The quick and dirty monthly review

Monthly reviews are one of my life rhythms that I didn’t think I needed, but I love doing so much.

They force me to slow down and reflect on what’s been, instead of just racing ahead to the next thing.

I’m the type of person that’s always looking forward and while that’s mostly good, at times, I know I need to stop and enjoy what I’ve accomplished first before moving forward.

My monthly review helps me do that.

Over the years I’ve refined my process, and I ask myself 6 questions that you can find on a free printable here.

Suzanne Moore interviewed me on her podcast and we spoke extensively about that monthly review form and my process. Listen in here on itunes or stitcher.

Some months I make my process even longer (when it’s been a particularly busy or eventful or stressful month and I need to unravel it) and sometimes I do the quick and dirty version.

The quick and dirty monthly review process

1.In my bullet journal, I write down 4 questions:

  • what went well this month?
  • what could have gone better?
  • what did I learn?
  • what do I need to let go of?

2. Then I go make a cup of tea or do something totally different (pack lunch bag/ set out clothes, etc.) This gives my brain time to start thinking about the month.

3. I then return to my bullet journal and answer those questions. Because I’ve given myself a chance to have a quick think, the writing it all out is easy when I return.

bonus questions

  • how did I live out my word of the year?
  • do I have any in-progress projects to be carried over?

 


Tell me. Do you do a monthly review? If not, I’d like to challenge you to do one this month and see how you enjoy the process (or not!). Let me know what happens 🙂

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?

5 more favourite posts about … goal-setting process

Guys, you know I love talking about goals.

I’m actually so excited that I’ve found like-minded people on my @OrganisingQueen instagram page who like to see so much talk about goals 🙂

I did think, though, that I should round up some of my favourite goals posts again in one place, so here you go.

Bouncing back from a not-great goals month

These 3 things will get you halfway to your goals

Goals for kids

Two great goal-setting questions

Put your goals back on track

Tell me about your goal-setting history.

Do you set goals comfortably?

Do you want to set goals but don’t quite … get around to it?

Are you scared in case you don’t reach those goals?

Do you feel like it would be too much pressure?

Tell all 🙂

P.S. If you need help, do email me to set up a goal-setting session. I’d love to help you.

Here’s your permission to reward yourself

My default setting is usually go, go, go.

As such, I usually keep striving and reaching towards the next thing, without taking a moment or two to just enjoy having accomplished a goal.

I’m not great at the resting and rejuvenating types of rewards but I’ve become a lot better.

A large part of it is a monthly ritual I’ve put into place where I review what I’ve gotten done during the month.

I celebrate all by myself that I’ve done x, y and z, and that it was, indeed, an accomplishment. Since I’ve started noting down what I have done instead of what I haven’t, I’ve felt happier and more grateful for the good things in my life.

Why should we reward ourselves after we accomplish a goal or do something we’re proud of?

It helps us to mark the occasion, take stock and celebrate properly, which in turn, motivates us to keep at it.

Your reward should ideally be in proportion to how much work you put in to get something done.

I always tell people – it may not be the best use of your time to take a 15-minute break after organising your desk for 15 minutes 🙂 A great idea if you’ve just spent an hour filing – yes!

Here are some ways to reward yourself:

frugal

  1. have a bubble bath with candles and a magazine
  2. enjoy a cup of tea while you read a book
  3. get on the phone and chat with an encouraging friend
  4. spend time baking or cooking a recipe from your Pinterest board
  5. spend time being creative

material

  1. buy a little gift for yourself, whether physical like a nail polish or lipstick, or experiential like getting your hair done
  2. get that something you’ve wanted for a while, even if it seems frivolous, and especially if you’re usually an under-buyer
  3. go out for a meal with your family or friends
  4. buy a beautiful handbag
  5. have a movie or bookshop date with yourself

And then there are always rewards of the soul variety.

More than any of those suggestions above, I really want you to get comfortable with talking to yourself and saying all those things you wish others said to you. Give yourself the permission to say “well done”, “I’m proud of you” or “you’re a great mother” even if you never hear this from others because that is the greatest reward you could ever give yourself – the knowing that you are enough.

Do you reward yourself when you reach goals or finish projects?

{my year of happy} April update and May project – physical space

So as some might remember, my April project was to look at what was not working for me and to fix those things.

Before I tell you about that, let me give you some fabulous news about my no-spend month for books. I did buy 4 titles from my list before our holiday because I wanted a good holiday read. But I still ended up only spending 66% of my allowance this month. It’s the first time in years I’ve come in under-budget so I’m doing the happy dance.

Personal email

I got completely up to date with my email. It needs a tweak now so I’ve put it on my weekly goals list for next week to spend 30 minutes saving documents to sort it out

Blogs in my feedly

This one I’m particularly proud of. I started off with 80, deleted 20 and could probably delete about 15 more. I also reordered them all and deleted some categories so that I have fewer, more descriptive categories.

Podcasts

Here I started off with 20 and I now have 12 I’m subscribed to, and 4 occasional ones.

I was also supposed to go through my instagram properly but I’m doing that more organically, like if I notice I’m following an account that I’ve already commented on from my other profile, I’ll just pop into the other profile and unfollow from there.

I was on such a roll that I also went through my Kindle sorting the entire thing out. The good news is it’s super sorted but the bad news is I had many more books unread than I thought I did, so am working through those now. And until I get where I’m happy with the number of unread books, I’ll be continuing my no-spend on books.

So that was April and I’m very happy with all of that sorted.

What about May?

In May, the OrganisingQueen intentional calendar (which you can get here) says:

It’s time to focus on your physical space. How can you make your space more inviting? How can you make your physical environment work better for you?

  1. I’m going to get up some blog posts this month focussing on physical spaces.
  2. I need to buy some Queen-size winter sheeting.
  3. I want to buy a few throws for use in the lounge. Is there anything better than cuddling up with a warm blanket, tea and a book? No, I think not.
  4. There are two things on my car that need sorting out.
  5. Our fridge is leaking. We just put a mat underneath but I need to get a fridge person in to look at it.
  6. Before any of those things can get done though, I need to sort out our budget after our holiday 🙂

What’s on your list for May?

5 favourite posts about…. how I do my goals!

If you’re a longtime reader, you’ll know I’m fairly passionate about goals, but not only for nerdiness’ sake, but because I’ve seen and tested them in my own life for over 20 years.

Here are 5 of my favourite posts on goal-setting (and goal getting), basically how I do goals:

How I choose my goals for the month

My favourite night of the month, Goals Night

I started doing my goals like this, and it continued into this year

A mind-shift to change your thinking about goals

Weekly goals

Which is your favourite post?

Really easy goal-setting

The thing with life (and with goals) is that you can make it as complicated or as simple as you like.

I try to not overcomplicate things so this system is, hands down, the easiest way to set goals for the year.

Have a notebook and pen handy, some quiet space and a nice cup of tea.

  1. Think back over the year that’s been and write down what went well and what didn’t. This could take up to an hour or longer, depending on how the year went.
  2. Then look forward and think about what you want for the year ahead. I like to really spend time getting clear on my vision, fleshing it out fully. This is also when I think about my ONE word for the year.
  3. Take a goals form (you can also use a notebook) and in each of the areas of your life, like Family, Health, Spiritual, Business, I write down 1 – 3 broad goals. My free Let’s Do This guide works well too.
  4. Now check each of those goals and make sure they align with your One Word or theme and more importantly, that you’re excited by them and that they feel authentic with who you are. E.g. One of my values is balance so if I have too many goals, I start to feel out of control and therefore, inauthentic with who I am. So if this happens, I go back to the drawing board to simplify some more.
  5. Make sure that your goals are within your control. E.g. with my business, I can only control my actions. Yes, I do set the intention to have x clients bringing in y money but the things I can control is how much marketing to do, in which ways, how often, etc. I can’t actually control the clients’ behavior. Does this make sense?
  6. Then choose 3 – 4 goals to work on for the first 90 days, schedule the work and get to it.
  7. A suggestion is to add one or two quick wins to get started so that when you achieve those goals, you’re motivated to persevere with the harder ones.

That’s it. Easy as that, your system is set up. Now you just need to schedule your goals and work your system.

Have you set any goals for 2017 yet?

If not, let this be inspiration for your weekend organising project. It’s never too late 🙂

Andddddd….. October goals

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October is the point where people definitely think, “what’s the point?”

There is a point. Trust me.

If you get just one thing done every month, that’s 3 things this year.

3 things more than you would have got done!

Now if you’re even the slightest bit more ambitious than that, you can end 2016 well.

So forget about the first 9 months in the past and look forward to the rest of the year.

Answer this question:

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What would have to happen this month for October to feel like a good month?

  • a date with friends
  • sorting something out at home – organising
  • buying something for your home
  • making a budget
  • increasing your bond repayment
  • making plans for Christmas

Write down 3 things (goals) for October and stick that note up somewhere. Even better, write those things on 1 – 2 post-it notes and put one on your bathroom mirror and one at your desk or in your bullet journal.

Will you do it?

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Now onto some of my goals for October:

  1. Learn and perfect the dance for my Spanish dance exams – I have 5 (very short) weeks left… but I do know 1/3 now.
  2. Book December leave and decide where we’re doing for Christmas, etc.
  3. Decide if I want to do a workshop this year – either on Love Languages or Bullet Journalling
  4. Schedule socials for the rest of the year
  5. Buy new bed
  6. Do whatever it takes to sell house

Care to share some of your goals?

PS Theses photos are from last year – there are almost no jacarandas in Johannesburg due to the drought 🙁

Happy Spring! And my September goals/ August review

Well, friends, it’s the 1st day of September, so Happy Spring!

September goals | www.OrganisingQueen.com

Spring always surprises me because even though we might feel like it’s still too cold or winter hasn’t properly passed, no one gave the trees that memo because they’re all blooming.

I only had my phone with me at the library the other day but I was overcome (in a good way!) at all the amazing and beautiful blooms in the grounds.

Just gorgeous.

It’s a reminder also that things change. Just when you think you can’t do another day of _____, a new season is right around the corner.

What is fascinating to me is how quickly things change. Just a few days ago I drove by a tree in our neighbourhood that still had magnificent winter branches and today, more than half of it is already green.

September goals | www.OrganisingQueen.com

Let’s review (some of) my goals for August:

  1. Sell old house (please pray – the pray without ceasing praying – for God to send people who will love that house and who can afford it)
  2. Organise handyman to put up shelves and get all our photo frames up The existing list of things was much too long and we could only afford a certain number of hours.
  3. Write the paying off the house post – this may be more than 1 post, depending on how much I have to say.
  4. Participate in #AugustBreak2016 on Instagram. I think this is my third year and I love it. I enjoy the prompts, the community and it’s a good time of year for me as I’m feeling reflective (it’s my birthday on Saturday!) and the weather is still cool enough to wander around getting nice photos.
    Yes, and it’s been SUPER fun. Go have a look at my Instagram.
  5. Organise July photos and select photos from Ballito holiday for printing.
  6. Write for 20 minutes a day. I did this but only during the week. There were a couple of days I missed due to headaches but I’m calling this done because I think it got me back into the habit of writing.

September goals | www.OrganisingQueen.com

A few goals for September:

  1. Sell old house – this one is staying on the list until done. Please continue to pray for my peace of mind. The scripture I am clinging to is this one: John 14:27 My peace I give you. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. If you pray, I’d appreciate your prayers too.
  2. Take a weekly walk with the kids to explore our new neighbourhood. The “problem” with having a house we love so much is that we don’t want to leave it at all. But I dragged (bribed) the kids to go for a walk with me on the weekend and all 3 of us said it was one of the weekend highlights. It’s about creating a new habit and takes just 20 – 30 minutes. I’m all about making things super easy.
  3. Try the new barre class at least twice this month. I can only make it to the one weekly evening class but it is early so will require the effort of driving to work in my own car, and leaving early to get to the gym in time. I feel like I have to give it at least a good shot to know if I’ll like it because while I did ballet for 13 years, I kind of hate yoga and pilates.
  4. Survive at work with an under control inbox. Aug and Sept are some of my busiest months with lots of travel…
  5. Explore the possibility of hosting a Love Languages workshop.

That’s not all, but that’s all I’m sharing 🙂

Would you like to share something on your list for September?

How did your August go?

PS I’ll be writing more about my monthly review process on Monday, so look out for that post.

July review and August goals

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July was interesting 🙂

It felt a lot worse than it actually was.

But actually, when I stopped and did a proper review writing it all down, I realised that I actually got a lot done.

This is the point of doing a monthly goals review – to stop and notice the things you did do, instead of only the things you didn’t.

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Just a few highlights:

  1. we had a wonderful family holiday in Ballito – lots of good food, walks, times of connection and reading
  2. we moved house (!) – I think if we did nothing else this is AWESOME 🙂
  3. I met up with 5 different friends, all one-on-one
  4. I read 8 books, none of them audible books. I bought 3 books on Tuesday morning because this month is a normal working month, not one where I take 2.5 weeks holiday.
  5. I got my hair done. My appointment was moved out due to the holiday and move, and you know how you can’t WAIT to get your hair sorted again? Yes, that was me 🙂
  6. My tax was done!

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A few goals for August:

  1. Sell old house (please pray – the pray without ceasing praying – for God to send people who will love that house and who can afford it)
  2. Organise handyman to put up shelves and get all our photo frames up
  3. Write the paying off the house post – this may be more than 1 post, depending on how much I have to say.
  4. Participate in #AugustBreak2016 on Instagram. I think this is my third year and I love it. I enjoy the prompts, the community and it’s a good time of year for me as I’m feeling reflective (it’s my birthday on Saturday!) and the weather is still cool enough to wander around getting nice photos.
  5. Organise July photos and select photos from Ballito holiday for printing.
  6. Write for 20 minutes a day.

Over to you.

What are you going to read, what are you going to listen to and what will you do to keep yourself sane this month?

And a very happy birthday to Terisha who started out as a reader and has now become a friend!

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