How to do a quick and effective half-year review

It might be that I’m such a big fan of reflecting and reviewing precisely because it doesn’t come naturally to me.

I recognise the process as valuable though which is why I take the time to do a half-year review every year.

Your review is only a 20 – 30 minute process but it will make you feel that you closed off the first half of the year and can focus afresh on the 6 months ahead.

What do you need?

  1. 20 – 30 minutes
  2. A drink of your choice – hot or cold
  3. Notebook/ bullet journal
  4. Pen

You could type into a computer or your phone but I recommend doing it with a pen and paper so that your brain slows down enough to process as you think through the questions.

Here are some questions to ask yourself. Use all, or just use the first 5 questions:

  1. What went well, and why?
  2. What could be better? How?
  3. What have you learned about yourself?
  4. What energised you? How can you bring more of this into your life?
  5. If you chose a word of the year, has it been guiding/ inspiring/ clarifying for you? How are you living out your word of the year? Do you need to change your word? Here’s your permission slip if you want to do that.
  6. Looking at your goals, have you made good progress and are you on track?
  7. Are there any goals you need to let go of? Let them go and be kind to yourself.
  8. Do you know why those goals were no longer motivating you?
  9. Looking forward… what are the 3 main things you want to focus on for the next 3 – 6 months?
  10. Do you have the necessary support? I would love to help you.

Reset and refresh sessions

  • I will send you a prep pack once I receive your payment which you work though and return to me 48 hours before your session so I can spend some time beforehand preparing.
  • We meet on Skype or Zoom, whichever option you prefer.
  • We will discuss what you want to keep in your life going forward and more importantly, what you want to let go of.
  • We might set new goals and develop action plans, or tweak existing goals to suit where you are right now.
  • My goal is that you leave the session encouraged, inspired and that you have clarity on the way forward.
  • The sessions are 60 minutes long and your investment in yourself is $75/ R1000 (previous clients get a discount!)
  • I encourage you to book another session in 6 months, but only if you think it will be helpful.
Contact me now to schedule your session. I work with clients all over the world so we will find a time that will work for your time zone.

Weekly planning – should you or shouldn’t you?

I started off with the question in the title because we are all different.

I can definitely say that weekly planning helps me in my life, but I recognise that we all prefer to do things in different ways.

If you’re very happy with your current non-weekly planning process, I’m delighted! However, if you feel like things could work a bit better here and there, then, as I always tell my coaching clients, test it and see. At the most, you’ve had two weeks that were more structured and a learning that the exact way you did it wasn’t optimal for you. But who knows? The opposite is also true – you might love something and never stop doing it (menu planning for me the last 15 years).

If you do decide you want to play with weekly planning, here are some ideas you can try planning:

  • meals (supper, or all meals) for 5 or 7 days – put down some ideas and pick from your list every day
  • exercise days – my gym requires that we book our classes to avoid capacity issues
  • connection time with family and friends
  • personal goals – like reading a book or working on your photos
  • house goals – organising your clothes
  • work/ side hustle projects

Please note all of these are just ideas – the thought of doing all of that might overwhelm you. Don’t let it. Pick what you want and leave the rest.

I know that Laura Vanderkam recommends one goal in three areas every week: work, personal, and relationships.

If you don’t like those three categories, choose your own 😉

Who’s ready to try weekly planning? Which categories are important to you?

Other posts on weekly planning:

{Mindset} Establish your personal policies, or decide once

A few months ago on the Happier with Gretchen Rubin podcast (episode 296 – 21 October 2020), one of the topics was about establishing a personal policy. I loved this podcast episode because it was a reminder to me that

  • I have personal policies
  • I’m happier when I heed them
  • We all have some things we do that make sense to us

It reminded me of the Lazy Genius, Kendra Adachi’s book, The Lazy Genius Way, which I read and loved last year.

One of her principles is to Decide Once.

Decide once is setting a personal policy.

In Lazy Genius language, I decided once that I don’t attend baby showers so it’s an easy decision when I receive an invite to politely decline the invite.

About a month ago, Kendra put up a post inviting people to post how they decide once. The 1744 comments are GOLD. A couple that I love are:

one lady does all phone calls on Thursday mornings only. Genius – you don’t have to have phone dread because you know you’ll take care of things on Thursdays.

another lady changes her contact lenses every time she gets her monthlies so she doesn’t have to remember.

some people have the same gift they give to teachers or for new baby gifts.

The reason I like personal policies is because I love boundaries.

I like people boundaries and I like things boundaries.

Some people boundaries:

  • I don’t attend baby showers. I buy a gift but I hate all the ladies playing silly games (at least that’s how it goes around here).
  • During Covid, I will only meet up with people outside. All book clubs are outside or on Zoom, and when people have come over, we’re outside too.
  • My kids can only have playdates on Friday afternoons. It’s a set time for them so they don’t have to ask continually “can X come over?” They know Friday is the day and arrange their schedules accordingly.

Some things boundaries:

  • If something doesn’t fit in the space, it’s time to declutter until the things fit comfortably again.
  • I decided once what I wanted to save every month, set up an automatic payment and I don’t have to think about it again. When my salary increases, I increase the payment a bit, but that’s the extent of my thinking about money.
  • I have a standard bring-along to a meal if we are invited over to friends. I say, “I’ll bring a chicken” and I bring a rotisserie chicken from a nearby bakery. I also get them to cut it up for me so it’s easy to just arrange on a platter.

Over to you:

Can you name some of your personal policies?

If you honestly don’t have any, where could you incorporate a couple to make your life run more smoothly?

{planning} Let’s do our quarterly planning together

Here we stand at the start of a new, fresh, shiny quarter. If 2021 didn’t start as you wanted, you can let the first quarter go with all the expectations you had for it and just dive into this new quarter.

I spoke before about how and why I love quarterly planning.

Last quarter (Jan – March) I did my quarterly planning but I kept it in my bullet journal. That was…okay, but more inconvenient as I kept having to flip back and forth in the bullet journal to find my list.

This time I decided to write out my list as I did last year but I would then stick it up on the cupboard door in my study (where I now spend 90% of my time!) so I can see it all the time and take action.

And that’s exactly what I did.

Some things I want to do this quarter:

  1. play more (I’m doing Superhero Photo again – it’s a photo course I did about 8 years ago – I saved the emails and am working through them again)
  2. plan next quarter’s holiday and hopefully a mini-break at the end of the month as it’s our anniversary
  3. get some inexpensive but effective stuff done in the house (paint my downstairs)
  4. do some once-off coaching sessions (see more below)
  5. see more friends than I did last quarter

Now over to you.

What went well last quarter? Can you replicate it again this quarter? What did you specifically do or which things were in place helping you have that success?

What do you want to do differently this quarter? Are you using your tendency to help you get those things done? If you’re not sure how, book your 75-minute Four Tendencies coaching session with me for $75. If you’ve come on one of my workshops, you get $20 off. Paypal me and let’s get your session scheduled. I can’t wait to coach you.

{goals} My quarterly goals update

Gosh, we’re one week out from the end of March which means it’s time to review our quarterly goals and set some new ones.

First , a review in case you missed it earlier on the blog:

Quarterly planning
Monthly planning

What went well for me this quarter?

  1. Exercise – regularly doing Zumba twice weekly and my Barre class started up again mid-Feb
  2. My #read21in2021 is going so well. I just set the timer, pick up my non-fiction book and read. I’ve finished nearly 8 books already this quarter (my goal was 6)
  3. House projects – the bathroom reno, fumigator has been, window cleaners are booked for Monday (this is one of those things that people don’t mention when you buy a house on a hill) and we’ve ordered a canvas for our stairwell. 

What could be improved?

  1. I’m still working on setting better boundaries around work
  2. Need to book next holiday so we have something to look forward to
  3. Friend stuff – I can’t build connections via text or whatsapp. I’m phone burnt out 😮 and need to speak on a real phone or look people in the eyes and not via a screen.

How are your quarterly goals looking?

Why don’t you join me and set aside some time in the next week to jot down some goals for the next quarter?

{work with Marcia} Book your time makeover session now

If one of your goals for 2021 is to get your time sorted, give yourself the gift of a time makeover session.

Use our time together to get ideas and motivation to…

  • break out of overwhelm
  • calm down and get clear on your priorities
  • put an action plan in place to get things back under control
  • practical tips to be more productive (if that’s what you want)
  • challenge your mindset… gently but firmly
  • if you run a business, to maximise your time so you don’t need to work crazy hours

Book a 30- or 60-minute session, whichever best suits your budget. I’ll send you the prep pack and we’ll get your session scheduled.

Read testimonials here and contact me when you’d like to get your session booked.

{planning} 6 important things about monthly planning

Even if you’re not a goal-setter, monthly planning is a good way to start adding some structure to your life.

Why

You can plan your month such that events within your control are spread throughout the weeks.

You can find your optimum busy rhythm.

You can plan things like birthday presents and reserving book club books in advance.

When

I do my monthly planning either on the last day of the month (if I finish my goals review early) or otherwise on the first day of the month. I don’t feel late as I’ve glanced over the first few days to make sure nothing will fall through the cracks.

How

1. Add anchor events first (these are things that are already due to happen)

  1. Birthdays – do you need to buy a present, send a card or arrange to take someone for lunch or supper? Make a note of these action items.
  2. Socials – add in any fixed friend dates you may have, like a monthly book club, family get-togethers with extended family, or a standing tea or lunch with a friend. Do you have any action items you need to make a note of? E.g. do you need to buy the book club book or borrow it from the library?
  3. Any other anchor events – work meetings that might bleed into personal time, etc. I add my coaching client appointments here. Pre-covid, this is when I’d add all my business travel too as it would mean I’d need to get to bed early for early flights the next day.

2. Add in all the want-tos

  1. Exercise – if you’re a daily exerciser, this might be useless step but most people aren’t daily exercisers and need to plan out of the house time with spouses.
  2. Courses, workshops –it’s easy to schedule if it’s a once-off session. But what if it’s a self-paced course like my Discover Yourself course? When I sign up to an online course or workshop, I schedule time every week to make progress otherwise it’ll never get done. If you’ve purchased a course, have you actually done it? You might need to block out time once a week for an hour or two to work through the content.
  3. Catch-ups with friends – these are non-monthly standing appointments but you would like to arrange this time together.

3. Evaluate and answer these questions honestly

(you might not have a true idea when you first start but you’ll get better as you go along)

  1. Do your weeks look too busy?
  2. Are there some of those want-to items that would do better for you to move to another week instead?

4. Review your goals and add what you can to your non-busy weeks

Skip if you haven’t set any goals BUT I call goals anything you want to get done.

I set goals in 7 categories and for the purposes of this post, I’ll share the three goals I set in the Finance/ House category for March.

  1. Fumigator
  2. Make waterproofing decisions (the quote is way too much but I asked them to break down all the work into the 3 areas so we can do it in stages)
  3. Send canvas pic to my printer

My style is to put all 3 of these onto a house list and do the research and send out the emails all on one evening. An ideal evening would be after a vigorous exercise session like Zumba since I’ll be too tired to do anything else.

I should also write every week for my blog/ newsletter or if I’m creating a course. I usually have a night for writing every week and I like to couple that with something else computer-y like updating my budget or editing photos, etc.

5. Maintain and evaluate as you go through the month

As the weeks pass, notice how you feel at the end of each week.

Was the week too busy even though you thought it might be doable?

6. Speaking of energy…

I don’t like more than two evenings out (even if it’s at the gym) during the work week but I don’t feel it that much if those evenings are spread out – like a Monday and a Thursday. This is something I noticed while evaluating my weeks. I also don’t mind a Barre and Zumba class one night after the other, but I wouldn’t like two Zumba classes on subsequent evenings (too heavy on my body), or two coaching evenings in a row.

Do you need to change the order in which you plan according to your energy?

Do you do monthly planning? Is there anything else you add that helps you?

I work with clients in 30- or 60-minute time management sessions and show them how to translate their goals to quarterly, monthly and weekly action steps. We talk about the best method to get things done for their own personality type – there is “no once size fits all” approach. Send me an email and let’s schedule your session.

{time} What sparks joy with your time?

It’s important to me to regularly take stock so that I remain intentional about the choices I make around how to spend my time.

In Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (you can read about the physical aspects of tidying by clicking the button on the sidebar —–>>), she says that once your physical space is tidied, you start thinking through bigger issues in your life.

I found this true for me too as in 2014 I completed my tidying journey and after it was done, I started a new job and in 2015 I had a really transformative personal year, the year of enough.

Once you complete your physical spaces, you’ve trained your mind so you start thinking about each part of your life and whether it still sparks joy.

Today I’d like to talk more about sparking joy with your time.

At Work

Think about the various parts of your workday/ week/ month/ quarter/ year. Which parts spark joy and which don’t?

I remember when I first did this exercise and noted down that there was a part of my job that I hated. When I drilled down and asked why, it was because of the type of client and the type of work I was doing for that client. Now the client wasn’t going anywhere and neither was I, so I had a conversation with this client where we brainstormed how we could change things for the better. Another meeting or two and while things weren’t sparking joy, there was no longer the extreme dread and boredom.

Now let’s talk about sparking joy.

Which parts of your work spark joy? Sometimes we don’t get to do these parts as often as we’d like but if we have the awareness, we can start to create time to do more of what brings us joy.

I identified that for me, I need to feel like I’m contributing by being creative with products, solutions, etc. but not by myself, in collaboration with my clients. A good day will have at least one such interaction so I try and arrange my week so I have multiple days of collaborating with clients because those sessions energise me most.

Over to you.

What sparks joy for you at work? What drains you at work? How can you add more of the first and reduce the second?

In your personal life

What sparks joy with your personal time?

I’ve heard from so many people during the pandemic that they will not be automatically signing up their kids to so many activities once life returns to normal. It turns out that rushing from one activity to the next on the weekend does not spark joy.

Does it spark joy for you to spend time with family? Or connecting with friends? Does it spark joy for you to be in service to others, like serving at a soup kitchen or volunteering at an orphanage?

And what about time by yourself? Does it spark joy for you to do hobbies when you’re by yourself, to journal, to spend time in nature, to clean or organise, or to exercise?

I’ve shared many times that the perfect ratio of personal time for me is out and about (by myself doing Zumba, spending time with friends or family, or running a few errands), getting stuff done (cooking, organising, cleaning or pottering) and relaxing (reading, playing with my photos and very rarely, watching a show for an hour). When my time is too full of one section, I feel frustrated but the perfect weekend is a blend of all three.

What sparks joy for you with your personal time? I’d love to hear in the comments!

{mindset} Do you have any extra in your tank?

Let’s talk about reserves.

Reserves is a term that simply means you have a store or buffer of time, energy or money as a safety net or a back-up plan in your life. Imagine these two scenarios… you get invited to a Zoom/ Teams meeting and are told that you’re being let go. Any change is a bit scary but if you know that you have absolutely no savings, no plan and no support, this will be a terrifying time for you! On the other hand, if you know that you have a couple of month’s worth of expense money in your savings account, your CV/ resume is current and ready to be sent out, and you have a good network to draw on, you will feel less terrified, maybe even somewhat confident in tackling this challenge in your life.

I speak to many people who say that they just don’t have enough time to do something that will make a big impact on their lives. Or they’re too tired or too drained to do something that they will really enjoy. If you have reserves in your life, aren’t you more likely to feel content, at peace, and also able to tackle anything? If you don’t have reserves, however, you probably will feel anxious, worried and afraid. Challenges like the example above will also feel worse if you don’t have health and stress reserves built up.

Having reserves means that you have enough at any given moment. This is freedom because it means you can make choices without having a lack of something – usually time or money – dictate how your decisions should be made. You also need a reserve of space, whether emotional or physical, to fulfil your dreams or, very basically, to do things that make you feel more like you.

How can you create the life you want if you don’t give yourself any space and time to do so? Time reserves mean that you don’t jam-pack your schedule so that you can say yes to connection with others or to your own pursuits. During this pandemic, I’ve spoken to many people who have said things like “I don’t think we’ll ever go back to all the activities again”. They have tasted time freedom and it feels amazing. We will talk more about time in next month’s article (I can’t wait! Send me questions you want me to talk about).

I also want to emphasise the physical aspects – stress and health. Almost everything feels doable if you’re in good health and you don’t feel stressed. If you don’t take care of your health and manage your stress, your body will start talking to you in the form of disturbed sleep and other physical ailments.

Once you’ve completed the worksheet, you’ll probably start to see a pattern that explains some things in your life. If I had completed this worksheet 10 months ago, I would have had very few yes answers in areas like health and stress. This also explained why I was so frazzled and crazy during early lockdown. I’m not making excuses – I’m just explaining that there’s always a reason why a particular area (s) of your life doesn’t seem to be working. I know you’ll all agree that it’s far nicer to feel content, fulfilled, satisfied and at peace than irritated and miserable.

I made a printable for you – the creating reserves worksheet – and you can download it here.

Tag me on Instagram @OrganisingQueen when you complete it while enjoying a lovely hot/ cold drink – I LOVE seeing your tags!

{planning} The joy of quarterly planning

I’ve been an annual planner for the last 25 years. Until last year and the lockdown. I felt quite despondent and hopeless until Gretchen Rubin suggested making a 19 for Covid-19 list. After I made my first one for 3 months and saw how well it worked for lockdown, I just kept making a new list every 3 months.

Annual planning

  1. You do the planning properly once and then you just implement.
  2. Because you have the long-term view, you tend to take seasonal fluctuations into account, e.g. you might want to take 2 – 3 holidays a year – one in autumn, one in spring and one at Christmas.
  3. It will take longer as you consider the entire 12 months.

Quarterly planning

  1. Because you’re only planning for 3 months, it’s often easier to do because the planning is for a shorter time.
  2. If you no longer want to do something or if something is not working, you can change your goals and planning for the next quarter. Yes, you can do this for annual planning but we often don’t. The mere fact that the planning is only for 3 months changes your mindset about sticking to something you’re not enjoying.
  3. Useful in these pandemic times where things change quickly (lockdown levels) and where we might need a change.

My quarterly planning process

Last year, I just wrote down 19 – 20 things willy-nilly the first time I did my quarterly planning, but the next two times, I wrote down goals in the main 7 areas of my life.

The more structured approach worked well for me so that is how I will continue to do things this year. Do the same if you like a bit of structure or just go wild and write down some things. I do suggest at least having one or two goals in each of the work, home and personal/ relationships category.

I make a mindmap on a page in my bullet journal, put branches for the various areas – family, friends, health and fitness, house/ finances, work (day job) and OrganisingQueen (night job – ha!) and play/ fun (my word of the year). Any of my planning (even for this blog post!) starts with a mindmap.

Hint – I like a branch for my word of the year so that I put concrete goals to make my word alive for me.

Do you think you’ll give quarterly planning a try? What are your categories?

PS I talked more about quarterly and seasonal goals here.

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