A small thing that made all the difference

A few months ago, to my utter surprise, I finished ALL my weekly goals and got my daily to-dos done without much striving.

Do you know what the difference was?

I worked from home 3 times that week and left my diary and goals notebook open on my desk all the time.

How is that a big deal, you ask?

I agree!

I didn’t think it was a big deal either but clearly it is.

Seeing my goals and to-dos visible on a daily basis without having to open notebooks and take them from my bag or box on my other desk made the difference.

I generally pack up and clear everything all the time which means I’m not reminded unless I consciously open the notebook and look at the page.

The reason I don’t do it all the time is that our nanny is in and out of my study, and when Dion works from home, he lets the kids into the study (I don’t let them play in here – this is a workspace).

I’ve since thought of a solution. I can simply ask the nanny to sweep and mop on one day every week and not go into the study on the other days.

That way, I can leave my stuff open and visible without privacy concerns.

I shared this story with you because you may not be getting to your goals just because you’re forgetting them.

A tech-y way to do the same is to take a picture and save it as your lock screen on your phone. Change this every week/ month. Or type into your notes and save the notes screenshot as your lock screen.

There are ways to keep our goals visible and front-of-mind; we just have to be a bit intentional.

Has this helped give you ideas?

How do you remember your weekly goals?

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.

Choosing your 2018 diary

August, as well as being my birthday month, is also the best bookshop month ever.

It’s when the new diaries start appearing.

I’m very clearly a paper-embracing gal and I love a paper diary, but I have had lots of back and forth within myself on which diary to buy for next year.

If you’re on my newsletter list (if not, sign up here), I wrote about this when I sent out the mid-month newsletter.

Here are a couple of questions that might help you decide on your 2018 diary:

Am I a J or a P on Myers Briggs?

This is a fun one to start with and I’ll tell you why. Js actually use their diaries; Ps like the idea of using a diary but they don’t. If you’re someone who stops using a diary by mid- or end-Jan, are you perhaps a P?

(take the test here)

Do I prefer the A6, A5 or A4 size?

Is your diary going to stay on a desk, in which case you can get a big, hefty one, or if you intend to carry your diary around with you,  you may want to opt for a smaller size no matter how much you love the bigger one.

Do I like a daily, weekly or monthly planner?

I’ve seen very few monthly planners (literally just a month at a time with maybe a picture on the top), a fair number of weekly planners and tons of daily planners.

Is everyone really a daily planner? If you are, please tell me.

Then, the fun part, if you’re a weekly planner like I am

Do you need it to start on a Monday or a Sunday, or does that not matter? Do you prefer a vertical or horizontal layout?

I saw a lovely Joyce Meyer daily diary with a weekly review layout just before each week starts. I was this close to getting it 🙂

Do you need space for notes in your regular planning, at the back of the diary or not at all?

Yes, yes and yes again for me (see the Legami planner above). I do know that some people don’t need note space.

Do you like a month-at-a-glance page before the month starts? Do you need a goals page?

I like to have an overview of the month, preferably in a block layout, not just lines running down the page, and of course I like a goals page.

What about other features that will make you like your diary more?

Do you like a bright diary or something that won’t stand out? Do you need a pen loop? Do you like perforation so you can mark where you are in the diary? Do you like a bookmark? Do you prefer hardcover or softcover?

Which of the options above do you definitely know you need?

So many things to think about! I could be very happy with 3 different diaries 🙂 and hopefully, I’ll be able to make my final choice soon (confession, I’ve bought one but I haven’t opened it because I’m not sure… I don’t want them to sell out though)

PS I asked my husband (high J!) and these are his diary preferences:

  • neutral colour (but I convinced him to get a nice blue!)
  • daily planner with times going into the evening
  • month at a view
  • notes page

How do I control all the paper?

One of the most popular questions I get is this:

How do I control all the paper?

I understand this question completely because I have a big yellow desk and when I get lazy, that’s the first area that goes out of control for me too.

The first thing you have to do is make decisions on what next for every piece of paper. I like using a timer because I’m naturally competitive (anyone relate?) and that inspires me to take action, and quickly too!

Before you start, gather the following items:

1. a timer (use the timer on your phone)
2. wastepaper basket
3. brightly coloured pen (I like a nice thick red gel pen)
4. notebook and/ or planner
5. post-it notes (the originals, not the cheap stuff)

Right, now you’re set!

There are only four actions you’re allowed to do once you’ve looked at each piece of paper. Don’t take longer than 30 seconds to scan the page.

1. Dump it

Throw it in the bin. The more ruthless you are, the less you have to file. Win-win!

If you only need one piece of information, write it down straight in your notebook or diary, and then throw the piece of paper away. Some of you are hyperventilating – you’ll be okay.

2. Delegate it

If someone else has to attend to it (husband needs to phone), write the action on the paper itself or on a post-it note and put that in a separate pile.

3. File it

Please do yourself a favour and only put paper in this pile if you absolutely need to reference it again. Just a quick statistic before you add anything to that pile… only 20% of filed papers are ever referenced again. Ahem.

Use your post-it pad for different categories. For example, when I’m doing my weekly paper sorting session, I use Household, Marcia, Dion and Kids as my categories.

4. Do it

Here I apply the two-minute rule. If you can do it in two minutes or less, do it right there and then. When I say “do it”, I mean either action it or schedule it to action later.

For example, if you’re working on your papers at 10 pm and need to make an appointment, you can’t phone right there and then, so write it on tomorrow’s to-do list or add it to your phone as a reminder. That’s within two minutes and it counts.

There you have it – the only four things to do with paper. If you stick to making decisions and taking action continually, your paper will be beautifully organised in no time at all. But remember, there’s no shame in the paper getting out of control now and again.

Is paper an area in your life that you battle with?

Is it the decision-making part, the sheer volume, the fact that you’re scared you may need it again? Tell me more.

Creatives can’t get organised. Myth or truth?

It’s true that creative people need different ways to organise themselves because traditional methods usually don’t work too well for them.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to organising; in fact, since each person is unique, each person’s organising system should also be different.

Let’s look at four areas to organise yourself for success:

  1. Attitude
    It’s a myth that creative people can’t work in a structured environment. On the contrary, having a bit of structure in your life actually enables you to be even more creative and to do better work.

A few years ago, a client emailed to tell me how she’s been energised and has been creating beautiful things again.

What was the difference in her life? We’d worked on organising her office space and within the new-found order, she could be creative once again.

Stop telling yourself that you can’t be organised; rather tell yourself that you organise yourself in non-traditional ways.

  1. Schedule
    Traditionally, we’ve all been told to work according to the clock. I’m telling you to work with your energy cycles; don’t try to battle them.

If you know that you go through a bit of a slump around lunch time, maybe that’s when you want to run errands or exercise to give yourself an energy boost.

If you design websites and you know that you’re most creative at midnight, then design your websites at midnight  Who made the rule that you have to start working at 8am?

  1. To-do list
    Scrap the to-do list. Yes, you read that correctly. The to-do list may set you up for failure especially when you feel you’re not getting things done.

Rather use an Eat the Frog list. This list helps you be more flexible so you only need to get the most important things done. My clients are always a bit shocked when I tell them, “the fewer items you have on your list, the better it is”. Just make sure those are truly important things on your list.

  1. Workspace
    When you can find your equipment and supplies easily, your valuable energy is used for actual creativity and not wasted on looking for things.

It’s so important to have your workspace set up according to your organising style. Are you a visual, auditory or kinesthetic learner? Are you a paper or electronic person? Maybe the reason you can’t seem to get your papers organised is because you’re actually an electronic person.

I’ve had clients with very messy offices whose computers are perfectly organised, and vice versa. It’s so important to play to your strengths.

My friend, Suzanne, admitted on the podcast that she hadn’t been creating because her workspace was too messy. She then took up my challenge to organise her environment so she could create again. Look at these fantastic results!

My challenge to you
Check your attitude and start telling yourself you can get more productive once you organise according to your style.

Tag me on instagram to come see your workspaces and creative environments. I can’t wait to see.

Are you creative? What are your particular challenges with regard to your workspace?

PS I wrote about my space to create on the blog before.

I’m on the So Suzy Podcast

Is anybody out there still reading from 10 years ago?

If yes, you may remember my organising buddy, Suzanne Moore.

Suzanne and I both blogged about organising way back in the day when people still commented on blogs. Ah, it was a glorious time back then.

We even met up in Scotland in 2008 and spent 3 wonderful days together in Stirling. Here’s my favourite photo of the two of us at Loch Lomond.

Suzanne also had a podcast back then called Let’s Talk Organizing but nobody knew very much about podcasts back then.

Anyway, Suzanne invited me onto her new podcast and, after some wrangling (what could I possibly have to say?!), I accepted her kind invitation and it was So Much Fun.

Please go and listen at any of these links

iTunes

iHeart Radio

Stitcher

Go have a read and let me know what you think 🙂

Suzanne’s instagram

 

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?

My 5 current favourite podcasts

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I have written about my favourite podcasts on here before… but since that was over a year ago, I thought I’d tell you my current favourites:

(also, only two are still on my favourites list, another I listen to but no longer my favourite and two have completely fallen off)

But first, I’m going to tell you how to listen to a podcast.

I have an iphone but if you have an android, listen through stitcher or soundcloud:

  • Look for the purple podcasts app icon
  • Click on search
  • Add the name of the podcast you’re interested in
  • The podcast will pop up
  • Tap, and tap subscribe

That’s it – easy! IMG_4650

  1. Here’s the thing with Alec Baldwin

Here’s where I wrote about why I like this show.

Favourite episodes – Billy Joel (of course), Molly Ringwald and Julianne Moore.

2. Personality hacker

So I’m a big MBTI fan and this married couple know their stuff. I’ve read up on my profile on various sites over the years but it was still nothing compared to hearing them talk for an entire episode just on your type 🙂

Interesting fact – I was a bit miffed at first when I saw the ESTJ one was only 40 minutes and then they start and say something like, “we know you ESTJs want to get to the point so we’re not putting in any fluff today” 🙂 I love it!

Favourite episodes – my one on ESTJ and the one that talks about energy drains (I had a HUGE aha during this episode)

My suggestion – take the quiz on their website, and then go to that podcast episode first.

3. Roisin Meets…

If you like the Irish accent, you’ll love Roisin. She talks to Irish celebs – authors, musicians, radio personalities. Aside from all the wonderful accents and Irish turns of phrase, it’s the perfect Friday podcast to listen as you drive to and from work.

My favourite episodes were the ones with Marian Keyes, Cecilia Ahern and Cathy Kelly (all authors I read) and recently, the one with a new-to-me author, Jennifer Johnston (she’s 86 and still writing books – such an inspiration), but my very favourite is with a mathematician 🙂

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4. Happier by Gretchen Rubin

This one has not disappeared off my list in forever…. they recently won top podcast in the health and fitness category (emotional health?)

Start anywhere and work back.

Releases a new episode every Wednesday and a mini two-minute one on Monday mornings.

Favourite episodes – all of them but I did love the one about Sunday dread

5. The Lively Show

At the moment she’s going through a couple of big changes – just divorced, sold house, travelling without a permanent base so she’s “live podcasting” on feelings and such.

It’s a bit too much woo-woo/ intuition-type stuff for me right now, but go listen to the proper interviews she’s done because those are excellent.

Favourites – the one with Young House Love and the one with Liz Gilbert, Courtney Carver

That’s it for now.

Have you listened to any of these podcasts? Do you listen to podcasts? When do you prefer to listen?

A space to create

When we moved into this new house, I had pages of drawings in my bullet journal on where we would place all furniture.

I planned a craft space downstairs and just a desk in the study.

But soon I realised that I didn’t even have a place to wrap a gift since the laptop is permanently on the desk.

I moved my favourite green table upstairs and voila! I was in business.

I was so inspired to get creative again.

I think I wrapped/ assembled about 5 gifts in less than 30 minutes simply because I once again had a space to create.

This is not just about creating.

It could be space for reading, space to try out new recipes, space to do your budget and financial planning, space to set up a command centre, space to plan your week…

Where in your life do you need to create space for what you need?

Workplace Wednesday | use pretty stationery

Pretty notebooks | www.OrganisingQueen.com

I have this thing with work stationery.

You see, I don’t like “boring” stationery so I buy my own nice pens, highlighters and most importantly, notebooks.

And, as you can see in the photo above, I also jazz up my binder clips 🙂 Here is the tutorial. (Very useful to keep hands busy when you’re on the phone – I actually keep two rolls of washi tape in my stationery drawer at work)

I feel like we’re at work more than 8 hours a day so I want to surround myself with happy things.

My notebooks always get positive comments and most of all, it makes me really happy to write in pretty things.

What about you? Does your stationery make you happy?

If not, maybe you need to take a pretty notebook to work and buy yourself a Pentel pen 🙂

PS I bought this notebook when I visited the UK 7 years ago, so it made me extra happy when I remembered that shopping trip to Sainsbury’s with our friend, Shereen.

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