How to choose your 2017 diary/ planner

I’m using a hybrid system next year and I can’t wait to show you how I’ll be using it. I’m currently waiting for my big box of goodness to arrive here in Johannesburg before I post some pretty pics… although I did print out some pages from my digital downloads so I wouldn’t feel like I was missing out 🙂

I said that as a disclaimer because as you all know (especially if you follow Organising Queen on Instagram), I do love stationery.

So I went looking to see what’s out and about this year in terms of planners.

There’s plenty…..big, small, colourful, boring :), but the one thing I haven’t seen this year is my absolute favourite – the 2017 softcover Legami weekly diary.


The interesting thing is that we are more connected to our phones than ever before and yet (or maybe because of it?) people seem to be more interested in paper planners than ever before. There are many, many beautiful planners to choose from on the internet, especially if you live in the US.

I remember years ago when I asked if you wore a watch – I still do 5 years later – there was a mixed bag of responses. Do you wear a watch?

Back to the topic.

There’s such a wide selection in the shops that the choice can get really overwhelming.

  • page a day daily planner?
  • vertical weekly or horizontal weekly?
  • notes pages or not?
  • filofax sized, A5, A4?

So how do you choose the best one?

Here are a couple of factors to consider:


1. Paper or electronic?
Do you prefer paper or electronic? Don’t feel pressured to use an electronic diary just to keep up with your friends if you’re actually a paper gal.

I love Outlook as much as the next person but I need a paper planner for 95% of my planning.

That said, if you are techno-savvy, use it happily. Please just remember to back up your data regularly.

2. Size
Your planner has to be portable if you’re going to use it most effectively.

Decide on a comfortable size and stick to that. If your planner is HUGE, no matter how cute it is, you’re not going to use it unless you’re strong!

However, don’t go for a small size especially if you have big handwriting. Ahem 😉


3. Space per day
Do you like a week-at-a-glance or a page-a-day format?

I like the weekly format because I do weekly planning. And there’s just enough space to jot down your 3 – 5 Eat the Frog tasks every day.

But more than that, I like space for notes, not just appointments.

My husband loves a page a day, even if some pages have nothing on it. He isn’t bothered by the empty page (waste of space to me :)) but tells me that he wants the space there when he needs it.

4. Monthly tools
Do you need a monthly event calendar and a budget form? What about a monthly goals form?

Do you need a pen flap, a ribbon to mark your place or a pocket for bits and pieces of paper?

I like a goals page between months or a page for notes that I use for goals. I also like a monthly view at the start of every month.


5. Other tools
Do you need lots of name and address pages? Or note paper at the back?

My advice to you is decide on your non-negotiables and make peace with the rest.

Make sure you love your diary so that you want to use it. If that means you need to get yourself a hot pink flexible cover, then get it.

A few more important notes:

If you don’t absolutely love the diary in the shops, don’t get it. Your enthusiasm level will drop further as you start using it.

Open the plastic covering (check with the sales assistants) so that you check everything out carefully. It’s beyond me how the retailers expect one to invest in a diary when you can’t even look through the pages. You’re not just going to look at the cover; you need to use it so make sure you’re happy.

Happy shopping!

PS If you want to buy the Shining Life diary (physical or digital download), you can print multiple pages of the sections you use most often

PPS Please tag me on Instagram so I can see your diary for next year

A few of my ideas for super easy Christmas decor


You guys know I like things really simple.

So I’ve basically got one or two tricks up my sleeve that I pull out every Christmas and that seems to work for me! Because I do the same things over and over, I actually store them in ziplocs that say “vases in lounge and diningroom” or “decorations for fruit bowl”. It’s easy for me and easy to delegate to the kids who always want to help.

I will say that I was a bit dismayed when I thought of decorating this house because there aren’t many walls (it’s a house built for the view!) to hang things. But I found places for most of my things (basically, every spare nail that I found got a stocking or a Christmas word, and I also put up some hooks) and they don’t even look too disjointed.

I don’t have a place for Christmas cards at all. The cards have been diminishing year on year (last year we got 5 in time for Christmas and 3 in the week following) so I’ll Prestik them to our diningroom hutch, if any arrive.

Where do you display your Christmas cards?


Those are all my Christmas CDs.

I saw a really good idea in Gretchen Rubin’s comments months and months ago, the episode where they discussed how she tosses the cards once all the family members have had a look at it. Someone said they keep them on the coffee table in a basket so people can look at them over the Christmas season. Mine have been out and so far no-one’s looked at them… I’ll let you know if that changes 😉



After the big Konmari of 2015 (as I now call it), I ended up with very few vases. But the ones I love, use and that spark joy are all big clear glass ones.

Basically, I just fill them up with Christmas decorations. Not a crazy mix of colours, but a maximum of two main colours.

Fill up vases, arrange on a table, sideboard, coffee table, or end table and they honestly look gorgeous.

The same principle works for using extra glass fruit bowls – use a wreath and Christmas balls, or pine cones!



Tinsel & strings of beads

Pep stores (yes, South African readers) has these strings of beads. They’re about R12 – R14 each. I bought some last year and a lot more this year.

Yes, I drape a few strands around my tree but I also channel my inner Nester and “artfully” arrange them on flat surfaces. They look super cool. This year the kids have taken to writing their names with the strands 🙂

I also drape tinsel on everything that stands still long enough, even my huge canvases.


Choose one or two main colours

My colours are red and silver. Mostly. I bought a red chindi rug which I’m using on the table after seeing this exact idea in a show house (I’m not looking; I went to give some papers to our estate agent).


I had some blue decorations that I didn’t use last year but this year I moved them to the kitchen and they work well there.

I also have a lovely purple wreath that I use as a centrepiece on the diningroom table. That’s my exception which I should probably move but it does make me so happy.


Hope you enjoyed seeing a few areas of my home! Full confession – I added a few more low-maintenance items (more tinsel and beads) since these photos were taken but I’m not going to re-take pics 🙂

What are your Christmas decorating tricks?

What I learned during November

Oh November!

It’s the month when people all over South Africa feel that fatigue from work and start counting down the days to mid-December when things should officially quiet down.


This month I learned that:

I really, really, really didn’t enjoy the lead-up to my Spanish dance exams

I passed but I didn’t have much joy in the process. It was trying on my emotions and on my physical body with my right ankle playing up a lot of the time.

Interestingly, people kept asking me, “why are you doing this?” and my usual answer of “because it’s fun and I love dancing” didn’t always feel true 😮

I knew right up until the end though that I’d done my very, very best and that’s all anyone could ask.


I love, love, loved running the 5 Love Languages of children workshop

I had an awesome group of women who identified both their love languages and those of their kids.

I plan to run another one next year – look out if you’re local – otherwise, no need to wait – book your session on Skype for only R400.

The cooler weather does wonders for my temperament and productivity

I think back to last year and the unbearable heat, and it’s clear to me that’s why I was so uninspired.

This year, I’ve had full lists of things done in the house, and it’s only because I have energy due to the rains cooling things down.


Were all babies born in Oct and Nov?

We had 1 party in March, 1 in July (our kids’ one) and 5 in Oct/ November. That’s crazy.

On the subject of parties, I’ve decided I’m done keeping a gift shelf. I’d much rather get what I need when the time is right.

It’s never too early for Christmas music 🙂

I cracked quite early in November…. first with only my absolute favourite (O Holy Night), and then with a couple of songs every night, until the 19th when I played TWO complete CDs. Glorious!

Do you like Christmas music?

I had a great reading month

My most notable book read/ listened to was Rob Lowe’s Stories I only tell my friends. It was exactly what a memoir should be for me – warm, funny, heartfelt and not too heavy even in the not-so-pretty bits. Interestingly it was the exact opposite feel to Love Warrior.


And now, for my December goals…

My intention for this month is to finish this year well by choosing joy and peace.

A few of my goals:

  • Enjoy the time with my family over Christmas/ New Year
  • Take a half day to close off this year properly and prepare for 2017 by setting goals and intentions
  • Do my filing (seriously, my filing has not been done in well over a year!)
  • Get all the kids’ school stuff done – stationery, school shoes, etc.
  • Eat delicious food and
  • Potter to my heart’s content
  • Enjoy the socials I’ve arranged with friends

Over to you!

What did you learn during November?

What are some of your goals for December?

PS If you haven’t yet read my Christmas post, it’s here if you’d like to have a look. I updated it with a link to a fabulous blog post which is also so worthy of a read.

PPS Pics in this post are from the Shining Year workbook which I completely endorse.

Create the perfect Christmas… for you

Pssst – if you’re not on the newsletter list yet, do jump on. I’m sending out my 2017 Let’s Do This guide on Wednesday and another special offer.



A friend asked me if I had a Christmas planner she could use (I sent her the one I sent to my list last year) and then it occurred to me that I needed to get my head in gear for Christmas.

I find that as the years pass I get more and more low-key 🙂

You see, I love Christmas when it’s about just these things – Jesus, Christmas music, some pretty things up around the house, delicious food and spending time together with family and friends.

What does Christmas mean to you?

If you’re feeling a bit (or a lot) overwhelmed and just a little bit stressed at everything you have to do, maybe it’s time to stop and give yourself permission to slow down and get back to your basics.


Let’s get intentional:

  1. What are the top 3 – 5 things that make it “Christmas” for you?
  2. Are those the same things your family would say? Sometimes we’ve been doing things thinking the family enjoys it but they don’t really care 😮

Once you decide on your top things, embrace them and let the rest go.

Are you twitching?

It’s hugely freeing when you realise no-one cares about the tubs of biscuits you previously felt compelled to bake  and your friends don’t expect a gift at all.

I used to think up all these cute things to do (biscuits/ snacks/ etc.) for friend gifts and I realised that nobody even cares about any of it. Just because I would love something from someone else’s kitchen doesn’t mean that others feel the same.

I still do some baking….. especially for those I’m going to see (maybe 3 – 4 people) but it’s now an extension of the baking for my own family and not days and days of Baking for Presents!


Here’s your Christmas thought plan (not action plan, unless the item is on your Top Five list)


Decide, together with your family, on any activities you want to do, etc. baking, church, plays, seeing the lights, theatre, ballet, etc.

Christmas cards

Will you be sending any cards this year? Do you send them via the mail/ Facebook/ email? (I’m having a crafternoon with a few friends on Saturday and I’ll be making some Christmas cards, killing three birds with one stone – creating, having quality time with friends and knocking out some of those cards for posting)

Christmas gifts

Will you be giving gifts this year? Are you making gifts or are you buying them all? What is your gift-giving budget? If you have family or friends in another city, use the Aramex courier bags in Pick and Pay stores. I’ve used them a couple of times and they’re the best. Pop in the cubby at PnP by 3 pm and they’re at your destination the following day before 12. It’s like magic 🙂


Christmas Day

Where will you spend the day? Who will cook which parts of the meal?

My one friend always says that they have the loveliest, no-stress Christmas meals because they keep it easy – two chickens, tons of salads and desserts.


Do you put up a tree? (Two friends don’t even take theirs down ;)) When do you want to put up the tree? Is it a family activity? Do you decorate every room? How much decor feels like enough for you this year?

The shops have the prettiest things every year and I adore it all. But I take a deep breath and remind myself of my (now) three boxes of stuff….. and my one in, one out rule.

Also, this house, while bigger, doesn’t seem to have as much wall space. It’s all the windows looking out on the view!

Still I will take a few photos and walk you through parts of my house next week.

Has this helped you think through Christmas? Tell me what made your top 5 list.

Remember it’s good to let go so you can focus on what’s most important to you!


Edited to add this PS here is a great Christmas post I just read from Memories on Clover Lane

Happy Thanksgiving

One of our key partners at my work is a US-based company and so, for the third year running, Dion and I were invited to their end-of-year bash, which is Thanksgiving.

I must say, I love all of it entirely and completely.

Yes, there’s the food which is a huge part of the festivities, but also socialising with my work colleagues is a big part of the evening.

Even though I had my thanksgiving last week, Happy Thanksgiving to you!

5 love languages |

I am very thankful that you continue to read my blog after 10 years, and that you support me by your comments here and on Instagram and Facebook, your purchases of my books and those of you who have worked with me 1:1 or bought courses/ programmes.

Look out – next year there’s going to be a few changes.

What are you thankful for today?

How I made my kitchen a happy space on a very small budget

Remember I mentioned that I wasn’t very inspired by my kitchen?


I LOVE the size, and that there’s plenty of counter space and storage even with no cabinets on the top in most of the kitchen. I even counted and I’m sure we could have 6 people comfortably working on different things in the same kitchen.

The point is that the bones are good; it just needed some updating.


Now updating usually comes in the form of a renovation which I am not a lover of for two reasons: 1) extreme mess and lack of control…… and 2) renovations cost a lot of money. Apparently a good rule of thumb is 1/10th of the house’s price which is super crazy. But that’s my opinion.

So then I happened upon a green kitchen on Instagram and I was like OHHHHHH, I LOVE THAT.

I love green very much.

Dion had some reservations that it would be too green (is there such a thing?!) but trusted me.


I was busy picking out the exact green when I saw a navy blue kitchen and I thought OOOOH now that’s lovely.

I showed him and he was much more into the navy.

I just wanted COLOUR and non-boringness so I was game to try the blue.

You see, I love The Nester’s advice. She said once, “if you hate something anyway, there’s no harm in taking a risk”. So true.

We ended up painting the walls and ceilings white and the cupboards are now NCS S 6030-R90B Seaside Breeze.

Best of all, we all LOVE our new kitchen. And the very best news is it cost just a fraction of a true renovation.


Other small things we did…

  1. replaced the mixer
  2. put up shelves

And the minute we’ve saved enough money, we’ll redo the flooring. In fact, if you have flooring people you’d recommend, please tell me in the comments. I only have two quotes which are both far too expensive.

Some more photos of my navy kitchen:





Have you ever painted your kitchen cupboards?

What colour would you do yours?

PS The blue kitchen pics were taken in midday sun so the light was very bright. The kitchen looks a bit darker at night.

Is your space working for you?

One of my biggest frustrations is when a space doesn’t work properly for me.

I feel like I don’t want to spend time there, and then I’m easily distracted while in that space too.

Can you relate?


Example 1

I saw a room on Instagram that gave me an idea for one of our spaces. The person had a daybed/ bench in the kitchen area and it looked so inviting that I thought, “oh, I’d like one of those” and then I thought of something I could do.

So this weekend I moved one of my couches to the dining room. I still have the table and chairs; there is just more space to relax with the couch there.

Dion is still not sure about it but the kids and I love it there. I find them sitting and reading on the couch because the light is amazing in the mornings.

Do you need to move things around in one or two rooms to make your spaces work better for you?


Example 2

I’m not a fan of beige anything 🙂

When we bought this house I knew I’d have to jazz up my kitchen somehow.

I decided on 4 smallish things (compared to a complete kitchen renovation – which we choose not to do because we prefer money to pay off our bond :)) and I’m delighted with the results from just 3 of the 4 so far.

The 4th thing is proving a lot more money than I initially thought so it will take a month more of saving to do that.

I’m going to put up pictures and such on Monday to talk you through some of my thinking.

But for now, I have a little thinking exercise for you.

Think of a space where you spend a lot of time – kitchen, bedroom, kids’ play area, study, etc.

Take a few minutes to evaluate your physical space and see how it’s working for you.

  1. Do you feel happy when you look at the space?
  2. Are you energised when you’re there?
  3. Does the space function well?
  4. Can you say with complete honesty that not much irritates or frustrates you there?
  5. Is it organised enough for your and your family’s needs?


Your coaching challenge

  • If you couldn’t answer yes to at least 3 of the 5 questions, what are 3 small things you can do to brighten up that space and make it work for you again?
  • Do you need to move furniture around? Shop your home first before you think of going to buy new items.
  • Consider this the first draft and keep tweaking until the space is fully functional.
  • Don’t get caught up in Pinterest perfectionism – it doesn’t have to be pretty to be functional, organised and bring you peace.

If you’d like to talk through some of your space issues, let’s set up a free 15-minute chat for you.

I’d love to know which of your spaces you want to make work better for you, and what the first thing is you’re going to do.

It’s New Planner/ Diary time :)

Guys, this is the very best time of the year.

Time to get a new diary/ planner.

Time to start reviewing 2016 so you can close off this year completely and thoroughly.

Time to start thinking about 2017 and setting new intentions.

I bought the whole Shining Year caboodle this year and I expect a big box of goodies to arrive on my doorstep very soon 🙂 And then you will see me playing with all my stuff on Instagram. I can’t wait!

You all know I’ve been using the Shining Year workbooks for many shining years (sorry, I couldn’t resist!) and usually I get the digital version. See right sidebar for pic. —->>

This year, I will still have access to the digital verson (yay – I can print as many of those lists as I like!) but I will have a nice printed and bound physical copy of everything too.


What about the bullet journal?

I see my bullet journal playing very nicely alongside my shining year goals diary just as it did this year alongside my diary.

For those who want the physical stuff – the printed, spiral-bound workbooks, diaries, to-do list pads, calendars and so on.

I’m posting this now because the physical stuff sells out quickly. If you want it, pop over and get your copies now.

For those who want the digital version…

There is no real rush. The only rush is your own impatience 🙂 Feel free to wait til payday.

Something to note – for some reason, the digital versions of the life and business workbooks are still exactly the same price as they were last year. Get yours quickly.

goalsdiary2A quick word of caution

Leonie is hippyish and I’m…. not. So every year there are two pages of the workbook I tear out and then I’m happy again. Something about oracle readings and medicine bags. The rest of it is just fine for my straightlaced personality. Here you go.

What do I recommend for my South African readers?

Get the e-book bundle – it has the life, biz and diary e-versions for a seriously great price. Then you print it two-sided at your local Postnet. Phone around – the different branches have different prices!

Now, when you do buy your version and start working through it, please do tag Organising Queen on Instagram so I can come see your photos 🙂

A little end-of-year update


My one big goal for November is done.

I did my Spanish exam. I’ll find out whether I passed tomorrow evening but I did say to friends that I have done my absolute best – I have never in my life practised this hard for anything and I’m proud of all my efforts.

I also had probably 5 times as much fun as I did in the June exam which is all good.


But moving on…

On Saturday 19th I host this year’s 5 love languages of children workshop and I can’t wait. My prayer is that those who have signed up will leave having a deeper understanding of what makes them and their kids “tick”.

When I first went to a workshop, my mind was blown because I had insights about me, D and our kids! It’s so fun.

It’s not too late to sign up and yes, you can pay on payday if things are a bit tight now 🙂

Email me!


What I actually want to talk about are two things:

1. word of the year

My word of the year is joy and I’m not sure if it’s because I have this word, or the circumstances require that I had to have this word to cling to but 2016 hasn’t felt very joyful on the whole.

There have been joyful moments, sure, but my joy level has been lower this year than in a year with another guiding word.

Just when I was about to give up on this word and choose another (in August!), I received a gift (framed printable word art) from a friend with the words “choose joy”. That made me smile, I can tell you.

So I’m choosing joy.

But I’m already thinking about a word for next year. I’ll confess that I feel like I need to set the bar reallllllly low 🙂

I will write another post at the end of the year properly summarising JOY but for now, please tell me about your word for the year.

Has it been a fitting word for you? Have you wanted to abandon it too? Is your word still guiding you?


2. 2016 goals and intentions

My monthly goals have been going really well though despite unexpectedly buying a new house.

I think it’s because I’m focussing on only a few main life areas instead of all 7 or 8.

So I’m getting really excited about analysing (!) this year and doing my extensive reviews (aren’t you glad you don’t have to read all of that?!) and planning for next year.

Clean slate and all that jazz 🙂

How are your 2016 goals looking? Are you ready for a clean slate too?

(I need to write about planners/ diaries/ bullet journals for next year soon!)

PS if you’re not following Organising Queen on Instagram, you might want to take a look. I post there daily and it’s really fun!

Hoarder vs minimalist kids

See these two children?


I have one hoarder and one minimalist.

Case in point: stuffed animals

I went all Konmari on them and asked them to hold each animal and the animal only should stay if it brought them joy.

I received 8 from one and 1 from the other.


I don’t think I’m being mean because the truth is that it’s easier to keep a room tidy if there is very little to do in the room.

The minimalist does their room in about 5 minutes flat – fold pyjamas, make bed, tidy up.

The hoarder takes about 2 hours if not encouraged every 5 minutes.

5 love languages |

So how do you work with their personalities and still have a somewhat tidy house that we all feel relaxed in?

I don’t know how you do it, but here are a few things that help me:

  1. I make them each a list that they ideally should do before coming downstairs. Some days are earlier though so they skip some of their chores.
  2. They are really motivated by food so they need to be at least dressed with PJs put away before breakfast.
  3. Definitely no play unless the rooms are done.
  4. A recent thing since we moved into this house with stairs is I send them to do a video of their “tidy” room so I don’t have to run up and down over and over again…. apparently I have budding videographers (they also love instagram stories!) because this gets them moving – they want to make the video!
  5. One child said no when I asked if I could post the video but it was really cute…. “look Mummy, this side is clean, this side is clean and OOPS, I forgot about _____ but now I’ve picked it up so that’s clean too”.
  6. I work in the one room regularly to weed out extra clothes, stationery, toys, to make things easier to put away. That child is always so thankful because then tidy up is super quick. I do throw in a little organising lesson about how when we don’t gather as much, it’s so easy to keep the room nice and tidy…. but at heart this one is a collector 🙂

Share your tips with me in the comments.

And if you’re in Jhb, we use the 5 love languages with our kids for basically everything….join me on 19th November at 11:30 am for a practical, informative and FUN workshop. Email me for banking details to reserve your place.

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