How to be prepared for Christmas

Ok so just let me say that, the fact you are reading this post means that you are already one step ahead of a lot of people when it comes to getting organised for Christmas, so well done. Christmas is actually a big part of our year and does take energy and time from all of us, with shopping, eating , travel, cooking and so on. Let’s not under estimate the amount of work that is needed to get things ready for the festive season. Over the years I have really appreciated how much better I am prepared for Christmas when I have planned for it. If you are sick of feeling very chaotic at Christmas time because you are running around at the last minute, let me help you get more prepared. In this post I share how I go about planning for Christmas and hopefully you will find this valuable

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90 Day Planning Cycle

What’s a 90 day planning cycle got to do with Christmas? Well not a lot! Except it’s the best way to plan for Christmas or anything for that matter.

During my career in the corporate world, Business Plans, 90 day planning cycles and so on are a norm and a very effective tool to use to implementation actions to achieve your goals. Just because these are corporate practises, it doesn’t mean that you can not apply them at home. Which is exactly what I do for Christmas planning.

A 90 day planning cycle, is not complicated. Simply speaking it’s planning three months out, or over the year breaking it up into quarters , (3 months each) to achieve your goals. Each month you will break down the activities / actions that you need to do.

So for Christmas preparation you want to start 90 days out (3 months) which means kicking off your 90 day plan in October.

90 Day planner

90 Day planner

What to plan for

The first thing I do is decide what you actually want to achieve , i.e what is your goal? Are you having family and guests for Christmas? So your goal might be to have a relaxing and enjoyable Christmas - or more simply put it, you want everything organised and done before the family and guests arrive. For me this Christmas, it is to have as a much relaxation time as possible.

Once you figure out what you want to achieve . i.e what your goal is, then just work through the main things that you will need to work on to achieve this. Using me as an example, my goal means that I really need to have everything done before Christmas so I can actual sit back and relax. To do this I listed out;

  • Food

  • Budget

  • Presents

  • Entertainment

  • Christmas decoration

  • Guest preparation

  • Home preparation - cleaning & tidying

  • Travel

  • Family plans

  • Holiday leave (Pete and I)

These are essentially your categories or topics and each will have a number of tasks. To help think about all the tasks, I do a brain dump.

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Brain Dump

Yep , just want it says , dump out everything that is in your brain on this matter and get it onto paper. This is a really helpful tool to free your mind up of all the things that you need to do.

For me I just take each topic and list everything out that I can think of, there is no need to prioritise at this stage, just get it all out. Lets take food as an example, I have just quickly written down some tasks;

  • Christmas baking - What and when

  • Create Christmas day menu

  • Shopping list for Christmas day menu

  • Work out Holiday meal plan

  • How many days to meal plan for

  • How many people are staying - Christmas and holiday

  • Place food orders - how and when

  • Fresh produce - when to buy

  • Clear out fridge and freezer space

  • When to do shopping

Repeating this for each of the topics. At first you may think that there is so much to do once you have listed it all out, trust me though it will make sense.

Timeframes

Using a 90 day plan means that you actually have 3 months to complete all those tasks that you have listed out. In other words you have plenty of time. The key is to get your timing right and somethings have to be done before another task can be completed.

In the end you don’t want to have to worry about what you have to do and not having enough time to do it, all you need to do is follow your plan and just do each task listed in the timeframe stated and you will get to your goal.

It is a simple process as you take the three months, October, November and December and spread out the tasks across these. Then each month you can plan then out over the weeks of the month.

Here is the approach I have taken with the my list of tasks for “Food”

  • Christmas baking- What and when - Oct

  • Create Christmas day menu - Nov

  • Shopping list for Christmas day menu - Nov

  • Work out Holiday meal plan - Nov

  • How many days to meal plan for - Oct

  • How many people are staying - Christmas and holiday -Oct

  • Place food orders - how and when -Dec

  • Fresh produce - when to buy -Dec

  • Clear out fridge and freezer space -Dec

  • When to do shopping -Dec

As you will see, I have allocated most of the “planning” tasks out to complete in October. It’s always important to do as many of the planning task first as they lead to your next steps. By spreading out my task over the 3 months, I don’t need to rush around in December trying to do all 10 things on my list.

When I do my monthly planning I can then task these out over the weeks in the month.

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getting it done

The planning is actually the easy part, it’s not a hard job to take 5-10 mins to list out all your topics and tasks and plan them out over the 3 months. The challenge is to “do” them……in other words implementing your plan. Couple of tips to help;

  • Be clear with what the specific task is. i.e what is the exact next step you have to do so its really clear.

  • Be realistic with the allocating the task to certain weeks/days. Think about what else you have on and what is the chance of actually getting that task done on that day.

Remember to always focus on the next tasks only. If you think about all that has to be done rather than the just the next step, you can easily get overwhelmed. Before you know it, it will be Christmas and you will be all sorted and can sit back and enjoy the experience of Christmas and relax !!

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Planning 101

Let’s reflect on what you have just learnt here, what I would call Planning 101. There is actually nothing about this planning that is specific to Christmas which means that you can apply this 90 planning cycle to any goal, you don’t even need to stick to the 90 day cycle. Just follow the principles that I covered off above, which are summarised below;

  • Identify your goal

  • Work out your timeframe

  • What do you need to do

  • Break down the specific task

  • Allocate them over the timeframe

  • Do the task , one at a time

To help you with your planning I have created a simple and easy to use Christmas Planner. Just grab the FREE printable below

FREE Christmas Planner

Get prepared for Christmas with this FREE simple and easy to use Planner

    Powered By ConvertKit

    Happy Planning my tidies and look forward to having a restful and relaxing Christmas

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    How to do a quick spring time tidy up

    I was in a bit of muddle this month over my latest content that I wanted to bring you. Travelling a lot for my new role and my daughter having commissioned my camera for a few weeks has meant that getting my monthly post out was going to be a challenge. However I was doing a bit of quick “spring clean” this weekend and I thought why don’t I just share a what I am doing.

    So this post is not about a big spring clean, but rather how to bring your home out of the winter funk with a few simply tidying tips. Many of you busy people out there would hopefully appreciate this and in fact you can do this for any seasonal change. My quick spring time tidy up is a mix of cleaning and tidying up that you can easily do in a couple of hours and makes a big difference quickly and easily.

    We are not talking about a big spring clean feast here, I mean who has the time to be washing down every inch of the house!!. And actually I am not a big fan of spring cleaning which is why I avoid it by doing zone cleaning. If you want to check out what that is about and how I do that , then you need to check out my Spring Cleaning the House - How I avoid it post.

    Any who …back to this post, this is all about doing a quick run through the house to make it feel a bit fresher for spring when you really have little time.


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    Clean window sills

    Try as we might , the winter time is not always a great time to be always keeping the house clean, so there are often areas of the home that get neglected. The window sills are one of those areas and can get a bit grotty with dust, dirt and moisture. I had a couple of windows sills that are in regular view and I gave them a quick clean down and it made such a difference.

    You don’t have to do all sills at once, just those that you look at often, those that are in your line of sight, like in front of the kitchen sink. If you want to clean all the sills then just aim to do a a couple each weekend.

    Freshen up your house plants

    This isn’t a big job either, if you have house plants why not give them a spring make over!!!. Next time you water and feed them just cut off any dead leaves, give the pots a bit of a clean or maybe report them into a new one for spring. It may also be a good time to rearrange where they are displayed as they may need a bit more sunlight on them after the long winter days.

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    Clean down your Front Door

    Yep this may seen a bit old school, but actually makes a big difference. And in fact I often clean down my front door and entrance way. I simply give the outside and inside of my front door a good clean down, get rid of the winter grime off the door. Make sure that you don’t forget the front step. I just use my general cleaner, which is a mix of vinegar and water. However if you have got a lot of grime and dirt a better option is a bucket of warm soapy water, here you can use your dish wash liquid, it should do the trick

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    Spring decor on your dinning Table

    This doesn’t need to be flash and over the top, just something simple, like flowers or nice candles. I often like to have fresh herbs in pots for my “spring decor”. This spring I have just used my candles from my winter decor and placed them in my glass cake stand and put some potted herbs in a basket. It’s a quick and easy and useful spring look.

    If you are after some real inspiration for check out my seasonal decor Pinterest board.

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    Create some spring scent

    Fresh flowers are the best if you can get some. Those with a garden, cut some from the garden like Daffodils, Crocus, Lily of the Valley etc. Your local produce shop should have some lovely spring flowers. Our local Simply Fresh always has great flowers.

    Also get your diffuser going with a few drops of lemon essential oil , it’s a lovely spring scent. Maybe splash out on some oil diffusers or new candles .

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    Tidy up one area

    Choose one area in your house that has been bothering you for a while and give it a bit of a tidy up. Over winter I have gathered some bits and pieces on my craft table that I just could’t be bothered putting away. So I took ten minutes and sorted everything out and put everything away. I also cleaned down the table and what a difference it made….all tidy and clean and fresh.

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    Now I have done all this on a Saturday morning, so it’s not a big deal, in fact it only took a couple of hours (I farted around a bit with my pot plants). And it has already made me feel more spring like and the home feels a bit fresher and ready to welcome in the spring.

    Ok so the windows need a good clean outside, however I have a plan for those ….Pete……!!! Honey……can you please!!!

    Some other quick tips

    • Change your duvet cover for a more spring feel. Wash all your bed linen and hang on the line. Nothing better than linen that has been out in the fresh air.

    • Open up the windows in this house - get some fresh air flowing through

    • Clean your shoes . I just throw my casual sneakers that I wear in the weekend in the wash, good as new.

    There you have it, 6 quick things to do to get your home feeling fresh and ready to welcome in the spring. I am sure that you could come up with your own quick clean and tidy steps, just remember it doesn’t have to be a big spring clean.

    Happy Spring My Tidies

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    How to create a travel kit

    Sometimes opportunities come along in life at an unexpected time, but end up being the perfect time. I have recently experienced this as a result of being offered a new role, one that initially I was not looking for. The role requires a lot of travel, which I have been enjoying not doing, however that was the reality with this role. And to be fair, travel is easy for me now with no kids at home and Pete only working four days a week. However one of the biggest pains with travel is the packing and unpacking. So I decided that if I was going to do this I needed to make as many things simple for myself. I decided if I could have a travel kit that was essentially ready to grab, I wouldn’t need to keep packing and unpacking. So I created my ultimate travel kit, one that is ready to use for one day or a whole week. So if like me you are wanting to make your travel easier keep reading and I’ll take you through the steps I took to create my ultimate kit.

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    Step 1 - Travel Requirements

    The first thing that I did was to think about what my travel requirements were going to be. To do this I thought about where and how often I would need to be travelling, even thinking about the weather as well.

    Working that out, initially I would probably be travelling weekly from one day to four days a week. However potentially changing locations during the week, which would mean slight variations in the weather. i.e Dunedin to Hamilton! The travel would likely settle down however not for a number of months, so it was going to be high frequency travel.

    Knowing the regularity and locations helped me to think about what I would need to have in my travel kit, so this takes me to the next step.

    Step 2 - Items for the Travel kit

    The easiest way I found to do this is to just do a bit of a brain dump. I simply listed out all the main items I normally need when travelling and categorised them

    • Work information

    • Technology

    • Wash bag and Make up

    • Wardrobe - work/exercise/casual

    For each of the categories I worked through what items I would actually take with me for every trip regardless of length and decided that these were the items that I would have in my kit. Essentially always ready and all I needed to do was to add my clothes.

    As an example for my wash bag and make up category I decided that I would have items such as deodorants, body wash, toothpaste, toothbrush etc permanently in the kit. 

    From my list I collected together those items , crossing them off as I went. Helpful to only get those items that you have on your list. It is easy to start to include things that you think …ohhh I might need that !!! But really you don’t  

    A handy hint the small baby bath bottles from ECO store make perfect sized containers to fill with shampoos and body wash etc and means that you can just decanter from your existing products.

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    For my wardrobe I have a set of travel sleep wear, lounging clothes and yoga gear which stay with my travel kit.

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    Now that I had a good idea of all my travel items, this helped me to decide what my best luggage options would be, bearing in mind that I want to be able to have everything in my carry on and hand luggage. Essentially I wanted to only travel with two items of luggage, one being my handbag/briefcase and the other my carry on .

    So to the next step ——-suss out the luggage, but this also the fun part as I got to do a bit of shopping

    Step 3 - The Luggage

    Weight and functional are king here, I was really focused on ensuring that I have light weight luggage which needed to be really functional and ok yep it had to look good as well. Having said that I would compromise on looks to get weight and functionality.

    Thankfully now there are a lot of great options available that not only look really good but are very functional as well. In my research I found the Samsonite luggage a great option, these are certainly at the pricer end however if you are travelling a lot it’s a worth while investment. Here in Aotearoa, New Zealand you can find these often on special at Luggage.co.nz and Strand Bags and of course Amazon has a great selection.

    Interestingly enough for me, while I was doing the research one of favourite New Zealand bag brands, Saben, released a new range of luggage…..and like OMG I just feel in love with them. Of course I did my research on the luggage to ensure that they ticked my check list; light weight, functional and good looking. I had a good read through of all the details online first, checking the sizes and weight , then went into the store to have a good look. So I choose the Cabin Bag Black Carry on . It is super light, has four wheels, a lovely long handle (bonus for us tall gals) and has great capacity inside. And of course it is a beautiful thing….I mean just look at it ! I love the gold detail in the zips and handles. Also the zips have a lock which again is another great feature. In terms of price they sit similar to the Samsonite as well as the quality.

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    Now I was also looking for the perfect handbag/briefcase….that turned about to be a more challenging search, well initially. For my handbag/briefcase it needed to hold my personal items; purse, small make up bag, planner, MacBook air, cell phone, as well as my  work Surface Pro , work notebook and pen case. In my research I found that there were briefcases, mainly for men however they were often very narrow and really too slim so you could not get in all the personal items.

    When looking at just handbags they were really not robust enough to carry all the tech equipment. There was an option that I was thinking of using and that is my London Carry all Dagne Dover which I use as my carry all for work and it’s fab for that . However really needed something smaller as my hang bag. Dagne Dover do have some excellent options now in their luggage collection which I was looking at.

    However that was before I came across the perfect solution and I happen to find it at Saben……ohhh I shouldn’t have gone into that shop!! What I found has worked out to exceed my expectations…..it is soooo freaking practical, and the design means it is so nice to use and it is not bulky but holds everything that I need. So check it out my beautiful Taylor Black work bag . The two best elements of this bag;

    1. Dual compartments which I can get my Mac onside and my Surface Pro on the other

    2. Design, it’s long and slim and for a tall gal it just works so well for me functionally.

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    So there I am on a wet Friday afternoon coming out the Saben shop with a new bag and carry on, having spent, and lets be honest, a small fortune on them…..I had a smile across my dial feeling very pleased with myself. Because for me I had found the perfect two travel pieces I needed.

    Now to set them up ready for travel. Ohhh the fun of organising ….I’m in my happy place peeps!

    Step 4 - Travel Kit set up

    This is all about great packing organisation and if you do some googling there are all sorts of ways to do this well. For many years I have been a roller, boy you can fit a lot in when you roll clothes. In fact we travelled around Europe for 6 weeks with the kids with only two backpacks using the rolling method.

    However for my work travel I pack shirts and blazers and they are not really ideal when it comes to rolling. So I will use packing cases. I have actually been using dust cover bags that you get with shoes and bags and sometimes sheets as packing cases for sometime however decided that I would upgrade these. I manage to get these Flight packing cases on special at Briscoes as well as a tech bag .

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    On a recent trip to Sydney I discovered this fabulous reusable bag shop in Paddington called Bag-All . They have the most amazing selection of bags and you can even get them personalised. I did do a bit of a spend up and got myself some really lovely packing cases and a small tech bag for my hand bag. Now I think I am well set up for packing cases!

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    In terms of the Travel kit set up, as I mentioned above I really wanted to be able to reduce the amount of packing needed and essentially have as much ready to go as I can. With the exception of my daily clothes I set up the following kits;

    • Wash bag

    • Yoga kit

    • Lounging clothes

    • Tech kit

    Packing cases.png

    Each of those kits have their own bag and have all the items I need ready to go. I just add the clothes I need for the period I am away which is not a big deal.

    I am sure that I will have make changes to the kit as I go along however it’s a great start and will make the chore of packing and unpacking a lot less time consuming.

    All packed up

    My goal was to set up a travel kit that enabled ease of travel as well as reducing the packing and unpacking. I found going through the four steps outlined above was really helpful and helped me to make the right decisions to get my travel kit set up. I am sure that you could apply this to any travel situation to help you to also build the perfect travel kit for your needs.

    Happy Travelling my friends

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    Planning for house guests


    Here in Aotearoa, New Zealand we have just had Easter and school holidays. For my northern hemisphere readers, summer holiday season is upon them and many of us are looking forward to having family and friends to stay. After the initial excitement of looking forward to seeing family and friends, comes the panic of realising what you need to do to get the house ready for guests. I suspect that most of us have little time to do this and can therefore quickly become overwhelmed. My wonderful brother, sis in law , niece and nephew came to stay for a week over the Easter holiday and I needed to prepare our home for their stay. So I thought that this is the perfect opportunity to take you through how I plan, what I do, things to consider, helped by a check list and other tips to help you when preparing for house guests.

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    Have a plan

    The first thing that I do when I know we have guests coming is to create a plan. I work out what I need to do and what time I have got to get these things done. I find doing a bit at a time really helps to reduce the “panic” of needing to get everything sorted at the past minute. My plan generally covers off these main topics;

    1. Food and Beverage

    2. Meal planning

    3. Cleaning

    4. Linen and Bathroom

    5. Gifts

    6. Information

    Under each of these I have a list of things that I need to cover off , so this essentially becomes my “to do list”. My next step is to plan out in my home planner the days during the week that I need to get these things done.

    Now that you have an overall plan, let me take you through the six areas that I work off in my plan.


    Food and Beverages

    This is all about making sure that you have got the sorts of pantry and fridge supplies needed for your guests. Rather than just stocking up with your usual supplies try and think about your guests and what they may like to eat. e.g breakfast cereals, favourite teas and how they have their coffee. If you have a family visiting think about snacks and fruit for the kiddies. For my niece and nephews visit I made sure that I had snacks in the pantry, and in the fridge I have a tray of apples and yoghurt that they could just grab.

    Don’t forget the adults too, if you have a cocktail cabinet make sure it’s fully stocked and that for the Craft beer lover that there is some nice cold ones in the fridge ready for their arrival.

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    A really nice touch and a very economical option is to do some baking. A fresh batch of cookies always goes down a treat with everyone. This could be a great way to have foods specific to festive seasons such as Christmas or Easter time.

    Lastly don’t forget the essentials such as milk, bread and spreads , have plenty of these supplies to ensure that you don’t run out.

    Meal planning

    This may seem a bit silly however if your guests are staying more than a couple of nights, then a meal plan is a great idea. Firstly it means that you don’t need to worry about what to cook and gives more time in the day to have time with your guests. As with the food and beverage supplies, think about your guests and what sort of meals they would like. When my Mumma comes and stay she loves hot spicy food so our meals are planned to that. However with my brother and family it was much more good old family meals, like Lasagne.

    Make sure that you also think about which nights you might go out, i.e if you have a celebration dinner to attend, and plan that in.

    Displaying the meal plan can be a good idea, I just use my weekly meal planner board for this, it can actually be really helpful to discover if someone is not too keen on a certain meal., as illustrated by a funny story from my niece. Only being 6 she immediately notice the meal plan board and checked out the meal we have planned for their stay. She asked if we could swap a meal around because she didn’t like Bacon and Egg pie (which was on list) , so cute.

    Once you have the meal plan, you can just shop to that, so much easier than guessing what to cook each night.

    If you are interested in learning more about meal planning, just check out my meal planning for beginner post, just click on the pic below.

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    CLEAning

    The challenge with cleaning in preparation for guests is the timing, as you really need to do it just before they arrive. It’s likely that you will not have a lot of time so just do the important areas, like the guest bedroom and bathroom. If you have time do a quick clean up in the living area and kitchen. One of the quickest and easy tricks to making a home look and feel clean is the entrance area. I would suggest making sure that you have cleared away all the clutter and give the area a quick clean. If you can, create a space where the guests have a place for their jackets and bags etc. Also if you have a no shoes in the house rule , then make sure that they have a place for their shoes and that you provide some type of house shoes/slippers. As an example I got my guests house socks and put these into their gift basket.

    Other things to remember when cleaning;

    • Replace the hand towel in the bathrooms with fresh clean ones

    • Clean the taps and the toilet seat, especially underneath

    • Stock up the toilet paper

    • Fill up the soap dispensers

    • Clean the bathroom mirrors

    • Change the shower curtain, or at least wash it

    The last and the best trick of all when it comes to a clean house is the scents you use in your home. Walking into a home with a beautiful scent in the air with makes it feel clean and inviting regardless of how clean it really is.

    I am personally a huge fan of essential oils and love using these to create gorgeous scents around the house.

    In the guest bedroom I use a small jute bag full of cotton balls on which I place some drops of lavender. I place these discreetly near the bedhead area, not only providing a lovely scent but enabling a great sleep. I also place some drops of lemongrass in the tube of the toilet paper, this gets absorbed through the toilet paper.

    One thing I do want to mention is zone cleaning or having a cleaning routine. If you have a regular, consistent cycle of cleaning it actually means that you generally always have a clean house so you don’t need to really every do a big “clean” . This really helps when having guest because all you need to do is a quick tidy up and you are done.

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    Linen, BED and Bathroom

    So tell me…. Do you like getting into a bed with clean fresh white sheets? Yes I thought so, and why is that? Because it makes you feel like you are in a hotel! Therefore great bedding and linen really makes your guest feel like they staying in luxury. It you don’t have specific linen and bedding for guests beds, then at least make sure that you have fresh, clean sheets on the bed.

    It’s good to have extra blankets or throws in the room, especially if it’s autumn or winter. And in the warmer seasons, provide a fan.

    Another lovely touch in the bedrooms is to have some nice dressing gowns and slippers. These can be placed with guest towels on the corner of the bed for their arrival.

    I am fortunate that we have guest rooms that are not used other than for guests so I can make sure these are ready earlier. However if you are using bedrooms that have to be made up, I’d suggest getting as much as you can ready so when you have to make up the beds etc you have everything ready.

    As an example, we had a single mattress that used to be housed under my sons bed. We would use this for any guests and it could be placed in any spare space at the time. To make things easier for this, I had all the linen & bedding for that single mattress all ready to go and in its own place in the cupboard. This meant that when we got the mattress out all I needed to do was grab the linen & bedding and make up the bed. This would only take me 5 mins or so.

    Onto the guest bathroom, I’d recommend having full set of towels as well, including a hand towel and face cloth. I also like to ensure that there are supplies for the guests for oral, hair and skin care. And lets not forget a wee medicine stash for those morning headaches from one too many celebration drinks. You don’t need to go over the top, just have the basics. Maybe display them nicely, to bring a bit of luxury into the bathroom.

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    Gifts

    Just to clarify at this point, that it is not necessary to provide gifts to every guest you have, a simple gesture of snacks and bottled water in their room is plenty.

    However if you are having close friends or family you may want to go a bit extra to make their visit special. Here are some ideas;

    • A bottle of bubbles with nice wine glasses and candles on a tray

    • Basket with cozy house socks and a selection of new magazines (try and get a topic that they like)

    • Books, fun stationery, puzzles for kids

    • Fun slippers

    • Seasonal gifts - e.g Easter eggs , Christmas cookies

    I recently had my niece and nephew (6 & 10) staying over easter time. I got them a small basket each and filled it up with a few fun things;

    • Mug with hot chocolate sachet

    • Easter Bunny (Chocolate)

    • Books to read

    • Travel Diary (as they were doing a road trip)

    • Pens and stickers

    • Head phones

    • Cute wee house socks

    As they were travelling on a road trip I knew that they could take their basket of goodies with them. So when thinking of gifts consider how they are travelling. Often it would be best to provide a gift that they will use during their stay so don’t need to take it with them, food is the obvious choice for that.

    Guest gift basket for young girl.png


    Information

    Lastly and probably most importantly, is useful information that your guest will need. The most obvious is the Wifi password, it’s like to be asked for fairly soon after arrival, so have it somewhere visible, e.g typed up inside a picture frame.

    If they are likely to be using the TV and other electronic equipment make sure that you have the instructions available, e.g How To guides. Also think to include washing machine instructions , especially if they are staying for a wee while.

    A good idea would be to make up a folder with brochures of local attractions and activities as well as eateries.

    Local public transport information is also great to have, timetables and even a travel card could be useful. Information on the local supermarket is handy and think about having a reward card available.


    To wrap up and some FREE help

    I have tried to cover of all that I can think of in relation to preparation for house guests, and a lot of the time there is no need to do all of the above, however it’s helpful as a guide and can form your “to do list”. As I mentioned initially, the sanity saver in terms of preparation is to plan, even if you only have short notice of a guests arrival you can still plan. To help you with the preparation I have developed a check list for you , which is FREE to access below and covers of all the six areas above;

    • Food and Beverage

    • Meal planning

    • Cleaning

    • Linen Bedding and Bathroom

    • Gifts

    • Information

    FREE check list

    Your ulimate "to do" list to get ready for house guests

       

      Powered By ConvertKit


      Thanks so much for coming by and I hope that you have found this information really useful. I’d love to hear about any preparation tips and gifts ideas that you have in preparation for your house guests.

      Happy Hosting and may you be the Hostest with the Mostest!!!

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      More great content to help you, from my popular blog posts below

      Join our Tidy Tribe by following me on social media, thinks below

      Decluttering in 3 simple steps

      We all have them, those spaces where you end up piling up boxes and stuff to sort later or store. Ours is under the stairs, for others it might be the garage, up in the attic, in that hall cupboard or even in a spare room. You try and close the door quickly as to not notice how messy and cluttered it is looking. Our space was getting worse, not helped by the kids rummaging through it, as you can see.  I got to the point where I had enough, so decided it was time to attack this. 

      how to sort your cluttered storage space -Tidying with Tania

      I did find that I put the job off for a while as it just seemed so overwhelming...it was such a mess and I just didn't know what to with all the stuff. What I did know is that I wanted the clutter gone and I wanted a really nice space to look at as well as a functional storage area and most importantly it had to be a no spend project. I decided to eat this elephant one bit at a time, planning, sorting and decorating.

      1. Planning

      My starting point was planning out the space, for me this is the motivational part. I decided what I wanted it to look like, well within limits anyway. We have not renovated this part of the house as yet therefore it did not make any sense to do too much or spend any money on this space at this time. However like I say "you should always be beautiful with what you have"

      The room is under the entrance landing and the stairway. I had a black netting type curtain which I used to hang in front the entrance to the space so to block the view of the clutter. However this meant that it was actually fairly dark downstairs and not very welcoming.  My goal was to open it up and bring the light back in. I also wanted to highlight the cool smokey window at the back which brings in heaps of morning sun.

      The space still had to be essentially a place for storage however only for things we actually use, i.e seasonal and occasional items like luggage and picnic hampers. I did not want it to be filled back up with clutter again. 

      The last step in the planning was to work out a timeframe. I gave myself two weekends to complete this job as I knew it would be big. Rushing a job is not a good idea for and I wanted to take my time and do it properly.  So I locked in the next two Saturdays. Lucky for me the first one rained all day so it was a perfect for a big inside job.

      2. Sorting 

      This was really scary, I mean look at all that stuff! What will be the best way to tackle this? When I had previously sorted out clutter I also ended up with piles for rubbish and recycling. So I decided to sort into rubbish, recycling, donations and selling. There was a one last category and that was "misplace" . Basically an item that actually lives somewhere else in the house.

      What I found really important was while I was doing the sorting was to apply a one touch rule. An example is an item of rubbish, touch it and put it on the rubbish bag and when the bag is full place it out for collection. The same applied with recycling. In regards to the donation I put the items straight into the back of the car so I then had to take them.

      I could not believe how much I actually removed. Almost all of the clutter went, mostly going to recycle and donation. The stuff that I have collected....boy oh boy! In the end the only items that I am keeping is our luggage, sleeping bags and picnic hampers. I put all these onto the shelves which meant that the rest of the area was actually free of clutter. Boy did it feel good.

      3. Decorating

      This was the fun part, well some of it. I gave the room a really good clean out and repainted the block walls. Paint left over from previous jobs came in handy here as did the left over carpet from the recent new carpet we had laid in the entertainment room. I just cut it down to fit and used double sided tape to hold it in place. 

      Although the shelving was really efficient for the storage of the luggage it still looked untidy. To solve this I simply put up a curtain in front of the shelves, perfect !. To limit the potential for new clutter to establish itself again, I did two things;

      • set up two bins (old wash clothing bins) for storage

      • placed plants in the room as decor

      The use of the storage bins means that when we place something in them it has to then be sorted into rubbish, recycle, donate or sell.

      There was also method in my madness as to the where I placed the bins and this is solely due to the two fluffy hunters that we have. Yes our cats! they love to bring all their live and dead offerings to us through this space, note the cat flap. Therefore this area has been a corpse collection station at times, much to our horror. Also the dirty little beggars leave dirt marks on the wall when jumping up and down through the cat flap.

      Now that I have done a Tidying with Tania on this space there is no way I was letting the cats mess it up again. Therefore to stop the bringing in of offerings, the cat flap is now only one way, out only, so at least they will not wake us up in the night for a pee. To stop the jumping up marks, I purposely placed the bins in front of the walls. This forces them to jump up and over the plant, on the right of the picture, and walk along the window ledge. I actually watched them to ensure that this worked and yep it did. 

      The house plants are a simple decor idea to establish the space as part of the house and not a storage room to be shut off. 

      Storage room

      I am really pleased with how it turned out. It is such a nice space now and is open and connected to the rest of the house. Best of all it brings me joy!

      What is your cluttered space? Need help with how to tackle the space?

      Let me know, as a problem shared is a problem solved.

      Have a great week

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      How I use my Filofax as an On The Go Planner and wallet

      I love my Franklin Covey A5 Planner, however it's not the smallest of planners. So sometimes transportation can be an issue. Any passionate planner addict knows that your planner goes with you pretty much everywhere. During my working week  it comes with me in my work bag and that's all good. Come the weekend I ditch my work bag and use my weekender or shopper, which are a lot smaller.  Most of our weekends, at the moment, are spent at the Bunnings/Mitre 10 (Hardware store), so taking a A5 planner with me is not really practical. Added to this is my somewhat endless frustration of hunting for the pen and lists in my bag.....yep I can't always be perfectly organised.

      On-the-go-planner-filofax1.png

       

      So what's the problem?

      When we are out and about in the weekends, I normally only have my keys, wallet, pen and lists...never ending list of dam chores!, which are normally in a notebook.  I would find myself carrying the notebook , wallet , phone, pen and keys. Now just to be clear, I do also use notes on my phone, but actually find it easier with a notebook, yep I`m a bit old school!  The other challenge is that we are cash based, which means that we use cash. (it's a very effective way to stay on budget, check out Dave Ramsey method if you want to know more). I thought ok there must be a better way to "carry" all this stuff, especially in the weekends. Ideally what I wanted was a wallet that could actually house everything, so all I needed when I went out was my wallet and keys.

       

      Research/Options

      While thinking about solutions,  I struck on the idea of a planner wallet. Well you guessed it, it turns out that it is a real thing. I got onto Pinterest and You tube and uncovered a treasure trove of "planner wallets" or "on the go planners". In my many hours of research I worked out that planner wallets were actually planners that were being used as wallets. These were normally pocket sized planners (the really tiny planners). The on the go planners were actual wallets that had planners in them, yep they are different. 

      The pocket planners, like this Filofax leather Malden, very cute, are popular as wallets. However this was not really going to work for me because I needed to house my cash envelopes, and in reality I didn't need an actual planner as such more a "notebook"

      Solution

      Upon doing further research I came across actual wallets with small planners in them, as opposed to Planners used as wallets...get the difference!. These seemed to be referred to as "on the go planners" and Filofax appeared to have some good options. I thought about what I really needed in the wallet to help me deciding on the best style;

      • pen loop

      • notepages/calender/to do list

      • zip section for change

      • card holders

      • several compartments for receipts and dollar notes

      • or ability to hold cash envelopes

      • Somewhere to house the iphone

      It might seem a bit silly listing out these requirements, but I find it really helpful when trying to decide on the best options when there is a lot of choice. So if you are ever overwhelmed by too much choice, try making a list of your needs , it might help.

      Now that I got my requirements sorted, I was fairly quickly able to identify the best choice for me......drum roll please! 

      The Filofax Saffiano compact organiser was the perfect solution, ticked off all my requirements. Best of all I could get it in my favourite colour, which we know is the most important thing of all. So Amazon took my money and I waited.

      on-the-go-planner-filofax2.png

       

      My Set up

      Finally the Amazon box arrived and I "unboxed it" no I didn't do an unboxing video! not really that exciting.!

      Now came the fun part, the set up. There is just the right amount of card slots for my money cards, loyality cards etc ( I had already sussed that out when I ordered it). The zipped pocket is where I hold our weekly grocery and coffee cash and the compartment in front holds all the receipts. On this side I have my four most used cards, Visa Debit, One card (petrol and supermarket), Life Pharmacy and Fly Buys reward cards. The other side has four different store reward cards, just the main ones I tend to use. The front compartment has my coffee and dry cleaning cards. So the "wallet" part of the Saffiano was perfect. 

      The "planner" part is actually a removable ring planner and many people just remove it put in a note book. I kept the "planner" in but changed the set up to suit me and how I wanted to use it.

      As I was going to be using the wallet as the on the go planner mainly in the weekends, I thought about what sections would be really useful for me. I decided on 5 sections; 

      • To do - my "out and about" to do list

      • Shopping - grocery lists for our weekly shop

      • Inbox - bright ideas, other things that will need your attention at some point

      • notes - mainly a place to capture any ideas/thoughts/solutions on things as I am out and about. mainly measurements for the visits to Bunnings/Mitre10.

      • Calendar - monthly view only of the remaining part of 2018.

      I took some existing ruled note pages, personal sized, that I had in my existing planner supplies as the inserts and made up my own dividers. I made the dividers out of card stock, cut them to size and laminated them. I used Sunday Morning from Craft Smith as I thought it was the perfect theme for this weekend "on the go planner", and the colours matched perfectly.

      on-the-go-planner-planner-inserts.png

       

      My phone slots nicely into the side pocket on the outside of the wallet so I don't need to open it to get to my phone.

      The final test was ensuring that the cash envelopes fitted perfectly, which they did and boom I had my perfect "on the go planner" 

      on-the-go-planner-cash-envelopes.png

       

      It's been a great purchase and the perfect solution to my frustrations. The best thing and what I love most is having the shopping list's all in one, it's so good when doing the shopping with a list. 

      on-the-go-planner-shopping.png

       

      If you want to see other ideas for planner wallets, just check out my Pinterest Planners board .

      So how is your wallet set up? Is it working for you?, Do you use a planner in your wallet? Leave a comment below as I`d love to hear from you.

      Have fun shopping !!!!

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      2 routines to master your day, feel good and achieve your goals

      I often get asked "How do you fit everything in?" "You must be so busy" My reply is always the same "routine, routine,routine" For as long as I can remember I have had daily routines, blame it on my Mum. She had us in routines right from day one, and well I did the same with my kiddies, maybe that's why they started sleeping through the night at 6 weeks, both of them. Anyway back to the point, routines can have some real benefits, like giving you more precious time to do what you love to do, achieving your goals and you feel good because you are getting things done!

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      It`s probably fair to say that everyone has some type of routine in their life. Most of us just see a routine as a function or a need, like brushing your teeth, having a shower or doing #2's at the same time everyday!!!!! however not everyone uses routines as a way to save time and achieve your goals. Initially, that's how I saw routines too, however over the years I have noticed some benefits of my routines and worked on making a more conscious effort to develop really effective routines.

      When the kids were little and we were in that morning madness phase of getting everyone out the door, that was when I really kicked routine into top gear. Having routines meant that we all knew what we had to do and everything was sorted and ready to go, no running around madly trying to find things and do last minute homework or assignments in the car, or dashing into the shop for lunches. The biggest benefit for everyone was that day always started pretty calm and on time. Ok we were human and sometimes things did go to the dogs!! but not that often.

      So now as a midlifer and emptynester my routines are different and the same. I still have to get up and get ready and still have to clean the house!!! However I have more me time so I have been able to add some self care and development routines into my life that is really paying off and certainly helping me to achieve my goals and "fit everything in".

      Achieving your goals is actually done by taking small steps regularly, action this, done , on to the next action. A good example is a goal to get fit and lose weight, achieved by taking small actions everyday , like 30 minute exercise and a morning smoothie. So in reality, to achieve your goals you need to "master your day", well that's what I think. By mastering your day everyday you achieve your goals! And that's where the routines come in.  Developing useful and effective routines in the morning and evening can help you to achieve these goals. The best way to illustrate this is for me to take you through my morning and evening routines.

      My Morning Routine

      Alarm goes off at 5am, weekdays and 7am in the weekends. This is an hour earlier than I need to be up because I use this time to focus my mind, exercise and learn. Some of you may be familiar with the book The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod . I follow a very similar approach, so my first 60 minutes of the day looks like this;

      • Meditation - 10 mins
      • Affirmations and visualisation - 20 mins
      • Exercise (yoga) - 10 mins
      • Readings and journal - 20 mins

      I use a couple of really good apps that have free programmes plus paid subscriber programmes. I just access the free ones which are just perfect for me at this stage.  Calm is a great meditation app and has got great reviews and awards. There is a really good 7 day course for free that introduces you to meditation, totally recommend you doing it.  I now just us the "timed meditation", 10 mins and it always ends with a lovely quote to get your day started.   

      ottoman_mediation.png

       

      Exercise has always been a big part of my life. I ran for a number of years, however being a long lanky thing I am not really designed for it and after a number of calf muscle blow outs, had to stop. Mrs B (awesome yoga guru) put me onto Yoga and I have not looked back, now incorporating it into my daily routine, both morning and evening. I use Asana Rebel app again as with Calm I use the free programmes which I find great. I did pay for a subscription which gives you the ability to build your own exercise programme and even gives you a coach. If you need help with motivation, I would recommend getting the paid subscription, it's a nominal monthly fee. The other point of note is that I actually took a 10 week Yoga beginners course which I again would strongly recommend. I think that without knowledge of Yoga poses you may not get the full benefit.  

      So by 5:40am, I am warmed up and energised with a clear and calm mind and good focus for the day. I then go and make myself a cup of tea and do my readings and journal which actually is my learning time. I listen to podcasts of Webinars that are relevant to what I want to learn more about. Spotify has great podcasts, currently listening to Simple Pin Media which has fantastic tips and information for bloggers on how to use Pinterest to grow your blog business. I also have the Library app called Libby where I loan audio books from our local Auckland library, Getting Things Done by David Allen is on my playlist at present. (Totally buy the book, there is a reason it's a top seller). I always get some gems of learnings and actions to take from my "readings" in the morning which I follow through on and ensure that I action. 

      Books_learnings.png

       

      At 6am I'm good to go and start to get ready for the day and at 7am am out the door with Smoothie in hand and jump on the bus.

      Now I really need to be honest here, I was never one that thought a lot about meditation, affirmations etc, in fact always thought it was a bit tree huggish!. However after doing some research into personal development I started to look into this more and I have been absolutely blown away by what a difference this has made for me. So for me the big benefits are the ability for me to be really focused on what I need and want to achieve, the commitment level and motivation I need to achieve it, the energy and passion and how important looking after myself is in order to achieve my goals. I do also feel a lot calmer and focused on what I have to do today, my mind is not a muddle of "to do's". I certainly feel fresh and alive in the mornings than being half asleep!

      My evening routine

      Unlike my morning routine, my evening one is spread out over the evening and some have time frames and others are more tasks/actions that I need to do every night. Here is my evening routine;

      • Yoga - 30 mins 
      • Tea together at the table
      • Tidying with Tania work - 1-2hours
      • Zone Cleaning - 15 mins
      • Kitchen cleaning  - 15 mins 
      • Lunch preparation
      • Clothes out for morning
      • Reflection and planning

      The first thing I do when I get home...well after me and Pete have our wee hello hug and kiss, I get my yoga gear on and do a 30 min session.  It is normally a pretty sweat inducing session and really gives me great energy to get going again at the end of the day. 

      Pete and I also always sit down at the table and have tea together and catch on the day and ourselves and family. That's probably one the most important routines that we have always done, before we have kids, while the kids were at home and again now they are gone. 

      My cleaning routine is easy as I have a regular one that I use which is based on zone cleaning. I am just modifying it as the completed renovations have changed what I need to be cleaning. If you want to get an idea of my cleaning routine check it out here . I would also recommend that you check out my Home Cleaning Pinterest board which has lots of great information on home made cleaners and cleaning routines. 

      kitchen_diffusor.png

      My kitchen cleaning just means that the last thing I do at night is clean down the counter tops and make sure everything is cleared away. I also give the floor a quick once over with the microfibre cloth. As I do this every night it means I do not need to  big weekly clean of the kitchen as it is always clean. I also like to put my essential oil diffusers on, one in the kitchen to get rid of the cooking smells and one in the lounge.....Pete calls them "stink pots" yep he is a Southern man, so does not always appreciate the way of lovely smells from essential oils. 

      Making my lunch and getting my clothes out the night before just takes away the rush and hassle of making decisions in the morning. You need to do this, it makes such a difference to the morning. 

      Once in bed I review my day, checking what I have achieved and plan out my actions for the next day, and just like the start of the day, I do this with a cup of tea....ohhh bliss. then my head hits the pillow and I`m out for the count.

      nighttime_reflection.png

       

      Reflecting on achievements, no matter how small are motivational, for me any way, even if it's that huge pile of washing that's been sitting on the couch forever! Sometimes things occur during the day and you don't get everything done so it's a good time to plan and work out realistically when you can do it.  By just taking a few minutes to do this makes a huge difference to the mind and how rested it feels. I find it does really help me in getting a good sleep.

      Making it a Habit

      My routines are now habits so I don't really think of them as anything other than a part of my day. However I do know that it's because I have these routines that I can achieve so much in my day. So like the saying goes...I am what I repeatedly do.

      So how do you get into a habit of doing your routine everyday, morning and night? Well I think it just comes down to commitment. How committed do you want to be?  What do you really want to achieve or change? 

      Something that I do find helpful and it might seem a bit silly, but it does work, is a habit tracker.  I use these when I am adding or changing routines. The research says that it takes 21 days to make or break a habit, so tracking the routine everyday for at least 21 day gives you a good chance at turning your routine into a habit.  

      morning_readings.png

       

      To help you with tracking your morning and evening routines I have created a habit tracker. Yep no excuses now. Just pop your details below and the Free Habit tracker printable will be winging it's way to you.

      Free Habit Tracker

      Habit tracker convertkit

      A simple and easy to use tracker to help you turn your routines into habits

      We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

       

      Master my day

      So by simply doing my routines every day I am actually achieving my goals, because every day I take another action and another step closer to my goals. This makes me the Master of my day and not the day being the master of me! 

      I'd love to hear from you, are you trying to achieve some goals, or simple wanting a less chaotic day. Think about trying a routine, even a few small actions, list them in the habit tracker and give it a go, remember it only takes 21 days!

      Happy habit making everyone

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      Reviewing my 2018 goals - My four simple steps to stay focused

      Ok so the key to achieving your goals is what is commonly referred to as 'GTD', (getting things done). This term is was phrased by David Allen and his best selling book Getting Things Done. At the start of this year, along with many others, we set up our goals for 2018. I also did the same for "Tidying with Tania" working out what goals I wanted to achieve this year.  I also set up my planners for 2018 , which for me are an essential tool in achieving my goals, plus I just love love planners! It's all well and good to have these great goals however you actually need to roll up your shelves and get on with achieving them. That my friends is the biggest challenge with goals ...the doing! To help me to focus on the goals and achieving them, I do a simply review or stocktake. So how am I going? 

      2018_planners_3.png

      You may ask "Is it not too early in the year to see how we are going?"

      It is the end of the first quarter of the calendar year, and time goes quickly, so checking in now can give you enough time to make any changes to ensure you can still achieve your goals by end of the year. In fact I would recommend checking in every month or at least every quarter (three months).

      We don't want to make this a big deal so I ask myself four simple questions;

      1. Are the goals you set still appropriate? 
      2. What actions have you taken to achieve these goals? What worked? What didn't?
      3. What do you need to do to maintain your progress?
      4. What do you need to do to get back on track?

      Are the goals you set still appropriate? 

      This is pretty straight forward, simply look at the goals that you have set yourself and review them.  Now the big point here is not to change them just because they may seem too hard or you have lost focus. Just ask yourself do you still want to achieve these goals?.  It may be that you are not sure how to go about achieving the goal, again challenge yourself on that because to reach goals we sometimes need to get out of our comfort zone. You can read below how I have been working through that challenge myself.

      It may be that the goal simply needs to be restated, e.g "run a half marathon", perhaps a more reachable goal could be to be "running at least 2 times a week between 5 and 10km by the end of 2018" . The latter is more specific and time framed and likely to be more achievable.

      The other point to note is that you may have set yourself too many goals for the year. Therefore it becomes all a bit overwhelming. If this is the case then be kind to yourself and get rid of some or more them onto another year. I reckon three is plenty. 

      There are also times where life events can turn our world upside down and so our initial goals we set are totally unachievable, no longer important or relevant. I think it's important to simply just acknowledge that and either put them on hold or get rid of them entirely. It's ok to let goals go and not feel guilty about it.

      Then there are those goals that you have already achieved!  Big hug to you and well done you. Make sure that you go ahead and celebrate. Perhaps consider creating an new goal and maybe one that is more challenging! 

      Our_goals_2018.png

      In reviewing our 2018 goals, all three are all still important to us so we will keep them, so no changes to these for us.  I am however afraid that the "Project free Year" will be very hard to achieve. But that's what I would call a challenge goal for us!

      What actions have you taken to achieve these goals? What worked? What didn't?

      This is where you need to be honest. For us it has been a struggle for our Health & Wellbeing goal. We wanted to ensure that we had at least one day away a month and also complete a long walk/tramp once a month. However the first 3 months of this year has been full on renovations, and Pete's unplanned trip to China changed this somewhat. It certainly meant that he got some RnR, well sort of as travelling through China was not always restful. In the end we both still have not really rested and taken time out so far this year. 

      Our Financial and Project Free year goals, again have been challenging due to the renovations. Certainly not maintained budget and there have been a number of small projects and extra things that Pete and I have had to do as part of the renovations. Geezzzz it's been an exhausting few months really!

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      The learnings here is that we could have been more realistic about when we could start working on our goals.

      It's also good to consider actions you did take that worked, so going forward you can continue to focus on those actions (things you did) that worked. One of the helpful things in terms of achieving goals and completing actions this year has been the use of my planners. My previous post detailed how I set these up and they have certainly been working well, particularly for my Tidying with Tania goals.

      What do you need to do to maintain your progress?

      So you have actually made some progress towards your goals. This questions helps us to focus on our motivation to ensure that we don't slow down on progress or get into a rut, take the foot of the peddle etc.

      For me, I have worked hard on some of my actions that I need to do to achieve my Tidying with Tania goals, however I feel that I am losing the "energy", focus , mojo! because of what it takes for me to do them. This question helps me to go back to my motivation, my Why! I have thought about this and come up with two actions that I will do to help me maintain my progress.

      1. Put my vision board up in my office and have my motivation quotes visible
      2. Be more specific with the tasks that I need to action, break things down into more achievable tasks and spread them out over a longer period.

      What do you need to do to get back on track?

      Firstly if you are tracking well and you are happy with your progress towards your goals then carry on doing what your doing because it's clearly working.

      However if, like Pete and I, you are still struggling this is where you need to make some changes. The key changes we are making is to break down the actual task and actions that we need to do and time frame them. This is a key element of successful planning and one that we certainly failed to do. To help guide you in this here is an simple example of the actions we are doing now in order to achieve our Health and Wellbeing goal.

      • Mark on the calendar and in the planner the chosen day per month - do this for each of the remaining months of the year. Therefore we now know in advance what day we will have away each month.
      • Add into my monthly planning review to decide on our walk and where we will travel too for the next month and add this into my monthly and weekly planning list.
      • Allocate an hour per month for research and planning

      I am also doing a similar approach for my goals for Tidying with Tania. I have broken the goals down into actions per month, quarter and 6 months, however they are too general and I am having trouble with some in not knowing where to start. Therefore I am have done some research and reading and learning about functional planning. I will be turning these goals into projects and breaking them down into actions then detailing these actions into specific tasks. These will then be allocated out over corresponding months and weeks. I will be ensuring that I only allocate tasks that I will actually be able to achieve over a given month and week.  Undertaking weekly and monthly reviews of progress is important to help me to track my progress. It's the old "eating an elephant one bite at a time" 

      One of the things that I will be doing is reading the Getting Things Done book by David Allen. I have an understanding and knowledge of GTD however never actually read the book so there is no time like the present. 

      Another change I have made in the planner space, is using a filofax planner as an on the go wallet!  Stay tuned for an upcoming post on how I set this up and how I am using it.

      I hope this overview of how I review my goals has helped you with your 2018 goals. I would love to hear how you are going with your goals. 

      To help you to review your goals, I have created a simple and free check sheet for your to use, so what are you waiting for! Happy goal getting!

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