If it’s not serving you, let it go

This month we’re looking at what’s not working for us, so today I have a question for you – what’s no longer serving you?

Sometimes we keep on doing things simply because we’re in the habit of doing them and not because they actually serve us anymore.

Let me explain.

You go through a really busy period at work and work until 6pm every night. After that, it’s become a habit so you continue to do so even though there’s really no need. But this time spent is no longer serving you. You could be enjoying the extra time at home with your family, exercising, taking up a new hobby, etc.

Or you might have a bookshelf full of books you don’t like or need to have. You may have bought them because people on Instagram were talking about them but they’re not really your thing so you haven’t read them. These self-imposed expectations are no longer serving you.

One more…you have 5 sets of bed linen for your guest bedroom. You have guests twice a year for a week at a time, so you never even get past set 3 on the shelf. You feel like you should keep the linen because you bought some of those sheet sets at a sale and you haven’t really used them yet but… they’re not really your favourites. Those sheets staring at you from the shelf are no longer serving you.

Last year I decided to host what I called crafternoons – afternoons for groups of my girlfriends to craft. Craft was a very loose definition because photos, card-making, baking, knitting, colouring was all welcomed.

I hosted four of these but they never had more than 3 of us at any one time. They were enjoyable but they weren’t what I envisioned, especially because I’d invite about 10 ladies every time.

The crafternoons were no longer serving me so I let them go.

This is a small example but I felt such relief at the thought of moving onto something that might work better to get friends together, and that cleared the space for me to start a book club.

My challenge to you is to jot down 3 – 5 things in your life that are no longer serving you. And let them go.

They can be anything from kitchen utensils and nail polish, to bad habits and self-imposed expectations. Anything.

What’s no longer serving you? What do you need to let go of?

{My year of happy} April project goals

Happy April!

So, my happy project for March was to see what was working and to replicate that in other areas of my life.

How did I do?

Scheduling – this one worked a treat. I pre-scheduled friend dates, dates with D, etc. I also scheduled my weekly planning time and it’s been great.

Environment – I kept the phone in the bedroom most of the month BUT I was elsewhere so I almost didn’t care to even look at it. I read on a chair in my pyjama lounge and the phone is never with me so I’m not distracted.

However, I was very, very naughty this very last week of March in terms of sleep ….. on the bright side, my sleep average for March is a whopping 7 hrs 46 minutes. It’s not been that high for years and years (possibly, even pre-kids!)

Batching – this one is working well too. Monday is writing night and Wednesday is photo night 🙂

What about April?

This month, my goal is to see what’s not working for me and see how I can stop that, and make it better.

So which projects do I have in mind?

Personal email

I’m not sure what I’ve been doing but I can’t seem to get a handle on my personal email. It’s out of control. I need to go through all my notifications and newsletters to see where I can unsubscribe.

By the way, I recently sent out a newsletter. Did you get your copy? If you’re not on the list (you get 3 cool freebies!), you can sign up here.

 Blogs in my feedly

There are blogs I’m not that into anymore, those with only sponsored posts/ giveaways, and that’s not why I read blogs. I don’t mind a good sponsored post (CupofJo does these beautifully) but they are 1 in 10.

So I need to go on a big unsubscribe mission again.

Instagram

This is not bad…. but since I have two accounts, there are some feeds I follow on both @marcia0608 and @organisingqueen, which is inefficient. And then Instagram advertising, because I’m sure there are some feeds that have appeared without my officially following them.

Can you see Kendra and Connor in the bokeh on the right? I took this photo on a photowalk with the kids.

So, tell me. What’s not working in your life?

Can you stop doing it?

How can you change things to make it a better, more pleasant situation for yourself?

How I get it “all” done

When people hear that I work full-time, am married, have twins and coach time management part-time, they often ask me how I get it all done.

First I laugh and then I realise that it’s a serious question.

The short answer is that I don’t.

Yes, I do a lot but the bigger question is what I don’t get done.

Let me explain and also help you to get it “all” done:

  1. Get very clear on your life’s purpose

I have a life mission typed out and I know my definition of success in life.

I also know my values. A quick secret – one of those values is not to have the laundry perfectly done (I don’t ever do ironing!), but it is to take action and just get the clothes clean.

Are you clear on your life purpose?

  1. Make friends with “good enough”

It’s better to have something done than to have it perfect.

If you’re cringing at that sentence, know that I used to be you. That was until I realized that trying to get the last 20% of any project perfect usually takes more time than the previous 80%.

E.g. If we were to make a picture collage, it would take just a few minutes to select photos and group them in a collage. The playing around to get the best configuration with the best background and font, and so on takes 3 – 5 times longer than just creating the initial collage.  If you organize a space, decluttering and arranging the zones takes less time than all the faffing afterwards to make it “Pinterest-perfect”.

There is a time and place for prettying something up – maybe for your children’s birthday party but for general sending out of occasional photos to family or just tidying your desk, that level of extreme detail is not necessary.

Do you know when 80% is enough in your life, or are you still stuck on being perfect?

  1. Make a To Not Do list

We all know there are 24 hours in a day and there is not enough time to do everything.

It’s far more important these days to know which things to leave on the To Not Do list.

  • In my business, I do only things that need my “essence” and delegate the rest to my virtual assistant.
  • In my personal life, it’s important for me to cook from scratch but it’s not important for me to peel and chop all the vegetables myself.

Can you see the difference?

  1. Decide where you want to use your time and don’t feel guilty about it

Be intentional about your time usage. If reading is your thing like it is with me, then don’t feel guilty about cuddling up with a book and a mug of tea every day for an hour after supper.

If you scroll Instagram to unwind, then be conscious that you’re doing that and own it. Admit that you want to scroll Instagram for an hour every evening, and enjoy it.

Don’t feel guilty about the time but know why you’re doing it.

Of course I do procrastinate sometimes by too much time on blogs or Instagram but since I generally get things done, occasionally if I slip up, I don’t beat myself up about it.

How about you?

Where do you want to be spending your time and why? Are you intentional about it?

  1. Take consistent action

Unfortunately getting things done is not going to just happen unless you take consistent action.

Whether it’s moving forward with a big leap or lots of little leaps, I try to take some action every day.

I’m fairly good at constantly reviewing where I am in relation to my goals weekly and monthly.

Do you take enough regular action?

To end off, let me leave you with one of my favourite quotes:

Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone.  The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.

-Lin Yutang 

 

I’m curious.

What’s on your to not do list? (we all have one)

Where in your life have you let go of perfectionism?

The great nail polish post

Just to satisfy my own curiosity, I did a little nail polish experiment last year.

It was very interesting so I’d like to share the results with you today.

I tracked each time I changed my nail polish colour.

I already have a spreadsheet for all my photos so I just added another sheet for the nail polish. Number, brand, name, date and days across the top. I put a formula in the days column to calculate how long I left a specific colour on. No, it didn’t take long at all. Probably 5 seconds each time I changed my nail polish and two minutes to set up.

This was all in the name of Konmari.

In the book, she often does this thing to show people their hoarding tendencies. Like if you had 300 ziploc bags and you said you need them all because you use one every week to take your Friday doughnut to the office, even if you took one every single week, it would take you nearly 6 years to use up that stash, which is kind-of crazy.

So me with the nail polish.

I put on nail polish 85 different times, once every 4.29 days.

That sounds about right because most time I feel like a change every 4 – 5 days.

I used 16 brands and my top 3 were Essence (40 times), Rimmel (12 times) and Yardley (6 times).

The top right purple-grey is Serendipity

I used 48 colours, only 24 colours were used two or more times, and my top 3 colours were You and me (Essence), Serendipity (Essence) and Mint Tropics (Sinful). I feel like the navy blues need a special mention because I have two colours, very close in colour, both used 3 times (Yardley’s Urban navy and Anchor blue). Technically they take second place together.

These were the ones that made the cut. And already, I’ve decluttered 3.

So how has this information been useful to me?

  • First of all, I know which brands I like so if I’m ever torn between two colours and one of them is Essence, I’d go with Essence.
  • I probably only need about 20 bottles, knowing that I will buy a few throughout the year, but also that I toss out some and have my seasonal favourites. There’s also a bright red I wear only twice a year, both times for my Spanish exams.
  • If I don’t love a colour, I should probably just get rid of it, because it’s going to happen anyway next time I take stock 🙂 #sparkjoy

What is the craziest thing you track?

What, if anything, did you find most interesting?

PS The nail polish situation this time last year, and how to make your nail polish last and not chip

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.

Create the perfect Christmas… for you

Pssst – if you’re not on the newsletter list yet, do jump on. I’m sending out my 2017 Let’s Do This guide on Wednesday and another special offer.

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A friend asked me if I had a Christmas planner she could use (I sent her the one I sent to my list last year) and then it occurred to me that I needed to get my head in gear for Christmas.

I find that as the years pass I get more and more low-key 🙂

You see, I love Christmas when it’s about just these things – Jesus, Christmas music, some pretty things up around the house, delicious food and spending time together with family and friends.

What does Christmas mean to you?

If you’re feeling a bit (or a lot) overwhelmed and just a little bit stressed at everything you have to do, maybe it’s time to stop and give yourself permission to slow down and get back to your basics.

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Let’s get intentional:

  1. What are the top 3 – 5 things that make it “Christmas” for you?
  2. Are those the same things your family would say? Sometimes we’ve been doing things thinking the family enjoys it but they don’t really care 😮

Once you decide on your top things, embrace them and let the rest go.

Are you twitching?

It’s hugely freeing when you realise no-one cares about the tubs of biscuits you previously felt compelled to bake  and your friends don’t expect a gift at all.

I used to think up all these cute things to do (biscuits/ snacks/ etc.) for friend gifts and I realised that nobody even cares about any of it. Just because I would love something from someone else’s kitchen doesn’t mean that others feel the same.

I still do some baking….. especially for those I’m going to see (maybe 3 – 4 people) but it’s now an extension of the baking for my own family and not days and days of Baking for Presents!

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Here’s your Christmas thought plan (not action plan, unless the item is on your Top Five list)

Activities

Decide, together with your family, on any activities you want to do, etc. baking, church, plays, seeing the lights, theatre, ballet, etc.

Christmas cards

Will you be sending any cards this year? Do you send them via the mail/ Facebook/ email? (I’m having a crafternoon with a few friends on Saturday and I’ll be making some Christmas cards, killing three birds with one stone – creating, having quality time with friends and knocking out some of those cards for posting)

Christmas gifts

Will you be giving gifts this year? Are you making gifts or are you buying them all? What is your gift-giving budget? If you have family or friends in another city, use the Aramex courier bags in Pick and Pay stores. I’ve used them a couple of times and they’re the best. Pop in the cubby at PnP by 3 pm and they’re at your destination the following day before 12. It’s like magic 🙂

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Christmas Day

Where will you spend the day? Who will cook which parts of the meal?

My one friend always says that they have the loveliest, no-stress Christmas meals because they keep it easy – two chickens, tons of salads and desserts.

Decor

Do you put up a tree? (Two friends don’t even take theirs down ;)) When do you want to put up the tree? Is it a family activity? Do you decorate every room? How much decor feels like enough for you this year?

The shops have the prettiest things every year and I adore it all. But I take a deep breath and remind myself of my (now) three boxes of stuff….. and my one in, one out rule.

Also, this house, while bigger, doesn’t seem to have as much wall space. It’s all the windows looking out on the view!

Still I will take a few photos and walk you through parts of my house next week.

Has this helped you think through Christmas? Tell me what made your top 5 list.

Remember it’s good to let go so you can focus on what’s most important to you!

 

Edited to add this PS here is a great Christmas post I just read from Memories on Clover Lane

Is your space working for you?

One of my biggest frustrations is when a space doesn’t work properly for me.

I feel like I don’t want to spend time there, and then I’m easily distracted while in that space too.

Can you relate?

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Example 1

I saw a room on Instagram that gave me an idea for one of our spaces. The person had a daybed/ bench in the kitchen area and it looked so inviting that I thought, “oh, I’d like one of those” and then I thought of something I could do.

So this weekend I moved one of my couches to the dining room. I still have the table and chairs; there is just more space to relax with the couch there.

Dion is still not sure about it but the kids and I love it there. I find them sitting and reading on the couch because the light is amazing in the mornings.

Do you need to move things around in one or two rooms to make your spaces work better for you?

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Example 2

I’m not a fan of beige anything 🙂

When we bought this house I knew I’d have to jazz up my kitchen somehow.

I decided on 4 smallish things (compared to a complete kitchen renovation – which we choose not to do because we prefer money to pay off our bond :)) and I’m delighted with the results from just 3 of the 4 so far.

The 4th thing is proving a lot more money than I initially thought so it will take a month more of saving to do that.

I’m going to put up pictures and such on Monday to talk you through some of my thinking.

But for now, I have a little thinking exercise for you.

Think of a space where you spend a lot of time – kitchen, bedroom, kids’ play area, study, etc.

Take a few minutes to evaluate your physical space and see how it’s working for you.

  1. Do you feel happy when you look at the space?
  2. Are you energised when you’re there?
  3. Does the space function well?
  4. Can you say with complete honesty that not much irritates or frustrates you there?
  5. Is it organised enough for your and your family’s needs?

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Your coaching challenge

  • If you couldn’t answer yes to at least 3 of the 5 questions, what are 3 small things you can do to brighten up that space and make it work for you again?
  • Do you need to move furniture around? Shop your home first before you think of going to buy new items.
  • Consider this the first draft and keep tweaking until the space is fully functional.
  • Don’t get caught up in Pinterest perfectionism – it doesn’t have to be pretty to be functional, organised and bring you peace.

If you’d like to talk through some of your space issues, let’s set up a free 15-minute chat for you.

I’d love to know which of your spaces you want to make work better for you, and what the first thing is you’re going to do.

Hoarder vs minimalist kids

See these two children?

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I have one hoarder and one minimalist.

Case in point: stuffed animals

I went all Konmari on them and asked them to hold each animal and the animal only should stay if it brought them joy.

I received 8 from one and 1 from the other.

!

I don’t think I’m being mean because the truth is that it’s easier to keep a room tidy if there is very little to do in the room.

The minimalist does their room in about 5 minutes flat – fold pyjamas, make bed, tidy up.

The hoarder takes about 2 hours if not encouraged every 5 minutes.

5 love languages | www.organisingqueen.com

So how do you work with their personalities and still have a somewhat tidy house that we all feel relaxed in?

I don’t know how you do it, but here are a few things that help me:

  1. I make them each a list that they ideally should do before coming downstairs. Some days are earlier though so they skip some of their chores.
  2. They are really motivated by food so they need to be at least dressed with PJs put away before breakfast.
  3. Definitely no play unless the rooms are done.
  4. A recent thing since we moved into this house with stairs is I send them to do a video of their “tidy” room so I don’t have to run up and down over and over again…. apparently I have budding videographers (they also love instagram stories!) because this gets them moving – they want to make the video!
  5. One child said no when I asked if I could post the video but it was really cute…. “look Mummy, this side is clean, this side is clean and OOPS, I forgot about _____ but now I’ve picked it up so that’s clean too”.
  6. I work in the one room regularly to weed out extra clothes, stationery, toys, to make things easier to put away. That child is always so thankful because then tidy up is super quick. I do throw in a little organising lesson about how when we don’t gather as much, it’s so easy to keep the room nice and tidy…. but at heart this one is a collector 🙂

Share your tips with me in the comments.

And if you’re in Jhb, we use the 5 love languages with our kids for basically everything….join me on 19th November at 11:30 am for a practical, informative and FUN workshop. Email me for banking details to reserve your place.

How to organise your digital photo files

Oooh, first, this post was post number… 1700!

Let’s let that sink in for a minute. That’s a lot of talking from me; let’s hear from you too please.

Joburg

Photos are one of those things that can quickly overwhelm you if you don’t have a system. Before you know it, you have thousands of photos on your computer and no idea where to start.

If this is you, make one folder titled Before _____ (today’s date) and start working backwards, just 15 minutes a day. Once you start, the momentum will easily carry you forward.

Then, from now onwards, do the following steps and you’ll never be behind again.

1. Download after every major photo-taking session
It’s far easier to sort through 50 rather than 500 photos. However, if you take photos daily, you might want to do this once a week.

2. Name the folder
I name my folders 201601 Cape Town and 20160508 Sunday pics 20-52, and so on. Because of this blog, I also have folders called OQ bullet journal, OQ wallet, OQ house, etc.

It is easy to do a search and find what you’re looking for later if you describe the photos first.

Cape Town

3. Delete the duds immediately
Scroll through each photo and delete any blurry, non-flattering or “iffy” photos immediately.

When you postpone making decisions, it leads to clutter.

4. Select the photos you want to print
Make a new folder and call it TO PRINT. When you come across GORGEOUS photos, copy them to this separate folder. Note I said COPY – you don’t want to accidentally delete the good ones. I only print the GORGEOUS photos, which means I don’t even print 10% of the photos I take.

At least once a month – every two months, when you run errands, copy the photos from your TO PRINT folder onto a flash drive and drop it off at your nearest photo centre. I’ve never used an online photo service service but there is one I want to try. I’ll let you know if it works out well 🙂

This works really well for me as the amounts of money I have to spend is not much because I’m printing regularly and I’m also not overwhelmed sorting out hundreds of photos for my albums.

Melville

5. Compress and crop photos
If you want to send some photos to friends and family, it is good manners to compress them first before emailing them so people don’t use all their data downloading your 6 MB pics 😉 I use Picasa and it automatically compresses them (you can adjust to exactly how much you want them compressed).

Bonus for bloggers
Take a few minutes to compress and crop any photos you intend to blog. If you want to really save time, you could then upload the photos to your blog and save the drafts. Then all you have to do is type the text and publish! This explains why I have so many items in drafts!

6. Back up your photos regularly
I do a back-up every month (or sooner if I feel the computer slowing down).

You definitely don’t want to lose any precious memories so back up regularly.

Do you have a good system for organising your photos?

How often do you organise your digital phoeo files?

If you print photos, do you get your prints in person or do you order online?

One year on Instagram

I remembered last week but then completely forgot that on Wednesday 18th May my Organising Queen Instagram feed turned ONE.

(yes, it’s a thing)

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My first picture was of two notebooks (of course!) and Instaport is not co-operating so I’m not able to show you right now.

Anyway, these are the 3 posts with the most likes: (I’m pleased to see my floors featuring :))

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And these are the 3 posts with the most comments:

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This year I have 3 main goals for my Instagram:

  1. to increase engagement (that means I want you to talk back) both on Instagram and on the blog
  2. double my followers
  3. keep my content pretty and, most of all, inspiring

What would you like to see on the Organising Queen instagram?

PS next big date is 25 May, anniversary date of my book 

 

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