My secret superpower for getting so much done

Recently I posted a screenshot on my Instagram stories showing my sleep stats. This one, in fact.

I had a flurry of direct messages from people commenting that they couldn’t believe I sleep so much. How is it possible to sleep 9.5 hours?!

Well, it’s easy if you set your environment up for good sleep (no screens before bed, cool bedclothes, dark room, etc.). I’ve always slept well, ever since I was a child, and most importantly, I believe that sleeping so well is the reason I have such a lot of energy and can get so many things done.

On the other hand, it’s also why, when my twins were newborns, I felt so out of sorts. It’s because I wasn’t sleeping. The minute those two started sleeping better at 10 months it was like the sun shone brightly again ๐Ÿ™‚ because my brain was clear!

When I start working with a new time management coaching client, I always check their sleep habits first. Sleep is so important and even if you’re not aware of it, your body needs good sleep to function well and you need to be well-rested to be most productive and effective. If you’re not well-rested, you’ll find yourself with fuzzy thinking and a brain that can’t focus on a task for very long.

We work with small goals until they’re sleeping at least 7 hours a night, and then we start working on goals. It works because it’s easy to get things done when you’re sleeping well.

I know that it seems counter-intuitive to go sleep instead of working more, but I’ve proven it so many times in my and others’ lives that if you go sleep, you’ll get your list of things done much quicker the following day because you’re rested. I have often said, “I feel like a new woman” when I tackle that to-do list and get things done from a base of good, uninterrupted sleep.

Try it and see. Sleep might very well be your superpower too ๐Ÿ˜‰

Interestingly, I heard from two different sources that there is only a really tiny percentage of humans who need less than 6 hours a night, and how to tell if you’re one of these is that you never feel drowsy outside those 6 hours and you don’t need caffeine or other substances to get you going.

How many hours do you sleep per night, on average? Do you feel rested and energised in the mornings, or do you feel you need to work on your sleep?

PS My goal has been 7 hours 30 per night for years and years; this year it’s 7 hours 45 and I’m at 7 hours 42.

How I use a master to-do list to prevent overwhelm

master list

Let’s talk about the difference between a master list and a daily to-do list.

People often confuse the two which is the exact reason they experience overwhelm. I would also feel overwhelmed if I saw 30 items every day but not if I only see 5 or 6 items.

  1. I make a master to-do list of what I call Life Admin every so often. This list has things around the house, projects, financial things, medical appointments, etc.
  2. Here’s the trick – I keep this list on my desk so it’s visible at all times.
  3. Every week I put one or two of these things on my weekly list – to be done either during the week (if it’s time-specific or dependent on other people) or on the weekend (usually self-imposed and needing only my input).
  4. When I complete the item, I cross it out with a highlighter. As I progress through the list, more and more items get crossed off which feels very satisfying for this upholder.
  5. I then rewrite the list when the list of undone items is less than half the list, or it’s a new month (I love the fresh slate of a new month).

I mentioned above that I have a master list for my life admin. I also have one for all my clients at my full-time job (in Excel) and I suppose you could call my To Blog list a master list too ๐Ÿ™‚

If you don’t already use a master to-do list, I encourage you to try one. There is a satisfaction in knowing that you can take a month, two months even to get to all your things, but that you only need to do just as many as you want to, every couple of days or weeks.

Do you use a master list? What do you have master lists for?

How to read more in 2020

If you’ve been reading around here or follow me on Instagram, you’ll know I’m a big reader. (I even started a bookstagram account late last year – marciareadsalot).

I read 97 books in 2016, 120 books in 2017, 112 books in 2018 and I finished on 108 books last year.

I hover around the 100 books a year mark consistently, and thought I’d share 5 ways that we can all read more. It’s not like I do nothing but read (I’m a full-time employee, parent to twins, wife, friend and coach/ speaker/ workshop facilitator) but I do prioritise my reading.

  1. Have a compelling to-read list

If you only have boring books on your list, you’ll be less inclined to pick up a book and read. Therefore, decide what you like to read and add some fun books (for you) to your list.

If you can’t wait to read a book, there’s a very high possibility you’ll read faster, and thus read more books.

Tip – I create a To read – January collection within my Kindle so that I always have a great list of books to pick from. If I own the physical copy, I download the sample, and leave that in the collection so I remember what I wanted to read.

2. Stop reading books you hate

This ties into number 1 above. If you are not enjoying a book, stop wasting your reading time and pick up a book you want to read instead.

Did you know that you don’t have to finish every book you start? Please start freely abandoning books. I abandoned 7 books this year (yay!) – the faster I abandon, the more I can read ๐Ÿ™‚

3. Always keep a book with you

Even if you don’t keep a physical book with you, have an audio or Kindle book on your phone. I like to keep a non-fiction book on my phone that I can read a short piece when I have a few moments. Things that work very well are essay-type books, or 100 days to …… or 365 days of …………..-type books too.

4. First read, then scroll

I realised that I was grabbing my phone in the mornings instead of my book, so a couple of mornings I didn’t switch on the wifi for a whole hour while I read instead. I nearly finished my book just from reading first instead of scrolling.

If you’re having trouble focusing, set a timer for 20 minutes and start reading. 20 minutes is the perfect time for a non-fiction read, and I guarantee that if you give a work of fiction 20 minutes, you’ll get into it enough to either continue or abandon.

I also want to point out my blog post from a few years ago where I recognised that with the 4 – 5 hours of phone time I have a day, I could easily read a non-fiction book once a week. See why you and I are not reading more books.

5. Join a book club

Most of the population are obligers and as Gretchen Rubin says, if you’re an obliger and you want to read more books, join a book club. A friend told me on instagram that she had a terrible reading year (14 books). She is an obliger so i suggested a book club. She is in a book club but they each read a different book. As a Four Tendencies facilitator, I’d suggest she join a book club where they all read the same book. My own book club reads the same book and we are mostly Obligers, with some Questioners, one Rebel and me, the Upholder, and this works very well for the Obligers.

Joining a book club is one way to read more and it’s a fantastic way to also build intentional friendships.

Are you reading more or less than you were a few years ago? How do you make sure you’re reading a lot?

What do I want less of in 2020?

When I start reflecting on this question, the answer is not just the opposite of what I want more of. Instead, I’m challenging myself to really think about things that I can control and take concrete action steps to create in my life.

Stress

Most of my stress this year resulted from worrying about whether the workshops would fill, especially in the beginning, but also stress about work that I absolutely could not control.

Unrealistic expectations

Granted, I placed many of these expectations upon myself, but I also felt that some clients had unrealistic expectations regarding timelines. This is a great time of year to remind myself that I can only control myself, do my best and then let go (here’s where my word’s going to be so useful).

Complicated systems

I generally like to keep things simple, but sometimes in trying out different planning tools or ways of doing things, I have tended to complicate matters that don’t have to be complicated at all. This year I have 1 diary, 1 bullet journal for lists and notes, and 1 master to-do list which I’ll review weekly. If you’re interested, let me know in the comments and I’ll write more about that.

Weight

I have some ideas where I can change things. I tried a few things this year but they were mostly unsuccessful. It’s clear I probably have to invest in Weigh-Less completely and not just tell myself, “oh, I know how to eat properly”. I do, but doing it by myself is not working as well as I’d like so I need to do something different. There’s a tension between realising that I’m no longer 25 and also not just giving into the middle-age spread. I already contacted the WL group leader and told her I’ll return as soon as there’s a “no rejoin fee” special which should be soon ๐Ÿ™‚

Clothes I don’t like

I recorded some instastories a few months ago because I realised that I’m in jeans 4 days out of every week and yet my wardrobe looks like I wear work clothes 5 days a week instead of just 3. I need to fix that and keep only the things that fit well, make me feel good and that suit my present lifestyle. I’ve already made a start – every time I find something in my wardrobe I’m not wild about, out it goes.

What do you want less of in 2020?

{2019 review} What I want more of in 2020

Travel

I definitely want more overseas travel (anything from 0 this year is a good thing!). I haven’t been overseas since 2012 which is a lot of time for a passport to lay idle. I’d be happy if we get this sorted. What I really want is someone to know the inside of my mind, plan everything at the best price and most convenience, and just tell me to EFT money to book tickets ๐Ÿ™‚

More time with D

This year we tried to go on a weekend away. Our only babysitter who is willing to do more than one night, my mother, then had a little operation on her hand, so couldn’t do it. Oh well, we’ll try again next year. In addition, I’m adding D to my regular dates schedule, the same as I do with my friend dates, so that we can have a more regular dating schedule.

It might be a good time to set up regular dates with my kids too. This year has felt quite haphazard, which is not really my style.

More walks

I think I need to make a rule for myself and put it in my diary like I do with everything else. Every couple of days, get home, put on my takkies and gym pants, and go for a walk with the kids.

Creative work

I want to create an online course or new workshop, or revamp two existing courses. I do have my Help! I need more time course, which I do still love. It is good content and has helped many people so I should look at that one, and then I’m thinking about doing something around vision boards and goals. We’ll see. If you have some ideas, do let me know.

Fun

I actually want to set aside some money every month for fun. Not to buy things and bring more stuff into my house, but to be generous, and spend on people and experiences, and finally set up a reading prize at the kids’ school.

Coaching

I coached three lovely ladies this year and I’m ready to open up my coaching calendar for about 4 – 6 more hours a month. I really would love to do more Four Tendencies coaching or incorporate it into my current coaching practice. If this sounds like it might be a fit for you, let me know.

What do you want more of next year?

A 2020 list with a difference – a lot more fun

Before we start, I have two questions for you:

This year I’m doing two lists – a standard list with normal (to me) goals and a fun list too, because I realise that I’m very serious and if I don’t intentionally plan for fun, it won’t just happen. I was especially inspired by my friend, Julia, who had a 19 in 2019 list full of super fun things.

I know this sounds crazy to the non-upholders but remember, discipline is an upholder’s freedom.

Onto the list…

  1. Have a lime milkshake
  2. Go for Milky Lane waffles (I have not had either of these two for more than 10 years) with all the syrups!
  3. Have a tea party for my friends (I’m not having a birthday lunch this year)
  4. Take Connor out for a supper date
  5. Take Kendra out for a supper date
  6. Make 3-ingredient scones with Kendra
  7. Pay for someone else’s groceries
  8. Volunteer to take someone’s photos
  9. Take a holiday outside South Africa
  10. Take the red city bus tour
  11. Teach a workshop using photography as a coaching tool (that sounds very boring but it would be super fun!) and then host a photo walk
  12. Go watch a fun, girly movie completely by myself
  13. Go play with my big camera on a walk once a month
  14. Go see a concert with Dion
  15. Time away with D
  16. Run a Four Tendencies workshop, for children
  17. Buy a dishwasher
  18. Go to Simply Asia with Angie
  19. Organise Dion’s desk (let’s be honest; this is going to be the MOST fun of all)
  20. Get a carpenter to do a cupboard/ shelf for the tumble dryer

Are you inspired yet? I know people who have made lists of places to eat in their city, other people have made lists of books to read or movies to watch, still others have made lists of friend dates. All of these are excellent ideas, or you can go the old-fashioned way of normal goals. I’ve done the best of both with two lists ๐Ÿ™‚

What will you do? Care to share a couple of your goals with me?

PS I have done some fabulous start-of-year coaching sessions to help people strategise and set goals for the year. Contact me if you’d like to book a once-off 45-minute session for $50, or you can book a coaching package that suits your needs.

A quick recap of my 2019 word, and my word of the year for 2020

My word for 2019 was bold and it was a fantastic word for me. It guided me, stretched me, pushed me out of my comfort zones and , forced me to have courage to do uncomfortable things. Here’s why I chose the word, bold.

I wrote about how I was experiencing the word here and here. It really was a great word for me and contributed to a really good year.

This word, bold, was also the reason that I wanted to feel more ease, flow, freedom this year.

I had not an inkling of my 2020 word by mid-December (this post was scheduled but it had no content inside!) so I prayed in church and I started feeling the word free. I then thought my word was going to be free but I realised that that’s the feeling I want, but the word was actually light.

In 2020, I want to feel light

  • physically – I need to lose 12 kgs
  • mentally – I want to let go of things quicker and not hold tight so long
  • emotionally – I want to lighten up with some things

I also want to look for the light more, in other words, get out my big camera and go make beautiful pictures. Honestly, I’ve gotten lazy and yet, it’s something that brings me such joy and delight.

light

I want to make light, contribute freely and lighten other people’s burdens.

I want to continue to bring light (clarity) through my workshops, coaching, and speaking, and illuminate things that may be hidden. I don’t want to hide my light to try and play a smaller game because I do know my worth.

I’m definitely always trying to live lighter and since I want to travel a lot this year, this is also a good reminder to travel light (physically) and emotionally (without baggage) through this world.

Hopefully this is a year of more fun and lightheartedness ๐Ÿ™‚

What was your 2019 word, and how did it work for you? What is your word for 2020? If you’re unclear about the word you want, I recorded some stories that will help you.

{planning} introducing my 2020 diary

2020 diary

Compared to 2018’s back and forth on the subject of my 2019 diary, I am so pleased that this year there was none of that nonsense.

You can read about my 2019 diary here. Interestingly, it’s the most popular post in November 2018 of the 6 months since May 2018! And here are pictures of my 2019 diary in action on Instagram.

I saw all the diaries in my local bookshop, noticed a few that I liked but one stood out – this one. I thought about it for a few days and then went back to get it.

2020 diary

Things I love in a diary are:

  • goals page at the front, and one for each month
  • monthly events calendar at a glance
  • weekly format
  • not too big to carry around

This diary had all of these features and the best is that I’ve already played around with the same format in 2018, so I know it works for me.

I also like how it zips up so I can carry a thin bullet journal with me and zip the whole lot up so that it stays contained in my handbag.

2020 diary

For those who are new to me, I love a weekly planner because my brain thinks in weeks and no matter how pretty the daily planners are, I’d never use them as well as I use a weekly planner.

I also like that this diary has a prayer list if you’re so inclined (you can use it for your weekly intentions, which is almost the same thing!), your priorities for the week and the notes for the week section which I use for some of my weekend to-dos.

Perhaps this will be the year I’ll be able to restrict all my weekend to-dos to that one little section? ๐Ÿ™‚

2020 diary

I prepared my diary by adding dates, school terms, public holidays, etc. and I started my to-dos yesterday too.

Do you use a diary? Which one are you using this year?

Here’s a useful post to help you make decisions if you haven’t decided yet.

{planning} 3 things to do to prepare for 2020

1. Review 2019

Take your bullet journal or any piece of paper. Write these headings:

What went well?
What could have been better?
What have I learned?
What do I want to let go of as I move into 2020?

2. Anticipate 2020

What do you want more of in 2020?
How do you want to feel?
What do you want less of?
What do you want to learn? (I hope more about your tendency :))

3. Make a 20 in 2020 list

Here are a few ideas. Use one, some or none ๐Ÿ™‚

1. Choose a few things you can get done fairly quickly (I had “buy a new watch” on my list this year; what about trying a new restaurant?)
2. Choose a few fun things just for you (I’m putting a course, Discern and Decide, on my list, as well as listening to the audio version of a favourite novel from 2018)
3. Choose a few things you can do with other people (go see a movie with the book club, go on a holiday, go hike a specific trail, etc.)
4. Choose a few necessary things (get rid of excess furniture, declutter your clothes, declutter excess kitchen stuff, etc.)
5. Choose a few stretch things (do a two-week eating reset, apply for a new job, finish a photobook)

Tip – if you have a good mix, it will feel satisfying when you get them done.ย If you’re on Instagram, click the hashtagย #19in2019 to see what other people did this year, and to get ideas for next year.


Bonus – useย theย printables on my website

Let’s Do This 2020 – to close off 2019 and set some intentions for 2020. It’s free and the shortest quickest printable I’ve seen around. I know that some of these 20-page printables, while beautiful and useful, can seem like just one more enormous thing on your to-do list.

20in2020 list – this year, I designed a list specifically for each Tendency. Yes, there’s one for upholders, obligers, questioners and rebels. I would love you to download them, try them out and let me know how they work (or don’t!) for you. And then, post them to Instagram or Facebook and tag me – I’d love to see your lists and get some ideas.

Hope you found these tips useful to prepare for 2020!
Have you downloaded the free 20in2020 list yet?

{2019 review} What didn’t go well in 2019?

As important as it is to celebrate the wins of the year, it’s also important to look at things that didn’t go well so that you can either fix them going forward or go in a completely different direction.

So, what didn’t go well for me in 2019?

Weight and weight loss

I’m aware from my Oprah-watching days that even if nothing changes in terms of eating and exercise, we will put on 5 kg every decade because our metabolism slows down steadily as we age. I haven’t put on 5 kg this year but probably 2 kg, and these have been a very uncomfortable 2 kg. Before you get very confused, I’m a full 12 kg overweight but I’d be over-the-moon happy with losing 4 kg, and then another 5kg.

I’m currently trying to get into a regular habit of “eating for only 12 hours” and want to then move to 11 hours and hopefully rest with eating only within a 10-hour window. I heard a scientist on Dr Chatterjee’s podcast who made a lot of sense, so we’ll see.

Headaches

It might be the case for recency but it feels like I had more headaches from the heat this year. It is just not at all fun once it sets in, so I completely live inside my cold house for any temperatures of 28 C and above. I’m like a reverse cat, looking for cool places in my house to work.

Walks

I’m not even sure I went on 30 walks. For the last 4 years I’ve done 52 – 60 walks a year. There are a couple of reasons why: this has been an incredibly hot year and even thinking about getting outside makes me tense. I manage my 9am Zumba class by getting out, keeping well hydrated and getting straight back if the day is very hot, but anything in addition to that just feels like asking for (headache) trouble.

Photos

In 2019, we moved to a monthly family photo instead of weekly photos of the kids and occasionally of all of us. This was at Dion’s and Connor’s request and yes, there has been less moaning but it has honestly been quite soul-destroying seeing only iphone photos and very little photos of the kids, especially after we’d developed such good habits. Also, there has been a correlation in that because I’m no longer picking up the big camera on a weekly basis, I’m no longer picking up the big camera at all. I have already put a new goal on my list for next year – to schedule at least one photowalk a month with the big camera.

Care to share? What didn’t go well for you this year?

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