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.

{New monthly blog series} reading highlights for October

I post a lot about reading on the OrganisingQueen instagram page and I think it also fits in on the blog because the question I get most when I talk about reading is not, “what should I read next?” but “how do you read so much?” or “I don’t have time to read”.

Reading to me is a priority/ time management issue with a good dose of organising thrown in, so it fits here perfectly.

Enough chit-chat? Let’s talk books.

A quick disclaimer about the weird numbers:

My goal for the year was 72, and so far I’ve read 102 books for the year. I haven’t increased my goal because 1) I want no more pressure for the end of the year and 2) I get a kick out of seeing 142% of budget 🙂

Stats:

9 books read for October – 3 non-fiction; 6 fiction

Fiction

Best fiction: Small Great Things – Jodi Picoult (this was our book club read)

Runners-up: Noah’s Compass (my second Anne Tyler) and All at Sea – Pauline Lawless

Most disappointing read: The Course of Love – Alain de Botton (I am in the very small minority of people who did not like this book very much).

Non-fiction

Best non-fiction: Reading People – Anne Bogel by a very small margin over The Sacrament of Happy – Lisa Harper

Reading people is a book exploring 7 different personality frameworks (insert heart-eyed emojis!) and I loved it. I pre-ordered so received a Kindle and audio version. If I have one complaint, it’s that she speaks too fast and slowing it down to 0.75 is just a bit too slow. So I had to really concentrate. If you get it, get the Kindle or paperback versions.

The Sacrament of Happy – This is a Christian book. If that puts you off, fair enough. But I’ve been frustrated many times over the last few years by the lack of Word there is in Christian books (non-fiction titles marketed as Christian). This one is not one of those. She speaks the Word, loves the Lord and I love how she teaches and balances it all with humour, personal experience. I also adore her accent. If you’re not sure, listen to the God Centered Mom podcast episode 174 as a taster.

What was the best fiction and non-fiction you read in October?

PS these are affiliate links. At no extra cost to you, I’ll receive literally a few cents if you purchase through my links.

What I learned when I had no internet

My internet service provider gave notice to all its customers and, long story short, we went with a new one but cancelled during the cooling-off period due to terrible service. Signed up with another and we have wifi again 🙂

During this time, I could use data on my phone but it’s so, so expensive that I tried not to revert to my phone and just do without.

I learned so many things during the month:

  1. I slept a lot more. My average sleep time for September is 7 hrs 46 vs 7 hours 25 for August.
  2. Life was very quiet on the friendship front too. I realised I make quite a few whatsapp audio calls and also couldn’t Facetime with a friend I normally have a monthly date with.
  3. I read a lot more than I usually do. I read 13 books in September. My average is 10 books a month, but in August I only read 8.
  4. I got a lot of organising done in the house – my wardrobes, kids’ wardrobes, kitchen cupboards, etc. And much pottering!
  5. The photos were completely up to date. Absolutely up to date. I don’t think I’ve ever been that up to date before 🙂
  6. I learned that my cell phone provider offers a free Instagram day every 6 days, and free Facebook every 6 days too. Those were the days I scrolled a lot, and on other days I used data to get on Instagram to post, and then I got off.
  7. I downloaded podcasts at work to listen to in the car.

Of course, I’ve made up for all that non-wifi time but I’m very conscious now that when I choose to scroll Instagram, I’m choosing not to go for a walk, read, sleep or get stuff done on my list.

Have you had a period of non-internet time? What did you get done during that time?

Have you considered going phone-free every week or month?

PS I heard on a podcast about Andrea Lucado (Max Lucado’s daughter) who takes the weekend off social media every week. It feels quite radical and strangely freeing too 🙂

PPS there’s another person (whose name escapes me) who takes the last week of every month off!

Does the thought of going offline feel freeing or terrifying?

 

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

Good news – you get to choose

I have a couple of coaching spots available. If you’ve been wishing/ hoping/ dreaming for more time and less overwhelm, this is your time. Email me and if we’re a good fit, I’d love to work with you.

The first rule of time management (and life, really) is realising that you have a choice.

Often people tell me they don’t have a choice because of x, y and z reasons.

And actually, that’s not true.

You always have a choice.

Of course these choices are sometimes Super Hard but they’re always available. It also takes courage to admit that those choices exist in the first place.

Let me explain.

1. I’ve said before that I can’t go to Weigh-Less and gym on a Saturday morning. Then I realised that I was lying to myself. Technically I could do it. It’s just that it was super hard and really tight time-wise with the kids’ breakfast and gym.

But I could do it if I really wanted to wake up 30 minutes earlier.

2. A lady told me she didn’t have time to do anything for herself.

When we explored a little more, she did, in fact, have time, but she was too tired at night after the chores were done.

It’s not true that she doesn’t have a choice. She does. She could, technically, do something for herself first if she wanted to and then finish the household chores. She could even leave some of those chores for her husband.

It takes courage to admit, “I’m choosing to do household chores with my time instead of my own hobbies”.

3. Still someone else was talking to me about a work situation last year.

She said she didn’t have a choice in leaving her employment because she couldn’t find another job.

I suggested that she accept responsibility for where she was at. To stop complaining and realise if anything was to change, she had to make it happen.

If she didn’t want to go out and find something else, then she had to consciously say to herself, “I’m choosing to stay at my current company because of X, Y and Z” or otherwise realise she had a choice.

Well, this same lady sent me an email last week. Apparently I kicked her butt and she decided to go out and look for another job. She told me she was so happy and was glad I talked tough to her.

Your coaching challenge is to…

1. Identify 1 – 3 situations where you’ve been saying “I can’t” or “I don’t have a choice”.

2. Change your words and say, “I’m choosing to do __________ because of ________________” When we tell ourselves the truth, we realise that we either have to accept our circumstances or and it will empower us to change our words and start making different choices.

I fully realise that this is not a popular thing to tell you because all of us don’t like facing our stuff, but I know that in my own life, when I’ve accepted that everything is a choice, I’ve been happier doing or not doing things simply because I felt more empowered.

Where have you realised recently that you have a choice?

Using the Kindle Notes Export function

or in my opinion, one of the best things about reading on the Kindle 🙂

I read a lot of non-fiction and I often want to blog about something or talk about it with someone (an unsuspecting friend!).

115 highlights! I know – I love this book 🙂 and I’m an Upholder

Since I started the book club, I do the same thing with the book club reads so I can print out all my notes to discuss at the meeting.

When I read physical books, I have post-it flags all over the book but for Kindle, I highlight everything I want, and then export and print out the notes.

Kindle sends the notes to your address on the record in both PDF and Excel format -it’s really cool.

But let me show you how.

I noticed that they look slightly different when you do them on the Kindle or from your iphone/ ipad.

From the iphone

Click the little icon with the lines and My Notebook opens.

Click the icon with the square and the arrow pointing up and at the bottom of the screen, Export Notebook to Email.

I just choose None under Citation Style (because I have no idea what that even means), and then Export.

The email opens and you can send it where you want so you can print it.

I think you only get PDF and Excel if you export from Kindle. Either way, have fun and keep making your highlights.

Do you have any tips and tricks for me with your Kindle notes?

Scheduling and tracking important but not urgent items

Clearly my system for catching questions is not great because Laura left this question for me ages ago.

I have a question relating to calendars.

Do you have a system for regular things that you would like to but don’t want to schedule per se? So, for example, your walks. Let’s use the scenario that you want to go for four walks a week but you don’t want to schedule them all out in advance, you just want to do them at any given time during the week.

I know one option is to write when you have already taken a walk. But what kind of chart/note/system might help you track things like this? Now when I use the example of a walk, it could be anything- eating more fruit, three handwritten notes a week, declutter one room per week, etc. Just about anything that you want to do but don’t necessarily know a month ahead what exact day you want to do it. (this comes into play daily for me in my work with the dorms – snacks to give out, kids in for one on one time to play, kids in to eat a meal with me, sleepovers, etc.). So I know I want to give out snack 4-5 times a week but I don’t want to schedule the days a month ahead. It’s when I have the money/time/energy/food available.

I want to point out something very important here:

These are all important things (to you) but are not urgent. No-one’s going to say, “oh! you didn’t declutter that room” or “why didn’t you go for your walk this week?” which means they’re your goals.

In Gretchen Rubin language, these are inner expectations and if you know your tendency, people who don’t have any trouble meeting inner expectations are Upholders (I’m an Upholder) and Questioners. Obligers and Rebels have the most trouble with inner expectations, and let’s face it – no rebel reads my blog 🙂 So really, I’m talking mostly to obligers, and others looking for a tip to improve their already strong goals game.

I have some ideas, but you’ll need to ask yourself a question first.

Do you do weekly or monthly planning?

Laura mentions weekly a lot so I’m guessing she’s a weekly planner like I am 😉

When I read the question, I immediately thought of three examples from my life: reading goals, friend goals and blog writing goals.

Reading

Because I know I’m a weekly planner, I know I need to read one book every week, and at least two others over the month, to reach my monthly goal of 6 books.

I ask myself: when am I most likely to get this done? That is definitely on the weekend.

So this item of reading a book goes on every weekend to-do list (you can go back and check my instagram – you’ll see :))

I do read every day so to get in another book every two weeks is not difficult for me.

Friends

I like to connect with at least 5 friends a month. There’s usually a group (more than 1) one in there, so in my mind, I have to have a plan once a week, usually during work lunches, or a tea time just after work.

I don’t mind when so when I do monthly planning, I will reach out and schedule something every week.

Blog writing

My goal is always to write 3 posts a week even when I only publish 2, specifically for those times when things come up and I have no chance to write.

While I prefer to write on Monday evenings, it doesn’t always work out, but the item is on my weekly list, so I check in on my energy levels and when I feel like it, I’ll write the post/s.

Some weeks, I’m not particularly motivated, but I remind myself that (1) I’m unlikely to want to do anything intellectually strenuous on the Tuesday (I have two dance classes), and that (2) my energy from work is likely to flag as the week progresses, so I just need to start (that’s usually enough for me because once I’ve made a start, I’m good).

To summarise:

  1. Know when you’re most likely to be able to do it
  2. Work with your energy/ capacity and when you do have the time and energy, use it.
  3. I don’t schedule these tasks on a specific day (unless it involves another person/s) but I do have weekly goals.
  4. I write these on my weekly goals list. Just glancing at my list on a daily basis helps to keep me focussed. You may be the same if you’re an Upholder. If you’re an Obliger, get yourself some external accountability.
  5. If you’re a monthly/ daily planner, basically the same things apply except glance at your list every day and see which you can add to that day.
  6. If you have a daily habit that you’re tracking, like to eat 3 pieces of fruit daily, then I suggest a separate page in your bullet journal, or write a line item in your weekly goals page (there’s one in my freebie Time Management pack) with 7 spaces and tick it off daily. You may have to set a reminder at the same time every day, or multiple times per day to get you going.
  7. Don’t freak out if you “fail”. It only means you need to try a couple of other things to find what works for you. There’s definitely something out there.

How do you schedule the important but not urgent things (your goals)?

Did something particularly resonate with you? Care to share?

Do you set goals weekly or monthly?

My new bullet journal – a grid notebook

I’m on my third bullet journal for the year, my sixth overall.

For this year, I’ve had a lined one, a dot grid one and then I was undecided between another lined one (a pretty purple one) or a grid notebook.

I decided to go with the grid notebook because I wanted to try all the versions of notebook (last year I used lined paper for two of them and then a blank notebook) paper so I could see what worked best…for me.

And the verdict?

I’m loving this grid notebook.

  1. It’s a Fabriano A5 grid notebook – made in Italy. South Africans, I bought it at Exclusives for R23. Yes, you read that correctly. They come in gorgeous, bright colours for such a great price.
  2. They had a spiral bound version about twice the thickness (and double the price – I think R48?), but since this one is travelling in my handbag on a daily basis, I didn’t want the spirals to get messed up, and I definitely want to finish using it by the end of December.
  3. I’m using my Staedtler triplus fineliners and the only Schneider Topliner I own because the paper is a nice firm 80g/sm that can hold these fineliners.
  4. I think a combination of the pen plus the grid makes my handwriting look neater.
  5. Also, I love making little blocks of exactly one grid next to my to-do list items.

There is possibly only one thing that could be better, and that is to have a non-scuffable cover. I’ve wrapped it in plastic to protect it.

What should you consider in a bullet journal?

size – I love an A5 size, but I’ve seen people use smaller and bigger notebooks

thickness – I like to change mine all the time so I love the 80-page notebooks because they last about 3 months. If you want one for the entire year, go bigger

paper – choose your paper depending on the size of your handwriting, and whether you naturally write in a straight line or not. Is that even an issue for you? It is for me? (I have since discovered I’m not a fan of light dot grid notebooks; I may be convinced if there are ones with a darker dot that I can try)

pens – on the more Kraft-type paper (the slightly brown paper), a gel pen works beautifully because it “sinks” into the paper. On a whiter type of paper, like this one, I find the staedter fineliners work beautifully. Of course you can use any pen on any paper (there are no rules!) but I know that I prefer a certain look to my handwriting with a certain pen on a certain paper 🙂

Tell me how you decided on your bullet journal

PS If you’re South African, pick up one next time you’re at Exclusives and let me know which colour you chose 🙂

5 ways to manage the stress in your life

Years ago when I first researched the topic of stress, I learned that there’s good stress and there’s bad stress.

The good stress works for us when we need a bit of a boost to get things done on a deadline or when we need to perform in whichever way, like speak to a group, give a presentation, and so on.

But then you reach that point. The point where you’re so fraught with nerves, you literally just snap at the slightest thing.

For some of us, this only happens as we approach the end of a long year without a holiday but for others, it might feel like we’re permanently frazzled and on edge.

That’s not good.

I generally manage my stress well but I’ve learned to check in with my body regularly, especially when I notice that I’m snapping at people and generally being unreasonable and not myself.

The key here is to acknowledge that some parts of life are going to be stressful. Your personality, life stage, and career will generally dictate what is stressful to you.

However, the trick is to incorporate enough of the stress busters below into your daily routine so you de-stress regularly.

  1. Exercise

Research shows that regular exercise is a good, healthy stress reliever. Find out what kind of movement works for you. There are dance classes, walking, running, swimming, cycling, kick-boxing, and of course, working out at the gym. From personal experience, I can tell you that a boxing class is a great stress reliever to take out your frustrations.

  1. Get enough sleep

Research also shows that most people need between 7 and 8 hours’ sleep every night. Just like babies, when we don’t get enough sleep, we get crabby and everything irritates us.

I set a goal to have an average of 7 hours 30 minutes of sleep every day. The lovely thing about an average is that you can’t only sleep well 2 nights out of 7. It’s got to become a habit.

  1. Learn to say “no”

Many people are stressed because of built-up resentment due to their inability or unwillingness to say no. Trust me – it gets easier the more you say it.

If it’s really difficult for you to say no, start with small things like refusing a second helping or declining to have a perfume sample at the mall. Then you build up to saying no to parts of projects or to invitations to events you don’t care for.

  1. Practise self-care

Self-care is not only taking a bubble bath to getting a manicure or a massage. I actually feel that it’s knowing what works for you and incorporating daily or weekly parts into your life. Part of my self-care is reading every day and getting outside for a weekly walk. My self-care also includes having strong boundaries like saying no. The main thing is to do something for YOU on at least a weekly basis, preferably daily.

  1. Use your support system regularly

When you feel overwhelmed or frazzled, call a friend, family member or colleague, either just to talk or to help you!

Stress assessments online test whether you have a person in your life to talk to when you feel stressed. Find such a person for yourself. You don’t always need answers; it’s just to talk through things.

Which of these ideas will you next put into practice for better mental health?

7 ways to use project life cards aside from project life journalling

If you don’t have project life cards, you could quite easily cut cardstock to size (4 X 6) and use these same tips.

1.Labelling craft kits

I have, occasionally, put together some beading kits and once, an easy craft for kids. I bought wooden letters and packs of buttons from a craft store, added a jar of craft glue, and gifted that to some of my kids’ friends.

The project life card is the perfect size for a label on the one side, and one or two sentences on the reverse.

2. Gift tags

They are particularly lovely to use as gift tags on presents.

3. Conversation notes

This might confirm that either I’m super weird or very intentional. Let’s go with the latter, okay?

I sometimes use PL cards to keep notes of things I want to remember to chat to friends about so when we meet for tea/ lunch, I have a visual prompt.

I’ve also twice had meetings with teachers and I use a project life card to write down my thoughts so I don’t get sidetracked in the meeting. I hope I look organised and invested in the meeting 🙂

4. Speech preparation

My kids have started to do little speeches at school.

They’re allowed to use a card with keywords, so they use a Project Life card.

5. Scriptures/ affirmations

One of my kids was quite fearful about going to bed for a month or two, so Dion wrote out a scripture to be kept next to the bed.

If I want to be reminded about something, like “I can only do what I can do; I can’t control other people’s work”, then I write these not-so-little things on a PL card.

6. Labelling shelves

I change things in my house all the time. Not furniture, but the way things are organised. For instance, when the kids were at pre-school, we had a lot more space dedicated to casual clothes, because that’s all they wore.

These days we have a shelf each for school clothes because of the uniforms. And they only wear casual clothes for 3.5 hours every afternoon, and on weekends.

PL cards are easy to use, change labels and just stick on the shelf with Prestik.

7 . Love notes

Kendra just piped up from the lounge that we also use them to write love messages for each other 🙂

How do you use Project Life cards for non-Project Life purposes?

PS I really like this lady’s idea for a running list!

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