One hour to sanity

Break out of overwhelm

If you’re feeling a little bit crazed and harried, don’t worry – you’re not alone.

This time of year makes us all feel a little bit tense, irritable and even overwhelmed, and we’re all just waiting for people to go on leave, aren’t we? :)

Here are a few resources to help you:

1. Use the Master To-Do list in the Time Management Purpose Pack on this page and get your head empty of anxiety as you write down everything.

2. How I deal with overwhelm

3. Break out of overwhelm (one hour to more peace and calm)

4. Avoiding Pinterest overwhelm

Wishing you reduced overwhelm this week!

PS please share these resources with a stressed/ overwhelmed friend today

{Konmari} tidying the books – finally

I’ve written quite a bit over the years about how much I love my Kindle but the fact of the matter is that I still have a ton of physical books.

It could have been worse but thankfully, I only keep books I really love/d.

Konmari books |

So one weekend I decided I had to finally tackle those shelves and ask The Question, “does this spark joy?”

Konmari books |

it’s always a good idea to dust once the shelves are actually clear :)

Marie Kondo, in her life-changing book, does say a few interesting things about the process of decluttering books:

  1. books are one of three things most difficult to get rid of (is this true for you?)
  2. fewer books mean there’s a bigger impact on the information (true!)
  3. timing is everything. The moment you come across and feel compelled to buy is the right time for you.
Konmari books |

the two books on the left are borrowed indefinitely from friends… so yay, when I read them, I can return them!

Maybe number 3 is true for others, but I buy kind-of all the time because I’m reading and finding books online all the time. I’ve only recently stopped buying ahead on Audible. I’m listening to one book at the moment, and have one more ready to go. I don’t want to gather/ hoard more than this.

The thing is I do get to a lot of books much later than I intend to….and most times, I’m compelled to read them at the right time. There are physical books I’m sure I will read still on my shelves.

Konmari books |

these are books I LOVE or definitely want to read. Motherstyles is my most favourite parenting book ever!

That said, I took her point about asking yourself, “does this move me or not, and am I happy to see it on my shelves?”

And that was the filter I used to declutter.

I must add that the task was much bigger in my head than in reality (isn’t it always?!). Once I started working, it probably only took me an hour to finish the exercise!

Konmari books |

this pile went…

Konmari books |

as did this pile (A painted house is my favourite John Grisham but I haven’t re-read it in the 10 years we’ve been in this house so I’m not likely to do so, right?)

I got rid of (well, that box is still standing in my entrance way ready to go to the secondhand bookshop) about 20 – 30 books that I liked the idea of, but know I probably won’t ever read, even though many of them are new.

I’m sure I could have done better but for now, this felt enough for me :)

Konmari books |

Mission accomplished – I’m finally down to just 3 shelves :)

How are you doing with Konmari? Has anyone done their books? Was it torturous for you?

Organising | kids’ school lunches

My kids have always been good eaters – part of this is that they like food, and the other part is that I do things in a particular way which has had good results.

  1. When I try a new meal, I ask for a helper in the kitchen (one twin only). This makes the other twin super curious about what’s going on and while I’m cooking, I make a lot of oooh and aaah sounds, and we taste. We then invite the other twin to taste too, so by the time supper rolls around, everyone wants to eat.
  2. We don’t snack on carbs in between meals (we’ve relaxed this a bit but that’s usually in winter when everyone is hungrier) so they are genuinely hungry when it’s meal time.
  3. I don’t make a big deal about eating or not eating. I also don’t always feel like eating, so eat/ don’t eat – whatever! But… there are no alternative meals :)
Kids' school lunches |

wholewheat bread with peanut butter, apples with lemon juice

So they still eat very well at lunch time, but I have a few rules after trying all sorts of combinations the first couple of weeks of “big school”.

  1. there has to be a sandwich and fruit/ veg (my one twin could be vegetarian so often asks for carrots or tomatoes instead of fruit)
  2. we only allow tuckshop money on Fridays, and not every Friday
  3. I only pack snacks (nice things aside from the fruit and sandwich) on a Friday. I generally pack shareable items because I’m encouraging sharing (mini packs of gum sweets/ superC/ raising/ peanuts and raisins/ mini cheddars)
  4. if they don’t eat their lunch and only have the snacks, then that becomes the lunch when they get home from school. I don’t ever throw food away.
Kids' school lunches |

I think there were prunes in the container, and she wanted her ham next to her roll… #thisissix

Sandwich fillings are usually ham (I like Woolworths beech smoked ham), cheese, or peanut butter and jam. My kids don’t like Melrose (cheese spread) and we have never bought Marmite (neither of us like it). They do eat fish paste but like me, they prefer it at home on hot, buttered toast.

When I try to introduce new things, they tell me they like their same old fillings and it’s not boring for them.

I also think about the mess factor with lunches – while things like tuna mayo and egg mayo spreads are delicious, I wouldn’t want them messing about with that at school. As Kendra told me once, “we want food we can eat quickly so we have time to play”. Got it!

Kids' school lunches |

tiny bit of leftover pasta salad, carrots, ham on French loaf

Kids' school lunches |

same story with more carrots

Kids' school lunches |

Rolls with ham, banana, container with either raisins/ peanuts and raisins

All the pics were taken with my phone at night which is why they’re less-than-stellar.

I’m always asked about this topic so I hope this helps at least one mom. Let me know if this helps/ amuses you!

Tell me your lunchbox tips, and feel free to ask questions.

Workplace Wednesday | use pretty stationery

Pretty notebooks |

I have this thing with work stationery.

You see, I don’t like “boring” stationery so I buy my own nice pens, highlighters and most importantly, notebooks.

And, as you can see in the photo above, I also jazz up my binder clips :) Here is the tutorial. (Very useful to keep hands busy when you’re on the phone – I actually keep two rolls of washi tape in my stationery drawer at work)

I feel like we’re at work more than 8 hours a day so I want to surround myself with happy things.

My notebooks always get positive comments and most of all, it makes me really happy to write in pretty things.

What about you? Does your stationery make you happy?

If not, maybe you need to take a pretty notebook to work and buy yourself a Pentel pen :)

PS I bought this notebook when I visited the UK 7 years ago, so it made me extra happy when I remembered that shopping trip to Sainsbury’s with our friend, Shereen.

My Sunday evening routine

Are you doing weekly planning yet?

If not, give it a bash, just for one week and let me know how it goes.

Sunday evening routine |

For now, I thought I’d share a part of my Sunday evening routine.

What’s been working is combining cooking supper, supervising kids’ lunches and packing my own lunch too. When I’ve been lazy to do my own lunch then, I usually panic at 11 pm when I realise I still have to make lunch decisions. HUGE schlep!

Kids’ lunches

I’ve started teaching the kids to pack their own lunches. My love language is acts of service and I LOVE doing their lunches so I still do it 4 days a week, but I’m hopefully teaching them some independence by letting them do their own lunches for Mondays.

I call one kid at a time (the other one is in the bath) otherwise there will be a fight and I don’t particularly want fights when there are knives involved!

They feel proud of themselves and they also look forward to eating their own lunch the following day. Sometimes I even find that Connor’s taken a bite from his sandwich to taste if it’s good :)

Sunday evening routine |

Cooking supper

This is a quick and easy affair – either pasta, eggs or a combination of leftovers. Still, it needs assembling.

Packing my own lunch

I pack cereal, milk, yoghurt, 2 fruits (always a Granny Smith apple plus something else), a veg (usually tomatoes, sometimes carrots), and my lunch.

I also pack a clean water bottle and anything I need to replenish at work – tea bags, salt, Salticrax, etc.

This whole thing takes about 30 minutes and it’s so easy.

Tell me about your Sunday evening routine.

PS these photos are from a weekend kids’ lunch – one twin likes cucumber and the other one likes tomato.

Please let me know if you have any questions!

Beautiful planner goodness awaits

I need to tell you that Leonie’s Amazing Life and Biz worksbooks (and much, much more) are ready for you. I’ve used these workbooks for the last 4? 5? years.

And…. I also need to apologise for only letting you know now because the to-do list pads are already sold out – so sorry!

Anyway, get over there and get your planner or workbook of choice – I always get the digital versions because postage is so crazy expensive for South Africans, so if you’re local, that might be your best choice too. However, rest of the world – go wild! I know she ships from Australia, UK and US so those regions shouldn’t be too bad.

Someone asked me how these compared to last year… well, they are even prettier than before. Beautiful colours, yummy paper but also, they’re organised into categories. E.g. for the life version, there are sections for health, relationships, home, etc.

I’m a firm believer that if something is beautiful to look at and touch, you’ll actually use it.

I definitely use this planner for all my end-of-the-year reviews (after I start off with my own one!), goal-setting and then I use lists like the 100 things to do list too.

Leonie Dawson2015 workbook|

Have a look and post your images as you start using them! I love seeing all the end-of-year planning going on :)

Free Christmas printables!

I’m so excited to give you these printables today.

I used to give my subscribers a huge PDF document but when I looked at it, I just couldn’t send it out.

It was far too *much* and didn’t spark joy. And most importantly, it didn’t feel authentic for me to talk about choosing priorities and living simpler, and then sending out a 20-page printable pack.

So, I made what I want to use – two months’ calendars, a page to map out your priorities (so you keep focussed), and a monthly and weekly breakdown.

Christmas printables |

Get it when you sign up to the list until about a week before Christmas because after that I’ll be sending out my favourite printable of the year, the 2016 Goals and Intentions Pack.

Enjoy using them and when you sit down to do your planning, take a pic and tag @OrganisingQueen on Instagram with #OrgQueenIntentionalChristmas

Wishing you joy as you plan for the holidays!

When is it worth it to buy a book?

How I read books |

I read quite a lot – a little in excess of 5 books a month. I could read more but we’ve already spoken about how we’re all not reading enough.

Still, when I talk about my reading to people, I get a lot of questions about buying books, Kindle vs paper, library vs owning them, and so I thought I’d put together my thought process in the hope that it might help someone.

(let me know if that someone is you – it’s nice when you know your efforts landed somewhere!)

   How I read books |www.OrganisingQueen.comFiction

I read far too much fiction (and far too quickly) to buy each and every book I read. The fiction I read comes from four places:

  1. the library – I have always loved the library. Always.
  2. Kindle deals (Amazon is amazing at telling me when books I’ve looked at go on sale 😉 so I can decide if I want to wait for the price to drop some more, or if I want to get the book there and then). I do like to have about 3 – 4 books on my Kindle when I go on holiday so I wait patiently til then to read all the Kindle novels I’ve been storing.
  3. secondhand bookstores – if I’m on holiday and I run out of books (this happened in April when we were in Sabie), I dash into a secondhand bookstore and grab a cheap copy of a book by an author I’m familiar with.
  4. gifts from my Amazon wish list

A word on libraries

I’ve recently discovered a new thing – reserving books. You complete a form, they phone you when the book’s in and then you pay R12 for the book. Where are you ever going to get a book for R12 these days?!

I reserved the Marian Keyes book in the top photo and I can’t wait to dig in.

How I read books |


I only read 1 – 2 non-fiction books a month – my goal is 15 for the year – and here are the three sources of my non-fiction:

  1. Books from my bookshelf (I’ve been buying non-fiction at Exclusive Books my whole life and I buy them faster than I can read)
  2. Kindle (since I bought my Kindle nearly 5 years ago, I stopped buying physical books and get them on the Kindle)
  3. Audible – this is a new development since the beginning of this year and is perfect for using my commute time effectively. Since Audible, I no longer buy non-fiction for the Kindle unless the author is not reading their own work. Sadly, not all books are available on Audible but there are plenty to keep me busy for the next year or so :)

More on Audible

I have a few rules for myself:

  • I prefer it if the author reads their own work
  • If not, then I need to enjoy the narrator’s voice. One of my favourite books from this year, Overwhelmed, was narrated by someone else but she had a great voice and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to it.

Earlier this year I felt a tad overwhelmed by all the books I’d bought and not yet listened to, so I paused my membership for 3 months while I caught up.

And that’s it!

How do you get the fiction or non-fiction books you read? Let me know on Facebook or Instagram.

How I read books |

A friend made me this beautiful Kindle cover. I love it!!!

More posts you might like:

Why I never thought I’d get a Kindle

2 years with my Kindle

3 years with my Kindle

My technology bag

It’s so interesting to me how, as some things develop and are supposed to make our lives better, there’s also the flip side, usually a down side.

Like social media – amazing for connecting with like-minded people but it also leads to comparison-itis :) and can be a huge time-suck.

And how I still adore my iphone 4S but because the battery life is so terrible, I now carry around a technology bag so I can always be powered.

(I do close all my apps and have my background app refresh turned off)

Let me show you my technology bag.

As an aside – I changed to a smaller bag and lost that one in various handbags a time or two, then decided it wasn’t worth it, so I’m back with this gorgeous coral Matt and May bag (R149 – I thought it’s a bargain for such a beautiful bag. They also had grey, navy and black…. all far too boring for me ;))

Technology bag | Technology bag |

What I have inside (from top right):

  1. iphone charger
  2. powerbank
  3. powerbank charger (I put a name sticker on everything. Literally. I really don’t like to lose things)
  4. multi-USB point
  5. earphones
  6. Fitbit charger

Technology bag |

It’s so reassuring to know that even if my phone battery dies, I can charge it up quickly and be on my way again.

Just on Tuesday I exited the Gautrain and was busy requesting an Uber when my phone died. I whipped out the powerbank, connected it and about two minutes later, I was able to log back in to request the taxi.

Of course, the trick is to make sure the powerbank is charged all the time. I do it whenever I’m at my computer during the day.

What do you carry around in the way of technology enablers?

Do you need to unplug from social media noise?

Let’s face it – if you’re involved in social media, you’ll regularly hear real and Facebook friends mention that the noise is too much.

The social media noise, that is.

We’re all aware of Facebook envy, where you imagine that people’s lives are the sum total of their updates, because nobody posts about the flip side of the coin, real life.

Instagram has made it a little worse for some people, I’d imagine, with beautiful pictures of families, homes, baking, and so on.

Time to unplug |

I remember when we went on a beach holiday, scrolling through my phone pictures, I’d see both Instagram-worthy photos (the beach…) and also the moments between Instagrams, like three-year-old time outs and laundry day craziness.

The truth is I’ve never felt like I needed to unplug because I try to live life on my own terms and not compare myself to others… and I feel relatively well balanced, most of the time. Well balanced enough that I can coach other people in total integrity knowing I am being authentic.

You see, I set up some boundaries for myself years ago which are now very firmly entrenched habits:

  1. I like to be more of a contributor than a consumer in any social media. If I’m on a particular site, it’s first to contribute (post, photo, etc.) and then to consume (check other people’s pretty pics and status updates).
  2. I also use social media to connect with people. So if I scroll through my feed and see something I enjoy, whether a post or a photo, I’m probably going to comment or “like” that snippet. I want people to know I’m reading, watching and enjoying catching up with them, no matter how superficial.
  3. And of course, being a time management coach, I have very firm time boundaries for myself.

Also, very old-fashioned of me, but I actually still use Pinterest for my original reasons, storing bookmarks and websites I may want to reference again, and as a search engine for pretty things.

All of that said, a few weeks ago, I was praying and I just felt like I couldn’t hear very well because my brain felt too cluttered.

Time to unplug |

I sensed that I should take a bit of a social media fast to clear my head a bit.

Since I didn’t feel that it was completely necessary to not have any involvement, I did a “light version”:

  • I blogged in advance for the week ahead.
  • No internet at night after supper. Night times were now reserved for cooking, husband and kids, gym, photos, prayer and Bible reading and other projects… like the good old days!
  • I only read blogs while eating my lunch at work and if I could only read and comment on three blogs during that time, then so be it.

What were the results?

  1. I got a TON of things done around the house.
  2. I heard a lot from God – I journalled too so I wouldn’t forget it all.
  3. I felt calmer and more peaceful.
  4. There was more time so I slept more during that week. My usual is at least 7 hours and I was getting in 7.5 – 8 hours daily.
  5. Of course my Feedly had about 200 items in it by the end of the week so I unsubscribed from a few feeds, the ones where I wasn’t even slightly tempted to do some catch-up reading.

I still don’t think I’ll do it very often but I think I’m sold on doing at least a quarterly social media fast.

And then I noticed that I’ve been wasting a bit more time on Facebook in the mornings from my bed. When I realised on the weekend that I’d wasted a good hour I could never get back, I deleted Facebook. Not my profile, just from my phone. I’m a lot more intentional when I use the real computer instead of my phone.

What about you? Do you need to unplug?

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