How I use a master to-do list to prevent overwhelm

master list

Let’s talk about the difference between a master list and a daily to-do list.

People often confuse the two which is the exact reason they experience overwhelm. I would also feel overwhelmed if I saw 30 items every day but not if I only see 5 or 6 items.

  1. I make a master to-do list of what I call Life Admin every so often. This list has things around the house, projects, financial things, medical appointments, etc.
  2. Here’s the trick – I keep this list on my desk so it’s visible at all times.
  3. Every week I put one or two of these things on my weekly list – to be done either during the week (if it’s time-specific or dependent on other people) or on the weekend (usually self-imposed and needing only my input).
  4. When I complete the item, I cross it out with a highlighter. As I progress through the list, more and more items get crossed off which feels very satisfying for this upholder.
  5. I then rewrite the list when the list of undone items is less than half the list, or it’s a new month (I love the fresh slate of a new month).

I mentioned above that I have a master list for my life admin. I also have one for all my clients at my full-time job (in Excel) and I suppose you could call my To Blog list a master list too šŸ™‚

If you don’t already use a master to-do list, I encourage you to try one. There is a satisfaction in knowing that you can take a month, two months even to get to all your things, but that you only need to do just as many as you want to, every couple of days or weeks.

Do you use a master list? What do you have master lists for?

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 – January 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 šŸ™‚

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 that 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 too.

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 reading first instead of scrolling.

If you’re having trouble focusing, set a timer for 20 minutes and 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?

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 šŸ™‚

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?

A quick reminder – next Four Tendencies course

A quick reminder that the next Four Tendencies course happens on…

Saturday 7 March 2020

2pm – 5pm

Refreshments, handout and all materials are included

Read more and book your place now!

If that date doesn’t suit you, here are the rest of the dates for this year:

  • 4 April
  • 6 June
  • 1 August

You’re welcome to book now for them by sending me a WhatsApp to 0845047339 or email marciafrancois AT icloud DOT com

{2019 review} 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 šŸ™‚

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?

A 2020 list with a difference – a lot more fun

Before we start, I have two questions for you:

This year I’m doing two lists – a standard list with normal (to me) goals and a fun list too, because I realise that I’m very serious and if I don’t intentionally plan for fun, it won’t just happen. I was especially inspired by my friend, Julia, who had a 19 in 2019 list full of super fun things.

I know this sounds crazy to the non-upholders but remember, discipline is an upholder’s freedom.

Onto the list…

  1. Have a lime milkshake
  2. Go for Milky Lane waffles (I have not had either of these two for more than 10 years) with all the syrups!
  3. Have a tea party for my friends (I’m not having a birthday lunch this year)
  4. Take Connor out for a supper date
  5. Take Kendra out for a supper date
  6. Make 3-ingredient scones with Kendra
  7. Pay for someone else’s groceries
  8. Volunteer to take someone’s photos
  9. Take a holiday outside South Africa
  10. Take the red city bus tour
  11. Teach a workshop using photography as a coaching tool (that sounds very boring but it would be super fun!) and then host a photo walk
  12. Go watch a fun, girly movie completely by myself
  13. Go play with my big camera on a walk once a month
  14. Go see a concert with Dion
  15. Time away with D
  16. Run a Four Tendencies workshop, for children
  17. Buy a dishwasher
  18. Go to Simply Asia with Angie
  19. Organise Dion’s desk (let’s be honest; this is going to be the MOST fun of all)
  20. Get a carpenter to do a cupboard/ shelf for the tumble dryer

Are you inspired yet? I know people who have made lists of places to eat in their city, other people have made lists of books to read or movies to watch, still others have made lists of friend dates. All of these are excellent ideas, or you can go the old-fashioned way of normal goals. I’ve done the best of both with two lists šŸ™‚

What will you do? Care to share a couple of your goals with me?

PS I have done some fabulous start-of-year coaching sessions to help people strategise and set goals for the year. Contact me if you’d like to book a once-off 45-minute session for $50, or you can book a coaching package that suits your needs.

A quick recap of my 2019 word, and my word of the year for 2020

My word for 2019 was bold and it was a fantastic word for me. It guided me, stretched me, pushed me out of my comfort zones and , forced me to have courage to do uncomfortable things. Here’s why I chose the word, bold.

I wrote about how I was experiencing the word here and here. It really was a great word for me and contributed to a really good year.

This word, bold, was also the reason that I wanted to feel more ease, flow, freedom this year.

I had not an inkling of my 2020 word by mid-December (this post was scheduled but it had no content inside!) so I prayed in church and I started feeling the word free. I then thought my word was going to be free but I realised that that’s the feeling I want, but the word was actually light.

In 2020, I want to feel light

  • physically – I need to lose 12 kgs
  • mentally – I want to let go of things quicker and not hold tight so long
  • emotionally – I want to lighten up with some things

I also want to look for the light more, in other words, get out my big camera and go make beautiful pictures. Honestly, I’ve gotten lazy and yet, it’s something that brings me such joy and delight.

light

I want to make light, contribute freely and lighten other people’s burdens.

I want to continue to bring light (clarity) through my workshops, coaching, and speaking, and illuminate things that may be hidden. I don’t want to hide my light to try and play a smaller game because I do know my worth.

I’m definitely always trying to live lighter and since I want to travel a lot this year, this is also a good reminder to travel light (physically) and emotionally (without baggage) through this world.

Hopefully this is a year of more fun and lightheartedness šŸ™‚

What was your 2019 word, and how did it work for you? What is your word for 2020? If you’re unclear about the word you want, I recorded some stories that will help you.

{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? šŸ™‚

(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?

{2019 review} The Four Tendencies workshops: the good, the bad, and the ugly

If you’ve been following me for a hot minute, you’ll know I’m obsessed by personality frameworks, in particular, The Four Tendencies.

After the book came out, I mentioned to my accountability partner, Beth, that if Gretchen ever offered workshop facilitation, I’d have to do it because I love the content so much.

Well, she offered workshop facilitation late last year and after dithering for a bit (would people want to come to workshops? would I be able to train enough people to recoup the costs?), I bit the bullet shortly after the new year when I remembered that my word for 2019 is BOLD.

And that’s when the fun started.

The good

I loved every single minute of teaching the material, interacting with my workshop participants and running the workshops. The a-ha moments, sharing the content, but most of all, the stuff you can’t really prepare for – the participants’ questions in the sessions and figuring out the answers; why a particular strategy works for A but not for B, how parents could do X differently with Y kind of child to ease their relationships, etc. I found that the Tendencies gives couples, sisters, and friends the language to explain things. It is the actual best!

I also had the privilege of running two corporate workshops (book me if you want me to do a half-day teambuilding event with a difference) which were truly fantastic. The teams were both so open and vulnerable and we all learnt a lot from each other.

As I am a systems person, I quickly honed my processes – I made lists in Excel of what needs to happen before a workshop, I know which food to buy and order, email the lady to print my handouts a week before and all the preparation is very streamlined.

A friend told me a few months ago that workshops are my sweet spot. It’s true – I get to play with stationery, faff in my house, interact with people, and train people on material that I love. Heaven!

The bad and the ugly

There is no bad or ugly but the parts I find most difficult are still the marketing and promotion pieces.

Each workshop got easier because I had so many more people who had gone through the material and experienced greater understanding and insights which, in turn, increased my confidence and credibility.

This was one of the easiest workshops to run – they booked me, and then I’d just see money popping up every couple of days in my bank account. I pitched, ran the thing and left šŸ™‚

My word of the year was perfect for me because when I didn’t feel like promoting the workshops, I’d remember that my word was bold and put up one more Instagram post, and ask one more person.

I’ve always felt that as long as I have done everything possible, I don’t mind the outcome. So I felt absolute peace even about my smallest workshop – the one in Cape Town with 3 people – as I literally asked and told everyone I knew in Cape Town šŸ™‚ And that workshop was fabulous – great participants, insights for all of us and more friends for me šŸ™‚

Cape Town workshop

I also prayed at the start of the year – I think between workshop 1 and 2 – that the groups would consist of exactly who was supposed to be there, and they really have been that. We’ve had fantastic groups of people but I still feel very fond of the very first group who put their faith in me – thank you Teresa, Fatima, Cindy, Phetsile and Luisa!

In closing

I can’t wait to continue to offer these workshops next year. I’ve already scheduled the first one for Saturday, 8 February 2020, and I can’t wait to welcome you to my home if you know you want to be there. This is a really fun thing to put on your #20in2020 list. Book your place here.

One of my #20in2020 goals is to either run a Four Tendencies workshop or do a Four Tendencies talk for children! If you want your child to attend, please let me know.

Some interesting stats

  • Married couples: 2 pairs
  • Parent and child: 2 pairs
  • Friends: many, many, many
  • Sisters: 3 pairs
  • 1 supper club
  • 2 corporates
  • 8 workshops in total
Four Tendencies stats

Tell me all your questions. If I was reading this, I’d have plenty šŸ™‚ Do you have any questions for me?

{time} 5 parts to a good evening routine

I have mentioned a time or two before that I’m no good in the morning because I’m a night owl.

This is exactly why I’ve set up my environment for success by doing everything I possibly can to prepare for my day the night before. Here are the building blocks of my evening routine:

lunch

Pack lunch

I typically pack mine and the kids’ lunches ( I don’t always pack theirs) while I’m preparing another meal. The kitchen is already untidy with various foods out so I might as well use the time so that there’s only one clean-up session instead of two.

Choose clothes

Years ago I realized that if I chose my clothes in the morning, I took much longer than if I simply chose and set them out at night.

If I do this, I can still change my mind if I really don’t feel like wearing whatever I set out, but at least I have some idea of where to start.

choose clothes

Set out all my bags and things that need to go to work with me.

Part of being prepared for the next day is to have all my things ready to go.

I have my handbag and laptop bag ready, together with any errand bags, in case I need to drop books off at the library, do a return at the shops, etc.

Family connection time

On the nights I have a 6pm exercise class, I try to spend time with the kids before I leave, otherwise I might only see them right at the end of their supper as they’re preparing for bed.

Other than those nights, we have supper together as a family every evening and then I clean the kitchen while Dion starts the bedtime routine (teeth, Bible, other reading).

I want to throw out a word of caution here – look at the time you spend with your kids throughout the week, not just that day, otherwise you’re likely to feel demotivated if you have a busy couple of evenings. I had someone in my workshops recently who said she couldn’t exercise after work because then she’d never see her kids. We explored it a bit and she realised that she spent plenty of time with them in the mornings and most evenings too. Bedtime is not the only connection time you have.

reading

Time for me

I have a mostly daily rhythm which I try to adhere to, because it serves me so well. I exercise two nights a week, do photos some nights, read for extended periods some nights, and do some side hustle work (coaching, workshop prep, blogging) some nights too.

There are also some nights when I update my budget or catch up with life admin, almost like a power hour. It evens out generally but it becomes very clear really quickly when I need some time to catch up with life because my wallet will be bulging with receipts, or my desk has too much stuff on it, etc. I try to pay close attention to the visible signs that I need some “house admin” time.

If you’re a night owl too, what forms part of your evening routines and rhythms?

PS here’s where you can catch up reading about my morning routine.

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