My moleskine happiness

At the beginning of the year I told you all about how my actual favourite planner wasn’t available in our bookstore, and how I was using the shining planner instead.

That is all still true.

I’m also using a hybrid bullet journal/ planner system for this year.

What I may have not mentioned on the blog but my Instagram friends have definitely seen in my weekly planning posts is that I bought myself a Moleskine weekly notebook diary.

A local bookstore had a sale during February and had all their 18-month 2016/ 2017 diaries on special.

When I saw a nice purple one, I grabbed it and have been happily using it ever since.

So what do I now use for my weekly planning process?

  1. Shining planner
  2. iPhone
  3. Moleskine
  4. Bullet journal
  5. Delicious gel pens

(this seems like a lot but it only takes me 5 – 7 minutes after I uncomplicated my life again)

The Moleskine is thin enough that I can easily carry it around with me, together with my bullet journal, and it makes me so very happy to have all of my life visible and in one place 🙂

The point of this post (and today’s life and organising lessons) is to say this:

You can change your mind. If you thought something might work for you and it’s not doing its job quite like you envisioned, feel free to change it.

There are no gold stars for sticking with something that’s clearly not working.

Also, if there’s a tool that will make your life easier and you can afford to get it, do so! I’m talking about a planning tool here but I remember DesignMom once saying they had 5 hairbrushes in her girls’ room to make getting dressed easier.

In the comments do let me know if you’re doing something that’s no longer working for you.

Is there a place in your life that could work better if you bought something to augment your system?

PS next year (or later this year, I should say) I’m not faffing around – the minute the diaries appear in the shops, I’m looking around for the Legami and I’ll just hand over my card 🙂

Mental nourishment in the form of unplugging

My year of happy project is nourish, and for me, a huge part of nourish is making sure you’re in a place where you feel mentally and emotionally nourished.

Today let’s talk about social media 🙂

If you’re on any of the social media platforms, you’ll regularly hear your friends/ followers mention that the noise is too much.

The social media noise, that is.

We’re all aware of Facebook envy, where you imagine that people’s lives are the sum total of their updates, because nobody posts about the flip side of the coin, real life.

Instagram has made it a little worse for some people, I’d imagine, with beautiful pictures of families, homes, baking, and so on.

I remember when we went on a beach holiday, scrolling through my phone pictures, I’d see both Instagram-worthy photos (the beach…) and also the moments between Instagrams, like time outs and laundry day craziness.

The truth is I’ve never really felt like I needed to unplug because I try to live life on my own terms and not compare myself to others… and I feel relatively well balanced.

You see, I set up some boundaries for myself years ago which are now very firmly entrenched habits:

  1. I like to be more of a contributor than a consumer on social media. If I’m on a particular site, it’s first to contribute (post, photo, etc.) and then to consume (check other people’s pretty pics and status updates).
  2. I also use social media to connect with people. So if I scroll through my feed and see something I enjoy, whether a post or a photo, I’m probably going to comment or “like” that snippet. I want people to know I’m reading, watching and enjoying catching up with them, no matter how superficial.
  3. And of course, being a time management coach, I do have very firm time boundaries for myself.

Also, very old-fashioned of me, but I actually still use Pinterest for my original reasons, storing bookmarks and websites I may want to reference again, and of late, as a search engine for pretty things.

I have, in the past, prayed and felt like I couldn’t hear very well because my brain felt too cluttered.

I sensed then that I should take a bit of a social media fast to clear my head a bit.

Since I didn’t feel that it was completely necessary to not have any involvement, I did a “light version”:

  • I blogged in advance for the week ahead.
  • No internet at night after supper. Night times were now reserved for cooking, husband and kids, gym, photos, prayer and Bible reading and other projects… like the good old days!
  • When I’m at work, I only read blogs while eating my lunch so if I could only read and comment on three blogs during that time, then so be it.

What were the results?

  1. I got a ton of things done around the house.
  2. I heard a lot from God – I journalled too so I wouldn’t forget it all.
  3. I felt calmer and more peaceful.
  4. There was more time so I slept more during that week. My usual was 7 hours back then and I was getting in 7.5 – 8 hours daily.
  5. Of course my Feedly had about 200 items in it (I was subscribed to about 75 blogs) and I unsubscribed from a few feeds, the ones where I wasn’t even slightly tempted to do some catch-up reading.

I still don’t think I’ll do it very often but I think I’m sold on doing at least a quarterly social media fast.

What about you?

How do you think this could benefit your life?

Is it time to do a social media fast?

 

PS I’ve even heard of someone who does one every weekend, and another who does a week once a month. If you’d like to chat about getting help with your own time boundaries, contact me.

{My year of happy} May update and June project

In May I focussed on my physical space and I’m pleased to say I got 5 out of 6 things done on this list…. and about 4 additional spaces not mentioned.

If you missed out, I want to point you to the two posts on hygge that I wrote.

Here is part 1 and here is part 2.

How did you work on your physical space last month?

Please do share!

And now, onto June.

By the way, I’ve been planning some half-year goals posts because I thought we were half way through the year. I think it’s because autumn is over for us in the Southern Hemisphere that it seemed like the year itself is also half over.

Oh well, all that means is that I’m super prepared for the end of June’s posts  🙂

If you’re not signed up to the newsletter yet, you can do that here. I sent out two mails in May with free printables in each of them. And you get the intentional calendar when you sign up which is what I base my monthly projects on.

My focus for June is to nourish myself.

  1. The first, very obvious thing that comes to mind is sleep.

I really need to get back to my excellent sleep in March and April. In May, I slept an average of 7 hrs 28 a night which is fine but not as good as the 7 hrs 45 – 7 hours 50 I was averaging before.

Basically, the computer needs to go off at 10 so I can prepare for bed, and read, and still get in my 7.5 hours.

2. I want to take 4 afternoon walks this month

The weather is finally cool so there really is no excuse except laziness.

I have found that I’m more likely to want to exercise if I get dressed and wear takkies (running shoes), just to make it even easier and more convenient.

3. Eating better

I’m going to bring back my winter rule of a glass of water before every cup of tea or coffee. I also see I’m going to have to heat my water for 10 seconds in the microwave to take off the chill 🙂

And veggies. I’ve been making soups which is an easy way to get in lots of vegetables, but I know that for me, if I make a salad at work, that will work (!) for me too, if accompanied by some lovely coriander and lime salad dressing 🙂

nourish

That’s my aim – to eat better, move more and sleep longer.

This is also my way of giving to myself this month. You may remember that my word of the year is give.

What about you? How will you nourish yourself this month?

PS How are you living out your word of the year?

Let’s talk about hygge (2)

A little over a week ago I wrote part one of this post. We spoke about what hygge is, why you should care, and which books to read and podcasts to listen to if you’ve never heard about this concept before.

Have a read here to catch up.

This week I want to finish up with how you go about creating hygge.

First off, remember creating hygge, as with everything in life and organising, is a very personal and individual approach.

How do you create hygge in your own home?

Decide which room (s) to focus on.

I definitely want my lounge and bedroom to be super cosy because these two places are where I spend most of winter. Think about small changes you can make to cosy up your space.

Use colours to impact your mood

Change blankets and pillows to warmer, more luxurious colours.

Focus on lighting and good smells

Bring out the candles but never leave them unattended, especially if you have small children.

I’ve discovered that if the fragrance is subtle, I quite like certain of these reed diffusers. See top pic 🙂

Celebrate the season

Even if you don’t enjoy the cold weather, it’s here to stay for about 3 – 4 months, so you may as well enjoy the bits you can.

Get out the heaters and electric blankets, and plenty of real blankets too.

Buy/ make some hot chocolate, make soups, creamy pastas, casseroles, and food that celebrates the cooler weather. I look forward to enjoying soup when I go eat out with friends because many restaurants have a winter menu with thick, hearty soups.

Look forward to times of snuggling up on the couch with a good book and a mug of tea.

Choose 1 – 3 small things that you can easily do to make a difference to your mindset.

  1. Buy a tin of hot chocolate or speciality tea
  2. Get out the flannel sheets and pillowcases.
  3. Put more throws in the lounge for comfy TV watching or reading
  4. Make a list of comfort recipes to try (I had 6 on my list, but have already made 1)
  5. Last but not least, invite some friends over for pasta, or muffins with tea 🙂

A warning while you make your action steps

Don’t become overwhelmed! Keep it simple and remember, you don’t have to do a thing if you don’t want to.

Hygge is more about embracing connection and living in the moment fully, than it is about anything else.

Which do you need more? Inner or outer calm?

I’ve written on the blog before about how, for me, outer order leads to inner calm.

To quickly give you a few examples, I feel like I can relax when my house is ordered and everything is in its place.

I feel like I can settle down and do good work when my desk is in order and there’s not a lot of stuff laying around.

I heard something on one of my favourite podcasts, Personality Hacker, a few months ago that I want to run by you.

I’m an ESTJ on Myers-Briggs. That J means I like order, structure, things in their place.

What they said was that for Js, outer order equals inner calm. That means a J’s environment must be sorted and orderly for their brains to feel calm.

Completely true for me.

And for Ps, their thinking needs to be orderly and sorted for them to feel calm.

They don’t need their environment to be completely orderly to feel calm.

Wow – such a different take on the process.

Does this resonate for you?

Not?

Nevertheless, most people do say that they feel better if their environment is orderly.

Where do you need to create some order in your home? Is it in your bedroom, living area, kitchen, kids’ room?

Which small steps can you take over the next week to create more order in your life?

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?

My no-spend-on-books month

I’ve done a no-spend month once before, years and years ago, when I joined Beth for her no-spend month.

That was a really great experience because it broke my Exclusive Books habit of spending hundreds of rands on books every month .

This time, I had an idea that my book-buying habit was getting a bit out of control because I was buying a title from Modern Mrs Darcy‘s list almost daily.

Even $2 – $5 Kindle deals add up… and fast.

Amazon also sends those almost-daily emails with their recommendations based on the titles you’ve viewed.

One day I looked and I had 31 unread titles on my Kindle – real books, not samples. And I’ve been reading on average 10 books a month.

I then decided this book-buying thing was getting out of hand and I decided March would be a no-spend month on books.

What did I do differently?

I unsubscribed from MMD’s list. It’s the same way I don’t ever take a catalogue or brochure from a store – if I don’t see it, I don’t want it. I will subscribe again when I feel more caught up with my current reading and I have told my book club to let me know if Small Great Things goes on sale 🙂

How did I do?

I’ve been waiting for Alec Baldwin’s memoir, Nevertheless, for over 6 months so the minute that became available on Audible, I pre-ordered it with a credit I had.

I somehow forgot about my no-spend March when I went to shop for the 2017 Library project and I picked up some books. It honestly didn’t even occur to me that I was buying books because in my head I had DIGITAL books as my goal. Aside from the 4 books for the library, I bought 1 for a friend and about 5 for me (!).

So I was successful with Kindle and Audible purchases; not with physical books 🙂

What now?

I’m back on the no-spend wagon. We have a mini-break coming up and I wanted some books for lazing at the pool so I bought some books on Amazon last week. Coming to an instagram feed near you 🙂

I do think I’m set for at least another 3 months so let’s see if I can keep up the no-spending challenge for books for at least another 2 months.

How about you?

Have you ever declared a no-spend challenge on buying books? Or make-up? Or clothes?

Speaking of which, I haven’t bought a watch since December 2012 and I now have only 3 working watches left. I’m going to treat myself for my birthday though (4 months away) or sooner if I see something I really want.

I want to tell you 7 things about reading

Reading is one of my favourite things to do or talk about. When you couple this with my passion, time management, I especially love it when people tell me they don’t have time to read, or enough time to read, and so on.

So not true, guys. I’m not buying it 🙂

You see, I think we all underestimate the amount of time we waste, and more importantly, how much time we have that we fritter away. Someone I follow, Laura Vanderkam, decided to stop scrolling the internet and read instead. She read 14 books in a month. She found 1.5 hours a day and more on the weekend, totalling 13.5 hours a week, without working or parenting less.

Why you and I are not reading more books

How I find time for reading

Another way to find time for reading – this one is probably unpopular

Then, the new thing is people tell me things like they don’t think audio books will work for them without even trying. I know audio is not for everyone.

Like how video is not for me. But I have watched a few Youtube videos, vlogs and such, tried it first and now I can give you reasons why (slow download speed/ impatience/ I like to be doing something and with video I have to actually sit there and watch, for example :))

Back to audio books.

If you have a short commute, remember all those 15 minutes add up. If you have a 15-minute commute, you can easily finish one audio book a month. That’s 600 minutes a month just to and from work.

However, there is also cooking time, cleaning time, editing photo time, scrapbooking time, walking time, gardening time.

I would love you to tell me you listened to a book and then decided it’s not for you. But please try! You can easily add 1 – 2 books to your “read list” every month in this super-simple way.

You may like this post on how I use audio to work for me. One major trick is to find a narrator you like.

Here’s where I shared my love for the Kindle at the 3-year mark. I just passed the 6-year mark two days ago!

When it’s worth it to buy a book

Bonus – free books with Overdrive

How do you prefer to read your books?

Have you tried an audio book yet?

Free digital audio and e-books with Overdrive

I get my books from 4 sources: library, buy on Kindle, buy on Audible and physical books from my shelf.

Recently though I discovered the Overdrive app.

I’d heard about this on the US blogs I follow and first thought it was an American thing.

Until I saw an Australian person comment on one such bookish post and so the wheels started turning.

I then investigated further and discovered that we also have Overdrive in South Africa.

Yay!

I’ve only been able to find one library in Johannesburg that my library card works at – the Gauteng Provincial Library Service – but one is enough…. at least for now 🙂

So far I’ve borrowed 2 audio books and about 6 ebooks in the last month.

Here are my notes:

  1. You have to be a member of the library (this is easy enough – pop into your local library, fill in a form and pay what they want – usually less than R50).
  2. Overdrive is a digital library so if you want to borrow “real books”, you go into the library as usual to get those, but this way, you can borrow audio and ebooks. I’ve seen that they also have videos but I have no interest in those 🙂
  3. You’re allowed to borrow 3 digital titles and put about 15 on hold. If you reserve a title (on the wait list) they will email you when it becomes available.
  4. You are allowed to keep the title for 14 days. It will automatically disappear from your account when this happens so allow enough time to read it. My first audio book was over 10 hours long and I thought I’d run out of time but I made it just in time 🙂
  5. I’ve only just discovered (in checking out a few things for this blog post) that you can return titles earlier than the 14 days. It worked for 2 of my 3 titles but somehow doesn’t want to let me return the 3rd one.
  6. For audiobooks, it is a little more cumbersome to use than audible but hey, it’s for free 🙂 You have to download a number of files (roughly 1 file per hour of listening time) but you can set it up to keep playing. And I delete files as I move through the book to save space on my 16 GB iphone.
  7. For ebooks, they can be read through the overdrive app on the ipad but I actually prefer reading in the ipad’s browser. You can access cool stats like how many times you’ve picked up the book, how long you’ve been reading, etc.

Are you intrigued, South Africans?

Please let me know if you use this service.

I see that there are libraries in each of the provinces so check it all out – you might save yourself some audible/ kindle costs 🙂

PS there aren’t tons of books (well, that I’m interested in reading) but I have placed holds on everything that does interest me so I can at least read all of those.

How to write a friendship manifesto

After working through my Shining Year workbook and having a bash at writing my Secrets of Adulthood, I thought I’d try my hand at writing a friendship manifesto.

There was a comment asking more about it – click through on the Instagram post above to read my response.

Meanwhile, this is how I start almost anything – with a mindmap.

I also use mindmaps for my monthly review, for my project life, for planning articles and blog posts, and definitely as a base to plan any talks.

I started with 4 questions:

  1. how do I want my friends to feel?
  2. what is my contribution?
  3. how do I want to feel?
  4. what are my boundaries?

I filled up this page very quickly, looked for common themes and then typed out my friendship manifesto. Here’s half of it 🙂

So why do this?

It helps clarify in your own mind what you stand for, what you’re looking for and what you offer.

Let me know what you might put on your own friendship manifesto.

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