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Time-management

4 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Going Freelance

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

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

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!

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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.

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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

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

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.

Focus

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.

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.