had “open” electricity at the old house which I do not recommend. At the new house we have a prepaid meter and we’ve not spent more than R1000 per month. At the other house our bill was in excess of R5500 for rates, water, electricity, sewerage and refuse removal.

Water – I almost don’t want to speak about this because it is my current cause. I’ve already investigated prepaid water meters and will be installing one of those soon. I’m afraid I’m suspicious of the metering system because I can’t see how it can be accurate….

Food – I feel like a broken record but the more I am intentional and menu plan, and then shop accordingly, we actually are okay. Cook two meals at a time and put one in the freezer. If you have leftovers, don’t throw them out. Put them in the freezer. Some nights I take out 3 – 4 different things, lay them out on the counter and it’s a buffet for everyone to help themselves ๐Ÿ™‚

Things that throw out the budget are all the junk food and convenience food. If you need to buy a box of something, then choose whatever is on special that week. I haven’t bought boxed fish for months because it’s just too expensive. So chicken it is.

The very obvious one is also if you shop for food at the W store, you’re going to blow your budget immediately. I would much rather put that extra money in my bond…

Also, write the date you start using an item on the container in permanent marker. It’s psychological…. when I forget, we fly through margerine, butter, etc. but when I write the date, somehow it lasts for the full 3 weeks…. Do the same with cleaning agents so you know how long things last.

I also don’t believe in stockpiling. When I stockpile, I’m poorer, and that’s a fact. I buy what we need for the month because the shops are just down the road if you need something and also, you could just make do ๐Ÿ™‚


Weigh-Less has been a big help here too because I’m aware of what actual portion sizes should be. It’s a strange thing; because produce is so expensive, I’m very aware that we have to eat all the apples/ oranges, etc. because I don’t want to waste a bag that cost R25 – R35.

If we’re not going to get through things, I toss them into the freezer (broccoli, etc.) or cook up the fruit (granted, only apples!) so they don’t go to waste. In winter, I make soups.

Evaluate what portion sizes actually cost. My kids liked a particular brand of muesli but a 500g box cost about R40 and they’d finish it in two days. Not okay. So now they can get that once a month but the rest of the month, they eat more economical cereals like oats, Weetbix, or they have toast.

Petrol – there’s nothing much you can do except to drive properly so you don’t use up too much petrol, take your car to be serviced and don’t speed. Other than that, I always tell myself, at least I don’t live in Ireland (which has been the most expensive petrol I ever saw – R22 per L in 2009…). Funny story, when I saw the price of their petrol, I vowed there and then to never moan about the price of petrol ever again, and I don’t.

If you travel for work, explore whether Uber might be cheaper for you. I have many Pretoria clients and about a year ago, I took an hour to do some homework. I found that in all those cases, it’s cheaper to Gautrain + Uber rather than drive my car, so that’s what I’ve been doing for the last year.

Hope this helped, ladies.

Readers, please share your tips in the comments below.

PS If you’d like a fresh eye to look over your situation, send me a mail. We often can’t see things objectively because we’re too close to the action; I’m happy to help. And it’s my passion ๐Ÿ™‚

The adult colouring business…. and the 5 love languages

So the adult colouring craze is still going strong here.

And by strong I mean about 2 – 3 times a month, I pull out “my” colouring book and I colour with one of the children, never alone.


I eventually bought myself a book – it’s a kids’ book actually pitched at age 8 – 12 – so it has big things to colour ๐Ÿ™‚

I call it “my book” because then the kids respect it more. They are not allowed to rip out pages and always put it away in its place. They are much more inclined to cut things out of their own books. Strangely, neither of them like colouring books but they do like colouring in my book.



It’s one of the best ways for me to spend time with Connor, who is my quality time child. Other than that, we take the book and the pencil crayons with us when we go out to eat so we can talk and colour while waiting for the food.

The other day Connor came to me and requested that I draw something for him to colour. I don’t draw as such, but I drew this flower. He didn’t like this one so I had to draw another and then we each coloured in our own flowers.


*Very important announcement*

I’ll be holding a series of 5 love languages of children workshops in the next couple of months.

Let me know if you’re interested (there is no commitment – I’m not holding you to anything) so I can start light planning.

Think of two of your kids’ best friends’ parents, come on over and in two hours we will identify the kids’ love languages and I’ll teach you many ways of filling their little love tanks. This workshop is for parents, caregivers, teachers and grandparents of any age children. I could identify my kids’ love languages from about 9 months.

The first workshop on 19 November is at my own house or if you have at least 8 people, I can come to you…. and then you as the host won’t pay.

The cost will be R200 per person, or R360 for a parent couple.

You can leave a note in the comments on this post, or email me on marcia AT organisingqueen.com if you’ll be joining me.

I’m very passionate about this subject – let’s make it happen!

Are you joining me on 19 November?

Andddddd….. October goals


October is the point where people definitely think, “what’s the point?”

There is a point. Trust me.

If you get just one thing done every month, that’s 3 things this year.

3 things more than you would have got done!

Now if you’re even the slightest bit more ambitious than that, you can end 2016 well.

So forget about the first 9 months in the past and look forward to the rest of the year.

Answer this question:


What would have to happen this month for October to feel like a good month?

  • a date with friends
  • sorting something out at home – organising
  • buying something for your home
  • making a budget
  • increasing your bond repayment
  • making plans for Christmas

Write down 3 things (goals) for October and stick that note up somewhere. Even better, write those things on 1 – 2 post-it notes and put one on your bathroom mirror and one at your desk or in your bullet journal.

Will you do it?


Now onto some of my goals for October:

  1. Learn and perfect the dance for my Spanish dance exams – I have 5 (very short) weeks left… but I do know 1/3 now.
  2. Book December leave and decide where we’re doing for Christmas, etc.
  3. Decide if I want to do a workshop this year – either on Love Languages or Bullet Journalling
  4. Schedule socials for the rest of the year
  5. Buy new bed
  6. Do whatever it takes to sell house

Care to share some of your goals?

PS Theses photos are from last year – there are almost no jacarandas in Johannesburg due to the drought ๐Ÿ™

What I learned during September

Happy October, blog readers. Hope it’s a good one.

Today is freezing cold in Jhb, my absolutely favourite weather, and so I’ve been smiling the entire morning.

I did my Goals Night yesterday morning before anyone else was awake and here are the top 3 things I learned during September:


It’s always better to talk something out rather than to assume things

You all know our house has been on the market for 6 months now and I’ve been stressing about it. I finally made a meeting with the estate agent to talk through why our house is not selling vs other sold signs I do see going up in the area.

Our conversation was a tiny bit awkward but mostly great because I learned a few things I didn’t know.

I always feel better when I take action

Related to the above, nothing seems to have changed but, aside from thatย meeting, I’ve also taken action on a few house-y things and it feels great to make a few phone calls, check a few things, get quotes on a few other things, etc.

I’m fully aware that it’s a control issue. So be it ๐Ÿ™‚

Realise when you’reย the only oneย stoking the fire

I invest a lot of time and energy into friendships generally speaking but someone at work askedย me if I was the only one stoking the fire. Interesting concept so I gave it some thought and I started holding back just a bit.

The interesting thing is some friends carried on stoking the fire, and some stopped. I realised it fully in September because I don’t think I’ve had such a month empty of socials.

That’s not to say I’m stopping investing in friendships but I’m now aware that in certain instances, if I want the friendship to continue, I’m going to have to do most ofย the initiating. I’m prepared to do this but just not as frequently, so where I might have made plans once every two months, every 4 months will have to do ๐Ÿ™‚


Some other September highlights:

  1. Kendra and Connor had an excellent term at school. They also both got glasses last week after routine eye checks which they have to use for close work (the opposite of me, but Dion is far-sighted too).
  2. I handed over some high-maintenance stuff at work which I’m thrilled about because this specific responsibilityย has never been my best work.
  3. Dion and I had a movie date! I think it’s the first one this year (at the theatre) – Bridget Jones’s Baby.
  4. I read 8 books, 3 of them non-fiction. Check out my Goodreads —–>> (the icon on the top right of my sidebar is linked)
  5. I finally finished the series on How I paid off my house in 5 years. Like I said on Instagram, I’m thrilled this is done because it’s done the worst of any of my posts. I want to (secretly) take them down but at least I can now refer people to the blog to read more if they’re interested when we talk in person.

I didn’t intend for this post to be so long, so let’s leave October goals for Thursday ๐Ÿ™‚

What did you learn during September?

What were some of your highlights?

PSย I’m linking this post up here

How I paid off my bond in 5 years and how you can too – part 4

Here’s part 1 which lays the foundation and mindset stuff, here’s part 2 which is the start of all the practical steps, and here’s part 3 with some more steps and one which may be too woo-woo for you ๐Ÿ™‚

And now for the numbers. I’ll promise to keep this short just in case you feel like stabbing yourself in the eyes round about now ๐Ÿ™‚

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  1. Paying the bond

If you look at amortisation calculators on any of the banks’ or mortgage originators’ sites, you’ll be able to see that you’re basically paying off interest for much of those 20 years. Only a tiny amount of each of your repayments goes toward the capital while most of it pays interest.

I did a quick calculation. On R1 million, your monthly repayment is R9983 (at 10.5% interest). The majority of that payment only swings towards your capital in month 162 (13 and a half years into paying off your bond of 20 years).

Scary stuff.

So the quicker you can start paying off that interest, the better.

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How to do this

The minute your bond is registered, make a payment. Preferably the entire bond amount but any amount will do.

Our bond was registered on 5 July. I had some problems with them linking the new account to my profile but it was finally linked a week later and we paid the entire bond payment immediately even though the bank only required the first payment on 1 August. Those two weeks meant that the payment was applied mostly to interest.

If you’re paying off your existing bond, do your best to put aside as much money as you can and pay it on the 14th of every month. Right now things are a bit…. tight…. but we could afford a small extra payment (due to rounding up) so I put a scheduled transfer on my bank account for the 14th of every month for that amount.

If we do nothing else but this tiny extra payment, we cut 4 years off our bond.

Did you get that?

If we do nothing else but this tiny extra payment, we cut 4 years off our bond.

If we get to the point where we have half a bond payment extra every month, we reduce the term to 8 years, and if we work up to doubling our payment, we pay it off in 5 years.

I can’t wait for my next salary increase to increase that payment ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

This is the slow and steady way but that’s not really my style. I’m believing for much bigger results, like I shared in the last point of this post.

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If you’ve been paying only exactly what your bank requires, then here’s what you need to do:

Diarise to get a statement at least every 3 months.

If you do your main banking with the same bank who granted your loan, then make sure your profile is linked, and actually look at your statement at least every 3 months, and if you’re now obsessed because of my posts, then make it a part of your monthly review.

Here’s something else that is small but practical to do.

If your bond is R5678 (random number), make a quality decision to find R322 in your budget so that your total payment to X Bank is now R6000 per month. All I did was round up.

Now go to your bank’s website and set up a scheduled transfer/ payment to your bond for that amount on the 14th of every month (or 14 days from your scheduled debit order).

If you’re thinking, “how is this possibly going to make a difference?” let me tell you it will.

You’re developing the right mindset of single-minded focus.

You’re taking action in small steps now but those steps will grow soon.

These days we’re so fortunate to have technology (all the heart eye emojis); when I was obsessed with paying off our first home in the late 90’s, I’d walk to the bank in the CBD every 3 months and get an actual paper bank statement to encourage me in my efforts. Now I just log into the app and I can easily see the reducing balance.

How is all of this resonating with you? Does it feel like too much hard work? Do you feel overwhelmed? Let’s talk.

This is the final of the official posts. I so hope this was valuable to some of you out there. Please let me know to encourage me too.

Next time up I’m answering questions so let me have them.

10 favourite fiction authors

It’s no secret that I love reading and it’s even less of a secret that I adore Irish fiction.


I sometimes get emails asking about my favourite authors so I thought I’d put it here on the blog for everyone to see.

  1. Maeve Binchy * – try Quentins or Tara Road
  2. Joanna Trollope – try Brother and Sister, or Daughters-in-Law
  3. Dorothy Koomson – any of them are good. Start at the beginning or with Marshmallows for Breakfast
  4. Sinead Moriarty * – In my sister’s shoes was my second, and favourite.
  5. Liane Moriarty (these two are not related!) – What Alice Forgot is her famous book; I loved The Husband’s Secret
  6. Marian Keyes * – of the latest books, I loved The Mystery of Mercy Close
  7. Sheila O’Flanagan * – read Yours Faithfully or Someone Special
  8. Patricia Scanlan * – Love and Marriage, and seeing as we’re coming up to Christmas, Coming Home for Christmas
  9. Cathy Kelly * – I liked The Honey Queen and Best of Friends
  10. Emily Giffin – Heart of the matter is my favourite, and then Something Borrowed

*All Irish authors ๐Ÿ™‚

For more favourite authors, check out my Goodreads account.


Have you read my 3 own books yet?

  1. Live Organised
  2. 31 days of easy organising solutions
  3. 31 days of enough time

If not, I’d like to invite you to check them out.

On an interesting note, I can’t read crime novels any more since having kids. I tried… and realised I really don’t enjoy them anymore. Isn’t that strange? I was the biggest fan of all the famous crime novelists before (just check my Goodreads!)

So tell me two things: who are some of your favourite fiction authors? And is there any genre you used to read that you no longer do, for whatever reason?

PS If you’re on Goodreads, make friends with me and tell me you read the blog ๐Ÿ™‚

How I paid off my bond in 5 years and how you can too – part 3

Are you enjoying this series so far? Remember to let me know if you have any questions in the comments and if they require long answers, I will write a separate post at the end of the series.

Here’s part 1 which lays the foundation and mindset stuff, and here’s part 2 which is the start of all the practical steps.

Let’s move onto the next couple of steps:

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  1. Don’t subscribe to “I deserve it” thinking

I hear this so often – I work hard and I deserve to have a nice car, or whatever.

Let’s be honest – there are many people who work much harder than some of us but due to circumstances they were born into don’t have as much in the way of material possessions.

So I’m of the opinion that while we all deserve things, that doesn’t actually fly with justifying your desires for all the latest material possessions – cars, gadgets, clothes, etc. you want.

I like to say, “I deserve to have my bond paid off quickly because I’m working hard on that goal” ๐Ÿ™‚

Yes, by all means, treat yourself, but make it an appropriate treat. You can’t spend such a lot and still want to pay off a bond quickly. Unless you earn a fortune. In which case, this post won’t interest you at all.

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  1. Have no sacred cows

Dr Phil used to say (he might still say this – I haven’t watched his show since the twins were born), “you can’t have any sacred cows”. What that means is that nothing in your budget is untouchable.

“You can trim the grocery bill but I’m not giving up my big car”

The truth is if you want to make a big impact, then look at big expenses like cars, schooling (in some instances), holidays, and so on.

Sadly, one of our biggest line items on our budget in the last 6 months was water and electricity. How crazy is that?!

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  1. Step out in faith

With the last house we paid off, I remember going to work in the first week of January after about three weeks off from work. My boss, who knows all about my goal-setting behaviour, asked me if I’d set any interesting/ fun goals for the year ahead.

I took a deep breath because it was a big, scary goal, and said, “well, funny you should ask, but this year I plan to pay off that bond”.

It was way out of reach by normal standards but I had a sense that this was a stretch goal we could do.

Long story short but that’s exactly what happened.

Some hard saving from us, some unexpected monies here, a bonus there, a tax refund from SARS and it was done. In other words, a lot of smaller things helping us towards our goal.

It’s not magic, but there is something special with putting your intention out there, and believing (and receiving) answers from God as to how these big dreams will come to fruition. And let’s face it – had we not had this big goal we were working towards, those extra monies could very easily have been frittered away, or paid for holidays, furniture upgrades, newer cars, etc.

I have more to say on this subject but someone asked a great question which is now going into part 5 and will address a little bit more here.

Did point 7 feel too woo-woo for you?

What are your sacred cows? We all have them so don’t feel shy to share. Maybe it’s food, eating out, cars, gadgets, clothes…

If you’d like some coaching around these issues or for me to give you some customised ideas for your situation, email me for a confidential 30/ 60-minute session.

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