Boundaries for working at home

Boundaries for working at home |

My preference, as I’ve mentioned before, is a nice clear boundary between work and life.

That’s not always possible because the emails pile up if I’ve been out of the office too much, or if I need quiet, concentrated work time to write reports and such.

Which means I then occasionally work at home after supper.

However, I’m the type of person who could work too much once I get started. There’s also the lure of the internet so things might take longer than they need to.

I came up with a great solution for me:

I bring the charged laptop home but I leave the cable at the office.

Boundaries for working at home |


This does two things:

  • it forces me to focus and get my priorities done first, and
  • when the battery dies, that’s it – I have to stop work.

My laptop lasts about 4 hours unplugged which is more than enough time to work after supper :)

When I mentioned this “brilliant idea” at work, the others looked at me like I was crazy.

However, as Gretchen Rubin says, Know yourself.  I’ve done it for about 4 months now, and it works perfectly.

I’ll admit I twitched a bit the first time when I did it because I had a proper deadline, not just my usual self-imposed ones (such an Upholder!), but when it worked so well, I kept on doing it.

Boundaries for working at home |

Do you have any tricks to help you stick to your work/ life boundaries?

If not, consider this a Try This at Home like they do on the Happier podcast :)

Do you think my idea is crazy or genius?

It’s Valentine’s week so let’s talk teachers’ gifts

My kids are in Grade 1 this year. Tell me, is it still the done thing to give the teachers a little gift?

We made a few gifts yesterday just in case it is still the done thing because this big school business is something we haven’t remotely figured out yet.

Here are 3 very quick and easy ideas if you do want little gifts for teachers, friends, etc.

  1. Last year we gave each of the teachers a big glass jar full of pink and white marshmallows. I don’t have photos but they were very well received (and not expensive either).

2. Little glass jars with Strawberry Fluffs

Use bakers’ twine or plain satin ribbon, print tags from the internet and you’re done.

Valentine's ideas |

3. Notebooks and pencils

Use decorative tape, or washi tape and decorate the front of a plain notebook. Add a pencil and wrap in cellophane. Stationery lovers are sure to enjoy these.

You can read the full details and see many more pictures on this blog post.

Valentine's ideas |

For more ideas, check Pinterest.

Do you do Valentine’s for teachers? At which grade do you stop?

Do you have a favourite idea that you use? Please share in the comments and feel free to link to your blog/ instagram, etc.

My current 5 favourite stationery finds

favourite stationery finds |

Today let’s talk about my favourite 5 stationery finds.

I have written about three of these on the blog before but it’s nice to know if someone is still using the thing they recommended two years ago, isn’t it? :)

Right, let’s get to it:

  1. Pentel 0.7 mm liquid gel pens

I spoke about them here and I included one in each Let’s Do This workshop pack, and the delegates agreed with me – these are indeed the best pens in the world.

I still love them.

Warning – if you use them at work, label your pens because they might find feet.

My favourite colours are the pink and orange, and the sky blue.


2. Staedtler Wopex pencils

favourite stationery finds | www.organisingqueen.comfavourite stationery finds |

I’m not really a pencil person but I bought this pack because the colours were bright and happy, and then once I opened the pack, I realised they feel amazing to the touch.

I’m a very tactile person and these pencils have a bit of stick to them and they almost feel magnetic when you grab the whole bunch.

Not that that’s a reason to buy a pencil, but if you like pencils, then I think you’ll love this part.

And then they write really well – dark colour, soft and smooth lead, and still strong.

I bought my pack at CNA for about R25.

3. Bic wax highlighters

I wrote a whole post on these and I still love them, so read all about them here.

favourite stationery finds |

4. Staedtler triplus fineliners

favourite stationery finds |

I see people colouring with these pens but I use them for normal writing of lists in notebooks and in my diary. My favourite part? All the bright colours…. and apparently they’re dry safe. I don’t know if that’s true but I’m not taking a chance.

5. Staedtler metallic markers

favourite stationery finds |

I wrote about these too before and they are still one of my favourites. I “play” with the kids when they draw and craft, and I doodle with my metallic markers, make cards, etc.

I found these recently at Pick and Pay on sale for R20 a pack – a bargain, I think.

Tell me, what are some of your favourite stationery finds?

8 interesting talking points in “I know how she does it”

This is part 3; here is part 1 and here is part 2.

  1. Women typically make their lives more difficult than they need by not using their affluence.

In South Africa, I think if you can afford it, most people happily have a domestic worker. I’m not sure many of us have hang-ups about using the money we have to make our lives easier. Agree? Disagree?

I think in cases where we “make our lives more difficult” it’s because of our values coming into play. An example of mine is how I personally made all the babies food their whole lives. More work, but I didn’t do it for financial reasons although the money savings were a nice side-benefit.

2. You can work 44 hours a week (a very standard week) and still feel unbalanced.

I agree. I think the unbalanced feelings come from unmet expectations and poor boundaries. I also think that the unbalanced feeling is from the real or imagined expectation that there is no flexibility to your day. I would personally hate to have to ask for permission to go to a parents’ evening at 4, and I know I’m not alone here. How much better to structure your day to still meet all your outcomes and attend to these parenting events?

I know how she does it |

3. There is a huge career and financial disadvantage to officially switching to part-time work

Rather ask for forgiveness than permission to attend to personal errands.

She mentions that women often ask for this permission whereas men just take it. Women are also the ones who have the tendency of moving towards part-time work.

4. You don’t build the life you want by saving time; you build the life you want and then time saves itself.

Sometimes narratives serve no purpose beyond keeping you from the life you want.

What is a deeply-held value and what is merely a script you memorised long ago?

I know how she does it |

5. Childcare is not an expense; it’s an investment in your lifelong earning potential.

I’ll admit I used to think like this. If what you earn will more or less just cover childcare expenses, and your expenses to be at work, then what is the point of working?

… only if you don’t enjoy or need to work. needing to work is not just financial, by the way. I love working to be useful, for the interaction with people, to use my skillset and oh yes, I get money too.

But childcare costs fall over time. Of course, if you educate your kids privately, costs increase exponentially.

6. 3 or more years out of the workforce for women means that they lose 37% of their earning power over the remaining decades.

That’s a lot of money to think about.

Some people think it’s wrong for women to think about money independently from men. I think it’s wise. We’ve heard too many stories about women having to radically change their lifestyle due to divorce, death of a spouse, etc. And in the Bible, did the Proverbs 31 women not keep herself busy and contribute to her family’s income?

(disclaimer – not only am I passionate about finances, but I also work in financial services, so this is a subject close to my heart :))

I know how she does it |

7. If you think you have no leisure time, start a binge-worthy series (TV or books). Leave books around and you’ll be entitled to read it.

True – I had to read 10 books in December to reach my reading goal, didn’t think I had the time but I did it. I did spend less time on Instagram and other social media so there’s that…

Is Pinterest (or for me, Instagram) really where you want to spend your leisure time?

8. Look at your work day and build leisure in. Meet a friend for lunch. Take a walk.

To me, this has always been a great way to maximise time at work. I often meet friends for lunch and I’m hoping to start a walking habit one day a week, during lunch. Hopefully I don’t melt during summer.

I’ll add something to that – eat lunch at your desk and meet a friend straight after work or on the way home. If you leave just half an hour early, meet a friend for an hour, that will be a 30-minute longer day but you’ll have done something fun and intentional too.

Which was the insight that most made you think/ have an aha moment?

I know how she does it |

[Goals] my January review

Well, that was January.

It feels like the month passed so quickly but it may be due to me being on holiday for half of it :)

January goals |

Pringle Bay, place for your soul to breathe

 Here were the highlights:

We went on a holiday to Cape Town. Ah, best ever. I’m very, very thankful for the first four peaceful and calm days in Pringle Bay before a flurry of doing, friending and sightseeing in Cape Town proper.

I went on a fabulous free walking tour of the Bo-Kaap in Cape Town. It was such a hot day but well worth taking the time to do it. One of my favourite things of the holiday.

January goals |

Bo-Kaap walking tour

I had nine socials this month, five of those in Cape Town, which I’m very pleased about. I got to see all except one set of friends – yay!

And then right back into getting the kids to Grade 1! Two and a half weeks in and they seem to have settled in nicely. Homework is now a daily requirement and we’re figuring out the best rhythms for our family.

January goals |

I’ve also settled into work nicely. So many people have said those days of South Africans doing “nothing” in business for December and Jan are long gone, and I have to agree. Every year seems to get busier but I’ve resolved to create/ maintain some good work habits (maybe I should blog those?) which should make things easier.

January has been a great reading month – I finished 7 books, 2 of them non-fiction, so that’s looking good for the year ahead.

How was your January? What went well, what didn’t? Did you set goals?

(on our walk yesterday, I helped the kids set 4 goals each for February. Start them young, is what I say ;))

And now, I’ll leave you with this beautiful sunset while I set my own goals for the month ahead.

January goals |

PS Are you subscribed to my new list? I’m sending out a monthly review form a little later to help you as you think about January.

Popular posts this month and a few weekend links

If you’re not already signed up to my new newsletter, you might want to do that. On Monday we’re sending out a monthly goals review form.


Peek inside my gorgeous new handbag

The brown bag |

Things that worked for my year-long photo project

My word of the year for 2016

I know how she does it – a great insight from the book, and then 5 things where I didn’t agree with the author

Our favourite kids’ stationery items – and I will do part 2 and my favourites in Feb. Pinky promise :)


And then a few good links I found around the web:

A word on toys from Practising Simplicity

and an older one, also from the same blog, on a word she’s not using this year

The not-so-secret secret to a happy life

Happy weekend, everybody.

3 things I’m doing differently with my goals this year

This year I decided to be a bit more intentional about my word of the year. My monthly goals night is already a solid habit in my life and if I incorporate the word of the year business into that process, it should make the whole thing seamless and easy.

3 things I'm doing differently with my goals | www.

In terms of goals themselves, I have three main areas I’m focussing on this year:

  1. God
  2. Relationships – Dion and kids, extended family and friends, and me
  3. Health and fitness

Here’s what I’m doing differently this year:

1. Adding an additional goals category for my word of the year

This year, when I set goals, I’m thinking about them in 4 parts – the three areas above, and joy as a fourth category.

Isn’t that a great idea? :)

I no longer want to have busy goals but meaningful goals and the ones that are habits are now off the list.

This month, I consciously set goals in each of those categories and in the joy category asking my 5 questions:

  • how can I bring joy?
  • what will bring me joy?
  • where do I need to choose joy?
  • does this spark joy? and
  • what can I do to eliminate things that steal joy?

3 things I'm doing differently with my goals | www.

2. Align books to read to goals

The other day I came across Valerie’s post on her blog and I see she links the books she’s going to read to her goals.

What a great idea for non-fiction.

Last year my non-fiction/ fiction ratio was 20:50. I don’t intend to do this fully because I really like space for spontaneity, especially with reading. Still… I do think it’s a good idea for at least some non-fiction books to be aligned to my goals.

3 things I'm doing differently with my goals | www.

3. Write out my goals by hand

I’ve long since said, especially when I ran the workshops, that there’s something special that happens when you write down your goals.

(Anything is better than not even getting them down, but writing is better than typing)

There’s a connection in your brain and it’s as if you’re committing even more to the process.

Also, if you tend towards crazy like I do, you’ll quickly realise that having 30-odd goals a month is a bit much. But in my defence, you don’t feel it when you’re typing….

My new diary has only 12 lines on each month’s goals page which is possibly a sign that I should slow down and enjoy the process more.

So I wrote out my goals on those 12 lines this month and I like it already.

There you go – the three things I’m doing differently this year with my goals.

Are you doing anything different with your goals this year?

It’s not too late for your goals


There are two schools of thought on starting goals on 1 January.

  1. One group says things like 1 January is just a day; if I want to change something, I’ll just do it.
  2. The other group gets ready for 1 January and dives in.

Which group are you in?

Someone at work actually asked me what the big deal is about the day?

I thought about it for a few days and came back to her.

There is nothing special about the chronological day; after all any day is much the same and all have 24 hours. BUT there is a big psychological shift around 1 Jan.

  • The whole world (or it seems like it) is getting ready for change so you might as well get swept up in all that positive momentum.
  • There is also a certain excitement about a fresh, clean slate. A new calendar, a different diary, putting the past in the last year and starting afresh.

So then, what happens when life carries on and you’ve “missed the 1 Jan boat”?

You start whenever you can.


Let me share some of my story.

I told you before that I use 3 different workbooks to wrap up the old year and start off my new year. Here’s what worked in 2015.

  1. I started with my own one (which is still available) to set a good example. Also, it’s the shortest so it creates some good momentum.
  2. Then I moved onto Susannah Conway’s one (link above) and finished the “closing off 2015” section before the end of the year. While I was on holiday, I started and finished the intention-setting for 2016.
  3. I didn’t properly get going on the Shining Life workbook til we were back from our holidays. I did the 2015 reviews last weekend, and then started all the 2016 goals. I finished the whole thing this last weekend (Saturday night 1 am!).


Confession 1 – I wondered if there was going to be any point to it seeing as we’re in the last part of January.

Then I remembered that the very first year I bought the workbook which is about 5 years ago, I bought in August, started there and then, and the exercise was still useful.

So of course doing this year’s one this late was also going to be useful.

We all know this… but sometimes (a lot of the time) it’s a good idea to give yourself a little talking-to.

Confession 2 – I planned to dip in and out of the workbook, and get to other things later. This is more my style – I am definitely not a perfectionist.

But as I started working through the workbook, I was having SUCH FUN that I did each and every exercise (except the two oracle reading pages which I pull out and toss).

(the key is to do it once the littles are sleeping and the husband is watching a DVD)

I’m so glad I took the time to think through everything properly, working on my bright yellow desk with some of my favourite stationery.

(I’ve just realised I haven’t talked about my yellow desk here but don’t worry – I will remedy that soon – it deserves its own post)


This gave me such clarity and such amazing insights… I’m sure I’ll share more as the year progresses.

You can get your copy here. I like the digital copy because I get it immediately!

Whether you use any of the 3 workbooks I mentioned, or you do your own version, it’s not too late to close off 2015 properly and start this year.

Make a date with yourself and do it.

Have you done a 2015 review? Have you set 2016 goals? Why or why not?

Our 5 favourite items of kids’ stationery – part 1

Favourite stationery for kids |

A friend once joked that visiting my house was like visiting a stationery shop. It’s kind of true – the kids even ask if they can “shop in my cupboard” :)

I’ve always loved stationery and they love it too.

I think because of that I like to buy new things “for the kids” 😉 If I like the stuff, we keep buying it; if not, we move on.

We’ve tried all sorts of crayons, markers, pencil crayons, pastels (oooh, pastels – we all LOVE pastels) and these are our absolute favourites:

Favourite stationery for kids |

  1. Staedtler markers

Favourite stationery for kids |

We received our first pack of these (12-pack) at the end of 2012 and we have about 6 left that still work. These things never go dry. The big packs cost R70 at Pick and Pay and are WELL worth it. I tell everybody to not waste time with any other markers – buy a big pack of these.

Obviously the packet is long since in the bin but because we’ve lost/ dried some of ours, I saw these small packs of 6 at CNA the other day for R20 each. A bargain. Go get some!

2. Bic soft colouring pencils

Favourite stationery for kids | www.organisingqueen.comFavourite stationery for kids |

I discovered these about three years ago and guys, the heavens sang. They are delightful to use – soft and so easy. You won’t want to stop.

I love that they’re nice and wide for little (and my) fingers and they come in a box with a pencil sharpener which I appreciate. They’re R17 a box and if I give a colouring book for a present, I usually add one of these boxes too.

Go get yourself a box – and come tell me how much you love using them.

We’ve had fancy pencil crayons (Melissa and Doug), and everything in between, and these are the ones my kids love the most.

My one and only gripe is that they only come in boxes of 8.

3. Oil pastels

Favourite stationery for kids |

I personally like Staedtler’s three-sided pastels the best but my kids used these Colleen ones at school last year and so my Staedtler ones have been rejected (left to me!)

The kids tell me they like the way they shade without making their fingers dirty :)

4. Roll-up crayons

Favourite stationery for kids |

My kids aren’t fussy about these crayons – they like any brand.

I’ve bought sets of 8 in a pack and bigger packs like these – they like them all. This set has gold, silver crayons too which particular delighted my two.

You need to put strong boundaries in place because my children like to twist the entire crayon out, the crayon breaks and then you can’t roll it back in again.

5. Marlin metallic pencil crayons

I’ve only ever seen these Marlin ones at a small stationery shop in an even smaller shopping centre. I bought my box for R12 which was a mistake because next time I went back they were about R30.

These go very nicely with the metallic markers from Staedtler or Rolfes.

Remember you can buy a pad of black paper or cardstock and suddenly the world is a happier place because you’re writing in fun colours that stand out so beautifully on the dark paper.

Favourite stationery for kids |

Now you can see I can talk about stationery all the day long. Would you like me to do more posts like this?

Chances are if it exists, I’ve tried it 😮

I do have one more planned for kids – a part 2 to showcase some more stuff we love and basically how I keep them entertained a lot of the time. And maybe one with MY favourite stationery :) We might need a part 1 – 3. Ha!

What are your kids’ favourite stationery?

PS do you know how you remember if stationery is with an e or an a? Envelopes start with an e :)

How to not be annoyed – A Rising Strong review

While we’re on the subject of stories we’re telling ourselves, I also listened to Brene Brown’s Rising Strong recently.

To my mind, one of the key points is this: what is the story I’m telling myself about such-and-such situation?

For instance, a colleague could continually do their work late which means that you have to work late to complete a report. The story you tell yourself is that they’re doing this just to annoy you. The idea is that you have a conversation with them and say “the story I’m telling myself is …”    Then they will say that they’re just landed new deals, blah blah, and then you all realise no one is out to get you, it’s all in your mind, and everyone is well afterwards.

Granted, I work in an environment that is not touchy-feely at all so this will never go down there :)

However, I have done this in my mind about work and friendship stuff, and it’s quite useful.

Like, the story I’m telling myself how a particular person is inconsiderate. Then I think, “what might actually be going on?” Maybe they’re busy, maybe they have other things going on, etc.”

And then you get less annoyed which is always a useful thing.

She talks a lot about husband/ wife stuff in the book which is great.

Read if you want! Nothing tops Gifts of Imperfection though :)

Interestingly (to me), Liz Gilbert and Brene Brown are friends, and Liz had Brene on her podcast where they spoke about the writing of this book. There is an archetype of the tortured writer which most people buy into, and Liz sets this thing firmly on its head in her book, Big Magic. So apparently Brene heard about this concept that creating can actually be fun and joyous, and she wrote this book in a completely different way.

She retreated with friends and spoke to them for 3 days solid, that was transcribed and then edited and voila! A book.


Have you read Rising Strong? What did you think?

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