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Archive for the tag “organisation”

My one word: January check-in

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My word of the year for 2022 is:


You can find out more about how and why I chose it here.

It seems appropriate to split my focus into seven areas that I want to nourish, which I might add to later if necessary. These are body, mind, soul, environment, relationships, time, and creativity.

For body, the focus will be on sleep/rest, healthy food, hydration, exercise, and style.

For mind: challenges, learning/development, letting go of negative thoughts, meditation, and decluttering.

For soul: activities that feed and inspire, such as art, literature and nature.

For environment: home, garden, and mental environment.

For relationships: family, friends, and myself.

For time: slowing down, planning and scheduling, setting seasonal intentions, thinking before committing, and using it wisely.

For creativity: writing, creative journalling, art, dancing, knitting, sewing, and crafts.

These aren’t discrete areas though; there is copious overlap. Take dancing, which I have placed under creativity but which really embraces all categories: it is exercise, learning figures challenges my mind, the experience feeds my soul, I am working within a specific environment that I need to be mindful of, it is a social activity that depends on working with others, it is a way of nourishing my time, and it requires creativity. So although I thought I might focus on a specific area each month, I soon realised it wasn’t as straightforward as that.

In what ways did I nourish my life in January.

I’ve had many days when I have eliminated sugar from my diet and I’ve also cut down on alcohol. For 18 months, I cut out sugar completely and felt much more ‘balanced’ so I know this is a worthwhile goal to pursue, which gets easier with time. I haven’t managed to exclude this completely this month but I have made some inroads. Last year from 1st January I went for 133 days without alcohol. Again, after a while, I didn’t miss it. I’m not going for a total ban but instead want to be more mindful about when I drink. I’ve also reverted to my habit of starting the day with a herbal tea instead of a coffee and have been generally increasing the amount of water I drink. I have a well-established near daily yoga practice, which has become an essential part of my life and now that places are opening up again, I have returned to modern jive, ballroom and Latin dancing. I’m also doing zumba but have dropped the line dancing as I wasn’t enjoying the music (too much country and not enough pop for me) – making this decision was guided by nourishing my time. In the past, I would have been tempted to continue despite not being entirely satisfied; now, I know there are other more fulfilling ways of spending this time.

I’ve also worked on freeing up my mind of its mental clutter by listing all those niggling admin tasks that I’ve been putting off for a long, long time and working through them. I’ve cancelled some subscriptions I no longer wanted, submitted my tax return, organised cheaper broadband, and am noting in my planner tasks I need to do, calls to make, and items I need to follow up on. I want to keep on top of things and free up my mind by not leaving them until the last minute. So far this has made a huge impact and is a burden relieved. It is also a way of nourishing my time because when these chores are under control, I am free to focus on more pleasurable activities without that constant nagging at the back of mind that something else requires attention.

As another way of nourishing my time, I am slowing down and delving deeper into my reading, looking at analyses and watching videos of writers talking about their novels. I’m not racing to finish one book and start the next, and where I have something to read by a certain date, I’m allowing plenty of time to complete it without the pressure of having to rush.

It’s been a lovely start to the year with the birth of my first grandchild on 10th January. My daughter has recently moved 30 miles away and so I’m setting aside time to visit them every couple of weeks and enjoy this special time. I read somewhere that having a grandchild is like having your own child over again but without the birth process – and somewhat unbelievably I’ve found that it’s true! I feel the same bond with him as I felt when I had my own children!

I feel happy with the way I have been nourishing my life in January. It hasn’t been perfect: I’ve had a few chocolate binges and sleep-disturbed nights; I haven’t done much art journalling or any creative writing. But when I feel myself getting cranky and veering off-track, I stop, take stock and ask myself what I need to do to nourish myself and my life.

And this has given me a far better start to the year than I would usually have.

Intentions: 10 day challenge

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I’ve been struggling with my intentions recently so this week I’m trying something different: a 10 day Declutter Your World challenge inspired by Courtney Carver[1].

To put it simply, during a 10 day period, you take action to implement some changes in your life. The fact that it’s only for this short length of time should make it possible to achieve and at the end you are free to decide whether you want to continue or not. It sounds like the kind of shake-up I desperately need. Courtney Carver claims it will put an end to ‘wallowing and worrying’ – let’s hope so! She breaks down her intentions into three categories: Shape Up, Pare Down and Tune In.

Here are my intentions:

Shape Up

Food: Eliminate sugar, red meat, savoury snacks and alcohol

Move: Walk 10,000 steps per day (or 100,000 in total) and practise yoga for one hour each day (or 10 hours in total)

Sleep: No screen after 9 o’clock

Pare Down

Home: 10 minute daily tidy up

Work: Set aside specific daily time for work administration (Monday to Friday only) and don’t work at weekends

Technology: Clear inbox

Tune In

Mindfulness: Spend time in stillness on a daily basis

Connection: Contact a friend or family member each day

Creativity: Do something creative every day


Intentions: review and setting (week 35)

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Health and Wellbeing

Last week: I decided to reinstate the habit of listening to the Optimal Living Daily podcast each day. I remembered to do so on three mornings. The first was on the topic of decluttering the mind – always a useful thing to try. There were seven of the usual suggestions, the most important for me being to write down your feelings and thoughts to get them out of your head, spend time in nature and set your priorities each day. The second focussed on how to let go by reminding ourselves that whatever experience, good or bad, will come and will then go. The final one was about not living each day merely to survive, but crucially to ensure you live it to thrive.

Over the past few months, I’ve had an ongoing tendency to snack on unhealthy items. I know these aren’t good for me, both physically and mentally, so I want to return to the healthier state I achieved a couple of years ago, where I felt much more balanced in mind and body.

This week: Improve my diet by cutting out sweet snacks and savoury nibbles.

Personal Development

Last week: I researched ways of raising energy and increasing motivation, both of which I have found seriously lacking over the past year, to the point where it is getting me down. I discovered an article on that explained that this is a common experience and is labelled ‘pandemic motivation paralysis’. It’s reassuring to discover that this is not some inherent failure on my part but is to be expected due to the disruption of our daily lives, uncertainty about the future and ‘constantly being stressed out [which] takes a surprising amount of mental (and sometimes physical) energy…Your brain has just been processing more than it can handle 24/7.’ Of course, this makes perfect sense. It has made me realise that I won’t be able to function at the level I used to and that rather than getting frustrated with myself, I need to lower my expectations and take small steps in order to generate motivation.

This week: Continue listening to the OLD podcasts for ideas on generating motivation and moving forwards.


Last week: My plan was to finish at least one of my three half-read novels. I managed to complete all three: Breasts and Eggs by Mieko Kawakami, Blindness by José Saramago, and Black Rain by Masuji Ibuse.

This week: Read The Vegetarian by Han Kang.


Last week: I attended the London Writers’ Salon Writers’ Hour and got some writing done.

This week: I want to catch up on some blog posts I’ve been meaning to write.


Last week: I identified the niggly areas around the house as being the kitchen, including the fridge/freezer, the cloakroom, and the top of the chest of drawers, which tends to become a dumping ground.

This week: I’m going to start working through these by attending to the cloakroom.

Intentions: review and setting (week 34)

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Health and Wellbeing

Last week: I set the intention of doing five yoga sessions to help me get back on track. I managed six and also have a one day yoga retreat scheduled for this Thursday.

Before March 2020, I would listen each morning to the Optimal Living Daily podcast, where Justin Malik reads from blogs and articles on the topics of personal development and minimalism. I did this for over a year, whilst simultaneously working my way through the back catalogue. It was an ideal activity to accompany my breakfast, particularly as the readings are short at around ten minutes. Then the world turned on its axis and I stopped.

This week: Listen to the OLD podcast each day.

Personal Development

Last week: I looked at knitting finishing techniques to join seams and stitched together one of the jumpers I’ve recently knitted.

I’ve been feeling demotivated for a long time now. I feel like my life is sailing off course and I don’t know how to get it back on track. Sometimes it takes a huge amount of effort to do the most simple and menial of tasks.

This week: Research ways of raising energy and creating motivation.


Last week: I had planned on finishing the novel Blindness by José Saramago. Then on Wednesday Breasts and Eggs by Mieko Kawakami arrived and I had to put the former aside in an attempt to complete the latter for Sunday’s online Japanese Literature bookclub. I didn’t finish either of them!

This week: Finish at least one, if not both, of these novels.


Last week: I didn’t set myself a writing intention as this is something else I’ve lost my way on. I had been regularly attending the London Writers’ Salon Writers’ Hour on Wednesday mornings and staying online for the breakout room ‘mingle’. I find it incredibly inspirating listening to other people talk about their projects.

This week: Attend the Writers’ Hour and write something…anything.


Last week: I had a pile of clothes sitting on top of the chest of drawers that needed putting away but was getting left. It’s one of those five minute jobs that I can’t find the motivation for. However, I’ve just paused my typing and done it. And this is why I set myself intentions and put them out there – accountability!

There are several areas like this around the house that can quite quickly be remedied. In fact, not dealing with them is more energy draining than simply getting them done.

This week: Identify these niggly areas and start attending to them.

Intentions: review and setting (week 33)

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Health and Wellbeing

Last week: I wanted to incorporate different forms of exercise as I’ve really only been walking and practising yoga for quite a while now. I managed to go to a zumba class, spend an evening modern jive dancing, and attend two classes, one in waltz and the other in rumba.

This week: Over the summer, I’ve not been doing as much yoga so I want to ensure I practise yoga five times.

Personal Development

Last week: I had a go at blocking my knitting. I’m not sure it made any meaningful difference – perhaps I didn’t do it right.

This week: Look at other finishing techniques, particularly in relation to joining seams.


Last week: I finished listening to The Painted Veil by W Somerset Maugham for my ‘cholera’ course.

This week: Once again, reading has declined over the summer (I don’t know why as the opposite is usually true) so I plan to finish Blindness by José Saramago.


Last week: My aim was to blog, which I did. I don’t feel in the right place for other types of writing so I’m not setting myself a writing intention for this week whilst I ponder why.


Last week: I aimed to plan a realistic week, which I think I achieved as everything on my slimmed down list got done.

This week: Having been away, I’ve got behind on washing and putting away laundry so I want to focus on getting everything in its proper place.

Intentions: setting (week 32)

Sussex Prairie Gardens

I haven’t blogged for about a month now as I’ve been on holiday and had a break from the routine of everyday life. It’s now time to start focussing on my weekly intentions again.

Health and Wellbeing

I need to vary the range of exercise I’m doing beyond yoga and walking in order to get my fitness level back to where it was a year ago.

This week: Add zumba and dancing into the exercise mix.

Personal Development

I’ve recently started knitting again. Although I used to do a lot when I was younger, I never bothered with some of the finishing techniques.

This week: Explore a finishing technique.


I’m doing a two week course exploring the theme of cholera in novels, which I need to do a bit of reading for.

This week: Read ‘The Painted Veil’ by W Somerset Maugham.


Blogging has slipped during my break although I have kept my daily journalling going.

This week: Ease back into writing with blog posts.


I’ve been struggling to keep on top of things recently and have been feeling a little overwhelmed.

This week: Plan a realistic week and make small steps of progress.

Intentions: review and setting (week 28)

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Health and Wellbeing

Last week: My intention was to scale down the number of items on my to-do list in an attempt to decrease that feeling of overwhelm and stress. It worked! I highlighted one or two tasks to focus on each day, which made life far more manageable.

This week: As part of the above effort to cut down on stress, I am practising extreme self-care by taking time out for a one day yoga retreat. It’s been a tough eighteen months so this feels much needed. Hopefully, the weather will brighten up as there is an outdoor pool and it would be great to have a swim as well. It seems to have been cloudy and rainy all summer so far.

Intention: Relax and refresh at yoga retreat.

Personal Development

Last week: I decided to make a start on the embroidery ordered from Craftpod[1]. I’m new to this so had to go on Youtube to find out how to do the stitches but the instructions were clear and this lack of experience didn’t prove to be a problem. It’s relaxing and strangely addictive, and I’ve almost finished. I’ve ordered another kit and, in a familiar fit of over-ambition, some materials to create my own design. It’s good to get back into a creative mode and I’ve been inspired to sign up for a fabric art and stitching workshop.

Intention: Finish the Craftpod embroidery.


Last week: I had two novels to read, both for book clubs; the first, The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley, I’ve finished; the second, Black Rain by Masuji Ibuse, I’m about halfway through.

Intention: Finish Black Rain.


Last week: I had planned on spending the London Writers’ Hour session working my way through the Making People course I signed up for with Writers’ HQ. However, dog-sitting got in the way. I did, however, attend an online Flash Fiction course with City Lit, which was amazing. In just a few hours, I drafted five pieces, which I can now start revising.

Intention: Review the Making People course content.


Last week: The idea was to tidy and organise my desk and surrounding area. This is almost completed. However, I’m off on holiday next week and so need to focus on preparing for that.

Intention: Get organised for holiday.


Intentions: review and setting (week 27)

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Here is a review of last week’s intentions, and my aspirations for this week.

Health and Wellbeing

I ate healthy snacks in the evening and went to ballroom and Latin dancing. I also did more yoga and walking than usual.

I’ve noticed that my to-do lists and becoming too long and overwhelming, causing unnecessary stress.

This week: Reduce the number of items on my to-do list.

Personal Development

I made a list of the outstanding reading from my Critical Reading course, which has now finished. I will work through this in my own time.

Although I haven’t done any art journalling for a long time, I have been feeling a spark of creativity return but have a desire to explore with fabric and stitch rather than paint and paper. Inspired by this post on the Willow in Winter blog, I ordered the Craftpod summer box:

This week: Make a start on the embroidery in the Craftpod box.


I finished listening to The Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique Roffey. The next books I need to read are The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley and Black Rain by Masuji Ibuse.

This week: Read The Hunting Party.


I finished working through the first section of A Swim in the Pond in the Rain by George Saunders and wrote an outline for a short story I’ve already drafted in order to give it more structure. I’ve also signed up to a Making People course with Writers’ HQ.

This week: Begin working through the exercises in the course, applying them to my short story character.


I managed to tidy the spare bedroom and the kitchen.

This week: Organise my desk and workspace.

21 for 2021: June review

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It’s halfway through the year and I’ve made good progress on my intentions. Some areas, however, seems to be stuck and that makes me wonder whether they remain the right choices for me.

Progress in June

Complete the 52 Book Club 2021 challenge: I completed this in June, six months ahead of schedule. I found the categories easier to fulfil this year and will soon write a post detailing the books read.

Blog regularly: This is still happening whereas in previous years it would have tailed off by now.

Practice yoga five times a week: I managed 29 sessions in June.

Complete six pieces of writing: I wrote two poems in June and am currently revising and editing a short story. The London Writers’ Salon Writers’ Hour is keeping me on track with this.

Complete A Year to Clear: I’m still working through this programme by Stephanie Bennett Vogt and am up to day 212.

Implement a cleaning schedule: The schedule is there but the motivation isn’t. This needs to become a habit.

Each week, take a positive step to improve my mood: Some of the things I did in June are: online literary festival and bookclub events, meeting friends, hosting an afternoon for a group of ex-colleagues who have become close friends, dinner in a restaurant with my daughter, afternoon tea with my sister and daughter, a trip to London with my partner, and a return to ballroom and Latin dance lessons.

Intentions already fulfilled

Choose a word for the year: My word is space and is all about creating more physical and mental space in my life.

Take a writing course: I’ve done several this year ranging from poetry to life writing.

Do a meditation: Earlier this year, I was making time for standalone meditation sessions; now I do it as part of yoga.

Visit London: I went in May and again in June.

Try new recipes: I’ve tried numerous new recipes this year and have added to my repertoire of meals. I plan on continuing to do so.

Have a wardrobe cull: I’ve been through every item of clothing and either disposed of it or, in the majority of cases, refolded and grouped similar items together.

Attend a literature course: I have attended several this year from Middle Eastern Literature to Literature of the Absurd to Critical Reading.

Visit the sea: I’ve made one trip to the coast; now it would be nice to go on a warm, sunny day and spend some time on the beach. Hopefully, when I’m away later this month, it will happen.

Try something new: From online bookclubs to London Writers’ Hour mingles, I’m always on the lookout for a new challenge.

No progress made In June

Visit new places to walk: If this is going to happen, I need to be intentional about it.

Fill my art journal: I have definitely lost my creative mojo in this respect. However, I’ve reignited my interest in knitting and am also going to try embroidery, so I’m being creative in other ways.

Tidy the study and keep it that way: Again, this needs to be scheduled in.

Watch The Merchant of Venice: I haven’t got round to this yet. I feel more drawn to Samuel Beckett at the moment!

Attend a mindfulness workshop: Although I’ve done an online course, I would like to do one in person.

Some areas I’m excelling in, others are stuck, albeit hopefully just temporarily as there are a further six months of this year left!

Intentions: review and setting (week 26)

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Here is my weekly review and setting of intentions.

Health and Wellbeing

I had mixed results last week. I did finally get round to making muesli and did a little bit of dance practice. However, I am still snacking on unhealthy items in the evening.

This week: Eat salads in the evening and introduce some different exercise.

Personal Development

I finished and submitted my final assignment for the Critical Reading course. This is now the final week and I have a small amount of reading to catch up on, which I need to go through and list so I can do it in my own time.

This week: Make a list of reading to finish the Critical Reading course.


I finished reading Leaf Storm by Gabriel García Márquez and watched a bookclub discussion on it, which was fascinating. My next bookclub read is The Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique Roffey, which I’m listening to on audiobook. It’s quite captivating. I’ve also watched a couple of interviews with the author.

This week: Finish listening to this novel and make some notes.


I almost finished working through the first section of A Swim in the Pond in the Rain by George Saunders, which explores the structure of In the Cart by Chekhov.

This week: Finish that section and revisit a part-completed draft of one of my short stories.


I didn’t particularly focus on giving attention to specific areas of untidiness and need to be more intentional about this.

This week: Identify a small area each morning and get it tidied.

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