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 ๐Ÿ™‚ #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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ˜‰ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

My areas are health, finances, holidays, friends, kids, husband, house projects – decor,ย  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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™

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

Your end-of-year reality check

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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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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This whole process reminded me ofย  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 donโ€™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.

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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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

How to choose your 2017 diary/ planner

I’m using a hybrid system next year and I can’t wait to show you how I’ll be using it. I’m currently waiting for my big box of goodness to arrive here in Johannesburg before I post some pretty pics… although I did print out some pages from my digital downloads so I wouldn’t feel like I was missing out ๐Ÿ™‚

I said that as a disclaimer because as you all know (especially if you follow Organising Queen on Instagram), I do love stationery.

So I went looking to see what’s out and about this year in terms of planners.

There’s plenty…..big, small, colourful, boring :), but the one thing I haven’t seen this year is my absolute favourite – the 2017 softcover Legami weekly diary.

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The interesting thing is that we are more connected to our phones than ever before and yet (or maybe because of it?) people seem to be more interested in paper planners than ever before. There are many, many beautiful planners to choose from on the internet, especially if you live in the US.

I remember years ago when I asked if you wore a watch – I still do 5 years later – there was a mixed bag of responses. Do you wear a watch?

Back to the topic.

There’s such a wide selection in the shops that the choice can get really overwhelming.

  • page a day daily planner?
  • vertical weekly or horizontal weekly?
  • notes pages or not?
  • filofax sized, A5, A4?

So how do you choose the best one?

Here are a couple of factors to consider:

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1. Paper or electronic?
Do you prefer paper or electronic? Don’t feel pressured to use an electronic diary just to keep up with your friends if you’re actually a paper gal.

I love Outlook as much as the next person but I need a paper planner for 95% of my planning.

That said, if you are techno-savvy, use it happily. Please just remember to back up your data regularly.

2. Size
Your planner has to be portable if you’re going to use it most effectively.

Decide on a comfortable size and stick to that. If your planner is HUGE, no matter how cute it is, you’re not going to use it unless you’re strong!

However, don’t go for a small size especially if you have big handwriting. Ahem ๐Ÿ˜‰

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3. Space per day
Do you like a week-at-a-glance or a page-a-day format?

I like the weekly format because I do weekly planning. And there’s just enough space to jot down your 3 – 5 Eat the Frog tasks every day.

But more than that, I like space for notes, not just appointments.

My husband loves a page a day, even if some pages have nothing on it. He isn’t bothered by the empty page (waste of space to me :)) but tells me that he wants the space there when he needs it.

4. Monthly tools
Do you need a monthly event calendar and a budget form? What about a monthly goals form?

Do you need a pen flap, a ribbon to mark your place or a pocket for bits and pieces of paper?

I like a goals page between months or a page for notes that I use for goals. I also like a monthly view at the start of every month.

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5. Other tools
Do you need lots of name and address pages? Or note paper at the back?

My advice to you is decide on your non-negotiables and make peace with the rest.

Make sure you love your diary so that you want to use it. If that means you need to get yourself a hot pink flexible cover, then get it.

A few more important notes:

If you don’t absolutely love the diary in the shops, don’t get it. Your enthusiasm level will drop further as you start using it.

Open the plastic covering (check with the sales assistants) so that you check everything out carefully. It’s beyond me how the retailers expect one to invest in a diary when you can’t even look through the pages. You’re not just going to look at the cover; you need to use it so make sure you’re happy.

Happy shopping!

PS If you want to buy the Shining Life diary (physical or digital download), you can print multiple pages of the sections you use most often

PPS Please tag me on Instagram so I can see your diary for next year

A few of my ideas for super easy Christmas decor

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You guys know I like things really simple.

So I’ve basically got one or two tricks up my sleeve that I pull out every Christmas and that seems to work for me! Because I do the same things over and over, I actually store them in ziplocs that say “vases in lounge and diningroom” or “decorations for fruit bowl”. It’s easy for me and easy to delegate to the kids who always want to help.

I will say that I was a bit dismayed when I thought of decorating this house because there aren’t many walls (it’s a house built for the view!) to hang things. But I found places for most of my things (basically, every spare nail that I found got a stocking or a Christmas word, and I also put up some hooks) and they don’t even look too disjointed.

I don’t have a place for Christmas cards at all. The cards have been diminishing year on year (last year we got 5 in time for Christmas and 3 in the week following) so I’ll Prestik them to our diningroom hutch, if any arrive.

Where do you display your Christmas cards?

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Those are all my Christmas CDs.

I saw a really good idea in Gretchen Rubin’s comments months and months ago, the episode where they discussed how she tosses the cards once all the family members have had a look at it. Someone said they keep them on the coffee table in a basket so people can look at them over the Christmas season. Mine have been out and so far no-one’s looked at them… I’ll let you know if that changes ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Vases

After the big Konmari of 2015 (as I now call it), I ended up with very few vases. But the ones I love, use and that spark joy are all big clear glass ones.

Basically, I just fill them up with Christmas decorations. Not a crazy mix of colours, but a maximum of two main colours.

Fill up vases, arrange on a table, sideboard, coffee table, or end table and they honestly look gorgeous.

The same principle works for using extra glass fruit bowls – use a wreath and Christmas balls, or pine cones!

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Tinsel & strings of beads

Pep stores (yes, South African readers) has these strings of beads. They’re about R12 – R14 each. I bought some last year and a lot more this year.

Yes, I drape a few strands around my tree but I also channel my inner Nester and “artfully” arrange them on flat surfaces. They look super cool. This year the kids have taken to writing their names with the strands ๐Ÿ™‚

I also drape tinsel on everything that stands still long enough, even my huge canvases.

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Choose one or two main colours

My colours are red and silver. Mostly. I bought a red chindi rug which I’m using on the table after seeing this exact idea in a show house (I’m not looking; I went to give some papers to our estate agent).

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I had some blue decorations that I didn’t use last year but this year I moved them to the kitchen and they work well there.

I also have a lovely purple wreath that I use as a centrepiece on the diningroom table. That’s my exception which I should probably move but it does make me so happy.

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Hope you enjoyed seeing a few areas of my home! Full confession – I added a few more low-maintenance items (more tinsel and beads) since these photos were taken but I’m not going to re-take pics ๐Ÿ™‚

What are your Christmas decorating tricks?

Create the perfect Christmas… for you

Pssst – if you’re not on the newsletter list yet, do jump on. I’m sending out my 2017 Let’s Do This guide on Wednesday and another special offer.

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A friend asked me if I had a Christmas planner she could use (I sent her the one I sent to my list last year) and then it occurred to me that I needed to get my head in gear for Christmas.

I find that as the years pass I get more and more low-key ๐Ÿ™‚

You see, I love Christmas when it’s about just these things – Jesus, Christmas music, some pretty things up around the house, delicious food and spending time together with family and friends.

What does Christmas mean to you?

If you’re feeling a bit (or a lot) overwhelmed and just a little bit stressed at everything you have to do, maybe it’s time to stop and give yourself permission to slow down and get back to your basics.

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Let’s get intentional:

  1. What are the top 3 – 5 things that make it “Christmas” for you?
  2. Are those the same things your family would say? Sometimes we’ve been doing things thinking the family enjoys it but they don’t really care ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

Once you decide on your top things, embrace them and let the rest go.

Are you twitching?

It’s hugely freeing when you realise no-one cares about the tubs of biscuits you previously felt compelled to bakeย  and your friends don’t expect a gift at all.

I used to think up all these cute things to do (biscuits/ snacks/ etc.) for friend gifts and I realised that nobody even cares about any of it. Just because I would love something from someone else’s kitchen doesn’t mean that others feel the same.

I still do some baking….. especially for those I’m going to see (maybe 3 – 4 people) but it’s now an extension of the baking for my own family and not days and days of Baking for Presents!

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Here’s your Christmas thought plan (not action plan, unless the item is on your Top Five list)

Activities

Decide, together with your family, on any activities you want to do, etc. baking, church, plays, seeing the lights, theatre, ballet, etc.

Christmas cards

Will you be sending any cards this year? Do you send them via the mail/ Facebook/ email? (I’m having a crafternoon with a few friends on Saturday and I’ll be making some Christmas cards, killing three birds with one stone – creating, having quality time with friends and knocking out some of those cards for posting)

Christmas gifts

Will you be giving gifts this year? Are you making gifts or are you buying them all? What is your gift-giving budget? If you have family or friends in another city, use the Aramex courier bags in Pick and Pay stores. I’ve used them a couple of times and they’re the best. Pop in the cubby at PnP by 3 pm and they’re at your destination the following day before 12. It’s like magic ๐Ÿ™‚

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Christmas Day

Where will you spend the day? Who will cook which parts of the meal?

My one friend always says that they have the loveliest, no-stress Christmas meals because they keep it easy – two chickens, tons of salads and desserts.

Decor

Do you put up a tree? (Two friends don’t even take theirs down ;)) When do you want to put up the tree? Is it a family activity? Do you decorate every room? How much decor feels like enough for you this year?

The shops have the prettiest things every year and I adore it all. But I take a deep breath and remind myself of my (now) three boxes of stuff….. and my one in, one out rule.

Also, this house, while bigger, doesn’t seem to have as much wall space. It’s all the windows looking out on the view!

Still I will take a few photos and walk you through parts of my house next week.

Has this helped you think through Christmas? Tell me what made your top 5 list.

Remember it’s good to let go so you can focus on what’s most important to you!

 

Edited to add this PSย here is a great Christmas post I just read from Memories on Clover Lane

Is your space working for you?

One of my biggest frustrations is when a space doesn’t work properly for me.

I feel like I don’t want to spend time there, and then I’m easily distracted while in that space too.

Can you relate?

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Example 1

I saw a room on Instagram that gave me an idea for one of our spaces. The person had a daybed/ bench in the kitchen area and it looked so inviting that I thought, “oh, I’d like one of those” and then I thought of something I could do.

So this weekend I moved one of my couches to the dining room. I still have the table and chairs; there is just more space to relax with the couch there.

Dion is still not sure about it but the kids and I love it there. I find them sitting and reading on the couch because the light is amazing in the mornings.

Do you need to move things around in one or two rooms to make your spaces work better for you?

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Example 2

I’m not a fan of beige anything ๐Ÿ™‚

When we bought this house I knew I’d have to jazz up my kitchen somehow.

I decided on 4 smallish things (compared to a complete kitchen renovation – which we choose not to do because we prefer money to pay off our bond :)) and I’m delighted with the results from just 3 of the 4 so far.

The 4th thing is proving a lot more money than I initially thought so it will take a month more of saving to do that.

I’m going to put up pictures and such on Monday to talk you through some of my thinking.

But for now, I have a little thinking exercise for you.

Think of a space where you spend a lot of time – kitchen, bedroom, kids’ play area, study, etc.

Take a few minutes to evaluate your physical space and see how it’s working for you.

  1. Do you feel happy when you look at the space?
  2. Are you energised when you’re there?
  3. Does the space function well?
  4. Can you say with complete honesty that not much irritates or frustrates you there?
  5. Is it organised enough for your and your family’s needs?

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Your coaching challenge

  • If you couldn’t answer yes to at least 3 of the 5 questions, what are 3 small things you can do to brighten up that space and make it work for you again?
  • Do you need to move furniture around? Shop your home first before you think of going to buy new items.
  • Consider this the first draft and keep tweaking until the space is fully functional.
  • Don’t get caught up in Pinterest perfectionism – it doesn’t have to be pretty to be functional, organised and bring you peace.

If you’d like to talk through some of your space issues, let’s set up a free 15-minute chat for you.

I’d love to know which of your spaces you want to make work better for you, and what the first thing is you’re going to do.

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