Simplify and Declutter!

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Recently I had a coffee-catch-up with some girlfriends about goals. Okay, admittedly, we had this conversation over a few glasses of wine – Much needed wine! It was just after “suicide hour” – ask your friends what this means if you have no kids – and discussed how our lives were sometimes overrun by other people’s ambitions and not our own. And here, I’m not necessarily referring to the distractions our children bring into our days. I’m talking about being waylaid by someone else’s favour they asked of you (which takes at least 3 times as long as they said it would) or an idea someone had and wanted to discuss with you (though they hadn’t quite done the research and you ended up doing it for them). I have become so much more protective of my time these days. Especially since I’d rather be enjoying some quality time with my little people instead of skindering or complaining endlessly. I like the quote from Eleanor Roosevelt: “Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events and small minds discuss other people.”

I have realised time and time again that time is more valuable than money – you can always get more money and you cannot get more time – it is a finite resource and we need to use it well and productively and create moments which we treasure and carry with us happily. I suppose that’s why I appreciate the fact that you visit this blog and take time to read my musings.

Some people have asked me how I manage to balance my life and make time for everything. I don’t think that I’ve quite managed yet to be as balanced as I’d like to be, but every day I’m taking a conscious step in that direction. I like the quote (which has been ascribed to Gary Player, but I’m not 100% sure he first said it) – “The harder I work, the luckier I get.” I am a very lucky person and I enjoy working smarter – not necessarily harder.

I follow a few rules to make the best of my time and have found various versions of the perfect formula online, but I like the five below:

  1. Wake up before everyone else. As a parent of a toddler and a newborn, this is not a big ask. But, I do use the quiet time to make a short “To Do” list of my most important non-negotiable goals for the day. Make a list that you can accomplish in the hours available or you’ll constantly set yourself up for disappointment by setting unrealistic goals.
  2. Tackle tasks you dislike first. That way you can treat/reward yourself with tasks on your list that you enjoy. So do your tax returns and then go to get that dress you’ve had your eye on for the work function 😉
  3. Keep meetings to a minimum. Many things can be sorted out over e-mail or even via Skype meetings.
  4. Break up your day with breaks. You need to recharge your batteries even if it just means walking away from your desk and stretching for 2 minutes and grabbing a glass of water.
  5. Say NO. This is my favourite, most liberating word. I must be honest, my toddler uses it often and I’m following his lead 😉 I’ve started to declutter my life on a few levels and must be honest, it is liberating to NOT try to please everyone. Deep breath – this is hard at times as we feel it’s quite a negative word, but when used right, it’s actually quite positive.

Have a wonderfully productive week. And since it’s the last day of May – how about a little R500 giveaway 🙂 Post some time-saving/ decluttering advice below and stand a chance of having a little happiness deposited in your bank account. Remember, the Pylones giveaway as well as the weekend in Hermanus giveaways are still open so comment on the appropriate posts to win!

Lots of love and light!

x Modern Mommy AKA Jo-Ann


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  1. Tue, 31 May 2016

    I always say “if it isnt adding value to my life, let it go”. And this includes people too. People can be draining. Treat yourself as you’d treat your biggest asset. If it isn’t bringing you any joy, it has become a “las”, you dread just thinking about it, raise a glass and close the door.

  2. Khanyisile
    Tue, 31 May 2016

    My husband and I recently started doing meal preps for the week on Sundays. It’s gets a bit hectic for us during the week due to our busy schedules and having to do school runs and try fit in gym as well and with me being 2 months away from giving birth to our 2nd angel , it will save us a lot of time when the baby is here.

    Thanks for your tips.

  3. Carla
    Tue, 31 May 2016

    If you haven’t used it in the last 6 months or don’t remember what it’s for then let it go. Much can be learnt from Frozen.❄️

  4. Carolyn Augustus
    Tue, 31 May 2016

    I believe that procrastination is our worst enemy, so get up, show up and make things happen. You are responsible for your own happiness.

  5. Minette
    Tue, 31 May 2016

    Just delete all those mails when you come back from Maternity Leave or long leave. If anyone needed an answer or feedback they will mail you again. 😉

  6. Tricia
    Tue, 31 May 2016

    I love your time saving tips specially saying no.. Which I have consciously begun practicing myself. My greatest time saving tips would be less tv and using those few minutes to prep for the next day, be it taking out the work wear for the next day to prepping veggies. I also try to make the most out of my me time by carrying my laptop computer everywhere.. So a cuppa coffee by myself and a few emails before I get home to my toddler helps ease the stress of the next day’s tasks. That way I can completely focus on him when I am home and not stress about work.

  7. Candice
    Tue, 31 May 2016

    I’m a firm believer that less is more. Don’t “buy” into having to buy your child everything that opens and shuts, all they really need is a lot of love.

  8. Rentia
    Tue, 31 May 2016

    Meal prep in advance for the following week and online grocery shopping has literally changed my life! Raise a glass to no more shopping with a pram and a trolley!

  9. Leanne
    Tue, 31 May 2016

    I enjoy shutting off from everything when I go to the the gym . I make a point of leaving my phone zipped up in my bag . During my workout I am so focused and achieve more . I find ones cellphone takes a lot of our time and is a daily distraction . It’s great to make time for yourself & to live in the moment .It’s very fulfilling !! 🙂 Great post. Thank you !

  10. Wed, 01 June 2016

    Hi modern motherhood nation 🙂
    I would like to think of declutter not only when it comes to physical things like your home or wardrobe but your mind too. Negative thoughts; you know what i’m talking about, the feeling of not being good enough, the constant worrying of always measuring up to someone else’s standards and comparing ourselves to the perceived perfection of others. This can weigh us down mentally.
    Our thoughts have power; we need to start decluttering our minds and free ourselves from the unnecessary mental weight we are carrying in order for us to become our own great selves 😉

  11. Wed, 01 June 2016

    Hey there,
    – I clean my own house so I break up my tasks so I don’t have to do everything at once and have more time for kids at night.
    – We prepare big meals and then eat leftovers the following night so I only cook Mondays and Wednesdays; The weekend takes care of itself 🙂
    – Stick to bedtime for kids! Your husband needs you as well.
    – We tend to become like our surroundings, surround yourself with the self you want to be/become. Life already has many sour moments so rather embrace the good ones!

  12. Natalie Madise
    Wed, 01 June 2016

    It’s important to declutter on a physical, mental and spiritual level.
    Physical : physical things are less important than the sweet memories it carries. So get rid of clothes and things that you no longer need.
    Mental: get rid of thoughts and feelings that bring you down. If you keep thinking the same things your life will always stay the same as you are simply recycling those thoughts.
    Spiritual : Take time to connect with God and to reflect and be thankful.

  13. Wed, 01 June 2016

    I’ve also becum selfish with my tym’like spending it with my kids and grandkids.wen @ wrk I limit my tym spending wit colleagues cause in da past got into trble thru dem,so I rush hme dats wer my pleasures are’my only real pleasure @ wrk is da kids I wrk wit for dem I will make tym causr dey close to my heart

    Thu, 02 June 2016

    I love the Modern Mommy family/community/blog, ladies thank you so much for your messages. Going to be a first time mom and your wisdom really make me think I will be okay….

  15. Danelle Hess
    Thu, 02 June 2016

    Thanks for the awesome tips Jo-Ann. I too have been struggling to find the balance between work, home life and socialising. I like the tip about keeping meetings at a minimum because they do take up precious time and are not always necessary and then saying no… I always find this difficult but have realized that saying no tasks that are not related or beneficial to me has made the world of difference to my productivity. My tips to add are: To chunk your time by settling aside chucks of the day for certain tasks. I found that when I am task orientated rather than time orientated I get more done… when I’m time orientated I may leave the office with lots of unfinished tasks. Cooking in batches and freezing food and meal planning saves a lot of time and leaves me to have some me time or time to cuddle with my husband. Lastly, planning the night before and looking at my diary for the next day makes a huge difference I wake up having a good idea of what’s ahead for the day and can structure my day accordingly.

    Thanks for your posts.

    Take care.

  16. Busi Phaahla
    Thu, 02 June 2016

    Perfect ask for me

    I recently went on a journey of self discovery..I have monthly discussions with my mentor and last month’s she suggested I do time management exercise

    Here were my learnings
    1) No Facebook/ Instagram during working hours
    2) Get to work an hour early to avoid going home late…This helped me to be able to attend gym as well
    3) lessen chit chatting at work—before you know it you have wasted an hour on yip yapping and not doing the actual work
    4) Only take 30 minutes at lunch time, that’s how much the company of paying for
    4) Have one hour dedicated to reading before sleep
    5) Mediate for 15 minutes- this increase energy levels
    6) Entertain only people that matter in your life, having lots of friends can only mean you won’t manage your time properly..You will end up trying to impress all of them while you are suffering

  17. Lauren Jappie
    Fri, 03 June 2016

    Great advice Joanne! Time is a scarce and valuable resource!

  18. Mon, 06 June 2016

    I used to struggle with saying no… Since i have become a mom, i try devote most of my time to my child, seeing that i work full time and that i am already missing out on so much.

    Before i would just give and always help everyone else not anymore!


  19. Fri, 10 June 2016

    So love this post Joann. I can be such a people pleaser at the best of time often putting myself at the very bottom of the priority list..I am learning now to be delagate tasks in the household to the husband and kids, this does take a load of the daily takes. I havent reached where I would like to be yet but Im taking it one baby step at a time.

  20. Fri, 10 June 2016

    So love this post Joann. I can be such a people pleaser at the best of times, often putting myself at the very bottom of the priority list. I am learning now to delegate tasks in the household to the husband and kids and this does take a load off me. I haven’t reached where I would like to be yet but Im taking it one baby step at a time.

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