Friday, October 31, 2014

How to work from home effectively

Working from home is high on the wish list for a lot of Mums I speak with!

It makes sense to me.. 

Working from home can give you more work / life balance. You can spend more time with your family, you don’t have to commute to work, and you may not have to spend so much time and effort on hair, makeup and clothing! 

Just between you and me, if I’m running low on time but have a video meeting, I’ll put a lot of effort into my outfit from the waist up and then just wear pj pants on the bottom ;)

Did you know?

Working from home also means you can save money on parking, petrol and insurance. Youi car & home insurance offers reduced rates for those who work from home and if you're not driving to work every day you won't need as much fuel, or have to pay for parking - love that!

So yes! I see plenty of benefits working from home. I’ve been doing it myself for a long time now and love it. If there’s any chance you can find a way to work from home, whether you’re running your own business or working for an employer, I highly recommend giving it a go.

But if you’re lucky enough to swing such an arrangement, be careful! There are a few hurdles that show up when you first start working from home and I’ve experienced a lot of them myself.

So today I thought I’d share my tips on how to work from home effectively!

Tip #1: Set up a proper work space. 

Now, you don’t have to have a dedicated office (I don’t), but you do need somewhere designated for when you need to sit down and focus on your work. 

Somewhere you can access everything you need easily (and put it away again easily). 

Thanks to cloud storage, you don’t need big filing cabinets anymore, so you’ll find you don’t need as much space as you think!

Tip #2: Set a basic guideline for how you’ll manage your time. 

Yes, you can be more flexible with your day and spend a bit more time with the kids, do some housework, etc.. but don’t get too easily distracted! 

Use your time productively by creating a simple plan of when you’ll be working, when you’ll be playing, and when you’ll be taking care your home. 

If your work allows it, build your daily work plan around when you’re usually most productive and use the rest of the day for family and life stuff.

Did you know? 
Different people are their most productive at different times of the day. If you’re an early bird, doing an hour of work in the morning before the family gets up might be the time you can get most of your work done. If you’re a night owl (like me), you might find inspiration strikes at 8pm and you get more done in that last couple of hours before bed.

Tip #3: Use simple systems to put some of your work on autopilot. 

You can’t avoid every distraction when you work from home - the kids might need you, there’ll be knocking on the door, and you’ll be stopping starting around school drop off & pick up, grocery runs, and other errands. 

The simplest way to keep your work flowing even when you’re stopping and starting is to have simple systems in place to deal with common requests. 

Batch processing is a great example. Try setting particular times of day just for checking email, listening to voicemail, returning phone calls, posting mail, etc. You’ll get into a rhythm, the time will fly and your To Do list will almost disappear!

Also, if you tend to get emailed the same question over and over again from different people, it’s handy to have a template response ready to go (or a FAQ page if you’re running an online business), so you can save time by not needing to type out the same lengthy response repeatedly.

Did you know? 
Gmail has a ‘canned responses’ feature built in, that lets you save a bunch of template email responses and open them up whenever you need them! I bet other email systems have them too - comment below if you know of another one.

Tip #4: Give yourself an incentive to keep working. 

Even when Ellen is on TV. Especially when someone sends you a cute cat video on YouTube to watch. Once you go down that rabbit hole, you’re pretty much done for the day!

Keep it nice and easy - for every # of hours you work, or # of tasks you compete, you get a little reward. 

Maybe it’s a little break - a cup of tea, a walk outside, time to read a magazine. 
Basically, when you’ve done the work, then you can watch a bit of TV or YouTube (ahem, I know a great channel for busy mums) if that’s what makes your day! 

Just remember, the power comes with using this time as a reward, not using it to procrastinate.

So those are my top tips on how to work from home effectively!

If you found any of them helpful, please share this post with anyone else you think will benefit from it, and if you have any other tips to share, please comment below and let me know!

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Credits: Big thanks to Youi insurance for partnering with me on this post! If you’d like to know more about Youi car and home insurance offers, you can head over here to check them out.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Halloween Survival Tips for Mums!

Do you LOVE Halloween?

Or do you wish it wasn't celebrated in your neighbourhood?

Australians don't traditionally celebrate Halloween, but it's becoming more and more popular to do so these days.

Me? Personally, I love it! It's cute watching the kids get dressed up and knock on our door for treats. We have lollies ready just in case they come to our house and my girls love handing them out.

We don't trick or treat ourselves though, as there aren't many Halloween friendly houses in our area. So instead this year the kids are having a few school friends over for a bit of a Spooktacular afternoon including dress ups, treats and a couple of games ;)

No matter what you're planning this Halloween, it's likely your children will want to do something! So in case you don't love it as much as I do, or you need some ideas on what to do if you can't trick or treat either - I've got some Halloween survival tips for you!

Here are the top 3 problems I hear from parents about Halloween and how we handle them in our family..

Problem #1: I'm not sure whether my neighbours will welcome my kids trick or treating - I'm worried they'll get someone cranky opening the door!

Solution: The easiest way to handle this is to only knock on the doors of homes with Halloween decorations. If they've decorated, they're trick or treat friendly. Stick to this guideline and you'll have less grumpy people ;)

Problem #2: I don't know what to do if we run out of treats to give! 

Solution: No worries - I have a free print for you that will take care of it! Just put up this sign for when you run out of treats... or if you don't have any in the first place ;)

Problem #3: We have cheeky kids in our area who don’t even dress up - they just knock on the door holding a plastic bag and expect lollies! 

Solution: At our house, cheeky kids who trick or treat without bothering to dress up get an orange with a pumpkin face drawn on it for their 'treat'!

Not trick or treating? Here are some other great ideas for Halloween fun!

  • Spooky Jokes: Turn off the lights, get out your torches and tell spooky or silly Halloween jokes! We love these ones :)

  • Ghost bowling: grab 6 rolls of (clean!) toilet paper and use a black marker to draw ghostly faces on them. Stack them up and take turns bowling them over with a (real or plastic) pumpkin! Check out this post from Marquis at Simply Clarke for more details

  • Halloween musical statues: Have a look through Spotify for your favourite Halloween themed but kid friendly songs like the Monster Mash, Ghostbusters, Purple People Eater, etc. I quite like this one!

  • Spooky Shows: Get out the pillows and blankets, cuddle up and watch a spooky movie or Halloween themed kids show - try any Scooby Doo, or Monster High or even Pumpkin Face by the Wiggles for the little ones

  • Don’t feel like TV? Read a spooky (but not scary if it’s nearly bedtime!) book together instead! There are lots of great Halloween books out there in shops or libraries at the moment..

  • Simple Craft: Grab a few pieces of orange paper, cut them out into a pumpkin shape and have the kids draw faces on them with black textas - Easy!

So those are my favourite Halloween survival tips for mothers - what are yours?

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Credits: This post is not sponsored and contains no affiliate links.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tips for easier toilet training

Before we begin, I should clarify: This isn't a post about how to toilet train your child.

There are lots of great resources on toilet training out there - my 2 favourites are Gina Ford's Potty Training in one week, and Jen Lovelady's Pro Potty trainer.

Rather, this is a post about how to handle toilet training without pulling your hair out from frustration!

Let's be real here, toilet training comes with quite a considerable amount of yuck.

And how long it takes to toilet train really depends on a number of factors:

  • How long you can stay at home for the first few days
  • What sort of reward system you use
  • Whether you can focus on just one child or if you have to divide your attention among other kids
  • How well your child can communicate
...and so much more!

Toilet training at any age isn't impossible, but it can take a lot of time, patience and soaking of undies ;)

With that in mind I've made a video showing you my favourite tips to make toilet training just that little bit easier - so you're less likely to want to run away from home and come back when they're all done!

Click below to watch the video:

So those are my tips!

I'd love to know yours too - comment below if you have any that worked wonders for you!

And don't forget to share this post with anyone you know is going through toilet training at their house - you might just help save their sanity ;)

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Credits: This post is not sponsored, and contains one affiliate link for the Gina Ford book.