Interview with Joanna Gosling + a GIVEAWAY

Following on from my previous post, as promised, a quick Q&A with Joanna Gosling, author of Simply Wonderwoman. Giveaway details at the end of the post
Can you give readers a “potted history” of your background and what led you to writing this book?
I am a journalist and presenter on BBC news. I am also a mother of three daughters aged 4, 7 and 9. And, I write books – Simply Wonderwoman was published last October and I am currently writing two more which are due out next year. I started writing because I love making things and doing practical stuff around the house, and friends and family would always ask me how I did it – both in the “how to” sense, and the broader issue of how I fit everything in. My answer is always that I do things the easy way – everything is simple, nothing takes long to do. I think a desire to simplify everything comes from my journalistic background – or maybe that’s why I went into journalism. That job’s about making the complicated accessible, which is exactly what I do at home. If I want to make something, I will work out a simple way of doing it that doesn’t require special skills or expensive equipment. 
Striving to achieve the often unattainable ideal of the “doing it all super woman”, can sometimes have the reverse effect and leave us feeling inadequate by comparison. What is your view on this and how does your book differ from traditional “domestic goddess” publications?
I called the book Simply Wonderwoman to reflect the fact that it is very easy to look at other women – people we know and marketed images – and think that they do somehow have superhuman qualities that mean they are gliding along smoothly, while we are somehow failing. It’s very easy for us to put ourselves under too much pressure and feel like everything has to be perfect. What I wanted to say with Simply Wonderwoman is that you do NOT have to be perfect. Life isn’t about that. Simplify, cut corners where you can, and don’t feel guilty. 

In your book, you mention that there was a time when life was slightly more chaotic. That the systems and tips that you have applied were in fact the result of deciding you’d had enough of running around like a mad thing trying to do everything at once. What made you decide “enough is enough!”?
The fact that I was sick of feeling like my head was always full and I couldn’t focus on what I needed to do. The thing is, I’ve always been great at finding time for the things I love to do, but terrible at focusing on the boring things that I have to do, until I’m faced with a deadline (that journalist thing again). I just finally got to the stage where I knew I needed to get a grip on the “boring” stuff to free me up for the “nice” stuff. I was feeling resentful, always under pressure, never enough time for myself, never appreciated. By stepping back and focusing on where I was going wrong, I realised that it’s not actually difficult to be organised with a few simple ideas, strategies and tips. There’s a saying that a minute spent organising is an hour saved. I actually think the equation is much better than that, because you don’t just save the time that gets wasted hunting out something that’s lost, or trawling through lists of places to stay because everywhere’s booked up… or whatever it is. If you’re one step ahead, you clear out the head space that gets cluttered with the constant low level panic of knowing you’ve got to do things that never quite get done. 
Where did you start with the task of streamlining your day to day life?
One of the first things I did was work out a way to stop forgetting things every time I left the house. The shopping list, the school reply slip, letters to post. So many things I’d leave on the side and only remember before it was too late. So I decided I needed a way of having them right under my nose when I walked out the door – that way I couldn’t forget. So I stuck a peg to my front door with double sided tape. Genius – though I say so myself! So simple, took about 2 seconds to do, but changed my life! And that’s the principle I apply to everything – keep it simple. So, I write everything down. I have a long loop of leather attached to my keys to hang them round my neck when I’m dashing around so I don’t lose them. I write plans in the diary the moment I make them and book the babysitter – if needed – right away. I guess you could say, I have idiot-proofed my life. Although not entirely. I’m not perfect. I do still forget things or put things on a back burner when I know I shouldn’t, but it doesn’t get on top of me anymore.
What would you say to readers who might feel that bringing order to “chaos” might seem an insurmountable task?
Small steps. Do one thing each day. You simply cannot take on everything all at once. The problem is, looking at the sum of our problems often makes it too scary to deal with them. How to focus? Where to begin? Just pick off one thing first of all, that is causing you the most annoyance. For me, it was forgetting the damned school reply slips. And the lost keys. Make a list of what’s getting you down. Everything, from never having anything to wear through to the dripping tap. Then pick your way through the list, dealing with one thing at a time. 
I find that getting things done with a toddler permanently attached to my leg can be tricky (!) plus I want him to learn at an early age that we all have to do our bit in the home. Do you have any tips on involving young children in household chores?
I remember often being desperate to “help out” at home when I was little and my mum not letting me because it was quicker for her to do it herself. I think of that when my daughters want to “help” and I know that actually they’re going to get in the way. It reminds me that sometimes I should let them join in, or they’ll get to a stage where they don’t ask anymore and just expect me to get on with everything. I’ve also realised as they get bigger how important it is not to underestimate what they can actually do. My four year old is perfectly capable of laying the table. And she makes her bed better than her sisters, without me even asking, just because she sees them do theirs and just copies. 
But this book isn’t just for women with children is it…
I wrote this book for anyone who feels their life could be simpler. We’re all under a lot of pressure, juggling – whether it’s work and kids, home and kids, caring for another family member, like a parent or sibling – whatever it is, who doesn’t want/need to save time, money and effort…

Do you still have your “off” days when things just don’t run smoothly despite your best efforts?
Of course! I am not perfect. 

Ok, I’m gonna be mean now! If you were to make just ONE recommendation from the many tips and tricks in your book, which one would most encompass the “minimum effort, maximum return” mantra you talk about? Your biggest “Eureka” moment…

Ha, obviously I would say all my tips and tricks are life-changing, but if I had to pick one…it would probably be “how to never have to clean your oven again”. I came up with this because it was driving me crazy that every time I turned on my oven a cloud of smoke would billow out from the carbonised remains spot welded to the surfaces. So, I got thinking about those steam ovens you can buy, that steam clean the oven after each use, but cost a fortune. I wondered whether I might be able to do the same trick for free in my own oven. The answer is yes! Just put a bowl of boiling water in the oven when you switch it off and it is still hot. The steam will emulsify the grease so it wipes away easily when it cools down. I literally have never had to clean my oven again, beyond a quick wipe down. THAT was definitely a eureka moment. You do need to give the oven a good once over first, if it’s really dirty – too boring to go into now, but plenty of tips in the book!!
The purpose of the first section of your book is to buy time “for the things in life that make your heart sing”. Why sewing and crafting?
I love the process of making – it’s when my head clears completely and I relax. It’s funny when people ask me how relax, as if making is a chore. I just find it pleasurable. I really enjoying doing diy and decorating too – anything practical. With sewing, knitting and making, I think you can so easily make things nicer than you can buy, for a fraction of the cost. What’s not to love?!
You are currently in the process of writing another book. Can you tell us a little about it and when we can expect to see it on the shelves?
It  is due out next March, so my writing deadline is looming! It is all about things home made. It follows on from Simply Wonderwoman, with the same principles – minimum effort, maximum return. Everything is easy to do and useful. I can’t wait to share it! 
And I for one shall look forward to reading it! Sincerest thanks to Joanna for taking the time to squeeze my little blog interview into her schedule. 


It seems there is no end to this lady’s generosity since she has happily provided a copy of Simply Wonderwoman for one lucky reader to win. Yay! The giveaway is open internationally. To enter simply leave a comment telling us your best tip or trick for saving time or getting organised. Your very own “Eureka” moment if you like. Additional entries by Tweeting, Facebooking, Linking to this Giveaway on your blog, following this blog etc. Just let me know which, and I’ll pop an extra entry into the hat. (You know how it works 🙂 The Giveaway closes midnight GMT on Friday 27th April. Winner announced here shortly thereafter, so be sure to check back.
Good Luck!!

If you don’t want to wait for the Giveaway Simply Wonderwoman is available here 🙂
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  1. Katie April 18, 2012

    What a great giveaway! I think my favourite way of keeping things organised in my life is making to do lists with a rewards system if I complete everything I need to do. They can be little rewards like a piece of cake or watching something I really want to on TV or sometimes bigger rewards like a new dress or even a trip away, but I only get the rewards if I do whatever needs to be done in the time I set myself. It’s a great way to keep motivated!

  2. Sarah April 18, 2012

    My own personal Eureka moment was learning how to work the oven timer… silly I know. But when man is away and its just me, I can sort out my dinner what ever time of day I happen to remember about it, and it’ll be ready BEFORE 9pm!

  3. jadestar April 18, 2012

    What a great giveaway! I don’t really have any eureka moments. I’d say I’m one of those in need of this book. However, one thing that has helped me is “A place for everything, and everything in it’s place”. When something has a specific place I tend to put it back. Anything with a wishy-washy home, or too far from where I used it tends to hang around. Fairly basic, I know.
    Anyway, I’m also a follower of this blog, so fingers crossed.

  4. Susan April 19, 2012

    What a great giveaway. For a way to save your rug after getting red wine spilled on it, I use Windex window cleaner. Even on white or beige carpet, you can spray the Windex directly on the stain and then soak up the wine using paper towels.

  5. Louise April 19, 2012

    My eureka moment was realizing I write the same things on my shopping list every week so I made a standard shopping list using Excel with tickboxes for the things I buy regularly. I laid it out in the order I walk round the store and now I can get my shopping done in record time. There are empty entries for the things I buy occasionally so they just added into the right place tick off what I need and I can be out of the store in less than 1 hour for a ‘big shop’. Would love this book as I need all the help I can get sometimes!

  6. Suzie April 19, 2012

    What a fantastic interview and an exciting giveaway!!! Two things that really help for me are making a meal plan (which helps with the weekly shop) and using my slowcooker (hot dinners ready when I get home from work) – such amazing time savers!

  7. Sonia April 19, 2012

    What a great give-away and I love the story behind how you got your exclusive interview!!!!!!!! I need all the organisation tips I can get to manage my brood. I think the only tip I’ve got that I find works for me is to set myself a job and set the timer on my phone for 15mins and work until the alarm goes off – I find I can get as much done in 15mins as in an hour because there’s no procrastination – great for when you’ve got 15mins before going to pick the little one up from nursery/school!!!

  8. bunny April 19, 2012

    i don’t have one, that’s why i need this book, lol!

  9. Felicity from Down Under April 19, 2012

    I’m so far from organised and having eureka moments that I’m like Bunny. We used to stick a sheet of paper to our window when my son was younger. It had a list of, “Do you have” items such as clean hanky, lunch, Ventolin puffer, whatever – well, we still have it though we’ve upgraded it for secondary school (it now includes diary and is it signed and do you have a bus ticket, none of which applied for primary school) and I had a fun time when he once ran me through the list before I went to work. I failed. I need help.

  10. draculash April 19, 2012

    Reading the interview I just started getting curious about what other tips Joanna has in her book. I’ll definitely try the one with the oven. I get scared away every time when all that smoke comes out. I’d love to win your giveaway 🙂
    I need more tips as i want more time for crafts and want to spend less time doing chores around house.
    Thanks for your interview 🙂 loved reading it
    Simona of

  11. Evie April 19, 2012

    I’m an avid list maker…I think it helps to get stuff out of your head so it’s not whizzing round in there distracting you. Also, we TIVO our favourite TV programmes so that’s all we watch on TV. You save loads of time not watching rubbish and you can fast-forward through the adverts too. Bonus! Of course, I also have handwork in my lap whilst I’m watching so I’m making a quilt or a sweater or something at the same time.

  12. Claire Cooper April 19, 2012

    Love the idea of steam cleaning the oven – I hate the messy job!

  13. Vicki Kate April 19, 2012

    My Eureka moment is one of those that is blindingly obvious in hindsight… Tidy up as you go, don’t leave it for later! That way you can do fun stuff when you want rather than having to tidy up and then having no time left! Now all I have to do is apply it to my sewing room…

  14. Trina April 19, 2012

    My top tip is picking an outfit and putting it all out the night before a busy day. It gives you a precious extra 5 or 10 minutes either in bed in the morning or to sit down with a cup of tea and think about what’s to come.

  15. Bobbi April 19, 2012

    Thanks for the interview. The book sounds amazing!

  16. theperfectnose April 20, 2012

    Thanks for organising this giveaway! My best suggestion for getting things done is to just start doing them. One thing at a time and soon enough you’ll be half way there and eventually you’ll be done. Sometimes getting scared of how much there is to get done is just another way of procrastinating. If you can’t organise it just start with one thing, at least you’ve one thing less to do then!

  17. njeri April 20, 2012

    I used to feel guilty sometimes whenever I sat down to do something crafty when I should be doing something else (like cleaning)then but I now realize being creative is my therapy, and it helps me to be balanced. This seems like a lovely book I would love a copy.

  18. Sarah April 20, 2012

    This book looks amaaaaazing. I would love to have a copy!

  19. Steph A April 21, 2012

    Oh I’m sooo glad I found your blog (as usual I don’t remember how I got here!), but I’ve loved reading a dozen posts so far. This book sounds FANTASTIC, and hopefully I can find it here in Canada. Also, your draftalong is EXACTLY what I’ve been looking for. It’s been on my mind for the last year, but I only just found a book to use, and I’m working on my pants block with StephC at 3HoursPast. I’m also eager to get going on my first Sorbetto pattern which I only printed off last week! I’ll be following along for sure!

  20. Angela April 22, 2012

    I do something similar with putting everything on a peg on the fridge that needs to be done, ie bills to be paid. That and have everyones activities on a calendar. The book sounds great

  21. Kat April 22, 2012

    Thanks for the great interview, I would love to win a copy of this book as I strive to be more organised! One of my favourite tips I have ever found is to put duvet covers inside the corresponding pillowcase…saves so much time trying to find a matching set and makes the airing cupboard so much tidier 🙂

  22. Alessa April 23, 2012

    Oh my, my life is pretty chaotic right now, I could do with some simplicity! Besides making to-do lists, I have found that putting important things from my to-do list into my timer complete with a time frame to to it makes it more likely that I actually do it. 😀 I also try to do similar activities at the same time (like, all important emails that need to be answered, or paying all the bills once a week)…
    Also, I follow you with bloglovin!

  23. Scruffybadger April 23, 2012

    Gosh what a wonderful interview & I’m embarrassed to say this is my first encounter with Simply Wonderwoman – I guess that could mean I am in need!!
    My tip that I don’t practice often enough is to get my work outfit ready the night before to save me faffing around. AArgh – but Trina’s also said this too. I hope that this means it is a “VERY GOOD TIP”!

  24. Mommy en France April 23, 2012

    I would love to win this book! The Mr and I try to get organised about scheduling by giving each other access to our office calendars (in Outlook) and having a family Google Calendar. It helps a lot. For the kids, we save a lot of time in the morning by packing the school bag the night before.

  25. Lori Kay April 24, 2012

    My current favorite organizational tip is to make a list of chores for my kids for when they come home from school. It helps to remind them that they need to tidy up any new messes before my husband and I come home.

  26. Kokori April 24, 2012

    Thanks for the great interview!
    My favorite tip to put things you need all the time always in the same spot: keys, cooking utensils (also, set out all the things you’ll need to make a meal before you start, and get the chopping done before you start cooking). I learned this the hard way when I was very young and worked as a bartender – it’s amazing how much being able to blindly grab something helps.

  27. Annabelle April 24, 2012

    My hubby and I saved time packing our lunches by washing and cutting all of our veggies on Sunday night. Then when the week starts it’s easy to grab a handful of veggies and throw them in our lunches (and healthy). We sometimes do this with fruit as well (if it is the kind that keep well with pre-cutting).

  28. Jacqui April 25, 2012

    Great interview! I’m in sore need of the book – I could tell you all sorts of tips but I never seem to put them into practice! One thing I do know is that the more storage you have for your stuff to live the more likely you are to put things away immediately – but it has to be easily accesses!

  29. Jo April 25, 2012

    What an interesting interview. I find that I deal with each letter from school/rainbows/ballet etc as soon as it comes in then I put any reply in the appropriate bag so that it automatically gets taken to the right place the next time we go.

  30. SimpleFibreLife April 25, 2012

    My tips are about laundry and ironing because I loath doing it.
    -I try to sort my laundry during the week
    -To reduce ironing I try to hang everything so it doesn’t get wrinkled
    -I hang my tops and skirts on hangers. When they’re dry I can put them straight in the wardrobe.

    I enjoyed reading everyone elses tips. So clever!

  31. Roobeedoo April 26, 2012

    I could definitely use this book as I live in an episode of “The Life Laundry” (remember that tv programme?). My only tip is to aim for “one touch”… it works best with office-based mess, but if you e.g. open a letter you should deal with it there and then, and not put it down until you finish, then move on to the next thing. So… open an email and answer it; pick up the dirty socks and put them straight in the washing machine. Never leave stuff half-done as it takes more of your time to deal with it. Sadly, it doesn’t work for knitting or sewing projects!

  32. Catherine April 27, 2012

    My favorite time saver is to make lists and keep them all on my iPhone. Lists are labeled things like “get for home”, “get for school”, and “grocery”. I even have a list for patterns that I want to get when they go on sale, and update the list to show which ones I’ve already purchased. I don’t want to purchase the same one twice! Lists. An organizer’s best friend.


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