The week that was…weekly reflections 12

  • Today, two years ago, was South Africa’s first day of lockdown, level 5. Don’t even go back and read my posts for that first month or two; I was a complete idiot writing things like “how to make the most of lockdown” and such nonsense. I mean, my kids took one look at my list of things to keep them busy and promptly ignored it. I had big plans to do organising and cleaning projects around the house and instead, I just worked more. Madness! Oh well, we all live and learn.
  • This week was an out of the ordinary week as we were on holiday in the Drakensberg. Just like two years ago! The difference is back then we drove back from our holiday three days early to be back home in time for lockdown. What a surreal two years this has been.
  • As usual when I go on holiday, I made a list (#upholder) with books to read, blogs to write, photowalks to take, things to cook, etc. and I did everything, so that is excellent because it means I’ve read lots (5 books!), did responsible things like updating my budgets and updating diaries, etc. and also fun things like photowalks, reading and finishing my Feb photos. Delicious!
  • After I publish this post, I’m going to lay out all the leftovers for supper and then pack as we travel back to Jhb tomorrow. While I love being away, I also love returning to my home and I’m ready for my own bed again!

How was your week?

3 things I do that help my productivity

I adored reading this blog post from Ramit Sethi. It’s one of my favourite blog posts of all time.

One of the main things that were insightful for me is that fundamentals are first, second is psychology and third are the details. Most people focus on the details when they actually need to start focussing on fundamentals.

Fundamentals are things like sleeping enough, psychology is being able to say no or set good boundaries, and the details are what type of notebook or app or calendaring system I use to plan my life.

In that post he actually says that we need to focus on those details only 10% of the time and I had an aha moment or two.

Because seeing the % split like that puts things in perspective, and also I’ve been subconsciously focussing on a lot of it already.

I thought it would be fun to share 1 thing in each of those areas that I do, and then you can share your things too.

Fundamentals

What I do: I sleep an average of 7 hrs 30 a night. You all know I diligently track my sleep because when I stop measuring, it all goes off track.

In this category we also have environment, soul care and exercise, in addition to managing your stress.

Psychology

What I do: I have very good boundaries and I know when to say yes and no.

Also in this category is knowing if you’re a time optimist or realist, and unplugging from social media when it starts being detrimental for you.

Those top two areas aren’t very exciting but they’re so very necessary.

Details

Well, you know I’m doing a hybrid this year of my bullet journal and my shining year planner. And then I added a gorgeous purple moleskine. My favourite pens are both Pentel energel and Pilot G2. Lately my absolute, super favourite pen is my metallic violet Pilot G2, which you have seen in almost all my instagram posts the last month or two 🙂

Over to you!

What do you think about the triad of productivity?

What are the things you do in each of those three areas? Very curious minds would love to know!

First published 21 Aug 2017

The week that was…weekly reflections 11

St. Patrick’s Day 2022 – Johannesburg

Well, that was a fun week – the first week my WFO/ WFH schedule went exactly to plan.

  • St. Patrick’s Day supper went off well. Johannesburg’s weather also played along and was grey, overcast and raining in the early morning.
  • I always listen to classical music when I’m writing because I can’t listen to words when I’m writing words, and yet I still need something to block out noise (in my head). Today I chose Tchaikovsky and I was reminded that the Chinese Dance from The Nutcracker Suite is a dance I’ve won prizes for before… in my youth. It’s so fun how a piece of music can take you right back to a memory in the past.
  • I had two bad nights of sleep. Usually I sleep very, very well and seldom wake once I’m asleep. This week, I woke in the early hours of the morning – one morning at 2 am and the other at 3 am. After an hour of tossing and turning, I got up and read my book, a much better and more restful idea than staring at the darkness, thinking.
  • Speaking of reading, I read A Dream of Italy by Nicky Pellegrino. If you haven’t read any of her books, (I think) they’re all set in Italy and the way she writes makes you want to jump on a plane and go visit immediately.
  • Again, Rachel by Marian Keyes arrived this week so I started listening to Rachel’s Holiday, the first one. It’s a 16-hour listening experience and I’m enjoying every single minute!
  • The work balance continues to go well except for Friday night but then again, I always try to clear as much as I can before I go on leave. Yes, I’m on leave and we are going away as the kids are also on school holidays.
  • I plan to write a lot, read a lot, reflect on the first three months of 2022 and see where a reset is needed, catch up on family phone calls, and connect with my little family.

How was your week? Have you started thinking about the tweaks you want to make going into the second quarter?

The week that was…weekly reflections 8

sunset leaving gym

Hello friends!

Do you know what this blog post means? I’ve been carving out time and writing for at least an hour and 15 minutes every single weekend for the last two months.

I’m so proud of myself!

It’s what I wanted when I started off this year and it’s helpful to know that after two weird years, I can still create a weekly writing habit and stick to it.

This week is also the week…

  • I walked out of a Zumba class after only 20 minutes (unprepared instructor and way-too-loud music) but I was rewarded with a gorgeous sunset (yes, that’s the one in the pic)
  • I attended a conference where I once again realised that all across our industry we are facing the same stuff but handling it in different ways. At that same virtual conference, I vowed that I will definitely not attend a virtual event again because, as an extrovert, I was exhausted.
  • I finished the book club book, Friends like these by Kimberly McCreight, which was not great. Too many unlikeable characters and way too many things going on. I also finished Everything happens for a reason by Kate Bowler, which was outstanding. Do give it a listen.
  • we visited a school for Kendra and were given a tour by an amazing young lady, a grade 10 learner, who taught me so much about optimism and resilience. Some kids really have an amazing mindset at such a young age.
  • that was full of hard things in the world – wars, deaths of too-young children, anniversaries of deaths – and I am thankful that I was able to rest and rejuvenate, and be out and about to counteract two days of staring at a screen with very minimal interaction.

How was your week? And, dare I ask, how was February?

I’ve chosen a word, now what? 5 practical ways to make your word real.

It’s all very good and well to choose a word of the year but sometimes I ask people a few months in, “how’s your word of the year going?” and they can’t even remember their word.

Don’t feel bad if this is you; it is very normal but that’s not to say we should accept that, throw up our hands and just leave it be.

My 14 words from 2009 to 2022

  • 2009 – simplify
  • 2010 – consolidate
  • 2011 – courage
  • 2012 – create
  • 2013 – trust
  • 2014 – shine
  • 2015 – enough
  • 2016 – joy
  • 2017 – give
  • 2018 – fun
  • 2019 – bold
  • 2020 – light
  • 2021 – play
  • 2022 – delight

After 14 years of me choosing and living with a word, I’d like to share a few things that work for me:

  1. Set your word as your screensaver/ password or desktop wallpaper on your laptop or phone

Out of sight means out of mind. If you have to type in that word as a password several times a day, it will stick. If you see it as your wallpaper on your phone when you reach for it 80 times a day (or so the stats say), you’ll start to remember it.

2. Make a policy for yourself around your word

E.g. if your word is connect, then maybe you’d say, “every time someone asks me on a friend date, I will say yes”. When my word was fun, I weighed up every commitment with “does this sound fun?” If it didn’t, I declined. My policy this year is to stop and take the picture (a sure source of delight to me afterwards even if I don’t feel like it in the moment)

3. Set goals for your word

Ask yourself monthly, “how can I _________ this month”. Where do I need a reminder that I am enough? Where can I take delight? How can I be brave? What needs to be nourished and how am I going to do it? Who can I connect with? What can I create?

4. Review how you did at the end of every month

On a scale of 1 – 10, how much did I move? Did I take enough action? Did I rest enough? is there enough balance? And so on. Use your word and make changes for next month if what you were doing wasn’t working.

Set a reminder in your phone otherwise you will most likely not remember. I call the last day of every month Goals Night for this very reason.

5. Stay open to your word

Yes, I just said in 3 above to set goals, but also stay open. Sometimes the need for your word will appear in unexpected ways. Last year my word was play and I have not worked as hard at my job in many many years. There was a need for me to remember to play. See? My 2016 word was joy and that was the year we bought this house and struggled to sell the previous one. I had to choose joy in those 3 months!

Bonus – buy a piece of jewellery or art

I have many necklaces and rings that remind me of my words through the years. I also bought a piece of art off etsy one year for courage.

What are the tips and tricks you’d like to share?

The week that was… weekly reflections 7

Alto 234 – the highest urban bar in Africa

  • Valentine’s Day seems so far away and yet it was only six days ago. I set a nice table, served red and pink food and bought everyone a chocolate that said “you’re awesome” 🙂
  • One of my team is booked off sick for a month. It is serious so the time is absolutely necessary for recovery but I’ve had to step back in again when I’d just got used to letting go completely a month ago. One step forward, two steps back.
  • I am still on my self-imposed Scribd ban – 20 days and counting – I want to make it at least a month. During this time I’ve been reading library books, Libby books and books on my Kindle. It is always nice to get books read that are on your physical or digital shelves.
  • Speaking of books, this week I read E is for Evidence by Sue Grafton (the Kinsey Millhone series) and Everything happens for a reason by Kate Bowler, both of which were excellent. Connor read A Painted House by John Grisham. What are you reading?
  • I spent Friday afternoon with clients (an invite I accepted months ago) and it was just So Lovely to talk to people face to face, catch up and connect. The photo above was taken from the restaurant’s rooftop – gorgeous! Shout-out to the very enthusiastic and passionate parking attendant. I still smile thinking of him direct me to the correct parking area. What would the world be like if we were all so passionate about our jobs?!

What have you been up to this week? Did you do anything out of the ordinary?

The week that was…weekly reflections 6/22

Gosh, what a week! I was so glad to see the end of it on Friday 🙂

  • This was not the greatest workweek of the year thus far – someone said to me that in other weeks, one or two of those things could have happened and they would be dealt with, but this week it felt like everything conspiring to complicate things. Nothing felt easy. I even asked, “is there a full moon?”
  • So I increased my listening of my current bookish delight, Daisy Jones and the Six. It is my second time listening (my first listen was in November 2020) and if possible, I’m enjoying it even more this time around (and last time it was already a 5-star read for me). If you haven’t yet read the book, I highly recommend the audio version – it is pure delight.
  • I also tried a new dance class this week. It was lovely but I’m going to have to put boundaries in place and just leave. I said to D, in a standard dance class, I stay for exactly 45 minutes and then leave. This time it felt… awkward… because there were only 8 of us and the class was about 70 minutes, so the last 20 minutes had me twitching to leave!
  • A previous purchaser of Break out of overwhelm contacted me to resend her the links as she’d bought the course many, many years ago and wanted a re-listen. What a great idea. Thanks to my previous self, I was able to retrieve it and re-upload to the site for her to listen. I think I also need a re-listen 🙂 If you would like to check it out, here’s the link.
  • Applications for high school continue to progress – it is like a second job at this point and all the open days kick off this Saturday!
  • Another delight this week – I took a chance and drove to the library and they were open. I got to drop off two bags of books so my entrance table is now blessedly empty again. It’s the small things. I also borrowed two Sue Graftons (I’ve been working my way through them, bit by bit, for the last two years) and my favourite John Grisham, A Painted House, for a re-read.

What’s been happening with you this week?

Weekly reflections 1 and a writing practice

First sunset of the new year!

I really want to get back to enjoying writing and blogging like I used to, so hopefully in addition to “proper” posts, I will also get into the swing of some fun posts like this one.

  1. Happy New Year! We were away from home for New Year’s which was different but also surprisingly relaxing. I did exactly what I do on a normal evening, which is go to bed and read, and fall asleep when I’m tired. I looked at my watch and it was 10:30 🙂
  2. I had a stomach bug when I got back to Joburg that knocked me out for two days. Annoyingly, I kept saying for days afterwards, “it’s so nice to eat food and have it stay down” but it really is good when bodies work how they’re meant to.
  3. Our dance classes are not fully back yet so I had to cobble together a dance class yesterday. On the bright side, I have already booked my classes for the week ahead. Yay!
  4. The minute I was better, I had three long and lovely friend dates – a two-hour chat with a neighbour, a four-hour chat with a friend (we usually meet on her birthday but I was away so said, “I’m taking a rain check because our date is always a highlight during the end-of-year period” and another two and a half hour phone call with yet another friend. As an extrovert, it was glorious!
  5. Our kids are now 12.5. Some of you will remember me doing half birthday celebrations in the old days when they were small. Since there have been no parties for two years, we took them for cake as a half-birthday treat.
  6. I’ve spent some good time in the last week putting away 2021 and refreshing my desk and notebooks for 2022. What does this mean? Putting up new calendars, my “22 for 2022” list and my “rest 22 in 2022” tracker. I also looked through my old bullet journal to see if there were any lists I needed to transfer to my new bullet journal (there were!) and set up my 2022 diary.
  7. The kids are back to school this week and… they did their own sorting out of stationery. I love pretty stationery, of course, but checking 8 ballpoint pens off against a list is something they can do for themselves. I delegated, handed over the labels and wished them well. The only things we had to buy were glue sticks (always glue sticks!) and reams of paper. I can’t promise that I’ll be hands-off with the wrapping of the books in plastic covers but this part felt good.

How was your week?

A tiny little update and … Merry Christmas!

I know it’s been so quiet around here.

I’m here but I’ve just been working way too much and too hard. I finished work yesterday which means I finally have mental space to think about the other parts of my life that also bring me joy, like this blog.

If you want to keep up with mostly daily updates, follow my personal, organising or reading accounts on Instagram.

I’m toying with an idea of writing for 5 – 10 minutes for every day in January just to get me out of the habit of not writing. It will take 3 days at this rate to create a blog post but that’s fine; there’s nothing wrong with the outcome happening slower.

On another note, did you hear Gretchen Rubin’s podcast on Wednesday? The 2022 challenge is on rest – perfectly, perfectly timed. And I may just kickstart it with a little writing which is restful for me.

I want to tell you so much – how the 2021 challenge went, how my 2021 word of the year went, what my 2022 word is, and so on, but there’s plenty of time for all that in the next couple of weeks.

For now, thank you for being you, thank you for reading and let me wish you a very, merry Christmas!

A tribute to my friend, Suzanne

Outside the Old Town Jail in Stirling, Scotland

On the night before we went on holiday last month, I saw an email linking to a Facebook status update.

I tapped through and read that my friend, Suzanne, had died. Of course I couldn’t believe it – we are the same age and she was SO full of life. How can this be? I kept asking myself.

Suzy’s mom and I are instagram friends so I sent her a direct voice note to check my understanding because the message was (typically) Suzanne and maybe (hopefully) I’d misinterpreted the odd message. But indeed, Suzy had died from the Delta variant of Covid-19.

Instead of wallowing in the sadness that is the enormous loss of her life, I thought I’d write about the Suzanne I knew.

  1. Suzanne was one of my first real friends that I made on the internet in the good old days of blogging when we would actually reach out to strangers after commenting on each others’ blogs.
  2. She was a veteran podcaster and her first podcast was called Let’s Talk Organizing (in the old days, we listened on our computers).
  3. One day I sent her an email, announced that Dion and I would be visiting Scotland and if she was ready for her next visit, maybe we could spend a few days together. She crunched her numbers and we made it work. We met up in Stirling, Scotland for 3 wonderful days in 2008.
  4. We wrote a free ebook together with Beth Dargis and Ariane Benefit, 100 Surefire ways to organize your busy life, and Suzy and I wrote a course together too, How to be a professional organizer.
  5. My favourite piece of organising advice from Suzanne is “don’t put it down; put it away”. I wrote more in this post.
  6. Four years ago, she interviewed me for her new podcast, So Suzy. Here’s the post. Fun fact – after I appeared on the podcast, she sent me a thank-you pack of so many pens and that is how I was introduced to Papermate Inkjoy gel pens 🙂 🙂 I still have a few of the pens from that original pack.
  7. I also had the opportunity to give her some advice. Here’s her desk after she took up my challenge.
Typical Suzy 🙂

More than all that, I knew Suzanne to be a happy, optimistic and extremely fun person who always made me think I could do things and encouraged me when I wasn’t sure. She also taught me through her own life that changing your mind and moving onto new things don’t have to be scary but are often necessary actions for growth.

We had some hard conversations too but she always had a can-do attitude and was a great problem-solver.

I am so glad and honoured that I had the opportunity to meet and know Suzanne, and I’m thankful that I can still connect to her through her mama!

Thanks for reading, friends. Do any of you remember Suzanne from the good old days of blogging?

Loch Lomond – so cold and so beautiful
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