7 mantras to help you be happier at work

Would it surprise you to know I have many? I even have a little notebook on my home desk to write down my words of wisdom 😉

Here are some of my work mantras:

💛 You can do anything for 15 mins (works for any task you’ve been procrastinating!) – @the_flylady

💛 Delete emails with abandon – the “filler”, stuff you’re copied on that you don’t need and things you’ve responded to. I wonder if Microsoft Viva can tell me how many emails I delete in a day or week 🤷🏻‍♀️

💛 What is the most important thing to do right now? (Hint – it’s almost never the same thing other people want you to do)

💛 Do the right thing always. Your integrity will speak for itself.

💛 Stay present and in the moment (turn off WiFi on your phone for your deep work sessions; if you’re in a meeting, close Outlook, focus and pay attention). You will work faster and be way more productive (the joy of monotasking) and… people like to feel like they’re listened to.

💛 Outer order, inner calm. If you’re like 60% of the population and you’re feeling frazzled and overwhelmed, tidy your desk.

💛 Work is all about relationships. I ran a Four Tendencies session for work colleagues last night and I started by saying… “this session can help that work relationship you battle with”. Everyone laughed because it’s true.

What are some of your work mantras?

Spring clean your workspace with desk-clearing bingo

It’s September so it’s time to spring clean, at least in the Southern Hemisphere.

This is a fun way to sort out your desk in 24 miniscule steps.

(you could even save this image on your phone, and post to Instagram for accountability every day when you do a few of these items)

www.GretchenRubin.com

Does this sound like fun?

I do a couple of these items daily, like clearing any dishes, weekly, like emptying the bin and sweeping under the desk but it felt good to do a thorough sort and clean.

{Organising} 10-minute organising projects – nail polish

I like to think that one of my superpowers is using tiny bits of time efficiently.

I had to catch up on two training courses at work recently which involved watching some videos. The videos didn’t need me to take notes so I thought I’d organise my nail polish while watching.

I’d recently bought more nail polish (my first nail polish spree since lockdown!) so I had to declutter old ones (the one in, one out rule) and while doing that, I arranged them by brand and not by colour as I usually do.

While it’s nice to try new ways of organising, I quickly found that this didn’t work for me as my brain thinks, “oooh, I feel like wearing something pink” rather than “I want to wear the essence polish”.

I took them all out and arranged them in their shade categories…

see all the neutrals in the front left

a bit or order emerging (I also saw too many similar shades so I donated 3 bottles)

And done. I love having the boundary of this perspex container – it takes at most 18 – 19 bottles, depending on the shape. I use the round ceramic pot for my base and top coats.

This little project took less than 10 minutes, and that includes going to fetch the polish, the organising and returning them to my bedside table drawer.

If you struggle to think about what to do with small bits of time, make a list now of quick, 10-minute organising tasks:

  1. tidying a drawer is always a good one
  2. decluttering a pile of paper/ receipts from your wallet
  3. unsubscribing from sales emails

(my next little project will be sorting the kids’ reports and cards for their 2021 folders – yes, I haven’t bothered yet, probably because they all still fit in my slimline file box)

Monthly goals review – Feb 2022

Let’s walk through my monthly review together, shall we?

Here are my standard monthly review questions:

  1. what worked well?
  2. what’s not working and why?
  3. what energised me this month?
  4. what are my in-progress projects?
  5. how’s my word of the year working for me?

What worked well?

  • Reading – I stopped my Scribd membership for a month which means I used Libby and the actual physical library (4 books). I also read books on my Kindle (another 3 books) and two of the books on my bookshelf. At the time of writing this post, I haven’t finished the second physical book but I’m not rushing because I’m enjoying reading about personalities so much.
  • I did a Valentine’s supper for the family which they seemed to like, or maybe that was the chocolates for dessert 😉 I also saw my father in the flesh for the first time since Dec 2019.
  • I finished Project Life for December so last year is wrapped up but see in-progress projects below.
  • My work balance is holding surprisingly steady at not-crazy levels even though this was a hard month at work with lots of deadlines and staff off on extended sick leave.

What’s not working well, and why?

  • I still don’t feel like I have a good rhythm on the laundry situation. It feels like we need to do a load most days which I am loathe to do, but maybe that’s how we have to keep on top of it.
  • Our once-a-week cleaning service is still settling into its groove. I wouldn’t say it’s not working well, but maybe the rhythm needs to be more… clear. I should probably map something out on a big A4 piece of paper. It’s probably because I clean certain areas regularly and others as they need it 😮

What energised me?

  • Time spent with people – the client event last week, book club friends, other friends.
  • Listening to excellent audio books. This month I re-listened to Daisy Jones and the Six and it was 9 hours of pure delight. I want to listen to something truly outstanding every month. So far, 2/2 (Mary Jane and Daisy Jones).

What are my in-progress projects?

  • As I was wrapping up my December photos, I realised I am once again “behind” on my holiday collages. So I’ll be working on a collage every month besides my usual photo editing and Project Life. This will take me nearly the whole year to catch-up because I plan to go on 3 holidays this year too, but it’s a lovely “problem” to have as it helps me to remember happy holidays, play with images and listen to audio books or podcasts, all things I love.
  • Project Upgrade is going well and I finished three more upgrades for Feb – facecloths, kitchen cloths and the electric plug point in the lounge. I will only choose two for March because I’ll be back at the office two days a week and we’ll be on one week’s holiday – yay!
Delight

How’s my word of the year working for me?

In a nutshell, really well so far. It’s helping me choose books for pleasure over obligation, and also stop things that are not at all delightful, like walking out of that Zumba class.

How was your month?

What worked, what didn’t work, what energised you and what are you working on?

It all started with a facecloth (more about my latest project)

If you’ve hung around here for awhile, you know I love a project. I don’t know what it is but I think it’s that I like something with clearly-defined rules, and a very clear start and end date.

Aside from my annual goals (which I’ll review end of March as I checked at the beginning of the month, and nothing could be crossed off yet ;)), #rest22in2022, I am also doing what I call Project Upgrade this year.

Really, it’s Project Upgrade, Fix or Declutter. Let me explain.

I’m an under buyer with most things in life so I will use things until they’re completely done. I do declutter regularly as I am very partial to the one in, one out rule, but I very rarely upgrade things just because. And I’ve been thinking that I need to do that; I don’t have to be the only one to use up things.

It all started with a facecloth. I went to Cape Town on the 30 November last year and forgot my facecloth at home. The hotel provided me with the softest facecloth ever that is now my “travel facecloth”. After I’d used this facecloth for 3 days, my current one suddenly felt too rough and I started pondering.

If this exists in one area of my life, where else is it happening?

So I made a quick list and decided to adopt it as my house/ personal project for the year.

Declutter

These are for things need to go but I’m still hanging onto them. Why? (gym pants and gym t-shirts)

Fix

Some things really just need a quick google, a couple of phone calls and arranging a date for the service provider to come and do their magic. E.g. the pool cover that needs replacing, there are some chairs that I’ve wanted reupholstered, and so on. They’re all “fine” but “fine” is not delightful and they can all stand to delight me again.

Upgrade

I batch-cook almost every week but I only have one very big pot, one saucepan the same diameter and a medium pot. I’ve wanted another big pot for months. Why don’t I just go buy it?! I think because it feels like there are so many options and everything comes in sets and I don’t want a set. If you can recommend a good big pot, go ahead – I’m listening!

My plan is to tackle 2 – 3 of these little projects every month, seasonally where possible (pool and windows in autumn once the rains stop).

So far so good. January’s three projects were done successfully and this month, we’ve had an electrician out to sort out the plug points in the lounge, I’ve decluttered and bought nice new kitchen cloths and after visiting 2 – 3 shops, I finally found new gym shoes yesterday.

Of course, I fully expect to have to move things around and delete some because this house is 45 years old and things constantly need fixing or upgrading. But I definitely want to sort out all my personal upgrades.

What do you think? Would a project upgrade, fix or declutter work for you or your home?

The one time I’ll tell you to actually buy more

Let me tell you a quick story.

I have a slight irritation on a daily basis when I go down to the kitchen to make a mug of tea between meetings, make my sandwich for lunch or go cook supper.

I arrive in the kitchen, realise my phone could use a quick charge and both chargers are upstairs, one next to my bed and one on my desk.

I have a charger that lives in my car. My mother-in-law bought me a (seemingly boring) gift about 3 years ago – a USB car charger for my iphone – and it has been one of the best gifts ever. Tip – if you use an iphone, always make sure that the charger is iphone-certified so that after an update, it still works (I’ve made this mistake before and had to donate the then-useless chargers to android phone users)

Two weeks ago I had a thought – why don’t I just buy another charger and keep it downstairs?

I admit that my initial thought was – am I not being lazy by not running up and down the stairs to get one of the other chargers? Maybe… but laziness is not my biggest concern in life right now. I have the other problem – relaxing enough.

So I bought not one, but two additional chargers. As you see from the picture above, the desk charger is on its last legs.

While I’m a big proponent of considering your purchases and spending mindfully on the things that spark joy, I also think if the “spending out” will add to your happiness and decrease unnecessary stress, just buy the thing.

I remember someone (was it DesignMom?) saying once that she went out and bought six additional hairbrushes for her four daughters to use.

Which items do you (maybe) need to buy one or two more of?

It’s time to swop out your clothes

We have only 3 weeks left of autumn in Johannesburg (but who’s counting?!) and I’m only now thinking about changing around my clothes.

There are two reasons for that:

  1. the weather is still not consistently cold
  2. we’re still working from home so instead of wearing a short-sleeved t-shirt with my jeans, I now occasionally wear a long-sleeved one

If you’re lucky to have a big enough wardrobe, that’s great, and you probably don’t even need to swop your clothes around.

I don’t have a big wardrobe as you can see… and we do have a definite winter in South Africa even if it’s a short one, so I need to swop things around.

In one of our first houses, I used one of the wardrobes in the guest bedroom (this was before kids) for my out-of-season clothes.

Here’s how I do the seasonal swop:

  1. I put all the hanging clothes on the bed and bring the ones I want to wear into that space.
  2. I then pack away all my summer sweatshirts and replace with my polar fleece ones for winter.
  3. Same with scarves – the lighter ones get packed away and I get out all the woolen ones (I’m sure I love winter for the clothes and the trees!)
  4. I move all the bags I love to be more accessible (I have an olive green bag that I love wearing in these cooler seasons).

While I’m working through this entire process, I “joy check” (a delightful term I found following some Konmari consultants on Instagram) and set aside any items I don’t LOVE wearing or using. I will donate some, ask my mother if she wants some (bags and scarves mostly) and now that Kendra is so tall, I think she will want that striped green sweatshirt. Interestingly, I remember wearing it when they were newborns so it’s held up for 12 years.

In my chest of drawers I also swop around the two drawers with short – and long-sleeved t-shirts. Why would I not take 5 minutes to do it now instead of having to bend a bit lower on a daily basis? That’s a great example of tolerations I spoke about last week.

Is it time to swop your clothes around? Even if you don’t need to do a complete swop, look around and see if you can make a few small changes to bring more joy to your clothing storage and usage?

And tag me @OrganisingQueen if you post some pics. I love to see!

{planning} Let’s do our quarterly planning together

Here we stand at the start of a new, fresh, shiny quarter. If 2021 didn’t start as you wanted, you can let the first quarter go with all the expectations you had for it and just dive into this new quarter.

I spoke before about how and why I love quarterly planning.

Last quarter (Jan – March) I did my quarterly planning but I kept it in my bullet journal. That was…okay, but more inconvenient as I kept having to flip back and forth in the bullet journal to find my list.

This time I decided to write out my list as I did last year but I would then stick it up on the cupboard door in my study (where I now spend 90% of my time!) so I can see it all the time and take action.

And that’s exactly what I did.

Some things I want to do this quarter:

  1. play more (I’m doing Superhero Photo again – it’s a photo course I did about 8 years ago – I saved the emails and am working through them again)
  2. plan next quarter’s holiday and hopefully a mini-break at the end of the month as it’s our anniversary
  3. get some inexpensive but effective stuff done in the house (paint my downstairs)
  4. do some once-off coaching sessions (see more below)
  5. see more friends than I did last quarter

Now over to you.

What went well last quarter? Can you replicate it again this quarter? What did you specifically do or which things were in place helping you have that success?

What do you want to do differently this quarter? Are you using your tendency to help you get those things done? If you’re not sure how, book your 75-minute Four Tendencies coaching session with me for $75. If you’ve come on one of my workshops, you get $20 off. Paypal me and let’s get your session scheduled. I can’t wait to coach you.

{organising} 3 easy ways to create decluttering habits

When was the last time you had a good clear out?

Why should you even bother?

Like me, I’m fairly confident that you’re buying things or people are giving you things regularly.

I’m not even talking about being a shopper of unnecessary things.

  • When you replace your gym pants or sports bras, are you tossing out the old ones? If you pick up a couple of new T-shirts, are you just adding them into the pile or drawer?
  • When you buy a couple of new bowls, are you donating the old ones? I’m sure the old ones didn’t break?
  • When you buy two new body soaps to try, and you try them for your next couple of showers, are you using up the old ones first? Do you now have four open bottles in the shower? 😉

Decluttering your stuff helps you feel clearer mentally, and opens you up to blessings and abundance in your life, not only of the physical kind.

Here are a few ideas to create great decluttering habits:

Conscious decluttering before birthdays and Christmas

I do this mostly for the kids but for myself too if I have a birthday lunch. People will bring presents so you might as well create space for it all.

One in, one out rule

This rule is probably the most unexciting and yet the most effective constant form of decluttering I do. I keep a donate tub on my washing machine in the kitchen and I keep putting things in there. If I buy two new mugs, I look through the cupboard to find the two that spark the least joy. I do the same with clothes too.

Physical boundaries

This is another one of my favourites. Everything in my house has a place where it lives. And since my Konmari days (coming up on 7 years!), there is usually only one place, no longer three spaces all over the house, unless the item is used there. When the physical space is too small for the item (s), it’s time to reduce the number of items until the space is comfortable again.

What about Konmari?

I still recommend doing a Konmari-type decluttering if you can – the biggest use for me is that you get to see everything at the same time and it shocks you senseless so you’re never tempted to hoard as many items again. If you click through to that post, you’ll see all the vases. I’m pleased to tell you that I’ve not bought one extra vase since the time all those were decluttered – yay!

My suggestion:

  1. Give yourself a small task every day for a week (one kitchen drawer, the bathroom vanity, your T-shirts, etc.) and set your timer for 15 minutes while you declutter.
  2. It is addictive once you get going and find the momentum to move onto problematic areas.
  3. But remember, as the Home Edit girls say, you can either have the stuff or the space.

If you’d like accountability and guidance to finally get your spaces organised, please book a virtual organising session of your choice. Both sessions come with a follow-up action plan for you to implement. I’d love to help you get organised, whatever your style.

{time} How to apply the one-minute rule

It’s so interesting to see time management principles start to “click” for my 11-year-old twins. Of course, I’ve been talking like this for years and years, but as with all children, they employ the principle of selective hearing, so they choose what they want to hear.

One of the principles I’ve been using and talking about a lot during the (now) nearly 8 months of lockdown is the one-minute rule.

It’s quite simple – if something will take you a minute or less time, do it there and then instead of holding it over til later.

In the kitchen…pack things away, spray down and wipe the counter tops, unpack groceries immediately instead of coming back to it later

When you get home from school, unpack your bag and put your lunchbox and water bottle in the kitchen when you arrive.

If you have to sign something for school or respond to an RSVP, if it’s something you can quickly answer, do it there and then in one minute instead of having to look for the email/ text/ whatsapp later, and then respond. Here’s the one-minute rule for emails at work.

When you go upstairs with something, walk 5 steps further to put it away in your bedroom instead of dumping it in the pyjama lounge. This one ties in nicely with “don’t put it down; put it away“.

You might wonder if all these minutes adding up could not be done at another time. Of course they could assuming your motivation levels are high.

That’s the trick. Usually when the task first occurs to us, we are already in motion and it will be no trouble at all to do one extra minute. When we postpone the action, our motivation and energy levels may very well have flagged. This is definitely the case for one of my twins who needs a reminder that one minute now is like five minutes later.

Where are you currently using the one-minute rule in your life?

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