Archive for the ‘Life Management’ Category

Whatcha got in the bag?!

March 16, 2009

I love colour – colourful clothes, colourful home products, colourful food (I like a nice bit of green on the plate! – but not mould! LOL)

The only thing colourful that I’m not wild about is colourful make up and colourful language!

My dad bought me some new mugs a few weeks ago – here is my Jelly bean mug:


These are my daughter’s sweets that I’ve nicked to eat and you can also see my ‘Busy Book’.  This is my personal organiser that I designed and now sell to other women who like a bit of colour!  You can see more about those here.

I like colour in my accessories too so I’m currently using a fab pink leather studded bag for my day to day use:


Do you remember that Will Smith film- “Enemy of the State”?

There was a scene in it where the ‘baddies’ could guess what was in his bag as it changed shape when they looked at it from different camera angles.  So let’s have some fun!  What could be in my bag?  No prizes available this time, just the kudos of being right!!

Clue: there are 11 items….

All fun responses welcome!…


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…


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?….

….. And the winner is…..

February 27, 2009

Terry Anne!

Terry Anne’s “Me Time” was inspired – it consisted of bubbles, massages and music! Absolute bliss!!

If you missed it, here was Terry Anne’s post:

“My me time has all year round availability. I venture out of the door into the garden and indulge in the 102degrees warmth of the hot tub.

I can relax quietly, listen to the CD player or have a massage with the various water jets.

The added bonus for me is that when in or around water I become very creative, so I often have “light bulb” moments and come up with great new ideas for my business.

Twenty minutes indulgence and I feel like I have had a weeks holiday and ready to face the world again. Bliss!!!”

Terry Anne wins a fabulous ‘Busy Book’ – a fashion led loose leaf planner to diarise her busy life!  It’s on its way Terry Anne – well done!

Ladies, I loved all of your ideas (except perhaps the Sudoku on the toilet – sorry Sam but it reminded me of my hubby who takes the paper to the loo and it drives me mad!!)    🙂

However if you really wanted your own exclusive Busy Book, you can still get one for £39.99 here.

Keep reading Time Management Mum because in the coming weeks I’m re-launching with a fantastic new blog design and will have some great Guest Bloggers, special features for busy mums and more competitions!  Watch this space!

I’m having the whole weekend as ‘Me’ Time now because I’ve just handed my book over to the publishers and this will be my first weekend off in months!  I’m also going to see the Live X Factor show with my daughter tomorrow!!!  Catch you later hot mamas!

Nadine – the Time Management Mum


How to bribe – ahem – ‘Incentivise’ the kids!

February 27, 2009

As any ‘business mum’ knows, when you have babies you get to learn lots of new skills that don’t involve your brain (like learning how to erect a Travel System – this used to vex me!)  So when you can use some of your savvy business skills when it comes to your kids, it’s like the ‘Supergirl’ putting on her cape!  You can rediscover your “don’t mess with me” side and remind yourself that ‘pre-kids’ you did lead a team of people, or juggled multiple ‘kick ass’ projects or just that you used to actually have business cards with your name on them!

My 6 year old has now moved into the discipline territory of ‘good girl charts’ with stickers rewarded for effort but my 18 month old is coming up to the stage where I can use the “Lucky Treat Box” to teach him that good behaviour will get him a ‘dip’ into the box for a new toy!  The “Lucky Treat Box” was named by my daughter.  I called it a ‘lucky dip’, my hubby called it a ‘treat’, so my daughter christened it a “Lucky Treat”!  But essentially what it consists of is a large wicker basket that I keep in the cupboard with the ‘Happy Meal’ toys from McDonalds in it!  I’m sure some of my friends think I’m tight, but I believe a trip to McDonalds is a treat enough, without getting a toy for it too.  So when we go there, I confiscate the toy from the Happy Meal box and put it straight into the Lucky Treat Box so it can be used to ‘incentivise’ good behaviour later on.

Whenever I need to get my child to ‘make the right decision’ concerning their behaviour, I remind them that they can have a dip in the Lucky Treat Box which seems to work more often than not!  The Lucky Treat Box hasn’t cost me anything to procure as we’d have been eating the Happy Meal anyway, and it is always greeted with excitement when it comes out – as the toys which they’ve glanced at then forgotten, are tantalisingly still encased in their new cellophane packing and are ready to be picked!  Not only is it a good behaviour incentiviser, the Lucky Treat Box is also useful for making up ‘party bags’ at birthday time and for if a little friend comes round for tea it makes a sweet ‘going home’ present for them to have a dip.

The only trouble with it is that stock needs to be kept up which isn’t so good for the waistline(!) but I started the box when my girl was 18 months old and she got the occasional trip to McDonalds as a treat and at that age, she had no idea that you also got a toy with the meal so she never knew that I was secretly building up a ‘bribery stash’ over time!

I have to say, if I ever pop to Maccy D’s just for me, for an ‘on the go lunch’, I never get a proper ‘adult’ meal.  I get a Happy Meal so I can put the toy in the stash.  Good thing my back seat car windows are blacked out so it isn’t really obvious that there’s no child with me!!

Has anyone else found a useful method of incentivising good behaviour?

The plumbing – puh-lease!

February 25, 2009

What a week is all I can say!

We’ve had pathetic plumbing in our house for the last few years – absolutely no ‘power’ in our shower!  But this week has got to be the worst.  On a world stage we’ve had the Oscars and as an ex fashion student, I tend to take an interest.  I watch more what they are wearing rather than who wins what but I have to say, it’s quite fitting that ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ did so well because it felt like we were living in the slums yesterday without clean running water!

My husband decided on Monday that he would drain the whole system to force all the air in the pipes out, then re-fill the house again which should improve our water pressure.  We get cold water ok so are having plenty of cold showers, and when we bathe the kids, it takes ages as we’re boiling kettles to get the warmth, I don’t mind this too much, it reminds me of my youth when my mum did this on occasion as we didn’t always have ‘the immersion’ on.  But my hubby had decided enough was enough, so instead of plentiful cold running water, instead he ended up draining the tank, leaking our son’s bedroom and having to buy a new valve instead!

I got the kids up yesterday morning and nothing was coming out of the tap.  At a push, the toddler can have a ‘wet wipe’ clean for just one day, but our daughter had school and I had a business meeting, and we both looked as though we’d been sleeping in the mosh pit!

I got the kids up and took them to Grandma’s in their pyjamas.  They both had a lovely bath and my daughter was clean and well turned out for school.  I on the other hand, looked like I’d been at Glastonbury for 3 days so I had to get in at the hairdressers for a blow dry (with the straighteners!) At least I looked glam when I was at my business meeting!  The kids enjoyed bathing at Grandma’s for a change and I was so grateful to her for both the help and for not judging me when I rolled up in my scruffs with the kids in their PJs at 7.30am yesterday morning!

With Mother’s Day coming up I wanted to spare a thought to our mums, who do the very best job in the world, just as we are doing for our kids.  I have to tell you an incredible story though.  As I’ve mentioned before, my blog is being re-designed with a fresh new look and I’m moving blogging platforms very soon.  My awesome designer is April Durham, and she writes the blog April Showers.  She has just posted an amazing story about her mum – you can read it here.  If you feel you can help in any way then please do!  I have paid in advance for my blog design and given a donation and I’m pretty sure that I will use April’s talents again in the future, as I have another project brewing (once a business mum, always a business mum!!)

The newsflash on the plumbing fiasco is that it didn’t work, so we’re back to square one except that I have a ton more washing to do because hubby used my decent towels to mop up the leak on the floor, instead of old rags.  Genius!  I can’t be mad though as it’s his birthday today and we’re off to Nando’s.

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



  • 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

Time Management Mum’s Guide to Credit Crunch Chic!

February 9, 2009

In our current economy, I like many others have been trying to be prudent, but I think I took it a bit far this evening!

I was getting the kids bathed for bed and whilst getting naked myself to shower and change, my husband commented on what I can only describe as a forest in the nether regions!  I told him that I’ve been economising by using the Veet hot wax from Boots – it costs just £7 a jar compared to a bikini wax which is about £6 for just one time, and I though he’d be pleased… he wasn’t impressed!

I can do my underarms ok with the home waxing kit – I just cannot inflict the pain ‘down there’ to myself!  So consequently the lower half looks untamed.  Oh the shame!  He said he’d give me the money to call Casey at Get Gorgeous and get booked in – tomorrow!  I had to laugh – bless him.  So I’m calling Casey tomorrow to get her to work her magic and once again I’ll be as neat and tidy as usual.  Isn’t it funny what they notice – you can have eyebrows growing down your face and they don’t see it but there?! haha

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! 😉

Competition!! Gimme your ‘Me’ Time!!

February 5, 2009

Being a juggling, business owning mum (and wife, and trying to be a domestic goddess but not doing so good at that as my cream carpets need a good shampoo – but let’s not go there girlfriend!)

Well, as I was saying, a busy mum like me needs all the ‘me’ time she can get – and so do you!

Today at the school gates another mum made me laugh as tomorrow is Friday – this means ‘Family Learning’ at our school.  I don’t know if every primary school does this but Family Learning is where you go in with the child and stay for approx 45 minutes into the lesson to observe the class and see what the kids are learning.  Parent’s don’t have to go but if they can, the kids love having ‘mum’ or ‘dad’ there and any toddlers or babies that are with ‘mum’ that day are also in the classroom so the kids all find it fun!

Family Learning is great for the kids but can be a drag for some of the parents, because they can’t always make it because of work then they feel bad as their child lays a guilt trip on them, so whenever Family Learning is cancelled – a lot of the parents’ are secretly pleased!:)

Well as it is Family Learning tomorrow, Ive promised my 6 year old I will be there.  One of the other mums has her first Friday off work in months and said how she was looking forward to it, so when another mum reminded her it was Family Learning tomorrow, her face fell and she said she was going to tell her son that she had to work!!  We all laughed – I’m sure she probably will come tomorrow, but sometimes a busy mum has to be creative with getting her ‘me time’.


I want to hear about your ways of getting some ‘me time’ for yourselves in your busy lives.  Don’t worry – the blokes and kids don’t read this blog so no-one will ever find out!  But tell me what is the most creative way you have ever found to carve out some time….

To make it fun, I am offering a prize to (what I think is the) best or funniest tip!  The winner will receive a Dream PA ‘Busy Book’.  This is a loose leaf personal organiser with a year 2009 week to view diary insert, in a stunning red colour!  The front cover features the kitsch ‘Dream PA’ girl logo embossed into it and it was designed for the stylish modern busy woman to plan her life!  The Busy Book retails at £39.99 and you can read a little more here.  I will be getting photos of this organiser but not until mid Feb so until then you’ll have to make do with a ‘cartoon’ image!

If you want to be in with a chance of winning, simply submit a comment to this post including your first name, your tip or story and your email address so I can contact you if you win!  If you’d prefer to keep your email confidential, then PM me at telling me your tip but if you do this you still need to comment on the blog!  The idea is to share the tips and stories around!!

The competition closes on Friday 27th February at 0900 and I will select the winning story and post the results by 1700 – Good luck!

PS) If you can’t wait that long and want to buy one of these fabulous personal organisers (I use one myself every single day – it goes everywhere with me!) then you can click here and purchase one directly.  That’s an idea – with it being red, it could make a great Valentines Day present!  You’ll have to tell the fella!

PS) Any mums can share their stories but for the purpose of the competition, it’s UK entries only.  I’m not Rockefeller!!

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