My business and personal theme for 2020: Abundance

April 2020 update: I wrote this post in February, when the world was as it was. Pre-pandemic and pre-lockdown and pre-catastophic economic meltdowns. The world is now a very different place, and I hesitated before sharing it, but I think it still has validity. The world has become a much smaller and scarier place for all of us, and much of that is out of our control. But we can control how we think about things. We can  hope for a better world, and give thanks for what we have now. There is still abundance, if we choose to look for it.

“People with a scarcity mentality tend to see everything in terms of win-lose. There is only so much; and if someone else has it, that means there will be less for me. The more principle-centered we become, the more we develop an abundance mentality, the more we are genuinely happy for the successes, well-being, achievements, recognition, and good fortune of other people. We believe their success adds to … rather than detracts from…our lives.”

So says Stephen Covey (quoted here), author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I’ve never read Stephen Covey, but I intend to start.

The reason I will be reading Mr Covey lies in a Udemy course I recently completed. It’s called “Taking your Business to the Next Level”, and was billed as a course looking at “Why and how to apply Systemic Intelligence in your business to unleash its full potential”. The course – sadly now not offered on the site – was conducted by Alessandro Carli*.

I started the course some time late in 2019, when I started to become aware that my business was not working for me. I’ve written about the new approach I am taking in 2020: going slowly and reflecting on what I really want to be doing. As part of my new year reboot, I decided to finish the course before doing anything more specific.

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A system for getting things done

Moleskine diary on desk

My Moleskine diary for 2018.

I have a working system for getting things done. It wasn’t always that way.

Years ago, going back to work after three years at home with a baby/toddler, I was overwhelmed.

I am widely thought of as an organised person, but being a working parent meant I needed to up my game. I started out with complex task lists in the systems that come bundled with Windows, and added similarly complex calendars that linked to my email and was still swamped (and spending a lot of time just maintaining the lists).

I went looking for help and Google found me Bill Westerman and his GSD system.
He says of his system:

I wrote it up and gave it a name: “Getting Sh-t Done”, or GSD. It’s quick, it’s dirty, and it doesn’t require a lot of preparation, special materials, or rigorous thinking.

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Shoes – yes, shoes – are a freelancer’s most important tool

Freelancer tools: Dog, shoes, gas heater

A freelancer’s essentials: a dog, a heater and pair of sturdy boots.

Years ago, when I both a freelancer and immersed in the chaotic life induced by having a small child in the house, I complained to a friend about how I couldn’t find something in my kitchen (or, in fact, anything in my home, most of the time).

Flylady, she said. You need Flylady.

So I looked up Flylady, signed up for her emails and slowly, slowly, regained my organised life.

Most South Africans have never heard of Flylady. She is Marla Cilley, who lives in the United States, and runs an email service aimed at helping people deal with clutter and getting their homes more organised. Her business model is based on selling cleaning tools and organising aids, like a fabulous calendar, so that her website and emails remain free. She offers gently bossy advice, systems thinking and a sense of humour. (FLY stands for Finally Loving Yourself). Continue reading

Things I have learned from being retrenched (twice)

In 2002 I was at last pregnant

After two years of fertility treatment, we had done it. Things were going well. We owned our own house, our relationship was strong, I had a good job. I was worried about how I was going to manage a baby and a career but I thought I would figure it out.

That was not how it was going to pan out, though.

At about the six or seven months mark of my pregnancy, I found myself in the boss’s office being told that my job was being made redundant. I was given a good package and a generous baby shower, and shown the door.

My therapist was a little unsympathetic, pointing out that being retrenched was not as bad as, say, losing a baby. With hindsight, she was of course right.

But retrenchment is not nothing, either. Continue reading

When breakfast becomes deskfast

Plates of food and mug next to a laptop

Breakfast at your desk. Picture: StockSnap, Pixabay

I ate breakfast at my desk today, as I have done on most work days for the last 20 years or more.

This is because of the odd hours dictated by work in online news (and, where they still exist, by afternoon newspapers). And these odd hours are one of the things that most people don’t grasp about journalism… that in order for there to be something to read, someone has to have been up and about making that something to read.

Years ago, an acquaintance was expressing outrage that his morning newspaper was not going to be available on December 26. When I pointed out that for there to be a newspaper on December 26, people would have had to be working on December 25, he was genuinely taken aback. He had never thought about what it takes to make a newspaper.

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7 ways to a less cluttered house

Cape Town – When my niece was in Grade 2, she needed an empty shoebox for a project.

Picture: freeimages.com

Picture: freeimages.com

This should have been simple – but it wasn’t.

Neither my sister, my mother nor I had such a thing as an empty shoebox. I had to ask a colleague (who has beautiful taste in shoes) to bring one to the office so that the school could get its project.  Continue reading

How to fail at being middle class

Tigger asleep and blissfully unaware of her unvaccinated status. Picture: Renee Moodie

Tigger asleep and blissfully unaware of her unvaccinated status. Picture: Renee Moodie

I took my cat to the vet yesterday, for her vaccinations.

Now this is not unusual – but it is for me. This cat has not in fact been vaccinated since 2005 – and neither had any of the other late lamented animals in our house.

When I confessed this fact to a group of friends, there was a pause and a small intake of breath all round. Continue reading