4 insights on stockpiling toiletries from The Year of Less

 

 

I read a book called The Year of Less by Cait Flanders in August 2018. I’ve just gone to read all my highlights on Goodreads (19 of them!) and now I think I need to re-read the book 😉

But that’s not what I came here to tell you about today.

When I originally read the book, I remember one piece very vividly, the section on stockpiling toiletries.

It completely changed how I think about things now.

Many people (I daresay, 98% of you reading this post) buy extra toiletries when they’re on sale. The sales captivate us all – 3 for the price of 2, the summer/ winter sale, and so on.

In the book, she asks us to consider how long specific items take to use up and how long you really need to keep spares.

Stockpiling is not great for at least 4 reasons:

1. it wastes money

if your money is held up in “stock”, it is not available as cash (remember Accounting in high school?). I prefer to have the cash rather than bottles of shampoo, conditioner or similar. Yes, I’m aware that the prices of things have increased (especially in South Africa due to loadshedding) but I would still rather have cash in the bank than two extra speedsticks in my bathroom vanity.

2. it is clutter 

This one is fairly obvious. Stuff you have and that you need to store because you’re not using is called clutter.

3. waste of product 

if you buy 3 products, they might go old before you can actually use them (this has happened to me once with speedstick deodorants)

4. most of the world lives about 5 minutes from a store

and now… there’s online delivery too. If you run out, I promise you it will be a 5-minute detour to get what you need and for most of us, you will know beforehand that you’re going to run out in a few days.

A personal example

I use Olay day moisturising liquid (with SPF!). One bottle lasts 6 months. Given that there are often sales, it used to be tempting to buy extra but I am no longer tempted. Why? I can tell that I’ll run out within a week or two both because of the weight of the bottle and the fact that I write the date on the bottle with a permanent marker when I start using a new bottle.

But also, it just makes no sense to buy 18 months’ worth of product on a buy 3 for the price of 2 sale. What if they change the formula or make a pretty new bottle or (I don’t think this will happen but…) I want to try something new but I’m stuck using the old stuff for 18 long months.

Upholders love self-imposed rules

  • I will  keep one spare speedstick deodorant in summer because the consequences are immediate if I run out (!)
  • I do buy the 3 for 2 shampoos because 1 bottle of the brand I use lasts me just under 2 months
  • Keeping a travel toiletry bag stocked is not stockpiling because it actually saves me so much time when I travel for work or pleasure. I’m on holiday now and I will have to replenish some items (on my list!) once I get back home.

In the 17 years of writing this blog, I have still not managed to convince people to stop stockpiling toilet paper. I personally don’t get this obsession as in my house, I “budget” on about 5 days per toilet roll per bathroom, so I know how long we can go before stocking up.

My goal is not to change your mind but I do want you to consciously know that:

  • that is actual money in your cupboards
  • money you can never recoup
  • and you’re probably going to take years to go through your backstock 🙂
  • also, you don’t need to take hotel toiletries with you (I only take bottles that I deem perfect in function or form, or if the fragrances are particularly compelling)

Tell me, where are you on the stockpiling spectrum? 

I didn’t want to go there but I will say that a certain very popular Netflix show and Instagram account has made it very appealing to have lots of backstock in clear perspex containers. Why?

How to break up with your phone by Catherine Price

I read this book during lockdown in 2021 and at the time, I rated it 4.5*. Based on how much the concepts stayed with me and how much I still recommend this book, I have now moved it to a full 5* rating.

How to break up with your phone

I think most people lie to themselves about their phone usage. I used to do the same until I used the Moments app and these days iPhone helpfully sends me the screen stats to shock me every Sunday morning.

Why did I want to read this book?

My phone usage at the time was abysmal. And, as I’ve said before, we could all literally finish a book every four and a half hours if our phone usage was reasonable.

About the book

The book is divided into part 1 – the research, which is very interesting and easy to read – and part 2 – the how to, practical part.

I don’t care too much about the numbers these days because I now recognise after reading this book that most of what I use my phone for are tools like Goodreads, Mail, Camera, etc., but I’d be fooling myself if I didn’t admit that the Instagram dopamine hit is strong.

Did you know that they purposefully update likes and notifications erratically to keep us swiping and checking? Of course, once I found that out, I channelled my inner rebel and consciously don’t do it.

That’s just one of the things she talks about in the book.

If you watched the Social Dilemma on netflix a few years ago, you will recognise a lot of what is said here, but the book is still a solid, 5🌟 read.

Now for the fun!

my iphone screen

Three things that really, really help me:

  1. I can’t help thinking that I would rather have read a book than scroll some random person’s Instagram feed – that definitely helps me to stop the mindless scroll.
  2. Put your screentime widget on your front screen of your phone (see top left of screen above). Every time you pick up your phone and are confronted with your daily usage, you might reconsider what you intended to do. I added this widget in the second week of January this year and my screentime has gone down from 7 hours 11 to somewhere between 3 and 4 hours on average. More importantly, my Instagram usage has radically decreased. Here’s how to do it for Android phones.
  3. Put all your social media apps on page 2 of your phone. If you keep your tools on page 1 of your phone, you’re less likely to go straight to Instagram, Facebook, etc. Facebook is not on my phone and I maybe spend 10 minutes a month there via the web, and it’s all birthday check-ins.

Does your screentime usage bother you? Have you added the widget to your front page yet?

5 (quick and easy) steps to reflect on your half-year review

If you’ve been reading for even just a little time, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of stopping, and pausing to reflect before marching on. It’s because I was not good at this step that I feel like it’s so useful. If you’re thinking “oh, this reflection business is not for me” it’s probably then going to be a very valuable exercise, especially for you.

As we have just finished the half-year, let’s pause and reflect on the first six months of the year. Here are my 5 steps (I change these all the time and if I gave a talk, I’d probably change it again ;)) which I have positioned as questions:

1. Where do I need to give myself grace?

  • Many of us set out at the end of 2022/ beginning of 2023 with a brand new set of goals and intentions that seemed easy at the time because we were hyped up on New Year Energy. I am the same as you! I conveniently forgot that I’m not an outside person and told myself I could go outside almost daily for 23 minutes in 2023. Here’s where I let that notion go.
  • Do you need to give yourself grace and let some things go? Books, TV shows, projects (work or personal)?

2. What is working? What am I happy with?

  • This is the fun part so go wild.
  • Did you get some work projects done? Did you get personal projects done? Did you rest well? Did you watch some good TV? Is your reading in a good place? (I have watched some good TV – On the verge, The Bold Type, Working Moms, Wellmania, etc.)
  • Are you rocking your relationships? (I am rocking my in-person relationships… probably because I’m tired of online everything!)
  • Have you finally adjusted to a new work from office rhythm? (more on this in a blog post but finally, after 5 months in a 3-days-a-week schedule, I can say yes)
  • Have you finally reduced your addiction to the tiny computer in your hand?
  • Are you in a good exercise/ movement routine?

3. What do I still need to do?

  • When you review your list (or make a new list), what is still calling to you to do for this year?
  • How is your health? No joke – I have 5 health appointments to make this month and two that must happen – the pharmacist told me she is only issuing my meds as an “emergency” so I’ve got to go get a repeat script from my doctor in the next 3 weeks. Alrighty then.
  • Do you have some house projects you want to take care of?
  • Do you have some fun things you want to plan to look forward to?

4. What do I want to change?

  • When you consider the last 6 months, what are you not happy about?
  • What needs to change? Is it something you need to speak up about? Schedule the time to do so.

5. What are my in-progress projects?

  • What have you started, made some progress towards but you need to finish it off? Personal projects, work projects, finance projects (I met with my financial adviser in May and she gave me 3 actions – I have done none but I told her I would only action in July or August), health projects?
  • If you have nothing, great! I put this question because many of my projects don’t always start and finish in the same month, as neat as that would be.

If you need some inspiration and guidance to get going, I am here to give you a loving kick in the pants to get you moving again, but you have to take the first step.

Other half-year review posts on the blog

(no surprise to anyone – I didn’t do one in 2020!)

My 3 top takeaways from quarter 1 of 2023… updated for quarter 2 too

Originally written in April 2023 and sent to my newsletter list, now updated in July 2023

If you look at my numbers, it appears things are going great. I just checked my spreadsheet and I’m on 11.84 out of 23 for my #23goalsin2023, which is 51%, and we’re only 3  months into the year.

That says two things to me: I am good at getting big things done early (this is true – I always weight my work so that I “eat the frogs” first) and the rest of the year is going to show only incremental change (also true as a lot of my goals are project goals which means a 1/12 increase monthly).

However, let me share some of my favourite insights from the first three months:

1. Leave what’s not working for you

  • I abandoned the tracking of Gretchen’s Go outside 23 in 2023 project (and then on a recent-to-me podcast, I heard another listener say she also considers time in her car travelling to places “outside” time) but I am certainly outside more than 161 minutes a week.
  • I have abandoned three books this year already (great for me!) and I have abandoned some self-imposed, ambitious work projects (on my actual job). That will have to wait for after 30 June 🙂

2. Habits are easy for me to maintain if I schedule them

  • As a true upholder, I’ve embraced the scheduling of good habits.
  • I faithfully book two gym classes a week and attend. My Spanish dance classes happen every Thursday without fail.
  • I book all the days I plan to be at the office. Our hybrid work situation is flexible so “be here any 3 days of the week” I plan the previous week and align my menu planning and gym visits to that schedule.
  • I also take about 30 minutes (I tell myself it’s 23 minutes though, for whimsy!) to do my planning for the week – update diary, book journal, bullet journal and line-a-day diary. This is all scheduled.

3. Some things will just take longer than you think

  • For my work programme, I have now finally embraced the “staying present” and “enjoying the journey” but I’ll tell you – it all takes way longer than I think it should. On the other hand, I do actually think the end-product is better!
  • My health metrics are taking longer to right themselves. I was very disappointed about a month ago when my iron levels had not miraculously fixed themselves (nor had my cholesterol) but a colleague told me that her iron levels took two years to fix. I’m hoping mine happens faster than that but still, apparently health metrics don’t all fix themselves in just a few months.

What were your big takeaways from quarter 1?

For my quarter 2 update, I …

  • am now at 65% of my 23 in 2023 goals (if you think that’s awfully specifc, it’s because I track it with formulae on an actual Excel spreadsheet)
  • I have fully completed my programme and finished well
  • I am on my actual treat holiday for finishing the programme (so glad I booked it as it dragged me through the last two months).
  • I have now finished reading 64 books for the year so I am on track for 100 in 2023
  • I am most behind with all my medical appointments and have to get my bloods drawn and schedule my appointments to see if there is any change. It still feels like a miracle to me that doctors know what’s happening with you just from your blood! (Yes, I am easily awed)

And what are your quarter 2 updates?

Our bathroom renovation – what we would change and what we wouldn’t

A little bit of background:

  • In 2020 Dion and I were planning to go to the US for a holiday to celebrate a big anniversary. We all know what happened and there were no big travel holidays.
  • 2021 didn’t look much better both from a comfort to travel point of view and so I had the bright idea – instead of those savings languishing (!) in our savings account, waiting for better days, why don’t we spend it on something we can enjoy daily, like a new bathroom?
  • This was one of my more inspired ideas as that is exactly what we did. Another inspired idea was to have them do the main demo work while we were on (local) holidays and therefore not bothered by noise and dust (win-win). We did have a full week of people in the house once we returned.

What we would change:

Maybe next time (if there is a next time) we’ll stay away for two weeks because it was challenging for me to work and live in a house with a ton of people also working. On Teams: “hi client, please just ignore the drilling, there’s a bathroom renovation happening”.

I go back and forth on this, and we can still change it – the force of the shower is just pleasant, not super strong. That is a water-saving mechanism and is fine for most of the year but I will admit that in winter, I do sometimes think I need a bigger force shower with lots of hot water blazing down on me.

What we did change

We added more hooks and towel rails and moved the position of the rails within that first week. Compare the top picture to this one.

What we would not change:

  • Everything structural – I love having a big shower and no bath
  • I love our double basins
  • I love that we kept our wall for toilet privacy
  • I love our long wall of cupboards that hide our laundry baskets, cleaning materials and toiletries!

Here are some more pictures:

 

Have you ever had a renovation while you lived in the space?

Did it make you crazy or how did you handle it?

{Mindset} Let’s talk about social inertia

I first heard this term on a podcast during the stage of lockdown when people were just starting to feel safe about venturing out again.

I think it even might have been on the Happier podcast.

However, if you google, you won’t find the same meaning as the one I want to discuss today.

The podcast hosts described social inertia as follows: we all got used to staying indoors because we had to. Things then opened up again but now we all have a certain reluctance to venture out because we became used to not connecting in person.

Our inertia leans to not do things socially.

I often wonder about this as an extrovert.

I remember telling my father early during lockdown that I am literally the only person in my house going stir crazy from cabin fever.

And yet, I also have a form of social inertia. I enjoy being with people, I am energised when I’m out and about, but I also am not my pre-pandemic social self.

It’s probably a little normal but I also think like this now: well, if they wanted to get together, it is not all on me to initiate and make arrangements. It’s a little tough for my enneagram 1 self, I will admit.

I left a friend a voice message recently for her birthday and I said my usual thing, “when are you free? let’s get together” and then I realised afterwards that I’ve been saying the same thing for awhile and felt guilty. Straight on the heels of that guilt, I reminded myself that the phone (and arrangements) work both ways. This is unheard of for me.

How about you? Do you have social inertia? Or did you spring right back into all the plans and arrangements and socials with friends, colleagues and family?

 

How I did on my 2022 goals

As I do every year, I set some goals for 2022. I used Gretchen’s printable, My 22 for 22 List.

Some items were once-off (apply for high schools), some were project-based (read 100 books) and some were continual (Project Life monthly).

I really like having a mix of different types of goals so that they all don’t feel insurmountable at the same time.

So how did I do?

I got 13 done completely, 3 not done at all, and 7 partially done. With about a month since I last looked at the list, I think I was maybe too hard on myself with those 7 partially done because if I were coaching someone else, I’d consider some of them done because one of those partially done goals was at 95%, one at 62% and one at 50%. Oh well – honesty!

Still, not bad in a year that was really not the best at all.

One of the items I’m particularly happy about is getting my will done! It took 5 months of thinking, drafting, redrafting, conversations (so many conversations!), and then we finally had a final copy for signature which was done in December. Yay!

I want to talk separately about my “success” with reading because I really feel like I’ve set up good rhythms and routines that I can rely comfortably on. With almost no effort, I can get through 8 books a month. I mention it here because the one consistent thing many people talk to me about is that they want to read more, and… I can definitely help you with that.

How did you do with your 2022 goals? Can you even remember what you put on your list?

PS Gretchen’s 23 for 2023 list is here

{goals} It’s time to reflect on 2022 and reset for 2023

In November 2018 I tried a new thing. I wanted to create a habit of writing every day and I thought I’d kick off my end-of-year reflections as part of that writing project. It worked really, really well. In just 15 minutes a day, I did my entire reflection of the year.

The best part of it all was that it was well before my usual time for reflection, the week after Christmas. This meant that I was calm, peaceful and in the right frame of mind to enjoy my holidays and look forward to the new year.

I loved that so much I repeated it every year with similar success.

I’m doing the same thing this year with my 2022 reflection. I’m also offering a bunch of people the same process via 1:1 coaching sessions and I would love you to join me for one of those sessions.

During our time together, we’re going to reflect on the year that’s (nearly) passed, get real about our season of life, explore our values and core desired feelings, and then when we’re connected to our purpose, we’re going to set some very loose goals for the next 3 months. I’m also going to teach you exactly what to do when you face obstacles (like Covid did with all of us the last few years) and how to still set yourself up for success, whatever that looks like for you.

Here are the details:

  • $75/ R1000 for a 75-minute session
  • Decide if you prefer a weekday or weekend session and email me.
  • I’ll send you all available session times for a week or two, a Paypal invoice, Gmail invitation with a Teams link and the handbook.
  • You’ll send me your prep at least a day beforehand (so I can prepare) and we’ll meet to discuss and have an amazing session.

If you start your reflection early, you can relax and enjoy your Christmas/ New Year celebrations, knowing that you’re already set for 2023. This is the part I’m most looking forward to – the having it done and being able to relax and enjoy the festive season, no matter what that looks like.

My goal for this time together is that each person leaves our session with gratitude, clarity and hope for the year ahead.

Email me and I’ll book your place.

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?

{Goals} So how am I doing with my own goals?

After last week’s post on how to do a half-year review, I have now finished my own half-year review. Let’s break this down with some concrete numbers and then move into the intangibles.

I set a certain number of goals every month and I track the progress at the end. According to my spreadsheet, I’m at 79% of my goals for the year – two months with 90-something, two months with 60-something and a month each with 70- and 80-something. That’s what resulted in the 79% average.

It feels accurate and like with life, some things go very well and others go very badly.

Things going very well:

  • My reading and fun stuff like photos. I have read so many fun and delightful books this year already and am above my target with 60 books to end June.
  • Sleep (I’m averaging 7:30 and a sleep score of 80) and exercise (in a good rhythm of 3 workouts per week – any more and other areas of my life fall over).
  • Work – I had a great performance discussion. This is especially nice since I’m in a new role.
  • Speaking of work, working at the office two days a week since March has been amazing for this extrovert. I am simply happier 🙂
  • Project Upgrade/ Fix. Things other than what I planned have jumped onto the list but the good things is since my project is top of mind, I’m attending to things quickly, even boring fixes like plumbing!
  • The kids seem to have settled well into Grade 7, both for academics, sports and friendships… just in time to go to high school next year 😉
  • We’ve had all the holidays we planned which is honestly surprising since I’m a) very fussy and b) disorganised this year.

Things going badly

  • #rest 22 in 2022 (I rate myself only at a 43% success because I only consciously rest 3 out of 7 days). As Sarah said on the BOBW podcast, I do rest very well by sleeping every night. I’m considering just…giving up!
  • Our laundry routine still needs lots of work. It feels like a small thing but it affects my weekends more than I’d like.
  • We have made 0% progress on renewing our passports or reapplying for the kids’ passports (we got about halfway just prior to 2020 lockdown).
  • I feel more anxious when out with the general public now that South Africa’s mask mandate has been removed.

What do I want for the second half of the year?

  • Better health
    1. I had two scary episodes of vertigo in the last three months; I was actually so sick at work one day it was awful.
    2. I’ve had full bloods done and I am nowhere near menopause yet but headaches, etc. I mean, honestly.
    3. I also have my mammogram scheduled for tomorrow and want to check one more thing with my doctor.
    4. I also need to keep my cholesterol in check; after two elevated reports, I went for proper blood tests and not only was the result good, but my LDL was low and my HDL was high. According to my goals list, I will check this quarterly.
    5. I also want to read/ follow a good menopause doctor – there are so many symptoms…. how do people know if it’s something else or a menopause symptom?
  • To make a good dent in my life admin – I need to upgrade my phone and I already have decision fatigue so I will put it off til I can’t anymore and then just decide 🙂
  • Get updated wills done

Now, I kind-of feel like I need to have a birthday party next month (also, my birthday’s on an actual Saturday this year!) but do I have the wherewithall to organise it?

So… how are you doing on your mid-year review? What has been working well for you? What do you need to change? What are you looking forward to?

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