What are your money standards?

I shared last time that I am on a money kick since I subscribed to The Broke Generation podcast at the end of last year. I am not a millenial and do not define myself as broke – but I love the mindset and behavioural economics stuff she talks about.

Then I read that book in April and re-activated by 22Seven account (it’s an app!).

All this means that my money consciousness is raised. I also have my annual meetings with my non-life and life financial advisors (which I dread at first and then I’m happy to have it over with for another year!) coming up in the next week.

What are money standards and why should we know what ours are?

Emma Edwards says that money standards are “the standards you’re living by with your own personal finances. The habits we engage with create standards that we live by, and interrogating these standards can help us get out of our own way and start living to our full potential”

I see it as the rules I’ve set for my money.

1. I never complain about the price of petrol.

It’s a common thing in South Africa (might be all over) for people to complain about the price of petrol. They hike up the price on the first Wednesday of every month and on that Tuesday evening after work, many people drive by the petrol station to fill up on the old price.

Two things happened for me:

  1. One such month I drove by, saw a long queue of cars, and decided that my time is worth more than waiting to fill up my car. When I got home, I calculated what the difference would be and it was somewhere between R20 and R30 overall for that tank of petrol. My time is worth more than that so I’ve happily told myself ever since that I can fill up my car whenever I want. (granted, petrol is way, way more expensive now)
  2. We went to Ireland in 2008 and even back then, 16 years ago, petrol already cost R25 per litre. I decided right there and then that I would never complain about the petrol price again.

What does this do? It makes me grateful for the ability to fill my tank (and that I have a car!) and doesn’t make me feel frantic on that Tuesday before the petrol price is due to increase.

2. I don’t mix old money with new money

For some reason, when I explain this concept to people, they find it hilarious but in my head it makes sense.

Old money = money from the old salary
New money = money from the new salary

I get paid on the 25th of each month and ideally, on the 24th, I would recon my budgets, and move any “old money” that is left over into my savings account. Of course, life is busy so this never happens exactly on the 24th except maybe once or twice a year, when the 24th falls on a weekend.

What actually happens in practice is that recon still takes place and everything gets nicely tied up before I start spending the new money.

What does this do? It forces me to face facts every month – have I overspent in one area? am I underbudgeting for some categories? (Recently I realised that the app was telling me I’m overspending my eating out budget so I had to think it through properly because I like to take people out for lunch/ supper for their birthdays – might as well admit it to myself with an appropriately-sized budget). It also forces me to make every R do something in my budget. Now this feels rigid for many people but it works for my brain.

3. I don’t “do” sale racks (physical or virtual).

This is a slippery slope because it’s very easy to convince yourself that something is perfect for you or you absolutely need it just because it’s on sale. I love saving money as much as the next person so I started telling myself these two statements:

  1. would you buy it at full price? Most times the answer is no and then I’m happy to leave it. Sometimes if the answer is genuinely yes, then I have a few other questions – is it the correct size? does it make me feel good? – before I might buy it.
  2. you can afford to buy it at full price later if you still want it. Hot tip – I don’t want half the stuff I think I want in the moment as time passes.

What does this do?

Well, because of my little bonus here – I don’t rummage through physical sales racks, the ones stuffed to the gills with things they need to get rid of – I save a lot of money and time.

Now please tell me, what are your money standards?

Work habits and routines: monthly, weekly and daily

I shared some stories on my Instagram highlights many years ago (certainly, pre-pandemic) that still get comments and questions regularly. I’m not sure what to make of that – is it strange? is it helpful? – either way, I want to write it all down here too.

I have a few things I do as part of my work – some of these will not apply to everyone, but if it strikes a chord, do try them out and let me know how it goes with you.

Our performance discussions happen at the end of each financial year. I like having this set time to reflect and think about what’s working, what’s not, and where I need to change things. It is also fun/ scary because the budget resets to R0 so we have to start putting money on that income statement all over again.

At this time I also think about some broad goals I want to set for myself and my team for the year ahead. I hold these goals loosely because things sometimes change quickly.

However, from these goals and projects, I set monthly goals. I also do a review of the month that’s passed. Yes, exactly like I do in my personal life.

My work goals are much more out of my control than my personal goals are, because I’m largely dependent on my team. Still, they are there – I like to at least know which direction we’re steering in and where I need to put more effort.

Now for the parts that most of you will actually find more interesting 😉

Weekly rhythms

I firmly believe that a good week starts before the week actually begins.

That means I plan my week on a Friday afternoon.

  1. I look at the week that’s been and wind up any matters that need attention. This is not always possible as some things may need to move to the following week.
  2. I write a ta-da list. It is rare but it does sometimes happen that all that is on that list is “I survived”. Mostly I can think of a few things that went well.
  3. I add in focus time if I haven’t already done so.
  4. I check for upcoming meetings – do I have everything I need to run them? I might have to prompt people, put in prep time or complete a piece of work.
  5. I write my “goals for the week” list – these are things that must move along. The things I work on are not one to two step projects so are hardly things I can complete in a week, but I at least want to move things forward every week. Sometimes there’s a work event like a client lunch or workshop. I think about what I want to get out of these events and write a loose plan.
  6. Lastly, I write my to-do list for Monday (or Tuesday, if Monday is a public holiday or I’m on leave)

Daily

  1. I love the idea of using your actual calendar and rewriting it so that you feel with your body if there is actually space for all the things you want to get done. For example, if I have 7 hours of meetings, probably nothing else is going to get done, so I don’t even add anything.
  2. Some days, usually on my work-from-home days, I block out focus time in the morning and take meetings from 11 onwards. For these days, I write my “frogs” right at the top of my list. These are the top 3 tasks for that day.
  3. The bottom line is: I rewrite all my meetings in my notebook and if time allows, I write 3 things that need to get done.
  4. I almost never (I started saying never, and then I realised that on Friday, I had a splitting headache so didn’t do my full routine for Monday) end one day without having a to-do list written for the next day.

Do you do monthly, weekly and daily planning as part of your work habits? Share all your tips 🙂

(Next time we’ll talk about other habits which I am worse at than planning! For some reason, 4 years after lockdown, I still haven’t developed good in-office work habits)

Raising your money consciousness… with the 3 As

A little preamble before we start…

1. I stumbled upon an instagram account late last year; I don’t even remember her name but it was a very young girl in the UK (max 26 years old) who was a budget-influencer. Can we call them that? She inspires people to be wise with their money.

Anyway, as you do (as I do!), I went solidly down a two-hour rabbit hole reading everything she’d posted and watching plenty of her reels. In one of them she suggested a few money podcasts that had some year-end reflections.

2. I love end-of-year reflections so I popped over to Apple Podcasts, downloaded all four of them and basically listened to less than 5 minutes of them all before deleting except for The Broke Generation by Emma Edwards. I love her breezy, very practical way of looking at money and it absolutely helps that she’s a British woman now living in Australia, which always feels like a sister to South Africa.

3. I also read a fantastic book in one sitting on 1 April that my husband was decluttering (without reading!) called Manage your money like a f*cking grownup. Yes, it is a bit sweary but more for effect here and there – I didn’t let that put me off at all because the book was fantastic.

4. In the book, I was reminded of 22Seven, an app that helps you track your spending, manage your money and identify gaps. I was on it about 10 years ago and then I stopped (it was still a website when I used it) and now it is even more fabulous. It has the most beautiful dashboard and you can generate reports. Very exciting for nerdy people like me. It had huge changes in my life way back when and I’m also gaining valuable insights this time around.

All of these things happening in such close proximity has made me be very conscious about money, for good and bad.

So where do we go from here?

There are three parts to raising your money consciousness and here is where I’d like you to join me:

Awareness

Are you happy with how you’re treating your money? To quote Suze Orman from the early aughts, if you treat your money with respect, money will flow to you. Do you know your numbers – how much you bring in, what your monthly expenses are, and what’s in your savings account? Do you know if your retirement account is red, amber or green? Are there some bits you’re avoiding in the hope they just go away? (they’re not)

Analysis

Here’s where you’re honest with yourself. Actually go look at your payslip, bank account (s), statements and start making notes. Do you know what each item means and why you have it there?

Then go deeper. What’s making you feel squeamish? Where do you need to do some work around money? When you find yourself reacting in a weird way, ask yourself, what’s really going on here?

I shared one such incident with a colleague recently – my husband asked if he could take my car somewhere far and I barked out a few sentences and then realised, hey, something’s going on. I honestly don’t mind anyone (licenced) driving my car so what was going on? It was a “filling up of petrol” trigger – not even the price of petrol, but the whole schlep of detouring from my route, doing the whole oil/ water/ tyres check. All that. We’re sorted now – we’ve agreed that he also has to do it once a month so I still do the chore the exact same amount of times (once!).

Action

Then you take action on all the steps you’ve identified. This is a work in progress because just the awareness step results in about 5 action steps. E.g. I knew what I earned but I had to recheck exactly what the monthly outgo was. 22Seven also told me what my top 5 spends every month are. I was horrified when I saw exactly how much “non-grocery grocery spending I was doing”.

That’s enough for now – more in two weeks time.

For now, how is your awareness of your money?

If you haven’t done any analysis in a while, I highly recommend an hour or two (don’t say you don’t have time; most people spend 4 – 5 hours on social media every DAY) where you objectively look at your numbers and maybe start taking additional action.

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?

11. Listen to more music

This is an entry from my #24in2024 goals list.

For some people, it might be confusing that I put on my goals list to listen to more music. However, for nearly the last 10 years I’ve been listening to podcasts and audiobooks in my car, and the only music I’ve heard is either in my Zumba class or while watching on Instagram stories.

Also, while writing, as I’m doing now. For that, I play classical music, either a mix or something specific (today I’m listening to Aja Gabel’s The Ensemble soundtrack on Spotify – I highly recommend the book, by the way, I’ve read it twice and it’s a 5-star read)

I’m currently listening to Jessica Simpson’s Open Book now (I should finish tomorrow while driving to work) and I have never heard a Jessica Simpson song. Or a John Mayer track. Or a Nick Lachey song. That’s how limited my musical knowledge is.

To be fair, this doesn’t bother me much because I know what I like.

Occasionally when the Zumba instructor uses new music, I LOVE it. Or when I hear some 80s music in a shop (is it me or do most shops not play music anymore?!), it puts me in a really good mood.

So going into 2024, I thought I need to listen to more music. It was also on the back of Christmas season, which has been the only regular time I’ve listened to albums and songs every year.

All of that is my why.

Spotify also started playing way more ads and so I signed up properly so I could enjoy the Christmas music instead of only enjoying every 2 – 3 songs.

They do their jobs so well and suggest such good mixes where I like every single one of the songs so I signed up and it feels like R65 of happiness every month when the money leaves my credit card. I can’t say the same for every subscription!

I now listen to music, even just a song or two, if I need to destress immediately after leaving work before settling into my audiobook. I listen while cooking most nights. And I follow little prompts of delight – if I hear something that triggers a chord or a snippet of a song, I search for the familiar song or the new one and I just follow those breadcrumbs.

The other morning, a new Zumba instructor played Hey What’s Going On as we cooled down and he stopped the music right at the chorus before the good part. Another lady and I turned to each other and kept on singing. Such a fun moment and… I immediately searched and added that song to my playlists.

The bottom line is I could cross off that item now after two and a half months and be happy with the progress.

Have you added any items of whimsy to your list?

Do tell all – I’d love to hear.

The notion of a ta-da list… and why you need one

I first heard the concept of a ta-da list from Gretchen Rubin many years ago and I loved it so much I embedded it into my work life immediately.

If you check my Instagram highlights on OrganisingQueen around work habits (280 weeks ago!), you’ll see that at the end of every week, I write a ta-da list, a goals for the week list and a to-do list for Monday (or Tuesday, if Monday’s a public holiday).

I might write more in detail about my work habits if anyone is interested – let me know!

For now, I want to talk about starting an annual ta-da list at this point in the year, and why that’s a clever thing to do.

I think it stemmed from how, at the end of the year, when I’ve read over 100 books, I feel like I need to work through the months to find my favourites for a list (this is entirely self-imposed, of course). Crazy! I can barely remember the characters from a book I’ve read two weeks ago, so how am I supposed to remember something I read in January.

Enter… the monthly reading favourites.

In 2023 I started, as part of my monthly reading wrap-up (this is a whole thing and brings me a great deal of joy), making a note of the books that were stand-out favourites to me that month.

This is harder than you may think because at this point in my reading life I know exactly what I like to read, and have averaged a rating of 4* or higher (out of 5) for the last 5 – 6 years.

At the end of 2023, it was so much easier to look at the list of 30 books (non-fiction and fiction) and quickly decide which were my favourite favourites. It’s also good to remember those books from January and February that I may have forgotten due to my own end-of-year obsession with recent favourites.

I’m now proposing that we all use this same concept for our ta-da lists.

A ta-da list is a list of the things that you got done or want to celebrate. Like “went to gym 8 times this month” or “got my mammogram done” or “made my eye appointment” or “finally decluttered all the papers in my desk drawer”. Get it?

If you set goals, you might set 10. And maybe you get 5 done. BUT what we don’t often factor in is that other things popped up and you attended to those things instead. 

On my own ta-da list… “sorted out ceiling in kids’ bathroom”. This was NOT on my goals or my house to-do list (way too boring!), but it looked like it was sagging and it needed to be sorted out. So it went on my ta-da list at the end of January. 

Sometimes the ta-da list isn’t “instagram worthy” – that ceiling certainly isn’t and neither is making an appointment to see the doctor to discuss blood results, but it is important and you and I deserve our gold stars for getting those things done. 

What will the monthly ta-da list accomplish?

  1. You will remember what you want to note down or celebrate. After all, you only have a month to remember and your phone photos and calendar will help you do just that.
  2. You won’t fall prey to recency bias at the end of the year where you only remember the last month or two. Top tip – usually it feels like the year was terrible if we evaluate at the end of the year because we are all tired and cranky amd most of our good habits have fallen by the wayside.
  3. Your motivation will increase throughout the year as you start building up your portfolio of positive evidence that you are a goal getter and are accomplishing good things.

Have you started your ta-da list yet? Where does it make the best sense to keep it – in your diary as I’m doing or a note in your phone?

How I track my annual goals

A few weeks ago I wrote about the many different types of goals you could put on your #24in2024 list. When I shared my end-of-year #23in2023 list on Instagram, I had a lot of questions as to how I do my tracking.

Here’s how I do it:

There are once-off items and there are monthly/ weekly/ quarterly items. Or maybe even items with known multiple steps, like take 3 family holidays.

I have a spreadsheet where I keep a list of my goals. Here is a snippet of the bottom of the 2023 sheet.

20 Apply for passport 1.00
21 Listen to one month of Let’s read the gospels podcast 1
22 Keep up with my Project Life 0.75
23 Write a monthly blog and newsletter 0.42
19.53 89%

 

  • I like to colour-code my goals into a few separate categories – health, family, house, work and fun. You could have different categories depending on what’s important to you in a particular year.
  • I set up the spreadsheet with formulae for the items that need completion more often than just once. E.g. Apply for passport involved multiple steps but once I had my visit at the bank, I was done. I earned 1 solid mark.
  • The same with listening to the podcast. Once I finished the 31 days of listening, I was done. Another mark.
  • However, for an item like “keep up with project life”, that is a 12-step goal. Every month I completed it, I earned 1/12 or 0.08. If I did it the following month, I changed it to 2/12 which added another 0.08 to the total.
  • For quarterly items, it’s 1/4 until done… or not, as the case may be. And so on.
  • You’ll realise a few things now – too many monthly goals means that you’re inching your way through, only 0.08 every month. This is why I suggest that you have a few once-off goals so when they’re done, they are done. Instant motivation.
  • In the example above, I did Project Life for 9 out of 12 months (I abandoned it at that point as my album was done and I’m not pursuing it again this year). I wrote a monthly newsletter 5 times.

Now that we’ve talked about the how, I want to address the most important part of this post, the why.

In an ideal world that is full of fantasy, you’d end up with 23 or 24 goals achieved (for this year) and a 100% score. However, life is complicated and things happen, so this system I use allows you to see the progress you’ve made instead of what didn’t get done. In James Clear’s language, you’re voting for the type of person you are (a goal getter) instead of only focussing on whether the goal was achieved or not.

If I didn’t do things this carefully, I’d just end the year and say “no, I didn’t write a monthly newsletter” or “no, I didn’t finish project life” but my way, I can say I did it for 5 or 9 months of the year, which all counts.

Does this method of tracking resonate with you? Will you try using it for your 2024 goals?

A life in rhythm vs a balanced life

One of my goals for this year is to (finally) finish reading the 10 physical books on my actual bookshelf – this one.

rainbow bookshelf

Therefore I need to be reading about two books a month to be done by the end of June. I had the goal set for the end of April but I realised that end of June is more realistic as I only have 2 – 3 slowish mornings a week to read, not the 7 I had in 2020 and 2021 when I read, in bed, every morning, without fail.

In January I finished Ikigai and Your Life in Rhythm.

Let’s talk about your life in rhythm by Bruce Miller

The part I loved the most talks about seasonal rhythms. These are both strict seasons like autumn and winter and also “the season of being an empty nester or new parent” or “the season of going into year-end or budgeting season. Accountants feel the end of tax season to a greater effect than those who are not in a finance field.

I was then inspired to use my own Let’s Do This workbook to note down what happens in my life seasonally.

Quarterly rhythms

birthday season – all four of us celebrate our birthdays in less than a month, my mother’s one is in that same month and my mother-in-law is less than a month earlier. Not exactly sure why but I also seem to have a lot of friends who also celebrate their birthdays in July and early August. This is probably why I do “birthday month” – it takes some of the pressure off me to “celebrate” and also it’s nicer to have friend dates to look forward to the whole of August.

actual winter – as long-time readers know, I love winter and my own rhythms also change then. I leave work earlier as I don’t like driving during loadshedding when it’s dark outside. I sleep more, easily a solid 7h30 on average daily (just checked my Fitbit stats and from June to Aug last year, I averaged 7h38 last year and 7h46 in 2022). We also usually take a beach holiday in winter which I love.

happy Marcia on a beach holiday in winter

other quarterly cycles – swopping my clothes around (this happens twice a year, once in April and then in around October), spring cleaning (September and December/ January are the big ones), beginning of the school year (the big fitting on and replacing of school shoes, clothes and takkies, and of course, buying all the school books).

Weekly rhythms

I’ve always found it helpful to think of my life in a weekly rather than a daily rhythm. Thinking daily makes me feel like I’m always behind but in a week, I feel like I generally get to what I want to do.

What are some of your weekly rhythms?

Well, there are things you do during the week (like work and your kids go to school) and then there are weekend things.

It’s helpful to think about what you like to get done and see where in the week that might fit.

Exercise

I like to have three sessions a week, at least two of them cardio. I realised when I did my January review that in trying to incorporate more stretch classes, I was robbing myself of cardio because I still only have those 3 sessions available every week. (More on this in my next newsletter) At least I realised this quickly.

Big chunks of reading

I read “bits” every day – 20 – 30 mins in the morning and about the same at night, and on the days I drive into the office, I have another 90 minutes of a fiction audiobook.

I also like what I call a big chunk of reading on the weekend, 3 – 4 glorious hours to immerse myself in a book. That is not going to just happen, so my preferred rhythm is a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.

Household maintenance

I also menu plan after looking through the freezer (e.g. we are going to have a lot of chicken this week because there is too much in the freezer), update the shopping list and cook something in batch, most weeks.

I also like to tidy my bedroom and bathroom on the weekend to reset for the week ahead. No, the world will not fall apart if this is not done, but my brain is calmer if it is. #outerorderinnercalm

winter is the prettiest… especially framed by red cars

What I need to work on

Personal monthly rhythms

I am great with doing a goals review every month, updating my spreadsheets and setting goals for the new month. Here’s a post where I put it all together for you.

However, I never take into account my female cycles (and I should, because it does affect my energy levels and what I can do that week). I also want to start setting up regular maintenance days for colouring my hair. I’ve been winging it and do when it looks really bad but it would be nice to be a grown-up and actually schedule a regular weekend for “upkeep”.

If you want to rethink your goals and rhythms to take the seasons into account, use page 8 in my workbook:  Let’s Do This 2023 workbook (it’s free).

Which rhythms are easier for you, and which are more difficult? Annual, quarterly, monthly, weekly or daily?

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