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?

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 🙂

What I learned during November

Oh November!

It’s the month when people all over South Africa feel that fatigue from work and start counting down the days to mid-December when things should officially quiet down.

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This month I learned that:

I really, really, really didn’t enjoy the lead-up to my Spanish dance exams

I passed but I didn’t have much joy in the process. It was trying on my emotions and on my physical body with my right ankle playing up a lot of the time.

Interestingly, people kept asking me, “why are you doing this?” and my usual answer of “because it’s fun and I love dancing” didn’t always feel true 😮

I knew right up until the end though that I’d done my very, very best and that’s all anyone could ask.

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I love, love, loved running the 5 Love Languages of children workshop

I had an awesome group of women who identified both their love languages and those of their kids.

I plan to run another one next year – look out if you’re local – otherwise, no need to wait – book your session on Skype for only R400.

The cooler weather does wonders for my temperament and productivity

I think back to last year and the unbearable heat, and it’s clear to me that’s why I was so uninspired.

This year, I’ve had full lists of things done in the house, and it’s only because I have energy due to the rains cooling things down.

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Were all babies born in Oct and Nov?

We had 1 party in March, 1 in July (our kids’ one) and 5 in Oct/ November. That’s crazy.

On the subject of parties, I’ve decided I’m done keeping a gift shelf. I’d much rather get what I need when the time is right.

It’s never too early for Christmas music 🙂

I cracked quite early in November…. first with only my absolute favourite (O Holy Night), and then with a couple of songs every night, until the 19th when I played TWO complete CDs. Glorious!

Do you like Christmas music?

I had a great reading month

My most notable book read/ listened to was Rob Lowe’s Stories I only tell my friends. It was exactly what a memoir should be for me – warm, funny, heartfelt and not too heavy even in the not-so-pretty bits. Interestingly it was the exact opposite feel to Love Warrior.

diaries-and-goals-best

And now, for my December goals…

My intention for this month is to finish this year well by choosing joy and peace.

A few of my goals:

  • Enjoy the time with my family over Christmas/ New Year
  • Take a half day to close off this year properly and prepare for 2017 by setting goals and intentions
  • Do my filing (seriously, my filing has not been done in well over a year!)
  • Get all the kids’ school stuff done – stationery, school shoes, etc.
  • Eat delicious food and
  • Potter to my heart’s content
  • Enjoy the socials I’ve arranged with friends

Over to you!

What did you learn during November?

What are some of your goals for December?

PS If you haven’t yet read my Christmas post, it’s here if you’d like to have a look. I updated it with a link to a fabulous blog post which is also so worthy of a read.

PPS Pics in this post are from the Shining Year workbook which I completely endorse.

A little end-of-year update

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My one big goal for November is done.

I did my Spanish exam. I’ll find out whether I passed tomorrow evening but I did say to friends that I have done my absolute best – I have never in my life practised this hard for anything and I’m proud of all my efforts.

I also had probably 5 times as much fun as I did in the June exam which is all good.

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But moving on…

On Saturday 19th I host this year’s 5 love languages of children workshop and I can’t wait. My prayer is that those who have signed up will leave having a deeper understanding of what makes them and their kids “tick”.

When I first went to a workshop, my mind was blown because I had insights about me, D and our kids! It’s so fun.

It’s not too late to sign up and yes, you can pay on payday if things are a bit tight now 🙂

Email me!

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What I actually want to talk about are two things:

1. word of the year

My word of the year is joy and I’m not sure if it’s because I have this word, or the circumstances require that I had to have this word to cling to but 2016 hasn’t felt very joyful on the whole.

There have been joyful moments, sure, but my joy level has been lower this year than in a year with another guiding word.

Just when I was about to give up on this word and choose another (in August!), I received a gift (framed printable word art) from a friend with the words “choose joy”. That made me smile, I can tell you.

So I’m choosing joy.

But I’m already thinking about a word for next year. I’ll confess that I feel like I need to set the bar reallllllly low 🙂

I will write another post at the end of the year properly summarising JOY but for now, please tell me about your word for the year.

Has it been a fitting word for you? Have you wanted to abandon it too? Is your word still guiding you?

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2. 2016 goals and intentions

My monthly goals have been going really well though despite unexpectedly buying a new house.

I think it’s because I’m focussing on only a few main life areas instead of all 7 or 8.

So I’m getting really excited about analysing (!) this year and doing my extensive reviews (aren’t you glad you don’t have to read all of that?!) and planning for next year.

Clean slate and all that jazz 🙂

How are your 2016 goals looking? Are you ready for a clean slate too?

(I need to write about planners/ diaries/ bullet journals for next year soon!)

PS if you’re not following Organising Queen on Instagram, you might want to take a look. I post there daily and it’s really fun!

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