3 things that are working for me these days

(and by these days I mean January!)

This list could change next month but this is what’s working for me at the moment. I’m fully back at work – this month we’re in the office two out of five days a week, the kids have both had their first week at high school (and were exhausted!), we are adjusting to them having phones and we are dealing with constant (stage 4 – 6) loadshedding.

1. Getting inspiration for meals by actually walking around the supermarket
I go through periods of severe non-inspiration where I cannot even think what I’d like to eat, let alone cook. I am also someone who needs lots of variety in their meals. Add to that the fact that I don’t do the food shopping and Dion online shops all the time.  

I read a book last year, Creative You, which talks about creativity and your MBTI type. I get creative energy as an ESTJ by experiencing the world around me by touching, seeing, smelling, etc. I need to remember this and schedule food shopping dates maybe once a month. I’ve been hot (we have had weather in the 30s C) and with loadshedding, I just have felt so uninspired. The book is excellent for many other reasons and I highly recommend it!

Yesterday though we went for a quick vegetable shop and just strolling around the supermarket (in the blessed aircon!) for 20 minutes inspired me so. I returned home and made a menu plan. It felt so easy!


2. Having a weekly 30-minute power hour to update my lists
I used to schedule a weekly planning session and somehow that has fallen by the way sometime during the last two or so years.

But I’m bringing it back (I might do 23 minutes just to be whimsical). This block of time is to update any books I’ve read in my book bullet journal, update my diary, check on my goals, and update my line-a-day journal.

I find Sunday afternoons work best for this, just before the supper/ getting ready for the week rush, because after supper, I want to peacefully read.

3. Accountability for exercise
I’d got out of the habit of going to my Wednesday evening Zumba class around September/ October. I didn’t enjoy the class as much as I used to and then I was too busy to look for another one.

Well, there’s one thing loadshedding’s good for – my gym opened up memberships to all clubs even if your membership is only at a specific location.

When I found out, I contacted my old Zumba instructor, checked logistics, and told her I’d be in her class on Wednesday evening, and I was.

It was so good and afterwards, I told her that I’d be there every Wednesday as long as this loadshedding lasts.

What’s working for you these days?

How I did on my 2022 goals

As I do every year, I set some goals for 2022. I used Gretchen’s printable, My 22 for 22 List.

Some items were once-off (apply for high schools), some were project-based (read 100 books) and some were continual (Project Life monthly).

I really like having a mix of different types of goals so that they all don’t feel insurmountable at the same time.

So how did I do?

I got 13 done completely, 3 not done at all, and 7 partially done. With about a month since I last looked at the list, I think I was maybe too hard on myself with those 7 partially done because if I were coaching someone else, I’d consider some of them done because one of those partially done goals was at 95%, one at 62% and one at 50%. Oh well – honesty!

Still, not bad in a year that was really not the best at all.

One of the items I’m particularly happy about is getting my will done! It took 5 months of thinking, drafting, redrafting, conversations (so many conversations!), and then we finally had a final copy for signature which was done in December. Yay!

I want to talk separately about my “success” with reading because I really feel like I’ve set up good rhythms and routines that I can rely comfortably on. With almost no effort, I can get through 8 books a month. I mention it here because the one consistent thing many people talk to me about is that they want to read more, and… I can definitely help you with that.

How did you do with your 2022 goals? Can you even remember what you put on your list?

PS Gretchen’s 23 for 2023 list is here

How I did on my Project Upgrade for 2022

Unlike #rest22in2022, Project Upgrade was a huge success.

I just read the first paragraph of my post where I told you about it and it is literally the opposite of what rest was for me… and maybe that’s why it worked so well.

If you’ve hung around here for awhile, you know I love a project. I don’t know what it is but I think it’s that I like something with clearly-defined rules, and a very clear start and end date.

Remember it all started with a hotel facecloth from a hotel… and morphed into a big list of 22 items. As is always the case with these kinds of lists, some things were not as important but other things had to be added onto the list that I couldn’t have anticipated.

Things that didn’t get done

  • we were just about ready to sort out the pool and then our city announced water restrictions so we couldn’t go ahead
  • I still don’t have the big pot I mentioned in that original post (I still want one and welcome your ideas)
  • I have started to simplify our luggage (kids are sorted) but mine could use an upgrade 😉
  • I don’t need a standing desk anymore as we’re in the office so much but I did buy two laptop raisers – one for work and one for home

Good things done that were not on the original list

  • got 4 new tyres
  • got some plumbing sorted out (much, much bigger job that spanned two months)
  • we had to replace a section of our boundary wall
  • I replaced two phone screens
  • I bought a lovely, new laptop bag and handbag (and mouse pad) with some of my bonus
  • I bought new glasses (not covered by medical aid!)
  • I loved the upholstery so much I went wild and did two more chairs and an additional couch

All in all, I still did more than 22 things so this was a big, big success for me.

You’ll not be surprised that I’ve already made a smaller Project Upgrade list for 2023. One of the big items is getting solar panels installed which will solve so many problems in this land of loadshedding and power outages.

Feedback to follow at the end of the quarter 🙂

Do you need to make a Project Upgrade list for 2023? Or maybe a few items on your 23 goals in 2023 should be matters of upgrade?

Reuse and repurpose your items around the house

Many home stores sell goods by categories – kitchen, bathroom or bedroom – but you don’t have to use them in those same places if you decide another location in your home is a better use of the item.

E.g. this vase is actually a mug. My friend baked me a birthday cake that was decorated with these flowers. They were so gorgeous that I saved them…. for the tiny, guest bathroom. Because the vanity is small, I needed a small container, not the big vases I usually use. When I looked in my cupboard, this mug was perfect, right?

In one of her books, Make Room for What you Love, Melissa Michaels of The Inspired Room recommends using bowls and other household items for storage inside drawers and to organise your home. I immediately went to the kitchen because I have lots of little bowls and I found this little tray which, as you can see, is perfect for my bathroom counter for some daily-use items.

When did you last walk around your home and repurpose some items?

💚 Use little bowls in your bedroom or bathroom drawers

💚 Use mugs for pencils or makeup brushes.

💚 use little trays to hold your jewellery

You might as well delight daily in your pretty things rather than only delighting in them once or twice a year.

Let me know how you repurpose common household items, or just your pretty bowls.

Spring clean your workspace with desk-clearing bingo

It’s September so it’s time to spring clean, at least in the Southern Hemisphere.

This is a fun way to sort out your desk in 24 miniscule steps.

(you could even save this image on your phone, and post to Instagram for accountability every day when you do a few of these items)

www.GretchenRubin.com

Does this sound like fun?

I do a couple of these items daily, like clearing any dishes, weekly, like emptying the bin and sweeping under the desk but it felt good to do a thorough sort and clean.

{Organising} 10-minute organising projects – nail polish

I like to think that one of my superpowers is using tiny bits of time efficiently.

I had to catch up on two training courses at work recently which involved watching some videos. The videos didn’t need me to take notes so I thought I’d organise my nail polish while watching.

I’d recently bought more nail polish (my first nail polish spree since lockdown!) so I had to declutter old ones (the one in, one out rule) and while doing that, I arranged them by brand and not by colour as I usually do.

While it’s nice to try new ways of organising, I quickly found that this didn’t work for me as my brain thinks, “oooh, I feel like wearing something pink” rather than “I want to wear the essence polish”.

I took them all out and arranged them in their shade categories…

see all the neutrals in the front left

a bit or order emerging (I also saw too many similar shades so I donated 3 bottles)

And done. I love having the boundary of this perspex container – it takes at most 18 – 19 bottles, depending on the shape. I use the round ceramic pot for my base and top coats.

This little project took less than 10 minutes, and that includes going to fetch the polish, the organising and returning them to my bedside table drawer.

If you struggle to think about what to do with small bits of time, make a list now of quick, 10-minute organising tasks:

  1. tidying a drawer is always a good one
  2. decluttering a pile of paper/ receipts from your wallet
  3. unsubscribing from sales emails

(my next little project will be sorting the kids’ reports and cards for their 2021 folders – yes, I haven’t bothered yet, probably because they all still fit in my slimline file box)

{Organising} You’re not alone when you ask this organising question

There’s one question I get asked by clients, friends and readers more than any other question.

It’s a question that makes me empathise with them so much because I know exactly where they’re coming from.

Marcia, I want to get organised but it’s all so overwhelming.

Where do I start?

There are different ways to approach this question but before we even start with the practical aspects, you need to do this:

First of all, relax and take a deep breath. Then get your mind in the right space.

Realise that organising is a process and that you won’t have a totally organised home in one hour, despite what you see on television.

Remember the home makeover shows have many organisers and stylists behind the scenes making the space look beautiful. You only have you (or if you’re really blessed, a friend or family member to help you).

Now that we’ve got that part settled, let’s talk practical.

1. Start with the area of your home that bothers you the most.

This is usually a space that you see when you first walk into your home, or it’s a space that you use all the time. If you feel drained when you enter your living room, start there. If you can’t bear to choose clothes every morning because your wardrobe is too cluttered, then that’s probably a good place to start. The benefit of choosing this area is that when you feel overwhelmed by the rest of the house you can go to this one space, look at it and feel inspired.

2. Decide what you want to have happen in that space.

Do you only want clothes in your wardrobe, or do you want shoes and handbags in there too? If you’re not sure what you want, it’ll be easier to let your standards and boundaries slip and, before you know it, you have a disorganised space once again.

3. Declutter

You can’t organise clutter. Get rid of everything that shouldn’t be there. You may need to move some things to other rooms and some things may need to move right out of your house!

4. Organise what’s left according to your personality and style

Not everybody is a minimalist. Some of us need to surround ourselves with our treasures. It’s all okay.

Your system works as long as you can find what you’re looking for relatively quickly (within a minute).

5. Maintain

Last but not least, do a quick, 5-minute maintenance session in each major space every week so that your space remains organised.

So tell me, where do you think you should start?

Project Upgrade – It all started with a facecloth (more about my latest project)

If you’ve hung around here for awhile, you know I love a project. I don’t know what it is but I think it’s that I like something with clearly-defined rules, and a very clear start and end date.

Aside from my annual goals (which I’ll review end of March as I checked at the beginning of the month, and nothing could be crossed off yet ;)), #rest22in2022, I am also doing what I call Project Upgrade this year.

Really, it’s Project Upgrade, Fix or Declutter. Let me explain.

I’m an under buyer with most things in life so I will use things until they’re completely done. I do declutter regularly as I am very partial to the one in, one out rule, but I very rarely upgrade things just because. And I’ve been thinking that I need to do that; I don’t have to be the only one to use up things.

It all started with a facecloth. I went to Cape Town on the 30 November last year and forgot my facecloth at home. The hotel provided me with the softest facecloth ever that is now my “travel facecloth”. After I’d used this facecloth for 3 days, my current one suddenly felt too rough and I started pondering.

If this exists in one area of my life, where else is it happening?

So I made a quick list and decided to adopt it as my house/ personal project for the year.

Declutter

These are for things need to go but I’m still hanging onto them. Why? (gym pants and gym t-shirts)

Fix

Some things really just need a quick google, a couple of phone calls and arranging a date for the service provider to come and do their magic. E.g. the pool cover that needs replacing, there are some chairs that I’ve wanted reupholstered, and so on. They’re all “fine” but “fine” is not delightful and they can all stand to delight me again.

Upgrade

I batch-cook almost every week but I only have one very big pot, one saucepan the same diameter and a medium pot. I’ve wanted another big pot for months. Why don’t I just go buy it?! I think because it feels like there are so many options and everything comes in sets and I don’t want a set. If you can recommend a good big pot, go ahead – I’m listening!

My plan is to tackle 2 – 3 of these little projects every month, seasonally where possible (pool and windows in autumn once the rains stop).

So far so good. January’s three projects were done successfully and this month, we’ve had an electrician out to sort out the plug points in the lounge, I’ve decluttered and bought nice new kitchen cloths and after visiting 2 – 3 shops, I finally found new gym shoes yesterday.

Of course, I fully expect to have to move things around and delete some because this house is 45 years old and things constantly need fixing or upgrading. But I definitely want to sort out all my personal upgrades.

What do you think? Would a project upgrade, fix or declutter work for you or your home?

How to use the one-minute rule at home

Have you heard about the one-minute rule? Even if you haven’t heard it referred to as such, I’m 100% sure you know of it.

What is the one-minute rule?

You take one minute to do something now rather than putting it on a list (mental or physical) to do later.

Why does the one-minute rule work?

It is quicker to take the time to do it now rather than in the long run because you have momentum.

Yes, it is sometimes annoying to take 60 extra seconds but I love thinking about my future self not doing something later 🙂

Let’s talk about some examples in your home:

Kitchen

  • Put food items away and wipe down the counter before having your meal
  • Take freezer items out when you think about your evening meal
  • After your shopping is packed away, take your reusable bags to your car or put next to the front door immediately. Don’t expect to remember them later – we all have friends with 27 bags in their kitchens that keep buying more when they’re at the grocery store.

Bathrooms

  • Spray down your basin and give it a quick clean with a sponge or those new-to-me cloths with microfibre on the one side and a scourer on the other.
  • While you’re at it, give your toilet a quick swish and swipe (a la Flylady)
  • Hang up your towels and put your laundry in the hamper immediately after showering rather than later

Lounge

  • Take a minute to straighten the cushions and put the remotes and coasters back in position rather than having to straighten up the following day.
  • Take all the mugs and glasses (and plates, if you allow eating in the lounge!) back to the kitchen.

Where do you use the one-minute rule at home currently? Can you think of some examples where this might work for you?

It’s time to swop out your clothes

We have only 3 weeks left of autumn in Johannesburg (but who’s counting?!) and I’m only now thinking about changing around my clothes.

There are two reasons for that:

  1. the weather is still not consistently cold
  2. we’re still working from home so instead of wearing a short-sleeved t-shirt with my jeans, I now occasionally wear a long-sleeved one

If you’re lucky to have a big enough wardrobe, that’s great, and you probably don’t even need to swop your clothes around.

I don’t have a big wardrobe as you can see… and we do have a definite winter in South Africa even if it’s a short one, so I need to swop things around.

In one of our first houses, I used one of the wardrobes in the guest bedroom (this was before kids) for my out-of-season clothes.

Here’s how I do the seasonal swop:

  1. I put all the hanging clothes on the bed and bring the ones I want to wear into that space.
  2. I then pack away all my summer sweatshirts and replace with my polar fleece ones for winter.
  3. Same with scarves – the lighter ones get packed away and I get out all the woolen ones (I’m sure I love winter for the clothes and the trees!)
  4. I move all the bags I love to be more accessible (I have an olive green bag that I love wearing in these cooler seasons).

While I’m working through this entire process, I “joy check” (a delightful term I found following some Konmari consultants on Instagram) and set aside any items I don’t LOVE wearing or using. I will donate some, ask my mother if she wants some (bags and scarves mostly) and now that Kendra is so tall, I think she will want that striped green sweatshirt. Interestingly, I remember wearing it when they were newborns so it’s held up for 12 years.

In my chest of drawers I also swop around the two drawers with short – and long-sleeved t-shirts. Why would I not take 5 minutes to do it now instead of having to bend a bit lower on a daily basis? That’s a great example of tolerations I spoke about last week.

Is it time to swop your clothes around? Even if you don’t need to do a complete swop, look around and see if you can make a few small changes to bring more joy to your clothing storage and usage?

And tag me @OrganisingQueen if you post some pics. I love to see!

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