The week that was… weekly reflections 14

Happy Easter!

a corner of my garden
  • In South Africa, we have four four-day weeks in April and May due to Easter, Freedom Day and Workers Day. This year, those four weeks follow one another which means two things:
  1. long weekends!
  2. work is squished into four days instead of five!

(instead of 20 days to do the work, we now have 16!)

  • I already felt this pressure this week but reminded myself that my self-imposed to-do list (#upholder) doesn’t make sense in a 4-day week and some things would just have to wait for next week.
  • We have started loadshedding again which is never a problem if they keep to the scheduled times as we can then prepare. But with all the rains and cold, it is just not the best time. I always think of people who don’t have enough clothes or blankets and my heart breaks. If you’re local, throw a blanket or two, an old coat or jacket, scarf, cap into your car and be on the lookout for people who need extra warm clothes as you drive around your city.
  • Have you seen the footage of the KZN floods? Devastating to think about all those people who have lost their lives and houses.
  • We also had Parents Evening this week which was madness. Queues of parents wanting to speak to each teacher. Eventually we decided who we definitely wanted to see, saw those teachers and left without seeing the rest.
  • This week I finished Perfect Tunes by Emily Gould, Never tell a lie by Gail Schimmel, and God spare the girls by Kelsey McKinney. They were all solid 4* and higher books, but I think Never tell a lie will have the most universal appeal. What are you reading?

Hope you have a lovely week!

2022 word of the year update – Q1

This year I chose a main word, delight, and two supporting words – balance and rest.

I’ve spoken enough about rest – how it wasn’t working and how I’m doing a reset.

But for now, let’s talk about the other two words.

I chose balance so that I would not work all the hours of every day and that my life would look more balanced. As my coaching client said so beautifully last year, I can enjoy my work without being consumed by it.

I set some specific actions for myself every week and month, and I’ve been sticking to them (#upholder). The other key thing is that I’m tracking my time. And yes, I ended the quarter on target for my work hours goal – yay!

As for delight, it has been just the thing to get me searching for moments of happiness on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.

I set goals every month and some of them have to answer the question, “what can I do this month to bring more delight into my life?

  1. If I feel lazy about going to take the picture, I remind myself, “delight!” and go do it.
  2. If someone invites me to have a quick coffee or tea at the office, even though my to-do list is always long, I remind myself, “delight” and say yes.
  3. If I have a choice between two books, I ask myself, “what will delight me more at this time?” and choose that one.

I listened to three delightful audiobooks this quarter too and can I just put forward the case that if you enjoyed a book the first time round, you are going to probably love it even more on audio if the narration is good. The three books are Mary Jane, Daisy Jones and the Six, and Rachel’s Holiday.

And that’s my word of the year update!

How has your word of the year been working for you? Do you need a reset on your word? Do you need ideas to keep your word top of mind?

The week that was…weekly reflections 13

  • I know this means exactly nothing to anyone else but I broke my 12-week writing streak. I only remembered on Wednesday when I saw my pre-written post publish. How is this possible? I think it’s because we went to in-person church and then to buy winter school clothes for the kids and that change shook up my routine.
  • Some other things happened this week too – I forgot about two appointments. Two! After the second one, I have now decided that I need to put “after work” appointments on a reminder in my phone. My whatsapp and Instagram goes dark when my time elapses so I get no notifications, and these both happened to be appointments made from a work calendar which turns off at 6.
  • Other than that, it’s definitely autumn in Johannesburg now. It gets dark earlier in the evenings (the photo above is from Wednesday before my Zumba class) and is much colder. I’d swopped around some of my winter/ summer clothes but I did the final bits on Friday evening and now I have all my winter scarves out.
  • Isn’t it fun when the odometer clicks over to lovely, round numbers? I arrived at Spanish on Thursday evening and my odometer clicked over to exactly 120 000 km. My car is 17 years old so that’s an excellent mileage.
  • I had two very fun social events this week. One was a late work lunch with a client. Outdoors, late so all the important things for the day were already done (yes to more 2:30 lunches) and completely relaxing. The second was a catch-up tea with a friend. We looked up at one point and it was dark… that’s how much we talked. It was very, very lovely.

How was your week? South Africans, are you keeping warm?

2022 Q1 resetting the rest challenge

I knew going in that #rest22in2022 was going to be the hardest challenge for me.

Still, I thought I had it figured out but I realised after two months that I needed to reset what rest looked like for me.

I also saw an Instagram post on 7 types of rest, bookmarked it and when I had time, did a thorough review of why “rest” wasn’t working for me:

what was working?

  • weekend rest, probably because there’s more time
  • I can always default to reading because that is a daily habit

what was not working?

  • my workdays are generally too busy and yes, of course, I can find 22 minutes during the day but I really don’t want to move my end time beyond 5:45 – 6pm
  • I didn’t have a clear plan for busy workdays

Next, I reviewed the 7 types of rest:

  1. physical
  2. mental
  3. sensory
  4. creative
  5. emotional
  6. social
  7. spiritual

I then realised that I have 3 types of days and that I should identify some methods of rest that would work for each type of day so I have options.

My 3 types of days are:

  1. workdays, from home
  2. workdays, from the office
  3. weekend days

For example, during workdays at the office my social rest could be spending time with real, live people. During workdays at home, I can have physical rest by sleeping in and mental rest by taking short breaks during the day. During weekends, I can tap into each of those 4 rests except mental is not likely to happen.

Now that I have a plan, I’m going to intentionally incorporate these practices into my daily life.

Tell me, how has the #rest22in2022 challenge been working for you? Are you feeling more rested? Are you struggling with rest like I was?

Celebrate minor holidays and anything else too!

Last month was Valentine’s Day so I set the table with a red table runner, red placemats, white plates and candles.

I made a pasta bolognaise for something red, we drank pink lemonade and had heart-shaped salted caramel chocolates for dessert.

It was easy and simple, but it made me and my family happy.

Ireland

Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day. I haven’t figured out exactly what to do but I think this is the plan: green tablecloth and white plates, cucumber salad, pasta with basil pesto, creme soda-flavoured milk (Steri Stumpie for the South Africans) and apple yogurt from Parmalat for dessert.

And of course, I always wear green on St. Patrick’s Day. This year I will also be listening to Rachel’s Holiday, a Marian Keyes novel, on audio! Too fun.

Not the same thing, but related. Last week we bid a colleague farewell. When I heard that nothing had been planned, I tossed some cake forks and plates into a tote bag and, once at work, quickly dashed out to get a cake and some savoury eats. It really was not much effort but made a huge impact on her. I also got to thinking – why don’t I just keep those plates at work with some disposable forks, so that I can always be prepared for a celebration?!

Pre-Covid, I used to keep birthday candles in my work drawer to quickly pop them in a cake and sing Happy Birthday to colleagues. I don’t think we do that any more (!!) but the sentiment remains.

Celebrating is fun, even when low-key and can still be delightful.

My word of the year is delight, and celebrating these fun days makes me so happy.

Do you celebrate minor holidays? Please share some of your traditions.

The week that was…weekly reflections 10

  • This week was physically exhausting for me. I attended a client seminar which lasted most of the day when you consider driving to places plus two days in the office plus two school tours.
  • However, unlike last week, I feel like I succeeded in the home/ office balance and this is due to a very simple change: I put no deep work on my list for the two office days. Why was that so ground-breaking? Because I had zero expectations of myself other than meetings and people popping in and so on. And it meant I ended up each day feeling quite okay about my lack of output. Instead I told myself that my purpose on those days are simply to be present and connect, and attend meetings.
  • We had a lovely cold day on Wednesday – proper winter cold. Scarf and jacket cold. I loved it and am now eagerly anticipating the onset of winter.
  • So many friends had birthdays this week and it was lovely to send and give gifts to them.
  • As far as reading is concerned, I am still on my Scribd “freeze” (6 weeks already!) but I’ll have to join this week because our book club read must be read next weekend. This week I read A painted house by John Grisham and Hidden by Catherine McKenzie. Both were so good and I do recommend them.

What are you reading, wearing, watching?

The week that was…weekly reflections 9

Well, that was the first week of March and our first week back in the office since November.

Jhb doesn’t look like this… yet… but I can’t wait 🙂
  • It’s been tough… already… trying to juggle Teams meetings, in-person meetings and office conversations.
  • People keep saying, “oh, it’ll get better” but I keep thinking that we need to create better structures otherwise people will continue to be frustrated. It won’t just get better.
  • One of my goals for last week was a smooth work-from-office transition and I failed spectacularly. I don’t like feeling behind on all counts and I currently feel that way. I didn’t connect properly while in the office and I’m still very behind with emails and real work.
  • However, I’ve put travel time in my diary for all the days in and out, and I’ve determined that I just cannot be at all the meetings I’m invited to. So I’m declining meetings with abandon because I haven’t yet figured out how to be in two places at once.
  • I did end off this weird week with an amazing friend date. I hadn’t caught up with this friend properly (aside from voice notes) in 8 months, and it felt so good to talk properly and look into each other’s eyes. She also told me something really affirming which I needed to hear.

Here’s to a new week and a fresh start!

Are you working from the office yet? I hope to report a better balance next weekend!

How to use the one-minute rule at work

We’ve spoken before about the one-minute rule. We also talked about ways to use this rule at home.

What about at work?

Here’s how you can use the one-minute rule…

with your emails

  • if you’ve opened and read the email, and don’t need to refer back to it, delete it 🙂
  • if you need to delegate, forward it so that other people can work on it while you go through the rest of your inbox
  • decide there and then on your next action step and quickly type into the beginning of the subject line READ/ MEETING/ TALK TO ___ so that when you’re ready to work, you know exactly what to do next

in meetings

I like to write my meeting notes on the top 70 – 80% of the page and leave the bottom section for actions, OR sometimes there’s so much being said, I just write notes and later as we summarise, I allocate actions and I write the initials of the person in the margin. Now for the rule…

  • do your quick actions in one-minute bites immediately after a meeting
  • many actions are multi-step actions but you can always do the very first step even if that first step is just to allocate a block of time to work through the actions (“actions from XYZ meeting”)

with daily or weekly planning

  • if you’re a daily planner, start the next day’s to-do list page and keep it ready
  • as things pop up, add them to your list so you don’t have to keep it in your head or on random sticky notes in your notebook
  • the same principle works for weekly planning but since I don’t know if I need two more pages to close off the week or eight, I use a long post-it note for next week’s actions. When I’m then ready to make my actual weekly list, I have all my priorities in one place.

How do you already use the one-minute rule at work? Can you think of where you could use it?

{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} Back to working at the office

This post was first published on 18 November 2020 but I forgot to tell anyone that it was here so I’m republishing. South Africa has been moved back down to level 3 from 28 Dec 2020 as our Covid-19 numbers worsened dramatically with the second wave.

In South Africa we’re now on level 1 (we have been for a while) and some companies who were working from home are now returning to the office.

Mine is one of them. We are back two days a week which seems like a lovely easy way to return to the before way of life.

However, I’ve been amazed at how many decisions I have to make on the days I work at the office or in preparation for working at the office. Nothing is straightforward as it was before – I take my own water bottle, don’t drink tea or coffee there, and I take all my own food.

We are hotdesking so I also take my own sanitiser for my desk because, let’s face it, I never trust other people to clean things properly.

In an effort to minimise the number of things I have to carry around and therefore sanitise, I no longer use a separate laptop bag. I had a laptop replaced in July and the new one is smaller so I use a laptop sleeve, a pencil bag for my mouse, headphones and charger, and this all fits in my handbag. I therefore carry my handbag and another tote with lunch bag, water bottle and sanitiser. And, of course, a comfortable mask.

Pros of working at the office

  1. Aircon in summer
  2. I listen to an audiobook there and back (that’s about 3 hours of listening every week)
  3. My car gets a good run (I had the battery run flat about 6 times during lockdown because I live too close to where I shop and they told me 5 km of driving every week is not enough to keep a battery going)
  4. There is a lovely clear boundary for the end of my workday as we have to be out of the building by 5pm.

Cons of working at the office

  1. Anxiety about anyone coming near me (see trust issues above! Also, I’m an upholder and so many people don’t follow the rules)
  2. Much lower productivity at the office (this was never perfect pre-Covid but it’s exacerbated with all the handwashing, mask-wearing, and so on)

Settling into a good work from office routine was one of my goals for November because we also moved offices, so there are slightly new routes to figure out as well as all the Covid-19 safety protocols to navigate.

Are you back in the office yet? Have you found your groove? How long did it take you to settle in?

If you’re feeling ambivalent about going to work at the office, maybe make a pros and cons list or definitely save some treats just for the office (special coffees, biscuits, etc.)

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