{Annual review} What went well in 2017?

If you’ve had a rough year, you may be tempted to just scroll on by but hang in there – there are things in your life that went well this year.

I know this because even in my worst years, there were things that were good about it, and so it will be for you too.

Step one of any annual review process for me is to note down what went well about the year.

This year, I wanted to get going and build some momentum before working through my Let’s Do This workbook, which is free if you’ve signed up to my list. If you haven’t yet signed up, go here and I’ll send it out again on Friday, and then I’ll take off all the old freebies and put up this guide for the whole of next year (remember there’s no rule about when to start working on your goals!).

I get my best momentum with thinking things when I start mindmapping. So I wrote in my bullet journal “what went well” and made some spokes for God, family, fitness, fun, friends, house and word of the year. And then I let myself loose and under each spoke, I wrote whatever was on my mind.

Try that and let me know if it works to get you loose with your thinking because sometimes the getting started is the hardest part.

That’s my tip for you 🙂

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As for my 2017, what went well?

  1. I’m hearing God better this year than I did last year. I started journalling and am really enjoying that process too.

2. The kids had great years at school and loved their teachers, we had two lovely family holidays and because they’re a bit older, we’ve been having more family lunches out because they can now behave 🙂 Dion and I have also had date afternoons most months. This month we went to see Bryan Adams so we’re ending on a high!

3. This has been a great year of reading – I will probably end up with about 120 books for the year, and it’s definitely the most non-fiction I’ve ever read in one year (I’m trying to finish on 40 so that it’s nice and neat :)). This alone deserves its own post but do leave a comment if you want to know something specific. These days, I get more questions about reading than I do about anything else

4. I also had a great year of sleep. I track my sleep to keep myself on track (strategy of monitoring works great for Upholders) and I will end the year over my goal of 7 hours 30 per night. It still amazes me that one has to actually be in bed much longer to get real and good sleep of 7:30.

5. I finally started a barre class and will probably end the year with about 60 walks. I’ve tried something the last two months on increasing my steps but let me work on it for another month and I’ll share next year. It’s really working for me though and if you’re not one of those 10 000 steps a day people, it may work for you too. I’ve just started back at Weigh-Less to lose some weight (I do have an actual number but I’m not putting it on the internet).

6. This year I started a book club with a friend and it has been so much fun for me. I still mostly read books no-one else reads but at least once a month, there’s something I can talk about with friends.

7. Speaking of friends, I haven’t had the best friend year but things that have worked really well is scheduling recurring meet-ups/ phone calls (again, the strategy of scheduling works great for upholders), my internal rule of always saying yes to out of town/ country friends, and I’m realising as I write this – this should probably be a post too 🙂

Now tell me, what went well for you in 2017?

Please feel free to leave me questions in the comments.

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 🙂

Switching up what’s not working for you

I’ve had a goal on my list since the beginning of the year, and that was to increase the amount of exercise I get in a week, in particular, to strengthen my core.

This was not happening despite wishing it were so. Imagine that.

Then my usual Zumba instructor had an operation and she was off for 6 Saturdays. One of those Saturdays we had a visiting lady do a Pound class.

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That pound class opened my mind to new possibilities and reminded me that I had a fitness goal I’d made exactly 0% progress in.

Another gym in my neighbourhood opened earlier this year, still in the same network. So I checked their classes and phoned them to see if I could try out a Barre180 class.

I tried the class, loved it and have been going ever since.

But that’s not the end of the story.

You see, I’ve been in a habit where we, as a family, go to the gym together every Saturday morning for years and years. I love the time together, that we’re prioritising fitness and health, and I still (two months in) miss going to gym with them. It’s complicated, but basically, there is no kids’ programme at the new gym and in order for me to go with them on a Sat and still go to my new one during the week would cost me a lot of money, which I just can’t justify.

I’m trying not to focus on the missing part too much, and I’m going for more walks with the kids 🙂

And the best thing is… two of my jackets can now close and my flexibility has increased such that I can easily touch the floor again. Yay.

Over to you.

Think back to the goals you wrote down at the start of the year. Are there any you’re completely stuck on? Do you need to shake things up?

Do you need a goals re-set? There’s still time to make inroads into a couple of your goals. If you need a goals brainstorm and strategy session, email me and let’s set that up on Skype or Facetime.

{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.

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} June update and my July project – refresh

My June project’s theme was to nourish myself in 3 main areas – more sleep, more walking and eating better.

The sleep was excellent – I ended off the month on an average of 7 hrs 45 minutes. It is exactly what I said before – if I don’t track it or intentionally go to sleep more, my sleep is awful.

My goal was 4 walks and I managed 3, so not bad, but could be better. I feel really good about one of those walks though because it completely nourished my soul.

The eating better? Yes and no. I chose better meals on the whole, but I could have done much, much more. It’s just so darn cold to eat salads at home during winter. I don’t mind in an airconditioned office but at home I don’t want to see a vegetable straight from the cold fridge.

Onto July…

This month I’ve set a theme of refresh for my life.

  1. We’re going on a family holiday and I want to use the time to completely relax, read some unputdownable novels and rejuvenate my spirit.
  2. I intend to take at least one walk every day with whoever’s game, no matter the weather 🙂 I’m putting this here for accountability.
  3. I’ve been doubting my value in friendships recently and God’s been whispering to me that I am still enough (word of the year – 2015!) so I want to spend time writing down these truths and meditating on what He says about me. I feel like this is the perfect time to get filled up on His Word, just before my birthday month.
  4. We’re coming up on one year in our house so I also want to take the occasion to refresh areas of my home by doing a bit of decluttering, reorganising, sprucing up, etc.
  5. Our house also needs its upstairs outside windows cleaned. Desperately. What is the point of a house with a view if you can’t see properly through the windows, right?!
  6. Then, I think I will try one last time to get my book back from a PR company who has not returned it for a whole year. After that, I’m going to let it go.
  7. And besides all that, I have some birthday parties to throw to celebrate another circle around the sun for all 4 of us.

How are you going to refresh during July?

6 questions to ask as you do your half-year goals review

As many of you know, I do a monthly goals review every month before I set goals for the new month ahead.

I find that it helps me take stock of what went well and why, and what I need to work on.

We’re now half way through the year and my question to you is this – are you on track with your goals?

For now, go through these questions with me about the 6 months that have just passed, and answer them honestly.

1. When I think about the last 6 months, what do I feel? Am I excited, disappointed or apathetic about my progress?

You want to get an overall sense of the feeling of the half year. Was it too busy? Did you get big things done? Was it a period you just want to put behind you so you can move on?

2. Which areas of my life are working well, which are neutral and which are not doing so well?

This is to drill down into the areas making up each category so you can fix the not-so-good areas if there’s something you can do about them.

3. Why? Or why not?

For this one, write a little bit about the reasons you feel the way you do about each area.

4. What do I need to let go of or are there places I need to lower my expectations of myself?

These could be actual goals or projects, or unrealistic expectations.

5. What can I do differently to make sure the next 6 months move me closer to my goals?

These are the things you know are true for you.

Some of my ideas are:

  • First work on my own goals and then scroll social media.
  • Schedule important project work.
  • Don’t compare yourself to others.

And the last question…

6. How am I living out my word of the year?

If you chose a word for the year, are you living it out intentionally? Do you think about how to incorporate it in your daily life? Is it just not working for you? If yes, here’s your permission to change your word.

Over to you.

My challenge to you is to answer these 6 questions honestly to take stock so you can have a successful second half of the year.

{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?

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