Work From Home Mom, Tip #21: Get Outside

 

Getting Outside for a Walk

Tip #21 – Make time to get outside

It’s easy to get wrapped up in what you’re working on or to feel bogged down with laundry, dirty dishes, a fussy baby etc. There are days I feel overwhelmed and realize I’ve hardly accomplished anything on my to-do list and I just need a “reset” so I can clear my head and focus. On days like those  (and today was one of them) it’s so helpful to get outside and take a mental break.

Not only is the fresh air good for you, but studies show Vitamin D can also be a mood booster. I know this is true for me, especially this time of year when it’s getting dark by 5 pm. If I don’t have time for a walk I’ll check the mail and play fetch with our 100 lb labradoodle for a few minutes – he loves the attention and I love the way a little time spent outdoors can help me clear my thoughts and refocus on writing or design, whatever it is I’m working on.

If you’re struggling to build a routine or stay motivated working from home, try getting outside on a daily basis and see how much better you feel – and how much more focused you can be. It’s worth it!

-Rachel

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Direct Mail Still Works

Yes, you read it – Direct mail still works. As a marketer you’re probably skeptical, and I was too, but I can tell you for select industries direct mail is still effective.

People are no longer looking for remodelers, movers, or painters in their mailboxes – but they are holding onto fliers from their favorite pizza places, Chinese restaurants and septic pumpers! People love coupons and anyone that leaves menu at your door is probably offering sweet deal. As for septic pumping – most people have no idea who to call so when they receive a flier, they hold onto it (especially if there’s a coupon)!

My husband’s family has a septic company and I’ve been amazed at how successful direct mail has been for them. In our area, most townships require people who have septic systems to have them pumped every 2-4 years. Because there’s a “schedule” so to speak, it makes it simple to figure out when you should do a direct mail blast. Within days of sending out fliers, the business will get phone calls from people calling to schedule their pumping because they got their “reminder” in the mail.

The best thing about direct mail is that it’s cheap! Yes, it can add up when you send thousands of postcards or fliers, but the ROI is huge. I use Next Day Flyers btw – the cheapest printing costs I’ve found. What I’ve learned through direct mail, is that when it comes to marketing you have to do what works! In most industries nowadays, direct mail is not effective, but for the septic business, it is.

Before you jump into any new marketing endeavor, think about how you would make a purchasing decision – would you hold onto a flier from a service provider? Would you search online? Would you go to a place like Angie’s List or ask a friend? If you wouldn’t do it, chances are others won’t either so don’t waste your money.

Email marketing is a big one these days that’s effective for some industries and not for others. Email marketing is much more effective for ecommerce sellers than service providers. Again, think about how you make purchasing decisions. If you get an email from Amazon or Macy’s, you might click through to see what sales they’re having or to use a coupon code – but if you get an email from your local plumber you’re probably wondering why you’re on their email list and the message goes straight to the “trash.”

But back to direct mail… Here’s one of the most effective direct mail postcards I created for John Kline Septic Services this year. Key features include a well-branded color scheme, bold fonts and of course, a coupon!

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10 Tips for Working from Home (with a Baby)

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1. Create a schedule
When I first began working from home I had only a few clients and could get most of my writing done at the beginning of the week leaving me with a few “free” days for running errands etc. That is no longer the case so a schedule has become essential. My schedule doesn’t dictate what time of day I work on things, but it does tell me what needs to be done each day. Mondays – Pinterest, Tuesdays – Blogging, etc.

2. Make a to-do list
I keep a simple Excel sheet with a list of my clients, what needs to be done and when. I date everything when it comes to social media management so that I remember when I last worked on something and when those social media accounts will need to be worked on again. Being able to schedule posts ahead of time is a huge advantage but I try not to go more than two weeks out because a lot can change during that time and I always want posts to be relevant. For additional items like “Buy dog food” or “Pick up dry cleaning” I use the app Evernote. It’s FREE and a great way to remember things. It syncs between my phone and laptop so no matter what I’m working on I have access to my latest notes or reminders.

3. Plan ahead
I like to stay at least one week ahead when it comes to content creation – this way if something comes up it’s not the end of the world. When you work from home it feels like you have all the time in the world to complete tasks but at the end of the day with a fussy baby there are moments I find myself saying “What did I do today??” If you know your little one is acting fussier than usual, plan ahead and get an extra hour of work done when he or she goes to bed, so that if you lose time the next day it’s okay. I also make sure to keep Dr. appointments, meetings and anything else on the same calendar so that I can plan around things and be prepared.

4. Take advantage of nap time
This is a big one. I will make sure to save my most challenging work for nap time. I try to do things like vacuuming, folding laundry and household chores when baby is awake because it doesn’t matter if I’m interrupted a million times, but when it comes to writing, design or content planning – nap time it is!

5. Be willing to be flexible
I recently read the quote “Perfectionism is the enemy of Hustle.” I think this is perfect for remembering to stay flexible. When you have a baby toddling around nothing is ever going to be perfect and this has taken me a while to learn. I am seriously OCD when it comes to my home and keeping things tidy but at the end of the day that doesn’t get things done.

6. Schedule phone calls
When you have a baby the worst thing that can happen is an unexpected phone call during nap time or a door bell ring followed by incessant barking and chaos from your 100lb dog. (Maybe that’s just in our household haha) Regardless, nothing can mess up your day like an unexpected 30 minute conversation when you could have done a bunch of other more important things during that time. I ask all of my clients to email first and if they need to talk on the phone that’s fine but I schedule my calls in advance so 1. I can be prepared and 2. It doesn’t mess up nap time and 3. It doesn’t interfere with my other work.

7. Plan time to check and respond to emails.
Email can be a major time-sucker. Unless it’s urgent I don’t open it right away – this way it remains highlighted so I know I need to come back to it. I try to check and respond in the morning and again later in the day. As much as I want to be available to my clients, email can become a serious interruption to other work. I find I can write a better response when it’s not rushed and I’m not doing other things so setting a time for email checking and responding has proven valuable.

8. Designate a work space
I love that working from home means I can work wherever, but I like some stability so when I sit down I know, “okay, it’s work time.” We have an “office” but I hate it. It’s secluded and baby girl has no room to play. I have commandeered the breakfast bar in the kitchen as my work space instead – there’s ample space for me to spread out papers, drink my coffee and plenty of outlets for chargers. Plus I can put baby Kline in her walker or jumper and let her go to town, all within watching distance. Having a work space is great – even my dog knows when I’m sitting here I’m not to be bothered.

9. Limit distractions
Okay, we all have our lazy work from home days when we catch up on our favorite shows or watch the Today Show for an hour but when it comes down to it I cannot do my best work with the TV on. Even catchy music can get distracting for me so I limit myself to a few classical Pandora stations for some welcome background noise. I highly recommend “Piano Guys” radio to anyone that loves music – it’s all instrumental versions of your favorite songs so it’s fun but not distracting. I’ve also learned to successfully tune out Disney radio but sometimes when Frozen comes on I just have to belt out “Let it go!” for the world to hear. (baby girl thinks I’m a great singer!)

10. Enjoy your little ones while you can!
The best part of working from home is getting to spend time with your little one (s) so do it! They may be your biggest inspiration when it comes to your next creative assignment and when I’m stressed nothing is better than some quiet time nursing my baby girl. Don’t forget why you’re working from home to begin with. “Work” can always wait or you can catch up on something when the kids are in bed.

What are your top tips for working from home with kids? I’d love to hear them!

– Rachel

Not Too Shabby – My First Amateur Photography Attempts

I’ve always loved taking product photos for my clients but recently I began practicing my photography skills on just about anyone that will allow me to take their picture. My sister asked me to take some baby pictures of my nephew, Clark, so I of course agreed. Not only do I love babies but I was excited for the chance to practice my shooting and editing skills. Now I know I’m far from being an expert, but I was really happy with how the pictures turned out so I thought I’d share my favorites. I’ve found a local printer but I would love to know from the other amateur photographers out there, who do you use for your printing services? I know there’s a lot of big names out there but I was skeptical of ordering a bunch of prints online and I want to get my sister the best deal possible. I’d love your feedback!

~ Rachel

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6 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

Whether you’re tired of shoveling snow or sick of dealing with the shorter, darker days of winter, this time of year can get you down.  Regardless of whether or not the groundhog saw his shadow, it looks like we’re in for another month or two of wet, yucky weather so we might as well make the best of it.  Here are some of my favorite ways to beat the winter blues without spending a dime or leaving home!

 

Do Some Reading

Stop making lists of all the great books you plan to read this summer and start one today! If you’ve got an Amazon account there are countless books available for free every day.  Not sure what to read? Check out the best-sellers list or find something that can help you in your career.  (I read a recent article said that the most successful business people read an average of four marketing/business related books per year.) If you’re looking for a romance or action packed novel, remember most movies were originally books so pick your favorite and get a new perspective.

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Have a Netflix Marathon

If you’ve never binge-watched a TV series, you don’t know what you’re missing.  Snow days are perfect for Netflix TV marathons. Simply get comfortable, make some snacks and settle in.  Start with a classic series like Friends or How I Met Your Mother, or catch up on the latest season of your favorite show.  Netflix has numerous seasons available so you can watch a TV series from start to finish, or get sucked into one of their original series like the award winning drama, Orange is the New Black.

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Build a Fort

This one is great when school gets cancelled and the kids are home for the day, but you don’t have to have kids to build a totally awesome pillow fort! Stuck at home with just your hubby? Get creative and relive your childhood days seeing who can make the best fort using only blankets, pillows and the furniture in the room. Does your fort have TV access? Host your Netflix TV marathon from your fort and it’s sure to win!

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Bake a Pie

You don’t have to be Betty Crocker to whip up a delicious pie to beat the winter blues.  Take stock of the fruit in your home – maybe you have some apples or peaches that are on the brink of going bad, or maybe you have a bunch of bananas that no one has eaten.  Instead of letting them go to waste, find a recipe for that type of fruit pie or muffins. (Bananas are perfect for muffins!) With just a few additional ingredients like flour, sugar, and heavy cream, you’ll have a delicious pie in no time.  Trust me, if I can make one of these recipes, you can too! Click here for some easy Pinterest recipes to get you started!

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Start Your Spring Cleaning

You don’t have to go all out, but a little bit of cleaning here and there can save you from needing a major “deep cleaning” down the road.  If you’re stuck inside for the day, make an effort to reduce clutter and start a Goodwill or Salvation Army bag to fill with items that can be donated.  Make another bag for trash.  Don’t be a pack-rat… If you don’t use it, donate it. If it’s broken, put it in the garbage. Start with your closets to free up storage space, then move to rooms like the kitchen and bathroom.

If you have kids, do a secret playroom clean up! Use the donation bag and garbage bag method but add a third bag or storage bin for toys that you know your kids like, but haven’t played with in a while.  Chances are, they won’t notice they’re missing and in a few months you can get them back out and they’ll be like new! “Rotate” toys like this every few months to eliminate clutter and save money.

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Take a Bath

When the roads are icy and activities get cancelled, take advantage of the unexpected free time and give yourself some “me-time.” Draw yourself a nice hot bath and give yourself at least 30 minutes of uninterrupted relaxation.  Light some candles, add some bubble bath or Epsom salts and turn your phone off.  Treat your skin to an exfoliating scrub or try this DIY mud mask.

Bubble-Bath

However you choose to spend your snow-days, remember to take some time to enjoy the little things!

– Rachel

Host a Summer BBQ to Remember

It’s That Time of Year Again…

Summertime in Lancaster County PA means campfires with the kids, catching lightning bugs, and barbeques with family and friends.  Whether you’re hosting a picnic for the 12 and under softball champs or throwing a 4th of July bash for all your closest pals, here are some of our favorite ideas to make your barbecue one to remember!

Make Your Meal an Experience

target kabob sticksGet your guests involved!  Instead of making hot-dogs on the grill for the kids, make a campfire and allow them to roast their own hot-dogs (with adult supervision, of course).  This is a great way to keep them busy and it’s also a fun learning experience.  We love these adorable colored roasting sticks from Target! Kabobs are a fun way to get your adult guests involved as well.  Cut up your choice of meat, veggies and fruit and allow guests to build their own kabobs.  Have the grill master heat them for a few minutes until they’re fully cooked and voila!  This is a great way to please even the pickiest eaters.

Put a Twist on the Classic S’more

summer smores cone Instead of using graham crackers to sandwich your marshmallow and chocolate, try making s’more cones! Not only are they delicious, but they’re less messy than traditional s’mores so your guests can enjoy casual conversation while enjoying dessert. Purchase waffle cones from your local grocery store and instead of purchasing large roasting marshmallows, pick up a bag of mini marshmallows.  You’ll also need chocolate chips or fun-size Hershey’s chocolate bars to do the trick.  Simply fill the cones with your favorite treats and wrap in aluminum foil, then place on the grill until melted to your satisfaction.  Consider fresh strawberries or bananas and Nutella or peanut butter as additional toppings or fillings.  Photo Courtesy: Free People

Skip the Fireworks – Begin a New Family Tradition

Fireworks are noisy and even sparklers can be dangerous for kids.  This year, end your BBQ with a beautiful, new family tradition – Chinese lanterns.  You will need an open area and a long reach lighter.  Don’t worry, the lanterns will only come down after they burn out so they are not a fire hazard and most are biodegradable.  For an inexpensive and memorable experience, check your local superstore or order online.  Photo Courtesy:  All Things Are Ready blog   summer lanterns

This blog was originally posted on ReBathandMore.com by yours truly!  Hope you enjoyed the BBQ tips.  If you manage a company blog remember to mix it up.  You can only pitch your business so many times before people get sick of hearing about it… Create content that will keep them coming back to your website.  Become an expert in your industry and a resource for clients and prospects.  And remember, an up to date blog can provide awesome social media content!  This blog was shared when it was first posted and will be shared again near July 4th on the Re-Bath & More Facebook page.