{organising} Project – how I decluttered my bookshelf

Let’s take a break from all the Covid-19 talk and focus on a fun, pretty project you could do during the workdays, if you’re not working, or on the weekend if you want a break from boring things like laundry.

I had a goal this year – to go through my bookshelf and declutter anything I no longer wanted to read. So this is it – these are all the physical books I own, other than the ones that live on my Kindle.

Here’s what I did and suggest you might like to do too:

  • If there are books a friend has loaned you and you know you’re not going to read them, return them. If you keep them, they start to guilt you everytime you look at them. None of us needs that guilt.
  • Return any books to their owners that you have read. See the brown wrapped book? Ready to go to a friend when I can next see her. (Edited – I ended up using a courier to send to her)
  • Pick up and go through each and every book on your shelf and make two piles: those you have read and those you have not read.
  • For the ones you have read, honestly answer these questions:
    • Do I love this book so much I want to keep it? Does it spark joy? Might I re-read it? Yes – keep. No – toss aside (I only keep books I LOVE and that rate an 8-10/10)
  • For the ones you have not read, answer these questions:
    • Am I likely to ever want to pick this book up to read? Does this book spark joy? Yes – keep. No – toss aside.
    • Was I gifted a book I don’t want to read, but am keeping because the person is a special friend or family member? Hold the book, think positive thoughts and toss aside.
    • The not-sure bunch. Ask yourself, is this a title I want to take with me into my future? Here’s where it’s easy to let go (most things I know full well I am never going to read like most parenting books).

Those tips helped me a whole lot. I now have books on my shelf I know I want to read and a lovely pile of books waiting downstairs to donate to my local library.

If you choose to go through your books, please send me pictures or better still, post your pics to Instagram or Facebook and tag me to come have a look.

{Covid-19} It’s all flipped, hasn’t it?!

Our president made his first announcement about social distancing on Sunday 15 March, and then on Monday 23 March, he announced that lockdown would begin on Friday 27 March.

We were on holiday in a very remote area of the country at the time of the lockdown announcement so we drove back home and were safely inside when lockdown began.

Monday 30th was the first day of work during lockdown. It was crazy. Also I made this list of things I wanted to get done on a daily basis. I was so naive – so, so naive. I work in financial services, which is an essential service. I am honestly busier now than when I have normal busy periods at work. If I don’t set good work boundaries, I end up working late into the night.

So that little Project Life card was only partially completed for 5 days and then I hid it deep down in the papers on my desk. Out of sight means no guilt about not getting things done.

This was my daily list for the second day of work/ lockdown. By the way, that “write blog” entry is this very one I’m finally writing two weeks later. That’s exactly a metaphor for life. I’ve not felt like doing anything extra on the computer after spending so much time on it for my actual work.

So what’s the point of telling you how I’m not getting my list done? I wanted to…

share my real life with you (not that I don’t always do that)

show you my ideal day vs reality

tell you how I’ve adapted and how things are now going

My workdays are taken up with work, a Zumba class (which is saving my sanity!) twice a week, cooking daily suppers, keeping up with the laundry and basic daily cleaning. And occasionally checking on the kids to make sure they’re doing schoolwork.

The only time I actually have to do anything extra like extra reading, organising, deep cleaning, etc. is on the weekend, just like before. Except! I’m doing so much proper cleaning and cooking ahead that I don’t have much time for extra because I’m knackered.

It’s taken me a lot of time, and I still have to give myself a talking to because the truth is that my own standards for cleanliness are much higher than the rest of my family. Anyone relate? Everyone has jobs but I have the additional job of making sure the other jobs get done, and I do toilets because I’m the fussiest about toilets over just about anything else 😉

I’ll leave you with these two last thoughts:

  1. go easy on yourself during these strange times and remember, you’re doing the best you can

but also

2. figure out how you can have some small joys during your day (cleaning up while listening to a catchy song – I recommend Ricky Martin) amidst all the cleaning, dishes, work and schooling going on.

How are you doing…really? Are you in essential services? How are your days being filled during this time? What’s keeping you sane?

{Covid-19} Let’s be intentional about our at-home time

Let’s quickly talk about being intentional while the threat of Covid-19 continues. When I use the word intentional, I don’t mean productive unless that is what you want to be intentional about. The last thing I want to do is put you under pressure; I want to give you grace and a few tools to take this one day or week at a time.

While I’m a girl who loves a plan and to know what’s happening, I’ve decided to take it all one week at a time. It’s how I plan anyway and I’m reminding myself things change in an instant. I’m making a Three Things To Do Today list and that’s it. My three things usually have something physical/ creative, something productive and something connecting.

What would your Three Things list have on it?

Mentally

  • If you’re feeling anxious, stop and ask yourself, “what will make me feel less anxious?” If it’s something you can do something about, do it. Otherwise, severely restrict your social media and news time. I’m not an anxious person by nature and even I started feeling a tinge of anxiety, so I’ve been reducing my social media time.
  • Fill your head with affirmations (write them out on an index or Project Life card), encouraging podcasts and things that make you happy. Jennie Allen has a great book out (how timely!) called Get out of your head. I started the Bible plan a few days ago and so far, great!

Physically

  • If you’re working from home, make sure you keep specific work hours, and stick to those hours. It’s so easy to work all the time and because you’re naturally going to let your home things bleed into work time, you may feel guilty. Don’t do this. Work hard during work time, and then switch off (yes, use a reminder on your phone!). If you want, track your work time so that there’s no guilt about switching off when your day is over. This is an excellent tool for obligers especially, but will also work for upholders and questioners.
  • Get outside in nature and go for a walk or run. Find a form of exercise because when you get moving, you’ll feel better. There are plenty of free things on the internet these days; one of my favourite ballerinas, Isabella Boylston, is doing ballet from her apartment. A yoga teacher I know is doing virtual yoga classes. All of these are win-win; exercise for you, and you’re supporting a small business/ Dancers Emergency Fund.
  • Get plenty of sleep. I know it’s hard but some easy sleep hygiene is to get off your phone early in the evening, read a relaxing (physical) book and stop drinking caffeine at lunch time.

Organising projects

  • A fellow twin mom, a little ahead of me in the game, shared on her Instagram how their family is going to play all the board games they own while they’re quarantined. They will then decide to declutter the games they no longer like. I think this is an excellent idea, don’t you?
  • You know all those things you wrote on your list at the beginning of the year? If they still matter to you, now is an excellent time to tackle them. Involve the kids! This book might help! Print out the list 4 “things I could do in 2020” so there’s no pressure on you, and see how you go. I love to hear feedback – let me know and tag me if you’re on Instagram.
  • Download your customised Tendency to-do list here

What are the things that you’ve found to work well for you?

{organising} Hoarder vs minimalist kids

See these two children?

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One of them is a hoarder and one is a 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.

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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. Since we moved into this house with stairs, 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 🙂

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Share your tips with me in the comments.

We definitely use our kids’ tendencies to encourage them without annoying them. Join me for a once-off, one-on-one Four Tendencies coaching session. Until the end of this year, they’re only $50 for an hour. In 2021, they’ll increase to $60. Email me for banking details so that you can book your session.

{organising} What’s your organising style?

“You’re either born organised or you’re not”.

Do you agree or disagree with this statement?

There are those of us who are naturally more structured and organised due to our personalities but I also know that anyone can learn how to organise or to improve their organising skills.

Interestingly, many professional organisers were once disorganised and learnt the skills in order to better manage their own homes and lives.

As for me, I do have a natural bend towards organising (I think this is mostly because I’m a J on the Myers-Briggs) but honestly, I figured a lot of things out once I had my own home. And I certainly developed my love for decluttering when we started moving house and I didn’t want to pay to move things I no longer valued.

The key to organise your life effectively is to know your style so you can adapt any system to work with you, and not against you.

Today I want to talk about one particular facet of personality – structured versus unstructured organising.

It’s important to note that both of those descriptors are ways of organising yourself: you can organise yourself in a structured manner or in an unstructured manner. Unstructured people are not disorganised; they just prefer to organise themselves in an unstructured manner.

Structured

These are people who like clear goals and deadlines, they prefer closure, they love planning and following that plan.

Unstructured

These are people who feel trapped by deadlines, they are spontaneous and like lots of freedom and flexibility.

The really quick way I like to identify my clients’ styles is to ask them two questions:

1. do you work best with piles or files of paper?

Generally speaking, unstructured people work with piles of paper while structured people like files. Digitally, unstructured people have all their files in My Documents folders and structured people use (many) folders.

2. do you actually use the planning tools you buy or download?

This is a key indicator for me. If the person is a paper person (like I am), they probably have a diary. Do you actually use that diary or do you simply like the idea of having a diary? Open yours now and have a look… Digitally, do you merely download cool productivity apps or do you actually use them?

Of course, within those two really broad categories, there is a ton of variation.

I’m clearly structured but I’m a 7 in that I don’t lean very far across the scale. I love files but I keep them very sparse and thin. And electronically, I have one app I use… quite thoroughly, but only on a weekly basis. That’s the most structured I want to be.

Why is it important to know your style?

1. You’ll stop wasting money on tools that don’t work for you.
2. You can enjoy the freedom of being exactly who you are.
3. You can use your time more effectively.

Over to you.

Do you organise yourself in a structured or unstructured manner? What will you start or stop doing as a result of this knowledge?

{planning} your ideal weekend routine and rhythms

We are all different personalities and therefore need different rhythms for our weekends to feel like they were good ones.

What is important and consistent across personality types is for all of us to decide for ourselves what the components are that will make a weekend feel successful, and then incorporate those elements into our days.

This will also differ according to different times and life stages, e.g. in winter I cook more because that feels more life-giving to me, but in summer I only want to be in the kitchen a very short time.

Let’s look at some components of a successful weekend, shall we?

church – anchor event

1. Anchor events and scheduled activities

In this section, extroverts will typically want to have more time spent with other people where introverts will be happier by themselves.

I have at least three anchor events on most weekends – a tea with a friend after work on Fridays, Saturday morning Zumba and Sunday morning church. Those things are scheduled and in my diary; they can move, but probably won’t.

2. Downtime

We all need downtime, but what downtime looks like for you may differ to the next person.

Some people relax by reading on the couch; others relax by going for a long run. You do you.

3. Chores

Let’s face it – we all look forward to getting some nagging things off the to-do list and I, as an enneagram 1, like nothing more than to potter and set things in order in my home. The week is often for keeping the house ticking over and weekends are when I (and you) can devote a longer period of time to a little deeper cleaning or organising, like swopping summer and winter clothes, decluttering your kitchen cupboards, etc.

4. Planning

This only has to take 20 – 30 minutes but is so useful if done consistently. I’ve heard of some couples who take time on a Friday night to plan for the week ahead. I do my planning in two stages – I plan the menu for the week ahead on a Friday night or Saturday morning and write out the shopping list, and then on a Sunday afternoon, I take 5 – 10 minutes to review and plan my schedule and to-dos for the week ahead. On very busy weekends, I might push the planning to a Monday night but I still like to get it done.

I need to get out once a day at least or else I get cabin fever but other than that, I like to both relax and get things done around the house every weekend. This goes out the window if I have a heat headache but if I’m well, that sounds like the perfect weekend for me.

I’m flexible around my loose plan (typical upholder!) but I do need those first three components to be present, and I feel like I’m winning for the next week too if I get my planning done.

What are the components for you to feel like you’ve had a successful weekend?

{goals} How to read more in 2020

If you’ve been reading around here or follow me on Instagram, you’ll know I’m a big reader. (I even started a bookstagram account late last year – marciareadsalot).

I read 97 books in 2016, 120 books in 2017, 112 books in 2018 and I finished on 108 books last year.

I hover around the 100 books a year mark consistently, and thought I’d share 5 ways that we can all read more. It’s not like I do nothing but read (I’m a full-time employee, parent to twins, wife, friend and coach/ speaker/ workshop facilitator) but I do prioritise my reading.

  1. Have a compelling to-read list

If you only have boring books on your list, you’ll be less inclined to pick up a book and read. Therefore, decide what you like to read and add some fun books (for you) to your list.

If you can’t wait to read a book, there’s a very high possibility you’ll read faster, and thus read more books.

Tip – I create a To read – x month collection within my Kindle so that I always have a great list of books to pick from. If I own the physical copy, I download the sample, and leave that in the collection so I remember what I wanted to read.

2. Stop reading books you hate

This ties into number 1 above. If you are not enjoying a book, stop wasting your reading time and pick up a book you want to read instead.

Did you know that you don’t have to finish every book you start? Please start freely abandoning books. I abandoned 7 books this year (yay!) – the faster I abandon, the more I can read 🙂

3. Always keep a book with you

Even if you don’t keep a physical book with you, have an audio or Kindle book on your phone. I like to keep a non-fiction book on my phone so I can read a short piece when I have a few moments. Things that work very well are essay-type books, or 100 days to …… or 365 days of …………..-type books.

4. First read, then scroll

I realised that I was grabbing my phone in the mornings instead of my book, so a couple of mornings I didn’t switch on the wifi for a whole hour while I read instead. I nearly finished my book just from first reading instead of scrolling.

If you’re having trouble focusing, set a timer for 20 minutes and just start reading. 20 minutes is the perfect time for a non-fiction read, and I guarantee that if you give a work of fiction 20 minutes, you’ll get into it enough to either continue or abandon.

I also want to point out my blog post from a few years ago where I recognised that with the 4 – 5 hours of phone time I have a day, I could easily read a non-fiction book once a week. See why you and I are not reading more books.

5. Join a book club

Most of the population are obligers and as Gretchen Rubin says, if you’re an obliger and you want to read more books, join a book club. A friend told me on instagram that she had a terrible reading year (14 books). She is an obliger so I suggested a book club. She is in a book club but they each read a different book. As a Four Tendencies facilitator, I’d suggest she join a book club where they all read the same book. My own book club reads the same book and we are mostly Obligers, with some Questioners, one Rebel and me, the Upholder, and this works very well for the Obligers.

Joining a book club is one way to read more and it’s a fantastic way to also build intentional friendships.

Are you reading more or less than you were a few years ago? How do you make sure you’re reading a lot?

{goals} What do I want less of in 2020?

When I start reflecting on this question, the answer is not just the opposite of what I want more of. Instead, I’m challenging myself to really think about things that I can control and take concrete action steps to create in my life.

Stress

Most of my stress this year resulted from worrying about whether the workshops would fill, especially in the beginning, but also stress about work that I absolutely could not control.

Unrealistic expectations

Granted, I placed many of these expectations upon myself, but I also felt that some clients had unrealistic expectations regarding timelines. This is a great time of year to remind myself that I can only control myself, do my best and then let go (here’s where my word’s going to be so useful).

Complicated systems

I generally like to keep things simple, but sometimes in trying out different planning tools or ways of doing things, I have tended to complicate matters that don’t have to be complicated at all. This year I have 1 diary, 1 bullet journal for lists and notes, and 1 master to-do list which I’ll review weekly. If you’re interested, let me know in the comments and I’ll write more about that.

Weight

I have some ideas where I can change things. I tried a few things this year but they were mostly unsuccessful. It’s clear I probably have to invest in Weigh-Less completely and not just tell myself, “oh, I know how to eat properly”. I do, but doing it by myself is not working as well as I’d like so I need to do something different. There’s a tension between realising that I’m no longer 25 and also not just giving into the middle-age spread. I already contacted the WL group leader and told her I’ll return as soon as there’s a “no rejoin fee” special which should be soon 🙂

Clothes I don’t like

I recorded some instastories a few months ago because I realised that I’m in jeans 4 days out of every week and yet my wardrobe looks like I wear work clothes 5 days a week instead of just 3. I need to fix that and keep only the things that fit well, make me feel good and that suit my present lifestyle. I’ve already made a start – every time I find something in my wardrobe I’m not wild about, out it goes.

What do you want less of in 2020?

{goals} What I want more of in 2020

Travel

I definitely want more overseas travel (anything from 0 this year is a good thing!). I haven’t been overseas since 2012 which is a lot of time for a passport to lay idle. I’d be happy if we get this sorted. What I really want is someone to know the inside of my mind, plan everything at the best price and most convenience, and just tell me to EFT money to book tickets 🙂

More time with D

This year we tried to go on a weekend away. Our only babysitter who is willing to do more than one night, my mother, then had a little operation on her hand, so couldn’t do it. Oh well, we’ll try again next year. In addition, I’m adding D to my regular dates schedule, the same as I do with my friend dates, so that we can have a more regular dating schedule.

It might be a good time to set up regular dates with my kids too. This year has felt quite haphazard, which is not really my style.

More walks

I think I need to make a rule for myself and put it in my diary like I do with everything else. Every couple of days, get home, put on my takkies and gym pants, and go for a walk with the kids.

Creative work

I want to create an online course or new workshop, or revamp two existing courses. I do have my Help! I need more time course, which I do still love. It is good content and has helped many people so I should look at that one, and then I’m thinking about doing something around vision boards and goals. We’ll see. If you have some ideas, do let me know.

Fun

I actually want to set aside some money every month for fun. Not to buy things and bring more stuff into my house, but to be generous, and spend on people and experiences, and finally set up a reading prize at the kids’ school.

Coaching

I coached three lovely ladies this year and I’m ready to open up my coaching calendar for about 4 – 6 more hours a month. I really would love to do more Four Tendencies coaching or incorporate it into my current coaching practice. If this sounds like it might be a fit for you, let me know.

What do you want more of next year?

{organising} My house to-do list: an update

This year, as part of my 19 in 2019 goals, I put a fair number of things on my house to-do list.

Sadly, they were all a bit boring but they were necessary to my peace of mind:

  1. Get rid of all excess furniture (still not completely done – I have a table and chairs in the pool room to sell but I have had no takers yet on Facebook!)

2. Replace carpets upstairs and on stairs (two large spaces)

3. Damp proof the roof

4. Get blinds for the poolroom

As is often the case with house things, other things popped up. One morning after a really terrible storm (Johannesburg had many of these during the rainy season this year), we noticed that many of our wooden windows were leaking, so this item had to replace the carpets which would be nice but was an item on my list purely for cosmetic reasons. With our recent rains, my windows are leaking again and of course, the contractor is not answering my messages and I am tired, so tired of fighting with people to do their jobs properly. Please let me know if you have a good wooden windows person!

However, I was pleasantly surprised that the roof, while an enormous job, was not at all a painful task to endure as it was done in about 3 days and the contractor we used was AMAZING!

The blinds are also done and look great… so we’re inching closer to my vision for the space.

Now I just have to sell the excess furniture. Anyone looking to buy a table and chairs in good, second hand condition? 🙂

(on the bright side, I looked over last year’s post and eureka! I found my reading chair for the pyjama lounge during the Black Friday sales)

I think the lessons I learnt from these four items on my house to-do list are…

  • allow some money for the expected, but unexpected expenses, of which I should know better because there is always something
  • put fun things on the list too
  • finish one space first so that there’s a sense of completion (I intend to do this next year with the pool room) and you can enjoy the space

Do you allocate a certain number of things to do in your house every year? Do you wing it? Do you play it by ear? How do you approach house maintenance?

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