{mindset} Back to working at the office

In South Africa we’re now on level 1 (we have been for a while) and some companies who were working from home are now returning to the office.

Mine is one of them. We are back two days a week which seems like a lovely easy way to return to the before way of life.

However, I’ve been amazed at how many decisions I have to make on the days I work at the office or in preparation for working at the office. Nothing is straightforward as it was before – I take my own water bottle, don’t drink tea or coffee there, and I take all my own food.

We are hotdesking so I also take my own sanitiser for my desk because, let’s face it, I never trust other people to clean things properly.

In an effort to minimise the number of things I have to carry around and therefore sanitise, I no longer use a separate laptop bag. I had a laptop replaced in July and the new one is smaller so I use a laptop sleeve, a pencil bag for my mouse, headphones and charger, and this all fits in my handbag. I therefore carry my handbag and another tote with lunch bag, water bottle and sanitiser. And, of course, a comfortable mask.

Pros of working at the office

  1. Aircon in summer
  2. I listen to an audiobook there and back (that’s about 3 hours of listening every week)
  3. My car gets a good run (I had the battery run flat about 6 times during lockdown because I live too close to where I shop and they told me 5 km of driving every week is not enough to keep a battery going)
  4. There is a lovely clear boundary for the end of my workday as we have to be out of the building by 5pm.

Cons of working at the office

  1. Anxiety about anyone coming near me (see trust issues above! Also, I’m an upholder and so many people don’t follow the rules)
  2. Much lower productivity at the office (this was never perfect pre-Covid but it’s exacerbated with all the handwashing, mask-wearing, and so on)

Settling into a good work from office routine is one of my goals for November because we also moved offices, so there are slightly new routes to figure out as well as all the Covid-19 safety protocols to navigate.

Are you back in the office yet? Have you found your groove? How long did it take you to settle in?

{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?

{goals} It’s time to reflect and reset for 2021

In November 2018 I tried a new thing. I wanted to create a habit of writing every day and I thought I’d kick off my end-of-year reflections as part of that writing project. It worked really, really well. In just 15 minutes a day, I did my entire reflection of the year.

The best part of it all was that it was well before my usual time for reflection, the week after Christmas. This meant that I was calm, peaceful and in the right frame of mind to enjoy my holidays and look forward to the new year.

I loved that so much I repeated it last year with similar success.

I’m doing the same thing this year with my 2020 reflection. I’m also offering a bunch of people the same process via 1:1 coaching sessions and I would love you to join me for one of those sessions.

During our time together, we’re going to reflect on the year that’s (nearly) passed, get real about our season of life, explore our values and core desired feelings, and then when we’re connected to our purpose, we’re going to set some very loose goals for the next 3 months. I’m also going to teach you exactly what to do when you face obstacles (like Covid did with all of us this year) and how to still set yourself up for success.

Here are the details:

  • $60/ R800 for a 75-minute session
  • Decide if you prefer a weekday or weekend session and email me.
  • I’ll send you all available session times for a week or two, a Paypal invoice, Gmail invitation and the handbook.
  • You’ll send me your prep at least a day beforehand (so I can prepare) and we’ll meet to discuss and have an amazing session.

If you start your reflection early, you can relax and enjoy your Christmas/ New Year celebrations, knowing that you’re already set for 2021. This is the part I’m most looking forward to – the having it done and being able to relax and enjoy the festive season, no matter what that looks like.

My goal for this time together is that each person leaves our session with gratitude, clarity and hope for the year ahead.

Email me and I’ll book your place.

PS don’t forget to book your 75-minute 1:1 coaching session with me for only $60. I’ll send you a handbook, give you some prep to complete beforehand and we’ll talk through each of the sessions as they apply during your session.

{organise} Quiet your house and your life

Many of you know that one of my teeny-tiny habits is that I tidy or clean something in the kitchen while I wait for the kettle to boil. You can do a lot in 2 – 3 three-minute stints daily.

One day I looked up at the mugs and things felt too busy. I then did what The Nester recommends and I quieted the space by removing all the mugs from the shelves. I had rainbow mugs up here for much of the year because they made me happy. I then swopped out the bright colours for the more muted tones above. They still spark joy but they spark quieter joy.

You know how this goes – when you start one thing, you start thinking about the rest of your life. I felt so calm with the mug shelf that I noticed my calendar felt too full.

It’s understandable that things have started to feel a lot busier for me due to the opening up from the intense lockdown to our current level 1 lockdown in South Africa.

I started going back to Spanish in September and went back to the gym last week. We’ve also been told that we’ll be required to come work at the office twice a week from November. From a schedule with no leaving the house to leaving five times a week is a big change.

It all feels a bit sudden while at the same time getting out is also welcome. I realised that I need to close all my open loops so that I don’t enter this busy season collapsing every night when I get back home from overwhelm. This is why I wrote this post talking about first doing something about your physical space and then considering what’s hampering your mental space too.

Which of your physical spaces do you need to quiet? And your mental space?

{goals} 2020: let’s talk about the last quarter

This year’s felt like the newborn stage for me – in parts it’s flown and yet I have many times had to take it day by day to stay sane.

I see many sentiments like “let this year just end” and “can we please just get on with next year?”, and I get that. We all want to escape a year absolutely none of us expected and move on with our lives.

A lot of us are also exhausted from working too hard, or worrying too much, or having too many bills and not enough money, or a combination of all of the above.

So I think it’s time that I had a reframe. I’d love if you’d join me too. I’ll share one thought for each question to give you an idea. Write out the prompts in longhand, use the notes app in your phone or maybe talk it through with a friend.

  1. What do I want for this last quarter of the year?

I want to continue with my reading streak (I reached my goal on the weekend), I want to eat better again so I can get to a certain number (nowhere near my actual physical goal, just a mental goal) and I want to start slowly integrating back into the “new normal” of getting out and about.

2. Is there anything I want to start doing?

I had these two things on my original 20 in 2020 list and I can do them so I should. I have started just one session of Emily P Freeman’s Discern and Decide course (it was a pre-order bonus when her book, The Next Right Thing, released last year) and I want to finish that. I also want to read The Path Between Us, an enneagram book on relationships by Suzanne Stabile, that I also bought last year.

3. How do I want to feel at the end of the year?

Like I survived this period with grace, determination and my sanity intact. If my relationships are as good as they were or better, I’ll consider that a bonus.

4. Are there any projects I’ve started that I can finish well?

Yes, I want to run two sessions of a new workshop I’m yet to name but will help us all end this year well (whatever well looks like for you) and prepare for next year. It’s going to be the equivalent of a large part of my end-of-the-year coaching sessions but so much cheaper.

5. Is there anything I need to finalise or end for my own emotional and mental comfort?

Well, had I written this blog last week, I’d have talked about ballet. I did it though – I’ve been dithering and yet I knew I was not comfortable going back anytime soon (in fact this revelation came to me while doing session 1 of Discern and Decide). So I wrote the owner an email last week and formally resigned. I can always go back but at least she’s not left wondering about me.

Bonus – if it feels right for you and you want to make a list of 3 for the next three months, go ahead. I wrote more about quarterly goals here.

And remember, it can be as small as drinking 2 L of water a day or reading for just 20 minutes a day. It doesn’t have to be “write a book” ๐Ÿ™‚

Who of you are joining me for the workshop on 21 November? Book your place now. It’ll be $29/ R450 but there’s be a discount for the early birds until 7 November!

If you prefer to work through these things privately in a 1:1 session, I’m offering the same content in a 75-minute coaching session for just $50. This will be for a limited time only until mid-December.

PS this is post number 2000 on this blog! Wow! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

{goals} Monthly, weekly, daily goals – how they all fit together

I was looking through the blog’s archives for this post I’m about to write and honestly, I can’t even imagine why I haven’t written it yet!

SheilaJo, a recent participant on both of my workshops, asked me: how do you fit your monthly, weekly and daily goals all together?

Monthly goals

My monthly goals process is split up into three sections. I usually do all three sections over two evenings, the first evening being Goals Night and the second evening simply because I get carried away and it gets too late.

Here are the three sections:

  1. Monthly goals review – this is the big picture thinking about how the month went. Since I naturally want to dive into the detail, reflecting on the big questions first helps me to be a healthier version of myself.
  2. Tracking on my goals spreadsheet – I use roughly the same spreadsheet year after year (I think this is year 6) and I track the number of goals set and achieved, average sleep, steps, number of workouts, which friends I’ve seen, books I’ve read and their breakdown, etc. I also then check my Books Read Notebook and update anything I’ve missed. See this notebook in the 2019 or 2020 highlights on my bookstagram account.
  3. Setting goals for the month ahead – this is the fun part because the month stretches ahead, full of possibility ๐Ÿ™‚ I set clear, actionable goals in the categories of Family, Fun, Finances, Fitness, Friends, Four Tendencies/ Five Love Languages.

Weekly goals

My weekly goals happen in two stages.

  • On a Thursday night, Beth and I set goals with one another for the week ahead. I write these goals down in the Priorities section on my weekly plan (picture below).
  • I incorporate some of those goals into my weekend to-do list. When I do my weekly planning on a Sunday for the week ahead, I will then schedule the other items that still need to get done, and write them down on the actual day in my diary. This would also be the point at which I’d check on details, like if a friend and I had a “to be confirmed” plan, that’s when I’d send a quick message to make sure we’re still meeting, etc.

Daily goals

I don’t really do daily goals but I do have the scheduled appointments like Zumba, friend dates, coaching appointments, etc.

Based on how full my diary looks, I then will plan to do the other bits and pieces around my scheduled tasks. For example, I might do some photo editing (no thinking needed) on a night I do Zumba, but I’d probably only schedule the newsletter for another night and do nothing else (it’s a thinking task and has multiple pieces to its completion).

And of course, my biggest tip is this – I never put too much on one day. Spread out your goals over the week so you don’t get overwhelmed. That’s why God made a week with 7 days.

In terms of time, I spend about two hours a month (but I should time myself next week) on my monthly goals, Beth and I chat for 30 minutes (but probably 10 of those minutes are actual weekly goalsetting), and then I spend 20 minutes on my weekly planning, and less than a minute a day looking at my daily list and updating here and there.

That’s 120 + 30 + 30 + 30 + 30 = 240 mins a month which is about 8 minutes a day, a highly profitable use of my time because it yields hours of non-wastage ๐Ÿ™‚

Do you do monthly/ weekly/ daily goals planning? How much time do you spend?

{goals} Two fun, intentional birthday traditions you may want to consider

I just celebrated my birthday – this is 46! It’s the strangest thing; I’m writing these increasing numbers and I don’t feel 46 at all. I feel strong, vital and full of energy yet I know intellectually that I’m now middle-aged ๐Ÿ˜ฎ and that other people see me like that.

I had a very lovely birthday indeed. You can see more in the Instagram post below.

  1. Do a birthday review

I wrote two posts here in 2016 and here in 2018, and you can download my free birthday review printable here.

2. Make a birthday list

I used to make a 36 things, 37 things, 38 things list…. and then they got too many to do once I hit 40. So now I do a lovely things to do list and I only make 20 items ๐Ÿ˜‰

This year my list has things that are very doable within my immediate environment. I have not entirely completed it yet, but a couple of the categories include:

  • workshops (I want to develop a new one to replace Four Tendencies – let me know if there’s something you can think of, but I am definitely doing a goals/ planning workshop)
  • photos and photography
  • reading (obviously – did you know I started a bookstagram account during the last year? See more @marciareadsalot)
  • cooking/ baking
  • family and friends

What are some fun things I should add to my list?

{mindset} So many pandemic changes – part 2

We started talking about all the changes that we need to consider due to the pandemic last week. Read part 1 here.

And a huge disclaimer – I know that we are fortunate that our jobs have been secure thus far. If your income has been affected, I’m sorry – that completely sucks.

5. House/ external environment

I’ve told myself, since we’re not travelling, we might as well spend some of that money on our house so that we’re as comfortable and happy here as we can be.

To that end, I’ve had a handyman in to fix 6 little things, a plumber came to sort out some minor annoyances before they become big things, my garden is looking good for now (Jhb has no winter rainfall so the garden is decent) and my house is fairly deep-cleaned as my domestic worker is back for 40% of our pre-covid arrangement, which is actually why I can blog and am not cleaning!

We sealed some windows and had carpets replaced (two years later than I planned!) and now I just need a painter to come and paint my downstairs and I think we’ll be good for a while again.

More importantly than projects, we’ve moved things around in the house so that the entire space works better for this new C19 life. That couch on the left is no longer there – I needed it there for the workshops but since those are no longer happening, we’ve moved it upstairs to the pyjama lounge so the kids can relax near us while we’re working.

Zumba in my study

6. Exercising

In the beginning of the lockdown, exercise was a substitute as we waited for “things to return to normal”. Now that we realise this is how it’s going to be for a long time, and things are not going to return to normal for a long, long time, and we’re working from home so are far more sedentary, I have personally realised that I need to either get happy about my methods of exercise, or change them.

Zumba has been keeping me sane, I’ve found I really do not like ballet via Zoom though (I really do go for the whole sensory experience) and I love going for a walk to clear my head some evenings after work, especially now during autumn and winter. I’m under no illusion that when it gets too hot in Jhb, I’ll hate walking again and may have to do more Zumba classes, or maybe ballet will start looking exciting again ๐Ÿ˜‰

thank goodness for kindle books and scribd

7. Spending

Oh, this is a big one. I’ve had a couple of discussions on Instagram because I’m honestly fascinated by all these people who are saving money.

Yes, we’re not spending as much on petrol but our food has increased so, so much with all of us here all the time, snacking, eating, treating ourselves with food and the occasional takeaway.

We’ve had to upgrade our internet and with that comes an increased monthly expense – the speeds are not sufficient with two people working full-time, in meetings, and two children trying to also access the internet for their schooling.

I’m going to deal with clothes properly in a separate post but is there a need to buy clothes any more? I have to probably keep four work outfits for summer and four for winter, and even that is plenty. I have bought some clothes during the last four months – a sports bra, slippers and socks, so I clearly have enough clothes.

So what am I spending some money on? Scribd, Zumba, books and some toiletries.

Our repo rate (the rate that the banks loan money to people for houses) has dropped a number of times since lockdown to aid the economy. I’ve been sensible and increased our bond payments every time. I let the actual payment the bank requires go off on the 1st of the month, and then we pay in extra on the 14th. Let’s face it – things could change any day and it would be good to have a bit cushioned away for an emergency.

This photo was taken in February, and I’m so glad we made time to get together when we had the chance.

8. Socials

I would almost always rather meet up in person than spend time on a call, but calls and Teams/ Zoom meetings have been a delightful way to connect with my friends.

I do have some concern for some of my friendships because I’ll be honest – it does feel rather like I’m stoking an awful lot of friendship fires these days.

Even our bookclub has taken a knock – the nice thing about not everyone pitching is that you can really connect better with the ones who are there (and this is what I tell myself). The bad thing is it is an anchor during the month to connect with many friends at one time and if those friends don’t pitch, I don’t always have the time or inclination (or, enneagram 1!) feel like it’s my job anymore to always be the gatherer. I’m not sure if anyone can relate?

Tell me, how has the pandemic affected these four areas of your life?

{time} So many pandemic changes – part 1

I first started thinking about permanent pandemic changes when we had a meeting at work and our boss said that even when “all this is over”, we will only be required to come into the office once every two weeks.

(not wonderful news for an extrovert but I can decide and create my own amount of connection with other people, so not entirely a big deal)

A few weeks later in another virtual meeting, a colleague announced that she’d bought a second computer monitor to ease her work from home environment.

And then, on Instagram, a fellow organising friend said that they’d caved in and bought her husband a proper desk for the corner of the bedroom instead of making do with a dresser.

There are many thoughts that I have on this (I quickly jotted down 8 main categories) so I’m breaking up this post into two sections.

1. Work

If I’m only going into the office 1 out of every 10 days, as an extrovert, what will I need to do to keep sane? How much people time do I need? How will I connect with clients, colleagues and the greater company?

If you’re an introvert, you might be asking yourself, how do I get enough alone time with a house full of people all the day long? Am I doing what I need for my mental sanity?

2. Routines

Do I have good work from home routines? How will I ensure that I’m taking enough time off for rest and holidays? In pre-covid times, we were used to taking annual leave only to go away on an actual holiday. We all still need rest and relaxation. I write this on a day I’ve taken “annual leave” and I’m sat at the dining room table typing this blog post. I’ve also pottered around the house, listened to a book and podcast (and will do more of the same while I cook later) and supervised people installing new carpet upstairs.

I am going to make actual appointments every day at 5 so that I stop working – Zumba, ballet, friend dates, etc. I’ve also planned out some leave in August and September, and I already can’t wait.

3. Storage

I was tidying my Tupperware cupboards about a week ago and realised I have far too much (for reference, it’s all not real Tupperware, but plastic containers) for someone who is only going to an office once ever two weeks. So I’ve started to slowly let go. I always share my spinach with Nanny S (my family are not fans) and today I told her to put her half in a container and keep the container ๐Ÿ™‚ When things don’t fit, I immediately add to the donate pile. This slow and steady approach works for me, or you could also go Marie Kondo with your stuff (I did that 6 years ago).

One of my coaching clients, P, a Questioner – she came to both the 4T and the 5LL workshops last year and started coaching with me soon after that.

4. My workshops and coaching

I’ll admit it – it took me a good month to get my head around not having people in my house but now that I’ve run three virtual workshops, I’m completely there. I had to remind myself that in the old days, I regularly ran teleseminars (the parent of webinars) and loved them.

I do like having a month of workshops and then a break, and then another month and then a break, both in terms of preparation and Zoom payments.

I’ve always had a mostly virtual coaching practice so there’s been no change at all. If you’ve thought of coaching with me before, a low-cost, low-risk way to see if we’d be good together is to attend a workshop with me first.

My question to you is this: have you considered all the ways your life is changing and started to adapt to the changes? Let me know how, if at all, you’ve made changes in the above categories.

{goals} Word of the year – half year update

My word for this year is light.

It’ll probably give you a good idea of how things have been going if I tell you it took me a good 5 seconds to remember what my word is.

My word for 2020 is light – here’s where you can read more about how I chose it.

In 2020, I want to feel lightโ€ฆ

  • physically โ€“ I need to lose 12 kgs
  • mentally โ€“ I want to let go of things quicker and not hold tight so long
  • emotionally โ€“ I want to lighten up with some things

I also want to look for the light more, in other words, get out my big camera and go make beautiful pictures. Honestly, Iโ€™ve gotten lazy and yet, itโ€™s something that brings me such joy and delight.

So how has it been going?

Physically – yes, I am lighter but I’ve not lost 6 kg yet. Still, I really do celebrate my progress because I feel fine in my clothes again and that was the motivator for the goal. It would be nice to have a specific number milestone but I honestly have bigger things to worry about right now than reaching an arbitrary number.

Mentally – the covid-19 pandemic has helped all of us let go of all the unimportant things, right?! I’ve had to pivot with my workshops and friend dates and all the out stuff I usually do, so I’m doing well here but….

Emotionally – well, this pandemic has been throwing me for a loop. I’ve cried more during the last almost 4 months (but nothing since 1 June!) but I’ve also experienced more love and connection from my family, which does add to that feeling of lightness of being.

One place I’m excelling at is looking for the light. I have been playing with my camera and iPhone, taking pictures of changing light, morning light, evening light, and as I suspected, it’s been bringing me such joy.

I have been bringing light (clarity) through my workshops, coaching, and speaking, hopefully, I haven’t been hiding my light and playing a smaller game.

If you’d like to experience the light of my workshops, there are 3 open workshops left this year – two Four Tendencies workshops, and one Five Love Languages workshop. Please book your place here.

I’ll give myself a 6/10 for my word of the year update, which feels like a 9/10 rating given the state of the world. I can do better though and this is my reminder to save my word on my lock screen to remind myself more during the next half of the year.

How has your 2020 word been working out for you? Has it been a good reminder? Have you been living it out? Have you forgotten your word?

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