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Multitasking – When it’s useful and when it’s not!

A peak into my world and 5 tips for singular focus when it counts

I was in my kitchen today after a full on day working, from my home office, the house was a buzz with activity, I had already dropped miss 8 at her dance lesson and offered to watch my 12-week old granddaughter while her mum ran an errand. It was 5pm….I was running bath for miss 7, had mister 14 playing with miss 12 weeks while I turned the sausages, boiled the pasta, put mountains of washing away….as I paused to turn another sausage It occurred to me that in this situation MULTITASKING is a skill to die for, one I am proud of, a skill that is USEFUL….as long as I stay focused….boy was I focussed.

PHEW are you exhausted just reading this!? In my domestic life multitasking is useful in most cases, I can get a lot done in a short period of time and usually without dropping ‘any balls’ from my juggle, possibly because many of the tasks are routine, don’t require much detailed thinking or focus. I can even add in a conversation with a husband or a child to the above and be quite engaged.

When multitasking is NOT useful – when tasks require more focus, more concentration and detail.

I learned a long time ago, multitasking like this doesn’t belong at work….almost EVER. In the work I do I have multiple roles, many ‘seasons’ in any one day, things are complex, strategic, and involve singular focus.

I have learned the importance of planning my work time, having lists, prioritising those lists, using ONE diary system that works well for me on all levels, and working in SPRINTS. My sustained sprint time is around 45 – 60 mins. If a task will take longer than that I will sometimes extend this time but usually will come back to the task after a break.

I  get up…. stop what I am doing get a drink and move my body. Then I can re focus again.

Working like this I get very productive, less stuff falls through cracks. Jobs get finished

I call this sharpening my AXE, a woodcutter will be more successful if he stops to sharpen his axe than the one who keeps hacking away with a blunt tool. Based on an old story I heard years ago.

My tips for singular focus and single tasking at work

  1. Plan your day – know what tasks, calls and emails you HAVE to get done that day, everything else is a bonus, if you have work that you get interrupted by phone calls, take small phone breaks where you put it on silent, switch if off or leave it in another room for a short period, NO ONE WILL DIE if they can’t get hold of you in a particular moment.
  2. Use time chunking, chunk blocks of time in your diary to do a task or a bunch of tasks.
  3. Work in healthy sprints, set a timer and focus on that ONE task for that time period when the timer goes off you stand up, walk away even just for 5 mins, get a drink, some food if you need and then come back re set the timer again.
  4. Plan NOT to multi-task, this means having only relevant tabs open, leaving social media, emails or other distracting tabs closed and notifications OFF
  5. Learn to be assertive (this is not the same as aggressive) try to say things like “sorry I will have to get back to you I am in the middle of something” and do just that, don’t allow people to steal your time with their emergencies unless you are completely responsible or someone will be injured. Find your own nice way to stay assertive

Either you run your day or your day runs you, is a favourite quote of mine and also is true for people and time – either you manage your time or have other people manage it according to their needs.

By all means be flexible when needed, but set boundaries, set work time, be assertive and learn to know when multitasking is useful and when it’s not.

Here’s to your singular focus



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5 things you can do through the Christmas ‘shut down’ period for small business.

When you are running a small or medium business, depending on your situation, it is not always possible to ‘shut down’ or ‘shut your doors’ and walk away for weeks on end, unless you have structured yourself in as an employee with full annual leave rights, or have a backup income that will fund your business and lifestyle in your absence.

Being self-employed often means if you don’t work you don’t make money and don’t get paid. This can cause stress for some, especially if they don’t know what to do about this.

Some business owners even resent the season because they find it harder to get clients, know there will be a ‘lull’ in business and also in the months leading up, a lot of people use the excuse “ I am too busy now, contact me next year”

Let me share few things I have learned after working for myself for most of 16 years:

  1. Planning is VITAL, even if you dislike it. I am not talking about doing a full business plan for the new year if that feels too big, but it is about planning a few things.

Cash-flow – Expenses – Buffer – Momentum

The reason I have love a bit of planning is because it means that when I do have ‘down time’ I am relaxed and not stressing about money or trying to work despite the holidays.

If you want a whole month off, make sure you can financially support that, this may mean slowly saving throughout the year, putting money aside into a separate account so it is there.

Planning also helps you to get more work in before Christmas and then set up some to go back to when you choose to return. This, I call the Momentum factor. If you have momentum coming up to December and through the month, you will more than likely have work spilling into the new year, use Dec to not just hop on the hamster wheel and run into Christmas like a crazy person, set some time aside to book in work for Jan – March.

  1. Keep in touch, how will you keep in touch with your customer base over the summer?

Send a Christmas card. Schedule some social media posts to give them some information etc or a newsletter that shares useful tips and ideas they can use, maybe schedule a couple of short ones. Use a VA (virtual assistant) if you need someone to ‘man’ your phone line and you are going to be away for more than the usual few weeks when everyone else is. Have someone handle inbound calls for that time, and fulfill orders if you need.

  1. Use an Autoresponder or Vacation reply so people KNOW you are away, they get a response, redirected to your website perhaps?

And say when you will be back on deck this is good manners – if you don’t want to say you are going away for security reasons, you can just say you are on leave.

  1. Say NO sometimes, we can’t be everything to everyone, or attend every social function.

If you are a social butterfly this may be harder than if you are not, but overloading your calendar at an already busy time of year ROBS you of energy, and precious time you could be spending getting your business to run smoothly over this time. I have also found that if I overload my diary I just get ‘over’ going to things, CHOOSE the things you like.

  1. Keep up your self-care, if you have a routine STICK to it like glue, your mind and body needs it even more at this time of year.

That way you head into your summer holiday feeling as healthy and fit as you can, if you don’t have one in place, DEC is a great time to start looking after yourself.

Remember, momentum can be LOST a lot faster than gained, so if you have some already, sit down and ask yourself:

  1. How can I keep some of this going and still have a break myself?
  2. Do my customers or clients want to hear from me over this Christmas period?
  3. If so what would they like to hear? Or know?
  4. What time do I want to have off completely and when do I want to return for what hours?

If you don’t have some momentum to carry you through, perhaps spending some of the time leading up to Christmas creating some, this involves networking for business, contacting your customers with an offer and other activities that can generate some activity.

In summary:

Plan to enjoy this season with family and friends by being prepared, financially, personally, customer care, and growth wise. You can finish this year WELL and Start the new year even better with a bit of the old planning that is for sure.


I hope by now you have downloaded my free basic business planning work-book, many are using it now and loving its simplicity yet thought-provoking questions. If you haven’t yet had a look, make some time to chip away at it. If you haven’t yet you will find it on my home page at the top.

I wish you a very happy and healthy Christmas and start to 2017!

Best wishes and blessings



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Overwhelmed? Come up for air and breathe!

5 things you can do to get out from under the pile of ‘overwhelm’ – come up for air and breathe

The dictionary says this about the word ‘overwhelm’:

To bury or drown beneath a huge mass of something, especially water.

What to do when everything closes in – the dark place of ‘overwhelm

For some, this is a familiar place on a way too frequent basis, usually the symptom of entrepreneurs or working parents, but many others also suffer this unproductive and uncomfortable state, too often.

If you have ever felt confused, weighed down, stressed and grumpy by a never ending list of things to do, swimming around in your foggy head, chances are you have experienced what many call ‘overwhelm’.

For me and those around me this is not a good place for me to be in, mentally or physically. I forget things, don’t sleep well past 4am, find myself snappy and irritable, and in a constant state of stress. This space is usually very un-productive.

Here are 5 things I have found that can lift the fog and help re focus energy and time:

  1. TIME OUT: Take a morning off, ASAP, as soon as you recognise you are here, go for a walk, then sit down and make a massive list, categorise if you must but make a list of everything you need to do, everything that is in your head.
  •  Make sub lists from this list and put in categories of priority, personal, work and  other. Just this task of getting out of my head and on paper splits the stress literally in HALF, because now I can’t forget anything, it is all on paper.
  1. GET ‘YOU’ IN THE PICTURE: Re look at your diary, your schedule,  remove some things to make some space for you, and the things that ‘feed’ your mind, body and soul… At least 3-4 times a week. SMALL things count – I used to think I needed to get to a yoga class for 90 mins (plus travel) or the gym for an hour for it to count….then it just wouldn’t happen, when I discovered the scientific fact that 10 mins of walking somewhere pretty can change your brain chemistry completely, I started looking at this time differently. I make time 3-4 mornings a week to walk my dog, just 30 mins in our local park, I dance once a week, and I train in martial arts (my favourite sport) 1-2 times depending but a minimum of once. The park walks serve a few things, I love nature and how it soothes my soul, reminds me of my place on this earth, connects me to creation and also gives my body the movement it needs, it clears my mind, I solve problems among the trees.

NOTE: I used the words ‘make time’ ? We can all find time to fit in what we deem to be important, I realised that I am important, so cleared some things off my plate.

  1. TIME CHUNKING: Look at the way you schedule things in your diary, if you are self-employed you CAN choose your hours, set them on a calendar, and then schedule in what you do in that time, this is a discipline that takes time to implement if you have been a little loose on this. I use TIME CHUNKING, I put things in blocks of time I think they will take, for things like my walk, they REPEAT every week, on the odd occasion I have to move them but it is a choice and usually only once in any one week.
  1. SAY NO nicely: Learn to say no, if you have so much on your plate there is no room for you, look at what you can possibly take off. Ask yourself these questions on each thing that takes up your time. These are for things you have on your plate that you want to check in about:
  • Why am I involved in this?
  • Why did I say Yes?
  • Is this part of my overall purpose in life?
  • Does this energise me or drain me?
  • Why am I holding on to it?
  • If you choose to let it go, plan how you will say ‘no nicely’

What to consider BEFORE saying YES to new things:

What REAL time is involved in this? Do I have the time easily available? What will have to move off my diary in order to fit this in? (NOTE If is YOU time that needs to move, seriously consider saying NO) What is my motive for saying yes?

ALWAYS say you want to think about it, so you have time to process taking on new things, even this will give you freedom and less pressure. If they can’t give you time, then perhaps you just say NO right away.

  1. ASK for help: Or Delegate. What can someone else be doing for you? Giving jobs that don’t light you up, or asking others for help with children, chores or tasks can give others the opportunity to do something nice for you OR something they love doing! Instead of seeing it as weakness, see it as allowing others to work in their strengths.
  • You can pay people, barter time or ask a favour, depending on what it is there is always a way to get some help with the things that are on your plate that you can’t get rid of.
  • This frees you up to get on with the things that energise you and are part of your overall purpose in life.
  • I don’t like housework, I like getting help with this on a regular basis and giving chores to my kids, does this mean I never do it? NO, It all just doesn’t land on me and that feels good.

Final note: YOU are important, that is why they say in the flight emergency briefing put YOUR OWN oxygen mask on first before attending to children, WHY? Because if you stop breathing you are NO good to anyone.

You have stuff to do in this world that only you can do, and when you are living in balance to the best of your ability most of the time you are WAY more effective, productive, have better health, relationships and enjoy life rather than just get through each day.

Yours in freedom