Thursday, July 31, 2008

So are you ready?

It starts tomorrow.

Yes, it does!

The GREAT August Declutter Challenge.

Get the cameras ready and start snapping away.

See you tomorrow :)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

What do you do when there's no storage?

We moved into this new-to-us house in November 2005. In January 2006, the new owners of our old house phoned me (about something unrelated) and I asked her how she was enjoying the house (which I LOVED!!!).

She said to me, “Marcia, there’s not enough storage space”

The thing is there was more than enough storage space because even after decluttering stacks of things, we found that the new (bigger) house had far less storage than our old house.

Anywayyyyy, so what do you do?

I’ll confess that I had 3 guys out to give us quotes to put in more kitchen cupboards. Then I realised that I was being crazy to spend all that money – all I needed to do was buy one sideboard unit and declutter ruthlessly.

Declutter regularly --->>
Definitely make time to declutter on a weekly basis. The minute plastic containers look ugly (stained), I move them to another location either as drawer dividers if I need them, or I throw them out!

Make every item do double-duty
Choose desks with drawers and not just a table surface. Or use the space underneath for storing files.
Use a sideboard with lots of storage instead of just a table top.

Go vertical
Put up shelves along the walls. Hang kitchen utensils above the stove instead of in a canister or in a drawer. Use the inside of cupboard doors.

One in, one out
Or better still, one in, two out ;)Use this for everything – t-shirts, mugs, tea towels, magazines, everything!

These are some of the ways I maximise our less-than-stellar storage situation. How do you maximise your storage?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

What is clutter?

Because the August Declutter Challenge starts on Friday, I thought I'd post about clutter.

Clutter is anything you don't love or use.

Don't love
In this category, some things that immediately come to mind are gifts you receive, old furniture you're keeping around just because

Let's take it a step further and talk about clothes.

When I declutter my own clothes or talk to clients about theirs, I ask, "does it make you feel WOW?"

If you wear clothes that make you feel like a deflated balloon inside, then they're clutter and they need to go.

We only wear 20% of our clothes most of the time anyway, so let that 20% make you feel WOW.

Don't use
What falls into this section?

All those margerine containers, empty bottles, plastic containers you keep thinking you'll find something to store in or use someday.

Beware of that word someday because it indicates to me that you're a hoarder.

I'm all for keeping a few containers but that's just it - a few!

My scale is one of the most well-used things in my kitchen so I use the actual measuring container plus MANY others like the plastic punnets that mushrooms are sold in. We buy mushrooms every week so they start to pile up. Like last week. So last weekend when I was cooking, I measured for all the things I was cooking and when those punnets were dirty, I simply tossed! So now, the punnet situation is looking reasonable again.

Don't overcomplicate things - run your stuff through the clutter test and if your things fit the bill, DECLUTTER!

Are you joining me on Friday?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Menu Plan Monday 28 July - 3 days to go til the ADC!

Only 3 days to go until the August Declutter Challenge begins!!!

I can't wait - can you???

If you haven't read about it yet, please do ----->>> there are some great prizes to be won, but of course, the greatest prize is a decluttered space. I really believe that!

how do you deal with potential conflict?
Last week, Annie and I got talking behind the scenes (on email) about Mexican food. I was drooooling for some and suggested to D that we go to the Spur which we did on Thursday night. I had 2 starters - chicken and cheese quesadillas and some honey and mustard ribs. YUM.

Everything was lovely until the bill came and I saw that they charged me R20 more than they should have for the ribs because I'd ordered them as a side dish not a main dish. So I called the waiter over and asked to see the menu again. Yes, I was right - my eyes weren't deceiving me.

I simply made the changes to the bill and told the waitress, "this is what it says so I've changed it here. And here you go - my credit card"

Dion says he liked the way I just said what was what, and didn't ask if that was okay. :)

So how do you deal with potentially touchy situations?

Anywayyyy, back to the topic this week's menu looks like this:

M - out with a friend
D - spaghetti bolognaise

My standard stirfried chicken, veggies and rice

Potato bake with mince and kidney beans

D - out at a work function
M - the rest of Monday's spaghetti bolognaise :)

Hot dogs and chips

Now, bookmark this blog (Ctrl + D) and remember to come back on Friday to see what I'm decluttering first.

And I'll have a Mr Linky up so those who are playing along can all link up!

Happy decluttering!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Ta da da dum.....announcing the August Declutter Challenge

I know I've been quiet but I've been working on THIS and I'm so glad I can finally share with all of you.

Beth and I will be hosting the August Declutter Challenge for the month of August.

We are each committed to decluttering at least one thing every day and will each be writing a post showing what we've decluttered.

The idea came to me after I wrote these posts on taking pictures to honour the sentimental in you but still decluttering.

So are you in on the challenge?

Here are the "rules"

  1. The idea is to declutter at least one item a day for the entire month. If you can't commit to an entire month, then commit to at least 7 days of decluttering.
  2. Then every Friday starting 8th August everyone who’s participated for the previous 7 days writes a post on their own blog with their pictures and links that post to the Mr Linky on my blog to get their entry in. You don't have to write a post a day although you can if you want to. Just trying to make it easy for you guys.
  3. Beth is donating a Simplicity ecourse every week and I’m giving away a Household Organising File and a Christmas Planner every week. So there are 3 chances to win something clutter-free to reward you for decluttering your home.
  4. You may only link up if you've done 7 days of decluttering and written a post with the 7 items. So the more you declutter, the more chances you have to win. It’s win-win-win (less clutter) whether you win a prize or not.
  5. And then, at the end of the month, I’ll put up another Mr Linky and one person who has done 31 days of decluttering will win one of my bestselling Organise your Home ecourses. Besides of course, being crowned the Decluttering Queen :) Another declutterer will also win a $25 gift certificate from Stacks and Stacks - woohoo!

I hope I've covered everything. But please ask me questions in the comments and I'll answer them there too.

Otherwise, ARE YOU IN?

Get those cameras ready and start snapping away!

P.S. You're very welcome to grab the button and put it on your own blogs too so we can have lots of people participating!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Menu Plan Monday 21 July/ the price of food in Ireland

White Horse Inn - Kinsale, County Cork, Ireland

This was one of those genuine Irish pubs. We walked in and that guy wearing white in the top right corner was sitting with a guitar, singing a drinking song (I don't drink, so I can't tell you which one).

This section is very "pub" but when you walk through to the restaurant area, it was beautifully furnished and quite "glam". We took pictures but the lighting wasn't right so the pics are VERY dark.

Now here's the thing - you know I'm obsessed with the price of food - we had a supper of two chicken stirfries and lamb sausage, a cheesecake, tea and a cappucino, and the bill came to 55 Euro (R680/US$92). And that was in Kinsale which is a tiny, tiny place (cheap compared to Dublin) :)

So why should you menu plan? I wrote an article on it called How to Menu Plan and save you time and money - go have a read :)

Well, this week's menu looks like this:

Stirfried chicken, veggies and noodles (mine comes to probably R20 a portion/ $2.60 :))

Spaghetti bolognaise

Tomato and vienna casserole, carrots and rice

Eating out

Burgers and chips

Just for fun - what's your favourite, QUICK meal to cook?

I'll go first - mine is stirfried chicken and noodles, otherwise anything with pasta (if I say so myself, I make good pasta :))

Your turn :)

Friday, July 18, 2008

Ask the organiser - running your business with children

Do you have any advice on how to handle running a home-based business when you have kids (toddlers) running around the house? How do I make calls when I have a screaming 3 year old in the background???


Ivette Toler
Yes, Ivette, I do have some advice. It all comes down to planning :)
Also, you're going to have to get really focussed ANY time you manage to work on your business.
1. Make a note of your child's routine for a few days. What time does your toddler take a nap/ eat/ play? For how long? Use these times for various business activities.
2. Use the nap time to immediately get on the phone and make all your calls. Let your incoming calls go to voicemail and tell them when you'll return their calls. And then stick to it.
3. When you need to do computer work at your desk, set up a workspace for your child in the same room that you work in. The child can colour in, draw, build puzzles or play while you do your work.
4. Can you either pay a babysitter a couple of hours a week, or get together with another WAHM and pool resources? Use the time only for KEY income-producing activities, not for "busy" work.
5. Register for my free teleclass, 3 Keys to Business Success, on Thursday 31 July at, where I'll be sharing specific ways to plan and organise your week.
Any other tips for Ivette? Share in the comments.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Favourite organising tools # 12 - shoe storage organisers

Organizing your home office can be easy and fun when you use things around your house, like shoe organisers.

I've been re-organising things so let me show you how I use them in my own home office.

If you're in South Africa, I bought this one in the kids section at Mr Price Home Zone for R39,99 ($5). They come in purple, pink and blue. The beauty of this style is that there are another 12 pockets on the other side :)

First, I took some squares of jotter paper from my desk and folded them in half. I wrote down all the items I wanted to keep in the pockets and hung the labels from the pockets.

I'm just planning at this stage because I don't know if I am 100% happy with where everything is. Then I started putting the items in the pockets. I then found that I had to move the labels around so that the heavier items didn't make the whole organiser sway to one side.

When I was happy with the order and configuration of the labels, I stapled them to the material. I use the flat staples so that I can slip the staples out easily without ripping the fabric.

And there you have it - a beautifully organised system for all the bits and bobs that so often untidy your home office.

Have you used a shoe storage organiser in your home office? Share in the comments.

This is also my Works for me Wednesday post.

P.S. Join me for the Virtual Organising Seminar and let's get that home office organised!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Menu plan Monday 14 July and more Scotland pics!

I'm trying to sneak in a few pictures that are even REMOTELY connected to food every week on my MPM post. Did you notice? :)

This is real, authentic, Scottish shortbread that Suzanne ordered at a coffee shop in Loch Lomond, near Stirling in Scotland. I had to take a pic because it was so pretty. Can you see the dusting of icing sugar on the top? She said it tasted as good as it looked (I didn't have a piece because I was saving myself for some cake).

Marcia, Gavin (the 2nd Scottish Gavin we met), Suzanne.

Dion says we girls were flirting with him but I am quick to correct him and say, "hello! that was Suzanne!" :) The coffee shop was conveniently empty when we arrived so he spent a good 30 - 45 minutes just chatting to us - lovely to hear the Scottish accent.

Last week's talk
I can't even believe it was just a week ago when I was speaking to those ladies and amazingly, there were a couple of men there too.

The setting was GORGEOUS (Mangwanani Spa at the Indaba Hotel) and the groups were nice and interactive, just like I like it. Lots of questions which means they were listening :)

And they ALL signed up to my newsletter afterwards :)

Last week I am so glad I ate well on the Monday because that is all I ate the entire week until I got home from the hospital. Dion ate ready meals so he was constantly hungry - I keep telling him those things don't fill you and are expensive to boot, so he finally gets what I've been saying :)

So this week...

Honey and mustard chicken with brown rice. The chicken's cooked with carrots and onions so that's the veg.

Dion's night

Dion to movies, Marcia - chicken biryani from freezer

The curry, rice and pumpkin from the freezer. It's been there for 3 weeks now :)

Out to supper at our friends' house

It's the last few days to register for the Virtual Organising Seminar happening this Thursday. Check it out now.

Visit Laura for more menus and have a WONDERFUL week!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

I am home!

Thanks for all your well wishes!
I had my op on Tuesday and it ended up being a bigger procedure than both the doctor and I had anticipated so instead of being released on Tuesday evening, I was only discharged yesterday.
Oh my word - I am SOOOO not made for hospitals :)
I finished my book early on Wednesday morning and then talked the ears off my neighbour, sent text messages to Dion and other friends, checked my Google Reader until my laptop died (they had no adaptor so I couldn't plug in), watched TV, etc, etc.
I was on a clear liquids diet on Wednesday (apple juice and "soup" (salty water!)) and transitioned to a mixed liquids diet on Thursday (yoghurt, tropical fruit juice, Ensure nutritional drink, smoothies).
When Dion visited me on Wed pm, he brought the two-prong adaptor so on Thursday I was ONLINE and LOVING it :)
Cleared my Google Reader, replied to emails, sent email to my list, etc, etc. I also had lots of phone calls, three visitors and the beautiful bunch of flowers (see the picture above).
And then on Friday, I was discharged - yayyyyy - and left the warm hospital to an ice-cold and absolutely freezing Johannesburg. Brrrr!
I must say, the nurses, doctors and staff were all WONDERFUL but still, it is good to be home!

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Monday, July 07, 2008

Menu Plan Monday 7 July 2008

Remember last week when I told you about that expensive sandwich in England?

Here's another one. This one cost 5 Euro (R60) in Clonakilty, Ireland.

Today I'm speaking to two groups of women in business on "how to manage your time and get the right things done".

I'll let you know how it goes - I'm sure it's going to be FABULOUS because this is my FAVOURITE speaking topic to my FAVOURITE type of audience so we are sure to have FUN FUN FUN :)

Can you tell I'm excited???

Tomorrow, I'm having an operation and they say I won't have to stay over *please pray that this is so* I've had this done twice before and the previous two times I had to stay the night which I hated.Anyway, because of that, my menu is very simple this week:

My usual stir-fried chicken, veggies and noodles. I made it last week with a satay sauce (really just a tablespoon of peanut butter per pan - I do each meal separately) which was SO DELICIOUS it was almost sinful :)

I'll be drugged on painkillers, probably. Dion will grab some leftovers...

Wed - Friday
I have some things in the freezer. The curry and rice from last week is still there, there are also some ready-made meals to just pop into the microwave. Normally I hate buying things like this - expensive and not as good as my cooking - but I'm taking it easy and focussing on getting well.

Any ideas for some REALLY quick meals? I won't be able to stand for very long periods...

Visit Laura for more menus (did you have a good holiday, Laura?) and have a great week!

Friday, July 04, 2008

Let's get your HOME OFFICE organised

You are invited to spend a few hours with me on 17 July.

At the end of the day you will have...

* a well-ordered, organised desk and office plan with clear zones
* a system to reduce your email overload
* an easy, step-by-step plan to prioritise your work
* at least 3 clear ways to make your computer do your common business tasks, automatically
* a clear, simple way to deal with all the paper
* ideas on how to maximise your office and storage space
* and much, much more

and of course, you have 60 days’ unlimited email support while you take action on your plan

Date: Thursday 17 July

Time: 12 - 4pm Eastern Standard Time/ 6 - 10pm South Africa Time

What do you need: Telephone and notebook

So how does this work?

Once you register and pay, I’ll send you all the call-in information plus the handbook for the day.

On the day, at the top of every hour, I’ll teach for 15 - 20 minutes and the rest of the hour, we (the entire class) will all action that section of our offices.

What are the sections we’ll tackle?

12pm How to organise your desk for maximum functionality and efficiency

1pm Clear the paper clutter and create a system for the flow of paper in your office

2pm Conquer your email, set up folders and organise your inbox

3pm Prioritise all your projects and develop a system for planning your month, week and day.

3:50 - 4pm Wrap-up and how to maintain your organised business

The best thing about this seminar is that you’re learning and doing so at the end of the day, you have a beautifully organised and functional office!

Have a read and see pictures of my own organised office here:

(Important note - I'll throw in a FREE copy of my "7 easy steps to organise your office" for every person registering on or before Thursday 10th July - my way of rewarding you for TAKING ACTION)

If you'd like to attend but the date doesn't suit you, let me know and I'll email you when I do this again in about 6 weeks or so...

Best regards
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Marcia Francois
Time management expert ~ Speaker ~ Author
If you want to get organised, please visit my website for your free Organising Success Pack

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Tweaking your organising systems

One of the most important parts of organising is tweaking your systems.

It's perfectly normal to organise a space and find that it's not quite working the way you envisioned.

That doesn't mean you throw out the whole thing! Please don't do that :)

All you need to do is a little tweak here and there.

Like this:
The other night I was doing my whole face routine and realised that I was slightly irritated by a tiny cabinet above my basin. Remember, I have the dubious honour of having the smallest bathroom in the world. My Private Platinum Clients actually love seeing it - I should charge admission :o

This is how it looked before. There are tiny mirrored doors which open to the left and yet, I use the Yardley Oatmeal range on the left.

It took me about 5 seconds to do a quick tweak and move the bottles to the other side, like this:

Much better! Now when I slide the doors open, I can get to the moisturiser immediately and I don't have to slide the doors an extra 10 cm open.

It's about the small things. In the coaching world we also call these small things tolerations - they drain you just a little bit every time you think about it.

If there's a space that seems just slightly off to you, think about making a tweak here and a tweak there until it's organised just enough for your lifestyle.

What are you going to go tweak and re-organise?