In Reminder 34, I talked about the everyday challenges of Christmas. These can be painful enough, yet in some lives, Christmas has definitely lost its sparkle. [Sans means ‘without’.] Instead of being the silly season, it's become the dreaded season.
If this is the case for you, or for someone you know and care about, I have the perfect solution: The Magic of Projects!
The affected person can invoke this magic any time the rest of the world seems out of tune. Cast the spell in 3 easy steps:
After you’ve had a few false starts and realised you need to buy this or that, then write a quick, dot-point plan that will keep the activity going without delay.
When the hoo-hah of the social period has blown over, you’ll have finished something real.
If you have nowhere to go on Christmas Day or at New Year’s, or you just don’t feel up to the strain of festivities, set yourself an inspiring target to meet by midnight, and work extra hard on your project.
(Here’s a secret: a lot of people who appear to be having a great time are doing so because they’re also using The Magic of Projects to get through, so don’t feel too alone in it.)
Project types are endless: Gardening, painting, pure decluttering...
Some might even bring new relationships that make next year easier!
In preparation for your EOCY (End of Calendar Year) review, look over your Quarterly & Monthly Plans to see which steps you can realistically complete before New Year.
Also (or alternatively,) consider any you can make meaningful progress on before the Christmas rush sweeps in. That way, you will at least be able to resume progress next year without feeling too far behind.
A key part of this pre-review is browsing through your diary for undone sub-steps. These often come as a nasty surprise when you realise you’ve entirely overlooked important foundations for bigger projects. Therefore, it’s a good idea to eat and rest well before doing this EOCY preparation. I’m quite serious. It may send you into panic mode, so you need to be fortified. It’s not called EOCY!! for nothing.
Let panic & rationalisations wash over you for a moment. Then, calmly re-diarise the undone sub-steps into slots where you can truly get something done on them between those other slots where life frogmarches you forward.
Now get up and do the first thing you can do right now on your own plans.
Rest assured, it happens to the rest of us.
Why do you think I'm writing this post?
This annual Every can no longer be ignored. Complain as we might about how early in the year Christmas conversations begin, when it gets to December 1st it’s time to quit grumbling.
Regardless of your faith – or lack of, Christmas affects a large portion of the world if simply due to the fact that trading, schedules and revellers operate differently during this season. Over-extended and subject to the unexpected, we find ourselves repeatedly saying No to temptation, and thinking Yes to temptations that nobody’s offering. In short, life changes for a while whether you are putting up a tree or not.
Additionally, the potential for clutter rises dramatically. To avoid clutter gifts:
For the unexpected,
set boundaries now about what you might say Yes or No to.
If that fails, remember your Pamper Kit...
Do you have an outdoor room? Even a little balcony or porch? This, too, brings its own Everies. The good news is they are particularly rewarding, especially at this time of the Australian year. [Which is the same as years in other countries – still 365 days, only we have the happy weather in the right place, most days.]
I’m coming to the end of a secret holiday-at-home (shhh...) and have spent some time properly creating my outdoor room. It’s very modest & only half-way there, but spending the day ‘in’ it today was pure bliss.
With a jaunty breeze circulating, birds and dragonflies dropping by, and the scents and sounds of other life gently reaching me, I couldn't resist taking all my meals and snacks outside, along with any tasks I could reasonably move outdoors. I know I will soon have to deal with the ants, but they’re only just catching on.
If you have an outdoor room, spruce it up, dust it off regularly and keep it as uncluttered as possible. If you don’t have an outdoor room and none seems possible, make yourself a window seat where that wonderful sense of space, and communion with outside life, are somehow both reinvigorating and calming.
If that’s not possible either,
find a special place in a park or public garden nearby,
and make it your own ;-)
My heart goes out to those affected by recent events of violence in the news.
With respect, therefore, I address the remainder of this 'everyday' post to those outside the affected zones.
Considering global events of the past few days, now might be an appropriate time to mention a theory I have about how to ward off illness or bad moods.
Have you noticed that after you read bad news, bear the brunt of someone’s road rage, or lose something, you later get that ‘I wonder if I might be coming down with something’ feeling? Perhaps it’s only a generalised ‘blah’ effect, with a dull awareness that things have been ruined.
Should we give in to gloom? Or brush it off & stumble forward as if nothing happened? Here’s my theory: that’s a second step to needing the medicine cabinet a few days later when you've ‘forgotten about it’.
Instead, I have 3 suggestions:
You can even use the Kit as a reward for the end of major projects or commitments!
Extend the Kit into the kitchen
with lemons and other immune-system boosters .
Maybe you can help me figure something out. I’m working hard on writing my 2016 Everies Reminder Diary™ for you. It’s a bit more than a diary, covering a lot of ground, so I’m having to define a few terms. The hardest one to condense into a single definition is Vaastu.
Have you heard of it? It’s a shortened term for one of the placement arts – those bodies of knowledge related to ideal placement of ... all things, really! The more one reads, the more these subjects explode.
Generally, though, they form a vast background to architecture and design. Many Professional Organisers also have an affinity for them, with some even specialising in Feng Shui particularly. I’m pretty sure you’ve heard of that, right?
In my case, I always look for the logic in things. I’m fascinated by how 3 of these arts (or sciences, in some respects) are so closely linked to modern sustainability principles, and have (just) survived some pretty complicated events in history.
Which brings me back to Vaastu – its proper name as regards placement (it has other applications) is Vaastu Shastra, which loosely translates into ‘habitat or dwelling know-how’. It pre-dates Chinese Feng Shui (Wind, Water), and comes to us from India, where it is enjoying a revival after it had been thrown into a long period of disuse by certain aforesaid events.
It’s similar but different to Feng Shui, and I only touch upon these topics in my diary (if you've read my Assessment (Specialist Service 2) page, you’ll see where I stand on them). For now, I’m still working on that single definition, which will probably have to have about 10 references... Ugh, but thanks for listening!
What does all this have to do with Reminders? Try this: If you know something needs changing but you're not sure what, walk around your home or property and notice any parts that are awkward, ugly or produce an ill-feeling. It’s just possible there’s something illogical about them!
You would know some of these: too much back-and-forth in the kitchen for cooking tasks to flow smoothly, the wheelie bin blocking your view outside, or garden tools tucked behind boxes in the shed.
Have a go at making your place more logical – to you,
and you will have become that little bit more of a placement artist :-)
Did you write your Monthly Plan for November?
If so – great work! Make sure you included regular activity from your Quarterly Plan in it.
If it’s not done yet, write your November Plan now.
Remember that, often, this can be achieved simply by diarising. It doesn’t have to be a long, sit-and-think process. You can quickly jot entries into the appropriate pages in your diary, to remind yourself to carry out steps already planned for the whole quarter.
Do at least one thing from your Monthly Plan today.
Then sign it off! It's a great feeling :-)
Besides keeping your physical exercise going, engage in some mental challenge regularly. For the best workout, choose something that is outside your usual way of thinking:
Even eating new and different foods does the job!
Bet you never thought of that as exercise, did you?
Seeing as I'm in the Southern Hemisphere, I move that October 31st become Reverse Halloween here:
If you’re reading this in the Northern Hemisphere,
you might prefer to reverse Halloween on November 1 :-)
Now that you have a full month of Counting done in categories, let’s look at money afresh & see if we can move it around so you live within your means and nurture your priorities.
Which is higher? Income or Outgo?
(I don’t need to tell you which it should be, but whichever it is, defer judgement or assumptions for now, and read on.)
4. Add up each individual category to get its sub-total, and write these in your Counting Book where you can see them all at once, in one column or row.
5. Look at these categories & their totals.
Do the figures seem proportionate to your priorities?
That is, higher for high priorities, minimal for the rest? The funny part about this step is that you won’t even need a calculator to tell you. This is one of those times when gut feeling works fine, up to a point. You’ll resent some expenses just looking at them! Others can make you feel wistful, smug or even chirpy! However, these feelings may change after you do the next bit, so don’t take them too seriously. Humble pie is free, but it tastes like ... well, here’s the next bit:
6. Draw these on a bar graph, like this:
I've put a useable copy of this Counting Graph on the DIY page for you to play with. Make up your own if you’re handy with spreadsheets, or just draw it in your Counting Book.
Then all you have to do is this:
A. To live within your means, simply squish the tall orange bar down so it’s lower than the green bar.
By the same token, I should probably have called Income something more proactive – Earnings might do, but the focus here is on watching the money flow in and out & seeing where it’s imbalanced (if so).
B. The other way to live within your means, of course, is to whoosh the green bar up above the orange one! Even then, you’ll benefit from reducing unhelpful outgo first, so you’ll have even more money to play with once you find a new or better source of income.
Well done on getting through these long posts.
Hope you find it easier to look at money now!
If you’ve been Counting since Looking at Money (Part 1), you will have now recorded a month of spending – and earning – to look at. During this month you will have engaged in most categories of everyday spending. You’ll be able to see where your money goes and turn the exercise into a planning tool (Part 3) instead of purely recording.
Do the following steps to prepare you for Part 3 (then continue Counting for a few days to make sure it all looks right).
Make sure you are including all this month’s income: tips, commissions, side-business drawings, the lot.
If you had an unexpected windfall, I’ll have to let you work out how to apply that to one month, depending on the amount and cause of the windfall.
If in doubt: Underestimate Income, Overestimate Outgo.
If there are any surprises later, you'll want them to be pleasant!
Your body should last you a long time if you maintain it properly. Exercising it in various ways is one action you can do towards that. Today, diarise a schedule of your choosing to prompt you to physically exercise.
(I’ll talk about mental exercise in another post, but will mention now that walking is my favourite way to do both at once. I can’t recommend it highly enough.)
If you have an exercise routine, do something on it today, & diarise the next sessions for this month.
Women readers, pay special attention to the above guideline's warning on ‘Double leg raises’.
The alternative looks interesting.
A note about links:
Links merely suggest information that appears reliable.
Think for yourself when following anyone’s advice.
You can right-click a link and copy the address to paste it into a browser address bar, as a safer alternative to direct clicking.
This is also useful if the link no longer works – you can trace back through the pasted address to the site’s home page.
I'm just staggering in to do this post. Rather shaken after a near-computer-crash. And the danger’s not over yet. Ka-thud, ka-thud, ka-thud, goes my little heart – in all the wrong ways.
Thankfully, all my backups are up to date, so this seems a good time to mention gizmo maintenance. You’ll see that some steps can be done while you’re getting on with your Weekly Wrap-up or Cleaning. Set a time frame to do the others, or they will really burn up hours:
Again, call in an expert if you're unsure of how to do steps safely.
Run through them every month to keep e-clutter from building up.
If you’re looking for something to do to close the weekend off, why not plan out the next 3 months? The busy social season is coming up! Even if Christmas and New Year are not a big feature in your life, it’s hard to avoid the changes this quarter brings – in workplaces, social & business circles, & in shopping patterns.
Navigate these without losing pace on your own plans, by diarising appointments with yourself to attend to projects and ongoing tasks. Then keep those appointments as though the person waiting for you is the most important, most demanding person in your circle! You don't want to kiss them off ;-)
My Everies Learning Curve Bookmarks are a handy way to incorporate such planning into your regular diary entries.
(The product link above has been updated on 31.7.17 to replace the Financial Year Diary mentioned in the original post.)
Especially, keep up the Counting!
I’m keen to give you Part 2 about that, but there’s a little way to go yet.
Just a quick one -- my 2nd-quarter Everies Perpetual Reminder Diary is now available in the store. Here's a sample page:
Hope you like it!
Whether you use this one or a different type, ensure you diarise your plans ahead of those imposed on you by others or life in general. If you don't put your plans first, and give yourself the orders to carry them out, who will??
Make next quarter work on your side :-)
In Everies Reminder 14, we looked at the The Six Seasons of South-Western Australia, and one way to use them.
Another use is for gardening. Kambarang is about to start, with warmer days, and flowers, flowers everywhere. This means 2 things for you-as-gardener:
1. Do any hard labour needed in the yard before the full heat of Birak hits.
2. Do your September/October gardening tasks, which are...I have no idea. I'm fumbly in the garden. But I know where I can find out. The internet! Avoid sites that freely recommend dangerous chemicals. Try these resources about...
c. Planting & general gardening.
Alternatively, ask for advice from keen gardeners amongst your family, friends or neighbours. Local plant nurseries are a good next choice, but it’s best not to go there with your wallet open until you at least have some idea what you’re asking about. (You are still Looking at Money, aren't you? 3 more weeks of that.)
If you don’t have a garden,
get outdoors on this long weekend and enjoy someone else’s!
I like Big Gardens, such as you can find here.
First a note about the length of this post:
I had wanted to keep it short & provide a document on the DIY page, but the idea of looking at your money may be too frightening to let you click on a link. So I’m putting it all here. Lean back a bit and just keep reading.
Let’s turn to a natural follow-on from your Workday Routine: your income & outgo. This should be monitored every week, fortnight, or applicable pay period with a budget, forecast, financial plan – whatever you like to call it. However, I’m going to be very presumptuous and suggest you first practice a skill that’s way below budgeting ;-)
This skill is an old one called, ‘Counting’. I didn’t know that when I used to diligently record every cent earned or spent in a small cash book, when I first started working. I still have that book, and feel proud of it. Growing up in a poor household where every threepence mattered, it was the only financial management tool I’d ever seen, and it worked wonders with managing my early pay packets. I learnt its name from a book* a few years back.
If you’re familiar with Counting, I invite you to do a fresh round. Or, if your money is doing just fine, thanks, this tool can be used for easily overdone habits like eating, drinking or television watching. Adjust the column headings to suit.
Looking at Money
Start by purchasing a ready-ruled, 6-Column Money Book from a stationery store. You could make your own, but the repeated ruling-up might be enough to put you off. Don’t take the chance. If you can’t find a Money Book with 6 columns, look for a Cash-, Day- or Counter-Book with some of the ruling done for you. (Your diary might have similar pages in the back.)
Head the columns like this:
Start by entering the current balance of your working account. This is the everyday one you use for the routine costs of living. Then record everything you spend your money on each day, no matter how trivial, with the amount next to it. If you have a reasonable income, round the amounts to whole dollars -- up for expenses, down for income. If you are on a shoestring, don’t round. Include the cents. Later, you’ll see how being able to redirect even 50c a week can turn the tide for you.
You could keep track electronically, but it’s not as instructive. It’s better if you write it longhand in a book. That makes each transaction concrete and highly visible against other income/outgo. Use a 4-colour pen & code the entries to suit yourself. The very way you write some entries may itself be revealing.
It should look something like this:
If you’re missing a record, estimate the amount. Enter these as part of your daily Dusk Check-in while the transactions are fresh in your mind. When you get to the bottom, calculate the balance and carry it forward to the next page.
Keep Counting for a whole month.
The Category column is important for this exercise, but keep it broad. The object is to get a visual on your actual priorities as evidenced by your money movements. E.g., you may think that Health is a priority, yet the word ‘Take-aways’ keeps cropping up in the Category column. Or you may want to take a holiday, but there’s no ‘Savings’ category. Try to carry on as normal this month, even if you can see part-way through that things have to change. It’ll help more for now if the Counter reflects what really happens for the whole month.
The exercise is not yet about how to ‘plug up the leaks’. It’s about watching the money move in and out of your wallet or bank account, then stepping back to take an honest look at where the leaks and dams are, so you can do something about the right ones.
Don’t worry if it’s embarrassing. You can shred it later. If you can bear to keep it after the month, it’ll make wonderful reading in five years’ time.
Expect the first couple of pages to be messy while you oil your old mental-maths wheels and find the pen that’s just to your liking. In all seriousness, the exercise shakes out some cobwebs at first. Let it do so without guilt or justifying.
Start Counting, and I’ll post Part 2 soon
so you’ll know what to do when it comes time to Look!
* Cameron, J. & Bryan, M., 1992. Money Drunk, Money Sober: 90 days to financial freedom. New York, Random House.
Whatever you do for a living, it’s helpful to have a tool to keep you on track with all the ‘other’ stuff you have to fit in around work. This applies even (or especially) if you are self-employed, looking for work, volunteering, studying, or in the enviable position of being able to pick your own projects. These important macro activities can completely smother the micro-details.
Create your own checklist to keep track of everything this way:
I worked out there are around 24 steps in a typical day for a working parent, not counting the job! (Nor social media!).
Regardless of how many are on your list, resolve to have a great week :-)
©2013-15 Heidi Ross
To help you keep track of the Everies given so far, here’s a list of them to enter into your diary to remind yourself to do them. Quickly enter these at their appropriate intervals, right now. Yes, now. Put them in now:
Every quarter: Quarterly Plan
Every season: Wardrobe Upgrade/Refresher
Every however-often-required: Personal Tidy-up
Every month: Monthly Plan
Every fortnight or so: Planned specialised shopping
Every 8-10 days: Family Regroup
Every week --
Then action these reminders, using Daily Paperwork to guide yourself:
Nightly Review & Prep.
©2015 Heidi Ross
It’s time to add the final step in your daily paperwork routine. To recap, there’s
Dawn Planning, the Dusk Check-in, then . . .
Nightly Review & Prep
Towards bedtime, review your day’s progress against diary entries.
If, like me, you prefer to decide what to wear in the morning,
set aside a few possible choices at night.
I hope you have found it easy to do Dawn Planning each morning, and that it has helped you achieve a bit more on your own plans.
Here’s the 2nd part of Daily Paperwork:
Set a timer for 30 minutes and take these actions after work or before dinner each day to make the evening more relaxing:
Make ‘Do or Diarise!’ your motto.
Getting down to business now, let’s look at routine paperwork. Track your activities 3 times daily, starting with...
Diarise all of the day’s planned activities according to your Weekly Plan – which came from your Monthly Plan, which in turn came from your Quarterly Plan, remember? You are sticking to those, right?
Add any necessary actions called for from:
You’ll be amazed how much you can fit into a day if you strike a good balance of pressure and pleasure :-)
Groove in Dawn Planning every day so you’re ready for the 2nd piece of Daily Paperwork coming up in the next post.
If mornings are frantic,
get into the habit of doing Dawn Planning the night before.
As mentioned in Reminder 13, winter is drawing to a close here in the South-West. August marks a particular change which locals have become well aware of. For example, last weekend it was like early spring -- beautiful and warm. Next thing? Heavy rains and bitterly cold winds. We’re sort of used to August being fickle like that.
In fact, noticeable shifts like this usually happen before the 3 months are up. This has long been recognised by the original inhabitants of the South-West of this state, who have identified six seasons. I’ve summarised these in the table below.
The Six Seasons of South-Western Australia
The descriptions at http://www.bom.gov.au/iwk/nyoongar/ are much better. Please take the time to look at this site for the official information on Indigenous Weather Knowledge.
One of the great ways you can use this information is to keep your wardrobe weather-ready. Get tips from my wardrobe upgrade download (upgrade download?) on my DIY page.
If you’re on a tight budget, just smarten up accessories or staples.
Remember to discard/recycle any superseded items.
Talking about self-care plans (as I briefly did in Reminder 12), how’s your appearance bearing up as winter draws to a close?
By the way, whenever I mention weather, I'm talking about what's current in the six seasons of Australia's south-west. Six?? Yep -- more about that next time...
In your Quarterly Plan, you may have set particular goals for health and/or gorgeousness.
If so, now’s the time to catch up on those steps, too.
Now you’ve set the home up with a few security measures, housekeeping routines and essential supplies, let’s consider the people who live with you, or are close in your life.
Plan and shop for a special family meal designed to maintain (or restore) family harmony – see The Guide on my DIY page.
This might be awkward at first, or even difficult if clutter of various kinds has taken over the household. Ignore any problems that this exercise may literally bring to the table, and just follow the guide every 8 days or so. Things should gradually improve.
‘Special’ in this case needn't mean a 3-course gourmet affair. The real requirement is that it be food everyone looks forward to!
PS: Is your First-Aid Kit fully stocked? Not to alarm you or anything...
Pop that on your shopping list, too. :-)
©2013-15 Heidi Ross
In using this blog, please Note: