{Annual review} What went well in 2017?

If you’ve had a rough year, you may be tempted to just scroll on by but hang in there – there are things in your life that went well this year.

I know this because even in my worst years, there were things that were good about it, and so it will be for you too.

Step one of any annual review process for me is to note down what went well about the year.

This year, I wanted to get going and build some momentum before working through my Let’s Do This workbook, which is free if you’ve signed up to my list. If you haven’t yet signed up, go here and I’ll send it out again on Friday, and then I’ll take off all the old freebies and put up this guide for the whole of next year (remember there’s no rule about when to start working on your goals!).

I get my best momentum with thinking things when I start mindmapping. So I wrote in my bullet journal “what went well” and made some spokes for God, family, fitness, fun, friends, house and word of the year. And then I let myself loose and under each spoke, I wrote whatever was on my mind.

Try that and let me know if it works to get you loose with your thinking because sometimes the getting started is the hardest part.

That’s my tip for you 🙂

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As for my 2017, what went well?

  1. I’m hearing God better this year than I did last year. I started journalling and am really enjoying that process too.

2. The kids had great years at school and loved their teachers, we had two lovely family holidays and because they’re a bit older, we’ve been having more family lunches out because they can now behave 🙂 Dion and I have also had date afternoons most months. This month we went to see Bryan Adams so we’re ending on a high!

3. This has been a great year of reading – I will probably end up with about 120 books for the year, and it’s definitely the most non-fiction I’ve ever read in one year (I’m trying to finish on 40 so that it’s nice and neat :)). This alone deserves its own post but do leave a comment if you want to know something specific. These days, I get more questions about reading than I do about anything else

4. I also had a great year of sleep. I track my sleep to keep myself on track (strategy of monitoring works great for Upholders) and I will end the year over my goal of 7 hours 30 per night. It still amazes me that one has to actually be in bed much longer to get real and good sleep of 7:30.

5. I finally started a barre class and will probably end the year with about 60 walks. I’ve tried something the last two months on increasing my steps but let me work on it for another month and I’ll share next year. It’s really working for me though and if you’re not one of those 10 000 steps a day people, it may work for you too. I’ve just started back at Weigh-Less to lose some weight (I do have an actual number but I’m not putting it on the internet).

6. This year I started a book club with a friend and it has been so much fun for me. I still mostly read books no-one else reads but at least once a month, there’s something I can talk about with friends.

7. Speaking of friends, I haven’t had the best friend year but things that have worked really well is scheduling recurring meet-ups/ phone calls (again, the strategy of scheduling works great for upholders), my internal rule of always saying yes to out of town/ country friends, and I’m realising as I write this – this should probably be a post too 🙂

Now tell me, what went well for you in 2017?

Please feel free to leave me questions in the comments.

{Four Tendencies} Worth it even if just for this one insight

The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People's Lives Better, Too) by [Rubin, Gretchen]

I’ve been eagerly awaiting Gretchen Rubin’s new book for months and months. Basically, I talk about the Four Tendencies to all my friends, colleagues and clients who are into these things.

And really, I bought and pre-ordered because I’m a fan, but also to understand those around me better. Since I’m an upholder, I thought I knew everything there was to know about being one.

But not!

First, an upholder is someone who readily meets both inner and outer expectations. They have no problems meeting work deadlines/ friend expectations (outer expectations) but they also have no trouble setting and achieving their own goals (inner expectations).

Right, this is me to a T.

 

I learned a ton from buying the book but today I want to talk about upholder tightening.

 

She had mentioned upholder tightening before on the Happier podcast but really delved into it in the book. In a nutshell, it means that upholders decide on their own expectations and get to it (no problem so far) and then, even if the thing no longer serves them, they keep on doing it even if there no longer is a reason to continue doing it.

I had some aha moments while reading that section and now, two months later, I can see this playing out in so many parts of my life.

I even told Dion (a fellow upholder) about upholder tightening and he told me how he definitely sees it in me when I keep flogging a dead horse 🙂

So where have I noticed this in my life?

At the start of this year, I decided to do my year of happy where I focussed on a specific theme for the month, and I’d blog the goals at the start and the feedback at the end.

The intention was to do this with other people joining in. Not one person did, so really at that point, I should have just said, “oh well, no-one’s interested, let’s move on”. But I didn’t.

I was happy enough to carry on for a few months, still hoping others would join in, but then it really got very boring for me.

But I pushed through every single month.

Upholder tightening!

On the bright side, the minute I read about it and recognised it in myself, I stopped.

The awareness gave me the permission to stop.

And so I did.

Isn’t that amazing?

I realise this is more amazing for me than for anyone else but of course I see it happening all over in my life.

Now I’m questioning (I lean towards Questioner) all the things that I decided I should do, that no longer feel right but I haven’t stopped doing yet.

I changed one other thing too.

But watch this space – one of my new goals is to evaluate basically everything in my life (aren’t I fun?!) and see if any of that upholder tightening shows up, and then stop it if it’s no longer serving me.

Are you an upholder? We’re the 2nd smallest group after Rebels.

If yes, where have you noticed upholder tightening show up in your life?

Otherwise, have you read the book yet? Do you intend to? What’s your tendency?

PS Better than Before is currently on sale. Pick up your copy here.

 

Reading according to the season/ What I read in November

So it seems there is interest in talking more about books on the blog. This is last month’s post if you want to catch up.

But today, I want to talk about reading according to the season and then I’ll run through the November highlights.

I’ve always enjoyed a good summer beach read when I’m actually on the beach, and I definitely enjoy Christmas-themed books in November/ December.

In fact, I store up a few books throughout the year so that I’m ready when the Christmas season is here.

I don’t only read Christmas books but a good percentage of my fiction reads from about the second last weekend of November are themed.

This year I’ve already read 3 books, I’m currently half-way through this very photogenic book and our book club read also awaits.

Do you read according to the season?

And now, onto the books I read during November:

6 fiction/ 4 non-fiction (this year has been my biggest non-fiction reading year ever)

4 Kindle/ 3 Audible/ 3 Physical

Best fiction read: Truly Madly Guilty – Liane Moriarty. This was our book club read for November and I absolutely LOVED it. I was the only one in the book club who gave it 5*. I heard a podcast after that (No filter by Mia Freedman where she interviewed the author and she also LOVED my favourite character in the book). Have you read this one? Who was your favourite character?

Best non-fiction read: Frientimacy – Shasta Nelson. If you’re passionate about the subject of friendship like I am, you’ll enjoy being challenged and provoked into deep thinking by this one.

I read my first fiction book on audible in November. I chose The restaurant critic’s wife and it was a good read. I enjoyed the process especially when I figured out it’s exactly the same as reading a non-fiction on audible 🙂

So next year I’ll put a couple of fiction books on my reading goals list 🙂

Most of the books were just 3 – 3.5* to be honest, but Truly Madly Guilty totally made up for it!

What were some of the books you read last month? What was your best fiction read? What was your best non-fiction read?

PS for those who are interested, here are my 12 days of bookstagram

The quick and dirty monthly review

Monthly reviews are one of my life rhythms that I didn’t think I needed, but I love doing so much.

They force me to slow down and reflect on what’s been, instead of just racing ahead to the next thing.

I’m the type of person that’s always looking forward and while that’s mostly good, at times, I know I need to stop and enjoy what I’ve accomplished first before moving forward.

My monthly review helps me do that.

Over the years I’ve refined my process, and I ask myself 6 questions that you can find on a free printable here.

Suzanne Moore interviewed me on her podcast and we spoke extensively about that monthly review form and my process. Listen in here on itunes or stitcher.

Some months I make my process even longer (when it’s been a particularly busy or eventful or stressful month and I need to unravel it) and sometimes I do the quick and dirty version.

The quick and dirty monthly review process

1.In my bullet journal, I write down 4 questions:

  • what went well this month?
  • what could have gone better?
  • what did I learn?
  • what do I need to let go of?

2. Then I go make a cup of tea or do something totally different (pack lunch bag/ set out clothes, etc.) This gives my brain time to start thinking about the month.

3. I then return to my bullet journal and answer those questions. Because I’ve given myself a chance to have a quick think, the writing it all out is easy when I return.

bonus questions

  • how did I live out my word of the year?
  • do I have any in-progress projects to be carried over?

 


Tell me. Do you do a monthly review? If not, I’d like to challenge you to do one this month and see how you enjoy the process (or not!). Let me know what happens 🙂

Switching up what’s not working for you

I’ve had a goal on my list since the beginning of the year, and that was to increase the amount of exercise I get in a week, in particular, to strengthen my core.

This was not happening despite wishing it were so. Imagine that.

Then my usual Zumba instructor had an operation and she was off for 6 Saturdays. One of those Saturdays we had a visiting lady do a Pound class.

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That pound class opened my mind to new possibilities and reminded me that I had a fitness goal I’d made exactly 0% progress in.

Another gym in my neighbourhood opened earlier this year, still in the same network. So I checked their classes and phoned them to see if I could try out a Barre180 class.

I tried the class, loved it and have been going ever since.

But that’s not the end of the story.

You see, I’ve been in a habit where we, as a family, go to the gym together every Saturday morning for years and years. I love the time together, that we’re prioritising fitness and health, and I still (two months in) miss going to gym with them. It’s complicated, but basically, there is no kids’ programme at the new gym and in order for me to go with them on a Sat and still go to my new one during the week would cost me a lot of money, which I just can’t justify.

I’m trying not to focus on the missing part too much, and I’m going for more walks with the kids 🙂

And the best thing is… two of my jackets can now close and my flexibility has increased such that I can easily touch the floor again. Yay.

Over to you.

Think back to the goals you wrote down at the start of the year. Are there any you’re completely stuck on? Do you need to shake things up?

Do you need a goals re-set? There’s still time to make inroads into a couple of your goals. If you need a goals brainstorm and strategy session, email me and let’s set that up on Skype or Facetime.

The Year of Living Danishly – a review

I know many of you are like me in that you love a good project. Even better when someone else does a great project and writes about it, right?

Examples of this genre that I love are The Happiness Project (for a few years after, some of my clients did their own happiness projects which I coached them through, and then I could re-live the book many times over – LOVE!!!), Happier at Home and the one I want to talk about today, The Year of Living Danishly.

In a nutshell, Helen Russell’s husband gets a job in Denmark at Lego (!), they go for the year. Helen is a journalist and during this year, she freelances while doing her Living Danishly project, one focus area each month. The Danes are known to be some of the happiest people in the world so the book explores that too – each person she interviews gets asked for their happiness score on a scale of 1 – 10.

I read the book through Audible and it was fabulous – the narrator is really, really good.

There’s a lot of talk about hygge – one of my favourite topics – because the Danes do this really well.

I wrote about hygge here and here, if you’d like to have a read.

The 10 concepts she explores in the book, and why Danes are so happy are:

  1. Trust more
  2. Live Hygge
  3. Use your body
  4. Address the aesthetics
  5. Streamline your options
  6. Be proud
  7. Value family
  8. Equal respect for equal work (I’d heard some of this research before from “Overwhelmed” – Brigid Schulte, a book I gave 5 stars)
  9. Play
  10. Share

I don’t want to say too much more, except if you’re going to read it, I recommend the audible version if you like a good English accent. However, if you’re not sure about audible, then get the kindle copy.

Hope you enjoy reading.

Have you read this book? What did you think? Which of the 10 do you most resonate with?

PS if you know of other similar project/ memoir-type books, do leave me a comment so I can check them out.

All links are affiliate – at no extra cost to you, I get a few cents for each book purchased via this blog

We all have 15 minutes

One of the biggest organising myths is that you need a big chunk of time to organise anything.

That’s simply not true.

I actually don’t know many people who happen to have hours and hours free for the purpose of organising.

The thing is, with anything in life that is important to you, you have to make time. I wrote a whole book about this concept – get it here.

One of the ways you make time is by using up all the little bits of time throughout your day.

Even if you think you have no time, I guarantee there are bits here and there.

If you start looking for those treasured moments, you’ll realise you can get a lot more done.

I remember when my kids were just newborns I thought I’d never have time to myself again.

Then I realised that I had 5 minutes here, another 10 minutes there and so on.

I could read one article in a magazine in those 5 minutes and maybe even churn out a blog post in the 10-minute stretch.

All that time adds up if you’re ready to take advantage of it.

It’s the same with organising.

You may not have an hour to organise a chest of drawers but if you find 15 minutes a day for 4 days, you do have that hour.

A change of perspective = opportunities

Flylady says, “you can do anything for 15 minutes”.

Here are a few quick ideas:

• Straighten your cutlery and/or utensils drawer
• Edit and delete photos (one of my ongoing projects to use a “spare” 15 minutes) from your phone
• Declutter a pile of paper
• Tidy your handbag or wallet
• Organise your spices
• Declutter your recipe folder

See? There are indeed 15-minute slivers of time all around us if only we’ll just look for them.

Make a list of 10 or more quick organising projects you can do in 15 minutes and get started today.

Are you an all or nothing person? Do you tend to look for the big chunk of time versus the little bits?

Technology and your Tendency – part 1 (work)

I follow a podcast, Best of Both Worlds, that I recommend especially if you’re a full-time working mother who works at a workplace, not at home. Let’s face it – most podcasts (or most that I listen to) are hosted by either SAHMs or WAHMs whose time is a lot more flexible.

Sarah wanted a podcast that more represented her life so she started one (very Upholder-ish) with Laura.

On this episode, they discuss the role of technology in their lives and ask some really great questions, both on Instagram and in the blog post:

My technology philosophy

  1. I’m a big Dr Phil fan (even though I last watched an episode when I was on maternity leave 8 years ago!) and because I believe that “you teach others how to treat you”, I believe that you need to communicate your preferences to the outside world.
  2. I also believe that if you respect your time, so will others. The reverse is also true. If you don’t respect your own time, why would others respect yours? If you’ve heard me speak, no doubt I’ve said this during my talk 🙂
  3. Design your life around priorities, and then let the other bits fill up your time. No surprise here.
  4. Technology is a tool so to my mind, that means I am still the master. I love technology – I love that I can FaceTime my friend in Dallas at the start of her day and the end of mine, and I love Whatsapp Audio for podcast club.

Technology at work

I work in a highly email culture. Even if I talk to a client about something, I have to follow it up with an email, and then save that email in a client folder on a shared drive.

This is life in a highly regulated industry and doesn’t bother me at all.

I don’t feel the need to have my work emails come through to my phone unless I’m at a seminar/ client meeting and therefore out of the office for more than say, two hours at a time.

Once I’m back in the office, I turn off those emails.

Then, when my out of office assistant is turned on, I specify that if something is urgent, to call or text me.

(to date, I’ve had maybe 10 messages and I’ve worked at this company for over 3 years)

I don’t mind texts/ Whatsapps from clients if I’m away from the office but as a means to chase up an email, I simply don’t respond. I will then respond to the client’s email in the usual manner (and I don’t even reference the Whatsapp).

Can you tell that I’m an Upholder yet? 🙂

I have a Questioner colleague who blocks clients once they whatsapp her. As she said to me, why would they want to do that if our official communication method is email or phone?

I will take work calls from 7:30 ish to about 6 – 6:30 if I know we’re working on something urgent. Otherwise I just don’t answer my phone.

I am very reliable, hardworking, etc. and very prompt so it’s never necessary to chase me up, and I think I’ve trained my clients to expect that I will get back to them as soon as I can.

I don’t make friends with people I work with on Facebook. I had some very inappropriate comments made about my Facebook activity many years ago by a work person so that’s it – I blocked, unfriended and unfollowed this person.

What is the role of technology in your life? How do you relate to it in a work context? And how do you see this linking up with your Tendency?

I love to talk about this stuff – please ask questions in the comments!

Part 2 will be published next week – if you know your tendency and especially if you’re a Rebel or a Questioner, please email me and tell me everything, if you’re so inclined. It will really help me flesh out my next post.

{New monthly blog series} reading highlights for October

I post a lot about reading on the OrganisingQueen instagram page and I think it also fits in on the blog because the question I get most when I talk about reading is not, “what should I read next?” but “how do you read so much?” or “I don’t have time to read”.

Reading to me is a priority/ time management issue with a good dose of organising thrown in, so it fits here perfectly.

Enough chit-chat? Let’s talk books.

A quick disclaimer about the weird numbers:

My goal for the year was 72, and so far I’ve read 102 books for the year. I haven’t increased my goal because 1) I want no more pressure for the end of the year and 2) I get a kick out of seeing 142% of budget 🙂

Stats:

9 books read for October – 3 non-fiction; 6 fiction

Fiction

Best fiction: Small Great Things – Jodi Picoult (this was our book club read)

Runners-up: Noah’s Compass (my second Anne Tyler) and All at Sea – Pauline Lawless

Most disappointing read: The Course of Love – Alain de Botton (I am in the very small minority of people who did not like this book very much).

Non-fiction

Best non-fiction: Reading People – Anne Bogel by a very small margin over The Sacrament of Happy – Lisa Harper

Reading people is a book exploring 7 different personality frameworks (insert heart-eyed emojis!) and I loved it. I pre-ordered so received a Kindle and audio version. If I have one complaint, it’s that she speaks too fast and slowing it down to 0.75 is just a bit too slow. So I had to really concentrate. If you get it, get the Kindle or paperback versions.

The Sacrament of Happy – This is a Christian book. If that puts you off, fair enough. But I’ve been frustrated many times over the last few years by the lack of Word there is in Christian books (non-fiction titles marketed as Christian). This one is not one of those. She speaks the Word, loves the Lord and I love how she teaches and balances it all with humour, personal experience. I also adore her accent. If you’re not sure, listen to the God Centered Mom podcast episode 174 as a taster.

What was the best fiction and non-fiction you read in October?

PS these are affiliate links. At no extra cost to you, I’ll receive literally a few cents if you purchase through my links.

Choosing your 2018 diary

August, as well as being my birthday month, is also the best bookshop month ever.

It’s when the new diaries start appearing.

I’m very clearly a paper-embracing gal and I love a paper diary, but I have had lots of back and forth within myself on which diary to buy for next year.

If you’re on my newsletter list (if not, sign up here), I wrote about this when I sent out the mid-month newsletter.

Here are a couple of questions that might help you decide on your 2018 diary:

Am I a J or a P on Myers Briggs?

This is a fun one to start with and I’ll tell you why. Js actually use their diaries; Ps like the idea of using a diary but they don’t. If you’re someone who stops using a diary by mid- or end-Jan, are you perhaps a P?

(take the test here)

Do I prefer the A6, A5 or A4 size?

Is your diary going to stay on a desk, in which case you can get a big, hefty one, or if you intend to carry your diary around with you,  you may want to opt for a smaller size no matter how much you love the bigger one.

Do I like a daily, weekly or monthly planner?

I’ve seen very few monthly planners (literally just a month at a time with maybe a picture on the top), a fair number of weekly planners and tons of daily planners.

Is everyone really a daily planner? If you are, please tell me.

Then, the fun part, if you’re a weekly planner like I am

Do you need it to start on a Monday or a Sunday, or does that not matter? Do you prefer a vertical or horizontal layout?

I saw a lovely Joyce Meyer daily diary with a weekly review layout just before each week starts. I was this close to getting it 🙂

Do you need space for notes in your regular planning, at the back of the diary or not at all?

Yes, yes and yes again for me (see the Legami planner above). I do know that some people don’t need note space.

Do you like a month-at-a-glance page before the month starts? Do you need a goals page?

I like to have an overview of the month, preferably in a block layout, not just lines running down the page, and of course I like a goals page.

What about other features that will make you like your diary more?

Do you like a bright diary or something that won’t stand out? Do you need a pen loop? Do you like perforation so you can mark where you are in the diary? Do you like a bookmark? Do you prefer hardcover or softcover?

Which of the options above do you definitely know you need?

So many things to think about! I could be very happy with 3 different diaries 🙂 and hopefully, I’ll be able to make my final choice soon (confession, I’ve bought one but I haven’t opened it because I’m not sure… I don’t want them to sell out though)

PS I asked my husband (high J!) and these are his diary preferences:

  • neutral colour (but I convinced him to get a nice blue!)
  • daily planner with times going into the evening
  • month at a view
  • notes page
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