Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Things You Shouldn't Ask a Pregnant Woman!

written on the 22nd of September
 Being pregnant has been a wonderful experience, but at this point I'm kind of over the waiting period 
and anxious to have my sweet little baby in my arms.  Maybe I'd be less 'over' being pregnant if people didn't ask so many questions all the time? I can guarantee you that every heavily pregnant mama is TIRED of hearing these things and wishes that she could have a parrot on her shoulder to answer you instead.

"when are you due? "
I know you're only being considerate, but you're the 5th person to ask me that today.
Also, when I tell you when I'm due please don't say any of the following:

"OMG you're so pregnant!"
I am more aware of this fact than you are, considering I am the one carrying said child. I feel very pregnant, and I don't need you to tell me that I am. Right after you say this, it's likely that you'll comment on the size of my bump.

"Can your bump get even get any bigger/smaller?"
Usually people comment on how large your bump is.. but for  a long time I didn't really have much of a bump, so people would comment on how small it was. It's equally as annoying to be told that you hardly have a bump as it is to be told that you have a huge bump since both of them feel like unwarranted criticisms.

"When is that baby going to come out?"
When. It. Is. READY..!!
I'm patiently awaiting it's arrival too. I can't rush it. Just trust that when it is coming/ has come I will tell you.

"What are you having?"
Since we waited to find out the gender, this has to be one of the most awkward questions to get asked, because you can literally only say 'we don't know yet'. Then follows the conversation of why I should find out, even although it was our choice to be surprised.

"Are you having a shower?"
There are 2 ways to look at this. If I am now 40 weeks and I haven't told you about having one - I've either had it and you weren't invited or I'm not having one. 

Hint Hint: I'm not having one. We don't know the gender so it'd be hard to get clothes that are gender appropriate. 

"What are you naming it?"
If he's a boy, we're definitely naming him after Richard. If she's a girl there are about 6 options that I know I won't be able to decide in between until I actually see her little face. 

 It's not so bad that you want to know his/her name except for the fact that we are STRANGERS to each other and I don't ask you the names of your kids.

"Are you getting contractions?"
This is most often heard from Richard or my mother who will call from work to ask if I'm getting contractions. I know they're just anxious but I wish everybody would just rest assured that if something IS happening I'll call YOU..

For those of you with kids, what did you get tired of hearing whilst you were pregnant?

As someone who's not pregnant do you think it's appropriate to ask random pregnant strangers these questions?

Monday, 13 October 2014

How Much of Yourself Should You Share Online?

In this digital day-and-age practically everyone is sharing every thing. It's not just teenagers any more, but mom's are facebooking pictures of their kids and aunts are sharing instagrams of their meals. Business owners even have twitters for their businesses now.

It's a 'social' age, where we are constantly being bombarded by images, links and content that we previously wouldn't have, before the advent of so many electronic devices and forms of social media. 

We literally have thousands of people in our pockets, or on our phones which just so happen to be in our pockets.

The lines are getting blurred of what is 'acceptable' to share on social media. As more people bare more of their bodies, bikini and scantily clad workout selfies rise. We share pictures of our homes, family, food and everything in between. 

When it comes to sharing your life, there has to be a line of what you would put on line, and what you would keep private. You should especially note that things are hard to properly delete from the internet and can end up in the hands of perverts, stalkers and future employers to name but a few.

Recent hacking into iCloud and spreading nude photos also should raise red flags for you, that if you have risky pictures, or confidential content maybe your phone isn't as safe as you thought it was. 

Bearing that in mind - here are my top 3 tips to sharing yourself online.

Go with your gut:

Everyone is difficult in what they are comfortable sharing online. Whether it's a picture from the beach, or a politically risque tweet, if you have to spend a while thinking about if you should post or not, then I say - don't post it. 

It's important to think of what you want to be associated with in the long run - especially if you have an online business or would like to start one.

Also I'd say think twice about where/when and what kind of photos you are posting of your kids - you literally don't know what weirdos could be out there.

Let you shine through

If I follow you on some sort of social media like Twitter or I'm friends with you on Facebook, chances are I know you or I want to get to know you better. I should be able to look at your profile and get glimpses of what you're up to, laugh at things you've said and comment on content that you are sharing. Being 'too professional' or boring will mean you have less followers, but I do believe there is a happy medium of sharing just enough.

Don't be obscene

Certain pictures, language and content is best left for the privacy of your own home. Like I said - think about what you want to be publicly associated with, and go from there. Yes , most of us dropping the occasional F-bomb happens, but your Facebook wall or your Twitter feed shouldn't be constant cursing, lewdness or nudity - it's honestly a turn off.

What do you think about sharing yourself online - how much is too much?
Do you have any rules/ tips on how much you share?

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

5 Things Having a Crappy Boss Taught Me

This is a guest post that was seen on the Alisha Nicole.

I worked in a Bailiff's office as the Office Manager for a while, and I had the most terrible experience with my boss. We weren't a good match in terms of energy and I eventually left. We parted on good terms and Josephine taught me a lot, both through her mistakes and through the shining moments of guidance she did provide - however few and far between they were.

 Here are the top 10 things I learned while working for her.

Be Patient
There were times when how demanding Josephine could be made me just want to tear my hair out and SCREAM! Also, clients and debtors were extremely difficult at times.

Taking deep breaths, and really assessing if it was worth it to get worked up over helped save me a lot of stress. After all, it wasn't my business and at the end of the day when I go home it's none of my concern!

Within your own business it's still important to be patient with both yourself and customers/clients in order to be successful.

 Be Open To Change
As a younger person, we can always think that we're right, but Josephine was notoriously stubborn in her ways as an employer. It wasn't just a case of protocol or rules, but that she wasn't open to trying anything else.

When you have a business you should definitely be open to change, and carefully assess what's working for you and what isn't.

The Importance of organization
If you don't have systems in place in your business and your  life you will literally go INSANE. Simple systems and filing methods will save you and your assistants ( if you have any) so much time in the future when you are trying to reference things.

Be Approachable
Whilst a certain distance should be kept between employee-employer to remain professional, that doesn't mean if you're the boss you get to be an actual douche because you have authority. Whether you're a boss, business owner or  an employee you should be approachable. People will be willing to do more for you if you are nice!

The Importance of a Cohesive Brand
Having a brand is important not only for customers, but employees. Having templates to go to helped keep the office running consistently no matter who was working there and it meant that clients and debtors received correspondence that looked professional and was all well formatted and similar.

Promotion Is An Art
I'm not saying you should work for free, but you definitely see an increase in your business if you offer a time limited small discount, or a valuable offer vs cold calls and salesy emails. Promotion is a tricky thing, but there are ways to capitalize upon your business if you get creative. It also takes investment!

Know Your Files
Even if you need to consult a lawyer or your accountant to find out how long you should be keeping your business related files for tax purposes - do it.

You don't want to have clutter that you don't need to have in your office. I suggest keeping digital copies of all the necessary files and storing on an external hard-drive to avoid clutter - especially if your business is paperwork or document heavy.

Don't Give Your Services for Free All the Time
The whole reason clients came to us was that they were owed money. The majority of which was store credit/accounts that was unpaid  or personal loans still owed.

 The sheer number of files in that office let me know that credit is never a good thing to give OR owe, since you end up owing more in the end through interest etc.

 Persistence is Key
People with debts are always loathe to pay them, but in many cases simply getting on that person for a long enough period of time proved that persistence is the key to good business. I had to call the same people over and over and over again - it can be boring doing the same tasks so repeatedly but trust me, it does pay off in the end.

 Sometimes the Customer Isn't Right. 
As a business person you have to realize that sometimes your customers are clients aren't always right, or at the very least they are unclear about what they want and what they expect of you. One of the quickest ways to get unhappy in your business is to bend over backwards for clients who just aren't a good match for you, and aren't paying you well.

Having clear documents that outline your process, fees and exactly what is is expected of both parties is completely necessary to a good working relationship.

Tell me in the comments below what working for others has taught you about running your own business!

Monday, 6 October 2014

Everything In It's Own Season

We're grown people. It's unrealistic to think that everything is all sunshine, daisies and sparkles because - let's be honest, It's not.

In the real world life deals you crappy hands. People die, we lose jobs, accidents happen and none of that can be planned for.

It's more realistic to think of life as a garden. Everything has it's own season.

There's a season for Cherry blossoms, and one for orchids, holly and even for daffodils. Think of all the things in your life like flowers or plants. 

for example;
Cherry Blossoms:Work
Orchids: Love Life
Daffodils: Finances
Holly: Friends

There will always be negative things that spring up in your life and those are weeds. If we get rid of the negativity periodically, the garden will remain beautiful even although those bad things have happened.

Insects [negative people] also try to feed on the lovely parts of our life, so we make an effort to get rid of them when the time comes as well.

Each season there are different flowers that flourish and other ones that take a back seat. We can be assured that something will always grow, and work around that, rather than trying to make a one season plant last the whole year round.

The key is realizing that everything needs attention. The garden will be more beautiful the more time you spend tending to it.

You are like an evergreen tree - enduring all the seasons with patience and grace.

"endurance is patience concentrated" - Thomas Carlyle *click to tweet*

Someone that comes to mind every time I think of endurance is my grandmother, Ma.

She's 93 years old, has 10 kids and has outlived 2 of them so far. She has cancer and her mind isn't what it used to be, but every time you ask her if she's okay, she'll say " I'm just here, holding on". No matter what life's thrown at her - she still sees it as something to hold on to. Even though she can barely see since her eyes are so bad, she's housebound and dependent on in home care - she still endures.

There's always something to smile about, and you can be damn sure that she'll be at her table reading her super large print Bible every SINGLE day. Feeding her soul with the Lord's word every single day - in her own way , tending to her garden. 

Over time she's learned that life's a garden - there's always beauty and there will be good times and bad. Each day you live you are blessed.

What will you weed from your life after reading?

How is your garden looking these days?

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Getting Your Inbox to Zero and Keeping it There

I'm one of those people who just loves organizing. Emails are one of those things that constantly need attention and can get out of hand if you don't have a system in place.

Here's what I do to keep overflow at a minimum;

Unsubscribe from all of the unnecessary social media updates.
These really aren't necessary for me 98% of the time. I usually check my social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook before I check my email, so I see that someone new has followed me, replied to me etc.

Utilize the Priority Inbox (on Gmail)
One of the things that makes it extremely easy to keep on top of emails is the automatic separation that gmail does.
I subscribe to quite a few newsletters, so they go in the updates category. Important emails go straight into primary and there are other labels such as social, where your social media notifications can go (if you don't feel like turning them off)

That way, when I open up my email I can instantly see the ones that are important and reply to them first, getting around to the newsletters when I have time.

Categorize by labels; 
If you use your email for different things like a business , blog and social media it can get kind of crazy. Right now I have the labels
- Sponsorships
- Freelance Work

Color Code
Within the labels I use a color code so I know what has to be done with each email, if I can't respond immediately.

Within Freelance I use red for the projects I'm currently working on, and green for the ones I'm awaiting a response to. Once I've finished with the project I take the red star off or delete the message to keep my inbox low.

For sponsorships I also use different colored stars for things like guest posts, correspondence etc.

Deleting frequently;
There are things you keep to read again, and really never read. Each day when I have gone through my email I try to delete as many things as possible that don't need a follow up action. Usually I don't like to have more than around 25 opened emails just sitting around at a time.

If you're not sure whether you might want to delete it yet, or you're awaiting a response but want some more room in your inbox, you can archive the email and when a response comes it'll come right back to your inbox.

You can also retrieve emails from your archive if you need them for future reference without them cluttering up your inbox.

Automating Content:
If you're a freelancer, automating can help you save time. For example every time someone purchases one of your consultations, you can automatically send a autoresponder with a thank you note or a quick survey for them to do before you can begin. While it doesn't necessarily make your inbox emptier.. it does make it easier and mean that you potentially have less to reply to.

You could also have an autoresponder that lists your office hours &  FAQs or similar work, like Lisa does. 

Is your inbox out of control?

if you're on top of your emails, what do you do to stay there?