What I want more of this year

This is always a fun post to mindmap and then to write. It’s even more fun when I ask friends and colleagues and I hear everyone’s responses.

This year in 2018, I want more…

  1. consistent sleep

I’m getting to my sleep goal but last year I’d skimp on sleep during the week and make up on the 3 weekend nights. This year I want to work on getting more consistent good sleep.

2. good, discussable books in book club

A good book is not necessarily a highly discussable book, especially if everyone liked all the characters. Some of my favourite book club meetings have been the ones where our ratings are all over the place 🙂 My favourite fiction book of last year was not well received by 60% of our members at that meeting.

3. recurring friend dates

I put the scheduling on my January goals list and have already scheduled some recurring friend dates for the year. This doesn’t mean I’m not open to spontaneity – of course I am – it just means I’ll at least have 4 times of connection every month.

4. to deal immediately with emails, decisions, etc.

In the name of crafting the most tactful email, I have been known to put off answering an email quickly. This year, I want to make sure I have a better balance of tact and speed 🙂

5. organisation at work

I’ve gotten a bit lax with some of my work routines that I know work wonderfully for me when I use them. This year, I bought myself a separate diary to use at work and I’m doing weekly planning (I’ve always done my daily to-do list) the same as I do at home, and even monthly goals 🙂

6. more going out of stuff than coming in

I listened to Lisa Whittle on the Jamie Ivey podcast and she said that she has a rule for herself – if she brings something into her house, she has to let go of 5 things. This means she has to really, really, REALLY love the thing that she brings in. I just love this idea so much and I want to adopt a looser version of it this year.

7. more family time

Always. I’m so aware that my kids are getting bigger and I want us to enjoy our times together even more. I usually tidy the kitchen and pack my lunch for the next day while Dion does bedtime reading, but I’ve started doing a quick tidy, joining the bedtime reading and then packing the lunch afterwards.

Do tell me at least one thing you want more of this year.

PS Here’s my what I want more of post for last year

The best book I read in January was….

That’s a serious question for you, dear reader.

What was the best book you read last month?

Before I tell you about the best book I read, I want to check in with you.

Could you take away anything from the two posts I wrote on how to increase your reading this year? If you want to, of course. No-one’s forcing anyone to read.

I just feel compelled to ask because so many people always tell me they want to read more and I’d love to know if those posts were helpful.

Back to this month, which was a great reading month for me.

I finished reading 11 books, 4 of them non-fiction.

Kindle/ Audible/ Physical = 8/1/2

As you can see, I’m working very hard on getting through all my Kindle books.

My favourite non-fiction read and the best book I read in January was The Happiness Project.

I read it on Kindle in 2011 when it first released, but this time I borrowed it from the library (Overdrive – here’s my post explaining how it works) and I ADORED the audible version. I gave it 4* last time around but this time (maybe because of the listening factor) I gave it 5*.

Highly, highly recommend you have a read if you’ve never read it, or even a re-read.

It really is the perfect book to read in the beginning of the year.

I read 4 Irish/ English fiction books this month and it was a glorious time of reading for me.

I think I enjoyed Meet me at Beachcomber Bay by Jill Mansell the most, probably because it’s set in a holiday place and I was on holiday at the time of reading. I always enjoy a good summer read when I’m actually on holiday 🙂

But actually I recommend all of the fiction! Let me know if you choose to read something from my list.

So tell me, what was the best book you read this month?

Two easy ways to expand time

I know that the common refrain is to say there’s not enough time or we’re all so busy, but I don’t believe it.

After all, I wrote a book on how there is enough time (for everything you want to do).

Check it out here

  1. Focus on your energy levels

Time is elastic, you see, and is hugely affected by energy levels.

If you focus on things that give you energy, you’ll get more done. I realise that’s not always possible but if you intersperse must-do tasks with those energy-giving activities, you’ll find that you gain energy… and therefore, time.

Some more thoughts on increasing your energy during the workday and getting microbursts of energy.

2. Be more mindful

Consider this: if you take the time to be more intentional and mindful about your days and weeks, you’ll notice where you’re wasting time, where your energy lags, where you could use your time in a different and more effective way.

E.g. I easily waste an hour or more on Instagram every day. Once I became more mindful about this “practice”, I vowed to read a book during that time instead. I haven’t completely stopped wasting time on Instagram but I know that if I only spend 15 minutes on Instagram, I could easily read for 30 minutes or more during that time, which is of course, a much better use of my time.

It’s really about being aware of what you’re doing and choosing in that moment to continue consciously, or to choose a better way.

What are your tips and tricks to expand your time?

What energised me in January?

Well, we’re four weeks into the year and it’s time for the first monthly review of 2018.

I know, I can hardly believe it myself.

What I’ve decided to do differently this year is to focus on a different question on my monthly review sheet (do you have yours yet? Sign up here to get your copy) and share that one question with you here.

If I get tired of doing it that way, I will stop now that I know about upholder tightening 🙂

So let’s get to it. For the record, there are 6 journaling-type questions and then the “on a scale of 1 – 10, this month was a ____”. I’ve printed the two-page PDF as is if I want it in A4, and if I want to glue/ washi tape it into my bullet journal, I print using the horizontal setting in Adobe so that it prints in A5 size. Like the pic at the top. Get your copy here.

Interestingly, I often find that my number changes if I write down the number first before doing the proper work of unravelling the month.

What energised me this month?

This is a new question I’ve added to my review sheet after I heard an episode of The Next Right Thing where she talked about life-giving and life-draining lists.

  • holidays with amazing views and cold, mountain air

I posted some of those views on Instagram and they were truly soul-nourishing. I also loved the cooler weather for most of the holiday, and even on the hot days, the mornings were cool for a couple of hours.

  • book club

We read a book called The hate u give this month and the book discussion was lively with varied opinions.

  • reading many, many books

I’m in the middle of 3 books right now but I’ve already reached my goal for the month. One notable energizer was a re-read (or rather, a listen to) The Happiness Project. When I read it 6 years ago, I gave it 4*; this time when I listened, it got 5*. Truly fantastic.

  • times of connection with my family

take four people out of Joburg and have nothing but nature, board games, outdoor games and you have some really good family time.

  • friend dates

besides book club, I managed to have 3 friend dates this month which always energise me.

and it wouldn’t be my blog if I wasn’t 100% honest with you – doing a full and thorough review of 2017 and setting goals for 2018 energised me so much. Now I’m ready for the year ahead 🙂

What energised you this month?

If you care to share, did anything drain you?

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.

How to read more this year – tips by my husband, Dion :)

When I was putting together last week’s post, I happened to ask Dion what he would say and he rattled off such a lot that I thought it deserved its own blog post.

I hope you enjoy Dion’s 5 tips to read a lot of books every year.

Set a comfortable stretch goal

Dion sets a goal of about 50 books every year and he is very happy with that goal.

Break up your goal into quarters

If you break up your goal into quarters (instead of months like I do), there is more flexibility if you have an awful month of not a lot of reading, and you don’t feel like a failure.

Build momentum

Use all holidays and long weekends to build momentum and get ahead of your goal so you don’t feel pressure. If your goal is 48 books, that’s 12 a quarter but if you read well during your January holidays, you’ll be ahead for the rest of the year.

Stop reading boring books

Dion has a 100-page cut-off for bad books. Stop reading things you’re not interested in. There are no shoulds with reading.

Make a list of books you really, really, really want to read

and start reading those books at the beginning of the year. Dion does this and because he’s reading favourite authors that he knows and loves, the reading experience is pleasurable and it also helps him gain momentum with his reading goal.

Again, don’t read books just because you feel you should read them or other people are talking about them. Read what you want to read.

This also reminds me of something Laura Vanderkam said on the What should I read next podcast… – I’m paraphrasing but basically we’re not at university or school so there are no shoulds – we can all read simply for our own pleasure.

and last but not least…

Make time for 5 and 10-minute reading sessions

Dion is really good at this one. He takes a book to work to read while he’s having lunch, I often find him reading for 10 minutes while waiting for the rest of us to leave and he takes time to read for a few minutes every evening after he unpacks his work stuff.

That’s it.

Is there anything here that could help you read more this year?

Also, how do you think your tendency factors into your reading life?


How I read 120 books last year

At our last book club meeting of the year, I mentioned that I’d probably reach about 120 books and the question came:

How on earth do you manage to read so many books?

It’s not rocket science but I thought I’d put it here just to remind myself too.

I set a goal (of 72) for the year

I’m a big goal setter and I honestly believe that without goals life is a lot less exciting 🙂

My reading goal means I need to read 6 books a month, that’s one every week but another two built in somewhere else. Just knowing that I have to get through a book a week means that I have a focus.

Have a good list of books to read

I admit, I took this one too far. At one point I had about 40-odd fiction and 20-odd non-fiction waiting for me.

But… you read a lot when you have a lot to read. If you have only 3 books you want to read, you’re going to drag out those 3 books.

It’s Pareto Principle in action – work expands to fill the time available for it.

I actually proved this in December – I could have read more than 8 but I knew I only needed to get to 8, so I slowed down when I got to 6 books for the month, and spaced out those last 2.

Use Audible or Overdrive for audio books

If you haven’t yet listened to an audible book, leave a note in the comments and I’ll send you my favourite one of all time 🙂

I easily get through one audible book a month, some months two. Truth be told I could get through about 4 audible books if I didn’t listen to as many podcasts as I do. One of my goals is to listen to just one more audible book every month.

For those that say they have a short commute, I have a 6-minute commute to my gym and my dance class, and I use those short distances to listen to essay-type books like Present over Perfect.

Use the library

You are much more likely to try books if there’s a low risk involved, in other words, you don’t have to pay for them. There are some books I dithered over, but when I saw they were available at the library, I had no hesitation in trying them. Granted, I did try books that weren’t for me, but I also found about 3 new-to-me authors, all at the library.

I use my physical library (I’ve been going to this one for 16 years; the librarians knew me waddling in while pregnant, and now they know my kids too) and last year I discovered Overdrive. Overdrive alone helped me read 23 of my 120 books. 

Use all those 5 and 10-minute blocks of time

If D and the kids are upstairs doing bedtime reading and I’m cleaning the kitchen/ packing my lunch, I listen to a book.

If I’m waiting in a queue or at the dentist, I pull out my phone, and read on the Kindle app. Non-fiction works best for these tiny blocks of time for me.

You know that if we all stopped scrolling Facebook or Instagram, we’d instantly be reading a book a week. Just saying.

Read books you really, really want to read

I abandoned 5 books in 2017. This is huge for me 🙂

However, you can read a book you really want to read in half the time of struggling to read something. This is different from books that are a hard read because they’re challenging your thinking (which is good for you!) vs books that are awful that you’re forcing yourself to read.

Also, in this same vein, don’t feel bad about the type of books you read. Granted, romance is not my thing, but if you want to read romance novels and nothing else, you go ahead 🙂

If you’re an Upholder, put “read” on your daily and weekly to-do lists

I started reading dramatically more books when I started adding a simple item – read a book – to my weekend to-do list. It became a fun task for me and was easy to then sit down and relax in the middle of the day, even while there was work to be done.

Surround yourself with readers

I haven’t ever had a problem reading a lot but I know for a lot of the ladies in the book club, just all of us talking about books and our Whatsapp group has pushed/ prodded/ encouraged all of them to read more.

Listen to readerly podcasts like What Should I read Next? and sign up to Modern Mrs Darcy’s blog where they discuss bookish things – it’s sure to keep your reading list full.

Bonus – I asked my husband if he had any tips for my readers and he rattled off 5 tips so quickly before the kids interrupted us that I think I need to do another blog post, just with his tips 🙂

(he is also an upholder but he leans to obliger so it may be more interesting to some of you :))

Now, did you reach your reading goal for 2017?

What did you do that made it happen?

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!

Lessons learned while organising my photo albums

Recently I put an item on my to-do list which was to sort out my photo album drawer.

I honestly thought it would take about 30 minutes but it took forever, because photos! memories! Project Life! scrapbooks!

oh my word, what was I thinking? it always gets worse before it gets better

Granny and Kendra loved looking at the photo albums but how did all of that come out of just two drawers?!


This was part of the before. So not bad but I wanted full photo albums in one place and current ones in another space.

After – the complete photo albums

remember these?

After – the current albums and my “speciality” albums (my 40th, pics of friends, etc.)

Both drawers open …

So here’s the thing:

I thought I had excellent photo boundaries. I only print 4 photos per kid per month. And for Project Life, I print about 6 – 8 photos a month, which is really very little. You can read more about my process here.

Still…these children are 8 and my drawers are nearly full. And there’s a whole year – 15 months that is just missing. This is not a very big deal to me since that was actually our life at the time. I have very few pics once I went back to work after my maternity leave and then the pics pick up again later.

I’m now considering the number of photos I print and what I want to do going forward.

Something that I’m thinking of for next year is to just print the 52 project photos of the kids together – that doesn’t cut down on the number but once I have ONE a week, I’m good.

But I will admit it is getting harder to get 4 decent pics of the kids every month. Maybe now is the time to get just one or two a month instead?

I haven’t finalised my thinking on this but I do know I need to cut down.

What do you do? Do you have any ideas for me?

PS I am not a fan of photobooks because of the expense, the time it takes to make them (when you’re not talented with graphic design) and the fact that you have to wait til the year is done to compile it. This way, I can keep up with my printing every 2 – 3 months, and it’s a 10-minute task to put the photos into the albums vs this big task I’ll be dreading every year. I do have photobooks from some old photoshoots.

Organising Queen’s best books of 2017

I finished off the year with 120 books read, 40 non-fiction (my highest non-fiction numbers ever!) and 80 fiction.

May all things in life be as neat 🙂

It was a really great reading year and I’ll tell you later this month how I vastly exceeded my reading goal for the year (167% of the goal).

But for now, I want to tell you about the best fiction and non-fiction I read in 2017.

Let’s start with non-fiction:

1. The Four Tendencies – Gretchen Rubin

The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People's Lives Better, Too) by [Rubin, Gretchen]

I wrote a bit about it here as it relates to me, an upholder. I’m telling you, upholder tightening is a real thing and I’m thrilled I now have the language to explain the things I do.

No matter your tendency, get this book. It is fabulous. You will learn about yourself and your family. My second biggest reason for loving it so much is understanding my kids better. (Dion and I are both upholders, but one of us leans to Questioner and the other to Obliger)

PS Her previous book, Better than Before, is on sale at the moment. I bought myself another copy because I bought the audible version the first time around.

2. Your Move – the underdog’s guide to building your business – Ramit Sethi

Your Move: The Underdog's Guide to Building Your Business by [Sethi, Ramit]

I love Ramit’s work and I really enjoyed this no-frills book on business.

His blog inspired this post of mine – 3 things I do to help my productivity.

PS you can see all my reviews on my Goodreads profile.

3. Born a Crime: And other stories – Trevor Noah

Born A Crime: And Other Stories by [Noah, Trevor]

Trevor Noah is South African but all I really knew about him (I’m not up to date with pop culture, as you know) was his TV ads for a cell phone provider.

This book was fascinating in all kinds of ways even to me, a South African.

I was educated, entertained, challenged and delighted by his narration of this book. Do yourself a favour and get it. If you’re concerned as I was that this would be too political, it’s not. It does challenge your thinking though.

Honorable mentions: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother (one of my favourites ever but it already made my 2015 list!) and Reading People (Anne Bogel)

And now for the fiction:

  1. Truly Madly Guilty – Liane Moriarty

Product Details

This is the same author who wrote Big Little Lies. I love all her work but I truly was delighted with this one because I loved the characters. I loved it so much I’m planning to re-read it this year, this time on Audible 🙂

2. Every Last One – Anna Quindlen

Every Last One by [Quindlen, Anna]

Oh my gosh, this was such a beautiful book. My first by this author. Such detail to relationships and insights about people – just beautifully written in every way.

This year I read my first book by authors seemingly everyone has read – Anna Quindlen, Anne Tyler (Digging to America) and Maggie O’Farrell

I do want to say I abandoned 5 books this year which is AWESOME for me. This year I want to abandon them quicker.

3. A window opens – Elisabeth Egan

A Window Opens: A Novel by [Egan, Elisabeth]

Another new-to-me author and I loved this book. It was a book about normal life for married women with children and I can’t tell you what exactly I loved but just everything. I could not put it down.

Get it – you’ll be delighted.

Please share your top fiction and non-fiction reads with me.

And feel free to recommend books to me too in the women’s fiction, psychological thriller and memoir range. I’m also looking for a good memoir/ project book like this one.

PS Confession – while putting together this list and searching for links online, I actually bought 5 new books (!)

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