Lovely things to do this year

I have some routines I like to do around my birthday every year which I thought I’d talk about and link to, so that you can be reminded to do them too, if you’re so inclined.

If your birthday’s at a completely different time of year, put a link to this post in your calendar, a week or so before or after your birthday.

If you’re reading on a mobile device like an iphone, tap the square with an arrow pointing up, copy and paste the link into your calendar.

Here’s my annual birthday routine:

1. Organise a celebration. I believe that every year on this earth is a blessing so I like to celebrate my birthday every year.

2. Do a birthday review. This year I changed one or two questions but the main 4 questions are the same as my monthly review: what worked well, what didn’t work well, what did I learn, what do I need to let go of?

As a reader mentioned in the comments last year, it is a brave thing to do, to face up to things may not have consciously considered, but it’s always good to take an honest assessment of things. If you need some hand holding as you do this work, please book a coaching session with me.

3. Make a list of lovely things to do this year. This is purely a fun list 🙂

I put things on this list like books I’ve always wanted to read, restaurants to try, fun things to do like take a photowalk with a friend to take photos of the jacarandas, things I want to do with Dion or the kids, and recipes I’ve wanted to try.

So far on my list I have to (finally) buy new frames because I’ve had my current frames for about 3 – 4 years (lenses have changed, but I kept the frames).

I also have some fun books I want to read, and I think I finally need to read the Total Money Makeover. I also want to listen to Andre Agassi’s Open.

Keep checking my Instagram because I’ll be sure to post my list when it’s done.

I have a friend who schedules a massage on her birthday, another who always takes a day’s leave to “think about her life” and still another who books all her appointments like gynae, eyes, mammogram in her birthday month. Fun, thoughtful and practical.

Please tell me about your birthday rituals and if you’re not signed up to my list yet, please do so if you want the free “lovely things to do this year” printable. My next newsletter goes out on Tuesday 15th.

Have you done your annual birthday review yet?

Getting motivated, Four Tendencies style

Our theme for this month is refresh and what better way to make yourself feel great than to refresh some parts of your home or office environment, if that’s where you need it. Maybe it’s your schedule where you feel too busy or overwhelmed?

Flylady says, “you can do anything for 15 minutes”. I love this mantra and I repeat it to myself to get me moving with any task I find myself procrastinating.

You have to decide and take a little bit of action before anything will click into place. There is, unfortunately, no magic formula for organising success.

However, there are a few things that will help to get you going, according to your tendency.

If you’re not sure which of the Four Tendencies you are, you may want to take the quiz here.

If you’re an Obliger, make yourself accountable to people with a deadline, and you’ll get your task done. Make a coffee date with a friend, but only once you’ve done an hour’s organising.

If you’re a Questioner, make sure you have a good reason for what you want to get done. If you’re not clear on this, you’re going to battle with the execution thereof.

If you’re a Rebel, perhaps you’d like to remind yourself of your identity? You’re a strong, successful, accomplished person and you deserve to live in an environment that suits such a person.

If you’re an Upholder, you don’t have a problem getting motivated to start. You need to learn to relax. Put “relax” on your to-do list and reward yourself with relaxing activities for each item or two you get done.

Ideas for a mini refresh in the home

1. Top of bedside table
2. Bathroom vanity
3. Handbag
4. Make-up bag
5. Command Central (the place where papers multiply)

Ideas for a mini refresh in the office

1. Top drawer of desk
2. Do your filing.
3. Schedule payment dates for bills in your phone, bullet journal or planner.
4. Organise your desk.
5. Unsubscribe from newsletters (not mine!) for 10 minutes

Ideas for a mini refresh with your time

1. Block off a half day on the weekend to stay home and do nothing
2. Plan meals for a week (this saves you hours over the week)
3. Schedule a recurring phone date with a friend. It will save you the mental energy of having to decide when you will talk again.
4. Cancel a non-important meeting or move it to a time when it suits you better
5. Put an alarm on your phone to Go Sleep!

Whatever you manage to do, give yourself a pat on the back for a time of refreshing!

Where will you do a refresh in your home, office or time?

What’s your tendency?

(I’m an upholder)

I’m on the So Suzy Podcast

Is anybody out there still reading from 10 years ago?

If yes, you may remember my organising buddy, Suzanne Moore.

Suzanne and I both blogged about organising way back in the day when people still commented on blogs. Ah, it was a glorious time back then.

We even met up in Scotland in 2008 and spent 3 wonderful days together in Stirling. Here’s my favourite photo of the two of us at Loch Lomond.

Suzanne also had a podcast back then called Let’s Talk Organizing but nobody knew very much about podcasts back then.

Anyway, Suzanne invited me onto her new podcast and, after some wrangling (what could I possibly have to say?!), I accepted her kind invitation and it was So Much Fun.

Please go and listen at any of these links

iTunes

iHeart Radio

Stitcher

Go have a read and let me know what you think 🙂

Suzanne’s instagram

 

6 questions to ask as you do your half-year goals review

As many of you know, I do a monthly goals review every month before I set goals for the new month ahead.

I find that it helps me take stock of what went well and why, and what I need to work on.

We’re now half way through the year and my question to you is this – are you on track with your goals?

For now, go through these questions with me about the 6 months that have just passed, and answer them honestly.

1. When I think about the last 6 months, what do I feel? Am I excited, disappointed or apathetic about my progress?

You want to get an overall sense of the feeling of the half year. Was it too busy? Did you get big things done? Was it a period you just want to put behind you so you can move on?

2. Which areas of my life are working well, which are neutral and which are not doing so well?

This is to drill down into the areas making up each category so you can fix the not-so-good areas if there’s something you can do about them.

3. Why? Or why not?

For this one, write a little bit about the reasons you feel the way you do about each area.

4. What do I need to let go of or are there places I need to lower my expectations of myself?

These could be actual goals or projects, or unrealistic expectations.

5. What can I do differently to make sure the next 6 months move me closer to my goals?

These are the things you know are true for you.

Some of my ideas are:

  • First work on my own goals and then scroll social media.
  • Schedule important project work.
  • Don’t compare yourself to others.

And the last question…

6. How am I living out my word of the year?

If you chose a word for the year, are you living it out intentionally? Do you think about how to incorporate it in your daily life? Is it just not working for you? If yes, here’s your permission to change your word.

Over to you.

My challenge to you is to answer these 6 questions honestly to take stock so you can have a successful second half of the year.

What’s in my handbag?

I showed you what’s in my handbag just over two years ago.

I can’t believe I used this small handbag 🙂

What's in my handbag? | www.organisingqueen.com

And then I bought a brown leather handbag – I still have it – that I used non-stop for about a year and a half before I started swopping out bags again.

The brown bag | www.OrganisingQueen.com

And then a colleague brought in a bag she’d bought online that was so soft I couldn’t stop touching it, and smelled so good that I had to put in my own order.

Here’s a picture of my bag!

But this post is not about the bag, but about the contents. Although you should get one or three 🙂 This post is not sponsored but I’m a huge fan – customer service is outstanding and the quality of the bags is amazing. Please sniff and feel mine when we meet 🙂

I tend to keep two sets of items in my handbag:

1. things I always have with me

  1. wallet
  2. phone
  3. make-up
  4. tissues
  5. charger and powerbank
  6. glass microfibre cloth (for glasses and iphone)

2. things I add when I’m going to work

  1. bullet journal
  2. Moleskine
  3. pencil bag

I keep the first set of stuff in a silver pouch except for my phone which always (no matter the bag) belongs in its own separate pocket.

I toss the silver pouch into whichever bag I’m using.

Then if I’m going to work, I add the second set of things, or if I’m going to gym, I have a water bottle and sweatshirt instead.

If I’m going to church all the things go in, but I add my church notebook and the water too!

I will add that I always have an apple and bottle of water with me, but not when I’m going to work since I take a whole lunch bag (which has an apple) and there’s water there 🙂

It’s very simple and yet works so well for me.

What’s in your bag? I’m really keen to see what is different for you.

And please, as always, ask me any questions in the comments!

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 🙂

What’s in my pencil bag?

I have this thing where I really don’t like to be without things I like to use.

Some may call that crazy; I call it being prepared 🙂

Some may think I carry too much around with me (that may be true) but I just really like knowing that I have exactly what I want or need.

Today I’m going to show you what I keep in my pencil bag.

It is true that the bigger your pencil bag, the more junk you’re likely to carry around with you.

(have you seen those enormous A5 pouches? They actually call them pencil bags!)

This pencil bag is actually a makeup bag I bought at the end-of-year cosmetics sales.

I manage to squeeze quite a bit into it:

  • 2 small post-it pads
  • a flash drive with photos I need to print next time I’m near a photo print place
  • flags for reading or writing a short note
  • Fitbit charger
  • permanent marker
  • wax highlighter
  • 6 pens – yes, I do need them all. How will I know if I feel like making notes in blue, green or pink?

Let’s take a look at those pens:

And that’s it – my standard daily planning arsenal – pencil bag, Moleskine weekly planner notebook and my bullet journal.

Do you like stationery? Do you carry a pencil bag with you?

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.

Your silent to-do list

I like to think of tolerations as silent to-dos.

What are tolerations?

They’re those things that are not glaringly obvious but annoy you a little bit every time you see them or think about them.

And they definitely drain your energy. They also make you feel guilty (I really should change that lightbulb/ clear off that end table/ take that donate pile to the car) or resentful (why doesn’t person X/ Y or Z see this thing that needs to be done?!)

I’ve written about tolerations before and how lovely they were once they were taken care of. Interestingly, one of those tolerations has reared its head again. Grrr.

A toleration for you might not be one for me, and vice versa.

I can’t stand broken things or things out of place or things that have run out and not been replaced (toilet roll, roller towel, soap, etc.) so those kinds of things are my hot buttons. A photo frame or canvas that’s skew doesn’t phase me in the least unless it’s really bad.

Notice your tolerations and how they show up in your life.

  • Do you literally groan out loud when you see a toleration?
  • Does a part of your body tense up ?
  • Do you sigh? Do you frown?

Notice the physical and emotional signs that show up for you.

Now what?

Write these things down on a master to-do list or on my Get it done day list. This is a separate list aside from your House to-do list. The reason is you can knock off a whole lot of these quick things in a short time, and they’re usually really low cost.

Gretchen Rubin often talks about a power hour and that is a really good use of that time to knock off some tolerations too.

So, once you have your list, take an hour every weekend (we all have an hour!) and schedule in your get it done time (I used to do a once a month Get it done day and take 4 hours to knock off a ton of things). If you need money to take care of these things, then set aside some money every month to get some things done.

Who’s ready to tackle some tolerations this weekend?

Tag me on Instagram @organisingqueen so I can cheer you on.

5 steps to a tidy study

I seem to have “tidy study” on my to-do list every week so I decided to go back to basics and share those basics with you too.

Here are the 5 steps I’m following to my organised home office:

1. Have a plan and make the rules clear to all those who use it
Do not allow anything in there that doesn’t belong. Decide what the space is used for and only keep items relating to that purpose there.

My kids can use the table in the study but they need to take their stuff out afterwards.

2. Divide the space into zones
There may be a children’s desk for homework and school projects, a reading corner, the filing area and a computer desk. It is easier to keep the study organised and neat when you know where everything should go, e.g. books should only be in the reading corner and not on every desk.

No-one but me uses my actual computer desk because the crafting area is my big, green table.

3. Store items where they are used
If two people use the study, then have a wastepaper basket at each desk. And have two sets of staplers, scissors, etc. This will prevent your stuff going “missing” from your area. Have a punch and file tabs wherever you do your filing, if you like to file.

4. Batch routine tasks
Keep all items that you need to file together so that you file 5 pieces of paper at once. Make all your telephone calls at the same time. Write out all greeting cards and wrap gifts for a month at a time. Your friends and family will feel loved and cared for, and you will feel accomplished!

5. Tidy your study every day
Take just 5 minutes and do a quick tidy-up of the desk when you’re finished working every day. Throw trash away, make neat piles of paper if they’re in-progress (label with post-it notes), put pens and pencils back in the holder and take cups and glasses to the kitchen.

This is where I slack because I often forget to leave 5 minutes to tidy up on the evenings I’m on my computer.

When you keep things under control on a daily basis, it is easy to maintain the order of an organised space.

Do you have a routine to keep your office space neat and tidy? Or does it not matter to you?

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