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4 Ways To Create Your Version of the Ultimate Work/Life/Play Lifestyle

As a Professional Organizer I get asked almost on a daily basis from new and existing clients how to create work / life balance. Particulary, because I am a single mom of 4 children while running my business full-time and people always ask me how I do it and not go crazy. Here’s the honest truth…THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS WORK/LIFE/PLAY BALANCE

Okay, now that we’ve gotten that out the way, I know you’re like so what do I do? Well, you simply create YOUR version of what an idea work/life/play lifestyle looks like for you. There is no magic formula or cookie-cutter method that will work for everyone, because each person’s life is different.

Allow me the opportunity to share with you how I created my idea work/life/play lifestyle with the below 4 tips:

#1. Schedule your lifestyle and get organized

This is something that I actually put into place about 6-months ago and it has changed my way of living incredibly. Whether you use a paper planner / organizer or electronic gadget, this is going to be the most useful and important tool you will need in managing your idea lifestyle. The advice that has been circling around for years is to keep your business and personal life separate, but that is farthest from the truth and incredibly unrealistic. The only thing to keep separate in your business and personal life are your finances. Everything else needs to be merged and managed accordingly.

I recommend using the Google Calendar to my clients because it gives you the ability to create “multiple” calendars into your main calendar and it’s FREE (see illustration above).

You create your calendars based on the areas of your life and you have the option to color code these calendars. You also have the option to choose at any time what calendars you want shown on your main calendar. This tool can be managed on your laptop, tablet and phone simultaneously.

I’ll actually use my calendar breakdown as an example. I currently have the following calendars:

  • Personal (all about me, downtime, breaks, pampering, exercising, running errands, etc.)
  • Family (my children school events, activities, one-on-one time, appointments and extended family)
  • Friends (hanging out, going out to eat, time on the phone, etc.)
  • Foundation (giving back)
  • Holidays (national as well as industry related observances)
  • Meal Planning (so I don’t spend countless time trying to figure out what to cook)
  • Networking (conferences, workshops, meet ups, etc.)
  • Operations (business meetings, phone calls, professional development, administrative tasks, and revenue generating activities)
  • Organizing Sessions (client work)
  • Projects (blog / podcast time, or client work)
  • Retrogrades (so that I know what is going on in the universe and can plan accordingly)
  • Tasks (bills and things to do)
  • Workshops (that I host)

Now, you may not need this many calendars or you may need more. However, don’t get overwhelmed at this process. The most difficult task when scheduling your idea lifestyle is the initial set-up and then it takes about 4-6 weeks of remaining consistent with it for it to then become a regular habit. Time blocking is critical because you are making conscious decisions on how YOU want to spend your time. Be sure to also block off time to prepare for the next day (clothes, coffee pot, lunches, etc.) It gives you back control over your life and the freedom to truly breathe and actually live life instead of existing in it.

#2. Include your family in your career life

There were times when I was working in corporate that school was out and my children were too young to stay home alone. Therefore, I negotiated with my employer a half-day work solution. Meaning, I would bring my children to work with me in the morning for about 4 hours and then I would finish working at home. This allowed me to keep my work schedule and their school schedule in sync. When children get off schedule it is a nightmare for parents. While they were at the office I set them up a desk with supplies for them to color along with headphones to watch cartoons. They had breakfast at home and one morning snack at the office. When I got home I took my “lunch break” and prepared our lunch and laid them down for naptime. During naptime (which is about 2 hours) I was able to use this uninterrupted time to work. By the time they woke from naptime I was ready to end my work day and go into full mommy mode.

I use that example because, the key is to communicate with the people in your life what you need so that you can show up and be available comfortably in each area of your life. This scenario can work if you are a work-at-home parent or creating a workable schedule with your spouse where you have the kids in the morning and he has the kids in the afternoon or vice-a-versa. It’s a matter of working with your family and not against them by creating a solution that works for YOU!

#3. Relax and take off the cape

Release and reject the expectations that you have to be super mom / woman because YOU DON’T. There is no handbook out there on how to live life, how to be a wife, mother, business owner, employee, sister and the list goes on and on. Each of us do the very best we can with what we know and have learned. Heck, truth be told we’re all really winging it and hoping that we actually get it right. All you are required to do is show up and take it step by step. Using tip #1 will help you in doing that.

Schedule out as much as you can and then step back and tackle one thing at a time. If something doesn’t work out then remember this … “Failure actually doesn’t exist its just that thing trying to move you in another direction.” (Oprah Winfrey) So don’t allow those moments to get you down. Dust yourself off, reflect, learn and keep moving forward.

Also, if you are in a relationship, then communicate with your partner how they can help and be sure to tell your partner how grateful you are for their support and help.

#4. Take quality time out for yourself

As you can tell from my calendar that I have quite a few areas of my life that I juggle with daily. Therefore, I created the below work schedule to fit the lifestyle I desired. Here is my schedule:

Sunday – Off work / Family Day
Monday – Off work / Personal Day
Tuesday – Friday > Work in my business
Saturday > Combo Day (work 1/2 day then play the remainder of the day)

I realized that I never looked forward to Monday’s and maybe that’s from working 15 years in Corporate America. However, I wanted to change that from a negative to a positive. So instead I made Monday’s my very own Personal Day. While most people were going back into the office, I take my children to school and spend the day loving on myself.

This day can be used to stay in bed and binge watch Netflix or Hulu. You can also go to the salon and get your hair and nails done. Maybe have lunch with girlfriends or go to the mall and treat yourself to a pair of shoes or an outfit. Sit in the park, ride a bike, whatever your heart desires.

For me taking quality time out for myself at the beginning of the week gave me a great start and has actually made my work week better. When you are loving yourself, you show up refreshed, alive and joyful in all the other areas of your life.

As women we are naturally amazing jugglers who are expected to fill many roles. However, I challenge you not focus on the never-ending quest for balance but to acknowledge that YOU make a decision everyday to show up and be the best version of yourself in any area of your life that requires it and then give yourself applause for a job well done. There are no “perfect people” with “perfectly balanced lives”. So, have fun designing and embracing a lifestyle that YOU love, in your own way.

Now, tell me which of these lifestyle tips will you implement this month? I would love to hear from you.

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7 Ways To Spring Clean Your Business

As you know the first day of Spring was on Monday, March 21st Tuesday, March 20th and we can already feel and depending on where you are in the world even see the change of this beautiful season. There is no better time to start reflecting on our business to identify what’s working and what’s not so that we can make a plan to make this season our best yet.

Spring is that time that gives us a second wind for the new year….meaning sometimes during this time of of the year and when the new year buzz is officially over we tend to get a little too comfortable with our business and Spring is that time of the year that gives us a pep to deep clean out what no longer serves our purpose.

When we think of Spring Cleaning we are typically ready to turn up the stereo and dive into every room and closet for the ultimate seasonal deep clean regimen. However, if you are a business owner Spring is also the perfect time of the year to air out your business and lay the foundation for a productive and fertile business year ahead. At the first of the year we are pumped up and hitting the ground running in our business which is an exciting time. This momentum although great, can also cause us to get behind on filing and organizing as the busy days of the year add up. Now, it may require an investment of time over a day or two to properly clean out the old but it’s definitely worth the time and attention to set the tone for what’s to come. Here are some quick and easy ways to make the task seem less daunting that every womanpreneur can follow to Spring Forward this year.

#1. Paper Management

Springtime for many entrepreneurs means tax time!!! Therefore that will require a great deal of paperwork, receipts, invoices, statements that are ready to be removed from your active filing cabinets. Now is the time to create a 2017 box and prepare to archive these documents that no longer serve a purpose in 2018. You also have the option of scanning these documents into a dropbox or other cloud filing system to prevent storing unnecessary documents. Shred any documents that have personal information on them such as bank statements or credit card statements. Be sure to also review the current paper flow system that you have in your business. This is the ideal time to determine if the system you have in place is helping you be productive and increasing the profit in your business. If not, now is the time to ditch what’s not working and implement a new system.

#2. Update Software Programs

This is a step that is highly overlooked by many, just because we simply don’t think about it. How many versions behind on software updates are you? Running the latest software for your website platform, smartphone, computer operating system, email and anti-virus security is key to business productivity. Remember, outdated software can cost you and make your systems vulnerable to malfunctioning. Batch task this process and devote about an hour to updating all of your platforms to their latest system updates.

#3. Create a Digital Folder System

You have created a filing system for your hard copy documents but what about your soft copy documents?

Create category folders within your email account to prevent your inbox from becoming cluttered. Along with the desktop on your computer and smart phone. Your email account should not have more than 10 emails within your inbox. Losing important emails or files means a lot of wasted effort trying to search through your computer. Take the time to devote a few hours solely to organizing your desktop files and email inboxes. Remember, once you have a productive system in place it’s all uphill from there!

#4. Close Out Winter Inventory

If you are a product based business this would be the perfect time to offer discounts on any remaining inventory to help you free up space and recoup some of your costs. Put together a Last Chance sale for your customers that will benefit them on getting your great items at a super low cost and allow you to upload your website with what’s fresh and new for the year ahead. This is also the time to review the workflow system you have in place to track your inventory, listing products, shipping and delivery, etc. Review each step to make sure that it’s not slowing you down and is in alignment with your Brand direction. The key is to always work smarter not harder! Having proper systems in place will give you the peace of mind that your business is running smoothly everyday (even while you’re sleeping).

#5. Update Your Contact Lists

Organize your customers, clients and vendors into updated groups. Follow up with each group to make sure the information you have on file is accurate and take this time to determine who you will continue working with and what contacts you will part with. This is critical to your business, you don’t want to be in the middle of a project and need to contact someone only to find you have the wrong information!

#6. Update Your Social Media + Website

Take stock of your online presence and make some positive changes across the board. If you don’t have the time to do it yourself, appoint a staff member or virtual assistant to mange your social media accounts and create relevant posts. Update your website copy to reflect the current status of your business. Changes to pricing or policies, different hours and new products are all things to keep regularly updated. Visit your site page by page as a viewer to ensure that all links are working properly and that their viewing and checkout experience is seamless.

#7. Spring Forward Into The Cloud

Many entrepreneurs are taking full advantage of technology and going paperless with apps such as Evernote and Dropbox (both are my personal favorites). Both of these apps have cross-platform capabilities, which gives you 24/7 access to not only important documents but the amazing advantage to run your business from anywhere in the world. Moving your files gives you the benefit of having everything you need in one place for future reference, and the generous sizes of cloud storage available ensure that you will have the space you need for all of your documents. This is particularly important as we move into the end of tax season and will streamline this process for you and your accountant.

These simple tips will have your business organized in no time and have you ready to hop in your flip flops and sundresses to embrace the new season with ease.

Well that wraps up today’s episode. Thank you for taking the time to learn ways to get your business more organized and I look forward to helping you get more organized in your life and business. If you have a question that would like for me to answer, leave me a comment below.

5 Quick & Easy Ways To Give Your Business a Mini Makeover in 2017

#1 Freshen Up Your Creative Space

We all can become so busy running our business that we neglect our working space and allow it to become old, disorganized and boring. Update the look of your office or work space by giving it a pop of color with paint, add a few light fixtures or some inspirational signage. If possible even replacing any outdated furniture such as your desk or chair can be a huge improvement. Your space should be free of clutter, well furnished and be creatively inspiring for you to do your best work!

#2 Give Your Business A Virtual Address

If your business does not have a website then now would be the perfect time to make that necessary investment. However, if you do have a website then your task would be to review your website for outdated information, images, products, services or anything that does not represent your company in the new year. Is your website visually appealing and easy to navigate and understand to that brand new client? Ask a colleague or friend to review your website thoroughly and provide you with honest feedback to help you make any necessary updates. Better yet, you can get a professional inspection of your website by clicking the “Inspect My Website” box below.

Inspect My Website

#3 Professionalize & Update Your Marketing Materials

Along with your website, your logo, business card, flyers, brochures, etc. all represent different pieces of your brand. Is your logo correct or has it been re-designed and not updated on your marketing materials? Is your telephone number, email address, business address, website address all correct? Are your brand colors easily recognized and concise across the board? Remember your brand speaks volumes about your company and is the first thing that potential client or customer will see and you want to be represented correctly!

#4 Give Your Social Media Channels A Hug

As we know Social Media has become a must have component in running any business no matter the size. In 2017, this is a necessary for all businesses no matter what industry you represent. Yes, there is a bit of a learning curve with social media, but it is definitely not something that you can not tackle. Social Media has some amazing advantages when used the right way and consistently. This is the perfect way to engage with your current clients as well as reach new clients. It personalizes your company and gives clients confidence to do business with you. Now there is no need to jump on every platform, maybe start out with one or two that appeal to your business and go from there. To get you started, click the image below to access our 2017 Social Media Planner.

2017 Social Media Planner - Product Cover

#5 Enjoy Your Business

Running your business day-to-day can be challenging but equally rewarding. Be sure to take the well deserved time to give yourself a break. Catch a matinee, exercise, sit in the park, have lunch with girlfriends, enjoy a few hours at the spa. Anything that is positive and inspiring to get your creative juices flowing and preventing you from burning yourself out. Your business, clients, family and friends will all thank you for it.

Allow these small changes to make a huge difference for your business in 2017.

If you have a question that would like for me to answer, leave me a comment below.