My Journey

Flexible

I am no contortionist but I have always tried to be flexible in my working life, start early if needed, stay late if the current ‘urgent’ task required me to.

Over the last 17 years I have done this almost without blinking, that was until I had IC and then I began to ask for my employer to be flexible.  One was a rigid as a wooden ruler (I left) and one was more like a bendy shatterproof ruler and happy for me to work at home, leave early take IC to the doctors etc. and in return they got more from me.  More dedication, more commitment and ultimately more respect.

So here I am like so many trying to balance motherhood, a career and attempting to be a good wife (I fail here a little too often… Sorry Hubby!) and I have realised that being flexible in the hours I work to suit my family has a fantastic impact on my productivity.

My thoughts on this are why are so many of us still chained to our desks Monday – Friday 9-5 (or whatever your core 37.5 hours a week are)?

Why do employers insist that their staff sit in god awful traffic for an hour in the morning and an hour on the way home or battle with overcrowded public transport?

Are we all at our most productive at these times?  Or is it historical bull sh*t, that the majority are too scared to change?

For me I am at my best from 7-10 and 2-6 so that is how I balance my day. I take breaks, I enjoy a coffee or 5 and I have a lunch break.

So come on businesses, join the revolution give your staff more freedom to work when they are more productive and haven’t gained yet grey hairs thanks to the daily commute and in return, I can almost guarantee that you will have a happier, more dedicated and flexible team to help your business to grow.  

My Journey

Happiness

‘Happiness starts with you. Not with your relationships, not with your job, not with your money, but with you.’

I read this a short time ago on Facebook and it really got me thinking about whether or not this is in fact true.

Can you be happy within yourself, if the substance in your daily routines isn’t how you want it to be? Or, is this statement trying to say, that by truly understanding what makes you happy you will ultimately, only fill your life with other things that make you happy?

The Hubby and I have had a saying since we got together in 2011 that ‘it is only a job’ therefore, if it isn’t right, is detrimental to your health, sanity or our relationship then we have the freedom to change it with the full support from each other. We have both, used this and I would highly recommend this philosophy to everyone.  Yes, we have to have money to pay the bills, but that (in my opinion) should NEVER mean at the sacrifice of everything else you hold dear.

Does this mean, that our belief that a job can have a massive impact on our happiness is misplaced? I don’t think so.

For me, happiness is about confidence, support and a desire to succeed/ achieve/ enjoy/ feel fulfilled.

When I was notified of my impending redundancy, I took a long hard look at my life, on the surface I had it all, the dream job, the beautiful home, the loving hubby and a gorgeous son –  I was happy, but I wasn’t… I was more stressed than I had ever been before, I was continually tired and not just Mummy tired. Brain not functioning, lack of motivation to do anything tired and I knew something had to change.

So, yes, happiness does come from within, BUT to be truly happy, you need to the confidence to delve in to your inner psyche and assess.

You may be surprised with what you find out.

My Journey

That Friday Feeling

Where do the week’s go?  Time just seems to fly by these days.  It is Friday again and to top it off ANOTHER bank holiday!!

Now I am going to sound a little smug now and I am sorry (I’m not really) but I have the ‘Friday Feeling’ every single day…

I no longer wake with a surge of adrenalin that I may be late or an instant pang of anxiety about what may lay ahead, or that I just might not hit the unrealistic deadline I have once again been set.

So, what is the Friday Feeling really about?

Is it the thought that you just have to get through the next 8 hours and then you have some freedom? Or, is it the ability to just crack on and then walk away at 5pm and not worry?

Up until recently, I thought it was the 2 days of freedom from the job, but I was never actually free. The emails were still checked throughout the day, Social Media platforms where always being updated and monitored – So I was never ACTUALLY free.

But now, every day – I focus, I work hard and I manage, set and achieve my to-do list on a daily basis and at 5pm I stop, and I mean STOP.  I don’t anxiously check my inbox to see what my boss might want now, or what new crisis there is to manage.

In the digital, smartphone world this seems impossible to most – but I highly recommend it.  Turn off the email notifications, get an application to schedule your Social Media if that is part of your job. Leave the laptop in the office and SWITCH OFF!

Not only will your mind thank you for it but your family and friends will too! So, go on (I dare you) at 5pm tonight, do it, leave work behind properly until Tuesday!

x

My Journey

Focus

In my employment over the last 5 years or so I have always had the flexibility to work from home when needed and I have always found myself to be more productive, I would be sat working away and before I knew it, it was 5pm and the end of the day with a to-do list that looked far less like war and peace, and a renewed motivation.

And, here I am now working full time at home, in my little corner of the house, Radio 2 playing and churning out the work, for me this kind of working suits me, yet, I am asked quite often how I manage to focus, and questions such as ‘don’t you get distracted and just end up doing housework?’

Now, I can completely understand how and why people get distracted and wave goodbye to half of their working day, so I thought as part of this blog series about my journey I would share some of my hints and tips for being productive when working from your own home.

It’s all in the prep – People who know me, understand how much I like a routine and a certain predictability to my day but I believe a routine to the start of your day is important to make sure your focus is on the job at hand and not at the ever-building pile of washing.  First thing, I get up, get IC ready for his day, make the coffee and wave the boys off. I then get myself ready – I am unable to be motivated in my PJ’s – the lure of the sofa and Netflix becomes all consuming! I then do 15 minutes of jobs, load the dishwasher, put a wash on or (weather permitting) put the washing on the line. I make a coffee (I know 2 cups already) and sit down to start my day.

So, before you embark on a day or a life of home working set yourself a routine that gets you ready for the day ahead.  With no commute, there is no opportunity to psych yourself up. My mum, also works from home regularly and she swears by an early morning walk and yoga before she starts her day.  Find what works for you and it will give you the focus and energy you need for the day ahead.

Be disciplined – keep to your normal working day, if you work 9-5 with an hour lunch do it at home. If you only have 2 tea breaks in the office do it home.  These little activities will help your mind to focus and remember that you are at work even though the environment may be different.

Avoid Distractions – There are times when distractions are almost impossible to avoid. Friday is the day for me when working at home is, in all honesty almost impossible – the Hubby and IC are at home and my gorgeous little boy does not understand that climbing up and randomly pressing my laptop keys isn’t helpful. I am lucky that I have another workspace out of sight of IC that I can use however, my favourite choice is to head off to the local coffee shop, grab a large Latte (I know, I know, too much caffeine) use the WiFi and crack on with what I need to do.

Create a Defined Workspace – Many people work from the kitchen or dining table or even on the sofa when at home.  Try and avoid this if you can.  If your employer offers the flexibility speak to them about having a screen at home so your set up is the same and you don’t end up stooped over your laptop. Have a workspace that has everything you need for your day on it or even mirrors your workspace at your office so that there are signs there to signal that it is work time.

Be Honest – Home or remote working isn’t for everyone and I know that sadly, in some industries it still has a stigma attached to it. But if it doesn’t work for you currently but you need that flexibility in your role, try setting a routine so that you feel set for the day when you start, or making sure your day has a task with a deadline to help you gain that focus.

I would love to hear your thoughts on these hints and tips or even some of your own – share them on my Facebook page or tag me in your pictures on Instagram!

My Journey

Priorities

So here I am, sat in a well-known coffee shop, frantically working ahead of my 1st big presentation and trying to get my 1st job complete so I can earn some much-needed cash and I find myself wondering if I got my priorities right at the weekend?

I decided to embark on my mumtrepreneur adventure to get the balance back in my life, and honestly, I was flying but then the bank holiday hit! Now, normally I would have been relishing in the idea of a 4-day weekend with friends and family but somehow when working for myself I thought that I didn’t deserve the time and even joked with friends and family that I no longer go them!

Our weekend continued and it was full of family fun, Easter Egg hunts with little I and 2 of my nieces, a wine and cheese night, takeaways (I really need to get back on the old diet wagon – not sure baby weight is an acceptable excuse 15 months on!) plus copious amounts of fizz – Well come on I am part of the work hard play hard generation, but when was I going to do some work?

The weekend went by is a fun filled blur and suddenly it was Monday evening and I hadn’t done A SINGLE THING!

I hadn’t checked my emails, logged on, or even made some notes, had I failed at my first self-employed hurdle?

NOPE!!

I, for the first time in almost 17 years of working got it right.  I had the full bank holiday off, with my family to have quality time. I didn’t feel guilty (that word again) for having time off. I ignored the phone, pretended I didn’t have email capability on my smartphone and I LOVED it.

I understand, that there will be times when I have to work when others don’t and I know that as I grow I will only get busier and prioritising will become harder, but for now I feel like I can bask in the sunshine of getting it right for me and my family.

Now it is time to focus and smash the presentation out of the park tomorrow!

 

EEK!

marketing

PPC Does It Work?

I recently commented on a LinkedIn post asking about the merits of a PPC campaign, there were 100’s of comments mainly along the same path but a few with simple comments such as ‘of course it works otherwise how would Google practically print money’.

At face value, it is difficult to disagree with that response, as let’s be honest, that is how they make a lot of their money.  It is only when you start to dig deep and consider the brands that are the most successfully using this tool that you understand that their PPC campaigns are not ran in silo.

It is quite the opposite….

As a Digital Marketer, I believe in the value of a well thought out PPC campaign, however the real value of this is only ever really seen when you ensure the following;

Your website can handle increased traffic – There is little value in investing in a PPC campaign to drive traffic to your website if it isn’t robust enough to handle the increase.  The result – hard fought marketing budget down the drain.

Relevant and Engaging content to your PPC campaign, seems a simple one but the times I have seen PPC campaigns with great wording that entice you in.  You click and you are on a random page that bears no relevance to what you have just clicked.

You can capture your leads.  Don’t spend the money if once you get people to your website you have no way of knowing who they are, what they are looking for from your business or how you can contact them.  Get your landing pages geared up for this.

If you remember nothing else from my blog/rant then try to remember that a high converting PPC campaign doesn’t guarantee a high conversion rate on your webpage.

With all the above you need to get the balance right for the product or service that you are marketing but a PPC campaign alone doesn’t guarantee your business growth, leads, success or world domination – unless you are the well-known search engine that has achieved this through PPC!

My Journey

Reflection

Wow! Time really does fly when you are having fun….

The days’ whizz by in a working, loving life, being mummy and wife blur and it is wonderful – But as I sit here now, I realise that working for yourself as a Marketer has a kind of pressure I hadn’t even considered.

For the last 16 years (ssshhh I know!) I have been forging out a career in Marketing.  Developing brands, building a following, creating engaging content for the masses or the niches dependant on the product to develop leads and ultimately grow businesses – I hold myself as somewhat of an expert at this.

When I first spoke to the Hubby about ‘going it alone’ I was filled with excitement and a sense of, well everyone needs marketing so I will be fine. I stand by the sentiment that everyone needs marketing, but, what I didn’t stop and think about was why would people choose me? And how did I plan on marketing me?

I have considered all the marketing tools I have used to help me previously a SWOT analysis, the 4 P’s, the competitor landscape and it is as if I am looking at a personality report at an interview – A scary prospect that is for sure, and thanks to the businesses that took a risk on a weirdo like me before!

Overall though the experience was freeing and weirdly satisfying, you know, like when you just have to squeeze the spot – it hurts at first and you may be tempted to stop but once you have done it you are pleased you’ve done it?! (eww sorry!)

I now feel more aware of myself, my brand and what I am trying to achieve – It isn’t world domination I promise, and I would highly recommend this approach to any challenge or goal in your life. Take the time to analyse you – it is so easy to get swallowed up in life and let opportunities pass us by as we ‘don’t have the time’ ‘it is too hard’.

Plus: In all this self-reflection, brand building fun – I have landed my first deal 😊.