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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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!

First published 21 Aug 2017

Here’s how you do your half-year review

I know I’m not the only one who is truly shocked that half the year has already elapsed.

If you don’t currently do a half-year review, I’d like to encourage you to at least think about how the first six months of 2022 have gone.

What went well? What worked?

You can think about both big things like relationships and small things like “I now do a Zumba class on a Wednesday evening instead of on a Tuesday, and that works really well for my schedule”

What didn’t go well? What’s not working?

Same story here. Maybe you tried to get a new job and didn’t get it? That’s possibly a bad example because I think any action is good as you’ve learned something from it.

Don’t dwell on the outcome but do acknowledge it.

What energised you?

Think about the things that brought you joy and gave you energy. Was it getting together with people? Was it the removal of the mask mandate? (fact- this gave me personally more anxiety but I heard from some friends that I’m an outlier) Was it hosting a party?

How is your word of the year working/ not working for you, and why?

Do you even remember the word you chose for 2022? If you do, great! Is that word still working for you? Why? How have you tried to live it during these last 6 months?

If your word is not working for you, for whatever the reason, consider this your big permission slip to change your word. Here’s how to choose a word of the year.

Are you doing any other annual projects? How are those going?

Maybe you’re doing a reading challenge? I’m doing Project Upgrade and trying journalling for the first time.

I hope that’s enough to prompt your thinking for now. I plan to write a newsletter later this week where I will share my half-year review. If you’re not on the list yet, here’s the link to sign up.

10-minute organising projects – nail polish

I like to think that one of my superpowers is using tiny bits of time efficiently.

I had to catch up on two training courses at work recently which involved watching some videos. The videos didn’t need me to take notes so I thought I’d organise my nail polish while watching.

I’d recently bought more nail polish (my first nail polish spree since lockdown!) so I had to declutter old ones (the one in, one out rule) and while doing that, I arranged them by brand and not by colour as I usually do.

While it’s nice to try new ways of organising, I quickly found that this didn’t work for me as my brain thinks, “oooh, I feel like wearing something pink” rather than “I want to wear the essence polish”.

I took them all out and arranged them in their shade categories…

see all the neutrals in the front left

a bit or order emerging (I also saw too many similar shades so I donated 3 bottles)

And done. I love having the boundary of this perspex container – it takes at most 18 – 19 bottles, depending on the shape. I use the round ceramic pot for my base and top coats.

This little project took less than 10 minutes, and that includes going to fetch the polish, the organising and returning them to my bedside table drawer.

If you struggle to think about what to do with small bits of time, make a list now of quick, 10-minute organising tasks:

  1. tidying a drawer is always a good one
  2. decluttering a pile of paper/ receipts from your wallet
  3. unsubscribing from sales emails

(my next little project will be sorting the kids’ reports and cards for their 2021 folders – yes, I haven’t bothered yet, probably because they all still fit in my slimline file box)

The week that was…weekly reflections 18, and Father’s Day

My friend and accountability partner, Beth, asked me this week if I stopped blogging due to my heavier work schedule.

Beth is known for asking me questions that stop me in my tracks, like this one. ๐Ÿ™‚

The answer is no, my work schedule is no heavier than it was earlier this year.

However, this is month 4 of being back in the office two days a week so I feel like I’ve adjusted to the new routine. Still, I used to blog on a Sunday afternoon as I’m currently doing so what has changed?

The answer is that I looked at my page views per blog post. It was such a tiny number (even smaller than you’re imagining!) that it didn’t seem worth disrupting my reading on a Sunday to come blog.

I’m still not sure who I’m writing for but that’s where I am. I love writing a blog, I love the idea of keeping a blog going for years and years (16 now!) but I know that it’s not a good use of my time.

If you have a few thoughts to share, I would love to hear them!

Today is also Father’s Day. We’re going out for an early supper to celebrate.

I sent a gift to my own father via my sister – I spoke to him earlier and apparently my sister is coming around later. “With cake?” I asked hopefully, because all good visits need cake and tea.

One of my clients’ dads died just a few days ago. My heart goes out to you if this day is difficult for you in any way.

We’re on the home stretch for June. I’ve literally just set goals for June and here I am, about to do my half year review ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

Have a wonderful week, everyone!

How the Four Tendencies do a monthly review

Happy June! At the end of this month, let’s do a half-year review together ๐Ÿ™‚

Even if you’re not usually the type of person who takes out a pen and bullet journal/ diary, I recommend you take 5 – 10 minutes just to think about how last month played out.

reflect

For now, let’s talk about monthly reviews from each of the Four Tendencies’ viewpoints:

Upholder

Wants a clear framework of questions to reflect on and if built into their habits/ schedule, will go ahead and do the monthly review every month.

Obliger

Probably thinks it’s a good idea but won’t get to it every month unless a coach or friend holds them accountable. Obligers, consider me your friendly coach.

Questioner

Will review if they see the benefit for themselves and feels like the effort is worthwhile, but will not wait for the last or first day of the month.

Rebel

If the rebel feels inclined to do a review, will do it in the way, shape or form that they see fit, certainly not what I suggest in this post. It’s your choice, Rebels!

For those who would like some ideas of questions to ponder, here are some of the favourite questions I use:

  1. what went well this month?
  2. what did not go well?
  3. what energised me?
  4. what have I learned?
  5. how can I bring more delight (or whatever your word of the year is) into my life? or where do I need to be more serious?
  6. which projects do I need to let go?

Even if you just do the first 1 – 4 questions, that’s a really good start to round off the month and step into June on a good, solid note.

Do you do a monthly reflection? Did the Four Tendencies questions help you to understand yourself and those around you better?

PS I also offer Four Tendencies coaching via Skype/ Whatsapp/ Zoom/ Teams so we can confirm your tendency and also work out an action plan based on your personal goals and challenges.

Best made plans and… weekly reflections 17

I had the best intentions after my last post to at least try and blog most of the daily challenges for OneDayMay but it just didn’t happen.

But as I always tell myself, no-one’s paying me to write here and it needs to stay fun ๐Ÿ˜‰

The good news is I have posted for 25 of the 29 days so far which is actually excellent as some of the prompts were hard when my brain is tired at the end of the day.

Here’s the hashtag if you want to scroll through and catch up.

What else has been happening?

  • We’re in month 3 of working at the office two days a week. This is working really well for me – I have time to listen to a book while driving, I get to use my winter clothes after 3 years and I see people ๐Ÿ™‚
  • I’ve finished 9 books so far for May; I think that’s where it will remain but I’m going to do my best to finish my current one too to round off on 10. Goodreads tells me that I’m 50% to my goal with exactly 50 books read so far. Something I’m doing (which I think is clever) is at the end of every month, I look through my list and identify my contenders for best books of 2022. I add these to a “collection” within my Kindle app. It’s great for two reasons: I can easily recommend books to others and I already know my shortlist for “best books of 2022”.
  • I’ve been absolutely delighted by autumn perhaps because I’ve been out and about to see colours! I have so many photos and videos of all the beautiful foliage around Johannesburg.

How was your May?

(I haven’t done my official monthly review yet so there may be more insights next week)

The week that was…weekly reflections 16… and OneDayMay

Autumn in Johannesburg ๐Ÿ™‚
  • Today is Workers Day in South Africa. When we have a public holiday on a Sunday, the Monday following also becomes a public holiday. This is now the fourth short workweek we’ve had.
  • I just updated my budget earlier today – a task I hate doing but love when it’s done – and I noticed I bought 5 (!) notebooks this week. I think subconsciously I’ve been on the lookout for good ones because 1) I’m using a very pretty notebook with terrible paper at work (if I use a post-it, it pulls at the paper) and 2) I’m moving into a new bullet journal tomorrow when I do my April goals review.
  • My phone had a little accident this week and got fixed about a day and a half later. I am so happy I can take photos again!
  • I hosted book club at my home yesterday after 11 months, but more importantly, inside! It almost felt like normal having people inside my home again. Our April book was L A Weather by Maria Amparo Escandon, and it was a lot… a lot… a lot…
  • Then on Friday, Dion and I celebrated 27 years of marriage! Gosh, it feels like a lot and I guess that makes us solidly middle-aged now.
  • This month I’m participating in Laura Tremaine’s One Day May social media challenge. I’m going to try and do most of them on the blog but we’ll see – my weeks are generally work and nothing else – so I may revert to my Instagram like I did last year. I’m @OrganisingQueen. Today’s prompt is to start with a selfie.

Hope you had a great week!

The week that was… weekly reflections… 15

very odd driving on the highway at night while there is loadshedding

I’m feeling very discombobulated at the moment so this is going to be short!

I cannot believe how few people currently read this blog – it’s completely disheartening and is giving me pause even though I know I write for myself. I used to tell myself “no-one reads blogs like they used to” but actually, that’s not true.

This week I only finished one book – The trouble with goats and sheep by Joanna Cannon – I’m still not sure what to make of it but gave it an overall rating of 3,75. I should finish 2 – 3 books in the next week though.

And that’s it for this week! Hope yours was better than mine.

Line-a-day – a different way of journalling

Iโ€™m not a fan of journalling… at all. But I do love a project where I can look back and see what I was up to at the same time last year, three years ago, seven years ago, etc.

An example is the photo challenges I participate in on Instagram with Susannah Conway.

The challenge has a hashtag, for instance #Aprillove2022 and then I usually add my own hashtag to each of my photos, like #marciasaprillove2021.

I love looking back and seeing how different each April has been for the last so many years.

Aside from Instagram journaling (a photo with a short caption, if any) is all Iโ€™ve ever been able to keep up with. Iโ€™m just not a writing in a journal every day kind of person.

I have been intrigued with line-a-day journals though.

I figured, โ€œhow hard can it be?โ€ and so when I saw that a local stationery story carried a line of journals, I bought one.

I started mine on 17 January and so far, so good.

I am still not a daily journaller but I catch up every 3 days or so. The trick for me is:

  1. Keep the journal handy and in plain view (it lives on my desk and doesnโ€™t get put away at all)
  2. Schedule time every weekend to catch up (some weeks Iโ€™ve caught up with a whole week in one sitting)
  3. Give myself permission to write just one sentence and only write more if I feel like it.
  4. Keep my phone handy throughout the day so I have some photos to prompt my memory.
  5. Let go of needing it to be insightful or cute (I tell myself that in a few years Iโ€™ll appreciate knowing that it rained for 5 solid days in Jhb โ€“ unusual for us at this time of year)

Iโ€™m still more of an Instagram journaller because I see the world in visuals but I figure that my three months a year with Susannah Conway is just going to have to do.

Are you a daily journaller? Would a line-a-day journal work for you?

PS Laura Tremaine has often said that bullets and lists work just as well as free form writing. I might resort to this method in the busier months ๐Ÿ˜‰

The week that was… weekly reflections 14

Happy Easter!

a corner of my garden
  • In South Africa, we have four four-day weeks in April and May due to Easter, Freedom Day and Workers Day. This year, those four weeks follow one another which means two things:
  1. long weekends!
  2. work is squished into four days instead of five!

(instead of 20 days to do the work, we now have 16!)

  • I already felt this pressure this week but reminded myself that my self-imposed to-do list (#upholder) doesn’t make sense in a 4-day week and some things would just have to wait for next week.
  • We have started loadshedding again which is never a problem if they keep to the scheduled times as we can then prepare. But with all the rains and cold, it is just not the best time. I always think of people who don’t have enough clothes or blankets and my heart breaks. If you’re local, throw a blanket or two, an old coat or jacket, scarf, cap into your car and be on the lookout for people who need extra warm clothes as you drive around your city.
  • Have you seen the footage of the KZN floods? Devastating to think about all those people who have lost their lives and houses.
  • We also had Parents Evening this week which was madness. Queues of parents wanting to speak to each teacher. Eventually we decided who we definitely wanted to see, saw those teachers and left without seeing the rest.
  • This week I finished Perfect Tunes by Emily Gould, Never tell a lie by Gail Schimmel, and God spare the girls by Kelsey McKinney. They were all solid 4* and higher books, but I think Never tell a lie will have the most universal appeal. What are you reading?

Hope you have a lovely week!

2022 word of the year update – Q1

This year I chose a main word, delight, and two supporting words – balance and rest.

I’ve spoken enough about rest – how it wasn’t working and how I’m doing a reset.

But for now, let’s talk about the other two words.

I chose balance so that I would not work all the hours of every day and that my life would look more balanced. As my coaching client said so beautifully last year, I can enjoy my work without being consumed by it.

I set some specific actions for myself every week and month, and I’ve been sticking to them (#upholder). The other key thing is that I’m tracking my time. And yes, I ended the quarter on target for my work hours goal – yay!

As for delight, it has been just the thing to get me searching for moments of happiness on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.

I set goals every month and some of them have to answer the question, “what can I do this month to bring more delight into my life?

  1. If I feel lazy about going to take the picture, I remind myself, “delight!” and go do it.
  2. If someone invites me to have a quick coffee or tea at the office, even though my to-do list is always long, I remind myself, “delight” and say yes.
  3. If I have a choice between two books, I ask myself, “what will delight me more at this time?” and choose that one.

I listened to three delightful audiobooks this quarter too and can I just put forward the case that if you enjoyed a book the first time round, you are going to probably love it even more on audio if the narration is good. The three books are Mary Jane, Daisy Jones and the Six, and Rachel’s Holiday.

And that’s my word of the year update!

How has your word of the year been working for you? Do you need a reset on your word? Do you need ideas to keep your word top of mind?

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