If you get sidetracked with your phone or computer…..

I know I’m not the only one who does this…

I get on my computer to, let’s say, write a blog post.

Thirty minutes later, I’ve read other people’s blogs, played with photos and done many other things but not actually written the blog post.

These days I have a simple trick that’s really helping me – I write a list of things I am allowed to do at the computer and keep it right in front of me.

Some of the items may be non-computer things like painting my nails if I need to wait for things like photos to download, which helps me to not go to feedly to read blogs while waiting 🙂

actual computer to-do list from last weekend

Try it – especially if you also get sidetracked and let me know how it works for you! This will obviously work just as well for your phone.

What are your computer tricks to keep you focused?

(while specifically writing, I like to set my iPhone timer for 15-minute blocks)

Two easy ways to expand time

I know that the common refrain is to say there’s not enough time or we’re all so busy, but I don’t believe it.

After all, I wrote a book on how there is enough time (for everything you want to do).

Check it out here

  1. Focus on your energy levels

Time is elastic, you see, and is hugely affected by energy levels.

If you focus on things that give you energy, you’ll get more done. I realise that’s not always possible but if you intersperse must-do tasks with those energy-giving activities, you’ll find that you gain energy… and therefore, time.

Some more thoughts on increasing your energy during the workday and getting microbursts of energy.

2. Be more mindful

Consider this: if you take the time to be more intentional and mindful about your days and weeks, you’ll notice where you’re wasting time, where your energy lags, where you could use your time in a different and more effective way.

E.g. I easily waste an hour or more on Instagram every day. Once I became more mindful about this “practice”, I vowed to read a book during that time instead. I haven’t completely stopped wasting time on Instagram but I know that if I only spend 15 minutes on Instagram, I could easily read for 30 minutes or more during that time, which is of course, a much better use of my time.

It’s really about being aware of what you’re doing and choosing in that moment to continue consciously, or to choose a better way.

What are your tips and tricks to expand your time?

Who do you find it easiest to say no to?

One of my favourite experts on goal-setting, Gary Ryan Blair, said this: “success in life requires a short “Yes” list, and a long “No” list”.

I tend to agree with him.

Whenever I coach time management clients or get interviewed on time management tips, one of the first things I tell people is this:

The absolute quickest way to get results with your time is to learn which things to say yes to and which to say no to.

The no list should always be longer.

There are far more demands on our time than we can ever even hope to satisfy. From requests for time commitments to outside stimuli like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, phone and text messages, the list goes on and on.

Remember, you always say no to at least one thing when you say yes to something else.

For example…
• if you say yes to volunteering on 3 committees, you’re saying no to one or all of the following: your family, your self-care, your exercise time, your household… one committee is possibly enough.
• if you say yes to that beautiful new pair of shoes you really can’t afford, you’re saying no to your debt-reduction plan and maybe to some more clutter!

No is a small word but is often so hard for some of us to say.

The good news is that saying no is like going to the gym and building some muscle.

It feels very uncomfortable at first but the more you work at it, the easier it becomes.

The first couple of times you’ll probably cringe inside as you hear yourself saying no, wondering if your family, friends and colleagues will still like you.

Once you get a bit more practice, you start to get more comfortable and very soon, you’ll develop an ease and grace about it.

Why should you say no?

1. it helps you set firm boundaries
2. it helps you honour your values
3. it makes you more productive
4. it reduces your stress
5. it frees you to serve where you’re called to with joy

I’m challenging you to slow down and think carefully before you say yes to anything.

In fact, why don’t you start saying, “let me get back to you on that” so you think clearly about the situation before committing yourself.

And when you say no to things that don’t support your goals, you’re free to say yes to all the things that really do matter to you.

Tell me. Do you have more problems saying no to yourself or to other people?

PS if you need some coaching to help you improve your “no” muscle, this is one of my areas of expertise and I’m happy to work with you. Send me an email and let’s set up your session.

Good news – you get to choose

I have a couple of coaching spots available. If you’ve been wishing/ hoping/ dreaming for more time and less overwhelm, this is your time. Email me and if we’re a good fit, I’d love to work with you.

The first rule of time management (and life, really) is realising that you have a choice.

Often people tell me they don’t have a choice because of x, y and z reasons.

And actually, that’s not true.

You always have a choice.

Of course these choices are sometimes Super Hard but they’re always available. It also takes courage to admit that those choices exist in the first place.

Let me explain.

1. I’ve said before that I can’t go to Weigh-Less and gym on a Saturday morning. Then I realised that I was lying to myself. Technically I could do it. It’s just that it was super hard and really tight time-wise with the kids’ breakfast and gym.

But I could do it if I really wanted to wake up 30 minutes earlier.

2. A lady told me she didn’t have time to do anything for herself.

When we explored a little more, she did, in fact, have time, but she was too tired at night after the chores were done.

It’s not true that she doesn’t have a choice. She does. She could, technically, do something for herself first if she wanted to and then finish the household chores. She could even leave some of those chores for her husband.

It takes courage to admit, “I’m choosing to do household chores with my time instead of my own hobbies”.

3. Still someone else was talking to me about a work situation last year.

She said she didn’t have a choice in leaving her employment because she couldn’t find another job.

I suggested that she accept responsibility for where she was at. To stop complaining and realise if anything was to change, she had to make it happen.

If she didn’t want to go out and find something else, then she had to consciously say to herself, “I’m choosing to stay at my current company because of X, Y and Z” or otherwise realise she had a choice.

Well, this same lady sent me an email last week. Apparently I kicked her butt and she decided to go out and look for another job. She told me she was so happy and was glad I talked tough to her.

Your coaching challenge is to…

1. Identify 1 – 3 situations where you’ve been saying “I can’t” or “I don’t have a choice”.

2. Change your words and say, “I’m choosing to do __________ because of ________________” When we tell ourselves the truth, we realise that we either have to accept our circumstances or and it will empower us to change our words and start making different choices.

I fully realise that this is not a popular thing to tell you because all of us don’t like facing our stuff, but I know that in my own life, when I’ve accepted that everything is a choice, I’ve been happier doing or not doing things simply because I felt more empowered.

Where have you realised recently that you have a choice?

Soul care vs self-care

If I speak to a group of 10 women, I can guarantee that the majority feels like they don’t have enough time for themselves.

We all have many roles in life. I’d guess that if you’re reading this post, you probably fulfill 5 to 7 of these roles: a wife, mother, homemaker, daughter, sister, friend, business owner, employee or employer.

What then happens is that you tend to the more urgent roles and your personal time is usually the last thing on the list.

As a result, you start feeling resentful but also you may soon burn out.

That’s the point when people usually contact me.

This is great because I love working with people who are ready to take action and make changes in their lives.

Do you just accept this as your lot in life while you have young kids in the house or what do you do?

  1. Decide that you are also important

I never ever believe that we need to sacrifice the parts of us that make us feel most alive.

This is a mindshift change from mothers being the martyrs so take your time and work on this mental adjustment.

We can only input into others when we are replenished. I read a great parenting book, Parenting without Power Struggles, and in the book, she says we have to be calm before we can correct or parent our kids. I can tell you that a mother who has not had any time for herself is not going to be calm.

  1. Identify soul and self-care activities

Self-care activities are activities like a manicure, pedicure, hair appointment or massage.

Soul-care activities are those that feed your soul like sewing, mosaics, scrapbooking, painting and decorating. Still others are time, either by yourself to recharge (often the introverts) or with a couple of close girl friends to connect with yourself again (often for introverts).

Soul care is deeper and more nurturing than self-care, but both are good.

  1. Choose the minimum response that will make you feel like your needs are prioritised

In my work I talk about always knowing your minimum effective responses.

When my twins were newborns, life was crazy. I felt like I had no time to do anything for myself as I was running around washing bottles, making bottles, feeding, burping, bathing, changing, getting the baby to sleep, and then the other one would wake!

During those crazy times, I was happy if I could have just 5 minutes to sit, drink a hot cup of tea in peace and eat breakfast. Seriously, my expectations were just that low.

That was my minimum effective response.

Now, I expect to have hours every day to “do my thing” and I have that time because I’ve set things up that way.

But I started very, very small.

What is the minimum effective response for you to feel like you’re prioritising your needs?

Now that you have those questions sorted out, start creating the time for yourself.

If it has to be done, you might as well enjoy it

I’m learning more and more that everything in life comes down to perspective.

And we can either get really annoyed with things, do something about them or do the best we can.


A few examples:

1. I really don’t enjoy driving in peak hour traffic at all. And that’s a very polite way of stating how I feel.

So since I have to do it, I make it as enjoyable as I can – I listen to podcasts or audio books on the way to work.

It has to be done so that’s one way to enjoy it.

These days I actually look forward to my days in the car to listen to a current book or catch up on my podcasts.


2. Related to driving, some days I don’t have early morning meetings. Instead of still rushing into the office, I take some time and have slow mornings.

Once D and the kids leave, I make a mug of tea and go read my book for a half hour before getting ready for work. It’s such a gift in my busy day because it feels really decadent, almost like I’m on holiday.


3. I don’t know why I hate packing my lunch bag so much. It’s got to get done though because we don’t have a canteen at work and no way am I walking to the mall to spend unnecessary money on food.

So I make sure I’m listening to a podcast and I focus on how all that walking up and down my kitchen is also good for my Fitbit steps 🙂

Over to you!

What do you have to do, but hate doing?

How can you make it more enjoyable? Music? Get a friend (or kid) involved?

How I say no without feeling guilty

I’m about 80% done reading a book called Essentialism by Greg McKeown. If you play around on the internet a lot, you’ll have seen a lot of people talk positively about this book.

I’m glad I’m reading it because it turns out I’ve been an Essentialist all along 🙂

I say yes to the things that matter, and no to the things that don’t.

I do make mistakes, especially when I’m caught in the moment but I realise I should only be saying yes when I genuinely want to do something (hello – word of the year JOY), I feel excitement at the thought of doing it or it ties in with my life goals or definition of success.

Here are 7 things that help me to say no, mostly without guilt:


1. I don’t have to have another appointment first in order to say no
If I’ve planned to have an evening in (reading, blogging, whatever…) and I get invited out, this does not automatically mean I have to accept. An appointment with myself is just as important as one with other people.

2. Realise that when I say yes to one thing, I’m always saying no to something else
When I do say yes without thinking, I usually say no to the more important parts of my life – God, family, yourself.

An example is saying yes to everybody at work collecting money for birthdays, leaving presents, etc, and no to your own financial future 🙂

3. I don’t instinctively say yes. I try to think about it first.
I usually offer to send out an invite so I can check my diary/ bullet journal first before committing to plans.  The three-month calendar also helps. A practical suggestion is to take a deep breath first before saying yes or no. Otherwise you end up saying yes to everything and at the end of a hectic period, you’re virtually burnt out.

4. It becomes easier to say yes the more you practise
At first when you have to say no to something or someone, it feels terrible. But it is incredibly empowering when you realise that you made the correct decision in saying no. It is an acquired skill and the more you use your “no” muscle, the stronger it’ll get. I promise.


5. When I say yes and feel resentment/ frustration/ anger, it usually means I should have said no
Learn to listen to your heart. I’m learning more about this every single day. The Bible says that we mustn’t give grudgingly or under compulsion, and yet, so many of us do. We say yes, and then harbour deep feelings of resentment and bitterness. Nothing good comes from a resentful attitude.

6. I realise that there are many ways to say no
No may be “I can’t help you this time”, “I can only do it next month”, “that’s not my strong suit” or simply “no, thanks”.

No is a complete sentence – Anne Lamott

7. Recognise your personal physical symptoms of an incorrect yes

Over the past year I’ve noticed that when I say yes to too many things that are wrong for me, I get terrible headaches and feel physically ill (nauseated). I’m starting to recognise those things quicker so that I can stop them in their tracks 🙂

Make a decision for the next month to look over your schedule and see where you’re saying yes to activities or commitments that don’t support your goals. Then, work at saying no to them so you can say yes to more important things.

Do you find it easy to say no?

Why or why not?

Do you know how your tendency ties into it? I think of all the types, Obligers have the hardest time saying no but feel free to correct me.

Create, connect and then consume

At the beginning of this year when I was working through my Amazing Life workbook, I wrote down some habits I either have or want to have in my life.

One of those is a habit I’m trying to form which is easier said than done some times but works very well for me at other times.

That habit is to create before I consume… on social media.


See, the thing is when I grab my phone in the morning to switch off my alarm, I could scroll through Instagram mindlessly for a long time.

Now, if I want to go on Instagram, I have started disciplining myself to first create my own post (or posts) and then to scroll, like and comment on others’ posts.

It helps me feel like I’m adding to the conversation and not just being a voyeur. There’s nothing wrong with just scrolling but Instagram has changed its algorithms so people will start/ have started seeing only the posts of people they engage with.

What does this mean?


If you like or comment on feeds, those are the ones that pop up first.

I would never ask people to turn on notifications for my posts. First, because it’s inauthentic (I have not turned on notifications for anyone else and I don’t intend to do so) and second, red numbers of things to check just don’t work for me. Unread emails are the only things that bug me – whatsapps, messages, phone calls all just look… interesting. But I’m not curious like I am with emails.

I haven’t noticed too much different in my feed yet probably because I’m doing exactly the same as I was before. I’m on less – that’s why I’m reading so many books every month – 7, 7 and 10 so far this year.

I now see Instagram as a party and if I see people in the 5 minutes I’m there, great. Let’s chat and connect. If I’ve missed you, hopefully I’ll see you next time. But if you’ve left me a voicemail, I’ll definitely contact you and chat back 🙂

Do you have social media intentions, boundaries or policies for yourself? Please share!

Ask Marcia – on scheduling or not scheduling regular tasks

Discover yourself | www.OrganisingQueen.com

A few weeks ago I asked on Instagram/ Facebook (By the way, I only publish about half my Instagram posts on Facebook) if people had any questions they wanted answered, and got this great one from Laura.

I have a questions relating to calendars. Do you have a system for regular things that you would like to do 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. 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. So is this making any sense?


This makes complete sense, Laura.

I think the question is how do you still get things done without scheduling every little thing?

There are two types of goals – projects and habits. The projects are once-off but the habits are regular occurrences that hopefully will become habits soon.

What Laura is talking about are those habit-type goals.

I can tell you what works for me – monthly and weekly planning. If I have something like 4 socials on my monthly goals list, I know I need to be hitting at least one a week to reach that goal. Sometimes some are already scheduled  so I only have to plan for a few, but that’s good to know.

Key thing for me to remember – if I don’t have an idea of when I want to do something, it’ll fly right out the window. This is a time management principle – if you don’t plan for your own time, others will. Or the house will need cleaning. Or another need will arise. So it’s best to have an idea ahead of time of when that thing you want to do might actually get done.

One of the reasons I love weekly planning so much is that it is a lot looser than daily planning and doesn’t make you feel like a failure on a daily basis.

Weekly goals | Organising Queen

I do weekly planning every week and write down everything I want to get done during that next week. Usually these are about 5 personal things and 5 (previously) business-y things, now I call them “The Blog” until God talks and I have clarity again. For those interested, I feel just fine with where I’m at right now – I feel like my books are out there and I’m always available to speak but the online thing isn’t clearer beyond my Instagram and this blog. So there we go.

Scheduling or not?

I have to loosely schedule. In other words, I never ever (unless it’s an actual lunch/ supper/ meeting-type thing) write down times that something has to be done in a day. That feels too restrictive for my personality type.

I have my list and then I look at my weekly schedule to see when the best day would be to do those things. Laura mentioned she needs to have time and energy. Agreed! For me, the beginning of the week is when I have the most energy so I like to put brain-heavy activities there (my frogs) and then I’m much more likely to get them done.

If you’re not sure what your energy’s like on a weekly basis, keep track of your energy levels for a week or so. My energy’s also dependent on the weather (!) and that’s why if I check the weather app and I see we’re in for some cooler days, I jump on that and make sure I use those days to get out for a walk.


If you don’t want to schedule at all…

You’ve got to look at your weekly list on a daily basis. Just glance at it to remind yourself of what’s on there, and check in with yourself to see if you have the energy to get to it.

My weekends are very loose outside of my anchor events – weigh-less, gym and church – and I have a big list which I keep visible (open on my desk). So if I have 30 minutes before I have to do the kids’ lunch, for example, I’ll check the list and see that there’s enough time to organise an area, write a blog post, or organise some photos. The thing I could most easily leave and get back to again would be organising, so I’d probably choose to do that task.

Tracking regular goal events

Next to my weekly goals, I usually write 1 2 3 and I circle the number when I’ve completed a goal. It’s not difficult for me to remember on a weekly basis; monthly is usually the issue but I do the same on my monthly goals page.

For my walks, I always take a picture so that helps me remember.

I can track mostly everything else I need to track via my Fitbit app – sleep, steps, water, etc.

I do need to get better remembering to track things like vegetables….

I’d love to hear what your response would be for Laura. Please leave your words of wisdom in the comments.

Do you schedule your habit-type goals or how do you remember to do them?

3 calendars at a time

monthly calendaring | www.OrganisingQueen.com

I started using 3 calendars at a time at home during the holiday season last year. It was so useful to see November to January all at the same time, especially for scheduling purposes.

Now I’m hooked.

It does freak me out just a little bit when I see too much in the way of plans, but then again, that’s the point.

I can see when it’s just too busy to meet up with friends or when we need a quieter weekend at home.

Margin is a beautiful thing and we need to fight hard to preserve it.

monthly calendaring | www.OrganisingQueen.com

At work, I write out by hand all my regular meetings and time out of the office. I find that the act of writing makes me more intentional and gives me thinking time.

Other people may be able to be out of the office for days on end but I need an office day after every day or two out, if possible, because I’m a girl who likes an under control inbox 😉

When a client requests a meeting, it’s much easier to look at the week rather than just the day. Yes, the day may be free but it makes better sense for me to look at the week so that I have enough desk time to be effective.

monthly calendaring | www.OrganisingQueen.com

Do you use a paper calendar? How?

If you’re not currently using a nice calendar, I have some beautiful ones pinned on my 2016 calendars board, including the ones in this post.

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