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Whether you work in an office or at home, we all need an area to call our own when it comes to working. And it’s important to make sure this space is a pleasant and organised place where we feel productive and focused.

Few things are more distracting than piles of clutter and week-old coffee stains, so here are five of the best tricks to get your office space organised and keep it neat and clean with minimal effort.

1. Organise first, clean second. There’s no point in getting your office sparkling clean if you then move dusty items around and cover your newly-cleaned desk in all that dirt again.

Decide what to throw away, recycle, or even donate. The remove all of these items from your office before you tackle the grime.

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2. Ditch the paperwork. We all have a constant pile of papers we need to sort through in our office. Invoices, letters from your children’s school, receipts that need to be filed…the paperwork builds up quickly, and it’s easy to keep putting it off.

Sort your papers into categories, and bin anything that’s no longer relevant (yes, I’m talking about that receipt for the toaster you bought 3 years ago!). File into labelled folders for easy access.

Keep on top of future paper pile-ups by creating an inbox which you sort through once a week. To save even more space: scan all your papers and just keep digital copies. You can print out anything you need at a later date.

3. Organise for time saving. Items you use regularly – paper, sticky notes, pens, etc. – should be within easy reach of your desk chair. There’s no point spending time looking for them five times a day!

Items you use less often can be stored away in cupboards, drawers, containers, or on shelves. Make a list of where you’ve stored these items as you organise, so you can refer to it and save even more time when you next need to search for something.

4. Recycle and organise at the same time. There’s no need to buy expensive containers – you can use many household items to organise the things in your office.

Use your old toilet paper rolls to organise and store unused cables. Just thread the cables through the middle of the tube and keep wrapping them round. They can then be easily stacked on top of each other (tangle-free) in an old shoe box or drawer.

An ice cube tray, or even an egg box, is a perfect solution to store and organise all your small items like pins, paper clips, and coins.

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5. Keep on top of the cleaning. It’s all too easy for us to forget to clean our offices and desks. But given how much time we spend in this spot, it’s particularly important to keep it spick and span.

Simply spend five minutes at the end of each day wiping down your desk with antibac wipes or some vinegar mixed with water, remembering to get underneath all your equipment. This is especially important if you work from home and have sticky-fingered kiddies running in and out of your office space.

Once a week, do a slightly more thorough clean. Your mouse and keyboard are covered in germs from being in contact with your hands so much, so clean these with a cloth dampened with rubbing alcohol. Remember not to soak the cloth, and to only plug the mouse and keyboard back in when they’re 100% dry!

So follow these top five tips to get your office space neat, tidy, and clean. The nicer your office space, the easier it will be to spend time there – and maybe even be more productive in the process. With just a bit of organisation and a few cleaning tricks, you’ll be running the world from your desk chair in no time.

Natalie always has  a cleaning or organisation trick up her sleeve. She’s learned these tips working for Helpling, a platform connecting people with local cleaners in Sydney and Melbourne.

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How Outsourcing can help your small businessAs small business owners, we all have tight budgets and endless to do lists. But there are only so many hours in the day. So if one of your 2017 resolutions was to work less, then I am here to tell you how spending money on contractors can actually make you money.

You’ve all heard the saying “you have to spend money to make money”, and this couldn’t be truer in the case of outsourcing. You see, you might be spending countless hours updating your website, creating your social media content, following up outstanding invoices, tracking your expenses and income (the list goes on) when you could be out there doing what you do best. Stop working in your business and start working on your business.

Below is a list of 5 ways outsourcing can actually help your small business:

1. Grow your business

Outsourcing parts of your business to an expert means that you can spend time on growing your business which is important if you are wanting to take your business to the next level.

2. Get more time

Like most small business owners, you probably started your business to allow you to have more time to spend with you kids, or for a better quality of life, but when you start working late nights and weekends just playing catchup, you will think to yourself “what am I doing?” Outsourcing will enable you to spend less time at your desk and help you refocus your energy on the important things –in life and in business. You might even find that you can cross off the most time consuming tasks from your to do list and outsource them instead.

3. Spend money to make money

Small business owners do not have endless pits of money, so it can be hard to part with your hard earned money on tasks you could do yourself. Sending out a newsletter to your clients might be a task on your to do list, but as a “nice to do task”, you never get around to doing it. But if you outsourced this task, the money you would make in sales as a result of sending out the newsletter will pay for outsourcing and some.

4. Limitations

“You Can Do Anything, But Not Everything.” – David Allen

You may be an expert in your field, but that doesn’t mean that you are an expert in every business. Successful entrepreneurs understand the importance of surrounding themselves with people that are experts in the fields that they struggle with.

5. The ever-changing world we live in

The business world is fast-paced, and there are always changes being made. But when you are an expert in your field, how can you stay on top of all the changes on social media? When you outsource a task to an expert you are getting someone who knows what the latest changes are.

So now that you can see the benefits of outsourcing, where should you start? I recommend my clients develop a budget for outsourcing, create lists of tasks you would like others to manage/do and then talk to people in your network to see if they have recommendations of suppliers who would be perfect to take on these jobs. Stop wearing multiple hats in your business and start looking for some experts to outsource to.

 

How Outsourcing can help your small businessSam McFarlane, Sam Says

I’m Sam, and my business is Sam Says. My goal is to help mumpreneurs grow their businesses by taking everyday responsibilities from their busy schedule.

Being a mum of two and a business owner myself, I understand how challenging it can be to balance work and family life. That’s why I am so passionate about my work and I firmly believe that with a little help, businesses can achieve success.

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Setting a clear business direction for the new yearThe start of a new year is an opportunity to start afresh and be more successful and productive in your business. It’s a chance to review what happened in your business last year, and work out where you want to take things this year. You just need to be careful that in setting your business direction, you don’t become overzealous and set the wrong goals or over-commit yourself with too many goals. Here is how to start the new year with a laser focus, not a scattered approach, for your business.

1) Take stock of your current business.

Before you can move forward, you need to know where you’re starting from. So take a little time to reflect on where things stand in your business.

This can involve looking at the numbers – How much revenue did my business make? How much of it was profit? What products or services sold well? Which didn’t?

It’s also good to check in on how you felt running your business – What worked? What was I proud of? Did I make time for what was important? What could’ve been done better?

2) Set a long-term vision or direction for your business

I’m guessing that you’re in business for something bigger than just making a quick buck. When you express your broader purpose or vision (where your business is headed in the long term), it sets the context for the year ahead.

I like to map out my business vision by making a vision board using collage and magazine images. But you can also try to imagine what you and your business are doing in three to five years’ time. Try to picture what the future’s like in your mind as clearly as you can, and tap into your other senses to make it as vivid as you can (e.g. What sounds can you hear? What does it feel like?). Then anchor your imagination by writing a letter or diary entry from your ‘future self’ describing as much as you can about your imagined future.

3) Make one big goal for you to focus on achieving this year.

‘What only one? But there’s so much that I need to do for my business’, you might say.

I recommend only having one big goal for the year – I call it a ‘Headline Goal’. It should be clear and attention grabbing. With the right goal, it can give you a greater sense of purpose and more meaning to sometimes mundane or routine business tasks.

You’ll have to do lots of different things to make your goal happen, but by focusing your activities towards accomplishing this one big goal, it will help you fast track towards your bigger business vision.

Too often I see businesswomen become scattered or overwhelmed by having too much on their plate. Having one goal makes it easier to decide what goes on your ‘to do’ list, what opportunities to say ‘yes’ to, and what isn’t a good fit for you right now.

If you think that one year is too long away, set your year’s Headline Goal and then break it down into a smaller 30 (or 90 day) goal. At the end of each goal period, reset another 30 (or 90 day) goal that will help you move toward that one big goal.

Picking only one Headline goal for the year can sometimes be a bit tricky. So use this checklist to make sure you’ve set the right goal for you and your business:

  • Is your goal focused on only one thing (and not a whole lot of small goals linked together)?
  • Is it: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant (to your business vision and ideal client) and Time-based?
  • How does it make you feel? (Is it a bit of a stretch that makes you slightly uncomfortable but excited at the same time?)
  • Will it be a good motivator and inspire you to keep moving when things aren’t going to plan?

Above all, this one goal needs to make your heart sing. If you’ve picked the right one, it can help you through a rough patch and do all those everyday repetitive tasks involved in running a business. Having one goal also makes it easier to communicate to others what you’re working towards, and potentially enlist their help. At the very least, having one goal provides you with a focus and consistency that can transform the way you and others see your business.

Having a clear direction and goal for your business helps you declare what’s important to you and where you want to go. When you create a focus for your year, you’re more likely to be more productive, and find a way to achieve what you want for your business.

 

Setting a clear business direction for the new yearNatalia Walker, Inner Creative 

Natalia Walker, founder of Inner Creative, empowers entrepreneurs to unlock their creativity to create a business that’s more aligned with who they are and what they want.

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Budget Friendly ideas for your home officeHow to achieve a designer look for your home office without costing the earth

Let’s face it, if you work from home, most women who choose to do this start off small and build up and maybe even expand into a rented office off site. Setting up your home office does not need to be an expensive exercise to begin with. After all, you don’t want all of your profits to be tied up in overpriced office furniture, you’d much rather invest your money back into your business, or contribute to the household income.

So how do we decorate on a budget and still look professional and up to date? Read on for my clever suggestions of places to go to get the items which will add that little bit of pizazz without breaking the bank!

Inexpensive furniture – for furniture that looks stylish and has an up to date simple appeal you can’t go past the offerings at K Mart. They have a whole section dedicated to the home office where you can pick up a desk, office chair and shelf for under $200!

Thrift finds – opp shops and second hand dealers are a treasure trove for anything that might have some character. An old desk with a lick of paint can come up as good as new and will be uniquely your own.

Ebay – by searching online auction sites such as Ebay & Gumtree you may just come across quite good quality furniture at good prices. People often sell unused or disguarded office furniture items, businesses relocating or upgrading their offices might also wish to offload often good quality pieces that are too good to throw away. So you may just find the treasure you were looking for!

Whiteboard – Using a whiteboard helps you to jot down your notes, ideas and to-do lists. Can’t afford a custom made white board in your home office? Why not paint it on your wall instead? Writey Board Australia sell their whiteboard paint kit online. Prices start from $89, this is an affordable way of getting that corporate look at home.

Plants – indoor plants have made a huge comeback in interior design. Plants come in many forms and different types of vessels which can be an inexpensive addition to your décor. Look for hardy plants which suit the aspect of your room, whether your office is in direct sun or low light, there is a plant suited to either of these conditions. Short on desk space, then why not introduce a hanging terrarium plant, also making a comeback.

Budget Friendly ideas for your home office

Artwork – One way of adding some great decoration to your office that is also practical is to hang a series of clip boards on the wall to display your projects, ideas, memo or photos. These can act as the artwork for your office, while serving a purpose.

If you are a creative and need to have inspiration around you, then make your mood board a masterpiece. Upcycle an old frame, paint it and stick your inspirational or vision board items up on it.

Shelving – Can’t afford built in shelving? The Ikea Billy bookcase with stylish baskets keeps all your files together. You may then wish to add coloured boxes for storage within these cubes to create a unified colour scheme. Search at Officeworks or Kmart.

Flooring – want some warmth underfoot in your home office? Why not consider carpet tiles? They are inexpensive, easy to install and better still, easy to remove when you fancy a change. You may wish to select a number of different patterns to create a novel and fun space.

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There you are, no more using the excuse that it is too expensive to work in a tastefully decorated office space, follow these tips to make working from home a pleasure!

 

Budget Friendly ideas for your home officeTania Bell, Green Room Interiors 

Green Room Interiors create colourful spaces that make their client’s heart sing!

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This post brought to you by iSelectpiggy-bank-1595992_640

It’s almost the end of January and despite being one month down, you’re likely still trying to discover how to get the best out of 2017.

Granted, getting back into the swing of things after the Christmas period can sometimes take a while. The daily juggling act between parenting and running a business is never easy, and can seem especially overwhelming after the Christmas break.

Before you get back into the groove though, use the down time that some of us are lucky enough to enjoy in January to take a life admin day and see where you can reassess and save in 2017, in order to spend those hard-earned dollars on what you choose to instead of what you must.

With the boring but important stuff then out of the way, you can focus on the needs of both your family and growing your business.

iSelect spokesperson Laura Crowden breaks down these finance hacks for January in 5 simple steps:

January hack #1 – Always act interested

With speculation that interest rates may rise in 2017, now is the time to be act interested in your mortgage. Switching to an interest rate even just a few basis points lower not only reduces interest payments and eases the pressure on the household budget. It also helps home owners shave years off their loan, if they ensure repayments stay above the minimum level.  Now is also the time to considering if moving to a fixed mortgage while rates are still low might give you more security and make balancing your budget easier.

January hack #2 – Don’t sweat the summer stuff

Its summer, and it’s only getting started. Closing blinds and line drying clothes will help reduce your energy consumption to a certain extent, but the best way to save money on your energy bills is to make sure you are on the best plan to begin with. This is because a large portion of your energy bill is actually made up of network charges, and reducing your consumption won’t necessarily make a significant impact on your energy bill.

January hack #3 – Warning: The tide is rising

As you’re probably aware, private health insurance premiums are set to rise again on 1 April 2017. This is the perfect time to consider your current and future health needs, and a good place to start is by reviewing the events happening in your life at the moment, or in the not-so-distant future. It could be another child on the horizon, or on the other end of the scale, even kids moving out of home. As your health insurance policy should suit your lifestyle, these type of milestones need to be taken into account. And if you are in a position to do so, it can be well worth paying your annual premiums upfront before April 1 and avoid the rate rise for another 12 months.

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January hack #4 – Busy kids = happy kids

If you want to stream movies or TV for restless kids on days that are just too hot to handle, it’s worth looking out for quota-free offers where streaming services like Telstra TV, Netflix, Stan or Presto are included in your plan and don’t come out of your data limit. This may enable you to go on a lower data plan than if you had to take your TV streaming into account.

January hack #5 – Feel like a taxi service?

If you’re taxiing around kids this holiday, it’s the perfect time to reassess your car insurance. For households with more than one car, an easy way to save money can be moving your separate policies into a singlemulti-car policy. These types of policies can offer great value, and the more cars on the policy, the more you could save… plus the added bonus of less paperwork!

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