My 7 steps to a balanced life

I know it’s popular these days for people to say they don’t believe in life balance.

Perhaps I should tell you why I still believe in it.

Because when I feel like my work gets enough of me to stay under control while I’m satisfied with my contribution, and my home life is ordered, comfortable and fosters connection, then I’m happy.

I’d wager a guess that our definitions might be different but all of us have some sort of standards for our personal and our professional lives to run well. And when that happens, we feel calm and happy.

  1. Realise you only have so many hours in the day

We all only have 24-hour days. Some of us think we’re Superwoman and have more time than that. We don’t. The sooner you realise this and work within the limitations of time, the happier you’ll be.

  1. Write down your different roles and the time commitment required from each

Don’t forget to add in managing your home time and personal time!

The idea is to see if you’re a time optimist or if you’re being realistic with your time. Sometimes we think a certain activity only takes, let’s say, two hours a week. When you factor in travel time plus preparation time, it may increase to four or five hours. No wonder you always feel frazzled when you think about this specific activity.

  1. Check in with yourself and ask the hard questions

    Am I too busy?
    Am I trying to do too much?
    Am I being realistic about the amount of time specific commitments take?
    Do all my scheduled activities spark joy?

What do I need or want to focus on at this stage in my life?
What can I cut out?
What can I delegate?

  1. Implement good ideas immediately

I am terrible at many things but I’m a great implementer because I’ve put systems in place. You can be too.

When you see a good idea or hear of something that resonates with you, screenshot it, jot it down in your bullet journal and then schedule it so that you can test it out.

You’ll know within less than a week if something works for you or not. But if something does resonate and it works with your style, you’ve just found a new trick.

  1. Be honest about your priorities

I do an exercise with my time management clients where they tell me all the different areas of their lives. Some people have many balls that they’re trying to juggle. That’s okay…. as long as the priorities are in order.

Don’t neglect your home and family commitments just to look good on a committee.

My preference is to do less and do those things well rather than to feel overwhelmed by taking on more and more, and then do nothing well.

However, if your work is a priority during a particular life stage, don’t feel bad about that. Admitting it to yourself will free you from guilt.

  1. Realise that when you say yes to something, you automatically say no to something else.

Some things in life are just for a season, like the newborn stage. So while reading and going to my dance classes are extremely important to me, I personally did a lot less when my twins were little because I had to sleep whenever I could.

Yes to sleep, no to reading.

If you need to work late, you’re saying yes to work and no to one or two evenings of bedtime stories. That’s okay; there are no rules. We design our own lives.

  1. Keep evaluating and tweaking

I can guarantee that just when you think you have things figured out, suddenly something won’t work anymore.

That’s normal with organising anything, and especially your time.

We figured out the first term’s extra-mural activity schedule for the kids and then they all change. Completely normal. The key is to realise this so you don’t get frustrated every time you have to tweak.

Keep evaluating where you’re at – I do this on a weekly and monthly basis – and tweak, tweak, tweak. Just because it suited you to work really long hours a few months ago doesn’t mean it still suits you to do so now.

That’s how I create balance in my life. By realising it’s fleeting, always moving and needs constant attention. Just like a toddler!

How do you create a balanced life? Is balance an important value to you?

If you’d like to work with me to create more of a balanced life, I do have a few coaching spots open. Please contact me to find out more.

The annual filing that wasn’t…

For the last couple of years I’ve kept track of the times I do filing.

2012 annual filing

2013 annual filing

2014 annual filing

Then I had it on my weekend list for a few weeks but I wasn’t feeling it, until I did.

And then I realised I’d set a new record – 2 years and 3 months til the last time I did filing, which was the week I started my new (then) job in 2014.

I’m actually quite impressed because this means I’m not keeping very much if it all still fit into the little suitcase under my desk 😉

And it still only took an hour, and that was with me tossing much of what was in the file, getting the documents ready for this file and instagramming the whole thing 🙂

And now it’s all sorted til December 2017 (or 2018 :))

Are you up to date with your filing? If you keep your papers in chronological order, you could just toss all the old stuff… just a thought 😉 Otherwise, let this be inspiration for your weekend organising project.

What I want more of this year

In addition to the reflecting I do every year in my Shining Life workbook, I also like to ask myself two questions:

  1. what do I want more of in my life this year?
  2. what do I want less of in my life this year? (hint – it’s not just the opposite of the first question!)

Today, I’ll share my answers to the first question and in a few weeks, I’ll share the second question’s answers.

holidays

Last year we had two holidays (Jan and July) due to the house buying and selling… and our next one is only due at the end of April which is a L O N G time to wait. I need at least one every 6 months or so 🙂 2014, my year of shine, was a great holiday year – we had 4 holidays in the same calendar year.

sleep

I’ve been tracking my sleep since I got my Fitbit but it’s been a proper goal of mine to have 7 hours 30 on average every day. It takes work to get there but I feel amazing when I do get good sleep. I’m pleased to say I finished 2016 with an average of 7 hours 32 for the year.

quality time with D and the kids

With the house business, I got a bit slack with having our monthly dates. I like to have two with Dion and one with each child. We all enjoy the time when we do have our dates so this is important for all of us, but obviously, I’m the Goal-Setting Queen.

fitness, strength and vitality

I really need to find something to do on one more day in the week, something to build strength. I hate working out by myself though so I’ve been looking for a Barre class. Sadly, the one at my gym has stopped so back to the drawing board. If I can’t find a suitable class, I’m going to have to look for a personal trainer because I really need to strengthen my core.

true connection with friends and fun with like-minded people

I have tons of friends. But life-giving time with friends to me means connecting properly. I want more true connection and vulnerability instead of superficial conversation although that has its place, of course. I’ve started a God Centred Mom podcast club with a friend where we listen to a podcast and get on the phone to chat.

For the second part, I’ve started a book club. I may still do the odd crafternoon with friends, but the book club just speaks to me on so many levels since reading is my very favourite thing to do.

writing time

I want to write more this year, perhaps put together a new product or two. I’ve never had a shortage of ideas but I want to focus my attention properly.

clarity from God about ministry

I sometimes feel like I peaked too early in ministry. We were pastors and ran small groups, and I ran a ministry where we helped people to discover their passion and God-given gifts for 6 years (this was my sweet spot)…. and then we had kids and everything stopped. I did talks at my church once a month for a year which was fine but I could feel it wasn’t 100% in my sweet spot. I did some training again in 2014 so it was awesome for 2 months, but then nothing since then.

One of my deepest fears is dying with my potential still locked inside of me.

But I have no idea what to do or how to go about it.

So friends, if you’re prayers, please pray with me about this. I am very willing and very able, and I want to start impacting people again.

But back to you, what do you want more of in your life this year?

5 favourite posts about…. stationery!

I’ve always had a huge love for stationery so this time of year is one of my favourites because of the back-to-school sales.

Flipfiles? Yes please!

Pens? Ooooh definitely yes.

Basically I justify things to myself to get some stationery.

By the way, a tip. If you want the kids to take care of the stationery, announce that it is all yours! They need to ask to use it (always say yes!) and pack it away in its place afterwards (separate from their stuff).

I do this and all the nice stuff lasts forever because it’s “my” stuff. It’s not really but it just means nothing goes missing or has caps left off the markers 🙂

Moving on.

My kids’ favourite stationery items

Favourite stationery for kids | www.organisingqueen.com

 

My favourite highlighters ever

I wrote this post in 2014 and I’ve been using those same 5 highlighters for the last 2.5 years. I’ve just started a new box.

I love stationery - neon twister highlighters

 

The best pens in the world

These are still my very favourite pens. Pick and Pay has the pink ones for R20, and blue and green ones for R17 each.

IMG_4576

 

My 5 favourite stationery items

and I still love these pencils. I washi’d them to make them even more fun 😮 Recently I bought myself some of those WOPEX pencil crayons (colouring pencils) too and they are so lovely to the touch.

favourite stationery finds | www.organisingqueen.com

 

My kids’ favourite stationery items – part two

Fun fact – each kid needed 48 pencils for school. I bought a combination of Staedtler and Bic, purely because CNA ran out of the Staedtler pencils. Ha!

Favourite kid stationery | www.organisingqueen.com

Now tell me, do you have a favourite post?

Did you see something you want to try? Tell me in the comments and I’ll tell you where to get it at the best price.

Tell me about any stationery finds you’ve discovered and loved in the last while.

Memory-keeping: the system that works for me

Since this month is a month I want to focus on relationships, I thought I’d write one post to show you all about my memory-keeping, and at least I can then link to this one instead of the 5 or so on the blog 🙂

Cutouts

  1. I take tons of photos on both my camera and iphone, and use photos from both devices for my albums. I’m still partial to my big camera (Canon) but life is much easier with my iphone 6 since the quality of the photos is so magnificent. As they say, the best camera is the one you have with you. And I add, keep your big camera out so you’re more likely to use it.
  2. I do a 52-week photo project of the kids. This is my third year.
  3. I then choose 4 pics per child per month, and 4 pics overall. Because I take so many photos, I purposefully choose images for that are not from our 52 project pics. One day soon, I’ll just print the 52 photos for our album but that day has not arrived yet. These limitations have given me a lot of freedom.
  4. Then I do project life. Here’s how I used to do it and here’s how I now do it.
  5. The key to successful memory-keeping is being realistic about time and money.
  6. And here’s where I talk more about money because all of this stuff costs money so the key is to think about what will work for you.

How do you preserve your family’s memories?

What have you found is the most realistic method for you, both in terms of time and money?

If this is one of your goals for the year, join me for monthly accountability coaching to get your things done this year!

My happiness project for Feb

This year I’ve decided to do a focussed goals project for each month of the year, starting in February and ending in November.

You can read about that here.

January was about setting it all up – deciding what to focus on in each month. Eventually I decided I’m overcomplicating things so I decided to follow the themes on my intentional calendar.

(If you’re on my mailing list, you would have received a link with the calendar. If not, when you sign up, you’ll receive it within minutes.)

 

So onto February!

February is traditionally the month of love 🙂 I’m extending that definition to answer this question:

How can I connect more deeply with friends and family this month?

I have some specific goals around this, which are:

  • Send out two birthday cards
  • Send a get well soon card
  • Get the kids to write to their cousins (I’ve bribed them with temporary tattoos to get this done 🙂 No one likes the process but we all love having done it!)
  • Get the kids to send Valentines cards to their grannies
  • Send some cards myself
  • Schedule a few dates with friends. You know what? Something kept me back from doing this (maybe the thought that it’s too structured?) but why not set up systems to make life easier? I do it at work, so why not in my personal life?!
  • Start a book club
  • Schedule the next supper club. This is just a few friends who like to eat (so many people don’t enjoy their food anymore but there are a few who still like to eat carbs :)) and we said only once every 2 months or so.
  • And of course, my monthly dates with my own family members, a permanent goal for me.

Over to you!

Have you downloaded the intentional calendar?

How can I connect more deeply with friends and family this month?

If the idea of coaching with me resonates with you, I’d like to invite you to contact me. Let’s make magic together 🙂

What I learned in January

I’m so excited by the beginning of the year and this, my first, What I learned post of 2017.

I get slightly antsy if I have absolutely nothing scheduled to look forward to

I’ve always known I need to schedule a holiday or book leave as soon as I’m back from work. So during my second week back, I wrote out all the public and school holidays on my calendars, and then I put in leave for the next two work days next to public holidays. That got me started.

I then identified good breakaway times and we’ve booked our first holiday for the year. Yay!

The same is true for scheduling socials so I scheduled a few for late Jan/ early Feb and that’s been great.

Spicy pork sausages are actually chili

I love pork sausages. There were some limited edition spicy sausages at the shops and I (optimistically) thought they’d be just spicy. Instead, they’re so hot none of us could eat them.

Have a things to buy page in your bullet journal

I started a page in my bullet journal called things to buy. So useful and I’m not sure why I didn’t do this sooner.

Now, when I’m at a specific shop, I check to see if I need anything from that shop.

These are personal things, not groceries, so they’re almost never urgent.

Online shopping is magic

I firmly believe that one of the reasons I’m a happy person is that I truly delight in small things. Like online shopping.

It really feels like magic to me.

The other day while emailing a friend, I remembered that I’d been wanting to buy a scale. I’m one of those people who needs the Strategy of Monitoring to keep my weight stable.

I went onto the site, ordered the first scale that was suitable and the next morning before I’d even left for work, the scale was delivered.

Magic!

More magical was that I didn’t have to go to a mall, find parking, and stand in queues. Yay. And double yay for free shipping!

The kids were totally ready to be in separate classes

Our twins spent their first two years of pre-school forced to be in separate classes. Then they had two great years in the same class at “big school” and now, in Grade 2, they’re separate again.

It’s meant much more organising on our parts (different days for PE, etc.) but it’s been good for the kids. They’re developing their own sets of friends and relationships with their teachers and best of all, no more “Mummy, K said this or C did that” 🙂

What did you learn this month?

Yip – I’m doing a bullet journal/ diary hybrid

I wrote a few weeks ago about my goals diary planner for this year. If you didn’t read that post, or just want to refresh your memory, you can find it here 🙂

And if you want to get your own copy, you can get it here.

Thanks to the comments and just common sense when I thought about it clearly, I’m going to do a hybrid this year.

This is my bullet journal

So how do I use each of them?

Let’s talk about the goals diary planner first. I use it for:

  • monthly planning of events
  • setting intentions and goals for the month ahead (I finally did January’s goals as a breakdown of my annual goals last week 🙂 Remember there are no rules for this stuff. You create your own rules)
  • weekly planning of the main things
  • weekly intentions: there are prompts for how you want to feel, what you’re grateful for, what you want to receive and what you’re giving yourself that week 🙂
  • monthly goals review (what I do on Goals Night. You can join me this year.)

And then, this is how I use my bullet journal.

Remember I don’t go super fancy because my aim in using one is getting stuff done 🙂 Here are my previous bullet journal posts.

  • I use it for my weekend to-do lists. This seems to be very popular on Instagram. Either that, or people are curious 🙂
  • Weekly accountability
  • Running list of things to buy
  • Friendship spreadsheet
  • Good ideas list (this is the stuff I get from the podcasts :))
  • Books read to me by the kids (they’re as motivated as I am by lists!)
  • Goals for 2017 (copied and pasted in)

Logistically

The goals diary planner lives on my desk at home.

The bullet journal moves around with me. I only don’t take it to the gym with me because I don’t want any accidents happening with my water bottle, my gel pens and my bullet journal.

So tell me, what are you doing this year as far as planning is concerned? Diary/ planner? Bullet journal? Hybrid?

PS I actually asked the people at Exclusive Books if they ordered Legami diaries this year – they didn’t 🙁

7 steps to a successful 52 photo project with your kids

Please note I have absolutely no skills in the daily photo projects and missed a good 4 months when I tried one about 6 years ago 🙂

However, I have done a successful 52 week project for two years now. I take a photo of both my kids together (except in one case when Connor was sick in 2015), preferably outside but that’s just because the light’s better.

Here are my tricks:

1. Decide to take the photo on the same day every week. It helps you and your kids (if they’re your subjects) remember. Kendra even told me last week that we should move the Sunday photo (as I call it) to the morning so it’s out of the way and I don’t disturb their playing in the afternoon. I’m happy to try anything.

2. Announce this day to your children and husband, and set a reminder in your phone and in your diary so you don’t forget. (I’ve still forgotten some days but I roll with it – see below)

3. Set very, very low standards. If you’re looking for perfection you’re going to be disappointed. If you get a sulky photo, great. If you get an Instagram-happy photo with 40 likes (that’s happened a few times this year), great. If you get one where they’re not even aware of you, great. The point is to get the photo. Also, the ones where everyone is smiling are not really interesting, are they?

4. Involve them. I ask the kids where they want to take the photo. One day Connor came to me to show me a place in the garden where he wanted to have the Sunday photo taken. I’ve also started asking them which photo they like best. The one they choose is the photo of the week.

5. Bribe your kids. I’m dead serious. I’ve never bribed with big things and sometimes they’re very agreeable all by themselves, but I do have to bribe during winter with a cup of tea and a few biscuits 🙂 Or I’ll say, “let’s quickly go take the Sunday photo, and then I’ll do X with you”

6. Be ready with your camera. Your kids are not going to hang around for you to get the settings correct or for you to find your camera. If the light is awful and you need to play with settings, do that before your kids get into position. They’re not going to wait around.

7. Have fun with it. If you’re going to keep up the project, you’ve got to keep the big picture in mind. Sometimes (most times) I have Canon photos and other times all I have is a quick pic in bad light with my iphone. It’s all good, and a black-and-white filter fixes many a bad photography moment.

Did you do a photo project last year? Do you plan to do one this year?

PS I also started a Sunday skies photo series and managed 32 of the 52 weeks. Generally, these photos are taken while I wait for the kids to get themselves outside 🙂

My dream file, and why you should make a vision board

I’ve had this flipfile for seemingly forever. It’s my pre-pinterest Pinterest 🙂

Basically, in the days when I used to buy magazines, I’d rip out pictures of things that I like or would like to have in a home and I’d file them in a flipfile.

I recently came across my dream flipfile when I was sorting out my study.

As I paged through I realised that a lot of the pages I’d torn out are now reflected in my house. Not that I have an airy loft but the feeling of that airy loft is reflected in such and such corner or the bright pop of colour is reflected in that room. So awesome!

Look at this selfie I took one night with the timer on my phone and tell me if it reminds you of something.

I didn’t even realise it at the time but I’m reading like the woman in the picture above. I only found my file a few weeks after this picture was taken!

I’ve always wanted a reading corner with a chair, table and a big window. And I’ve got it!

When we came to look at this house, we walked up the stairs and when I saw that corner, I had a vision of me reading, or Dion reading bedtime stories to the kids. The previous owner had this corner arranged very differently and I remember saying that I had plans for that corner the minute I saw it.

The point of all this reminiscing is just to remind me and you to keep pulling out those pictures and to make your vision board or dream file.

If you’re feeling stuck on goals this year, maybe you need to get your hands cutting and pasting. The physical nature of putting together your board may be just the thing to get you unstuck.

Have a go and let me know if it helps.

How to make a vision board – part one and part two and part three

Have you ever made a vision board?

PS Fun fact – I even made a vision board for babies!

PPS I’d love to have you join me on My Year of Happy

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