{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?

{time} 3 different ways to think about time

Time is so precious. We’ve also all been at different points of the time continuum during the pandemic. Some of us have felt like we have plenty of time to indulge in hobbies; others (me!) are working all the hours just to keep up.

This is not an article on how to create more time but it is meant to provide some food for thought on how you currently are spending your time:

1. What are your top time priorities?

Yes, the answer to this question changes from life stage to life stage and most definitely during the pandemic. My top three priorities have been my own and my family’s health (both physical and mental), managing my work responsibilities and retaining a semblance of myself with things that are fun for me. Included are eating, sleeping, managing stress, and exercising well. I don’t sleep well if I worry too much about work and I’m not in a great space mentally if I don’t also do fun things for me, so they all tie together.

Can you identify your top time priorities?

If we’re not intentional about our time and how we spend it, I promise you others will fill it up with their priorities. Interestingly, these two things are almost never the same. See full caption from Instagram here.


2. Is your time spent in alignment with those priorities?

If you look over your week or month, does your time spent look like you’re prioritising the correct things? It’s okay if it doesn’t currently align, but at least you now have the awareness.

How will you know that things are not aligned? You can’t find anything in your schedule that aligns with your priorities. Maybe you do find your priorities on your schedule but there’s not enough time allocated, e.g. exercise or hobbies or fun? What are you dreaming about at night? That’s also a signal you’re not dealing with things during your waking hours.

Where do you feel out of alignment?


3. Which time statement do you find yourself saying to yourself or others? Consider these two sentence pairs.

a) I have to
…. feels like you have no choice while I get to…. feels like you have made the choice to do it. The second statement is more empowering.

Example: I have to make the kids’ lunches (sounds like a chore) vs I get to make the kids’ lunches (feels to me like an act of service/ love). Another very relevant one during Covid: I have to work late (you have no choice in the matter)  vs I get to work late (I have the luxury of no commute so I can put in an extra hour or two occasionally).

b) I don’t have time feels disempowering while it’s not a priority for me right now feels like a carefully-considered time choice.

I get how the second statement can feel awkward sometimes but it’s kinder than not being honest with yourself and others. Brene Brown says “clear is kind” and it feels very kind to me to say honestly if something isn’t a priority in your life at this time.

How has your thinking changed?

{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.

{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?

{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} Let’s talk about Five Nice Things, or even just one

I’m probably the last person ever to have a gratitude practice. Even the phrase “gratitude practice” sounds twee to me. I’m a grateful person – very much so – but I’m just not the type to write out a gratitude list every evening.

I saw on A Cup of Jo (do you read her blog?) that someone called it “five nice things” and the more casual name feels exactly right for me.

Today’s nice things are: a lovely rainy day, I got to take a walk in my garden and play with my camera, I made lunch for the kids (cheese quesadilla and an apple cut in 4) and they loved it, Dion bought us sushi and I had a good session of writing.

You don’t have to write down 5 things every day; make it feel right for you.

Even if you just notice kind things around you and little moments of delight, and are thankful for them, you’re on the right track.

I went to gym the other night. Those who have booked for classes are allowed to bypass the queue to get into the gym but there was such a long queue outside that I had a moment where I thought someone’s going to say something (gym people are very serious people!) if I jump the queue. Well, a staff member with a clipboard appeared as if by magic, checked my name on the list and told me to go straight in (“straight through the turnstiles”, she instructed). I was so grateful!

One more – I’d planned to run three errands during lunch one day in two opposite directions. Someone was coming out to give me a quote so I had to be back at the house in 30 minutes. I knew I couldn’t do both directions so I opted to do just the one. Well, lo and behold, the one store had what I needed (they hadn’t had it a few days earlier) at a better price so I didn’t need to run errand 3. I was delighted! I love crossing things off a list 😊 Small, nice things that make me happy.

Will you join me and notice a few nice things every day?

When you start noticing and being thankful for lovely things, the strangest thing happens – even more lovely things happen to you.

I made a printable for you – the five nice things list – it’s undated and you can start using it today. You haven’t “failed” if you forget a day but it does help to print it out and keep it visible. When it’s full, print another page and keep going. And a reminder to sign up for my newsletter here – thank you for helping me grow my list.

{mindset} listening to your body

I’m probably one of the last people you should be listening to talk about this subject since I was not good at taking cues from my own body for many years. I’ll confess – I’m still not the very best at it but I’ve got much better at paying attention and I thought I’d share what’s working for me.

  • Do you know what’s happening when you feel tight in your shoulders and neck?
  • Is something else going on when you just get a headache?
  • When you feel a bit icky and scratchy inside, what’s really going on?

I have a few signals for my own body that I pay attention to.

  1. The tightness in my neck and shoulders is often the first sign of stress for me. A big flashing indicator for me is that I also start dreaming about work. I never dream such that I can remember so it’s a signal that I’m worrying about something or not dealing with things effectively at work.
  2. Yes, I get heat headaches and also some hormonal ones (track your cycles and you’ll soon see if your headaches are hormonal), but often when I get random headaches, it’s my body’s “time-out” and that I need to stop doing so much. I’m someone who always has 10 things on my list so my default setting is to go, and when these random headaches happen, it’s a signal for me that I need to slow down and rest more.

Now and again I find myself a bit niggly. When I can’t put my finger on exactly what the issue is, I stop and ask myself this question, “what’s really going on here?” When I get quiet and tune in, the answer is often really obvious – I didn’t speak up for myself, a boundary felt brushed aside, I felt like my feelings weren’t heard, etc. The point is to identify the feeling, and try and do something about it, so I can move on.

Sometimes really obvious things are happening and your body doesn’t function the way it’s supposed to. One of my friends had severe hair loss a few years ago when their family went through a tough in-law situation. That was due to stress. When the situation was resolved, her hair stopped falling out.

Let’s move onto you. What’s going on in your body that is an indication for you to deal with something?

“I say the universe speaks to us, always, first in whispers. And if you don’t pay attention to that – the brick wall falls down” Oprah

3 of my favourite organising mantras

I know I sometimes sound like a broken record, but in my defence, there’s a reason I say these things so often – because they work.

I know the blog is called Organising Queen but I also don’t always feel like being organised so I use these mantras as much as anyone else.

1. Don’t put it down; put it away

I got this nugget from my friend, Suzanne, and it is the best thing for when you’re feeling lazy.

I literally chant to myself – don’t put it down; put it away – as I walk upstairs with an armful of things to return to their rightful places.

Try it next time you have lots of items to pack away because it’s soooo tempting to just plonk it down on the nearest surfac

2. One in, one out

This might be my favourite organising mantra ever. And better still, one in, many more out.

I heard a podcast a year or two ago where the lady had been on a no shopping project one year. When her project ended, she then resolved not to get into the same situation again and told herself that for every one thing she brought in, three things would have to go. She said this ensured that she really, really loved the thing she wanted to buy.

3. A place for everything and everything in its place

There is nothing that makes me more cross than searching for things. I cannot stand it!

That’s why it’s so important for me to have a place for everything.

This is also one of the cornerstones of organising. If you know where things belong, you won’t just open a drawer and shove things in. Your home will then stay organised and tidy.

Just today I asked Kendra (10) to fetch me my watch. I said, “it’s in the spotted pink bag in the top drawer of my bedside table”.

Do you know where you store the scissors? Where you can find a spare pen? Where you can find plasters?

What is your favourite organising mantra? I’d love to know.

PS if you’d like to see more of mine, I shared many more on Instagram here.

 

 

Your end-of-year reality check

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About a week before the end of November, I put an item on my to-do list: schedule all socials til the end of the year.

And then I made a list.

Well, the list had about 10 friends or sets of friends on it, and when I looked at the available dates, it was going to be impossible.

However, I never let a small thing like a full schedule get me down and I started working my list until I realised…

it’s my own self-imposed idea that I have to see people this year and not next year

Granted, it would be nice if everything was all neat and ordered, but it would cause me a bit of stress fitting everything in and probably be less joyful.

So right now, I’m playing with the idea of a very loose year 🙂

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This whole process reminded me of  organising.

We have these TV/ blog/ Instagram/ Pinterest-like visions of what our organised homes should look like, complete with state-of-the-art organising systems, the most beautiful containers and worthy to appear on a TV show.

There’s nothing wrong with dreaming, and dreaming big, but when we become paralysed and not motivated by the dream, there’s something wrong.

The thing is that those visions of perfection often leave us demotivated and uninspired to even start as you think, “what’s the point? I could never have it look like that”.

The point of inspiring blogs and Instagram feeds are to give us ideas, and not to make us feel bad about what we don’t have or to sow discontent in our lives.

Why not rather look at your home realistically?

See what you can and are able to do and take it from there. Use what you have in the time you have available and just do the best with that.

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Read that paragraph again…

Here are some action steps for your organising reality list:

  1. Take a piece of paper and a pen and write down the rooms in your home that need some work. Leave space under each room heading.
  2. Now walk around your house and make a list under each heading of what you want to do. For example, in the study/ home office, * tidy desk * do filing *put photos in photo albums/ frames, etc.
  3. If you want to do something this year, pick 1 – 2 small spaces and do those. Otherwise, start in the new year. Remember, there’s no rule that says you had to have done X in your house this year. If you’ve done less than you intented, forgive yourself if you’re feeling guilty and just tell yourself 2017 is a new year.

Did you have a list for this year?

How did you do?

PS I had a list for our old house which we stopped working on when we put in the offer on this house. I do have a long list for this house too 😉

{Mindset Monday} Mottos

It’s lovely sometimes to think about things you know to be true for yourself.

Mind you, these do not always ring true for others, but they resonate for us.

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This is a section of my Amazing Life workbook, my mottos.

I like looking through my workbook monthly-ish because it often reminds me of things I’ve written that I may have forgotten, like one of my favourite work mottos:

Deal with things and don’t procrastinate.

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I used to sometimes wait for the muse to hit so I could use particularly beautiful language in an email and be really diplomatic, but really, people would rather just have their answers, right?

And best of all, I feel better not only because the thing is done and off my to-do list, but it’s off my mind, and truthfully, a clear mind is much more important to me these days.

If I’m really angry about something, I have another motto that I have to get completely calm first before responding, but that is usually not longer than a day.

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For home, I know that I always, always feel better if I get outside and get moving, whether it’s going for a walk, going into the garden to take photos, or kicking a ball around with the kids.

There is such a huge return on my time investment that it’s always worth it.

What are some of your favourite mottos for work or home?



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