I’ve worked from home for almost 11 years now. I’ve learned a lot through trail and error about how to stay productive and motivated to get work done, so I wanted to share my top tips. I’ve heard from people over the years that swear they could never work from home because they would just be too distracted, and it can be – try different things, if you feel like you’re getting distracted, try something else. Find what works for you.
I recognize if you’ve got little kids at home with you, it’s going to be a different story. Just do your best with your situation, and try not to be too hard on yourself. It takes a while to get into the swing of working from home, all you can do is your best, even if that looks different from day to day. Be kind to yourself.
Tips and Tricks for Staying Productive:
1. Try to keep to your usual schedule as much as possible.
This will help set boundaries in your head to separate “working time” vs. “relaxing time”. I work 9am-5pm, and then I close my computer. Evenings are for chores, relaxing, and hobbies. Schedules can help you unwind faster when you’re done work. If you can make an area in your home for work only – that’s even better to separate the two.
2. Timers, Timers, Timers.
Setting timers are going to help you stay on track: breaks not going too long, getting motivated to actually start when you feel like there are a million things that you need/want/should do.
3. Make lists.
It’s easy to get distracted by dishes, laundry, and all the things you usually do at home that isn’t work. Make lists to get every task out of your head and on paper. Look over the list and prioritize it, categorize it. Rewrite the list in priority so you know what needs to happen first.
4. Limit distractions where possible.
I need noise to focus, but I suggest listening to music vs having the TV on. Podcasts or audio books are also a great option depending on what you’re working on.
Good luck! Let me know if any of these work for you!
It’s been years of “what should I do with my newsletter” coupled with “I have all these ideas for resources!” – so I’ve finally merged the two, and am moving forward with a monthly newsletter. I’ve always said I never wanted to send newsletters that were just “selling”, or that had no value just for the sake of sending them. I always unsubscribe or delete those newsletters myself, so I wanted to wait until I actually had a list of resources and ideas before I moved ahead with the newsletter.
I spent a lot of January planning for the year, I like to give myself time to think things over and play with ideas so the idea that it all has to be decided by the first day of the year has never been a pressure I’ve felt. I sent out my January newsletter which included the Business and Website Planner for 2020 PDF (also available in this blog post if you missed it), and have set up a couple of free spreadsheet templates for March and April’s newsletters (which won’t be posted to the blog).
This month, the newsletter is about how planning went last month, applying it to this month, and one of my favourite tricks to getting started when something feels overwhelming. I looked at my planner, a one page simplified document and I felt like I just didn’t want to decide anything, so I kept putting it off. I know myself and I know that for me (and most people), that once you get into a task, you’re likely to complete it, or at least get past that “this is going to take hours!!!” mentality. I used my favourite trick and it worked. Intrigued?
The newsletter will be going out this week, so if you’d like to get access to the PDFs, spreadsheets and other tricks and tips coming up this year – sign up now!
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This once a month newsletter is focused on finding ways to get through the not-as-fun admin parts of business so you can enjoy the creative side!
Today’s Tip: Using spreadsheets to update/edit your Shopify store!
I know it can look overwhelming… but once you get the hang of it, it can save you SO much time.
The first thing I’d recommend is exporting a couple of the products you’ve already got set up in your store so you can take a look at the pattern of the spreadsheet. It’ll be a lot more clear when its your own content.
When you look at the spreadsheet in the first row (I used Google Docs to edit mine), you’ll see the Handle, which is the url of your product, then Title, Body, Vendor, etc. Everything is based off the handle url keeping the information and variants connected to that product, so for anything that has to do with your product, it has to have the correct url in column A so Shopify knows which product you’re editing.
The variants are called “Option”s in the spreadsheet, but again, using your own product will make this part so much clearer. You’ll see the name of your variant, and then each of the items that show in the drop down. In my example, I have 3 variants, Size, Colour, and Message, so I need to have each of those variant combinations in the spreadsheet. Let’s say you want a black, tshirt that says “Support your local maker” in medium. That has to exist as a line in the spreadsheet for the combination to be possible for purchase. I’m showing my own shop as an example because it’s likely one of the most complicated with all the variant options.
There are 96 variants in the ONE tee shown here… can you imagine how long that would take to set up manually? Once I got the hang of it, I mostly copied/pasted and duplicated these CSV files and it was so much faster.
Past the variants, you’ve got the Inventory, Price, and a few other values that you’ll see are mostly just the same value for each row.
Now… images. This is the tricky part, because it’s the one area of the spreadsheet that doesn’t correspond to any of the rest of the information in those rows. I’ll do a follow up on how all this works (it needs its own tutorial).
Once you’re done your edits, you go to Products, and then import your CSV file. You can change up the images within Shopify, and edit anything you want from the changes you made in your spreadsheet in Shopify too, but I found it was easier to just edit the spreadsheet and re-upload the newest version.
What do you think? Will you give it a try? There is a small learning curve… but it’s worth it in the long run, I promise!
There’s a quote that makes its rounds on social media around this time of year that I think is great: “There’s nothing magical about January 1st”.
There’s so much pressure surrounding the new year: new goals, new habits, and you’re somehow left behind if it’s not all sorted out by January 1st! That’s crazy! While it is a great opportunity to refresh things after some time off at the holidays, I try not to let the pressure get to me and take my time making meaningful, well thought out plans for the year.
I’ve been using this PDF planner for a few years now, tweaking it annually. It’s a great tool to get some quick ideas down about what’s been on my mind for my business and website, and helps to get things started towards setting goals and making those changes that have been sitting on my to do list!
We had a lovely final day, sad to leave, but it’ll be nice to see everyone!
A bit of a lazy start, but our final day was planned as more of a drive around and see what we found, explore as we go type of day.
First stop: checking the tidal pools for crabs – found two!
Coffee and another giant molasses cookie next on the plan! We were hoping to see the tuna again too, but no luck. Did see a sculpin fish. One of the tour boat workers identified it for us. He also offered to let us join a cruise tour on Friday since we missed the boat tours of Bonne Bay that were regularly scheduled in September. Very kind, but not worth missing our flight for, haha. We did see eels though! Very cool!
We decided to do a short, 1km-ish coastal hike. Turns out it was 1km… pretty much vertical haha. Wish I’d finished my coffee first! Ah well. My hiking boots have been fantastic, and the expensive hiking socks – worth every cent!
After our hike, we did a quick walk to South Brooks Falls on our way to Woody Point. We didn’t see that much of the area around Woody Point/the tablelands the first time we went since we were hiking in the rain! This time was much nicer!
We checked out the upper deck and just happened to see a pod of dolphins or pilot whales (to be determined!). Then on our way to the car we saw a HUGE bull moose up on the hill about 400 meters up. The parks guy saw us pointing and ran out to bring us their amazing binoculars, the moose was massive! It was so nice of him to make sure we could see it clearly, and he was impressed G spotted it on the hill. We came back up to the Discovery Centre for lunch in the cafe, and hoped to see more dolphins as we ate overlooking the bay.
We drove back to Trout River to beach comb (was raining last time too!), and I found a beautiful blue piece.
On our way back, we saw three caribou on the Tablelands and then another huge caribou a km or two down the road! We were so lucky with wildlife today!
Once the sun started going down, we figured it was time to work our way back to Deer Lake. Had dinner at the Irving, filled up the rental car, got to our Airbnb and prepped for our verrrry early start tomorrow!
Day 8: Woke up at 3:45am… got to the airport, our tiny jar of $7 peanut butter got thrown out in security (who knew??), and we had our bumpy flight home!
Chilly stay last night. Older place, and the heat didn’t really get through that well. We picked up bread and peanut butter on the way back from Port au Choix, so we had that for breakfast. Food isn’t necessarily that much more expensive, but eating out constantly adds up.
Chilly start to the day too (much different than GTA weather! We saw on the news it was 30C there!), but the sun was out and once you’re hiking you warm up quickly. We drove to Green Point to do the coastal trail, and walked through a forest section, along the beach, and some boardwalk. We got to the river and then walked back after a quick snack (we’ve eaten so many granola bars this week!).
The other side of the coastal trail is the Green Point cliffs that show layers of earth that were horizontal but with the plates shifting got smooshed up more vertical (I’m so technical haha). It’s neat to see all the layers, some dating back 500 million years.
We walked along the tiny group of cottages in the area, beach combing and flipping rocks in tide pools looking for crabs. Found a few old urchin shells that were in good shape, but nothing much else!
By now it was time for lunch so we went back to town (they now know us really well since it’s more or less the only place open in town – and cheapest). I had a BLT, G got chili. We shared a slice of partridge berry pie for dessert!
After lunch we stopped off at our Airbnb for tonight. We’ve stayed in this one before and really liked it. Met the owner (he lives next door), and chatted with him.
We decided to explore Norris Point, and the sun was peeking through the clouds in the most beautiful way, so I made G pull over so I could take photos. We stopped at a cafe, and got a molasses cookie that’s the size of a hamburger bun haha. They know how to do cookies here!!
We beach combed along Bonne Bay, and then before we left, we noticed there was a weird wave in the water, it looked like just how the current might meet, but was odd enough that G got the binoculars out. As I watched the white spot, a HUGE tuna jumped right out of the water! We knew they were in the area the past few days from what the locals told us, but we didn’t expect that! Luckily my shock of seeing a dolphin-sized tuna got G’s attention enough that he saw a second one jump out of the water a few seconds later too! We watched for another 20 mins or so, then saw they’d moved back into the East Arm, so we hopped in the car and drove around to where they moved. We saw them in the distance before we left but didn’t see them again, and I wasn’t fast enough with my camera, so no photos. It was super cool though!
We came back to town for dinner (hot turkey sandwich with mashed potatoes and carrots for me, fish chowder for G), and we’re settled in our sweatpants to watch tv!
Hard to believe tomorrow is our last day! We’ll see what else we want to see here in the morning before heading back towards the south end of the park and then Deer Lake. Our flight is very early Thursday morning.
We got up around the usual time we have been lately (8ish, that’s 6:30 your time) and had our breakfast once I did a quick check on the beach.
We immediately went to check the lighthouse for caribou but had no luck! We had a windy rainy drive to Rocky Harbour, but the rain cleared up so we stopped at some lookouts along the way. At Broom Point, we saw seals in the water! Did a quick beach comb at a few places and enjoyed the sun being out, finally after three days of rain! We met a couple at the lighthouse from Etobicoke haha. Lots of Ontarians here, and Albertans too.
We looked at doing the Green Point coastal trail (it has fossils), but needed to get a park pass, and figured we’d get a solid hike in this afternoon, so we went into Rocky Harbour to get the pass and find a place to stay for the night.
We decided we had time to do Baker’s Brook Falls trail. It was so beautiful, and we saw a ton of moose tracks – surprised we didn’t see any actual moose! It was marked as a blue square trail (moderate), but was super easy! Flat, boardwalks, only 10km round trip! We did a total of 15.6km today, not bad. Green Gardens was marked as a blue square trail, but it was way harder!
Along the trail there was a moose exclosure that was installed in 2009. It has gates to keep the moose out, and shows the stark difference between the forest now (sparse), and the lush enclosed space, about a couple acres. They’re allowing hunting within the park now to try to control the moose population better. It all started with four moose I think?
We came back to Rocky Harbour and did a quick beach comb while the tide was low. I found a neat piece of pottery (blue willow), and then had dinner at the last restaurant that’s open! We both had burgers, they were great.
Time to relax a bit before bed – and plan which trails we’re doing tomorrow!
Today’s edition is not as full since most of the day was spent in the car in pouring rain.
I got up a bit earlier than G, so I did a quick beach hunt until he was ready for breakfast. This motel is older, but clean and breakfast (eggs any way you like, bacon, fries, and homemade bread) was included!
We did a quick drive towards the lighthouse in Port au Choix to check for caribou. I saw tracks on the beach and others said they saw them nearby earlier. No luck, but we’re going to check it out tomorrow again.
We drove the approximately three hours up to L’anse aux Meadows, rain the whole way and so many potholes! The water also doesn’t drain off the road very well so it makes it tricky to drive on.
The Discovery Centre was neat, there was a 15 minute movie about the history and the area, and then a walking tour. It had paused raining for about half an hour but started again right as the walking tour started. We ended up bailing on the walking tour. It was interesting, but we were just getting drenched, and we weren’t wanting to have another soaker. We checked out the smaller huts and found three characters/actors in the main “house”. A married couple and blacksmith. They were funny and talked about life in the camp. They also made this delicious pan fried flat bread over the fire. It was fried in a LOT of butter. Butter is used in quantities about 3-4x what we’re used to lol. ALL toast at any meal is dripping, fully saturated in butter. G is running out of lactaid lol. They put partridge berry jam on it, and it was great! I could have eaten ten of them haha. It was fun to learn about it all and warm up by the fires. They showed the main bedroom reserved for the highest ranking crew member, then the kitchen and other sleeping area, then the back room was set up for the women’s workroom for weaving and fabric making.
Three hour drive back, more rain. We stopped in Dark Tickle for a bite. I got ham and cheese (buttered on both sides and panini pressed), G got ham, rhubarb and pickle (it sounded so interesting he couldn’t resist). Also buttered on both sides and panini pressed. We also got molasses crowberry buns. They’re like giant dense gingerbread cookies with something like blueberries in it. Very good. The owner was really nice and we learned about the polar bears in the area!
The motel had a live band tonight in the bar which was great!
Tomorrow we’re back to Rocky Harbour to keep exploring the park!
Another day packed to the brim. We both feel shockingly good after yesterday’s hike (was that only yesterday?!)… nervous tomorrow may be painful instead, but hoping for the best!
We got ready for the boat tour and picked up our tickets by 10am. We knew the competition for a good spot on board was fierce so I went into “on a mission” mode. Tidied the Airbnb, packed the car, and once we had coffee and muffin tops from a place in town that will be closed for the year as of tomorrow… we were off to jockey for position on the one hour hike to the boat dock. Side note: muffin tops were delicious. Blueberry, partridge berry and chocolate chip were the best.
The hike to the dock was super easy and on a flat road. We passed a bunch of people but ended up chatting with a couple near the front. We got there with plenty of time (they let you board about 15 mins before the 12:30 tour). I basically found any reason to hang out near the line up area for an hour. G had strict instructions to get us a spot in line if he saw others lining up while I went to the loo before the two hour tour. Luckily I was back in time and being in line early/first wasn’t a problem lol.
Another couple started the line up frenzy, with another couple just behind them, so we were in third place, but we strategized the best seat would be top deck, back row. That way there was no one behind us and we’d have a good 180 degrees behind of view. It was VERY smart. The couple that started the line actually ended up moving in front of us because they liked the strategy and we chatted with them a lot, they were really nice – as was everyone we met. I took likely several thousand pictures. It was stunning. Some cliffs are 400 feet higher than the CN tower!!
After the tour information the last part was traditional music with the spoons and tambourine made of wood and beer bottle caps. It was really fun! Freezing and windy but great fun.
We drove up to Cow Head and checked out some beaches along the way, as well as stopping at the Arches Provincial Park. Saw a number of Grey jays and a bald eagle too!
All day we’ve been running into people from the boat tour. They had two boats running, about 70 people on each boat, but between chatting on the hike, waiting in line, and hiking back, we met enough people that we ran into them as we went north towards Port Au Choix.
We got a cheap motel room in Port au Choix and met a few tour people at dinner too. Most were from Ontario (Leamington, North Bay), others from Edmonton but a couple grew up in Etobicoke.
The sun was going to set soon so we did a quick beach hunt before dinner (beach was right behind the motel!), and enjoyed pretty colours as we waited for dinner. I opted for chicken ceasar salad and G opted for cod again lol. Day three. Haha
Tomorrow we’re off to the Viking settlement, then likely coming back south either stopping here (very few places open now including restaurants!) or continuing back to Rocky Harbour depending on how we feel/how long we’re at the Viking settlement. Supposed to rain all day, unfortunately.
Since there are so many photos from the boat tour, I’ve put them into a slideshow below, with a few of my favourites under it: