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Mindy Lee M. Lipsky

Certified Business Coach
Certified DISC Practitioner

 

610-705-3526

 

Message Mindy

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Important Business Knowledge

An Entrepreneurs work is never really done…

HAPPY 4th of July 2018!  

Yes!  I am working on a holiday!  Many entrepreneurs make the choice to work whenever they can… although I am a big supporter of balance and making sure there is down time and time to rest, recharge and recover! Today I decided to put in some time to work ON my business, and will relax a bit later with family!

Last night I had a bunch of dreams… I do dream a lot, but one stuck out in particular. I dreamt that I was helping people through life coaching instead of just business coaching. I know Life Coaching has a stigma to it. There are many out there who call themselves a “Coach” but have zero qualifications to do so… That’s not me! Check out my About page to see why I am qualified… but I digress…

ANYWAY… today I decided to amp up the life coaching side of my business. You see, I just lost my momma on May 8th. She passed away peacefully after a long illness. I was her caregiver for 10 years. In that 10 year time I was also raising my 2 children… they are now 14 & 12… so they were 4 & 2 when my husband and I began being the sole caregivers for my mom. I have been in the sandwich generation for over a decade now. In that time I have made some mistakes, had hard decisions and learned A LOT! In the past few weeks the loss of my mom made me think about what I want to do with the rest of my life. I LOVE COACHING, but I did neglect my coaching business in these last few months of my mother’s life. Do I regret it… NO!  Emphatically NO! But, I DO have to rebuild my business. When an entrepreneur doesn’t work… they don’t get paid!  That is a fact!

Now, I could look at this as a negative, but I choose to look at this as a positive. I get to redesign my business AGAIN! While my passion is for helping small business owners and entrepreneurs grow their businesses… I also have a passion for those raising their children and those caring for their parents or sick partners.  I plan to help BOTH!! In the next few months you will see more Lifestyle blogs in addition to business tips! My expertise in the DISC behavior patterns can help in BOTH areas. So now I can help MORE people!

I took time this morning to re-categorize all the blogs I have written to date, so that you can find the type of information you need more quickly… you can see a list of the categories at the bottom of every web page on this site! I will update my entire site to reflect my new goals as well. 

My goal is to write more with more engaging content… so check back often!

Again… Happy, Happy 4th of July! I do plan to work a bit more then go spend some time with my family! I will be making homemade Halushki today! YUM! (with REAL Dough not egg noodles – yuck!) LOL

Have a super day! Hope to “see” you back here soon! Please check out the new categories and let me know what you think!

Do you have something on your website that could get you sued?

It was November of 2013.  I had opened the doors to Innovative Coaching services just 4 short months earlier.  Things were moving along and I was learning a lot each day about being a Solopreneur!  It was a Tuesday… November 12th to be exact.  I had gotten the mail and found a letter addressed to “The Legal Department of Innovative Coaching Service”.   I said out loud… “Oh isn’t that cute someone thinks we are big enough to have a legal department!”  I chuckled and opened the letter.  My laughing quickly turned to panic and I admit… tears!  I was being SUED for copyright infringement of a photo I used on the blog portion of my website.  (The Blog had been written and posted way back in JUNE!)

 

Of course I called my attorney, which began the months long process finally ending in a settlement of a reduced fine, yep… a fine plus now attorney fees to boot!  So what happened??  It is a case of “I didn’t know what I didn’t know” I THOUGHT I was searching for “FREE” images when I used Google Image search. Turns out the image may be free… but you may need a license to use it.  There are also people out there who plant seemingly “Free” images then hire an agency to follow it’s “rights and recovery”…  in plan words… these images are planted on the internet waiting for someone to use it… they hire college students to troll the internet to “find” them… then sue people for using them without permission or the proper consent.  It’s a legal loop hole that makes them thousands, sometimes even millions!

Some Photos are not free

It was a horrible experience so when it was all said and done I asked my attorney and numerous web designers how I can protect myself from that happening again.  The only REAL way is to ALWAYS take and create your own images.  ALL of them!  You can either get pretty good at taking creative photographs or you can hire a photographer to help you create stock photos for yourself.  You can purchase pictures online, BUT I warn you to be sure you have the proper licensing for distribution if you plan to post it on your website or blog. My suggestion is to hire someone you trust to take relevant picture for you!  If you need referrals just ask!  I know a ton of Fantastic Photographers… even some who specialize in stock photos!

There are some sites that are 100% free.  As long as you read the fine print and can ENSURE you are using them up to the terms intended… maybe give it a try.  I must admit I am a little gun shy even with those sites!

My new plan when I am not feeling creative is to browse Google images and find one I like… then recreate it!  I am not a perfect photographer, but it sure beats getting sued!  So I encourage you… take a moment to check your website… take down any images you don’t OWN or own the rights to distribute.  I don’t wish that letter on ANYONE!

 

 

The Working at Home Snow Day Survival Guide

Snow Day!  Yeah!  Oh wait… I have to work and now the kids are here ALL DAY…  Sound familiar?  Well here on the east coast and in 24 states across America, we are having what I hope is Mother Nature’s last blast of winter “fun”.  So, that means many of us are working from home today.  I thought I would share some tips on how to keep the day productive.

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Snow Day Tip #1: Create a NEW to-do list just for today.  You can think of things that need to get done that do not involve clients like social media, blog posting, business finance, updating your marketing plan… etc.  The list should be kept short if possible… use today to have a slower paced day yet include something that will really make you feel accomplished. 

 

Snow Day Tip #2: Sit down with the kids and let them know you are working… if they are old enough, you can even show them the list of tasks you need to finish so they can cheer you on and support you through it.  It is good for them to see you working!

 

Snow Day Tip #3: If you do need to do client outreach, be sure to do that FIRST before the natives get restless!  Let them know mommy/daddy needs about 20 minutes (or however long you need) where you cannot be interrupted… Dust off an old favorite movie, a board game or pull out the cookbook and have them choose something they would like to learn to cook.  Heck send older kids out to shovel!  Show them a signal you can do without words to show them you cannot be interrupted.  I put 2 fingers up to my lips as in “shhhhh” then blow a silent kiss.  When you make the calls… It is also a good idea with some clients to just address the elephant in the room… many will have kids home so in the beginning of the call, just mention it… “Oh by the way, if you hear some  background noise, I apologize… after all it is a snow day and the kids are home.   I appreciate you taking the time to speak with me today.”

 

Snow Day Tip #4: Have some way to separate the area you work and the rest of the house… this can be a door or a screen.  Here is a picture of my screen.

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When my family sees this up they know I am working and have to assume they need to be quiet. This also keeps me from being distracted by what is going on around me as well.

 

I have a 3 part blog that addresses tips to work more productively from home.  You can find them here:

Part 1: 20 Tips for Working From Home with Kids during the Summer!  The 3 P’s – A 3 Part Series

Part 2: 20 Tips for Working From Home with Kids during the Summer!  The 3 P’s – A 3 Part Series

Part 3: 20 Tips for Working From Home with Kids during the Summer!  The 3 P’s – A 3 Part Series

Enjoy this winter wonderland today!  Let me know what questions you have!

Are you living the “definition of insanity”?

We have all heard the quote by Albert Einstein (or Benjamin Franklin, or Mark Twain or Rita Mae Brown) where he states … “The definition of Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results”.  Having a background in psychology I understand this really isn’t the “true” definition of insanity, but it sure does bring up a great conversation point!  When you are trying to improve or change but don’t change your actions the results can’t come to fruition.  Are you living this definition in your life or business?  Are you trying to grow or change your life or business in some way but keep thinking the same thoughts, setting the same goals, making the same plans, doing the same things?

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Often times we are stuck in a routine or afraid to make the changes necessary because they carry some risk.  What if I fail? What if I don’t recoup the funds I have to put out to try? What if I actually succeed? Gasp! More importantly… what if I don’t know HOW to change?  I invite you to take a good look at what you are doing.  What pops into your head as something you have avoided trying?  I challenge you to go for it!  Step out of that comfort zone, Feel the fear and DO IT ANYWAY

Start small… Pick something to change… Set a NEW goal, make a new plan, DO IT, then evaluate the results.  Figure out what worked, what didn’t, make some tweaks and do it AGAIN!

I work with clients on a daily basis helping them NOT live this definition and find growth in leaps and bounds!  If you need help let me know!  I’d be happy to help you too!

“Fake it ‘til you Make it” – it’s all about confidence!

I’m sure you have heard the phrase “Fake it ‘til you make it”.  If you Google the term you will find articles and blogs showing many various points of view.  Some discuss how it is done, some say what a terrible idea it is, some tell a success story around it. I can see all points of view, but I have to admit when you use it in regards to mindset it can be a VERY powerful tool on your journey to success.

 

Over the years the interpretation has gone too far in the wrong direction at times.  For example, you want to “look” successful in order to feel confident.  You interpret that as being rich with lots of lavish items. So, you decide to live the life before you earned it by “faking it” buying a bunch of things on credit you can’t afford. There is a huge difference in changing your mindset by believing vs. buying!  It’s one thing to exude confidence before you fully believe it.  Merely “looking the part” by wearing expensive clothes, driving expensive cars, and living in a large home is not going to get you there.  Success and confidence is much more than THINGS.

 

Even if you aren’t buying a bunch of stuff you can’t afford, you can still make “Fake it ‘til you make it” backfire and feel icky!  Faking it is very different than stretching the truth or even flat out lying.  Before someone will work with you or buy from you they need to Know, Like and Trust you.  If you are being authentic they will know it… if you are NOT being authentic, they’ll know that too!  If your confidence quest is costing you large sums of money or worse yet your integrity… it’s not going to work in the long run.  Eventually your confidence will be squelched by the overwhelming reality of debt, lies catching up with you or the loss of your ability to be trusted.

 Confidence

How to “fake it” like a pro!

Like I have said… “Acting as if” or “Faking it ‘til you make it” is a mindset.  Changing how you think will change your level of confidence.  Growing your confidence is a process that doesn’t happen overnight.  You need to practice.  You practice by putting yourself in situations where you NEED to use confidence. Over the past year I have gone to many, many networking events.  Most of these events I had to drive in places I have never been by myself depending on my GPS.  Then when I arrived I would walk into a room where often times I didn’t even know one single person there.  The first few times I thought my heart would jump out of my chest!  But as I practiced and changed my thinking, it got easier.

 

Getting rid of thoughts like “what if” or “maybe” or “I hope” will help reduce doubt creeping in.  Find where even a small amount of confidence lies within you and build on that.  Simply saying, “I can do this” can change your outlook in a situation. Did you know fear and excitement have exactly the same physiological reaction?  They do! Think of it… your heart beats faster and you may feel butterflies in your stomach.  It is our mind that decides how we interpret what that feeling is.  With some training you can change your interpretation of fear to excitement.  Replace your negative thoughts and feelings with positive ones.  When you find yourself in a negative spiral, take a deep breath and reframe it.  Change the thought process to a positive one full of positive expectation.  Instead of saying, “Oh gosh, I don’t know anyone here!” reframe it to “Wow, I get to meet some great new people tonight!”

 

From time to time, when meeting someone new in our mind we focus on what we don’t know instead of the vast catalog of what we do know and are passionate about!  This can cause unnecessary angst and worry. When meeting with someone talk about what you are excited and passionate about.  Tell them what you CAN do for them and feel confident about that.  If you are asked about something you don’t know… say you don’t know but you will find an answer for them and get back to them.  As you practice your confidence will grow and so will your knowledge base and experience. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake or even fail at something.  We can learn a ton from mistakes if we take the time to see the lesson in it and grow from it.

 

Being able to be outwardly confident even when you aren’t feeling it is a learned skill.  It takes practice.  But, with practice you can step out of your comfort zone into a place of confidence and begin to grow beyond your wildest dreams!  If you want tips on growing your confidence or help with this, give me a call to set up an appointment!  I’m holding the door to your comfort zone open so you can step into your empowered future NOW!

Multitasking and the “Almost” Perfect Grilled Cheese Sandwich

I have been known to be a great multitasker… to the point that a former employer actually gave me 12 out of 10 on multitasking in a review and listed that as one of my biggest assets! Multitasking seems to be a necessity and a sign of the time. Mompreneurs especially need to be efficient multitaskers. But there are times to multitask and times when that is not the best or most efficient idea.

Yesterday I was making lunch for my mom and myself. Since it was a dark, dreary, and damp day I thought grilled cheese sandwiches and soup would be perfect! Now, I have made grilled cheese sandwiches many times. Through trial and error I have discovered how to make the perfect grilled cheese sandwich. You know, the kind that is perfectly golden brown and buttery on the outside and the perfect amount of gooey melted American cheese on the inside? I know my stove, I know exactly what temperature to set it to, what pan and what lid to use, and how much time on each side (2 minutes 45 seconds on the 1st side, 1 minute 15 seconds on the 2nd). I KNOW all this… yet I keep screwing up the darn grilled cheese sandwiches! The reason why is… grilled cheese sandwiches need to be watched, yet since I am prone to multitasking I am not paying enough attention. I figure… Hey! I have 2 minutes and 45 seconds I’ll just reply to that email really quickly or I’ll just do these few dishes while I wait. But EVERY TIME I do something else, even if I set a timer, the sandwich burns on one side or the other! However, if I stay and watch it… I can see then the edges of the butter has melted on the upper side and know it is time to flip it or I can see more steam coming from the bottom and know it will soon start to get too dark and I better flip it. When I DON’T multitask while cooking a grilled cheese sandwich… I tend to get the perfect grilled cheese sandwich. If I DO multitask at all… I get either a burnt sandwich or an “almost” perfect sandwich, but not quite.

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The moral of the story is… use multitasking carefully. There are some tasks that allow it and others that don’t. You will know when multitasking isn’t working… when you aren’t getting anything finished or you burn the sandwich so to speak! Some tasks need your full attention! For example, a phone call with a client. FULL ATTENTION!! They will know if you are checking email or not fully paying attention and it will hurt your credibility or even the relationship… they won’t feel important. Scheduling time for different tasks can help you stay focused. For example, you can schedule yourself to do your social media scheduling on Mondays from 9 am to 10 am or you can schedule your bookkeeping tasks for Friday at 1 PM. Then when you think of those tasks at another time, you can say to yourself, “I don’t have to worry about that now… it is scheduled for Friday at 1pm”. Planning your schedule by including tasks can lead to feeling more in control of your schedule. If you need help with this let’s chat! I can show you how I can help!

Now go make yourself a grilled cheese sandwich… You know you want to. 

Money Saving Tips to Surviving Seminar!

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HAPPY MARY KAY NEW YEAR!  Congratulations to all who achieved their Mary Kay Seminar goals AND to those who worked to the last minute even if you fell a little short!  I’m sure you are all starting to feel the seminar “buzz” already. It’s going to be a magical year celebrating 50 years as a company!  I thought it would be appropriate to share some tips on how you can attend Seminar, have FUN and still stay within your Business Budget.

You gotta get there! If you need to fly…look for tickets NOW (if you haven’t already).  The longer you wait the more expensive it usually gets. Shop around.  Have a little flexibility in WHEN you can travel…this can help bring costs down as well.

You gotta stay someplace, right? Find other consultants or directors to room with. The cost of the room can be a fraction when you share the cost with your Mary Kay sisters! Check with your director or National to see if there are consultants looking to share a room.  See the Seminar tips below from NSD Linda Toupin!  Wise words indeed!

Linda Toupins Hotel Guidlines!

Once you’re there you gotta get around! Use the Mary Kay provided transportation. Cabs can get expensive. Mary Kay Corp provides a shuttle service. Yes you may have to wait, but think of all the wonderful women you can meet and share success stories with while you do. Bring your walking shoes and your patience and you’ll see that cab fare isn’t really worth it.

You gotta eat! Your registration includes some breakfasts and lunches. Take advantage of the meals the company provides. You can even be just like Mary Kay herself and pack some food you can eat in your room to save money. There is no need to go out for an expensive dinner if you don’t have the cash for it! You can make sandwiches, have energy bars, you name it…get creative!

You gotta stay connected! Bring your cell phone or if you don’t have one get a pre-paid calling card. It will be MUCH less than using the hotel long distance services!

You gotta stay comfortable! First up SHOES! Yes those 4 inch heels are THE BOMB!  But it may be wiser to wear a stylish but more sensible pair of shoes.  At the very least tuck a cute pair of flats in your tote bag.  Bonus Mindy Tip:  Even Sensible shoes may cause blisters or raw spots.  I usually try to bring 3 different styles of shoes so that they rub in different places!  Blisters may be inevitable, but nothing is worse than already having a blister and having to wear the same shoes that caused the blister and limp around all day.  Rotate the shoes each day and you may be more comfortable.  Bring blister relief pads or special Band-Aids that will stick better than regular Band-Aids.

Now that we have the shoes covered… 2 more things to remember… 1. Bring a light sweater or wrap.  It gets chilly in the Arena and in the classrooms as well!  2. Bring a stylish tote bag that is comfortable to carry (not too big, not too small!)  You really just need to carry a notebook and pen, business cards, product labels with your contact info to easy entries for contests or vendors, a change of shoes, a water bottle, some snacks, and tissues!

You gotta buy stuff!  OR do you?? Speaking of Vendors… Avoid impulse buying…Yes those vendors are wonderful and oh so tempting. Be a collector or catalogs. IF you still like the item when you get home you can always order from their website. At least you’ve given yourself time to think it over. You’ll find that once you get home you may not have NEEDED that sequined tank top after all!

You gotta PLAN your spending! Make a spending plan BEFORE you go. Think about all you do in Dallas.  If you have never been there before take a seasoned consultant for coffee and tips and some pre-Seminar dreaming!  It is very beneficial to try to predict what you will need to spend money on and set limits for yourself.  Once you are there, carry an envelope to collect your receipts and write down what you have spent. At the end of the day check in with yourself to see if you are on track or if you need to make adjustments. This might help keep you on track!

There are TONS of great benefits and reasons to attend Seminar…with a little pre-planning of HOW you intend to spend your hard earned money… the trip doesn’t have to break the bank!  Have a fabulous time in Dallas!

What is your best Tip for Seminar?

Part 3! 20 Tips for Working from Home with Kids During the Summer! The 3 P’s – A 3 part series!

In part 1 of this 3 part series there were 6 tips all about planning your work! Click here to see Part 1: Planning: There is something to be said for a routine! In part 2 of this 3 part series you saw tips #7 through #13 Click here to see Part 2: Productivity: How to Make Work Time More Productive! And now for the grand finale!   Part 3! Priorities: Remember what’s Important!   Tip #14 – The schedule is important, but take a break if needed.  In part one we talked about creating a schedule and sticking to your plan.  We’ve all had the unexpected melt down or needed to make a last minute change in plans.  That doesn’t need to derail your entire day!  Handle issues before they become a huge deal.  We’re looking for balance NOT perfection.  Go with the flow.  Have multiple plans ready and be ready to make another one if needed.  I have learned to be on plan “A”, but have Plans B through M in my mind if needed.  If you are frustrated with your work… walk away and take a break.  If your child is having a hard time, take a break and be there.  Just keep trying and do your best!  For me, sometimes a 5 minute break for a warm cup of coffee is enough to keep me going!   Tip #15 -Let your kids learn some responsibility and independence!  Your kids can and WILL grow in this time!  As they get older give them responsibilities around the house.  Not only will it help take some of the load off of you they are also learning really important life skills!  We have a chore chart! (See below for a downloadable example) The chart varies for different times of year, but they have consistent chores to help around the house and are customized around their activities.  Do they complain?  Yep!  But I feel it is important!  It helps them to learn responsibility, commitment and teamwork.  They can also learn discipline and work ethic from watching you work from home!  My kids have seen me work with a migraine, with a wicked cold and even with the flu.  They watch me make and keep commitments, and they watch me work when I don’t feel like it.  Give them something to feel accomplished about, but remember you don’t have to hover and control them 100% of the time. I grew up in the 80’s and didn’t see my parents ALL DAY while I played outside!  I know this is a different time and age… but our kids need to learn to be ok by themselves.  Let them learn to entertain themselves and be ok with some quiet alone time!  Let them learn how to problem solve and figure it out without running to you as soon as something doesn’t go their way.  Do be tricked into the Guilt Trip!  I’ve heard it before…“ Your kids need you! How could you leave them to figure it out on their own?”  Trust me!  Your kids will be better if they learn to be independent.  They can learn to handle things on their own and will learn valuable life skills! [gview file=”http://innovativecoachingservices.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Example-Chore-Commission-Chart.xlsx”]   Tip #16 – Don’t forget to take care of YOU!  When you take care of YOUR needs you are filled up and in turn are able to care for others.  Be sure to make the time to eat right, get enough rest, fit exercise in and pamper yourself even if for only a few moments.  Make a list of things that make you happy.  Then schedule some in daily!  Find time to read, pray, meditate, fit in a shower, 30 minutes of exercise, plan your meals, plan girlfriend time, etc. You will feel energized and have more to give to your work and your family!   Tip # 17 – Don’t be superwoman when you don’t have to be.  Yes we are AWESOME!  But we can’t do it all – all the time!  Figure out what you are good at and more importantly what you are NOT good at!  Hire help to get common tasks done or outsource to get an important task done that you might not be all that “good” at! Consider hiring a cleaning service or someone to update your website for you.  Maybe a virtual assistant service like Toni’s Office Solutions could help free up your time!  Check out their services here!  The bottom line is, you will need help from time to time… don’t be afraid to ask for it!   Tip #18 – Don’t neglect your spouse!  The fastest way to get an un-supportive spouse is to alienate them!  You and your spouse should be a team!  Communication (and a lot of it) is needed.  You should have many conversations with your spouse.  Dream together, plan together, pray together, hope together, and from time to time even cry together.  Know your boundaries & each other’s expectations.  When does your spouse need attention?  What chores can be shared? What makes them feel loved… and more importantly what doesn’t!  Talk about what you need and find out what your spouse needs.  Be willing to compromise.  Be sure to make them feel special, appreciated and loved.  I can make all the difference!

Dream Together - John Lennon

  Tip #19 – Have something to look forward to!  Good things come to those who wait (and work hard!).  What are you working for?  Take time to dream, goal set and have something to look forward to always!  When you are about to reach a goal – reset a new one immediately!  When you don’t have something to work toward you are much less productive.  We’ve had a great time being creative having something to look forward to.  Even if you don’t have a lot of money to spare… there is ALWAYS something you can find or plan to look forward to!  Go to a special park, cook a special recipe together, and find free community events to attend… the possibilities are endless.  When you DO have funds to spare… go for a special vacation or buy something for the house that everyone can enjoy!  Reward yourself for a job well done.  When you are working toward something it is much easier to continue when things don’t go as planned!  This is both true for YOU and for your kids!  Make a goal poster – Everyone!  Visually see what you are working for!  Have fun with it! Tip #20 – Focus on YOUR Priorities –not others!  People will always have an opinion and most are more than willing to share.  What you have to do is be true to you!  What is most important to YOU and YOUR family?  Don’t be afraid to change your mind, reset goals and refocus priorities.  You only have one life to live… live YOUR life how YOU want to!  Don’t be afraid to take time to really soul search what you really want and what is important to you.  Your priorities will change from time to time.  When I feel out of sorts it usually means I am in some sort of transition (or need to be!)  When you are true to you, life is SWEET!   Do you have any Priority tips to Share?  Post them in the Comments below!  I hope this series has been helpful to you!  Every family is different… find the combination that works for you!  Cheers to productivity!  Happy Summer!!!

Part 2! 20 Tips for Working from Home with Kids During the Summer! The 3 P’s – A 3 part series!

In part 1 of this 3 part series there were 6 tips all about planning your work!

Click here to see Part 1: Planning: There is something to be said for a routine!

And without further Ado… Part 2!

Productivity: How to Make Work Time More Productive!

Tip #7 – Figure out if you are an Early Bird or a Night Owl!  Get up an hour or 2 early or stay up an hour or 2 late!  Make that time work for you.  I am a Night owl… the idea of getting up at the crack of dawn makes me shutter!  BUT I can be super productive late at night!  Schedule work time in where you can be productive while the rest of the house is asleep.  Either early or late!  YOU choose!  If you are a night owl be very careful to not work so late that you don’t get enough rest!

 

 

Tip #8 – Dress the part!  I’m not saying wear a business suit around your house all day!  However, PJ’s won’t make you productive… just comfy and most likely tired!  Dress for successful productivity!  Well at least for a pop in visitor or a quick errand!  Get up, get dressed, put on your “face” and be ready to take on the day!  I’ll be writing a blog post ALL about this in the upcoming days to be sure to check it out!

Tip #9 – Have a defined work space!  It’s nice to be able to have the flexibility to work in the kitchen, on the couch, in bed, etc.  But you will be MORE productive when you have a set place to work.  It is not always realistic to have a dedicated room with a door to close… but you should carve out some space for your “office”.  This is helpful (especially with younger children) to set clear guidelines and signals for your kids so they know when they need to be quiet or when you are working and cannot be interrupted.  My kids know a hand signal that lets them know I am on a conference call and they cannot make noise.  Make a List of Do’s & Don’ts during Mommy’s work time and share it with your kids.  Maybe let them make up the signal if they come in the room and you need to let them know you are on a call.  I am blessed to be able to have a dedicated office in my home, however I do not have a door. So hand signals come in handy and my kids “get it”.  You will want to make sure you have systems in place so you CAN work around the house if needed.  A laptop, a wireless connection, a cordless phone, and a wireless printer are all helpful in keeping going if you need to be relocated around the house.

Tip #10 – Put your kids to work for you!  My 9 year old LOVES this and now my 7 year old is getting intrigued!  Find small things they can do… put stamps or address labels on mailing, filling product orders, filing paperwork, stamping your info on your brochures or labeling your products, etc. Let them watch you work or set up a table in your office as their “desk” and give them small tasks to do.  As they get older you can negotiate payment if you feel that is appropriate.  If your kids are like mine they love to “help”.

Tip #11 – Plan special “Independent Time” Avoid the “We’re Bored!” dilemma with planned activities they can only do while you are working on something where you cannot be interrupted (unless, of course, it is a true emergency!).  Find age appropriate things your children can do on their own independently.  This can be educational, crafty or just plain fun!    Find learning game websites, stock up on some craft kits from the local craft store, have a stack of printable pages with puzzles or coloring from online.  The possibilities are endless!  Be sure to pay attention to the amount of time you allot… younger kids can’t do 60 or 90 minutes, but maybe older kids can!  If you need a larger chunk of time… plan something special (no more than once or twice a week to keep it special!)  Find a movie/DVD and serve a “special snack”. Note: don’t plan for things that they could need your help or that they need to be supervised.  These should be items they can do on their own, feel accomplished and grow!  BONUS TIP: You know your kids… are they a morning, afternoon or evening kid?  When do they thrive, when do they have their meltdowns.  When do they need you?  Look for their pattern and plan accordingly.

Tip #12 – Get your home and office organized!  If your office and home are cluttered you are wasting time.  PERIOD!  Take the time to create systems and de-clutter!  You should have systems in place to help keep your household and office running smoothly.  There are all kinds of organization ideas and checklists online.  If organization is not your thing…ask for help!  This is something worth spending some time on to help increase productivity in the long run.  I have a blog post about quick clean up tips in the works so be sure to check back for that one!  

Tip #13 – Don’t be a slave to the Phone or e-mail!  When the phone rings you DON’T have to answer it.  That was one of the most freeing changes I ever made in my life!  Of course if you are expecting an important business call be ready to answer.  Use your Caller ID… you have voicemail or an answering machine… they can leave a message and you CAN call them back when it is a more appropriate time for you and your family.  There are very few business emergencies that can’t wait for a better time to be handled when you are more plugged in and ready to handle the call.  Same goes for e-mail… DON’T get caught up in constantly checking your e-mail.  Turn off that little sound that chimes when a new message comes in.  Have a system for when and how you will check your voicemail and e-mail messages.  If you know when you will do it you are not constantly thinking about it wasting productive brain space.  Bonus Tip!  If you have a business line in your home… teach your kids to NOT answer the phone.  It is much more professional for the machine to answer than a cute 5 year old.  When your kids are old enough… teach them to use the caller ID… if it is their friend they can answer away.  If they don’t recognize the number they should let it go to the machine.  Bonus tip 2!  Take the time to teach your children phone etiquette.   Teach them how to answer, how to leave a message and how to ask to speak to someone.  This skill will go a LONG way in life!

So there you have it!  Do you have any Productivity tips to Share?  Post them in the Comments below!  Stay tuned for Part 3 Coming Soon!

Part 1: 20 Tips for Working from Home with Kids During the Summer! The 3 P’s – A 3 part series!

It’s summer!  YEAH!  Oh wait… what do I do with the kids when I am supposed to be working from home??  Yes, working from home gives us much needed flexibility, however flexibility is very different than NOT working at all.  So I’ve compiled some tips on how to get your work done and still maintain that much needed time with your bundles of joy!  I’ve categorized the tips into a 3 part series called The 3 “P’s” – Planning, Productivity and Priorities!  The list looks long, however not all tips will work for all work-at-home moms (and dads).  So browse through them and try some that look appealing.  You can always come back to try more and more until you find the perfect combination for YOUR family!  Better yet.. why not let me coach you through it?  Ok… Let’s get to part 1 of the list!

Planning: There is something to be said for a routine!

Tip #1 – Plan, Schedule and Plan some more! You are going to need to make a plan, a schedule and get a little creative!  Write a list of ALL tasks – work related, kids related, home maintenance related, fun related, etc.  Start filling in a Weekly Plan Sheet (see below) or Make recurring appointments on a digital calendar like Google Calendar or even get a large paper or white board calendar you can fill in and post in the kitchen or some common area where everyone can see it.  While you will need to be flexible you need to make the schedule and routine a priority.

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Once you have a plan and a schedule you must be prepared to revise it… and often!  As the seasons change and as your child(ren) grow, their needs will change.  There are pros and cons to every age!  For example… many infants nap!  Instant productivity time!  Elementary age children (like my 7 & 9 year olds) usually “need you” but on a different level.  And Tweens and Teens… well your main goal is to keep them out of trouble! Kids of all ages thrive on a schedule with routine.  Even during the summer you’ll find more peace when you have a schedule even if it is loose.  The Key is… the kids need to “know” the routine (and so do you!).

Tip #2 – Sitters, Play dates and Summer camp Oh My!  An hour or 2 of dedicated think/work time can be priceless!  Don’t be afraid to hire a sitter or find a way to have a few hours of kid free time each day.  Find out what summer camps are available in your area or schedule play dates for your kids a few times a week.  A less expensive alternative to a baby sitter is to consider hiring a Mommy’s Helper… A Mommy’s Helper is usually a child not yet old enough to babysit on their own but are more than able to help entertain the kids and do light tasks around the house.  This opportunity can help them to feel accomplished and get their feet wet before they are ready to babysit without a grown up in the building.  The caution here is be careful not to hire a mommy’s helper that needs too much of YOUR help!  You can also trade sitter time with other moms & dads that work from home.   Don’t be afraid to pick the brains of others in the same position as you are.

Tip #3 – Three Words that can change your family life = Weekly Family Meeting. – We stumbled across this idea a few years ago and it has made ALL the difference.  What is a family meeting?  Well once per week we sit down as a family (you could sit at the kitchen table or get comfy on the couch or floor) and have a meeting.  There is an agenda and everyone participates.  We start with each sharing something we are thankful for or excited about.  We next go around with concerns or something we need help with.  Then we go over the schedule for the upcoming week.  We find conflicts or where we need to make adjustments, and figure out who is driving who to where so that everyone is on the same page before the week starts… We wrap up with assigning tasks and going over the chore charts followed by everyone sharing what they are looking forward to most!  IMPORTANT: Let the kids have input!  This should be a conversation!  Kids support what they help create!  My kids get excited for family meeting night.  Now when I say “week” it’s the “family week” so if your meeting is on a Wednesday your week goes from Thursday to Wednesday.  J Give it a try!  It is amazing!

Tip #4 – Make Meal Time a Priority!  Family meal time is important!  Sitting around the table and sharing a meal is quality time at its finest.  I am blessed to have worked our schedule out so that all the family sits together for 2 meals a day (in the summer 3 meals from time to time!) In the summer when you make lunch important, sit together at the table and reconnect it gives you the chance to reset for the day.  Talk about how the morning went and review what they can expect for the rest of the day.  Take the time to connect and for the kids to feel important. You’ll be shocked at what a 30 minute connection over a meal can do for the rest of your day!  Tell them about the 2:00 call you cannot be interrupted during and what they will be doing at that time. Dangle the carrot of the next Mommy/Child time planned for the day.  We all do better with something to look forward to!

Tip #5 – Plan your meals like you plan your day!  Have a meal schedule… no more guessing what’s for dinner!  Planning meals save both TIME and MONEY!  You can go to the grocery store once per week (or even less often!) Or better yet… make the list and have someone else go for you!  You know what is for dinner so you can take things out to thaw in the morning.  You can plan cooking time with the kids! In our family when we don’t plan we often end up eating out or getting take out… that cost much more money and is often less healthy.  

 

Tip #6 – Multi-Task with Care! It’s a fact that moms have to multi-task… but you have to learn to be an effective multi-tasker.  If you are doing 100 things and not doing ANY of them well what is the point?  Learn your limits and if things are getting crazy take a breath and prioritize.

Do you have any Planning tips to Share?  Post them in the Comments below!

Stay tuned for Part 2 Coming Soon!  Part 2 – Productivity: How to Make Work Time More Productive!