{Time management} When you’re too busy to sort out urgent things

Did anyone notice that I haven’t posted for weeks? No? That’s okay.

My website (and this blog) has been down for at least a week and a half before I had the time and mental space to book someone to attend to it.

Two interesting facts:

  1. I don’t believe in the phrase “I don’t have time” – exhibit A, my book, 31 days of Enough Time.
  2. It is tremendous growth for me to not “freak out” about a website being down.

With regards to number 2 above, this has happened a couple of times over the last few years. In the before times, I’d immediately book a person to attend to it and would not rest until it was sorted.

This time, I looked at the error, thought I should be able to fix it (I do like the methodical part of playing with a website, and tinkering until things are just right.) but knew I didn’t have either the mental bandwidth or early evening time (trust me when I say you should not mess around with your website if your brain isn’t fully awake – this involves emails to web people that say “help – I messed up!”).

So I just left it until I had time to look at it.

I was able to fix one tiny thing but not the bigger issue so I hired that piece out.

And lo, here I am blogging again.

Time management literature says that fixing the website is a Quadrant 1 activity – important and urgent.

However, my Quadrant 2 activity was tending to my health (sleep, stress management by putting in extra work hours so I could sleep – yes, a circular argument, and exercise) first and then once calm, I could attend to that Quadrant 1 activity.

I shared all that to say this: sometimes the best thing to do is to invest the time necessary to make you feel calm, no matter what that looks like.

Sometimes work colleagues will be adamant in talking to me about shutting off their computers at exactly 5pm. I’m not saying this is wrong but I am questioning whether 30 extra minutes of work might give you a better evening’s rest and certainly, more rejuvenating sleep.

Just a little something to think about.

Are you investing enough time in Quadrant 2 of The Time Matrix?

A February recap of goals and letting things go

This month I thought I’d give you an update on my 23 goals in 2023 and talk about a project I am letting go.

#23goalsin2023

I think a good goals list has a mix of things you can do quickly, things that are a bit of a stretch and things that you need to continually do.

My 23 in 2023 list is exactly this and while I was only able to cross one thing off in January (7. Listen to one month of Let’s Read the Gospels podcast), I crossed off three in Feb and let one go.

This month’s wins

  1. I applied for and received my passport all in the same month. I’d heard that it takes 6 – 8 weeks but I received a text message 5 days later, which is beyond excellent.
  2. I have also now figured out a good laundry schedule (it is helped greatly when the sun shines!) and tested it for a whole extra month.
  3. I have also set up deep cleaning days and a schedule for what happens then. I booked an extra cleaning day! While it feels luxurious, I realised that I really like a clean house and I’d rather go without other things to have this extra help in place.  

Solar is not yet installed but I have followed-up; they have my application and I am on the waiting list. So exciting with us on stage 6 loadshedding.

What about that project I abandoned?

I had on my list to do #Gooutside23in2023 80% of the time.

Did you know that I hate being outside? The only time I like it is in winter, autumn when it’s cold, straight after it rains and when I’m at the beach. My body does not like the sun (heat headaches mentioned above) and mosquitoes love me. As I type this, I have mosquito welts all over my body from the days of heat we’ve been having.

So why would I put something like this on my list? Because I got caught up in New Year madness, that’s why.

I would love to be a person who likes being outdoors but I’m very much indoorsy.

However, I calculated that 3 days in office every week plus Zumba on Saturdays and church on Sundays equals 5 out of 7 days I get out of the house. 71% of the time will just have to do… and I’m no longer tracking it.

Do you need to abandon a project? Not that you need it, but here is your permission slip.

What were the month’s hits and misses for you in February?

I still use a paper diary. Here’s the 2023 one.

I’ve written many, many times before about how it’s important to know what works for you in terms of planning.

My perfect diary is a weekly format, preferably some space for other notes too and enough space horizontally.

I’ve used the same type of diary as I’m using this year before – in 2018 and 2020. I like that I can zip up a pen or thin bullet journal inside and nothing falls out.

Let me show you more:

This is the monthly goals and planning page – goals, to-dos, birthdays and other important dates.
This is the monthly overview – I LOVE this page because there’s space for plenty of tracking – I track work from office days, exercise days as well as actual events.
This is the weekly view. I use the top section for events and the bottom for any specific daily to-dos. I write my weekly goals in the bottom left section (Priorities) and my weekend to-dos in the notes for the week section.

Here’s the key: I take some time every Sunday afternoon/ evening to update my diary for the week ahead so that this tool is truly useful and not just lovely to look at.

Do you use a paper or digital planner/ diary? When do you update it?

January 2023 goals and word wrap-up

I thought it would be fun to bring in a monthly goals review component to the blog in the hopes that something I say might inspire you to keep on, or shift something in you to spur you on.

Gretchen recommends putting a variety of goals on your list – some once-off items, some bigger items and some things that are more project-based that will last the whole year.

I wrote down my 23 goals late last year/ early this year and as at the end of January, I have now completed 1 – keep up with one month of Let’s Read the Gospels, a daily Bible podcast by Annie F Downs.

It was an easy goal to achieve – I simply subscribed to the podcast so it popped into my feed every day. I do have a habit of listening while I prepare supper/ get ready for the day (after my 20 minutes of non-fiction is done) and it was actually lovely to listen to her reading the gospels to me.

Fun fact – I have continued listening although I am looking for a full Bible podcast (maybe the New Testament to start). I tried out several that popped up in my podcast feed but they all felt too… boring.

What about my word, tend?

January has been all about setting up systems for me – systems for good work, systems for good health and systems for home and relationships.

I feel like the tending is not very sexy at the moment, but it is necessary so I can stay the long haul tending to everything I need to.

So far, so good.

And overall January goals?

I set 23 goals and ended up with 83,5% done. Overall, a really good month.

Tell me, how was January as far as goals and your word?

If you would like to have a 1:1 60-minute goals session, contact me for available times.

3 things that are working for me these days

(and by these days I mean January!)

This list could change next month but this is what’s working for me at the moment. I’m fully back at work – this month we’re in the office two out of five days a week, the kids have both had their first week at high school (and were exhausted!), we are adjusting to them having phones and we are dealing with constant (stage 4 – 6) loadshedding.

1. Getting inspiration for meals by actually walking around the supermarket
I go through periods of severe non-inspiration where I cannot even think what I’d like to eat, let alone cook. I am also someone who needs lots of variety in their meals. Add to that the fact that I don’t do the food shopping and Dion online shops all the time.  

I read a book last year, Creative You, which talks about creativity and your MBTI type. I get creative energy as an ESTJ by experiencing the world around me by touching, seeing, smelling, etc. I need to remember this and schedule food shopping dates maybe once a month. I’ve been hot (we have had weather in the 30s C) and with loadshedding, I just have felt so uninspired. The book is excellent for many other reasons and I highly recommend it!

Yesterday though we went for a quick vegetable shop and just strolling around the supermarket (in the blessed aircon!) for 20 minutes inspired me so. I returned home and made a menu plan. It felt so easy!


2. Having a weekly 30-minute power hour to update my lists
I used to schedule a weekly planning session and somehow that has fallen by the way sometime during the last two or so years.

But I’m bringing it back (I might do 23 minutes just to be whimsical). This block of time is to update any books I’ve read in my book bullet journal, update my diary, check on my goals, and update my line-a-day journal.

I find Sunday afternoons work best for this, just before the supper/ getting ready for the week rush, because after supper, I want to peacefully read.

3. Accountability for exercise
I’d got out of the habit of going to my Wednesday evening Zumba class around September/ October. I didn’t enjoy the class as much as I used to and then I was too busy to look for another one.

Well, there’s one thing loadshedding’s good for – my gym opened up memberships to all clubs even if your membership is only at a specific location.

When I found out, I contacted my old Zumba instructor, checked logistics, and told her I’d be in her class on Wednesday evening, and I was.

It was so good and afterwards, I told her that I’d be there every Wednesday as long as this loadshedding lasts.

What’s working for you these days?

How I did on my 2022 goals

As I do every year, I set some goals for 2022. I used Gretchen’s printable, My 22 for 22 List.

Some items were once-off (apply for high schools), some were project-based (read 100 books) and some were continual (Project Life monthly).

I really like having a mix of different types of goals so that they all don’t feel insurmountable at the same time.

So how did I do?

I got 13 done completely, 3 not done at all, and 7 partially done. With about a month since I last looked at the list, I think I was maybe too hard on myself with those 7 partially done because if I were coaching someone else, I’d consider some of them done because one of those partially done goals was at 95%, one at 62% and one at 50%. Oh well – honesty!

Still, not bad in a year that was really not the best at all.

One of the items I’m particularly happy about is getting my will done! It took 5 months of thinking, drafting, redrafting, conversations (so many conversations!), and then we finally had a final copy for signature which was done in December. Yay!

I want to talk separately about my “success” with reading because I really feel like I’ve set up good rhythms and routines that I can rely comfortably on. With almost no effort, I can get through 8 books a month. I mention it here because the one consistent thing many people talk to me about is that they want to read more, and… I can definitely help you with that.

How did you do with your 2022 goals? Can you even remember what you put on your list?

PS Gretchen’s 23 for 2023 list is here

How I did on my Project Upgrade for 2022

Unlike #rest22in2022, Project Upgrade was a huge success.

I just read the first paragraph of my post where I told you about it and it is literally the opposite of what rest was for me… and maybe that’s why it worked so well.

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.

Remember it all started with a hotel facecloth from a hotel… and morphed into a big list of 22 items. As is always the case with these kinds of lists, some things were not as important but other things had to be added onto the list that I couldn’t have anticipated.

Things that didn’t get done

  • we were just about ready to sort out the pool and then our city announced water restrictions so we couldn’t go ahead
  • I still don’t have the big pot I mentioned in that original post (I still want one and welcome your ideas)
  • I have started to simplify our luggage (kids are sorted) but mine could use an upgrade 😉
  • I don’t need a standing desk anymore as we’re in the office so much but I did buy two laptop raisers – one for work and one for home

Good things done that were not on the original list

  • got 4 new tyres
  • got some plumbing sorted out (much, much bigger job that spanned two months)
  • we had to replace a section of our boundary wall
  • I replaced two phone screens
  • I bought a lovely, new laptop bag and handbag (and mouse pad) with some of my bonus
  • I bought new glasses (not covered by medical aid!)
  • I loved the upholstery so much I went wild and did two more chairs and an additional couch

All in all, I still did more than 22 things so this was a big, big success for me.

You’ll not be surprised that I’ve already made a smaller Project Upgrade list for 2023. One of the big items is getting solar panels installed which will solve so many problems in this land of loadshedding and power outages.

Feedback to follow at the end of the quarter 🙂

Do you need to make a Project Upgrade list for 2023? Or maybe a few items on your 23 goals in 2023 should be matters of upgrade?

{goals} It’s time to reflect on 2022 and reset for 2023

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 every year with similar success.

I’m doing the same thing this year with my 2022 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 the last few years) and how to still set yourself up for success, whatever that looks like for you.

Here are the details:

  • $75/ R1000 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 with a Teams link 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 2023. 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.

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?

{Goals} So how am I doing with my own goals?

After last week’s post on how to do a half-year review, I have now finished my own half-year review. Let’s break this down with some concrete numbers and then move into the intangibles.

I set a certain number of goals every month and I track the progress at the end. According to my spreadsheet, I’m at 79% of my goals for the year – two months with 90-something, two months with 60-something and a month each with 70- and 80-something. That’s what resulted in the 79% average.

It feels accurate and like with life, some things go very well and others go very badly.

Things going very well:

  • My reading and fun stuff like photos. I have read so many fun and delightful books this year already and am above my target with 60 books to end June.
  • Sleep (I’m averaging 7:30 and a sleep score of 80) and exercise (in a good rhythm of 3 workouts per week – any more and other areas of my life fall over).
  • Work – I had a great performance discussion. This is especially nice since I’m in a new role.
  • Speaking of work, working at the office two days a week since March has been amazing for this extrovert. I am simply happier 🙂
  • Project Upgrade/ Fix. Things other than what I planned have jumped onto the list but the good things is since my project is top of mind, I’m attending to things quickly, even boring fixes like plumbing!
  • The kids seem to have settled well into Grade 7, both for academics, sports and friendships… just in time to go to high school next year 😉
  • We’ve had all the holidays we planned which is honestly surprising since I’m a) very fussy and b) disorganised this year.

Things going badly

  • #rest 22 in 2022 (I rate myself only at a 43% success because I only consciously rest 3 out of 7 days). As Sarah said on the BOBW podcast, I do rest very well by sleeping every night. I’m considering just…giving up!
  • Our laundry routine still needs lots of work. It feels like a small thing but it affects my weekends more than I’d like.
  • We have made 0% progress on renewing our passports or reapplying for the kids’ passports (we got about halfway just prior to 2020 lockdown).
  • I feel more anxious when out with the general public now that South Africa’s mask mandate has been removed.

What do I want for the second half of the year?

  • Better health
    1. I had two scary episodes of vertigo in the last three months; I was actually so sick at work one day it was awful.
    2. I’ve had full bloods done and I am nowhere near menopause yet but headaches, etc. I mean, honestly.
    3. I also have my mammogram scheduled for tomorrow and want to check one more thing with my doctor.
    4. I also need to keep my cholesterol in check; after two elevated reports, I went for proper blood tests and not only was the result good, but my LDL was low and my HDL was high. According to my goals list, I will check this quarterly.
    5. I also want to read/ follow a good menopause doctor – there are so many symptoms…. how do people know if it’s something else or a menopause symptom?
  • To make a good dent in my life admin – I need to upgrade my phone and I already have decision fatigue so I will put it off til I can’t anymore and then just decide 🙂
  • Get updated wills done

Now, I kind-of feel like I need to have a birthday party next month (also, my birthday’s on an actual Saturday this year!) but do I have the wherewithall to organise it?

So… how are you doing on your mid-year review? What has been working well for you? What do you need to change? What are you looking forward to?

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