{mindset} Let’s talk about Five Nice Things, or even just one

I’m probably the last person ever to have a gratitude practice. Even the phrase “gratitude practice” sounds twee to me. I’m a grateful person – very much so – but I’m just not the type to write out a gratitude list every evening.

I saw on A Cup of Jo (do you read her blog?) that someone called it “five nice things” and the more casual name feels exactly right for me.

Today’s nice things are: a lovely rainy day, I got to take a walk in my garden and play with my camera, I made lunch for the kids (cheese quesadilla and an apple cut in 4) and they loved it, Dion bought us sushi and I had a good session of writing.

You don’t have to write down 5 things every day; make it feel right for you.

Even if you just notice kind things around you and little moments of delight, and are thankful for them, you’re on the right track.

I went to gym the other night. Those who have booked for classes are allowed to bypass the queue to get into the gym but there was such a long queue outside that I had a moment where I thought someone’s going to say something (gym people are very serious people!) if I jump the queue. Well, a staff member with a clipboard appeared as if by magic, checked my name on the list and told me to go straight in (“straight through the turnstiles”, she instructed). I was so grateful!

One more – I’d planned to run three errands during lunch one day in two opposite directions. Someone was coming out to give me a quote so I had to be back at the house in 30 minutes. I knew I couldn’t do both directions so I opted to do just the one. Well, lo and behold, the one store had what I needed (they hadn’t had it a few days earlier) at a better price so I didn’t need to run errand 3. I was delighted! I love crossing things off a list 😊 Small, nice things that make me happy.

Will you join me and notice a few nice things every day?

When you start noticing and being thankful for lovely things, the strangest thing happens – even more lovely things happen to you.

I made a printable for you – the five nice things list – it’s undated and you can start using it today. You haven’t “failed” if you forget a day but it does help to print it out and keep it visible. When it’s full, print another page and keep going. And a reminder to sign up for my newsletter here – thank you for helping me grow my list.

{goals} 2020: let’s talk about the last quarter

This year’s felt like the newborn stage for me – in parts it’s flown and yet I have many times had to take it day by day to stay sane.

I see many sentiments like “let this year just end” and “can we please just get on with next year?”, and I get that. We all want to escape a year absolutely none of us expected and move on with our lives.

A lot of us are also exhausted from working too hard, or worrying too much, or having too many bills and not enough money, or a combination of all of the above.

So I think it’s time that I had a reframe. I’d love if you’d join me too. I’ll share one thought for each question to give you an idea. Write out the prompts in longhand, use the notes app in your phone or maybe talk it through with a friend.

  1. What do I want for this last quarter of the year?

I want to continue with my reading streak (I reached my goal on the weekend), I want to eat better again so I can get to a certain number (nowhere near my actual physical goal, just a mental goal) and I want to start slowly integrating back into the “new normal” of getting out and about.

2. Is there anything I want to start doing?

I had these two things on my original 20 in 2020 list and I can do them so I should. I have started just one session of Emily P Freeman’s Discern and Decide course (it was a pre-order bonus when her book, The Next Right Thing, released last year) and I want to finish that. I also want to read The Path Between Us, an enneagram book on relationships by Suzanne Stabile, that I also bought last year.

3. How do I want to feel at the end of the year?

Like I survived this period with grace, determination and my sanity intact. If my relationships are as good as they were or better, I’ll consider that a bonus.

4. Are there any projects I’ve started that I can finish well?

Yes, I want to run two sessions of a new workshop I’m yet to name but will help us all end this year well (whatever well looks like for you) and prepare for next year. It’s going to be the equivalent of a large part of my end-of-the-year coaching sessions but so much cheaper.

5. Is there anything I need to finalise or end for my own emotional and mental comfort?

Well, had I written this blog last week, I’d have talked about ballet. I did it though – I’ve been dithering and yet I knew I was not comfortable going back anytime soon (in fact this revelation came to me while doing session 1 of Discern and Decide). So I wrote the owner an email last week and formally resigned. I can always go back but at least she’s not left wondering about me.

Bonus – if it feels right for you and you want to make a list of 3 for the next three months, go ahead. I wrote more about quarterly goals here.

And remember, it can be as small as drinking 2 L of water a day or reading for just 20 minutes a day. It doesn’t have to be “write a book” 🙂

Who of you are joining me for the workshop on 21 November? Book your place now. It’ll be $29/ R450 but there’s be a discount for the early birds until 7 November!

If you prefer to work through these things privately in a 1:1 session, I’m offering the same content in a 75-minute coaching session for just $50. This will be for a limited time only until mid-December.

PS this is post number 2000 on this blog! Wow! 😮

{planning} 3 things to do to prepare for 2020

1. Review 2019

Take your bullet journal or any piece of paper. Write these headings:

What went well?
What could have been better?
What have I learned?
What do I want to let go of as I move into 2020?

2. Anticipate 2020

What do you want more of in 2020?
How do you want to feel?
What do you want less of?
What do you want to learn? (I hope more about your tendency :))

3. Make a 20 in 2020 list

Here are a few ideas. Use one, some or none 🙂

1. Choose a few things you can get done fairly quickly (I had “buy a new watch” on my list this year; what about trying a new restaurant?)
2. Choose a few fun things just for you (I’m putting a course, Discern and Decide, on my list, as well as listening to the audio version of a favourite novel from 2018)
3. Choose a few things you can do with other people (go see a movie with the book club, go on a holiday, go hike a specific trail, etc.)
4. Choose a few necessary things (get rid of excess furniture, declutter your clothes, declutter excess kitchen stuff, etc.)
5. Choose a few stretch things (do a two-week eating reset, apply for a new job, finish a photobook)

Tip – if you have a good mix, it will feel satisfying when you get them done. If you’re on Instagram, click the hashtag #19in2019 to see what other people did this year, and to get ideas for next year.


Bonus – use the printables on my website

Let’s Do This 2020 – to close off 2019 and set some intentions for 2020. It’s free and the shortest quickest printable I’ve seen around. I know that some of these 20-page printables, while beautiful and useful, can seem like just one more enormous thing on your to-do list.

20in2020 list – this year, I designed a list specifically for each Tendency. Yes, there’s one for upholders, obligers, questioners and rebels. I would love you to download them, try them out and let me know how they work (or don’t!) for you. And then, post them to Instagram or Facebook and tag me – I’d love to see your lists and get some ideas.

Hope you found these tips useful to prepare for 2020!
Have you downloaded the free 20in2020 list yet?

{2019 review} What went well in 2019?

I never used to like reflecting on anything really but it’s a part of my life I’ve really started to enjoy, not only having it done, but also the introspection part of it.

I particularly like monthly reflections, my birthday review and this, my annual review. I share that so that if you’re the same, you can take comfort from my initial discomfort and know that it’s a good thing to look back (however fleetingly!) and see how far you’ve come.

So, what went well this year?

Work rhythms

I’ve been in an excellent work rhythm for years now and I know how to manage the stressful parts of my job together with my personality. I do still have those moments because I’m human, but these days it takes me a day or two to get back to my preferred way of being rather than weeks like it used to.

A large part of this being on top of things is having my work from home day every week. There was a week recently where I had meetings the entire week and wasn’t able to work from home, and I could see how my deep work piled up.

My word of the year

I’ll talk properly about it in a post dedicated to the word, but I will say that BOLD has been an excellent and very timely word for me.

Book clubs and reading

I’ve always been a voracious reader and aside from a short reading slump this year (which I recognised because the same thing happened to me last year – could it be the time of year???), I’ve had a great reading year. Some months I abandoned all my rules and my sleep was interrupted as a result, but I read some great books, which I will also share in a separate post.

As for the book club, gosh, how I love my book club. We are in such a good place three years in. Dion suggested that it was because we are mainly obligers but actually we are the perfect ideal mix – 1 upholder, 1 rebel, 2 questioners and 4 obligers. We have good systems that work for proposing and veto-ing books, for hosting, etc. We’re reading good, discussable books and even if I don’t enjoy the book, I enjoy the discussion so much because I learn about the others’ points of view. It’s a truly life-giving intentional friend date that works really well and is still the highlight of my month.

This year, we also celebrated the first anniversary of Kids Book Club (such a creative name ;)). We are also in a good rhythm where this one is concerned. We have a core group of 3 sets of kids and another 2 sets of mostly regulars. I have a spreadsheet (of course!) for hosting so that we don’t always rely on the same people. The kids seem to like sharing their books because most of them want to go first and another mom, who was my kids’ amazing grade R teacher, came up with an excellent idea – first photos, then food 😉

Workshops

This year I ran 10 workshops with 75 people total: 8 Four Tendencies workshops, and 2 Five Love Languages workshops.

5 of those workshops were run at my home and 5 elsewhere: corporate offices, a hotel and someone’s home.

All were So Much Fun!

I can’t fully express how amazing it is to see people have realisations about their Tendencies and Love Languages right in front of me. It is amazing to have the privilege to be part of that and I can’t wait to welcome another 75 next year.

It would be remiss of me not to let you know that the first workshop date for next year has already been set: Saturday 8 Feb 2020. Mark your calendar, pay your deposit and come, let’s have some fun together.

One of my goals for next year is to run a Four Tendencies workshop for kids – I’m thinking April, so let me know if your want your schoolgoing child to attend. There will be student pricing available.

Friends

My scheduled friend dates are still working out well as is my friends spreadsheet. I got to see 3 Cape Town friends I’m not usually able to see on a Cape Town trip in October and it filled my love tank. I’m already on 90 friend connections for the year; could I make 100?

Workouts

I have a very regular habit going on of Zumba every Saturday, my Spanish dance class every Monday and Barre 180 on most Tuesdays. The Barre class is the one I’m most likely to miss if I need to, due to work, but still, I’ve already clocked 101 workouts, and hope to finish the year close to 120.

Sleep

My sleep has also been excellent this year. I will definitely end off higher than last year’s average of 7 hr 35 and am hoping for my best sleep year yet 🙂 Only I can get excited about that because my sleep used to be much less when I first started tracking it.

What went well for *you* this year?

{reflect} November…and how the Four Tendencies approach a monthly review

Just think about it – this is the last mini review of the month because the next monthly review is actually a big annual review. I can’t wait! If you’re not on my mailing list, make sure you’re on because I’m going to be sending out the 2020 goals planner during the first two weeks of December.

As I always say, even if you’re not the type of person who takes out a pen and bullet journal/ diary, I recommend you take 5 – 10 minutes just to think about how the month played out.

reflect

If December is generally busier for you as it is for most of us, feel free to start your annual review sooner.

Let’s talk about monthly reviews from each of the Four Tendencies’ viewpoints:

Upholder

Wants a clear framework of questions to reflect on and if built into their habits/ schedule, will go ahead and do the monthly review every month.

Obliger

Probably thinks it’s a good idea but won’t get to it every month unless a coach or friend holds them accountable. Obligers, consider me your friendly coach.

Questioner

Will review if they see the benefit for themselves and feels like the effort is worthwhile, but will not wait for the last or first day of the month.

Rebel

If the rebel feels inclined to do a review, will do it in the way, shape or form that they see fit, certainly not what I suggest in this post. It’s your choice, Rebels!

For those who would like some ideas of questions to ponder, here are some of my favourites:

  1. what went well this month?
  2. what did not go well?
  3. what energised me?
  4. what have I learned?
  5. how can I bring more fun into my life? or where do I need to be more serious?
  6. which projects do I need to let go?
  7. am I living out my word of the year? Do I already have an inkling for a word or theme of 2020?

Even if you just do the first 2 – 4, that’s a really good start to round off the month and step into the last month of the decade (!) on a good, solid note.

I don’t mind confessing that I’ve been reflecting on the year so that I have plenty of time, and so that it’s not all squeezed into the week after Christmas.

Do you do a monthly reflection? Did the Four Tendencies questions help you to understand yourself and those around you better?

PS The next Four Tendencies workshop will be held in Jhb on Saturday 8 Feb 2020. If you’re not local, I also do Four Tendencies coaching via Skype/ FaceTime.

3 of my favourite organising mantras

I know I sometimes sound like a broken record, but in my defence, there’s a reason I say these things so often – because they work.

I know the blog is called Organising Queen but I also don’t always feel like being organised so I use these mantras as much as anyone else.

1. Don’t put it down; put it away

I got this nugget from my friend, Suzanne, and it is the best thing for when you’re feeling lazy.

I literally chant to myself – don’t put it down; put it away – as I walk upstairs with an armful of things to return to their rightful places.

Try it next time you have lots of items to pack away because it’s soooo tempting to just plonk it down on the nearest surfac

2. One in, one out

This might be my favourite organising mantra ever. And better still, one in, many more out.

I heard a podcast a year or two ago where the lady had been on a no shopping project one year. When her project ended, she then resolved not to get into the same situation again and told herself that for every one thing she brought in, three things would have to go. She said this ensured that she really, really loved the thing she wanted to buy.

3. A place for everything and everything in its place

There is nothing that makes me more cross than searching for things. I cannot stand it!

That’s why it’s so important for me to have a place for everything.

This is also one of the cornerstones of organising. If you know where things belong, you won’t just open a drawer and shove things in. Your home will then stay organised and tidy.

Just today I asked Kendra (10) to fetch me my watch. I said, “it’s in the spotted pink bag in the top drawer of my bedside table”.

Do you know where you store the scissors? Where you can find a spare pen? Where you can find plasters?

What is your favourite organising mantra? I’d love to know.

PS if you’d like to see more of mine, I shared many more on Instagram here.

 

 

5 things I’ve learnt in the first 6 months of 2019

  1. I really love going on holidays. As it stands, we’re only now on our second holiday of the year. Usually we’re on holiday for the first week of the year, and then again in April/ May. This year the school holidays didn’t work to our advantage so we stayed put, and I reallllllllly felt the pressure in May and June.

2. I’ve met my goal and run four Four Tendencies workshops so far this year. I always knew I loved running workshops because it brings together many loves of my life – teaching, people, connecting and connecting dots for others, organising and stationery 🙂 However, I had forgotten exactly how much I love running workshops. After every single workshop, I’ve been on such a high for the entire evening. My remaining two workshop dates are: 7 September for the Five Love Languages, and 2 November for the Four Tendencies. Take 10% off if you come to both workshops.

3. I’ve learned that boldness can increase the more you practise. My word of the year is BOLD because I suspected that if I wanted to run 5 workshops this year, I’d need boldness to put myself out there. Somewhere between workshop 3 and 4 I realised that I’m not scared to tell people about the workshops anymore. Not that I was scared, per se, but it felt a bit cringeworthy to put myself out there and say, “yes, come, you will benefit from doing this”. Honestly, a lot of it was reminding myself why I’m running these workshops. I actually sat with a journal and pen before workshop 3 and wrote down what people get from coming to the workshops. And then I think I spoke to people from a true place of wanting to help them. What is your word of the year, and how are you living it out this year?

4. I’ve also learned that I should definitely not tackle multiple house projects at the same time. In my defense, one went over by a month, one took two weeks longer than the other and the only one that worked exactly according to plan was the third one. Thank goodness those are all done, and now we save towards next year’s maintenance items. Isn’t it sad that house things are never done?!

5. My kids wrote their first set of exams just over a month ago. Well. As two upholder parents with questioner and rebel kids, I can say the entire experience has been a steep learning curve for all of us. We will definitely start setting clear expectations much earlier next time instead of leaving them to it for a few weeks by themselves. Upholders would take the exam timetable and work backwards and then diligently start studying; we’ve seen now that the other tendencies just don’t have that same way of responding to the expectation of studying. What’s your tendency, and how did you approach exams when you were at school or university?

What are some of the things you learned during the first half of 2019?

PS do you know, I’m still sometimes writing the year as 2018!

{goals} Word of year recap and new word for 2019

Before I start the recap, let’s have a quick walk down memory lane and look at my previous words:

2009 – simplicity
2010 – consolidate
2011 – courage
2012 – create
2013 – trust
2014 – shine
2015 – enough
2016 – joy
2017 – give
2018 – fun

My 2018 word was exactly what I needed coming off a year of giving.

I had a great year just by asking myself, “what sounds like fun?

Your mileage will vary, of course, but reaching a stretch savings goal for me is fun. Fun was also signing up and completing two courses, starting a kids’ book club, and re-reading books I loved. I had never been much of a re-reader of fiction before this but I’m looking forward to now taking that forward in my reading life.

Fun meant saying yes to Zumbathons even though it would inconvenience me and eat into my schedule. Fun also meant saying no to dancing in a Spanish show at an already very stressful time of the year for me at work.
Fun meant scheduling regular friend dates and not depending on connecting on the fly.
Fun also meant constantly evaluating what no longer worked, and letting that go. E.g. when I realised I was always bypassing a particular podcast, I simply unsubscribed as it was no longer fun.

When I thought about my 2019 word, I had the word YES in my mind from October. But suddenly as December approached, I felt like I needed to think about the word some more. I wanted to add something about caring for my body, marriage, relationships, etc. so I thought the word might be TEND.

And then I was 98% certain the word was CULTIVATE.

I did all my goal-setting prep work with the word CULTIVATE in mind until I listened to the Secret Library podcast with Susannah Conway and about 8 minutes in, she asked, “what do you need to be in 2019?”

And right there as I was tidying up my bathroom, I said, “I need to be bold”. Suddenly, I felt an excitement, a deep resonance, a yes-ness about that word.

That excitement was what was lacking about cultivate for me. It’s a great word but it didn’t excite me.

Bold (from Dictionary.com): not hesitating or fearful in the face of actual or possible danger or rebuff; courageous and daring

I then looked up in my Bible app (YouVersion) some of the scriptures that referenced bold

Proverbs 28:1b …the godly are as bold as lions and
Proverbs 10:10 … a bold reproof promotes peace
2 Cor 3:12 Since this new way gives us such confidence, we can be very bold

Yes! This was my word.

So here’s what bold means to me:
1. I need to be bold again at work, take risks and step out. I’m now the longest in tenure in my position in our section and I’ll admit that I sometimes feel a bit stale.
2. I need to be more bold in asking for what I want. I’ve been very much about “holding things loosely” so as not to be vulnerable and get hurt, but actually, I want to be more bold with relationships in saying, “this is also what I need”. E.g. I don’t want shallow, superficial friendships. I want reciprocal friendships where we have fun, yes, but we are also vulnerable and can share our hearts.
3. I want to be bold and take care of my body the way I know I need to – eat better, drink enough water, move more. This is honestly the only area of my life where I’m this undisciplined!
4. I also want to be bold in speaking what is right in situations. That is who I am but in “speaking the truth in love” and “being gentle”, I’ve gotten too soft. Understanding my enneagram number this year has opened my eyes that this is how God made me to be and there is actually nothing wrong with being me.
5. And last but not least, I have totally wigged out on being bold with this part of my life – coaching, speaking, and workshops. I sort of let it be known accidentally that I do this but I don’t boldly market myself even though I know I am good at helping people in this way. An Instagram organising friend said she didn’t even know half the things I do because I never talk about them – it’s true. So even if my marketing efforts fail, this year at least, I’m determined to be persistent and keep being bold about these gifts I’ve been given to serve the world. Please hold me accountable because this is the area I’m most likely to slack on.

So bold is my word, and I’ve chosen tend and yes as supporting words.

Tell me, how did your 2018 word play out for you, and what is your 2019 word of the year? I can’t wait to hear!

How to have the best Christmas ever


I started reading all my old posts about Christmas and realised that I have actually said everything I want to say, so let me link to those posts.

Easy Christmas decorating

Lower your Christmas expectations especially with social media

The Christmas Card controversy

Keep Christmas simple but meaningful

Clever gift ideas for Christmas and throughout the year

and last but definitely not least, my favourite Christmas post ever!

Create the perfect Christmas… for you

What does the “best Christmas” look like for you?

Tell me all your questions and I’ll answer in the comments.

What a bullet journalling experiment taught me

A few months ago I decided to make a list of all the podcasts I listened to during that week.

I didn’t choose a particular week; it was simply a random week without any forethought.


At the end of the week, I totalled up the time spent listening and I had a big shock:

11 hrs 45 minutes

A few thoughts flashed through my mind:

  • I could have listened to 1 long fiction book or 1.5 non-fiction books.
  • I worked from home 3 days that week and about 3 hours a day is not unreasonable. I also listen to podcasts while tidying and organizing on the weekend.
  • Hmmm. What would happen if I tried some new things?

This is fascinating because I’m both the subject of the study and the scientist.

I also have a phone storage problem because I only have a 16 GB iPhone which means I have to delete photos off my phone twice a month. I actually don’t mind this because it keeps me in a good photo routine.

I also have to be diligent to only download one audio book at a time and only my subscribed podcasts.

Do you know what I decided as a result of all this thinking?

I unsubscribed from all but two podcasts.

No prizes if you guessed one of those podcasts is Happier with Gretchen Rubin. The other is the 5-word prayers daily with Lisa Whittle.

The other podcasts are still there but they’re below the subscription fold so I see them update but I only consciously download an episode when I’m ready to listen.

This decision…

1) freed me up because I don’t feel any podcast guilt (similar to Feedly guilt when you see 172 unread blog posts ;)) and in true upholder fashion,

2) I decide how much I want to listen to and when, and

3) if I don’t feel excitement about the episode, I don’t even download it. Before, the episodes would drop automatically and I’d feel almost compelled to listen immediately because of the aforementioned storage issue.

4) I’ve also listened to lot more audio books!

Yes, this post is about me listening to podcasts but it’s really about tracking behavior and making changes to align to your goals.

I have a few questions for you:

Have you ever tracked your time for a day or week? You’ll be surprised how much time you spend doing mindless tasks.

What have you learned as a result?

Is there something niggling at you? perhaps you spend too much time on Facebook or Instagram?

(our pastor said something this weekend that has stuck with me – people spend approximately 4 hours a day on social media, and other people are making money from those same people scrolling their feeds. Wow!)



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