Archive for the ‘Administration’ Category

Go ahead…. make my day!

March 12, 2009

Ok, so it’s not the best title for a blog post as you’ll probably be thinking of cowboys shooting each other right now!

However I got a comment about my blog yesterday which made my day!

Lisa said:

Hi there, I follow your blog on mine. Its really good reading and brightens my day when I need a pick me up, which at the moment is quite often seeing as I am launching my own website and looking after a 9 month old who is teething and testing his boundaries (and my patience) – hey ho, wouldn’t have it any other way though. Thanks for helping me stay sane!

I thought that was lovely and it really made me think how us mothers need each other – we know the isolation that can sometimes come with being at home all day with young babies and being able to read something or communicate with someone on an adult level who knows what we’re going through is life saving!!  I used to enjoy reading The Times blog Alpha Mummy for this reason!

If you are a Mummy-blogger (and there are more of us out there now!) join the British Mummy Bloggers social group which was started by Susanna who writes the blog A Modern Mother.  I’m on there!  Blogging is a great way to connect to other like-minded mums and provides a creative outlet for your skills at a time when creativity becomes a scarce commodity!  How many different ways are there to change a nappy!

I enjoy blogging and I love comments so feel free to let me know what you think about this blog.  All comments posted are moderated so they won’t appear straightaway, but they will be approved ASAP.

Have a great day!

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If you are new to Time Management Mum, read this….

March 5, 2009

TMM is about stuff not fluff.

This blog is aimed at anyone with an interest in time management because if you really want to know how to manage your time, become more productive and how to juggle without dropping the baby, just ask a ‘hands on’ working mum.

The blog is  not a ‘preach’ about how I do it, sometimes I drop the balls, and that’s ok.  I’m human after all, but I am uber organised, I do have a lot of projects on the go and I am a modern working mum!  My Guest Bloggers are women like me – passionate, positive, they love their kids but also have an identity away from them.

The readers of this blog will find nuggets of great information on getting everything done and still making time for fun.  My belief is that you should take care of YOU, as the ‘mummy of the house’ everything revolves around you anyway – stuff usually won’t get done unless you action it, so it’s important to look after your needs as well as your children / husband / pets / business etc…

I love comments so do participate!  Join in, share your stories, your tips, how you stay sane!

You’re a fabulous and feisty female, but this blog doesn’t appreciate BMW’s (Bitches, Moaners and Whiners).  Join in but play nice or I’ll send you to the naughty step.

This blog celebrates women, celebrates mothers, celebrates our fabulousness and supports ALL our choices.  It’s a ‘sisterhood’.  Blog away hot mama and have lots of fun!……….

The Calm ‘After’ the Storm!

March 2, 2009

Aah, let me take a second to enjoy the silence – my 18 month old is asleep on the sofa having worn himself out chucking his toys around the living room and my 6 year old is at school!  Finally, I get some time to catch up!

This morning I dropped the balls – big time.  Do you ever find that being a busy mum with loads of projects you seem to run just to stay still?  Well on Friday I handed over the manuscript of my book to the publishers and breathed a sigh of relief!  I’ve been working on it for months and haven’t had a weekend off since Christmas so after getting this biggie off my ‘To Do’ list, I had a cheeky glass (bottle) of Asti to celebrate.  This is quite a ‘drinking binge’ for me as I rarely have a drink and can get hammered on 2 halves of lager!  Anyway, major deadline met, my body decided to pack in.  I’d been running on adrenaline for so long that I started to lose my voice, get a runny nose and get tired.  I even went back to bed on Sunday afternoon for a few hours and still fell asleep that evening at my usual time of about 9 o clock (party animal I am so not!)

So this morning we are all getting ready for school when my 6 year old starts dragging her heels.  She just got some cooking game for the Nintendo DS and wants to play on that rather than get ready so I’m trying to get her motivated with a series of tricks: gentle cajoling to start, then appealing to her competitive spirit “I can get ready faster than you”, followed by bribery, threats to remove stars from the Good Girl Chart and ending up in losing my rag!  She eventually got ready and then it was ‘battle of the breakfasts’.  She wanted ‘pain au chocolate’ and we had 2 left over from the weekend so they both had one each, cut into quarters.  The boy happily sat in the highchair and munched away.  The girl threw a strop because hers had been cut into quarters.  Give me strength!

I had said earlier that she could ride her bike to school because I wanted to jog with the boy in the buggy.  I have 4 stone to lose now to get back to pre ‘second baby’ weight so being a Time Management Mum, I thought i’d be effective with my time and kill two birds with one stone.  Do the school run (literally!) and get some exercise.  Anyway the breakfast battles had set us back so we had to go in the car instead to get there on time, prompting another tantrum!  My head was pounding and I just lost it.  After getting them both in the car and all the various book bags, PE Kits, dinner money, permission slips, buggy and hats, coats, gloves etc, I was still hearing whining from the back so I shouted “SHUUUUT UUUUPPPP”!

Instant silence! I should do it more often but then I think it’d lose its effectiveness.

I’d been racing round all morning, the house looked like a bomb had hit it and I still had a days’ worth of work to do.  Anyway, a peaceful drive to school ensued and we must have looked like the ‘perfect family’ getting out of the car and walking to the classroom door.  My daughter had forgotten what she was whining about and once she saw her mates, it was ‘social butterfly’ time!  It made me think – how many of the other parents who looked ‘normal’ had been embroiled in a war just 10 minutes before!  Actually, I don’t think they’d be normal if they didn’t have the occasional morning like this one.  There’s absolutely no such thing as the ‘perfect’ family and people are lying if they say there is!

So one task sorted, my rest of the day looks like this: Now the manuscript is done, I have to attend to my other business areas, plus entertain the boy all day, sort out my mountain of washing and remove all the furniture from the living and dining room as the carpet cleaner is coming tomorrow (Yippee!)  I used to have a showhome you know.  Pre kids!  I don’t know how I was so finickity – I couldn’t relax if a picture was hung on the wall wonky.  I’ve had to relax my standards.  A lot.  But at least my home has ‘life’ now.  I’ve also got to get old baby clothes and toys ready for the NCT Nearly New Sale in a few weeks (I’m having a good clear out and can’t wait to have the extra room!)

Calm reigns, for now anyway.  In just over two hours I have to collect the girl from school, then the fun starts again!  But I’ll tell you something – I can get more done in this two hour window that I ever used to be able to before I had the kids.  They’ve trained me up – I was just organised before.  I’m uber – SAS style – hyper plate spinner organised now!  In fact, Once I’ve finished this post, I am getting my work blog sorted, getting my expenses paid from the BBC, making a dentist appointment, administering a new client, creating my autoresponder follow ups for Virtual Assistants who subscribe to my information feed and getting the stack of papers on my dining room table filed into my office (these were only the weekends’ paperwork).  Let’s see if I can crack that in two hours…..

xx

Stylish women now have a stylish planner to put their dreams in!

February 19, 2009

This week I realized a long held dream and actually launched my own range of personal organisers! Some people get excited about colourful clothes, I get my kicks from colourful organisation and having a place to plan my day and my life! Here are some pictures of the planner and my press release so you can see what it’s all about!




Planning, productivity and prowess now comes in a red package with the launch of a new personal organiser designed for modern businesswomen.

‘The Dream PA’ personal organiser is a fashion led leather bound planner embossed with a stylish girl logo and adds a dash of colour to any business meeting. Who says planning has to be boring? This ‘Busy Book’ is a loose leaf personal organiser and reflects a stylish and practical way for the modern woman to schedule her activities.

Created by businesswoman and former London College of Fashion Graduate Nadine Hill, the planner appeals to the super organised. At A5 size it is large enough to cope with a demanding work and social schedule whilst the elegant ‘girl’ motif says the owner has flair and personality. The owner of this organiser is both savvy and fun!

The Dream PA is the name of a boutique Virtual Assistance firm based in Yorkshire, and the girl logo is the identity of the brand. The company formed in early 2005 to assist entrepreneurs and small businesses with PA services, and quickly grew to serve clients across the globe. The name now stands for efficiency, pride in a job well done, individuality and time management.

Managing Director of The Dream PA Nadine Hill says:

“I was frustrated with all the black organisers on the shop floor and wanted something that reflected my individuality whilst being spacious enough to handle my busy life. The Dream PA stands for effective time management so I created this ‘Busy Book’ to keep track of my many appointments and roles. I use the planner to organise me, my business and my young family!”

The Dream PA ‘Busy Book’ has a smooth stitched red leather cover and operates with a standard 6 ring mechanism. Perfect for everyday use, the A5 executive organiser features a pen holder, storage pocket and credit / business card holders, week to view diary and retails at RRP £39.99.

To make a purchase or for more information, visit http://www.thedreampa.co.uk/shop.html

-Ends-

NOTES TO EDITORS:

  • The Dream PA is a boutique Virtual Assistance business based in West Yorkshire, UK.
  • The business serves small business clients across the UK and Internationally (Australia and USA) with PA and Virtual Receptionist services.
  • The Dream PA spinoff product line launches with the exclusive leather Personal Organiser and will expand in 2009 to include mobile phone charms, designer mugs and fashion key chains.
  • Nadine Hill graduated from the University of the Arts, London (London College of Fashion) in 1995 with a Higher National Diploma in Fashion Journalism and Promotion.

What do you think? I think this organiser rocks!

I’ve already had one review in from a buyer – see below:





– 5 Star

“I was very excited when Nadine Hill of The Dream PA launched her own personal organiser “The Busy Book”.

I am very busy with my own business, young son, husband, etc (list to long !) so for me “The Busy Book” was a MUST have.

The organiser is good quality, very competitively priced, it is a good size, great colour and has just about everything you would need in it.

I use my Busy Book on a daily basis and it travels everywhere with me and it really does keep me organised.

12 February 2009

Caroline Coward

The Business Network (Leeds) Limited

Working from home? What about ‘home-ing’ from work?!

February 4, 2009

As most working mums will no doubt appreciate, the key to success lies in ‘fitting it all in’ or if not quite that ‘fitting in the most important stuff and being able to recognise the bits that aren’t really that important anyway’!! I am always busy – a state of affairs you simply have to accept and common to millions of parents around the country. I run my own business as a freelance marketing consultant, I have a 2 year old daughter and am expecting our second child in July. I also have a husband but he generally speaking has to take care of himself!

I go out and about to client meetings, networking events and training courses and the like but essentially I work from home. This has quite a different culture from leaving the house and going to work in an office. For a start there is a blurred line between home and work and figuring out where one ends and the other starts is often the biggest challenge of the day!

There are many pitfalls to this arrangement – not being able to switch off, checking e-mails and answering calls even when you’re not supposed to be working (a great case for using Nadine’s fabulous telephone answering service!) and so on but there are also a lot of benefits. I use time blocking a lot as a way of managing my time. I used to have a traditional ‘to do list’ on a spreadsheet which I still have but I found that there was no easy way to see how long each task would take. “Ring up and book networking event” sat alongside “Devise strategic plan for client XYZ” – one task a simple 2 minute job, the other a good couple of days work not to mention requiring a few days thought process before fingers even hit keyboard! It’s really difficult to plan your time that way and that’s when I was introduced to the idea of time blocking.

Time blocking allows me to plan my week (month, quarter etc) by blocking out when I plan to work on each task and how long it’s likely to take me. This way I can see exactly how I think my week will pan out (I say ‘think’ – something always comes up in the meantime!) and I know what additional work I can take on and when.

Time blocking can work for anyone whether they work for themselves or a large organisation but the way you use it can be quite different. This is where it gets clever for us working mums! I always build in what I call ‘buffers’ to my days! By this I mean little half hour slots where I don’t put anything in. My day might look like this 9am – 10am Check e-mails and catch up with admin, 10am – 10.30am Buffer, 10.30 – 12.30pm Prepare proposal for ABC company, 12.30pm – 1.30pm Lunch, 1.30 – 3.00pm Work on campaign plan for Joe Bloggs Ltd, 3.00pm – 3.30pm Buffer, 3.30pm – 5.00pm Continue with campaign plan.

So what are the ‘buffers’ for then? Well that’s the clever part – the buffers I fill with the little jobs I can get on with through the day that save me time in the evening which I want to use to spend with my family. One day my buffers might be filled with washing – putting machine on, transferring clean clothes to dryer, putting next load on, folding clothes up etc. Another day I might use them to peel a few potatoes for tea, pop to the shops for milk, tidy the lounge, flick the duster round etc; all things that most people who work (note I didn’t stereotype and say ‘women’!) have to fit in when they get home.

Of course we all know don’t we mums that the working day rarely finishes at 5pm so the rest of my unwritten time blocker could well read 5pm Pick Grace up from nursery, 5.30pm Finish off tea, 6pm Eat, 6.30pm Bath time, 7pm Grace’s bedtime, 7.15pm possibly Another hour at the computer, 8.15pm Flake on the sofa and watch telly, 10pm Wake up dribbling on said sofa!!

Working for yourself from home gives you the flexibility to arrange your day around your own needs. I’m now 16 weeks pregnant but I had terrible sickness for the first 14 weeks and it was always worst around 11am so often what I would do is give myself a break and have a lie down for an hour at this time (another ‘buffer’) and just catch up with my work later in the afternoon when I was feeling a bit more human!

Like I said at the start of this blog it’s all about fitting in what you need to in the time you have to do it and discarding the things that just don’t matter and for me that includes ironing underwear and bedsheets and painting behind radiators!


Sarah Ainslie runs Sarah Ainslie Marketing offering creative marketing solutions to UK businesses

http://www.sarahainslie-marketing.co.uk

Happy ‘Twisting Time’ Month!

January 31, 2009

It’s official!  I’ve decided that February 2009 is Twisting Time Month.

What’s ‘Twisting Time’?

It’s a phrase that I made up because I like the sound of it.  I am a bit of a freak and for some strange reason I am ridiculously passionate about time management.  I love getting things done.  I love juggling a busy life.  I always have several projects on the go.  I love it when people say to me “Oh you’re just so organised!” but I also love it when I can give a hint or tip that might help make someone else’s life that bit easier.

I have all sorts of crazy ‘things’ that I do which I’m sure other people think are weird (I’ve been called both quirky and eccentric within the last month alone!) but these things help me to stay organised.  Whether it is wearing a lanyard round my neck with the car keys on or carrying a range of post it notes with me wherever I go (yes – seriously!)

So how can you get involved with Twisting Time?!!

If you think that tips, stories and observations on time management are something that you might like to know more about (written in a non techy, entertaining, and positive way of course!), then I’d be obliged if you could fill in my survey and give me your views.

I am currently working on the Time Management Blog with an awesome blog designer and I am writing the strategy for this blog which will be relaunched with a new URL very soon (I’ll keep you in the loop).  I’ll give you a link to this fantastic blog designer as soon as she has handed over my site but not before as I want my work completed in the timescale I’m working to and if she gets inundated, it might push my launch date back!

So go to the survey, give me your opinions and I’ll have a fab new site for you with the content you love very soon.

How your baby can help you beat ‘ID fraud’!

January 29, 2009

I’ve discovered a great new tip!

When you open the post there is always some junk mail that you don’t want, but of course before you recycle it, you need to remove your printed name and address details as an identity fraud measure.  We all know this!

However I usually shred anything I’m disposing of with personal details on it, and my shredder is in my office (just across the driveway in our outbuilding).  I didn’t have time to go and get it as the baby had a ‘nappy situation’ to deal with, and when I opened the said nappy, I found that it wasn’t a harmless wee.  It was the stinkiest No2 you can imagine, but it gave me an idea…

I ripped up the personal details and rolled it into the nappy that was then put in the nappy bin with all the other stinky nappies.  No fraudster will ever go in there!  He’s 1 year old and already fighting crime!  Bless!

If you want to know creative tips on managing a busy life, just ask any working mum

Clear desk = a clear mind!

January 19, 2009

Have you ever found that when your desk is messy, you cannot get anything done?  You procrastinate and drag your feet, shuffling bits of paper from one side of the desk to the other!  It’s a common problem – the clutter on your desk really does act as a barrier to getting on with things because it simply reminds you of everything else you still have to do, but fortunately there is a way to get your desk clear without losing information or missing an important deadline.

I’ve run my own business for 4 years, been a mum for 6 years and worked in an office before that for more than a decade.  All of these roles involved being super organised and the one ‘paperwork system’ that I have brought with me through all of these years is my beloved concertina file!

The humble concertina file is largely underused in my opinion, but it is a fantastic way of organising yourself so that you accomplish more, meet your deadlines and avoid overwhelm!  It is a stiff board backed file with 31 individual slots inside – all numbered, and this is for the days of the month.  How you use the file is to open your days post and if it is not something that can be filed or actioned immediately, then choose a day when you will be able to manage the task and file the paper into that days’ date.

If you have a meeting with someone and need certain notes for that meeting, you can file these into the concertina pocket for that date so you don’t forget to take them with you.  If you have entered a competition and want to keep track of the closing date so you know when you might hear if you’ve won, you can file the competition entry form or flyer into the relevant date so the paper is not sitting on your desk until then, draining your energy and adding to the clutter.

I use my concertina file for both business and home.  If I have a domestic bill that needs paying by a certain date, I will not leave it out on my desk so it can distract me, I will file it in the date when I will choose to pay it.  This also means that the money stays in my bank for as long as possible, so I get the bank interest rather than the company who invoiced me!

The key is to have the discipline to check the file every day for ‘todays tasks’ but this should quickly become a habit then it becomes part of your ongoing routine.  If you find that you miss deadlines, cannot find a clear space to work or feel that you don’t have a clear head, this is a great way to ‘download’ your thoughts and get the physical paper drains off your radar whilst you put yourself 100% into something else.

Try it!  You will find that you feel lighter, your office or workspace is neater and no-one can inadvertently glance at a confidential document because it’s all neatly filed away!  I have shared this trick with several of my business clients and they love it.  It is a mechanism that yields instant results!

If you want to know anything about time management, just ask any busy working mum!

Getting organised the stress free way! – Everyday essentials.

January 3, 2009

You’ve probably heard of the saying, “Don’t be busy. be effective”.  It’s something that is said in countless self help books, management guides and magazine articles and the actual meaning derives from ‘Pareto’s Principle’ – commonly known as the “80:20 rule”.

This universal law states that 80% of the output comes from 20% of the input.  Or 80% of a company’s profits come from 20% of their client base.  Flip it on its head and 20% of a company’s clients create 80% of their problems!  This 80:20 rule can be applied in practically any circumstance (I bet 80% of the time you only wear 20% of your wardrobe – I know I do!)  So the key is not to do more to accomplish more, it is to do less to accomplish more, and be selective about the tasks that you do.

People everywhere are caught up in a ‘hurry habit’.  They are addicted to urgency and think that if they can just rush around and get their ‘To Do’ list done, that they will then be able to relax – but guess what?!  it NEVER gets done!  There are always daily routine tasks that need to be completed plus the items on your ‘To Do’ list plus new things that your partner or kids or friends ask of you.  There will always be stuff ‘To Do’.  The trick is to do the small essentials with as little fuss as possible, take your bigger projects on a ‘little and often’ basis and decide which non productive, boring or cumbersome projects to say “No” to.

This is such a huge subject area, let’s look at ‘everyday essentials’ here.  These are tasks that need to be done on a daily basis and otherwise routine errands.  A daily task would be eating.  When there is just yourself to think about this undertaking can be done without too much planned effort, but what if you are responsible for ensuring that you eat and your children eat, plus your partner?  A bit more planning has to go into that – you need to ensure there is enough food in the house, that everyone likes the choice on offer, you need to think about cooking times and get everything progressing to the same end time.  This is just one daily task that takes up some time to complete each day, but it is essential.  The other things that you are doing to fill your time may not be as essential, so you should either ditch them altogether or do them more effectively.

For a routine task that can be done more effectively, I have a good example from Christmas which was just 10 days ago.  Birthdays as we all know, come once a year and there are certain people in our lives whom we would always get a card for.  It is so easy when we are living our busy lives to forget a friend’s birthday or to have to rush out to buy a card and catch the post at the last minute, so to help me remain stress free all year round when it comes to birthdays, I stockpile blank greetings cards, birthday cards suitable for women, cards suitable for men, children’s cards and some ‘Thank you’ cards, so that whatever the occasion, I can get a card to the recipient in plenty of time.

My recent plight was on the night of December 23rd and fortunately my stockpile came to the rescue, but it was my daughter’s 6th birthday on Christmas Eve.  This makes the Christmas period particularly busy in our house because in addition to the usual family and friends gift buying and card sending and cooking the Christmas dinner to organise, we also have to ensure that our daughter has her separate birthday presents and cards and host a party with her friends.  To add to the fun (and it is fun really) but my Sister in Law and best friend also have Christmas Eve birthdays, so we have three lots of birthday gifts to sort and ensure they each get a Christmas present too.  (NB: When I say “we”, I really mean “I” because like a lot of mums, Christmas and birthday celebration planning falls to me!)

As you can appreciate, Christmas can be stressful anyway.  It’s not the day itself really, but the thought of forgetting something or missing something important that makes it so.  With the stores being closed on the 25th, frenzied shoppers often panic purchase before the day to ensure that they don’t run out of, or forget anything that they may need.  This is why I still have squirty cream in my fridge that didn’t get used at all!  My friend got some so she could do hot chocolate drinks with cream on top and it sounded so nice that I got some cream too, but it remained just a nice idea and no-one went for it.  However I would have kicked myself if someone had wanted a hot chocolate with cream and I couldn’t deliver!

But this anecdote points out the scale of pre planning that has to go into Christmas, and how easy it can be to miss something.  I nearly did!  With all my planning for my daughter’s party, ensuring she got the Nintendo DS she wanted (in pink!) before the shops sold out and getting her Christmas gifts wrapped and put away in advance, plus items for everyone else, I overlooked the fact of her birthday card!  I only realised I had not got her one on 23rd December late at night after the kids were in bed and I was getting the next days’ birthday gifts ready.

A card is such a little thing and so easy to miss, but would be so noticeable if we didn’t give her one, so thankfully I was able to go to my stockpile and choose a card for a girl and write it that night.  It wasn’t ideal – I usually prefer to get my children cards with their ages on the front – special cards, rather than the generic ‘Happy birthday’ cards you give to everyone else.  It’s important to children when they get a lovely, more personal card.  But a girly generic card was better than nothing and she didn’t mind that it didn’t have the number on!

It did give me a plan though – I have now been to the supermarket and purchased cards for her 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th birthday, so this won’t happen again!  Pre buying does remove the stress out of last minute realisations and now I know we won’t have this issue again next year!  It never seems to happen with anyone else’s birthday – just hers.  I had a similar event last year that caused me to stop and think but I realised I hadn’t bought her a card on about the 20th of the month so I still had time.  My son has his birthday in August but then there is only him to concentrate on.  In December there is so much to think about already, and all the birthdays that month mean that I have to be even more organised.  It is simply a matter of having too much to remember and not enough space!  So now I have the age bearing cards sorted, I am even more relaxed!!

Take it from me, if you regularly find yourself dashing to the shops to get a last minute birthday card or engagement announcement card or similar, just buy a few in advance and hide them in a drawer – I promise you they are worth their weight in gold!  Just remember to re-stock when you have used a couple!

If you want tips on managing a busy life, just ask the Time Management Mum!