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I wish my brain would stop talking to me…

I love time management techniques, you may have heard me wax lyrical about them before – I can’t help it if I’m more interested in that than whether my eyebrows are perfect (although they are perfect as well)

Different people have slightly different ways of managing their time, I’ve spoken about the Pomodoro technique that I use before (see that blog here), but I was in a meeting with someone the other day that added an extra dimension to this that I found really interesting.

His time management technique was very similar- in that it used intense periods of focus on single objectives. However, it also accounted for the biggest de-railer of time management success… interruptions.

Now, you’d think this was obvious but I think I’m a bit harsh when I’m in Pom mode because I don’t let anything stop me- my phone is turned over or in another room, no one is allowed to talk to me (and I will tell people to go away) and I just crack on. However a) not everyone is quite as bloody minded as me and b) it’s not always realistic as the mind tends to throw in its’ own interruptions.

And this is where it got interesting, these interruptions are inevitable (the psychological reasons for these are even more so but I’m not going to go into those right now) so you need to learn how to deal with these without losing momentum and focus.

The discussed technique was to have a list of your ‘top interrupters’ (those people that interrupt you the most, including yourself) and every time an interruption happens or a thought pops into your head related to that person you note it down under their name, put it aside for later and then put it out of your head and get on with what you were doing.

This does follow through to a lot more formalised rules- such as only looking at your emails once a day in their allocated slot or only catching up with people at a prearranged time but I can’t be doing with that level of rigidity.

Therefore I’m going to take the ethos of it and use the interruption list as a way to unload my brain (bit like a secondary to do list) so I can keep focussing during Pom sessions… I think that’s the key to learning new ideas, taking what suits you and adapting it to your needs rather than picking up ideas wholesale. After all, if it ain’t entirely broke, why reinvent the wheel?

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I’m at least one of Snow White’s little friends…

Today I am miserable, it’s cold and I’m tired. Not that my being miserable stops the merry-go-round, we still have to keep going. It’s actually the first day of half term that I’m off with my children. They both want to go to the cinema (and they agree on the film and my youngest I ant screaming about the dark or the high seats or the loud noises) so based on all of these miracles we’re going to the cinema!

I’ve also got work to do. I’m not in anyone’s office today but the work doesn’t stop. And I’ve got personal things that need sorting, the kind you don’t usually have time for like phoning the water people or cleaning the house…

Oh and I’m miserable- did I mention that? Which just adds to the list frankly. That’s okay though, I run a small business, I’m a mother, nothing stops because I want it to… and actually the thought of sitting in those big cinema seats with my youngest curled on my lap due to fear over the dark/height/loud noises it’s quite appealing right now. So I’ve negotiated that we’ll do that this morning then mummy has to work after lunch- something for everyone.

And who knows, maybe I’ll end up less miserable! And the very least my children will be happy and I’ll have got more work done so maybe I can be the mildly unhappy but satisfied dwarf instead…

P.S. it’s also just occurred to me that rather than spending the last ten minutes doing something off of The List, I wrote a blog instead… equally productive but not helping to shift the mound of work!

P.P.S. It’s okay to be grumpy by the way, perfectly normal and nothing wrong with it, we all get like that sometimes. My point is that you can’t let it stop you, you need to find your way to keep going :-)

P.P.P.S are postscripts supposed to be capitals or lower case? #askingforafriend

P.P.P.P.S just kidding…

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4 is the magic number…

Apparently, so Google tells me, 4 is the number of stability and order – I think that’s because a square has 4 sides and that makes it nice and even but I can’t be sure. Actually, lots of things come in 4s – the seasons, the elements, the horseman of the apocalypse… Oooo even the 4 leafed clover and that’s super lucky.

I’ve got distracted there, I was just trying to open with something about the beauty of the number 4 so I can segue neatly into telling you that today Linkedin reminded me that I have been running my business for 4 years (I love you Linkedin, as I would never have remembered that!). So there, I segued in the most untidy way possible but I’m back on topic.

What have I learnt in 4 years? Here’s my top 4 (see what I did there) …

  1. Nothing is immediate. I’d love to say that you can start a business and suddenly you’re a millionaire but realistically that doesn’t happen. We all have to work hard, we all doubt ourselves and we all do a happy dance at that first sale/client/success. Getting to the point where you feel like you’re actually doing well takes ages and it’s only now I’m starting to feel like that.
  2. Nothing comes to you. Sorry. I know, it sounds negative, but it’s not. When you start running a business you have to work at it: to create it, to build it, to sustain it and nothing will just be handed to you. You have to go out and look for opportunities, for ways to succeed but I can promise you that it will be worth it.
  3. Nothing prepares you. The long nights, the ridiculous hours, the utter panic… nothing really prepares you for the reality of being totally responsible for your own business. You can have studied business for years and still not know a fraction of the reality, but that’s ok – make mistakes and learn from them; develop and react to changes; adapt your ideas to be something that will work… whatever it takes you know you can do it.
  4. Nothing anyone says should stop you. If you’re lucky you’re surrounded by entrepreneurs and small business people who can help and guide and advice or at the very least understand why you feel like smashing you head against the wall repeatedly. However, the likelihood is you won’t and not everyone will understand the long hours the lack of cash flow or the other situations you find yourself in and that means that you should learn to follow your own instincts because no one knows your business better than you.

That’s the 4 sides of my square – my 4 big reflective thoughts as I reach this milestone. Next year I think I might have a party – not just write a blog… any one up for that?

Oh, and one last thing after those sentences that started with Nothing. EVERYTHING – EVERY MOMENT, EVERY TEAR, EVERY STRESS, EVERY HEADACHE – EVERYTHING IS WORTH IT (although I do miss buying shoes as much as I used to).

 

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Everyone wants a peace…

I do know I spelt that wrong, it’s a play on words because I was torn between writing about how everyone wants a piece of me at the moment and how I desperately want some peace… so I kinda mixed the two together!

My client roster has changed a lot over the last 6 weeks, it’s such an exciting and scary time- I’ve finished projects with old clients; started with new ones (which is so much fun) and have some things in the pipeline. I found the other day I’d tripled booked myself which is something I never do- And it made me realise how much I’m trying to do.

That’s another way to use my word play earlier- puzzle pieces. At the moment time management is like arranging and rearranging a giant puzzle to make everything fit together perfectly.

That’s kind of my point for this blog- how I manage when it feels like I can’t manage! Obviously I have a diary, it’s a paper one because I prefer seeing things written down, but sometimes that’s not enough when I’m having think about extra things like childcare or social appointments.

I know this sounds incredibly sad but when it gets like this I draw a chart- one that covers the crucial weeks and allows me to write in everything from childcare, to clients, to evening engagements. Seeing it all in one place really helps and I can quickly see where the gaps are.

I do one annually for the summer holidays as that’s my biggest juggling act of the year and honestly, it makes a huge difference. I know it sounds like more work but I promise if you’ve got a hectic few weeks it’s worth it.

So sort out those puzzle pieces, fit in the people who want a piece and get some peace ;-)

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A blog in the hand or two in the bush are useless without a website…

Today we have a blog rolled up in a blog due to an epic fail on my part. Two weeks ago I sat down one evening and wrote a quick few words about work life balance, I logged on to upload it and found that my website had disappeared.

You know that feeling when you get when the bottom of your stomach drops out? That.

Now obviously I have the complicated set up on my website/domain/hosting and recently I decided to change my email host and (*cough cough*) accidentally renamed my name servers… if that means nothing to you, I wouldn’t worry, I was utterly lost too.

So I’d messed up, an hour on live chat to my hosting company and some resetting was done. A patient 48 hours later and it’s still not there. Arrgghhhh. Another live chat convo, 12 hour wait and hallelujah it’s back! Of course, now my emails not working and that’s another hour of stress before it’s all back to normal!

You know what I learnt from this? It is possible to do everything yourself but it takes time and there’s a reason that subject matter experts exist! I’m stubborn though and I’d probably do the same again although it’s caused a few more grey hairs.

Anyway, here’s the blog you didn’t get to see…

Honestly, it’s a piece of cake

Tomorrow is my sons 6th birthday, this surprises me as I’m pretty sure I gave birth to him yesterday but I’ve checked and he’s definitely going to be 6.

He didn’t ask for anything, until two days ago and now it’s too late to go and get what he wants so he’ll just have to enjoy the things we thought he wanted: #firstworldproblems.

In the meantime I have a four page list of bits that need tackling, I have a potential new client to call, I have school inform to sort for next week and I have a hen do to organise in 5 days’ time… Am I doing any of that?

Nope.

I am in fact planning a birthday cake (my son’s in case you thought I’d started a random side business). I love working and I was up doing it at 7.30 this morning (nothing more exciting that early morning GDPR) but 3 and a half years ago when I started the business it was to create more flexibility to be with my children and although the business has grown to the point where I could be working 24/7 and still have loads to do my core values are still the same.

So you’ll forgive me for cutting this short but I have to mould 4 ninja turtle heads from icing and tomorrow I’m for a day at the zoo.

I’ll still get everything done, but for now it can wait whilst I prepare to say happy birthday to my (very nearly) 6 year old!