What I learned through writing every day in November

Many of you know that I chat to Beth, my accountability partner and friend, every week.

On Thursday 1 November, I’d only completed my personal goals from the previous week and no blog goals, which all involved writing.

On a whim, I mentioned to Beth that I wondered if I could still actually write every day. And right there and then, I decided to try.

You see years ago, for five years in a row, I blogged 324 or more times every year. For two of those years, I blogged every single day.

Also, here on Organising Queen, I’ve twice participated in the 31 days series – once I wrote about easy organising solutions, and the other time I wrote about having enough time.

It is never hard for me to write, especially if I know what I want to write about, so I thought I’d give it a bash again.

So what did I do differently and what have I learned?

  1. I set two daily reminders in my phone – one at 6 pm and another from 8 – 8.30 to come write. The 6pm reminder was to start thinking about what I want to write about. And the 8pm reminder was to actually sit down and write.
  2. I used a habits page (I have no idea where I found it – I’d printed off a whole year long ago and not used all of the monthly pages) to cross off my progress daily. I also recorded my progress on my Instagram stories every 3 – 5 days, or thereabouts.
  3. I was conscious about my “difficult days” – weekends when I’m too relaxed, and Tuesday nights when I’m exhausted from my two dance classes, and so I made sure to have something easy to write about on those days. This was a great idea.
  4. I brainstormed some topics at the start of the month. I ended up with 17 topics but as is often the case, I’ve since deleted about 5 that sounded far too boring even to me, and added a couple of others. I scanned my book notes from recent non-fiction I’ve read to see if there was anything I really wanted to blog about.
  5. The point was just to write, not to create beautiful blog posts. Some nights I just wrote; most of them I also added photos and tags for a blog post. Having my standards low meant that I actually got things done instead of obsessing about perfection.

A few notes:

I’m an Upholder on Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies framework so strategies that work REALLY well for me are clarity, scheduling, pairing and monitoring.

Clarity – I very clearly defined what “success” on this project would look like – actual writing on a keyboard for 15 minutes, and having my blog post ideas list

Scheduling – reminders in my phone

Pairing – I knew that at 6pm I’d be home from work but low energy, so the first reminder would go off while I was cooking or otherwise having a cup of tea with the kids (I could start thinking about my topic) and the second reminder was just after the kids went to bed (well, in theory)

Monitoring – I was checking off my list of blog post ideas as I completed writing, and also the occasional posting to Instagram stories, and my weekly accountability chat with Beth.

Any upholders out there? Did my approach resonate with you too?

How about the other tendencies? What would your approach have been for creating this new habit.

You can do the same for any habit you want to create either now or in the new year. I will help you clarify your tendency, and put structures in place during our coaching session.

Please contact me as soon as possible to schedule your coaching session as I only coach a limited number of sessions weekly.

What I learned from Spring into Organising

I ran (or tried to run) a Spring into Organising challenge during September.

It was mostly a failure in terms of getting other people to play along, but I thought I’d share what I learned from personally doing the Spring into Organising challenge for the 5 weekends in September.

  • Konmari has served me very well. I did the full Konmari in August 2014 and while I believe that you do have to do a little refresh now and again, it has been life-changing for me. Spaces are super quick to sort when you mostly have things that spark joy in your home.
  • I am happier with a leaner, streamlined home. I am not one of those people with a “we’re making memories and that’s why we have a messy house” mindset. I fully own that I like clean, orderly, clutter-free spaces because this is what brings me peace.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Marcia Francois (@organisingqueen) on

  • Dedicated projects motivate me. I made a plan at the start of weekend 1 and I did all those spaces and then some. I ended up sorting out 17 spaces and it felt wonderful.
  • It sucks when you feel like no one else is doing a challenge along with you, even if they are. Just being honest.
  • Things are coming into our homes all the time (gifts, updates to clothes, etc.) so they need to leave all the time too. Someone asked me once on Instagram why I always have a couple of areas to sort, and my reply is still the same – I live with other people (D, the kids, and the nanny is here 4 days a week) and so even though most things just take a 5 – 10 minute tweak every couple of months, it’s still necessary. Just last night, I returned medication to our medicine cupboard and it was messy so it needed a sort. Popped on a podcast and got to it – 20 mins later, order was restored, old meds tossed out and all was well again.

It occurred to me that spring is not over yet so I’m continuing with organising bits and pieces around my home.

The printable is still available for free here – please do avail yourself if you want to get your home in order.

How do you tackle spring cleaning/ organising? On a schedule or as the mood strikes you?

Let’s talk about values

Connection

I was reminded of something I love talking about recently – values.

Values are the things that shape our decisions and therefore, our actions.

When we feel conflicted or resentful about something, 90% of the time it’s because our values are in conflict or not showing up clear in the situation.

For example, maybe you’ve had a conversation with someone and you have this niggling feeling afterwards. If you stop and ask yourself, “what’s really going on here?” (a question I’ve started asking myself a lot), and you give yourself a few minutes, you’ll know what it is.

  • Maybe you didn’t stand up for someone who was being discussed, and one of your highest values is integrity?
  • Maybe you felt put upon and that resentment indicates your value of family is being pushed aside?Maybe you realised that actually no, you are not feeling connected and that’s what’s missing in your life?

Connection

I have a whole section on values in the Discover Yourself course (use code MARCIA til the end of August and you’ll get 30% off  the price) where I walk you properly through a values exercise.

However, if you want the quick version now, start like this:rite down 10 of your highest values

  1. narrow those down to your top 5
  2. now choose your top 3, and then your top 1.

bonus – ask your partner/ a friend to do the exercise too and compare notes.

What are some of your values? Are you living out these values in your life, work, with your family?

 

Creativity

(the words underneath the 3 photos in this post represent 3 of my top 10 values)

PS It’s interesting to me (now!) that the mantra for the Upholder is “discipline is my freedom”. I would add, “self-imposed discipline is my freedom: 😉

PPS I do work with clients to take them through a comprehensive values exercise to aid them with decision-making and understanding why they behave in the way they do. If you’re interested, please send me an email.

Are you a time pessimist?

One of the main reasons many of us feel overwhelmed is because we’re not getting around to doing all we want to do, or we think we should be able to do more than we currently do.

I regularly meet women who think they should be able to work full-time, go to the gym 5 days a week, cook from scratch every day, spend hours reading with their kids every day and spend an hour a day on their own hobbies.

It’s not going to happen unless they don’t need much sleep.

A time optimist is someone who thinks they can do more in a specific period of time than an average person can realistically do.

I’ll confess – I’m often a time optimist in my personal life. Those weekend to-do lists with 15 tasks when I realistically am only going to be home a couple of hours on Saturday or Sunday? Time optimism.

It’s really strange since I’m usually a time realist in my work life:

– I know that things happen unexpectedly in the traffic so I need to leave extra time to get anywhere.
– I know that if I think I can see 5 people and sort out 5 issues in an hour, I’ll probably only be able to realistically do 3 or 4 because of other interruptions, people in meetings or on lunch, etc.
– I know that when arranging meetings, I have to be flexible so the most important agenda items are discussed in case we run out of time.

A time realist is realistic about how long things take and buffers in time when necessary.

Back to my time optimism though.

When I put 6 things on a list and therefore only manage two of them because I know full well I have a really busy day…I’m being a time optimist.

I think things will go quicker than they inevitably do, or that I’m Superwoman and can do those things quickly.

And yet I often tease my husband because he’s a true time optimist.

He always thinks he can get much more done on the weekends and is then disappointed when we only get to do one or two things.

The time pessimist thinks there’s never enough time to do anything – read, organise, do fun things – so doesn’t even try.

It’s no secret that there are many time pessimists all around. This is one of the reasons I wrote the book (31 Days of Enough Time) which you can get by following the links in my sidebar.

How about a few quick examples?

You have 15 minutes before a meeting.

Time optimist – “I can probably get 10 emails done if I do them really quickly”

Time realist – “I can answer 2 long emails or about 5 quick ones”

Time pessimist – “15 minutes? No point me starting an email. I’ll just get started and have to stop”

You’re invited to join a once-a-month book club.

Time optimist – “Great! I can probably read 4 books a month even though I only read 3 total last year, during my holidays”

Time realist – “If I set aside 20 minutes a day, I can easily get through a book every month. Sign me up”

Time pessimist – “No, thank you. I don’t have any time to read because I work and I have two kids. Yes, I’m on Facebook but that’s my relaxation time”

So, are you a time optimist, a time realist, or a time pessimist?

How can you become more of a time realist?

Let me walk you through your half-year review

Well, six months of the year are nearly over and it’s time to review the year thus far.

I do a slightly longer version of my monthly review with a bit more detail to flesh things about a bit.

Will you join me?

  1. Get comfortable with your bullet journal, a beverage of your choice and a nice pen.
  2. Answer the questions honestly to gain insights.
  3. Set a few new goals for the second half of the year.
  4. Get some accountability (like-minded friend, or a coach – I would love to coach you)

 

Right, let’s get to the questions:

  1. What went well during the first half of the year? Why?
  2. What didn’t work out so well? Why?
  3. Were there any detours or obstacles? How did you navigate them?
  4. What did you learn about yourself?
  5. How are your relationships doing?
  6. What do you need to let go of? Feelings, expectations, projects, etc?
  7. If you chose a word of the year, how is your word working out for you? If it’s not working, could you change your word?
  8. On a scale of 1 – 10, how has the year been so far?

At this point, rewrite the goals you still want on a fresh piece of paper in your bullet journal. This will help you have a clean start. July is the new Jan 🙂

If you’re “over” the notion of goals, why don’t you set a few broad intentions for the year ahead, like this:

  1. For the rest of the year, I want to feel _____________ in my relationships with my family and friends (connected/ loving/ generous)
  2. I choose to let go of _________________________ (the expectation that…../ comparison/ the kids’ bathroom project)
  3. I want more _________________ in my life (joy/ love/ peace/ order/ beauty/ creativity)
  4. I want less ____________________ (chaos/ toxicity/ stress/ overwhelm/ lack)
  5. I want to give myself the gift of ___________________ (acceptance/ 15 minutes a day to read/ time to nourish my body by moving)

Has this helped?

On a scale of 1 – 10, how has your year been thus far? What are you looking forward to in the second half of the year?

When you do your half-year review, do take a quick pic and when you post your pic on Instagram, tag @OrganisingQueen

And don’t forget to contact me if you want to book a coaching session to work through this with me.

I’ve been posting my 18 in 2018 updates on Instagram. You don’t have to have a profile to view them. Just click my Instagram handle, and below my details, you’ll find circles. Look for the 18 in 2018 pink circle and see my updates there. I’m now up to over half done.

You have more than enough time

This post might rub some of you up the wrong way but the truth is we all have 24 hours a day. The President has 24 hours and we have 24 hours. The only difference is how we choose to use it.

Our lives are a product of the choices we make with our time.

If you choose to relax for 4 hours each day watching TV, interacting on social media and so on, then own your choice. Don’t complain that you have no time to read books, cook healthy food, organise your home, go to gym, do your hobbies, or play with your kids.

Rather say, “I’m choosing to spend my time relaxing”. There’s nothing wrong with that if you’re being intentional.

People ask me how I get all the things done that I do and my answer is always the same – I prioritise and make time for certain things over others (like watching TV).

I have a friend who doesn’t seem to need much sleep because we email at 11 pm, sometimes even at midnight, but then she gets up really early in the mornings and is out for a walk at 6 am while I’m sleeping.

I don’t condemn myself for that; I choose to get 7 – 8 hours of sleep every night instead of exercising that early. I’m owning my choice. She chooses to exercise instead of spending a lot of time sleeping.

Now, let’s roll up those daily hours into a week.

24 hours in a day means 168 hours a week. 168 hours feels much more expansive for me. It always feels like there’s time to do everything I want and there is enough time; it’s just how we frame it.

I sleep for 52.5 hours a week. That leaves 115.5 hours for work, family, exercise, cooking, organising, reading, photography and so on.

When I put it like that, doesn’t it seem like there’s enough time to do everything in the world? There is.

We’re just not aware that there’s that much time because we think we only have two hours at night after the kids go to bed.

Start thinking of the hours before work if you’re an early bird, the hour at lunch time, and the hours once you get home but before bed.

I calculated once and realised I have 4.5 hours every night once I get home from work at 06:00 before I start my bedtime routine, and I even get an extra hour some days.

If we average it out, 5 hours then seems like plenty of time to cook, connect with Dion and the kids, eat supper, work on my business and blog, read and yes, even to exercise.

But only if I’m intentional about it.

Your coaching challenge
• Stop. Realise that you have an abundance of time for everything you want to do.
• Think about how you currently regularly spend your time.
• Is there something you’d rather have in your life?
• Consciously decide to make a different choice for at least one day during the next week.

I wrote a book called 31 days of enough time with small steps to help you move towards a life of time abundance. That’s the first step if you recognize this as a need in your life.

Otherwise, if you know you’d like to work with me privately to maximize your time usage, contact me for a 1:1 laser coaching session or weekly coaching sessions.

Who do you find it easiest to say no to?

One of my favourite experts on goal-setting, Gary Ryan Blair, said this: “success in life requires a short “Yes” list, and a long “No” list”.

I tend to agree with him.

Whenever I coach time management clients or get interviewed on time management tips, one of the first things I tell people is this:

The absolute quickest way to get results with your time is to learn which things to say yes to and which to say no to.

The no list should always be longer.

There are far more demands on our time than we can ever even hope to satisfy. From requests for time commitments to outside stimuli like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, phone and text messages, the list goes on and on.

Remember, you always say no to at least one thing when you say yes to something else.

For example…
• if you say yes to volunteering on 3 committees, you’re saying no to one or all of the following: your family, your self-care, your exercise time, your household… one committee is possibly enough.
• if you say yes to that beautiful new pair of shoes you really can’t afford, you’re saying no to your debt-reduction plan and maybe to some more clutter!

No is a small word but is often so hard for some of us to say.

The good news is that saying no is like going to the gym and building some muscle.

It feels very uncomfortable at first but the more you work at it, the easier it becomes.

The first couple of times you’ll probably cringe inside as you hear yourself saying no, wondering if your family, friends and colleagues will still like you.

Once you get a bit more practice, you start to get more comfortable and very soon, you’ll develop an ease and grace about it.

Why should you say no?

1. it helps you set firm boundaries
2. it helps you honour your values
3. it makes you more productive
4. it reduces your stress
5. it frees you to serve where you’re called to with joy

I’m challenging you to slow down and think carefully before you say yes to anything.

In fact, why don’t you start saying, “let me get back to you on that” so you think clearly about the situation before committing yourself.

And when you say no to things that don’t support your goals, you’re free to say yes to all the things that really do matter to you.

Tell me. Do you have more problems saying no to yourself or to other people?

PS if you need some coaching to help you improve your “no” muscle, this is one of my areas of expertise and I’m happy to work with you. Send me an email and let’s set up your session.

Ask yourself these questions before you set your goals

I realise that many of you have already set goals, some have no intention of setting goals and still others think it’s already too late.

It’s never too late to start, and it’s definitely never too late to review your goals and tweak them to fit you perfectly.

Whenever I sit down and start working on my goals for the year (or period ahead), I follow this exact same process.

Before I even think about what I want to accomplish, I ask myself 5 questions that I’d like you to ask yourself too:

  1. What is my theme or word for the year?

Do you want more order, creativity, security, peace, stability, etc. in your life? I like to start with a one-word theme and build my goals around that word. For example, one year my word was simplify; the next year it was consolidate. This year my word is fun. See? 

  1. What are the top 3 – 5 goals you want to accomplish?

I’ve coached people on goal-setting for more than 20 years and there are some things people always come up with: go on a marriage retreat, start my own business, get pregnant, find a new job, grow spiritually, and of course, the two things on almost everyone’s people’s lists: lose weight and get organised.

 

  1. Are your top 3 – 5 goals aligned with your theme?

Sometimes you’ll feel uneasy on the inside when you’re trying to accomplish goals for the wrong reasons, or just at the wrong time of your life. Listen to your intuition so that your goals align with your theme and life stage.

When my twins were babies, I started signing up for business growth teleseminars but without any real excitement inside until I realised that my newborn babies were my primary focus for the next year and that’s why I didn’t really care that much about business growth.

If you have a big goal in your work life, perhaps training for Comrades is not the best thing to do too. If you have a big family goal, that’s also going to take a lot of time so consider that goal in the grand scheme of your life. 

  1. How will you get there?

Having a strong, clear vision is a big, important first step to your goals. When I coach on goals, I always ask the person to first think about what their big, juicy vision is. Tip – everything is a big, juicy goal when it’s the right goal for you.

Then we start working on the how. And remember, your big, juicy vision is not the same as mine. Once a friend told me that their big, juicy vision was just to survive a month with their sanity intact.

So how will you get there? Find someone who has the gift of being able to distill a vision into tangible action steps. This way you’ll get to your goal quickly and with no wasted effort.

Part of my giftings and skills is being able to craft clear action steps for people. Contact me and let’s set up your one-hour goals session.

  1. Who or what is in your support network?

I can never over-emphasise the importance of having someone in your corner, cheering you on to your goals.

Do you have a friend, pastor, mentor, colleague, coach, etc. who can do that for you? Notice I didn’t say family member because I’ve found over the years that family members are a little too close to the action and often can’t be objective in helping and guiding you.

Of course you can do it on your own… if you’re willing to take a longer time and you have the patience to make lots more mistakes along the way. Or if you’re an upholder on Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies framework.

Now that you’ve read the 5 questions, I have one last challenge for you:

Write out your goals and stick them up somewhere!

Switching up what’s not working for you

I’ve had a goal on my list since the beginning of the year, and that was to increase the amount of exercise I get in a week, in particular, to strengthen my core.

This was not happening despite wishing it were so. Imagine that.

Then my usual Zumba instructor had an operation and she was off for 6 Saturdays. One of those Saturdays we had a visiting lady do a Pound class.

A post shared by Marcia Francois (@marcia0608) on

That pound class opened my mind to new possibilities and reminded me that I had a fitness goal I’d made exactly 0% progress in.

Another gym in my neighbourhood opened earlier this year, still in the same network. So I checked their classes and phoned them to see if I could try out a Barre180 class.

I tried the class, loved it and have been going ever since.

But that’s not the end of the story.

You see, I’ve been in a habit where we, as a family, go to the gym together every Saturday morning for years and years. I love the time together, that we’re prioritising fitness and health, and I still (two months in) miss going to gym with them. It’s complicated, but basically, there is no kids’ programme at the new gym and in order for me to go with them on a Sat and still go to my new one during the week would cost me a lot of money, which I just can’t justify.

I’m trying not to focus on the missing part too much, and I’m going for more walks with the kids 🙂

And the best thing is… two of my jackets can now close and my flexibility has increased such that I can easily touch the floor again. Yay.

Over to you.

Think back to the goals you wrote down at the start of the year. Are there any you’re completely stuck on? Do you need to shake things up?

Do you need a goals re-set? There’s still time to make inroads into a couple of your goals. If you need a goals brainstorm and strategy session, email me and let’s set that up on Skype or Facetime.

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.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...