August 31, 2008

If you sell physical products, this is for you

I received this candle from Ria
for my birthday

There's a virtual gathering happening on 17 - 19 September specifically for physical product sellers (candles, bath stuff, etc.)

I was interviewed on ... you guessed it... time management and organising for physical product sellers and I shared, amongst other things...

  1. the most common mistakes people make with time management
  2. my top tips to eliminate clutter
  3. specific organising tricks for those selling physical products

If you can't make the sessions "live" you can also register to receive the downloads a couple of days later.

Please go here to see all the details.

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August 29, 2008

Choose the perfect planner for you

Choose the perfect planner for YOU

By Marcia Francois

I love the time of year when all the calendars and planners for the next year start appearing in the stores.

There is such a wide selection that the choice can get really overwhelming.

So how do you choose the best one?

Here are a couple of factors to consider:

1. Paper or electronic?
Do you prefer paper or electronic? Don't feel pressured to use an electronic diary just to keep up with your friends if you're actually a paper gal.

I love Outlook as much as the next person but I need a paper planner for 95% of my planning.

That said, if you are techno-savvy, use it happily. Please just remember to back up your data regularly.

2. Size
Your planner has to be portable if you're going to use it most effectively.

Decide on a comfortable size and stick to that. If your planner is HUGE, no matter how cute it is, you're not going to use it unless you're strong!

However, don't go for a small size especially if you have big handwriting. Ahem ;)

3. Space per day
Do you like a week-at-a-glance or a page-a-day format?

I like the weekly format because I do weekly planning. And there's just enough space to jot down your 3 - 5 Eat the Frog tasks every day.

But more than that, I like space for notes, not just appointments.

4. Monthly tools
Do you need a monthly event calendar and a budget form? What about a monthly goals form?

Or is that not an issue for you?

5. Other tools
Do you need lots of name and address pages? Or note paper at the back?

My advice to you is decide on your non-negotiables and make peace with the rest. And make sure you LOVE your planner so that you WANT to use it.

I actually don't think there will ever be a perfect planner for me because I'm quite fussy. You'd never think, right?

My non-negotiables are size, space per day and I like lots of note paper at the back for all my personalised lists. I actually schedule time during the last week of the year to personalise my planner.

Next time, keep these points in mind before you go shopping!

Marcia Francois is a time management and organising coach who empowers small business owners and other busy professionals who want to make the most of their time. You’ll get simple, practical organising and time management secrets to help you work less and enjoy life more! Visit for your free Organising Success Pack.

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August 27, 2008

Wordless Wednesday - Kloofzicht

this one looks very African to me with that lone tree ;) and of course, I love those skies!!!

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August 24, 2008

Baking muffins

These are my oatmeal yoghurt muffins. I, of course, love anything with apple and cinnamon, so that's how I always make them.

Which are your favourite muffins?

I had to make a gazillion because it was my birthday

always use muffin cases - less washing up to do :)

little baby ones - very cute!

I pushed chocolate discs into the big ones - they were a lovely, chocolately surprise

for Dion - cheese and onion savoury muffins. Aren't the little ones in the cupcake holders cute?
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August 22, 2008

10 Keys to an Awesome Relationship

Everybody wants to have a happy and successful relationship. We must remember that good relationships don’t just happen – after all, we’re not living in a fairy tale. We have to work at it.

Here are my 10 most important keys for relationship success:

1. Communicate! Communicate! Communicate!
Don’t expect your partner to read your mind. We all know that men and women use different languages – learn to speak your partner’s language. Learn to listen – God gave us two ears and one mouth. Eliminate distractions so that you can focus on one another’s conversation.

2. Resolve conflicts or disagreements respectfully
It is a myth that happy couples never disagree. You are two unique people – of course you’ll think differently about things. Learn to resolve conflicts when you are calm and can think things through rationally. And always try to maintain the other person’s dignity and self-esteem. That means no name calling!

3. Have goals for your relationship
It is always a good idea to set goals together as a couple – whether 3-month, 6-month, 1-year or 5-year goals. And don’t be intimidated by the word goal. All we’re saying is that the two of you should agree on what you want from or out of your relationship. When you do this, it helps to keep both of you united with a common vision.

To give you an example, your goal this year might be to have more fun together as a couple. And how you’ll do that is to schedule two date nights every month and maybe take a fun class together, like a dance class. This is exactly what one of the couples I worked with last year did and they enjoyed it so much that they decided to go on and take their dance exams.

4. Stop keeping score
This is a biggie. A successful relationship is one where each party gives 100%, not 50-50. “I did this so you must do that” does not make for a happy time! We women are particularly good at keeping score and this can be really bad for our relationships because we give from a position of expectation instead of out of love.

5. Keep the romance alive
Get out of the habit of only taking about mundane things like if your phone account has been paid or who needs to collect the kids from ballet or soccer. Remember when you first fell in love? How you spoke for hours on end just staring at one another? Start flirting again – use SMS, email, phone, notes on pillows, etc. Have a specified date night at the very least once a month. Even if you only go to the Wimpy for a coffee, it will give you a chance to reconnect romantically.

6. Ensure that each other’s needs are met
Men and women have very different ideas of what is most important to them. I come across this in my coaching work all the time and it never ceases to amaze me. If you don’t know what your partner’s top five needs are, ask them! It will help you understand why they behave the way they do. Just to give you an idea of how needs differ, women usually rate security in their top three while men usually rate sex in their top three!

7. Decide to be happy rather than right
I know I’m going to tread on toes now BUT you need to continually ask yourself, do I want to be happy or right? Please understand that I’m not saying you should become a doormat. But sometimes you have to ask yourself this really hard question. You may win the argument but have you won in love? Learn to admit when you’re wrong and say sorry.

8. Focus on your partner’s strengths
Sometimes we forget why we fell in love. On my workshops and when I coach couples, one of the first things I make them do is write a list of things they love about their partner. I do this because when we take our eyes off the negatives, we start to appreciate our partner’s unique gifts and characteristics. When you’re focused on what a good father your husband is, it’s hard to keep remembering that he leaves the toilet seat up, or forgets to change the toilet roll.

9. Make time for fun
Notice I said “make time”. You have to schedule it because if you wait until you have time to do fun things, you’ll be waiting forever! Take the time out to laugh at silly things, go see romantic comedies, leave silly notes in his lunch box, in his car or on his pillow. My husband and I regularly flirt by email. It sounds like a small thing but it really does add a lot of fun to the day.

10. Say “I love you” often
Those three little words mean such a lot. Don’t assume that he/she knows it so you don’t have to say it. Don’t worry - you won’t wear the words out! Besides saying it, think of some other ways that you can show your love. For me, nothing says I love you like a clean kitchen sink! (In fact, I was quoted in Shape magazine recently for saying that a clean kitchen spells romance for me).

The good news is that you don’t need him or her to be a willing participant to see a difference in your relationship. Of course, it is nicer if both of you decide to change your relationship for the better.

Remember, you can do it! Here’s to your awesome relationship!

© Marcia Francois,

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Awesome Relationships workshop in a box

August 20, 2008

Wordless Wednesday - my watch excess

I don't really wear jewellery but watches are my thing.

got this one at Swatch in Edinburgh, Scotland and is my current favourite except if what I'm wearing really clashes with red :)

the rest...

this is how I organise them

What's your excess?

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August 18, 2008

Apricot chicken

I love cooking and baking (mainly because I like eating!) but I don't like to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. I really like seeing a short list of ingredients :)

This is a recipe from Kin's blog. It is so easy and is yummy - even Dion likes it and he doesn't generally like fruit in food (like you, Annie)!

800g skinless chicken with bones (this time I used boneless and it's not as nice)
1 pkt brown onion soup
1 tin apricots with juice

Here's how you do it:
  • Pre-heat your oven to about 180 degrees
  • Rinse the chicken and place in an oven-proof casserole dish
  • Sprinkle the brown onion soup all over the chicken
  • Then pour the apricots all over the chicken. I like to open the can, and slice the apricots haphazardly with a sharp knife while still in the can. That's why some of them look mangled :)

Cook uncovered in oven for about 35 - 40 minutes and serve with mashed potato or rice and a vegetable.

It is yummy and is now one of our favourite dishes.

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August 14, 2008

How to increase your productivity in a few easy steps

I recently had the pleasure of being interviewed by a copywriting and marketing specialist in Canada.

While we were chatting on the phone, she volunteered to be a guinea pig as I taught her some office organising principles. It worked really well because she and I were both at our desks while we talked on the phone.

We identified her clutter personality (sentimental hoarder ;)), I showed her how to release her mental clutter AND we organised her entire desk using my DREAM method of organising any space.

It was so much fun because I was teaching her the principles and she was able to put them into practice there and then.

I also want to help you:

  • get your desk back and under control

  • clear the paper clutter and create systems

  • conquer your email

  • organise your inbox

  • prioritise your projects

  • plan your month, week and day

so please join me on the Virtual Organising Seminar this Saturday 16 August. All you need is a telephone.

Here's what people are saying:

"Thanks to Marcia's business organizing strategies, I have DOUBLED my productivity which has in turn DOUBLED my business income."

Jennifer Haubein


"Marcia helped me identify the obstacles that are preventing me from tackling the tasks I need to do to accelerate my own business growth."

Pamela Weir

You, too, can get your space organised and start being more productive.

By the way, if the date doesn't suit you, email me and I'll let you know if I decide to have another one.

Love and organising success

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Marcia Francois
Your time management and organising coach

P.S. Here's that link again

August 13, 2008

Wordless Wednesday...well, almost ;)

This Irish weather

makes my hair do this

and makes me feel like this :)

August 12, 2008

5 things you should look for when you hire a service professional

That's me speaking to about 100 - 120 people on excellence.
I stopped counting when I got to 100 ;)

I had the bright idea recently to record a "10 steps to help you get more time" audio which is the Quick and Simple guide of my Help! I need more time coaching programme.

I know that I find transcriptions valuable because (1) I'm highly visual and (2) it is really easy to find the exact section you want to read by using the search function, so I set out to hire a transcriptionist for my product.

I was most impressed when I first encountered Tishia Lee and had bookmarked her site some months earlier so that when I was ready, I could easily find her. I'm so happy I did because my whole experience with her was so pleasant that immediately afterwards, I made some notes.

And so, without further ado, let me tell you the 5 things I think you should look for when you hire ANY service professional (and what I found in Tishia Lee):

clear boundaries
When I first came across her site, her rates were lower so I mentioned that in my initial email to her. I loved how she stuck to her guns about her prices but she did give me a discount if I used her for 2 audios. That made me respect her as a businesswoman.

She told me exactly when she had time free to do the transcription and when it would be delivered to me. She also told me what her payment requirements were (deposit and so forth).

deadline and results-driven
She delivered exactly when she said she would (which, now that I think about it, was actually early because of the time difference) and produced work of an exceptionally high standard.

friendly but professional
She was friendly in all her email communications to me, but remained absolutely professional at the same time. She also thanked me when I paid promptly so I told her that I also like to be paid promptly which is why I sow what I want to reap :)

upfront and honest
There were only two words in the whole 60-minute audio that Tishia couldn't make out and when she sent me the transcript, she immediately told me on which pages I could find those words. So cute (I actually expected a lot more words to be misunderstood because of my accent).

If you provide a service to others (and I think in many ways all of us do) then run your own processes through the five points and see if you need to make any adjustments.

And if you need a transcriptionist, in case you couldn't tell, I highly, highly recommend Tishia :)

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P.S. And if you're a purchaser of the Help! I need more time (lite or ultimate versions), this is the story behind the beautiful transcript!

August 08, 2008

How to set healthy boundaries

Greenwich, London

What is a boundary?

In a physical sense, it is easy to understand that a boundary marks off where your property starts and where the neighbour's ends. You are responsible for your property but not for anything that happens on your neighbour's.

While not as easy to mark off, our emotional boundaries also mark off where our responsibilities start and end. Too many people feel out of control of their lives because they don't have good emotional boundaries.

Boundaries are like fences in that they keep bad things out and good things in. This means that you protect yourself from things or people that might hurt you and you nurture things or people that help you. Notice I said fences and not walls. A wall means that nothing gets through from either side whereas a fence allows flow.

Boundaries are limits or barriers that protect you, your time and your energy. When your boundaries are well-defined, they help to prevent conflict within your relationships. They are like your personal rules or policies.

Laura Stack says it beautifully, “setting limits is a way of defining who you are and what you're all about, what you will do and what you won't; what's acceptable to you and what's not".

Setting boundaries means owning and taking responsibility for your personal choices and the consequences thereof. You make the choice, you take responsibility and you can make a different choice if you don't like the consequence.

You can't control other people's behaviour but you can control the extent to which it affects you. In other words, control your exposure to people.

For example, I don't allow people to make racist remarks around me. Now I can't control what they will say but I can control whether I continue to listen. Another example is I don't allow anybody to speak to me in an abusive manner. Again, I can't control what they say but I will warn them before putting the phone down. It's their right to say what they want but it's also my right to not sit there and be a doormat.

Here are some physiological signs that your boundaries are weak:
• Knots in your stomach when you agree to do some things
• Anger and resentment
• Deep feeling of dread
• Feeling shocked or being appalled at something someone said

The first step to creating stronger boundaries is to learn to say no.

Remember if the reaction to your setting boundaries is not great (sulking, anger, etc), it's not about you - it's about them. That feeling belongs on their side of the "fence".

Write these 3 sentences on a piece of paper and write out as many statements underneath each as you can think of:

1. People may not…
2. I have a right to ask for…
3. To protect my time and energy…

Here's to setting healthy boundaries!

© 2006-2007 Marcia Francois

Marcia Francois is a time management and organising coach who empowers small business owners and other busy professionals who want to make the most of their time. You’ll get simple, practical organising and time management secrets to help you work less and enjoy life more! Visit for your free Organising Success Pack.

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August 06, 2008

August 05, 2008

Focussing on the money-making activities

My biggest challenge when organizing my space, energy, time as a business owner... I'd like to focus better on doing the work that earns me $... however, since I do enjoy networking, book cover design, and other kinds of (what I call) subtle money makers, how do I, as a successful business owner, judge how much time to spend on such things?

It's hard to tell if I'm getting sidetracked or if this is actually productive work. I understand some business promotion/administration is necessary, but are there cues to tell if I'm off track?

Best wishes
Jennifer Kerr

I love this question!

Jennifer, you're right in that some business admin and lots of marketing are needed to run your business. I call this the "business of my business" ;)

While time spent on these types of tasks will vary from business to business , generally new businesses will spend a lot more time on, say marketing, than more established businesses. You can also get your business organised by using well-thought-out organising systems and processes.

I do know that this is not really what you're concerned about :) so here are my suggestions:

  1. make a list of things that you generally do in any given day.
  2. look through the list and isolate the 20% that, according to the Pareto Principle, bring you the most money. This is the same secret Tim Ferriss talks about in the Four Hour Work Week.
  3. always do these money-making tasks first. Always! Use my Eat the Frog form to help you stay on track every day.
  4. the 20% tasks should take up about 80% of your time
  5. the other stuff you like you dabble in? no problem, but you'll have to be ruthless and restrict them to no more than 20% of your time.

Let's do a quick example:

  • Say you work 5 hours a day.
  • 20% of 5 hours is 1 hour.
  • So I would say don't spend more than an hour a day doing your "subtle" money makers. If that's too drastic, then start reducing the time you spend on these tasks by 15 - 20 minutes daily until it's reasonable again.
Wishing you lots of business success

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