Happy Thanksgiving!

Just a quick one to say, if you’re in the US, Happy Thanksgiving!

Remember, be careful on online scams, especially at this time of year. The infographic below tells you more about them, you can see it in a larger format here.

Black Friday Cyber Monday Hacks and Scams

Infographic by Veracode Application Security

The Productivity Gamble – How To make Home-Working Work For You

Working from home. It seems like such a great idea at the time. Think of the time you’ll save not having to commute into the office every day, think of the extra work you’ll get done, the concentration you’ll have from the lack of annoying colleagues constantly interrupting you. Working from home sounds like it’s the perfect solution to the common problem of being more productive at work. What is often meant to reduce stress and increase productivity can very easily end up achieving exactly the opposite effect.

If you’ve ever worked from home yourself you may already know it isn’t always a glamorous and stress free as it sounds. Those dreams of extra productivity can be replaced with distraction, frustration, sometimes anger and resentment plus an increase in those supposedly reducing stress levels too. The pitfalls of home working are real but with some preparation and planning it can also be a great success, here’s how to make the productivity gamble worth the risk…
Home Office

Make the daily routine just like the office

Creating as similar an environment to the office is an awesome start to making the working day as productive as possible. It is essentially a way to trick the brain into thinking it is in a regular work place. Working at home can increase productivity when you use the following tips…

  • Get dressed as if you are actually going into the office – if your dressed in your sweat pants and favourite t-shirt you’ll go into relax mode not work mode
  • Take your lunch into the office with you – take a homemade lunch with you into your home office. Go in at the start of the day, close the door, stop for lunch and have it in your office rather than being tempted to go and catch up on some TV or that bit of gardening you didn’t quite get finished therefore falling into distraction. Leave the office only for comfort breaks and your daily routine is still in place
  • Share your routine with the family – if you are working at home and the family is in the house with you share your schedule with them and make sure they help you achieve your aims. Disturbing and distracting you can be easy if you’re behind the office door but they must realise that you are at work and they can see you and interact with you when the working day is finished.

The ‘working too many hours’ trap

A sometimes unforeseen danger of working at home can be the temptation to work extra hard, putting in more hours than you ever have before. When the office is a drive away, the switching off process normally takes place when you exit the building. Working at home leaves temptation much closer. The pull of just getting ahead for tomorrow or just finishing that final report can lead to stress of a different kind.

An example of how to deal with the temptation to work that little bit more came from a guy in Australia, who had a problem working too many hours. Once he realised the problem, he chose to find a solution to rectify it in a radical way. He decided he never wanted to be available to work more than 11 hours a day in his home office.

He worked in his garage, and so he always needed light to see the office and work in it – often his days stretched to 15 or 16 hours. He decided, therefore, to fit a timer on the lights and electricity in the garage, and screwed his desk to the wall. This meant that when the timer went off, his lights went out and he could do no more for the day – he couldn’t access the lights without unscrewing the desk from the wall. He also couldn’t start his working day until the lights went on at his chosen time in the morning!

Extreme, but effective

The key to ensuring success working at home is showing the right discipline. If you practice the correct attitude, set the right plans in place and stick to a firm structure then working at home can be everything you want it to be, when it comes to being more productive and reducing stress.

It is simple but not always that easy to achieve!

The Power Of Unwinding…

When we talk about what needs to be done to succeed as a blogger, relaxing and taking time out is very rarely something which we consider as a key attribute for business prowess.

Most people who tell us how to achieve success will cover the basics about how to be a driven and motivated business owner. They include the following:

  • Staying dedicated to updating your blog on a regular basis, preferably at least three times each week
  • Keeping ahead of industry best practice, by subscribing to the latest news and staying in touch with those people whom you admire, that run successful blogs
  • Undertaking regular maintenance for your blog including removing spam, updating software and plugins, and refreshing your site when required
  • Implementing ongoing improvements to enhance navigation and content, and refreshing your material including your free giveaways and downloads
  • Responding promptly to customer feedback and queries, and regularly soliciting input from people about how they find using your site
  • Staying organized and focused upon your blog as a tool for marketing and business development.

Cats relaxing

This all sounds pretty familiar, right? Each one of these points is best practice for the potentially successful blogger, and seem to be second nature to the experienced online marketer.

However, there is another aspect to successful business ownership which is seldom celebrated or referred to, and is often not adhered to by even the most sensible and savvy bloggers – completely switching off.

You may think this is crazy advice for you, especially if you are anew starter in the blogosphere, when we first set up our businesses, it seems as if there are not enough days in the week to accommodate everything which we need to get done, and the idea of deliberately taking time out can seem laughable.

Why should you be reading a paper, having a lie in or going on a picnic, when you could be marketing online, setting up your social networking or developing a new product to sell? You can only make money by selling things, and you won’t get anything sold by sitting down and taking five minutes out to watch your favorite television program or having an extra half an hour in bed. Right?

Well, wrong.

Hear me out on this one. Can you remember the last time you approached work full of zest, really looking forward to getting in to it? It’s as true in business as it is in love – absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Think about the last time you took a vacation from your work. Were you sitting on a beach somewhere sipping a cocktail? And what happened when you turned your thoughts to your business?

I’ll bet that you came up with some killer ideas about how you wanted your business to progress when you got back to it. It’s always the same with our work – the further away we get from it, the more perspective we can gain about how to make it work, and what we need to do to succeed.

When we are completely immersed in business for hours on end, every day, losing our weekends to blogging and customer service, we can quickly lose sight of our overall goals and objectives.

We forget who we are, why we wanted to work for ourselves, and what we need to do to achieve our ambitions for our site.

We can quickly become stressed and short-tempered, and begin to resent our work from keeping us away from some of the things we really value, such as family time or relaxing.

This stress stunts our creativity and motivation, and the chances are we end up working harder, but not smarter. This is where the power of walking away comes in to its own.

How stepping back from our blogs will reap its own rewards

I really am advocating being completely lazy from time to time. Stopping what you are doing for an evening, a day or a weekend when it comes to work is invaluable.

What are your hobbies, when you think back that far to when you last had some spare time? Reaching out for a good book can clear your head of worries, making it easier to tackle them at a later stage.

Heading off to the golf course will buy you at least three hours of quality time where you feel relaxed, energized and invigorated for when you get back to the office. Spending time in the kitchen rustling up a decent evening meal will get your spouse off your back and make for a happy home life.

All of these things need to be seen as potential business investments by the busy blogger, rather than shirking or dodging your work obligations.

But don’t take it to extremes…

Don’t get me wrong, there are people who have taking time out down to a fine art. These are the business owners who you can look at, and instinctively know that they won’t be around next year, or the year after.

They approach everything with the same laid-back and slightly lazy attitude which will most likely see to it that they will never succeed. Deadlines float past unnoticed, and the budding entrepreneur soon finds his or herself left without a business.

Admittedly, it’s tempting to revel in being your own boss, but it’s important to set limits on how much time to take out.
Essentially, blogging as a small business owner is all about balance. When you take time out, really enjoy it and don’t feel guilty for not pouring all of your spare hours in to your blog.

Similarly, don’t get so adept at leaving your business for a while that you forget to go back to it altogether. By balancing your quality time with your work, you stand to be an extremely successful, stress-free and confident blog owner with a great future ahead of you.

Now go and play golf – but not for too long!

Blogging Is Not A Get Rich Quick Scheme

Yet so many people think it is. Andrew says it much better than me over at We Build Your Blog:

Many people enter the world of blogging believing they are going to be rich within weeks. They believe the hype of the sales pages and the guys standing in front of their big mansions and flashy cars and think, “I want that. I want what they have”.

Read the full blog post here. It’s a great post, and please leave a comment on his site if you’re so inclined.

Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff

Have you ever had one of those days where it feels as if every single bit of your business is conspiring to make you panic? Your internet connection goes down and you can’t e-mail anyone. You have a deadline looming for a customer, and you lose all of your work mysteriously even though you’re sure you saved the file to the right place.

Continue reading Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff

Get Your Body & Business Fit For 2011

Healthy body, healthy business. That’s my motto for 2011.

As some of you know, 2010 was a great year for my health, and that’s something I’ve struggled with since working from home. Temptation and laziness are never too far away and it’s hard work not to succumb. That said, I’ve had a few too many days off this Christmas and New Year and it’s time to get back into my routine.

If you want to learn more, there are only two strings attached:
– Your email address so we can send you the free report.
– You have to take action. No point reading it and not doing anything!

There is nothing to buy, no affiliate links, no upsell or downsell, just a free report. Fill in the form below or take a look at Easy Lifestyle Fitness. Let me know what you think!

How I Lost 15lbs And Then Put It All Back On

It’s an old story – man starts working from home and gains weight. Man decides to lose weight and succeeds. Then man puts it all back on again. But wait, there’s a twist! What if you lost fat and then put on muscle? That’s what I did, and this is how I did it….

A few of you may know the Andrew (from We Build You Blog) and I have been on a quest to become healthier while working at home.

Back in 2006 when I was working in an office in a 9-5 job I was pretty fit. I was playing football/soccer twice a week, going to the gym and walking at least five miles every day in total to and from work.

Then my life changed

I moved to the US and started to do what many people reading this will be doing – working from home. I thought I knew how big the change would be business-wise. Boy, was I wrong.

I was now doing what I always wanted to do – working for myself. That meant that every minute counted, I was working alone without direct personal interaction with other colleagues, and being my own boss meant I could control how I spent my time, which often meant working very hard for long hours.

However there was one unanticipated consequence – my health.

I’ve never been fat, I’ve never even been technically overweight, however my body shape was beginning to tell a different story. I went from doing a great amount of exercise to doing almost zero.

My commute is about 20 yards and once I start working I usually get into “the zone” where I don’t get out of my seat for hours at a time.

Time is money and when working for yourself this is even more acute. Deciding between an hour of exercising or an hour of working becomes almost no choice at all – working won every time.

As time went by, my belly began to extend and a double-chin developed. My arms thinned out and I generally did not have much energy to do anything but work. My family became concerned about what this sedentary lifestyle was doing to me.

Time for a change

Early in 2010 I thought I would start doing some more exercise, and for a while tried to get my body back into the routine of doing some exercise. A great client of mine provided me with an exercise plan which included more walks and some basic, beginner exercises, but as work got busier again in the next couple of months, time became less and less available and the thing that got pushed to the side once again was exercise.

I thought the day after my 33rd birthday would be a great time to start a proper exercise and diet routine. I did some research, discussed exercise, food, and time management strategies with Andrew and talked over my plan with my wife, who, frankly, was delighted with the idea. We share the cooking so the “diet” and nutrition plan was great with her, and so in mid-April the change in my lifestyle began.

Today as I write this it is almost exactly eight months later and the change is pretty astounding.

I won’t tell you it was easy, because it still isn’t. The plan isn’t finished, and never will be, but with no false promises, no hyperbole, no PhotoShop, I can tell you, if I can do it, you can too.

The results

Back to the headline, I now weigh the same as when I started. However I first lost 15lbs of fat, getting down to a weight I hadn’t seen since my early 20’s. Then I guess I must have put on 15lbs of muscle, as it’s definitely not fat!

Don’t believe me? Want to see my progress? Check out the 30 second video below of me (and my man nipples…):

My motivation partner Andrew has lost 25lbs! You can read about how Andrew and I did it here:

A Quick & Easy Guide To A Healthier Working From Home Lifestyle

It’s free, with no affiliate links and nothing to sell you.