Archive for the ‘Juggling’ Category

It’s just another Manic Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday…..

March 6, 2009

If you are a mum in her 30’s like me you are bound to recognise the song referred to in the title!  I used to love The Bangles!  It has been a very manic week this week!  Have a look at my diary from yesterday!my-diary-050309It looks scruffy but this was all things ‘to do’ and once I’d done the job I had to scribble the task out so it didn’t distract me!

Have a look at today and tomorrow…

my-diary-060309

I hope I haven’t got a record of my period written on here or any embarrassing confessions!

Anyway, this week has been really stacked and I’ve got loads of great blog content from the week – I just need time to blog about it!

Tomorrow (Saturday) I’m out all day at a womens event – it is work (research) but it should be fun too!  I really want a day off on Sunday – just a lie in and a read of the papers in bed – let’s see if I get it!

What will make your ideal weekend?….

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A woman’s guide to surviving the recession

March 3, 2009

I love strong women – I think we rule the world, but in a gentle, unassuming way.

One of my favourite quotes is by Eleanor Roosevelt: “A woman is like a tea bag- you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water.”

So today I found a blog post by another strong woman – and I wanted to share it with you.  Penny Power is one of the founders of a business networking website which I’m a member of and this blog post of hers shows the hard work, tenacity and resourcefulness that goes into being a women in business.  I hope you enjoy it, I did!  http://www.pennypower.co.uk/?page_id=69

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

How to juggle without dropping the baby!

February 17, 2009

Busy mums everywhere know the juggling act that is working and keeping a home whilst raising a small family.  Fortunately at the Time Management Mum blog, my Guest Bloggers and I are (hopefully!) providing some great time management tips and observations, embedded in some humour and at the very least, provide you with some affinity!  (Did you read my blog post about the eyebrows and the bikini wax?)

So this post from America made me smile.  Well, actually before I smiled I sat up straighter and felt I was being told off – and I never even have the TV on!

Modern business mums have enough to do, and this writer says that we are maybe spending too much time on personal calls or personal errands in ‘work time’.  However as you ‘Mumpreneurs’ know, work time is personal time and personal time is work time.  Look at Guest Blogger Sarah Ainslie’s recent post – her title has it spot on!  For a lot of us, we became business mums so we’d have some flexibility over our schedule so technically, whilst it may be between the hours of 9am and 5pm, I might nip to the supermarket or put a wash load on.  Otherwise, it won’t get done!

So what advice can business mums out there take, which recognises their actual real life circumstances?  here’s the lowdown on how to juggle without dropping the baby!

  • MOST IMPORTANT: First, take care of you.  You are the kingpin upon which the whole family revolves.  If you don’t do a lot of the tasks, they usually won’t get done.  Be sure to allocate some ‘me’ time into your day
  • Multitask like crazy!  When you are doing a ‘mindless’ task like sorting the washing or cooking dinner, use that time to engage your brain too by having a conversation with the kids and catching up on their day.  Do only one thing at a time when it is essential that you are focused.  If the task you are doing is not rocket science, then do several ‘easy’ tasks at the same time
  • When you are sitting down to your work, minimise distractions.  Divert your telephone to a Virtual Receptionist, check the emails only once or twice and make sure your desk or work area is clear of everything that you don’t immediately need.  Clutter just drains you.
  • Don’t put off any large projects thinking that you’ll clear the smaller stuff then get round to it.  That’s just procrastination!  Start the big task, allocate an hour to it then see if you want to continue.  Often ‘little and often’ is the only way to get something big done.
  • If you do have a big task that you could become engrossed in and you need to pick the kids up at a certain time or put the jacket potatoes on for dinner, set an alarm to go off at the time you need to set off or put the oven on.  This way you can immerse yourself in the task without worrying that you’ll forget the thing you have to do.  Having an alarm on my mobile phone has helped me get out of lots of situations where I’m stuck at a place where it seems impolite to just leave, so the reminder to pick the kids up is a great audible way to let others know I have to go!
  • Batch tasks together to do ‘similar’ activities in one go, such as returning phone calls.  Or if you have to go out to pick something up, try to knock two or three errands off your ‘To do’ list whilst you are out.  To help with this, I tend to keep a list in my personal organiser which is of things I need to do but don’t (yet) have a deadline, such as drop dry cleaning, go to Staples and pick up a new ringbinder or get nappies at Costco! (I buy in bulk – it’s cheaper and saves time, there’s another tip right there!)  By batching up my tasks I can eliminate as much ‘dead time’ and ensure I don’t repeat my actions just a few days later!

So working mums, are you just watching the telly?! …And even if you are, don’t beat yourself up about it!  A bit of Jeremy Kyle first thing on a morning never hurt anyone!

Sledging tips the work/life balance!

February 11, 2009

The fabulous thing about our recent snowfall has been that my work/life balance has swung completely in favour of the ‘life’ side! As a mum with two small children and with another on the way (Barnaby 6, Maisy 5 and ‘Lumpy’ (as the kids are calling the bump)) I have been on constant sledging duty, although at times I think that it has been me dragging the kids onto the hillside!

The beauty of the situation has been that whilst I have been out careering down the hill on makeshift sledges, my ‘Tots’ team have been able to work from home and keep the show on the road. Some things do work according to the grand plan!

Of course this is not the normal course of events for me. I run www.totstotravel.co.uk which keeps me super-duperly busy.  In the past I have found it hard to know when to stop working and there is no doubt that my business could take over my life completely if I allowed it to. So I have come up with some ‘rules’ which I try to be really strict about. These are aimed at allowing me to be a good mum, a loving wife and to run a successful business.

I don’t always get it right and of course there are times in the year when I do have to ‘break’ my rules (January and February for example are our busiest months in terms of bookings) but the rules are a good starting point…so here they are:

  1. Absolutely NO work on Friday evenings (a bottle of decent red wine and a bag of Kettle Chips are a must, less red wine at the moment and more Kettle Chips to compensate) This is time for my husband and I. No work on Sundays either – this is ring fenced family time.
  2. Time with the kids is sacrosanct – if I am with the kids then I turn my emails and Blackberry off so that I can concentrate on them properly.  I find the time between school finishing and 7pm quite stressful so I try not to make calls or answer emails in this time
  3. Equally time my time at work is just that – not time to put another load of washing in the machine
  4. We take at least one week of holiday without the computer being part of the packing – I am working at increasing this!
  5. No working after 9pm at night and absolutely no sneaky peaks at the enquiries after this time (my husband can’t manage this rule). If I work after 9pm I do not sleep well
  6. I try to do 20 minutes of yoga after dropping the children off at school and before I venture to the office. This gives me time to clear my head, stretch out my back before taking on the challenges of the travel business!
  7. I have learnt to say ‘no’ to things that in the past I would have probably have agreed to do
  8. I try to limit the amount of travelling about that I do. We live in the same village as the children’s school (the children have great scooters to speed up this process even more!), I am heavily reliant on my online shopping delivery and our office is in our garden – this has really cut down on wasting time travelling leaving more time for the important things in life…

Now back to the sledging!

PS. I will let you know how I get on with my rules once the baby is born in September…they may well go down the hill with the sledge!

Guest Blogger Wendy Shand runs family friendly holiday company Tots to Travel http://www.totstotravel.co.uk


Time Management from a man’s perspective!

February 7, 2009

This web post made me smile!

It could only be a man’s perspective… The key to time management is ….. to get better at what you do!!!

How funny.  We are already the best at what we do babes!  It’s just that sometimes there aren’t enough hours in the day, no matter how organised we are!!!  Without being sexist here, I have to say that it’s biological – men are linear.  They are very focused, will do one task at at time until it is complete and really lets face it, aren’t as adept at multi-tasking as us women.  In Tim Ferris’ s book The 4 Hour Work Week, his advice about Time Management is “Don’t do it!”

Whereas women are all encompassing.  We can hold a conference call whilst roasting a chicken and bouncing the baby on our hip, texting our BFF and putting on mascara!  I swear, I actually did this once – nowadays I’d leave the texting until after because anything that requires brainpower should be done separately and the client conference call is more deadline specific.  What I call ‘mindless tasks’ can be done in their many at the same time.

My husband is generally fantastic but on occasion I have to wonder about his observational skills.  He just doesn’t seem to notice the pile of stuff on the stairs that needs to go up – he’ll walk right past it.  Or when he boils the kettle for a cuppa, he can do that and read his paper at the same time, but when I boil a kettle the few minutes that takes are spent loading / unloading the dishwasher, putting on a washload, sorting the drying and listening to the 6 year old’s reading for school.  Not a second of time is wasted – every minute being productive, and this is the same for the majority of women I know.

So never mind getting better – we’re already the best!  The real secret to time management? …….become a woman! 😉

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