If you get sidetracked with your phone or computer…..

I know I’m not the only one who does this…

I get on my computer to, let’s say, write a blog post.

Thirty minutes later, I’ve read other people’s blogs, played with photos and done many other things but not actually written the blog post.

These days I have a simple trick that’s really helping me – I write a list of things I am allowed to do at the computer and keep it right in front of me.

Some of the items may be non-computer things like painting my nails if I need to wait for things like photos to download, which helps me to not go to feedly to read blogs while waiting 🙂

actual computer to-do list from last weekend

Try it – especially if you also get sidetracked and let me know how it works for you! This will obviously work just as well for your phone.

What are your computer tricks to keep you focused?

(while specifically writing, I like to set my iPhone timer for 15-minute blocks)

3 ways to Konmari your digital life

You all know I’m a big fan of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

And I know exactly why she calls it life-changing – because then you start thinking of every area of your life in terms of sparking joy.

I have on my list to write about Konmari-ing your to-dos but for today, I want to talk about Konmari-ing your digital life!

Because we can’t see digital clutter as obviously as we can see physical clutter, we often don’t realise it’s there but believe me, it’s still affecting you, especially with distraction and overwhelm.

When you open your inbox, you feel drained at the sight of all those emails, your computer runs slow because there’s so many photos on there and when you go into Instagram, you can’t believe how much some people post because you were on just this morning and your feed is full again.

Sound familiar?

Let’s look at 3 places where you can Konmari digitally and then add some joy into your life again:

1. Free printable downloads

We women like free things, don’t we? As a result, we download anything and everything we can find that’s for free. If it’s free, it’s got to be good, right?

Actually, it’s not all good. Not only are you cluttering up your computer but you can’t possibly use all the things that are out there because we now live in an information-overload society.

I’m not immune. At one point I had about 6 different grocery shopping lists on my computer, all of them free downloads.

What I do these days is honestly ask if I’m going to use something. If not, I don’t even download. And when I clear out my document folders, I ask myself if that cute printable really sparks joy. If not, I delete.

Also, here is your permission to delete my free stuff too if it no longer serves you. I know it works for me but we’re all different.

2. Emails and email notifications

My organizing clients need help with email more than any other thing in their office, and paper’s a close second. That’s because email’s so fast and because we don’t use it correctly.

Get familiar with the delete key (my favourite key on my physical and phone keyboard) and start deleting. Delete immediately once you’ve replied to an email and don’t file unless you absolutely have to. Sometimes you need to keep an attachment but not the email.

If you’re trying to save money or (as in my case) not buy books, unsubscribe from all the deals emails. If you really need to know about something, trust that it will still come your way (like through Instagram stories, in my case!)

Something I personally do is delete from and send quick replies “thanks for the payment” on my phone, but I answer emails that need longer responses from a computer.

Disable all the notifications from Facebook, Instagram and the like. I only get friend requests, messages and notes on my wall in my inbox. The rest I’ll see when I log on once a week or so. I’ve long disabled Facebook and Messenger from my phone – best decision ever.

Here again, decide on your comfort level for emails and make sure you process until you feel joy again. For me at work, that’s when I can view all my emails on one screen.

3. Instagram

How many people are you following on Instagram? Are you aware of how long you take to read all of those posts every day? Do you set a limit for yourself or is it only the upholders among us?

I’m as guilty as you are even though my Instagram use has shortened dramatically over the last two years.

Just this weekend, the same thing popped up from a number of people in my feed.

Stop scrolling through everyone else’s lives and run the race set before you – Christine Caine

Take some time to go through and declutter the feeds of those you tend to skim over. Get to know your comfort number. I still try to create before I consume any content but yes, it’s hard, especially when you’re tired.

I read another great quote on Lara Casey’s site last year – “idleness … is different than truly resting”. Often we tell ourselves that we’re resting but really, when we’re done scrolling Instagram, do we feel truly rested?

I feel like this is just the start of an Instagram conversation because I have More Thoughts but please tell me how you feel about Instagram.

What are your biggest battles? Do you use it to escape or when you’re bored? Or is it true inspiration, connection time with friends, or build your business time?

Your coaching challenge for this week should you take me up on it is to work on one of these three areas, and come tell me in the comments which you’ll do, and give us feedback when you’re done.

Lower your Christmas expectations

My family made a Christmas fun list sometime during November.

One of the things on the list (added by me) was to make Christmas cards. In years past we made them and it was a lovely pleasant activity.

Well. It appears those days are past.

We had one session of utter craziness that left none of us feeling peace and goodwill towards men, so I went to the shops and bought Christmas cards for my own sanity and peace of mind.

They had no problems writing in ready-made Christmas cards so that is what we did this year.

I had to lower my expectations, you see, or make the cards all by myself.

Of course that made me think about Christmas on the whole, and how, when we see all the Instagram and Facebook perfection of families crafting, baking, wrapping and decorating, we can start feeling resentful about our own real lives.

I’m here to relieve you from the expectations and help you to lower the bar.


Here’s how I’m lowering the bar this Christmas:

  1. I’m focusing on the things that make Christmas special for us and leaving behind everything else.
  2. We will go to church on Christmas morning to make sure that Jesus is our focus.
  3. I’ve long said that the way to have a happy holiday or event day (Christmas, Thanksgiving, birthdays, Mother’s Day, etc.) is to stay completely off social media. I do like to post a picture in the morning but if I miss it, I’ll post one that night and that will be it.
  4. I’m only giving presents to a few people that I will be seeing. I remember years past when I’d buy/ make presents for so many friends and frantically try and see everyone. No thanks – that sounds like a headache rather than joy to me this year. I may change next year but we’ll see.
  5. Speaking of presents, I know what I want for my To Marcia From Marcia gift, but I can’t be bothered to go get it while the shops are crazy busy.
  6. The longer you think about things, the more you stress (in a lot of cases) so I’m not even thinking about food until I finish work on Thursday 🙂 Someone told me Woolworths is already running out of food and I said, “well, then we’ll make do somewhere else.
  7. It’s nice to have a Christmas fun list but treat it like a suggestion, not a must-do list. E.g. we have an item to have Christmas-themed doughnuts from Krispy Kreme. Well, it turns out no-one actually likes those doughnuts – they all want just the plain glazed ones 🙂 But… everyone wants to do far more baking than I feel able. So I’ve told them we will do two easy things and each child will bake with me once.


Last but not least, don’t feel pressured to feel emotions you don’t feel. If you’re not feeling utter joy, that’s okay. If you’re not feeling peace and goodwill towards your fellow man, that’s also okay. I have a feeling Jesus wasn’t all happy and smiley all the time too, so you’re in good company.

Decide what you want to feel this Christmas and focus on those desired feelings. And remember to communicate your needs to your family. There’s no rule that says you need to be around people for hours and hours on end.

Some of you are aghast at what I’m saying but it doesn’t mean you love your people any less if you want to escape and do something by yourself for a bit.

I once asked my friend Beth about an extended family holiday weekend they have every year. She wisely told me they realise they’re mostly introverts so no one feels bad to just go off and do their own thing for an hour or two throughout the day. Isn’t that insight great?

That’s what I want to leave you with today – know what you need, create the time for it and you’re sure to have a great Christmas day.

Does your inside always match whats going on around social media?

Where do you need to lower your Christmas expectations?

PS some clever gift ideas in case you’re stuck

Technology and your Tendency – part 2 (personal)

Technology in my personal life

I find that these days my behaviour seems “strange” or “weird” in such a highly connected world.

You see, I check Whatsapp, texts and personal emails when I want to, which is not all the time. And it seems to me that many other people respond to everything as it comes in.

I disable all notifications because I don’t want to be distracted from the task or activity at hand. This includes Instagram, Facebook is off my phone, and of course, Whatsapp, texts and email.

I don’t even keep the ringer on my phone on unless I expect a call, like if I’m expecting a delivery at home or a client to arrive. My Fitbit Flex2 vibrates when there’s an incoming call and yes, I do think about whether I want to answer or not 🙂

In South Africa, most people pay much more for texts than they do for Whatsapp, so 99.9% of people use whatsapp over texts. I get 300 texts free on my phone plan and so I try texting as much as possible. However, I never expect people to respond quickly unless something is truly urgent,  e.g. we’re meeting and you’re going to be late, or we’re meeting and the restaurant has closed (this has happened far too many times!) Interestingly, my nanny doesn’t get free texts so I text, she responds on Whatsapp, and so we go on our merry way 🙂

I find typing on a smart phone very cumbersome so my preference is to never do it 🙂 but when I do, I prefer short messages.

I love Whatsapp for groups. We have a book club group, a Bible reading group and one of my kids’ teachers has set up a group for their class notices. What I don’t love about Whatsapp is that feeling of being checked up on with the ticks going blue (this is something I only found out about in the last couple of months!). I then added a note to my profile saying I only check Whatsapp once a day, and to call if something is urgent.

On another note, I sometimes have friends email me to say “I sent you messages on Whatsapp but I see you haven’t read them” 🙂

That’s correct. I check my phone quickly once I arrive at work as an hour has elapsed… and then my phone goes back in my bag 🙂

On another note, I have in the past responded quickly to a message, and the friend was upset that my response wasn’t considered enough…that is exactly why I like to wait and take my time, and why I can’t respond when I’m at work. I will often think, “do people actually work at work?” Maybe I’m old-school but I don’t feel it fair to my employer to be on my phone when I’m supposed to be working 🙂

With email, I read them morning, noon and night but I only respond when I’m at a real keyboard so that I know I can type a proper response.

Image result for four tendencies picture

How the Four Tendencies plays into all of this technology

The Four Tendencies talks to how we respond to expectations, both inner and outer, which is perfect for this discussion.


I asked Sarah in the instagram post if she was an Obliger since she felt pressure to respond to messages. She clarified that once she understood that texts didn’t necessarily mean she had to respond quickly and could treat them as email, they were now on her agenda and, as an Upholder, she’s much happier since. Awesome.

If you’re an Obliger, my guess is you’re the one quickly responding to texts/ whatsapps/ emails, etc.


As I explained in way too many words above and in the previous post, I decided what role technology plays in my life (inner expectations), have told all friends/ family/ clients (outer expectations) and so I manage it all very nicely (in my view).

Upholders need clarity about a situation (usually inner) and then they’re good at following through.


Questioners respond to inner and outer expectations as long as it makes sense for them to do so.

I would imagine that if a Questioner had to set up their technology boundaries, there would be a lot of why and who said so in their reasoning.

I checked my thinking with a Questioner colleague and she pretty much confirmed that she has (internal) rules for all technology and basically questions everything. Who said I need to respond to text messages? So she never responds to texts (that was news to me so I won’t be texting her :)) She doesn’t think Facebook is useful so has a profile but never goes there and loves Instagram for a few reasons so uses that extensively. She loves an empty inbox so works hard to keep it manageable all the time.


Rebels reject both inner and outer expectations. I know they don’t like anyone or anything to be the boss of them, so they need to decide how they identify and then they will do accordingly.

Amanda, a Rebel, told me something interesting. Being good at her job is something she’s internalised so she’s great at email, keeping track of projects, and phone calls that are urgent. Please notice she decided this is who she is so it’s easy for her to manage.

I love what she told me about her personal life. She’s good at making meeting times, etc. Usually she plans to get back to emails and phone calls when she feels like it, but it takes a while, if ever, to feel like it. Brilliant! She feels like it more when the people are people she’s close to or care about. Again, she’s decided who the important people are, and those expectations she has no trouble meeting in a reasonable timeframe.

Thank you so much, Amanda, for emailing me.

And last but not least, there were some questions on the podcast:

Does a text imply urgency? (Well, as an Upholder leaning to Questioner, I do question if it actually is urgent first, but generally, it doesn’t imply urgency to me.)

Do you ever let your mind wander anymore? (I do, in my Barre180 class and when I go walking by myself or with the kids. When I shower, cook, clean or organise, I listen to podcasts and when I drive to work, I listen to audiobooks or podcasts)

Which social media fits your life best ( . . . or worst?) I love Instagram the most because it’s visual (I’m highly visual), I can say as little or as much as I want. I also find it to be a very positive environment.

Where is your mental white space? I like to think that I’ve designed a life where I have enough mental white space in my regular life. I only ever feel overwhelmed about once or twice a year, and that’s usually during very busy times at work.

Tell me what you think.

What role does technology play in your personal life? And if you haven’t mentioned it yet, what is your tendency?

Technology and your Tendency – part 1 (work)

I follow a podcast, Best of Both Worlds, that I recommend especially if you’re a full-time working mother who works at a workplace, not at home. Let’s face it – most podcasts (or most that I listen to) are hosted by either SAHMs or WAHMs whose time is a lot more flexible.

Sarah wanted a podcast that more represented her life so she started one (very Upholder-ish) with Laura.

On this episode, they discuss the role of technology in their lives and ask some really great questions, both on Instagram and in the blog post:

My technology philosophy

  1. I’m a big Dr Phil fan (even though I last watched an episode when I was on maternity leave 8 years ago!) and because I believe that “you teach others how to treat you”, I believe that you need to communicate your preferences to the outside world.
  2. I also believe that if you respect your time, so will others. The reverse is also true. If you don’t respect your own time, why would others respect yours? If you’ve heard me speak, no doubt I’ve said this during my talk 🙂
  3. Design your life around priorities, and then let the other bits fill up your time. No surprise here.
  4. Technology is a tool so to my mind, that means I am still the master. I love technology – I love that I can FaceTime my friend in Dallas at the start of her day and the end of mine, and I love Whatsapp Audio for podcast club.

Technology at work

I work in a highly email culture. Even if I talk to a client about something, I have to follow it up with an email, and then save that email in a client folder on a shared drive.

This is life in a highly regulated industry and doesn’t bother me at all.

I don’t feel the need to have my work emails come through to my phone unless I’m at a seminar/ client meeting and therefore out of the office for more than say, two hours at a time.

Once I’m back in the office, I turn off those emails.

Then, when my out of office assistant is turned on, I specify that if something is urgent, to call or text me.

(to date, I’ve had maybe 10 messages and I’ve worked at this company for over 3 years)

I don’t mind texts/ Whatsapps from clients if I’m away from the office but as a means to chase up an email, I simply don’t respond. I will then respond to the client’s email in the usual manner (and I don’t even reference the Whatsapp).

Can you tell that I’m an Upholder yet? 🙂

I have a Questioner colleague who blocks clients once they whatsapp her. As she said to me, why would they want to do that if our official communication method is email or phone?

I will take work calls from 7:30 ish to about 6 – 6:30 if I know we’re working on something urgent. Otherwise I just don’t answer my phone.

I am very reliable, hardworking, etc. and very prompt so it’s never necessary to chase me up, and I think I’ve trained my clients to expect that I will get back to them as soon as I can.

I don’t make friends with people I work with on Facebook. I had some very inappropriate comments made about my Facebook activity many years ago by a work person so that’s it – I blocked, unfriended and unfollowed this person.

What is the role of technology in your life? How do you relate to it in a work context? And how do you see this linking up with your Tendency?

I love to talk about this stuff – please ask questions in the comments!

Part 2 will be published next week – if you know your tendency and especially if you’re a Rebel or a Questioner, please email me and tell me everything, if you’re so inclined. It will really help me flesh out my next post.

What I learned when I had no internet

My internet service provider gave notice to all its customers and, long story short, we went with a new one but cancelled during the cooling-off period due to terrible service. Signed up with another and we have wifi again 🙂

During this time, I could use data on my phone but it’s so, so expensive that I tried not to revert to my phone and just do without.

I learned so many things during the month:

  1. I slept a lot more. My average sleep time for September is 7 hrs 46 vs 7 hours 25 for August.
  2. Life was very quiet on the friendship front too. I realised I make quite a few whatsapp audio calls and also couldn’t Facetime with a friend I normally have a monthly date with.
  3. I read a lot more than I usually do. I read 13 books in September. My average is 10 books a month, but in August I only read 8.
  4. I got a lot of organising done in the house – my wardrobes, kids’ wardrobes, kitchen cupboards, etc. And much pottering!
  5. The photos were completely up to date. Absolutely up to date. I don’t think I’ve ever been that up to date before 🙂
  6. I learned that my cell phone provider offers a free Instagram day every 6 days, and free Facebook every 6 days too. Those were the days I scrolled a lot, and on other days I used data to get on Instagram to post, and then I got off.
  7. I downloaded podcasts at work to listen to in the car.

Of course, I’ve made up for all that non-wifi time but I’m very conscious now that when I choose to scroll Instagram, I’m choosing not to go for a walk, read, sleep or get stuff done on my list.

Have you had a period of non-internet time? What did you get done during that time?

Have you considered going phone-free every week or month?

PS I heard on a podcast about Andrea Lucado (Max Lucado’s daughter) who takes the weekend off social media every week. It feels quite radical and strangely freeing too 🙂

PPS there’s another person (whose name escapes me) who takes the last week of every month off!

Does the thought of going offline feel freeing or terrifying?


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.

Memory-keeping: the system that works for me

Since this month is a month I want to focus on relationships, I thought I’d write one post to show you all about my memory-keeping, and at least I can then link to this one instead of the 5 or so on the blog 🙂


  1. I take tons of photos on both my camera and iphone, and use photos from both devices for my albums. I’m still partial to my big camera (Canon) but life is much easier with my iphone 6 since the quality of the photos is so magnificent. As they say, the best camera is the one you have with you. And I add, keep your big camera out so you’re more likely to use it.
  2. I do a 52-week photo project of the kids. This is my third year.
  3. I then choose 4 pics per child per month, and 4 pics of them together. Because I take so many photos, I purposefully choose images for that are not from our 52 project pics. One day soon, I’ll just print the 52 photos for our album but that day has not arrived yet. These limitations have given me a lot of freedom.
  4. Then I do project life. Here’s how I used to do it and here’s how I now do it.
  5. The key to successful memory-keeping is being realistic about time and money.
  6. And here’s where I talk more about money because all of this stuff costs money so the key is to think about what will work for you.

How do you preserve your family’s memories?

What have you found is the most realistic method for you, both in terms of time and money?

If this is one of your goals for the year, join me for monthly accountability coaching to get your things done this year!

So I did a social media fast


I’ve only done a social media fast once before, about 3 years ago.

I can’t remember exactly what my restrictions were then, but I do remember not blogging or reading blogs was one of the big things.

This time I just had a sense that I needed to stop the noise for a bit and use that time to pray.

And then our church just finished a celebration week called #nationscalledtoprayer which inspired me to get going.

I chatted to a friend who agreed to do it with me but I would have gone the distance alone too (I’m an Upholder, remember?).


Some of my self-imposed rules:

  • only allowed to post to Instagram and reply to my own posts’ comments
  • no random Facebook scrolling
  • I don’t do twitter or snapchat or any of those other things
  • no blogging – both posting and reading – I had two posts scheduled
  • no non-Christian podcasts
  • no fiction; only allowed to read the Bible and non-fiction Christian (more on this later)
  • email was allowed


Here are some of the things I learned over the week:

  1. When I posted on Monday morning, I asked for prayer requests. As these came in, I wrote them down in my bullet journal and prayed over them faithfully every day. I’m still taking prayer requests and I won’t stop praying for your situations. I honestly felt privileged to pray and while prayer is not really my thing, I love praying for others. I prayed a lot for rain (it rained twice!).
  2. I’m a more engaged mother, wife, friend, colleague when I’m not seeing my phone blinking at me. No surprise.
  3. I read some hard bits in the Bible that spoke to some things I’m going through. I learned that I need to be unplugged to hear some things clearly.
  4. I have to leave my phone to charge outside my bedroom every single night (I’d got lazy over the months). It’s amazing how focussed you are with reading when there isn’t a blinking phone to distract you.
  5. By the same token, life is better when I leave my phone in my bag when at work. One day I worked from home, my computer was having trouble connecting to my work emails but my phone was working, so I was answering work emails on my phone. And if you saw comments or “accidental” likes on your posts, it probably happened that day 😮
  6. I loved checking in with my friend to encourage and be encouraged by her. We spoke twice last week, and whatsapped daily, and emailed a couple of times. All of this was great to keep us both on track and remind us both to stay focussed.
  7. It was hard for me to see my podcasts piling up……. but awesome to get up to date with my photos.
  8. There’s so much time without social media. Seriously, hours and hours in the evening. I practised my Spanish, cooked, ate, and then there were still 3 – 4 hours left before sleep.
  9. I felt like while I connected less on social media, I connected more fully when I did engage with people whether in person, on the telephone or even via whatsapp.
  10. I really need to be reading fiction. My usual routine is to start a book on a Thursday night, just enough to whet my appetite for my weekend reading. On Friday I could no longer resist and I started a book which felt all the sweeter because I hadn’t read any fiction for 4 whole days 🙂 To make up for my lapse, I made sure to finish my non-fiction book on the weekend.

That’s it.


Will I do it again?

Undoubtedly. It was one of the most fun weeks I’ve had this year, a wonderful time of sharing with my friend and a great time of praying for other people.

In fact, I think I want to do something like this for a couple of days a month but

How might I change things?

Next time I will allow myself some fiction reading daily so I don’t binge when I start (I read that book in about 6 hours flat).

Have you ever done a social media fast? What were some of your restrictions?

One year on Instagram

I remembered last week but then completely forgot that on Wednesday 18th May my Organising Queen Instagram feed turned ONE.

(yes, it’s a thing)


My first picture was of two notebooks (of course!) and Instaport is not co-operating so I’m not able to show you right now.

Anyway, these are the 3 posts with the most likes: (I’m pleased to see my floors featuring :))

Fullscreen capture 5192016 83325 PM

And these are the 3 posts with the most comments:

Fullscreen capture 5192016 83459 PM

This year I have 3 main goals for my Instagram:

  1. to increase engagement (that means I want you to talk back) both on Instagram and on the blog
  2. double my followers
  3. keep my content pretty and, most of all, inspiring

What would you like to see on the Organising Queen instagram?

PS next big date is 25 May, anniversary date of my book 


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...