How I stay focused through the year

I often get asked how I am getting on with our current cafe project. “You must be very busy!” they add. I then simply answer that I am just getting on with it. People seem to expect me to be stressed and panicked. But the truth is that I don’t believe panicking is useful or a sign of productiveness (Joni would agree with me on this). I learned to manage my life a different way.

Now if you met any of my old friends they would tell that I never been an organised person. I actually struggle to manage my constantly wandering mind! But in return I have been very passionate about goals and productivity. Over time I learned how to be focused. I tried many methods: I tried filofax, google calendar, and wall calendar. You name it, I tried it! But I came to a conclusion, strict routines never work and tight schedule is a recipe for a disaster.

What really works is writing things down! I am currently reading “Big Dreams Daily Joys” by Elise Blaha Cripe and the way she describes the benefits of writing things down, could not be better said. Elise in her book explains how writing down to do list temporarily clears your mind from thinking about uncompleted tasks. Tasks that are written down are more visual, it creates a bigger picture and makes it easier to see when and how they are going to be completed (basically stops the chaos in your head). Lists also make it easier to collaborate as you can have a shared record of what has been done and what is left to do. Finally, lists saves time! When you find some time you can quickly refer to your to do list and jump to the task without much thinking about what needs to be done to begin with. Another good book on this topic is “The checklist manifesto” by Atul Gawande.

Now about organisational tools. Different types of tools fit different types of people of course. Some people use apps, some love bullet journaling (I tried that!) and then there are some that use wall planners (that is me!). It took me a while to realise, but once I did I started creating wall planners myself. Why? That’s because I could not find a wall planner that fitted my organisational process (in fact there is not much choice out there at all). I will explain later my pros and cons for using a wall planner, but if you are interested to get one for yourself that really works for me then visit our etsy shop.

Now pros and cons. Like everything else in life, wall planners have some good points and bad points. Which is why it is best to weigh both and see what fits best for you as a person.

PROS

  • It is visual. You can see it all out there on a large layout all at the same time. It’s always visible (which is why I keep mine on our fridge), therefore it keeps you focused most of the time. This pro is good for people who work at one location most of the time (like me).
  • It’s not a distraction! Unlike technology tools on your phone or laptop, wall planners do not overload you with notifications and e-mails.
  • It’s good for teams (or families). Since wall planners are visible to everyone, they can simply contribute to your planning or even get few tasks done as well. I find it helpful when Joni records evening events on the planner so I know when I can’t go out and need to stay at home to look after our kids.
  • It won’t let you down. Nope, wall planners are not powered on batteries therefore it won’t die on you when you need to check what time is your meeting. Also it will definitely not get lost. It’s always there on the wall when you need it :-).
  • it is decorative! A very important pro for me, I love how it looks when it is hung on the wall!

CONS

  • It does not travel with you. Yes, I get it. This must be annoying to anyone who travels a lot for work. But I don’t, so it’s ok! I occasionally get asked on my availability, but then I simply reply “let me check my diary and I will let you know”. Also when I travel I record tasks and events that come up (on my phone, I use a notes app). When I am back, I simply go through the list and transfer everything on my wall planner.
  • It won’t be automatic. When you get an event confirmation by e-mail it won’t be able to transfer the date onto my wall planner
  • It won’t call/notify you. Wall planner just don’t have that ability to call you or play a ringtone when you are about to reach a deadline.

So how does my planning process work you may ask. It simply starts with writing down some goals at the beginning of each year (will write a post about this later). These are not wishy washy new years resolutions. These are realistic goals backed up by tasks. These tasks (not very strict at this stage) get transferred onto our monthly planner together with some events as well (if you have any planned).

Eventually after the year starts I start planning more detailed tasks one week ahead. This is where our weekly planner comes in useful! While still keeping an eye on the bigger picture (goals) you can clearly how things plan out through out the week. I just love to take some time on Sundays to plan the week ahead and I tend to create meal list on Mondays since this is when I find its best to do shopping (our local supermarket is almost empty on Monday evenings!)

Finally I have some tricks up my sleeve for success (Ha! You did not see that coming!)

  • Don’t overcrowd your planner with too many tasks! These have to be all realistically timed. All the events and other external factors need to be considered as well. Nothing is more off putting when uncompleted tasks by the end of the day!
  • Don’t let the unexpected to throw you out of balance. Because sh** happens! If the task is not completed by the end of the day simply move it forward or cancel it all together (if it is no longer relevant of course). Don’t feel guilty, just move on! It is better to address the task (cancel or reschedule) then get panicked over uncompleted tasks.
  • Give yourself some rest! If you are feeling tired, clearly you are not going to be your most productive self. Therefore it’s ok to move some tasks to the next day and it’s ok to cancel some. Just take a bath or whatever else you like to do to relax and when tomorrow come it will be much a better day.

Most importantly have fun with planning and share this with someone else who you think needs to hear this. Here are the wall planners again if you are like me and enjoy jotting down the tasks on the wall ;-).

Rasa xoxo

Year three with books: "Little Paris Kitchen"

My thoughts on 'Little Paris Kitchen" cookbookDear oh dear I had a busy weekend (it was fun as well), but I finished reading the “Little Paris Kitchen” cookbook (and trying almost all the recipes) which has taken me a whole year. I of course could not make all the items from the book. Some of the recipes were not very family friendly such as steak tartare, some had ingredients that were hard to get in regular supermarket (even if I tried to get a substitute) or I simply missed the season (oops!). I also must admit I did not plan the cooking of the recipes very well. I did very little at the beginning of the year and then by the end of the year I tried like 10 recipes a week. Which made things slightly stressful, but I am very glad that I made it. Yey!Cooking through Little Paris Kitchen BookWhat I liked about it? I first fell in love with the style of the book and the pictures (am I shallow or what?), but then I really liked the recipes as well! these were classical recipes with a twist. Some were surprising and amazing and some were ok. Some recipes forced me to experiment as I did not have all the ingredients (but found some substitutes), which worked out wonderfully well. I felt some of the basic recipes could be reinvented again and again. It really woke my excitement up when it comes to cooking! I once again felt like in heaven when tasting different flavours.
What did I not liked about it? Some of the recipes were more complicated than they had to be. When making some of the basics such as caramel I had to google other recipes/videos as I just did not get it right from the book. It seemed like Rachel Khoo loves challenge herself and sometimes overcomplicate some recipes just because. I also have slight suspicion that there were some mistakes in the recipes. For example, I was trying to make this spicy sauce that had nothing spicy in the ingredients.
Is it worth buying? Absolutely! It’s a beautiful book to own with all the basic french recipes at the back (which I still use).
My thoughts on 'Little Paris Kitchen" cookbookPerhaps this could be good gift idea to a foodie?
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Year three with books: "Anna Karenina"

My thoughts on Anna Karenina bookSo lately I been reading like mad, its that time of year when it is about to end and I have like few books to still read…Eek! I finally finished reading “Anna Karenina”  (that was quite a mission). It’s made out of two books people!!!
This book is considered a classic and I think its not only because it is old. It is set in 1873 when author himself was alive, which means his description of the lifestyle at that time is quite genuine (very interesting to read about that) . It covers lots of subjects such as philosophy, politics, women rights, culture and farming so I think it should cover everyone’s interest. I must admit some of these subjects bore me to death. But it’s ok, it included lots of psychology and thought process of the characters in the story, so I was quite entertained. Sadly the movie (newest 2012 edition) does not have the same impact. In return it is quite theatrical and visually appealing, so it was ok. I have a feeling you may not get the main point if you watch movie first, but at least is artistic and I really enjoyed it for that exact reason.
What I liked about it? Psychology of the characters in the story of course! I love to see what these characters think and the reason why they act like they do. I also found it fascinating to see what people did for entertainment and communications.  It sounds like telegrams were almost like texting in comparison to today’s communicating.
What I did not like about it? Well… some of the subjects and thought process of some of characters was very very boring to me, but I am sure somebody else would find this very interesting.
Is it worth buying? Yes, even if you are not going to read it. I think this book is worth your bookshelf, especially if you get a vintage looking version :-D.My thoughts on Anna Karenina bookHope you are convinced that this is a must read 😉
Rasa xoxo

Year three with books: "Bridget Jones's Diary"

My thoughts on Bridget Jones's Diary book I bet everyone knows this book! It’s a classic cringe comedy as Joni would call it. Oh, and it made into the movies! To be honest I felt like the movie actually polluted my imagination as I was reading this book as I could just imagine Bridget as Renée Zellweger (there is no way from running away from that image now!). Although as expected there are plenty of differences between the book and the movie.
What I liked about it? Writing style of course! As you know me well, I really like casual chatty writing style ;-). Besides, I could really relate to Bridget and all her awkward moments. Not her lifestyle thankfully although I do envy her freedom a tiny weeny bit. One think I couldn’t agree more with Bridget is the subject of Christmas gift giving. This sums it up exactly how I feel: “Ugh. Would that Christmas could just be, without presents. It is just so stupid, everyone exhausting themselves, miserably haemorrhaging money on pointless items nobody wants: no longer tokens of love but angst-ridden solutions to problems…”. There you go, I said it!
What I did not like about it? Hmm… nothing really. I must be a fan of cringe comedy then (lol).
Is it worth buying? Certainly! it’s an easy read, perfect for holidays. Even if you watched the movie million times!My thoughts on Bridget Jones's Diary bookHave fun while reading!
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Year three with books: "The 80/20 Principle"

My thoughts on "The 80/20 Principle" bookThis book turned out to be exactly what I expected to be. I am not sure if 20/80 principle is common sense or if I knew it deep in me but I feel like I have not learned much. I have been reminded of few things, but certainly it have not been ground breaking! The 20/80 concept states that the world is unbalanced and 20% of what we do and have are more important (produce the main results) than the rest of 80%. So essentially we should focus on those 20% and try to do more of it to improve productivity. Doesn’t it sound a bit familiar to you? Don’t we all try to prioritise anything that we see is producing highest results or enjoy it best?
What I liked about it? Although it was not life changing, I loved authors honesty. He often writes how you should not read everything in his book and learn to skip pages. It is true only about 20% of this book is important and applicable personally! I also liked that data is not everything in finding out what is efficient and worthwhile. The book strongly suggests to use intuition when making decision and not to be afraid to experiment and not persevere with losing solutions. Which is what I kinda knew, but not put it into practice much. I now know that is best not to act immediately, but do some quiet thinking first.
What I did not like about it? I think writing style was my biggest dislike here. It made me drowsy every time I read this book (or was it sleep deprivation?). It was too repetitive and had many dry technical words that I did not even understand.
Is it worth buying? Yes and no. It depends if 20/80 principal familiar to you. If you have never heard of it then it is definitely worth reading about it.My thoughts on "The 80/20 Principle" bookHope you found my little review useful!
Rasa xoxo

Year three with books: "The Shack"

My thoughts on "The Shack" book by William P. YoungMy thoughts on "The Shack" book by William P. YoungI finished this book just in time for Easter, which reminded what relationship with God is really about. Thanks for iBooks version I could read it on my phone while in labour or while feeding Tomas to sleep. Basically I have been reading this heart warming book just when I needed, during the most challenging times in my life!
What I liked about it? Creative way of describing about God as a trinity and how relationship with God looks like. In the story the God himself invites the main character for a weekend away just to fellowship and demonstrate what real love is. And what’s a better way to do this? I think it also explains why bad things happen in the word to most innocent. Which sort of answers the biggest question people tend to ask “where is God when there is so much wrong in the world”.
What I did not like about it? Is the writing style that I found was too descriptive in parts and covered with unnecessary adjectives. This made the reading not as gripping as it should have been and therefore I found my mind wondering off often as I read.
Is it worth buying? Well… are you interesting to find out the real meaning of Easter? Do you wonder if there is more to life than this? Have you been hurt and wondering where God is? Than this is a definite read for you 😉 My thoughts on "The Shack" book by William P. YoungEnjoy reading!
Rasa x

Pancake day in a French style

Pancake day in a French styleSince the pancake day is approaching soon (the day surely not to be missed) I have been practicing making pancakes the French way. I of course were learning from the best, Rachel Khoo and her book “Little Paris Kitchen”, that I am reading right now. It turns out that French don’t only live on crepes but also galettes, which is tricky type of pancake made purely from buckwheat flour. While I have made similar pancakes to crepes before, I was clueless about the galettes. This is why I decided to share the recipe with you here.
GALETTES adopted from Rachel Khoo book “Little Paris Kitchen”

  • 200g buckwheat flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • about 600ml water
  • melted butter for frying

1. Mix the flour and salt in the bowl (or jug). Gradually mix in the water, adding only enough for the batter to have consistency of double cream. Don’t overdo as this will make rubbery galettes. Place the bowl into the fridge for an hour at least.French galettes recipe2. Melt the butter in well heated frying pan. Pour one spoonful of batter and immediately start swirling round the pan to get nice even layer. Loosen around the edge with a spatula once the top “dries up”, then turn the galette and cook for further 1 minute.French galettes recipeThese can then be eaten with sugar and cinnamon, French galettes recipe or any other filling, I think savoury ones suits best. Like the cream cheese with salmon, Yum!Happy pancake once it comes!
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Year three with books: "How Eskimos Keep their Babies Warm"

My thoughts on "How Eskimos Keep their Babies Warm" book So no baby here yet, but I am definitely on top of my reading list this year. Decided to prioritise the parenting book, although what I learned is better applied to Lukas rather than the new baby to come. “How Eskimos Keep their Babies Warm” is a very interesting book about parenting in different cultures. This is a subject I really love, therefore reading about it was super great…. However I still don’t know how Eskimos keep their babies warm :D.
What I liked about it? is the structure of each chapter. It usually starts with the specific culture (such as French) and then goes on describing what this culture does differently or particularly interesting when it comes to parenting (such as how French teach their children to love healthy food). Then it compares to American culture and how the author herself applies what she learns from her research in her own culture or what problems did she experienced while applying the new way to her daughter. What I really loved was that the information is non judgmental, lets you decide if that particular parenting wisdom (or parenting style if you prefer to call it that way) is right for your family and child. Which is great! Because I realised a while ago that there is no one right way to do parenting. Although I do sometimes find it difficult what to choose. I guess the first born has to be a guinea pig :D.
What I did not like about it? Is the writing style. I found some parts were a bit dry and therefore boring to read even if the subject itself is very interesting.
Is it worth buying? Only if you are open to different parenting styles in different cultures and like reading about different ways of upbringing. If you are looking to solve some sort of parenting issue you have then I think this book may not be for you. It can be slightly confusing as it does not offer straight to the point advice, but instead it discuss the differences between cultures and pros and cons between them.My thoughts on "How Eskimos Keep their Babies Warm" bookHope you found my reading useful!
Rasa xoxo

Year three with books

My 2017 book reading planI have been setting a goal to read books for two years so far. And I am not planning to quit this year either! In fact I decided to do it differently this year, I thought I will finish reading the books that I once started but not finished in the past. Of course there were not many of this kind so my list his year includes some new ones as well. Here is my reading list:
1. “The Shack” by William P. Young have been one of those books that were highly recommended but personally I could not go through the first chapter. I even tried reading it in Lithuanian translation hoping the descriptive writing won’t be so annoying in different language. But that did not work either! I hope having it on my goal list will make me more motivated.My 2017 book reading plan 2. “How Eskimos Keep their Babies warm” by Mei-Ling Hopgood has been on my wish list forever. I like the title of it as much as the idea of parenting that is inspired by different cultures. After reading about French parenting last year I am ready to explore more!My 2017 book reading plan 3. “The 80/20 Principle” by Richard Koch seemed like a book to read when your main goal this year is to organise your life and become more productive. Will let you know if this principle works for us ;-).My 2017 book reading plan 4. “Bridget Jones Diary” by Helen Fielding. Have seen all the movies (minus the latest), I think it is time to progress to books. Especially when your friend say the books are even better, hilarious to read!My 2017 book reading plan 5. “Anna Karenina” by Leo Tolstoy is made of two books. No wonder I started it and never finished it even though it was a good read. My 2017 book reading plan 6. “Little Paris Kitchen” by Rachel Khoo is a cook book I know! How do you read a cook book you may say? Well, by reading the story behind those recipes while trying them out in the kitchen or not of course ;-). I have made few recipes from this book in the past, but planning to explore more and maybe to adapt few to our family cooking.My 2017 book reading planHope you found my list inspiring!
Happy reading 🙂
Rasa xx

Year two with books: "Life of Pi"

Well well well, where shall I begin. To start with I would like to say that I made my goal for this year, I finished this within a week (my personal best speed in reading. And the book wasn’t the easiest to read! Oh no! A lot of people I spoke to who read a little of this book (and not finished it) said it wasn’t what they like to read and that it was a very hard one to understand. I must admit I was confused many times, but I do believe I got overall view about it by now. Some people suggested that the story is allegorical and I don’t neglect the possibility of it, although I don’t think this is a case. The author gives a lot of comparisons such as hotel keeping and zoo-keeping or religion and zoology, but my personal opinion this is about faith and just because you don’t believe in this incredible story that does not mean it can’t be true. This is why author gave an alternative story to the investigators because they did not have faith, not because the other story is more true. Again, this is just my opinion and would like to hear your view too.
What I liked about it? The story of course! I generally like inspiring stories and this definitely met my need. I even wondered if this wasn’t a true story at one point. It also fascinated me the knowledge of the author regarding animal behaviour which is what led the main character to survive with the tiger on the boat. And it’s not like it was easy for him, he had lots of ups and downs while “training” this wild cat so I think this is quite believable.
What I did not like about it? Is the confusion between religion and belief in God. I think these are completely different especially when it comes to different types of religions. They don’t exactly match, yet the main character was practicing all of them.
Is it worth buying it? Well, it depends. Do you like complicated stories? I think this is not everyones cup of tea, but it is very enjoyable if this is sort of think you like.My thoughts on "Life of Pi"Hope you found this useful 😉
Rasa x