Decluttering my brain…

My life feels like it has gotten a little out of control recently… it wasn’t one big thing that happened…  but little bit by little bit,  chip chip chip chip…until I find myself in a whirlwind of chaos.

Arghhh

Nothing has actually gone terribly wrong (yet) and I still seem to be getting through each day…by the skin of my chinny chin chin.

But I hate this frazzled, disorganised feeling.

There is a part of me that thinks the answer is about letting go of having things “perfect”.  To make peace  with school notes going in on or after deadlines,  with less priority work emails going unanswered,  with the increasing pile of “to action” documents on my study table and catching the sight of the kids bathroom from the corner of my eye and wondering “hmm…when was the last time we washed those towels”.

I simply need to let go.  To accept that I can’t do it all.

Except that I can’t.  I feel like this black cloud is lurking around over my head.  I hate being disorganised.  The sight of the piles of crap on my study table makes my stomach lurch when I walk into the room.  When my husband asks me a question about money, a shot of adrenalin shoots through my chest, as I am reminded that I haven’t looked at our bank accounts in months and I am just hoping everything is OK.   My mind is distracted at work when I’m trying to focus but can’t find my pen under the piles of stuff on  my study desk.

For me,  I don’t think it is about seeking perfection…it is about having some order and structure to streamline my days, to control the chaos.  It is about making active choices about what I will and won’t be doing..not just forgetting things.

Shannah Kennedy talks about this in her book “The Life Plan”.   “Simplicity brings clarity” she says,  and she talks about having a life full of clutter (internally and externally) becoming a drainer in your life.  The more drainers you have the more they weigh you down and make your feel more stressed.

“Many people are surprised to realise how much satisfaction they can drive from doing small, seemingly inconsequential task, such as putting all their gadgets chargers in one place, booking a check-up with the dentist or filing documents in their correct folders”…

Oh soo true…I get a LOT of satisfaction from these kinds of things and they become really impactful in your day to day life.  For example,  the Tupperware cupboard in our house is currently overflowing with an assortment of mismatched tops and bottoms.  When we unpack the dishwasher,  the current method is to open the door, chuck the Tupperware in and then shut the door as fast as you can before it all comes toppling out.   Of course, this makes school lunch packing time a very frustrating experience.   I spend a good 15min every morning trying to dig out the right size containers, with corresponding lid, then piling everything back into the cupboard that has fallen all over the floor.  I know if I just spent 30min one night pulling everything out and sorting it into piles, I’d cut my lunch making time in half every morning. (anyone got a tried and tested method for storage, I’d love to hear it!?)

OK,  so it is time for action.  I’ve made a list, yippee! School holidays are coming up soon, and I’m going to do me a bit of spring (winter) sorting.  I’m going to tackle all those every day areas which are contributing to the daily feeling of chaos.  The Tupperware cupboard, the key/cord/money/everything-else-we-haven’t-put-away box in the kitchen, my wardrobe (with the clothes scrunched up in balls) and my beautiful home office space.

Just making the list made me feel better.   Ironically,  just before I wrote this post, I was trying to find my notebook and the list I made, so I could remember and write about it for you… but I couldn’t find it.  I spent a good 10min pacing the house, looking under piles, under my bed, in the dogs cage…  I was about to start crying when I found it in an old supermarket bag on the floor in the corner…how?..why?

Anyway, I think the universe just gave me a hint that it really is time to take action.   OK,  I’m on it.  I’ll let you know how I go.

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A little tip for keeping on top of things…

Here’s a simple but very effective strategy which I use to help clear my mind of all the myriad of things it tries to throw at me every second of every day…

Always have a notebook with you…

I’ve been doing that at work for as long as I remember.  I’ve tried to move to doing it electronically on my ipad, but I keep coming back to a simple notebook and pen.  It’s just so easy.  That notebook follows me everywhere at work,  at meetings, on the phone..even at lunch.   I write notes during meetings, I use it to capture actions and things I’ve agreed to do (or other people have agreed to do) and, most importantly,  to jot down all those random thoughts that suddenly pop into my head when I am in the middle of something else.   It helps me to stay focused on the task at hand, and also makes it easier at the end of each day…to tally up the “to do’s” and write them up ready for the next day.    It’s not that often that I have to go back to old notes (although I have sometimes),  but I think merely writing things down helps it to stay in my brain.

Weirdly, though, it is only recently that I realised I need to do the same thing at home.  So now I have also have a “personal” notepad that lives in my handbag.  For those moments when I am eating dinner and suddenly thing “don’t forget to fill out that note for school” or when someone calls and I need to jot down a number.   Just like at work,  I use my notebook to go back and tally up the “to do” items and get ready for the next day ahead (for the record, I spent a lot of very pleasurable time shopping for an appropriate notebook.   It is green and has a lovely soft cover.  Surely the beauty of it makes me far more productivity…surely?).

I find this is one of the most simple but effective things I have done to help me feel more in control and less overwhelmed.  Clearing things out of your head and onto paper, makes space for your brain to do other things.   And it helps me to focus my attention, because instead of jumping from one task to the next…I force myself to simply write things down when they pop up,  and then keep focused on what I am doing.

Do you have a key strategy that works for you in keeping everything in your life on track?

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P.S Here’s an interesting fact, or maybe not an interesting fact at all?!?   I wrote this post a while ago but decided not to post it because…well…quite frankly, it’s pretty boring isn’t it? who wants to read a post about a notebook? Surely this advice is not valuable.  But then last week I was reading a book called 15 Secrets Successful People Know about Time Management By Kevin Kruse…and BANG, there it was…carry a notebook.   So…maybe it is not such lame advice after all,  clearly, I am a highly successful person,  just like Richard Branson (because he has a lame notebook too…so there!).

What are your super powers?

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Yep..being a special Mum is one of my super powers!

I’ve been reflecting this week on my strengths,  because I know that if I don’t feed my strengths on a regular basis, it is very easy to start getting flat and frustrated.

In my ten steps to work life awesomeness… step #4 is Knowing Your Strengths….and it is easier said than done.

I’m pretty good at identifying my weaknesses, most of us are.    But knowing your strengths takes a bit more reflection.   I always find it a bit of fun to do personality tests, or there is the VIA Strengths test which I also love.   These tools can help you to put into perspective which things make you feel great, put you in your ultimate flow.   But you don’t really have to do any special tests,  if you sit down and write a list of all the things that you enjoy, or think about what your favourite project/role at work has been so far,  what were the elements that you have enjoyed?  that will give you a good guiding sense of things that are your strengths.    Or, you could ask your friends and family  (I’ve done this recently and was surprised how uncomfortable it was to ask, I was so embarrassed but boy was it interesting getting perspectives from people who really know me).  There may be things that you don’t consider yourself to be “good at”  (possibly because you are super hard on yourself),  but they can still be your strengths if you enjoy doing them or wish you could do more of it.

Knowing my own strengths was a massive turning point for me.   I spent a lot of time at work focusing on trying to “fix” the things I wasn’t very good at,  like talking too much in meetings, instead of thinking about how I could do more of the things I was good at.

I know that one of my strengths is being very much a people person.  I love having fun, laughter and friends.  Yes, I love talking!   Which also means I love being part of a team at work,  I especially like leading a team (that is two of my strengths merged into one…leadership and team work…BONUS!).

Which means working remotely is actually quite hard for me.   The flexibility of my job role is awesome,  and I love that it means the focus is all on the work that I do, not the fact that I am sitting at a desk 9-5pm.   But sitting home alone drains my energy like a car battery when you leave the light on.

So, being conscious of this, and knowing that being a “people person” is one of my strengths but it isn’t naturally in my day to day role…I have to make a conscious effort each day to ensure I get my teaming fix…to plug in, and charge up!   I volunteer for projects that require me to connect with others, even if it is just on the phone.   I made my weekly teleconference with my team into a video conference on Google Hangouts, so I can see their gorgeous faces.    I joined the running club in the office, so I would be “forced” into the office once a week to take a run with some colleagues.   I organised to pop over to my parents house for an afternoon cuppa between meetings.    And all those things help to keep the fire in my belly,  despite my role perhaps not being the perfect role for a “people” person like me.

Which is why it is so important to know what your strengths are.  And to realise that just because you love to cook, or you love to nurture people…doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel on whatever job you are doing now, and run away to be a Chef or work in a nursing home.   But to be able to think about how you can bring your strengths to the table today, how you can squeeze more of them into your everyday. And you’ll be surprised how many opportunities you will find.

Do you know what your super powers are and do you practice them every day?

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Why not having a plan makes me anxious…

IMG_0772Hello Sunshine!!   I was so excited this weekend when the sun came out from behind the clouds and the sky was shiny blue.  My mood lifted instantly.   It feels like it has been a long winter here (actually I read somewhere that it has been the coldest winter in 15years), and my mood slumped along with the sunshine.    It is amazing the difference the warmth makes to your state of mind.

My husband has been away this weekend and I have to confess to being a little anxious as to what the the weekend would hold.  Actually  (lets just keep rolling out the confessions), I am always a bit anxious about what is going to happen at the weekend.  I realise this is perhaps a little strange, as the weekend is when I should be the most relaxed…right?   But it is not.   If I am leading into a weekend that is jam packed full of activities,  I feel much better.  Sure…it might be chaotic…but I know what I’m in for and I can plan around it.   It’s the unknown that gives me the heebie jeebies (side note:  can honestly say I am not sure I have ever had to actually write that down.  Had to look it up.  And, for your reference, the official definition is  “A feeling of minor fright, anxiety, nervousness, apprehension, the willies”- yes people,  the weekend gives me the willies.  Thank you Urban Dictionary)

Kelly Exeter from A life Less Frantic,  talks about creating “white space” in her life to help to stay calm.  A serial scheduler (much like myself),  she has been guilty of trying to schedule too much in her days which doesn’t allow for things to not go well (which inevitably will happen at some point).   So she purposefully schedules time in days when nothing is planned…white space… to give her some flexibility (apologies to Kelly if I am not articulating her theories correctly,  this is Claire’s interpretation, which admittedly could be a little warped).

ANYWAY,  as you may have guess, I’m a little uncomfortable with white space.

Every morning (give or take a day or two), I write a list of the things I need to do.  I prioritise them and then I schedule out most of my day.  There is no whitespace (don’t judge me too harshly,  it’s not all work stuff, I schedule in fun stuff too!) because what will I do with this white space if I haven’t thought about that already?  What if the kids just hang off me saying “I’m bored”?  if I haven’t scheduled out the chores maybe they won’t get done or I’ll forget something important?  What if we miss out on doing something because I didn’t organise it?

Writing this down sounds a little crazy,  but these are the things that go around in my head.   I’m not hugely spontaneous, I like a bit of time to make decisions.  But I realise this is probably not the best approach and it means that I don’t have room for life to just….well…happen.

So I’ve been trying a little harder recently,  to let myself move into a weekend without having too many things on the plan.   Sure, I still have a list of the chores I would like to complete at some point.  And I try to schedule at least one thing per day for the kids amusement and time for exercise.  But that is it.  And it has been a weird little experiment,  firstly because I do struggle with it so much (seriously what is wrong with me), but also because I am getting more and more examples of where having that space has worked out great.    The neighbours popping their heads over the fence and inviting the kids for a play “if they are not doing anything?”…actually,  they are not!   The sudden decision to stop at the coffee shop with the kids for some lunch, after our shopping.    Spending an afternoon lying in bed reading my book, while my daughter watched TV as she wasn’t feeling 100% after a cold… because we could, as nothing else was planned.

So this weekend, I didn’t have too much in plan and I was on my own, which was worrying me.  But then the sun came out.   I went outside and breathed the fresh air.   I randomly decided to prune/destroy our mop tree, which was out of control and we had been meaning to do for months.   My daughter was invited next door for a play.  My son went over the road to the playground to play with friends.  Then I suddenly stopped and realised I had an unexpected moment to myself!! Quick, sieze the day.

Poured myself a cuppa,  sat on the front deck and well….just sat…. it lasted all of about 10min,  but it was lovely…

Do you leave enough “white space” in your days to embrace unexpected moments in life when they happen?

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P.S…just for the record…I had an absolutely awful day, the day after I wrote this.   A volatile combination of tired cranky children and tired cranky mum.   It was an explosive end of a long week, and lets just say I won’t be winning any parenting awards for my mothering skills on that day.  But I am choosing to focus on the pockets of goodness,  the moments when I was doing OK AND the fact that I did pull myself together and redeem things before a VERY early night for everyone.   Every day is a new opportunity to learn!

I don’t know how she does it?

I actually hate that saying “I don’t know how she does it?”.  It has become so cliche, it makes me want to roll my eyes and punch the smug person, who is apparently doing it all with ease,  in the head.

But here I am…constantly thinking it…how do other people do this? when I feel like my brain is going to implode with the amount of information it is trying to store and order…and my to-do list is constantly getting longer not shorter…and the juggling isn’t just three balls,  but a few balls, a burning pole, a sword and a poisonous spider  (which reminds me…i need to call the pest control…anyway, back to the story).

I met up with a friend a little while back for lunch, and we were laughing about how lame our conversation was considering we spent most of our time talking about cleaning and organising.  We have a shared love of organisation but, unlike me, she actually implements it!  Infact,  I am slightly (OK, totally) in awe of her.   She has one of those amazing pantries that look like they were just spritzed by the Tupperware consultant,  her house is always immaculate.  she posts on facebook every 2nd day about some incredible craft she has organised with the kids, she works shift work in a stressful job and she is about to take an amazing trip overseas.  And I don’t even want to punch her in the head… because she is actually really really lovely.

I seriously don’t know how she does it.

Don’t you have that feeling all the time,  wondering how other people do it?  Have they got some magic ingredient I am missing?  As I sit here,  amongst the chaos that is my study (I decided the other day to clean out the cupboard, thus the contents are strewn across the floor but I didn’t get a chance to finish it and well…now…I just get exhausted looking at it). If someone “dropped by” unexpectedly, I think I would have to talk to them out on the veranda because they wouldn’t be able to get through the door past my laundry piles…so I am totally and utterly fascinated about other peoples lives.  I want to know what they have prioritised,  how they have prioritised.  Is their house really always immaculate or do they run around like a maniac before we come over (just like I do?).   Is my perception of their amazingness the actual reality?

Here's my half done clean up...not exactly where I wanted to be??
Here’s my half done clean up…not exactly where I wanted to be??

Almost every woman I know is juggling things across their life in some capacity.  Yet, no two have the same scenario.  Some work full time, or part time, or not at all,  or shift work.  Some have lots of children, some have one child, some have none.  But whoever they are,  I am still interested in what goes on behind the scenes, the choices they have made,  what has been hard and challenging…what are their tips and ideas.

And so… it was as I was pondering this,  it was when I decide to create the Confessions of a Corporate Mum facebook community page.   I love the idea of a community of amazing women (which we totally all are), coming together to share tips, offering advice, asking questions and maybe, on those days when it is all getting a bit much…have the opportunity to vent  your frustrations amongst a group of readers who totally understand…because absolutely EVERYONE has those days (come on, don’t leave me hanging…I’m not the only one am I??).

And if nothing else,  it’s just another place for me to share the little tit bits of my journey…so you can sit at home smugly and think.. “gosh…I have it so much more together than her”…

What better reason could you have to join me on the new Confessions of a Corporate Mum facebook Community page? and all you have to do is “like” it…plus if you are not already doing so, please also join my growing tribe of followers right here…simply click on the follow me button on my blog…and get my little blog deposited in your lovely inbox every week…it would be my pleasure to entertain you….

claire2

 

This week I’m obsessed with …podcasts…

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Ok…so this story all starts with my desire to get better at multi-tasking.   There are so many things that I am trying to squeeze into my days, I’m always looking for ways that I can kill two birds with one stone by mastering effective multi-tasking.

Now, I realise in a world where most of us are trying to slow down…to focus…to be mindful…trying to master multi-tasking is probably not my best bet.  But sometimes I feel like I am forced into this corner in order to get everything done that I need to.   But I’m pretty crap at it.  Infact, probably most of us are.   The amount of times I have been caught out on a teleconference, because I was trying to type an email and thus stopped listening.  Or when my husband is talking to me and I’m trying to watch TV at the same time, then realise I haven’t heard a word that he said.

However, I have found little sneaky ways of multi-tasking, that works really well for me.   I think the formula is to combine two tasks,  one that requires your brain,  and one that requires no brain contribution.   For example,  if I paint my nails while I am listening to a teleconference,  I actually find that I focus more intently on what people are saying because focusing on the mind numbing task of nail painting is helping me to focus.  Or even better,  unpacking the dishwasher and wiping down the kitchen while I listen (this doesn’t work if you need to actually talk on the teleconference).

In the mornings before school,  I used to like watching the morning shows to keep a finger on the pulse of what was going on.   But I realised it was taking my attention away from getting all the other morning tasks done…plus the children have a tendency to be drawn to the TV in some kind of weird trance and thus, they are also not getting ready.   So I switched over to turning the radio on.  Bang, i can keep updated with what is going on, and keep my hands (and eyes!) free for packing lunches, eating breakfasts and rounding up children.

And so through this little exploration of multi-tasking,  I uncovered Podcasts.   I know I am pretty late to this party.   We use podcasts quite a bit at work but I have never really “got it”.  I had a tendency to try to listen to podcasts and do work at the same time (two brain tasks in conjunction…fail).   So I was playing with my iPhone and realised I have a podcast app and randomly decided to download something to listen to while i took the dog for a walk.   I started with MamaMia outloud,  I realised how much more enjoyable my usual trip around the block was,  whilst listening to people chat about the latest current affairs and gossip.   They then recommended a podcast they were obsessed with called “StartUp“…which I also downloaded, and this is where I started to get obsessed.  I don’t work in a start up and I have no plans to open a start up,  but the story is so fascinating, I’m hooked.    He recommends another podcast called “Serial”…also amazing.  How I have not discovered this before. I download more podcasts that are about the work I do in Social Media.  I start listening while I do my exercise.  I listen on my walks.  I listen while I cook.  And it is made all the more satisfying because I feel like I am ticking boxes (and I LOVE ticking boxes).

I guess a lot of people uncover this medium because they have long commutes to work, so being able to listen to something while you drive or are on the bus, helps pass the time.  Since I a do not usually have a daily commute, I have not had that challenge.  Although I did drive into the office the other day and found myself hoping for a traffic jam , so I had time to finish the rest of the story!!

Now I’ve uncovered this world, I have realised there are also lots of books for work that I have been meaning to read but haven’t gotten around to.  And I realise that I could download audio versions and listen while I do other mundane tasks.  Awesome.

I understand and know that I need to work on finding space in my day for simply doing one task with focus,  or doing nothing at all.   But I also love it when I find ways to multi-task, squeezing more satisfying moments into one of my jam packed days.

Go on…download a podcast…I know you want to…

claire2

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Our household balance has gotten out of whack…

freephotosbank.com
freephotosbank.com

The balance of chores and family responsibilities in our household seems to be getting more and more unbalanced and I’ve been reflecting on how we ended up here.   You see, it certainly wasn’t always the case.

When my husband and I first started dating (a long long time ago), we both still lived at home.   My husband’s mother was an amazing wonderwoman.  I don’t think i ever saw her sitting.  Not only did she work full time, but she put 150% into caring for her house and family.  I remember being in awe of her, but also thinking “I’m never going to be like that” (you know, those kinds of judgements we make, and then realise later in the life, that we have landed exactly where we never thought we would!).

I was, after all, a new age university graduate who thought she was going to conquer the world.   I specifically made a point of saying to my husband (then boyfriend), that I would not be an amazeballs wife like his mother.  That I expected us to share things equally and he totally agreed.   I remember one incident on our first holiday together, when he asked me how to do the laundry.  I was annoyed that he “presumed” I knew how to use the washing machine when he didn’t.  So even though I did actually know how to use it (!),  I pretended not to know and told him to do it.   And when he produced an entire wash load of newly dyed hot pink clothes,  I didn’t rant and rave and call him an idiot…i simply sigh and said “Oh no, how did that happen”…and through his own incredible investigation skills, he suggested perhaps he should not have washed the clothes with his brand new red t-shirt.  Lesson learnt the hard way.

And so, when we moved in together, the chores were split pretty evenly.  There was even a time when he injured himself on the job and had to take 6mths off work.  He became a real househusband, cooking and cleaning while I went to work.

Our first baby came along and I took 6mths off work to care for him.   My husband also took 6 weeks off work because our son started his little life in special care and I needed extra help.  So, together, we figured out how to look after this new little person and manage the house.  When I went back to work full time,  my husband arranged his shifts so he could look after our son one day a week, my parents looked after him another day and thus he only needed to be a childcare three days a week…which was an arrangement we were all comfortable with.  And our household continued to be quite balanced,  each of us of taking on the household chores and parenting in equal parts.

I suppose it was the arrival of baby number 2 when things started to shift.  Our daughters arrival coincided with my husband moving into a new role at his work,  a male dominated alpha environment where long hours, being “on call” and regular trips away were part of the package.   Our daughter was a challenging baby, 3 mths of crying nearly threw us both over the edge.  I couldn’t bare the thought of going back to work after 6mths this time, I was exhausted.  So I used all my long service leave in order to stay off for 9mths.  And then when I returned to work,  this time we agreed it may be better for me to work part time in order to juggle our now bulging priorities.

And so the gradual shift of power began.

In “Overwhelmed” by Bridget Schultz,  she talks about the power of underlying pre-conceptions we all still have about what it means to be the “ideal worker”, the “ideal mother” and “the provider father”.  That despite all our best intentions (like in our case),  the power of these ideals drives our behaviour, often without us even noticing.

Gosh, this is all starting to sound incredibly familiar…and kinda scary.

Somehow, we have come to a place where  I do 90% of the household chores, I am “in charge” of the family and house as well as working four days a week at a demanding corporate job.  Because I work from home, it seems to make sense for me to throw some washing in the machine between meetings, and take the dog for a walk at lunch time.  My husband has to start work early so I do the morning ritual, getting kids ready and to school. Cleaning up the kitchen.  When my husband goes away (which he did for 3mths last year),  I have learnt how to do everything on my own.

My husband is incredibly appreciative and grateful.  He tells me I am amazing and he doesn’t know how I do it all. Which only serves to fuel my fire and pushes me further.  I find myself scurring around the house trying to vaccum and clean before he gets home, because he is always notices and is pleased.   I know he is often stressed (physically and mentally) after work, so I don’t want to throw the kids at him the moment he walks in the door.  So even though I have also been at work all day, I throw myself into cooking the dinner and watching the kids,  whilst he has a bit of chill time to watch the news or catch up on facebook.

I have become what I always said I wouldn’t.  I have unconsciously been being driven by the need to demonstrate that I can be both the ideal mother and the ideal worker.

At one point I remember my husband suggesting maybe he should consider going part time.  I didn’t give his suggestion any thought before shooting it down (I love having that one day per week where I can really pretend to be the ideal mother, walk the kids to school and bake cookies…he couldn’t take that from me).  I know he wants to spend more time with our kids.  He tried to coach the football team last year but the drag of the “provider father” and “ideal worker” on his conscious, keeps him committed to work whenever they need him.  I’m immensely proud of the work he does and I’m always encouraging him…even when it may be to detriment of our family.

Now…don’t get me wrong in all of this.  We are both incredibly grateful for everything we have.  We have discussions about our future goals and where we are heading. We both love our jobs and we love our children.  But I’ve suddenly realised that I am responsible for taking on more than I should have and now I’m finding it hard to give it back.

And as I sit here and contemplate how I got here…I realise that is exactly the point.  I don’t know because it was never intentional.  Back in the “good old days”, I knew what I wanted and I was pretty clear about it.  So it was far easier for us to work with that.  But since then, I haven’t re-established what exactly my goal is, I haven’t asked for what I want (quite frankly because I haven’t stopped to think about it).  And when we don’t stop and think,  act with intention, those slippery old traditional models start to mould their way back into our lives.

So just like I have with my work, and with other areas of my life.  It’s time for paper and a pen (Ooo…an opportunity for list writing…woohoo)… what does my “ideal” household look like, how does it feel.  And when I have my husband stuck in the car on our next trip (I love driving holidays because we always have the best conversations when we are trapped together for hours),  I can ask what his ideal household looks like too.  And together, we can set some strategies to get us there.

Let’s start with unpacking the dishwasher shall we?

claire2

It’s time to get organised…

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These are my actual budget files…I mean, how can I not be organised with such cute files..right?

 

If I had to give you one tip for the successful juggling of all the priorities in your life,  it would be GET ORGANISED!

I truly believe that being super organised is one of the most important lynch pins to being successful, no matter what you are trying to achieve.   From writing your life goals, to everyday To Do lists.   Being organised streamlines your life and helps you target in on what really needs to be achieved.

Now,  it would be fair to say at this point, that you are probably therefore assuming I am an organised person. And I’d really like to be able to say that you are right…but, sadly…no.

Someone said to me once, ” there is a difference between being interested in something, and being committed to something.”

And boy am I interested in organising.  I LOVE it,  I get excited just thinking about it.   Send me to Office Works to look at pens, files and folders,  and see my heart rate zoom through the roof.   I read blogs about it.  I have books.  I cry with joy when I receive a Kikki K gift voucher.  The IDEA of being organised thrills me beyond belief.

But I’m sorry to say I’m letting the team down here.  I have let my organisation slip and slide until there is not much left. My cupboards are a mess.  We no longer have a streamlined budget system.  Paperwork is overflowing in the intray. I stomp around the house like an angry dinosaur in the morning, yelling “where are the keys?” at anyone who dares to stand in my path,  my face getting hotter as I realise we are going to be late because I can’t find the keys AGAIN,  and if I was more organised this would not be happening.  I shove things into draws and the room downstairs, vowing to sort them out…later.

So I was super excited that perhaps during my big summer holiday, I might have some time to spend getting things a bit organised in our house.  I started in the kids bedrooms before Christmas.   Culling out their cupboards, under their beds, their baskets…making three piles,  charity, bin and sell.   I was amazed (and slightly embarrassed) by the number of garbage bags heading out the door.  And it felt awesome.  It reminded me how much I enjoy getting organised,  but also, how much easier life is when you know where things are, and where things go.

So, I’m setting myself a mission…my organisation and productivity challenge.  And I’m telling you about it, to keep me committed to my word.  I’ll share my progress with you, how my little projects are helping to streamline our household and my work (or not).  I know that not everyone has quite the same level of interest and excitement in the organisational world! but maybe they’ll be some tips/tricks that I share which will help you embrace your inner organisational queen too.

First up…that damn key box…it is overflowing with “I don’t know what” and it ain’t helping to hold the keys.

IMG_0138
Hmm…I know the keys are in here somewhere

 

Here we go..organisational project #1…how will I go now I’m back juggling work and home… well, I’m determined…and I’m not just interested, I’m committed baby.

claire2

procrastination…yes, I am the queen

IMG_0166 I’m an uber procrastinator.  If there was an award for procrastination, I would quite possibly win it (as long as I didn’t have to submit some kind of nominations,  because I probably would procrastinate on that).  Most of the time I need some kind of hot rod up… well…you know… to get me moving. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not lazy.  No.  I don’t lie in bed procrastinating,  I just jump from task to task like some crazy frog person until time runs out and …BUZZZ…time is up and I fall into bed exhausted after another day of doing…well…everything but nothing at the same time. Like today, I decided that I was going to do some writing tonight.  I have heaps of ideas spilling over in my brain for the blog,  posts which are going to be AWESOME (if I ever actually got them on paper).  My husband is out,  kids in bed…perfect.  And I know I LOVE writing.  I always feel great after I have splurged some of the ideas out of my never quiet brain.  But lets take a little look at what I have actually done so far…

  • tidy up the kitchen
  • Washed the dog (to be fair, he was REALLY dirty)
  • Made some tea
  • Made a snack
  • Started a clothes wash
  • Vaccumed
  • Read my facebook
  • checked my email
  • started sorting some paperwork…

Seriously,  is something wrong with me?  Why can’t I focus on something I know that I really want to do? I think this might fall under the category of “mindfulness”,  being able to focus on one thing at a time.  Really giving that thing your attention, your full attention.   There is also something more daunting about starting something big, or more important, and far easier to try to tick the boxes with some little things instead.  And, it’s hard to focus on the important things when the little every day things are niggling at you. OK..so lets start this again.  I’m writing a list,  oh boy do I love a good list…a list of things that actually really need to be done this evening.  And I’m prioritising writing, so it’s going to be the first thing that I do.   I’m putting a timer on. 30mins.  That’s it, whatever I can punch out in 30min and then I will stop. IMG_0165 Wait…look at that….I’m nearly done already.  That wasn’t so hard.  I feel great now.  Why did I faff around so much in the first place?   Now, what is next on the list.   Tidy out the study cupboard?  hmm… I’ll just go make a cup of tea first… claire2

Are you really busy?

This morning I was running around like a headless chook (as usual),  I’ve managed to do my exercise (tick),  get the lunches ready (tick), tidy the house (tick) dropped the kids on the school walking bus (tick) and now I’m at work and my mind is buzzing.  I have about 20 screens open on my computer (literally), although I have two screens so surely that’s not too bad?  I have every social platform open, plus a few other websites and my personal email.  Then my work email, plus my work messaging system.  Powerpoint, Word and Excel are all open with a least one file on each (Excel has two), and the media player is on because i started to watch a video then got distracted.

There’s pinging and popping coming from several devices and my to do list is buried under a pile of…who knows what…

Phew…I’m exhausted just writing about it.

Suddenly I’m hearing little whisperings in my head….I think it’s Emma.  Yep,  its Emma.

Recently I had the pleasure of attending a seminar at work, led by Emma Grey from WorkLifeBliss on the 7 types of busy.   I loved it.  OK, so first confession is that I was already a fan of Emma’s,  I’ve been following her blog for a long time now and completed her 15min Challenge program.  So I was super excited when I had the opportunity to attend this session through my work.

Whilst there is so many things in today’s hyperdriven culture that we can’t control,  there are also a lot of things that we can…and sometimes we dig our own holes (well…she didn’t exactly say that but that’s totally what I do…I’m a great digger).

Anyway, since that call, “Emma” has been showing up quite a lot in my conscious, reminding me of some of the tips and tricks I should perhaps be following.   Like every “good conscious” does,  she’s sitting on my shoulder reminding me about the importance of being focused,  and not multi-tasking so much…because frankly, pretty much NO ONE is a good multi-tasker.

I remember a friend talking about going for a job interview as a Air Traffic Controller once.   And part of the preliminary testing was giving the candidates four different exams,  then each time the buzzer went, they had to change exams,  PLUS,  there were also some verbal questions which were randomly thrown over the loud speaker.  It is designed to test how well your brain can effectively multi-task, picking up exactly where you left off from an exam 10min earlier.   Needless to say, they failed that test, and I think most of us would.

Right now, Emma is telling me to shut down some of the apps on my computer.  To find that to-do list and change it to a “could do” list…and find those big hitter items which I really actually need to get done…So… now I’ve set myself a timer. 30min on the first task before I moved onto the next one.   Tick.   Next.   Oh my goodness,  i suddenly feel so much better.  All the overwhelm I had been feeling earlier has started dropping away.  I feel like I am back in the drivers seat and in control (and we all know how much I love control).

So, thank you mini Emma, for turning up again and getting me back on track with your little tips and tricks.  Of course, Evil Claire on my other shoulder (who shalt not be named) is now weeping because we haven’t checked facebook in over an hour…she’s not happy…but we’ll talk about her another day….

claire2