Top 5 Tips for Creating Balance in your Life

Top 5 Tips for Creating Balance in your Life

Is Your Work-Life Balance Causing You Stress? Here’s How To Fix It!

We all know that work-life balance is important, but what does that really mean? We’ve all been there… you work from home and the kids are off school, so your attention is divided. Or, you’re working long hours that eat into your personal time. Maybe you are under financial pressure and feel you have no choice but to prioritise work over family time. When you are spinning many plates, it brings many feelings, including guilt, worry and stress!

What if we thought about it in a different way? Life is messy, unpredictable and full of surprises, so forget trying to achieve a perfect balance. You will never get there!

Instead, think about work-life integration. Work-life integration means being able to bring your work and personal life together seamlessly. It means making choices that make sense for you, your family and your job. It’s not about balancing things out, it’s about integrating everything as best you can to suit your lifestyle and make life that little bit easier. Here are my top tips for achieving work-life integration:

1. Take regular breaks and get outside every day

If you’re working from home, or even if you’re not, it’s so important to take regular breaks throughout the day and make sure you get outside, even if it’s just for a short walk around the block. Getting some fresh air helps clear your mind and makes you feel more refreshed when you return to your desk. It also means that you can get some exercise in whilst fitting it into your day without having to make time for a separate workout later on. Win win!

2. Set your own hours and stick to them!

If possible, set your own hours and try to stick to them. For example, if you start work at 9am, then aim to finish at 5pm (or whatever time suits you). This means you have some time in the evenings with your family or doing something fun. This might not always be possible but it’s worth aiming for.

3. Set boundaries

Having clear boundaries for yourself is essential to your well-being, and the structure helps you stay focused and organised. One quick change you can make is to not take work calls or check emails outside of work hours. It can be difficult to switch off from work when you’re always connected, so setting boundaries will help you integrate work and life in a healthy way.

4. Make time for the things that matter to you

You can’t have a healthy work-life integration if you’re constantly putting your job before everything else. Make sure you take time for the things that are important to you, whether that’s your family, your friends, your hobbies, or just some time for yourself.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

If you’re struggling to find balance in your life, don’t be afraid to ask for help from a friend, family member, or professional. Sometimes we need a little bit of help to get back on track. Accept that you’re only human, and that you can’t do everything all of the time.

As an OBM and VA, I can help you take back control of your time and find a better way to integrate work and life. Outsourcing some of your work can help you handle the mundane tasks that eat up your time, help you stay organised and on track, and give you more time for the things you love.

The modern way of working means that the lines between work and personal time are increasingly blurred. With the help of a VA, you can get more of your personal time back and create a work-life routine that helps you thrive. If you are ready to make some changes, feel free to schedule a call!

How to Use Time Blocking to Boost Productivity

How to Use Time Blocking to Boost Productivity

Have you heard of time blocking? This is a simple method of structuring your time so that you use it more effectively and become more productive. Many of us wish there were more hours in the day to get things done, especially when there are so many things competing for our attention on a daily basis. For example, you might be working on one thing, when suddenly you become pulled in a different direction. In this manner, you are reacting to the challenges of the day, rather than being in control of them. So, how can time blocking help?

What is Time Blocking?

Put simply, time blocking is scheduling out blocks of time throughout the day to work on specific things. Marking these blocks in colour on a calendar is an excellent way to get a visual overview of how you need to spend your time, not only to complete tasks, but to avoid spending too much time on the things that don’t need it. For example, you could block 30 minutes in the morning and afternoon to read and respond to emails. That way, you can stop checking it throughout the day, saving you time and mental energy.

Each time block can be used to work on a single task, or a small group of similar tasks, helping to eliminate distractions and make you more productive. But there is also another benefit. Because you can time block in advance, you can create a plan that gets everything done, without having to constantly make choices about what to concentrate on. All you must do is follow your calendar!

Here’s an example of my own time blocking:

You may need to play around with the lengths of time blocks before you find what works for your situation. For me, once I know how many hours per day I need to dedicate to each client, it makes it easy to know how much time to block out to do the work.

I also think it is important to block out time for oneself, either as breaks or to do something you enjoy. By doing so, you can refresh and reset your mind before your next work time block.

Why Time Blocking works

Time blocking allows you to find your flow! We often need to stay focused on a task for some time before we unlock our creativity or get into that zone we need to be in to make real progress. The ‘deep focus’ gives us the opportunity to access that golden state of concentration, something that is hard to achieve when your attention is being directed to many other tasks.

Also, when something is scheduled, and you can see it in bold colour on your calendar, you are more likely to commit to it. There is a famous quote known as Parkinson’s law, “work expands to fill the time available for its completion.” Open ended timelines are a breeding ground for procrastination, so time blocking can be a way to find the focus you need to see jobs through to completion, reduce stress, and achieve more.

Time blocking can help you stay focused and remove those distractions that compete for our attention throughout the day. It helps lessen feelings of overwhelm, and gain clarity over your priorities. Many people who use time blocking feel more relaxed and in control of their workload, making them more effective at what they do.

If you are feeling the strain of running your own business, I can help. I offer a range of OBM and VA services that can help free up your time, enabling you to take your business to the next level. For more information, drop me a line!

How to Switch Off and Be More Productive

How to Switch Off and Be More Productive

There’s a fine art to productivity, and ‘how to be more productive’ is a very popular internet search. There are a staggering amount of tips, apps and tools that claim to make you more productive as a person, both in your work and your home life. With so much choice, learning to be more productive can actually become overwhelming in itself, leading to even more procrastination and uncertainty about how to tackle your tasks. Sometimes we need to learn to switch off in order to get stuff done!

Are too many productivity tools slowing you down?

To begin switching off, take a look at all the tools you use on a daily basis. There are some great productivity tools out there, and something on offer for almost every kind of task. For example, there’s ClickUp, Trello and Asana for project management. There are diary management and scheduling tools such as Calendly, and social media management tools such as Loomly and Hootsuite. What about basic Google Docs and good old-fashioned pen and paper? They are also common tools people use every day.

It doesn’t really matter what tools you use, as long as they work for you. Once you have found something useful, stick with it. It’s much better to use one or two tools effectively than waste time trying to manage several tools at once.

The benefit of being offline

After a storm in rural France where I live, I was without internet. You can read about it here. At first, it sent me into a kind of spin, as much of my work is based online. But, being without internet actually allowed me to focus and be more productive as a result.

The problem with the internet is that it is a huge distraction. You could be working away and you notice a new email ping into your inbox, so you stop what you’re doing to read it. Over the course of a day, many small distractions can lead to a big decrease in productivity.

When online, you probably have a lot of tabs open as you jump from one page to another. This encourages multitasking, which is yet another method of working that really slows you down.

If you do need to be online to do a particular task, turn everything else off. This means putting your phone on silent, closing down unnecessary tabs, including email. You will find that you get the job done more quickly, and often with much less stress and pressure as other things aren’t competing for your attention

Take regular breaks

If you are someone who struggles with productivity, taking regular breaks throughout the day can help reset your mind before continuing with a task. It might sound contradictive to take more breaks when you are busy, but when you are feeling stressed over a task, working without a break can lead to burnout and make you feel miserable! You will find you get more done in twenty minutes of positive action followed by a short break, than in an hour of slogging through a task with no break in sight.

The bottom line

Many people get caught up in the productivity trap, where they become so keen trying out new apps or reading about productivity online that it has the opposite effect. Sometimes you simply have to switch off the distractions and get stuff done!

The world will not stop if you don’t check your email for a few hours, or you turn off the notifications on your phone. By prioritising one task and zoning out the rest, you’ll be surprised at how much you can achieve.

If you are feeling overwhelmed and would like some help with online business management, feel free to get in touch!

Tips and Tricks to Put Your Social Media Marketing on Autopilot

Tips and Tricks to Put Your Social Media Marketing on Autopilot

Guest Post by Scott Cross

Know Your Target Audience

If you want to make social media marketing as easy as possible, the very first step is to understand who your target audience genuinely is.  In other words, you need to know the average age, gender, geographic location, hobbies and interests of your ideal customers.  Your ideal customers are the people who are most likely to interact and make a purchase or transaction with your business. 

Whether you’re using Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or any other social platforms, you should have access to some basic audience analytics and insights. Before you can sit back and have your social media on autopilot, you’ll need to dig into your analytics and learn as much as you can about your target audience.  You might have some older audience members, some younger, some male, and some are females, which can make honing in on your ideal customers tricky.  But the idea is to get a better idea of who is most likely to interact with your brand.  By understanding who your audience is, you’ll be able to make better, more informed decisions about your social media marketing.  And, by making better social media marketing decisions, being active on your social platforms will be easier and your efforts will resonate better with your audience. 

Create A Social Calendar

Another major hurdle when it comes to social media marketing is knowing what type of content to post.  That’s why we highly recommend that you create a social media calendar outlining all content that you want to post for several weeks to a month in advance.  When you do this, you can plan your content out around any upcoming holidays or industry events that might be relevant to your business. 

Finally, don’t forget to include your branding such as your logo on your social media to make your company more memorable to your followers.  Create a business logo here

Use A Social Media Scheduler

The final step in putting your social media on autopilot is to start using a social media scheduler.  With tools like Buffer or Hootsuite, you can schedule your social media posts days, weeks and months in advance.  You can also set it up so that your posts will go live not only on one platform but all platforms where your business is active.  Once you do this, rather than logging on to social media every morning, you’ll only need to take time to work on your social media once every now and then.

Automatic Social Media Marketing For Business

One of the most common complaints we hear from business owners is that they find it challenging to balance maintaining their presence while overseeing their day-to-day operations.  However, in today’s digital landscape, social media is one of the best ways to connect and engage your target audience.  Therefore, it’s crucial to study your audience, create a social media calendar and then get started sharing content regularly so that your business can stay engaged online.  And at the same time, you can focus on the things that matter most!

10 Best Tools Every Small Business Should Use

10 Best Tools Every Small Business Should Use

Tools help us to organise and manage work effectively and efficiently, and as many small businesses and entrepreneurs use them, there are an increasing amount available. From CRM systems and project management, to email marketing and workflow automation, there are hundreds of tools to choose from. So, how do we know which is best for the job? Here’s a quick guide to ten of the best tools every small business should use.

Project Management

  1. Asana – a tool that allows multiple teams to work on multiple projects. Tasks can be viewed as lists or scheduled into a calendar, and messages or updates to do with tasks are clear to see. Asana can email your team each day to remind them of their daily goals. Its intuitive interface makes it one of the most popular management tools in use.
  2. ClickUp – an effective tool for teams to collaborate on multiple projects. There are some cool features that make it different from Asana, such as being able to turn comments in to tasks to assign to others, plus its Forever Free plan means you can use it for unlimited projects and unlimited users.

Email Marketing

  1. MailChimp – with MailChimp, you can manage your email subscribers, set up auto-responders, send lead magnets, and split-test campaigns to see what works well. You can also create templates to save you time writing emails, plus it provides excellent real-time tracking of how people respond to your emails, such as who opens them, what links are clicked, who unsubscribes and what email addresses bounce. This popular email marketing platform has a free plan to get started with.
  2. InfusionSoft – this tool is great if you want everything that MailChimp does, but combined with some awesome customer relationship management (CRM) features. Use InfusionSoft to help convert leads into sales, segment your subscribers to send specific emails to different groups, and use the built-in ecommerce platform to sell to them directly.

Social Media

  1. Hootsuite – a useful tool that manages all your social media platforms in one place. You can pre-write and schedule your tweets and posts in advance, respond to new comments, see your feeds and new followers all within Hootsuite. This saves you hours of time going between social media platforms and makes it easy to engage with followers.

Files and Documents

  1. Google Drive – Google Drive makes it easy and convenient to share and store files. This cloud-storage platform means that anyone can view a file provided they have internet access and an invite. For business owners, you can allow team access so people can work in collaboration on documents and spreadsheets, and they are synced in real-time. That means that anytime someone views a file, it is always up-to-date. In addition to file sharing, it is also easy to connect with your team through chats and video using Google Meet.

Scheduling

  1. Calendly – an absolute time-saver when it comes to arranging meetings and calls, Calendly allows you to communicate your availability through a link, and customers or clients can book a call when it is convenient for them. This simple scheduling program syncs with your calendar, so you always know who is booked in and when. It also integrates with Zoom and Microsoft Teams. The free version is ideal for one user, and the price is low for other plans with more features.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

  1. HubSpot –a marketing and sales platform that is full of features to help attract customers, sell to them, and turn them into repeat buyers. It has the tools ready to create a fantastic customer experience as they journey through the sales process and learn more about your brand. It includes features such as email marketing, advert software, website tools and a service hub where you can collaborate with your team. HubSpot is an all-in-one solution to scaling up a business.
  2. Zoho – this CRM platform is similar to HubSpot, however it is more streamlined in terms of features. For example, it does not have the team collaboration ability that HubSpot does, but not all business owners want an all-in-one solution. Although the CRM part of HubSpot is free, Zoho offers cheaper pricing plans overall.

Workflows

  1. Zapier – this platform allows for easy sharing of information between apps, helping to automate workflows. Connect two or more apps to create a ‘zap’, which then triggers more actions that you set, automating those repetitive tasks and saving you time. With over 3000 apps to choose from, there is not much that Zapier can’t connect!

Using the right tools for business is a must, as working efficiently saves you time and money. When you are not chasing to keep up, you can put your energy into developing and scaling your business further. If you are looking for advice on setting up systems to help you work smarter, or would like help to implement the right tools for your business, feel free to get in touch!

How Automation Tools Can Boost Your Business

How Automation Tools Can Boost Your Business

When you run a business, there are always ongoing jobs that take up precious time. It can be frustrating to spend hours on tasks that need doing, yet which don’t necessarily push your business forward, bring in money, or drive growth. Luckily, there are some ways to make life easier and free up more time to focus on other areas of your business, and that is by using automation tools. Here’s a quick guide to some business processes and workflows that can be automated, and some of the best tools to use.

Accounting

Even though we live in the digital era, accounting still uses many different processes and ways to gather information. It may involve data entry into numerous spreadsheets, electronic and paper invoices, filing, and using a calculator. But, using automation tools can save you time, eliminate human error, and give you the convenience of retrieving information whenever you need it. What’s more, many of the tools will merge seamlessly with your accounting software and can interact with one another. For example, payments that arrive through a gateway such as Stripe or PayPal can assimilate with accounting software, for an invoice or receipt to be created using a tool such as Zapier.

Not just for accounting, Zapier is a fantastic tool for connecting different apps and automating many business processes. It allows data to be shared from many apps you use, and passes information between them, so workflows become more streamlined.

Call Scheduling

Call scheduling tools make it easy for clients or people interested in your services to book a time slot for a call. It is then automatically added to a calendar so you can see exactly what is booked in on any day. This saves you time on sending correspondence via email to arrange appointments, and organising your diary.

Some of the best call scheduling tools are Calendly, ScheduleOnce, HubSpot and YouCanBook.me (I use this one), and most will also sync with Google apps such as Google Calendar and Gmail.

Social Media

Creating an engaged community around your business is an essential part of marketing, but posting on social media takes time. This is especially true if you have an audience on many different platforms. One great way to save time is to use social media scheduling tools. This means you can batch create posts and set them to be published at the best times of day to reach your audience, and it can be done in advance.

Tools such as Hootsuite can schedule posts across different platforms, and you can also reply to comments, see new followers and keep an eye on your timeline too. Other options include Social Sprout, Buffer and Later. The key features of many of these tools allow you manage multiple social media platforms from one place, saving time.

Lead Magnets and Email Marketing

When someone lands on your website, one of the best ways for them to become a customer or client is to offer them something, in return for their email address. Once you have a subscriber, you can then contact them directly with news of the services you provide. Lead magnets include useful resources, such as a planner or template, an eBook, a mini email course or taster coaching session.

Once you have your lead magnet created, it can automatically be sent once a website visitor has opted in. Every new subscriber will follow the same path, and receive a lead magnet and set of follow up emails over time, automatically. One of the most commonly used tools for this is MailChimp. Other options include ActiveCampaign, InfusionSoft and ConvertKit.

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Using automation tools can be a great benefit to your business, and many are free to begin with. As your business grows, or you increase your use of the tools, you may need to upgrade to use additional features. When running a business, smooth workflows makes all the difference. If you want some helpful advice on how we can work together to streamline your processes, feel free to get in touch.