Tag Archive | time management

Looking after me.

Hands up busy women who don’t have time to look after themselves!

We’ve all sat through the flight safety message that reminds us if the oxygen masks drop down we need to look after ourselves first, then those dependent on us.


And we all know that when out health fails, we are not able to look after our family at all. But busyness and obligations, both work and family, mean we often put ourselves last, putting off medical appointments, not making the time to exercise, thinking about those needed grooming appointments when we look at our shaggy eyebrows in the mirror.

In term time I am too busy for many things. One of my friends laughs when she asks what I am doing for the term breaks – she already knows the answer: catching up with my medical appointments.

So yesterday I had a treatment for my ongoing bad back. Naughty me: I need to exercise and stretch more. Remember these exercises? I was told off by my therapist: do your homework, your body needs it.

And then I dashed across town. Dashed I tell you! For a dentist appointment. I have a chipped tooth. (Oh, the joy of old age.)

Dash, my dashing. I had arrived for the wrong time. An hour early! But look what that extra hour allowed me: I got to visit a discount pharmacy that I normally don’t have time for and stock up on different toiletries. I haven’t yet got on the band wagon with BB cream, and they’ve already moved onto CC cream! So I got both. I will report back on these later.


I really need to follow the flight attendant’s advice: look after yourself first. So today I will go for a walk and do my stretches. Oh and restart the exercises from my exercise physiologist. Think I will start from the beginning for two weeks: here are the exercises.

Grocery shopping for the busy family

Do you grocery shop every week?

For years I would tromp on down to the supermarket every weekend. It was a habit. One I thought you had to do. We all need to eat, don’t we? So every week we buy the food. And other assorted household stuff.

Grabbing staples, throwing a random selection of ingredients into the trolley. Buying veggies we “usually” use. Stopping at the butchers and buying different meat – beef, lamb, pork, chicken – to work out later what to cook.

In the morning: Chicken tonight? Yep. Take it out of the freezer.

After work: what shall we do with it? Stir fry? OK.

Even worse, the after-work-what-shall-we-cook conversation when nothing has been taken out of the freezer!

Come the weekend, back to the supermarket. Throw out the food going off. Restock the fridge.

After years of this, I hated the waste. Wasted food = wasted money. And the wasted time. So I changed to menu planning, working out what we would actually cook for dinner and buying for that. It cut out food waste significantly. And cut the stress of working out what to cook when we came home tired from work.

A few years into menu-plan shopping, I thought I would take a radical step: not go to the supermarket every week. I was bored with food shopping. I hated grocery shopping taking up a couple of hours of my weekend. Obviously not doing the weekly shopping could be done. Think of those who live in the country! Yet we do things out of habit, mindlessly, because we’ve always done it that way.

Now I spend half an hour working out with Mr Sans what we will cook for the fortnight. We are not strict; we just work out 12 or 13 meals – there’s always left-overs or a “catch-and-kill-yourself” night. (With two growing/grown-up sons at home, we always cook for left-overs so the boys can have food for lunch or snacks.)

Then I roughly plan each week’s menu – don’t want all chicken one week and all pasta the next! Normally the menu for the week is flexible. We swap the dinners around depending on the weather, our moods or if one of us is tired.

If we have evening functions we make sure we have a double meal (cook a double quantity so there is a meal ready to reheat). We also plan for the evenings when one of us isn’t available to cook. As we share the cooking equally but have different dinners we like and different cooking styles, we need to let the other know what night they definitely have to cook. “I’m out on Tuesday and won’t need dinner, so you have to cook.” “I’ll make the green curry then.” “Good, don’t like that one.”

After menu planning, I draw up the shopping list. Supermarket and butchers are visited once a fortnight. The green grocer I go to every weekend. That is why I divide the dinners into each week, so I buy the veggies for that week.

The benefits have been enormous: less stress, less waste, money saved. I have cut our grocery bill by hundreds. Fewer visits means throwing fewer “treats” into the trolley!

Now, my family would probably tell you I go even less than once a fortnight. Sometimes I go “on strike”. There’s food in our kitchen, so why shop? Eat the fruit in the bowl! Just because you don’t feel like an apple but want a banana doesn’t mean I have to go buy you one!

And teenage boys, well mine anyway, think if they have to do more than open a container and put it in the microwave, then there’s nothing in the house to eat. Tough, I say.

So what’s on the menu for the next fortnight?

Week 1
Sat – Mum and Dad are going out with friends for dinner, so readymade stir fry from the butcher’s with Hokkien noodles for sons to cook.
Sun – roast chook, gives some leftover meat for lunches. And I will roast extra veggies for vegetarian lasagne later in the week.
Mon – BBQ lamb kebabs and salad.
Tues – BBQ steaks, chips and salad. (We’re making the most of the end of summer. BBQs on the back verandah.)
Wed – two lasagnes – one beef and one vegetable. Lots of leftovers for lunches and snacks.
Thurs – Hokkien noodle pork stir-fry – double lot cooked for Friday.
Fri – left-over Hokkien noodles

Week 2
Sat – BBQ sausages (real meat ones) with salad.
Sun – Belgium chicken pasta.
Mon – Steak sandwiches. (We’re Aussies so these HAVE to come with tinned beetroot and fried onions!)
Tues – stirfry. Cook extra rice for fried rice later in week.
Wed – fried rice. Cook two lots.
Thur – fried rice.
Fri – leftovers / catch and kill your own.
Sat – roast macadamia and honey chicken roll.

So there you go. We love food and we eat well. A little menu planning and once a fortnight shopping saves time, money, stress and food waste.

The working mum’s balance

Hello! Anybody still dropping by? I’ve been a bit quiet. Things and stuff and whatnot going on. Lots of work stuff taking hours and turning my mind to mush.

I came up with this analogy about balancing things in life.

Some people don’t like the term “work life balance” as it implies that there is a disconnect between working and living. But lets face it, if you have a full-time job you spend more time at work than you do on anything else, so it is never really balanced. And there are so many things in the “life” bit.

So here’s my metaphor.

Imagine you have a five ring gas stove top to represent aspects of your life.

20140215-125358.jpg One ring is work, one family, one home or your physical environment, one friends and one ring all about you and self-care. Each ring has four settings – very low, low, medium and high. You have enough gas pressure to run any of the rings but the total can only be 12. So you you have to switch some off to run others at high, or run all at low. You don’t have the energy to run all at medium, let alone at high.

When my kids were little, I ran work and family at high. A total of 8, leaving 4 for home, friends and my fitness. I didn’t do much for me and was a bad friend, probably burning each at very low. My house was never as clean or organised as I would like and my efforts in the garden was spasmodic; running this at low. If I wasn’t in such a stressful profession or after promotions, I could have consumed less energy for the work burner and diverted more to run other burners. There is no way I would have run my family at lower than high.

Now my children are older and need me less, I can turn the family burner down to medium. Work is still running at high. That leaves me 5 for the others. Is it selfish that I am upping the burner that is about me? I am spending more time and energy on my health, fitness and personal interests. Running it at medium.

What to do with the other 2 energy points?

It pains me, because it is not the sort of person I want to be, or want to admit to being, but I put little energy in friendships. It’s not that I think work is more important than friends, but clearly I must do, as I give more time and energy to it! I can rationalise it (need the money to live; do a job, do it well; get fulfilment from work etc) but it really is rationalisation. Those who put their time into other aspects of life away from work can just as easily rationalise not working on their career. Sometimes it seems energy has been allocated to aspects of life without a conscious choice.

You might rename some of your burners, eg a community burner. For me that came under family as I did community things for my kids’ interests, such as volunteering for sporting clubs and school activities. Now it comes under home, as I work with neighbours to protect and support our area.

Anyway, the point is we cannot have everything and be brilliant at everything. We just don’t have the energy.

So what burners are you diverting energy to? How do you feel about it? Did you suddenly find yourself with one burner blazing away that you never thought you’d want to turn up? Or is the reverse true: one burner is barely flickering and you wish you could turn it up?


“Wow, you’ve made a dent in the Easter chocolate,” decried Mr Sans.

He refers, of course, to that bought by him on sale.

Jo, you were right. The siren song of the Easter Bunny was too strong. And deadly.

I can tell I have put on weight. I don’t need the scales to shock me. The waistbands of my clothes are a sure gauge.

But I cannot blame the chocolate. Not in a “guns don’t kill illogic” way. I have eaten more than chocolate in the way of bad things. And I haven’t been doing weights. And walking has been irregular.

I have a very busy life. I work a 45 to 60 hour week. And there have been a restaurant dinner (or two) a week for the past few weeks. So stress and highly fatty and high sugar foods have been consumed.

So let’s look on the bright side of my gorgeous, healthy life:

  • I have been sleeping well and have not fallen asleep on the lounge
  • I have been drinking a litre of water a day, in addition to tea and juice
  • I have been doing Pilates once a week
  • I have not drunk alcohol on Tuesdays and Thursdays
  • I have been decluttering one thing a day
  • Some things I have decluttered left the house unphotographed. They were, pardon me as I speak softly, regifted. Two rings and a bracelet.

    I went through a jewellery box (a term I use loosely as the photo will attest). You may think little things may not make a difference, but they do. Removing these makes the whole feel less yuck. I cannot even fathom why I kept them all. But I know my reasoning at the time would have seemed sound. Re-examining your things and reasoning regularly makes sense.


    As part of my “use it up” challenge, I have finally used up the next product. I have quite a collection of cosmetics and beauty products that I need to use up before buying more. This felt like it would never end. It was well past its use-by but as it was only rose water, I felt there were no constituent ingredients that would go off or rancid.


    And finally, this product was useless. I bought a whole heap of Avon products for the feet. All useless. In fact I don’t think I will buy any Avon products ever again! So there!


    No iPad! No alcohol! What to do?

    You know you have an addiction when it feels scary when you say you can’t have something.

    Deprivation seems to exacerbate the need.

    Arriving home at dinner time and the usual routine would be to pour a glass of something to quaff while cooking and then grab the iPad for a read. The night at first seemed like it would extend with a big fat emptiness. What would I do to fill the time? How empty without my iPad on my lap, half listening to the tele, sort of giving my family half an ear!

    But so much else was possible. Dinner, conversation, a TV show, play with some nail polish, reading a book. Giving every task my full attention. Really being mindful and in the moment.

    As the habit forms, I will have time! Precious time!

    Today’s decluttered item = plastic containers. Mr Sans and I do frequent battle. Not with each other. No, with the plastic containers. Open the cupboard door and they attack. Finding the one you want and then the matching lid takes much longer than should be given to such a domestic, mundane task. Some must go. And why keep ones that come with takeaway and supermarket soup? We put empty tins in the recycling without a thought. Why keep plastic? And one is damaged! These say they are recyclable so into the recycling they go.


    Break the iPad habit!


    I luff, luff, luff my iPad. I use it first thing in the morning – checking my emails and favourite blogs and sites. I use it as soon as I am home, straight onto it. I blog only from my iPad. It’s so convenient and easy to use.

    But its ease is also my downfall. I use it while watching tele, I am tapping away while talking to Mr Sans, I use it in bed. For goodness sake, as soon as I get up!

    So I will force myself to control my habit.

    Why not just limit the time each night? I know this won’t work for me. Who hasn’t gone on “just for a few minutes” and realised it was four hours later when you surface and you either haven’t achieved anything or it is way past your bedtime? When I have some silly game on the iPad, I can play for hours. On some meaningless game! That I don’t really care about!

    So I have removed all games from my iPad.

    And I will join my alcohol-free days with iPad-free days. Two days a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays.

    No being sidetracked by work emails which pop up when you’re connected. I will put the iPad on airplane mode the night before and not touch it. So I will be able to truly disconnect from work for two days. Has to be better for my health! Cut the brain clutter and stress.

    What won’t I be able to achieve!!!

    Exercise, books, decluttering, organising. Giving my full attention to Mr Sans!

    Exciting but also scary.


    Today’s decluttered item = sports shoes insert. I was talked into buying them when I bought my last pair of joggers. They cost quite a bit. $50! I found them really uncomfortable. Persevere, I was told. But the discomfort was too much. They raised my heel so the shoes rubbed where my heels had not rubbed before. Because of the cost I was loath to throw them away. I put them in the back of my poor linen press for possible future use. I tried again recently as my joggers have worn down and I thought this might give some cushioning. Still uncomfortable. But the unwillingness to dispose of them persisted: concern over the wasted cost; a need to keep them like a sack cloth and ashes reminder of my stupidity in being talked into something I knew I would not use and did not want; angst about disposing of new, unused items and the environmental impact of production and disposal of an unused thing. But what’s the alternative? They are cluttering my linen press and we dispose of much more and more frequently and more readily. So… Be off with you.


    Alcohol free days

    I love a glass or two or three of bubbles when it is warm.


    And a fruity cocktail.


    A beer goes down well too.


    When its cooler I turn to a glass of red.


    But as part of my healthy, gorgeous life, I am going to limit the days I drink. Look, I can go days without a drink. Too busy, don’t feel like it, too tired. But in the last few years my alcohol consumption has gone up. Mmmm! When the kidlets were little I rarely drank. Who knew when you might have to get up at night? Or drive somewhere? You need your full wits with little kids around.

    Now they are all grown up and my work is more stressful, I am drinking more, and more often, and more regularly.

    If you’ve read my blog, you know I am all about making things habitual. Not relying on motivation but routine.

    So my new habit will be no alcohol on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Easy to remember. Doesn’t mean I will drink on all the other days, but that I definitely won’t drink on those days. And it will make it easy to ensure I have 2 alcohol free days a week, which is what some health professionals recommend. Instead of saying I think I had two days free, I will know I did. And I will have the energy and alertness to do other things, managing my time better.

    Roll on journey to gorgeousness and healthy living!

    Today’s decluttered item= old magazines. These are over a year old and were given to me by a friend. I don’t need them sitting by the lounge.


    A leaner year

    This year will be the year to get lean.

    Thanks to Clutterhen, from a site I belong to, for the concept.

    I came across this after setting my resolutions and knew this was what my goals were all about: getting leaner in body, getting the house leaner, getting stress leaner, getting my budget leaner.

    Cut out the unnecessary, the undesired, the things that sap energy but add little. And using the time and money saved for those things I enjoy.

    Now where to start?

    I will continue my healthy me plan, so that’s easy.

    But the house, budget and finances! Oh, oh, oh. I have a roomful of paperwork. And the amount of time I waste searching for the particular document I need… Well, you wouldn’t believe. Knowing I have to sort this and deal with my awful secret, is like a weight hanging over me. I sometimes can’t sleep at night for thinking about it. And I have hot flushes of guilt at other times during the day.

    Well, this will be the work for the month of January. I will tackle it with baby steps, and not go in with gusto and burn out quickly like a sky rocket, or even more apt, like a Catherine Wheel, spinning madly with lots of noise but leaving more mess, stress and chaos in my wake.


    New year, new goals, new habits

    A new year calls for new resolutions. Or rehashing old ones? I wonder how many people will resolve to lose weight, drink less, save money, get a better work life balance?

    I could just say I want to be a nicer person. Nah, who am I kidding.

    Well, I am going to continue with my healthy living goals from three months ago when a started on my journey to a more gorgeous, organised and healthy me: read here.

    But as I am continuing on this journey I am also going to add a few things:

      1. Declutter one thing a day as one of my favourite bloggers has been doing: 365 less things. I have been doing some decluttering- giving away things that maybe of value, throwing out rubbish, using up stuff such as make up and not buying new stuff until the old is gone. But now I will log this here. Rol on organised living.
      2. Become a no waste household. I will repurpose items and minimise waste, especially food stuff. No food in the bin! That doesn’t mean I will have no rubbish or that my bins will be empty. No, but I will ensure everything is used and used and used. Oh, this is part of my green intentions and frugal living. See I can be a better person!
      3. Use my camera. I have two digital cameras, not counting my iPad and phone. I don’t use either. If I am going to log my decluttering, best to photograph it. And I want to photograph my cooking and my walks and other random shit. Maybe I need an interest other than work?
      4. Here’s the biggest challenge: get my finances in order. (I’ll share a BIG SCARY secret soon, too ashamed to do so just now.) Part of my financial tidy-up will be my biggest resolution of all (if I was Catholic I’d tell myself it isn’t even Lent) I am not going to buy clothes in 2013. OMG, can’t believe I made this commitment. I will need new undies and a bra and socks. And also a pair of joggers. I will also allow myself a pair of fashion shoes. I have in my mind what I want but haven’t found them yet and have been looking for months.

      My all time favourite blogger is Frugal Queen. If you haven’t read her, where have you been? She is a militant frugalister, operating at black belt level. I don’t want to say no to the level she does but I want to save some money and not just for saving as an end. I am already paying my mortgage off more quickly and have no other debt. I want the freedom that having financial independence offers, as Mean Queen has achieved. And I want to travel and to afford to have my house the way I want it to be. And do nice things. Like Faux Fuchsia

    Roll on gorgeous living!