My new bullet journal – a grid notebook

I’m on my third bullet journal for the year, my sixth overall.

For this year, I’ve had a lined one, a dot grid one and then I was undecided between another lined one (a pretty purple one) or a grid notebook.

I decided to go with the grid notebook because I wanted to try all the versions of notebook (last year I used lined paper for two of them and then a blank notebook) paper so I could see what worked best…for me.

And the verdict?

I’m loving this grid notebook.

  1. It’s a Fabriano A5 grid notebook – made in Italy. South Africans, I bought it at Exclusives for R23. Yes, you read that correctly. They come in gorgeous, bright colours for such a great price.
  2. They had a spiral bound version about twice the thickness (and double the price – I think R48?), but since this one is travelling in my handbag on a daily basis, I didn’t want the spirals to get messed up, and I definitely want to finish using it by the end of December.
  3. I’m using my Staedtler triplus fineliners and the only Schneider Topliner I own because the paper is a nice firm 80g/sm that can hold these fineliners.
  4. I think a combination of the pen plus the grid makes my handwriting look neater.
  5. Also, I love making little blocks of exactly one grid next to my to-do list items.

There is possibly only one thing that could be better, and that is to have a non-scuffable cover. I’ve wrapped it in plastic to protect it.

What should you consider in a bullet journal?

size – I love an A5 size, but I’ve seen people use smaller and bigger notebooks

thickness – I like to change mine all the time so I love the 80-page notebooks because they last about 3 months. If you want one for the entire year, go bigger

paper – choose your paper depending on the size of your handwriting, and whether you naturally write in a straight line or not. Is that even an issue for you? It is for me? (I have since discovered I’m not a fan of light dot grid notebooks; I may be convinced if there are ones with a darker dot that I can try)

pens – on the more Kraft-type paper (the slightly brown paper), a gel pen works beautifully because it “sinks” into the paper. On a whiter type of paper, like this one, I find the staedter fineliners work beautifully. Of course you can use any pen on any paper (there are no rules!) but I know that I prefer a certain look to my handwriting with a certain pen on a certain paper 🙂

Tell me how you decided on your bullet journal

PS If you’re South African, pick up one next time you’re at Exclusives and let me know which colour you chose 🙂

How I do menu planning, and what I cook for my freezer

Have you read my post on why you should consider menu planning?

 

I do my menu planning weekly but if you’re more of an all or nothing person, you might want to just plan a month’s worth of meals and get it all over and done with at one time.

Weekly or monthly menu planning for you?

I feel like I’m doing that thing with my kids where I say “cucumber or tomatoes?”

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A couple of ideas on ways to approach menu planning:

  • have a theme for each day: mince on Mondays/ chicken on Tuesdays/ vegetarian on Wednesdays/ fish on Thursday/ easy Friday (pizza/ eggs/ soup)
  • cook a certain number of nights and use freezer dishes for the rest
  • delegate certain nights to your spouse

How I do it

1. Generally, D does supper on Tuesdays and Sundays. The trick when you delegate is you are not allowed to say a single thing except “thank you for the lovely supper”. They will stop if you nag about anything. Tell yourself the kids will be fine without vegetables for 1 – 2 nights. I don’t write anything on my menu plan except “D”.

Sundays is usually toast with peanut butter, cheese, etc. and this is (sadly) the kids’ favourite meal of the week.

2. According to my daughter, we always have rice on a Monday (I checked my menu plans and turns out, she’s right 🙂 I haven’t intentionally planned it like that, but I do like rice/ pasta/ rice/ potatoes/ bread-based within my 5 meals.

3. We very rarely go out for supper because 1) I can whip up a pasta quicker than us getting ourselves sorted and to the nearest place and waiting for our meal 2) we prefer lunches out

4. I cook a lot on the weekends. Not every weekend, but about one or two weekends in a 5-week period. That feels about right to me. I may make 3 meals but I cook double so that’s 6 nights’ suppers sorted.

5. Leftovers. Don’t discount the leftovers. Those meals I cook on the weekends last longer than I anticipate because often we don’t have to have the 5th meal of the week because there is enough leftovers. Sometimes I’ve had supper out, sometimes D only wants half of his supper because he’s home later, and so on.

Meals that freeze well

Some people think potato or pasta doesn’t freeze well. I have done both and the meals are still perfectly fine. I think the trick is to not let it thaw forever out on the counter because your food will get watery (yuck!). I put it in the microwave to defrost it a bit for about 6 minutes (that’s two presses of the quick defrost button on my microwave) and then straight into the oven to crisp up.

  1. Cottage pie
  2. Baked pasta dishes. When you cook one dish to have “fresh” on the night, do another dish for the freezer. Put it in the casserole dish, put some cling wrap (Saran wrap) on the top, and into the freezer.
  3. Rice
  4. Curries
  5. Bolognaise
  6. Chicken a la King
  7. Taco mince
  8. Chilli con carne
  9. Chicken and broccoli casserole
  10. Soup and the rolls 🙂

and so on (share your ideas in the comments please)

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Do you menu plan? Weekly or monthly?

Do you cook freezer meals? Which ones are your favourites?

5 more favourite posts about … goal-setting process

Guys, you know I love talking about goals.

I’m actually so excited that I’ve found like-minded people on my @OrganisingQueen instagram page who like to see so much talk about goals 🙂

I did think, though, that I should round up some of my favourite goals posts again in one place, so here you go.

Bouncing back from a not-great goals month

These 3 things will get you halfway to your goals

Goals for kids

Two great goal-setting questions

Put your goals back on track

Tell me about your goal-setting history.

Do you set goals comfortably?

Do you want to set goals but don’t quite … get around to it?

Are you scared in case you don’t reach those goals?

Do you feel like it would be too much pressure?

Tell all 🙂

P.S. If you need help, do email me to set up a goal-setting session. I’d love to help you.

Here’s your permission to reward yourself

My default setting is usually go, go, go.

As such, I usually keep striving and reaching towards the next thing, without taking a moment or two to just enjoy having accomplished a goal.

I’m not great at the resting and rejuvenating types of rewards but I’ve become a lot better.

A large part of it is a monthly ritual I’ve put into place where I review what I’ve gotten done during the month.

I celebrate all by myself that I’ve done x, y and z, and that it was, indeed, an accomplishment. Since I’ve started noting down what I have done instead of what I haven’t, I’ve felt happier and more grateful for the good things in my life.

Why should we reward ourselves after we accomplish a goal or do something we’re proud of?

It helps us to mark the occasion, take stock and celebrate properly, which in turn, motivates us to keep at it.

Your reward should ideally be in proportion to how much work you put in to get something done.

I always tell people – it may not be the best use of your time to take a 15-minute break after organising your desk for 15 minutes 🙂 A great idea if you’ve just spent an hour filing – yes!

Here are some ways to reward yourself:

frugal

  1. have a bubble bath with candles and a magazine
  2. enjoy a cup of tea while you read a book
  3. get on the phone and chat with an encouraging friend
  4. spend time baking or cooking a recipe from your Pinterest board
  5. spend time being creative

material

  1. buy a little gift for yourself, whether physical like a nail polish or lipstick, or experiential like getting your hair done
  2. get that something you’ve wanted for a while, even if it seems frivolous, and especially if you’re usually an under-buyer
  3. go out for a meal with your family or friends
  4. buy a beautiful handbag
  5. have a movie or bookshop date with yourself

And then there are always rewards of the soul variety.

More than any of those suggestions above, I really want you to get comfortable with talking to yourself and saying all those things you wish others said to you. Give yourself the permission to say “well done”, “I’m proud of you” or “you’re a great mother” even if you never hear this from others because that is the greatest reward you could ever give yourself – the knowing that you are enough.

Do you reward yourself when you reach goals or finish projects?

How I organise my Tupperware cupboard

My plastics cupboard had been driving me crazy for awhile. So when I asked for blog post suggestions and a follower asked me how I organise my Tupperware cupboard, it was just the motivation I needed.

Confession – I have zero pieces of actual Tupperware but I think we all call plastics “Tupperware”.

Ready?

Let me show you my cupboard and talk you through my process.

Here is the before pic. It’s organised but there is too much stuff.

The back of the cupboard opens to my dining room so I’ve always not put too much in there in case the cupboard falls open on the other side 🙂

1. Keep what you actually need

This is the stuff that was really bothering me. Far too many plastic containers when I  actually don’t have any babies. If it were up to only me, I’d keep only the 6 plates, 6 bowls and 6 popsicle holders for outside snacks in the garden or around the pool, and the two 4-division plates, simply because I bought those for my 3-year-olds at Duane Reed in NYC. Awww.

The kids and Dion told me they also need a few snack bowls for popcorn/ chip movie watching so I ended up keeping a few more.

2. Use square or rectangular containers

Round containers are a complete waste of space in a cupboard. If you have plenty of space, go for it. Most people don’t have an excess of space so buy square or rectangular so you can put more in the same space.

I mentioned this on my instastory but these are the only round containers I own, by choice. The bottom one is great for transporting soft fruit like a peach or nectarine, and we use the turquoise lidded ones for nuts. The ones on the left are from our restaurant takeaways

3. Store all lunchboxes together, both yours and the kids’ ones

I keep a plastic basket with my work food items and containers. Normally this wouldn’t make sense. Why keep cup-a-soup, milk, cheese wedges and cereals with other empty containers?

Because I don’t like hunting around for the stuff I use to pack my work food.

This way, everyone knows that those are my things and nobody touches them.

I do the same with the kids’ lunchboxes. We only use their lunchboxes for their lunches. They have two lunchboxes each – one standard and one smaller for when they don’t feel like taking lots of food. I completely follow their lead and only pack the quantities they tell me they want, and this way, everything gets eaten 99.9% of the time.

4. Containerise like crazy

I store containers with their lids on except for containers that “nest”.  (that one lonely purple lid is the friend to a container that was used without its lid on the day I organised this cupboard) This batch is the stuff I use All The Time so I keep them in a big plastic container and just pull it out as if a drawer so that I have easy access.

I tossed most of the tiny containers probably a year ago because I don’t have tiny babies anymore. These are the ones we still use and I keep them all in this big plastic jug. It’s useful because I can grab it out to poke through for the one I need, and then put back.

this was the “before” pic 🙂

I even containerise these because I can’t stand smaller stuff toppling around my cupboard. The ones on the left are from the Clutter Buster Rotation Station (I’ve had them for a good 10+ years :))

5. Store infrequently-used items at the back or on the bottom shelf

Here is the after pic. I use the things on the top shelf daily so I don’t have to bend my back…much to get to them.

Here is the pile that was decluttered. I could easily have another go, but let’s not freak them all out too much 🙂

And that’s it.

Not very exciting or Pinterest-worthy at all, but hugely satisfying when everything has a friend (a lid) and a place in the world.

Repeat after me – it doesn’t have to be perfect to be organised.

Hope this helps, CatJuggles.

Readers, let me know if you do any of these things. Which tricks do you use in your “Tupperware” cupboard? Will you tackle your cupboard this weekend?

PS Have you read The Husband’s Secret? I identify so much with Cecilia, the lady who sold Tupperware 🙂

Do you suffer from perfectionism?

If you’ve ever been for a job interview, you’ve probably been asked the most awful interview question, “what is your biggest weakness?”

At that point you probably want to position yourself in the best possible light so you frantically scramble and try to think of a weakness that’s not too bad.

I’ll confess that years ago when I used to go for job interviews I used to answer that biggest weakness was that I was a perfectionist.

It is a weakness and yet it’s a weakness that is seen as a strength by a lot of people because it shows great attention to detail and quality orientation.

Nowadays though, I would bite my tongue before admitting that trait.

These days, I could safely say I’m a recovering perfectionist but it’s definitely not something I’m in the least bit proud of. It’s something I worked very hard on for a few years and when I see it rearing its head, I reign it back and tell myself the truth.

Perfectionism robs me of living a full and happy life.

Do you think of yourself as a perfectionist?

I love this quote by Julia Cameron: “perfectionism is not a quest for the best. It is a pursuit of the worst in ourselves, the part that tells us that nothing we do will ever be good enough – that we should try again.”

How do you know if you’re a perfectionist?

You may be a perfectionist if…

  1. you think you’re the only person who can do something exactly right
  2. you don’t even bother to do something unless you can do it 100% perfectly
  3. you never ask for help because that’s a sign of weakness
  4. you’d rather not try than do something badly or failing at it
  5. you tend to notice others’ mistakes before noticing their strengths
  6. other people have called you a control freak

If you’re constantly striving for the elusive perfection, you’re never going to be happy to just be.

Your relationships will suffer and so will your productivity.

Perfectionism has also been related to illnesses such as eating disorders, anxiety, depression and a host of relationship and emotional problems.

As I said, I used to be a fully-fledged perfectionist until I wised up.

I had to learn to let go a little, lower my impossible standards and change my language.

When my twins were born, I realised very quickly that I could either have everything done to my exacting standards and never sleep, or I could relax those standards a bit so that things could still get done, even if not exactly how I would have liked, and actually have a bit of a life.

I also started telling myself, “80% is good enough” and it is. Most things in life are not a matter of life and death and we all need to realize it. I knew this from my years of delegating work to staff but it escaped my home life a bit.

That realization was freedom to me.

Are you aware that if it takes you double the time to “perfect” something when the first half was good enough already? I’ve just spent about 40 minutes writing this article. If I wanted to get it “perfect”, it would take another 40 minutes and nobody would even notice the minor differences.

That trend applies to most things in life and it’s just not worth it.

Are you a perfectionist? Is it something you’re proud of or have you already started seeing the limitations in your life?

PS Gretchen Rubin did a podcast recently on perfectionism which I LOVED. You can listen to it here (it’s episode 126 if you don’t use itunes)

Lovely things to do this year

I have some routines I like to do around my birthday every year which I thought I’d talk about and link to, so that you can be reminded to do them too, if you’re so inclined.

If your birthday’s at a completely different time of year, put a link to this post in your calendar, a week or so before or after your birthday.

If you’re reading on a mobile device like an iphone, tap the square with an arrow pointing up, copy and paste the link into your calendar.

Here’s my annual birthday routine:

1. Organise a celebration. I believe that every year on this earth is a blessing so I like to celebrate my birthday every year.

2. Do a birthday review. This year I changed one or two questions but the main 4 questions are the same as my monthly review: what worked well, what didn’t work well, what did I learn, what do I need to let go of?

As a reader mentioned in the comments last year, it is a brave thing to do, to face up to things may not have consciously considered, but it’s always good to take an honest assessment of things. If you need some hand holding as you do this work, please book a coaching session with me.

3. Make a list of lovely things to do this year. This is purely a fun list 🙂

I put things on this list like books I’ve always wanted to read, restaurants to try, fun things to do like take a photowalk with a friend to take photos of the jacarandas, things I want to do with Dion or the kids, and recipes I’ve wanted to try.

So far on my list I have to (finally) buy new frames because I’ve had my current frames for about 3 – 4 years (lenses have changed, but I kept the frames).

I also have some fun books I want to read, and I think I finally need to read the Total Money Makeover. I also want to listen to Andre Agassi’s Open.

Keep checking my Instagram because I’ll be sure to post my list when it’s done.

I have a friend who schedules a massage on her birthday, another who always takes a day’s leave to “think about her life” and still another who books all her appointments like gynae, eyes, mammogram in her birthday month. Fun, thoughtful and practical.

Please tell me about your birthday rituals and if you’re not signed up to my list yet, please do so if you want the free “lovely things to do this year” printable. My next newsletter goes out on Tuesday 15th.

Have you done your annual birthday review yet?

July project update and August theme – delight :)

Happy August!

My theme for July was refresh – you can read about the 7  areas I wanted to focus on in July.

Now here’s a confession – I completely forgot about one of them (number 3) because I didn’t write it down on my monthly goals list.

But 6 out of 7 is great. Technically, the window washing happens tomorrow but July was spent getting quotes. Though, if this company does a good job, I will just diarise and get them out every time the windows need doing. I can’t WAIT to see out of clean upstairs windows again!

And now, for August, my theme is delight.

How can I delight myself this month? How can I delight others in big and small ways?

Confession time – I chose this theme because it’s my birthday month.

This month I’m going to:

  • go get a massage (to think, back in the day, I used to have a massage scheduled every two weeks!)
  • get my hair done
  • declutter my shoes (yay!!!)
  • I already threw myself a little party
  • do my birthday review and set intentions for the year ahead (I’ll post on Instagram so make sure you check in with me there)
  • write down some fun things I want to do over the next year (I’ll send out this free printable in next week’s newsletter)
  • read some fun books
  • have about 6 friend dates 🙂
  • do nice things for 7 people

What is your theme for August?

How can you delight yourself this month?

If you’d like me to help you get clear on your goals and intentions for the year/ half year/ quarter ahead, I would be happy to do that. Send me a mail.

What I learned in July

This has been a full month of birthdays, holidays, and catching up at work.

It’s been fun to start and play with a new bullet journal

I’m using dot grid this time and it’s fun! Like blank, but more structured. My 3rd bullet journal last year was blank so this is the third type I’m trying out.

Speaking of bullet journals, are you signed up to my list? My newsletter’s going out later today and there’s a fun bullet journal survey in there.

If you’re on instagram and you use a bullet journal, please take a pic and tag me @organisingqueen so I can come see yours.

You can go to the beach and relax even without beach weather

Like last year, we mostly had cold, wintry weather at the beach. Last year, we spent 10 days there and had 2 proper beach days, while this year, we spent 7 days and had 1.5 beach days.

We watched Wimbledon, read books, played games, went for walks (11 in the 7 days!) and had fun connecting as a family. Of course we also had no internet 🙂

We need to rethink the party situation

My twins are very different – I have an extrovert and an introvert. They wanted different types of parties this year and it was so interesting watching this all unfold, knowing that one of the parties would not have suited me at all, but was “perfect” for her.

That said, I felt “on” the whole weekend and was knackered at the end. I told myself it’s just once a year, which it is, but I’m wondering how to still have the separate parties but make it easier on the family (mostly me!) all round. I’m considering having them on two different weekends, but we’ll see. I took only 1 picture of the first party so maybe having a friend or parent around to help? Dion wasn’t allowed as it was a girls only party!!!

Any suggestions would be very welcome!

And one last fun thing, dipping bowls make great change bowls or ring holders 🙂

What did you learn during July?

Getting motivated, Four Tendencies style

Our theme for this month is refresh and what better way to make yourself feel great than to refresh some parts of your home or office environment, if that’s where you need it. Maybe it’s your schedule where you feel too busy or overwhelmed?

Flylady says, “you can do anything for 15 minutes”. I love this mantra and I repeat it to myself to get me moving with any task I find myself procrastinating.

You have to decide and take a little bit of action before anything will click into place. There is, unfortunately, no magic formula for organising success.

However, there are a few things that will help to get you going, according to your tendency.

If you’re not sure which of the Four Tendencies you are, you may want to take the quiz here.

If you’re an Obliger, make yourself accountable to people with a deadline, and you’ll get your task done. Make a coffee date with a friend, but only once you’ve done an hour’s organising.

If you’re a Questioner, make sure you have a good reason for what you want to get done. If you’re not clear on this, you’re going to battle with the execution thereof.

If you’re a Rebel, perhaps you’d like to remind yourself of your identity? You’re a strong, successful, accomplished person and you deserve to live in an environment that suits such a person.

If you’re an Upholder, you don’t have a problem getting motivated to start. You need to learn to relax. Put “relax” on your to-do list and reward yourself with relaxing activities for each item or two you get done.

Ideas for a mini refresh in the home

1. Top of bedside table
2. Bathroom vanity
3. Handbag
4. Make-up bag
5. Command Central (the place where papers multiply)

Ideas for a mini refresh in the office

1. Top drawer of desk
2. Do your filing.
3. Schedule payment dates for bills in your phone, bullet journal or planner.
4. Organise your desk.
5. Unsubscribe from newsletters (not mine!) for 10 minutes

Ideas for a mini refresh with your time

1. Block off a half day on the weekend to stay home and do nothing
2. Plan meals for a week (this saves you hours over the week)
3. Schedule a recurring phone date with a friend. It will save you the mental energy of having to decide when you will talk again.
4. Cancel a non-important meeting or move it to a time when it suits you better
5. Put an alarm on your phone to Go Sleep!

Whatever you manage to do, give yourself a pat on the back for a time of refreshing!

Where will you do a refresh in your home, office or time?

What’s your tendency?

(I’m an upholder)

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