Some personal notes and resource recommendations

25th of March 2020

Uch! This situation is weird, confusing, and way too real.

It’s taken us, as a family, over 10 days of confinement to really realize that this isn’t just “like a film or something”.

It’s happening. Even if we don’t see the worst of it.

We don’t SEE the people who are suffering the most because we’re staying at home. We have no idea what the frontline of this thing looks like (unless you work in the health system – if so, thank you for all you do! 💛)

We’re pre-occupied…

  • learning how to be a homeschool family

  • learning how to be co-working parents and share responsibilities and keep a routine going

  • trying to deal with the frustration having to be at home 24/7

  • trying to be patient when the end is not yet in sight.

We’re finding a sort-of imperfect rhythm now at our house. I’m getting some precious time at my desk again and I’m accepting that I must now work in small sessions rather than a full day of ‘in-the-zone’ deep workflow.

In this post, I’m sharing some notes about how we’re adapting, what we’re finding tough and some resources I use to run my business remotely.

Confinement, homeschooling and remote working  – finding the right balance

The teachers from our children’s school have been incredible. They’ve been sending a structured work schedule to help us continue the curriculum for our 7-year-old and suggestions for useful activities for our 3.5-year-old. It’s likely that school won’t open again this side of summer so, it’s not just a case of ‘keeping them busy’ and entertained, nope, we have to do proper lessons.

It’s been tricky to balance work and caring for the kids properly. Now in week 2, we’re slowly finding our routine with the lesson plan and work commitments. We’re not quite there yet, not even close,  but it looks like we’ll have a bit more time to figure it out!

What I’ve learned so far

  • Get the routine started early and you’ve won the day.

  • Agree in advance who gets to work and when to avoid frustration and tension.

  • No screens for the children in the day time. (This was always the case really, but now they get a cartoon or 2 at 5pm while we prepare the dinner.)

Should we work in the evenings?

It’s a long old day. The most obvious thing to try is to work at night after the children are in bed. It’s a slippery slope though. With no interruptions, I’m inclined to work into the wee hours and I end up feeling exhausted the next day.

I’m still figuring this out, but by setting limitations I remember that rest is vital when you’re trying to stay on top of things.

Another way we’re minding ourselves we’re doing our best to eat really healthy meals at regular times. We’re doing our best to keep the snacking under control too. That challenge is on-going!! (munch, munch, munch)

Resources for remote working / running an online business

If you’ve got a service-based business maybe you’ve been using some of these already.  Here are some of my favourite tools for operating my website design and website strategy consultancy from home.

 (There are some affiliate links in here marked with a *)

Siteground hosting*

I’ve had some fairly hairy experiences with hosting companies in the past 10 years. Siteground is BY FAR the best host I’ve ever used for WordPress hosting. My favorite features: free SSL certificate, free WordPress website migration from other hosting companies and excellent chat support available 24/7.
If you’re looking for hosting, here’s my affiliate link that gives you a discount and me a commission:

https://www.siteground.com/index.htm?afcode=57afcf1a3440b251052aee4808b87058

WordPress with Divi by Elegant themes

Divi is a fantastic theme that runs on WordPress, it’s really versatile and customizable. It’s the theme that I use in all the WordPress sites that I build. (My clients don’t have to buy it separately, I provide it as part of the project).

My affiliate link for the Divi theme:

https://www.elegantthemes.com/affiliates/idevaffiliate.php?id=59930

GSuite for email and cloud storage on Google Drive

I love the Gmail interface so I use it for my claire@clairecreative.com email. And the Drive storage allows me to share files with my clients in a central space – so no heavy attachments or multiple versions of things. Also, Drive is great because you don’t have to search through old emails for attachments. Great time-saver!

I also use Google Analytics and Google Console to check my site traffic and search performance.

Zoom* for video conferencing

This is actually brilliant for group calls with friends too. We’ve had a few gatherings over Zoom in the past weeks. The free version is great to get started with but for integrations with other apps and group calls longer than 40 minutes, you’d need to upgrade. I even use it for Webinars!

https://bit.ly/3dmmMNo

Acuity Scheduling*

Acuity was a huge time-saver for me. It’s the interactive calendar that I use on my site for discovery calls and how I schedule all my client meetings and payments. I integrate this with Zoom so that people get a link to join the video call. I also have Acuity integrated with Stripe online payments so that all my accounts and appointments are integrated into the same system.

It’s definitely the best investment I’ve made to streamline my business.

Here’s my affiliate link if you’re looking for a great calendar system:
https://acuityscheduling.com/?kw=YToxMjk1MTI2NA%3D%3D

MailChimp & MailerLite

I’ve used MailChimp for years and I know it inside out. BUT I know that many people find it too technical. If you’re looking for a tool that is much more user-friendly take a look at MailerLite.

Facebook ads.

I use ads sometimes. I’ve been getting support lately from Tanya https://thestrategiste.com/ (she also has an offer running at the time of writing). Ads are my way of getting in front of new people online when I don’t have time to do all the organic stuff like posting and lives.

Social media has slipped way down on my to-do list so I’ve been building up some ad campaigns to help people remember that I exist and get in front of people who haven’t heard of me yet.

Creative Market*

They give away free stuff each week. They have brilliant templates, graphics, images and fonts. https://crmrkt.com/3NBVWp

It’s also a great place for design inspiration. The best thing is that you can just spend a few dollars to get a whole set of stuff that might take you days to create from scratch.

Coping with lockdown

I’m not about to give you a checklist of all the things you can do to feel good while all this is going on. I trust that you have a brain in your noggin’!! But there’s no doubt that it’s going to be long and challenging. Here are a few fantastic books that have helped me with self-control, personal development and time management in the past few years.

Ryan Holiday – The Obstacle is the Way (actually any of Ryan Holiday’s books)
https://dailystoic.com/obstacle-is-the-way-summary/

Greg McKeown – Essentialism
https://gregmckeown.com/book/

Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky – Make time
https://maketime.blog/

James Clear – Atomic Habits
https://jamesclear.com/atomic-habits

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Full disclosure – I listen to books on Audible. My eyeballs are usually too tired by the end of the day to read books.

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I know to most of you I’m just another one of those internet people who has crept out of the woodwork lately. But please know, I’m here, a person, a mother, a business owner who is taking it a day at a time and wishing you well.

✌🏻💛

-Claire

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