5 (quick and easy) steps to reflect on your half-year review

If you’ve been reading for even just a little time, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of stopping, and pausing to reflect before marching on. It’s because I was not good at this step that I feel like it’s so useful. If you’re thinking “oh, this reflection business is not for me” it’s probably then going to be a very valuable exercise, especially for you.

As we have just finished the half-year, let’s pause and reflect on the first six months of the year. Here are my 5 steps (I change these all the time and if I gave a talk, I’d probably change it again ;)) which I have positioned as questions:

1. Where do I need to give myself grace?

  • Many of us set out at the end of 2022/ beginning of 2023 with a brand new set of goals and intentions that seemed easy at the time because we were hyped up on New Year Energy. I am the same as you! I conveniently forgot that I’m not an outside person and told myself I could go outside almost daily for 23 minutes in 2023. Here’s where I let that notion go.
  • Do you need to give yourself grace and let some things go? Books, TV shows, projects (work or personal)?

2. What is working? What am I happy with?

  • This is the fun part so go wild.
  • Did you get some work projects done? Did you get personal projects done? Did you rest well? Did you watch some good TV? Is your reading in a good place? (I have watched some good TV – On the verge, The Bold Type, Working Moms, Wellmania, etc.)
  • Are you rocking your relationships? (I am rocking my in-person relationships… probably because I’m tired of online everything!)
  • Have you finally adjusted to a new work from office rhythm? (more on this in a blog post but finally, after 5 months in a 3-days-a-week schedule, I can say yes)
  • Have you finally reduced your addiction to the tiny computer in your hand?
  • Are you in a good exercise/ movement routine?

3. What do I still need to do?

  • When you review your list (or make a new list), what is still calling to you to do for this year?
  • How is your health? No joke – I have 5 health appointments to make this month and two that must happen – the pharmacist told me she is only issuing my meds as an “emergency” so I’ve got to go get a repeat script from my doctor in the next 3 weeks. Alrighty then.
  • Do you have some house projects you want to take care of?
  • Do you have some fun things you want to plan to look forward to?

4. What do I want to change?

  • When you consider the last 6 months, what are you not happy about?
  • What needs to change? Is it something you need to speak up about? Schedule the time to do so.

5. What are my in-progress projects?

  • What have you started, made some progress towards but you need to finish it off? Personal projects, work projects, finance projects (I met with my financial adviser in May and she gave me 3 actions – I have done none but I told her I would only action in July or August), health projects?
  • If you have nothing, great! I put this question because many of my projects don’t always start and finish in the same month, as neat as that would be.

If you need some inspiration and guidance to get going, I am here to give you a loving kick in the pants to get you moving again, but you have to take the first step.

Other half-year review posts on the blog

(no surprise to anyone – I didn’t do one in 2020!)

My 3 top takeaways from quarter 1 of 2023… updated for quarter 2 too

Originally written in April 2023 and sent to my newsletter list, now updated in July 2023

If you look at my numbers, it appears things are going great. I just checked my spreadsheet and I’m on 11.84 out of 23 for my #23goalsin2023, which is 51%, and we’re only 3  months into the year.

That says two things to me: I am good at getting big things done early (this is true – I always weight my work so that I “eat the frogs” first) and the rest of the year is going to show only incremental change (also true as a lot of my goals are project goals which means a 1/12 increase monthly).

However, let me share some of my favourite insights from the first three months:

1. Leave what’s not working for you

  • I abandoned the tracking of Gretchen’s Go outside 23 in 2023 project (and then on a recent-to-me podcast, I heard another listener say she also considers time in her car travelling to places “outside” time) but I am certainly outside more than 161 minutes a week.
  • I have abandoned three books this year already (great for me!) and I have abandoned some self-imposed, ambitious work projects (on my actual job). That will have to wait for after 30 June 🙂

2. Habits are easy for me to maintain if I schedule them

  • As a true upholder, I’ve embraced the scheduling of good habits.
  • I faithfully book two gym classes a week and attend. My Spanish dance classes happen every Thursday without fail.
  • I book all the days I plan to be at the office. Our hybrid work situation is flexible so “be here any 3 days of the week” I plan the previous week and align my menu planning and gym visits to that schedule.
  • I also take about 30 minutes (I tell myself it’s 23 minutes though, for whimsy!) to do my planning for the week – update diary, book journal, bullet journal and line-a-day diary. This is all scheduled.

3. Some things will just take longer than you think

  • For my work programme, I have now finally embraced the “staying present” and “enjoying the journey” but I’ll tell you – it all takes way longer than I think it should. On the other hand, I do actually think the end-product is better!
  • My health metrics are taking longer to right themselves. I was very disappointed about a month ago when my iron levels had not miraculously fixed themselves (nor had my cholesterol) but a colleague told me that her iron levels took two years to fix. I’m hoping mine happens faster than that but still, apparently health metrics don’t all fix themselves in just a few months.

What were your big takeaways from quarter 1?

For my quarter 2 update, I …

  • am now at 65% of my 23 in 2023 goals (if you think that’s awfully specifc, it’s because I track it with formulae on an actual Excel spreadsheet)
  • I have fully completed my programme and finished well
  • I am on my actual treat holiday for finishing the programme (so glad I booked it as it dragged me through the last two months).
  • I have now finished reading 64 books for the year so I am on track for 100 in 2023
  • I am most behind with all my medical appointments and have to get my bloods drawn and schedule my appointments to see if there is any change. It still feels like a miracle to me that doctors know what’s happening with you just from your blood! (Yes, I am easily awed)

And what are your quarter 2 updates?

Our bathroom renovation – what we would change and what we wouldn’t

A little bit of background:

  • In 2020 Dion and I were planning to go to the US for a holiday to celebrate a big anniversary. We all know what happened and there were no big travel holidays.
  • 2021 didn’t look much better both from a comfort to travel point of view and so I had the bright idea – instead of those savings languishing (!) in our savings account, waiting for better days, why don’t we spend it on something we can enjoy daily, like a new bathroom?
  • This was one of my more inspired ideas as that is exactly what we did. Another inspired idea was to have them do the main demo work while we were on (local) holidays and therefore not bothered by noise and dust (win-win). We did have a full week of people in the house once we returned.

What we would change:

Maybe next time (if there is a next time) we’ll stay away for two weeks because it was challenging for me to work and live in a house with a ton of people also working. On Teams: “hi client, please just ignore the drilling, there’s a bathroom renovation happening”.

I go back and forth on this, and we can still change it – the force of the shower is just pleasant, not super strong. That is a water-saving mechanism and is fine for most of the year but I will admit that in winter, I do sometimes think I need a bigger force shower with lots of hot water blazing down on me.

What we did change

We added more hooks and towel rails and moved the position of the rails within that first week. Compare the top picture to this one.

What we would not change:

  • Everything structural – I love having a big shower and no bath
  • I love our double basins
  • I love that we kept our wall for toilet privacy
  • I love our long wall of cupboards that hide our laundry baskets, cleaning materials and toiletries!

Here are some more pictures:

 

Have you ever had a renovation while you lived in the space?

Did it make you crazy or how did you handle it?

15-minute Fridays – put some cleaner in your toilet brush crock

Who remembers Flylady from way back in the day before Instagram cleaning influencers became a thing?

(by the way, Flylady is on Instagram!)

I personally love Flylady because her advice is so practical and doable. Anyway, I read one of her books last year and she mentioned something I loved so I thought I’d share it here.

As part of the Swish and Swipe (Flylady encourages us all to do a quick clean of our toilets daily so they don’t get gross – this is not a deep clean of your bathroom), to make things quicker and easier:

  1. Put some toilet cleaner in the toilet brush crock so that when you plunge the brush in and then do your swish and swipe, there’s already cleaner to clean your toilet bowl. Is that not genius?
  2. You can also use your leftover shampoo at the bottom of the bottle for this purpose if you add a tiny bit of water, shake it up and pour it all into the toilet brush crock.
  3. Once a month, I do water and a capful of Zoflora to disinfect and make it all smell nice.

How often do you clean your toilet bowl?

Would these tips work for you?

 

An ode to fun – watch more TV

Some long-time readers will remember that I’ve intentionally included words over the years to help me have more fun in my life – joy in 2016, fun in 2018, play in 2021 and delight in 2022.

This year, as part of my #23in2023 goals, I have a very strange goal for me – watch more TV. Watching a lot of TV is very normal for most people but not for me.

Things I like to watch are design shows like Dream Home Makeover or practical cooking shows like Nadiya’s time to eat, shows about women in my stage of life (Working Moms, On the verge, etc.) and shows with a beautiful visual aesthetic (Grace and Frankie – my true comfort because the writing is perfection, the acting is amazing and it’s gorgeous to look at – the kitchens, the houses, the beach!)

I do not like crime (why, people, why?) or anything dark because I really love that I sleep well and I don’t want that disturbed.

I’m doing excellent on this goal this far – this is what I watched in quarter 1 of 2023:

  • Dead to me (Netflix) – final season
  • Bad Sisters (Apple TV) – episode 1 (I will treat myself to a one-month subscription in July when I’m on holiday and watch the rest of it)
  • On the verge (Netflix) – started last year but I finished everything available
  • The bold type (Netflix)
  • Daisy Jones and the Six (Amazon Prime) – I’d watched half by the end of March and I finished the other half in the first 3 days of April (so that I wouldn’t have to subscribe for another month.

Now, I have some questions for you:

  1. Do you watch a lot of TV?
  2. What do you like to watch?
  3. Given my tastes above, which Netflix or Amazon Prime shows do you recommend?

15-minute Easter weekend organising challenge – spruce up your workspace

I love seasons which is why I love a good quarterly rhythm.

I did a spruce up of my at-home workspace last weekend but you can do it this weekend seeing as there is a lot of extra time.

                                 DREAM method of organising any space

Here is my DREAM method of organising your workspace:

D – decide on your vision for the space. Are you back at office more? Do you need to take more things back to work? (I took my work calculator back this week; it might come back home as I find I do deep work at home)

R – remove everything from your desk and clean. I use Zoflora and a microfibre cloth so that it cleans and smells nice. This is the best part.

E – eliminate the clutter. Toss papers, throw away dry pens, remove things you no longer need, etc. This is the second best part. I keep my old work notebook on my desk for about a week or two of overflow, but then it goes in my cupboard.

A – arrange in a way that pleases you. Do you like a photo frame or plant on your desk? Do you always find yourself looking for something (highlighter, scrap paper, etc.)? Add it.

M – maintain. This is part of maintaining. I do a light version weekly, and a more decent version monthly when I do my goals review.

For my quarterly spruce-up, I changed my laptop bag to another one (I have several). This happened to coincide with a new work notebook so it all felt very fresh for me this week.

I then also changed my pencil bag to a smaller one – let’s see if that works for the whole quarter. I already feel, one week in, that I need to change the notebook at the end of this short month (the paper is just not doing it for me).

Did you take up the challenge? Gold star to you!

{Goals} Quarterly review – Jan to March 23

And here we are, at the end of the first quarter of the year.

Three months over – just like that!

A summary of just a few high – and lowlights over the last quarter:

  1. I applied for my passport and received it.
  2. I read 31 books, 8 of them 5* reads, which is a great start to my reading year.
  3. I have watched a lot of TV (one of my #23in2023) – finished Dead to me, On the Verge and am now knee-deep in The Bold Type. And of course, I’m also watching Daisy Jones and The Six.
  4. We finally had our solar installation and it has been life-changing. I don’t have to think about loadshedding when I want to go out or concern myself with my laptop holding charge until the power comes on again.
  5. Despite being on iron supplements over the last 3 months, my iron levels have not improved to a degree where I can stop them. I think I thought that 3 months would sort out my iron deficiency but apparently not.
  6. I’ve had a consistent 3 workouts a week since January – two Zumba classes and a Spanish class. We have had a new Spanish teacher this year and it’s been so invigorating for my dancing.
  7. A friend of mine was diagnosed with stage 3 cervical cancer. Everything else pales next to that, doesn’t it? She is a fighter and she’s fighting as much as she is able.

Life is like this, isn’t it? Highs and lows.

Tend is being a good word for me this year – a reminder to take care of my health, family, friends and work.

How was the first quarter of 2023 for you?

How is your word working out?

15-minute Fridays: organise your receipts

Ooh, hot topic alert here.

I don’t know why but whenever I talk about tossing your receipts, I get a lot of pushback.

Let’s think about why we keep receipts.

  1. I keep receipts until I can enter the expense on my spreadsheet. Yes, I can check my bank account and see I spent R354 at Clicks but I also want to know that R222 of that was my prescription and the rest was nail polish and chocolate (two different line items on my budget).
  2. I also keep receipts until I (or my family member) has fitted on the item of clothing. Once it fits and I/ they have worn it, I toss the receipt (if it’s been recorded on the spreadsheet). If not, I place the receipt together with the item in my errand bag to return.

In the picture above, I have worn the shoes but the bag strap is the wrong shade of green for the bag I wanted it for, so it will be returned. The bag strap plus the receipt is in my errand bag; hopefully I will return tomorrow.

For now, let’s clear receipts. You can toss these immediately:

  • anything older than a year (some retailers also only accept returns within three months – by the way, I have returned items outside of the date; politely smile and ask for a gift card instead of a refund)
  • any food retailer receipts
  • shoes and clothes you have worn

If there is something you need to return, grab a tote and add the item and your receipt, and put it next to your handbag or in your command centre.

How did you do? Is your wallet nice and clear? Are all the piles of receipts around your home in the bin?

{Time management} When you’re too busy to sort out urgent things

Did anyone notice that I haven’t posted for weeks? No? That’s okay.

My website (and this blog) has been down for at least a week and a half before I had the time and mental space to book someone to attend to it.

Two interesting facts:

  1. I don’t believe in the phrase “I don’t have time” – exhibit A, my book, 31 days of Enough Time.
  2. It is tremendous growth for me to not “freak out” about a website being down.

With regards to number 2 above, this has happened a couple of times over the last few years. In the before times, I’d immediately book a person to attend to it and would not rest until it was sorted.

This time, I looked at the error, thought I should be able to fix it (I do like the methodical part of playing with a website, and tinkering until things are just right.) but knew I didn’t have either the mental bandwidth or early evening time (trust me when I say you should not mess around with your website if your brain isn’t fully awake – this involves emails to web people that say “help – I messed up!”).

So I just left it until I had time to look at it.

I was able to fix one tiny thing but not the bigger issue so I hired that piece out.

And lo, here I am blogging again.

Time management literature says that fixing the website is a Quadrant 1 activity – important and urgent.

However, my Quadrant 2 activity was tending to my health (sleep, stress management by putting in extra work hours so I could sleep – yes, a circular argument, and exercise) first and then once calm, I could attend to that Quadrant 1 activity.

I shared all that to say this: sometimes the best thing to do is to invest the time necessary to make you feel calm, no matter what that looks like.

Sometimes work colleagues will be adamant in talking to me about shutting off their computers at exactly 5pm. I’m not saying this is wrong but I am questioning whether 30 extra minutes of work might give you a better evening’s rest and certainly, more rejuvenating sleep.

Just a little something to think about.

Are you investing enough time in Quadrant 2 of The Time Matrix?

15-minute Fridays: clean out your car

I really like a nice, clean car. I don’t care that it isn’t fancy but I do like things in their place.

I have some rules for myself which have stood me in good stead all these years, like:

  1. no eating in the car, except for non-messy fruits like apples and water
  2. when I do eat an apple, the core must leave the car when I do so that there are no lingering fruit smells

Now and again, though, I need to just sort out things that have landed and not left, so here is my version of the cleaning out the car.

All these pics are before pics but my car mostly does look like this. The boot is more cluttered than it usually is due to gym wear I leave in there because of the in-between season and some extra two-minute noodles I bought for the kids.


For all of us though, here are some guidelines:

  • throw away all trash – food, fruit cores/ peels, empty bottles, tissues, etc.
  • return kids’ items (caps, lunch boxes, bottles, socks, etc.) to the house
  • return things to where they need to go – if you have a water bottle from when you left it in the car, take it into your house, fill it with water so it’s ready for gym
  • pack your recycling bags back in the boot (trunk) of your car
  • you might need to do some vacuuming/ shake out the mats in the car

If you need the extra time, make this into two 15-minute tidying sessions.

What did you find in your car that surprised you?

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