An easy trick to help you let go of your stuff

I wrote  on Instagram recently that I had a watch from May 2008 and I finally had to let it go.

Suzanne’s mom reminded me in the comments that I bought it on the same trip to Scotland when I met Suzanne (we’d arranged to meet up half way around the world for the first time – read more here). In fact, we stopped at the Swatch store in Princes Street, Edinburgh, on our way to drive to Stirling, where we were to meet Suzanne.

There are are 3 points to this post:

  1. Some of us are more sentimental than others.
  2. For those of us sentimental people, take a picture so that you have something to remember your item. It is easier to keep a photo than the physical item.
  3. That may be enough to then let it go. If not, you might need a bit more intentionality like giving it to someone who you know will use it.

Bonus – sometimes we all need to take a wide-angled photo of the rooms in our house. When you see the same thing, day in and day out, you forget what it actually looks like. I did the same recently (took a picture of the morning light) and realised there are PILES of books that need to be dropped off at the library again.

Are you sentimental?

Is it easy for you to let go of stuff? If yes, what is the sentence you tell yourself to help you let go?

5 steps to get back on track when life tries to derail you

We’re four months done with the year and things are getting a little bit boring in respect of pushing through with your goals, right? We’re all churning along with the same old goals we set in December/ January, still striving to figure out some stuff, and if you’re in South African, no loadshedding but plenty (PLENTY) of power outages, water pipes bursting and depending on solar like it’s your lifeline (it is!). Or you’re being majorly derailed. I wrote a few weeks ago about me breaking loose with my decluttering projects.

I had some very clear health goals and guys, I’ve lost only 1.3 kg in 4 months. That’s it. My iron meets the doctor’s expectations but the cholesterol still needs work (my view is it’s the red meat I’m forcing myself to eat two to three times a week because I hate kale and spinach more…).

These two examples are not unusual, by the way; I just conveniently forget about the slump every year until I notice the pattern. You see, it’s not a matter of if you will be derailed, but rather, what will derail you.

I like to think like this – if you know that on the way to your goals, you will encounter 5 obstacles, then in your head, your expectations are managed, and it’s a “oh right, here’s obstacle 1, and here’s obstacle 2” instead of “oh my gosh, I’m a failure, why did I set this stupid goal, why did this happen to ME, I can’t do it, etc.”

5 steps to get back on track

  1. Identify the symptoms

Are you feeling tired, demotivated, frustrated or overwhelmed? Great! These are the indicators that you need to be aware, notice and most probably shake things up.

2. Get very clear on the why for your goals 

Do you still want to go after your goal? Why? (my health kick – yes! but maybe I can let loose a little on the decluttering since I have done a lot and it’s been a way of life for years so I am unlikely to stop at this point)
If you don’t want that goal anymore, here’s your big, fat permission slip to stop and change things.

3. Get clear on your derailers

Here’s where James Clear and his Atomic Habits book shine.
If you can’t seem to make progress on your goal, it’s time to analyse your behaviour. Are you derailing your efforts because you don’t pack a work lunch? Or you can’t seem to do your monthly savings goal because you’re out for a long and boozy supper every week with friends? Should you rather change into your gym clothes at work (yes, at work) and drive straight to gym instead of going home first? Which micro steps can you take to put you back on track? If you’re not sure, or you need someone to brainstorm with you, I can be that person.

4. Pivot

Expanding on 2 above regarding your permission slip, maybe you don’t want to stop your goal entirely? Maybe you just need to tweak the goal? I have slashed some things off my list (one – instead of 24 fun nights away/ in Jhb, I’m adjusting it to 12 as that seems to be the rhythm after the four months)

If you wanted to study and you missed the first semester deadlines due to finances/ couldn’t get everything to align, etc. maybe you sign up for the semester starting mid-year? If you’re not making good strides with something (me, the weight loss), change something (I am having a call with the Lovely Maureen, my Weigh-less group leader, who is the perfect combination of Compassion and Kindness, to bounce some ideas around).

5. Celebrate your successes

We all tend to look at what we have not done rather than what we are doing. Don’t forget to stop every month (better if you can do so every week) and count the things you did get done, whether they were on the list or not.Remember: we are not the things we do.

Have you done your goals review for April yet? Here’s a quick way to get that done using your Tendency.

{Money} What to do when you want to break loose from your goals

Two weeks ago I had a meeting that really irritated me. I can’t even remember now what it was about so it couldn’t have been that significant. However, I wanted to do something nice for myself (treat myself, if you want) and went to my nail polish stash to find a fun colour to cheer me up.

There was “nothing” in the same way we have “nothing” to wear.

I then remembered a colour I love (Rimmel’s Velvet Rose) which is discontinued and decided there and then to go to the shops after work for 30 minutes to browse and buy something similar.

Long story short – there was nothing similar but I did find a colour I liked (Sorbet’s Macaroon).

I was home and the colour was on my nails when I realised that I’m supposed to be on a “use up first” mission.

There was another incident where I didn’t even think about it and bought three sets of (admittedly) very well-priced miniature toiletries when again, box 1 was opened and I was like “no, not allowed”. I took the other two sets back.

Sorbet Macaroon

But now it’s finally sinking in – I am breaking loose from my challenges of using stuff up first. Why?

  • Perhaps I’m placing too many restrictions on myself? This is possible as I’m definitely a moderator with money.
  • Perhaps I need to allow myself a treat here and there? Possibly – this is week 16 and I have stuck to my no buying of body, bath and beauty products beautifully except for these two mishaps.
  • Perhaps I need to remind myself why I’m doing this again? Highly possible – I want to get back to my pre-pandemic self where I used to buy what I needed and not treat myself daily due to the “hardship” of being locked down. To be fair, it really was a hardship for me.

This colour is Essence’s Powder Room Party

Where is this going then?

  1. I reminded myself this week while listening to The Broke Generation podcast (search your podcast app – British girl in Australia) that I need to have something to work towards ALL THE TIME. Maybe I should book an overseas trip because the thought of the very weak Rand will focus my spending super quick!
  2. I wrote my goal on a post-it note and am wrapping it around my credit card in my wallet (this has been very successful for me in the past).
  3. But also, R39 on a nail polish is absolutely fine after 14 weeks when I’ve been good with my Clicks/ Dischem spending (I have only spent on boring meds and supplements).
  4. I also set myself a budget for Clicks spending based on actual averages.

Thought for the week:

Where might you be breaking loose from your goals? Why?

Did you enjoy this money post? I’m on a money kick so I’m going to be writing more about this as long as my obsession continues.

Goals update – 24 in 2024 goals, and the secret list :)

I’m writing this goals update 3 months and 1 week into the year.

Summer – beautiful, but I have had more than enough of it.

A few disclaimers before I start the update:

  1. I have two lists this year, the main one and a few more fun, once-off items on a second list, simply because when I looked at the main list, it looked like a LOT of hard work and I didn’t want to feel burdened by a list.
  2. Therefore, when I talk about numbers done, I’ll refer to both of these.

Done

  1. Buy a new car
  2. Try a new stretch class
  3. Read Atomic Habits as a work book club (I have read it, we have met 4 out of the 6 allocated sessions and I got what I wanted from it).
  4. Listen to more music. I have listened to more music in one month than I did the entire year of 2023, so I’m calling it done.
  5. Watch more TV. Same. May I recommend Dance Life on Prime Video? I loved it! I love seeing people in their passion and hard work that goes into making that passion true excellence.

Abandoned

Do Happiness Project Revisited. Towards the end of February, I cancelled – nothing to do with the content but I was bone tired of chasing up on my playbook, nearly 3 months after ordering. The chasing up was worse than work and it was causing unhappiness instead of happiness. (nothing to do with Gretchen’s team; I am not sure why DHL decided to send it to our liquidated Post Office in South Africa – seriously, we have no post offices).

I was trying to take a photo of my favourite new summer pants; clearly I am bad at taking these pics but I still liked how I looked, so there you go

In progress

  1. Exercise going well but I have abandoned the stretch because I wasn’t getting enough cardio and that is very important to me for heart health.
  2. Reading – 30 books in
  3. 10 non-fiction physical books – I have finished 4 of the 10; 2 currently in progress.
  4. Play with photography again and post things that delight me – yes, going well! Also really looking forward to full autumn foliage, the most beautiful season.
  5. Write 24 in 2024
  6. Use up 24 beauty/ body/ bath products – this is going very well. Just this week I had a little relapse (I bought a set of body wash/ body lotions, realised only once I’d got home and opened it up so I kept one of each, and gave some to the kids and Precious). Bonus points for me for returning the other two boxes I’d also bought.
  7. Do many declutter challenges – I have now done 6 batches of 24 (you can see all of these on my Instagram highlights; I post the week’s stuff every weekend.

on my other list, I have to try a recipe every month. this is so easy because of Instagram. Also, StephCooksStuff 🙂

The other list

  1. Finish listening to last few CDs before decluttering them – done (the new car sped things up because I have no CD player so had to listen on Spotify)
  2. Make eye appointment – yay, I don’t need new specs. R10 000 saved!

And that’s it – very happy with my Q1 progress. On my main list, I am tracking at 33,3% for the year, which is ahead of  my budget. Good thing, because it looks slow hereon out unless I actually get around to planning my 50th, booking a weekend away or doing that no-spend month. Hmmmm.

How are you doing on your 24 in 2024 goals?

Declutter 24 in 2024 – how it’s going, 3 months in

At the end of last year, I felt like I had too much stuff – stuff that needed to go out, stuff that needed to be used up and stuff that should be gifted to others.

Why?

I am generally an underbuyer but during the pandemic, I got into the habit of “treating myself” for staying home and even when things returned to normal, I was still in the bad habit of buying myself treats for no good reason. We did this with takeaways and fun food at the grocery store too, but have reigned a lot of that back, due to pure necessity (the exhorbitant price of food).

I am not the type of person who says “I work hard; I deserve it” because I believe that 95% of the population works hard and that is just not a good justification.

The point is I had lots of things I wasn’t using and they all need to go.

Disclaimer – since I first Konmari’d my house in 2014 (ten years ago!), most of the time my house just needs a quick analysis of one in, one out before it feels right again. Except for the water bottles. I give them away as fast as they land and it always still feels like there are too many.

My three categories

Beauty/ body/ bath – both personal items and household items like soaps and toilet sprays #useup24in2024

Stationery – books, pens and pencils

General decluttering – anything else goes here. The idea was as many batches of 24 as I could do in 2024. #declutter24in2024

What I’m learning

That I had no idea what I have in my house in the way of toiletries. I mean, I had 5 speedsticks. This is the beauty of the Konmari method and bringing everything together into the same space.

It’s making me chomp at the bit to buy things that truly spark joy. When I had the urge for a new nail polish colour, I went looking in a box of spares and lo, I found some bottles to scratch the itch.

It honestly helps to ask, “who can use this today?” if I’m not wild about something (hand creams, t-shirts, bags).

So how are things going?

Beauty/ body/ bath – I’ve used up 13 items from speedstick to conditioner and two (!) lipsticks.

Stationery – I’ve used up or donated 8 items – used up 3 pens and donated 5 new pencil bags.

General decluttering – I’m on batch 5 of the year. I will push to finish that batch so that the quarter ends nicely with 5 complete batches or 120 items.

Tell me, how are your decluttering/ organising efforts going?

Decide what’s right for you – whether it’s one drawer every week or one room a month. At the very least, try one in, one out or, as I heard Lisa Whittle say on a podcast years ago, one in, three out. It makes you more aware of what you bring into your space.

5 ways to set fun, achievable 24 in 2024 goals

I’ve been following Gretchen Rubin’s annual goals linked to the calendar year since she started doing these back in (was it 2017? 2018?) and they are certainly a fun way to write down some goals. However, it gets a bit tricky as the years go on. I’ve found that a few things help me to not feel overwhelmed with the sheer number and I’d like to share these tips with you:

1. Pick a few easy, once-off goals to get you started

  • Is there something you need to buy that will involve only a step or two? New underwear?
  • Do you want to try something new? One year (2020) I had “try an adult ballet class” on my list. Once I attended, that was done! I bought a car, a big deal because it had been 17 years with my previous one.
  • One year I had “learn to roast a chicken”. I had to do it twice before I was happy with it and I also learned that I prefer to pay for a rotisserie chicken 😉
  • Do you want to see a favourite performer, a ballet, or go to the theatre?
  • I also put my most-hated but still necessary medical appointments on my list.

2. Are there practices you want to commit to monthly or weekly?

  • It doesn’t have to be many times a month but having something to do 12 times a year is doable and the consistency will help build it into a habit.
  • Some examples – join a book club and attend once a month, see Friend X once a month, have a monthly date with your kids, etc.
  • Maybe for an exercise routine to stick, you might have “attend Zumba twice every week”.
  • I have seen so many fun lists with 24 worked into the goal. I also have a couple: 24 fun nights away or in Jhb, 24 Fun Fridays, etc. My one coaching client has “24 Sunday morning adventures with T (her young son)” – doesn’t that sound fun?

                                         A new weekly class at the gym

3. Do you have any project-based goals?

  • A project is something with multiple steps but it has a specific start and end date.
  • Some projects that have been/ are on my lists: buy a new car, get pyjama lounge carpet ripped up and replaced, and so on.
  • Are you doing the Happiness Project Revisited? Or any other course? That would fit in here too. I’ve done The Nester’s Cosy Minimalist course before and Emily P Freeman’s Discern and Decide.

4. What about goals that inspire growth?

  • I would classify a no-spend month, decluttering your kitchen, organising and getting up to date with your photo books, all in this category.
  • I am an underbuyer in most areas so I need to be encouraged to spend out in some areas. Maybe you’re one too? Maybe you’re an overbuyer and need to get your spending under control?
  • I currently have a low-iron stores situation going on so for 2023 and again this year, one goal is to have my iron tested quarterly.

5. Open and wide goals that invite whimsy or fun

  • This is my favourite category. Sometimes enneagram 1 upholders need to loosen the reigns.
  • Last year I had “watch more TV” on my list. That’s it. Open to my own interpretation and indeed, I watched more TV (I didn’t previously watch more than about two episodes of something once a month) and so I loved it. Yes, I also read fewer books as a result but I definitely had more fun.
  • This year, I have “listen to more music” on my list. I subscribed to Spotify Premium and am making playlists, searching anything that strikes my fancy and cooking with music instead of podcasts. More fun!
  • I also have “play with photography again and post things that delight only me”.

I hope all these categories help and don’t hinder you in your goal-setting this year. The point is that if you only have goals that you have to do weekly for a year, it’s going to feel like a slog. You want to have a bit of this and a bit of that so that you have a good balance. I tweaked and tweaked until my list felt more play and not all work, and then I decided to see if I could make a second list, and lo, I have another 24 items. I’m holding it all loosely though 🙂

Please ask all the questions you need. I plan to do a follow up post on how I track all of this, because I know there are many interested.

The Happiness Trifecta

Gretchen Rubin mentioned on her podcast that she know thinks of the Happiness Trifecta as a way to embrace or enter the year.

I have mentioned in my Instagram Stories but I decided because I want to be happier this year, to do the Happiness Project Revisited. Part of that foundational work for the year has involved these three items too (if you want and I want :)).

1. Word of the year

  • I am a big, big, BIG word of the year fan because it’s such an easy way to guide your thoughts and actions on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.
  • Choose one! Choose one per month/ quarter/ whatever takes your fancy.
  • How to choose a word of the year
  • For inspiration, read all my word of the year posts here.
  • My word for this year is WHOLE. If you missed the post last week, you can read it here.

2. Annual Challenge – write24in2024

  • This year, Gretchen Rubin’s challenge is to write either 2 – 4 minutes or 24 minutes every day in 2024.
  • I am using the challenge to write 2 – 4 minutes a day most days to update my daily diary and then at least twice a month, I want to write for 24-minute sessions. Today and every Sunday I use a longer burst of time  – 24 minutes – to write a blog and/ or newsletter. I am timing myself and once I have an idea of how long it currently takes me, I might work on the newsletter weekly and send it at the end of the month, so it doesn’t feel overwhelming. I already say “you can do anything for 15 minutes, so 9 minutes longer every week is technically “nothing”. So far I’ve written about 48 minutes every Sunday but I am allowed to stop at 24 minutes.
  • Are you joining in the #write24in2024 challenge? How are you using it? You could write in a journal, make a list, clear your head before sleep, update your line-a-day journal,  make the next day’s to-do or ta-da list… the possibilities feel endless.

3. 24 in 2024 list

  • This is such a fun way to do your goals.
  • Make it as small or big as you want. I would caution you to have a mix of goals – some once-off items (buy new bedroom curtains, replace all my gym clothes, etc.) and some project-based items (go out to eat 12 times this year, have a date night once a month, read two books every month, etc.)
  • I have now done my list of 24 goals TWICE. The first time I had 26 goals so I let it sit. I then whittled it down to 24 with some stealthy merging of goals. And then I listened to the podcast episode where they discussed their goals and I want to play with my list AGAIN. My list feels a bit too boring and I think I have too many hard things and not enough fun.
  • Have you made your list? Do share! if you’re on IG, tag @organisingqueen so I can come see.
  • I will write more about this in next Sunday’s session.

4. Other fun things

    • To play with the 24 in 2024 theme, I have also resolved to declutter as many batches of 24 things as I can. I’m on number 15 of Batch 2. You can see all these items on Instagram in my highlights.
    • I initially had these as separate goals – declutter 24 items of clothes, gift 24 items of stationery (I still want to do this), use up 24 bath/ body/ beauty products.
    • Doesn’t 24 nights away from home sound fun (if I count business travel, I could do it)? I’ve already got 1 in the bag as we were away on 1st Jan.
    • Can you think of anything fun on the 24 theme?

I love to hear your words, your own “24” challenges, so please tap the comment block to reply.

4 insights on stockpiling toiletries from The Year of Less

 

 

I read a book called The Year of Less by Cait Flanders in August 2018. I’ve just gone to read all my highlights on Goodreads (19 of them!) and now I think I need to re-read the book 😉

But that’s not what I came here to tell you about today.

When I originally read the book, I remember one piece very vividly, the section on stockpiling toiletries.

It completely changed how I think about things now.

Many people (I daresay, 98% of you reading this post) buy extra toiletries when they’re on sale. The sales captivate us all – 3 for the price of 2, the summer/ winter sale, and so on.

In the book, she asks us to consider how long specific items take to use up and how long you really need to keep spares.

Stockpiling is not great for at least 4 reasons:

1. it wastes money

if your money is held up in “stock”, it is not available as cash (remember Accounting in high school?). I prefer to have the cash rather than bottles of shampoo, conditioner or similar. Yes, I’m aware that the prices of things have increased (especially in South Africa due to loadshedding) but I would still rather have cash in the bank than two extra speedsticks in my bathroom vanity.

2. it is clutter 

This one is fairly obvious. Stuff you have and that you need to store because you’re not using is called clutter.

3. waste of product 

if you buy 3 products, they might go old before you can actually use them (this has happened to me once with speedstick deodorants)

4. most of the world lives about 5 minutes from a store

and now… there’s online delivery too. If you run out, I promise you it will be a 5-minute detour to get what you need and for most of us, you will know beforehand that you’re going to run out in a few days.

A personal example

I use Olay day moisturising liquid (with SPF!). One bottle lasts 6 months. Given that there are often sales, it used to be tempting to buy extra but I am no longer tempted. Why? I can tell that I’ll run out within a week or two both because of the weight of the bottle and the fact that I write the date on the bottle with a permanent marker when I start using a new bottle.

But also, it just makes no sense to buy 18 months’ worth of product on a buy 3 for the price of 2 sale. What if they change the formula or make a pretty new bottle or (I don’t think this will happen but…) I want to try something new but I’m stuck using the old stuff for 18 long months.

Upholders love self-imposed rules

  • I will  keep one spare speedstick deodorant in summer because the consequences are immediate if I run out (!)
  • I do buy the 3 for 2 shampoos because 1 bottle of the brand I use lasts me just under 2 months
  • Keeping a travel toiletry bag stocked is not stockpiling because it actually saves me so much time when I travel for work or pleasure. I’m on holiday now and I will have to replenish some items (on my list!) once I get back home.

In the 17 years of writing this blog, I have still not managed to convince people to stop stockpiling toilet paper. I personally don’t get this obsession as in my house, I “budget” on about 5 days per toilet roll per bathroom, so I know how long we can go before stocking up.

My goal is not to change your mind but I do want you to consciously know that:

  • that is actual money in your cupboards
  • money you can never recoup
  • and you’re probably going to take years to go through your backstock 🙂
  • also, you don’t need to take hotel toiletries with you (I only take bottles that I deem perfect in function or form, or if the fragrances are particularly compelling)

Tell me, where are you on the stockpiling spectrum? 

I didn’t want to go there but I will say that a certain very popular Netflix show and Instagram account has made it very appealing to have lots of backstock in clear perspex containers. Why?

Our bathroom renovation – what we would change and what we wouldn’t

A little bit of background:

  • In 2020 Dion and I were planning to go to the US for a holiday to celebrate a big anniversary. We all know what happened and there were no big travel holidays.
  • 2021 didn’t look much better both from a comfort to travel point of view and so I had the bright idea – instead of those savings languishing (!) in our savings account, waiting for better days, why don’t we spend it on something we can enjoy daily, like a new bathroom?
  • This was one of my more inspired ideas as that is exactly what we did. Another inspired idea was to have them do the main demo work while we were on (local) holidays and therefore not bothered by noise and dust (win-win). We did have a full week of people in the house once we returned.

What we would change:

Maybe next time (if there is a next time) we’ll stay away for two weeks because it was challenging for me to work and live in a house with a ton of people also working. On Teams: “hi client, please just ignore the drilling, there’s a bathroom renovation happening”.

I go back and forth on this, and we can still change it – the force of the shower is just pleasant, not super strong. That is a water-saving mechanism and is fine for most of the year but I will admit that in winter, I do sometimes think I need a bigger force shower with lots of hot water blazing down on me.

What we did change

We added more hooks and towel rails and moved the position of the rails within that first week. Compare the top picture to this one.

What we would not change:

  • Everything structural – I love having a big shower and no bath
  • I love our double basins
  • I love that we kept our wall for toilet privacy
  • I love our long wall of cupboards that hide our laundry baskets, cleaning materials and toiletries!

Here are some more pictures:

 

Have you ever had a renovation while you lived in the space?

Did it make you crazy or how did you handle it?

15-minute Fridays – put some cleaner in your toilet brush crock

Who remembers Flylady from way back in the day before Instagram cleaning influencers became a thing?

(by the way, Flylady is on Instagram!)

I personally love Flylady because her advice is so practical and doable. Anyway, I read one of her books last year and she mentioned something I loved so I thought I’d share it here.

As part of the Swish and Swipe (Flylady encourages us all to do a quick clean of our toilets daily so they don’t get gross – this is not a deep clean of your bathroom), to make things quicker and easier:

  1. Put some toilet cleaner in the toilet brush crock so that when you plunge the brush in and then do your swish and swipe, there’s already cleaner to clean your toilet bowl. Is that not genius?
  2. You can also use your leftover shampoo at the bottom of the bottle for this purpose if you add a tiny bit of water, shake it up and pour it all into the toilet brush crock.
  3. Once a month, I do water and a capful of Zoflora to disinfect and make it all smell nice.

How often do you clean your toilet bowl?

Would these tips work for you?

 

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