Line-a-day – a different way of journalling

I’m not a fan of journalling… at all. But I do love a project where I can look back and see what I was up to at the same time last year, three years ago, seven years ago, etc.

An example is the photo challenges I participate in on Instagram with Susannah Conway.

The challenge has a hashtag, for instance #Aprillove2022 and then I usually add my own hashtag to each of my photos, like #marciasaprillove2021.

I love looking back and seeing how different each April has been for the last so many years.

Aside from Instagram journaling (a photo with a short caption, if any) is all I’ve ever been able to keep up with. I’m just not a writing in a journal every day kind of person.

I have been intrigued with line-a-day journals though.

I figured, “how hard can it be?” and so when I saw that a local stationery story carried a line of journals, I bought one.

I started mine on 17 January and so far, so good.

I am still not a daily journaller but I catch up every 3 days or so. The trick for me is:

  1. Keep the journal handy and in plain view (it lives on my desk and doesn’t get put away at all)
  2. Schedule time every weekend to catch up (some weeks I’ve caught up with a whole week in one sitting)
  3. Give myself permission to write just one sentence and only write more if I feel like it.
  4. Keep my phone handy throughout the day so I have some photos to prompt my memory.
  5. Let go of needing it to be insightful or cute (I tell myself that in a few years I’ll appreciate knowing that it rained for 5 solid days in Jhb – unusual for us at this time of year)

I’m still more of an Instagram journaller because I see the world in visuals but I figure that my three months a year with Susannah Conway is just going to have to do.

Are you a daily journaller? Would a line-a-day journal work for you?

PS Laura Tremaine has often said that bullets and lists work just as well as free form writing. I might resort to this method in the busier months 😉

3 things I do that help my productivity

I adored reading this blog post from Ramit Sethi. It’s one of my favourite blog posts of all time.

One of the main things that were insightful for me is that fundamentals are first, second is psychology and third are the details. Most people focus on the details when they actually need to start focussing on fundamentals.

Fundamentals are things like sleeping enough, psychology is being able to say no or set good boundaries, and the details are what type of notebook or app or calendaring system I use to plan my life.

In that post he actually says that we need to focus on those details only 10% of the time and I had an aha moment or two.

Because seeing the % split like that puts things in perspective, and also I’ve been subconsciously focussing on a lot of it already.

I thought it would be fun to share 1 thing in each of those areas that I do, and then you can share your things too.

Fundamentals

What I do: I sleep an average of 7 hrs 30 a night. You all know I diligently track my sleep because when I stop measuring, it all goes off track.

In this category we also have environment, soul care and exercise, in addition to managing your stress.

Psychology

What I do: I have very good boundaries and I know when to say yes and no.

Also in this category is knowing if you’re a time optimist or realist, and unplugging from social media when it starts being detrimental for you.

Those top two areas aren’t very exciting but they’re so very necessary.

Details

Well, you know I’m doing a hybrid this year of my bullet journal and my shining year planner. And then I added a gorgeous purple moleskine. My favourite pens are both Pentel energel and Pilot G2. Lately my absolute, super favourite pen is my metallic violet Pilot G2, which you have seen in almost all my instagram posts the last month or two 🙂

Over to you!

What do you think about the triad of productivity?

What are the things you do in each of those three areas? Very curious minds would love to know!

First published 21 Aug 2017

The week that was…weekly reflections 11

St. Patrick’s Day 2022 – Johannesburg

Well, that was a fun week – the first week my WFO/ WFH schedule went exactly to plan.

  • St. Patrick’s Day supper went off well. Johannesburg’s weather also played along and was grey, overcast and raining in the early morning.
  • I always listen to classical music when I’m writing because I can’t listen to words when I’m writing words, and yet I still need something to block out noise (in my head). Today I chose Tchaikovsky and I was reminded that the Chinese Dance from The Nutcracker Suite is a dance I’ve won prizes for before… in my youth. It’s so fun how a piece of music can take you right back to a memory in the past.
  • I had two bad nights of sleep. Usually I sleep very, very well and seldom wake once I’m asleep. This week, I woke in the early hours of the morning – one morning at 2 am and the other at 3 am. After an hour of tossing and turning, I got up and read my book, a much better and more restful idea than staring at the darkness, thinking.
  • Speaking of reading, I read A Dream of Italy by Nicky Pellegrino. If you haven’t read any of her books, (I think) they’re all set in Italy and the way she writes makes you want to jump on a plane and go visit immediately.
  • Again, Rachel by Marian Keyes arrived this week so I started listening to Rachel’s Holiday, the first one. It’s a 16-hour listening experience and I’m enjoying every single minute!
  • The work balance continues to go well except for Friday night but then again, I always try to clear as much as I can before I go on leave. Yes, I’m on leave and we are going away as the kids are also on school holidays.
  • I plan to write a lot, read a lot, reflect on the first three months of 2022 and see where a reset is needed, catch up on family phone calls, and connect with my little family.

How was your week? Have you started thinking about the tweaks you want to make going into the second quarter?

Celebrate minor holidays and anything else too!

Last month was Valentine’s Day so I set the table with a red table runner, red placemats, white plates and candles.

I made a pasta bolognaise for something red, we drank pink lemonade and had heart-shaped salted caramel chocolates for dessert.

It was easy and simple, but it made me and my family happy.

Ireland

Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day. I haven’t figured out exactly what to do but I think this is the plan: green tablecloth and white plates, cucumber salad, pasta with basil pesto, creme soda-flavoured milk (Steri Stumpie for the South Africans) and apple yogurt from Parmalat for dessert.

And of course, I always wear green on St. Patrick’s Day. This year I will also be listening to Rachel’s Holiday, a Marian Keyes novel, on audio! Too fun.

Not the same thing, but related. Last week we bid a colleague farewell. When I heard that nothing had been planned, I tossed some cake forks and plates into a tote bag and, once at work, quickly dashed out to get a cake and some savoury eats. It really was not much effort but made a huge impact on her. I also got to thinking – why don’t I just keep those plates at work with some disposable forks, so that I can always be prepared for a celebration?!

Pre-Covid, I used to keep birthday candles in my work drawer to quickly pop them in a cake and sing Happy Birthday to colleagues. I don’t think we do that any more (!!) but the sentiment remains.

Celebrating is fun, even when low-key and can still be delightful.

My word of the year is delight, and celebrating these fun days makes me so happy.

Do you celebrate minor holidays? Please share some of your traditions.

The week that was…weekly reflections 10

  • This week was physically exhausting for me. I attended a client seminar which lasted most of the day when you consider driving to places plus two days in the office plus two school tours.
  • However, unlike last week, I feel like I succeeded in the home/ office balance and this is due to a very simple change: I put no deep work on my list for the two office days. Why was that so ground-breaking? Because I had zero expectations of myself other than meetings and people popping in and so on. And it meant I ended up each day feeling quite okay about my lack of output. Instead I told myself that my purpose on those days are simply to be present and connect, and attend meetings.
  • We had a lovely cold day on Wednesday – proper winter cold. Scarf and jacket cold. I loved it and am now eagerly anticipating the onset of winter.
  • So many friends had birthdays this week and it was lovely to send and give gifts to them.
  • As far as reading is concerned, I am still on my Scribd “freeze” (6 weeks already!) but I’ll have to join this week because our book club read must be read next weekend. This week I read A painted house by John Grisham and Hidden by Catherine McKenzie. Both were so good and I do recommend them.

What are you reading, wearing, watching?

Monthly goals review – Feb 2022

Let’s walk through my monthly review together, shall we?

Here are my standard monthly review questions:

  1. what worked well?
  2. what’s not working and why?
  3. what energised me this month?
  4. what are my in-progress projects?
  5. how’s my word of the year working for me?

What worked well?

  • Reading – I stopped my Scribd membership for a month which means I used Libby and the actual physical library (4 books). I also read books on my Kindle (another 3 books) and two of the books on my bookshelf. At the time of writing this post, I haven’t finished the second physical book but I’m not rushing because I’m enjoying reading about personalities so much.
  • I did a Valentine’s supper for the family which they seemed to like, or maybe that was the chocolates for dessert 😉 I also saw my father in the flesh for the first time since Dec 2019.
  • I finished Project Life for December so last year is wrapped up but see in-progress projects below.
  • My work balance is holding surprisingly steady at not-crazy levels even though this was a hard month at work with lots of deadlines and staff off on extended sick leave.

What’s not working well, and why?

  • I still don’t feel like I have a good rhythm on the laundry situation. It feels like we need to do a load most days which I am loathe to do, but maybe that’s how we have to keep on top of it.
  • Our once-a-week cleaning service is still settling into its groove. I wouldn’t say it’s not working well, but maybe the rhythm needs to be more… clear. I should probably map something out on a big A4 piece of paper. It’s probably because I clean certain areas regularly and others as they need it 😮

What energised me?

  • Time spent with people – the client event last week, book club friends, other friends.
  • Listening to excellent audio books. This month I re-listened to Daisy Jones and the Six and it was 9 hours of pure delight. I want to listen to something truly outstanding every month. So far, 2/2 (Mary Jane and Daisy Jones).

What are my in-progress projects?

  • As I was wrapping up my December photos, I realised I am once again “behind” on my holiday collages. So I’ll be working on a collage every month besides my usual photo editing and Project Life. This will take me nearly the whole year to catch-up because I plan to go on 3 holidays this year too, but it’s a lovely “problem” to have as it helps me to remember happy holidays, play with images and listen to audio books or podcasts, all things I love.
  • Project Upgrade is going well and I finished three more upgrades for Feb – facecloths, kitchen cloths and the electric plug point in the lounge. I will only choose two for March because I’ll be back at the office two days a week and we’ll be on one week’s holiday – yay!
Delight

How’s my word of the year working for me?

In a nutshell, really well so far. It’s helping me choose books for pleasure over obligation, and also stop things that are not at all delightful, like walking out of that Zumba class.

How was your month?

What worked, what didn’t work, what energised you and what are you working on?

The week that was…weekly reflections 6/22

Gosh, what a week! I was so glad to see the end of it on Friday 🙂

  • This was not the greatest workweek of the year thus far – someone said to me that in other weeks, one or two of those things could have happened and they would be dealt with, but this week it felt like everything conspiring to complicate things. Nothing felt easy. I even asked, “is there a full moon?”
  • So I increased my listening of my current bookish delight, Daisy Jones and the Six. It is my second time listening (my first listen was in November 2020) and if possible, I’m enjoying it even more this time around (and last time it was already a 5-star read for me). If you haven’t yet read the book, I highly recommend the audio version – it is pure delight.
  • I also tried a new dance class this week. It was lovely but I’m going to have to put boundaries in place and just leave. I said to D, in a standard dance class, I stay for exactly 45 minutes and then leave. This time it felt… awkward… because there were only 8 of us and the class was about 70 minutes, so the last 20 minutes had me twitching to leave!
  • A previous purchaser of Break out of overwhelm contacted me to resend her the links as she’d bought the course many, many years ago and wanted a re-listen. What a great idea. Thanks to my previous self, I was able to retrieve it and re-upload to the site for her to listen. I think I also need a re-listen 🙂 If you would like to check it out, here’s the link.
  • Applications for high school continue to progress – it is like a second job at this point and all the open days kick off this Saturday!
  • Another delight this week – I took a chance and drove to the library and they were open. I got to drop off two bags of books so my entrance table is now blessedly empty again. It’s the small things. I also borrowed two Sue Graftons (I’ve been working my way through them, bit by bit, for the last two years) and my favourite John Grisham, A Painted House, for a re-read.

What’s been happening with you this week?

How I’ll be setting goals in 2022

Before I tell you about the change, maybe I should tell you how I used to set goals.

I have a number of areas of my life and I’d set goals in each of these areas every month, e.g. family, friends, finances/ home, fun/ play, fitness & health, work, Organising Queen/ coaching, etc.

I think you’ve already worked out the reason I’d end up with at least 30 goals every month. Fine in a pre-pandemic world but it started feeling like it was a lot and I was adding extra pressure to my life.

For this year, that feels too much. It doesn’t feel as fun as it did a few years ago to set 36 goals a month and I LOVE GOALS.

I’m an upholder so I started asking clarifying questions, like what makes sense for me to do, and that’s when I arrived at my answer.

I decided to set goals with my word of the year (delight) and my work word (balance), and then another top two things on my mind for that month. For January, this was home (I mentioned before that we’ve had a few changes) and health (getting back to basics with eating and establishing my exercise routines).

With this pared-down version, I ended up with 20 goals for January and I will get to almost all of them.

I now feel more accomplished (we all need motivation) and inspired, and much more focussed!

A note on the mind map – I love starting any planning with a mind map because it gets me out of my head to just “free flow” and when I’m clear on how I want to move forward, if I want, I can then make a list. These days I just leave my mind map as my goals list.

How are you setting goals for 2022? Have you set goals for February yet?

If you feel like you want to aim for a little something, why don’t you consider using just one or two areas of your life to start.

PS I’m available for four tendencies coaching if you want to understand how to make your tendency work for you this year, both to reach your goals or just to improve your work or personal life. Contact me now.

My 2022 word of the year – delight

Choosing my word this year has taken a bit of work.

This print is from a course called Elevate The Ordinary I took with Andrea Scher in 2012. The poster summarises my life manifesto 🙂

I did a word of the year exercise with my team where we all shared the word we felt “2021 work” had been for us and that we were ready to leave behind, and then we all chose a word we wanted our work lives to be in 2022.

My 2021 work word was stretch and the work word for 2021 is balance.

(for the record, 3 of the 12 of us chose the word balance!)

Then Gretchen Rubin announced the challenge for this year – rest 22 in 2022. This felt like a big exhale because we’re all tired, right? I also knew it would be the most difficult challenge for me as I’m not good with resting which is exactly the reason I’m embracing this challenge.

I then considered having relax as a word which sounds more fun than rest, but then I remembered. “Relax” is something people say to upholders like me all the time, and honestly, it drives us mad. This is therefore not a good way to feel about your word before the year has even started.

I then started thinking about what would make me feel like I had both balance and was resting enough, and my word came to me – DELIGHT!

When I have mental and physical space to play and take pleasure in things, I’m resting enough and I feel balanced.

Delight – great pleasure, happiness, joy; to please someone greatly; seeing people, places, things and ideas as something to find joy in.

What does delight mean to me?

  1. to take pleasure in the small things that bring me joy
  2. to delight in my job, I’m working enough, having enough people time and I have enough time to do deep work where I’m contributing and adding value
  3. to celebrate my family for who they are
  4. to take pleasure in friendships that are wholehearted, affirming and reciprocal
  5. doing exercise that makes me happy, like Zumba and Spanish
  6. to spend time creating with words and photos regularly (like this!)
  7. to finish projects in my home and upgrade/ fix tolerations
  8. to spend money mindfully and with intention on things that make me happy
  9. to get life admin done quickly and efficiently
  10. to say yes to new experiences for connection
  11. to meet more of my health goals
  12. to know that I’m nourishing myself with good, nutritious and tasty food, even if more expensive
  13. to read good books that I know word for me without being swayed by bookstagram

The nice thing is that when you’ve decided on your word it feels exactly right. And delight does exactly that for me. Three weeks into the year and I’ve had so many moments of delight it’s been a pleasure. If you’d like to see, I’ll be adding to this tag on Instagram the entire year.

I also feel like delight is beautifully supported by balance and rest. It’s the first year I’ve chosen support words but hey, year 3 of a pandemic feels like it needs three words instead of one 🙂

Won’t it be wonderful if I have 100 extra moments of delight this year?

How to choose your word of the year

If you’ve been around awhile, you’ll know that I have chosen a word of the year for a long time, in fact, every year since 2008. This is year 15! If you scroll down to the end of this post, you’ll see a list of all my previous words.

Gretchen and Elizabeth, on the Happier Podcast, use either a word or theme for the year. 

It’s all good; the idea is that your word will guide you, inspire you and motivate you.

So how do you chose a word? There are many ways – also, let’s be honest, sometimes my word has come to me in a flash, sometimes it’s taken a few weeks of pondering, sometimes I think I have it and I change it at the last minute when “trying on” my word doesn’t feel right, and sometimes I’ve known months in advance.


Here are some thoughts and questions which I hope will guide you.

  1. Your word can be more than one word; it can be a phrase or even a short sentence.
  2. Your word should call you to something (perhaps you want to create more of something in your life that is currently lacking)
  3. What do you need? What do you want? How do you want to feel? What do you think is lacking in your life? That may be your word.
  4. Your word doesn’t have to be cool or trendy. One year (the year after my twins were born) my word was consolidate (seemingly the most boring word of all) because I needed to get back to basics in myself, home and routines.
  5. Your word might feel like it is the exact opposite of who you are. Go with it. Last year my word was play. Playful is not who I am naturally but I needed some lightheartedness from the pandemic.
  6. Is there an area of your life that could use an extra boost? You might need a word just for your work or for your family.

(at this point, some of you already know what your word is but some need more help)

Here’s what to do:

  1. Reflect on 2021 – what worked, what didn’t, what needs to change, what do you want more/ less of?
  2. Write these answers down on paper.
  3. Look over your answers and see the words that seem to pop out. Or, see if any themes emerge (maybe there’s a lot pointing to health, or to taking charge, or boundaries).
  4. Write down all the possible words. Do you land on one that resonates deeply? Great. If not, keep looking. Check for synonyms in the dictionary.
  5. When it feels like you have your word, share it with a friend. Does it feel right?  Great. If not, maybe sit with it for a few days.
  6. Remember this is a moment in time. You can change your word anytime. A podcaster lost her dad and changed her word in September because she said, “now is the time of restoration for me”.

Please share your word with me; I love to hear everyone’s words!

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