{Marcia reads} How is your phone changing you?

I read a great book in February called, 12 ways your phone is changing you by Tony Reinke. I actually listened to this book on audio while driving to work but you might want to get it on Kindle so you can highlight and make notes.

Yes, it’s one of those where you want to take notes.

This book was great, so full of nuggets and things to think about.

I think the author is a questioner on the Four Tendencies framework.

What I loved is that there was no “this is how it must be done” but lots of facts, research, and questions to make you think about your own habits in each of the 12 areas. It had a very balanced view and is refreshingly full of solid Bible teaching without being preachy.

 

A few questions I wrote down while driving:

  • Are you reading more or less books as a result of you being on social media?
  • Am I a digital busybody or am I genuinely curious?
  • Does my digital art dim glory or reflect His glory? Sometimes we want our glory now instead of waiting for eternal glory.
  • Are we digital narcissists?

I actually feel like I need a re-listen, this time with a notebook in hand 🙂

Ultimately, this book is a call to live a more intentional and purposeful life in the arena of smartphone usage.

If you have a niggle that your phone might be taking over in a number of areas of your life, I’d urge you to give this one a read.

I have spoken before about how we could all be reading more, for instance, if we took just some of our social media time every week and used that time to read.

So this is going to make me think some more about my phone usage.

Where do you feel your phone usage is negatively impacting your life? Are you more anxious? Do you procrastinate on work? Do you default to your phone when your kids are annoying you? 🙂

Where are your yellow flags showing up?

One Sunday morning a few years ago I was enjoying a mug of tea while reading blogs.

I happened upon a friend’s blog where she mentioned her hard drive crashed and she lost everything. Fortunately for her, her husband backs up weekly.

Right there and then (I didn’t even finish reading her post!), I got up, fetched my external hard drive and backed up my computer.

You see, my computer had been running a bit slow and that, for me, is a yellow flag.

The next thing that would happen is that programmes would stop responding and one day I’d find a blue screen or something similarly scary.

I’d be kicking myself then because when my computer completely stops working, that’s my red flag.

We all have yellow flags in our lives.

They’re usually about much bigger things than just a computer (although that’s big in my life – the thought of losing all my lovely photos makes me feel physically sick).

Things like our health, our relationships, our work, our finances.

Let’s talk about health.

Yellow flags are constant feelings of being stressed, headaches, pain, anxiety, etc.

They are indicators that we need to deal with something in our lives.

I was recently in a job that was very stressful for me. I knew I was feeling stress but a yellow flag for me was when my doctor picked up something in my bloodwork indicating the stress.

I tried to manage the stress as best as I could but when nothing had changed for me physiologically 6 months later, I knew I had to make a drastic change, so I left.

As a friend said to me, “you can always get another job – you’re smart and talented – but you can’t always get your health back”. Too true.

If you ignore these yellow flags, they could lead to a red flag where you’re forced to stop and take note of things, like a serious disease, an operation, and so on.

So have a think.

If you’re honest with yourself, are there any yellow flags in your life you need to deal with?

1. Constant feelings of stress and overwhelm?
2. An odd noise in your car
3. A relationship that needs tending
4. Finances that need to be looked at
5. Boundaries that need to be discussed

Can you identify any yellow flags in your life? How can you take a step or two to deal with it?

A goals reprieve – quarterly and seasonal goals

I wrote in this Instagram post “April is the new January”, partly as a joke but mostly because I really believe that any time you want to set goals is perfectly in order and just great. Please set any goals rather than no goals.

You know that I set annual, monthly and weekly goals so I’m firmly in the detailed goals camp.

However, today I’m talking to many of you who need permission to lighten up with your goals.

Maybe you want to set quarterly or seasonal goals instead?

Let me give you some ideas:

Quarterly goals

In my Let’s Do This workbook (you can still get it here) there’s a page for quarterly goals. I put this in the workbook originally because some things in my life (personal/ house/ holidays) happen very much in seasons.

For example, the first part of the third quarter of the year is all birthdays around here.

Can you think of what happens in your life in terms of quarters? Birthdays, work pressures, house projects, annual holidays? Perhaps if you set goals in quarters it would help you instead of making you feel overwhelmed?

Seasonal goals

We’ve all seen those summer lists on Pinterest and Instagram. I do some seasonal lists but definitely not summer (summer is not my favourite season as long-time readers know). I do make a Christmas list (which happens during our summer), autumn and winter lists though.

Here’s my current autumn list.

I find seasonal goals very helpful in reminding me to get to the things I do want to do, but if I don’t write them down and name them, they often go by forgotten.

E.g. in Spring, I always put jacaranda photowalks on my list. Our city is carpeted in purple blooms and it’s just gorgeous.

The co-host of the Best of Both Worlds podcast, Sarah, divided this year into quintiles (I had never heard of this before) but it made perfect sense because she was on maternity leave for the first two months of the year, and then the rest of the year is divided as she saw fit. Loved it – makes sense for her situation.

I re-read her post now as I’m writing this one, and I realized she combined the concept of quarters and seasons.  By the way, Sarah is an upholder 🙂

So try something different – grab a page or your bullet journal and write down a few autumn/ spring goals, or some 2nd quarter goals.

Has this helped you to reframe from the standard periods of annual and monthly goals?

Did you set some goals? 😉

March recap and in-progress projects

Wow, this month was something else.

I haven’t been as overwhelmed with work in a long, long time as I have been this month.

Picture this – working on a Friday and telling yourself, I’m now up to date with last Monday’s work (almost two weeks behind). Basically that kind of thing times ten. As you know, I’m an ESTJ, enneagram 1, and an upholder, so you now know this being behind business doesn’t sit well with me at all.

I’m not out of the woodwork yet – who knows when that will happen? – but I set myself 5 mini work goals and I achieved those, so I’m feeling satisfied with some progress at least.

I’m planning to do exactly the same every month so that even though things are crazy, I can still feel somewhat accomplished. I’m also sleeping well and exercising to take care of my body, and of course, doing all my tricks.

exhausted and depleted!

On the whole, if I look at my entire life, not just work, it was still a good month, but it didn’t feel that way, largely because we spend so much time at work.

There were many life-giving things though – books read (more on this next week), house projects, connections with friends and family, and lots of fun. And at the risk of being superficial, I got my hair done and coloured this month, so that is awesome, if expensive!

Have you downloaded the monthly review sheet from my site yet? It has 6 questions and an “on a scale of 1 – 10, this month was a ____” to help you review your month.

You can write one word answers or a whole paragraph – it’s completely up to you.

You don’t even have to use the printable if you want; simply copy the questions into your bullet journal.

I honestly find it to be one of the most helpful tools I’ve ever created, and I want you to enjoy using it too. I’m focusing on a different question each month in these blog posts although I do the full review privately.

One of the questions on the printable is Do I have any in-progress projects?

This month my in-progress projects are:

  1. tons of work things (there is literally not one client who is completely up to date with everything). To that end, my mantra is “I let go of the need to be completely up to date, and to process all client requests according to my self-imposed, currently hugely unrealistic deadlines”)
  2. insurance claim for a leak in my house due to heavy storms a week ago
  3. getting us all into a new nanny schedule (we’ve reduced her hours)
  4. sell table, etc.
  5. weeding in garden!

I am thrilled that all the upstairs painting is done. The rooms spark joy every time I walk into them. This feeling is what I need to focus on when I think of the mess of painting!

What are your in-progress projects? House? Life? Personal?

On being moderate with fitness

If you have a Fitbit or other such fitness device, you’ll know that the “recommended” number of steps you should walk a day is 10 000.

I’ve never been able to get to the 10 000 steps. I wrote about that here, here and here 🙂

Interestingly, I heard some research from a reputable company that there is no research to support 10 000 as the magic number. There is research (decreased obesity and other related diseases) around the 7 500 steps mark though.

I still maintain that for my kind of job, if I’m walking around too much and racking up steps, I’m not actually working so the two things are diametrically opposed. I can either work or walk around.

In October, I decided to analyse my Fitbit stats. I only racked up 13 days of more than 5000 steps.

So in November, I decided to make my goal 5000 steps and try and get that number to 20 days of 5000 steps or more. I made it – got to 21 days.

I decided to do the same in December and managed to get to 5000 steps for 24 of the 31 days.

In January, since I knew I’d be on holiday for 10 of the days, I upped my goal to 25 days. Managed 28. That is excellent for me!

Now in February, I’m on a 14 of 18-day streak as at the time of writing this post. This has been a “normal” work month for me so plenty of client meetings, and therefore the days when I just cannot are quite usual.

What I have learned about my fitness journey is this:

  • Saturdays and Tuesdays are easy because I have a scheduled dance class already.
  • I’m much more likely to try get to my 5000 steps when I’m within a comfortable distance (if I have 4600 or so at 10 pm, I will walk up and down my kitchen) but not if I feel like it’s unattainable. This is a life lesson for all goals, don’t you think?
  • I’m a moderator with fitness. I’m definitely not an all or nothing type person. I prefer to do a bit on a very consistent basis than rack up 10 000 steps once a week and 3000 on the other days. What about you?
  • Shoes make a big difference. On gym days, when I have on my takkies (exercise shoes), I’m much more likely to run up and down my stairs to fetch things upstairs/ downstairs than I am when I’m wearing work shoes or flip flops.
  • I really need to increase my fitness very slowly to have success.

Do you track the steps you walk?

Do you walk more when you’re tracking?

Do you know what your average number of steps is, and when your highest days are?

Being intentional with friendship

What does intentional friendship mean to me?

It means being purposeful about cultivating relationship and connection with like-minded friends. It also means making time for friends even though it might not be convenient. Read half of my friendship manifesto here.

What does intentional friendship mean to you?

As an upholder, these are some of the things I do to be intentional with my friendships

  1. I decided what I needed to do to feel happy about seeing people enough, and once I had clarity, I got busy executing on it. I’m an extrovert and I want to have at least 4 friend dates a month, preferably 6.
  2. I schedule recurring friend dates to connect with some friends and I leave space to meet up with about 2 – 3 friends every month outside of those set times.
  3. I am the initiator about 90% of the time. I would prefer if that percentage was different but I’m looking on the bright side in that at least if I initiate, I actually get my extrovert fix in. I will say that I only initiate these days as much as I am comfortable. I have learnt over the last 2 – 3 years that I am enough and if I don’t feel like I’m getting any reciprocity, I won’t keep inviting.
  4. Monitoring my friend dates works for me. You can read more about my friend spreadsheet here. I’m sure it seems a bit over the top to some of you, but it really works for me, and helps me to be more intentional. Also, as an upholder, the strategy of monitoring realllllllly works for me.

Obligers

Here’s how you make yourself accountable to your friendship needs. Set up recurring friend dates (first Wed of every month, or last Saturday of every month) and you’ll naturally pitch up.

To prevent your boundaries being crossed, also decide what you want and don’t want from your friendships, e.g. since my budget is Rx per month, I can’t eat at restaurants with mains of more than Rx. Otherwise you’ll just say yes and feel resentful the entire time.

Yes, a friendship is give and take, but since obligers lean towards meeting other people’s expectations first, boundaries are definitely something to bear in mind.

Questioners

Questioners are the first ones to abandon friendships that no longer work for them. They don’t have problems hanging on like some of us …. but would always want to make sure that they’re in a specific friendship for the right reasons.

I know a questioner who is very specific about meet-ups. If people cancel on her at the last minute, she gives them one more chance and then stops initiating. I know another questioner who is also very clear that some friendships will probably not continue once circumstances change, e.g. work friendships.

Rebels

Rebels approach friendship according to their identity. If they think of themselves as someone who makes time for their friends, for example, then they will live up to that identity. if they’ve decided that they’re terrible at initiating, then they just won’t initiate.

As a rebel, consider defining your friendship identity. Or not 😉

If you’re friends to a rebel (I have two friends! possibly 3!), try not to box them in. They need their freedom!

And that’s it for now.

Tell me again, if I don’t know, what is your tendency?

How can you be more intentional with your friendships?

What I want less of this year

Last week I wrote about what I want more of this year. Today we’ll talk about what I want less of 🙂

  1. Buying impulsively without first answering the “where will it go?” question

This is one of my self-imposed rules that has started slipping a bit. I need to get better with impulsive buying. I’m even considering doing a spending fast for a month or two. What do you think?

2. 3.Boomerang errands

When I listened to The Happiness Project last month, Gretchen Rubin mentioned the concept of boomerang errands. It resonated deeply because I’ve had so many boomerang errands of late. A boomerang errand is one that keeps coming back over and over, and can’t just be crossed off your list.

I’m a high J on Myers Briggs and I love to cross things off and get them done, so this feels doubly as frustrating to me.

Here’s to no more boomerang errands this year.

3. Internet problems

We are now on modem number 4. Enough said.

4. Children’s disorganisation

This year I told the kids that I won’t simply be organising their spaces but I’m going to teach them to organise their own spaces. I want them to realise that they have the power to create an organised space.

If you click through to my Instagram highlights, tap on the circle that says DREAM organising. You can see how I helped Connor to organize his underwear drawer.

Specifically, I want them to focus (a lot!) on the 1 in, 1 out principle, that physical space is an actual boundary, and how they want their rooms to feel. Kendra has mentioned when I tidy and chuck things out how “nice and calm” the room feels.

5. Scrolling mindlessly through blogs and Instagram

I wrote a fair amount about Instagram here. As for blogs, I’m still quite a heavy blog reader. But blogs have changed and I know that I need to declutter those that no longer align to my values. Otherwise there’s a ton of stuff I just mindlessly scroll through without providing any value.

What do you want less of this year?

3 ways to Konmari your digital life

You all know I’m a big fan of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

And I know exactly why she calls it life-changing – because then you start thinking of every area of your life in terms of sparking joy.

I have on my list to write about Konmari-ing your to-dos but for today, I want to talk about Konmari-ing your digital life!

Because we can’t see digital clutter as obviously as we can see physical clutter, we often don’t realise it’s there but believe me, it’s still affecting you, especially with distraction and overwhelm.

When you open your inbox, you feel drained at the sight of all those emails, your computer runs slow because there’s so many photos on there and when you go into Instagram, you can’t believe how much some people post because you were on just this morning and your feed is full again.

Sound familiar?

Let’s look at 3 places where you can Konmari digitally and then add some joy into your life again:

1. Free printable downloads

We women like free things, don’t we? As a result, we download anything and everything we can find that’s for free. If it’s free, it’s got to be good, right?

Actually, it’s not all good. Not only are you cluttering up your computer but you can’t possibly use all the things that are out there because we now live in an information-overload society.

I’m not immune. At one point I had about 6 different grocery shopping lists on my computer, all of them free downloads.

What I do these days is honestly ask if I’m going to use something. If not, I don’t even download. And when I clear out my document folders, I ask myself if that cute printable really sparks joy. If not, I delete.

Also, here is your permission to delete my free stuff too if it no longer serves you. I know it works for me but we’re all different.

2. Emails and email notifications

My organizing clients need help with email more than any other thing in their office, and paper’s a close second. That’s because email’s so fast and because we don’t use it correctly.

Get familiar with the delete key (my favourite key on my physical and phone keyboard) and start deleting. Delete immediately once you’ve replied to an email and don’t file unless you absolutely have to. Sometimes you need to keep an attachment but not the email.

If you’re trying to save money or (as in my case) not buy books, unsubscribe from all the deals emails. If you really need to know about something, trust that it will still come your way (like through Instagram stories, in my case!)

Something I personally do is delete from and send quick replies “thanks for the payment” on my phone, but I answer emails that need longer responses from a computer.

Disable all the notifications from Facebook, Instagram and the like. I only get friend requests, messages and notes on my wall in my inbox. The rest I’ll see when I log on once a week or so. I’ve long disabled Facebook and Messenger from my phone – best decision ever.

Here again, decide on your comfort level for emails and make sure you process until you feel joy again. For me at work, that’s when I can view all my emails on one screen.

3. Instagram

How many people are you following on Instagram? Are you aware of how long you take to read all of those posts every day? Do you set a limit for yourself or is it only the upholders among us?

I’m as guilty as you are even though my Instagram use has shortened dramatically over the last two years.

Just this weekend, the same thing popped up from a number of people in my feed.

Stop scrolling through everyone else’s lives and run the race set before you – Christine Caine

Take some time to go through and declutter the feeds of those you tend to skim over. Get to know your comfort number. I still try to create before I consume any content but yes, it’s hard, especially when you’re tired.

I read another great quote on Lara Casey’s site last year – “idleness … is different than truly resting”. Often we tell ourselves that we’re resting but really, when we’re done scrolling Instagram, do we feel truly rested?

I feel like this is just the start of an Instagram conversation because I have More Thoughts but please tell me how you feel about Instagram.

What are your biggest battles? Do you use it to escape or when you’re bored? Or is it true inspiration, connection time with friends, or build your business time?

Your coaching challenge for this week should you take me up on it is to work on one of these three areas, and come tell me in the comments which you’ll do, and give us feedback when you’re done.

What energised me in January?

Well, we’re four weeks into the year and it’s time for the first monthly review of 2018.

I know, I can hardly believe it myself.

What I’ve decided to do differently this year is to focus on a different question on my monthly review sheet (do you have yours yet? Sign up here to get your copy) and share that one question with you here.

If I get tired of doing it that way, I will stop now that I know about upholder tightening 🙂

So let’s get to it. For the record, there are 6 journaling-type questions and then the “on a scale of 1 – 10, this month was a ____”. I’ve printed the two-page PDF as is if I want it in A4, and if I want to glue/ washi tape it into my bullet journal, I print using the horizontal setting in Adobe so that it prints in A5 size. Like the pic at the top. Get your copy here.

Interestingly, I often find that my number changes if I write down the number first before doing the proper work of unravelling the month.

What energised me this month?

This is a new question I’ve added to my review sheet after I heard an episode of The Next Right Thing where she talked about life-giving and life-draining lists.

  • holidays with amazing views and cold, mountain air

I posted some of those views on Instagram and they were truly soul-nourishing. I also loved the cooler weather for most of the holiday, and even on the hot days, the mornings were cool for a couple of hours.

  • book club

We read a book called The hate u give this month and the book discussion was lively with varied opinions.

  • reading many, many books

I’m in the middle of 3 books right now but I’ve already reached my goal for the month. One notable energizer was a re-read (or rather, a listen to) The Happiness Project. When I read it 6 years ago, I gave it 4*; this time when I listened, it got 5*. Truly fantastic.

  • times of connection with my family

take four people out of Joburg and have nothing but nature, board games, outdoor games and you have some really good family time.

  • friend dates

besides book club, I managed to have 3 friend dates this month which always energise me.

and it wouldn’t be my blog if I wasn’t 100% honest with you – doing a full and thorough review of 2017 and setting goals for 2018 energised me so much. Now I’m ready for the year ahead 🙂

What energised you this month?

If you care to share, did anything drain you?

Who do you find it easiest to say no to?

One of my favourite experts on goal-setting, Gary Ryan Blair, said this: “success in life requires a short “Yes” list, and a long “No” list”.

I tend to agree with him.

Whenever I coach time management clients or get interviewed on time management tips, one of the first things I tell people is this:

The absolute quickest way to get results with your time is to learn which things to say yes to and which to say no to.

The no list should always be longer.

There are far more demands on our time than we can ever even hope to satisfy. From requests for time commitments to outside stimuli like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, phone and text messages, the list goes on and on.

Remember, you always say no to at least one thing when you say yes to something else.

For example…
• if you say yes to volunteering on 3 committees, you’re saying no to one or all of the following: your family, your self-care, your exercise time, your household… one committee is possibly enough.
• if you say yes to that beautiful new pair of shoes you really can’t afford, you’re saying no to your debt-reduction plan and maybe to some more clutter!

No is a small word but is often so hard for some of us to say.

The good news is that saying no is like going to the gym and building some muscle.

It feels very uncomfortable at first but the more you work at it, the easier it becomes.

The first couple of times you’ll probably cringe inside as you hear yourself saying no, wondering if your family, friends and colleagues will still like you.

Once you get a bit more practice, you start to get more comfortable and very soon, you’ll develop an ease and grace about it.

Why should you say no?

1. it helps you set firm boundaries
2. it helps you honour your values
3. it makes you more productive
4. it reduces your stress
5. it frees you to serve where you’re called to with joy

I’m challenging you to slow down and think carefully before you say yes to anything.

In fact, why don’t you start saying, “let me get back to you on that” so you think clearly about the situation before committing yourself.

And when you say no to things that don’t support your goals, you’re free to say yes to all the things that really do matter to you.

Tell me. Do you have more problems saying no to yourself or to other people?

PS if you need some coaching to help you improve your “no” muscle, this is one of my areas of expertise and I’m happy to work with you. Send me an email and let’s set up your session.

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