Thursday, January 31, 2008

100 surefire ways to organize your busy life

This is a static post - please scroll down for new posts!

I got together with 3 awesome business owners and we put together this 40-page book in record time. Nothing like group excitement and accountability to get us moving!

I am so proud of how this turned out and I know you're going to LOVE it!

You can get your copy of this gorgeous FREE book at

Let me tell you a little bit about my co-authors:

Beth Dargis has been my accountability partner since November 2006. We chat every Friday night (Jhb time) and set weekly goals for our businesses. Beth is a Simplicity Expert and helps us all get rid of the crazy! Beth and I are exact opposites (she centres me when I want to go off on another hare-brained scheme) so we complement one another very well.

I met Suzanne McLoone last year through blogging and we've been blog buddies ever since. I call Suzanne the Outlook Whiz because seriously, she knows every little tip and secret you would ever wish to know about Outlook :)

And then last, but by no means least, Ariane Benefit. Ariane writes for a gazillion blogs and is my fellow contributor on Clutter Control Freak --->> Ariane is a professional organiser who specialises in ADD and ADHD issues. Ariane is SO busy but I will not rest until I convert her to my Eat the Frog philosophy. Yes, Ariane - only 6 things!

So, go meet my co-authors, browse around their sites, sign up for their tips (they're all good, I promise - I am also signed up) but before you go...

Don't forget to get your copy of the book.

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Menu plan Monday - 28 Jan 08 & the decluttering challenge winner!

Do you know what we haven't had since Friday morning?

That's right - a power failure!!!! Yay.

However, my menu is still based on the "schedule". In our area, we should be out from 4 - 6:30pm Mon, Wed and Friday, so I've planned quick meals and the longer meals I'll do on Tuesday and Thursday.

Pasta salad

Chicken a la King with rice and carrots

Pizza potatoes with fish

Stir-fried chicken and veggies with rice


And the winner of the electronic decluttering challenge is... Tiffany

Well done, Tiffany, I'm so proud of you.

Please send me an email so I can send you the link to your prize!!!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Organising jewellery storage

There are some great solutions to organise your jewellery - hooks on doors, compartmentalised jewellery boxes, tool boxes from the hardware store, cutlery trays, etc.

To start with, analyse what you have (earrings, bracelets, necklaces, etc) and how much you have. Then only select your storage solution.

I have lots of small studs (well...about 8 - 10 pairs) so I just lump them all together in a small jewellery box.

I have some hanging earrings, bracelets and necklaces which I keep on hooks.

No need to get fancy - chop a coouple of nails on the inside of your wardrobe door and drape them over there. Have a look at a picture of my wardrobe door. Or hang them on a martini glass (I blogged about this here.).

I also like ice-cube trays (if you have that much space in your drawers) but I tend to advise going vertical with this kind of storage.

How do you store your jewellery?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A cool timer - Journal feature in Outlook

I just wanted to quickly share something that's been working GREAT for me with keeping focussed while I'm working (and playing) on the computer.

It's the journal feature in Outlook.

All you do to activate it is click on the green Journal button to open. Then open a new Journal, and click Start Timer. Then the little clock starts ticking.

When I start blogging, for instance, I turn the Journal on and start the timer. The mere fact that that timer is ticking away keeps me on track and focussed.

Since I've started using this, I realised, for instance, that I write very quickly but it's the uploading of photos to blogger that takes all the time :)

I am getting a lot more done on project work because I know how much time I have allotted to do something, and so I just dive in and get it done.

It also gets rid of the perfectionism monster because I don't let myself waste time thinking about the perfect word; instead I just write from my heart and hope my readers get what I'm trying to say :)

And if you're competitive like me, you can make a game out of it - say, how many emails can you get through in 30 minutes?

Anyway, just thought I'd share.

I know that Suzanne uses the Journal to keep track when she's on the phone with a customer services rep. Oh my - if I did that yesterday, it would have racked up 48 minutes to Telkom to report the fault on our telephone line!

Does anyone else use the journal and HOW?

WAIT - before you go, please weigh in here too...

I'm of two minds as to whether or not I should participate in the bloggy giveaways thing next week.

Honestly, I don't know if there's any real purpose because (I may be wrong) it seems like it's just a "grab as much as you can" fest :) Hey - I love sales as much as the next gal!

But 1) you get a ton of traffic for 2 days and then back to normal 2) most people don't ship outside the US so I don't even bother to participate (except in the blog header competitions!) 3) I don't know if other businesses actually get an increase in sales?

I really would LOVE to know what you think, but especially if you have your own business, then please weigh in (you can stay anonymous if you want :))

For more tips this week, visit Shannon's Works for me Wednesday blog carnival.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Menu plan 21 Jan 2008, cleaning and load-shedding

How are you all doing?

Cleaning lady
Eureka! For the moment we have a cleaning lady. She came on Wed and again today, and will be coming on Mondays as her regular day.

She is not Bea (!) but I'm hoping it's just training issues because that I can deal with. Although I do have to tell her obvious things like "please fold the dishcloth on the dishrack when you're done with the dishes".

I'm not complaining because that mountain of ironing is basically a molehill now :) Yesssss!

Did you read my post on the power outages we're going to be having for the next 5 - 7 years in South Africa?

It is now day 12 and since I wrote that post, I am amazed at how I'm changing:
1. I mentioned that I'm getting super-focussed...
2. I am becoming really grateful for small things. Yesterday we had power the whole day and it was SUCH a blessing.
3. I am becoming flexible and using "no power" time to whiz around the house and do anything I don't need power for, so that when the electricity is on, I only have those tasks left.

This week's menu
Our area has load-shedding from 4 - 6:30pm on Mon, Wed and Fri so those days are now easy or freezer meals!

Stir-fried beef, veggies and rice from the freezer

Dion's night... and The Apprentice - yesss!

Sausage, spinach and potato one-pot

Pasta with kidney bean sauce, topped with cheese

Hot dogs, chips and salad

Please visit Laura for more menu plans.

Friday, January 18, 2008

How to be organised despite Johannesburg load shedding

Today is the 9th day of rolling blackouts in South Africa. They say that this is going to happen for the next...wait for this... 5 – 7 YEARS!

I don't understand all the technicalities but basically, they can't supply all the power we need, so they are load shedding in different batches of suburbs every day.

If you live here, you are guaranteed to be without power for at least 2 hours every day.

I only found out two days ago while listening to Radio 702 that Eskom put a schedule on their website showing which suburbs will be affected and when, but the callers highlighted the fact that they are not sticking to the schedule.

If the schedule says from 3 – 5pm, the power outage is lasting for an additional 2 – 3 hours in many cases.

Businesses are losing lots of money and because the traffic lights are out in whichever suburb you happen to be driving through at the time, people are taking HOURS to get home. And in Johannesburg, we have an afternoon summer rainfall pattern, which also doesn't help because everyone drives like maniacs in the rain.

I was at a friend's place yesterday. Her husband phoned to say he'd left work at 4:30 and hoped to be home by 8pm! Three and a half hours, people!

Anywayyyy, I said all that to say this:

Over the last week, I have learnt a few tricks to keep me from tearing out my hair:

1. I have candles ready in all the rooms and passages throughout the house (with matches in two places) so when the power goes out, I don't even blink. I just calmly walk to the nearest spot and start lighting away. Just call me Florence Nightingale ;)

2. I don't leave anything out that I could possibly trip over – shoes and handbag come to mind.

3. I am phoning ahead before I go anywhere to check if my destination has power. Of course it could still go out while I'm on my way but I'm avoiding as much frustration as possible. E.g gym, visiting my friend (the day before neither of us had power so we had to postpone our coffee date)

4. I have back-ups for meals and am cooking double when the power is on. Last night, all I had to do was take some food from the freezer and heat. 10 minutes to get supper together.

5. I am stocking up on food we can eat cold. E.g. earlier this week when I got home and the power was out, I assembled a pasta salad with cold meats.

6. I am ultra-focussed when at the computer because I know the power could go off at any time. And of course, I am pressing Save all the time!

If you've ever had regular power outages, what are some tips you can give me and my fellow South Africans?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Another organising solution for craft supplies

Look at what I found at the hardware store. I can't remember the name of the store because I was in Port Elizabeth but these boxes were R39,95 each (divide by 7 for US $).

Aren't they lovely little boxes to store crafting supplies?

Please also visit Rocks in my dryer if you want to read about some other good ideas.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Menu plan 14 Jan 2008 & goals

The search for a cleaning lady continues but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Bea's friend is bringing a lady on Wednesday and I CAN'T WAIT! I really hope she works out because I'm a bit fussy (!).

And in case you're interested, I have still not done one stitch of ironing! I am wearing absolutely everything in my wardrobe first :)

Our goals
Dion and I had a goals review session last night - such fun! And then we went through MOUNTAINS of research for when we go to the UK in May. Our goal is to have flights booked by the end of the month. We're actually travelling for 4 weeks this year.

Good thing we've been saving because I had a bit of a shock yesterday looking at UK prices. Remember we have to multiply everything by 14 to get the prices in South African Rand, which can stop your heart beating for a few seconds ;)

But how are you doing on your goals? If you haven't been successful in the past, then maybe you should have a look at how to set and achieve your goals. Go here to read more.

Healthy macaroni cheese - see below for recipe

Dion's night

Stirfried beef, veggies and rice

Baked potatoes with kidney bean sauce

Hamburgers, chips and salad

Healthy macaroni cheese
300g macaroni
1 can (410g) tomato and onion mix (or 2 tomatoes and an onion, chopped up)
500 ml fat-free milk
100g cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1 pkt thick white onion soup

Cook macaroni as normal.
Pour soup powder into a saucepan, add milk and bring to the boil. If you stir with a whisk, it keeps your sauce lump-free :)
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
In a greased casserole dish, layer macaroni, tomatoes & onions, salt & pepper, cheese, then again macaroni, tomatoes & onions, salt & pepper and cheese. Keep some cheese for the top!
Pour the sauce over the top and bake for 15 minutes.
Then add the cheese and bake for the last 5 minutes.
Enjoy - it is SOOOO yum!

Please visit Laura for more menu plans.

Please also go to this post if you want to win a Household Organising File.

Have a great week!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

And the winner is...

I've been running a contest on this blog for the past two weeks. All you had to do was blog about my new e-course on your own blog and link up.

click picture to read more

And the winner is......................................ANDREA.

I want to say a big THANK YOU to everyone else for also blogging about it. This e-course is already helping a lot of you and I know that it will help every other overwhelmed person out there!

Andrea, thanks for helping me spread the word! I will email your Stacks and Stacks gift card voucher number to you ;)

Happy shopping!

Have you taken up the decluttering challenge yet? If someone feels kind, it would be great to have a button so that we can spread the decluttering news throughout the blogosphere...

Friday, January 11, 2008

An incentive to declutter electronically

There's nothing nicer than having an empty Inbox and a computer that is quick, organised and efficient. All it takes is a bit of work now and you'll reap the benefits the entire year!

There are many areas that get cluttered very quickly in your cell phone.

1. Contacts
Delete all temporary numbers and those belonging to people you don't know.

If I get a call from a potential client, I save the number immediately so the next time they phone I can say, "Hi Adam" and wow them with my organising skills ;) so I end up with quite a few numbers.

2. Photos
If you don't need the photos, delete them. Or send them to the person (s) you took them for.

3. Inbox
Delete all those old text messages from Christmas and New Year (and even before then). Create one standard thank-you text and send it to all those people, and then you'll feel okay about deleting their lovely messages. Or send them an email.

4. Notes and reminders
Remove any old notes (so-and-so's birthday, library books to be returned, etc.) from your calendar.

* If you have a Blackberry (crackberry ;)) or PDA, please follow the same steps above to get it all organised.

5. Programmes
Go to Control Panel and click on Add or Remove Programs to remove all those trials you downloaded that you no longer need.

6. Photos
Burn your photos to disc (for back up) and delete the files from your hard drive.

Remember to label! I label each disc with a number and then I put that same number on a round piece of paper in the CD sleeve with a list of the events, like Christmas 2007, CT Nov 2007, PE Dec 2007, etc.

7. Files and folders
Delete any files you no longer use. If you need to keep any documents for reference, burn to disc and free up the space on your hard drive.

This year, resolve to apply the one in–one out principle. For every file you download, delete one. Drastic? Maybe, but it works. I go one step further and even delete the file once I've read the e-book.

8. Inbox
Delete and then archive your emails. Read Suzanne's lovely post on archiving your old emails

Delete old folders. Go through your Sent Items and please make me happy and delete the items from your Deleted Items!

9. Contacts
Delete any contacts if you can't even remember who they are or why you have their details ;) Or take the take to reconnect!

Oh my word! It's so easy to press Ctrl + D and voila! Bookmarked! But when you have a gazillion bookmarks, it's too much bother to even look at them. So go through and delete, and then make folders to organise your bookmarks

Bonus - Blogs in your feed reader
I started off the year with 48 and am now down to 43. How about you?

Please print this email and get cracking. I'm joining you this week because I've only done the computer part of this list myself.

Okay, let's sweeten the deal and have a contest ;)

If you take up the challenge, please post a comment telling me what you did and I will give a random commenter one of my Household Organising Files (R75 value) when the contest ends on 25 Jan. If you already have one, you may pick another product of similar value - yay!!!

Or you can write a post on your own blog and link up.

Either way - just link up. Remember you have TWO whole weeks so there are no excuses :)

Are you up for the challenge?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

How to become a professional organiser

Only one day left to blog about the Organise your Home online workshop and get into the draw for the $25 Stacks and Stacks voucher!!!

Something amazing happened in November last year.

A reader contacted me with some questions on how to become a professional organiser.

We exchanged some emails and when I realized she was based in Port Elizabeth, I suggested a laser coaching session since we were going to be there in just a few weeks.

Well, Rae and I met for our session in PE and it was fabulous. I always have lots of ideas so these sessions are really creative and inspiring. Rae is such a compassionate, caring person and is a great listener!

And here's what Rae sent me in an email afterwards:

I was stuck in a lifestyle rut with my world "just ticking over". I needed a new challenge but hadn't been doing anything to make it happen.

Then I contacted you, Marcia, and everything changed. What a vibrant and enthusiastic person you are. You encouraged me to become a professional organiser and even gave me a contact.

I now believe that 2008 will be my year and that it is never too late "to make things happen".

To a very special person, thank you so much, you have given me back my confidence.

Rae Bradbury

Professional Organiser

If you're thinking about becoming a professional organiser, this is your year too.

I "fell into" this quite by accident (helping out a friend) but I found that this supported my coaching business very nicely, especially since I'd always coached on time management, goal-setting and other such topics.

You can either book some coaching with me (I have a 27-page workbook which I throw in free - oh, probably a R150 value) or buy Tracey's 3-DVD set. Remember I only endorse products which I've personally used; this is GREAT product and if memory serves me correctly, I gave Tracey a testimonial for it too ;)

If you're not sure, then book an intro session with me and we can take it from there.

Here is another testimonial...from another PO I helped for 3 months late last year

WOW I loved being held accountable and as a result got so much more done. Taking my goals and breaking them down into bite sized pieces was super, having your creativity to bounce ideas off of, was phenomenal.

I enjoyed our relaxed phone chats, and in no way did you make me feel as though I’d failed. In fact your encouragement that poured through was soul refreshing and spurred me on to greater things. Thanx Marcia for your input into my life, I felt as though we connected well and I appreciated your sensitivity and encouragement in my life.


Debbie Herholdt
Sunshine Organizer (her website was one of the goals she accomplished while working with me)

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P.S. if you're in Port Elizabeth and you need organising help, tell me and I'll hook you up with Rae ;)

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Organising with report covers

I had a question from a reader who was trying to buy my display folders and instead got some report covers.

Hi Marcia

Guess what, I bought the wrong thing, lol. Do you have any ideas on what I can use those report covers for?

Here is my answer:

I have a couple of those which I use
1. to keep related papers together
2. when I had to go sort out a query with our water and electricity dept, I took the last 6 months’ statements and all my notes in a report cover folder.
3. if I have an in-person coaching session with a client that’s not happening at my house, then I take the agreement, old coaching plan, any forms I want to give him/ her, some notes for the session.

Hope this gives you some ideas.

What other ideas do you guys have for report covers?

P.S. If you have more pearls of wisdom, please visit Shannon so you can share with other bloggers

Monday, January 07, 2008

Menu for the week & cleaning

I received a phone call on Saturday from a friend telling me that our cleaning lady, Bea, will not be returning to Jhb!

Many people work in Jhb while their families are in the more rural areas of South Africa. Bea has some issues with her house which she has to sort out.

Bea's been with us for 5 years and I trust her implicitly so imagine all the things going through my mind - where will I find someone reliable? who is going to iron the mountains of clothes? Etc?

So yesterday, Dion and I cleaned the house until it was sparkling! I cleaned toilets, basins, mopped, etc, etc. while Dion swept and vacuumed. Of course, that mountain of clothes is still there because I don't do ironing - I just don't.

Today, we'll have to sort it and decide if we want to pay the exorbitant rates to get it done, or if we'll do it ourselves. Most of my stuff doesn't have to be ironed - I've always been like this so I choose "wash 'n go" fabrics if I can.

Anyway, hope your weekend was more fun than that...actually we had a LOVELY Saturday with friends and another friend phoned us from London (we chatted for an hour ;)

Good thing I wrote out my menu plan on Friday night because if I'd left it for yesterday, I don't think I'd have had the energy!

Stirfried beef, veggies and rice...and I'm throwing in a handful of red kidney beans for some extra protein

Creamy pasta with broccoli cheese sauce

Out with friends

Baked potatoes with spicy lentil sauce

Prego rolls and salad

Please visit Laura for more menu plans.

Please also click on the main blog page if you want to win a $25 Stacks and Stacks gift card and learn how to organise your home in 2008.

Have a great week!

Friday, January 04, 2008

What's on your YES list?

Success in life requires a short "Yes" list, and a long "No" list. - Gary Ryan Blair

Whenever I coach time management clients, one of the first things I tell them is this:

You are ALWAYS saying no to something when you say yes to something else.

For example...

  • if you say yes to volunteering on 3 committees, you're saying no to one or all of the following: your family, your self-care, your exercise time, your household...
  • if you say yes to that beautiful new pair of shoes you really can't afford, you're saying no to your debt-reduction plan - ouch!

It's such a small word but is often so hard to say.

Why should you say no?

1. it helps you set firm boundaries
2. it helps you honour your values
3. it makes you more productive
4. it reduces your stress
5. it frees you to serve where you're called to with joy

This week, I'm challenging you to SLOW DOWN and think carefully before you say yes to anything.

In fact, why don't you start saying, "let me get back to you on that" so you think clearly about the situation before committing yourself.

Do you have any questions or comments?
Send me an email and I'll get back to you!

Have a great week!


P.S. Remember the contest on the main page of my blog. You can win a $25 stacks and stacks gift voucher if you blog about my new Organise your Home e-course :)

Thursday, January 03, 2008

I'm on Ariane's blog

Hi all

Ariane Benefit from the Neat and Simple Blog interviewed me recently on her blog.

You can read the interview here.

Happy reading.

P.S. Aside from the one on 5 minutes for mom, this is my first blog interview :)

P.P.S Please email me if you want to interview me on your blog. I'm very happy to do them :)

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Favourite organising tools#10 - baskets (3)

For more WFMW posts, visit Shannon

Wow, I haven't done one of these for a while. And then I found the last of the basket posts in my drafts!

here is post 1 and here is post 2 on organising with baskets. There are more great ideas in this e-course.

This is how I organise the smallest bathroom in the world. Honestly, I'd love to know if you've ever seen anything smaller :) I certainly haven't!

baskets on a 3-tier tray keep different categories of toiletries together

this blue one holds Dion's toiletries separate from the rest of the stuff in the bathroom vanity

my bedside table - night cream, hand cream, bookmarks, pens, etc.

spare socks and pantihose - I stash the closed packs in this space between my two piles of clothes

P.S. Guess who bought 12 cute baskets at Pick & Pay? That's right - at only R4,99 each, can you blame me?!

Are you sold on baskets yet? Make me happy and tell me YES! :)
Blog about the contest and you can win $25 Stacks & Stacks gift card