Is It Possible to Start an Online Business With a Baby? YES! 15 Truths for Online Entrepreneur Success – With a Baby in Your Arms.

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I’ve taken online courses, I’ve studied online entrepreneurs, I’ve read books and listened to more than 200 hours of podcasts. Most importantly, I’ve started acting on these lessons and am entering the world of online business in 2016.

The foundation was slowly built over maternity leave, and continues to be developed.  But the revenue is beginning to trickle in.  The potential is there, and now I am going from building mode to testing and refining mode.  I’ve tested a few models and it’s time to sit down and clarify the goals, and intensify my focus.

Most online entrepreneurship classes hammer home the whole niche thing.  As a multi-passionate I really, really struggled with this question.  I did not find my niche.  I just started putting a few ideas and business products out there, to see a.) what I enjoyed and b.) what gained traction.  I actually think this is the best way.  Most entrepreneurs get stuck at the start line because they feel like they have to have this entire formula figured out. What is your niche? What problem are you solving? What are you going to charge to solve it?  And so it goes. 

The sweet spot is developing a product that catches hold with your audience, and catches hold with you.  A and B above.

A few products that I developed started returning a revenue.  But I realized in working on some of them, that I wasn’t passionate enough to invest most of my time and focus in that one area. So I redirected my focus to the few that made me come alive – where I had a deeper well to draw from.  The thing is, you won’t know this answer (and cannot possibly know this) till you try it out.

So jump into online business with the intent to discover one type of product you like, and one type of product you don’t like.  I mean it.  Your goal is to have one success and one failure, at least!  There really is nothing to lose other than the time you put into it.

1.) Building an online business is a lot of small tasks.  They can drive you crazy unless you think about them as steps that get you closer to your goal.  One day is going to be about getting mail chimp set up.  Another day is just sorting out some nice typography for your instagram.  One day is going to be setting up / learning about Facebook ads.  Another day may be organizing receipts in your inbox.  Another day may be buying more storage in iCloud.  Acknowledge and learn to enjoy the satisfaction in completing these tasks, even if they are overwhelming and there’s a steep learning curve.  There’s a lot of them, so get over it.  It’s quite satisfying crossing them off in a journal or on your note taking app.

2.) Remember, anything you do, is one step closer to your goal.  While others are quitting at 3 months in, you are just taking one step at a time and being strategic.  The tortoise wins the race.  Most successful online entrepreneurs will tell you they were working at it a while before things took off.  I’m a big fan of the blunt truth talker Ramit Sethi of I Will Teach You To Be Rich – check out the infographic in his post showing his product development over six years!

You’ve got at least 40 years left on this earth. Don’t worry about it. Do it because you love it.  Don’t compare yourself to the entrepreneurs who have 70 hours a week, or even 20 to work on their projects and launches.  You are working very hard on a few precious hours per week.  Things will happen for you, but they will happen on your schedule.

4.) Ignorance is bliss, and it contributes to action.  Find some amazing people who are doing what you what to do.  Study how they do it, their webpage, their brand and learn from them.  But be cautious.  I do think that some over-confidence / ignorance is bliss.  Study others just enough to know how to do things well, but not too much.  As soon as you see how many people are doing what you are doi ng, you will become intimidated and discouraged.  When I started my successful Kickstarter campaign, I found two other campaigns I loved and made notes on their models. I focused only on a few successful ones and did not look at just how many children’s books are on Kickstarter.  I wouldn’t have started had I known how saturated Kickstarter is and how much better everyone else’s campaigns looked.  I’m so glad I ran a basic campaign (with much room to improve) and learnt from it, rather than never doing it because I was blocked by intimidation and the desire to do it perfectly. Block out the external noise and focus on what you need to do.

5.) Have a clear idea of what lifestyle you are working towards.  I use Pinterest to do some vision boarding. I have a board called “My goals // my life in progress” (yes, that’s my board right there!) and it is images of the lifestyle and rewards I want for myself and my family. Even as simple as pictures of someone standing in the window, sipping coffee – or a family photo of parents playing in the snow with the kids. I am constantly adding images to this board and it builds a powerful desire – deep within – to keep plugging away.

6.)  Make sure you enjoy your entrepreneurial journey and the project itself, as much as you’d enjoy the lifestyle that comes with it. Your project should be a “Hell yeah” project.  Actually, anything you do should be a “hell yeah or no” situation, as put forth by the fabulous writer Derek Sivers.  You cannot be an influencer in something you are not passionate about. People see straight through that. That’s why there is so much talk about #authenticity on the internet these days.

7.) You don’t necessarily have to take an online course. Most online entrepreneurs’ courses are simply repackaged and re-branded versions of content they have previously published. It is extra work to commit and dig through old content, but it is doable.  So really, we are talking about time vs. money.  If you want to spend less money, there’s more of a time investment on hunting down the information.  If you want to spend more money, you’ll cut some corners and avoid some mistakes other entrepreneurs made.  Eventually, both routes end up at the same destination.

8.)  That being said, the action of financially investing in a course and being part of a community is powerful.  Connecting with other students is a great framework if you are concerned about follow through and prefer team environments.  I also believe online courses are very helpful for those of us who are not skilled in the technical aspects of online business.  I’ve made wonderful connections in some entrepreneurs’ communities that I gained access through, as part of the course. The Smart Passive Income community, Kimra Luna’s #Freedomhackers and others.

9.)  Attend conferences and work outside of the house. Just get out there.  In the business world, networking, friendships, potential deals and closed deals happen outside of the office.  They don’t happen when you are sitting alone on a laptop in a room.  Get out there.  Attend a conference.  Yes, it’s $500 – $1000 to do, but trust me, that investment will pay itself off in a few years down the road with business that is generated as a result of the relationships you made at that conference, or as a result of the business improvements or renewed motivation you received from that event.  This one I have not done yet, and I have this conference on my bucket list.  I cannot wait to do this!  I’ve also added this one – Lewis Howes’ Summit of Greatness – to my pinterest board.

10.) Start saving receipts with the Wave app and creating a “receipts” category in your Gmail now.  There’s so many random little expenses with starting up online.  Cloud storage, random apps, Skype credits, Domain registration, etc.  It’s easy to forget about all of those expenses.

11.)  Don’t ever put too much weight on your total Instagram likes or comments.  80% of your Instagram activity will be hustlers.  Focus on the 5 or less people who you authentically connect on there.  And get unique with your hashtags.  What hashtags would you look for?  Don’t use the “most popular” hashtags.  It’s like dangling bait in the water – the sharks will come circling in.  I onced used #fitfam and #fitspiration and #postpartumweightloss – The Beach Body coaches that came running…..

12.)  Have your product researched and developed before you launch it.  If you arrive in the online business arena with a developed product, you will give less of a shit when the haters or non-supporters rear their ugly heads.  I had a hater a few weeks ago on Kickstarter.  A really unpleasant message that felt like a kick to the gut, initially.

If my children’s book wasn’t 90% complete, I would have taken his comments to heart.  The completion gave me immunity and the ability to pen back a professional letter addressing his trolling.  He wound up apologizing and pledging to the campaign.

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13.)  Be mindful of phone time. If you want a great check in, have your partner take a photo of you holding the phone up in front of your face.  Look at that picture.  This is what your kids may see.  It’s really hard, I know, especially when you are excited about your work and are desparate to work on it!  I’ve realized that I have to be in a separate room or working during the kids’ sleep hours.  They don’t need or deserve the back of my phone in front of their face.

14.)  You are going to get up early or stay up late to work on your business.  My formula has been:  Nap when the baby and toddler nap at mid day, and then wake up super early a few days a week.  A great day is a 5-5:30 start so that I have 1.5 hours to get stuff done with a nice cup of coffee.  It sounds insane but I love what I do enough that it’s not hard to get up.  Wait.  That’s a great question!  Do you like it enough to get up at 5:30 am (or stay up until 2am) working on it?  It is shocking how much you can get done with 1.5 hours, trust me.

15.)  Filter all social media and read selectively.  Follow inspirational or helpful feeds.  Your time is precious as an entrepreneur.  If you are going to take a precious 30 minutes for an iPhone break, fill it with good things that inspire.  Also, stop reading all of those pages, blog posts, social media posts that talk about motherhood and “being too busy” “losing balance” blabllablablabla. You can get stuck in the travails of early motherhood and circle around in that loop, or you can climb above it.   Those are all legit opinions, and motherhood IS hard –  but will they serve your goals if you decide to take those opinions on and make them your own?  Or spend your time steeping in those messages?

Probably not.  Start hunting out and reading about success stories.

My Half-Baked Plan to Try out a Kickstarter Campaign

It’s making me giggle writing this blog post. This latest bucket list project feels a bit absurd.  I’m so in over my head.

In my personal life (definitely not work life), I have a tendency to favor action over research and just jump into things, and learn as I go.  Which is funny, because I used to over-research, take 20 different classes and struggle to execute, paralyzed by an exacting standard. I guess I’ve gone through a 180.

I’d argue it’s an unexpected gift that came from becoming a parent, and the resultant focus on  just get shit done – I don’t have time anymore to luxuriously peruse, project plan, build and then roll out projects casually.  The energy around projects whilst a parent is DECIDE.  EXECUTE.  ADJUST.  BE PREPARED TO FAIL.  There’s lots of fails as a parent, so fails have lost their “scary edge.”

Looking back over the years of bucket list items and personal goals, I’d rather be in a place of taking action, making mistakes and learning – than being caught up in over-planning, over-researching and over-thinking. I’ve been there. I know what it is like to be held captive by your own perfectionist standards, procrastination and fear to fail.

So this led me to launching a half-baked project – I got into Kickstarter without even knowing what I was getting into. I just thought it would be fun to try out getting some funding for a childrens’ book I am working on.

Don’t get me wrong, the children’s book is WELL-DONE.  It’s almost done actually.  We are in the final stages of imaging.  It’s a children’s book where a little girl gets to explore five magical fantasy landscapes featuring mystical animals and beings with magical powers.  There are some gorgeous values and character strengths woven into the story, which encourages each child to take their imagination onward with them, the rest of their lives.  Kintara is a world each child can return to if they close their eyes.  The magic passed on from the queens of each world is magic each child already has inside of them. Each image is derived from a recurring dream I’ve had since childhood.

 

(Here is one of the worlds in “development” stage)

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I’m literally just trying out the Kickstarter part for the “funds” component of this project – it’s a cherry on top of something that would go ahead anyways. So the nice part is that I have a bit of “gentle irreverence” as to the success of the campaign.

 

My project, The Gates of Kintara Children’s Book & App was launched this week.  

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Exciting, no?  As I read more on Kickstarter campaigning, I realized holy shit, there’s a lot I didn’t know about when I launched this.  But sometimes ignorance is bliss.  Had I read about all of the tips, tricks and “successful Kickstarter campaign checklists” out there on the web, I may have become overwhelmed and not even launched.

 

I really, really like drawing diagrams – I think in my past life, I was a sports coach, so let me put one up here for you.

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I think people can have success by preparing and launching with a great, sound plan.  But there’s also hard-won success, but just getting started, making mistakes, floundering and then adjusting as you go.

YOU CAN GET TO SUCCESS BY PREPARATION AND NOT MAKING MISTAKES.

YOU CAN GET TO SUCCESS BY UNDER PREPARATION AND FAILURES.

It’s just that one feels much more comfortable than the other.

There are SO MANY PEOPLE who want you to buy their courses, take their webinars and let them teach you how to prepare and do things right.   Everyone wants to do this route instead, it’s easier, so there is demand. People pay good money for these courses, and people make a good living “coaching” people on how to prepare and be successful.

The thing is though, you can be successful by making mistakes.  It is a hell of a lot less comfortable, it’s a longer road, but your knowledge is going to be hard won.

 

See?  There’s two routes below.

Route A takes longer (the pink route, it’s filled with time, mistakes, barriers and deep learning.  That’s the route I am taking with my Kickstarter.)

Route B is much faster (the red route.)  You work with a coach, take a course, learn from others’ mistakes, shortcut many of those mistakes, spend less time getting to your goal.  It’s a lot smarter on a lot of levels.

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Actually, looking at this, now I begin to wonder, why AM I taking Route A?  I think it’s simply because I like learning and am using this Kickstarter as a learning experience.  I don’t see challenges or failure as a bad thing.

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I follow a lot of entrepreneur / business / coaching groups on linked in, Facebook and the web.  There are amazing groups out there.  I am a particular fan of Kimra Luna’s Freedom Hackers group.

I do still believe that the single biggest thing everyone struggles with is the action part.  People take endless courses. They are afraid to fail.  They try to make their plans bulletproof.  I could have easily spent 6 months reading up on Kickstarter.

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So here I am, realizing how much I did not know when I launched my Kickstarter, wondering why the hell I did this half-baked plan.  But I’m also excited for the brilliant learning experience and opportunity to really JUMP into it and learn fast.

I’m already making all of the mistakes that all of the courses say they will prevent you from making.

 

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And that’s okay.  I’m learning. Fast. It’s fun.

 

 

What I learnt From Watching 30 TED Talks in 30 Days.

Early in the maternity leave days, I found it hard to have the time to read.  This was frustrating for me as a lifelong learner, because I had a deep need to continue learning, growing and exploring topics.  Though I was undergoing a steep parenting learning curve, I wanted to continue to learn about things that had nothing to do with parenting or babies.

So, I decided to start watching TED Talks each morning as I drank coffee.

In the spirit of the Great Maternity Leave, I made it a formal goal.

WATCH 30 TED TALKS IN 30 DAYS

 

Here, on this blog today, I present to you the most important lesson I got from this Great Maternity Leave (GML) Project.

 

I thought I’d walk out of the month with insane knowledge and a different life.  But something interesting happened:

Out of 30 videos I could only remember key points from less than FIVE videos.

I beat myself up over it, thinking if I am so passionate about growth and learning from successful people, why can’t I remember the lessons from a famous TED talk?

Then, I got caught up in a particularly common Maternity Leave discourse “mommy brain.”

At first, I chalked this up to simply being a mom and the message that gets circulated that with everything going on with a new baby, your ability to learn and grow and involve yourself in topics outside of being a mom…well… they all just dry up.

I’m really pleased to report from my current maternity leave deployment that this is horribly, horribly untrue.

Because this is something that even the success stories, the “greats” in their respective fields, experience.

Have I caught your intrigue?

 

 

So let’s get to the big issue at hand, the one I beat myself up for:

 Why Can’t I Remember all of These Awesome Lessons from thirty, THIRTY TED TALKS!

Because you bet I was asked this A LOT once I announced my project.

The answer:  A lesson  (In this case, the TED TALK) has to land with you and meet you where.you.are.  And it’s a numbers game.  

 

Let me explain with an example…

 

About two years ago, I came across a video of Former Admiral (and Commander of Special Operations Command) William H. McRaven giving a commencement speech at the University of Texas Graduation in 2014.  It was a game changer.  It is one of the few videos that has stuck with me to this day.

(What I love about Mr. McRaven is his accessibility and incredible life advice that transcends the military.)

This video changed the game for me.  I make my bed every single day because of what this man said in his video.

University of Texas at Austin 2014 Commencement Address – Admiral William H. McRaven

 

These are just two of his many points that stuck with me.  Yes, I actually remember this every single day.  

-If you want to change the world, make your bed.

-All you have to do to quit in SEAL training is ring a brass bell in the training area.  With that bell rung, everything is over. All of the hardship, all of the suffering is gone with one ding.    McRaven teaches that if you want to change the world, don’t ever ever ring the bell.

 

Why was This Video so Profound?

This video hit me to the core, because I watched it while I was in military & strategic studies.  It met me where I was.  And the examples made total sense to me.  They hit home, were explained in a style I like, and how he framed them made sense to me.  I happened to be experiencing some of the challenges he spoke to in the video.  I was also going through a lot of huuuuge challenges in my life where I wanted to “ring the bell” so to speak.  The video met me where I was.   The lessons had direct relevance and application.  

 

-Which Means You Need to Keep Looking.  Never Stop Searching.

The key message I want to give you in this blog post is to keep exposing yourself to podcasts, videos, blog posts, influential people, ideas, stories.  There are more than 6 billion people on this planet, and an awful lot of them are sharing knowledge, wisdom and lessons. Especially now on this beautiful thing called the internet.

Not all of them will impact you.  Like the handful out of THIRTY Ted Talks.

But do know that you will find one or two gems, that stick with you, that meet you where you are, in your present level of awareness and at Mile 6, or 7, or 8 of your current journey!

 

Ignore the “Mommy Brain” Messaging.  You are in a Great Place for Growth.  

 

I was told I was nuts – an acquaintance looked at me with great skepticism in their facial expression and said “good luck with that and a baby, your brain won’t keep up.”

Don’t worry if you keep reading books and watching videos and can’t remember much.

Stop telling yourself it is mommy brain. Stop listening to people that say “mommy brain” shuts down your intelligence and growth.   It isn’t that.

You are not in some sort of holding pattern.  You’re practically doing an accelerated masters degree right now in a totally new domain (parenthood.)  You’re MORE than capable of learning and being exposed to new information and retaining it.

It’s just that you haven’t yet come across a message that is resonating with you.

The more you explore the world and the lessons people want to share, the higher the chance you will find a diamond in the rough.

It’s a numbers game.  For every 10 TED videos, or interesting blog articles that you take the time to read, you WILL find 1 or 2 that forever shift the way you see life.

Successful People Keep Exposing themselves to New Content and New Wisdom

After studying and working with many successful people – moms, business people, entrepreneurs, visionaries, it is crystal clear that all of them are voracious consumers of knowledge.  Just like us, they only remember fragments of what they have read or learnt.

Because they, too, retain only the pieces that fit with their present level of awareness and make sense to their lives at that present moment. For every 10 Podcasts they listen to, only 1 or 2 will precipitate an “ah-hah” learning moment for them, that they take away and retain for months to come.

 

That is what I took from 30 TED Talks in 30 Days.

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Never stop learning.

 

 

 

 

Building a Business: Embrace the Learning Curve

Why read this article?  I teach you how to become super productive + embrace the steep learning curve by sharing a technique that I use.  It’s all about embracing microtasks. I show you how much you can actually get done in 60 minutes of work, and why you should acknowledge each task.

Reading time:  5 minutes

Today I’m writing about the rich, steep learning curve that occurs in the process of building a business.  I don’t know about you, but even though I grew up with tech entrepreneurs for parents, I was not educated in technology at school.  I FAILED typing in Grade 7.  Which is funny, because now I go at 150 wpm without looking at a keyboard.

This is hilarious to admit, but I learnt HTML basics at the age of 15 – self taught.  I was a Backstreet Boys SUPER FAN, and built a fan website “Carinas BSB” with a chat room.  It wound up being one of the biggest early chat rooms & websites for BSB fans, and had over 150,000 visitors in its first year. Not bad for the mid 90s.  I wish I had monetized it!

It was a short lived hobby – about 3 years, but each day was a new learning curve.  Understanding how to embed a picture on the page.  Understanding how to use Angelfire webpage templates, how to get the coding for that perfect shade of lavender in my fonts.  How to crop Howie D out of photos.  Bahaha. Sorry, Howie fans 😉

Here I am building a business in 2016 and I feel like that Backstreet Boys Webmaster all over again!  Except this time I have Google, and support groups and forums and podcasts.

One of the components of building a business that I don’t often read about in the books, is the microtasks and the intensive learning that happens inside of those tasks.  It’s all about embracing those little pieces one day at a time and giving yourself some cred for them.

Today, I worked on the GML website and social media for about an hour – before my babykins woke up.  In that hour I have googled, and learnt, and consulted, and tested things out.  I normally don’t look back on what I have done in each hour, but today I actually wrote down each thing I did in 10 minute increments.

I’ve never done this before.

 Here is what I accomplished in 60 minutes

-Creation of an Instagram Account, “The Great Maternity Leave” & posted about 10 images with text.  Linked it up with twitter, website, fb. Got followers, followed great accounts, became inspired.

-Downloaded the FB pages manager & ad campaign app and tried out running one of the boost your post functions.

-Listened to a Smart Passive Income podcast in the shower on being true to yourself and unafraid to have an authentic voice.  Included in that podcast was advice on how to get past the fear of being judged (one of the dragons I have to slay, stepping into the “mom world” online.)

-Learnt the coding to put a pinterest like button on my webpage.  Haven’t actually done it yet but I have the coding now!  I think….

-Tried to learn about plugins but failed after struggling to find a link on wordpress (Failures are okay!)  This was a little frustrating.  The language is way beyond me on the advice forums.  But that will be for another day.

-Read an article about SEO and tagging / key words.  Improved my tags on a few of my recent blog posts.  Made a note to go back to older ones and revise them all.

-Double checked that each blog post is linked to its correct category on the main page.

-Created a new document in notes with frequent hashtags, so I can just copy and paste hashtags into my instagram.

-Responded to a coaching inquiry on my Etsy account and took the opportunity to renew some expired items.

-Tested out a new app to create infographics and typography.

-Figured out how to embed an image and set up a featured image in wordpress with some googling and reading of help forums.

Wow.  That’s in 60 minutes. None of these are huge tasks. They are all micro tasks.

I find that it is a productivity boost to focus on thing sthat will get you closer to your goal, but aren’t necessarily huge tasks.  Sometimes I go in with an idea of a few tasks, but more often I just get started with a few things I know I wanted to get done, and once we are rolling, more ideas come.

Remember when I talked about concentration and the state of flow?  Ideas start flowing once you are in that concentration stage.

I’ll either tackle them one at a time, or throw them into my Notes app on my iphone, which sits beside the laptop.  More often I have my trusty journal.

Sometimes it feels like you are just learning, and googling a ton.  Sometimes it feels like you have a million little tasks to do, but that is the fun of it.

Instead of getting wrapped up in all of the stuff there is to do, embrace it and look at how much can happen in only 60 minutes of concentration!  It’s quite satisfying if you sit and take stock of all of the stuff you got done.

If you are building a business, think about all the new things you learnt today in working on it.

And give yourself some credit, look at the learning you are doing and the steps you are making to get closer to your dream.  Things are happening.

 

 

 

How to Have a Great Maternity Leave: Harness the Great World of Apps

From a very young age I’ve been quite comfortable around technology.  In fact, some of my earliest memories were helping my parents package up mid 1980s computer technology.  Floppy disks (yes those strange things you inserted into slots in the computer hard drive) and dongles (no not a sex toy!)

My crazy, risk-taker entrepreneur parents built a business around the cutting edge of technology at the time, their software helping the staff at NASA calculate payloads on the Space Shuttle.

Just talking about the Space Shuttle makes me sad that this new generation, our own kids, will not grow up knowing the SPACE SHUTTLE!  And Michael Jackson… oh I could go on.  Sorry.  Anyways  Back on track. 

There is always a fine line to tread with technology; it truly can be a double edged sword.  As I write this here at 9:30pm, I am well aware that the blue light from my laptop is probably going to interfere with my sleep (generally I try not to get on my computer within an hour of bed.)

It can be addictive downloading apps, and before I get into some of the most useful for maternity leave, I want to emphasize that it isn’t as simple as downloading an app.

For it to be truly useful, and not just take up room on your phone screen, you have to build the app into your daily habits to truly benefit from it.  What use is the Tiny Scan App if you constantly forget to scan your receipts?   What use is Wayze if you keep forgetting to check traffic on it and get stuck on your way to work?  You get where I’m going, right?

I’ve done a whole lot of reading, studying and self-experimenting on the habit creation side of things and have really progressed in looping habits.  I can’t wait to share this with you in a future post.  So stay tuned, I’ll come back and link to it here.

So be an app snob.  Download them.  Try them out.

“If it isn’t a hell yeah, I’d use this every day!” Delete it.

“If it’s a hell yeah!”  Keep it.

Really, you don’t have the time/energy/attention/memory space on your phone to dl apps and not use them.

When it comes to apps, it is better to be a master of some than user of none. 

And work on at least 7 days of using it consistently.  Start creating those habit loops.

Another technique I suggest is to keep new apps outside of folders for the first little while (on the first screen of your phone.)

New additions are easily forgotten when they are stowed away inside app folders.

Since you are focused on building a habit and making it an automatic part of your day, you need the visual reminder.  There’s just far too much stuff for you, maternity leave pro, to remember among the 200 other things to do!

So without further ado, let’s run through some of the “hell yeah!  Every day!” apps that make your life easier. And whoa there tiger, one app at a time, ok?  Remember, master of some, not user of none.   

Trello (replacing “Notes”) for to-do lists.   Free. Satisfying lists, visual board.  It’s almost like a Pinterest board version of a to-do list.  Easy to use & share with your husband. Grocery lists will never be the same again.

Battery Doctor A rather addictive free app that allows you to clean your phone, free up memory and maximize the battery life.  It keeps incredibly fascinating and useful data for the nerds out there who are curious about power, time left, rate of battery decline, and other phone behaviour.  I use this once a day to clear down unnecessary stores of caches, cookies, etc. and consistently free up 200mb of data. Trust me, it’s addictive.  You don’t even have to remind yourself with this one.

Evernote – For the longest time, I didn’t get into Evernote, it seemed like a beast, but it’s actually quite simple & intuitive once you invest an evening checking it out.  What converted me to Evernote from my trusty basic “notes” built in app on the iPhone, is the fact you can easily add web clippings, hyperlinks, photos and other useful things into each note.  Just today I was taking notes at a workshop, and then captured the handouts with the built in camera function.  This is great – when I go back and look at the notes I made this morning after 3 hours of sleep, and think, wtf, I can verify with the formal images.  I wish I had this in university to study with.  Visual techniques + written techniques is an all-round winner for studying and memory retention!

Everalbum – 3 laptops and multiple phones later, I have lost many digital photos.  For the longest time I’d manually add them into Dropbox.  I sort of felt like a magpie, you know… Collecting lots of objects and stashing them in different places.  I am sure I have at least 4 dropbox accounts, and a maxed out iCloud account from baby pictures and videos alone.

So why is Ever Album brilliant? It consolidates EVERYTHING.  It goes hunting for all of your random picture stashes, including Facebook and puts them all in one place, sorts them into albums and even has a backup that will import your iphone photos.  Amazing.

I am not sure if I am proud, or ashamed to admit that after 20 minutes of running the app, it sorted and consolidated more than FOURTEEN THOUSAND photos across various accounts.  I haven’t even begun to dig into its other awesome features but I’m pretty impressed so far.

Overcast – Every day I play a podcast while I am getting ready.  First, it gets my brain going for the day.  Second, I use it as a motivational and mindset tool to put me in the right place mentally.  For the longest time I’d have a little house music dancey dance in my bathroom as I put on some makeup basics for the day – but I alternate between podcasts and music now. I’m finding it hard to find the time to read these days and after years of resisting, have begun to incorporate auditory brain food!

Flipp – A coupon site, because who isn’t a bit more conscious of their budget on mat leave?  Flipp has most of the major stores.  A simple double tap lets you read the details on deals, and a single tap lets you “circle” the coupon and save it.  What I love most is the search function.  Search “diapers” and it will pull all of the deals it can find. The days of trying to wrangle your baby’s fingers from a crumpled coupon flyer are done.  Now you can just work on peeling his / her fingers off your iPhone instead!

Google Map – The traffic function is brilliant, even though I admit I am still building this habit loop in.  I’m still at the stage of remembering only when I am in traffic and am wondering what on earth is going on.  That being said, I am using Google Maps a heck of a lot more these days when I have to get across to the other side of the city and am in a time-sensitive day. Lately, it has been incredibly useful for looking up “gas station” with the search functionality and the route mapping based on “fastest route” has been so accurate so far.  Google Maps is funny in a relationship sort of way. I’m still learning to trust the app’s recommended route.  I’ve decided to override Google Maps a bunch of times thinking my way is quicker, and it’s been right every time, dammit.
This app is a good time to mention that there is a second important piece to seizing technology and really making it work for you.

You must dedicate 20-30 minutes to truly explore the functionality of each app.  Apps are powerful little things that by no means, replace the power of our own minds, but make our days a little easier and more efficient.

When it comes to technology, most of us are actually just “surface level” users, unless we’ve been fortunate enough to have had some instruction.  Once you dig below the surface of apps – or any technology for that matter, there are additional tool sand great features that most of us don’t discover.

It’s like your MacBook.  An hour on the Apple forums looking at Macbook functionality will blow your mind.  There’s finger taps and slides I didn’t even know existed that I’ve now worked on building into my typing. I’m still ridiculous and maximize / minimize windows with the green and red buttons, even though I know well that I can do it quickly with the keyboard (there you go, a habit loop I haven’t built up yet.)

Photo Shop Express – I’m really writing this post with maternity leave people in mind.  My photo habits were excessive when I was just taking photos of meals, my cats, and pints of beer – but I know that now pales in comparison to the photos I have of my babies!

Photoshop Express is an editing app that is free, intuitive and has a great sharing function once the photo is saved.  I use this app to run my Etsy business almost exclusively from my iPhone, and pair it up with the great Typography app Typorama for any kind of graphic needs. It’s also a useful little app when you try to catch a 2 year old on camera.  It’s either blurry, or they have satanic red eyes (which is actually quite ironic, no?)

Tiny Scan is my final recommendation & I have mentioned this app, along with Secure Safe in a previous post.  Again, hard habit to build but once you do, you will never be digging around for a receipt or document again.

Tiny Scan is going to be the foundation of one of my bigger mat leave projects; going completely, yes, completely, paperless in 2016.  No more statements.  No more trying to find random pieces of paper in my filing cabinet with an overly enthusiastic 2 year old helper! I can see the glory of it now!

Alright.  So there you go. Happy app-ing.

Psssst.   Fox and sheep gmbh and their app  goodnight circus – the greatest things you will ever see if you have a 2 year old and ever have to get on a plane.  Ssssh.  My secret.  Thank me later. 

 

 

Organize Life with Technology – Part 1

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As much as I love books and journals, with the new baby I had to embrace using technology more. I started with using a Kindle to read at night as I rocked the baby to sleep.  I could read in the dark and tap with one finger.  The Kindle or Kobo are truly a woman’s best friend.

I also decided that I would have to use technology to become more organized. I did not have time (or the physical ability) to rifle through filing cabinets.  Most of the time one hand was carrying a 15lb baby.


One of the first things I did was begin to explore apps for my iPhone that would support me in my daily life. I’ll just share two important ones today. Many more to come.

I started Secure Safe to store all of my passwords, memberships and account numbers.  Secure Safe is an encrypted Swiss-based online “vault.”  It is great for important documents, too.  My husband has access to the vault and has used it to access copies of birth certificates, health insurance cards and health care cards.  You just never know with children when you will need something like that.


Travelling back from Europe once, I was questioned at customs about my British Passport (with my maiden name) and my baby’s last name (married name.)  I was able to pull up all of my baby’s documents.

*side note:  Make sure your last names match on passports or be ready to possibly present a birth certificate!

I also used TinyScan to upload all of my receipts and automatically save them into dropbox. It was difficult to make this a regular habit – I would always forget to scan them – so now I do it at the store before I leave.

This was a god send this past christmas – I have all gifts & receipts nicely organized in a dropbox file which I can access at the store, rather than rifle in my handbag for a crumpled up receipt.   Tiny Scan is an incredibly useful app beyond saving receipts – if you need to print and sign a document, you can pdf and email it back to the sender in the snap of a camera and snap of a text.
In a further post I’ll get into iCal strategies with children – this is another game-changer for productivity and organization.