If it’s not serving you, let it go

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

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

Let me explain.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For your listening pleasure…

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

Podcasts for cooking

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

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

Podcasts for showering

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

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

Podcasts for editing photos/ tidying/ cleaning the house

(in other words, mindless activities)

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

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

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

Podcasts for driving

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

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

Mom Struggling Well with Emily Thomas

The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey

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

A podcast for Fridays

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

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

When life throws you curveballs

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

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

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

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

  1. Lower my expectations

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

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

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

  1. Get back to my basics as quickly as possible

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are your basics?

Do you have a strategy for life’s curveballs?

{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?

The great nail polish post

Just to satisfy my own curiosity, I did a little nail polish experiment last year.

It was very interesting so I’d like to share the results with you today.

I tracked each time I changed my nail polish colour.

I already have a spreadsheet for all my photos so I just added another sheet for the nail polish. Number, brand, name, date and days across the top. I put a formula in the days column to calculate how long I left a specific colour on. No, it didn’t take long at all. Probably 5 seconds each time I changed my nail polish and two minutes to set up.

This was all in the name of Konmari.

In the book, she often does this thing to show people their hoarding tendencies. Like if you had 300 ziploc bags and you said you need them all because you use one every week to take your Friday doughnut to the office, even if you took one every single week, it would take you nearly 6 years to use up that stash, which is kind-of crazy.

So me with the nail polish.

I put on nail polish 85 different times, once every 4.29 days.

That sounds about right because most time I feel like a change every 4 – 5 days.

I used 16 brands and my top 3 were Essence (40 times), Rimmel (12 times) and Yardley (6 times).

The top right purple-grey is Serendipity

I used 48 colours, only 24 colours were used two or more times, and my top 3 colours were You and me (Essence), Serendipity (Essence) and Mint Tropics (Sinful). I feel like the navy blues need a special mention because I have two colours, very close in colour, both used 3 times (Yardley’s Urban navy and Anchor blue). Technically they take second place together.

These were the ones that made the cut. And already, I’ve decluttered 3.

So how has this information been useful to me?

  • First of all, I know which brands I like so if I’m ever torn between two colours and one of them is Essence, I’d go with Essence.
  • I probably only need about 20 bottles, knowing that I will buy a few throughout the year, but also that I toss out some and have my seasonal favourites. There’s also a bright red I wear only twice a year, both times for my Spanish exams.
  • If I don’t love a colour, I should probably just get rid of it, because it’s going to happen anyway next time I take stock 🙂 #sparkjoy

What is the craziest thing you track?

What, if anything, did you find most interesting?

PS The nail polish situation this time last year, and how to make your nail polish last and not chip

The annual filing that wasn’t…

For the last couple of years I’ve kept track of the times I do filing.

2012 annual filing

2013 annual filing

2014 annual filing

Then I had it on my weekend list for a few weeks but I wasn’t feeling it, until I did.

And then I realised I’d set a new record – 2 years and 3 months til the last time I did filing, which was the week I started my new (then) job in 2014.

I’m actually quite impressed because this means I’m not keeping very much if it all still fit into the little suitcase under my desk 😉

And it still only took an hour, and that was with me tossing much of what was in the file, getting the documents ready for this file and instagramming the whole thing 🙂

And now it’s all sorted til December 2017 (or 2018 :))

Are you up to date with your filing? If you keep your papers in chronological order, you could just toss all the old stuff… just a thought 😉 Otherwise, let this be inspiration for your weekend organising project.

7 steps to a successful 52 photo project with your kids

Please note I have absolutely no skills in the daily photo projects and missed a good 4 months when I tried one about 6 years ago 🙂

However, I have done a successful 52 week project for two years now. I take a photo of both my kids together (except in one case when Connor was sick in 2015), preferably outside but that’s just because the light’s better.

Here are my tricks:

1. Decide to take the photo on the same day every week. It helps you and your kids (if they’re your subjects) remember. Kendra even told me last week that we should move the Sunday photo (as I call it) to the morning so it’s out of the way and I don’t disturb their playing in the afternoon. I’m happy to try anything.

2. Announce this day to your children and husband, and set a reminder in your phone and in your diary so you don’t forget. (I’ve still forgotten some days but I roll with it – see below)

3. Set very, very low standards. If you’re looking for perfection you’re going to be disappointed. If you get a sulky photo, great. If you get an Instagram-happy photo with 40 likes (that’s happened a few times this year), great. If you get one where they’re not even aware of you, great. The point is to get the photo. Also, the ones where everyone is smiling are not really interesting, are they?

4. Involve them. I ask the kids where they want to take the photo. One day Connor came to me to show me a place in the garden where he wanted to have the Sunday photo taken. I’ve also started asking them which photo they like best. The one they choose is the photo of the week.

5. Bribe your kids. I’m dead serious. I’ve never bribed with big things and sometimes they’re very agreeable all by themselves, but I do have to bribe during winter with a cup of tea and a few biscuits 🙂 Or I’ll say, “let’s quickly go take the Sunday photo, and then I’ll do X with you”

6. Be ready with your camera. Your kids are not going to hang around for you to get the settings correct or for you to find your camera. If the light is awful and you need to play with settings, do that before your kids get into position. They’re not going to wait around.

7. Have fun with it. If you’re going to keep up the project, you’ve got to keep the big picture in mind. Sometimes (most times) I have Canon photos and other times all I have is a quick pic in bad light with my iphone. It’s all good, and a black-and-white filter fixes many a bad photography moment.

Did you do a photo project last year? Do you plan to do one this year?

PS I also started a Sunday skies photo series and managed 32 of the 52 weeks. Generally, these photos are taken while I wait for the kids to get themselves outside 🙂

My year of happy

While I was thinking about my year ahead, I decided to re-read some of my favourite books this year.

One of those is Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin, especially because she’s releasing a new book just on The Four Tendencies (I can’t wait!) later this year.

I started listening on Monday, my first day back to work this year, and it’s been (dare I say?) even better listening the second time around.

Maybe it’s because I’m a super big fan of the podcast which started after I first listened to the book?

Anyway, in the book, she mentions The Happiness Project and how she focussed on 12 different projects over that year.

And that’s when I had my bright idea.

 

I’m going to do my own version of a Happiness Project. My Year of Happy!

Basically, I’m going to focus on 10 different areas in my life, 1 for the months February – November. January is for thinking it all through and December is for relaxing and wrapping up the year 🙂

My areas are health, finances, holidays, friends, kids, husband, house projects – decor,  house projects – decluttering, faith/ God and fun – reading, photos, crafts. I probably have 2 – 3 things I want to do for each area and that’s plenty.

Also, when I get x and y done, they’re done! Which is so satisfying to me, especially because for many years I’ve had ongoing goals on my list so 3 of this per month, or 2 of that per month, or doing project x every month. I think I’ll have a mix of recurring goals and once-off.

Does a happiness project sound like fun to you?

If yes, great stuff. We can post pics of our little projects on Instagram 🙂 and if you’re an Upholder like me, you’ll have no trouble at all planning out your year and making your year happy as you do your projects. If you’re a Rebel, you’ll do a project only if you want, and on your terms.

But for the Obligers and the Questioners, those that need a bit more accountability, let me know if you want some coaching for your Year of Happy.

How it will work

You decide on your own 10 projects – one for each month Feb to Nov – or fewer if you want to repeat some categories. It’s your life; you choose. You know what your life is like so you can choose easy things in your busier months so that this is not something stressful.

Your projects will be different to the next person’s. There is no one size fits all.

Logistics

We will use Skype audio or IMO (if the video doesn’t have too much lag) and chat once a month for 30 minutes.

You’ll give me feedback and set your intentions for the month ahead. I’ll coach you on any obstacles or where you feel stuck.

At the mid-point of each month, I will have some “open office time” for a 5-minute call. This is specifically so if you want to chat/ brainstorm.

In between you work on your stuff by yourself.

Then we wrap the 2017 year of happy on 30 November, rejoicing in a year well-intentioned and well-spent.

The best thing about all of this is you remain in the comfort of your own home, in your pyjamas, make-up free, while getting the support and encouragement to go make yourself happy.

How much

Only $50 per month or R700 at today’s exchange rate. If this is something that you really want but that amount doesn’t work for you, then let me know what you can pay and we’ll make a plan. It’s my year of give and you get to benefit 🙂

There’s no commitment to stay for the full year – stop whenever you want.

Are you interested? Email me and we’ll take it from there.

My diary/ planner for 2017

Right.

So you all know I’m a big fan of the Shining Year planners.

I pre-ordered the diary this year too and it arrived just before Christmas. (if you’re ordering and you’re in South Africa, buy the digital version!)

It is gorgeous and colourful, and has nice, thick, non-bleedy paper for my Pentel gel pens. It also has some good goals pages before and after each month. As you know I do a Goals Night on the last night of each month and this will really help me to simplify my monthly goals review process.

There is only one thing “wrong” with it.

It’s huge. It’s more than double the thickness of last year’s diary and about 5 cm longer.

I can’t see myself carrying this diary to and from work daily, as I’m accustomed to doing with my yearly diaries.

I actually took it to church on New Year’s Day to test it out on a short trip and my shoulder was falling off.

So I know I won’t be able to carry it around on a daily basis.

I’m not going to buy another diary largely because everything is so big this year (Confession – I’ve looked). The 2017 version of the style I used in 2016 has awful covers and while I love the insides, I can’t bring myself to see those covers daily.

If you’ve read my post about choosing the perfect diary/ planner, you’ll remember I always say you’ve got to have something you want to use and that will inspire you to actually use it.

Do I just bullet journal on a daily basis while out and about, and keep my Shining Planner at home to update as and when?

What do all these people with the ginormous planners do? Do they leave them at home? Do they cart them around?

Also, if I had even the slightest bit of design skills, I’d just make my own darn planner. Because nobody makes exactly the one I want. Legami is the closest but I don’t think Exclusives got them in this year 🙁

What do you think I should do? What would you do?

Your end-of-year reality check

img_1514

About a week before the end of November, I put an item on my to-do list: schedule all socials til the end of the year.

And then I made a list.

Well, the list had about 10 friends or sets of friends on it, and when I looked at the available dates, it was going to be impossible.

However, I never let a small thing like a full schedule get me down and I started working my list until I realised…

it’s my own self-imposed idea that I have to see people this year and not next year

Granted, it would be nice if everything was all neat and ordered, but it would cause me a bit of stress fitting everything in and probably be less joyful.

So right now, I’m playing with the idea of a very loose year 🙂

img_1409

This whole process reminded me of  organising.

We have these TV/ blog/ Instagram/ Pinterest-like visions of what our organised homes should look like, complete with state-of-the-art organising systems, the most beautiful containers and worthy to appear on a TV show.

There’s nothing wrong with dreaming, and dreaming big, but when we become paralysed and not motivated by the dream, there’s something wrong.

The thing is that those visions of perfection often leave us demotivated and uninspired to even start as you think, “what’s the point? I could never have it look like that”.

The point of inspiring blogs and Instagram feeds are to give us ideas, and not to make us feel bad about what we don’t have or to sow discontent in our lives.

Why not rather look at your home realistically?

See what you can and are able to do and take it from there. Use what you have in the time you have available and just do the best with that.

img_0875

Read that paragraph again…

Here are some action steps for your organising reality list:

  1. Take a piece of paper and a pen and write down the rooms in your home that need some work. Leave space under each room heading.
  2. Now walk around your house and make a list under each heading of what you want to do. For example, in the study/ home office, * tidy desk * do filing *put photos in photo albums/ frames, etc.
  3. If you want to do something this year, pick 1 – 2 small spaces and do those. Otherwise, start in the new year. Remember, there’s no rule that says you had to have done X in your house this year. If you’ve done less than you intented, forgive yourself if you’re feeling guilty and just tell yourself 2017 is a new year.

Did you have a list for this year?

How did you do?

PS I had a list for our old house which we stopped working on when we put in the offer on this house. I do have a long list for this house too 😉

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...