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?

My no-spend-on-books month

I’ve done a no-spend month once before, years and years ago, when I joined Beth for her no-spend month.

That was a really great experience because it broke my Exclusive Books habit of spending hundreds of rands on books every month .

This time, I had an idea that my book-buying habit was getting a bit out of control because I was buying a title from Modern Mrs Darcy‘s list almost daily.

Even $2 – $5 Kindle deals add up… and fast.

Amazon also sends those almost-daily emails with their recommendations based on the titles you’ve viewed.

One day I looked and I had 31 unread titles on my Kindle – real books, not samples. And I’ve been reading on average 10 books a month.

I then decided this book-buying thing was getting out of hand and I decided March would be a no-spend month on books.

What did I do differently?

I unsubscribed from MMD’s list. It’s the same way I don’t ever take a catalogue or brochure from a store – if I don’t see it, I don’t want it. I will subscribe again when I feel more caught up with my current reading and I have told my book club to let me know if Small Great Things goes on sale 🙂

How did I do?

I’ve been waiting for Alec Baldwin’s memoir, Nevertheless, for over 6 months so the minute that became available on Audible, I pre-ordered it with a credit I had.

I somehow forgot about my no-spend March when I went to shop for the 2017 Library project and I picked up some books. It honestly didn’t even occur to me that I was buying books because in my head I had DIGITAL books as my goal. Aside from the 4 books for the library, I bought 1 for a friend and about 5 for me (!).

So I was successful with Kindle and Audible purchases; not with physical books 🙂

What now?

I’m back on the no-spend wagon. We have a mini-break coming up and I wanted some books for lazing at the pool so I bought some books on Amazon last week. Coming to an instagram feed near you 🙂

I do think I’m set for at least another 3 months so let’s see if I can keep up the no-spending challenge for books for at least another 2 months.

How about you?

Have you ever declared a no-spend challenge on buying books? Or make-up? Or clothes?

Speaking of which, I haven’t bought a watch since December 2012 and I now have only 3 working watches left. I’m going to treat myself for my birthday though (4 months away) or sooner if I see something I really want.

{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?

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.

Free digital audio and e-books with Overdrive

I get my books from 4 sources: library, buy on Kindle, buy on Audible and physical books from my shelf.

Recently though I discovered the Overdrive app.

I’d heard about this on the US blogs I follow and first thought it was an American thing.

Until I saw an Australian person comment on one such bookish post and so the wheels started turning.

I then investigated further and discovered that we also have Overdrive in South Africa.

Yay!

I’ve only been able to find one library in Johannesburg that my library card works at – the Gauteng Provincial Library Service – but one is enough…. at least for now 🙂

So far I’ve borrowed 2 audio books and about 6 ebooks in the last month.

Here are my notes:

  1. You have to be a member of the library (this is easy enough – pop into your local library, fill in a form and pay what they want – usually less than R50).
  2. Overdrive is a digital library so if you want to borrow “real books”, you go into the library as usual to get those, but this way, you can borrow audio and ebooks. I’ve seen that they also have videos but I have no interest in those 🙂
  3. You’re allowed to borrow 3 digital titles and put about 15 on hold. If you reserve a title (on the wait list) they will email you when it becomes available.
  4. You are allowed to keep the title for 14 days. It will automatically disappear from your account when this happens so allow enough time to read it. My first audio book was over 10 hours long and I thought I’d run out of time but I made it just in time 🙂
  5. I’ve only just discovered (in checking out a few things for this blog post) that you can return titles earlier than the 14 days. It worked for 2 of my 3 titles but somehow doesn’t want to let me return the 3rd one.
  6. For audiobooks, it is a little more cumbersome to use than audible but hey, it’s for free 🙂 You have to download a number of files (roughly 1 file per hour of listening time) but you can set it up to keep playing. And I delete files as I move through the book to save space on my 16 GB iphone.
  7. For ebooks, they can be read through the overdrive app on the ipad but I actually prefer reading in the ipad’s browser. You can access cool stats like how many times you’ve picked up the book, how long you’ve been reading, etc.

Are you intrigued, South Africans?

Please let me know if you use this service.

I see that there are libraries in each of the provinces so check it all out – you might save yourself some audible/ kindle costs 🙂

PS there aren’t tons of books (well, that I’m interested in reading) but I have placed holds on everything that does interest me so I can at least read all of those.

How to write a friendship manifesto

After working through my Shining Year workbook and having a bash at writing my Secrets of Adulthood, I thought I’d try my hand at writing a friendship manifesto.

There was a comment asking more about it – click through on the Instagram post above to read my response.

Meanwhile, this is how I start almost anything – with a mindmap.

I also use mindmaps for my monthly review, for my project life, for planning articles and blog posts, and definitely as a base to plan any talks.

I started with 4 questions:

  1. how do I want my friends to feel?
  2. what is my contribution?
  3. how do I want to feel?
  4. what are my boundaries?

I filled up this page very quickly, looked for common themes and then typed out my friendship manifesto. Here’s half of it 🙂

So why do this?

It helps clarify in your own mind what you stand for, what you’re looking for and what you offer.

Let me know what you might put on your own friendship manifesto.

What I want less of this year

A few weeks ago I wrote a post, what I want more of this year, and so this is the companion post to that one 🙂

I just mindmapped it and quickly came up with 8 things, but I’ll share 5 here today 😉

reading bad books

Part of my personality is that I’m a great completer of projects, persistent and I follow through. The shadow side to that means that I have a problem letting go.

I abandoned about 4 books last year which is AWESOME for me, since I just never could ever stop reading a bad book.

So while I’m not as bad as I was, I could get much better at this.

commuting time

I have a very flexible role at the moment which means I don’t need to be as office-based as before. Yet, I love the energy of my team and I’m an extrovert (ESTJ – with a driver function of extroverted sensing) so I’m probably in the office a bit more than I need to be.

This year I want to commute less than last year and use my time more productively.

Instagram coma

Instagram coma is a term I use to describe the state where you go into a trance just scrolling all the pretty pics, liking, commenting, etc. It’s addictive and often a lot more time passes than you realise.

A few weeks ago I realised it was getting worse so I’m trying to do something productive instead of that coma, like write a blog post, organise something quickly, throw in a load of laundry. Anything to break that trance-like state.


Being a firstborn at work

When I read The Firstborn Advantage last year, I realised that a lot of my tendencies at work are actually firstborn traits.

Like being the one to log a call for the printer cartridges to be replaced, volunteering for things no-one else wants to do, being the first to actually do and submit reports, etc.

I think it’s related but I also realised at the end of last year that sometimes I fight the point because I’m right instead of choosing the work relationship and letting them figure it out in their own time that a solution was the right way.

So I’m going to be super relaxed this year with things that don’t matter, saving my energy for the real stuff I’m employed to do 🙂

weak boundaries

This is an interesting one but there is one relationship in my life where I have very weak boundaries. My husband even commented recently that this is not like me!

I think it’s because this relationship is linked to something I consider a big part of my identity and I don’t want to mess that up. Still, it’s not good because it leaves me feeling resentful and frustrated when I feel my boundaries are being pushed time and time again.

I would love some ideas for gentle boundary strengthening 🙂

What do you want less of this year?

How I get it “all” done

When people hear that I work full-time, am married, have twins and coach time management part-time, they often ask me how I get it all done.

First I laugh and then I realise that it’s a serious question.

The short answer is that I don’t.

Yes, I do a lot but the bigger question is what I don’t get done.

Let me explain and also help you to get it “all” done:

  1. Get very clear on your life’s purpose

I have a life mission typed out and I know my definition of success in life.

I also know my values. A quick secret – one of those values is not to have the laundry perfectly done (I don’t ever do ironing!), but it is to take action and just get the clothes clean.

Are you clear on your life purpose?

  1. Make friends with “good enough”

It’s better to have something done than to have it perfect.

If you’re cringing at that sentence, know that I used to be you. That was until I realized that trying to get the last 20% of any project perfect usually takes more time than the previous 80%.

E.g. If we were to make a picture collage, it would take just a few minutes to select photos and group them in a collage. The playing around to get the best configuration with the best background and font, and so on takes 3 – 5 times longer than just creating the initial collage.  If you organize a space, decluttering and arranging the zones takes less time than all the faffing afterwards to make it “Pinterest-perfect”.

There is a time and place for prettying something up – maybe for your children’s birthday party but for general sending out of occasional photos to family or just tidying your desk, that level of extreme detail is not necessary.

Do you know when 80% is enough in your life, or are you still stuck on being perfect?

  1. Make a To Not Do list

We all know there are 24 hours in a day and there is not enough time to do everything.

It’s far more important these days to know which things to leave on the To Not Do list.

  • In my business, I do only things that need my “essence” and delegate the rest to my virtual assistant.
  • In my personal life, it’s important for me to cook from scratch but it’s not important for me to peel and chop all the vegetables myself.

Can you see the difference?

  1. Decide where you want to use your time and don’t feel guilty about it

Be intentional about your time usage. If reading is your thing like it is with me, then don’t feel guilty about cuddling up with a book and a mug of tea every day for an hour after supper.

If you scroll Instagram to unwind, then be conscious that you’re doing that and own it. Admit that you want to scroll Instagram for an hour every evening, and enjoy it.

Don’t feel guilty about the time but know why you’re doing it.

Of course I do procrastinate sometimes by too much time on blogs or Instagram but since I generally get things done, occasionally if I slip up, I don’t beat myself up about it.

How about you?

Where do you want to be spending your time and why? Are you intentional about it?

  1. Take consistent action

Unfortunately getting things done is not going to just happen unless you take consistent action.

Whether it’s moving forward with a big leap or lots of little leaps, I try to take some action every day.

I’m fairly good at constantly reviewing where I am in relation to my goals weekly and monthly.

Do you take enough regular action?

To end off, let me leave you with one of my favourite quotes:

Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone.  The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.

-Lin Yutang 

 

I’m curious.

What’s on your to not do list? (we all have one)

Where in your life have you let go of perfectionism?

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