Tag Archives: organisation

How being a productivity ninja is making me a more relaxed homeschooler

Productivity ninjaa

Last week when I was pondering the problem of having too many fun things to do, I came across the best titled book ever, How To Be A Productivity Ninja: Worry Less, Achieve More And Love What You Do.

I knew the author and I were going to get along when I read this description of his natural style of work:

“Flaky, ideas-based, more comfortable at the strategic level than the ‘doing’ level, allergic to detail, instinctive, crazy-making and ridiculously unrealistic about what’s achievable in a given time period.”

(Naturally organised people don’t need productivity systems.)

What a productivity ninja looks like

Here’s the fantasy future-me I was imagining about after I’d zipped through the opening chapters:

–  I glide through my days with Zen-like calm and clarity

–  I am mindful of my energy and attention levels and use them wisely

– I can focus with serene efficiency because I find it easy to stay either in boss mode or worker mode at any given time

– because I always know the most important things I want to do,  I enjoy a sense of completion each day when I’ve achieved them

– I reach Inbox Zero at least once a day.  (I’ve missed several payment deadlines recently because of an email inbox that ran to many screens, so this one was very appealing.)

How to become a productivity ninja

The backbone of the productivity ninja system is your list of projects and your master task list.

A project is any ‘to do’ item that requires more than one physical action (task) to achieve.  If you’re not able to commit to doing at least one task on a project in the near future, you need to either scrap the project or move it to your good ideas list.

Once a week, wearing your boss hat, you review your list of projects. This means that when you’re in worker (doing) mode, you need only refer to your master task list, which will show you with ninja-clarity what you need to do –  you don’t get distracted by having to do any high-level thinking about what the next step is.

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All images by productivity ninja Graham Allcott

Example:  I’m in the process of making various photo products – a wall calendar, desk calendar and various Christmas albums as gifts for family members. I tend to procrastinate about working on my photos, mainly because I can never remember where I left each project. Have I put my selected pictures into an iPhoto album yet? Do I need to edit any photos?  Have I uploaded them to PhotoBox?  But by spending a few minutes once a week noting exactly what needs doing on each photo product, when I have a spare moment I can go straight to my computer and get editing, sorting or uploading.

How can being a productivity ninja make you a more relaxed homeschooler?

You’re probably wondering how all this ninja talk relates to relaxed homeschooling.

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Thanks to the  ninja-productivity process,  my master task list contains every homeschool-related activity I want to do, as well as all my other upcoming responsibilities and hobby-related goals.

I have sub-lists of the activities I need to do with my children – buddy maths, writing games and science experiments, for example – and what I can do without them, like research, planning, or setting up an experiment.  I can also see what non-homeschooling activities or jobs I want to get done that day.

I use Toodledo to sort these lists because I find automated lists thrilling (it’s a geek thing), but you could just as easily use a pen and paper.

The reason the productivity ninja system is such a powerful tool for child-led homeschooling is that I’m not dependent on getting anything specific done with my kids in order to feel a sense of completion.

Thanks to my master task list, I find it much easier to respect how my children choose to spend their time and resist pressuring them into fulfilling my agenda.  My daily list might include ‘do copywork with J, do buddy maths with C, read aloud from Waves’ – but my kids get to choose which, if any, of those activities get done.

So if C(11) wakes up inspired to take photos for her Arts Award project or record herself singing, or J(9) wants to spend the morning making a stop-motion animation film, I can save my ideas for another time. Meanwhile I can easily see from my daily checklist how I can make best use my time without that child or alone.

Thanks to my master task list, even on rare days when both my kids want to spend the whole day doing their own thing, I still end the day with a sense of achievement because I know I’ve spent my time doing tasks which take me closer to my goals.

And if the children invite me to join them on one of their projects or in a game, I can shuffle my list with ninja-like flexibility and go and play.

You can get a free kindle sampler of How To Be A Productivity Ninja here.


I think I'd buy this book just for the cute graphics
I’d buy this book just for the cute graphics


*This post contains affiliate links but I bought my own copy of the book and wrote this because when I love something I want to share it with all my friends and my husband says he’s heard enough Productivity Ninja talk for now thank you very much. 🙂 


I’m appreciatively linking up here:

Weekly Wrap-Up – Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

Collage Friday – Homegrown Learners

The Hip Homeschool Hop

Finishing Strong

5 Steps to an Organised Homeschool Space


We moved into a fairly large house six years ago. The great thing about having lots of space is we can spread ourselves out as we learn. The bad thing about having lots of space is that we spread ourselves out – everywhere!

Every now and then I need to pull open the cupboards, clear the surfaces and figure out how to make the most of our space.

5 Steps to an Organised Homeschool Space

1. Make a plan

Needs change as the children get older and our homeschooling style evolves. So I start out brainstorming what we want from our homeschool learning space this year. (This is partly a delaying tactic to postpone the actual tidying, but the five minutes it takes serve me well.)

organised homeschool space
I use the Simple Note app to make a quick mind map

2. Sort supplies by how often you use them

organised learning space
Supplies we use less often in an upstairs cupboard

Homeschool supplies fall into broad categories – books, art supplies, science supplies etc.  In the past I’ve stored everything according to these categories.

But in the face of our overflowing supplies, I realised I don’t need to store a volt meter and a kilo of rock salt in our schoolroom just because we use them for science. Nor do we need a hundred polystyrene plates permanently in our art area.

So I took out the items we use less often, put smaller items into boxes, and moved them to an upstairs cupboard.

I used my phone to dictate a note of the contents of each area into Evernote.

The result – more space for the things we use frequently, but if someone has an urgent need for the Bug Barn, they can get their hands on it within seconds. (And how thrilled my husband will be next time he opens the landing cupboard and finds a flower press nestled next to the towels. Does that count as strewing?)

3. Sort books by who uses them

Next I sub-categorised our books according to who reads them (or who I’d like to read them). Do they all need to be at child-level?

When I looked closely at our bulging bookshelves I realised that a whole shelf was being taken up with workbooks and English curriculum books that I sometimes refer to but the children never do.

Once I’d weeded out the ones my kids have outgrown, I relocated the lot. Voilà – a whole empty shelf! (And what do we do with empty shelves? I’ve been on Amazon already…)

3. Designate learning zones

The physical space we use for learning changes as the children become more independent.  Here are some of our learning zones.

*Project Desks with pinboards for artwork and project-related items

Organised homeschool space
J(8)’s project space and computer area

* Low play table – to keep Lego, Geomag and Hamma beads out of doggie mouths

5 steps to an organised homeschool space
Our main homeschool room

* Quiet area – for the easily distracted, or those who want some peace to help them focus.

organised homeschool space
My favourite space

* Messy zone – we usually do short messy activities like science experiments at our kitchen table

* Craft desk – for longer projects like papier mache that I don’t want cluttering up the table

organised homeschool space
Craft desk and open shelves for strewing

* Computer desk

* Comfortable read-aloud area

* Sewing area

organised homeschool learning space

* “Gallery” – We display our most recent artwork on the window sill by our table, in the centre of our open-plan space

Our “gallery” – small but perfectly positioned

4. Designate storage areas

Once I’ve been through our supplies and had a fresh look at our learning zones, it’s time to decide what goes where.

Here are some examples of what made the cut in my most recent reorganisation. All the trays, tubs and clear plastic containers are from IKEA.

Books – on shelves categorised by subject, e.g. art, science, maths, English, chapter books, picture books

Science supplies – in a tub in a cupboard

Art supplies – as far as possible, in clear containers on display and within the children’s reach. Bigger things in a box in  a cupboard.

organised homeschool space
Art supplies on display and within easy reach

Maths manipulatives –  in their own tray

Paper, pastels, charcoal etc – in trays

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Crate for everyday supplies

Art journalling supplies – everything together in a deep tray

C(9)’s current work – in her own tray

Books we use every week – in a big floor crate. Includes J(8)’s current work, our read-aloud, The Story of the World, an Atlas and the children’s French folders.

We keep a stack of individual whiteboards alongside, ready to grab and go.

Board games – Adult games relocated to an upstairs cupboard. The rest in cupboards.

Educational toys – Lego, Geomag, wooden blocks and Play Doh in trays

Organised homeschool space
Storage trays and C(9)’s project desk (all Ikea)

5. Create simple systems to make the most of your organised homeschool space

There’s no point storing everything in the “perfect” place if – out of sight, out of mind – you don’t end up using any of it. (Guess how I know?)

So I’ve set up calendar alerts on my phone to remind me to browse our various storage areas regularly for strewing inspiration, and to get the kids to do so too.

Finally,  in the interests of being real…

organised Homeschool space
Homeschool space in action

…here are some of the “before” shots!

How are you organising your learning space this year?

organised homeschool space

More from the Homeschool Help team:

Highhill Education – Our Schoolroom

One Magnificent Obsession – Our Home, A Training Ground

Every Bed of Roses – It’s New in Our School

Barefoot Hippie Girl – A Room of My Own

Hammock Tracks – Learning Nook

Next week the Homeschool Help topic “What’s new in your teaching style for the new year?”  and I’ll be talking about our step closer to unschooling.


I’m joining these great link-ups:

iHomeschool Network 2013 Not Back to School Blog Hop – School Room Hop

Hip Homeschool Hop

Collage Friday at Homegrown Learners

Weekly Wrap Up at Weird Unsocialised Homeschoolers

Homeschool Mother’s Journal – So You Call Yourself a Homeschooler

Share it Saturday – Teach Beside Me

apps to get a right brained mum organized

Apps to Help a Right-Brained Mum Get Organized

apps to get a right brained mum organized

I am not a naturally organised person. I have great ideas, a huge zest for life, and an insatiable love of learning, but the trade-off for my out-there right-hemisphere-dominant brain is that it’s not always  easy for me to stay focused on the day-to-day jobs involved in running a household.

When my mum takes my children somewhere, I’m in awe at how it takes her at most a quarter of the time it takes me to pack a bag, load the car and get going.  Perhaps it’s something to do with the fact that on the way out the door I’ll pause as I pass the printer, to scan a few pieces of my daughter’s artwork; or have to run upstairs three times for a jacket (the first two times coming down empty handed after turning off the bathroom light, putting away a pile of socks, or plucking a few stray eyebrows); or feel the need to hunt for a couple of the books I’m in the middle of (you never know which you might want to read in the five minutes waiting to see the doctor); or reaching for the landline phone in an effort to locate my mobile phone (in my handbag).

People like me shouldn’t try to multi-task – but try telling that to my wandering mind.

Luckily, I’ve always been fascinated by tools that help compensate for scatter-brain tendencies.  I got straight A’s at school thanks to Tony Buzan’s memory systems.  My vacation packing-list procedure is incredibly sophisticated (excessively so, but that helps engage me).  And now – oh glory – there’s an app for everything!


When my friend Sarah told me about the list app Clear, it just sounded too simple to be useful. But once I had figured out the multi-touch swipe gesture system and entered a few lists, I was hooked.  Here’s why Clear is a life-saver for someone like me:

Multiple Lists in One Place

I’ve long since seen the value of lists for recording an idea the moment it pops into my head (before something else pops in and replaces it, three seconds later).  But if I put everything on one list, it soon becomes too long and boring to check, and multiple paper lists quickly get lost.

Being able to have multiple named lists in one place (and on my phone which is always with me) means I always have the appropriate list to hand.

Clear - apps to help a right brained mother get organized

For example, we spend a large part of Tuesdays and Thursdays out of the house doing homeschool activities that require various pieces of clothing, books, food and other supplies. So I have my Tuesday list (“Take to Home Ed Centre” and my Thursday list (“Take to French”). When a puppy joined our family a few months ago, I was easily able to add the unfamiliar dog items onto my lists so that Harvey’s needs were also met during his days out with us.

The lists are great for travel. Most spring and summer weekends we visit our house at the coast, which I love, but keeping track of what food, clothes and toiletries were in which house used to be a challenge.  Now I have “Take to Coast” and “Leaving Coast” lists, plus “Packing up Coast” to remind me to lock the balcony doors, clean the loo, and set the dishwasher before heading inland for the week.

Clear - apps to get a right brained mother organizedOther lists I have right now include; “November birthdays”; “Project supplies” (all those bizarre things you need for homeschooling, like red cabbage, electrical tape and popsicle sticks); “Errands” (for when I’m in town); “Home Ed Ideas”; “Ikea wish list” (to focus me during my occasional visits to the Ikea marketplace and stop me coming home with a dozen more picture frames I won’t use); “House Quick Wins” (5 minute decluttering jobs); and “Boring Stuff” (my Christmas presents list – shhh!).

Crossing Off and Reinstating List Items

One of the reasons Clear works so well for lists you use regularly is because when you swipe an item as completed it remains, greyed out, at the bottom of the list, ready to be reswiped into play the next time you need to refer to the list. Which means I don’t need to start from scratch remembering what I have to take out with us every Tuesday. Meanwhile one-off items can be permanently deleted by swiping in the other direction.

Other Useful Functions

The ability to have multiple lists in one place and to delete and reinstate items are the two most important features of Clear for me, but there are other little touches that make the app a pleasure to use. Lists and list items can be re-ordered, renamed and colour-coded, for example.

User Fallibility

Of course, I still have to remember to check my lists – right up until the last item is swiped off. And while I remembered to take dishwasher tablets, teabags and the kids’ travel clocks to Center Parcs a few weeks ago – I forgot to pack my coat. “I’m surprised you made it to the car without your coat!” remarked my husband (who knows my lack of tolerance for English November weather).  “I thought my coat was in the car!” I replied. (It’s okay, there’ll soon be an app for that.)

I’m loving the new right-brain friendly world order!

How to Organize Homeschool Supplies to Encourage Project-Based Learning

How to organize homeschool resources at navigatingbyjoy homeschool blog

My last post was about how Lori Pickert’s book Project-Based Homeschooling: Mentoring Self-Directed Learners inspired me to make changes in the way we homeschool and showed me how to make those changes.  One thing I learned was the importance of creating a physical environment that encourages project-based learning.  For example, how learning materials are organised.

Who Controls the Best Resources?

I’m not naturally the tidiest, most organised person (anyone who’s visited our home will agree!), but I used to pride myself on the fact that our “school supplies” were neatly stored in categorized tubs behind closed cupboard doors – ready to be brought out, “Hey Presto!” style, by me (wearing my magician’s hat), when I had a wonderful about how to use them. (Or, more often, to languish in the cupboard, never to see the light of day, while I browsed Pinterest and the blogosphere for more  wonderful ideas.  Ahem.)

I guess giving the kids access to the best tools only while they were working on what I wanted them to do was a form of bribery.  They had plenty of coloured pencils to make pictures of their own ideas, but the Prismacolors were special – they were reserved for when the children were executing my ideas, for when they were pleasing me.

Wow, have my eyes been opened to these subtle but insidious ways we exert control over our children’s learning process!  What message was I giving them about the value of their own ideas in comparison with mine?  (Don’t think I’m being too hard on myself, by the way – I’m laughing as I write this – partially in relief at having had this epiphany sooner rather than later!)

Direct Access to Materials

In Project-Based Homeschooling, Lori talks about the importance of children having sight of and easy access to all the materials they might be inspired to create with.  Cordie (8) and I had great fun one weekend liberating our resources from their cupboard “prisons”. Prismacolor pencils, Caran D’Ache watercolour crayons, fancy papers, Crayola Model Magic, paintbrushes, canvases, film canisters, a collection of corks and balsa wood, charcoals, dozens of different kinds of paper, glues and tapes… all my “secret supplies”… were  merrily piled up in the middle of the room (“go free, bronze acrylic paint! Go free, watercolours!”) before being re-homed  in transparent (Ikea) storage containers in full view and easy reach around the room. (OH it felt good! :-D)

how to organize resources for project based homeschooling at navigatingbyjoy homeschool blog

Clean Up Time

Another suggestion Lori makes is that, as well as being able to get materials out, children should know how to put them away and clean up after themselves afterwards. As well as honouring and supporting children’s independence, this also makes it more likely – in the long run – that I’ll let them go ahead with messy projects. Yes, it means taking the time to show them how to wash out the paint palettes and brushes, and maybe putting up with less than perfect cleaning up for a while, but it’s just too tempting to put off teaching these important skills in favour of the easier (in the short term) “Oh I’ll just do it myself!”  (This is one I’m going to have to practise!)

I’m loving watching the children exploring our newly re-organised project space. 🙂

How To Make That “First Week Of (Homeschool) Term” Feeling Last All Term

There’s something about the beginning of a new term that brings out the best in everyone.  In our house we all enjoyed the holidays enormously and although none of us was especially looking forward to getting back to “work”, we  had a wonderful first week of term.  And I know we’re not the only ones.  Homeschooling families across the world have begun 2012 learning lots, enjoying each other’s company, and basking in that “fresh start” feeling.

I’m tempted to jump straight into talking about some of the fun things we’ve been doing and the positive changes we’ve made to our schedule, room arrangements and curriculum, but before I do, I want to have a closer look at where that “fresh new term” feeling comes from to see if I can make it last another week – maybe even a whole term…!


Many people, me included, crave routine and yet thrive on change.  The trick is to find a balance between the two and to set things up so that change is built into the routine. This is maybe why some homeschoolers take frequent weeks off and make up the time with shorter summer breaks. It works best for us not to do schoolwork public school holidays as we use the holidays to catch up with friends and do sports courses.  But there are other ways to build change into the routine.

Building change into the school term

1.      Switch around subjects

I aim to organise our schedule so that we do a balanced variety of subjects within each school day and over a week.  No two days or weeks are exactly the same, but once I find a schedule that works I can be reluctant to to give it up – I never want to stop for the holidays, for example! But this term I’m going to try taking a few days or even a week out every now and then to change the pace completely. This could be a great opportunity to try some projects or unit studies you’ve been wanting to try.  On my list, for example, there’s:

    • “Virtual travel” (geography) – geography isn’t a regular part of our curriculum right now (except where overlaps with history), so I’d love for us to spend a few days taking a virtual journey around the world (map work, computer research, living books, cooking, languages, lapbooking etc)
    • Art & crafts – bigger projects, or learning new skills like sewing or knitting
    • Field trips – field trips we can’t easily make in one day, maybe including an overnight stay with friends or relatives
    • Sports – having an ice skating lesson, booking a family climbing wall session or just taking rackets and balls to the local tennis courts.  Making time for those sports that aren’t in our regular (busy) weekly schedule and so tend to get overlooked.

2.      Take vacations

If money allows, take off for a week in the middle of term.  As homeschoolers we can take advantage of cheaper travel and accommodation while other families are bound by school dates.  The prices at Centerparcs in the UK, for example, go down from thousands to a couple of hundred pounds at this time of year.  Before we head off, I sometimes feel slightly anxious about the prospect of missing a whole week of schoolwork, but once we’re back, not only do we all enjoy that renewed “fresh start” feeling, but I realise how much the children benefitted from our time away – from the fresh air, physical exercise and skills, family bonding, meeting new people, and all the other learning that naturally happens in unfamiliar environments.

3.      Change your physical environment

Before Christmas we were doing almost all our schoolwork in our family room:  bookwork at the kitchen table, reading aloud on the sofa, hands-on activities on the rug.  This term we are working in a different part of the house entirely – bookwork in my office and reading aloud on our lazy-boy sofa.  Of course I’m convinced this new arrangement is the best possible way of doing things … which reminds me of a joke my mother and I share, that whenever we move furniture around it always “looks so much better” – even if we’re moving it right back to how it was six months ago!  So even though our new room arrangements seem to be working well, I might try making another move midway through term just for the fun of it

Depending on how much space you have, you don’t have to move into a different room entirely.  Inspired by Denise at Let’s Play Math’s idea of buddy math, we’ve recently being doing maths on the sofa rather than at the table, which brings a different mood entirely to maths lessons.  If you always work at the table, try the sofa; if you always do read-alouds on the sofa, trying all lying together on the biggest bed in the house! It might just bring some fresh energy into your school day.


What do all these changes have in common? They all make you feel different.  But what if you could feel different without having to make any practical changes at all? In the week since I’ve been mulling this subject over, I’ve realised that the main reason we’ve had a good week is because of the positive attitudes we brought to the new term. In part this is because we’re naturally feeling a bit more goodwill towards each other after the holidays.  But more than that, I think it’s because I began the new term with my parenting and educational intentions very clear in my mind.

When we’re caught up in the many daily tasks that running a homeschooling household involves, it’s easy to lose touch with our underlying educational philosophy.  Writing about our curriculum recently (here, for example) was a timely reminder that my children are still young (aren’t they all?) and that my most important homeschooling goal right now is to foster in them a lifelong love of learning and to help them acquire skills to pursue that learning.  With this intention fresh in my mind, I’ve found it much easier to recognise any imaginary external pressure for what it is (imaginary!) and I’ve been able instead to respond lovingly to my children’s needs, moment by moment.

For me, then, the key to having that first-week-of-term feeling last all term is twofold:

1. Be very clear what your intentions are, as a parent and homeschooler.

2. Set up your life  in a way that you are frequently reminded of those goals.

How do you do to keep your homeschool fresh?

[Image by nongpimmy at FreeDigitalPhotos.net]

In Balance

This is our fourth week of the homeschooling year and we seem to be settling nicely into a routine that strikes just the right balance between structure and flexibility.

I had fun over the summer playing with various homeschool planning systems but when it comes to real life simplicity works best for me, so my weekly planning at the moment consists of fifteen minutes on a Sunday night, writing what I want to cover on a big whiteboard.  I include the subjects I want us to do, craft activities I’ve got planned and books I want us to read.  This acts as a focusing checklist for me and means the children know what to expect (and, in many cases I hope, look forward to!)  Thanks to the maths, history and science curricula we’re following, I don’t feel like I’ve got to reinvent the wheel every week – unless I want to of course 😉

Up until now I’ve been strewing books on the kitchen table, and I’ll continue to do this – C reads almost everything she finds there – but the table’s been getting rather cluttered! – so after hunting around for another surface to colonise for our homeschool – I’ve started laying out books on the lid of the dressing up box!

We start each day at about 830am with a “Morning Meeting” which usually includes a fun activity like drawing for Sketch Tuesday or watching a YouTube clip related to our current composer.  Today we celebrated the beginning of October by making acrostic poems on autumnal paper.

After the Morning Meeting we take a look at the whiteboard and decide together what we want to focus on each day – which one day might be a little bit of everything, another mostly history, mostly science (or mostly swimming!). Maths I try to do every day.  Thanks to the whiteboard checklist, I know everything will get covered by the end of the week 🙂

Another balance that seems to be working pretty well is that between curricula and autonomy.  So while today we did maths, spelling, history and science from the whiteboard, C and J also spent time with a Klutz magnets book they pulled off the shelf (following which C made an “invention” out of one of the magnets, a piece of string, a paper fastener and a cardboard box), they spent fifteen minutes together playing Stack the Countries geography-quiz on the iPad, created  characters, scenes and a story using another iPad app, PlayTime, and made dozens of play-doh pyramids!

C spent some time online researching how to make a quill after one of the kittens brought in a particularly unusual feather.  And of course, there was time to make the most of the 25 C and sunshine and have a paddle  … surely the last time this year?!!

End Of Our First Week

“Ahhhh”.  That’s the sound of me basking in the wonderfully satisfying feeling of everything working out perfectly. 🙂

After months of dreaming up how I wanted our homeschool to look this year, and slightly trepidatious wondering what the children would make of my plans, anxiety is giving way to excitement at the prospect of the great year we’re going to have.

As I made lunch earlier I casually (?!) asked C and J separately what they’d thought of the week – what they’d especially liked and if there was anything they’d like to change.  In the understated way children have they both gave the thumbs up.  J’s verdict: “fine” (in the tone of voice I can just imagine him using when he’s keen to leave the house and his future wife asks “how do I look?”).  He particularly liked the maths and art apparently (we had just done those two subjects so that may have had something to do with it!).  One thing I know is that J does not hold back from letting his feelings known when he doesn’t like something!   C said she’d liked it all apart from one specific book (“and that was just because I was feeling tired”), especially maths, and asked for more art.  Next week our history curriculum gets very art & crafty (yikes!) so she should like that.

We each celebrated the wrap up of a successful week in our own ways:  C and J went crazy in the paddling pool (lucky neighbours!), while I reorganised a cupboard in our open-plan area to create a new shelf for our colour-coded notebook ring binders, which gave me enormous satisfaction.  I know how to live!! 😀

Things That Help Me Have A Better Day

There are some things that, no matter what else is going on in my life, when I do them, I seem to have a better day.

(Kittens Don't Need Lists)

Here are a few of the things on my list:

  1. Meditating for 15 minutes
  2. Exercising – doing something that gets my heart rate up for at least 10 (ideally 20) minutes
  3. Writing a blog post
  4. Decluttering an area of my house
  5. Spending time outside
  6. Connecting with my friend Sarah
No matter what else is going on in my life, I almost always feel better when I do any or all of these things. (And there are more that I can’t think of right now.)

Having them on this list helps remind me to do them, because they’re not necessarily things I “feel like” doing in the moment.  I don’t wake up in the morning gagging to go for a run or sort out the hall cupboard; when the phone rings, my automatic (introvert) reaction is to recoil, even when I see my best friend’s name come up on the display; and in the depths of winter (or autumn, or early spring…oh ok anytime the sun’s not shining) I really do have to generate myself to leave the comfort of home!   I can even find myself putting off meditating, which I LOVE!  Come to think of it, however much I may procrastinate about doing any of the things on my list, something they all have in common is that I almost always enjoy actually doing them (yes, even sorting out the hall cupboard.  Weird, I know).

I’ve done this exercise (which I learned from Michael Neill; I think he writes about it in his great book You Can Have What You Want) with coaching clients and I’ve noticed that everyone’s list is different.  Lists might include going for a walk in the woods, taking 30  minutes to read over a cappuccino in Starbucks, writing in a journal, meeting up with a group of friends, doing an exercise class, or taking special time out to play with a child or cuddle up with a pet.

What’s on your list?


I love Stuff.  Books, clothes, gadgets, stationery, toys, tools, utensils, candles, plants, appliances, linen. I derive enormous pleasure from bringing home a new scented candle, a silicone trivet, a pretty and snug thermal vest, a new set of lego, a non-spill cat food bowl, a long-armed stapler (I’d yearned for one of those for as long as I can remember; I can now create perfect little booklets out of A4 paper.  I’m sure I’ll find a use for them at some point.)  Stuff is fascinating, beautiful, life-enhancing.

Stuff can also clutter up my space and eat up my time and energy.

The equilibrium I aspire to is what Abraham-Hicks refer to as “a passing parade of stuff”:  let it in, play with it, let it go.  I’ve got the first two steps sorted, but when it comes to the third I appreciate all the help I can get.  That’s where Flylady comes in.

Over the last six years Flylady (reformed SHE (“Side-Tracked Home Executive”) Marla Cilley) has been (virtually) by my side, gently reminding me that I am not behind, to clear my hotspots, that babysteps are the best way of sustaining progress,  and that anything can be accomplished 15 minutes at a time.

I fall on and off the Flylady wagon, and when I’m serenely in my wellbeing I probably don’t need her. But on days like this, I love that by the simple acts of clearing some surfaces, straightening the tablecloth and putting some junk aside for recycling, I can move up the emotional scale from overwhelmed to contented in just 15 minutes, measured to the second on my kitchen timer.

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