Just start – how to overcome procrastination


I’ve been doing the Spring into Organising challenge for the past three weekends and even though I know this, I’m reminded all the time that I need to just start instead of feeling overwhelmed or procrastinating.

It’s spring here in South Africa (although it feels like summer) so the weather’s hot and that could be my excuse. Or it’s book club next weekend and that could be my excuse.

But I’ve been tricking myself in my usual way and saying I only need to do 15 minutes. Which, in most cases, means I do carry on with the task. But in other cases I actually get the whole space done in that time, especially if I’m not doing instagram stories at the same time 😉

Have you tried just starting? Before you know it, you’re doing something. You take out the chopping board and next thing you’re cooking an entire meal. Or you open a browser on your computer and you’re scrolling Facebook an hour later.

You see, Newton’s Law of inertia works both positively and negatively.

Newton’s Law of inertiaAn object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.

Let’s be those “objects” that start in motion and continue staying in motion.

 

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What are some of your excuses? Which stories do you tell yourself about why you can’t start or get something done?

This is how I make my house run smoothly

Life is such a whirlwind, isn’t it? If you’re anything like me, it often seems like the weeks go by in a blur of activity…and then it’s weekend again. Or the weekends go by so quickly and when Monday comes around, you feel like you’ve just started to relax and the week is upon you once again.

The problem with this is that we never have a sense of peace, calm and control. A feeling that we are directing the course of our own lives.

I’ve been going through a really hectic couple of months so I thought I’d share some of the systems I’ve set up to make our lives easier:

Household calendar
We have one household calendar in our kitchen where we mark off any commitments like church, school meetings, book club, socials, and so on. I also mark off the recycling pick-up days, when we buy electricity, and when the gardener needs to be paid.

I couple this with weekly planning. I look at my diary on a Sunday and put in my appointments for the week. I also add any tasks that I need or want to work on, like writing blogs, the newsletter and so on.

When you write down everything, and you see your calendar full of events, it’s easy to see where you need to cut back.

Menu planning
I love menu planning because it saves me time. When I say this to people, they think I’m crazy because “how can all that planning save you time?” It’s quite simple – it takes me about 10 to 15 minutes every Friday (if I’m on the ball) or Saturday and that planning saves me time from Monday to Friday, when I need it most. No more standing in front of the open fridge wondering what to make for supper.

The great thing is you can still be spontaneous within the plan. I plan meals for the working week but if I don’t feel like a particular meal that day, I change it around and cook another day’s meal. Like if it’s very hot and I planned to have baked potatoes with a topping, I may postpone that to another day and make a pasta salad instead.

Here’s a detailed look at why you should consider menu planning and  how I do menu planning

Regular decluttering and organising
I tackle 1 -2 areas in our home every weekend. Let’s face it – if we are constantly buying things and bringing them into our homes and lives, clutter is constantly building up unless we get rid of some of it. I agree with Konmari (here’s my take on the Konmari method) that you do a once-off thorough tidy, but if you’re buying things regularly, you need to declutter regularly. I’ve even taught the kids this principle with a glass of water and how it overflows if we keep pouring water in.

It doesn’t have to be a huge exercise. While you’re busy cooking or baking, you can sort out a cupboard or two. I have a tendency of burning rice and carrots so I stay in the kitchen whenever I cook these and use the time constructively to sort out a cupboard or drawer, plan my menus, write out my shopping list, etc.

When you factor in just 15 minutes’ decluttering and organising per space every weekend, you can easily maintain your home if it is already organised. Of course, if your house is nowhere near where you’d like it, I would suggest 15 minutes every day. Download 31 days of easy organising solutions for plenty of ideas.

See the little nook next to the door?

Launch pad
Do you know the place in your house where you dump your bags as you enter? Flylady calls this a launch pad. I like that term because it reminds me of action. We have a little nook just inside our front door that I use for our launch pad.

Mornings are one of the worst times in most families – you can’t find your keys, wallet, bag, etc. Frantic running around and screaming happens and that is just not fun.

The point is that we use our launch pads to ready ourselves for mornings. Every evening I pack my handbag and laptop, and they are left here. In the mornings all I do is grab and go. Literally once I leave the bedroom, I walk to the fridge to get my lunch bag, grab my keys on the way to the launch pad, get my bags and I’m out of there. Two minutes tops!

Over to you. Which systems can you implement to make your life easier this month?

 

If it’s not serving you, let it go

This month we’re looking at what’s not working for us, so today I have a question for you – what’s no longer serving you?

Sometimes we keep on doing things simply because we’re in the habit of doing them and not because they actually serve us anymore.

Let me explain.

You go through a really busy period at work and work until 6pm every night. After that, it’s become a habit so you continue to do so even though there’s really no need. But this time spent is no longer serving you. You could be enjoying the extra time at home with your family, exercising, taking up a new hobby, etc.

Or you might have a bookshelf full of books you don’t like or need to have. You may have bought them because people on Instagram were talking about them but they’re not really your thing so you haven’t read them. These self-imposed expectations are no longer serving you.

One more…you have 5 sets of bed linen for your guest bedroom. You have guests twice a year for a week at a time, so you never even get past set 3 on the shelf. You feel like you should keep the linen because you bought some of those sheet sets at a sale and you haven’t really used them yet but… they’re not really your favourites. Those sheets staring at you from the shelf are no longer serving you.

Last year I decided to host what I called crafternoons – afternoons for groups of my girlfriends to craft. Craft was a very loose definition because photos, card-making, baking, knitting, colouring was all welcomed.

I hosted four of these but they never had more than 3 of us at any one time. They were enjoyable but they weren’t what I envisioned, especially because I’d invite about 10 ladies every time.

The crafternoons were no longer serving me so I let them go.

This is a small example but I felt such relief at the thought of moving onto something that might work better to get friends together, and that cleared the space for me to start a book club.

My challenge to you is to jot down 3 – 5 things in your life that are no longer serving you. And let them go.

They can be anything from kitchen utensils and nail polish, to bad habits and self-imposed expectations. Anything.

What’s no longer serving you? What do you need to let go of?

Seeing your space in a new light

See your space with new eyes | www.OrganisingQueen.com

I literally only pulled out my camera one day a week for the whole of Feb (to take the 52 Project photo of the kids on Sundays), and then not quite as bad, but there’s a sense of get this done, instead of play in my March photos so far.

I was even completely up to date on Monday night after the Sunday photos last weekend.

So I decided I needed to leave my camera out more to encourage me to just grab it and snap a few photos as things look good in certain light.

And I went a bit wild today.

It was good for me because I always feel great after I’ve created with my camera, but more than that – this!

See your space with new eyes | www.OrganisingQueen.com

I noticed bits of my home that I’d forgotten, both good and bad, like

  1. the big canvas hanging slightly skew
  2. the beautiful light in Kendra’s bedroom
  3. the hand towel I should swop out to match with the bath mat
  4. the way the light shines on my wooden floors in the lounge
  5. how much I love my yellow desk

I even gave myself a challenge to take photos in the kitchen with unwashed dishes, and make it look good 🙂

See your space with new eyes | www.OrganisingQueen.com

I’ve mentioned on this blog before that sometimes we need to literally take a photo of our spaces to really see them – you might have got used to the clutter in your space and this helps you see your space properly again.

I’m sure I’m not alone in this situation. You buy some clothes, come home, toss the bag in your bedroom and a week later it’s still there. We’ve stopped seeing it because our eyes are now used to that clutter.

This is why I like to get my donated things out and into the boot (trunk) of the car before it becomes a new item of “furniture” in my house that I get used to.

*ahem* I have a box of books in my sunroom….

If there’s a space in your home frustrating you, take a photo and see if you can spot what it is you need to do.

When was the last time you took photos of your home?

– Both big canvases (size A0) printed by Mojo Printing who I thoroughly recommend. I used a number of printers until I found them – they are my favourites and will courier anywhere in the country.

– Chevron rug by Airloom, bought via www.Superbalist.com

– Couches and pillows from Mr P Home

The Konmari method vs Capsule Wardrobing vs old-fashioned decluttering

As I mentioned on Monday, I bought The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up and I started listening today.

Since I’m not ready to write a review yet, I thought I’d give you a quick take on the book so far and then talk about other methods.

The short answer is – I already love a lot of it. Those who are Questioners will enjoy it too, I think 🙂

this photo is from last year – half those things I no longer own 🙂

 

The Konmari Method

If you search the hashtag #Konmari on Instagram, you will see amazing photos of people’s spaces (and I think, lives) being transformed.

I follow someone who is a huge crafter and she is KILLING it. She’s done her clothes, kids’ clothes, toys, books and craft stuff. Amazing.

For me so far, it’s about more than stuff and organising and I think that’s why this method is so successful.

The abstainers will love it; as a moderator, I’m listening in the car, cringing at the thought of ALL my stuff on my FLOOR (my trigger! I can’t STAND stuff on the floor – #justaskmykids) but I can see the attraction, especially for the abstainers. If you’re a moderator, my organise your home e-course is much more of a step-by-step process.

The main thing is “does this spark joy?” If it does, you keep it. If not, toss. So simple and yet so powerful.

(179)

Capsule wardrobing

Capsule wardrobes don’t really work for me mainly because I’m not a neutral type of person and I really love colour. But I ignored the numbers of things you’re “supposed” to have in your capsule, did a work clothes and a casual clothes capsule, and that did it for me.

I have much less, and most things do go with one another.

The advantages for me – easy to dress in the mornings, very easy to pack when I went on holiday and almost everything goes with everything else.

The disadvantage for me – my clothes started feeling a bit boring – but then I told myself, “that’s what scarves are for” and I have plenty of those, so much so I actually decluttered some 😮

Storing handbags | Www.OrganisingQueen.com

Old-fashioned decluttering

Before all these new-fangled ideas came about, there was old-fashioned decluttering, which worked just fine for most of us.

I’ve written plenty about decluttering clothes before, and what I said then is still true. The process is solid.

We typically wear only about 20% of our stuff so why not only keep the 20% and actually wear all the things we love.

Decluttering is not as trendy a word as a capsule wardrobe or Konmari is, but I promise, if you go step-by-step, it will still work.

My thoughts

Decluttering is more for the moderator, and Konmari is more for the abstainer.

Although if you want to make radical change quickly and you’re prepared for a bit of upheaval, then Konmari’s going to get the job done SUPER quick.

What’s working in terms of managing your clothes/ stuff these days?

3 free hours?

This weekend my husband announced that he’d be taking the kids somewhere so I could have some time to myself.

With travel time, it ended up being about 3 hours that I had on my own.

What do you think I did with that time?

IMG_7365

I had grand plans to do my budget, blog up a storm, sort my photos, etc.

Instead, I tackled the kids’ cupboards – completely decluttering and organising them, and after that hour, I did the same in the kitchen 🙂

I must tell you – it feels AWESOME to have some white space in the cupboards 🙂

What would you do with 3 free hours in your home?

 

 

Get organised before you go on holiday

Do you remember what it’s like getting back from leave?

You’re all relaxed, birds are chirping, the sun is shining, there’s no tension in your shoulders and everything’s wonderful.

Then you get to your desk.

After you look at your desk, and then see the 2000-odd emails that have piled up, you’re about ready to take your bag and your car keys and go right back home!

By the way, I don’t believe in taking your work with you on holiday unless it’s critical. I’m planning to block my emails from coming through to my iphone and ipad so that I’m not distracted from lazing on the beach.

I have a few ideas to help you prepare and get organised for your holiday:

1. Advise your clients and friends that you’ll be away.

I suggest that you write separate emails because…well…the tone and content will be different for each of them.

For clients, you’ll be explaining how long you’ll be away, what to do for queries and who your stand-in is. For friends, I like to tell them to please not send me any personal emails. After all, you don’t want to return to an Inbox full of PowerPoint presentations and the friends who really want to talk to you have your cell phone number if they want to chat. Right?

If you’re on Facebook, update your status too.

2. Delegate as much as possible

You need to be motivated to delegate! Now just think how lovely it will be when you get back from your holiday and after scanning through your emails, you only have to attend to about 10% of the emails.

You can delegate to a virtual assistant or my favourite, an auto-responder. I have an auto-responder set up to manage my mailing list so that it delivers my free Time Management Purpose Pack automatically to any subscribers and removes people who want to unsubscribe. Just putting this one thing into practice saves me at least an hour a week.

In your personal life, set up some systems to help you get ready to go and return from holiday. I’ve just asked our cleaning lady to come in on the weekend before we leave and again on the weekend following our return to help me get the house sparkling clean again.

I have checklists but I also update them after each holiday. My husband usually packs some things and I pack others (kids’ clothes). It’s helped me not micromanage and also lessened the load. And worse comes to worse, we’re not holidaying in the middle of nowhere – you can always buy if you’ve forgotten something small but the peace and sanity is worth the delegating.

3. Update your website if you’re a small business owner

Go through your Sent Items to see what type of questions you get a lot. If they’re not questions you have to think about and answer fresh every time, they probably belong on your site as a Frequently Asked Questions site or on your website somewhere else.

4. Turn on your out of office assistant

Remember to give the dates you’ll be unavailable, if your clients need to route their query to someone else and a number to contact you if it’s urgent. If at all possible, leave your out of office on a day longer than you need to gain some buffer time for easing back into work.

5. Declutter and get organised

Do a good clear-out of any paper, both on your desk and in your files. While you’re feeling the lovely rush of endorphins, do a good clear out of email and document folders too.

I have two hours scheduled next week to declutter and organise at the office so I can start 2013 on a clean slate. Honestly, I can’t wait to toss paper! I also can’t wait to break open a new notebook 🙂

6. Plan for when you’re back

Write down the top 3 – 5 things on your to-do list for the day you’re back at work. Jot down a maximum of 5 items because you know you’ll be catching up on email!

This will ensure that you hit the ground running and that you beat the feeling of overwhelm.

Enjoy your holiday!

Marcia Francois is a time management coach and speaker who inspires busy women to break out of overwhelm, make the most of their time and take purposeful and focussed action so they have the time and freedom to live life to the full. Visit http://www.purposefultimemanagement.com for your free Time Management Purpose Pack.

18 books for sale… from my bookshelf

  1. I’ve read 10 of these 18 books; the others are brand new.
  2. The prices are on the books themselves or just below them in the photos.
  3. Postage within South Africa is R25 up to 1 kg or R45 between 1 and 2 kg, with tracking.
self-improvement
time management
organising
work/ career
body image

I’m happy to weigh them first to let you know what you’re in for.

Email me on marcia AT organisingqueen DOT com if you want them and I’ll send you my bank details to do the EFT.

Happy shopping!

(this is batch 1)

PS I’ll throw in a free novel (Paige Nick’s “a million miles from normal”) if you want it and there’s enough weight left in your parcel.

{31 days of easy organising solutions} – easier decluttering

Edited to add – a reader alerted me to the fact that once again, dear WordPress lost my post and reverted to my template (which is usually the previous day’s post). Have rewritten it below.

One of the first steps of organising any space is  decluttering.

Because decluttering can be such a hard thing for some of us to do, I’ve been asking myself this question over the years:

Can someone use this today?

When you ask yourself that question, you intentionally move your mindset out of hoarding and into giving.

The Pampers box is always ready to receive some goodies so the minute I can’t comfortably fit things into a cupboard or drawer, I ask myself, “can someone use this today?” about duplicates of items or items that just don’t make me feel happy.

And sometimes older is better.

We have a cheese knife that is old as the hills (about 15 years old) that we received from a family friend with a cheese board. The cheese board is long gone but that knife is awesome. I’ve since received a newer, fancier cheese knife but nothing beats the old one so the newer one needs to go 🙂

What kinds of things do you tell yourself to make it easier to let go?

My book, Live Organised, will help you set up the systems you need to make your life flow smoothly. Available on Kindle and as a physical book.

Books, weather and clothes

I had the most fun last night writing little notes in the PHYSICAL copies of my book for all the South Africans who ordered.

As I was arranging the packages, I decided to throw in a little something extra too (one of my favourite organising tools).

So if you ordered a copy, your parcel is zipping its way to you and should arrive early next week.

It’s not too late though – I still have some copies left. You can get yours here and yes, you’ll also get a little something extra from me 🙂

For those in the rest of the world, you can buy your copy here: http://www.liveorganised.com and if you’ve read the book, please do click through to Amazon to leave a review. Thanks.

 

 

In other glorious news, spring has finally arrived in Jhb. We’ve been enjoying temperatures of 25 – 27 degrees celsius for the last week.

I love it! Not only is it warmer so I don’t have to drink copious mugs of tea but I actually want to be outside with my camera again.

If you’re wondering what the kids are doing here, they’re investigating a cat sitting outside a shop 🙂

 

One item on my 37 things list last year was to have only clothes in my cupboard that fit me and that I loved.

I’d done that decluttering in stages (it really gets easier the more you do it) and the weekend before my birthday I decided to go through my cupboards one more time to get rid of the last little bit.

Imagine my amazement when I realised that I had, in fact, given away all the clothes that didn’t fit and that I didn’t like.

I love it!

But… my wardrobe’s been annoying me for the last week or so which means it’s time to go through it again.

No surprise since I bought a few things and haven’t let go of anything else.

So this week know that as I’m speaking to you about decluttering, I’m also inspiring myself to some wardrobe “white space” this weekend.

Just in time too, because I bought myself some very frivolous (to me) black flip flop sandals for work today 🙂

Are you enjoying the weather?

Have you started your decluttering for the change of season?

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