December 31, 2008

3 Euro in different currencies

I was switching from this gorgeous, green wallet (what? you don't switch wallets?) and I found some change from our trip to the UK in May.

3 Euro barely buys you a cup of tea in Dublin while here in South Africa you can get a main course for the equivalent (R40). You could also get a nice, big piece of chocolate cake and two cups of tea/ coffee :)

3 Euro is about $4.30 - what will $4.30 buy where you live?

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December 26, 2008

Only 6 days before I can FINALLY stop drooling and actually use this beauty

In exactly 6 days' time it will be 2009. Do you know what that means?

That's right - it's time for two of my favourite things - goals and planners :)

Have you been following the planning posts? No? Why not? LOL

You can either click the label "choose the perfect planner" or catch up here

part 1
part 2
part 3
part 4

Today we're tying up the series with how I personalise my own diary/ planner/ agenda.

First I want to talk about why I need to personalise my diary.

I have never ever found a perfect diary. I have come really, really close but what I do is this:

I decide what my non-negotiables are and then I adapt the rest.

You need to also decide if 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. But above all, make sure you love your planner (like I do) so that you want to use it.

Okay, let's get to the fun part.

Someone commented on one of the earlier posts that they like how grungy an old diary gets just before the new year. Mmmm, so do I! So here's a pic of my grungy (well-loved) diary.

Part 1
I have some typed pages I print out once a year and stick into my planner:
  • my goals for the year
  • personal information
  • important telephone numbers
  • reference numbers (insurance policies, account numbers with various institutions, etc)
  • birthday list
What happens when I have to add new numbers during the year?

I simply write them on the sheet. Yes, it looks a bit messy but messy is good :)

On the 2008 page, I only added 8 numbers. So for the 2009 page, I simply added some of those 8 and deleted the numbers I don't need, and I reprint.

I do this page in Excel and in the footer, I make a note of the date the page was updated. Very useful especially for changing insurance providers, etc.

Part 2
I paste the top of the birthday list on top of this page so I can flip the page up to see my other events.

Part 3
I paste an envelope on the last page like this so I can keep any business cards (before I enter them in Outlook) and other bits of paper. I also like keeping a couple of sheets of the big Post-It note pad (about 10) so I can make lists that won't get lost.

Oh, the page on the left is a write-up of my ideal coaching client to keep me focussed :)

That's it for me.

Do you personalise your planner? If so, how? Did you get any good ideas today?

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P.S. I've had some emails from people saying how they've enjoyed going through this process with me. Feel free to link to the posts from your blog - let's spread the happiness :)

December 24, 2008

December 22, 2008

Is it time to take an information fast?

I had lunch with a friend the other day who told me that she deleted her Facebook profile because it was too overwhelming being on the receiving end of all the messages, status updates, etc, etc.

Of course, I love Facebook but I do understand the state of overwhelm she felt.

I do believe that with any information, you can choose how much of it you want to absorb and how frequently you want to absorb that information.

Let's look at some examples of taking control of information overwhelm:

  1. I can't imagine having Facebook and Twitter updates coming through to my cell phone - it would drive me crazy. What I do is I only let direct messages to me, event requests and writing on my wall come through to my email.
  2. I turn my cell phone on silent the entire weekend so that I can choose when I feel like checking messages or voice mail.
  3. The only bits of news I hear every day are the 2 - 3 minute snippets on the top of the hour on my favourite news station, 702. I figure if something's really important, someone will tell me about it.
  4. We only switch on the TV to watch specific programmes, or if we're not at home, we record the programmes and when we watch them, we fast forward over the ads.
  5. If I find I'm not reading 4 in a row of someone's newsletter, I unsubscribe because I can honestly say my entire month is not that busy that I can't read at least one. So if I don't read any, then I know it's time to take a fast from that particular information. I tell myself, "it may be good but it's not good for me right now."
  6. And of course, I've spoken about blogging overload here and here.
Have you considered taking an information fast? What will you start with first?

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December 17, 2008

Choose the perfect planner - part 4

If you missed the previous posts, you can catch up here:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

This time we're discussing monthly and other tools.

Do you need a monthly event calendar? Do you need a budget or a financial page? What about a monthly goals form?

You need to decide if these are "deal-breaker" issues for you or if you'll be able to do without them.

This particular diary/ planner has an events page at the start of every month and it has one financial planning page spanning over two pages for the entire year.

I have to have a monthly page so that's a deal breaker for me but I don't have to have a page for financials since I typically do that in Excel.

If you haven't been answering the questions, take a few minutes to do so now.

What kinds of tools are deal breakers for you?

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Next time I'm going to show you how I personalise my planner.

December 15, 2008

My adventures in keeping a computer time log

Yes, yes, I know I'm a time management coach but I'm not perfect.

Every so often, I have to review what I'm doing and make sure it's still working for me.

I've been feeling like I'm spending too much time on the computer but I didn't really have actual tangible evidence, so I decided to log my time.

Enter exhibit A.
I've only used it a week so far but this is what I learnt about my computer time management so far:

  1. I'm good at conquering my email and sticking to my social networking time on Facebook and Twitter.
  2. I have really great focus when I sandwich computer time between appointment times. For example, if I have two client appointments one hour apart, I work REALLY well in that hour.
  3. I flip between tasks a lot. Not majorly because I haven't broken my * two-minute rule for more than 4 minutes at a time :) So I've had some difficulty tracking time accurately because I'm actually blogging and then I remember I want to send a client a quick email so I open a message in outlook, send that and it's actually blogging time.
  4. There's a lot more going on than I allowed for on my form :)
  5. My computer time's really not that bad although I do go easier on myself the closer I get to the weekend!

Going forward
  • Change the form
  • Keep a list next to me and note down those two-minute tasks

* two-minute rule
If you can do the task in two minutes or less, just get the darn thing done instead of writing it down and having to find the time to do it.

Do you know how much time you spend on the computer daily? Do you need to keep a time log?

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December 14, 2008

An Irish weekend with Irish Soda Bread

When we visited Ireland in May this year, I bought this oven mitt fully intending to bake this Irish Soda Bread. I eventually got my act together and bought the buttermilk just so I could bake this bread.

4 cups plain flour
4 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup margerine, softened
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees/ 190 degrees Celsius.
  • Lightly grease a large baking sheet.
  • In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients.
  • Stir in the egg and buttermilk.
  • Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead.
  • Form dough into a round and place on baking sheet.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes (mine only needed 20 minutes!).

Verdict: delicious!

Coincidentally, I happened to rent a DVD called Once this weekend. It is a beautiful story set in Dublin and if you love the gorgeous Irish accent, get it!

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December 11, 2008

Choose the perfect planner (3)

This is part 3 in our choose the perfect planner series.

In our quest for the perfect planner, we’ve discussed…

Paper or electronic

Size of planner and of lines

Today we’re talking about space per day

Daily format

Do you like the week-at-a-glance over two pages or a page-a-day format?

My favourite is the weekly format because I do weekly planning. I find there's just enough space to jot down my 3 - 5 Eat the Frog tasks every day. So it forces me to focus.

However, this beauty is a page a day.

That’s not a bad thing so I live with it.

Evening appointments

I also like a planner with plenty of space for evening activities. With many planners, I find that there’s such a small space for the evening and my evenings are hectic – gym, coaching, teleseminars, etc.

Other space requirements

I also like space for notes, not just appointments. So this planner has them both.

We’re almost there and by now you should have a really good idea of what works for you.

Which do you prefer – page a day or week-at-a-glance?

Keep reading for part 4 in our series.

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December 09, 2008

How big should your planner be?

Last time we discussed whether you’re a paper or an electronic gal.

This time let’s discuss size.

There are two parts to the size issue:

1. Planner size

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

Decide on a comfortable size…FOR YOU… and stick to that. We all have different tolerance levels so play around with what works for you.

If your planner is HUGE, no matter how cute and functional it is, you're not going to actually use it unless you have the muscles I wish I had!

I remember years ago I received a beautiful planner from a friend – leather bound, filofax-type thing. It had lots of cool sections for anything I could possibly want to organise and yet, it was just too big (nearly A4 size, which is the size of printer paper).

I think I used it for maybe two weeks max before I cracked. I just couldn’t lug that huge thing around.

This one fits into any of my gazillion handbags very easily because it is just smaller than A5 (half a printer page) but not as small as A6 (half of A5).

Size of lines (if the paper is lined)

I don’t have the biggest handwriting in the world but I do like the freedom of not having to squeeze my handwriting into tiny lines.

First of all, I don’t like to squint my eyes to read it, and secondly, I don’t want to have to focus attention on writing small – I just want to get it down on paper.

So don't make the mistake of getting a small size if you have medium - big handwriting.

I also write with medium point gel pens and those just look better when you don’t have to squish up your handwriting.

Are you getting clearer on your vision for the perfect planner (for you)?

What size suits you best, and tell me about the size of your handwriting. Surely I’m not the only fussy one with medium handwriting?

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December 07, 2008

H E L P!!!!!!! I need more time

  • Do your to-do lists feel like they're smothering you?
  • Do you feel like your head is full of noise and it's so distracting?

  • Do you have bright ideas on your computer, on bits of paper, Post-It notes and in your Outlook tasks?

  • Are you spending too much time looking for things and not enough time actually doing them?

  • Is your disorganisation is holding you back and preventing you from doing your best work?

  • Do you regularly have to take a day (or half-day) just to get things back in control?

You'll learn how to

  • set strong boundaries and how to say no
  • identify what's working and, more importantly, what's not working in your life

  • overcome procrastination

  • manage your internal distractions

  • find out your time management style

  • discover your values and why that ties into the way you manage your time

  • effectively delegate, even if you don't have staff

  • eliminate or, at the very least, reduce your stress levels

  • and much, much more

P.S. The bonuses alone are worth more than the package :)

December 03, 2008

It's that time of the year again...

It's time to choose the perfect planner...for YOU. This is part 1 in a series on choosing the right planner/ diary/ agenda/ whatever you like to call it ...for you.

I'll be honest with you - the MINUTE I saw mine, I bought it. So it's been patiently waiting for me about 2 months now.

This is the perfect planner for me - not because of its features but because I personalise my planner and make it EXACTLY how I like it. So many people (and I was one of them for many years) search high and low for the perfect planner. Well, it probably doesn't exist.

But before we get to my personalisation, let me talk some more about how to choose a planner.

Are you a paper or electronic gal?

Why do you need to know this?

If you don't, you might think you have to fall in love with a gadget like my organising buddy, Suzanne from Let's Talk Organizing. Thank goodness she's now embracing her paper side :)

Don't feel pressured to use an electronic diary just to keep up with your friends or what people think you should use if you're actually a paper gal.

I wish I'd had my camera at a meeting on Monday. Somebody asked a question and about half the people whipped out their fancy phones and started tapping away.

I love Outlook as much as the next person but I only use Outlook for time-based appointments like meetings and recurring appointments like gym (!).

I use a paper planner for the rest of my planning (about 95%). I like to physically write things down with a smooth-flowing gel pen and I love crossing things off and hearing that squish across the paper. Mmmm - lovely! It's very satisfying for me because I'm such a tangible person.

That's me. I embrace my paper-ness :)

Over to you. If you're a techno-savvy, electronic gal, use your gadgets happily. Please just remember to back up your data regularly.

Please share - are you a paper or electronic person?

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