Goals update – 24 in 2024 goals, and the secret list :)

I’m writing this goals update 3 months and 1 week into the year.

Summer – beautiful, but I have had more than enough of it.

A few disclaimers before I start the update:

  1. I have two lists this year, the main one and a few more fun, once-off items on a second list, simply because when I looked at the main list, it looked like a LOT of hard work and I didn’t want to feel burdened by a list.
  2. Therefore, when I talk about numbers done, I’ll refer to both of these.

Done

  1. Buy a new car
  2. Try a new stretch class
  3. Read Atomic Habits as a work book club (I have read it, we have met 4 out of the 6 allocated sessions and I got what I wanted from it).
  4. Listen to more music. I have listened to more music in one month than I did the entire year of 2023, so I’m calling it done.
  5. Watch more TV. Same. May I recommend Dance Life on Prime Video? I loved it! I love seeing people in their passion and hard work that goes into making that passion true excellence.

Abandoned

Do Happiness Project Revisited. Towards the end of February, I cancelled – nothing to do with the content but I was bone tired of chasing up on my playbook, nearly 3 months after ordering. The chasing up was worse than work and it was causing unhappiness instead of happiness. (nothing to do with Gretchen’s team; I am not sure why DHL decided to send it to our liquidated Post Office in South Africa – seriously, we have no post offices).

I was trying to take a photo of my favourite new summer pants; clearly I am bad at taking these pics but I still liked how I looked, so there you go

In progress

  1. Exercise going well but I have abandoned the stretch because I wasn’t getting enough cardio and that is very important to me for heart health.
  2. Reading – 30 books in
  3. 10 non-fiction physical books – I have finished 4 of the 10; 2 currently in progress.
  4. Play with photography again and post things that delight me – yes, going well! Also really looking forward to full autumn foliage, the most beautiful season.
  5. Write 24 in 2024
  6. Use up 24 beauty/ body/ bath products – this is going very well. Just this week I had a little relapse (I bought a set of body wash/ body lotions, realised only once I’d got home and opened it up so I kept one of each, and gave some to the kids and Precious). Bonus points for me for returning the other two boxes I’d also bought.
  7. Do many declutter challenges – I have now done 6 batches of 24 (you can see all of these on my Instagram highlights; I post the week’s stuff every weekend.

on my other list, I have to try a recipe every month. this is so easy because of Instagram. Also, StephCooksStuff 🙂

The other list

  1. Finish listening to last few CDs before decluttering them – done (the new car sped things up because I have no CD player so had to listen on Spotify)
  2. Make eye appointment – yay, I don’t need new specs. R10 000 saved!

And that’s it – very happy with my Q1 progress. On my main list, I am tracking at 33,3% for the year, which is ahead of  my budget. Good thing, because it looks slow hereon out unless I actually get around to planning my 50th, booking a weekend away or doing that no-spend month. Hmmmm.

How are you doing on your 24 in 2024 goals?

Declutter 24 in 2024 – how it’s going, 3 months in

At the end of last year, I felt like I had too much stuff – stuff that needed to go out, stuff that needed to be used up and stuff that should be gifted to others.

Why?

I am generally an underbuyer but during the pandemic, I got into the habit of “treating myself” for staying home and even when things returned to normal, I was still in the bad habit of buying myself treats for no good reason. We did this with takeaways and fun food at the grocery store too, but have reigned a lot of that back, due to pure necessity (the exhorbitant price of food).

I am not the type of person who says “I work hard; I deserve it” because I believe that 95% of the population works hard and that is just not a good justification.

The point is I had lots of things I wasn’t using and they all need to go.

Disclaimer – since I first Konmari’d my house in 2014 (ten years ago!), most of the time my house just needs a quick analysis of one in, one out before it feels right again. Except for the water bottles. I give them away as fast as they land and it always still feels like there are too many.

My three categories

Beauty/ body/ bath – both personal items and household items like soaps and toilet sprays #useup24in2024

Stationery – books, pens and pencils

General decluttering – anything else goes here. The idea was as many batches of 24 as I could do in 2024. #declutter24in2024

What I’m learning

That I had no idea what I have in my house in the way of toiletries. I mean, I had 5 speedsticks. This is the beauty of the Konmari method and bringing everything together into the same space.

It’s making me chomp at the bit to buy things that truly spark joy. When I had the urge for a new nail polish colour, I went looking in a box of spares and lo, I found some bottles to scratch the itch.

It honestly helps to ask, “who can use this today?” if I’m not wild about something (hand creams, t-shirts, bags).

So how are things going?

Beauty/ body/ bath – I’ve used up 13 items from speedstick to conditioner and two (!) lipsticks.

Stationery – I’ve used up or donated 8 items – used up 3 pens and donated 5 new pencil bags.

General decluttering – I’m on batch 5 of the year. I will push to finish that batch so that the quarter ends nicely with 5 complete batches or 120 items.

Tell me, how are your decluttering/ organising efforts going?

Decide what’s right for you – whether it’s one drawer every week or one room a month. At the very least, try one in, one out or, as I heard Lisa Whittle say on a podcast years ago, one in, three out. It makes you more aware of what you bring into your space.

How I track my annual goals

A few weeks ago I wrote about the many different types of goals you could put on your #24in2024 list. When I shared my end-of-year #23in2023 list on Instagram, I had a lot of questions as to how I do my tracking.

Here’s how I do it:

There are once-off items and there are monthly/ weekly/ quarterly items. Or maybe even items with known multiple steps, like take 3 family holidays.

I have a spreadsheet where I keep a list of my goals. Here is a snippet of the bottom of the 2023 sheet.

20 Apply for passport 1.00
21 Listen to one month of Let’s read the gospels podcast 1
22 Keep up with my Project Life 0.75
23 Write a monthly blog and newsletter 0.42
19.53 89%

 

  • I like to colour-code my goals into a few separate categories – health, family, house, work and fun. You could have different categories depending on what’s important to you in a particular year.
  • I set up the spreadsheet with formulae for the items that need completion more often than just once. E.g. Apply for passport involved multiple steps but once I had my visit at the bank, I was done. I earned 1 solid mark.
  • The same with listening to the podcast. Once I finished the 31 days of listening, I was done. Another mark.
  • However, for an item like “keep up with project life”, that is a 12-step goal. Every month I completed it, I earned 1/12 or 0.08. If I did it the following month, I changed it to 2/12 which added another 0.08 to the total.
  • For quarterly items, it’s 1/4 until done… or not, as the case may be. And so on.
  • You’ll realise a few things now – too many monthly goals means that you’re inching your way through, only 0.08 every month. This is why I suggest that you have a few once-off goals so when they’re done, they are done. Instant motivation.
  • In the example above, I did Project Life for 9 out of 12 months (I abandoned it at that point as my album was done and I’m not pursuing it again this year). I wrote a monthly newsletter 5 times.

Now that we’ve talked about the how, I want to address the most important part of this post, the why.

In an ideal world that is full of fantasy, you’d end up with 23 or 24 goals achieved (for this year) and a 100% score. However, life is complicated and things happen, so this system I use allows you to see the progress you’ve made instead of what didn’t get done. In James Clear’s language, you’re voting for the type of person you are (a goal getter) instead of only focussing on whether the goal was achieved or not.

If I didn’t do things this carefully, I’d just end the year and say “no, I didn’t write a monthly newsletter” or “no, I didn’t finish project life” but my way, I can say I did it for 5 or 9 months of the year, which all counts.

Does this method of tracking resonate with you? Will you try using it for your 2024 goals?

How I’m approaching #write 24 in 2024

Confession – only 1 of Gretchen’s previous challenges worked for me. If you’re guessing it was the #read21in2021, you would be correct. I’m terrible at rest and being outside and, well, we won’t talk about 2020 and its effect on financial services in South Africa.

Since I already read plenty of minutes daily, I decided to focus the 2021 challenge on non-fiction, in particular, working through all the books on my physical bookshelf. I had been through the bookshelf many times and decluttered the books I was no longer interested in reading, but all that remained, I did want to read, I just… didn’t. There’s always something more exciting to read, isn’t there?

So #21in2021. I read 32 non-fiction books that year, 36 books in 2022, and 26 books last year in 2023. This year, I intend to finish the remaining 10 physical books and then I hope to never buy a physical non-fiction book again. I discovered during 2021/ 2022 that I love the practice of listening to 30 minutes from a non-fiction book every morning while showering and getting ready for the day. I’ve not stopped this since 2020. It’s not always 30 minutes but I always get in at least 15.

What worked about my #read21in2021?

I made it work for me and it was already hooked to a general habit I had nailed – reading.

This year when I heard that it was #write24in2024, I immediately thought, “oh no, that’s too much on a daily basis” until I listened to the podcast episode explaining it.

  • I then did the same thing I did with the reading – thought about how I could make it work for me.
  • I want to build a better writing practice on weekends to get my newsletter out on a monthly basis.
  • I want to get better with blogging regularly – not just a spurt of 4  – 8 blogs and then nothing for months on end.
  • I want to create regularly daily reminders for myself in my 2024 wellness diary and note down the things I am tracking, like sleep and water.

Given these items, I decided how I would #write24in2024.

  1. I use the weekdays for daily updating of my wellness diary in 2 – 4 minutes.
  2. I keep a bookmark to my newsletter provider on my laptop so that if I want to quickly jot down a sentence or two in two minutes, I can.
  3. I use the Sunday’s 24 minutes to write the monthly newsletter over two weeks. On the other two weeks I write a blog or set up a few 3 things mini newsletters.
  4. On that note, I set my stopwatch on my iphone and write until I feel “done”. Usually it’s been in the region of 48 – 49 minutes. I write what I want, choose a few photos and set it to publish during the week when I’m at work.
  5. The idea is to either publish a blog on a Monday or send out a newsletter during the last week of the month. At least that’s what worked in January – two blogs, two newsletters (both written in January although the first one could be the year-end wrap-up) and two mini-newsletters (these are easily 24 minutes each).
  6. I am also using #write24in2024 to do my monthly reflections and goal-setting. If I were more organised, I would use it for some tracking and weekly reflections too.

It’s going really well so far, one month down.

How are you doing with any of your project -based annual goals?

5 ways to set fun, achievable 24 in 2024 goals

I’ve been following Gretchen Rubin’s annual goals linked to the calendar year since she started doing these back in (was it 2017? 2018?) and they are certainly a fun way to write down some goals. However, it gets a bit tricky as the years go on. I’ve found that a few things help me to not feel overwhelmed with the sheer number and I’d like to share these tips with you:

1. Pick a few easy, once-off goals to get you started

  • Is there something you need to buy that will involve only a step or two? New underwear?
  • Do you want to try something new? One year (2020) I had “try an adult ballet class” on my list. Once I attended, that was done! I bought a car, a big deal because it had been 17 years with my previous one.
  • One year I had “learn to roast a chicken”. I had to do it twice before I was happy with it and I also learned that I prefer to pay for a rotisserie chicken 😉
  • Do you want to see a favourite performer, a ballet, or go to the theatre?
  • I also put my most-hated but still necessary medical appointments on my list.

2. Are there practices you want to commit to monthly or weekly?

  • It doesn’t have to be many times a month but having something to do 12 times a year is doable and the consistency will help build it into a habit.
  • Some examples – join a book club and attend once a month, see Friend X once a month, have a monthly date with your kids, etc.
  • Maybe for an exercise routine to stick, you might have “attend Zumba twice every week”.
  • I have seen so many fun lists with 24 worked into the goal. I also have a couple: 24 fun nights away or in Jhb, 24 Fun Fridays, etc. My one coaching client has “24 Sunday morning adventures with T (her young son)” – doesn’t that sound fun?

                                         A new weekly class at the gym

3. Do you have any project-based goals?

  • A project is something with multiple steps but it has a specific start and end date.
  • Some projects that have been/ are on my lists: buy a new car, get pyjama lounge carpet ripped up and replaced, and so on.
  • Are you doing the Happiness Project Revisited? Or any other course? That would fit in here too. I’ve done The Nester’s Cosy Minimalist course before and Emily P Freeman’s Discern and Decide.

4. What about goals that inspire growth?

  • I would classify a no-spend month, decluttering your kitchen, organising and getting up to date with your photo books, all in this category.
  • I am an underbuyer in most areas so I need to be encouraged to spend out in some areas. Maybe you’re one too? Maybe you’re an overbuyer and need to get your spending under control?
  • I currently have a low-iron stores situation going on so for 2023 and again this year, one goal is to have my iron tested quarterly.

5. Open and wide goals that invite whimsy or fun

  • This is my favourite category. Sometimes enneagram 1 upholders need to loosen the reigns.
  • Last year I had “watch more TV” on my list. That’s it. Open to my own interpretation and indeed, I watched more TV (I didn’t previously watch more than about two episodes of something once a month) and so I loved it. Yes, I also read fewer books as a result but I definitely had more fun.
  • This year, I have “listen to more music” on my list. I subscribed to Spotify Premium and am making playlists, searching anything that strikes my fancy and cooking with music instead of podcasts. More fun!
  • I also have “play with photography again and post things that delight only me”.

I hope all these categories help and don’t hinder you in your goal-setting this year. The point is that if you only have goals that you have to do weekly for a year, it’s going to feel like a slog. You want to have a bit of this and a bit of that so that you have a good balance. I tweaked and tweaked until my list felt more play and not all work, and then I decided to see if I could make a second list, and lo, I have another 24 items. I’m holding it all loosely though 🙂

Please ask all the questions you need. I plan to do a follow up post on how I track all of this, because I know there are many interested.

15-minute Easter weekend organising challenge – spruce up your workspace

I love seasons which is why I love a good quarterly rhythm.

I did a spruce up of my at-home workspace last weekend but you can do it this weekend seeing as there is a lot of extra time.

                                 DREAM method of organising any space

Here is my DREAM method of organising your workspace:

D – decide on your vision for the space. Are you back at office more? Do you need to take more things back to work? (I took my work calculator back this week; it might come back home as I find I do deep work at home)

R – remove everything from your desk and clean. I use Zoflora and a microfibre cloth so that it cleans and smells nice. This is the best part.

E – eliminate the clutter. Toss papers, throw away dry pens, remove things you no longer need, etc. This is the second best part. I keep my old work notebook on my desk for about a week or two of overflow, but then it goes in my cupboard.

A – arrange in a way that pleases you. Do you like a photo frame or plant on your desk? Do you always find yourself looking for something (highlighter, scrap paper, etc.)? Add it.

M – maintain. This is part of maintaining. I do a light version weekly, and a more decent version monthly when I do my goals review.

For my quarterly spruce-up, I changed my laptop bag to another one (I have several). This happened to coincide with a new work notebook so it all felt very fresh for me this week.

I then also changed my pencil bag to a smaller one – let’s see if that works for the whole quarter. I already feel, one week in, that I need to change the notebook at the end of this short month (the paper is just not doing it for me).

Did you take up the challenge? Gold star to you!

I still use a paper diary. Here’s the 2023 one.

I’ve written many, many times before about how it’s important to know what works for you in terms of planning.

My perfect diary is a weekly format, preferably some space for other notes too and enough space horizontally.

I’ve used the same type of diary as I’m using this year before – in 2018 and 2020. I like that I can zip up a pen or thin bullet journal inside and nothing falls out.

Let me show you more:

This is the monthly goals and planning page – goals, to-dos, birthdays and other important dates.
This is the monthly overview – I LOVE this page because there’s space for plenty of tracking – I track work from office days, exercise days as well as actual events.
This is the weekly view. I use the top section for events and the bottom for any specific daily to-dos. I write my weekly goals in the bottom left section (Priorities) and my weekend to-dos in the notes for the week section.

Here’s the key: I take some time every Sunday afternoon/ evening to update my diary for the week ahead so that this tool is truly useful and not just lovely to look at.

Do you use a paper or digital planner/ diary? When do you update it?

7 mantras to help you be happier at work

Would it surprise you to know I have many? I even have a little notebook on my home desk to write down my words of wisdom 😉

Here are some of my work mantras:

💛 You can do anything for 15 mins (works for any task you’ve been procrastinating!) – @the_flylady

💛 Delete emails with abandon – the “filler”, stuff you’re copied on that you don’t need and things you’ve responded to. I wonder if Microsoft Viva can tell me how many emails I delete in a day or week 🤷🏻‍♀️

💛 What is the most important thing to do right now? (Hint – it’s almost never the same thing other people want you to do)

💛 Do the right thing always. Your integrity will speak for itself.

💛 Stay present and in the moment (turn off WiFi on your phone for your deep work sessions; if you’re in a meeting, close Outlook, focus and pay attention). You will work faster and be way more productive (the joy of monotasking) and… people like to feel like they’re listened to.

💛 Outer order, inner calm. If you’re like 60% of the population and you’re feeling frazzled and overwhelmed, tidy your desk.

💛 Work is all about relationships. I ran a Four Tendencies session for work colleagues last night and I started by saying… “this session can help that work relationship you battle with”. Everyone laughed because it’s true.

What are some of your work mantras?

How to use the one-minute rule at work

We’ve spoken before about the one-minute rule. We also talked about ways to use this rule at home.

What about at work?

Here’s how you can use the one-minute rule…

with your emails

  • if you’ve opened and read the email, and don’t need to refer back to it, delete it 🙂
  • if you need to delegate, forward it so that other people can work on it while you go through the rest of your inbox
  • decide there and then on your next action step and quickly type into the beginning of the subject line READ/ MEETING/ TALK TO ___ so that when you’re ready to work, you know exactly what to do next

in meetings

I like to write my meeting notes on the top 70 – 80% of the page and leave the bottom section for actions, OR sometimes there’s so much being said, I just write notes and later as we summarise, I allocate actions and I write the initials of the person in the margin. Now for the rule…

  • do your quick actions in one-minute bites immediately after a meeting
  • many actions are multi-step actions but you can always do the very first step even if that first step is just to allocate a block of time to work through the actions (“actions from XYZ meeting”)

with daily or weekly planning

  • if you’re a daily planner, start the next day’s to-do list page and keep it ready
  • as things pop up, add them to your list so you don’t have to keep it in your head or on random sticky notes in your notebook
  • the same principle works for weekly planning but since I don’t know if I need two more pages to close off the week or eight, I use a long post-it note for next week’s actions. When I’m then ready to make my actual weekly list, I have all my priorities in one place.

How do you already use the one-minute rule at work? Can you think of where you could use it?

My absolute favourite pens – gel pens

Let’s get it out of the way – I like the look of pencils but I don’t ever use them. I went through a stage, maybe 10 years ago, where I bought some coloured pencil lead – pink and blue – which gave me some joy, but certainly not as much joy as my absolute favourite pens – gel pens!

I have three favourite gel pens and they all have three things in common:

  1. They’re point 0.7 mm
  2. They’re colourful (no black and boring blue; I do like a nice navy though)
  3. They all have retractable points

I started out with Pilot G2 0.7 – hunter green, sky blue, dark red, metallic colours, they’re all so good

then Pentel brought out such amazing colours in their energel brand – purple, pink, orange in addition to the green (I’ve been using them for 7 years)

and then my friend, Suzy, sent me a full set of Papermate Inkjoy Gel pens in the most delicious colours. At the time we couldn’t get them in South Africa. Now we can get them, but they’re R53 per pen! (see the pics in this post for the Papermate pens)

Which are your favourite pens? Or pencils, if that’s more your thing?

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