3 things I do that help my productivity

I adored reading this blog post from Ramit Sethi. It’s one of my favourite blog posts of all time.

One of the main things that were insightful for me is that fundamentals are first, second is psychology and third are the details. Most people focus on the details when they actually need to start focussing on fundamentals.

Fundamentals are things like sleeping enough, psychology is being able to say no or set good boundaries, and the details are what type of notebook or app or calendaring system I use to plan my life.

In that post he actually says that we need to focus on those details only 10% of the time and I had an aha moment or two.

Because seeing the % split like that puts things in perspective, and also I’ve been subconsciously focussing on a lot of it already.

I thought it would be fun to share 1 thing in each of those areas that I do, and then you can share your things too.

Fundamentals

What I do: I sleep an average of 7 hrs 30 a night. You all know I diligently track my sleep because when I stop measuring, it all goes off track.

In this category we also have environment, soul care and exercise, in addition to managing your stress.

Psychology

What I do: I have very good boundaries and I know when to say yes and no.

Also in this category is knowing if you’re a time optimist or realist, and unplugging from social media when it starts being detrimental for you.

Those top two areas aren’t very exciting but they’re so very necessary.

Details

Well, you know I’m doing a hybrid this year of my bullet journal and my shining year planner. And then I added a gorgeous purple moleskine. My favourite pens are both Pentel energel and Pilot G2. Lately my absolute, super favourite pen is my metallic violet Pilot G2, which you have seen in almost all my instagram posts the last month or two 🙂

Over to you!

What do you think about the triad of productivity?

What are the things you do in each of those three areas? Very curious minds would love to know!

Lovely things to do this year

I have some routines I like to do around my birthday every year which I thought I’d talk about and link to, so that you can be reminded to do them too, if you’re so inclined.

If your birthday’s at a completely different time of year, put a link to this post in your calendar, a week or so before or after your birthday.

If you’re reading on a mobile device like an iphone, tap the square with an arrow pointing up, copy and paste the link into your calendar.

Here’s my annual birthday routine:

1. Organise a celebration. I believe that every year on this earth is a blessing so I like to celebrate my birthday every year.

2. Do a birthday review. This year I changed one or two questions but the main 4 questions are the same as my monthly review: what worked well, what didn’t work well, what did I learn, what do I need to let go of?

As a reader mentioned in the comments last year, it is a brave thing to do, to face up to things may not have consciously considered, but it’s always good to take an honest assessment of things. If you need some hand holding as you do this work, please book a coaching session with me.

3. Make a list of lovely things to do this year. This is purely a fun list 🙂

I put things on this list like books I’ve always wanted to read, restaurants to try, fun things to do like take a photowalk with a friend to take photos of the jacarandas, things I want to do with Dion or the kids, and recipes I’ve wanted to try.

So far on my list I have to (finally) buy new frames because I’ve had my current frames for about 3 – 4 years (lenses have changed, but I kept the frames).

I also have some fun books I want to read, and I think I finally need to read the Total Money Makeover. I also want to listen to Andre Agassi’s Open.

Keep checking my Instagram because I’ll be sure to post my list when it’s done.

I have a friend who schedules a massage on her birthday, another who always takes a day’s leave to “think about her life” and still another who books all her appointments like gynae, eyes, mammogram in her birthday month. Fun, thoughtful and practical.

Please tell me about your birthday rituals and if you’re not signed up to my list yet, please do so if you want the free “lovely things to do this year” printable. My next newsletter goes out on Tuesday 15th.

Have you done your annual birthday review yet?

July project update and August theme – delight :)

Happy August!

My theme for July was refresh – you can read about the 7  areas I wanted to focus on in July.

Now here’s a confession – I completely forgot about one of them (number 3) because I didn’t write it down on my monthly goals list.

But 6 out of 7 is great. Technically, the window washing happens tomorrow but July was spent getting quotes. Though, if this company does a good job, I will just diarise and get them out every time the windows need doing. I can’t WAIT to see out of clean upstairs windows again!

And now, for August, my theme is delight.

How can I delight myself this month? How can I delight others in big and small ways?

Confession time – I chose this theme because it’s my birthday month.

This month I’m going to:

  • go get a massage (to think, back in the day, I used to have a massage scheduled every two weeks!)
  • get my hair done
  • declutter my shoes (yay!!!)
  • I already threw myself a little party
  • do my birthday review and set intentions for the year ahead (I’ll post on Instagram so make sure you check in with me there)
  • write down some fun things I want to do over the next year (I’ll send out this free printable in next week’s newsletter)
  • read some fun books
  • have about 6 friend dates 🙂
  • do nice things for 7 people

What is your theme for August?

How can you delight yourself this month?

If you’d like me to help you get clear on your goals and intentions for the year/ half year/ quarter ahead, I would be happy to do that. Send me a mail.

What I learned in July

This has been a full month of birthdays, holidays, and catching up at work.

It’s been fun to start and play with a new bullet journal

I’m using dot grid this time and it’s fun! Like blank, but more structured. My 3rd bullet journal last year was blank so this is the third type I’m trying out.

Speaking of bullet journals, are you signed up to my list? My newsletter’s going out later today and there’s a fun bullet journal survey in there.

If you’re on instagram and you use a bullet journal, please take a pic and tag me @organisingqueen so I can come see yours.

You can go to the beach and relax even without beach weather

Like last year, we mostly had cold, wintry weather at the beach. Last year, we spent 10 days there and had 2 proper beach days, while this year, we spent 7 days and had 1.5 beach days.

We watched Wimbledon, read books, played games, went for walks (11 in the 7 days!) and had fun connecting as a family. Of course we also had no internet 🙂

We need to rethink the party situation

My twins are very different – I have an extrovert and an introvert. They wanted different types of parties this year and it was so interesting watching this all unfold, knowing that one of the parties would not have suited me at all, but was “perfect” for her.

That said, I felt “on” the whole weekend and was knackered at the end. I told myself it’s just once a year, which it is, but I’m wondering how to still have the separate parties but make it easier on the family (mostly me!) all round. I’m considering having them on two different weekends, but we’ll see. I took only 1 picture of the first party so maybe having a friend or parent around to help? Dion wasn’t allowed as it was a girls only party!!!

Any suggestions would be very welcome!

And one last fun thing, dipping bowls make great change bowls or ring holders 🙂

What did you learn during July?

Getting motivated, Four Tendencies style

Our theme for this month is refresh and what better way to make yourself feel great than to refresh some parts of your home or office environment, if that’s where you need it. Maybe it’s your schedule where you feel too busy or overwhelmed?

Flylady says, “you can do anything for 15 minutes”. I love this mantra and I repeat it to myself to get me moving with any task I find myself procrastinating.

You have to decide and take a little bit of action before anything will click into place. There is, unfortunately, no magic formula for organising success.

However, there are a few things that will help to get you going, according to your tendency.

If you’re not sure which of the Four Tendencies you are, you may want to take the quiz here.

If you’re an Obliger, make yourself accountable to people with a deadline, and you’ll get your task done. Make a coffee date with a friend, but only once you’ve done an hour’s organising.

If you’re a Questioner, make sure you have a good reason for what you want to get done. If you’re not clear on this, you’re going to battle with the execution thereof.

If you’re a Rebel, perhaps you’d like to remind yourself of your identity? You’re a strong, successful, accomplished person and you deserve to live in an environment that suits such a person.

If you’re an Upholder, you don’t have a problem getting motivated to start. You need to learn to relax. Put “relax” on your to-do list and reward yourself with relaxing activities for each item or two you get done.

Ideas for a mini refresh in the home

1. Top of bedside table
2. Bathroom vanity
3. Handbag
4. Make-up bag
5. Command Central (the place where papers multiply)

Ideas for a mini refresh in the office

1. Top drawer of desk
2. Do your filing.
3. Schedule payment dates for bills in your phone, bullet journal or planner.
4. Organise your desk.
5. Unsubscribe from newsletters (not mine!) for 10 minutes

Ideas for a mini refresh with your time

1. Block off a half day on the weekend to stay home and do nothing
2. Plan meals for a week (this saves you hours over the week)
3. Schedule a recurring phone date with a friend. It will save you the mental energy of having to decide when you will talk again.
4. Cancel a non-important meeting or move it to a time when it suits you better
5. Put an alarm on your phone to Go Sleep!

Whatever you manage to do, give yourself a pat on the back for a time of refreshing!

Where will you do a refresh in your home, office or time?

What’s your tendency?

(I’m an upholder)

Letting go

We went to the beach for a week and, as I usually do, I took a USB modem with me to still have internet access.

Well, my ISP must have withdrawn from the area we were in (they were there the last 6 years) because suddenly the modem didn’t work.

Some real talk today. I planned to write blogs for the week and get lots of other internet-y things done. But suddenly, my ISP’s not working in this part of the country. . . For those of you thinking, that’s not a holiday, I actually relax best in a ratio of 1:1:1 which is reading: out and about things: getting stuff done. So on holidays that looks like lots of reading: photowalks: editing/ cooking/ writing/ budgeting 😜 . . So I’m taking it as a sign to relax properly in terms of timelines. I’ll still write; I just won’t post it to the internet ☺️ . . But I will say the budget is done, kids’ 8-year photos are edited and I’m making good headway with this lovely book. . . . . #livelifeintentionally #liveintentionally #marcialovestea #marciareads #ESTJ

A post shared by Marcia Francois (@organisingqueen) on

So I was “forced” to relax properly. I started and finished 3 books at the beach, and I finished the last 20% of the 4th book when we got home after I unpacked.

We watched Wimbledon, we went for 11 walks and we just connected and relaxed together as a family.

It was a really great holiday despite the weather not being the best beach weather.

It was exactly the physical refresh I needed.

I think that a significant part of my enjoyment was just letting go of my expectations and accepting reality in the moment.

How do you like my two motivational posters?! 🙂

I got to thinking about this and wondered where else I can let go of my expectations and had the opportunity to put it into practice on my first day back at work.

My sometimes unrealistic expectation whenever I return from leave is that I will completely clear my inbox in 1 day (HA!). Most times that is doable but we are particularly busy due to the time of year and some industry changes.

So this time I told myself that there is no point in coming back from a holiday to be stressed one day in.

I worked as hard as I could, worked as smart as I could, and cleared “only” 70% of the emails.

It was enough and it was good.

(this is me thinking loving and kind thoughts)

Where do you need to let go of unrealistic expectations?

How do you need to be kinder to yourself?

My half-year word of the year review – “give”

My word for 2017 is give and I wrote all about why I chose it and what it means for me this year here.

I took stock at the end of March and that post is here.

Spoiler – it was going very well. But I set a few challenges/ focus areas and not all of those went this well the next 3 months.

And so, how have the last 3 months gone?

To be honest, as a big picture theme, “give” is working well for me, but on the day-to-day, I think I need more of a daily, in my face, reminder. In years past, I’d order a piece of jewellery and by wearing it, I’d see my word all the time so it reminded me daily.

I haven’t done that this year but about 3 weeks ago, I saw this notebook and a keyring, and I bought them. I’m going to be using the notebook for my computer book and, of course, I see the keyring every time I drive my car somewhere, around 5 days a week.

(I keep a notebook on my desk at home so that I can keep all notes in one place. I think I’ll use this one for podcast notes too ;))

That’s a change that I think will be a good reminder to ask myself daily, “how can I give to God, family, friends, myself, my body today?”

On the big picture things, some highlights:

  1. I’m giving myself grace when I’m tired and just need to sleep.
  2. I’m giving myself the gift of relaxation even when some things are not done on my to-do list.
  3. I’m giving my body a good workout every Saturday morning, no matter how much I don’t want to go.
  4. I gave myself the gift of bravery by doing the podcast. I need to still listen further than 3 minutes in but I will do it 🙂
  5. My Spanish dancing partner and I gave ourselves the gift of fun and no pressure by deciding not to do exams in June. It was the best decision because we are loving class again.

If you haven’t yet thought about your word as it relates to the first 6 months of the year, now would be a really good time to do so.

How’s your word been working for you?

PS Book a half hour session with me to get a refresh on your word and your purpose/ goals/ intentions for the remainder of 2017.

What I learned in June

Quick reminder – my newsletter goes out tomorrow. If you’re not yet subscribed, you can get on the list here, and  your free goodies will be delivered to you immediately upon signup.

It feels like just the other day when I was writing the what I learned in May post :0

I don’t have many things this month but they are big ones.

I will survive when my children go away and leave us at home alone

My children have probably only spent about 5 – 6 days away from home in their entire nearly 8-year-old lives. This month they spent 3 days away from us and yes, it was super quiet, the house was immaculate, everything stayed as it was and that was kind-of nice, but just for a few days.

I hardly cooked because Dion and I just went out all the time :0

I discovered voice to text

So you may know this already but I didn’t. When you tap in your text field of an email, text, Instagram or whatsapp message, and a little microphone pops up right next to the box, you can tap the microphone, talk and the phone types what you said. (I should try blogging while driving to work!)

I’ve known this for about a week but it’s wonderful. The kids think so too. We’re all sending useless text messages all over the place because it’s SO easy now 🙂

Did you know this trick?

(I don’t know how it works on any other phone, only my iphone 6)

Podcasts can also be listened to like radio

Due to my immense love of podcasts, I keep finding episodes I want to listen to. I have a few regulars I subscribe to but quite a number of them where I check every couple of weeks or so to see the topics, and then only download the episodes that interest me.

Now here’s the thing – I’ve been telling myself they’re like the radio. I don’t have to hear every single sentence and have everything noted down. That’s given me some freedom because if a child comes into the kitchen and talks to me, I don’t stop the podcast – I just switch my attention to the child.

But…. it’s still a really great accompaniment when I clean, organise, or edit photos.

Speaking of podcasts, in case you missed it, I’m on Monday’s episode of the So Suzy Podcast.

What have you learned this month?

Share anything – big, small, silly, serious – I want to hear them all.

How’s your word of the year working for you, Cassey?

As you saw in my post earlier this week, I look at my word of the year at the half year to see how it’s been working for me.

I decided to also ask a few readers if they were interested in sharing their experiences. (If you’re interested in sharing your thoughts, it’s not too late – please email them to me on marcia AT organisingqueen DOT com)

So today, let’s welcome Cassey to the blog.

What is your word for 2017? 
Achieve
Why did you choose this word?
A combination of putting my goals out in the world for accountability, and I realized that my year is being driven by a desire to achieve things that have been hanging over me for ages. I wanted to get my thesis done in time for December graduation (Cassey is doing her Masters full-time), get the yoga habit to stick – by doing it everyday for a month – and to not drive my family or myself batty in making it happen.

Do you do anything on a regular basis to consciously live out this word?
Daily – or near daily – I work on my thesis. The yoga plan has been sidelined till my thesis has been submitted. And my thesis goal has been changed to getting it submitted this year – getting it done for December graduation was just not going to happen.
I love that she adjusted her goal to make it realistic to fit in with her lifestyle as she’s also a wife to J and a mom to a pre-schooler.

How are you feeling about your word half way through the year?
A bit stressed, but it’s still do-able. But I have to work so hard to avoid my self-sabotage tricks. I’m avoiding thinking about just what this will all mean for my self narrative when I get this right. It is ridiculously scary that the way I see myself will have to change as it won’t be true anymore.
These insights are fantastic in that she recognises what might pull her off track. Awareness is half the battle so good for you, Cassey.
Any other comments?
It turns out that planning and just doing it works out…odd right? :p
Cassey, I have every confidence in you and you are already achieving a lot.

How is your word of the year working out for you?

PS Cassey has been on the blog before when we spoke about Konmari and Myers Briggs. Go have a read – it was very popular at the time.

6 questions to ask as you do your half-year goals review

As many of you know, I do a monthly goals review every month before I set goals for the new month ahead.

I find that it helps me take stock of what went well and why, and what I need to work on.

We’re now half way through the year and my question to you is this – are you on track with your goals?

For now, go through these questions with me about the 6 months that have just passed, and answer them honestly.

1. When I think about the last 6 months, what do I feel? Am I excited, disappointed or apathetic about my progress?

You want to get an overall sense of the feeling of the half year. Was it too busy? Did you get big things done? Was it a period you just want to put behind you so you can move on?

2. Which areas of my life are working well, which are neutral and which are not doing so well?

This is to drill down into the areas making up each category so you can fix the not-so-good areas if there’s something you can do about them.

3. Why? Or why not?

For this one, write a little bit about the reasons you feel the way you do about each area.

4. What do I need to let go of or are there places I need to lower my expectations of myself?

These could be actual goals or projects, or unrealistic expectations.

5. What can I do differently to make sure the next 6 months move me closer to my goals?

These are the things you know are true for you.

Some of my ideas are:

  • First work on my own goals and then scroll social media.
  • Schedule important project work.
  • Don’t compare yourself to others.

And the last question…

6. How am I living out my word of the year?

If you chose a word for the year, are you living it out intentionally? Do you think about how to incorporate it in your daily life? Is it just not working for you? If yes, here’s your permission to change your word.

Over to you.

My challenge to you is to answer these 6 questions honestly to take stock so you can have a successful second half of the year.

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