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!)

Where are your yellow flags showing up?

One Sunday morning a few years ago I was enjoying a mug of tea while reading blogs.

I happened upon a friend’s blog where she mentioned her hard drive crashed and she lost everything. Fortunately for her, her husband backs up weekly.

Right there and then (I didn’t even finish reading her post!), I got up, fetched my external hard drive and backed up my computer.

You see, my computer had been running a bit slow and that, for me, is a yellow flag.

The next thing that would happen is that programmes would stop responding and one day I’d find a blue screen or something similarly scary.

I’d be kicking myself then because when my computer completely stops working, that’s my red flag.

We all have yellow flags in our lives.

They’re usually about much bigger things than just a computer (although that’s big in my life – the thought of losing all my lovely photos makes me feel physically sick).

Things like our health, our relationships, our work, our finances.

Let’s talk about health.

Yellow flags are constant feelings of being stressed, headaches, pain, anxiety, etc.

They are indicators that we need to deal with something in our lives.

I was recently in a job that was very stressful for me. I knew I was feeling stress but a yellow flag for me was when my doctor picked up something in my bloodwork indicating the stress.

I tried to manage the stress as best as I could but when nothing had changed for me physiologically 6 months later, I knew I had to make a drastic change, so I left.

As a friend said to me, “you can always get another job – you’re smart and talented – but you can’t always get your health back”. Too true.

If you ignore these yellow flags, they could lead to a red flag where you’re forced to stop and take note of things, like a serious disease, an operation, and so on.

So have a think.

If you’re honest with yourself, are there any yellow flags in your life you need to deal with?

1. Constant feelings of stress and overwhelm?
2. An odd noise in your car
3. A relationship that needs tending
4. Finances that need to be looked at
5. Boundaries that need to be discussed

Can you identify any yellow flags in your life? How can you take a step or two to deal with it?

When life throws you curveballs

A reader recently sent me a question asking what my suggestions were for her and for other readers who get thrown from their usual routines by life’s curveballs.

I think this is a great question because she’s right – we all have things that throw us off track:

  • busy time periods at work (month-end/ year-end/ closing out a project/ going live with other projects, etc.)
  • busy periods in our kids’ lives (concert week, recitals or plays)
  • any illness (usually means kids or parents not sleeping)
  • going on holiday (lovely to be away but re-entry can be tough)
  • any out-of-the-ordinary happening that messes with your routine

I’ll share with you my top 3 ways to get back on track:

  1. Lower my expectations

That seems counter-intuitive but it makes complete sense for any of us control freaks.

I know after returning from a holiday that it’s going to take about a week for things to return to our normal. There’s no sense in getting stressed every day because there are piles of undone laundry, no food in the fridge and kids who can’t wake up for school because they’re too tired.

This one step is the biggest creator of peace of mind in the home.

  1. Get back to my basics as quickly as possible

For me, that’s making a menu plan and making sure we have enough fruit and vegetables in the house. I can almost always cobble meals together from the freezer or pantry; it’s when there aren’t enough apples or carrots that I start to twitch. Food is important to me and the family, so this is one of my priorities.

In essence, start putting your routines in order. When we get back from a holiday, I start unpacking immediately because I can’t stand things laying around on the floors and I’ve trained the kids to do the same. They’ve unpacked their own suitcases for the last 3 years.

  1. How can I restore order in the quickest, painless way?

I could take one day, generally the Sunday afterwards, and do laundry non-stop, and while that would be quick, it is not painless for me! I choose to do a daily load until we’re caught up instead as we generally only do the laundry about 3 – 4 times a week. It ends up being just a day or two longer, but knowing that there’s a plan in place helps a lot to keep me at peace!

If doing laundry isn’t painful for you, you might as well get it done quickly.

I read a blog once where the mom used to go to a laundromat, use 6 machines and just get all the laundry done if they had a curveball or two thrown at them. She said she’d take a book, relax for two hours and leave with everything up to date. That actually sounds splendid.

To summarise, I’d give myself two weeks to get back to my routines. Decide what is most important to you, and start doing that thing immediately (as you saw above, unpacking and food for me!).

Then build on those initial steps until your routine – and peace of mind – is restored once again.

What are the basics you rely on to get back on track?

Create the perfect Christmas… for you

Pssst – if you’re not on the newsletter list yet, do jump on. I’m sending out my 2017 Let’s Do This guide on Wednesday and another special offer.

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A friend asked me if I had a Christmas planner she could use (I sent her the one I sent to my list last year) and then it occurred to me that I needed to get my head in gear for Christmas.

I find that as the years pass I get more and more low-key 🙂

You see, I love Christmas when it’s about just these things – Jesus, Christmas music, some pretty things up around the house, delicious food and spending time together with family and friends.

What does Christmas mean to you?

If you’re feeling a bit (or a lot) overwhelmed and just a little bit stressed at everything you have to do, maybe it’s time to stop and give yourself permission to slow down and get back to your basics.

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Let’s get intentional:

  1. What are the top 3 – 5 things that make it “Christmas” for you?
  2. Are those the same things your family would say? Sometimes we’ve been doing things thinking the family enjoys it but they don’t really care 😮

Once you decide on your top things, embrace them and let the rest go.

Are you twitching?

It’s hugely freeing when you realise no-one cares about the tubs of biscuits you previously felt compelled to bake  and your friends don’t expect a gift at all.

I used to think up all these cute things to do (biscuits/ snacks/ etc.) for friend gifts and I realised that nobody even cares about any of it. Just because I would love something from someone else’s kitchen doesn’t mean that others feel the same.

I still do some baking….. especially for those I’m going to see (maybe 3 – 4 people) but it’s now an extension of the baking for my own family and not days and days of Baking for Presents!

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Here’s your Christmas thought plan (not action plan, unless the item is on your Top Five list)

Activities

Decide, together with your family, on any activities you want to do, etc. baking, church, plays, seeing the lights, theatre, ballet, etc.

Christmas cards

Will you be sending any cards this year? Do you send them via the mail/ Facebook/ email? (I’m having a crafternoon with a few friends on Saturday and I’ll be making some Christmas cards, killing three birds with one stone – creating, having quality time with friends and knocking out some of those cards for posting)

Christmas gifts

Will you be giving gifts this year? Are you making gifts or are you buying them all? What is your gift-giving budget? If you have family or friends in another city, use the Aramex courier bags in Pick and Pay stores. I’ve used them a couple of times and they’re the best. Pop in the cubby at PnP by 3 pm and they’re at your destination the following day before 12. It’s like magic 🙂

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Christmas Day

Where will you spend the day? Who will cook which parts of the meal?

My one friend always says that they have the loveliest, no-stress Christmas meals because they keep it easy – two chickens, tons of salads and desserts.

Decor

Do you put up a tree? (Two friends don’t even take theirs down ;)) When do you want to put up the tree? Is it a family activity? Do you decorate every room? How much decor feels like enough for you this year?

The shops have the prettiest things every year and I adore it all. But I take a deep breath and remind myself of my (now) three boxes of stuff….. and my one in, one out rule.

Also, this house, while bigger, doesn’t seem to have as much wall space. It’s all the windows looking out on the view!

Still I will take a few photos and walk you through parts of my house next week.

Has this helped you think through Christmas? Tell me what made your top 5 list.

Remember it’s good to let go so you can focus on what’s most important to you!

 

Edited to add this PS here is a great Christmas post I just read from Memories on Clover Lane

Free 2016 goals pack

It’s that time of the year (my favourite time!) when we talk goals, intentions, word of the year and other such good things.

I’ve updated my goals pack and it will be sent to you automatically when you sign up to my new mailing list.

 

2016 Let's do these goals | www.organisingqueen.com

I like to print it in booklet form – it saves paper and is cuter 🙂

Subscribe to my mailing list




2016 Let's do these goals | www.organisingqueen.com

If you haven’t yet signed up, what are you waiting for?

The best thing about this is the 2015 review because you can’t move forward til you take stock…

Share this blog link with a friend and make a date to virtually work on them together.

PS for much more detailed how-to on goals, you have 4 days left to grab my goals products before I close the store. Here you go – discount code CLOSINGDOWN gets you 50% off.

What does freedom mean to you?

Happy Freedom Day, fellow South Africans.

Freedom | www.OrganisingQueen.com

Freedom is one of my highest values and it is therefore very important to me that I live, expressing this value in my life.

Coaching prompts

  • Do you know what your highest values are?
  • Are you living them?
  • What does time freedom mean to you?
  • What does creative freedom mean to you?
  • What does financial freedom mean to you?

I have a special, new e-course launching on 4 May. It’s called Discover yourself and is a super-fun and insightful course.

Discover yourself

We’re going to talk more about these kinds of things, like your values, your passions, what makes you tick, figuring out your definition for success, and so on.

I can safely say you’re going to love it. I used to run this workshop live years ago and have taken more than 50 people through the content.

Look out for the announcement next week – there’s an early bird special to reward those who take action 🙂

So, what does freedom mean to you?

{Weekend inspiration} Phone stacking

I’m listening to an audio book at the moment. Thrive by Ariana Huffington.

I’m still trying to figure out my groove with these audio books but while that’s happening, I keep a notebook on the seat next to me in the car and jot down a few keywords that will hopefully help me to remember what I was thinking afterwards when I try to blog about it.

I said hopefully because the other day I looked in my work notebook and I had absolutely no idea what my own notes meant 😮

Phone stacking | www.OrganisingQueen.com

In talking about being addicted to our phones, she mentioned a new thing which I think is a fabulous idea.

Apparently when a group of people get together for supper/ lunch/ whatever, everyone tosses their phone onto the middle of the table. The first one who grabs their phone to do anything – take a call, send a message, take a photo, etc – has to pick up the bill for the whole table.

Fabulous idea to keep focussed on connecting with friends or family, and not on the devices.

Phone stacking | www.OrganisingQueen.com

I often forget to take out my phone because of too much talking but I’ve got to confess – if the light is perfect and the food looks photogenic, I’m usually the one taking a picture. I won’t post it to Instagram right there and then (unless the friend I’m with goes to the bathroom), and sometimes not ever, but light + pretty = photo 🙂

Still, I really don’t like wasting money so if my friends and I agreed on rules like this, I’m sure I wouldn’t grab my phone.

What about you?

Would you be picking up the bill?

PS There are only 24 hours left til the pay what you want sale is over.

You know all those things you want to do?

You should go do them.

Every year as part of my goal-setting process, I print off the pages from Leonie’s planner and I go play with the 100 things to do this year pages.

You do know there’s no rule that says you can only do goal-setting in January, right? I start and end goals throughout the entire year.

In fact, I just started a new goal last week – to start a project with photos of doors captured on my photowalks. Some might say a quarter of the year is gone, what’s the point?

There’s plenty of point.

Live intentionally |www.organisingqueen.com

Kendra did ballet for one year and that was a push. She was not into it at all so she stopped and decided to do actionball instead.

I wanted to get some photos of her in her ballet clothes before she outgrew them so I put it on my list.

And then one not-so-very-cold winter’s day, we got her dressed up and headed for the gym (because I liked the beautiful light in one of the studios) to take some photos.

Do you know how these photos thrill me?

I love that I got photos of her in her ballet clothes, I love the light, I love that I can now take photos that I love, and I LOVE that I got to do something I wanted to do.

So those things that you want to do?

Go do them.

I need more time

I’ll help you create the time on the Help! I need more time course. It starts today – sign up now.

What are you waiting for?

If you don’t do something different, next year this time you’re still going to have a pile of books unread, your big kids’ baby books undone, and not know how to use your big, fancy camera.

Join me for Help! I need more time.

Today’s the last day to register.

“Pick my Brain” sessions for March – now open

Pick my brain | www.OrganisingQueen.com

I’ve had many requests from people to pick my brain.

Maybe you’re one of those thinking about it too?

I’ve decided to offer a limited number of “pick my brain” sessions every month.

We can talk on the phone or via Skype.

In the past, people have picked my brain on these kinds of issues:

– how to run a business while working full-time
– how do I write the book I know is inside of me?
– I’ve written my book. How do I get all the bits and pieces together so it gets Kindle-ised and up on Amazon, or ready for publishing?
– I want to start doing talks. How do I get clear on my message and how do I get my first talks booked?
– I would love to be a professional organiser. How do I get started? (this is very popular)
– how to save towards a big juicy goal like taking a sabbatical (like I did last year)

actually, the sky’s the limit!

Read more here.

Email and tell me when you want your session, I’ll invoice you via Paypal and we’re good to go.

(if you want the recording, tell me and I’ll arrange that for you too)

Looking forward to having 10 of you pick my brain soon.

Now what? Let’s do this – a new workshop

Some of my friends have said to me they’re very glad to see the back of 2014…

Some have been working throughout and haven’t had any time to think or process the end of 2014 and transition to 2015

Still others are a bit overwhelmed by all the goal-setting, resolutions and one word posts out there (if you’re on all the social media, your head must be bursting)

And others want to be more intentional but are not sure exactly how that works or where to start.

Good news for you!

Let's do this!

I’m launching a new workshop this month and you’re invited to join me.

For those who can come to a workshop in Johannesburg (if the dates don’t work for you, send me a mail to keep you on the “interested” list. there’s nothing special about January; you can start living intentionally anytime!)

For everyone else…

Please click through to those links and have a read.

Are you joining me?

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