If it’s not serving you, let it go

This month we’re looking at what’s not working for us, so today I have a question for you – what’s no longer serving you?

Sometimes we keep on doing things simply because we’re in the habit of doing them and not because they actually serve us anymore.

Let me explain.

You go through a really busy period at work and work until 6pm every night. After that, it’s become a habit so you continue to do so even though there’s really no need. But this time spent is no longer serving you. You could be enjoying the extra time at home with your family, exercising, taking up a new hobby, etc.

Or you might have a bookshelf full of books you don’t like or need to have. You may have bought them because people on Instagram were talking about them but they’re not really your thing so you haven’t read them. These self-imposed expectations are no longer serving you.

One more…you have 5 sets of bed linen for your guest bedroom. You have guests twice a year for a week at a time, so you never even get past set 3 on the shelf. You feel like you should keep the linen because you bought some of those sheet sets at a sale and you haven’t really used them yet but… they’re not really your favourites. Those sheets staring at you from the shelf are no longer serving you.

Last year I decided to host what I called crafternoons – afternoons for groups of my girlfriends to craft. Craft was a very loose definition because photos, card-making, baking, knitting, colouring was all welcomed.

I hosted four of these but they never had more than 3 of us at any one time. They were enjoyable but they weren’t what I envisioned, especially because I’d invite about 10 ladies every time.

The crafternoons were no longer serving me so I let them go.

This is a small example but I felt such relief at the thought of moving onto something that might work better to get friends together, and that cleared the space for me to start a book club.

My challenge to you is to jot down 3 – 5 things in your life that are no longer serving you. And let them go.

They can be anything from kitchen utensils and nail polish, to bad habits and self-imposed expectations. Anything.

What’s no longer serving you? What do you need to let go of?

For your listening pleasure…

I’m a big fan of podcasts as you well know. Then when I was leaving comments on an Instagram feed the other day, I realised I actually have a podcast for everything. Ha!

Podcasts for cooking

Roisin meets – this is a lifestyle podcast by the Irish Times. She interviews (mostly) Irish celebrities of all kinds – authors, musicians, politicians, all sorts of interesting people. Easy listening in the kitchen and I don’t mind pausing to listen to a child asking a question here and there.

Desert Island discs – this is a podcast by the BBC. I’ve only listened to Michael Buble’s one so far because I’m saving them for actual cooking 🙂 The celebrity shares 8 songs they’d take with them on a desert island, and she plays portions too. It’s so fun – and perfectly light for kitchen time.

Podcasts for showering

You need good sound to hear above the water splashing but the podcast also needs to be easy listening because it’s relaxing time.

  • God Centered Mom – also great sound and I listen to every single one of these episodes but… when it’s my GCM Podcast Club episode, then I listen while in the study so I can take notes.
  • The Simple Show has great sound but I only listen to the episodes where she interviews people, and not the chit-chat about books or travel. I listen to some of the home episodes though.

Podcasts for editing photos/ tidying/ cleaning the house

(in other words, mindless activities)

For this category, I suggest long podcasts or those that need you to concentrate on the content… and have a notebook handy.

Off Camera with Sam Jones – I listen to the interviews with only the celebrities I know and since I’m not a big TV/ movie person…. that’s about 5 so far 🙂

What should I read next? – 3 books you love, 1 book you hate, and what are you currently reading… then she recommends 3 books for that reader. I used to not listen to this podcast at all because I don’t read the books these people do (they’re usually literary fiction, and I mostly like a lighter type of novel) but I do listen to most of them now because of the chat before that part of the show. They talk about their reading life and all of that is very interesting to me.

Podcasts for driving

This one is similar to the shower category (for me) because I go on the highway and I listen through my actual phone because my (very old) car doesn’t have all these fancy gadgetry where you can listen through your car’s speakers.

But…. the podcast needs to be upbeat because I’m on my way to work. Bonus if I can get a 40-minute episode since that’s my commute time most days.

Mom Struggling Well with Emily Thomas

The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey

Quiet with Susan Cain – only 9 episodes but like I said on Instagram, 20-something minutes of awesomeness per episode

A podcast for Fridays

Happier. This one publishes every Wednesday morning and I save it in anticipation for my Friday drive to work. I look forward to listening every week – it’s wonderful. Incidentally, this is Gretchen Rubin’s stategy of pairing – to link something pleasurable to something else.

Which are some of your favourite podcasts, and when do you recommend I listen to them?

I want to tell you 7 things about reading

Reading is one of my favourite things to do or talk about. When you couple this with my passion, time management, I especially love it when people tell me they don’t have time to read, or enough time to read, and so on.

So not true, guys. I’m not buying it 🙂

You see, I think we all underestimate the amount of time we waste, and more importantly, how much time we have that we fritter away. Someone I follow, Laura Vanderkam, decided to stop scrolling the internet and read instead. She read 14 books in a month. She found 1.5 hours a day and more on the weekend, totalling 13.5 hours a week, without working or parenting less.

Why you and I are not reading more books

How I find time for reading

Another way to find time for reading – this one is probably unpopular

Then, the new thing is people tell me things like they don’t think audio books will work for them without even trying. I know audio is not for everyone.

Like how video is not for me. But I have watched a few Youtube videos, vlogs and such, tried it first and now I can give you reasons why (slow download speed/ impatience/ I like to be doing something and with video I have to actually sit there and watch, for example :))

Back to audio books.

If you have a short commute, remember all those 15 minutes add up. If you have a 15-minute commute, you can easily finish one audio book a month. That’s 600 minutes a month just to and from work.

However, there is also cooking time, cleaning time, editing photo time, scrapbooking time, walking time, gardening time.

I would love you to tell me you listened to a book and then decided it’s not for you. But please try! You can easily add 1 – 2 books to your “read list” every month in this super-simple way.

You may like this post on how I use audio to work for me. One major trick is to find a narrator you like.

Here’s where I shared my love for the Kindle at the 3-year mark. I just passed the 6-year mark two days ago!

When it’s worth it to buy a book

Bonus – free books with Overdrive

How do you prefer to read your books?

Have you tried an audio book yet?

When life throws you curveballs

A reader recently sent me a question asking what my suggestions were for her and for other readers who get thrown from their usual routines by life’s curveballs.

I think this is a great question because she’s right – we all have things that throw us off track:

  • busy time periods at work (month-end/ year-end/ closing out a project/ going live with other projects, etc.)
  • busy periods in our kids’ lives (concert week, recitals or plays)
  • any illness (usually means kids or parents not sleeping)
  • going on holiday (lovely to be away but re-entry can be tough)
  • any out-of-the-ordinary happening that messes with your routine

I’ll share with you my top 3 ways to get back on track:

  1. Lower my expectations

That seems counter-intuitive but it makes complete sense for any of us control freaks.

I know after returning from a holiday that it’s going to take about a week for things to return to our normal. There’s no sense in getting stressed every day because there are piles of undone laundry, no food in the fridge and kids who can’t wake up for school because they’re too tired.

This one step is the biggest creator of peace of mind in the home.

  1. Get back to my basics as quickly as possible

For me, that’s making a menu plan and making sure we have enough fruit and vegetables in the house. I can almost always cobble meals together from the freezer or pantry; it’s when there aren’t enough apples or carrots that I start to twitch. Food is important to me and the family, so this is one of my priorities.

In essence, start putting your routines in order. When we get back from a holiday, I start unpacking immediately because I can’t stand things laying around on the floors and I’ve trained the kids to do the same. They’ve unpacked their own suitcases for the last 3 years.

  1. How can I restore order in the quickest, painless way?

I could take one day, generally the Sunday afterwards, and do laundry non-stop, and while that would be quick, it is not painless for me! I choose to do a daily load until we’re caught up instead as we generally only do the laundry about 3 – 4 times a week. It ends up being just a day or two longer, but knowing that there’s a plan in place helps a lot to keep me at peace!

If doing laundry isn’t painful for you, you might as well get it done quickly.

I read a blog once where the mom used to go to a laundromat, use 6 machines and just get all the laundry done if they had a curveball or two thrown at them. She said she’d take a book, relax for two hours and leave with everything up to date. That actually sounds splendid.

To summarise, I’d give myself two weeks to get back to my routines. Decide what is most important to you, and start doing that thing immediately (as you saw above, unpacking and food for me!).

Then build on those initial steps until your routine – and peace of mind – is restored once again.

What are your basics?

Do you have a strategy for life’s curveballs?

When you over-complicate things…

I do some planning every weekend:

1) my weekend to-do list

This gets written on a Friday after work and has a combination of events, things to organise, things to do in the house and relaxing things.

This is my sweet spot combination of getting out (for my extraverted sensing self), staying home and being productive and actually relaxing.

2) my weekly planning

This planning gets done on a Sunday afternoon or evening.

I have my Outlook calendar open, my work calendar, my shining planner and my bullet journal.

I’ll make sure I haven’t forgotten about anything coming up, and transfer things I need to action to my weekly planner.

For two weekends, I felt a heaviness, a feeling of not “sparking joy” around my weekly planning.

I questioned myself as to why and this is what I came up with:

  • I’m making my weekly planning process far more complicated than it needs to be.
  • It used to take me 5 – 10 minutes and was now closer to 30 minutes (granted, some of that time was for photo-taking for Instagram!)

So I’m going back to my old ways.

A quick check of the electronic calendars, jot those things down, read through my to-dos, and then get on with the business of actually living 🙂

Have you felt dread recently about doing things that are usually part of your routine?
Where have you been over-complicating things in your life?

{My year of happy} April project goals

Happy April!

So, my happy project for March was to see what was working and to replicate that in other areas of my life.

How did I do?

Scheduling – this one worked a treat. I pre-scheduled friend dates, dates with D, etc. I also scheduled my weekly planning time and it’s been great.

Environment – I kept the phone in the bedroom most of the month BUT I was elsewhere so I almost didn’t care to even look at it. I read on a chair in my pyjama lounge and the phone is never with me so I’m not distracted.

However, I was very, very naughty this very last week of March in terms of sleep ….. on the bright side, my sleep average for March is a whopping 7 hrs 46 minutes. It’s not been that high for years and years (possibly, even pre-kids!)

Batching – this one is working well too. Monday is writing night and Wednesday is photo night 🙂

What about April?

This month, my goal is to see what’s not working for me and see how I can stop that, and make it better.

So which projects do I have in mind?

Personal email

I’m not sure what I’ve been doing but I can’t seem to get a handle on my personal email. It’s out of control. I need to go through all my notifications and newsletters to see where I can unsubscribe.

By the way, I recently sent out a newsletter. Did you get your copy? If you’re not on the list (you get 3 cool freebies!), you can sign up here.

 Blogs in my feedly

There are blogs I’m not that into anymore, those with only sponsored posts/ giveaways, and that’s not why I read blogs. I don’t mind a good sponsored post (CupofJo does these beautifully) but they are 1 in 10.

So I need to go on a big unsubscribe mission again.

Instagram

This is not bad…. but since I have two accounts, there are some feeds I follow on both @marcia0608 and @organisingqueen, which is inefficient. And then Instagram advertising, because I’m sure there are some feeds that have appeared without my officially following them.

Can you see Kendra and Connor in the bokeh on the right? I took this photo on a photowalk with the kids.

So, tell me. What’s not working in your life?

Can you stop doing it?

How can you change things to make it a better, more pleasant situation for yourself?

What I learned in March

 

Happy Thursday!

It’s almost the end of March and look, we’re already one month into autumn.

Before I tell you about what I learned this month, here are some fun links you may have missed:

If you’re doing a 52 photo project, you should be on week 12 or 13, depending on which day you started. Here are some tips.

For the stationery lovers out there

For those who hate filing (I’m with you!)

Do you believe in life balance?

Fresh takes on relationships and connection

Here’s what I learned this month:

Having mental and emotional stress weighs you down physiologically

I had a meeting this month and seeing this person this time vs last time was amazing. He’d made a decision in his business to ease some considerable mental stress and you could visibly see how lighter he felt 🙂

It was quite eye-opening and a good reminder that we may not say things but our bodies are shouting them loud and clear.

A podcast is all about the sound… and voice

I actually told a friend about a new (at the time) podcast, listened to a few episodes myself and decided I didn’t enjoy it.

I decided to try again after about 4 – 5 months so I downloaded 4 episodes based on their description but no, I could not even finish listening to one 30-minute episode.

“I can’t stand all the laughing” – something I never thought I’d say but it’s true.

I can read the blog, but the podcast drives me nuts… in a bad way 🙂

My imagination is worse than reality

I had my dental procedure scheduled for the first week of March.

I don’t like the dentist at the best of times so I was really very anxious.

And…. it was a million times better than I expected.

The only real pain was on the days I did lots of talking, like weekends with the kids 🙂

It’s so much fun shopping for others

I’m participating again in my friend’s library project so I briefed the kids, and off we went to the bookshop to choose 4 books to help build a library.

My gosh, it was so fun choosing books – much negotiation happened but finally we chose 4 Enid Blyton books in a series as we felt that would stand the test of time 🙂

If you believe in the value of reading and would like to participate in some way, please click over, read and order a book or more for the project. If you’re not local, Readers Warehouse, Takealot and many other online retailers offer shipping directly to the Cape Town address.

And that’s all for now.

What did you learn this month?

My word of the year quarterly review

My word for 2017 is give. You can read all about why I chose it here.

Here are a few questions I asked myself to see how my word’s been working for me:

what have I learned?

Interestingly, but probably not a surprise to God (Gal 6:7), I’ve been receiving more than I’ve been giving

I’ve paid for some lunches for friends which has been really nice. I hadn’t set out to do it like this but there has been one every month.

It’s not only money – I’ve been spending out in time with people, consciously taking time out of a busy schedule to phone/ whatsapp/ leave voicemails/ go see friends to engage with and encourage them.

what’s working really well?

I gave to myself by being brave and making all my health appointments early this year – gynae, mammogram and dental procedures. The worst of the dental is past and the last bit will be fixed in June this year.

I’m also giving myself relaxation in the form of enough sleep and the freedom to read (a lot of) books.

And grace. I’m recognising when things are hectic and that I might need to go a little bit easier on myself. In years past, I would still be up at all ours trying to get everything done, but now – sleep is more important.

The 5 love languages

You may know that I teach workshops on the 5 love languages.

I’ve been consciously asking myself how I can give love in the particular person’s love language – for Dion and the kids, and for my friends.

I said to a friend a few weeks ago, “I would LOVE it if all my friends would just take the love languages quiz and the MBTI, so I could know how to be an amazing friend to them all”.

A cool thing is that a good number of my friends came to a workshop I held last year so I wrote down all their love languages and now, I can show them love in the way they prefer.

What do I want to do for the next quarter?

  1. I want to arrange a 7-day #givechallenge on Instagram for me and whoever else wants to join me.
  2. I want to get my Bible reading going again.
  3. I want to start the day off and ask, “who can I give to today?”

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

What’s working/ not working/ what have you learned/ what do you want to change?

5 favourite posts about…. how I do my goals!

If you’re a longtime reader, you’ll know I’m fairly passionate about goals, but not only for nerdiness’ sake, but because I’ve seen and tested them in my own life for over 20 years.

Here are 5 of my favourite posts on goal-setting (and goal getting), basically how I do goals:

How I choose my goals for the month

My favourite night of the month, Goals Night

I started doing my goals like this, and it continued into this year

A mind-shift to change your thinking about goals

Weekly goals

Which is your favourite post?

Soul care vs self-care

If I speak to a group of 10 women, I can guarantee that the majority feels like they don’t have enough time for themselves.

We all have many roles in life. I’d guess that if you’re reading this post, you probably fulfill 5 to 7 of these roles: a wife, mother, homemaker, daughter, sister, friend, business owner, employee or employer.

What then happens is that you tend to the more urgent roles and your personal time is usually the last thing on the list.

As a result, you start feeling resentful but also you may soon burn out.

That’s the point when people usually contact me.

This is great because I love working with people who are ready to take action and make changes in their lives.

Do you just accept this as your lot in life while you have young kids in the house or what do you do?

  1. Decide that you are also important

I never ever believe that we need to sacrifice the parts of us that make us feel most alive.

This is a mindshift change from mothers being the martyrs so take your time and work on this mental adjustment.

We can only input into others when we are replenished. I read a great parenting book, Parenting without Power Struggles, and in the book, she says we have to be calm before we can correct or parent our kids. I can tell you that a mother who has not had any time for herself is not going to be calm.

  1. Identify soul and self-care activities

Self-care activities are activities like a manicure, pedicure, hair appointment or massage.

Soul-care activities are those that feed your soul like sewing, mosaics, scrapbooking, painting and decorating. Still others are time, either by yourself to recharge (often the introverts) or with a couple of close girl friends to connect with yourself again (often for introverts).

Soul care is deeper and more nurturing than self-care, but both are good.

  1. Choose the minimum response that will make you feel like your needs are prioritised

In my work I talk about always knowing your minimum effective responses.

When my twins were newborns, life was crazy. I felt like I had no time to do anything for myself as I was running around washing bottles, making bottles, feeding, burping, bathing, changing, getting the baby to sleep, and then the other one would wake!

During those crazy times, I was happy if I could have just 5 minutes to sit, drink a hot cup of tea in peace and eat breakfast. Seriously, my expectations were just that low.

That was my minimum effective response.

Now, I expect to have hours every day to “do my thing” and I have that time because I’ve set things up that way.

But I started very, very small.

What is the minimum effective response for you to feel like you’re prioritising your needs?

Now that you have those questions sorted out, start creating the time for yourself.

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