Sep 22, 2008

Finding Peace in Your Day

Yesterday my daughter and I attended the 2008 Peace Day Ceremony at the State Convention Center. My daughter and her school mates had the opportunity to perform songs that they had learned in music class. It was a meaningful ceremony with motivational and touching speeches and wonderful performances.

Leaving after the beautiful candle light ceremony, I felt uplifted and inspired to living a more peaceful life - until I encountered the drive home. "Peace" after all, is a more than just happy thinking. Peace means accepting the things that you cannot change, courage and optimism in the things that you can change, hopefulness, promise, potential, desires, dreams, aspirations, harmony, goodwill, friendship, kindness, unity, concern, generosity...

and for me particularly...
...healthy family
...happy kids
...being safe
...a beautiful day
...a good night's sleep
...clean clothes

Hopefully, in my own little ways, I can spread peace. Maybe I'll start by dealing with traffic in a more benevolent way.

What does peace mean to you?

Sep 17, 2008

Work At Home Moms Time Management Tips

"How do you DO it?!" If I had a dime for every time I heard that, I would be able to quit my home business.

Just kidding.

Seriously, time management is a serious issue for work from home Moms. You want your home business to be a success, but you don't want the rest of your responsibilities to fall by the wayside... especially your children, who are the reason you chose to work from home in the first place.

While you're probably already doing some of the obvious things like taking advantage of naptimes and bedtime, I hope you find some additional ideas from the following time management tips to make things easier for you while working from home and caring for young children.

Time Management for your Home Business

Have a clear purpose when you go online

Whenever you go to your computer, have a definite purpose in mind. It helps to keep a notebook by your computer always with your goals and to-do lists in it, all in once place. This helps prevent you from aimlessly checking email or surfing the net and getting lost. Know what you need to accomplish, write it down, do it, and move on to the next activity.

Outsource as many tasks as you can afford Consider hiring a virtual assistant if you have a lot of administrative tasks. Or pay your kids to do things for you that are age appropriate. This can even be a tax deductible expense. Check with your accountant.

Analyze your activities

Think about the steps you engage yourself in with your business and see if those tasks are really paying off for you. A lot of work at home Moms do things like join safelists, traffic exchanges and other activities that most internet marketing experts agree are not the best use of your time. Ask people who are where you want to be in your business how they manage their time. Just because something is free doesn't mean you should be spending time doing it.

The best $20 you can spend on your business

That may be the money you spend hiring a Mommy's helper to come over and play with your children for several hours. It's amazing what you can get done during that time. Plus, your kids usually get worn out from all the fun and take longer naps. Everybody wins!

Think Assembly Line

In other words, group similar activities together. Don't check your email all day, check it two or 3 times a day (at most) and answer all the emails at the same time. When you want to make changes to your website, list them all and wait until you need to make several changes at once. When one child asks for a story gather them all around. Same thing for snacks. Run all your errands at once.

Utilize Technology

Get wireless internet and a laptop if at all possible. This can make a drastic improvement in your ability to work online around your children. You can sit on the front porch and work on your website while your kids play in the yard. Or you can drop them off at a friend's house and head to Starbucks and get online!

Use autoresponders, mailing lists and other resources to automate your business. If you find yourself typing out answers to the same questions over and over again, add pages to your website or create an ecourse or downloadable report that addresses those topics and refer your customers or downline or whomever to those.

Household time management

Simplify meal preparation and shopping

That doesn't mean you spend a lot of extra money on convenience foods that aren't good for you. But do make simple meals that even your children can help you prepare. Use your crock pot. Collect recipes that require few ingredients and no elaborate preparation.

Have a good routine for making menus and shopping. In the long run, extra trips to the store for that missing ingredient is costing you time and money. Most families eat the same 10 or so favorite dishes over and over. Enlist the help of your family to figure out what those favorites are, print up the ingredients into a shopping list, and take that to the store. Have the list posted on the fridge to mark things off as they're used up.

Get your kids to help out around the house more. Here are more work from home Mom house cleaning tips

General Mom time management tips

Identify time wasters in your day

It's a different thing for everyone. Maybe it's the TV, maybe it's friends calling to chat in the middle of the day. Maybe it's activities that seem necessary but that really aren't productive, like posting a lot in message forums. Whatever it is, identify it and eliminate it if possible, or at least manage it. Use your voicemail, and call people back when it's a better time for you. Figure out if watching Oprah or the Apprentice is really adding value to your life or just wasting your time.

Make a timer your best friend

A timer has so many uses. You can set it to tell your child when you'll be available for them. Young children have difficulty comprehending time, and the timer will set them at ease so they won't bug for you that entire period.

It also keeps you on track and helps you finish up tasks more quickly. Use it when you're reading email, cleaning house, whenever you want to accomplish something fast.

Have a Routine

Having a routine for your household chores and business activities can really help Moms with time management. When you have a good routine, you can do things without thinking, and they always take up less time that way. Keep your routines written down until they're memorized. Use an organizing calender or digital system...whatever works best for you. Make sure everyone else in your household knows the basics of your routine so that things flow more smoothly.

Set limits

No one person can do everything. Your time and energy is valuable and you need to be firm in setting limits on how you spend it. Don't commit to things that you can't reasonably accomplish. Get enough rest. Learn to say No. Avoid negative people who like to whine.

As Moms we're constantly working on time management, but with creativity and good routines, we can have a thriving business and a balanced life.

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About the Author

Carrie Lauth is a work from home Mom of 3, a homebirth advocate, breastfeeding counselor and homeschooler. In her free time she enjoys a good book and anything involving espresso. » Read more articles by Carrie Lauth

Sep 14, 2008

Shopping and Swapping Groups

When I started my direct sales business in 2006, I soon discovered another method to network with other WAHMs - shopping and swapping groups. Most of my experiences in the groups have been great.

So what is a shopping or swapping group? In short the norm is that consultants are put into buying groups and take turns as Consultant of the month. So depending on group size you get one to a half-dozen purchases when it's your turn as COTM. Group rules vary and buying minimums and deadlines vary as well: $10 min, $15 min, $25 min and build a downline, compete with your ads/sales to get shoppers no guarantees for a grab, and on and on.

Through trial and yes even a little error - I've discovered the best for my needs are Grab groups and Swap groups. In a grab group every consultant gets grabbed by someone else in the group - so you make one purchase monthly for the minimum amount. It's a neat way to try out products from other companies, network and meet other direct sales folk/WAHMs from across the country and build a little volume. Sometimes your grabber will spend more than the minimum - so that's where you may have a positive benefit to your personal sales volume. My favorite is Home Shopping Club with only a minimum $10 purchase monthly.

The other type of swapping group I've had great experiences on is Direct Sales Swap and Trade. In this trading group - each member is required to list or grant a minimum of five items monthly. Items might be new items or unopened discontinued merchandise that is collecting dust in your own inventory. You can even list used /white elephant type items like that DVD you bought and only watched once. You list or grant items at your own set value -- this value should include what you feel is fair for the item (retail or sale value) plus shipping (which you will out of pocket to send the item on). When your listed items are grabbed - you will receive a "trade credit" value to your own DSST bank which then allows you to grab items -- usually over 1000 listings from every direct sales company imaginable. Group moderators keep things in check by ensuring and monitoring that grabbed items are shipped and crediting/debiting from banks as appropriate.

If you try any of these types of groups out - start out slow to see if it really belongs in your marketing mix. Some of them have referral bonuses too - when you bring in new members and that could be HUGE for your month's volume just based on new member purchases or bonuses.

I've inherited a shopping group to moderate called Consultant-of-the-month Club - it is at a crossroads and needs some new energy - so we're toying with adjusting the rules to meet the needs of the remaining members and anyone new who'd like to join. One idea is to change from $10mo/6month cycle to a 4month cycle for more frequent COTM opportunities. I'd love feedback and questions about this topic.

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