{Marcia reads} How is your phone changing you?

I read a great book in February called, 12 ways your phone is changing you by Tony Reinke. I actually listened to this book on audio while driving to work but you might want to get it on Kindle so you can highlight and make notes.

Yes, it’s one of those where you want to take notes.

This book was great, so full of nuggets and things to think about.

I think the author is a questioner on the Four Tendencies framework.

What I loved is that there was no “this is how it must be done” but lots of facts, research, and questions to make you think about your own habits in each of the 12 areas. It had a very balanced view and is refreshingly full of solid Bible teaching without being preachy.

 

A few questions I wrote down while driving:

  • Are you reading more or less books as a result of you being on social media?
  • Am I a digital busybody or am I genuinely curious?
  • Does my digital art dim glory or reflect His glory? Sometimes we want our glory now instead of waiting for eternal glory.
  • Are we digital narcissists?

I actually feel like I need a re-listen, this time with a notebook in hand 🙂

Ultimately, this book is a call to live a more intentional and purposeful life in the arena of smartphone usage.

If you have a niggle that your phone might be taking over in a number of areas of your life, I’d urge you to give this one a read.

I have spoken before about how we could all be reading more, for instance, if we took just some of our social media time every week and used that time to read.

So this is going to make me think some more about my phone usage.

Where do you feel your phone usage is negatively impacting your life? Are you more anxious? Do you procrastinate on work? Do you default to your phone when your kids are annoying you? 🙂

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.

3 kinds of lists for your bullet journal

Do you know what I’m really excited about these days? It’s how bullet journalling has made it cool and trendy to write things down 🙂

When you write things down, it frees your mind for more big picture thinking and you don’t have to worry too much about the details because they’re written down so they’re not disappearing anywhere.

Here are 3 types of lists you could use to help manage your time effectively. You can make the lists in your bullet journal or download them from my website.

Master to-do list

1. Master list
This is a place for a “brain dump”, a place for ideas you might want to pursue in the future or possible projects you need to tackle.

You can work off one master list for months, like I do with my business or blogging ideas.

I also have a master list of things to do in the house. I write up a new list every year and I work on that list the entire year.

To-do list

2. To-do list
This list can be monthly, weekly or daily. I post a weekend to-do list to Instagram every weekend.

The difference between this list and the master list is that this one has a time deadline attached to it.

I have a monthly to-do list, which is really my monthly goals list. I keep this one with broad goals like go to the gym 8 – 12 times, a weekly to-do list with about 3-5 business tasks to get done and then my daily to-do list which spreads out those 5 tasks so that I have only 1 or so to do daily.

Sometimes 1 task is very big and takes a couple of days so I’ll leave a couple of smaller ones to do all on one day.

I want to caution you to only put a maximum of 6 items on your daily to-do list so you don’t become overwhelmed!

My checklist to live my best life

3. Checklist
This is a place with a list of items which you check/ tick off.

This list is ideal for anything you need to do regularly, like the order in which you do your photo backups, a list of weekly business tasks, travel checklist, shopping list, etc.

My favourite checklist used to be my “newsletter” checklist which walked me through a process of ensuring I repurposed every bit of the content I create. These days, the one above is my favourite checklist 🙂

Once you start using the correct list for the task at hand, you’ll be flying!

You can download a variety of lists in the free pack on my website.

Do you prefer to print out your lists or to write them into your bullet journal?

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?

My new bullet journal – a grid notebook

I’m on my third bullet journal for the year, my sixth overall.

For this year, I’ve had a lined one, a dot grid one and then I was undecided between another lined one (a pretty purple one) or a grid notebook.

I decided to go with the grid notebook because I wanted to try all the versions of notebook (last year I used lined paper for two of them and then a blank notebook) paper so I could see what worked best…for me.

And the verdict?

I’m loving this grid notebook.

  1. It’s a Fabriano A5 grid notebook – made in Italy. South Africans, I bought it at Exclusives for R23. Yes, you read that correctly. They come in gorgeous, bright colours for such a great price.
  2. They had a spiral bound version about twice the thickness (and double the price – I think R48?), but since this one is travelling in my handbag on a daily basis, I didn’t want the spirals to get messed up, and I definitely want to finish using it by the end of December.
  3. I’m using my Staedtler triplus fineliners and the only Schneider Topliner I own because the paper is a nice firm 80g/sm that can hold these fineliners.
  4. I think a combination of the pen plus the grid makes my handwriting look neater.
  5. Also, I love making little blocks of exactly one grid next to my to-do list items.

There is possibly only one thing that could be better, and that is to have a non-scuffable cover. I’ve wrapped it in plastic to protect it.

What should you consider in a bullet journal?

size – I love an A5 size, but I’ve seen people use smaller and bigger notebooks

thickness – I like to change mine all the time so I love the 80-page notebooks because they last about 3 months. If you want one for the entire year, go bigger

paper – choose your paper depending on the size of your handwriting, and whether you naturally write in a straight line or not. Is that even an issue for you? It is for me? (I have since discovered I’m not a fan of light dot grid notebooks; I may be convinced if there are ones with a darker dot that I can try)

pens – on the more Kraft-type paper (the slightly brown paper), a gel pen works beautifully because it “sinks” into the paper. On a whiter type of paper, like this one, I find the staedter fineliners work beautifully. Of course you can use any pen on any paper (there are no rules!) but I know that I prefer a certain look to my handwriting with a certain pen on a certain paper 🙂

Tell me how you decided on your bullet journal

PS If you’re South African, pick up one next time you’re at Exclusives and let me know which colour you chose 🙂

Bullet journal 101 – most useful pages

If you haven’t seen the last post on bullet journal, have a read here to find out all the pages I use for planning.

Today, we’re going to discuss three of the most useful pages for me:

When I last
This is a page I picked up from browsing the #bulletjournal hashtag on Instagram. I took a screenshot immediately and kept it on my phone for a few months before trying it.

Basically, it’s to remind you of things you need to keep track of, but that don’t happen daily, weekly or even monthly.
I track when I colour my hair (I should do that monthly, but I do it when I can’t stand it anymore) and when I have my Brazilian Blowwaves done. I also started tracking Connor’s haircuts.

Any ideas you have for this page? Or ideas for me to use this page more?

This is not my reading goals page but just my monthly reading list 🙂

Reading goals

This is one of my favourite pages in my bullet journal.

I wrote out these goals at the start of the year when I thought of how I wanted my reading life to look this year.
I’m happy with the amount of reading I do but I wanted to get intentional about a few other things – books to re-read, how many Audible books, etc.

So I look at my list at the end of each month and I see how I’m doing. And then, of course, I make adjustments for the month ahead.

If you’re a reader, I highly recommend a reading goals list.

What were/ are some of your reading goals for this year?

Favourite author lists and the books I already have

This page started as an action from my reading goals page. And then I accidentally bought a physical copy of a book I have on my Kindle, and the page morphed into one where I tick off the books I own, and I highlight them once I’ve read them.

I’ve now trained myself to not buy books until I’ve checked my pages just in case I own a copy.

It’s so useful. If you have a bad memory for books that kind-of sound the same, make yourself a list of your favourite authors and the books you need to read from your physical or virtual bookshelves.

How do you keep track of the books you need to read from your favourite authors? Goodreads? Page in your bullet journal? Notes in your phone?

Which are some of your most useful pages in your bullet journal?

Bullet journal 101 – planning pages

Thanks again if you took the bullet journal survey. If you still want to weigh in, go right ahead – I have one more post planned besides this one, but if there are more questions left on the survey link, there might be a third post this month.

If you’ve never done a bullet journal and you want to try….but you feel intimidated by the fancy ones you see on Instagram (clearly not mine!), I’d say if you do nothing else but a few standard pages, your life will feel at least ten times more organised.

Take some time and think through your needs

  1. Do you think in terms of daily or weekly planning?
  2. Do you prefer to get things done during the week or on the weekend?

If you’re like me and you think of getting your stuff done over the course of a week, then you’ll do weekly planning. I actually still recommend this option to most people because it takes off the pressure from achieving something every day. I personally don’t mind if I have a day or two of slothfullness because I know I have 7 days to get things done; not only 1.

However, if you like to get a few things done daily, and you won’t beat yourself up about a few days of non-achievement here and there, then by all means, do a daily to-do list.

To sum up, these are the pages I suggest you pick from for your basic bullet journalling.

1. Monthly review of the month that’s just passed

Use my standard 4 questions – what went well? what didn’t go well? what have I learned? what can I let go of? Of course, you may add more if you want but we’re keeping it simple

2. Goals for the month

Keep it simple to 10 or so items. I think in categories so I have socials, family, fun, health, house.

3. Life admin list

This is a master to-do list and has all those things you currently need to take care of – hair appointments, car stuff, electrician, and so on. You could incorporate this into your goals for the month if you won’t get overwhelmed. I like them separate so I don’t feel drained when I look at my goals list.

4. My weekend to-do list

This is still my favourite list.

I make one every Friday evening and as I’ve written before, it has to have 3 categories. Please click that link so you can see a real person’s to-do list. It is not Pinterest perfect because it is a tool to get things done.

Fun fact – way back when (Dion and I have been married 22 years and we’re both strong J’s, and upholders, so we love planning), D and I used to make a little list every Friday evening on the back of a used envelope. I think I was too poor to buy cute (unnecessary) stationery back then.

5. Daily to-do list (my work from home list)

I cut out on my commute (a whole two glorious hours) when I work from home so I can either get more work done which is the case most of the time and especially the last 3 – 4 months, but at other times, I keep a list of things to do around the house during my breaks. I usually have about 6 tasks that are all super quick things to get done. Either that or I get some errands done.

If I don’t have a list, I find that it’s easy to simply scroll instagram instead of being productive.

6. Weekly list

I make my weekly list (because I do weekly planning) in my Moleskine planner. You can see the specific style of diary I prefer to use in the pictures on this post.

Beth and I chat every Thursday evening so that’s when I do my weekly planning for the week running Thursday to Wednesday.

I attach no schedule to these things at all unless they’re time-based activities, like my weekly flamenco dance class or book club.

Basically, I glance at the list every two days or so and do them when they suit how busy my day is, or not.

In case you’re thinking this is very “loose” of me, that is true, but over the years, I’ve more or less settled into a loose rhythm, like Mondays is my main writing night, Tuesday is dance class and reading when I get home, Wed could be photos or podcast club, Thurs is Beth/ coaching/ starting on a small thing on my weekly list (to build momentum),  Friday and Sat are reading nights again (that’s how I read so much) and Sunday afternoons are blogging, planning, reading 🙂

For your own planning purposes, which of the pages mentioned above would suit your lifestyle?

My new bullet journal – #2 for 2017

I used my first bullet journal for 2017 (and my 4th overall) for the first 6 months of the year, and when the time came to replace it, I had a couple of choices:

  • use a thicker notebook for another 6 months, or
  • use thinner notebooks so I could try out a couple of different styles

I asked for your feedback here and you weighed in 🙂

Ultimately, I decided to try out a dot grid notebook since I have used blank and lined paper before. So I went with the one at the bottom of this stack.

So how am I feeling about my bullet journal choice, 3 weeks in?

  1. It’s a smaller notebook, so I feel sometimes like I’m cramming things onto a to-do list
  2. I’m still getting used to the dots (they’re quite light) and to be honest, it feels like I’m writing on blank paper most of the time 🙂
  3. I feel zero perfectionism about writing in this notebook. I’m not sure if that’s because there are another two waiting for me or because it’s a smaller page with rougher paper so it feels like it lends itself more toward scribbles.
  4. I love the rougher paper because it “soaks up” my gel pens. Yum!
  5. I’ve had to cover my notebook with plastic because I don’t want stains or moisture on the cardstock cover.
  6. I’ve migrated nothing but I did reprint my friendship spreadsheet and I took photos of my reading pages 🙂

What type of paper do you most enjoy in a notebook? Lined, dot grid, grid or blank paper?

Did you start a new bullet journal at the start of the year? Are you still using the same one?

PS I used 3 bullet journals over the course of last year, but I only started in March 2016.

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