3 things I do that help my productivity

I adored reading this blog post from Ramit Sethi. It’s one of my favourite blog posts of all time.

One of the main things that were insightful for me is that fundamentals are first, second is psychology and third are the details. Most people focus on the details when they actually need to start focussing on fundamentals.

Fundamentals are things like sleeping enough, psychology is being able to say no or set good boundaries, and the details are what type of notebook or app or calendaring system I use to plan my life.

In that post he actually says that we need to focus on those details only 10% of the time and I had an aha moment or two.

Because seeing the % split like that puts things in perspective, and also I’ve been subconsciously focussing on a lot of it already.

I thought it would be fun to share 1 thing in each of those areas that I do, and then you can share your things too.

Fundamentals

What I do: I sleep an average of 7 hrs 30 a night. You all know I diligently track my sleep because when I stop measuring, it all goes off track.

In this category we also have environment, soul care and exercise, in addition to managing your stress.

Psychology

What I do: I have very good boundaries and I know when to say yes and no.

Also in this category is knowing if you’re a time optimist or realist, and unplugging from social media when it starts being detrimental for you.

Those top two areas aren’t very exciting but they’re so very necessary.

Details

Well, you know I’m doing a hybrid this year of my bullet journal and my shining year planner. And then I added a gorgeous purple moleskine. My favourite pens are both Pentel energel and Pilot G2. Lately my absolute, super favourite pen is my metallic violet Pilot G2, which you have seen in almost all my instagram posts the last month or two 🙂

Over to you!

What do you think about the triad of productivity?

What are the things you do in each of those three areas? Very curious minds would love to know!

How I organise my Tupperware cupboard

My plastics cupboard had been driving me crazy for awhile. So when I asked for blog post suggestions and a follower asked me how I organise my Tupperware cupboard, it was just the motivation I needed.

Confession – I have zero pieces of actual Tupperware but I think we all call plastics “Tupperware”.

Ready?

Let me show you my cupboard and talk you through my process.

Here is the before pic. It’s organised but there is too much stuff.

The back of the cupboard opens to my dining room so I’ve always not put too much in there in case the cupboard falls open on the other side 🙂

1. Keep what you actually need

This is the stuff that was really bothering me. Far too many plastic containers when I  actually don’t have any babies. If it were up to only me, I’d keep only the 6 plates, 6 bowls and 6 popsicle holders for outside snacks in the garden or around the pool, and the two 4-division plates, simply because I bought those for my 3-year-olds at Duane Reed in NYC. Awww.

The kids and Dion told me they also need a few snack bowls for popcorn/ chip movie watching so I ended up keeping a few more.

2. Use square or rectangular containers

Round containers are a complete waste of space in a cupboard. If you have plenty of space, go for it. Most people don’t have an excess of space so buy square or rectangular so you can put more in the same space.

I mentioned this on my instastory but these are the only round containers I own, by choice. The bottom one is great for transporting soft fruit like a peach or nectarine, and we use the turquoise lidded ones for nuts. The ones on the left are from our restaurant takeaways

3. Store all lunchboxes together, both yours and the kids’ ones

I keep a plastic basket with my work food items and containers. Normally this wouldn’t make sense. Why keep cup-a-soup, milk, cheese wedges and cereals with other empty containers?

Because I don’t like hunting around for the stuff I use to pack my work food.

This way, everyone knows that those are my things and nobody touches them.

I do the same with the kids’ lunchboxes. We only use their lunchboxes for their lunches. They have two lunchboxes each – one standard and one smaller for when they don’t feel like taking lots of food. I completely follow their lead and only pack the quantities they tell me they want, and this way, everything gets eaten 99.9% of the time.

4. Containerise like crazy

I store containers with their lids on except for containers that “nest”.  (that one lonely purple lid is the friend to a container that was used without its lid on the day I organised this cupboard) This batch is the stuff I use All The Time so I keep them in a big plastic container and just pull it out as if a drawer so that I have easy access.

I tossed most of the tiny containers probably a year ago because I don’t have tiny babies anymore. These are the ones we still use and I keep them all in this big plastic jug. It’s useful because I can grab it out to poke through for the one I need, and then put back.

this was the “before” pic 🙂

I even containerise these because I can’t stand smaller stuff toppling around my cupboard. The ones on the left are from the Clutter Buster Rotation Station (I’ve had them for a good 10+ years :))

5. Store infrequently-used items at the back or on the bottom shelf

Here is the after pic. I use the things on the top shelf daily so I don’t have to bend my back…much to get to them.

Here is the pile that was decluttered. I could easily have another go, but let’s not freak them all out too much 🙂

And that’s it.

Not very exciting or Pinterest-worthy at all, but hugely satisfying when everything has a friend (a lid) and a place in the world.

Repeat after me – it doesn’t have to be perfect to be organised.

Hope this helps, CatJuggles.

Readers, let me know if you do any of these things. Which tricks do you use in your “Tupperware” cupboard? Will you tackle your cupboard this weekend?

PS Have you read The Husband’s Secret? I identify so much with Cecilia, the lady who sold Tupperware 🙂

Do you suffer from perfectionism?

If you’ve ever been for a job interview, you’ve probably been asked the most awful interview question, “what is your biggest weakness?”

At that point you probably want to position yourself in the best possible light so you frantically scramble and try to think of a weakness that’s not too bad.

I’ll confess that years ago when I used to go for job interviews I used to answer that biggest weakness was that I was a perfectionist.

It is a weakness and yet it’s a weakness that is seen as a strength by a lot of people because it shows great attention to detail and quality orientation.

Nowadays though, I would bite my tongue before admitting that trait.

These days, I could safely say I’m a recovering perfectionist but it’s definitely not something I’m in the least bit proud of. It’s something I worked very hard on for a few years and when I see it rearing its head, I reign it back and tell myself the truth.

Perfectionism robs me of living a full and happy life.

Do you think of yourself as a perfectionist?

I love this quote by Julia Cameron: “perfectionism is not a quest for the best. It is a pursuit of the worst in ourselves, the part that tells us that nothing we do will ever be good enough – that we should try again.”

How do you know if you’re a perfectionist?

You may be a perfectionist if…

  1. you think you’re the only person who can do something exactly right
  2. you don’t even bother to do something unless you can do it 100% perfectly
  3. you never ask for help because that’s a sign of weakness
  4. you’d rather not try than do something badly or failing at it
  5. you tend to notice others’ mistakes before noticing their strengths
  6. other people have called you a control freak

If you’re constantly striving for the elusive perfection, you’re never going to be happy to just be.

Your relationships will suffer and so will your productivity.

Perfectionism has also been related to illnesses such as eating disorders, anxiety, depression and a host of relationship and emotional problems.

As I said, I used to be a fully-fledged perfectionist until I wised up.

I had to learn to let go a little, lower my impossible standards and change my language.

When my twins were born, I realised very quickly that I could either have everything done to my exacting standards and never sleep, or I could relax those standards a bit so that things could still get done, even if not exactly how I would have liked, and actually have a bit of a life.

I also started telling myself, “80% is good enough” and it is. Most things in life are not a matter of life and death and we all need to realize it. I knew this from my years of delegating work to staff but it escaped my home life a bit.

That realization was freedom to me.

Are you aware that if it takes you double the time to “perfect” something when the first half was good enough already? I’ve just spent about 40 minutes writing this article. If I wanted to get it “perfect”, it would take another 40 minutes and nobody would even notice the minor differences.

That trend applies to most things in life and it’s just not worth it.

Are you a perfectionist? Is it something you’re proud of or have you already started seeing the limitations in your life?

PS Gretchen Rubin did a podcast recently on perfectionism which I LOVED. You can listen to it here (it’s episode 126 if you don’t use itunes)

Lovely things to do this year

I have some routines I like to do around my birthday every year which I thought I’d talk about and link to, so that you can be reminded to do them too, if you’re so inclined.

If your birthday’s at a completely different time of year, put a link to this post in your calendar, a week or so before or after your birthday.

If you’re reading on a mobile device like an iphone, tap the square with an arrow pointing up, copy and paste the link into your calendar.

Here’s my annual birthday routine:

1. Organise a celebration. I believe that every year on this earth is a blessing so I like to celebrate my birthday every year.

2. Do a birthday review. This year I changed one or two questions but the main 4 questions are the same as my monthly review: what worked well, what didn’t work well, what did I learn, what do I need to let go of?

As a reader mentioned in the comments last year, it is a brave thing to do, to face up to things may not have consciously considered, but it’s always good to take an honest assessment of things. If you need some hand holding as you do this work, please book a coaching session with me.

3. Make a list of lovely things to do this year. This is purely a fun list 🙂

I put things on this list like books I’ve always wanted to read, restaurants to try, fun things to do like take a photowalk with a friend to take photos of the jacarandas, things I want to do with Dion or the kids, and recipes I’ve wanted to try.

So far on my list I have to (finally) buy new frames because I’ve had my current frames for about 3 – 4 years (lenses have changed, but I kept the frames).

I also have some fun books I want to read, and I think I finally need to read the Total Money Makeover. I also want to listen to Andre Agassi’s Open.

Keep checking my Instagram because I’ll be sure to post my list when it’s done.

I have a friend who schedules a massage on her birthday, another who always takes a day’s leave to “think about her life” and still another who books all her appointments like gynae, eyes, mammogram in her birthday month. Fun, thoughtful and practical.

Please tell me about your birthday rituals and if you’re not signed up to my list yet, please do so if you want the free “lovely things to do this year” printable. My next newsletter goes out on Tuesday 15th.

Have you done your annual birthday review yet?

July project update and August theme – delight :)

Happy August!

My theme for July was refresh – you can read about the 7  areas I wanted to focus on in July.

Now here’s a confession – I completely forgot about one of them (number 3) because I didn’t write it down on my monthly goals list.

But 6 out of 7 is great. Technically, the window washing happens tomorrow but July was spent getting quotes. Though, if this company does a good job, I will just diarise and get them out every time the windows need doing. I can’t WAIT to see out of clean upstairs windows again!

And now, for August, my theme is delight.

How can I delight myself this month? How can I delight others in big and small ways?

Confession time – I chose this theme because it’s my birthday month.

This month I’m going to:

  • go get a massage (to think, back in the day, I used to have a massage scheduled every two weeks!)
  • get my hair done
  • declutter my shoes (yay!!!)
  • I already threw myself a little party
  • do my birthday review and set intentions for the year ahead (I’ll post on Instagram so make sure you check in with me there)
  • write down some fun things I want to do over the next year (I’ll send out this free printable in next week’s newsletter)
  • read some fun books
  • have about 6 friend dates 🙂
  • do nice things for 7 people

What is your theme for August?

How can you delight yourself this month?

If you’d like me to help you get clear on your goals and intentions for the year/ half year/ quarter ahead, I would be happy to do that. Send me a mail.

What I learned in July

This has been a full month of birthdays, holidays, and catching up at work.

It’s been fun to start and play with a new bullet journal

I’m using dot grid this time and it’s fun! Like blank, but more structured. My 3rd bullet journal last year was blank so this is the third type I’m trying out.

Speaking of bullet journals, are you signed up to my list? My newsletter’s going out later today and there’s a fun bullet journal survey in there.

If you’re on instagram and you use a bullet journal, please take a pic and tag me @organisingqueen so I can come see yours.

You can go to the beach and relax even without beach weather

Like last year, we mostly had cold, wintry weather at the beach. Last year, we spent 10 days there and had 2 proper beach days, while this year, we spent 7 days and had 1.5 beach days.

We watched Wimbledon, read books, played games, went for walks (11 in the 7 days!) and had fun connecting as a family. Of course we also had no internet 🙂

We need to rethink the party situation

My twins are very different – I have an extrovert and an introvert. They wanted different types of parties this year and it was so interesting watching this all unfold, knowing that one of the parties would not have suited me at all, but was “perfect” for her.

That said, I felt “on” the whole weekend and was knackered at the end. I told myself it’s just once a year, which it is, but I’m wondering how to still have the separate parties but make it easier on the family (mostly me!) all round. I’m considering having them on two different weekends, but we’ll see. I took only 1 picture of the first party so maybe having a friend or parent around to help? Dion wasn’t allowed as it was a girls only party!!!

Any suggestions would be very welcome!

And one last fun thing, dipping bowls make great change bowls or ring holders 🙂

What did you learn during July?

Getting motivated, Four Tendencies style

Our theme for this month is refresh and what better way to make yourself feel great than to refresh some parts of your home or office environment, if that’s where you need it. Maybe it’s your schedule where you feel too busy or overwhelmed?

Flylady says, “you can do anything for 15 minutes”. I love this mantra and I repeat it to myself to get me moving with any task I find myself procrastinating.

You have to decide and take a little bit of action before anything will click into place. There is, unfortunately, no magic formula for organising success.

However, there are a few things that will help to get you going, according to your tendency.

If you’re not sure which of the Four Tendencies you are, you may want to take the quiz here.

If you’re an Obliger, make yourself accountable to people with a deadline, and you’ll get your task done. Make a coffee date with a friend, but only once you’ve done an hour’s organising.

If you’re a Questioner, make sure you have a good reason for what you want to get done. If you’re not clear on this, you’re going to battle with the execution thereof.

If you’re a Rebel, perhaps you’d like to remind yourself of your identity? You’re a strong, successful, accomplished person and you deserve to live in an environment that suits such a person.

If you’re an Upholder, you don’t have a problem getting motivated to start. You need to learn to relax. Put “relax” on your to-do list and reward yourself with relaxing activities for each item or two you get done.

Ideas for a mini refresh in the home

1. Top of bedside table
2. Bathroom vanity
3. Handbag
4. Make-up bag
5. Command Central (the place where papers multiply)

Ideas for a mini refresh in the office

1. Top drawer of desk
2. Do your filing.
3. Schedule payment dates for bills in your phone, bullet journal or planner.
4. Organise your desk.
5. Unsubscribe from newsletters (not mine!) for 10 minutes

Ideas for a mini refresh with your time

1. Block off a half day on the weekend to stay home and do nothing
2. Plan meals for a week (this saves you hours over the week)
3. Schedule a recurring phone date with a friend. It will save you the mental energy of having to decide when you will talk again.
4. Cancel a non-important meeting or move it to a time when it suits you better
5. Put an alarm on your phone to Go Sleep!

Whatever you manage to do, give yourself a pat on the back for a time of refreshing!

Where will you do a refresh in your home, office or time?

What’s your tendency?

(I’m an upholder)

My new bullet journal – #2 for 2017

I used my first bullet journal for 2017 (and my 4th overall) for the first 6 months of the year, and when the time came to replace it, I had a couple of choices:

  • use a thicker notebook for another 6 months, or
  • use thinner notebooks so I could try out a couple of different styles

I asked for your feedback here and you weighed in 🙂

Ultimately, I decided to try out a dot grid notebook since I have used blank and lined paper before. So I went with the one at the bottom of this stack.

So how am I feeling about my bullet journal choice, 3 weeks in?

  1. It’s a smaller notebook, so I feel sometimes like I’m cramming things onto a to-do list
  2. I’m still getting used to the dots (they’re quite light) and to be honest, it feels like I’m writing on blank paper most of the time 🙂
  3. I feel zero perfectionism about writing in this notebook. I’m not sure if that’s because there are another two waiting for me or because it’s a smaller page with rougher paper so it feels like it lends itself more toward scribbles.
  4. I love the rougher paper because it “soaks up” my gel pens. Yum!
  5. I’ve had to cover my notebook with plastic because I don’t want stains or moisture on the cardstock cover.
  6. I’ve migrated nothing but I did reprint my friendship spreadsheet and I took photos of my reading pages 🙂

What type of paper do you most enjoy in a notebook? Lined, dot grid, grid or blank paper?

Did you start a new bullet journal at the start of the year? Are you still using the same one?

PS I used 3 bullet journals over the course of last year, but I only started in March 2016.

Letting go

We went to the beach for a week and, as I usually do, I took a USB modem with me to still have internet access.

Well, my ISP must have withdrawn from the area we were in (they were there the last 6 years) because suddenly the modem didn’t work.

Some real talk today. I planned to write blogs for the week and get lots of other internet-y things done. But suddenly, my ISP’s not working in this part of the country. . . For those of you thinking, that’s not a holiday, I actually relax best in a ratio of 1:1:1 which is reading: out and about things: getting stuff done. So on holidays that looks like lots of reading: photowalks: editing/ cooking/ writing/ budgeting 😜 . . So I’m taking it as a sign to relax properly in terms of timelines. I’ll still write; I just won’t post it to the internet ☺️ . . But I will say the budget is done, kids’ 8-year photos are edited and I’m making good headway with this lovely book. . . . . #livelifeintentionally #liveintentionally #marcialovestea #marciareads #ESTJ

A post shared by Marcia Francois (@organisingqueen) on

So I was “forced” to relax properly. I started and finished 3 books at the beach, and I finished the last 20% of the 4th book when we got home after I unpacked.

We watched Wimbledon, we went for 11 walks and we just connected and relaxed together as a family.

It was a really great holiday despite the weather not being the best beach weather.

It was exactly the physical refresh I needed.

I think that a significant part of my enjoyment was just letting go of my expectations and accepting reality in the moment.

How do you like my two motivational posters?! 🙂

I got to thinking about this and wondered where else I can let go of my expectations and had the opportunity to put it into practice on my first day back at work.

My sometimes unrealistic expectation whenever I return from leave is that I will completely clear my inbox in 1 day (HA!). Most times that is doable but we are particularly busy due to the time of year and some industry changes.

So this time I told myself that there is no point in coming back from a holiday to be stressed one day in.

I worked as hard as I could, worked as smart as I could, and cleared “only” 70% of the emails.

It was enough and it was good.

(this is me thinking loving and kind thoughts)

Where do you need to let go of unrealistic expectations?

How do you need to be kinder to yourself?

Creatives can’t get organised. Myth or truth?

It’s true that creative people need different ways to organise themselves because traditional methods usually don’t work too well for them.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to organising; in fact, since each person is unique, each person’s organising system should also be different.

Let’s look at four areas to organise yourself for success:

  1. Attitude
    It’s a myth that creative people can’t work in a structured environment. On the contrary, having a bit of structure in your life actually enables you to be even more creative and to do better work.

A few years ago, a client emailed to tell me how she’s been energised and has been creating beautiful things again.

What was the difference in her life? We’d worked on organising her office space and within the new-found order, she could be creative once again.

Stop telling yourself that you can’t be organised; rather tell yourself that you organise yourself in non-traditional ways.

  1. Schedule
    Traditionally, we’ve all been told to work according to the clock. I’m telling you to work with your energy cycles; don’t try to battle them.

If you know that you go through a bit of a slump around lunch time, maybe that’s when you want to run errands or exercise to give yourself an energy boost.

If you design websites and you know that you’re most creative at midnight, then design your websites at midnight  Who made the rule that you have to start working at 8am?

  1. To-do list
    Scrap the to-do list. Yes, you read that correctly. The to-do list may set you up for failure especially when you feel you’re not getting things done.

Rather use an Eat the Frog list. This list helps you be more flexible so you only need to get the most important things done. My clients are always a bit shocked when I tell them, “the fewer items you have on your list, the better it is”. Just make sure those are truly important things on your list.

  1. Workspace
    When you can find your equipment and supplies easily, your valuable energy is used for actual creativity and not wasted on looking for things.

It’s so important to have your workspace set up according to your organising style. Are you a visual, auditory or kinesthetic learner? Are you a paper or electronic person? Maybe the reason you can’t seem to get your papers organised is because you’re actually an electronic person.

I’ve had clients with very messy offices whose computers are perfectly organised, and vice versa. It’s so important to play to your strengths.

My friend, Suzanne, admitted on the podcast that she hadn’t been creating because her workspace was too messy. She then took up my challenge to organise her environment so she could create again. Look at these fantastic results!

My challenge to you
Check your attitude and start telling yourself you can get more productive once you organise according to your style.

Tag me on instagram to come see your workspaces and creative environments. I can’t wait to see.

Are you creative? What are your particular challenges with regard to your workspace?

PS I wrote about my space to create on the blog before.

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