Thursday, April 26, 2007

How do I deal with the paper?

I was reading some blogs last night and saw this comment CoachJ left on Laura's blog.

"I've got the desk left to do, and since my husband has his own business
and I'm the bookkeeper of said business, all this paper really does have a
purpose, and to clean it up means I have to touch it all!! I cannot get
motivated to do that."

Here are a few quick ideas I thought of:

  1. Throw away any paper that does obviously not belong in the space (takeaway menus come to mind). The better you do this part, the easier the rest of the process will be.
  2. Decide what does belong there. Some things will be "keepers" but just don't need to be in that space and can be moved to storage.
  3. Determine your organising style. Suzanne has a great new book out - I've read it and I recommend buying it so you can find your organising style. Personally I can't work on a cluttered desk but I understand that other people have different styles.
  4. Things that you use nearly every day should be near you while things you don't need to access that often can be kept further away. E.g. I only do filing once a week so I don't keep any files on my desk.
  5. Make piles (CoachJ, you said you've got this part down!). Use broad categories at first and narrow down later if you need to. E.g. with me, it's Clients.... then coaching, organising, corporate... File so that YOU can find it. I am very good at remembering people's names so I often file by name. This wouldn't work for my husband though.
  6. Then do the actual filing. This is of course the fun part for the weirdos like me - I can make my files pretty for hours on end. It does help to have cute files so you're more likely to keep up your system.
  7. Maintain. This is the most important part of any organising (in my humble opinion). Suzanne, what do you think? You've got to set aside some time every week to get the desk in order again. Now that I'm typing I remember seeing an article Suzanne wrote on tidying your desk in 30 seconds. That will help.

I'm talking about scheduling just 15 minutes (CoachJ, you'll have to do more because it's business and household paper) a week to file everything away again.

And there you have it.

If I think of anymore tips, I'll edit this post.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Works for me Wednesday - organising my handbag

I love handbags! Honestly – my mother used to tease me about it when I lived at home because I always had my handbag with me.

But you know what happens if you buy something that doesn’t suit your lifestyle? Everything is a mess and you can’t find anything in there.

By the way, I bought this one at House of Leather in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It is a lovely versatile size and so is the colour. They also had lilac ones which were also stunning but I decided to go with this neutral colour.

So if I can, I try and choose a bag with the right amount of pockets. If you ever go into a handbag shop and you see a woman emptying all her stuff into a new handbag, that’s me ;) Because I want to make sure my diary fits nicely along with everything else .

The two bags pictured are absolutely perfect for me! I wish I had more exactly like them and I’ll tell you why now.

1. Two pockets – to separate the book stuff from the other stuff

2. The book portion has enough space for my A5 day planner, my small notebook and my business notebook (where I write my weekly business goals).

3. The other side has two little pockets. One for tissues, my little, orange calculator and a pen, and the other for my cell phone.

4. You can see my gorgeous, green wallet on the left, next to that my make-up bag and my blue pencil case.

So everything fits in beautifully.

Karen, here is the red handbag you commented on before.

But if I do use a bag with little or no pockets, then I use some see-through mesh bags (R12,99 for 3 different sizes at Sheet Street) to organise my stuff. It makes it so easy to find things and to change handbags.

This is what works for me.
Now, what does your handbag look like?
I'm tagging Suzanne, Laura, Lara, Karen, Terri from In His Hands and anyone else who wants to join in!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Tackle it Tuesday - the budget

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

As I mentioned yesterday, we are going away this weekend. So I decided to be responsible and tackle the budget ahead of time so that we know exactly what's going on.

When we go on holiday, we try and prepay as much as we can - obviously flights and car rental are prepaid this time, as is 50% of the bed and breakfast. So it's really only spending money and the other 50% (which I will pay once we get there and see that everything is in order - one day I must tell you the horror story of another holiday place, which is the SOLE reason I don't prepay absolutely everything).

What I then do is transfer the spending money into a separate, mostly unused credit card and then it doesn't mess with our other money. I like things neat and separate - nicely filed! As I'm typing this, I just realised that I do this with many aspects of my life - that's why I have 6 different blogs, 3 desks, 3 credit cards, 5 different email addresses, a tote bag for every hobby, and so on. Are you weird like this too?

I usually do a mammoth exercise every month and balance each of our accounts (my business, my personal, Dion's personal, joint savings) down to the cent. And then I do a quickish 20 - 30 minute update every week, complete with filing. You see, this is where OCD is good.

So while I was watching TV on Thursday, I took all the receipts and made nice neat piles for each credit card account, ready to input into my spreadsheet. It's a very simple system (or so, I think) but you have to do your part too.

And I tackled it this afternoon.

Now I know exactly what is in each account and exactly what we will be spending on holiday. Of course, if there's a gorgeous bag, watch or wallet, there's always my savings account to fall back on!

Oh by the way, I am releasing a Financial Freedom e-course/ book during May. If you want to be notified about it, please join my mailing list. It's the box in the top right corner. When it's ready, you'll be the first to know. And my subscribers will get a discount for the first week.

Go visit 5 minutes for mom for more great tackles.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Menu Plan Monday - 23 April 2007

On Friday we have a public holiday here in SA. It is Freedom Day, the anniversary of when the whole country could vote for the first time.

Dion and I got married in 1995, 12 years ago this Sunday 29th April. Due to our good timing, we now always have a public holiday two days before our anniversary and we always make a holiday out of it by taking off the working days around the public holiday.

So this year we are flying down to Port Elizabeth (the Friendly City), where I was born, and where my entire family still lives. We will then drive 3 hours to Knysna, stay there for 3 days, drive back to PE, sleep over one night and fly back to Jhb. Lovely – we can’t wait.

I will be doing no blogging, lots of reading, shopping and taking photos. Can you guess what my Tackle will be when we get back? That’s right – photos! After I finish helping Laura judge the organising challenge, of course.

As I finish preparing, I will note down any new travel tips and post them.

Good news! We got chicken today so tomorrow night it’s chicken.
(you can download a free menu planner here)

Stirfried chicken, veggies and noodles

Baked potatoes with a bolognaise sauce – yes, it is a repeat from last week because I spontaneously decided to go see a movie (I know – me spontaneous!) so we got KFC.

Kidney bean soup and garlic rolls (South Africans – don’t you agree that Pick & Pay make the best garlic rolls?).

Mince curry, rice and pumpkin

We’re on holiday!!!
Supper at my mother’s house in PE

For more Menu Plan Monday participants, go on over to Laura's blog.
By the way, how are you guys doing on the Organising Challenge?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Works for me Wednesday - Using TV time

I really hate wasting time so when I do watch TV, I try to make it work double.

First off, I record the programmes (like Dr Phil) and then whiz through the ads so I actually only watch 45 – 50 minutes instead of an hour.

Then, here are a couple of things I do in front of the TV.

1. If I’m really good, I work out with weights in front of the TV. Quite honestly, I haven’t done this for months but now that I’m remembering, I will commit to you, blogworld, to do so at least 3 times before next week’s WFMW. How’s that?

2. Peel and cut vegetables.

3. Update my diary and write my to-do list.

4. Fold laundry.

5. Wrap presents and write out birthday cards.

6. Weed through files and declutter!

7. When it’s a romantic movie, cuddle with Dion ;)

This is what works for me. What do you do in front of the TV?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Tackle-it Tuesday - Business Binder

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

This week I tackled something that has been nagging at me for a while.

And because my part of the organising challenge is done (and I am not allowed to touch the hubby clutter), I’ve been “working alongside him” but doing my own stuff. So I’ve been on a real decluttering binge and throwing away papers, seeing how I can have more effective systems, and so on.

For my tackle, I decided to make a business binder. (This was inspired by Kim - scroll down to 19 March). I had quite a few files and flipfiles and now I’ve compressed all of those into this one file folder. I can’t really post any before pics because I brought things from all over.

I’m not really a paper girl – almost everything that I would classify as reference is on computer/ flash drive. But I do like writing lists on paper with a lovely thick gel pen. There is something so satisfying about ticking things off, isn’t there?

So back to the binder – right in front, I have a master list (all of that is just from one 5-minute session) and then my goals (of course) and a monthly planner.

After that are my individual categories, like computer work, projects, marketing, website and so on.
I like this idea because I’m quite ruthless with paper, and everything must fit in here or else a huge declutter is due. I will NOT move to a bigger file or a second one! I do the same with my household filing so when it starts filling up, I grab the file and weed through it in front of the TV.

Go visit 5 minutes for mom for more great tackles.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Menu Plan Monday - 16 April 2007

We were good again last week, eating according to the menu plan, in part I think because there was nothing else to eat! Except for Wed, because our friends postponed our eating out plan.

I’ve been very lazy and have really scrounged everything out of the freezer to avoid going to the shops.

But you’ll be glad to know that I did the dutiful thing today and went to the butcher. Apparently there is a shortage of chicken (!) so they were out and I’ll have to try again next week.

Stirfried beef, broccoli, onions and mushrooms on basmati rice

Soup and rolls. I made a broccoli, pumpkin and kidney bean soup this weekend. Still have to post the recipe. Delish!

Pizza pasta casserole with a side salad.

Baked potatoes with a bolognaise sauce

Supper at my mother-in-law’s house

For more menu plan Monday participants, go on over to Laura's blog.

Saturday, April 14, 2007


Today I want to tell you just a little bit about decluttering and then remind you of a cool resource to help you declutter your home and life.

Decluttering is the FIRST step to an organised home.

Why is it the first step? Because you can't organise clutter. You've got to get rid of it first.

What is clutter?

1. anything you don't love
2. anything you don't use
3. any mess/ disorder/ confusion

Ask yourself, does this make me feel at peace? If your answer is no, then it's probably clutter.

My friend, Beth, has designed a wonderful RESOURCE and she's offering it to you.

Get your free 2007 Declutter Calendar - this IS the year you get your house under control.

I use this in my own house too and I love the fact that it's all about BABY STEPS, nothing overwhelming.

You can see how I use it in my house.

By the way, we talk more about clutter control on the Organising workshop.

It is such fun when people discover their own particular clutter personality ;) Why don't you join me and find yours?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Works for me Wednesday - limiting blogging time

Visit Shannon's blog for more Works for me Wednesday posts

7 ways to limit your blogging time

I entered the world of blogging in February 2006. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that although blogging is wonderful for many reasons, it sure does take up a lot of time.

Here are some ways I keep my blogging time from taking over my life!

1. Use a RSS reader
Set up a Google Reader or Bloglines account to catch up on your blog reading. It takes some time initially as does anything that saves you time in the long run. However, once set up, it will save you hours every week – hours you can better spend with your family, working on your business, on self-care. Take it from me ;)

2. Set up folders
Within your RSS reader account, set up folders so that if you’re pressed for time, you can go to the ones you absolutely have to read and still feel like you haven’t missed much if you don’t get around to the others.

I have folders called Blog Love, Business – important but not urgent, Still Deciding and New Friends. So then I always read the posts in the Blog Love folder and I read the others when I have more time.

3. Use blogging as a reward
Don’t get on the computer and start blogging away. We all know it’s addictive so reward yourself by catching up on some blogs. I typically will reply to about 10 emails before I start blogging. Or send out a mail to my subscribers and then get onto Google Reader.

4. Post to your own blog before reading other blogs
This is another version of rewarding yourself. We all know that reading is easier and a lot more fun (sometimes) than creating your own post. So do your own post first before you go off visiting all round the blogosphere. At least you’ll have the comfort of knowing that even if you do then waste time, the important things are done.

5. Plan your posts
Albert Einstein said that if he had 60 minutes to save the world, he’d spend 55 minutes planning and 5 minutes doing. That’s all I’m saying. If you know what you want to say and have a rough outline of pictures to use, posting is much quicker than if you’re thinking as you’re typing. Also compress your pictures beforehand to save you time.

6. Use a timer
If I have lots of blogs to visit, for example from a meme like Menu Plan Monday, I allow myself a specific amount of time. Let’s say 20 minutes. So I set my timer and start visiting and commenting. When the timer goes off, I need to move on.

I usually set myself a goal to visit 10 new blogs (other than those in my Google reader because I’ll have seen those posts anyway). Of course, if I’m done with everything I wanted to do and I still have a bit of time, I go visit more. I’m not inflexible, you know!

This has really helped me because in the beginning I used to spend hours trawling through each and every blog. Now I still do a lot of that because I’m so curious and can’t bear to miss out on anything. The difference is that now I schedule the time and when I find a good new blog, it doesn’t throw me off track very much. And of course, I add to my Still Deciding folder on Google reader.

7. Stay focussed
I use my Eat the frog form to keep me focused when I’m on the computer. You can download a copy here. Before I even go online, I write a list of everything I need to do.

A typical list will say Reply to emails, Send out mailing, Post recipe on Take Charge blog, Post tackle on Org tips blog, Pay R2000 into credit card & Update budget. I number them in terms of priority. Most days it will look like this: 6) Reply to emails, 3) Send out mailing, 4/5) Post recipe on Take Charge blog, 4/5) Post tackle on Org tips blog, 1) Pay R2000 into credit card & 2) Update budget.

Why? Well, I’m ALWAYS on top of my finances. This is a good part of the OCD-ness. Then a mailing to my subscribers is always top priority. Posting to my blogs is next and the emails I do while waiting for Blogger to upload photos.

So these are MY 7 ways that I use to limit the time on blogging. What works for you?

Friends in the computer, I have a question for you.
What is the correct way to handle comments? Do you reply to them in your own comments, reply to them on their own blogs, or what?

If someone comments and has ticked the box, then I email back. Easy. If someone asked me a question I think others might want to know too, I reply in my comments. But mostly I try and visit their blogs and comment there. Except for you Typepad people (I can't comment so I email you if I can find your email on your blog fairly easily).

I’d love to know what you do! Please share in the comments.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Power tools for wimps

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

Here in South Africa, we pay for plastic grocery bags. So because I’m a cheapskate and I hate plastic bags anyway, we bought a couple of the material bags for our shopping. The problem is there is no place to store them.

So I want to hang them from the side of my pantry/ laundry cupboard. I LOVE using little-known spaces, less-obvious spaces. (Will do a post on this soon).

I have tried to put up hooks on this cupboard many, many times. Honestly! I keep trying a new version of a hook hoping that it will stay…to no avail. They all fall off.

So I got clever. Now we are not handy people like Lara and we definitely don’t own any power tools. But we do have a hammer. Dion was a bit nervous that I’d mess up the cupboard but I gave it a go nonetheless.

This is the mess of shopping bags before.

And here is the after... I was so pleased with this result; you’d swear I built a house or something. Oh but I forget – this is like building a house for someone as craftily challenged as I am.

And one more nail for good measure!

I also put up a keyholder (this was on the task list for our handyman when we next summon his very excellent services). Check how beautifully those nails are hammered in! ;)

Go visit 5 minutes for mom for more great tackles.
And while you’re surfing, say hi to a blogger today but first, tell me how handy are you around the house?

Monday, April 09, 2007

Menu Plan Monday - 9 April 2007

Pizza pasta casserole (thank you, Rae) with a side salad. I made the casserole on Saturday and we had half then, so these are the leftovers. Must still do a Weekend Cooking post and blog the recipe and photos.

Homemade vegetable & lentil soup, with garlic rolls

Eating out at Cappello’s – Killarney Mall – with Danya and her new husband.

Baked potatoes and tomato chilli sausage casserole.

Chicken lasagne and salad

For more menu plan Monday participants, go on over to Laura's blog.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Update on the challenge

I thought it would be interesting to post everytime I finished some tasks so that you can see I'm working step-by-step.

I always tell clients, "your _________ (fill in whichever area you need to sort out) didn't get disorganised overnight so it will take time to get it working for you again".

Well, I posted on the library book corner and I’m pleased to announce that it still looks the same. Except more books are now in the library bag than on the table, due to the Spring Reading Thing. Are you participating? Let me know in the comments so I can come visit you!

In other news, I bought not 1, not 2 but 10 books today. I couldn’t resist – they were just R24,99 (US $3,33) each and I do take them to the second-hand bookstore when I’m done.

The desks are also all done.

On Thursday night I started decluttering all these files from shelves 1 & 4 and this is the result from when I finished the first box on Friday!

And I managed to reduce these two boxes to just the one. We are watching the World Cup Cricket so we've been decluttering in front of the TV. It's quite cute - both of us with a box and a wastepaper bin.

I found lots of treasures amidst all the decluttering and if you're on my mailing list (go to the purplish box on the right, I'll tell you about them soon because I'm going to use sell them).

Happy Easter everybody!

We went to church this morning and then to a couple of shops and to have lunch (Ocean Basket, in case you're interested). And, of course, then back home to the decluttering!

What did you do?

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Show your desk challenge

I recently subscribed to Ariane's blog and added her to my Google reader (honestly, they should pay me commission because I promote it to anyone who will stand still long enough).

She sent out a challenge to post pictures of your desk. I don't know what this means in connection to my ESTJ-ness - if you can help, go ahead. The comments are all yours.

8 confessions about the desks:

  1. I have 3. Yes, 3.
  2. One for the computer (the main desk). That pad to the right is helping me get the blogging thing under control (I will post about this soon).
  3. One for wrapping gifts, writing cards and doing household stuff.
  4. 2 of the desks have pens & pencils, punch, stapler and scissors. Because I hate walking around looking for stuff.
  5. And one for my business stuff. I won't bore you but I have folders for each workshop I run, coaching folders, speaking folders, organising folders, etc.
  6. No, they don't always look like this.
  7. I do like at least 2 very neat desks at all time. I think it's because I like to feel I have a measure of control.
  8. The desks are all clean at the moment because of the Organisational Challenge. I decided to start with the easier stuff to build momentum. Always a good thing to do for occasional procrastinators like me.

Beth, Suzanne, Aby, Terri, Rae, Annie and Multi-Tasking Mommy, I'm tagging you.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Works for me Wednesday - the car edition

When I thought about this week’s theme, none of the things I do really stood out as anything exciting, so I thought I’d just share 10 things I do to keep my car clean, tidy and organised.

1. I don’t eat anything worse than fruit in my car and of course, I don’t allow any eating in my car by other people either.
2. I don’t allow people to smoke in my car – this is if I give somebody a lift because Dion and I don’t smoke.
3. I also have some wet wipes in my cubby-hole to wipe my hands from the fruit. I then use the same wet wipe to clean my steering wheel, my dashboard, gear lever, etc. It’s called multi-tasking, people.
4. Just this past week, I heard an excellent tip to keep your car smelling nice. Leave a plastic refill bag of fabric softener under your car seat. Apparently, the smell permeates the whole car. Mmmm – lovely. Guess what’s on my shopping list?!

5. I keep some plastic bags in my cubby-hole so that I can throw apple cores, bits of paper, etc. This bag leaves my car every weekend or once it’s full, whichever comes first.
6. I also have a special plastic bag for my umbrella. There is nothing worse than wet-car smell from umbrellas.

7. In the boot of my car, I keep a box so that my shopping bags don’t move around. Inside the box, I keep a couple of fabric shopping bags.
8. I have a notebook and pen in the actual car to make notes so I don’t forget things. Like if I’m driving and I remember something I have to do, I quickly make a note of it (at the traffic light).
9. When you fill up with petrol, note down the number of L and then you can work out when you next should fill up. Now, if suddenly you don’t get the same consumption, then you should get your car checked out at the next service.
10. My latest thing is keeping a magazine in the car. When I’m kept waiting somewhere, I can use the time constructively to catch up on my reading.

These are all things that work for me. For more super-duper car tips, visit Shannon at Rocks in my Dryer.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

30-day organisational challenge

It's finally here - Laura over at I'm an organising junkie is hosting the 30-day organisational challenge. If you've not already signed up, then please do. It's going to be lots of fun.

You can choose to organise just one area (like your wardrobe, kitchen cupboard, corner of room) or an entire room. And she's got prizes!!!

I've decided to sort through our study/ home office area.

I took lots of pictures but I won't bore/ frighten you so I only posted the 3 worst ones.

Most of this area is sorted but I made a list (you know how I like my lists) of things I want to tackle here.

  1. Sell the Fitness Flyer - that white piece of exercise equipment.

  2. Sort out those boxes. Most of them belong to Dion although I have one memory box. I will be very happy if they could all be thrown out but since realistically, that won't be possible, they must at least move to our garage.

  3. Sell the film projector - my husband was a TV & Film major yonks ago.

  4. Sort out the boxes of teaching & audio tapes. I would just throw them out but my husband is a tad sentimental.

  5. Tidy and declutter this cupboard. The shelf right at the bottom is where I store spare gifts. I need to sort out shelves 1 and 4 (household stuff). I'm not allowed to touch the middle two shelves because they're his. But maybe I can leave it disorganised but make it look prettier.

  6. I have to declutter 3 boxes of files that are very neat and organised (I can find anything I want within a minute) but I haven't looked at them for 18 months so they can probably go. It's all my research on time management, goal-setting and so on.

  7. Declutter the bookshelf above my one desk. It is neat enough but there are a lot of books I could donate to the library, sell or give away.
all the boxes

Fitness Flyer

Shelves 1 & 4

You'll notice that a lot of things has to do with my husband! So I have negotiated a reward for us. Aside from that wonderful feeling of peace we'll have, that is. And if you've coached with me, you know I'm a BIG believer in rewards!
When we get this place sorted out, we will be treating ourselves to a beautiful oregon pine bookshelf. Then we can throw the old one out!
Are you joining in the challenge? Let me know in the comments!
And even if you don't have a blog, there is nothing stopping you from taking your before and after posts and emailing them to me. I would be very happy to post the best ones here.

Tackle-it Tuesday - bag corner in study

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

This is a corner of my study/ home office. We each keep a bag of library books there. The box is full of containers like baskets, etc. that we don’t need yet. The black box has a lot of spare tote bags in case I need one of a different size.

So here’s the before.

And here’s the after.

The big box has moved to a cupboard. There we now have our two library bags and on the table, Dion's Bible and notebook (he has his quiet time in here) on the right and two books I have to read before returning all the library books.

I moved all the extra tote bags to a cupboard and now only have this denim one (by the way, I bought it in Melbourne, Australia on Brunswick Street) with 2 other sizes folded inside.

BTW, this tackle is part of my Organising Challenge over at Laura’s place. I will post another post later today with the rest of the before pictures.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Menu Plan Monday - 2 April 2007

Last week, we only ate according to my menu plan 3 times.

On Thursday, Dion decided to go to a movie straight after work and I didn’t want to “waste a meal” so I had some soup and a roll. And then on Friday, we decided to go out for supper. My first thought when he mentioned this to me was “but what about my menu plan”. So then I realised that I’m being too inflexible (you think?!) so I gave in.

This is a short week because of the Easter Weekend – yay!!! AND we’re also eating out of the freezer so that I can shop for more meat next weekend. Okay, I’m going to shock you here but the last time I went shopping for meat was 10 Feb so it will be two whole months. And I only spent R96 (divide by 7.5 to get the amount in US dollars).

Chicken ravioli with tomato, mushroom & spinach sauce
I decided to do a really quick meal because this is the night of my hip-hop class.

Stirfried kidney beans, veggies and rice/ pasta (we have one portion of each in the freezer).
This is a nice vegetarian meal that is full of low fat protein.

Homemade vegetable & lentil soup, with garlic rolls

Chicken lasagne - didn't have on last week's menu (still in my freezer)

For more menu plan Monday participants, go on over to Laura's blog.
And have a wonderful Easter if I don't see you on the blogs before then!