Friday, February 29, 2008

Challenges to getting organised

I'm not neat but I'm organized - Angela Yee

This is part 2. Read part 1 here on the 3 ingredients for organising success.

One of the best parts of this book is that Angela identifies the different types of people and then based on your type, she points you straight to the correct chapters to get you sorted.

Not only that, she also has the chapter organised so you can read just the Quick Start if you don't have a lot of time to read the whole chapter. Yessss!

If you have a difficult time getting organised, Angela says there are 3 different sets of reasons:

psychological - this is procrastination, not being motivated, not making organising a priority, hoarding, having disempowering beliefs like "creative people can't be organised", etc.

systemic - this refers to a lack of systems, like there isn't a system to keep the place organised so two days later, it's a tip again ;) or having the wrong systems like you design this complicated system that both your husband and kids can't actually maintain, making you go stark raving mad!

To quote Dr Phil, "how's that working for you?"

situational - this is when other circumstances like moving house or other people like spouses cause an organised state.

I actually get many questions where people ask how to get their spouses organised. Think I'll write about that next week ;)

If you find the process of getting organised challenging, what do you think is YOUR main reason?

You can get your own copy here - Angela is a really funny writer too so she gives gorgeous examples of her and her husband, draws cool flow charts to show the difference in their styles ;)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

5 steps to organise your kitchen counter

I often get asked, "how do you keep the kitchen counter neat, tidy and organised?"

A kitchen counter can get out of control very quickly because of all the different things happening, like children's papers, meal preparation, cooking, homework/ crafting, shopping, etc.

Because of this, I don't think you could ever just leave the kitchen and hope it would stay neat and organised!

However, here are a couple of tips to help you at least try:

1. have clearly designated areas for each activity
We have one little corner just as you enter our kitchen where we pack and unpack lunches, sort papers and so on.

The rest of my smallish kitchen is for meal preparation and cooking.

2. remove anything you don't use on a daily or weekly basis
The more stuff you have on the counter, the more you have to clean and wipe down those appliances.

If you only use your slow cooker once a month, then store it in your pantry and enjoy all that wonderful counter space.

3. keep things where you use them
When your utensils are stored far from your stove and you have a lot of back and forth, that's when your kitchen starts getting disorganised.

4. have a method of dealing with the paper
The more paper you throw away, the less you have to file ;) Use a plastic drawer system and clearly label the drawers. Once you have this set up, there should only be paper on your counter for a maximum of 5 minutes a day (only while you're sorting and checking you have all the notes from school, etc.).


This picture is from my study but I always suggest to clients with children that they have one of these in the kitchen and use a drawer per family member (mom and dad can also share a drawer).

5. maintain regularly
This will depend on how busy your kitchen is. When both of us are at home the whole day (like when we're on holiday), I do a quick 5-minute tidy and wipe-down of the counters after each meal and also before I prepare supper.

For more help organising your kitchen (and the rest of your home), check out the Organise your Home e-course.

For more great tips, visit Shannon at

Edited to answer Tami's question in the comments...

No, Tami, the picture is from my study. I don't have space in my kitchen at all for paper, so I sort my paper as I walk in the door and throw the junk away right there and then.

The rest goes straight to my study where I put it in my in-tray (which lives on top of those drawers, incidentally ;))

I attend to my filing about once every week or two, depending on how much there is. Remember I'm ruthless about only keeping stuff I actually need, so there's never very much.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Menu for the week - 25 Feb 2008

It's 10:48 pm, I've had a hectic day so please forgive me if I'm not as chatty as usual.

Plus I have another really hectic morning tomorrow (all prayers are very welcome) and I really need to get to bed to catch up on my zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz ;) so I can actually write something coherent for my weekly ezine tomorrow night! Oy!

Was out tonight

Alfredo pasta

Apricot chicken, mashed potato and pumpkin

Stirfried chicken, veggies and noodles

Burgers and weigh-less chips (from last week)

What's on your menu this week?

P.S. have you read my I'm not neat but I'm organized post?!

Friday, February 22, 2008

I'm not neat but I'm organized (part 1) - book review

I'm not neat but I'm organized - Angela Yee

I got this book in November and I've been poring over it, bit by bit.

It is SUCH a great book that I wish I'd written it. Angela is clearly passionate about organising, I also love the way

Anyway, I'm going to be reviewing it in little bits because I've been making some notes as I read.

Some of the nuggets so far:

Purpose of organizing
Getting organised helps you achieve results, be more effective,
reduce stress and ultimately be the wise steward of your time and resources that
God intended.

Angela also says that there's a triad of organising - time, space and workflow (where time and space meet).

There's a fun How organised are you? quiz and my score said that I should put down the book and stop reading because I'm an organisational rarity :)

Now this is what I want you to think about for today, so listen closely:

There are 3 ingredients for success: motivation, knowledge and tools.

If we only have one or two, we don't get organised.

E.g. if you only have motivation, you get frustrated because you don't know how to do it. These make the best organising clients ;)

If you only have knowledge, you have a big head (Angela's wise words), because you know how to organise but you don't do anything about it. These people are frustrating to work with!

If you only have tools (and this ties into my clutter post the other day), you basically have clutter because there will be lots of stuff lying around. These are the people who buy things, hoping that it will get them organised. They can supply the stores :)

Now my question for you is this:

Do YOU have all three ingredients for organising success?

Buy your own copy here - BTW, Angela also made downloadable forms on her site so that you don't have to write in your book. Now isn't that cool?!

South African readers - my copy got to me in about a week!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Keeping up with receipts

I bought a pair of sandals some time ago. They looked very cute but the straps on the top of the foot were very uncomfortable.

I decided to return them and within a minute or two, had retrieved the receipt from FOUR months ago.

I could find the receipt easily because I do 5 specific things to keep my receipts organised and in order.

1. Have a specific place in your wallet just for receipts
I have two sections in my wallet so I keep cash separate from paper. I also always keep the credit card slip on top of the receipt and always add new receipts to the back of that section.

2. Dedicate a regular time to clear out your wallet
You need to decide how regularly to clean it out. If you're out shopping a lot, you may have to do it every day or two. I only go to the shops on the weekend so I clean out my wallet once a week. When I'm on holiday, I do it more regularly because I'm spending every day.

3. Sort into categories
I then make piles of credit card slips and piles of cash receipts and sort in date order. It's quick and easy because of the way I store them in my wallet.

If you sort properly now, it's really quick and easy to update your budget.

4. Enter into your computer, notebook, etc.
Take each pile and update your budget.

I don't use my credit cards as credit cards so I like to be really careful with this step so I know exactly how much money I have left to spend for each category every month.

5. Store simply
Staple each pile together every time you follow this process, and then at the end of the month, place in a labelled envelope.

You can store your envelopes in a shoebox, CD holder, magazine holder, project folder, etc.

At the end of the year, take all the envelopes to your accountant to do your taxes – easy!

How do you deal with your receipts?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Menu Plan Monday 18 February 2008

I worked on a client's home office on Saturday and it was awesome! There is such energy when you work with someone so you get things done quicker and you also get new ideas.

I can tell you, I challenged her thinking and we were able to declutter A LOT!


UK trip update
We booked and paid for our flights to and from London!

This week, we need to decide for sure how long we'll be in each country!

We are going to England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland so if you know of any must-do things or must-see places, please let me know. Thanks in advance. And if you want to meet up, great - let's try and make it happen.


Food, glorious food...
Well, I must tell you, Dion and I were disappointed by Kai Thai (supposedly the best Thai restaurant in Jhb - but I can think of at least two that are better). Quite honestly that was the worst sweet and sour anything we have EVER tasted. Ever!

Anyhow, next time, we'll go back to my favourite Thai restaurant in Jhb, Chai Thai (my favourite in Cape Town is Chef Pon's Asian Kitchen!)

Here is this week's menu:

Stirfried chicken, vegetables and rice (carried over for TWO weeks now!)

Baked potatoes with spicy lentil sauce

Thai chicken curry, pumpkin and restore my faith in Thai cooking!

Cottage pie/ shepherd's pie

Burgers and salad

BTW, have you gone to get your free book yet? I am 18 subscribers from my February goal!

BTW2, invite me to be your friend on Facebook - I'm Marcia Francois and remember to say "I read your blog" so I know where you're from :)

Have a great week, everybody. Now I'm off to post on the other blog --->> because I want to join Motivating Mondays from this week :)

Latest post on this blog - organising tools or clutter?

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Organising tools, or clutter?

I love gorgeous boxes and baskets as much as the next gal. Looking at this shelf in my study makes me very, very happy.

But when is a box/ basket/ storage thingamajig an organising tool and when is it clutter?
Many of us buy things hoping that the things will bring us the results we so desperately crave.
So we buy boxes, baskets, storage bins hoping that by having the organising tools, we will miraculously become organised.
You may have figured out that that's not so :)
This is why buying the organising tools or using things around your home to organise your stuff is one of the last steps of getting organised.
When people buy my Organise your Home ecourse, they get a free report of mine, the DREAM method of getting and staying organised, as part of the MANY bonuses. One of the things I mention in that report is that only once you figure out how you want to store your things, that's when you get the container!
So before you go buying things, STOP and ask yourself if you're not adding more clutter to your home. To answer the question above, it's clutter when it has no purpose in your home.
Read more about the Organise your Home ecourse here and get your home organised this year!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

How do I keep it organised?

There is such joy and pleasure from seeing a beautifully organised and functional space.

But how do you keep it looking that way?

After all, life happens, husband, children, YOU (!) all need to use the space and before you know it, it looks like a bomb went off and destroyed your organisational bliss ;)

So I understand why this is the ONE question I get asked more than any other (after where do I start?).

I have two words for you: REGULAR MAINTENANCE.

There is no quick fix although... the more regularly you maintain, the quicker it takes.

It's the old adage of a stitch in time saves nine!

I've shared before that I do my filing about once a week. It takes me less than 5 minutes and I usually tackle the pile while waiting for an audio to download, or something quick like that.

However, if I leave the filing for a couple of weeks, it's a 30-minute session when I get around to it.

So let's go over the maintenance process:

1. pick a regular time (5 minutes per room per day is a good place to start)
2. link it to something you normally do (I switch on the kettle for my last mug of tea/ coffee every night; while the kettle's boiling, I do my quick tidy/ organise of my desk/ study area because I hate starting work in a mess)
3. don't stress if you don't get to it one day (keep a positive attitude and start again the next day)
4. constantly tweak (if something's not working, change it to suit your lifestyle)

This is what works for me.

How do YOU keep it organised?

P.S. Have you heard my welcome message on the sidebar? --->>> (under my picture)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Menu plan Monday 11 Feb 2008 & organising our trip to the UK

I'm sure you guys are sick of reading about my woes with cleaning ladies. I am with you on that one! Our new cleaning lady came on Wed and worked nicely.

However, we've decided that for our lifestyle, we really need someone on a Monday. So hopefully she can adjust otherwise it's back to the drawing board!


In other news, Suzanne introduced me to a really cool application on Facebook called on Track which has forced me to make a detailed action list to plan our next holiday. Dion and I are going to the UK in May and Suzanne and I will be meeting up in Scotland. I honestly can't wait.

We are going to England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland so if you know of any must-do things or must-see places, please let me know. Thanks in advance. And if you want to meet up, great - let's try and make it happen. Who knows? Maybe we can have ourselves an organising fest!

If you're on Facebook, invite me to be your friend and just say something like "read your blog" so I know you're not a weirdo :) By the way, I got some photos done on Saturday --->> there's one on this blog, another on my facebook profile and yet another


Valentine's is on Thursday but since we don't do the actual day celebrating in restaurants, we're doing our dinner on Friday. Here is this week's menu:

Stirfried chicken, vegetables and rice (carried over from last week)

Spaghetti bolognaise, salad and cheese bread (we're having friends over for supper)

Chicken a la King, rice and carrots

Nandos, also carried over from last week

Out for our Valentine's dinner to the Thai place at Montecasino

BTW, have you gone to get your free book yet?

Friday, February 08, 2008

An empty inbox is like an uncluttered home

This is a picture of what my inbox usually looks like. Because I'm being completely open and honest with your, right at the moment, I have 6 in my inbox.
It makes me smile ;) to see that lovely uncluttered space.
There are probably about 5 - 7 habits I have that helps to keep my inbox empty.
I'll share one of the ways with you:
Every day I play a game with myself to see how many emails I can delete.
When you turn things into a game, it becomes fun and not a chore.
My aim is to delete 50 items daily. If I don't have that many after clearing my inbox, I go to my Sent Items to clear out!
Once you get used to seeing that uncluttered goodness, it's hard to go back to a full inbox. I know I can't. I almost start twitching when I see about 20 :)
So for the next week, let's have some FUN and see how many emails you can delete daily.
What are your inbox tips?

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Favourite organising tools #11 - Ziploc bags

If I had to go around my house taking pictures of all the ways I use Ziploc bags, I could probably start a Ziploc blog - the obsession is that bad!

I am reading Angela Yee's book, I'm not neat but I'm organized, and she said says for storage, to always choose clear over opaque. That's what reminded me of why I love Ziplocs so much. And of course, I agree totally. I always tell people to only buy clear plastic containers for the kitchen - it will change your life. No more food going off because you can't remember what's in the back of the fridge.'s how the Ziplocs work for me

I have all sizes, all colours in my cupboard because they're just so versatile. But I will restrain myself from gushing and only tell you about a few of the uses in my home!

1. This is my organised travel toiletries bag. It stays permanently packed. As you can see, I have lovely green Jiffy bags for hair, face, body and make-up. It's easy when I get back to see what I need to replenish so I'm ready for the next trip.

2. Then we have my gym clothes. I don't like my shoes touching my clothes - am I weird? So I put my gym shorts, T-shirt and socks in a big Ziploc like this and toss that on top of my takkies (sneakers) in my gym bag.
3. And of course, I blogged about the gift wrap in December. I love the way the ribbons and bows are all kept separate yet you can see exactly what's in each packet.

Some of the other ways I use Ziploc or Jiffy bags:


  1. Open bags of biscuits (cookies) or chips
  2. Cheese
  3. Cucumber
  4. Ice blocks (take up less space in the freezer in a ziploc than in the trays)

  1. keep different categories of greeting cards separate - birthday, thank-you, Christmas, etc
  2. iPod, cords and charging station
  3. camera cords
What do you use Ziploc bags for?

Here's how Suzanne uses Ziplocs.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Menu Plan Monday 4 Feb 2008 & odds and ends

Do you like the new purple look? I felt like a change so I was playing around on Friday night! How do you guys with fancy blogs not feel like changing stuff? It's like a handbag for me - I get the itch to try something new every now and again :)


Well, we had to fire the new cleaning lady so we are back to square 1. The 3rd time she was here we went over everything AGAIN and again she assured us that she understands English and can read.

When we got home however, it felt like we hadn't even had that talk - everything was done in a real slipshod way which is not acceptable to me. Cloths thrown into the sink, clothes just tossed into my neat and tidy wardrobe, etc.

So we told her that she need not come back this week.

Now the other lady is bringing us another person on Wednesday. I checked that this person can speak and read English, and that she cleans well. Dion says, "what do you expect her to say? Of course she'll say she cleans well". True but I had to ask, right?!


We left this morning and it was gorgeous out - a beautiful Johannesburg day with a high of 27 degrees. Well, at about 2pm, it got dark very suddenly (those gorgeous grey skies that I love) and then started raining and has been absolutely POURING ever since.

Do you know what that means for Joburg traffic? My poor husband spent over 2 hours getting home (and he works just 20 km from home) and was drained!

Looking on the bright side - at least we have electricity! Yay - I can have tea :)


Anywayyyy, here we go with this week's menu:

Mince curry, rice and carrots (a nice curry is always perfect for cold and rainy weather)

Dion's night - apparently he is getting ** Nandos (spicy chicken and rice - yum)

Stirfried chicken, veg and noodles (I think I'll go with a sweet and sour theme, since I have carrots and pineapple - went on a HUGE Fruit & Veg City shop this weekend)

Spicy lentil sauce on top of baked potatoes

Burgers, sweetcorn and salad

And that's it - easy, quick and healthy (**Nandos is apparently the best of the fast food choices in SA....)

By the way, this is my last week of official Weigh-Less - I am too cheap to pay to just be weighed because this new lady doesn't do a talk or anything to motivate us.

BTW2, have you gone to get your free book yet?

Friday, February 01, 2008

Organising interesting articles, files and reports

I received an email about a really interesting and very common problem so I thought I'd post.

Hi Marcia...

Do you have or know of an article about how to get rid of files that - not mainly waste space but - waste time and energy, because they clutter up your mind? I tend to archive and save lots of files and interesting things and end up not knowing what I have, checking files regularly to see whether they are still interesting. I don't throw them away, because I think they might be of interest eventually. I'd be interested in any ideas and articles about that. - - David

I certainly relate and I know a lot of you do too. We surf websites, download stuff, free ebooks, reports, articles and keep them all on our computer (or printed and stuck in a file somewhere) for the elusive ONE DAY!

Here's what I wrote to David...

Hi David

Thanks so much for writing.

With regard to computer files, I used to suffer from exactly that problem – downloading and saving everything and anything that looks interesting.

1. First of all, make a quality decision to only download files and save articles that you need right now to reach your goals.
E.g. when I first started my business, I saved EVERYTHING to do with sales, whether direct sales, internet, etc. Since I actually don’t do direct sales, I have since deleted all those ebooks, reports and articles on direct sales and only kept SOME of the internet marketing ones that relate to marketing as a service professional.

2. Then, I suggest that you start implementing a one in, one out rule for those files. Everytime you keep something new, something old must go.

3. Also make time on a regular basis (either 10 mins a day or 30 minutes a week) to go through and read all these things you’re keeping. Then, if they are really WOW and you must keep them, fine – file accordingly. Otherwise delete.

Since I started making regular reading time (about 10 - 15 minutes a day while I eat my lunch) to get through my own saved computer files, I am actually…
1) getting through my ebooks
2) cleaning out my computer
3) learning what I intended when I first downloaded the files ;)

I have a whole ebook dedicated to offices, papers and computers called 7 easy steps to organise your office which you can read more about at Otherwise, I send out a weekly tips ezine which you might also be interested in – go to to sign up.

Hope that helped you!