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?

I want to tell you 7 things about reading

Reading is one of my favourite things to do or talk about. When you couple this with my passion, time management, I especially love it when people tell me they don’t have time to read, or enough time to read, and so on.

So not true, guys. I’m not buying it 🙂

You see, I think we all underestimate the amount of time we waste, and more importantly, how much time we have that we fritter away. Someone I follow, Laura Vanderkam, decided to stop scrolling the internet and read instead. She read 14 books in a month. She found 1.5 hours a day and more on the weekend, totalling 13.5 hours a week, without working or parenting less.

Why you and I are not reading more books

How I find time for reading

Another way to find time for reading – this one is probably unpopular

Then, the new thing is people tell me things like they don’t think audio books will work for them without even trying. I know audio is not for everyone.

Like how video is not for me. But I have watched a few Youtube videos, vlogs and such, tried it first and now I can give you reasons why (slow download speed/ impatience/ I like to be doing something and with video I have to actually sit there and watch, for example :))

Back to audio books.

If you have a short commute, remember all those 15 minutes add up. If you have a 15-minute commute, you can easily finish one audio book a month. That’s 600 minutes a month just to and from work.

However, there is also cooking time, cleaning time, editing photo time, scrapbooking time, walking time, gardening time.

I would love you to tell me you listened to a book and then decided it’s not for you. But please try! You can easily add 1 – 2 books to your “read list” every month in this super-simple way.

You may like this post on how I use audio to work for me. One major trick is to find a narrator you like.

Here’s where I shared my love for the Kindle at the 3-year mark. I just passed the 6-year mark two days ago!

When it’s worth it to buy a book

Bonus – free books with Overdrive

How do you prefer to read your books?

Have you tried an audio book yet?

When life throws you curveballs

A reader recently sent me a question asking what my suggestions were for her and for other readers who get thrown from their usual routines by life’s curveballs.

I think this is a great question because she’s right – we all have things that throw us off track:

  • busy time periods at work (month-end/ year-end/ closing out a project/ going live with other projects, etc.)
  • busy periods in our kids’ lives (concert week, recitals or plays)
  • any illness (usually means kids or parents not sleeping)
  • going on holiday (lovely to be away but re-entry can be tough)
  • any out-of-the-ordinary happening that messes with your routine

I’ll share with you my top 3 ways to get back on track:

  1. Lower my expectations

That seems counter-intuitive but it makes complete sense for any of us control freaks.

I know after returning from a holiday that it’s going to take about a week for things to return to our normal. There’s no sense in getting stressed every day because there are piles of undone laundry, no food in the fridge and kids who can’t wake up for school because they’re too tired.

This one step is the biggest creator of peace of mind in the home.

  1. Get back to my basics as quickly as possible

For me, that’s making a menu plan and making sure we have enough fruit and vegetables in the house. I can almost always cobble meals together from the freezer or pantry; it’s when there aren’t enough apples or carrots that I start to twitch. Food is important to me and the family, so this is one of my priorities.

In essence, start putting your routines in order. When we get back from a holiday, I start unpacking immediately because I can’t stand things laying around on the floors and I’ve trained the kids to do the same. They’ve unpacked their own suitcases for the last 3 years.

  1. How can I restore order in the quickest, painless way?

I could take one day, generally the Sunday afterwards, and do laundry non-stop, and while that would be quick, it is not painless for me! I choose to do a daily load until we’re caught up instead as we generally only do the laundry about 3 – 4 times a week. It ends up being just a day or two longer, but knowing that there’s a plan in place helps a lot to keep me at peace!

If doing laundry isn’t painful for you, you might as well get it done quickly.

I read a blog once where the mom used to go to a laundromat, use 6 machines and just get all the laundry done if they had a curveball or two thrown at them. She said she’d take a book, relax for two hours and leave with everything up to date. That actually sounds splendid.

To summarise, I’d give myself two weeks to get back to my routines. Decide what is most important to you, and start doing that thing immediately (as you saw above, unpacking and food for me!).

Then build on those initial steps until your routine – and peace of mind – is restored once again.

What are your basics?

Do you have a strategy for life’s curveballs?

When you over-complicate things…

I do some planning every weekend:

1) my weekend to-do list

This gets written on a Friday after work and has a combination of events, things to organise, things to do in the house and relaxing things.

This is my sweet spot combination of getting out (for my extraverted sensing self), staying home and being productive and actually relaxing.

2) my weekly planning

This planning gets done on a Sunday afternoon or evening.

I have my Outlook calendar open, my work calendar, my shining planner and my bullet journal.

I’ll make sure I haven’t forgotten about anything coming up, and transfer things I need to action to my weekly planner.

For two weekends, I felt a heaviness, a feeling of not “sparking joy” around my weekly planning.

I questioned myself as to why and this is what I came up with:

  • I’m making my weekly planning process far more complicated than it needs to be.
  • It used to take me 5 – 10 minutes and was now closer to 30 minutes (granted, some of that time was for photo-taking for Instagram!)

So I’m going back to my old ways.

A quick check of the electronic calendars, jot those things down, read through my to-dos, and then get on with the business of actually living 🙂

Have you felt dread recently about doing things that are usually part of your routine?
Where have you been over-complicating things in your life?

{My year of happy} April project goals

Happy April!

So, my happy project for March was to see what was working and to replicate that in other areas of my life.

How did I do?

Scheduling – this one worked a treat. I pre-scheduled friend dates, dates with D, etc. I also scheduled my weekly planning time and it’s been great.

Environment – I kept the phone in the bedroom most of the month BUT I was elsewhere so I almost didn’t care to even look at it. I read on a chair in my pyjama lounge and the phone is never with me so I’m not distracted.

However, I was very, very naughty this very last week of March in terms of sleep ….. on the bright side, my sleep average for March is a whopping 7 hrs 46 minutes. It’s not been that high for years and years (possibly, even pre-kids!)

Batching – this one is working well too. Monday is writing night and Wednesday is photo night 🙂

What about April?

This month, my goal is to see what’s not working for me and see how I can stop that, and make it better.

So which projects do I have in mind?

Personal email

I’m not sure what I’ve been doing but I can’t seem to get a handle on my personal email. It’s out of control. I need to go through all my notifications and newsletters to see where I can unsubscribe.

By the way, I recently sent out a newsletter. Did you get your copy? If you’re not on the list (you get 3 cool freebies!), you can sign up here.

 Blogs in my feedly

There are blogs I’m not that into anymore, those with only sponsored posts/ giveaways, and that’s not why I read blogs. I don’t mind a good sponsored post (CupofJo does these beautifully) but they are 1 in 10.

So I need to go on a big unsubscribe mission again.

Instagram

This is not bad…. but since I have two accounts, there are some feeds I follow on both @marcia0608 and @organisingqueen, which is inefficient. And then Instagram advertising, because I’m sure there are some feeds that have appeared without my officially following them.

Can you see Kendra and Connor in the bokeh on the right? I took this photo on a photowalk with the kids.

So, tell me. What’s not working in your life?

Can you stop doing it?

How can you change things to make it a better, more pleasant situation for yourself?

5 favourite posts about…. how I do my goals!

If you’re a longtime reader, you’ll know I’m fairly passionate about goals, but not only for nerdiness’ sake, but because I’ve seen and tested them in my own life for over 20 years.

Here are 5 of my favourite posts on goal-setting (and goal getting), basically how I do goals:

How I choose my goals for the month

My favourite night of the month, Goals Night

I started doing my goals like this, and it continued into this year

A mind-shift to change your thinking about goals

Weekly goals

Which is your favourite post?

Soul care vs self-care

If I speak to a group of 10 women, I can guarantee that the majority feels like they don’t have enough time for themselves.

We all have many roles in life. I’d guess that if you’re reading this post, you probably fulfill 5 to 7 of these roles: a wife, mother, homemaker, daughter, sister, friend, business owner, employee or employer.

What then happens is that you tend to the more urgent roles and your personal time is usually the last thing on the list.

As a result, you start feeling resentful but also you may soon burn out.

That’s the point when people usually contact me.

This is great because I love working with people who are ready to take action and make changes in their lives.

Do you just accept this as your lot in life while you have young kids in the house or what do you do?

  1. Decide that you are also important

I never ever believe that we need to sacrifice the parts of us that make us feel most alive.

This is a mindshift change from mothers being the martyrs so take your time and work on this mental adjustment.

We can only input into others when we are replenished. I read a great parenting book, Parenting without Power Struggles, and in the book, she says we have to be calm before we can correct or parent our kids. I can tell you that a mother who has not had any time for herself is not going to be calm.

  1. Identify soul and self-care activities

Self-care activities are activities like a manicure, pedicure, hair appointment or massage.

Soul-care activities are those that feed your soul like sewing, mosaics, scrapbooking, painting and decorating. Still others are time, either by yourself to recharge (often the introverts) or with a couple of close girl friends to connect with yourself again (often for introverts).

Soul care is deeper and more nurturing than self-care, but both are good.

  1. Choose the minimum response that will make you feel like your needs are prioritised

In my work I talk about always knowing your minimum effective responses.

When my twins were newborns, life was crazy. I felt like I had no time to do anything for myself as I was running around washing bottles, making bottles, feeding, burping, bathing, changing, getting the baby to sleep, and then the other one would wake!

During those crazy times, I was happy if I could have just 5 minutes to sit, drink a hot cup of tea in peace and eat breakfast. Seriously, my expectations were just that low.

That was my minimum effective response.

Now, I expect to have hours every day to “do my thing” and I have that time because I’ve set things up that way.

But I started very, very small.

What is the minimum effective response for you to feel like you’re prioritising your needs?

Now that you have those questions sorted out, start creating the time for yourself.

What I want less of this year

A few weeks ago I wrote a post, what I want more of this year, and so this is the companion post to that one 🙂

I just mindmapped it and quickly came up with 8 things, but I’ll share 5 here today 😉

reading bad books

Part of my personality is that I’m a great completer of projects, persistent and I follow through. The shadow side to that means that I have a problem letting go.

I abandoned about 4 books last year which is AWESOME for me, since I just never could ever stop reading a bad book.

So while I’m not as bad as I was, I could get much better at this.

commuting time

I have a very flexible role at the moment which means I don’t need to be as office-based as before. Yet, I love the energy of my team and I’m an extrovert (ESTJ – with a driver function of extroverted sensing) so I’m probably in the office a bit more than I need to be.

This year I want to commute less than last year and use my time more productively.

Instagram coma

Instagram coma is a term I use to describe the state where you go into a trance just scrolling all the pretty pics, liking, commenting, etc. It’s addictive and often a lot more time passes than you realise.

A few weeks ago I realised it was getting worse so I’m trying to do something productive instead of that coma, like write a blog post, organise something quickly, throw in a load of laundry. Anything to break that trance-like state.


Being a firstborn at work

When I read The Firstborn Advantage last year, I realised that a lot of my tendencies at work are actually firstborn traits.

Like being the one to log a call for the printer cartridges to be replaced, volunteering for things no-one else wants to do, being the first to actually do and submit reports, etc.

I think it’s related but I also realised at the end of last year that sometimes I fight the point because I’m right instead of choosing the work relationship and letting them figure it out in their own time that a solution was the right way.

So I’m going to be super relaxed this year with things that don’t matter, saving my energy for the real stuff I’m employed to do 🙂

weak boundaries

This is an interesting one but there is one relationship in my life where I have very weak boundaries. My husband even commented recently that this is not like me!

I think it’s because this relationship is linked to something I consider a big part of my identity and I don’t want to mess that up. Still, it’s not good because it leaves me feeling resentful and frustrated when I feel my boundaries are being pushed time and time again.

I would love some ideas for gentle boundary strengthening 🙂

What do you want less of this year?

How I get it “all” done

When people hear that I work full-time, am married, have twins and coach time management part-time, they often ask me how I get it all done.

First I laugh and then I realise that it’s a serious question.

The short answer is that I don’t.

Yes, I do a lot but the bigger question is what I don’t get done.

Let me explain and also help you to get it “all” done:

  1. Get very clear on your life’s purpose

I have a life mission typed out and I know my definition of success in life.

I also know my values. A quick secret – one of those values is not to have the laundry perfectly done (I don’t ever do ironing!), but it is to take action and just get the clothes clean.

Are you clear on your life purpose?

  1. Make friends with “good enough”

It’s better to have something done than to have it perfect.

If you’re cringing at that sentence, know that I used to be you. That was until I realized that trying to get the last 20% of any project perfect usually takes more time than the previous 80%.

E.g. If we were to make a picture collage, it would take just a few minutes to select photos and group them in a collage. The playing around to get the best configuration with the best background and font, and so on takes 3 – 5 times longer than just creating the initial collage.  If you organize a space, decluttering and arranging the zones takes less time than all the faffing afterwards to make it “Pinterest-perfect”.

There is a time and place for prettying something up – maybe for your children’s birthday party but for general sending out of occasional photos to family or just tidying your desk, that level of extreme detail is not necessary.

Do you know when 80% is enough in your life, or are you still stuck on being perfect?

  1. Make a To Not Do list

We all know there are 24 hours in a day and there is not enough time to do everything.

It’s far more important these days to know which things to leave on the To Not Do list.

  • In my business, I do only things that need my “essence” and delegate the rest to my virtual assistant.
  • In my personal life, it’s important for me to cook from scratch but it’s not important for me to peel and chop all the vegetables myself.

Can you see the difference?

  1. Decide where you want to use your time and don’t feel guilty about it

Be intentional about your time usage. If reading is your thing like it is with me, then don’t feel guilty about cuddling up with a book and a mug of tea every day for an hour after supper.

If you scroll Instagram to unwind, then be conscious that you’re doing that and own it. Admit that you want to scroll Instagram for an hour every evening, and enjoy it.

Don’t feel guilty about the time but know why you’re doing it.

Of course I do procrastinate sometimes by too much time on blogs or Instagram but since I generally get things done, occasionally if I slip up, I don’t beat myself up about it.

How about you?

Where do you want to be spending your time and why? Are you intentional about it?

  1. Take consistent action

Unfortunately getting things done is not going to just happen unless you take consistent action.

Whether it’s moving forward with a big leap or lots of little leaps, I try to take some action every day.

I’m fairly good at constantly reviewing where I am in relation to my goals weekly and monthly.

Do you take enough regular action?

To end off, let me leave you with one of my favourite quotes:

Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone.  The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.

-Lin Yutang 

 

I’m curious.

What’s on your to not do list? (we all have one)

Where in your life have you let go of perfectionism?

My happiness project for March

Here’s my happiness project for February if you want to have a look.

So this month, March, my intentional calendar says this:

What’s working for you well so far in 2017? How can you replicate this in other areas of your life?

Well, a few things immediately came to mind:

  1. If I schedule “fun things” like book club and podcast club, they actually happen 🙂
  2. I’m reading a ton and that’s because I’m consciously leaving my phone to charge in another room, and of course, I always have a book ready to go on my phone too. My environment is set up for success in this area.
  3. When I batch things, the doing and thinking goes very well. This works mostly for kitchen things like cooking and making lunches.

So are there places in my life I can replicate these ideas?

My focus areas for March

Scheduling

  • Schedule all dates with Dion and the kids for the rest of this year.
  • Schedule weekly planning in my diary
  • Schedule quarterly dates with my university friends
  • Schedule quarterly dates with the supper club

Environment

  • Be very strict about no phone in the bedroom every night, not just most nights
  • Computer off at 10:30 Sun – Thurs

Batching

  • Write blogs on only one night every week without listening to podcasts so I fully focus
  • Do photos on another night

And that’s enough for March – I’ll report back in four weeks time.

What’s working well for you so far in 2017?

Can you replicate that in other areas of your life?

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