Before I moved to Germany, most people, including my colleagues and my bosses, seemed to think that I was pretty amazingly organised. I was always juggling career and social life pretty effectively, so it seemed, volunteering at the radio station at Hammersmith Hospital, preparing for post grad qualifications and generally being a busy but bouncy bee. When I moved to Germany, I realised that actually organisation here was perceived as having a tidy desk, being on time and having that cool calm and collected aura.
The bottom line is that I have none of these. Yet.

But 2016 is going to be dramatically different for me, because having balanced teaching English and book selling for the past five years, I have finally taken the plunge to return full time to my freelance language teaching business – hence my recent blog writing  absence – I’ve been on a children’s book selling frenzy.

So from January, my time will be split between walking with clients on the language energy programme, being online for webinars and skype appointments and in my office preparing, moderating and analysing language feedback. I will also be releasing a podcast and bootcamp so boy, I’m going to have to get organised, because otherwise I just know that I’ll get distracted and thrown off track. I’m convinced that my current ‘system’ and I use that term lightly, is going to be as robust as my ambitions.

So I have been reading, a lot!

I enjoyed the Four Hour Working Week by Timothy Ferris, although for me as a working Mum who is over the jet setting era, I had to concentrate hard on finding the nuggets of productivity that were relevant for me in my business. It was certainly inspiring and an enjoyable read but I guess what I really craved was something more concrete. Step by step, easy to implement, no fuss or fluff.

The Bullet Journal by contrast was something I read about this time last year. So of course I needed no excuse to head into TKMaxx, to treat myself to a nice new notebook and naturally a whole wad of Friction pens on the way home in a rediculously OTT range of colours. It took a little bit of time to get my head around but all in all it has been something that has escorted me through the year with varying degrees of loyalty. What I liked about the bullet system was that there were different pages dedicated to different topics, so I could collect my thoughts, action points, resources and ideas all on one page. Plus, because it was indexed, I could find it without having to dive into a sea of words and symbols.

What I found frustrating about the Bullet Sytem was the calendar part. Now I have quite big writing, so if my to do tasks are going to be included on a diary to avoid the ‘some time saga’ I would need to adapt this part. I like to have space in my paper based diary for both events (on the left with a time and location) but also for tasks to be done on that day on the right.

I live on the outskirts of Berlin so I really try to use the travelling time for working on language feedback, quizzes and other post lesson support on the go if I am to have a hope of updating my clients as quickly as possible. Public transport and virtual tech make it possible. But technology alone doesn’t get the job done, the warmth of the tube is a wicked motivation zapper, so I need to be able to see exactly what needs to be done when in an instant.

The book that I have just finished  reading  is “18 Minutes, Find your Focus, Master Distraction & Get the Right Things Done” by Peter Bregman. I liked his approach and although it takes you a long time to get to the point, his storytelling approach based on his quirky life eyperiences, made it an enjoyable read. The great news is that there really does seem to be a pragmatic way to keep your focus in check in just 18 minutes a day. I was relieved to discover that isn’t even a single block of time either. It’s kind of like one of those amazing club sandwitches you get in those ghastly hotel lobbies.

Are you ready? Well first you choose the right type of plate, oval is best, long enough to hold a scewer. That plate is your planning and here I am thinking of a holistic approach, so not just business but our life. Let’s face it we have to split our time to get all the family stuff done too, not just our business priorities right? I won’t give too much away because you really ought to treat yourself to the book ( kindle sneaky business reading approved). Anyway there is planning at the start and the end of the day and weekly self nudges in between. Enough said.

So I am going to combine The Bullet Journal, the 18 Minute self check and some healthy habits (inspired by Superhuman by Habit). Even writing this, it occurs to me that I might be over complicating things but in my heart I feel that 2016 is going to be an amazing year. I never make personal new year resolutions because I tend to make these when we move to another city but for my business 2016 will be more organised and as a result I am going to crack my punctuality hangover from the UK.

After all I have been living and teaching Business English in Germany for 15 years now and whilst I have no aspirations to be the perfect “Hausfrau” or housewife, I think that at the age of 43, it’s about time that I respected other people’s time more because althoug I am not always late, but when I am on time The chances are that I only got there by the skin of my teeth, tell tale signs are erratic hair, flushed cheeks and a general look of relief and quite frankly it is unnecessary. I sure would like a taste of cool, calm and collected.

Can you help?

My problem is that I feel desperately uncomfortable being early. It always feel like a huge waste of time. Anybody got any tips for me on that? What should I do if I am early? Not doing anything at all is really difficult for me.

If I am late meeting you, insist that I get the drinks!

Oh and by the way, this is one of my habits…feel free to download and use yourself