Monday, 17 August 2009

Crash course on Time Management

Want to make more efficient use of your precious time? Follow these steps to make it happen.

1. Pass the task on - many of us seem to think that it's brave to struggle solo but you don't have to be a super hero. Consider delegating tasks and who could help you: maybe another mum could pick up the kids from school once a week; try to delegate some paperwork to a colleague. Even passing on one small task could make a big difference!

2. Get organised - and plan. Make sure you have an aim in mind for meetings, have a clear desk and clear home and don't let tasks creep up on you. Be disciplined about use of technology - turn your phone off and only check it at intervals. Set times during the day to check email and stick to them. Phone messages and emails can be major and unnecessary distractions. Don't forget to schedule in time for yourself and your family alongside all your other plans. Unless you're organised in those areas too, it won't happen.

3. Learn to say no - if you keep saying yes to keep people happy, eventually you are going to let them down. Manage their expectations and only take on board the work that you feel you can realistically complete. Be firm, keep eye contact, take a breath to collect your thoughts and say no immediately before you say anything. You can always change your mind afterwards if you want, but you'll find it harder to back out of something if you've already said yes!

4. Simplify life - by juggling too many balls, our brain consistently thinks about each and every one of them. So simplify your life and throw out everything you don't use. Be honest with yourself. Cut down on your memberships of societies and clubs, keeping just your absolute favourites. Use the library so you aren't collecting books that clutter up your home and shop in a limited number of shops and for brands you trust. By cutting out the choice and keeping things simple you won't have as many things to think about and you can focus your mind on the important tasks and get more done.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

3 ways to avoid a rip-off

Here are 3 tips which will save you money by avoiding being ripped-off.

At home
Whether you need a plumber, electrician, or builder, always ask below questions before agreeing to any home repair work:

''How long has the contractor been in business?''
''Do they belong to a trade organisation?''
''Are they insured?''
"What is the hourly rate plus the call-out fee?"

If the job isn't urgent, make sure to ask for the references and get estimates from three other businesses.

At the garage
Garages can be amongst the worst offenders for padding out the bill. Before having your car serviced or repaired, tell them exactly what you want done, agree a fee and insist on an itemised bill (they probably won't like it) and ask whether they have a complaints procedure in place. If there is a problem, contact them immediately. Don't forget to keep a record of dates, times and what was agreed.

At the bank
Banks can charge for the costs incurred when you go into the red, but they're not allowed to charge excessively. Sit down and work out what you're owed by going through statements and highlighting any excessive charges. Then write to the bank and keep record all correspondence and phone calls. Banks are telling customers they're not entitled to reclaim charges so you need to be persistent. If this fails, visit for advice.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Cycling is the new Golf

I have been watching my partner, David, cycling around 50 miles couple of times a week and wondering where on earth does he get his enthusiasm from (I can barely do 10 min spinning on our high-tech indoor CycleOps without constant whingeing!). Now, he has never been into Golf but has always said that Cycling is what does it for him.

So cycling is a great workout and can even help build your career network.

When it comes to executives and networking, many successful people are pedaling instead of "driving" on the golf course in order to develop strong professional social circles.

Movers and shakers enjoy mixing business and biking for a variety of reasons. Some use cycling regularly as a popular social activity so top bosses can get acquainted in an active, informal manner. Rob McGovern, CEO of Jobfox, is among the many in pursuit of connections on the bike path. "Golf just doesn't work," he says. "It's slow and sedentary. Besides, who has five or six hours in a day to network? Think of it as having all the social aspects of golf, but while wearing spandex and going 20 mph with a heart rate of 150 beats per minute."

Some added doctors, lawyers and businesspeople into their social networks, thanks to cycling. Going on rides, like prospecting sales professionals, can build business relationships and increase mutual affinity.

Overall, I see this wheeling and dealing in a very positive light. Cycling is healthier than golf and a sound body makes for a sound mind, which translates to better performance in the office. So, go ahead and saddle up.

Quick tips how to Ride right

  1. Know when to schmooze. That's before or after, not during the action. Sure, some executives may enjoy business-flavored chat while going 20 or 30 mph, but many want to achieve a goal first and talk later.
  2. Gauge your skills. Connect with a group that complements your professional interests and matches your skill level. A cyclist who looks weak on wheels might be judged as weak in the Boardroom.
  3. Be accountable. Show upon time with equipment that's in good working condition. If you hold up the action, you could come across as unreliable.
  4. Love it. If cycling isn't your thing and you're doing it strictly for professional reasons, it will be obvious, and your effort could have a negative effect.

Enjoy it!

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Wedding gift ideas

I always find it very difficult to think of presents to buy the newlyweds that are both useful and beautiful (I went very wrong with a dustbin once!). So I have done some research
and came up with a selection of ideas that bride and groom will fall in love with.

1. Dinnerware set - it is a must-have on any newlyweds list. Urbane and eclectic, this Villeroy & Boch collection is ultra-modern, with groovy yet elegant lines. Prices start from £11.95 at John Lewis.
alt view
2. Cutlery - it might seem an obvious choice, but this minimalist cutlery designed by Arne Jacobsen for Georg Jensen (originally designed for the SAS Royal Hotel in Copenhagen) is the ultimate wedding gift.

3. Super stylish candelabra in chrome (featured in Real Homes Magazine). Simple yet beautiful...without breaking the bank! £18 at Heals.

Loop Candelabra Chrome

4. Silver cake stand - this stylish silver heart shaped, two-tired cake stand will be perfect for a fun tea party. Get it for £69.95 at Cocoa Bean.

5. Set of three Heart Trugs - this handy set of stylish chickenwire trugs with heart shape rims and tall rounded handles baskets will have endless uses in newlyweds home. £17 at Dibor.

6. Set of ''Grand Office'' cheese knives - this stylish and professional stainless steel kitchen utensils with beautiful detailing are the ultimate wedding gift. £33.50 at Lavender & Sage.

Cheesy offering

6. Chopping Board Set - this multi-award-winning chopping board comprises of a stylish storage case and four colour-coded chopping boards. Each board has its own illustrated tab to make life easier. £42 at Joseph Joseph.

Happy shopping!