The Power of Interruptions

I’ve written before about my often-successful ability to multi-task. I’m sort of proud of the way that I can stop and start and juggle a myriad of things at once.

But I realized recently that interruptions actually pack a powerful punch to my creative writing productivity. I catch myself thinking, Well, I’ll just throw a load of laundry in while I’m writing or I’ll get the dishes going before I sit down.

You know what? Those seemingly innocuous interruptions somehow trigger de-motivation and detachment from the project at hand; and sometimes, I become absolutely derailed.

I say, Never underestimate the power of interruption.

Going into this new school year, I’m going to be working more, both for my part-time employer, contract assignments, and my own creative pursuits. I must respect how powerful interruption is in my life. Even thoughts, responsibilities, and appointments can carry the power of interruption.

So, in an effort to eliminate distractions:

  • I’m saying no to more and more activities and responsibilities. In many ways, I hate it because I love being involved. But in identifying our priorities, our family needs me to be focused on work this fall. I’m not very focused when I’m running here and there with all sorts of things on my mind.
  • I’m aiming to begin and end my day with the most important things: the Word and the family. Getting myself back into a routine of daily Bible study and meditation and resuming our family worship time with the kids before bed will help me compartmentalize my life (can you see how much we’ve strayed into bad habits this summer?). I’m a firm believer in work at work time and play at play time. Too long, they’ve all run together in my world, making it rather dysfunctional.

What do you do to minimize distractions? How do you organize family time and work time? Share with others in the comments below.

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Stocking Up on School Supplies for You

I love this time of year for many reasons, not the least of which is back to school shopping.

And I don’t mean for my kids, necessarily. I mean for me.

Today I went to Dollar Tree and picked up a few items that I know are on the shelves there this time of year.

For only $1, I picked up a pocket day planner calendar. It runs from July 2011-December 2012. I love the format and size. It’s so simple yet perfect for me to tote between work and home. The same thing at Staples is selling for at least $10.

I also found a large desktop battery-powered calculator. The buttons are big and the display is big. It’s not scientific; it’s just super-simple. I love it. I usually use my calculator on my iPhone or the computer, but this is really handy to pull out for quick access.

I picked up a package of knock-off Sharpies (multi-colored) and dry erase pens. Score!

Now is the best time to get super deals on pencil boxes, glue sticks, tape, and notebooks. I try to stock up on these items, too, for us to use all year long.

What do you love most about back to school shopping?

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Photo credit: cohdra from morguefile.com

 

Feeling Overwhelmed? and How to Make $1000 a Month Online

I wanted to pass along two really interesting links for you, especially as we continue to explore issues of time management here.

Overcoming Overwhelm

Michael Hyatt posted a helpful list about how he has overcome feeling overwhelmed. I liked his list and I believe he has some positive things to say.

His major take-away, though?

Delegate and out-source those tasks that are not productive for you.

I get that. I really do. I can see the wisdom in hiring a part-time maid/nanny/cook to take care of my kids, dust and vacuum, keep the laundry moving, grocery shop, and prepare meals (think I could get all that accomplished with ONLY a part-timer? Ha!) while I write and blog on an almost full-time basis.

My biggie question, though, is how do you outsource when you have no way to pay for it? It doesn’t seem wise to go into debt to pursue this business model.

What do you think? How helpful is Michael’s advice for the struggling new business owner who is doing it all because there’s no other option at the moment?

Read the entire post here.

(Thanks, Jennifer Cortez, for calling this post to my attention.)

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How to Make $1000 a Month Online

If you’d like to make at least $1000 per month with your blog online, you should check out this upcoming webinar from Authority Blogger. These types of webinars are every where, but the pitch for this one impressed me, and I signed up. Why? Because the organizers tell you up front that not everyone will become a millionaire online:

Contrary to popular belief, not everybody can make millions of dollars per year while working in their underwear on the computer. It’s just not realistic.

BUT, they say they do believe that everyone is capable of making a nice supplemental income (at least $1000 per month) with their blogs. They say this webinar will give 5 different ways to do just that.

I like that honesty. That’s really my approach, too. I DO believe that most anyone can make at least a nice part-time income online.

So, I want to learn more.

You may want to, as well.

Register here.

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What Is Robbing Your Time?

Last week, I wrote about the commodity of time in our lives. Mainly, I’m interested to explore this further because I live in the middle of a great paradox.

Most of the time, I’m running around, doing a million things and getting crazy amounts of things accomplished: running a home, working a part-time job, shopping, cooking meals, washing laundry, keeping gas in the car, getting to doctor appointments, haircuts, soccer practice, Girl Scout events, and church every week.

Yea. The family runs. Sometimes smoothly. Sometimes bumpy. But we—for the most part—stay on track.

But then I’m confronted with all the things that are not done: bulging closets that need to be organized, creative writing projects, unfinished baby scrapbooks, date nights, cleaning (ahem!) the house. Blogging and my online business.

Some of this quandary comes because I’m a Type 1 woman. I’m full of ideas and plans and see the myriad possibilities in everything. I really don’t think linearly very much; I’m a much more global person, which can be exhilarating and immobilizing at the same time.

Another thing that comes into play is my creative bent and my introvertedness. I really need the benefit of quiet and solitude. I need to disengage from structure often to keep my sanity. I have to be alone with my thoughts—stay inside my head for awhile—until I can reemerge energized and ready to tackle another project or do that routine chore (that has the tendency to bore me to tears).

So, to some, I know I look like I am “wasting time” or misusing the time I’ve been given. I struggle with this judgement on myself, as well.

One of my favorite websites is Grace Gems that features writings from the Puritans. I love to read these nuggets from hundreds of years ago. There’s something about the way they use language that sharpens me and always causes me to think of life and faith in a new light.

What do you think of this one, in light of modern-day time management? If you are juggling a million things and can’t seem to get your time to dovetail properly with your priorities, what can you learn here?

12 Time-wasting Thieves!


by Richard Baxter

… making the best use of the time. (Colossians 4:5, ESV)

… so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. (Colossians 1:10, ESV)

Thief 1. One of the greatest time-wasting sins, consists of idleness or sloth.

Thief 2. The next thief or time-waster, is excess of sleep.

Thief 3. Another time-waster, is an inordinate adorning of the body.

Thief 4. Another time-wasting thief, is unnecessary pomp and extravagance in household furniture and domestic entertainments.

Thief 5. Another time-wasting sin, is needless feastings, gluttony, and drinking.

Thief 6. Another time-waster, is idle talk.

Thief 7. Another thief which would steal your time, is vain and sinful company.

Thief 8. Another notorious time-wasting thief, is needless, inordinate sports and games–which are masked with the deceitful title of recreations.

Thief 9. Another time-wasting thief, is excess of worldly cares and business.

Thief 10. Another time-waster, is vain, ungoverned and sinful thoughts.

Thief 11. Another dangerous time-wasting sin, is the reading of worthless books, plays, romances, and novels. And also unprofitable studies, undertaken but for pride and vain-glory, or the pleasing of a carnal or curious mind.

Thief 12. But the master-thief that robs men of their time, is an unsanctified, ungodly heart; for this loses time, whatever men are doing–because they never intend to do anything for the glory of God.

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31, ESV)

As I read through Baxter’s list, I’m smacked with the truth that these “time stealers” are those pursuits we do for selfish motive and selfish gain. When we engage in behaviors or thoughts that we use to make us feel better, look better, or numb our pain, we are, in effect, stealing our time. Why? Because we are trying to control our situations apart from God. We are longing to solve our problems. We want to depend on anything except God.

Yes. I will do anything to wiggle out of my dependence on God. And in doing so, I create more hurt, more heartache, and more—wasted time.

Think about this: God created time. God offers time. When we use that which he made for us and gives to us for HIS good purposes and pleasure, won’t it be more abundant, more useful, and more effective?

Yet when we fill God’s time with our sin, it’s no wonder our schedules, priorities, events, and goals become a mangled mess, while our health and sanity dissolve into casualties of our obstinance.

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Great Ideas for Better Time Management

Wish you had more hours in the day? Want to be more productive and efficient? Looking for new ideas for time management?

I highly recommend  Tell Your Time by Amy Lynn Andrews. And … this e-book is on clearance for ONLY $2 (regular price $12).

Click here to buy now.

Two dollars, people. That’s less than you’d pay for a gourmet coffee.

Amy Lynn Andrews takes you through the process of prioritizing the things that matter most in life, and then assigning time chunks to them. This book gives real-life examples and offers blank worksheets for personalization.

I bought Tell Your Time back in December, and it has been a great resource, especially for thinking through what’s really important to me and how I should spend my time in line with those goals.

Amy Lynn Andrews is releasing an updated version of the book on August 1, so you’ve got another few weeks to get the original e-book at the clearance price of ONLY $2!

Click here to visit Amy Lynn Andrews.

Once you’ve had a chance to work through the book, stop back here and let me know how it has helped you.

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5 Ideas for Fighting Discouragement

How do you fight discouragement?

Doubt and uncertainty can be almost paralyzing. So, try these ideas for moving past discouragement:

  1. Pray. Call your best friend, husband, or sister and ask them to pray for you, too. Ask God to show you a clear direction for your work/idea/pursuit. Ask him to shut doors that should not be opened and fling wide open doors through which you should fly.
  2. Focus only on the positive aspects of the situation. Keep in mind the possibilities and the opportunities, not the obstacles or the challenges.
  3. Eat your elephant one bite at a time. Sometimes discouragement comes from feeling overwhelmed at the task before you. Break it into small jobs and work through them one at a time.
  4. Pick one aspect of the job/task/project that will give you satisfaction and do it first. Save tasks that may not show “results” until later.
  5. Prepare to receive. Look forward to what your work will yield. Perhaps the reward won’t turn out exactly how you had planned. But one thing is certain: God will use the experience to grow and refine you. Adopt the attitude of, “Let’s see what God’s going to do with this,” and get ready to be changed.

The last piece of advice is this: just get to work, even if you’re not quite “into it.”

I heard an author (of The Charlatan’s Boy: A Novel) this week talk about ways he fights laziness, procrastination, and so-called “writer’s block.”

He says that he equates his writing with plumbing. He says that the plumber doesn’t wake in the morning and say, “I don’t want to fix toilets today ’cause I’m not ‘feeling’ it.” No. The plumber fixes toilets. Writers just need to write.

I think that’s a great tactic for keeping the right perspective so that you can move forward.

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Need Blog Content? Try PLR Articles!

 

I asked some blogger friends what was their greatest need when it came to blogging. Overwhelmingly, “more time” was their answer.

I’ve discovered a great shortcut for blogging content. It’s called PLR articles.

Let’s face it: for those of us who want our blogs to generate income, we are sometimes at a loss for words and/or aware that few people are going to find our family stories interesting enough to return.

PLR helps me fill in the content gaps, offering keyword-rich articles and blog post ideas. PLR means the hard part is done, and I can spend what limited time I do have putting on the finishing touches.

Veteran PLR provider Nicole Dean offers this informative article about PLR.

What Can you Do with PLR Articles?
by Nicole Dean

You may have seen the term Private Label Rights or PLR articles
being tossed around frequently lately. PLR articles are articles you
can buy (usually in packages or as part of a membership) that you may
edit and use as you wish. Unlike free reprint articles, you are not
required to link back to anyone else’s website which makes them
appealing to many web publishers.

Once you understand the concept behind PLR articles, you can see
why they are appealing. Most people can envision the value of adding
the articles to their websites. But, did you know there are more ways
to use PLR articles than that?

1. Add them to your blog.

Similar to adding PLR articles to your website, you can take
excerpts and use them on your blog for fresh content. Whether you take
a portion and use it as a “tip of the day” or use the entire article,
PLR articles can be a huge time saver for you.

2. Send them in your newsletter.

Need content for your newsletter? PLR articles are an option. Of
course, if you’re developing a relationship with your readers, you may
wish to edit the articles to make them your own voice. However, you can
pull a section from a PLR article – use it as inspiration — and whip
out a newsletter in minutes.

3. Start an ecourse.

If you purchase a package of PLR articles based on a theme, it’s
quite easy to turn them into an ecourse simply by adding them to your
autoresponder. Something as simple as “Five Ideas for Kids Lunches” can
become a 5 day ecourse to grow a big newsletter list.

4. Use them in your podcast.

Take a PLR article and use it as inspiration for a podcast. Add the content and you’re done.

5. Send them in a print mailing.

Direct mailing is huge. If you have a list of postal mailing
addresses, put together a free report from PLR articles and send it
out.

6. Create a special report.

Simply bulk together some PLR articles that have the same topic,
and make them flow into a special report. Turn it into a pdf file and
give it away to your website visitors.

See how easy that is?

The only hard part is finding a high quality PLR service that fits your niche. Look around. Make sure the PLR package or membership you choose provides you with high quality articles so you can create something you’ll be proud of.

Nicole Dean welcomes you to check out EasyPLR.com – where you’ll find high-quality PLR articles on niches sold in very limited quantities.

I highly recommend this PLR site for the best PLR on the web.

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I also want to let you know that I have created a PLR site myself. Please check out All Content PLR and grab some FREE PLR articles. Sign up for my mailing list to be notified when I add new PLR. Tell all your blogger friends!

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Ladies, Starting a Home-Based Service Business? Heed These 5 Important Tips

So you’ve been thinking of starting a business from home. You’ve got some skills, don’t have a lot of space for inventory, so you figure it might be a good idea to start a service business. In fact, it’s a GREAT idea—you just have to be prepared to get your business off the ground and balance all the work/life responsibilities that are on your plate.

This article is going to provide you with easy-to-follow tips to do just that, but first, if you still don’t know what type of service business to start, here are a few popular suggestions:

Ghostwriting for the Internet: Write articles, reports and other information for online business owners.

Transcription Business: Create written records of audio recordings, meetings and more.

Virtual Assistant Business: Provide administrative support, secretarial services and more for other companies.

It doesn’t matter what type of service business you start, there will be some challenges along the way. Here are some tips help you as you go along:

1. First and foremost, set your working hours and ensure everyone in your household is aware of them and respects them. If you happen to be a mother or have other interruptions during the day, there’s nothing wrong with setting aside smaller chunks of time where you’ll be working. This isn’t the “real world” work setting anymore; it’s better. You work at home and you can decide when you work.

2. As a service business, you have two very important roles. One of those roles is to provide service for your clients. The other is to FIND those clients and the time involved in this is something many service-providers don’t take into account. Ensure you have enough time for providing services and the marketing tasks for your business – or hire some help to make the most efficient use of your time.

3. Charge a fair and rewarding rate. Even if you charge your clients for each hour you work for them, there are many tasks (administrative, marketing, etc.) that you don’t get paid for. To set a rate that is worthwhile to you, you need to decide what type of overall income you desire and figure out how many hours total (all business activities) you want to be working. If you find you can’t charge a rate that is worthwhile, consider another business idea or target a specific type clientele that is willing to pay the rates you charge.

4. Be choosy about your clients. It can be tempting to simply take on any clients because you may need the cash. Unfortunately, bad clients can drain your time, suck up your energy and end up being more work than they’re worth. Resist the temptation to just take any clients because your business will be more fruitful in the long run if you work with easy-to-manage, low-maintenance clients.

5. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. If you find yourself taking on more clients than you can handle to earn more money, revisit tip #3 above. You may be concerned about giving your clients a good deal, but they actually suffer when you can’t provide the quality service they deserve. Instead aim for fewer clients, charge more and give them stellar service.

If you keep these things in mind, your transition to a work-at-home service provider will go much more smoothly. It’s not always easy and when you’re first starting out, it can be tough to find that balance and a schedule that you can work with. But stick with it and keep refining your process and you’ll find yourself owning a very rewarding business that you absolutely love.

Recommended

To get more at-home business ideas, be sure to visit Just Add Sweat – they’re your source for step-by-step guides for starting your very own home-based business. You’ll find the guidance you need to get your business off the ground, find real-life success stories from women just like you and more.

Click here to go to Just Add Sweat

 

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I’m Coming Back

Hey, y’all.

I’ve been completely off my blog for about two months. I really hadn’t planned to be, but my spring has been so busy with birthdays, holidays, end of school, a few sicknesses, work, and church.

I kind of just set my blog aside awhile as I evaluated (always evaluating!) my online pursuits. I have been doing crazy research into all facets of Internet marketing. I finally decided to come back to Look In Your House but with a tighter focus and purpose. I’ve also tweaked the design a bit, just to reflect a cleaner, more streamlined approach to life.

This blog going forward will focus heavily on helping working mothers manage home and family. This is broad enough to include moms who work at home, outside of home, part-time, full-time, freelance—you name it. This is really my passion because I believe that happy mamas make happy families. And I believe that work—in all its shapes and forms—makes many mamas happy.

So I want to discuss here things related to all these topics.

I hope you’ll stick around and tell your friends. I really want this site to be a helpful resource.

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Housekeeping Routines and Maintenance Are No Fun, But They Work

I discovered something last week.

No truer words have ever been spoken than:

A stitch in time saves nine.

You see, I have fallen off and on the wagon of daily routines and housekeeping “maintenance.” I have been a FlyLady devotee—and I have wallowed in my dirty laundry. (I’m great at exploring all places on the spectrum.)

But last week, I decided to try something.

I decided I would put on my big girl panties and just. do. it.

Just. Do. It.

Empty the dishwasher before your day begins.
Photo credit: vilhelm from morguefile.com

Wipe out the bathroom sink, make the beds, and empty the dishwasher before the day begins. Keep the laundry moving (OK–it’s not all folded and put away, but it’s in process) and the dining table cleared of debris. Keep the kids’ backpacks cleaned out and papers put in the right places.

And you know what? I did it.

And I learned what I knew all along. FlyLady is right. If I just do the bare minimum of maintenance every day, I’m not faced with creeping junk and visual clutter. And I finally timed myself to see just how long it really takes to straighten beds and wipe down the bathroom counter. About 10 minutes. The dishwasher takes me about 10 minutes and my own bed takes about 2 minutes to make. If I really hustle, I can have all the areas cleared and tidy in about 15 minutes total.

15 minutes.

Really? I’ve been neglecting a 15-minute task and in doing so, my motivation takes a beating all day long. Not doing these things really impedes my productivity in other areas, especially my writing and blogging.

You know what I’m discovering?

It’s hard to see anything in your house when there’s clutter, junk, and debris obstructing your view.

So, put on your big girl panties and just do it. Yeah … you may not like it, but it will help you see more clearly inside your own house. I promise.

_________


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