How do I control all the paper?

One of the most popular questions I get is this:

How do I control all the paper?

I understand this question completely because I have a big yellow desk and when I get lazy, that’s the first area that goes out of control for me too.

The first thing you have to do is make decisions on what next for every piece of paper. I like using a timer because I’m naturally competitive (anyone relate?) and that inspires me to take action, and quickly too!

Before you start, gather the following items:

1. a timer (use the timer on your phone)
2. wastepaper basket
3. brightly coloured pen (I like a nice thick red gel pen)
4. notebook and/ or planner
5. post-it notes (the originals, not the cheap stuff)

Right, now you’re set!

There are only four actions you’re allowed to do once you’ve looked at each piece of paper. Don’t take longer than 30 seconds to scan the page.

1. Dump it

Throw it in the bin. The more ruthless you are, the less you have to file. Win-win!

If you only need one piece of information, write it down straight in your notebook or diary, and then throw the piece of paper away. Some of you are hyperventilating – you’ll be okay.

2. Delegate it

If someone else has to attend to it (husband needs to phone), write the action on the paper itself or on a post-it note and put that in a separate pile.

3. File it

Please do yourself a favour and only put paper in this pile if you absolutely need to reference it again. Just a quick statistic before you add anything to that pile… only 20% of filed papers are ever referenced again. Ahem.

Use your post-it pad for different categories. For example, when I’m doing my weekly paper sorting session, I use Household, Marcia, Dion and Kids as my categories.

4. Do it

Here I apply the two-minute rule. If you can do it in two minutes or less, do it right there and then. When I say “do it”, I mean either action it or schedule it to action later.

For example, if you’re working on your papers at 10 pm and need to make an appointment, you can’t phone right there and then, so write it on tomorrow’s to-do list or add it to your phone as a reminder. That’s within two minutes and it counts.

There you have it – the only four things to do with paper. If you stick to making decisions and taking action continually, your paper will be beautifully organised in no time at all. But remember, there’s no shame in the paper getting out of control now and again.

Is paper an area in your life that you battle with?

Is it the decision-making part, the sheer volume, the fact that you’re scared you may need it again? Tell me more.

Bullet journal 101 – most useful pages

If you haven’t seen the last post on bullet journal, have a read here to find out all the pages I use for planning.

Today, we’re going to discuss three of the most useful pages for me:

When I last
This is a page I picked up from browsing the #bulletjournal hashtag on Instagram. I took a screenshot immediately and kept it on my phone for a few months before trying it.

Basically, it’s to remind you of things you need to keep track of, but that don’t happen daily, weekly or even monthly.
I track when I colour my hair (I should do that monthly, but I do it when I can’t stand it anymore) and when I have my Brazilian Blowwaves done. I also started tracking Connor’s haircuts.

Any ideas you have for this page? Or ideas for me to use this page more?

This is not my reading goals page but just my monthly reading list 🙂

Reading goals

This is one of my favourite pages in my bullet journal.

I wrote out these goals at the start of the year when I thought of how I wanted my reading life to look this year.
I’m happy with the amount of reading I do but I wanted to get intentional about a few other things – books to re-read, how many Audible books, etc.

So I look at my list at the end of each month and I see how I’m doing. And then, of course, I make adjustments for the month ahead.

If you’re a reader, I highly recommend a reading goals list.

What were/ are some of your reading goals for this year?

Favourite author lists and the books I already have

This page started as an action from my reading goals page. And then I accidentally bought a physical copy of a book I have on my Kindle, and the page morphed into one where I tick off the books I own, and I highlight them once I’ve read them.

I’ve now trained myself to not buy books until I’ve checked my pages just in case I own a copy.

It’s so useful. If you have a bad memory for books that kind-of sound the same, make yourself a list of your favourite authors and the books you need to read from your physical or virtual bookshelves.

How do you keep track of the books you need to read from your favourite authors? Goodreads? Page in your bullet journal? Notes in your phone?

Which are some of your most useful pages in your bullet journal?

How I do menu planning, and what I cook for my freezer

Have you read my post on why you should consider menu planning?

 

I do my menu planning weekly but if you’re more of an all or nothing person, you might want to just plan a month’s worth of meals and get it all over and done with at one time.

Weekly or monthly menu planning for you?

I feel like I’m doing that thing with my kids where I say “cucumber or tomatoes?”

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A couple of ideas on ways to approach menu planning:

  • have a theme for each day: mince on Mondays/ chicken on Tuesdays/ vegetarian on Wednesdays/ fish on Thursday/ easy Friday (pizza/ eggs/ soup)
  • cook a certain number of nights and use freezer dishes for the rest
  • delegate certain nights to your spouse

How I do it

1. Generally, D does supper on Tuesdays and Sundays. The trick when you delegate is you are not allowed to say a single thing except “thank you for the lovely supper”. They will stop if you nag about anything. Tell yourself the kids will be fine without vegetables for 1 – 2 nights. I don’t write anything on my menu plan except “D”.

Sundays is usually toast with peanut butter, cheese, etc. and this is (sadly) the kids’ favourite meal of the week.

2. According to my daughter, we always have rice on a Monday (I checked my menu plans and turns out, she’s right 🙂 I haven’t intentionally planned it like that, but I do like rice/ pasta/ rice/ potatoes/ bread-based within my 5 meals.

3. We very rarely go out for supper because 1) I can whip up a pasta quicker than us getting ourselves sorted and to the nearest place and waiting for our meal 2) we prefer lunches out

4. I cook a lot on the weekends. Not every weekend, but about one or two weekends in a 5-week period. That feels about right to me. I may make 3 meals but I cook double so that’s 6 nights’ suppers sorted.

5. Leftovers. Don’t discount the leftovers. Those meals I cook on the weekends last longer than I anticipate because often we don’t have to have the 5th meal of the week because there is enough leftovers. Sometimes I’ve had supper out, sometimes D only wants half of his supper because he’s home later, and so on.

Meals that freeze well

Some people think potato or pasta doesn’t freeze well. I have done both and the meals are still perfectly fine. I think the trick is to not let it thaw forever out on the counter because your food will get watery (yuck!). I put it in the microwave to defrost it a bit for about 6 minutes (that’s two presses of the quick defrost button on my microwave) and then straight into the oven to crisp up.

  1. Cottage pie
  2. Baked pasta dishes. When you cook one dish to have “fresh” on the night, do another dish for the freezer. Put it in the casserole dish, put some cling wrap (Saran wrap) on the top, and into the freezer.
  3. Rice
  4. Curries
  5. Bolognaise
  6. Chicken a la King
  7. Taco mince
  8. Chilli con carne
  9. Chicken and broccoli casserole
  10. Soup and the rolls 🙂

and so on (share your ideas in the comments please)

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Do you menu plan? Weekly or monthly?

Do you cook freezer meals? Which ones are your favourites?

Why you should menu plan

I was chatting to a friend a few weeks ago and I told her that when things feel like they’re going off track, there’s one thing that I need to do: make a menu plan.

Today, let’s talk about why I do menu planning (I’ve been menu planning for 11 years now), and why you should consider doing so too.

Do you menu plan?

Good reasons to menu plan

  • it saves you daily decision time
  • saves you money when you use up all the food in the freezer and pantry, and stops you buying foods you don’t need
  • no stress about what to cook every night as even if you don’t feel like eating what you put on your menu, you know there’s at least 4 other options to choose from

I play a little game with myself and aim for sticking to the menu plan 4 out of 5 nights. Remember I’m not a perfectionist. Good enough is better than perfect.

How do you start menu planning

Note – please do this before you go to the shops to do your grocery shopping 😉

1. Go to your freezer and cupboards to see what food you have that you need to use up, and make a list.
2. Write out a menu plan for a week (if you do weekly shopping) or longer, using recipes to use up that food. Get creative.
3. Add any items that you need to your weekly shopping list and do your shopping. You may have some pasta and cans of tuna so in order to use them up, you might need a few cans of tomato.
4. Stick the menu plan to your fridge.

Now you don’t have to rack your brain every night wondering what to cook because you have a plan.

Another tip that will save you lots of time is to cook something on a Sunday afternoon. This meal is not for eating that day, but for freezing. I heard a podcast recently (I don’t know how she does it – an Aussie podcast) where the lady said she makes all the lunches for the week on a Sunday afternoon and while she’s doing that, she bakes muffins or bread. Brilliant!

When you have a busy day it’s easy to just defrost the meal and have a healthy supper on the table in minutes.

We went through a stage where we didn’t buy any meat for two months while we finished everything in the freezer and started on the cupboards. You see, we all get into a habit of buying the same groceries every week without checking if we really need it.

If you’re not already menu planning, I’d like to encourage you to at least start. Do so for at least a month, give it a good go and see if it doesn’t save you time and money.

And if you already do menu planning, then your challenge for this week is to only buy perishables and eat from your freezer and cupboards.

Are you menu planning?

Is there anything you’d like to change about your process? Do you have any special tips?

PS Look out on Thursday for how I do my menu planning and some freezer meal ideas

5 more favourite posts about … goal-setting process

Guys, you know I love talking about goals.

I’m actually so excited that I’ve found like-minded people on my @OrganisingQueen instagram page who like to see so much talk about goals 🙂

I did think, though, that I should round up some of my favourite goals posts again in one place, so here you go.

Bouncing back from a not-great goals month

These 3 things will get you halfway to your goals

Goals for kids

Two great goal-setting questions

Put your goals back on track

Tell me about your goal-setting history.

Do you set goals comfortably?

Do you want to set goals but don’t quite … get around to it?

Are you scared in case you don’t reach those goals?

Do you feel like it would be too much pressure?

Tell all 🙂

P.S. If you need help, do email me to set up a goal-setting session. I’d love to help you.

Bullet journal 101 – planning pages

Thanks again if you took the bullet journal survey. If you still want to weigh in, go right ahead – I have one more post planned besides this one, but if there are more questions left on the survey link, there might be a third post this month.

If you’ve never done a bullet journal and you want to try….but you feel intimidated by the fancy ones you see on Instagram (clearly not mine!), I’d say if you do nothing else but a few standard pages, your life will feel at least ten times more organised.

Take some time and think through your needs

  1. Do you think in terms of daily or weekly planning?
  2. Do you prefer to get things done during the week or on the weekend?

If you’re like me and you think of getting your stuff done over the course of a week, then you’ll do weekly planning. I actually still recommend this option to most people because it takes off the pressure from achieving something every day. I personally don’t mind if I have a day or two of slothfullness because I know I have 7 days to get things done; not only 1.

However, if you like to get a few things done daily, and you won’t beat yourself up about a few days of non-achievement here and there, then by all means, do a daily to-do list.

To sum up, these are the pages I suggest you pick from for your basic bullet journalling.

1. Monthly review of the month that’s just passed

Use my standard 4 questions – what went well? what didn’t go well? what have I learned? what can I let go of? Of course, you may add more if you want but we’re keeping it simple

2. Goals for the month

Keep it simple to 10 or so items. I think in categories so I have socials, family, fun, health, house.

3. Life admin list

This is a master to-do list and has all those things you currently need to take care of – hair appointments, car stuff, electrician, and so on. You could incorporate this into your goals for the month if you won’t get overwhelmed. I like them separate so I don’t feel drained when I look at my goals list.

4. My weekend to-do list

This is still my favourite list.

I make one every Friday evening and as I’ve written before, it has to have 3 categories. Please click that link so you can see a real person’s to-do list. It is not Pinterest perfect because it is a tool to get things done.

Fun fact – way back when (Dion and I have been married 22 years and we’re both strong J’s, and upholders, so we love planning), D and I used to make a little list every Friday evening on the back of a used envelope. I think I was too poor to buy cute (unnecessary) stationery back then.

5. Daily to-do list (my work from home list)

I cut out on my commute (a whole two glorious hours) when I work from home so I can either get more work done which is the case most of the time and especially the last 3 – 4 months, but at other times, I keep a list of things to do around the house during my breaks. I usually have about 6 tasks that are all super quick things to get done. Either that or I get some errands done.

If I don’t have a list, I find that it’s easy to simply scroll instagram instead of being productive.

6. Weekly list

I make my weekly list (because I do weekly planning) in my Moleskine planner. You can see the specific style of diary I prefer to use in the pictures on this post.

Beth and I chat every Thursday evening so that’s when I do my weekly planning for the week running Thursday to Wednesday.

I attach no schedule to these things at all unless they’re time-based activities, like my weekly flamenco dance class or book club.

Basically, I glance at the list every two days or so and do them when they suit how busy my day is, or not.

In case you’re thinking this is very “loose” of me, that is true, but over the years, I’ve more or less settled into a loose rhythm, like Mondays is my main writing night, Tuesday is dance class and reading when I get home, Wed could be photos or podcast club, Thurs is Beth/ coaching/ starting on a small thing on my weekly list (to build momentum),  Friday and Sat are reading nights again (that’s how I read so much) and Sunday afternoons are blogging, planning, reading 🙂

For your own planning purposes, which of the pages mentioned above would suit your lifestyle?

What I learned in August

August is a big month for me because it’s my birthday month and I always have friends over for a birthday lunch.

So here’s what I learned this month:

I’m really much, much happier in the cold weather

Johannesburg had spring happen 6 weeks earlier than it was supposed to. I was not a happy camper but the last two weeks it’s cooled down again. Yay to not being deprived of a “proper” winter.

I always feel I need to qualify my #marcialoveswinter statements with a few facts. In summer, any temperatures above 28 degrees Celsius means I get heat headaches unless I literally do not venture outside at all and drink 2 L of water. This is never possible (work/ gym/ church) so we have ourselves a little problem.

I’m getting all my organising done while it’s a bit cooler because I remember last year and how nothing got done because of the heat.

It pays to review your beginning of year lists

As part of my birthday review earlier this month, I read through my Shining Life workbook to see what I put down in those books at the start of the year 🙂

I sat with my bullet journal and wrote a new list of things I needed to make progress on. I have 9 things on my list, most of which I’d totally forgot about.

I love Barre180 class

One of those items was to try a Barre180 class and I made it to one last week, which I loved. I enjoyed the class so much so that I’ve extended my gym membership so that I can continue to go to that class.

On birthday parties

I need to possibly rethink this birthday party thing. Or just have two get togethers. So many people couldn’t come to the real lunch that my month was really busy catching up 🙂 I realise this is a good problem to have but possibly not for an upholder, as I now feel internal pressure to still connect with all the friends.

Have you taken the quiz yet to find out your tendency? I’ve really found such value in knowing my tendency that I can’t recommend knowing yours highly enough.

Over to you.

What have you learned this month? Big or small, I’d love to hear them all.

Here’s your permission to reward yourself

My default setting is usually go, go, go.

As such, I usually keep striving and reaching towards the next thing, without taking a moment or two to just enjoy having accomplished a goal.

I’m not great at the resting and rejuvenating types of rewards but I’ve become a lot better.

A large part of it is a monthly ritual I’ve put into place where I review what I’ve gotten done during the month.

I celebrate all by myself that I’ve done x, y and z, and that it was, indeed, an accomplishment. Since I’ve started noting down what I have done instead of what I haven’t, I’ve felt happier and more grateful for the good things in my life.

Why should we reward ourselves after we accomplish a goal or do something we’re proud of?

It helps us to mark the occasion, take stock and celebrate properly, which in turn, motivates us to keep at it.

Your reward should ideally be in proportion to how much work you put in to get something done.

I always tell people – it may not be the best use of your time to take a 15-minute break after organising your desk for 15 minutes 🙂 A great idea if you’ve just spent an hour filing – yes!

Here are some ways to reward yourself:

frugal

  1. have a bubble bath with candles and a magazine
  2. enjoy a cup of tea while you read a book
  3. get on the phone and chat with an encouraging friend
  4. spend time baking or cooking a recipe from your Pinterest board
  5. spend time being creative

material

  1. buy a little gift for yourself, whether physical like a nail polish or lipstick, or experiential like getting your hair done
  2. get that something you’ve wanted for a while, even if it seems frivolous, and especially if you’re usually an under-buyer
  3. go out for a meal with your family or friends
  4. buy a beautiful handbag
  5. have a movie or bookshop date with yourself

And then there are always rewards of the soul variety.

More than any of those suggestions above, I really want you to get comfortable with talking to yourself and saying all those things you wish others said to you. Give yourself the permission to say “well done”, “I’m proud of you” or “you’re a great mother” even if you never hear this from others because that is the greatest reward you could ever give yourself – the knowing that you are enough.

Do you reward yourself when you reach goals or finish projects?

Your amazing habits

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We all have some things we do that we don’t even think about.

These are our habits.

Hopefully they’re good ones and not habits we need to break.

The best thing about habits are that once they’re ingrained, you don’t have to expend mental energy to make those good decisions on a daily or weekly basis.

Here are some of my current good habits to give you an idea:

  1. drink 2L of water daily
  2. go outside for at least 5 minutes a day (you might have seen some of my instagram stories where I literally just stand outside, breathe and look at the view, listen to the birds, etc.)
  3. connect with someone every day
  4. focus on one thing at a time
  5. set my intentions by making an eat the frog list every day
  6. charge my phone outside my bedroom
  7. read before bed, and at any other time I can
  8. hug and kiss the kids, and say I love you in their love languages
  9. put things away; don’t just put them down
  10. be authentic

We always remember the bad habits we have so let’s flip that around.

Tell me about some of your daily, amazing habits.

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!

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