{31 days of enough time} Menu planning, even for spontaneous people

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times – menu planning saves me HOURS of time every week.

I started menu planning in 2006 when I “met” Laura and her Menu Planning Mondays, and I haven’t looked back since.

Menu planning is how I have enough time during the week for blogging, playing with the kids, going to Spanish, cooking healthy, nutritious meals, etc.

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My new job means I have an additional 20-minute commute both ways… and I don’t like to eat late so menu planning has become a foundation for my organised home. I’ve committed both to myself and our nanny that I will always have the entire week’s menu planned out so that she can prepare anything we’ve agreed on. For instance, if I put “chicken a la King, rice and carrots” on the menu, Nanny S knows to cut up carrots and have them ready so I can just cook them.

I’ve always batch cooked so I have a number of meals in the freezer at all times. The key is to keep the freezer inventory up to date so I know when I need to cook a new batch of food.

As an indication, I planned out a full two week’s meals without needing to cook anything new….that kind of pre-cooking won’t work forever but I definitely like at least a week’s worth of meals in the freezer.

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Did you know that meal planning works for both structured and unstructured people?

Here’s how you do it:

  1. For the structured people, simply make your meal plan for weekdays or the full week. Shop for all the groceries and then try to stick to your menu as closely as you can. If you feel like switching things around, there is still the freedom to do so.
  2. For the unstructured people, make a list of 5 – 7 meals and make sure you have the ingredients for all of those meals. On the day, see what you feel like cooking and do it (then cross off that meal). Do the same thing every day…. or not (it’s your life; don’t feel pressured and definitely don’t feel guilty for not making one of the meals on your list if you no longer feel like doing that one). Benefit – you have a loose plan but you’re not tied down to a specific meal on a specific day.

Do you menu plan?

How does your system work?

31 days of enough time | www.OrganisingQueen.com

PS There’s a menu planner in the free Time Management Purpose Pack.

{31 days of enough time} Using the right tool will transform your life

I have a theory that goes something like this…

people buy things because they think that those things will transform them into the person they want to be

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  1. we buy baskets and containers hoping that we’ll become organised
  2. we buy bookshelves full of self-improvement books hoping we’ll become evolved and improved
  3. we buy gym outfits and expensive sports shoes not to mention paying for expensive memberships hoping that will motivate us to get fit and healthy
  4. we buy bigger, better and fancier cameras hoping that will make us take beautiful photos
  5. we buy tons of scrapbooking paraphernalia in the hope of having our baby books done

I could go on and on…

There’s nothing wrong with this, of course.

But we have enough. We really do.

Use whatever tools you currently have, use them fully and make them work for you. This is a great tool to nail down all the basics.

What I want to caution all of us against is putting our hope in the tool or the thing instead of in our own abilities to get whatever we want, done.

31 days of enough time |www.OrganisingQueen.com

I see this especially in the productivity/ time management arena. There are forums and blogs with ginormous readerships where people spend so much time talking about the best tool/ app/ planner/ pen/ printable for this, that and the other, and while all this is going on, they could have used a piece of paper and a pen (cil) and it would have been just as effective. I promise!

As much as I love this app, if it disappeared tomorrow, my old-fashioned paper lists will work just as well.

Today I’m giving you permission to just be. To put aside the myth that the right tool will be your magic wand.

Stop searching for the next best thing in an effort to get more time, or have enough time. Use what you have at your disposal and it’ll be fine.

Let’s be honest.

Do you sometimes find yourself looking for the next best magic trick to transform your life?

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{31 days of enough time} Use a timer

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This is a common kitchen timer.

Some of you might remember my yellow egg timer. I think back very fondly on that old timer because it happily lived with me for many years until a certain set of curious twins came along ;)

I’ve written a lot about timers in the past because they’re so effective at keeping you focussed and on track. They also really help with Parkinson’s Law.

The kitchen ones are better than the ones on your phone because they make that loud, annoying ticking sound which forces me to focus and get things done.

I was almost sure I wrote a post about using my iphone timer but

I personally like to play games against the timer (isn’t it fun being in my head?!) and see if I can beat it. E.g. if I want to tidy my study, I’ll set the timer for 15 minutes and see if I can finish before the timer goes off.

(I like 15-minute intervals – long enough to get stuck into something, but not so long that I get distracted)

Do you use a timer?

Which do you prefer? Old-fashioned kitchen timer or the one on your phone?

31 days of enough time | www.OrganisingQueen.comRead my previous posts about timers here and here and here.

{31 days of enough time} Is it time to unplug?

If you’re involved on any of the social media platforms, you’ll regularly hear people mention that the noise is too much.

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 all those beautiful pictures of families, homes, travel, baking, and so on.

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 kids having time outs, messy kitchens after meals and laundry day craziness.

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The truth is I’ve never really 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. Well enough that I can coach other people in total integrity knowing I am being authentic.

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

  1. I like to be more of a contributor than a consumer on any social media platform. If I’m on a particular site, it’s first to contribute (post, comment, 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 some might think that is.
  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 of late, as a search engine for pretty things.

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

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 sleep duration 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 (I subscribe to about 75 blogs) and after the fast, 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 need to do a social media fast very often but I’m definitely sold on doing one at least every six months.

What about you? Is it time for you to unplug? Either temporarily for a period or maybe permanently?

31 days of enough time | www.OrganisingQueen.com

{31 days of enough time} My favourite book on boundaries

This is one of my favourite books on the planet. I think everyone should have a copy :)

My own copy is so old it’s about 2 – 3 editions ago.

I love this book so much that if I want to lend someone a copy, I rather buy them their own version because I know they’re going to refer to it again and again.

 

I wrote a post last week on boundaries – please click to have a read.

A friend said to me last year when we were having lunch, “I believe that everything in life comes down to boundaries. If people had good boundaries, people wouldn’t have all these problems”.

I 90% agree with that.

This one is the original version and the authors also have versions for marriage, dating, kids, teens, work, etc. It’s glorious!
Boundaries with Kids: When to Say Yes, How to Say No

31 days of enough time | www.OrganisingQueen.com

Have you read Boundaries?

Did it help you strengthen your own boundaries in your relationships?

{31 days of enough time} Know your priorities

This is one of my favourite topics to talk about mainly because of the answers I get when I ask people what their priorities are.

People always confidently tell me what their priorities are but then…. they falter a bit when I ask which decisions they’ve made or how they’ve arranged their lives around their priorities.

um, what?

:)

Let’s go back a step.

If I ask you what your priorities are, I’m sure you could list your top 3.

priorities | www.OrganisingQueen.com

E.g. Family, health, home

Now, let’s discuss, how do you practically prioritise those areas?

Some examples for family…

  • everyone eats supper together every night
  • you spend time together with your immediate family, just by yourselves, at least one day on the weekend
  • doing a fun thing together every month

Some ideas for health…

  • you work out 3 – 5 times a week
  • you cook healthy meals
  • you get enough sleep

Some ideas for home…

  • you spend an hour organising your home every week
  • you menu plan
  • you declutter regularly and properly consider where things should go before bringing them into the house

Why is it important to know your priorities?

So you know where to spend your time

If you’re invited to too many birthday parties or socials, for example, ideally you should first be making sure those top 3 priorities of yours have good foundations before tending to a priority number 7 on your list.

This is a simplistic example but I think it makes the point.

Tell me, what are your top 3 priorities?

Are you making the time for them in your life?

31 days of enough time | www.OrganisingQueen.com

{31 days of enough time} One of the worst uses of time…

worst uses of time | www.OrganisingQueen.com

31 days of enough time | www.OrganisingQueen.com

{31 days of enough time} Choosing clothes

After doing this 90% of the time for years and years now, it still amazes me just how much time I save.

Because when I don’t choose my clothes in the evening, the morning is a big rush as I run around getting ready for work.

I’ve written before about how I once ran a very impromptu focus group with my 5 colleagues to see how they all approached the choosing clothes thing.

The most structured chose all her clothes and accessories for the entire week on a Sunday afternoon, and hung them in her wardrobe ready for the week.

That felt a little bit too stuctured for me but I must say, I’m fast coming round to that idea, especially now that we get mostly accurate weather forecasts for a week at a time.

31 days of enough time | www.OrganisingQueen.com

Of course, on the other end of the spectrum, my one colleague said she jumped out of the shower, opened her wardrobe and just threw on anything she felt like wearing that day.

The rest of us varied between choosing clothes the night before to on the day.

Another friend told me she starts on one side of the wardrobe, and wears clothes from left to right and when she gets to the other side, she starts on the left again :)

I still choose my clothes just the evening before and it saves me at least 10 – 15 minutes of faffing around in the mornings. I’ve pared down my clothes considerably (next month I want to write about this capsule wardrobe business that’s so popular!) and yet it still saves me time.

31 days of enough time | www.OrganisingQueen.com

Where do you fall on the scale?

Do you choose your clothes the night before, weekend before or do you just throw on the first thing that catches your eye?

I love these human quirks so please feel free to share lots of detail. I’m always delighted when you do :)

31 days of enough time | www.OrganisingQueen.com

{31 days of enough time} I’m the only one who can do it properly

If you haven’t guessed it yet, when you say things like, “I’m the only one who can do it properly”, you’re doing three things:

  1. you’re giving yourself more work and
  2. you disempower those around you
  3. you deprive others of a learning or giving opportunity

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The key to all people who successfully manage their time is that they have the ability to delegate.

Delegate doesn’t only refer to those people who have staff.

You can delegate to your husband, kids, friends, etc.

Some of us have control issues and feel like if we don’t do it all ourselves, it won’t get done properly.

Who defines what properly is?

We need to challenge these old beliefs.

So what if your towels aren’t folded like Martha Stewart? They’re folded, right? If it’s going to make you twitch to see them folded improperly, then by all means, have at it BUT don’t complain that you don’t have even 10 minutes a day to read your Bible or a magazine…..

Choices…

My personal rule is that if someone else can do a task at an 80% effectiveness level, then they should. You may have to tweak or coach a bit to get to this point, but invest the time upfront to do that.

It pays off in the long run.

Two quick examples:

1. My kids started putting away their toys when they were 9 months old. Basically, the minute they could crawl, they had to crawl to fetch their things and bring it to the central toy spot.

Yes, it took time in those early days to encourage them and celebrate when the toys were all packed away. Yes, it would have been quicker to just do it myself in two minutes (my kids don’t have a lot of toys) but it’s paid off in HOURS over the years. Hours I use to cook, tidy, organise, or just plain relax.

2. I remember when the kids were still babies all of us new mothers would chat and compare situations. Some of my friends insisted on doing everything themselves as their husbands didn’t do things properly.

Fair enough if that floated their boat… I was only to glad to delegate baby duties so I could enjoy a mug of tea and read a blog post for 10 minutes :)

I’ve recently delegated Sunday night supper to my husband. Yes, I prefer that we all have more veggies, etc. but that’s an afternoon I can spend reading my novel for another 30 – 45 minutes instead of being in the kitchen ;)

Where do you stand on the “I’m the only one who can do it properly” scale?

31 days of enough time | www.OrganisingQueen.com

PS I hope you’ll be able to access this resource – there’s a lot more information on the topic of mindful delegation.

{31 days of enough time} Saying no

My love of the humble notebook and pen is well documented on this blog as my favourite organising tool ever. It captures all the bits and pieces so that our minds are clear(er), helps us organise our tasks and plan so that we have enough time for the things that matter.

31 days of enough time |www.OrganisingQueen.com

But after that, my most favourite time management tool is simply saying no.

Not to be dramatic at all but learning to say no will give you enough time, actually MORE than enough time, for all the things you want to do, and do well.

When you learn to say no, and get comfortable wielding that tool, you’ll be able to create time for your passions, purpose, hobbies, relationships, your self.

Most importantly, you get to say yes to the things that matter to you.

Read the quote below. Three times even. It’s that good (and is my new favourite time management quote).

saying no |31 days of enough time | www.OrganisingQueen.com

She’s talking about people who can say no.

It’s not (only) about saying no to other people. It’s probably more important to know what to say no to in your own life.

A few examples…

  • No, now is not a good time to commit to a ministry that requires a weekly commitment. Try monthly.
  • No, you need to focus on the kids now and your career later. Or it’s time to focus on your career now instead of being Pinterest Mom.
  • No, you need to focus on your sleeping patterns now … and stop watching TV/ surfing blogs so late.
  • No, you need to deactivate Facebook :) and Pinterest and focus on creating your own home that works for you.

Only you know what you need to say no to…. but if you don’t know, the quicker you do some soul-searching, the happier you’re going to be about the choices you’ve made.

On a scale of 1 – 10, how well do you know what you’re saying no to these days?

Are you able to wield your “saying no” tool well, or do you need to practise?

31 days of enough time | www.OrganisingQueen.com

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