Organise your Office for Outstanding Results

This month we’ve been guiding our members to overhaul their offices for success. When you organise your work environment, you optimise your surroundings for productivity and increase your ability to work effectively. stunning office 2[1]

The actions you take today to organise your office will also save you considerable amounts of time, money and energy.

A disorganised office costs more to run. Supplies, tools and equipment go missing because nothing is organised or put away properly. Those things have to be replaced to get the job done, and twice as much money has been spent in the end. Plus, you spend valuable time searching for missing items, files or paperwork.

In fact, some studies have revealed that the average business owner spends nearly four weeks each year navigating through messy or cluttered desks, looking for lost information. Does that sound like productive time to you?

In our online course, ‘Milking It’ we cover:

  • The psychological impacts of a clean and organized workspace
  • The financial benefits of an organized workspace
  • How to audit your work environment
  • How to implement small changes in your office that will increase productivity
  • Making sure that your office is equipped with productivity tools

If I haven’t convinced you yet, read these benefits of taking the time to create an organized and well-structured office.

  • Better communication. An organised office environment encourages better internal communication. With a central area for staff communication, it is easier to share sales news, track targets, and plan and monitor projects.
  • A manageable budget. Organised spaces will allow you to quickly see what you have, what you need, and when you might need more. This supports the creation and sustaining of budgets, especially for supplies and equipment.
  • Increased work ethic and morale. When you and your staff take care of your surroundings, it makes the workplace a more pleasant place. Taking care shows that you value your work and the people who work for you.
  • Better time management. Simply put, you spend less time looking for things and more time actually working. An organized office will complement and support your time management strategies.

Stay tuned for some office organizing tips.

How to Create a Vision for Your Business

Are you ready to start turning your ideas / passion into money?

Whether or not you have your business up and running yet it’s critical you begin to visualise an existing business and see yourself running a successful enterprise. When I’m faced with challenges in my business, it’s my vision that keeps me going. When I look at the inspiring vision I set when I started my company, all complications fade and I’m motivated to push through and carry on.

Every major company in the world has a vision or mission statement – a broad, futuristic idea of what their company will achieve and look like in the future. Our five-step process helps you get there, but you need to know where “there” is first.

So, let’s take a look at what a vision statement is, and why it’s important for you to create one for your business.

A vision statement is a broad, inspiring image of the future state a business aspires to reach. It describes without specifying how aspirations will be achieved, or when. It’s ambitious and forward-thinking. It’s not about where the organization is now… it’s about what the organization will be, or aspires to be.

A vision statement needs to:

  • describe aspirations and intent
  • be inspirational for your future staff and customers
  • project a compelling story • paint a clear picture
  • use engaging and descriptive language
  • be realistic
  • align with your company’s values

The vision statement will also provide a clear criteria or measuring stick for decision-making. When making tough choices, ask “Does this support the vision statement?” If major initiatives don’t support the overall business vision, chances are they aren’t worth the investment of time and money.

If your business doesn’t have a vision statement, it needs one. If you already have one, then take this opportunity to strengthen it or make sure it’s aligned with the current dream you have for yourself and your company.

Your vision statement – once created, agreed to and perfected – should remain consistent and unchanged for several years.

Your staff need a strong, clear vision statement just as much as you do. When creating a vision statement, keep this in mind. The vision will need to be something that your staff can embrace, get excited about and that will motivate, inspire and build morale.

How will you communicate your vision to your employees once you’ve created it? How can you inspire them to nurture and support your vision on a daily basis, and in everything they do? How can you empower and motivate them to take ownership of the company’s future and their stake in it?

Let’s start creating your unique vision statement.

1. Start by looking at your strengths and weaknesses from the perspective of everyone who does business with you.

Think about strengths and weaknesses from the perspective of customers, staff, management, vendors or suppliers and owners.

For example, what would your customers say about your customer service standards? Would this area be considered a strength or a weakness? What would your staff say, or what would you want them to say about training and professional development opportunities? What do you think about your income and overall financial growth? Use this chart as a guide:

Strengths Weaknesses Customers Customer service Product or service availability and quality Business location Business image Staff Training Salary Professional development Benefits Quality of work environment Management Training Benefits Staff skills Vendors / Suppliers Product or service quality Owner (You) Income Business image Salary

2. Analyze your observations, and remember that your weaknesses represent great opportunities for change and improvement, while your strengths need to be nurtured and developed.

Take a look at what you’ve written and answer the following questions on your pad of paper:

  • What does the overall picture look like?
  • How does the overall picture align with the dream you have for your business?
  • What great achievements and qualities exist in the strengths section? (List 10)
  • What opportunities exist in the weaknesses section? (List 10)

3. Now that you’ve assessed where your business stands today, where do you want it to be? What opportunities exist?

Here you will take the strengths and opportunities you identified in step one, the analysis you completed in step two and start describing them in words. Use the chart below as your guide. Write three sentences that describe the future state of your business.

3. What opportunities and aspirations are the highest priorities for you and your business?

Take the sentences you created above and list them in order of importance to you. You may have to do this several times before you feel the order is accurate. Then combine duplicate sentences or ones that describe similar things. Once you’ve finished your list, take the top three to five sentences and combine them into a cohesive paragraph.

4. Refine your statements so that they’re broad, future-oriented and use words that reflect your values, priorities and dreams.

You need to refine your statement so it’s smooth, clear and easy to understand. Here’s a checklist to use when reviewing the words you’ve written:

  • is it inspirational for your staff and customers?
  • does it project a compelling image? • does it paint a clear picture?
  • have you used engaging and descriptive language?
  • is it realistic? • does it align with your company’s values?

TIP: You can use phrases like:

A leader in… Support the development of… Offer opportunities to… Continually create… Build on… Inspire… Develop… Facilitate… Achieve… Deliver… Bring together…

5. Include your staff in the vision creation process and ask them for feedback.

Do they understand the vision? Do they support it? Does it inspire them? Can they find meaning in their work based on it? Incorporate their feedback where possible and relevant.

6. Put your vision statement where everyone can see it – your staff, management, customers and vendors.

Once you’ve created your vision statement, share it with the world. Your vision is something you’ve committed to, and it lets everyone know where your company is heading. It allows them to see where you want to go, and gives them the opportunity to help you get there.

Now, do you have everything you need to start working towards your vision?

In the Momentum Business Academy e-learning program, we will show you how to work through a comprehensive goal-setting process that will act as the roadmap for achieving your vision. You’ll also review, in depth, the five-step process which is the strategy that you’ll use to achieve your goals, and in turn, the vision you’ve created. Find out more here: www.momentumbusinessacademy.com

Help! I’m drowning in paperwork and e-mails! Where do I start?

Drowning in paperwork? Overwhelmed with your to do list?

You’re not alone. It’s hard to focus on anything when you’re in a mess. Your confidence takes a beating and you feel anxious and stressed. Not to mention snappy with loved ones.

You just KNOW you’ve forgotten something important, you arrive late, leave early, say no to invitations because you don’t have time. If enough’s enough, read on.

Step 1 – Don’t stress. We’ve got you covered. In fact, we’ve helped around 20,000 people sort their mess out and fall in love with their new system for managing paperwork and emails. We’ve done it for big businesses as well. With our help and your determination to get and stay organised, you’ll nail it in no time.

Step 2 – Start fresh today. Don’t look back. Simply forgive yourself for getting into a mess – it happens to the best of us. Now commit to a new system and new way of doing things.

Step 3 – Set up your new paperwork system first before you touch any of your paper or emails. Your system needs to include five main features:

1. an in-tray,
2. a set of folders to separate and contain your regular ‘to dos’ – like Bills to Pay, Correspondence To Complete, Blog to Post, Transactions to enter, Items to read, Contacts to enter, etc.
3. A set of folders for each of your projects – like Summer Holiday, Sale of Car, School enrolments, Business Launch event, etc
4. A set of folders for all the other paperwork and e-mails you need to keep to refer to but you don’t need to act on. Let’s call these your reference library. Important documents like birth certificates, passports, marriage certificate. Another reference folder might contain all your vehicle information, another your health records.
5. And finally the out ‘system’ which is where the paper and e-mails ‘exit’ your life forever – either off to the next stage in the journey, or to the bin or the scanner or into archives (for family history, financial or legal reasons).

Step 4 – create some rules to live by. Each regular ‘to do’ file needs a day of the week that you’ll attend to it. Put it in your diary. Likewise with your projects – what day will you do them on? Decide how many projects is enough in your life at any one time. We recommend no more than 7 or it’s too hard to move them forward. Focus is key.

Step 5 – get an accountability partner to help you and join our member program. We’ll give you all the training and support for setting up your new system and coach you until its second nature.

To find out more, click here

Brigitte’s book Organise your Paperwork is available in Officeworks stores nationwide

The Seven Must Have Features of ANY Storage Solution

Whether you’re shopping at Howards Storage World, The Container Store or the $2 shop, making the right choice in storage makes your life easier and makes your spaces work hard for you.

So you’re all inspired to get organised, you’ve got a 45 minute window and you’re chomping at the bit to buy something! The tendency can be to jump at the gorgeous container on the shelf in front of you but then find it doesn’t work when you get home.

These seven tips will help you choose the best storage solution for your organising challenge and I hope they save you loads of time, energy and money, like they have for me:

  1. Size really matters: Grab that tape measure and always measure your items and the space where the container will need to fit before buying any storage container. (Tip: keep a tape measure in your shopping bag ).
  2. The style factor: Will your containers be on display? If so, what decor do they need to compliment? Consider colour, texture and material (like rattan or metal). If they’re not going to be on display, you’ll have more options of type and price.
  3. Visibility of contents: Consider whether you want to be able to see the contents through a clear container, or prefer them to be concealed. I love clear containers for behind cupboard doors (e.g. in my pantry and ensuite) because I know at a glance what’s in the container. For containers on display, labelling and indexing becomes even more important.
  4. Space saving: Square or rectangular containers use space much more efficiently than rounded containers. I got rid of my round canisters in the pantry years ago for that reason. Also remember the stack-ability of a container and whether you can stack multiples on top where necessary.
  5. Ease of access: Think about how you’ll use the container and make it as easy as possible for yourself. If you don’t need a lid on your container, you’ll have less moves to make to retrieve your items in a hurry. So think about whether you really need the lid. Also, could other features like wheels or handles make the container more portable?
  6. Always remember the UFF (User-friendliness factor): containers get messy and dusty over time, so think about the shape and how easy it will be to clean. It might be pretty but if it has lots of grooves and hard to reach bits, it might be tricky to clean. And if it’s fabric, make sure it can be washed.
  7. Divide and conquer. You might want to separate items in, for example, a drawer, or a vanity cupboard, or a pantry. So consider whether you need divisions within the container for sub-grouping items. The golden rule of keeping ‘like with like’ saves a ton of space and makes things easier to find. If a container you like doesn’t have ‘dividers’ then think about how you can work around that with drawer dividers or other small boxes placed inside, or plastic bags.

Mention: The gorgeous basket above is from www.crateandbarrel.com who now ship to Australia. This image is on my Storage board on Pinterest. Follow it here.

Please feel free to share these tips with anyone you know who’s on an organising spree! I’d love to hear your tips and favourite storage solutions.

Catching Balls at 6am

By far the hardest things to keep track of in my day are my own thoughts and inspiration. Most mornings I get home from the gym, greet my children and then head straight into the kitchen to help with breakfast and lunches and getting everyone ready to go off to school. Whilst cutting carrot sticks and plating up pancakes, I invariably have a stream of thoughts racing randomly through my mind about the things I need to remember to do that day.

I really don’t want to forget these important thoughts and they are usually the most important things that really need to be addressed. While my hands are busy with food and helping, I can’t stop to write it all down, so here’s a quick and easy tool I use to capture those ‘to dos’ before they are forgotten.

I just open the ‘voice memo’ app on my iPhone and literally talk to myself! Here’s an example from today: “Morning B, today you need to remember to…go through Grace’s presentation with her again, make a hair appointment for sat night, send welcome packs to two new clients, go to the ATM to get money for the ironing, pick up the new glasses from OPSM, send the birth certificate to the rugby club for James and help Lachy with his reading.” That’s it.

Then once I’ve dropped the kids off at school, I jump back in the car, play the memo back and write them down. Then looking at the list, it’s a case of the four D’s – what do I DO, what do I DUMP, what do I DELEGATE and what do I DELAY?

See, juggling is simple! xx

It’s as Easy as a Cup of Tea

Welcome to week two of our 2014 Milking it blog. As we said last week, February is the new January (who wants to change the world when they’re on holiday?) so now the kids are back at school, we’re getting down into the business of making this the greatest year of your life, business and home. This week is about your goals: seeing it, feeling it, connecting to it.

Getting the foundations right will ensure that the rest of the year flows. This week, it’s important to carve out some time to look at your 2014 goals (see the last blog) and create a compelling vision for each goal.

Why a vision? A picture tells a thousand words. It’s more efficient to have a picture of what you want than a long essay detailing the kind of house you want. Your mind naturally brings up an image when you think of any outcome you want. So by choosing those images you’re influencing that process. We all need a picture of the end result we’re striving for. When you’re cooking a meal, you start with the end result – an image of the dessert or the special meal we’re creating. You’re in the process now of planning out your life, your business, and your home in detail so you get what you want. You are a whole-brained person. You’re not just a left-brained person. You have emotion, colour, shapes, etc in your mind so you need to engage that thinking. We’re using images to engage our subconscious. The subconscious mind is the driver or the horse that gets us places. How many of us are on auto pilot?

We suddenly arrive at a destination and we don’t remember how we got there? We just get there. That’s our subconscious just driving us. We tie our shoelaces without thinking. The subconscious mind is like our internal GPS system. By feeding it the images we want, ideas will show up, people will show up. It’s all part of the neural conditioning in the brain. So by having a vision of what your heart desires this year, you’ll start to create new neural pathways which will lead to deeper insights and a journey that is aligned with your desires.

Having a vision board engages your reticular activating system – that part of your mind that obediently recalls what you want it to recall at any point in time. For example, you might be looking to buy a new pair of runners, and you decide the brand you want. Suddenly you see those runners everywhere. Yesterday you didn’t notice them, but today you start seeing them everywhere. That’s the reticular activating system at work. Like a periscope popping out from the submarine, it scans the environment and notices the things that are important to us. It’s a survival technique.

So this week, if you can find time to sit and have a coffee, then that’s your moment to create your vision board. Stick figures will do. Magazine clippings, photos, anything that reflects closely the outcome of your goals. Just make sure they are symbols. We’re not looking for perfection here, just progress.

This step in the Milking it journey will get you out of the dangerous world of negatives which is so common in our every day vernacular. We so commonly use negatives to describe what we want: ‘stress-free’, ‘debt-free’, ‘lose weight’, ‘injury-free’, ‘pain-less’ etc, etc. Remember that our brain doesn’t process the negative part of those phrases, only the key words. So those phrases would simply translate as ‘stress, debt, weight, injury, pain’. I think we’re all happy to move out of that world!

Your vision board is putting things out there that are right for you and everyone else.

There’s just one rule this week – it’s got to feel good. You’ve got to feel AHHH yeah! This is possible for me! I really want this! Yeah! You don’t want to feel like ‘this’ll never happen’, or ‘this is way too hard’. We want to look at the board and FEEL great.

When you’ve finished your board, just run it through what I call ‘The Believability Test’ – if you don’t think it’s possible for you, don’t put it up there. Just put the stuff there that you believe is possible for you. Then as those things happen, you can add to it and improve on it.

It’s so refreshing to embrace a genuinely new start to the year. We have a ton of resources in our membership area to help you with this exercise:

  • A workbook, five videos from me explaining the process
  • An hour long MP3 interview with world leading vision board expert Barbara Pellegrino (that was so much fun)
  • A forum full of Milking it members who are all getting into it and having a great time.

If you haven’t signed up yet, we look forward to having you on board. What are you waiting for?

Brigitte, Angie & the DYRTM Team

5 Ways to Launch a Successful Online Business

  1. Decide and Do. Discover a problem that needs a solution. Instead of letting your ideas slip through your fingers, you decide to create a solution.
  2. Test and Test Again. A big reason why so many entrepreneurs fail is because they invest lots of time and money in their products or services before evaluating whether there is a market for them.
  3. Decide if you’re an entrepreneur or an inventor
  4. Find a Mentor
  5. Use Social MediaSuccessful Online Business

How to Build a Successful Online Business

I love the lifestyle that comes from running an online business. I get to work from home each day, set my own hours, choose my own projects, and enjoy abundant income. It’s hard for me to imagine how I’d feed myself without the Internet. When I think about income generation, I immediately think of the web.

I was talking to a successful entrepreneur recently who pointed out that building an online business is an exercise in personal development. He’s absolutely right. I’ve probably learned more valuable life lessons from my entrepreneurial pursuits than from any other areas of my life. Running a business tests you in so many ways — your self-discipline, your intelligence, your communication skills, your focus, etc. If you’re lacking in any of these areas, your business results will reflect it.

The real world of business can be unforgiving. Success is rewarded. Mistakes are punished. The benefit is that it keeps you honest. You can’t settle for weakness, laziness, and bad ideas, or your business will fail. There’s a huge chasm between an idea that sounds good and an idea that actually gets implemented and succeeds under real-world conditions. Anyone can come up with good ideas, but most people can’t successfully implement them.

Some people can’t handle the pressure of running their own business. They worry about the risk of failure. They’re looking at it from the wrong angle though. That risk is precisely the point. Risk is what helps you grow. It makes you stronger. An entrepreneur who fears risk is like a bodybuilder who’s afraid of barbells.

There have been times when I had to deal with tough problems, like having bills due but no money to pay them. These problems made me dig deep inside myself. My business compelled me to grow into the kind of person who could handle these sorts of things. I learned to trust myself to work hard, to stay focused under pressure, and to even enjoy the process.

We all have different levels of risk tolerance. You don’t need to stress yourself out to grow. You just need to challenge yourself in a way that stimulates you. Lift weights that are heavy and which tax your muscles… but which you can still successfully lift. Afterwards you may feel spent, but you’ll also grow from the experience. If you only do what comes easy for you, you’ll suffer from atrophy, and life will become rather boring and pointless.

Why an online business?

In the age of the Internet, I think almost everyone should have an online business… if only for the growth experience. It doesn’t cost much to start one, but it will teach you so much. Perhaps the greatest benefit is that you’ll learn you do have something of value to share with the world, something that can generate income for you for the rest of your life.

In a way I’m jealous of the teenagers and 20-somethings who are growing up so Internet savvy. Any of them could start their own online businesses and get ahead financially at a young age. I would have loved to have been doing this in high school or college. It’s terrific that some people are becoming millionaires at such a young age, but I think the real success stories come from those who find a way to generate just a few thousand dollars per month, enough to cover their expenses.

My kids are only 4 and 7 years old, but I’m already thinking about how I might help them start their own websites soon. My daughter is very artistic, so who knows? Imagine if by the time she becomes an adult, she already has a steady stream of cashflow from websites she created during her teen years.

Building traffic

Running an online business is deceptively simple. Look at my web site, for example. The structure isn’t very complicated. It’s mostly just a lot of content and a lot of ads. But it consistently generates a nice five-figure monthly income. Anyone can do it, right?

Unfortunately, not everyone can do this. People try and fail all the time. The success stories get a lot of attention, but there are orders of magnitude more failures.

The key factor in building a successful online business is traffic. If you can’t build sufficient traffic, you won’t be able to generate much, if any, income. And unfortunately most people are really bad at building traffic. They apply completely inept strategies that don’t work, and they usually give up within a few months after starting.

Building traffic is not remotely easy for most people. This problem isn’t unique to the web though. You see it in every field. Some authors sell millions of books, while the average book doesn’t even sell 5,000 copies. Lots of people can write a book, but relatively few know how to sell a book. Lots of people can create a web site or blog these days, but few know how to attract large amounts of traffic.

If you can successfully build lots of traffic, it’s fairly easy to generate income from it. You also have time to figure it out. If you can grow your traffic, you can maintain your traffic, and that gives you time to figure out how to monetize the traffic.

In the past I’ve written articles trying to teach people how to build successful online businesses, including How to Make Money From Your Blog and How to Build a High-Traffic Website. Those were long, detailed articles, and both have become extremely popular in the blogosphere. I didn’t charge any money for this content — it’s all free. Those articles inspired a lot of people (hundreds that I know of) to enthusiastically start their own websites. Some of those people are doing quite well now, but most that I’ve been aware of have failed miserably.

Why most people fail

Why did most people fail? I think the reason was that the whole process of running an online business is just too complicated for most people. There are lots of ways to screw it up. It pained me to visit some of those sites and notice a dozen glaring mistakes within the first few seconds — blogs that didn’t enable permalinks, cutesy headlines with no keywords in them, bad choice of topics, page titles that still used the WordPress default format, hideously suboptimal ad layouts, hidden or missing contact info, etc. Any one of those mistakes could cripple a site’s results. More than one is a practically a death sentence. Such mistakes cause problems both for human visitors and search engines.

But at the same time, there were teenagers humming along just fine, generating four figures in monthly income after working on their sites for 6-12 months. They didn’t necessarily get everything right, but they were Internet savvy enough to fix the big problems early.

What bothered me most about this was that people were too often failing because of the technology. Many of them had great ideas and very good content. It was a shame to read some of their articles and think to myself, This is great stuff… too bad no one will ever see it.

The cruel and unfair part of online business is that if you aren’t very Internet savvy, you’ll make mistakes on the technical side that you’re totally oblivious to. You may get the content side right, but the technology will bite you and cripple your results.

In my “How to Make Money From Your Blog” Article, I did correctly identify this problem and suggested that 99 out of 100 people would fail because of it. But it’s still a pretty unfair situation. There are people who can write great content who really deserve to be getting a lot of readers, but because they don’t understand permalinks, RSS feeds, pinging, or other technologies, they’re doomed before they start.

Once I saw this happening, I basically decided I’d better shut up about encouraging people to run an online business. People kept asking me for new articles on the subject, but I didn’t think it was a good idea. I was concerned I’d be doing more harm than good.

A new solution

Recently I came across a vastly superior solution to this problem — a way for people to build a successful online business that doesn’t require them to become technology gurus.

What I recommend is a service called Site Build It! – it’s an all-in-one solution for creating and building an online business. You pay an annual fee for the service, and they provide you with all the tools you need to build an income-generating web site. They host the site for you, they help you register your domain name, and they provide integrated tools like point-and-click page generators, built-in blogging, form builders, RSS feeds, and lots more. Many of these details will be handled for you, so you don’t have to worry about them.

You still create your own content, and you use their tools (or your own familiar tools) to create a site based on your unique ideas. You focus on the content side. They help you with the technical implementation side.

I don’t recommend this solution for everyone. If you’ve already built a successful website that generates thousands of dollars a month for you, you won’t need this. I don’t need it myself. But if you’re one of those people that have been held back by the technical complexity, then this is definitely something you should look at. This is the kind of solution I’d recommend in a heartbeat for my non-programmer friends who want to get something going online but quickly become lost in a sea of jargon.

There’s a lot to explain about this service and why I think it’s a great idea for most people interested in building a successful online business. So I wrote a whole separate article about that here:

Build Your Own Successful Online Business

That article is my personal impression of the Site Build It! service, and it contains many links to their site for more info. The most important link is their 30-minute video tour. If you have even a slight interest in running an online business, it will be worth your time to watch it. It starts out mostly motivational, but it becomes more educational as it goes along. Even if you’re not interested in their service, I think you’ll get something out of it. I especially liked the segment on monetization strategies.

If you’re interested, just be aware that it will take some time for you to look into this service and decide if it’s right for you. The Site Build It! site has a lot of detailed information on it. In my article I’ll provide you with some ideas for where to get started to find the most critical pages. If you really like to do your homework before making a decision like this, you’ll find no shortage of detail.

An extra benefit for those who already have successful web sites

Site Build It! also has one of the most generous affiliate programs on the Internet. Some of their affiliates earn more than $10,000 per month. I recently became an affiliate myself after seeing what a great service this will be for people. If you’re looking for new income sources for your web site, just read the last section of Build Your Own Successful Online Business, which will explain why this affiliate program is so strong.

Running an online business can be a wonderful growth experience, and the income and freedom it can provide is certainly nice too. People really shouldn’t be deprived of this opportunity for technical reasons. The self-publishing power of blogging technology has gotten us partway there, but it’s only one piece to the puzzle. I encourage you to take a good look at Site Build It!, since I think you’ll find that their system fills in the remaining gaps, putting online business success within reach of most people.

This is by no means a get-rich-quick program. You’ll still need to put in the time and energy to create quality content for your web site, but at least you won’t have to worry as much about the technical side.

My TOP 10 Favourite Things About Running My Own Online Business

  1. You become your own BOSS Lady! Who doesn’t want to be in charge of themselves, their destiny and their business. It takes dedication; setting to do lists and sticking to them, setting boundaries. Own Online Business
  2. Work the hours you want. I find it best to work at the time of the day you are most productive and ‘awake and rested’
  3. Work in your PJs sometimes. Whilst I don’t recommend this all the time, it is a guilty pleasure of mine occasionally to stay in my PJs all day. It is good to start your day by getting dressed as if you are going out to work for the day, it somehow puts you into work mode.
  4. You get to live the life you want.
  5. You can cook cupcakes in the middle of the day. I don’t actually cook cupcakes in the middle of the day, every day, however i do get to do random things that I WANT to do. It might be watching a missed episode of my favourite show – Revenge, it might be to give myself a pedicure, or to sit out in the sun and read a few pages of my favourite book. Whatever it might be, it is so important to do something for ‘just you’ occasionally.
  6. You can have a nap in the middle of the day. Whilst I have to admit that I have only done this a handful of times in the 10 years I have been working from home, I love the fact that I COULD do it if I wanted. As a mum of five young children the pleasure of a daily nap is now somewhat a dream, my goal this year is to set aside time to do just that. I plan to join the likes of companies like APPLE, Google that give their staff dedicate time for a siesta.
  7. You can be there for your kids.
  8. I can work wherever I want to.
  9. VERY IMPORTANT! Remember to take care of yourself!!

How to Use Technology to serve you:

My basic philosophy with technology is this: “use it to achieve your objectives”. It’s that simple. But it can easily hinder your progress without a system in place to manage it. There’s a real art to using technology to free up, rather than eat into your time.

Many of my clients and friends share with me their feelings of technological overwhelm. I help them establish a system with some rules that work for them, knowing what they can cope with and taking into consideration their degree of mobility and the complexity of their jobs and lives. I thought it might be useful to share a couple of my own tips and tricks for getting the results I want in my work day and I hope they make your life easier too.

Technology in the handsGetting Inspired: Having a set of goals is important. Staying connected with them is equally as important. Images are a powerful way to do this. As I come across an image of something that inspires me, I save it in a file I set up called ‘Vision Board’. I have created a collage of these inspiring images in Picasa (free Google image management software). When I power up my PC, my ‘vision board’ instantly appears as my wallpaper on my desktop, immediately inspiring me and reminding me of my goals. I also use two other lovely little free apps called Penzu (journaling) and VisionBoard both from Happy Tapper.

Staying Inspired: I’ve moved on from bookmarking websites and remembering what I bookmarked (and why). I now use a fantastic free app called Evernote and I can add anything to it around my own themes, projects and ideas. For example, I’m currently working on a big project and I want to keep track of all the websites, e-mails, images, documents, etc that I come across that will help me with that project. All I have to do is click the little Evernote button and they get flagged neatly in there!

Making it happen: To make sure the rubber hits the road I use a fantastic free service called Simpleology to manage my tasks and keep me focussed. I log onto it in the morning, do my morning brain dump of everything I need to get done and then I just focus on one item at a time, ticking things off throughout the day. It’s so satisfying and makes me so much more productive than having 10 windows open at once just ‘so I don’t forget’.

Pull vs Push: I don’t get interrupted by e-mail all day long. When I’m working on a project, I apply the ‘pull’ strategy: I shut down my e-mail application and only open it when I need to. I then have three routine times when I handle e-mail, morning noon and night. The ‘delete’ button is your second best friend here.

Finding your files: I have a really easy system for knowing exactly where anything is in my filing system. This is all laid out in Paper Flow, your ultimate guide to making paperwork easy, along with screen shot examples. Basically there are just 5 main folders – only two of them for ACTION and everything is filed under those folders. The same applies to e-mail. It just keeps things flowing beautifully.

File sharing: I use a great free service called Dropbox to share and access files while I’m away. My clients and colleages can receive files from me without the e-mail trail with enormous file sizes. I have also created my own set of files that I’m working on, so when I travel (I’m actually writing this blog on holiday) I don’t even need to take my laptop with me. I can log in anywhere and have access to all my files while I’m away. Colleagues and clients will have access to real-time updates from me.

Reading: My iPad makes light work of my reading as all my reading material is loaded onto that before I go. I can now move mountains of work in airport lounges so there’s nothing waiting for me at the other end. I know it’s a bit of an investment but I’m not looking back!

Social connection: I can manage all of my social media accounts with my one social media dashboard: Hoot Suite. This enables me to post content across all the different social media, as well as schedule content to load at different times and for different channels.

Connecting 1:1: To keep costs down, I use Skype as much as I can for calls but I also use a great teleconferencing service for group coaching calls with the added benefit of recording the meeting. Webinars are my other favourite for learning and teaching.

For an easy, inspiring, no-nonsense, results-focussed online training program that teaches you systems for success in Life, Busines and Home, try Milking It. We hold your hand through implementing more than 12 systems for success with videos, workbooks, forums and coaching. So to make your life easier today, click here.

I’m curious to find out how you use technology to actually make your life easier (rather than harder). Please share your favourite tip with us on Facebook.

Did You Remember Your Password….erm..Pass?

Did You Remember Your Password?……erm…Pass? Did You Remember Your Password

This is a guest post from Simone Mitchell Thompson, Coach, intrepid traveller, wife and mum (in no particular order). I have followed her very handy advice about saving passwords since reading this post and am finding this approach so much faster and more reliable than my old spreadsheet I’d been keeping for years. Enjoy this – and just remember it next time when you forget your DYRTM password!

I have far too many things to remember and as I get older, it seems to get harder and harder to recall certain information …………. pin numbers and online passwords are the two things which always floor me.

There are certain websites that I can log into with no problem and I never have to think twice about the username / password / memorable information combination which is required (bank account, facebook, Coles online are just a few examples). Other sites which I use less often (Open University, old e-mail accounts, kids school portal, the online tax return option I have …….) these totally throw me. I sit at the computer with a very intent expression on my face while my brain races through the different number/ letter/capital letter combo it could be.

After three agonizing attempts, I find myself locked out and on the phone trying to remember my “helpline access” password, or pin number or whatever other combination of pets names, birthdays and phone numbers I cobbled together 18 months ago when I first set up the account. I am usually, eventually referred to a real person who sounds as frustrated and resigned to his / her fate as I am at that point.

The account is reset for me and I am advised to go back in and change the password to something more memorable, but not too easy to guess …………… which brings me back to the start of this cycle!

Recently I had to request a new pin number for a credit card – I hardly ever use this card, so when I had to input the pin, my mind was totally blank. I remembered receiving the original pin number some time last year which was sent with the obligatory warning to destroy the pin number and NOT to write it down. Of course I didn’t actually WRITE it down! Oh no, that would be too easy for someone to find (anyone but me I must add). I decided in my infinite wisdom to disguise this pin as a phone number. I quickly scrolled through my address book but had no idea what on earth I named this “person” with the fictitious phone number. Does anyone else to that?!

I found a lot of contacts of people I hadn’t spoken to in ages and resolved to phone them sometime soon. The key to my pin number, however, remained buried in one of the 17 mystery contacts I couldn’t place as real people. I tried the first few which looked most likely and managed to lock myself out of the account. Which led to me calling up sheepishly to request the next new pin number ……………..

A more tech-savvy friend came to my rescue with the wonderful little piece of software called 1Password, which is now my new best friend and can be found at:

https://agilebits.com/onepassword

For a small fee of $49.99 my life has changed! Not only have I stopped disguising pin numbers as phone numbers, I can log in directly from the 1password application. This means I don’t even have to remember the web address of my bank any more!

To quote from their website

1Password is a password manager that goes beyond simple password storage by integrating directly with your web browser to automatically log you into websites, enter credit card information, fill registration forms, and easily generate strong passwords.

I am not normally so excited by such little pieces of software, but seriously, this one is amazing! It has saved me so much time by not having to scrabble around any more to find information. As well as storing passwords etc (you can use your own passwords or have 1Password generate one for you), you can also store things like software licence numbers, drivers licence or passport information and even attach a file to this, meaning that you can upload and store an encrypted version of your passport.

Initially I was a bit freaked out that all this info was held in one place (it is also available on iPhone, iPad and Android) but now that I have set the master password to a super-high level, all my details are safe. I just need to remember what THAT password is!

Let us know your password solution – we’re keen to gather opinions on this one.