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?

Rest 22 in 2022 – my update

Last year Gretchen Rubin‘s challenge for her podcast listeners was to #rest22in2022.

rest 22 in 2022

Here’s my introductory post and how I thought it would go… and then here’s where I was assessing things after the first quarter. When I read those two posts I realise that 1) I really tried to be intentional about it and 2) keep evaluating what was working and what wasn’t.

Still, it was my worst project to date 😉 and I gave up on it properly during the first week of May. For the rest of the year, I used the tracker to track my workouts so that I didn’t waste the paper!

Why was it so hard for me? Surely, as an upholder, I should have just scheduled my rest and got on with it.

Well, one of my coaching clients pointed something out to me – the idea of rest was too nebulous for me. Exactly right! I couldn’t quite get a handle on what it looked like for me and, if you’ve come on the Four Tendencies course/ had a coaching session with me, you know that upholders need clarity.

I didn’t have clarity.

When I decided to finally abandon the project, I told myself that I am sleeping well, I read daily and I do enough “restful” activities like spending time taking photos, connecting with friends, etc. and that will just have to do for rest. But no more tracking.

And so I could release the idea of doing #rest22in2022.

Tell me, because I know many of you are experts at resting, how did the year of rest work for you?

{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?

The habit of reading… and the Four Tendencies

This picture is apt as it was indeed a “change your life” book.

A very kind colleague told me recently that I always inspire her to try new things to make her life better.

This time, I’d told her that by doing almost nothing anyone can get through at least one non-fiction book a month. This is true… using just 20 minutes a day. We are all scrolling Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. for way more time than that – why not take just 20 mins, set your timer and read something to stimulate your brain?!

This is how I read 32 nonfiction titles last year and how I’m already at 27 nonfiction titles this year, all by doing “nothing”. I will surpass 32 books this year, and very easily.

My 20 minutes of reading nonfiction every morning started as @gretchenrubin’s #read21in2021 and is such a good fit for me that I will probably do this forever as I’ve now found a way to get through so many nonfiction titles.

VERY IMPORTANT – the rest of the day (cooking, driving, bedtime reading) is mostly fiction; I tend to read about 60-70% fiction.

Do you want to read more nonfiction? If yes, try the 20-minute timer and tell me how it works for you.

Upholders love the regular scheduling of this hack, Obligers like the accountability of having to check in so please come back and tell me how you’re doing, Obligers. Questioners who feel that they want to read more might want to try it at whichever time of day makes sense for them, and Rebels? If you want to break the IG algorithm and shake up the endless scroll, this hack may suit you. You decide 🙃

PS If you want to follow me on Goodreads and see what I’m reading, invite me to be your friend.

PPS this book was a 5-start book for me

{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?

{Goals} Here’s how you do your half-year review

I know I’m not the only one who is truly shocked that half the year has already elapsed.

If you don’t currently do a half-year review, I’d like to encourage you to at least think about how the first six months of 2022 have gone.

What went well? What worked?

You can think about both big things like relationships and small things like “I now do a Zumba class on a Wednesday evening instead of on a Tuesday, and that works really well for my schedule”

What didn’t go well? What’s not working?

Same story here. Maybe you tried to get a new job and didn’t get it? That’s possibly a bad example because I think any action is good as you’ve learned something from it.

Don’t dwell on the outcome but do acknowledge it.

What energised you?

Think about the things that brought you joy and gave you energy. Was it getting together with people? Was it the removal of the mask mandate? (fact- this gave me personally more anxiety but I heard from some friends that I’m an outlier) Was it hosting a party?

How is your word of the year working/ not working for you, and why?

Do you even remember the word you chose for 2022? If you do, great! Is that word still working for you? Why? How have you tried to live it during these last 6 months?

If your word is not working for you, for whatever the reason, consider this your big permission slip to change your word. Here’s how to choose a word of the year.

Are you doing any other annual projects? How are those going?

Maybe you’re doing a reading challenge? I’m doing Project Upgrade and trying journalling for the first time.

I hope that’s enough to prompt your thinking for now. I plan to write a newsletter later this week where I will share my half-year review. If you’re not on the list yet, here’s the link to sign up.

{Organising} 10-minute organising projects – nail polish

I like to think that one of my superpowers is using tiny bits of time efficiently.

I had to catch up on two training courses at work recently which involved watching some videos. The videos didn’t need me to take notes so I thought I’d organise my nail polish while watching.

I’d recently bought more nail polish (my first nail polish spree since lockdown!) so I had to declutter old ones (the one in, one out rule) and while doing that, I arranged them by brand and not by colour as I usually do.

While it’s nice to try new ways of organising, I quickly found that this didn’t work for me as my brain thinks, “oooh, I feel like wearing something pink” rather than “I want to wear the essence polish”.

I took them all out and arranged them in their shade categories…

see all the neutrals in the front left

a bit or order emerging (I also saw too many similar shades so I donated 3 bottles)

And done. I love having the boundary of this perspex container – it takes at most 18 – 19 bottles, depending on the shape. I use the round ceramic pot for my base and top coats.

This little project took less than 10 minutes, and that includes going to fetch the polish, the organising and returning them to my bedside table drawer.

If you struggle to think about what to do with small bits of time, make a list now of quick, 10-minute organising tasks:

  1. tidying a drawer is always a good one
  2. decluttering a pile of paper/ receipts from your wallet
  3. unsubscribing from sales emails

(my next little project will be sorting the kids’ reports and cards for their 2021 folders – yes, I haven’t bothered yet, probably because they all still fit in my slimline file box)

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