I've FINALLY moved the blog!
After numerous attempts to do post-dated posts, I decided to stop flogging the dead horse and move to Wordpress.
Please add my new domain to your Google Reader, http://organisingqueen.com/ :) and if I'm on your sidebar, please link to the new domain too. Thank you kindly.
Oh, please be patient with me as I'm a technophobe and ... I'm still fixing up some things - spacing in the sidebars, etc, etc. - but do let me know what's working, what's not, etc :)
See you over there!
P.S. Does anyone know how to get that numbered comment thing I see on some blogs?
Monday, December 28, 2009
I've FINALLY moved the blog!
Scribbled by Marcia Francois at 8:42 PM
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
I read an absolutely fabulous post over at Beth's place the other day called The Christmas Police.
If you're feeling overwhelmed with all there is to do, STOP.
- You don't have to buy more gifts.
- You don't have to do more baking
- You don't have to send out Christmas cards even if you've received some.
- You don't have to decorate your house to match your neighbours' houses.
- You don't have to put up another tree.
- You don't have to go to that party you don't want to go to.
Give yourself permission to STOP and enjoy what you have done (even if it's nothing). Nobody enjoys being around frazzled people, especially at this time of year.
P.S. Mine is in the comments :)
Sunday, December 20, 2009
- I make a list of everyone I want to send a card to.
- Gather all the cards from my storage box
- Address them all - I store the addresses in Outlook
- Then when the cards are sitting on my desk with all the addresses peeking at me, I'm more motivated to actually write out the messages and get them done.
- I try and write a few every day so that all the writing doesn't become a burden. I don't believe in just saying "To ________ From _________ " so I try and put a bit of effort into it.
- I took 10 with me to the hairdresser's last week and while the colour was on my hair, I managed to write out 6.
This year I took about 40 from my stash (I buy them at half price just after Christmas every year) and I think 10 were for people in South Africa; the rest are being sent overseas.
Do you send Christmas cards? What's your strategy for getting them done?
Thursday, December 17, 2009
We all know that between kids, shopping, work and gym, it is often a challenge to keep the car nice and clean. It doesn't have to be an impossible task if you put some or all of these ideas into practice.
Here are 10 things I do to keep my car clean, tidy and organised.
1. I don't allow any messy, greasy food in my car and I only eat fruit that won't mess. This rule applies to me and to other people.
2. I don't allow anybody to smoke in my car.
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 repurposing.
4. To keep your car smelling nice, leave a plastic refill bag of fabric softener under your car seat. The smell permeates the whole car and makes it smell lovely.
1. I keep some plastic bags in my cubby-hole so that I can throw away apple cores, bits of paper, etc. This bag leaves my car every weekend or once it's full, whichever comes first.
2. I also have a special plastic bag for my umbrella. There is nothing worse than wet-car smell from horrible, wet umbrellas.
3. In the boot (trunk) 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.
1. I have a notebook and pen in the actual car mainly to write down when I fill up with petrol but also to make notes so I don't forget things. If I'm driving and I remember something I have to do, I quickly make a note of it at the traffic light.
2. 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 you don't get the same consumption for a number of times, then you should get your car checked out at the next service.
3. I also like keeping a magazine in the car. When I'm kept waiting somewhere, I can use the time constructively to catch up on my reading.
Now it's your turn :)
Please share your favourite tips in the comments
Monday, December 14, 2009
We moved the guest bed into my study to make space for the babies so I had to get rid of a lot of stuff and I tried to think of better solutions to store things I still had to keep.
Like gift wrap, cards, bows, etc.
I still store the long rolls of wrapping paper like this...
but everything else is now consolidated and lives in this one place on the shelf
wrapping paper I can re-use, gift bags and coloured raffia
small box on left
ribbons, bows, gift tags and things to make the presents look pretty. I bought a pack of small tree decorations and attach a bauble to some gifts. Very pretty.
medium box on top right
cards, cards and more cards
I don't think I've ever written about my view on greeting cards.
I almost never * buy single greeting cards of any sort. Generally I prefer to write my own message so I buy packs of blank cards - all different sorts so I'm bound to find something for every type of occasion.
My husband is the same - writes beautiful, meaningful messages in cards (I still have every single one he's ever given me!). In fact I've told him a gazillion times he should have his own greeting card range because he'd make a fortune.
Also I think paying upwards of R20 for a card (just over $2) is a huge rip-off. Especially because I always feel (maybe arrogantly?) that people would rather hear my heart in my own words.
My way works out to between R3 and R5 a card, depending on the size of the card.
* Exception is when there's a leaving do at work, or someone's birthday and you need a gigantic card that a whole team of people can sign. Then again people can be so uncreative and all write versions of "happy birthday" or "enjoy your day" not the missives like I do. Why is it I'm usually in charge of these things?!
So back to the box.
I had tons of Christmas cards in there plus all the blank cards, thank you cards and some extra packs of gift tags.
Do you prefer to write your own messages or do you prefer a store-bought card?
Thursday, December 10, 2009
It must be hard to juggle your work and your babies?
How do you do it? :-)
Leanne from Joburg
I wrote about balancing work, life and family before...
I thank God every day that I'm organised so I can save lots of time in a myriad of different ways.
I honestly don't know how people do this mothering thing (especially of multiples) if they're not organised :) I would go nuts.
- I have lots of systems so that things that have to get done like cooking and cleaning get done with the least amount of fuss.
- I also always cook double and when I'm in the mood and have an extra bit of time, I'll cook even more and freeze all the extra meals. At the time of writing I have 10 extra meals in my freezer (that's enough for two weeks) and on my to-do list today is to cook another two meals as I have the nanny here.
- I'm fortunate that I have a wonderful boss who's allowed me a more flexible working day now that the babies are here. However that means when I'm at work, I'm totally there. No faffing around; I get to it and get my work done.
- I've pared down my business considerably. When I'm at home and working on a newsletter, I set myself a time goal, focus and get it done.
- I always assume that a baby will wake before I expect it to so I try and work quickly. At home I clean as I go, or tidy as I go. I don't ever think "I'll come back to this later".
- Of course when the babies need my attention, all this goes out the window.
Calling all mothers!
Please share your best tips with me for juggling work and babies (any work - inside or outside the home)
Monday, December 07, 2009
The baking for Christmas has started in earnest.
But I only have one good recipe for drop cookies (we call them biscuits) and I need your help.
I don't want to just google "drop cookies" as I want recipes that people have actually tried and tested. And loved to eat!
Like my oatmeal cookies, the easiest things in the world to make.
Why drop cookies?
I don't do the "normal" ones, the ones where you roll the dough in flour and cut out with shapes - far, far too much work and way too messy!
Unfortunately I'm not in the least bit crafty so this is how they'll be presented to people.
Please share your favourite recipes for drop cookies with me.
P.S. So far two of those huge formula tins filled with biscuits have been handed out; I have another two wrapped and ready on my launch pad to go next.
Thursday, December 03, 2009
Amanda from Michigan, USA writes I love all your posts but I especially enjoy the ones about your planners/notebooks and how you organize them.
I'm secretly very glad Amanda wanted to know about the planning aspect since it is one thing that really works very well in my life.
First and most importantly, I do weekly planning - of our household, my business, socially, etc.
I firmly believe that doing only daily planning will drive you nuts - it certainly did for me - because you really feel the pressure of the to-do list every. single. day.
I do my business planning on Fridays because that's when my accountability partner and I chat. Household planning usually gets done before the grocery shop - these days that's a Thursday - but when I go back to work (I'm still on maternity leave), it'll also move to Fridays. And then, the social and personal stuff gets done on a Sunday late afternoon.
I use both a paper and an electronic (Outlook) planner. Outlook is mainly to remind me to pay bills and not miss appointments especially when I've had busy days where I haven't even opened my paper diary.
We also have a ginormous calendar in our kitchen where we mark off any socials but also things like when we need to phone in the electricity meter reading, when the gardener is due (we only get him in twice a month), when I start a new bottle of vitamins for the babies, etc, etc.
I get an immense sense of satisfaction when I can use up stuff in the freezer and pantry so I first have a look there before I do my menu plan for the week.
Usually after I see which basic items I have, I add to my grocery list. E.g. if I have chicken in the freezer and I want to make Apricot Chicken, I may have to add a can of apricots or a sachet of brown onion soup to the grocery list.
Then I do a quick check through the house to see if we have things like breakfast and lunch goodies, cleaning stuff, baby items like formula and nappies and personal items for D and me.
Quickly, in a nutshell, because I've written a whole system on organising your business, I review goals and set some action steps every week.
Personal and social
On Sunday nights I check all the calendars and see what's etched in stone (doctors' visits, supper with friends, etc.) and what still has to be done but can be moved around (gym!) depending on how busy we are. Also we don't like to be too busy in any one week, more so than ever now with the babies because sleep is our number 1 priority.
I then plan when I will work on which business tasks because I don't like feeling stressed out with too much to do. You see, I've realised my limitations :)
I usually coach clients on Mondays so I'll do a freezer meal (almost no kitchen time). Tuesdays I write my weekly newsletter so I won't make any social plans. And so on.
My other notebook
I also carry around a notebook to jot down basically anything that strikes my fancy:
- things to blog
- talk to nanny about ________
- things to buy
- website changes
- birthday cards to write out
Next year's planner
I've already seen the planner I want to get for next year - the only problem is it comes in two gorgeous colours - deep purple and deep red. Both delicious, yummy colours. Both are absolutely lovely to the touch (I'm a tactile person) and so, because I can't choose, I haven't bought mine yet.
Which colour do you think I should go for?
Have you bought your 2010 planner yet?
If you're undecided, here's a series of 5 posts I did to help you out (with pics)
Choose the perfect planner
P.S. I will write about the babies in another post - it takes military precision to organise those two :)
Monday, November 30, 2009
With Christmas fast approaching, I thought I'd point you towards some helpful Christmas posts
Think about clutter-free gifts
Organizing and storing holiday items
Declutter your children's toys
Let's talk gifts - what's your philosophy on the whole gift-giving issue, especially in this economy?
Do you go ALL out, no expense spared?
Do you have a gift limit?
Do you buy for kids only or also for adults?
Do you do handmade gifts?
Share in the comments - I'd love to hear what you do.
P.S. I'll start by sharing my gift-giving philosophy in the comments.
P.P.S. We found out we were pregnant on Christmas Eve last year. I put up this little stocking not knowing that there were TWO little babies :)
Thursday, November 26, 2009
The rule in our house is that when we start running low on something, anything really, it goes on the shopping list. We then buy it when I do the weekly grocery shop.
Kendra is on a special formula that only comes in these tiny cans. It's also very difficult to find as only two stores near us stock it, so we have to be organised about the timing.
At her current rate of eating, we need 6 of these tins every month.
I learned my lesson once when I had to drive to about 4 different places to find her formula!
I'm very strict about not going to the shops except on my designated shopping day (the more I go, the more I spend - is that only me?) so here's how I keep track of when we're running low.
I mark the top of the can with numbers and then I stack the cans with the highest numbers in the front.
When I reach out and finally pull out the can marked 1, I know it needs to go on the shopping list.
Just in case someone else opens the can, I also write last can on the lid so there is absolutely NO confusion about when it needs to go on the list.
How often do you go grocery shopping and do you use a shopping list?
P.S. Happy Thanksgiving to all my US readers! Enjoy your day.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Remember the competition for ideas to use up Connor's empty formula cans?
Well, I loved all the comments. Clearly you guys are MUCH more creative than I could ever be :)
There were truly some great suggestions - if you haven't read them, go have a read and make some notes for your spare cans.
My favourite ideas were from Danel (commenter 1) who gave me not one, but four great ideas:
I use mine as follows:
- store small toys in them.
- cut an opening in the lid and let my baby put babyfood lids through the opening.
- put anything noisy in them so that baby can shake it - loves the noise
- use an empty one as a drum - i taught my baby to hit it with his hands or a spoon to make some noise!
I may have liked them so much because they're baby uses for empty baby cans :) I get a kick out of things like that.
So Danel, look out for an email from me soon :)
I also loved the suggestions to use them for Christmas goodies so I've decided to also use some of the cans for my famous oatmeal drop cookies to give to some of my friends for Christmas. Everybody LOVES these - just try them.
These are the easiest things in the world to make and you absolutely can't go wrong with them. I promise.
I did my first batch today and 1 1/2 cans are already used :)
Thanks, everybody, for playing along.
P.S. I still haven't managed to fix this scheduling problem (yes, I've logged it on the support forums) so I'm moving to Wordpress. I think I've been very patient the last 6 months!
P.P.S. I go back to work in 2 weeks time!
Monday, November 23, 2009
Colleen from Florida wrote...
I love the idea of menu planning but have no organization for recipes.
How do you organize your recipes?
I have them electronically, paper, and websites.
I used to be one of those people who drooled at reading recipes. I'd have every intention of cooking or baking the delicious _________ and then life would happen.
I wrote a post on organising my recipes about 18 months ago - not much has changed but here is the summary :)
- I've learned to be brutally honest with myself and only print recipes I know I will actually cook. That one step will save you tons of cooking angst and lots of paper :)
- Once the recipe passes the taste and easy-to-make test (I don't believe in doing any dish that takes longer than 30 minutes to prepare) and I know I'll do it again, I put it in one of my recipe flipfiles. I currently have one for main courses, desserts, muffins (hey, I love baking muffins). Here's what I do with small recipes when I don't want to waste a whole page for just one.
- I also have a flipfile for new recipes I want to try.
- We have a list of about 24 meals that we both like (things like cauliflower I have to eat elsewhere :)) and I do my weekly menu plan based on these meals.
- Only when I feel bored cooking the same things, then do I go looking through that flipfile to try out my new recipes. Of course, some are so compelling you just have to cook them straight away :)
- be realistic about your time and money constraints (we all know some recipes where you'd have to go SEARCHING in exotic places for the ingredients; those are not my types of recipes!)
- categorise well (according to how YOU think and live)
- declutter regularly
Friday, November 20, 2009
It's unseasonably cold and rainy in Johannesburg.
Has been like this since Tuesday.
Of course, I love this weather - love love LOVE it - so have been an Energizer Bunny, cooking, cleaning, doing Christmas cards, etc.
One thing cold weather does for me is want to eat comfort foods like pasta, soup, anything potato, etc.
Actually, my favourite comfort food is mashed potato.
I so rarely make it from scratch that I had to take pictures!
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
The contest is now closed. Thanks everybody for all the fabulous suggestions. I'll pick a winner in the next day or two and post the name :)
Have a lovely weekend!
This is a picture of some empty formula cans.
Somehow I can't bear to throw them away as I'm positive I can recycle them and put them to good use.
Only thing is, the babies have sapped my creativity and I'm all out of ideas.
This is where you come in - I'm looking for ways to use these cans, keeping in mind that Connor goes through one of these every 14 days. Kendra's on the tiny yellow/ orange tins in the top left of the picture so I don't mind throwing those away.
This is what I already do with some of them:
So here's how it works:
- Leave a comment with your suggestions and your email address
- Competition closes this Sat 12pm EST
- I'll pick a winner and post the person's name.
- The person chooses 1 of 3 e-courses.
Hopefully in the not-too-distant future I'll do a post showing you what I did with them.
Come on, put your thinking caps on!
Monday, November 16, 2009
Melanie from New Orleans wrote...
I'm personally very interested in balancing hings - work, graduate school, home, family, friends, etc, etc, etc. If you have any advice about that, I would appreciate it!
This is a great question, Melanie. It's also something I'm re looking at in my own life since my babies were born 4 months ago.
1. Realise you only have so many hours in the day
We all only have 24-hour days. Some of us think we're Superwoman and have more time than that. We don't.
2. Write down your different roles and the time commitment required from each
Don't forget to add in managing your home time and personal time!
The idea is to see if you're a time optimist or if you're being realistic with your time. Sometimes we think a certain activity only takes, let's say 2 hours a week. When you factor in travel time plus preparation time, it may increase to 4 or 5 hours. No wonder you always feel frazzled when you think about this specific activity.
3. Now ask yourself these questions:
Am I too busy?
Am I trying to do too much?
Am I being realistic about the amount of time outside commitments take?
What do I need or want to focus on at this time in my life?
What can I cut out?
What can I delegate?
I do an exercise with my Time Management clients where they tell me all the different areas of their lives. Some people have lots and lots of balls that they're trying to juggle. That's okay-ish.... as long as your priorities are straight.
Don't neglect your home and family commitments just to look good on a committee :)
My preference is to do less and do those things well rather than to feel overwhelmed by taking on more and more.
5. Realise that when you say yes to something, you automatically say no to something else.
Some things in life are just for a season, like the newborn stage. So while reading and going to my dance classes are extremely important to me, I'm doing a lot less because I have to sleep when I can :)
If you're on my Organise It mailing list, just this weekend I sent out a survey because I need to declutter all the things I do in my business for the next year or so, in order to focus on the babies.
I realised that I can't keep saying yes to all these other business-related things and short-change my family time!
6. Keep evaluating and tweaking
Just when you think you have things figured out, suddenly something won't work anymore.
That's normal with organising ANYTHING, let alone your time.
Keep evaluating where you're at - I do this on a weekly basis * - and tweak, tweak, tweak. Just because it suited you to work really long hours a few months ago doesn't mean it still suits you to do so now.
* will write about the way I plan my life soon...
So that's how I create balance in my life. I want to emphasise that it's an area I'm always working on!
Please share how you create balance in your life. We'd love to read your suggestions.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
I'm Karen from Washington state, USA.
Do you know any tricks for those of us in older homes with only one bathroom? I have a teenage son and a disabled husband who spends 2 hrs in there each morning. I can't get up any earlier (5:30am to let the caregiver in).
Karen, here's what I'd do to organise the time better:
- Allocate each person set "bathroom time" daily. The fastest person goes first so that the schedule is not thrown off if there are delays :)
- Everybody doesn't have to have their main bathroom time in the mornings. Can someone not do theirs in the evenings?
- To make the time more efficient, dressing must be done in the bedrooms.
- Have a bathroom caddy for each person which they bring into and take out of the bathroom when it's their time. This way the bathroom doesn't have to store unnecessary things.
Do you have one or more bathrooms family members have to share? How do you get everyone in and out quickly in the mornings?
Monday, November 09, 2009
Yes, it's true. I really hate doing the laundry. I think it's because it's never DONE! And I like things DONE and ticked off the list.
I actually have a friend who told me once that she finds doing laundry therapeutic. I can't fathom this at all but maybe you also love doing the laundry and can relate.
Before the babies arrived I did 2 - 3 loads once a week, usually on a Friday, depending on whether it was hot or cold around these parts. In winter the laundry seems to pile up quicker because we're wearing thicker clothes and layers, lots of layers :)
Of course, now that the babies are here, we have to do 3 - 4 loads of baby laundry every week, in addition to our 2 - 3 loads. They also spit on me all the time despite using burp cloths so that's increased our laundry too!
So here's what I now do:
- I have two big laundry baskets in my laundry, a tiny room just off my kitchen. One is for colours and one for whites. One of these baskets equals a full load in the machine so when the basket is full, I do a load, no matter what day of the week it is :)
- We have a laundry basket in our bedroom which I empty every 1 - 2 days.
- When I empty the bedroom laundry basket, I separate into the colours and whites piles there and then.
- I keep stain remover, washing powder and fabric softener, right where I use it - next to the washing machine - so that it's not a big schlep actually doing the laundry.
- Most times, I get the machine ready before the time by filling the washing powder and fabric softener drawers, and setting the dial ready to start. We also have a leaking tap and I hate wasting water so I put a bucket underneath the leak.
- When one of those baskets is full, all I have to do is toss the laundry into the machine and turn on the tap.
- If I'm feeling extra clever, I load the machine in the evenings and leave a note for Dion to turn on the machine in the mornings when he wakes.
- If the weather's good, which it is 90% of the time in Johannesburg, I like to hang the laundry outside to dry because the air does the job quicker and it saves me money by not having to use the tumble dryer.
- I hang shirts and tops straight onto hangers and hang the hangers on the washing line. It's quicker than using clothes pegs and easier to bring in quickly if rain threatens as it does during summer time afternoons.
- I think if there's anything worse than doing laundry in the machine, it must be the ironing. I absolutely can't stand it. I've been known to wear every single thing in my wardrobe rather than get out the iron and iron something.
- We have a cleaning lady, Precious, who cleans the house and does our ironing once a week. Heaven! I would do without eating out but I will not do without Precious :)
The babies have a nanny to look after them and part of her responsibilities is to do their laundry while they nap. Aren't I clever? :)
Do you love or hate doing the laundry?
If you're one of those people who love doing the laundry, please share your tips with the rest of us :)
P.S. This is in response to Michelle from British Columbia who wanted to know how to keep the laundry monster at bay :)
Monday, November 02, 2009
I've got two sheds that need tackling so any outhouse tips would be good :)
Carl Wokingham, Berkshire, United Kingdom
This is some of what I wrote to Carl...
Sheds is where I draw the line – I don’t even go into mine! I told my husband that dirty, outside work is for him :)
But let’s ask the readers and see what they come up with.
So readers, over to you. Today YOU are all the organisers!
Please share your best garage/ shed organising tips with Carl :)
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Amanda wrote this: "I could use tips for motivation to get up and get things done".
When you battle to get motivated, choose Quick and Easy tasks so that you can build up some momentum and feel good when (not if!) you do finally get some things done.
So what gets you motivated?
Is it MUSIC? Then put on some 80's tunes (or whatever your favourites are) to get yourself energised.
Is it COMPETITION? Then challenge yourself and see how many of the tasks you can accomplish in an hour.
Is it being ACCOUNTABLE? Then post a comment telling me what you're going to do and come back to tell me when it's done!
Is it SOCIAL INTERACTION? Then make a coffee date with a friend, but ONLY once you've done an hour's organising.
Is it reaching a GOAL? Then reward yourself once you've done all the tasks.
Right! So now that we know what motivates you, let's get to it!
IN THE HOME
1. Declutter and sort through all the old magazines. Tear out the articles and toss the rest.
2. Organise your launch pad - that place in your home where you DUMP things when you walk in the door.
3. Collect all the clothes you need to dry-clean, declutter or get mended.
4. Clear off the front of your fridge. Toss the magnets and recipes you're never going to use.
5. Throw away any old food in your fridge and freezer, and give the surfaces a good wipe down.
And now for some...
1. Do your filing.
2. Collect all the bills and invoices from around the home and schedule the payment dates in your planner.
3. Shred any junk mail with your name on it.
4. Organise your desk.
5. Delete 100 emails from your Inbox and Sent Items.
Whatever you do manage to do, give yourself a pat on the back!
Leave a comment and let me know which of the 5 motivators work best for you.