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 🙂

Mental nourishment in the form of unplugging

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

Today let’s talk about social media 🙂

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

The social media noise, that is.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What were the results?

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

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

What about you?

How do you think this could benefit your life?

Is it time to do a social media fast?

 

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

My journey with sleep, or how a night owl manages her sleep

Long-time readers will know that I’m quite the sleep evangelist.

Alongside that statement I’m also a night owl and I really would rather read or do all my other stuff than sleep.

But I know sleep is important because we need sleep for our metabolism to work properly and so I set a goal to have an average of 7.5 hours sleep in January 2015. I’ve been tracking my sleep patterns on the Fitbit against that goal ever since then.

The sleeping thing for me doesn’t work as well if I’m not intentional.

I check my Fitbit app regularly and if I’m going off track, I’ll make sure to have a few good nights of early bedtimes (10 pm) even if I read for an hour because when I’m actually in bed, I do get more sleep.

Screenshot from my Fitbit for last year’s sleep

The sleep tracker is my favourite function on my Fitbit. When I mention this to others, they often tell me the same thing because it’s so enlightening. We all think we’re getting more sleep than we actually are because we’re not aware of all our restless and awake times.

Bottom line – I can never stop tracking!

Are you a night owl or a lark?

Do you track your sleep?

Do you find it easy to get all the sleep you need?

What I learned in May

I love these monthly round-ups of what I learned.

Last month, I learned that:

I read fewer books when I have too many non-fiction in my batch

I’ve always known that I read faster when I read fiction only but in May, I read a total of 10 books (previous two months equalled 12 books each), 4 of them non-fiction!

Does your reading speed change depending on what you’re reading?

My headaches are hormonal

I tracked the days when I had headaches especially since the weather is cooler, and noticed that they happened on the same two days of my cycle.

Still not sure what to do as my gynae was all “yes, that’s normal” the last time I mentioned it, but at least I’ve isolated it.

Konmari first, then organise clothes

This year I swopped over my summer and winter clothes, and it was SUPER fast. Like in 30 minutes. Here’s a photo of my wardrobe if you’d like to see, and here’s a photo of my long-sleeved tops.

I have a strong suspicion that it’s because I’d Konmari’d before.

You have to act immediately if you want to catch seasonal photos

Autumn in Johannesburg is a tricky beast. One weekend the leaves are still green, the next they start turning, you have a few short weeks of that glorious golden glow and then they fall off.

This year I had a full weekend when the leaves were glorious, and then the next weekend it rained non-stop the entire weekend, and then half the leaves were gone. I still made the most of it and ended up going on 3 photohunts for beautiful autumn leaves.

I have to track my sleep forever 🙂

I reached my 3-year Fitbit anniversary on 26 May. More than anything else the Fitbit can do, I most appreciate the sleep tracker.

I’d been easily hitting my sleep goal of 7.5 hours, but I’ve really had to work at maintaining that this month. No idea why but I suspect it has something to do with my natural night owl tendencies.

More on this because I need to focus on sleep in my year of happy project for June as the theme is nourish.

What did you learn in May?

PS Thank you for completely indulging my love for all these photos 🙂

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?

Do you store clothes for your kids?

This month I’m focussing on our physical space.

Part of that focus was going to be the kids’ clothes but I got to that at the end of April since that was a good time to sort it out with the weather getting colder.

The thing with kids is they keep growing.

I bought two pairs of school PE pants for each child two months ago during a cold spell and Kendra’s already outgrown that. No, I was not happy about that at all.

Back to the question of this post.

Do you store clothes for your kids?

Most of the time, I don’t.

I used to store a bit in the early days but now there really is no point. Unless it’s an item of clothing a good 2 sizes bigger that will definitely fit during the next season.

Interestingly, I’m a finisher and I noticed that I can’t wait to get done with clothes and get them into the donate box. The good thing is I’ve involved the kids in the process of fitting, donating and moving on since they were babies so there is usually not too much drama when it’s time to let go.

Kendra and I do something which might help for you – if I notice an item of clothing to be too small, we wear it “one last time” so she can savour the wearing of a favourite item.

This is her hugging a favourite sweatshirt as this was the last wear.

The only time I store clothes is if they receive a gift of clothes for a size or two up, and they already have enough for the current season. Or underwear 🙂

I do have a box of clothes for each of them in their wardrobe but that’s purely because they (again) share a room and so we only keep the current season out and hung up/ on shelves. The off season’s clothes are all folded (after the smaller ones are donated) and stored in plastic containers. I actually love our system because it forces me to go through their clothes properly, at least every season, to make space for bigger sizes.

Tell me, do you store clothes for your kids? Do you have a rotation system?

PS Here’s the frugal girl on storing children’s clothes

What I learned in April

This is such a fun part of the month – taking stock of any learning that happened, big or small.

Make Friday Food fancy

On Fridays I either do eggs for supper or I set out a buffet of all leftovers and everyone helps themselves as they wish. It’s a chance for everyone to hopefully get a little taste of their favourites if there’s any left.

Here’s the thing – I set the table nicely and light some candles and suddenly a really lazy supper is elevated and fun for all of us.

Try it and see 🙂

Bible reading accountability

I’ve mentioned my podcast club before. We listened to one episode on prioritising spirituality and there and then we decided to start reading the Bible together again. Fantastic. It’s been great for me.

Here’s the thing – I actually lay my Bible open on my desk (not the computer desk) with my highlighter so it’s ready for me every night. Setting up my environment for success has been great.

The Commitments

For St. Patrick’s Day last month, I bought The Best of The Commitments. This was an album I had on cassette tape back in the old days. I enjoyed it thoroughly that weekend (best R80 ever spent!) but every now and again, I play a song or two and it puts me in an instant good mood. Even the kids love it 🙂

Here’s the thing – buy a song you enjoy (I also bought Southern Cross by Crosby Stills and Nash) and I guarantee it will be the best R8 – R10 you spend. You’ll enjoy it over and over whenever you need a pick-me-up.

Change your crockery

What’s that they say about a change being as good as a holiday?

True. I had on my weekend to-do list to organise my sideboard as I suspected it need a bit of a sort. I was right.

But while I was tidying it, I decided to change my mugs. I have overflow mugs in the sideboard because yes, I do have a thing for mugs. And it’s made me so happy to use new mugs that I didn’t have to pay for 🙂

While I was at it, I changed our plates too. Because, why not?!

Here’s the thing – change something in your house. Move a piece of furniture to a different room, change your cushion covers, or change your crockery.

I still love autumn

Okay, this surprises exactly no-one because I tell everyone how much I love the cooler weather but wow, the colours amaze me every year.

The light’s softer, the trees are amazing and I can’t stop myself from taking photos.

Here’s the thing – appreciating the season you’re in makes you happier 🙂

What have you learned this month?

For your listening pleasure…

I’m a big fan of podcasts as you well know. Then when I was leaving comments on an Instagram feed the other day, I realised I actually have a podcast for everything. Ha!

Podcasts for cooking

Roisin meets – this is a lifestyle podcast by the Irish Times. She interviews (mostly) Irish celebrities of all kinds – authors, musicians, politicians, all sorts of interesting people. Easy listening in the kitchen and I don’t mind pausing to listen to a child asking a question here and there.

Desert Island discs – this is a podcast by the BBC. I’ve only listened to Michael Buble’s one so far because I’m saving them for actual cooking 🙂 The celebrity shares 8 songs they’d take with them on a desert island, and she plays portions too. It’s so fun – and perfectly light for kitchen time.

Podcasts for showering

You need good sound to hear above the water splashing but the podcast also needs to be easy listening because it’s relaxing time.

  • God Centered Mom – also great sound and I listen to every single one of these episodes but… when it’s my GCM Podcast Club episode, then I listen while in the study so I can take notes.
  • The Simple Show has great sound but I only listen to the episodes where she interviews people, and not the chit-chat about books or travel. I listen to some of the home episodes though.

Podcasts for editing photos/ tidying/ cleaning the house

(in other words, mindless activities)

For this category, I suggest long podcasts or those that need you to concentrate on the content… and have a notebook handy.

Off Camera with Sam Jones – I listen to the interviews with only the celebrities I know and since I’m not a big TV/ movie person…. that’s about 5 so far 🙂

What should I read next? – 3 books you love, 1 book you hate, and what are you currently reading… then she recommends 3 books for that reader. I used to not listen to this podcast at all because I don’t read the books these people do (they’re usually literary fiction, and I mostly like a lighter type of novel) but I do listen to most of them now because of the chat before that part of the show. They talk about their reading life and all of that is very interesting to me.

Podcasts for driving

This one is similar to the shower category (for me) because I go on the highway and I listen through my actual phone because my (very old) car doesn’t have all these fancy gadgetry where you can listen through your car’s speakers.

But…. the podcast needs to be upbeat because I’m on my way to work. Bonus if I can get a 40-minute episode since that’s my commute time most days.

Mom Struggling Well with Emily Thomas

The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey

Quiet with Susan Cain – only 9 episodes but like I said on Instagram, 20-something minutes of awesomeness per episode

A podcast for Fridays

Happier. This one publishes every Wednesday morning and I save it in anticipation for my Friday drive to work. I look forward to listening every week – it’s wonderful. Incidentally, this is Gretchen Rubin’s stategy of pairing – to link something pleasurable to something else.

Which are some of your favourite podcasts, and when do you recommend I listen to them?

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