Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Get more done!

The One-Minute TIP -

The twin secrets to getting more done are clarity and a sense of urgency.

When the phone rings and company is coming in 20 minutes, it's amazing how much cleaning can get done!

When you know exactly what you're trying to achieve, and know it must be done today, the same principle applies!

Never let "Murphy's Law" that work expands to fill the time available apply to you.

Have a sense of urgency about making those calls, getting those sales, finishing your most important projects.

Be a person of ACTION! Git 'er done!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

I found some lists for you...

I found some great checklists for you here: You can try a few for free and then if you like her lists, you can buy the book. I bought the book a few weeks ago and I'm very happy.

I'm very careful before I recommend any products to my list but I can definitely recommend her stuff. Oh, by the way, I don't get any commission - I'm just a happy customer.

Don't you love lists? If you're coming to my organising workshops, you will get a free household organising file with 14 different lists and forms to help organise your life. (These are not the same ones here )

After this series of workshops is done, I will start selling the package of lists on my website, so if you ABSOLUTELY can't come, we'll miss having fun with you... but at least you can also buy online.
For more info on the workshops, read here:

Have a great week.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Aug 2006 - organising challenges

Week 1 – Organise your cleaning supplies.
This week, we're going to sort out all the cleaning supplies. Throw away ugly sponges and cloths in your kitchen and bathroom, and use up all those near-empty bottles. The aim is to reduce the number of cleaning products you use. If you don't enjoy using something, use it for everything in one week and get it done. Then don't buy it again. Last month, I mentioned that you can use one multi-purpose cleaner for almost everything.

***My challenge to you – I use dishwashing liquid, Handy Andy, Jeyes Gel (for toilets) and Teepol gel for everything else – showers, windows, car, etc. How many products do you use? Post your answers in the comments below.

Week 2 – Organise your photo albums or digital photos.
This week we are going to organise our photo albums or digital photos. This might take 15 minutes every day if you haven't done this for a while, or it might take just 30 minutes.

We have ours organised by periods in our lives, if that makes any sense. I have a set of 4 albums for baby & school years, university pictures, wedding and friends. Then we generally have an album for each holiday... but you know how it goes? Sometimes you really get into the whole picture thing and other times, you just can't be bothered.

If you take digital photos, use this time to sort those out too. Delete any pictures you hate, decide which you want to print and maybe burn some to CD.

Don't get overwhelmed - just do 15 minutes a day. You are going to be sohappy when it's all sorted out.

Week 3 – Tidy and organise all your jewellery.
For the guys, use this opportunity to sort cufflinks, belts, male accessories.

1. Firstly, throw away everything you don't love or use. Is there some item someone else will love or can use? Give it away.
2. Gather all the jewellery that needs to be fixed and diarise when you will take it to a jewellery store. If there are watches that need batteries, this is the time to schedule when you're going to get those attended to.
3. Now organise. You can use plastic ice cube trays to keep your things neat and tidy. Or stick a couple of hooks on the inside of your wardrobe (just underneath your goals list!) and hang your necklaces there.

Week 4 – Declutter and organise your document folders in Word and Excel.

This is something you have to do properly once and then maintain on a monthly basis. Remember the definition of organised is being able to find something in one minute or less (some people say 30 seconds but I know from personal experience it sometimes takes a few seconds just to focus!).

First step, open all the documents (I find that doing this 10 at a time works best). Delete those you no longer use. For the rest, keep a notebook next to you and start jotting down broad categories for your subfolders. You can then create subfolders and file.

Don't just file all your documents in My Documents. Name your subfolders the same way you think.

For example, in My Documents, I have a folder called Coaching. Subfolders in there are called Clients, and then the subfolders in there are my individual client names. Another subfolder is called Agreements for the different versions of contract I have, and still another is called Tools. In this one I have things like the
Find your Mission worksheet, my Debt Reduction worksheet, Time log, etc (tools I designed to help my clients). I also have a subfolder called Coaching Programmes, and mini subfolders for Love 101, Clean Sweep, Creating Reserves, etc.

I have another main folder called Organising tools. In there I have subfolders called Household (which has my
menu planner, cleaning lists, shopping lists, etc), Work (which has my daily planner and follow-up list) and Personal (which has my travel checklist {Dion and I each have our own customised lists}, weekly goals, health chart , etc. Now you get the picture.

One thing I want to mention - this filing system might not necessarily work for you and that's fine. Find something that works for you and organise according to that. You will only keep something up that gels with your style. If you're not sure, email me and I'll help you find categories.

Tip - when I buy e-courses, I paste each day's lesson into a Word document, so at the end of the course, I can delete the 10 emails and have one Word document for reference.

10 ways to save time for what matters most

It seems like everywhere you go, you hear the same message. I don't have enough time, I need more time, I'd love to exercise more, play more, __________ more (fill in the missing word) but I just don't have the time.

Here are a few of my favourite time-savers. If you have any more to share with me (and your fellow readers), please post them in the comments section below.

1. Do your grocery shopping when the stores are empty
I've started doing our weekly shop on Friday nights at 6.30. My favourite Pick & Pay closes at 7pm so the store is not very full and all of us shoppers are in "accomplish" mode so not a lot of browsing and so on. We're armed with our lists and get on with the job. I've saved at least an hour from doing the weekly shop on Saturdays like I used to do.

2. Whenever you cook, cook double
I cook at least double of everything for the nights when I have coaching appointments or consultations in the evenings. It then takes just a few minutes to defrost in the microwave and saves me about 30 minutes (you guys know I don't believe in spending a lot of time in the kitchen anyway, unless it's to organise something J ). You can freeze individual portions of just about anything – soup, rice, casseroles, etc.

3. When you return home from the shops, cut all your vegetables immediately.
Yes, it will take a bit of time, but it saves you time during the week when you're busy. Remember, you can spend some time every night getting out all your chopping boards, knives, etc. AND cleaning it afterwards, or you can do it once a week. I vote for once a week. Do the same for your meat and chicken if you separate it out for different meals.

4. Set up a menu plan for the week
I mentioned this point last month with regard to saving money, but the best part of it for me is that it saves me time. You don't have the indecision every night of opening that fridge or cupboard and wondering what to cook. It's already decided. Try it and see – you won't look back. You can download a
free menu planner off my website.

5. Choose your clothes in the evening
This is another underestimated time saver. When you choose your clothes in the evening, you can see if your shoes need to be cleaned, if all the buttons on your shirt are still intact, and so on. Then in the morning, and if you're like me, you need all the help you can get just to get out of bed, you're set to go.

6. Pack your lunch in the evening
Not only does this save time, but it also helps you to remember everything. I have a little cooler bag that I use to pack my lunch while supper is cooking (or defrosting). I pack my sandwich, cereal, yoghurt, my cup-a-soup and my two fruits.

7. Use TV time for other mindless tasks
I understand that TV is relaxation time but this works for me. I exercise with weights, wrap gifts, pack my bag, update my diary, sew buttons, go through my old magazines, etc, etc. all while watching TV. The list goes on and on. At least at the end of a show, I feel like I've accomplished something instead of just being a couch potato.

8. Tape TV programmes and watch them on video later
I'm a HUGE Dr. Phil fan and I tape the programme every day. If I had to sit and watch the programme live (well, first of all, it's right in the middle of the day) it would take an hour, or to be more precise, 58 minutes. Because I tape it and fast forward through all the ads, it takes only 43 minutes. The reality TV shows like Survivor, Amazing Race and The Apprentice are usually only about 37 minutes long. Just goes to show how they plug all the shows with ad breaks.

9. Batch routine tasks
Keep all your filing together so that you file 5 things at once. Make all your telephone calls at the same time. Write out all greeting cards for the month at one time. And wrap all the gifts at one time too – yes, in front of the TV!

10. Automate as much as you can
This is what I'm trying to do with the business more and more, like
automating this newsletter, so I can focus more time on my core genius. For example, I use the AutoText function in Microsoft Word extensively for all emails I write a lot, like questions on my coaching and workshops, my e-signature, etc. I'm actually also busy compiling these into a FAQ page which I'll upload to the website soon. I read a great tip in an online newsletter recently. Whenever you comment on a blog, make it meaningful and use the same wording as a post on your own blog. I did this with my spending fast post on the blog. By the way, I'm going to discuss lots more of these types of productivity-type tips at the Spring into Organising workshop.

Bonus tip - say no to things you don't want to do.
That's all I'm going to say because this is the topic for next month's newsletter!

Do you want to use this article? You may, as long as you include this complete bio with it:
Marcia Francois, the Take Charge coach and professional organiser, coaches people to reach their goals and maximise their potential. She publishes the popular “Take charge of your life” monthly ezine. If you're ready to finally live your dream life, get your FREE subscription now at