Word of the year – quarterly review

I find it very useful to review my word of the year at least quarterly to make sure the word is still serving me and that I’m still using it as a guidance point in my life.

If you haven’t read my post where I announced my word and why I chose it, here is that post.

So how am I doing after 3 months?

workshops

Well, I picked this word because I needed to be bold in order to start running regular workshops again. Interestingly, it wasn’t the workshop delivery I was concerned about because teaching is my sweet spot, especially when paired with personality frameworks and how we are all created unique and special.

It was the marketing. The whole “will people get tired of me talking about the same old thing?” and unfollow (perhaps and yes). But I got to a point with my very first workshop this year where the workshop was not full, and yet I knew I’d asked and reached out to everyone I could. I’d done my bit and that was enough. And there was a peace about it.

Interestingly, that very same Monday morning, one of the people I’d reached out to said she couldn’t come although she’d love to, but would I please put together a proposal for her team at work. I did, and that led to my second workshop, this time a corporate one.

The boldness was working. And here I am, 10 days before my third workshop, but feeling more and more bold every time I talk about it.

I know and have personally seen 18 people leave changed in their work, in their understanding of themselves, in their relationships, in their level of freedom to be exactly themselves. It’s so great to see. I need to post more of the testimonials I’ve received but here are the first two testimonials that were sent to me.

work

Bold has also seen me speak up more about difficult things. Sometimes there really is no point to raising something but if I’m honest with myself, that is not really me. So, I’ve had two hard conversations and no, nothing will change, but I do feel better and more authentically me for having spoken up.

personal

In some of my personal relationships too, I have been bolder about what I want, and don’t want, reaching out even though it’s vulnerable to say things honestly….and the world has not fallen apart.

In summary, I’m about 4 out of 10 on the boldness scale of where I want to be, but I am realising that it’s a muscle that has gone unused and I need to awaken and strengthen it through regular exercise.

How are you settling into your word of the year? Is it working for you? Do you need to revive it again? Do you need to change it? Let’s talk in the comments.

My end-of-work-week routines

My end-of-work-week routine is encouraging, motivating, intentional and lets me completely unwind every week.

Interested? Keep reading.

I’ve been doing this same routine for about 18 months now and it’s probably one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself.

  1. Make a ta-da list for the week that’s just ended

I first heard of the concept of the Ta Da list on the Happier with Gretchen Rubin podcast. I tried it that week, it was fabulous but it took me a few weeks to make it a habit.

I have a job with lots of constantly moving parts which can make it feel like nothing is ever done. As a high J on Myers Briggs, I love the feeling of completion.

Writing this list makes me feel accomplished because I’m focussing on what did get done instead of what’s still up in the air.

2. Write down my goals for the week


This part helps me be intentional about what I want to get done in the week ahead.

We all know that you can get swept away by all the emails and requests from other people. This is not wrong; however, as an upholder, I also want to accomplish things that I decide are important.

Writing down goals for the week helps me keep the big picture in mind and keep moving on those important, but not necessarily urgent things. In time management literature, it’s the Quadrant 2 items.

3. Write Monday’s to-do list

Remember the Eat the Frog list?

This is typically a shorter list than my weekly goals because I’m focussing on the things that have to get done on that Monday.

I like to write this list after I’ve consulted my calendar for the day so that I can also prepare for any upcoming meetings.

The best thing about this list is that once I make it, I can completely unwind over the weekend and forget about work, knowing that I know exactly what I need to do once I flip open my notebook.

Which weekly systems have you put in place to help you with your work?

Which do you need more? Inner or outer calm?

I’ve written on the blog before about how, for me, outer order leads to inner calm.

To quickly give you a few examples, I feel like I can relax when my house is ordered and everything is in its place.

I feel like I can settle down and do good work when my desk is in order and there’s not a lot of stuff laying around.

I heard something on one of my favourite podcasts, Personality Hacker, a few months ago that I want to run by you.

I’m an ESTJ on Myers-Briggs. That J means I like order, structure, things in their place.

What they said was that for Js, outer order equals inner calm. That means a J’s environment must be sorted and orderly for their brains to feel calm.

Completely true for me.

And for Ps, their thinking needs to be orderly and sorted for them to feel calm.

They don’t need their environment to be completely orderly to feel calm.

Wow – such a different take on the process.

Does this resonate for you?

Not?

Nevertheless, most people do say that they feel better if their environment is orderly.

Where do you need to create some order in your home? Is it in your bedroom, living area, kitchen, kids’ room?

Which small steps can you take over the next week to create more order in your life?

Outer order, inner calm

I think there’s a lot of truth to the statement “outer order, inner calm” which I first read about in Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Happiness Project.

Outer order, inner calm

The idea is that if your outer environment is ordered and organised, so too will your inner environment be.

I’ve seen this concept play out both in my own life and in the lives of my clients. This is often how I’ve seen it show up:

– I’m more inspired to cook or bake if the kitchen is sparkling clean.
– When my photos are in order, I want to play more with my photography. On the other hand, if I’m behind on photo organising, I often feel reluctant to take photos because I know it’s just adding more work to my backlog.
– When my desk is neat and tidy, or at least organised, I feel like my mind is more organised and I can be focussed and productive while tackling my Eat the Frog tasks.
– When my house is organised and in order, I’m more able to relax with a book.
– My creative clients have told me that when they take some time to sort out their environment, they are more creative.

How have you observed this concept playing out in your own life?

organised wardrobe

Wardrobe in old house

I’m not for a minute suggesting that you’re not productive, effective or creative if your environment isn’t tidy and organised; I’m just saying that I’ve seen this in a lot of people and in my own life. I think it’s because 65% of people are visual learners.

If you’re also very visual, here are a few tips to maximise your effectiveness:

  • Reduce the flow of paper into your life and have a system to contain it.
  • Have a place for everything and don’t just put things down; put them away. It takes just a few seconds longer but it’s so worth it.
  • Build in a 5-minute desk tidy at the end of your daily work routine
  • Declutter regularly and as much as you can manage.
  • Stop bringing things/ stuff into your home. One of my friends has a no gift policy for birthdays but they gladly accept cards.

Your coaching challenge

Which of the five points above do you most need to implement? Number them from 1 – 5 and try working on them with the most important one first.

What’s the best way to sort your stuff?


Is it best to sort by colour? By category? By frequency of use? By function?

The short answer is that I can’t tell you the best way to sort your stuff.

I can tell you that you should sort so that it is easy to find and manage your things when you need them.

Let’s talk through some examples:

Colour vs Function

Bookshelves – if you can’t remember what colour your book is, there is no point in organising by colour. But if you remember what your book looks like and would be able to retrieve it quickly, this is a good way for you.

Clothes – if you reach for a specific colour pair of pants or shirt, then perhaps store your clothes by colour. However, if you make decisions based on what you want to wear, like a dress vs pants and a shirt, for example, then consider storing your clothes by type, with all pants, dresses, or tops together.


Category vs Frequency of use

Makeup – when you’re doing your makeup in the morning, do you like all your lipsticks together, or do you like your daily makeup together (lipstick, eye-shadow and blush) and the rest in one section? If you have no problems retrieving a specific lipstick, then perhaps store by category. Otherwise, store your daily makeup together and your special occasion makeup together.

Bowls in the kitchen – do you prefer that all your bowls are stored together, or do you prefer to keep often-used ones in one location that is easier to reach, and special occasion bowls on higher, difficult-to-reach shelves?

In writing this blog post, I realised I almost always store by frequency of use and with my clothes and books, by colour.

Please share some examples of how you prefer to sort and store your stuff.

How to be a happier person at work


Penelope Trunk once wrote on her career blog that if you want to be happier at work, have a shorter commute.

I read somewhere that the average commute in Johannesburg is around 45 minutes. Mine usually 40 – 45 minutes long.

That feels about right although I hear many stories of commutes being much longer too.

A few weeks ago I was driving to work and I realised that I was actually happier at work due to making my commute a pleasant part of my day instead of something to dread due to these five things I’ve put into place:

1. Choose the times you travel

I realise that not every job is flexible. I, myself, worked in a terribly inflexible job for just over a year. However, if you don’t ask, you definitely won’t get anywhere so see if you have flexible work times available so that you can travel to and from work at a more convenient time, traffic-wise, for you.

2. Use your commute for audio books

I recommend that you don’t only listen to music or talk radio. Even if you only listen to an audio book in the mornings or afternoons, you can get through most books in two weeks (about 7.5 hours). My rhythm is to listen to a book in the mornings and a podcast in the afternoons, except for Fridays which are reserved for listening to the Happier Podcast 🙂

3. Stop for special pleasures

I’m not someone who would ever swing through a drive-thru for a coffee (or tea) but I do stop for photos. I leave an extra 10 – 15 minutes especially so that I have time to pull over and take pictures of autumn leaves, winter branches or the jacarandas. When I do stop, I’m always glad I took the time to metaphorically smell the roses.

4. Be intentional about your route

I love that we have clear seasons in Johannesburg and I choose the route I drive based on how pretty it is. I figure what’s 5 minutes here or there if I’m having fun?! So I choose beautiful leafy suburbs to drive through  or routes that have great autumn leaves or jacaranda trees. Sound crazy? Maybe, but I’m happier when I do.

5. Create buffer time

As I mentioned in 3 and at the start of the blog, my commute is about 40 minutes but I aim to leave an hour just in case there’s an accident or bad traffic. I had to train myself to think this way because my natural bend is to do things until the last possible minute; now I tell myself I can listen to my book or podcast 🙂 I can’t tell you how nice it is to arrive at places, finish listening to a segment if I need, or calmly pack up my work things instead of rushing into the building to a meeting.

Do you have any tips for a happier commute?

How long is your commute?

PS I’m always surprised when I ask people and they say, “it’s 15 minutes but in the traffic it’s an hour” because when are you actually going to work when it’s 15 minutes? 4 am in the morning?!)

{living intentionally} Intentional friendship update, one year later


At our last book club lunch last year, one of the members said, “we all just want to connect with another human being”. So true.

For years I almost didn’t want to admit to myself that I actually wanted to have friendships because it seemed like no-one else was talking this way and it felt…too vulnerable.

But I’ve gotten over that and now I freely admit that I want, and need, good friendships.

I also used to bemoan the fact that the organising/ logistics to get together seemed to lie with me, but I’m also over that, due to two things:

  1. D told me I need only do what I’m comfortable doing. This might seem like an obvious thing to some of you but I’m an enneagram 1 (we feel like it’s our job in the world to fix anything that is broken) and an upholder (friendship is important to me therefore I need to put systems in my life to support that) so it has always felt like I was responsible for everything.
  2. I actually largely prefer to organise things because I feel in control of things more 😉

Last year I wrote about what I was doing to create intentional friendships in my life as an upholder, and how each of the other Four Tendencies types would do this too. You can read that post here.

To comment from an upholder perspective again, we work best with the strategies of scheduling, monitoring, clarity and pairing.

Clarity – I am clear on my comfort levels and how much I want to try to pursue/ “open the door” before calling it quits and letting things just flow. I’m also clear about what a life-giving friendship means to me.

Scheduling – this strategy has worked so beautifully over the last year. Our book club meets on the last Saturday of every month, and I have 5 standing friend dates every month. Of course this doesn’t work with everyone every month but it sort of evens out so that I have good 1:1 connection time with about 5 – 6 friends, because I also have some other friends who I have again scheduled once every 2 – 3 months. I realise this sounds terribly unspontaneous, but as Gretchen Rubin says, “something that can happen anytime often happens at no time”. Here’s where I “go with the flow”  – I let cancellations and such happen, and somehow at the end of the month, I find I’ve still had my 5 – 6 friend connections. It’s weird and wonderful all at the same time.

Monitoring – I still keep my friend spreadsheet and diligently update it at the end of every month, and then add friends to next month’s goals to keep it all ticking over. Try it, even if you don’t use an actual spreadsheet. You could have a list in your bullet journal with a date next to each friend’s name.

Pairing – I really only use pairing in a couple of instances. When I see clients in Pretoria, I always contact a Pretoria friend to see if she’s available to have lunch after my meeting. And I have a client in a part of Joburg whose offices are near another friend’s workplace. I always just reach out and ask if she’s available. What’s the worse that can happen? They’re busy but at least you’ve asked and they know you’ve reached out.

If you’d like to understand better how to harness your tendency with regards to your friendships, please join me for my next workshop, coach with me or take Gretchen’s deep dive course?

How are your friendships going? Are you happy with them?

The thing that delighted me most last year was this: I met a friend for lunch and she said, “let’s eat quickly. I know you like to walk and take pictures so I’ve planned a walk for us.” Well, that was just magnificent!

{reading} How I track my reading and January books read


So let’s talk about book tracking.

This is a big deal in the bookstagram world, and if you know me at all, you know I love tracking anything and everything. I learned since reading The Four Tendencies that upholders do well with monitoring, which is really what tracking is for me.

I first started tracking my reading straight after my last matric exam. For those outside of South Africa, it’s your last school year. That day was on 18 November and on that very day after my Biology exam, I went to the library, took out all the books I could and started tracking from that day nearly 27 years ago.

At some point once I’d started working, I started keeping an Excel sheet.

Fast forward to when I discovered Goodreads, and little by little but only back to 1998, I entered most of that notebook into Goodreads.

Well, how do I currently track my reading?

I track in 3 ways:

Goodreads (if Goodreads ever goes away, I don’t know what I’d do)

I use Goodreads for recording books I’ve read and to check when I’m at the library or bookshop whether I’ve read a certain book before borrowing or buying it. After thousands of books read, I can’t keep it all straight in my head 🙂

There’s an app which I use for on-the-go tracking, but I write reviews at my laptop as I need a proper keyboard.

Excel spreadsheet

I track my monthly goals on an excel spreadsheet. In the past I’ve done an exercise at the end of the year to see how many fiction vs non-fiction reads I had, and other such interesting stats, which took me hours. Hours of pleasure, but hours nonetheless. Then I got clever. So since 2017, as part of my monthly goals, I also track the numbers of non-fiction vs fiction, physical/ kindle/ audible books and so on. It’s so much easier to enter the totals in less than a minute every month and my Excel sheet is set up to total, and do % of goal, etc. so I have the annual totals quickly too.

Bullet journal

This year I started writing down the month’s books in a special notebook I call my book bullet journal. I also have notes at the back of books I want our book club to read, books I want to read on Audible, books I need to borrow through Overdrive, and so on.

It’s really lovely to have a beautiful, fun notebook, and to physically write down books I’m reading again, especially since I haven’t done so for about 15 years, if not longer.

How do you track your reading?

And as for the books I read in January…

I finished 10 books – 5 of them during the first week while I was on holiday 🙂

My final tally is 8 fiction; 2 non-fiction with 5 physical books, 1 audible and 4 Kindle versions.

Favourite reads of this month: The Friend – Dorothy Koomson (my first 5* read of the year!) and The Sunshine Sisters – Jane Green

What were your favourite reads in January?

{time} Your ideal weekend

On a Monday a couple of weeks ago, a colleague at work asked me how my weekend was, as you do, and I said, “it was a really great weekend”.

“Oh,” they said, “tell me more”.

And then I realised that nothing out of the ordinary had happened.

I’d had a friend date on the Friday afternoon, hosted my kids’ book club, gone to Zumba and church, did some pottering around the house and read a book.

Kind-of standard things for me, but a really great weekend I realised because it had MY three ideal elements in the correct ratios.

  1. People/ out and about stuff
  2. Productivity
  3. Relaxation

It got me thinking that having a great weekend is completely within my control because I can control all of those components.

I’d been feeling a bit blah lately and when Dion and I unpacked my feelings, I realised I hadn’t had enough people time. As an extrovert, I’m energised by spending time with people.

My happy number is about 5 – 6 friend dates every month. Book club happens automatically and my friend dates are set up on a schedule, but when they get cancelled, I’m not upset (life happens) but I feel it later in this low energy state. What I need to do is then possibly reach out and just connect with a friend by phone.

We were at book club recently when one of our introvert members explained to two of us extroverts that it’s nothing personal but they just don’t feel the need to spend time with people. I must say, I was a bit surprised but I had an aha moment about friendship right there and then.

Over to you.

What does your ideal weekend look like? And are you an introvert or an extrovert? How does this play out in your weekend plans?

Joburg & Pretoria, last invitation to this weekend’s Four Tendencies workshop

Learning about your Tendency will reveal a better way to use your strengths, manage your weaknesses, relate to others, and set and maintain a habit.

I am very excited to be able to bring the Four Tendencies workshop to Johannesburg. I’ve long been a big fan of Gretchen Rubin’s work and to be able to be accredited to facilitate this workshop is a big deal for me!

During our time together, you will have your tendency confirmed and also understand how to use it to make you happier, healthier, and more creative in your life – both personal and work. Best, you will leave with specific strategies that work for your tendency, not just strategies that work for me or other tendencies.

I am also going to coach all the workshop attendees through putting together their 19 in 2019 lists, and giving them the strategies to succeed with their lists of goals/ intentions/ fun things to do this year.

Here are all the details

Date: Saturday 2 February 2019

Venue: My home in Johannesburg (details provided upon purchase)

Time: 2 – 4:30 pm

You will leave with a set of workshop material, a bullet journal and one of my favourite pens

Drinks and light refreshments will also be provided.

Reserve your spot here.

*If you’d like to host a workshop at work or home (you workshop for free), please contact me and let’s discuss all the details, or if you prefer, I can also do 1:1 skype sessions.


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