Paperwork: how do you deal with yours?

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Now we are at the start of autumn, it just might be the right time to de-clutter.  There is something about autumn; the orange and brown leaves dropping from the trees, the rich coloured garments that adorn clothes shops, the array of scarves designed to keep your neck warm and you looking chic. Can you tell this is one of my favourite times of the year?

If you have children, you will feel my pain with regards to the countless number of letters and paperwork that arrives home in their school bag.  Every week there is some form of activity taking place where we have to sign a form and pay a small fee. My daughter has a drawer which I sort through every few months. I could not bring myself to do this task during summer as quite frankly we were having too much fun on family days out. Oops – did I just say that?

Utility bills are usually sent at this time of year giving a breakdown of your monthly payments for the following year. We have folders (in various colours if I may add) for incoming paperwork.  They are labelled:

*Banking 
*Health
*Important
*Utility bills
*Mobile phone
*Work
*Car

I endeavour to sort through this paper work say every three months (yes me, not my husband bless him). We only keep information for the last six months. If we need to go further back than this, we can call the organisation or log onto our account (where relevant).  We have a shredder than shreds up to four documents at a time. It instantly becomes hot and then has the nerve to switch off to cool down!  I have resigned to cutting documents with sharp scissors and placing them in the rubbish bin. 

So, what is your approach for dealing with paperwork in your home?

Do you allow paper to pile up or do you read, action and shred/file?

2016: Planning and Reflecting

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What a week this has been!

I drafted a blog as I always do on Thursdays, saved it (or so I thought) and was unable to locate it in my draft folder. I obviously accidentally deleted the draft before backing it up.  Not good at all. Drafting another blog was the last thing I wanted to do on a Sunday afternoon after being out at church for six hours.  This is the second time I have lost a draft and hope it will be the last. 

My focus this week is how has 2016 been for you so far?  Have your plans (assuming you made some) panned out as you had hoped? 

I had a number of expectations for 2016; most met, some will be carried over to 2017.

Read the bible in a year
I am on track to completing the bible by December. Four chapters a day is doable even with a busy schedule. 


Develop within worship ministry

I lead worship every six weeks. Prior to this I was comfortable being a backing singer. I have been challenged and whilst I do not always enjoy it, I know it is needed.

Work promotion
I applied for a secondment role in February this year and was not appointed.  Soon after, an opportunity to act up for a few months came along. I reluctantly took it wondering how it would help to move me forward.  In May, permanent management roles were being advertised, I applied and was successful. 

Develop as a blogger
I receive one or two new followers per week. I continue to post new content once weekly.

Publish my mini-book
I have been looking for a publisher to assist with grammar checking and printing.

Network more on social media 
I signed up to twitter early this year and found it overwhelming to begin with. 
LinkedIn and Facebook are my favourites. My blog is linked to both of these.

Quality Family time
We planned all our summer holiday day trips and enjoyed quality time together. I drafted an itinerary which worked well.

How do you approach making and keeping to your goals? 

What lessons have you learnt along the way?

Consistency – is it underrated?

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Consistency means stability, discipline and reliability. It means sticking to what you have set your mind to, even when you go off track, have little support from friends and family or you resent the sacrifices you have to make (whether financial or giving up your free time).

Consistency is not always easy, hence why some struggle to maintain this in their working and social lives. Consistency could mean carrying out tasks or projects and receiving no recognition for your efforts because a) nobody has taken the time to acknowledge you or b) you are working behind the scenes and are therefore unseen.

I will list just a few definitions of consistency taken from the Collins Dictionary;

1. Agreement or harmony between parts of    something complex; compatibility

2. Degree of viscosity or firmness

I was speaking to a friend last week about consistency. As funny as it may sound, I posed two questions to myself;

“Would I still blog on a weekly basis if I had no readers or followers?”

“Would the incentive and passion remain?”

From the bottom of my heart, I would continue to blog as writing is my passion. I write as much for myself as I do for others. I find it therapeutic. However like every other person I would feel deflated at receiving no feedback. Perhaps I would try to “put myself out there” far more than I do now. I would consider sending links to friends and regularly posting about my blog on social media.

If you are more of the adventurous “I will try anything once” type you may have signed up to a number of hobbies and activities over the years. Deciding to give up a hobby only has a direct impact on you therefore I view this as very different to committing to entering into a small business with a partner or perhaps starting a course that will cost you thousands in fees.

You have to make up your mind from the onset what your expectations are before embarking on a new challenge.  It is always best to decline taking on a task or commitment than offering your time, money, services and then back tracking.  

How do you maintain consistency in your line of work/business and personal life?

Is your time keeping impeccable?

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What would others say about your time keeping if asked? 

Are you the family member, friend, colleague, business associate who plans to arrive before the meeting time or do you leave it until the last minute?

Good time keeping shows discipline. It shows you value your time and the other person’s time.  Nobody should have to wait on you unless of course an incident has occurred which is out of your control i.e. a car has broken down on the motorway causing traffic or you suddenly feel unwell. 

Many a celebrity run late to perform at their concerts, I guess this is why supporting acts exist – they help to kill time and gain some exposure. Fans are only too happy to wait hours on end to see the likes of Rihanna, Madonna and co. It is unlikely you and I would be given that level of grace. 

Here are some practical pointers to good time keeping (some may be obvious but I have added them all the same):

1. Plan to arrive 15-30 minutes before the time of the meeting. If there are no delays to your journey you can grab a coffee and catch up on your emails. 

2. Check your route at least an hour before you leave out. There may be train delays or traffic on the route you plan to take. You then have time to find an alternative route.

3. Prepare as much as you can the night before. Check the weather forecast then choose your clothes, shoes, other necessary items and pack your bag. It can be stressful deciding what to wear or hunting for items on the same day. I always select my clothes and my children’s clothes the night before. It really does not matter where we are going. It has become a habit and I can see the benefits. 

I hope my pointers will start you off on the right track. Perhaps you have some suggestions you may like to add.

Would you say you have good time keeping or is there room for improvement?

Just how flexible are you?

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Life does not always go as planned. We may have our day’s events all panned out and then one minor incident can change everything.

Yesterday was a busy day; a morning appointment and then a wedding in the afternoon. My appointment ended at midday and I was due to arrive home within 45 minutes. Unfortunately, there had been a traffic accident on the motorway. My heart sank as I drew nearer to the pile up. I called my husband and asked him to get the children ready, pack snacks and drinks.

I felt frustrated and knew I had to wait patiently. I told myself far worse happens to people – how dare I get upset over this. Eventually I arrived home after 2pm and we were one hour late for the wedding which was a wonderful occasion.

Once our emotions are in check we are able to think about the situation and decide which step to take. When I am stressed and flustered I do not think straight at all. It can be challenging when I know I have absolutely no control as above.

I can be rather stringent with my time and I like events and meetings going ahead as planned. Unfortunately, I have had to reschedule meetings in and outside of work for various reasons. I have had to reschedule evenings out (which are very rare), however I much prefer being told in advance.  

I am slowly learning not to overload my schedule as this makes it all the more difficult to move appointments around. I have this habit of trying to kill two birds with one stone giving little room for flexibility. My husband has a good laugh at me when I have squeezed a number of events into one day. By the end of the day I am exhausted!

Holidays and short breaks provide the “down time” I need – an opportunity to leave my projects, meetings, to do lists and the mundane tasks of life behind – even if just for a week or two. When abroad we book one or two excursions to see the “real country” but not too many that we get burned out. 

How flexible are you when doing business, at your place of employment or running your home? 

What lessons have you learnt which may be of use to others?

The art of organising family days out!

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As we are in the height of summer I thought it would be useful to give some tips on organising family days out. Whether you do not have children, have little ones or yours have flown the nest; you may pick up one or two pointers which will make planning in the future easier. 

My two children are still young so rely on my husband and me for entertainment. How fortunate are we? My daughter would go out every single day of the school holidays if she had her way – she has little concept of time or money.  To balance the days out (and because we are full-time working parents), we plan days out every other day. This way they have one day to relax at home and the following day we go out.

I have to admit, I get as excited about day trips as my children, especially when we are travelling a relatively far distance from home. I am a born explorer and thrive on being in new environments!

My five tips for organising day trips;

1. Identify your budget. What exactly do you have to spend on a short break/day trips for the month? Be realistic and give yourself enough room to live comfortably day to day. 

2. Identify the places you would most like to visit. Involve the family whether that be your children or other extended family members. 

3. Check the weather (applies to those in the UK) before assigning trips to specific days. It is probably obvious but we go to the beach/theme parks on the warmest days and museums/cinema on the coolest days.

4. As well as entry fees if applicable, consider lunch expenditure whether bringing a picnic or eating out, money for ice-cream, drinks and souvenirs.

5. Go with great expectations and be flexible. The day may not go exactly as planned but enjoy it anyway. Cherish the time spent with those you love. 

Do you arduously plan family days out in advance or are you more of a spur of the moment person? 

The balancing act of life

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Life really can be one big balancing act. I find as priorities change, one must take time out to re-evaluate. What matters today may not be high priority in a year’s time. Even when we think our days are pretty much the same, the world is constantly moving forward. 

There will always be something or someone to take up our time. It is down to us to decide what is most important. With all the best intentions in the world we could never meet the needs of everyone. Therefore we need to be realistic with what we can truly take on. It is far better to say no from the onset than to reluctantly say yes and be half in and half out. People will actually respect you for being upfront.

When I started my blog (almost three years ago), I began to network via Facebook and LinkedIn and I joined twitter much later.  I was determined to “put myself out there”. I joined only a few forums as I felt it was best to wade in slowly. I found twitter overwhelming to say the least and felt a little like a fish out of water.  I found many bloggers and entrepreneurs tweet almost every ten minutes. I knew I could not commit to this and quite frankly did not wish to. I worried I would fail to connect with others and my blog would suffer as a result.

A few years on and my blog is still going strong. I do not have 1000 followers – yet! However, I enjoy sharing my ideas and learning from other bloggers.  Yes, I want my blog to succeed but I also need to make time to pray, read the word, spend time with my family, serve in church ministry AND hold down a demanding full-time job. It is possible to bring balance in our lives. It will mean saying no and regularly identifying what is essential and what can be left whether indefinitely or for a period of time. 

Do you feel you are constantly juggling one task after another or do you put measures in place to bring about a nice balance? 

Light hearted tips and advice from an organised lady!