4 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Going Freelance

Spare time? There is no such thing as spare time…

Girl Boss Hacks For Conquering Your Inbox

Do you ever feel your emails are managing you?

7 Quick Ways To Simplify Your Life

Most of us have too much going on in our lives. Demands on our time come from all directions and we keep on adding new things to do, while trying to hold on to everything else that’s already there. Sooner or later it becomes impossible. Are you wondering how you could simplify your life to make space for more of what you want? Here are some quick ways to get started.

RELATED: How To Create More Time In Your Day

1. Say no more often

Is “yes” your automatic answer to everything? Become more selective and consider each request that comes your way before you answer. Do you really want to do it? If yes, go for it. Otherwise, say “no”.

2. Ask for help

You won’t get a medal for doing everything on your own and who wants a medal anyway? It’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help and you won’t bother people (if you do, it’s up to them to say “no”). Even if you outsource one little thing a day, it’ll add up and you’ll feel the difference.

3. Declutter your home and your work space

Start with the areas where you spend most of your time – your desk, the living room, the kitchen. Once your space looks more organised, you will feel more organised and won’t be spending time looking for things.

4. Limit your media use

There’s no need to miss out on your favourite TV show, but if you find yourself mindlessly staring at a screen only because it’s there, turn it off. All of a sudden you have ample free time to meditate, go for a walk or get creative.

5. Buy less

Shopping therapy is a popular way to combat stress, but is it the most effective one? Very unlikely. When you buy less you spend less money, less time and have less stuff to make space for.

6. Be selective who you spend time with

Choose to hang out with people you love and avoid those who complain and drain your energy. Don’t agree to catch up just because you always do or because you feel obligated. You can choose who you give your time to and still have friends.

7. Slow down

It might be counterintuitive, but when you get enough sleep, make time for yourself and meditate, you will notice that everything else in your life happens with less effort.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the things you could do to simplify your life, don’t be. Pick just one thing and do it today.

Image via Pixabay

5 Habits That Are Killing Your Productivity At Work

Do you feel that your work is taking a lot longer than it should? There’s no need to resign yourself to late nights at the office, have a look at your habits instead. Here are some things you might be doing that are killing your productivity at work.

RELATED: The Secret To Exceptional Productivity

1. Checking email as they come in

You receive a new notification and your curiosity gets the better of you. You jump into your inbox just to see a new email from a client. Since you opened the email anyway, you might as well reply, so you forget what you were working on before that and start typing. Then another email arrives. Before you know it, the day is gone and you haven’t completed anything.

Unless you’re in customer service and it’s your job to answer emails all day, checking your email constantly is disruptive and distracts you from your real work. Turn off your notifications and schedule time for email instead, whether it’s once a day or once every couple of hours.

2.    Spending time on social media

Checking Facebook for 5 minutes while you’re taking a break is harmless, but if you get sucked in and find yourself still on Facebook half an hour later, then it’s a habit that’s not working for you. Just like emails, unless it’s your job to be on social media all day, turn off notifications, schedule time for it and stick to your designated time (use a timer to remind you)!

3. Taking too many breaks

Do you always give in to the desire to get a snack, get a drink, go for a walk and/or have a chat with a colleague? You’re procrastinating. Recognise that all these breaks are not necessary and ask yourself what you’re trying to avoid. Once you’re clear on the real reason why you’re doing everything but working, it’s much easier to address it.

4. Not taking enough breaks

You may be thinking you’re gaining precious minutes when you’re having your lunch at your desk, but the reality is you need to take breaks to recharge. Your productivity goes down when you’re not looking after yourself. Don’t believe me? Experiment with it. Try taking regular breaks for a day or a week and notice how much more you’ll get done.

5. Saying “yes” to everything

It’s fantastic that you want to help people, but you can’t do everything. Focus on your most important tasks and view all requests that are coming in through the filter of your priorities. Is this task helping you achieve your goals, or is it setting you back? Of course, you can’t always avoid meaningless tasks when you’re working for someone else, but you can do your best to eliminate as many distractions as possible. Start by saying “no” to one request per day and you will see your productivity at work improve immediately.

Image via Pixabay

Why Do We Love Procrastinating?

Have you been keeping busy all day and avoiding the real work? There’s no need to feel guilty about it, everyone does it. We all have moments (or hours, or days) when we spend our time doing everything else, but what really needs doing. So, why do we love procrastinating so much?

RELATED: How To Stay Motivated And Reach Your Goals

It’s easy

Procrastination can seem a lot easier than getting things done, especially things that are somewhat difficult and important. But what if you took a long-term view? Would your life be easier in a week, a month, or a year from now if you were to keep doing what you’re doing now: procrastinating?

If you answered “yes” to this question, then it’s a good idea to look again at your priorities. If the thing you’re avoiding is not contributing to your life in any way, then it’s time to cross it off your list and move on to something else. You won’t be making a whole lot of progress on your projects, you’ll feel stressed out, guilty and dissatisfied with yourself if you don’t.

It’s comfortable

The idea of working hard goes against our love of comfort. It might lead to discomfort or even pain, so we’re reluctant to step outside of our comfort zone and often do just enough required of us that we can get away with. But what will happen if you look at your comfort zone from a long-term perspective? Will you still be comfortable in the future?

It’s safe

Our brains are wired to keep things the same. The habits we reinforce have kept us alive until now, so why change anything? The meaning of safety is not the same now as it was thousands of years ago. Nowadays we feel unsafe to try something different out of fear we might fail, but what we don’t realise is that in most cases it’s not going to lead to anything fatal. So what are you afraid of?

There’re no right or wrong answers to these questions. Sometimes procrastination can be good for you – it’s a sign that you’re not on the right track and that you need to reassess your priorities. But if you’ve realised that you’re at ease, safety and comfort aren’t contributing much to your future happiness and fulfilment anymore, so it’s time to stop procrastinating. Take one small action step, then another one. You’ll create momentum and soon you’ll get into the flow of getting things done.

Image via Pixabay

Staying Organised For The Rest Of The Year Ahead

Even if you don’t really agree with them, we all make new year resolutions – whether it’s getting into shape, spending more time with your loved ones or something small like cutting down your daily caffeine intake.

For some, getting organised might be at the top of the list, so we’ve come up with some simple and effective ideas to help you keep your resolutions and stay motivated to be organised not just for January and February, but also for the rest of the year!

Go, go, go can equal forget, forget, forget!

Never before has it been so important to be organised. In this day and age when we’re always on the go, it’s impossible to remember every little detail. Keep your to-do list in check with a brand new diary, which you can pick up from a store like Typo. And while you’re at it you might as well stock up on note pads, desk organisers, files, you name it!

If you’re not one for the hard copy diary we suggest using your Smartphone calendar and making lists in Notes!

dairy, calendar, time management, organised, new year resolutions

Your wallet could do with a tidy-up

Nothing says organised like a new, clutter-free purse. Your wallet’s biggest enemy is the dreaded receipt so, in the cleaning out process, make sure you file these away in a folder or place you find easy to remember. A tidy wallet is great, but not when receipts you need have gone walkabout.

We suggest choosing a wallet based on your needs. On the go? Try something that can also fit your phone inside, and if your wallet lives inside your handbag, opt for something smaller (and keep the colour in mind when making your selection).

With a range of stores such as Mimco, Bags To Go and Strandbags you’ll be hard pressed not to find yourself the perfect wallet for 2015!

dairy, calendar, time management, organised, new year resolutions

No excuses – pack your gym gear

Keeping motivated to get fit can be challenging at the best of times, so why not make it a littler easier on yourself and get organised to be energised. If you tend to hit the gym first thing in the morning, get your workout gear ready the night before so all you have to do is get up and go. No excuses!

Still feeling the early morning/after-work gym routine is passing you by? Get some new gear from Nike, adidas, Asics and some other sporting retailers to help you get motivated. We all know that when you look good in new gym gear, you feel good and you’ll be that much more inclined to get out and into spin class.

dairy, calendar, time management, organised, new year resolutions

These tips are brought to you by a range of retailers at Uni Hill Factory Outlets, Melbourne. For more information and a list of retailers head to www.uhfo.com.au or follow on Facebook or Instagram @unihillfo

Why You Need A Stop-Doing List

Have you ever gotten through a busy day just to discover that your to-do list is still a mile long? I have, too. It doesn’t mean that you and I don’t do enough or that we don’t do it fast enough, it simply means that our to-do list is unrealistic. One way to start redesigning your to-do list is to create a stop-doing list.

RELATED: The Art Of Saying No

Why do you need a stop-doing list?

  • To make time for what’s important. As much as we’d love to do everything, we can’t. To make space for the things that we really want to do, we have to say “no” to something else.
  • To make it easier to say “no”. Automatically saying “yes” to everything is a difficult habit to break and that’s where the stop-doing list helps. When the thing you’re asked to do is on it, a light of recognition flashes as soon as you hear the request and it’s enough to make you stop, think and respond differently.
  • To feel better about yourself. When you’ve thought about it beforehand and you’ve figured out what’s important to you and what isn’t, there’s less room for questioning every decision you made. You can move forward with confidence and the more you accomplish, the better you’ll feel about yourself and your ability to do things.

What could go on your stop-doing list?

Look through your current to-do list. Are there any tasks there that you don’t want to do, but you couldn’t get out of? Or tasks that you don’t even know why they’re there? Put them on your stop-doing list.

What about things that you do as a matter of habit but they don’t add value to your life, like checking Facebook every 5 minutes or staying up late? Add them to your list, too. Consider updating your stop-doing list every time you find yourself asking: “Why am I doing this?”

So, what will you put on your stop-doing list?

Image via Pixabay

3 Fun Ways To Beat Procrastination

Are you finding yourself daydreaming, checking your email, getting something to eat, doing anything but what you know you need to complete? Try some of these fun ways to beat procrastination and get that important task done.

RELATED: Why Procrastination Can Be Good For You

Give yourself a time limit

What’s a realistic timeframe to complete that thing you’re avoiding? Set your timer, ready, go! Competing with the timer and turning it into a game can be enough to motivate you. If it’s not, book something for after you’re finished – a meeting, an appointment, a class, anything. I always get my work done faster if I know I have to be at my yoga class. On the days when I say to myself: “I don’t feel like going to yoga today,” the same amount of work takes a lot longer.

Rename your task

If you’re procrastinating because you need to complete something you hate doing, why not give it a new fun name? For example, you might be procrastinating about cleaning your house – it’s boring and hardly the job most of us want to be doing. What if you renamed your task to ‘bringing sparkles’? It sounds silly, but it can put a smile on your face and all of a sudden, you feel like a fairy who makes everything around her sparkly and clean.

Set aside time for play

The reason why I usually procrastinate (and I suspect I’m not alone) is because I’m tired, I haven’t had time to myself for a while and I simply can’t fit in the things that I want to do, so they sneak on me at the wrong moment. The best way to deal with this is to give in and set aside time for yourself.

If you enjoy Facebook, but it distracts you from the task at hand, put time on your calendar to get busy with Facebook updates. If you keep on ‘accidentally’ turning on that game on your smart phone, schedule some time to play later.

These are some strategies that I use to beat procrastination and they may work for you, too. Something else you can do is simply ask yourself the question: “How can I make this more fun?” It’s always easier to complete a task when we’re enjoying the process.

Image via Pixabay

When Does Lateness Become Plain Rudeness?

There’s no greatness in lateness; when does it become plain disrespect and discourtesy?

RELATED: Pros And Cons Of Working From Home

It’s been said that “punctuality is the soul of business” and I concur. However, I’d also argue that being on time is crucial to both good personal and business relationships. It’s good manners for one, and lets the other person know they’re valued and important.

So, how you deal with people who are constantly late? How many times has a good friend kept you waiting, but never apologised? And what about the business contact who is never, ever on time?

When someone is consistently late, doesn’t provide an adequate explanation or is quite unremorseful and doesn’t acknowledge the inconvenience caused to you when you’re made to wait, lateness can become a great source of hurt and conflict. It just seems damn rude and inconsiderate at the very least, doesn’t it?

Persistent lateness is also very upsetting in a partner or friend because it suggests that the tardy person lacks concern and respect for you – the unfortunate person kept waiting. It takes a certain amount of empathy to realise that frequently keeping someone waiting for an unreasonable time without explanation can cause hurt, is insulting and can cause the one waiting to feel devalued.

lateness, punctuality, time management

And while we can all be late at times, due to circumstances outside of our control like bad traffic, an accident, or sick child, for example, relationship counsellors say it’s very important to provide an explanation and apology to defuse the situation and allow the one kept waiting to move on.

So, why are some people always late? Is it due to having a strong sense of their own importance, a lack of consideration and empathy for the feelings of others, or just down to them being chronically disorganised and lacking a sense of time?

I hate waiting for more than 20 minutes for anyone; that’s about the absolute limit of my patience. My pet hate is long waits at the medical centre for up to 40 minutes or more – sure, I understand emergencies happen, but I think this can be very disrespectful, if not.

It comes down to values, I think; a GP practice which doesn’t consistently make you wait shows they respect your time as much as they respect their own. They’ve clearly made a philosophical and financial decision that it’s not right to make patients sit for way too long in the waiting room.

And when it comes to your personal life, if someone you love is consistently late and they want to fix this problem, a counsellor can help them to develop greater awareness of the impact of their lateness on others, and better organisational and time-management skills.

But if the consistently late person doesn’t see a problem with their lateness and feels no remorse for keeping someone waiting, it’s unlikely that they will change. So, you might have to simply call time on the them – and the relationship.

lateness, punctuality, time management

What do you think is a reasonable length of time to wait for a late person?

Images via Pixabay and thegrindstone.com

5 Ways To Find More ‘Me’ Time

We’re all so busy with work, school, family and home that it seems selfish to even dream about more ‘me’ time, let alone make it a reality. Yet, when you take enough time for yourself, you find that you’re happier, more productive and have more patience for the people around you, so everybody wins. But how exactly do you fit ‘me’ time into your day?

RELATED: Time Alone: The Ultimate Extravagance?

1. Ditch the guilt

Easier said than done, but what if you run an experiment? Take some time out for yourself, then pay attention to how it changes you and your interactions with others. Are you coming up with more creative ideas at work? Are you managing to stay calm when your kids are pushing your buttons? No doubt, you’ll collect proof that ‘me’ time is good for you and good for everyone else, so there’s no reason to feel guilty about it.

2. Accept that you can’t do it all

Occasionally, I’d unexpectedly get some time to myself and instead of enjoying it, I’d find myself frantically going through my to-do list trying to complete as much as I could. Of course, the list wouldn’t get any shorter and I’d miss out on a precious opportunity to relax and do something fun. Does this sound like you, too? If you’re as busy as most of us, it’s rare that you’ll ever get your to-do list down to zero, so instead of stressing about it, accept that you can’t do it all and make ‘me’ time a priority.

3. Ask for help

You’ve managed to ditch the guilt and accept that you can’t do it all, but there are still times when life is so busy that ‘me’ time goes out of the window. You don’t have to do it all alone. Ask your other half or a friend for help, or hire help if you’re desperate.

4. Use pockets of time

When we have 15-20 minutes of free time, we often discard it as insignificant and fill it with meaningless tasks like checking Facebook or folding laundry. Instead of looking for distractions, ask yourself, “What would I like to do?” and start doing it. You’ll be surprised just how much can be done in a short amount of time, plus completion is not the point here. You’re not trying to finish a project, but to engage in an activity that makes you happy and energises you.

5. Invest in your ‘me’ time

If you’re finding that you’re always skipping your ‘me’ time in favour of something else, schedule it in a more formal way and even put some money on the line. Book a class you’ve been wanting to do. Sign up for a workshop. Set up a session with a personal trainer. Then you’ll have a great reason to show up – if you don’t, you’ll have to pay cancellation fees!

Even a little bit of regular ‘me’ time can make a world of difference to your happiness, energy levels and relationships, so make it happen!

Image via Pixabay

How To Create More Time In Your Day

It seems that these days everyone is always on the go and always complaining that there aren’t enough hours in the day. If you’ve tried all the traditional time management techniques and you’re still struggling, here are a few somewhat unusual, but easy and effective tweaks you can use to create more time in your day.

RELATED: How To Find Time For Your Creative Projects

Stop complaining about time

You can choose to believe that you have enough time and that time is on your side. Every time you’re about to complain how busy you are, stop yourself. Are you about to complain because you feel overwhelmed? Replace your thoughts with something positive instead. Do you intend to use the time excuse to avoid something you don’t want to do? Then it’ll be much more effective if you admit it to yourself why you’re avoiding a certain task and deal with the real reason.

It seems hard to believe, but the more you do it, the more you realise that you have a choice how you use your time and you start exercising that choice to your advantage. You also free up a lot of energy from worrying which you can now use for something more productive.


In her book “Creating Time: Using Creativity to Reinvent the Clock and Reclaim Your Life”, Marney Makridakis identifies a number of circumstances that change our perception of time and make it flow slower or faster. Some of the ways to slow down time are not particularly useful (you don’t want to fill your time with experiences you don’t enjoy just to make the clock go slower), but there’s one way that is highly practical – focus on one task at a time. You’ll find time conveniently slowing down for you and your productivity shooting up!

Use pockets of time

Often when we have 5 or 10 free minutes here or there, we simply dismiss them. “We can’t complete anything in this time”, we think and we go on Facebook, turn on the TV or simply wait around for the next thing on our schedule to begin. Yet, if you just start a task and feel OK about not finishing it right there and then, you’ll be surprised how much you can get done in a short period of time. You can declutter a section of your house. You can write an important email. You can make progress on your passion project. You can even do a short meditation and feel peaceful for the rest of the day.

“We never shall have any more time. We have, and we have always had, all the time there is.” ~ Arnold Bennett

Image by geralt via pixabay.com

Pros And Cons Of Working From Home

Is working from home, as a recent study and various people have suggested, actually harder than working from within an office?

As in, when you work for yourself, you often have to have both a business and a creative brain – that’s no easy task! In addition, as some argue, it can be nigh impossible to separate your work life from your home life and achieve a balance when you’re plugging away in a home office.

RELATED: Working From Home: 5 Productivity Tips

Hmm, my jury is out. Certainly, there are many pros and cons with each option, as I’ve discovered since my recent, big career change when I left my full-time employer after a 10-year tenure, while on maternity leave, to become a full-time freelance journalist.

And yet, on the rare occasions when I do think escaping to a tiny, cluttered one-desk partition somewhere would be paradise, I remind myself of some of the tyrannical people and conditions under which I’ve worked, and give myself a little uppercut.

And while I was under no illusions freelancing would be a picnic, it’s certainly proven to be harder than I thought, at times – less Carrie from Sex and the City glamour and more what-the-hell-have-I-done tearing my hair out as I strive to bash out stories while my two toddlers under 3.5 zoom around the room.

Don’t get me wrong – there are many joys and rewards from working from home, but it’s important to understand when you go into business for yourself that you may have a steep learning curve along the way. Here are some “boss babe” business lessons I’ve learnt the hard way:

working from home, careers, time management

It’s business time

Pro: When you work from home, running your own business, you have enormous personal freedom and space in which to produce your best work. And while you still often have to report to a boss when telecommuting, there’s a lot of joy that comes from not having one up in your grill all the time because you work at home.
Con: You, yes you are responsible for everything from the admin and filing through to the invoicing, not to mention your output. There’s no one to delegate tedious tasks to and/or blame for poor workload or dodgy time management. The buck stops with you, baby.

Pants-off Friday

Pro: Working from home, you can go about your daily business however you please. You can even get your kit off if you want to – check out the crazy funsters behind the annual Work In The Nude Day!
Con: Slovenly habits can ensue if you’re not vigilant. I like to dress up a bit and will often do my hair and basic make-up for my work-from-home gig – mainly so as to activate my business brain and resist the temptation to work in my jarmies. I do not particularly enjoy working in the nude, but power to those who do!

working from home, working mums

Politics of fear

Pro: One of the most wondrous aspects of working from home is you don’t have to endure a viper’s nest: work politics will not worry you here – there’s no bully boss, and/or misogynist colleague, or malicious water cooler gossip to contend with.
Con: Working from home can be lonely if you’re not careful. Sometimes, I miss the social interaction and madness of a big newsroom. Happily, social media, not to mention your real friends, are only a mouse click away these days.

Know your enemy

Pro: Working from home means no pesky office co-workers with which to annoy you with their anti-social habits, such as shouting on the phone, stealing your stationery and/or your ideas and leaving half-eaten sandwiches in rotating desk drawers (yes, this actually happened to me).
Con: While you may have escaped dastardly co-workers, working from home may mean having to share your personal space with your husband (who also telecommutes), babies, cat and dog – all of whom will constantly clamour and fight for your attention, no matter how busy you are and how many deadlines you have to meet.

Housework hell

Pro: You often, out of sheer necessity when working for yourself, have to become adept at ignoring that pile of washing, for example, that needs doing if you have an important deadline.
Con: Slave/child labour was abolished and you gotta learn to get better at the work/home juggling act (besides, toddlers don’t make very obedient laundry helpers, either). So, in prioritising housework depending on deadlines, this may mean a slightly messier house for a day, and so be it. Sometimes, something has to give and that’s OK.

working from home, careers, time management

What important business lessons have you learnt working from home?

Main images via www.herworldplus.com; third image via www.news.com.au.

Working From Home: 5 Productivity Tips

With summer here, working from home is getting harder and harder. My thoughts keep on drifting off to the beach and to all the Christmas shopping that I haven’t finished yet. But there’s still a bit of time until the holiday and work needs to get done. If you’re like me and struggling to get motivated, here are some tips to help you stay productive.

RELATED: Make Working From Home Work For You

1. Get enough sleep

It’s very tempting to use the late hours of the night for work and do something more fun during the day, but by sacrificing your sleep you’re killing your productivity. Want proof? Just time how long a task takes when you’re at your best and when you’re sleep deprived. I’ve experimented with my own productivity and I’ve found that the most mundane tasks can take me up to two times longer when I’m overtired.

2. Schedule time for your work

Flexibility was probably one of the reasons why you started working from home in the first place, but have too much flexibility and it’s very easy to find yourself working in the small hours of the morning to complete a project before a deadline. It’s a much more sustainable approach to schedule time for your work and stick to it.

3. Organise your work space

Have everything you need at hand and nothing else that could distract you. Don’t keep a bunch of unrelated books, papers and your kids’ toys around you, you’ll be taking precious time to find things when you need them. A TV playing in the background doesn’t help either.

4. Focus on one task at a time

It might be counter-intuitive, but multi-tasking won’t help you get your work done faster. Turn off your email notifications, stay off social media and don’t open too many screens on your computer. Instead, schedule a little bit a play time during your day to allow yourself to get distracted and catch up on social updates.

5. Take breaks

This is another temptation to avoid – to do everything as fast as you can and without breaks, so that you can have more time for other things later. Not only as you get tired, you’ll be slower at what you’re doing, you’ll also finish your working day exhausted and you won’t enjoy you after-work time nearly as much as you were hoping to.

Bonus tip: There’s no one way of doing anything. Learn from others and try out different things, then figure out what works for you.

Image by TheAngryTeddy via pixabay.com

How To Get Motivated – And Stay That Way

Perhaps you to find the motivation to do the laundry or write a novel. If you are struggling to get moving, follow through on those goals and commitments with the help of these tips.

RELATED: How to find time for your creative projects

1. Change out of your pyjamas

It’s not so much a change of clothes, as a change in your state of mind. Some people recommend not doing work in your bedroom because you associate this room with sleep. Others can’t get anything done without a shower and a clean working space. But staying in your pyjamas gives you one less reason to get moving, get out of the house, and get to work.

2. Get inspired

Even if you think it’s corny, collect inspirational quotes – and review them from time to time when you’re feeling a dull patch. Personally, I have go-to TED Talks and poems. Read a book or listen to music get your mind rolling and blood pumping. Seek out material and activities that you enjoy, and people whose company fuels your soul. In short, get excited about life and find reason in what you’re trying to achieve!

3. Just do it

Nike was right all along – just do it. Don’t make excuses. Whether you need to exercise, respond to an email, or compose an aria – you need to get to it! Don’t tell yourself the weather is bad or you had bad dreams last night. Sit yourself down (or get yourself up) and just throw yourself into it.

4. Disconnect

Oh dear, a day without the internet?! While once upon a time, television was seen as the enemy of productivity; today, it is social media. Sure, Game of Thrones might still be around to distract you, but we are all know how easily a casual browse through your Facebook feed can turn into a four-hour rabbit hole of Buzzfeed quizzes and Wikipedia. Also, you don’t need to perpetually be connected. Constantly being within an arms reach of your mobile is completely unnecessary and totally distracting. I don’t care if you haven’t finished this article yet, if you have something to do… bookmark it and walk away.

5. Reconnect

Don’t forget to lean on others for support. It may be as subtle as announcing your intention to achieve something to someone else – you are less likely to pull out of a commitment if you have someone watching over you. Perhaps you would rather go talk to a friend, seek their support and perhaps they will remind you of what you are capable of.

6. Relax

Sure, some things need to be done on a deadline, but use your spare time wisely. Give yourself a good sleep, meditate on your lunch break, and just take some time every day to gather your thoughts. Taking a step back from your task and getting some perspective can be a far more effective and intelligent way to work, and will often allow you to refocus on what actually needs to be achieved.

7. Make time

We can all get weighed down in menial, everyday tasks, like doing the housework, that distract us from something more important. Make time to execute your goals, even if it’s just a planning session, remembering that staying on track with your life is far more important than vacuuming your bedroom.

8. Be brave

There is nothing more rewarding than surprising yourself. For example, I’ve been taking steps in being more assertive – speaking up about things I would have previously died before saying. In some cases they have worked out and sometimes they haven’t. However, even when they haven’t resulted in what I imagined, I’ve felt proud of myself for achieving something I was previously too scared to do, for being honest and true to myself, and then being more excited that, instead of belittling myself for a “failure”, I patted myself on the back for making progress.

9. Take baby steps

If you’re in a serious slump or suffering depression, start small and remind yourself that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Remember that the something is always better than nothing and reward yourself for your achievements, no matter how small. Make a to-do list and pat yourself on the back as you check things off. The best way to remind yourself you can do it, is by doing something (anything!), and recognising that you have achieved. Which brings me to…

10. Practice self-love

Ever been told that you are your own worst enemy? Being self-critical is not the key to success. Contrarily, perfectionism is more likely to contribute to low confidence and feelings of doubt that inhibit your ability to achieve. Be gentle with yourself. Treat yourself like a close friend and forgive yourself for mistakes and work to understand your misgivings. If you have spent all of today in your pyjamas, recognise that this was merely a mistake and you won’t make the same one tomorrow. Be kind to yourself!

The Secret To Exceptional Productivity

Most of us are trying to do many things at the same time. We plan our day while cooking breakfast. We talk on the phone while finalising a work report. We interrupt what we’re doing to check the latest message that has just arrived in our inbox.

We feel like we’re completing more, but research shows that when we’re multi-tasking our productivity decreases dramatically. Not only we’re not achieving as much, but we make more mistakes, miss things and overall perform at a lower level than those of us who do one thing at a time.

So what’s the secret to exceptional productivity?

Focus. Do one thing at a time. You’ll work faster and produce better quality. You’ll lose the feeling of being pulled in many different directions and the time speeding past you. Even your time alone and with your family will become more meaningful.

It sounds great, but how can we transition from what we know into a state of focus? Is it even possible?

Start small

It’s taken years to create a habit of multi-tasking and it won’t go away easily as soon as you decide to do one thing at a time. This doesn’t mean that you can’t experience the benefits of focus immediately. Even if you do it for 30 minutes or an hour a day to start with, you’ll be surprised at the results you get.

A timer is a great tool to use when you’re experimenting with focus. Decide what you’ll be working on, set your timer for 30 minutes and challenge yourself to only work on that task until the time runs out.

Work on the essential tasks first

Spend a few minutes determining what needs to get done on that day and what’s important long-term. Then work on those tasks first. There’s a sense of achievement and increased energy that comes with completing something important. You may also find that all the little tasks that kept you busy before are no longer needed and you’ve created more time to work on what really matters.

Eliminate distractions

This may not always be possible, when you work in a busy office, so just do your best. Choose the quietest time of the day for your focused time. Turn off email, social media and phone notifications. Clear your desk. Ask your colleagues or family members to minimise interruptions.

Take breaks

Every so often go for a walk, spend some time in the sun, stretch, breath to let yourself clear your mind. Clarity will help you recognise the tasks that will give you the best return on your time. You’ll also be inviting new ideas on how to complete your tasks in the most efficient way.

I invite you to try this approach and decide for yourself if it works for you. What are you going to focus on today?

Image from deathtothestockphoto.com

By Tatiana Apostolova

How To Find Time For Your Creative Projects

Do you have a project (or a dozen of them) that you’ve wanted to do forever, but never quite managed to fit into your busy schedule? If after all this time your project still on your mind, it must be something you really want to do, so go for it! Here’s how:

Choose one project

This is the stumbling block for many of us. You feel that, if you choose one, you’re saying ‘no’ to all the rest of your projects and ideas. But if you don’t choose, you’re saying ‘no’ to all of them. Just pick the one you feel most drawn to at this time and run with it. It’s not a lifelong commitment and if it helps, you can put a time limit to it. For example, you can decide to stay with a project for 30 days, then move on to something else. And if you’re still struggling to pick one, then pick two. Or three, but no more than that.

Schedule 15 minutes a day

Often we wait until we have a chunk of time that we think is reasonable – a couple of hours, a day or a weekend. And then there’s always something else, more important, to fill that chunk of time with. But if you take just 15 minutes a day (everyone has 15 minutes, right?), you’ll be surprised just how much you can get done and how quickly the minutes add up. Can’t find 15 minutes every day? Make it every second day. As long as you give your creative endeavour attention on a regular basis, you’ll build momentum and you’ll see your project grow. Now get a timer, set it for 15 minutes and go!

Protect your creative time

Once you put your 15 minutes on your schedule, stick with it. Say ‘no’ to unexpected requests. Turn off your phone. Don’t check your email. If you find yourself constantly interrupted when you’re at home, take yourself to a café or the local library. You may feel guilty and uncomfortable at first, but you deserve your creative time and the truth is, most of us can step away from our day-to-day lives without causing a major disaster.

As you engage your creativity, you’ll find increase energy, focus and passion that overflow into other areas of your life. Both you and the world around you will soon see the benefits of nurturing your creative side.

Image by ziggy2012 via pixabay.com

By Tatiana Apostolova

The Art of Saying No

We all lead very busy lives and stress compounds when we have to fit additional commitments into our already busy schedules or worse commit our valuable time to tasks that leaves us feeling unappreciated.

Imagine how different life could be if you understood why you say yes (when you want to scream “no”) and only agreed to commitments that make your heart sing?

1. Why we say yes

We’ve been programmed to say yes in order to keep the peace. These automated responses were instilled in us from our well-meaning parents who conveyed that it’s wrong to hurt the feelings of others. I’m sure we can all remember words rabbited over time such as “don’t hit your sister,” “don’t be selfish – can’t you share that” or “I don’t have time for this or that.” Over time we shut down our own emotional needs in order to keep others happy. Over time stress compounds as we struggle under the weight of agreeing to these requests.

2. Have good boundaries

People who have good boundaries normally have no trouble saying no.  They understand that their happiness is paramount in their decision making process. They also possess the necessary skills to communicate “this is how I like to be treated and that I matter.”

Boundaries can be as simple as:

I like it when…

I do not like…

I will never…

I hate it when…

3. Stop the automatic yes

When a request comes your way here’s a simple trick that will stop the automatic yes from tumbling out.

Simply pin your tongue, to the roof of your mouth and take a deep breathe.

This short lag not only prevents your old conditioning from kicking in ( by saying yes)  and  will allow you time to assess your true feelings.

4. The decline – thanks but no thanks

Stress comes into play when you say yes then spend the next hour or day thinking up an excuse (which is really a lie you tell yourself) in order to negate the offer.  Wouldn’t it be easier to just say no in the first place?

If a request comes your way and you’re unsure of your decision use a delay tactic such as: I need to check my diary, with my husband or the kid’s schedule.

If you then decide that the request is not for you, tell the person straight away.  Use:

  • Thank you for your kind offer but that’s not for me
  • Thank you for your offer but I have something else on
  • I hope you have a great time but the invite does not interest me

The person may be disheartened; and this is where you need to stay strong. Guilt will make you feel like you need to justify your actions; however this is not something you should do. Once you start to respond it can be like opening a door and allowing the other person to enter. This is where they’ll pressure you to change your mind. Being firm with your response closes that door-end of discussion.

5. What if they become upset?

Did you know your memories have emotions attached to them?  When a memory is jogged the attached emotion surfaces and triggers our actions or reactions.

When someone becomes upset understand that it’s their emotion (they may be feeling rejected) causing their actions (being angry with you.)  It is in no way your fault. However you can help them by reassuring them that your decision does not mean you do not care.

A true friend would understand without the need to make you feel guilty, family on the other hand are another story and staying strong may be much harder.

6. The catch up

If you sense that someone is hurt by your no (remembering it’s their emotions making them feel that way) offer a catch up. A catch up shortly afterwards is a great way of showing you still care for them (which will negate their feelings of rejection.

7. Practice makes perfect

Declining offers at first will feel very strange; you may even feel guilty about not attending certain events. However when you put your own happiness first spending time with people who don’t make your heart sing will become less of a priority.

It never ceases to surprise me the amount of people who are prepared to be unhappy in their comfort zone (attending functions they dislike) rather than venturing outside (by declining) and seeing what is possible.

Once you learn “the art of saying no” you’re old childhood conditioning will disappear and as you become empowered stress in your life will also dissipate.

Leann Middlemass blogs about emotional wellness at My Destiny.

How to Manage Your Time?

How to time manage your life and still have fun. Never enough hours in the day to get everything done? The answer is simple, just learn how to time manage your life. You’ll have a lot more time on your hands and a lot more fun. By Sarah McIntyre, SheSaid’s resident Life Coach.

(For a free trial session with a life coach at Sarah’s practice, “coach2balance” see details at the end of this story.)

How many of us spend oodles of time thinking about what we are going to do? The majority of our time is actually spent worrying or considering what to do as opposed to just doing it. So what can we do about it?

The Paradox of Time

“If we think too much about time, we will tie ourselves in philosophical knots- and distract ourselves from the goal of relaxation. Yet to meditate occasionally upon some of the many paradoxes of time can help us to ensure that we are not too much enslaved by the tyranny of the clock. Time is nature’s way of preventing everything happening at once.” Mike George (Author of Learn to Relax)

Now let’s put things into perspective and work out what we actually need to do to get things done and make them fun. I truly believe there are ways you can make everything you need to do fun and do them in a timely manner.

The Reasons Why

  • Ask yourself why you do not do things. Is it because there are not enough hours in the day? Are you wasting time in the mornings? Are you chatting on the phone and wasting time at work? Do you suffer from the procrastination ‘I’ll do it tomorrow’ syndrome?

Work out the real reasons why, then draw up a list of what stops you.

  • The next step is to look at what you spend your time doing. The best way is to monitor your time for a week. Create a time chart and write in (honestly) for every hour, what you spent your time doing.
  • After the week is complete look over it and identify the gaps. Where can I delegate? Can I outsource tasks? This may mean you need to communicate with friends, your boss or your partner so that you create ‘time to think’ in your life.
Win 10K cash
Win a brand new Audi