Category Archives: - Managing Time

10 Tasks to Do Today That’ll Save You Money and Stress!

Is your To-Do list getting out of hand? Do you want to save money and avoid stress? Then why not have a ‘Power Day’? Write down your ten most hated tasks, set aside half a day, or even just a couple of hours – AND GET THEM DONE!

Today is going to be my ‘Power Day’. Here is a list of the 10 things I’m going to tackle and why getting them done will save me money, time and stress:

1. Tax Return: It has got to be No. 1 on my list of horrors! I have to dig out my list of log-ins for the HMRC website, find all those dull bits of paper that I’ve (hopefully) shoved in the creaking at the seams ‘tax’ folder and scrabble around for dog-eared receipts. It is not a job that can be done in two minutes but if distractions are kept to a minimum and I have all the bits of paper ready it’s not actually that bad. And I will feel so virtuous in January when I hear Moira Stewart reminding all the other not so organised self-employed that they need to get their form in pronto! I also will save myself the automatic £100 penalty for a late return…

2. Insurance Renewals: House insurance, car insurance, life insurance, health insurance, travel insurance, professional indemnity insurance…there is quite a list! However with each insurance there is the potential to save yourself a bit of money if you just take a few minutes to double check that you’re still getting the best deal. Obviously not all your insurances will come up for renewal at the same time but take a moment now to check renewal dates and put a note on your calendar to remind yourself to check a couple of weeks before each expires.

3. Utilities: I have to admit that I haven’t checked whether I’m getting the best deal on our electric and gas since we moved in here….six years ago! But that’s why I’m having my ‘Power Day’! Take a moment to check all the utilities: water, gas, electricity, oil etc. Are you getting the best deal – it doesn’t take a minute to check online. Would it save you money long term to invest in a different sort of energy e.g. solar panels? Would you save money on purchasing heating oil if you became part of a local buying group?

4. Mortgage: go on, be brave, take a look at your mortgage statement! It seems to be one of those conundrums of life that even though most of the money we earn goes straight to the mortgage company, the outstanding balance never changes very much! But again, you could be saving money if you switch to another provider. Go online now and check you’re still getting the best deal. Switching your mortgage today might not be as tricky as you think and could save you a lot of money.

5. Car: once a year I go into a mad panic and realise that my MOT is going to expire tomorrow and I haven’t booked the car in! Then afterwards I vow never to get in such a situation again and to schedule the date into my calendar so that I can book in well in advance…. So today’s that day that I’m going to sort all that out too! I’m going to get out my ‘Car’ folder and schedule in to my calendar the MOT date, servicing dates, breakdown cover renewal date, tax disc renewal date etc.

Don’t push your luck – make sure your breakdown cover is in date!

6. Phone/Broadband/TV/Mobile: again easy to compare online and it could save you a lot of money. So get your contracts out or login online and check you’re getting the best deal. If you get satellite TV it might be worth looking to see if combining with your broadband or phone could save you money. If contracts aren’t up for renewal then make sure you make a note on your calendar to check at the relevant time.

7. Dentist: even if you are lucky enough to find an NHS dentist, visiting twice a year for a check-up, scale and polish might not seem very expensive at the time but it soon adds up. Also are you covered if you need some major work done? Unfortunately as we get older the likelihood of this increases. Your dentist might offer some kind of direct debit scheme to cover the costs of two visits a year. Give them a ring now and see if you can get a better deal.

8. Bank Accounts and Savings: not many of us have savings accounts these days as we’re too busy trying to pay off the mortgage (see no.4 above) but in an ideal world we’d all have the oft-quoted 3 month’s salary in an account somewhere in case of emergency. So we need to make sure what little we have in the bank is working as hard as possible for us. Get your statements out now, check the interest rates on your accounts. If they’re not good enough, switch them.

9. Passports: this isn’t going to save you money but it is certainly going to save you stress! Get your family’s passports out now and check the expiry dates. You can apply for a new passport up to nine months before it expires and the remaining validity will be added to your new passport so you won’t lose out.

10. Credit/Store Cards: is your wallet full of cards you don’t use? Then now is the time to cut them up and cancel the account with the provider. Are you getting the best deal on the cards you do use? If you always pay your balance on time there are a fantastic range of benefits to be had, from cashback to free flights. If you need credit then make sure you’re getting the best rate. Switching is not difficult and will save you in the long term.

So what are you waiting for? Schedule in your ‘Power Day’ and see how much money, stress and time you can save!

 

Do You Wish You Had More Hours In The Day?

My friend and colleague Grace Marshall is launching her book today – 21 Ways to Manage the Stuff That Sucks Up Your Time.

Let’s face it, we all have the same 24 hours in the day, but sometimes ‘stuff’ takes over – little stuff (like email) and the big stuff (perfectionism-driven procrastination) – and we’re not as productive as we’d like to be.

This brilliant little book will help you to manage the ‘stuff’ that sucks up your time, so that you can gain more time for the things that really matter in your life.

Here are just some of the things people are already saying about it:

“brilliant insights, cleverly detailed in this easy to read, enjoyable book!”
—Debi Williams, author of The Greatest Leaders Do the Least

“an incredibly valuable resource for any small business owner”
—Julie Hall, Women Unlimited and LifestyleEntrepreneur.com

“packed full of useful advice, passionate, engaging and thought-provoking”
—Graham Allcott, author of How to be a Productivity Ninja

“truly a book for busy people, I defy anyone to finish reading it and not emerge with at least one fantastic time tip that will make them feel more productive.”
—Amanda Alexander, CoachingMums.com

For just $5.97 / £3.97 the book itself is already a steal.

What’s more, when you buy the book today, you can also grab your launch day goody bag, with bonus timesaving tools, business guides, expert ebooks and time out treats.

Get the book on Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk
Then pick up your bonuses today only click here

Happy reading!

Best wishes

Motivating Mum and Mums the Boss – bringing two great mums networking groups together

I’ve been sitting on this news for over a month already, and I’m so glad that finally I can share it with you all.  I have agreed to take over at the head of Mum’s The Boss, a networking group and blog very similar to Motivating Mum, as Sam and Helen have decided to move on to  other projects.

I’m so looking forward to taking this on, and to sharing the best bits of each group with the readers from both.  Look out for more posts on exactly what this means in the next few weeks, but for now, I’ll just leave you with the official press release on the Mums the Boss blog

Meet the new owner of Mum’s The Boss – Debbie O’Connor

My vision is to take two very successful mums networking organisations, and knit them together into a big amazing family, providing huge support to entrepreneurs, mums in business and anybody who has a dream of working from home.

Please wish me luck as I take on this giant project, and I look forward to seeing you all online, and meeting many more of you in person very soon

Ferry or Plane? What is the best way to travel abroad with children?

Those of you who have taken foreign holidays this year will probably have wrestled with this conundrum.  When you are travelling with children is it easier to travel by ferry or by plane?  Of course, if your holiday was to anywhere further than the nearer countries of Europe then there is no contest – nobody tries to go to Florida by ferry after all.  But if like us you were heading to a holiday park in Brittany, then you have to ask which way is best? Continue reading

Make More Time! Part 1

The school holidays are looming and I am trying to get organised!  There is so much to do: work, end of term activities, housework, packing for holidays…the list is endless!  Towards the end of term I do put pressure on myself to try to get everything done before the holidays start….but obviously this just isn’t possible.

In an ideal world I’d like to minimise the time I spend during the holidays doing household chores and maximise the time I can spend playing with the children and making the summer memorable for them.  As I need to work in the evenings instead during the holidays, I can’t postpone housework for the evening – I just need to get as much as possible done in the daytime without it impacting on the day.

In order to achieve this goal I like there to be some sort of order in the house because there is no chance of any sort of order once the holidays have begun!  So I have taken advice from more organised friends and have picked up some tips and tricks to share with you that will hopefully save you a bit of time around the house and get your home shipshape for the hols!

In this first instalment I am going to focus on laundry….as that seems to take up a vast amount of time especially in this weather when it is very difficult to get things dry!

1. Put a dirty laundry bin in every bedroom: it can be as simple as a small plastic tub trug but if there is a laundry basket to hand your kids (and husband…) are more likely to put dirty clothes in it, saving you the hassle of rummaging around their rooms looking for washing!

 2. Invest in a smalls dryer: I couldn’t live without mine, it saves hours of pegging and unpegging! Pair up socks as they come out of the machine and hang them together. You can hang the dryer on the line outside and if it threatens to rain you just whip the whole thing in and hang inside, rather than having to unpeg each sock and rehang.

(A quick moneysaving tip: wash and reuse outdoor/gardening gloves and kitchen cloths).

3. Get an old-fashioned ceiling airer: will save you time, space and money.  This is another item I couldn’t live without.  I use it all year round.  No more hanging clothes over radiators or using floor airers that take up lots of room. Clothes dry quicker in the warm air at the top of the room saving on tumble drying.  It is also useful to dry fiddly items flat or to avoid peg marks on delicate clothing.  It’s also great for allowing smaller children to help with chores because when it’s lowered down they can easily reach to hang the washing for you – more time saved and children entertained!

4. Divide your airing cupboard: only sort clothes once. If space allows have baskets in the airing cupboard for each person in the household. Then once clothes have aired all you have to do is take each box to the right room (and in an ideal world everyone will put their own clothes away…!). My airing cupboard hasn’t quite got room for a basket for each person but you get the idea.

 

5. ‘Bundle’ your bedlinen: save time rummaging through the airing cupboard for matching sheets, pillowcases and duvet covers. Put the matching set inside a pillowcase for quick identification and retrieval:

Now even the children can identify which set is theirs – all you have to do now is get them to help you put it on the beds…

6. Create a ‘filing system’ in drawers for clean clothes:

Instead of piling clothes on top of each other which results in a huge mess when the children come to choosing the item at the bottom of the drawer, stack clothes behind eachother.  If you’re really organised you could put them in colour order…  This really does work – my kids clothes used to be constantly spilling out of the drawers and I was getting irate that the beautifully ironed t-shirts were ending up in a scrumpled heap.  Now they can just open their drawers and choose the clothes they want to wear. It even works for boys too..

7. Drawer dividers: related to the ‘filing’ system, are drawer dividers. Again from having pants and socks strewn all over the floor, my kids can now open their drawers and choose what they want without rummaging through…
As you can see, I just made the dividers using bits of cardboard so it didn’t cost anything either!

8. What to do with tights?: Mums of little girls will realise the need for various different coloured pairs of tights to suit every occasion! But how does that fit in the ‘filing system’?  Cunning plan no.8 – the tights hanger!

The right pair of tights immediately to hand without clogging up the chest of drawers!

So what are you waiting for – get your laundry organised and make more time for playing with the children and getting some work done!

What are your top tips for saving time around the house?

Next time we’ll look at some top tips for how to save time around the house AND entertain the kids!

 

 

 

 

Are You First Class Material?

Today I had a business meeting in Reading, about a 45 minute journey from my home town of Staines , on the train.  Thje meeting was scheduled to be 1-2 hours long, but with the journey time each way it would still take up most of my main working day (defined as the childrens school hours 9-3)

I decided that the best way for me to make this work was to bring along some work to do on the train, and make myself do it rather than just wasting the journey looking out of the window, as I am inclined to do. So I packed my trusty Ipad and protable keyboard, and set myself the task of writing several blog posts throughout the journey, including this one. Continue reading

Top 5 Time Management Tips for Juggle Mums

If you’re like most time pressed Mumpreneurs, you probably find that much of your time and focus is spent juggling day-to-day administrative and office management tasks (and your childrens’ social diary) rather than on actually growing your business.

Planning your day efficiently can really give you hours back, increase your productivity and help you leverage your time more effectively.

Here are my top 5 time management tips for time starved Mumpreneurs:

1. Set goals. Set yourself achievable daily, weekly, monthly and annual goals for your business and family life and stick to them. If they seem overwhelming break them down into manageable chunks and tackle them one step at a time.

2. Plan your day in advance. In the evening or the first 10 minutes of your current working day, plan your ‘to do’ list so that you can start your day with focus.  Batch similar tasks to be worked on together and add times to them so that you know precisely when you will work on them.

3. Use your calendar effectively. Block out time to work on specific projects and stick to these times. Schedule everything from phone calls to meetings to picking the kids up from school.  Never agree to calls or meetings with no clear agenda or end time.

4. Switch your phone to voicemail or divert it to your call minding service and use that time solely to clear the items out of your to-do pile.

5. Manage your email inbox effectively. Aim to clear your inbox. Once you have deleted unwanted mails either action or file the remainder immediately - you will find that your inbox is much less of an interruption and source of stress. If you regularly receive a lot of emails then allocate a couple of set times in the day to go through and action items.

Julia BurmanJulia Burman specialises in providing virtual business support, lifestyle management and coaching for mums in business.

For more information you can contact Julia directly at [email protected] or visit www.juliaburman.com

You can also follow her on Twitter and join her at Facebook

 

 

 

 

Success on Your Terms?

What does success mean to you? We all want to be successful, but success comes in many different shapes and forms. In this article, Antonia Chitty helps you ensure that you have success on your terms.

What sort of success do you want? Let’s start with financial success. Ask yourself, ‘Do I need …

  • Enough money to get us out of debt?
  • A business that brings in money for treats and holidays?
  • A business that could be our main family income?’ Continue reading

Mums in Business at Home – what a difference an hour makes

In an interview last year I was asked the question “If you could only work on your business for 1 hour a day what would you focus on to make it a success?”

That’s a great question and started me thinking about how important it is particularly for us mums to get the most out of the time when we’re working in and on our business, so here are some ideas and strategies to help.

A space to call your own – well for an hour or two! – being a mum in business and working from home means clear boundaries between business and family is important. I’m fortunate enough to have a separate space in my house and the physical boundary of a door can be important to avoid the distractions of for example house tasks (think ‘out of sight, out of mind’) allowing 100% focus on the business when I’m in that space. Dedicated space however isn’t possible for everyone in which case drawing up a schedule for use of the kitchen/dining room table and posting it up on the fridge for family members to see should help. You and they will know that the physical space is yours for the allotted time giving you also the mental space to focus on the work you need to get done.

Be realistic with time and tasks – trying to cram in a full revision of your business plan or update of your web site in an hour or so isn’t realistic for most of us so break the big tasks down in to smaller, achievable ones working towards the overall goal.  Many working from home mums with school age children will be working the ‘split-shift’ work system – you get the children to school, start work on the business, collect children from school (play, dinner, bed), then back to work on the business once they’ve gone to sleep (that’s the theory anyway!), sneaking in business calls, emails or anything else when you can.

This is a demanding schedule and it’s important to prioritise tasks according to when you’re most productive. For example if you’re a bit of a night owl and some of your best ideas ping in your mind later on, save the more creative tasks until after your children have gone to bed. Longer tasks such as business reviews will need blocks rather than snatches of time to work on so schedule those in when you know (all things being equal!) your time is less likely to be uninterrupted.

Make routine work – I know it sounds obvious but tasks such as checking emails and using social media lend themselves perfectly to a routine. Recent research says many people are starting to develop the FOMO (fear of missing out) complex in relation to social media in particular but the reality is if you’re running a business you can’t be on Twitter and Facebook all the time!  If you’re using Twitter for example schedule in the reading of timelines, postings and RTs twice a day. With email, decide on the frequency you want to check them and stick to it. If you are using ‘push’ notifications (posts/emails are pinged to your smartphone) set the phone to ‘silent’ so your work flow isn’t interrupted. If you’re that worried about ‘missing out’ on the latest news from your social media network it might be time to re-think how you’re using it.

Remember emotional boundaries – as well as the physical boundary of the kitchen table or separate room to work in, it’s worth remembering to set your ‘emotional’ boundaries too. By this I mean being clear in your head when you are ‘business woman’ and when you are ‘mum’. I try to schedule in at least 15-20 minutes before I do the school run to clear my head of business things and get back in to ‘parent mode’. Throughout the course of a day we switch from work to parent mode often without thinking about it, but taking a little time to think of ways to help you make that switch may help you be more ‘present’ both with your children and your business.

A change of plan doesn’t mean you’ve failed – whether you’ve had a call from the school to say your child is poorly or you’ve realised a piece of work you’ve taken on is taking longer than expected (it happens to all of us), try not to see a change to your work plan as failure. If you haven’t a partner to share the unexpected childcare situation the bottom line is your family comes first (see ‘Remember why you’re doing this’ below). If a client job is taking up way more time than you bargained for resulting in the re-scheduling of other tasks, try not to see this as a failure either. Take a moment to think about why it has happened, evaluate your strategies for how you calculate and cost out your time (that applies equally to service and product industries by the way) learn from it for next time, and move on.  I have had to learn over the last 5 years that it’s fine to be a ‘good enough’ Mum, and there’s no reason why this can’t be applied to your business as well.

Remember why you’re doing this – it’s easy to get caught up in the whirl of day-to-day business when the children are at school – fitting in client appointments, calls, making products, delivering services and much more. Being time limited makes us focus on the tasks in hand often at the exclusion of anything else (including eating!) and I know there are occasions when I’m sitting in the car waiting to pick up my son from school wishing I had ‘just another hour’ to work on the business. Having a family and running a business are not and never should be mutually exclusive in fact for many mums the freedom of being able to work around the children as opposed to the children around the work is a key factor in deciding to start a business in the first place giving flexibility to be around for children that employed work often doesn’t. For others being self-employed is just a way of life, it’s what we’ve always done long before the children came along. Whatever your reasons, remember that you’re the boss so when she says ”take a few hours out to see the class concert” listen and act!

Get yourself a coach or mentor – this is one of the best pieces of advice I can give anyone starting or running a business regardless of whether they are a Mum or not. Coaches can be helpful for working with you on confidence issues, business skills and attitudes, whereas mentors can help to bounce ideas around, progress specific business goals and of course to learn from their experiences.  Whether you choose a coach or a mentor, the main thing is to find someone you feel happy to work with and who will support you in achieving your goals and getting the best out of the time available. Time spent on mentoring or coaching is some of the best time you can spend and will benefit business and family. My mentor keeps me focused, challenges my thinking, and allows me space to share difficulties and frustrations as well as teaching me strategies to make better use of my time and maximising business opportunities when they arise.
So now, if you’re interested in my answer to the original question at the start of this guest blog you can read the full interview here but in a nutshell I said I would split my 60 minutes into three parts allocated to social media interaction, personal interaction (e.g. telephone calls) and focusing ‘on’ rather than ‘in’ the business looking at areas such as business plans, targets, exploring strategic partnership opportunities. Oh and a little bit of speed mentoring too. That’s an awful lot to pack into 60 minutes but is definitely achievable.

Now it’s my turn to ask you the question…“If you could only work on your business for 1 hour a day what would you focus on to make it a success?”

Lorraine Allman MD Speed Mentor CentralLorraine Allman is Managing Director of Speed Mentor Central® a company providing services and expertise to entrepreneurs and small businesses. She personally offers business mentoring and practical support to anyone thinking about starting or already running a business, and is an author at the number one ranked Small Business Blog  and one of the leaders of the micro-enterprise initiative Enterprise Rocks.

Lorraine is supporting Mummy Mentoring Month by offering two 30 minute mentoring sessions and a two-hour practical support session for one lucky person. You can follow her on Twitter @beindemand

This blog is part of my Mummy Mentoring Month series – support and advice for you and your business from a different guest blogger, each day throughout March. Follow the link to see how we are raising money for charity with this initiative.

 If you like this, please support our guest bloggers with Likes, Tweets and Comments and sign up to receive daily updates by Email. You can still submit a blog yourself – send to [email protected]
Don’t forget our charity auction of mentoring services is now live.  Take a look at the Mummy mentoring page  to see what is on offer and grab yourself a bargain!

 

Get rid of overwhelm and move forward with the ‘Power of 3’

Are you feeling overwhelmed? So many things to do that you don’t know where to start? As a solopreneur and a mum in business we are often trying to balance our business with lots of other priorities. In fact, that’s the reason most of us started our own business: to give us more time with our children, our partners, and maybe we even thought we could get some of that so-called ‘me time’ that people are always going on about too!

It’s very easy to find yourself putting more hours into your business than you ever did in a full time employed role; evenings are spent tapping away on the laptop while your partner’s watching the TV, you plonk your kids in front of a Barney DVD again while you try and respond to an urgent customer query, you wake up in the middle of the night with an amazing idea that is going to transform your business – only in the cold light of morning it doesn’t look so great and when are you going to get time to do it anyway??

Is this striking a chord with you? If so, please pause for a moment and consider this statement – It’s very easy to be busy but much more satisfying to be productive (and not that much harder).

Being productive is about doing the things that will really make a difference in your life. It’s not about doing the difficult things – in fact I think it is quite the opposite. It’s about doing the easy things but those things that will actually move you and your business forward.

After all, you will never have more time than you currently have so why keep trying to squeeze more things in and feeling stressed and frustrated that this isn’t going where you want it and isn’t what you expected it to be.

Take some time now to step away from your ‘to do’ list, get a blank sheet of paper and write down the 3 most important goals you want to achieve in the next 3 months. This may be something like:

  1. I want to earn £3000 in my business
  2. I want to lose half a stone
  3. I want to declutter the house

Now break each one down into 3 tasks you can do for each goal over the next month. For example, under ‘declutter the house’ you may put:

  1. I’m going to sort out the children’s clothes and toys they have outgrown and give these to a charity shop / friend
  2. I’m going to sort out the mess on the dining room table
  3. I’m going to clear out that drawer in the kitchen where I shove everything I don’t have a place for

By now you should have 9 smaller goals to achieve in the month to take you towards your bigger goals. Each week decide which 3 of these 9 you are going to do and get on with them. Now you will realise that if things are going to plan then you will have completed all 9 after 3 weeks – fantastic, get a cup of coffee and a magazine and relax! However, the reality is likely to be that something came up that meant you didn’t finish 1 or 2 things – maybe one of your children was poorly, an ‘urgent’ task came in that couldn’t wait, or your heating broke down and you spent 2 hours sorting out a plumber when you should have been working on your business.

Think of that 4th week as your contingency planning. This is there to allow some time for all of those extra things that life seems to throw us mums to deal with at the last minute. If they don’t crop up in your life one month then use this time to get a head start on next month. Having this time built in means you can relax when these ‘emergencies’ happen and go with it, rather than getting stressed out and frantic trying to find that elusive 25th hour in the day.

So summing up (in 3 sentences of course!):

  1. Remember the balance you are trying to achieve in your life by setting up your own business and don’t let it take over your life
  2. Only focus on 3 things at a time – be strict with this. Always ask yourself ‘what are my 3 goals to focus on in the next 3 months and what are the 3 things I can do today, this week, this month, to move towards them?’
  3. Always look for the easiest way to get to these goals – don’t make it hard if it doesn’t need to be. There are no medals handed out for taking the harder route.

PS – Don’t forget to have some fun along the way!

Alison BradfordAlison Bradford works with Mums who are running a small business from home who struggle with not having enough time, and would like to make more profit in their business and have more balance in their life.

Her clients are trying to fit running a business around young children and time is of the essence for them. Her coaching helps them to focus on what’s important and will really make a difference to increase the profit in their business whilst still having time for their family.

Find out more at www.alisonbradfordcoaching.wordpress.com

This blog is part of my Mummy Mentoring Month series – support and advice for you and your business from a different guest blogger, each day throughout March. Follow the link to see how we are raising money for charity with this initiative.

 If you like this, please support our guest bloggers with Likes, Tweets and Comments and sign up to receive daily updates by Email. You can still submit a blog yourself – send to [email protected]
Don’t forget our charity auction of mentoring services is now live.  Take a look at the Mummy mentoring page  to see what is on offer and grab yourself a bargain!