Starting a Side Hustle | {Tips to Find and Get Started on Your Side Hustle}

Ok so we’ve covered creating systems and processes and a personal brand but let’s take a few steps back and think about where to start – what exactly are you setting up systems and creating a personal brand for? It could be your current job, business, blog/social media account or maybe you’re thinking of starting a side hustle. But wait, what exactly IS a side hustle? According to the Cambridge Dictionary, a side hustle is:

a piece of work or a job that you get paid for doing in addition to doing your main job.

Cambridge Dictionary

{Related Posts}

It seems more and more people are starting a side hustle alongside working their full or part-time job. The beauty of side hustles is that they are usually flexible, done from home and can be incorporated into your current hobbies or passions. It could also be an extension of your main job to either develop your skills or create a freelance portfolio or a way of testing out a new career path. And of course you could have more than one side hustle – they are a great way of creating a diverse career and income, especially during unsettled times.

Tips to find your ideal side hustle

Unsure of where to start? Here are some of my top tips to find your ideal side hustle:

  • Consider your skill set

What particular skills could you offer? What do you have experience or expertise in? Is there anything you could extend to a side hustle?

  • Think about your hobbies and passions

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? Do you have a passion for crafts or writing? If you could do anything as a career or in your day to day life what would you do?

  • What is your unique selling point?

If you’ve read my post on 10 Steps to Create a Personal Brand you will know that your unique selling point (or USP) is YOU! It’s your personality, attention to detail, forward thinking attitude, customer service and/or reliability.  It’s what you can offer that no-one else can. Unsure of what your USP is? I’ve got you covered – Finding your USP post coming soon 🙂

Side hustle ideas

Ok so you’ve got an idea of what you could offer and what makes you and your experiences unique. Here are 35 ideas for side hustles to get you started:

  • Interior design/decorator
  • Tutoring or coaching
  • Personal trainer
  • Franchise consultant – For example The Body Shop at Home or Avon
  • Wellbeing or life coach
  • Create an online course
  • Dog walking or grooming
  • Sell your products online – You can sell physical or digital products on platforms like Etsy
  • Refurbish furniture
  • Babysitting/Nanny
  • Start a blog
  • Party planning
  • Catering
  • Photographer
  • Real estate – renovations, flipping houses, renting out property or room or running a holiday home
  • Handy man {or woman!}
  • Digital products
  • Delivery driver
  • Local tour guide
  • Graphic or web design
  • Writing – freelance, ghost writer, editing
  • Social media management
  • YouTube
  • Write and publish an eBook
  • Mystery shopping
  • Cleaning
  • Home organisation
  • Teach a language or an interpreter
  • Personal shopper
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Extra in a movie/programme
  • Marketing focus groups
  • House sitter
  • Virtual Assistant
  • Create a smartphone app

Where to start?

You’ve thought about your skills and passions and have an idea for a potential side hustle. What next? Here are a few things to consider and get you started:

  • How much time can you commit?

Most side hustles take commitment and consistency and can, initially at least, take up a lot of time. If you are working a full or part-time job and/or have family or children to care for you need to consider when you can work on your side hustle without impacting negatively on your day to day life. How much time will your side hustle take? Is it something you could do in the evenings or weekends? Draw up a draft schedule to see how you can balance your jobs as well as leaving time for yourself, family and friends.

  • What do you need to get started?

Do you need to create stock? Will you need specific tools or equipment? Do you need to create a website or social media account?

  • Is there a financial commitment?

Stock costs, website subscription, insurance, accountancy package – it’s easy for costs to add up either as an initial investment or on a monthly or annual basis. Make sure you tot up the potential costs to ensure your side hustle is worth the outlay; noting some side hustles can take time to create a decent income {for example YouTube or affiliate marketing etc.}

  • Market research

Is your side hustle something people need? Chances are you can put your own unique spin on something but conducting a bit of market research is a great way of testing the waters to see what uptake may be like. Creating a simple questionnaire in Google Forms is a great way to circulate and collate market research.

  • Finding your ideal clients/customers

You have your product or idea. You know it’s something people are interested. So how do you find potential clients or customers? Take some time to think about who your ideal client/customer would be – What age range are they? What do they like to do? Where do they hang out online? How will they interact with you {via your blog, Instagram account, in person or in print?}

  • Consider a strategic plan/goals

I’ve always found it helpful to create a simple strategic plan of action and set of goals. To put it simply a strategic plans considers where you are, where you want to be and how you can get there. Again, I’ll be doing a full blog post on creating a strategic plan soon., including a FREE workbook. Setting short, medium and {if you can} long-term goals {even if these change} is also a great start to thinking how you’d like to progress your side hustle or the initial steps you need to take.

And don’t forget to think about your personal branding and how to create systems to ensure your side hustle runs smoothly.

Have you got a side hustle? Are you thinking of starting one? What would you do? Let me know in the comments below!

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Are they twins? | 10 things no-one told you about having {twins}

{This post contains affiliate links for products I personally use and endorse – find out more about affiliate marketing here}

As a first time mum of twins it became clear very quickly that I was woefully unprepared for what lay ahead. It was the epitome of a baptism of fire and learning as you go. You go to the antenatal classes {only to be told 80% of it doesn’t apply to you be used you’re having twins}, read all the books and find some twin mummy peers {shout out to the Cheltenham twins club and Kingfisher Twins Club!} but alas, nothing can really prepare you for what lies ahead.

You’ve finally got the feeding sussed, you’ve managed 2 hours of sleep and can successfully change a poonarmi nappy one handed. But here are 10 things no-one warned you about having twins. {Disclaimer – this is meant as a {mostly} “tongue in cheek” post which is based upon my personal experience of having twins – photos of which I’ve included at the end of this post, because quite frankly I think they’re super cute!}

1. It’s impossible to go to the shop with out be asked “are they twins?”

You will quickly come to learn that people are fascinated by multiples and {especially} baby twins act like superhuman magnets subconsciously inviting everyone and their dog to come and take a peek. You may want to consider handing out flyers – “Yes they are twins. No they’re not a boy and a girl. No they’re not identical but yes they do look very similar. No I don’t know how I do it and yes I do have my hands full”. And not forgetting the good old “double trouble!”, “my sisters, dogs, cousins had twins” or “oh I always wanted twins!”

In all honesty I’ve never minded people coming to coo over or ask about my twins but there are times you just want to buy a fu*king pint of milk without being stopped 20 times and sometimes you just have to smile and wave boys, smile and wave. I once saw a colleague in Sainsbury’s who started happily chatting to me only to be greeted with hysterical shrieks of “we’ve lost tigger!” – not my finest moment I’ll admit.

2. People will ask completely inappropriate questions

After the whole “are they twins?” conversation starter you will be shocked at the amount of times I’ve been asked by a total stranger {and usually, funnily enough, in Sainsburys – this is not an ad I promise!} how they were conceived or born. Now this may be something you chat about with your gal pals but is it really a normal topic of conversation to be having down the biscuit isle? Would they like a diagram? The simple answer would be “does it matter?” Like I’m going to happily disclose ah yes I had sex with my husband, actually we went through years of IVF treatment or they’re adopted thank you so much for asking. I have actually been known to say I don’t know as they’re not mine just to escape…..

3. The first year {at least} is about surviving

Being a new mum is HARD. Having a newborn is HARD. Being a new mum of multiples is, well, seemingly impossible at times. The logistics of having two {or more} babies to care for on top of the general exhaustion of being “on it” constantly mean you barely remember your name most days let alone what time that next health visitor appointment is supposed to be. You may have heard people talking about the 4th trimester or pulling up the drawbridge after you have a baby. Which is essentially shutting out the world for a bit and letting yourself and your family adjust to your new addition{s}. The pressure of feeling like you need to prepare for visitors or keep up with the Jones’ is totally ridiculous and {in my humble opinion} new parents should be actively encouraged and supported to take some time out.

Even after some kind of “normality” resumes I would say that first year with twins is going to be your biggest adjustment and more likely to be about surviving {rather than thriving}. Not only will your babies change and develop faster than a hare on heat within that first year, your whole world will change with it. Having a baby or babies is a huge adjustment and caring for multiple babies at the same time 24/7 is on a whole different level. In all honesty I can hardly remember that first 12 months to the point I think I’ve actually blanked it out of my memory. I look back at photos and I just look like I’m on a totally different planet!

4. You will {probably} feel like there are things you are missing out on

Ok so granted not everyone’s experience is going to be the same and some people are very lucky to have help with their babies which enables them to do lots of lovely things. My hubby is a chef and my family and friends all worked full time which meant I was {literally} left holding the babies. My way of dealing with this was to not let it stop me taking the boys out and about but even I had to admit there were certain places or activities we simply couldn’t take part in.

Take swimming for example. A very popular activity for mums/dads and babies. And whilst all my new singleton mummy friends were joining aqua tots and alike I, to put it simply, couldn’t. This was probably the one thing I really felt we missed out on to be fair. Then there were baby groups. It took a while for me to find a baby group where I felt comfortable. Groups can be very cliquey and having twins singled {ha!} me out. Thankfully I started going to twins club which was A LIFE SAVER. Not only did people just “get it” but the support and friendships I made there will last a lifetime.

5. You will go through every length to ensure your twins are treated equally

….from the same sized carrots to the amount of cuddles from Grandma. But then equally you will also want them to be treated as individuals rather than “the twins”. My boys are very similar in a lot of ways and have very similar interests which pretty much means we buy two of everything {more on this in a moment!} As they are getting older their interests will inevitably start to change but at the moment they are still very drawn to the same thing, partly due to simply liking it and probably partly due to the fact they’ve always done everything together. Over lockdown we got more opportunity to spend one on one time with the boys which was really lovely. Different parts of their personality come out more when they’re apart. Noah is hilarious and Ollie is so kind and helpful. It’s a completely different dynamic for all involved.

6. You assume you need two of everything

Moving on from my last point, when you are preparing for the arrival of your babies you may assume you need two of everything when in actual fact that’s not always the case. Of course you will need two sets of the basics – car seats, clothes, {ultimately} cribs/cots {although a lot of twins share when they are very little}, high chairs and the like, but when it comes to “extras” my advice would be to start with one. One baby bath, one swing, one set of bottles {until you know which bottles your babies will take!} and one baby wipe warmer {yes this is a thing}. Basically, don’t fork out for everything and especially not two of them unless you feel you particularly want or need to.

Then come birthdays and celebrations. Parties in particular can become a bit of a logistical nightmare. Do you have one or two parties? How many cakes? Different themes? Then come the questions of do people buy 1 gift for each child or a shared one? Do we really need two giant car garages but is it unfair to expect them to share?! Do you buy them the same gifts or different and risk the inevitable outburst of “he got more than me!” Fun times.

7. Your finances will inevitably take a hit

I’ve heard lots of people comment on the fact the cost of twins is basically the same as the cost of having two single children. Whilst this is probably very accurate what they fail to acknowledge is that when you have multiples you have to pay out all at once. And not only are you buying double the amount of nappies, formula or forking out for nursery fees and school uniform, trips and dinners but you are also thinking ahead to how on earth you will finance their first cars, university tuition fees and such AT THE SAME TIME. It’s a popular saying that you can’t ever really “afford” children. Well think of multiples as maxing out all your credit cards at once. You’re welcome.

8. A lot of doorways are not wide enough for double buggies

Ok this may sound like a strange one but you will not believe how much small doorways became the bane of my life with a {fairly compact} double buggy and how much time I spent trying to get through said doorways with sleeping or crying babies or rampaging toddlers. I’m definitely guilty of executing the “half collapse of the buggy” {with the children on board} technique to save having to carry two babies AND get the fu*king buggy through the door just to pick up a parcel which was delivered when I WAS AT HOME {of course I’m not bitter or anything}.

Joking {not joking} aside these obstacles will either become your nemesis or you will up your game for the challenge. Steps to get into the village hall, you got it. Heavy self closing door, no problem. I am a twin mummy, hear me roar! {or at least swear profusely under my breath}.

9. The cuteness overload opportunities are pretty much endless

What’s more adorable than a baby in a cute outfit? TWO babies in cute outfits! And let’s be honest, your kids’ Halloween costume, Christmas card or Easter pics are gonna be way cuter {not that I’m biased or anything!}

10. You are stronger than you ever knew

Singleton parents will think you’re the dogs bollo**s and wonder how on earth you do it. But the truth is you ARE amazing and you do it because not only do you love your tiny tornados more than life itself but also because you have no choice but to get on with it. There will be times when you think you can’t do it {trust me, I’ve been there} but you are stronger and more resilient than you ever thought and there are people/groups out there who will understand and support you.

One thing I really struggled with is the fact I wanted to be able to do it all myself, and do it well, and it took me a long time to realise that’s it’s ok to ask for help or even to admit that actually sometimes it’s all a bit sh*t. People will understand more than you think and for those who don’t, we’ll {again} smile and wave boys, smile and wave {then flip them the bird, metaphorically of course}.

Plus a bonus point:

{In case you haven’t already noticed} – you will find yourself referring to your friends’ kids as singletons 😅 {and of course the fact that your twins will be the best thing you ever accomplished, and you wouldn’t have it any other way}.

You can check out my top buys for twins over on my Amazon Storefront under {Twin} Life.

What’s the one thing {or things} you wished someone had told you about having twins/multiples?

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Project Simplify | 30 Day {Health} Challenge

Ok, so following on from my 30 Days of Personal Development {which is still underway!} I’ve decided to launch the first of 2 {if not more!} additional 30 day challenges. And although my all or nothing tendencies are screaming to do everything at once I’m really trying to be sensible {!} and take one thing at a time {ish} and get my priorities in check.

These challenges all wrap up into my overall Project Simplify series – this is something I’ve been toying around with for quite some time but I think I’ve finally worked out how I want to more it forward. My personal brand is about encouraging, empowering and equipping women to balance business, health and home:

  • Encouraging women to say yes to their goals, values and dreams.
  • Empowering women to know they are enough and can do anything they set their mind to, and
  • Equipping women with information and resources to help them balance the things which are truly important to them, whether that be starting or growing their side hustle, taking control of their health and well-being or feeling in control and relaxed at home.

So with that in mind the first challenge I am setting myself is 30 days of health.

Now health is a BIG subject which encompasses physical to mental health, diet and nutrition to self-care and everything in between. This can be incredibly overwhelming which is why I’ve broken it down into daily mini goals which I am going to try to complete {some if not all} everyday for 30 days {at least!}. My hope is that I will be creating good habits and focusing on effort based goals rather than the final result.

Fancy joining in? I’ve created a fun Instagram stories template – 30 Days of Health Challenge Bingo – which can be found here – I will be uploading this to my Instagram stories everyday of the challenge to say how I’m doing, hold me accountable to you guys and most importantly to document how I’m feeling about myself and my health as I go!

{Get your template here}

For a little background – I’m a mum of 3, my youngest turns 3 in August and since she was born I’ve put on 3 stone from my pre-pregnancy weight. My fitness and general mobility are I would say at an all time low and whilst my general health is ok – I don’t smoke, drink excessively or use recreational drugs – I feel like I’m on a slippery slope. I definitely don’t drink enough water or take care of myself as I should be. Not only do I hope this will have a positive impact on my life and health but also set a better example to my young family. I’m not planning a strict diet or no treats but I know there are certain things I can do to improve my health.

So if you fancy joining in {even if it’s not for the full 30 days} download or screenshot the 30 days of health bingo template {which can be found in the templates highlight on my Instagram profile}, upload it to your Instagram stories, tick off what things you have done that day and don’t forget to tag me so I can see/share your progress!

What would you add to the list? Let me know in the comments below!

Coming soon : watch this space for the Project Simplify | 30 Day {Declutter} Challenge coming soon.

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How to Dress for your Body Shape {Bum, Belly and Boobs}

{This post contains affiliate links for products I personally use and endorse – find out more about affiliate marketing here}

Unsurprisingly my body has been through many changes in my 37 years on this planet. Being pregnant with twins plus having a c-section {for my single baby nonetheless} has meant my stomach area will, let’s face it, never be the same. And that’s fine. Our bodies are incredible and to a extent I’ve come to a place of peace with my current shape.

After working on my personal development and confidence {not to mention spending a year in loungewear during the 2020/21 pandemic} I’ve began re-learning what styles suit my body shape and how to dress for comfort, style and confidence.

Put simply, I would describe my body as the 3 Bs – Bum, belly and boobs {aka apple shape}. My no.1 “problem” area is my belly with my boobs coming in a close second {in all honesty I don’t mind my bum!} My stomach area has been through the ringer with pregnancy and weight gain and loss and is where I carry a lot of my excess weight. My boobs are just big {for me} and something I’m not used to dressing or being so much on display – not that there’s anything wrong with that but it’s just something I’m not used to.

As we are slowly released back into society post-lockdown 3.0 I’ve been feverishly looking through my wardrobe and researching how to dress my three Bs. Here’s what I found {also see photos below}:

1. Flippy shorts

I’ve actually loved these for years so it was refreshing to hear they suit my body shape. Flippy shorts are made from lightweight fabric with a high waist and loose fit around the bum and thighs making them the perfect summer go too for apple shapes.

Check out these tie waist shorts from Amazon or these ditsy floral flippy shorts from boohoo.

2. High waisted trousers

A high waist helps add definition and showcase an enviable hourglass shape. They will draw the eye to your lower half and reduce the appearance of any bulges. They also help avoid a muffin top and dreaded builders crack.

Check out these high waisted leggings from Amazon or these high waisted jeans from New Look.

3. Wrap dresses / tops

Wrap dresses and tops were designed to compliment a woman’s natural curves. The narrowing of the ‘v’ helps balance your chest region with your hips and helps to define your waist.

Check out this polka dot boho dress from Amazon or this ditsy floral belted wrap dress from Shein.

4. Bodysuits

I have to say, this was a new one for me but having now purchased one I’m a total convert! Bodysuits create a seamless look by keeping your look smooth with their underneath attachments. They remove any potential bunching and often include built-in shapewear. Since they are fitted they are also good for layering under plunging necklines or to add another snug layer of clothing.

Check out this strappy bodysuit from Amazon or this black lace bodysuit from boohoo.

5. Blazers

A simple blazer made from soft material which falls past the widest part of your body is great for apple shapes. A straight-line blazer which sits on the edge of your shoulders {not too big!} and worn over a shaped top creates length and helps define your waist.

Check out this gorgeous ruffle sleeve blazer from Amazon or this long blazer from New Look.

And of course the real fun starts when you start combining these styles – like this gorgeous floral playsuit from Amazon or this wrap top / flippy shorts playsuit combo from Yoins.

What’s your go to style? What’s your favourite part of your body? Let me know in the comments!

Why not subscribe to a Life twintactic’s VIP subscriber list to receive updates and exclusive first looks plus access to the VIP subscribers only page for more FREE resources and discount codes!

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10 Steps to Build a Personal Brand {+ FREE Workbook + Discount code!}

In order to take your side hustle to the next level you might want to consider creating a personal brand. But what exactly does that mean? A personal brand {as opposed to a business brand} is connected to an individual which allows clients/readers to put a face to a business/account and therefore make a more personal connection.

Creating a personal brand is about much more than creating a logo. It’s about making sure you stand out, are recognisable and remembered and building trust with your audience – think of Oprah Winfrey, Marie Kondo, Mrs Hinch and YouTubers such as Emily Norris and Tiffani Beaston – all of which have amazing personal brands!

So how do you start to build your own personal brand? Here’s 10 steps to get you started {plus don’t forget to subscribe to get your FREE personal brand resource PLUS an exclusive 20% discount code for This Splendid Shambles’ Ultimate Blogging Bundle!}

1. Define your why

How does your business {or blog, Instagram account etc.} add value to others? What are your values and beliefs? What areas are you experienced or have expertise in? What solutions can you offer? Do you want to inspire and motivate? Do you want to share your experience or teach? Think about what you would include in an elevator pitch or purpose statement. Jot some key words and ideas down and create a tagline.

For example, my elevator pitch for a Life twintastic is: “I’m Ellie, the founder of As a mum of three, wannabe-perfect housewife and small business owner I love to equip, enable and empower busy mums looking to balance business, family, health and home through blog posts, vlogs and digital products.” My tagline from this is: “To Equip, enable and empower busy mums to balance business, family, health and home.”

2. What sets you apart

What’s your unique selling point {USP}? Put simply, your USP is YOU! It’s your personality, expertise, quality, customer service, reliability. Once you know what sets you apart you can start to think about how you can provide content which delivers consistent expectations your readers or clients can count on.

For a Life twintastic, I like to think that my personality, authentic, down to earth style and useful resources and products attract readers, followers and customers.

3. Think about your ideal client/reader

What age range are they? What do they like to do? Where do they hang out online? How will they interact with you {via your blog, Instagram account, in person or in print?} What feelings do you want to evoke? Excitement? Motivation? Calm? Solidarity? Your personal brand needs to reflect who you want to attract to your business and in turn this will help define your brand strategy.

My ideal client/reader would be women/mums in their 20s, 30s and 40s who love to expand their personal development and knowledge by reading and connecting through blog posts and Instagram. They would reflect my love of organising, planning and self-improvement through resources, creating systems or simply having a good de-clutter. I would want them to feel inspired and find my content relatable and empowering. Basically an organised mess with a kick-ass attitude.

4. Create a Pinterest/mood board

Crank open Pinterest and type in some ideas like “feminine brand board” or “food inspiration” and go wild. Once you’ve got 10-20 pins step back and assess what you have. Is there a trend? Common colours or styles? Start to narrow your pins down to hone your style. Voila! Instant mood board.

Pinterest is perfect for mood board creation

5. Create a colour palette

From your mood board start to pull out the colours which jump out at you. Once you’ve picked a couple Canva is a great tool for selecting a colour palette around what you have chosen. You’ll probably want a couple of colours which “pop”, a couple of accent colours then a base colour. Again go back ti your ideal reader/client and what feelings you want to evoke. Calming blues or exciting yellow? Feminine pink or stylish monochrome?

For a Life twintastic I originally chose blue and yellow as my main colours, with black and grey as accents and a white base colour. I am now in the process of re-branding using more green, blush pink and blue as my main colours, sage green and gold as my accents and again a white base colour.

Canva Pro provides hundreds of complementary colour palettes

6. Consider your font

Similarly in Canva you can road test different fonts and how these work together. Think about how a font may look on a short logo compared to a piece of text. Will be be easily readable? What size works well for your brand? As a general rule you should use 2-3 fonts maximum.

For a Life twintastic I use a font determined by my chosen WordPress theme for my blog posts and Cooper Hewitt thin and body for my logos etc. Both my colour palette and fonts are saved in my brand kit in Canva Pro.

7. Create a logo and alternative/sub logo

Again, Canva {can you tell I’m a fan?!} is the perfect place to make a FREE logo. Canva offers hundreds of customisable templates for pretty much any business or platform – plus if you’ve set up a brand kit you can try out different logos in your chosen colours and fonts with a simple click. As well as your main logo, it’s a good idea to create an alternative or sub logo, for example an abbreviation of your main logo which can be used for smaller templates. Alternative or sub logos should still be easily recognisable to your brand.

8. Create brand collateral

As well as your logo and sub logo you might want to think about what patterns, social media icons, headers etc. you want to include in your brand kit. For example I like to use a simple “double arrow” line and my signature | dividers and { } brackets.

9. Consider the types of images and/or videos you use

Again use your mood board to decide on the style of media you use then start to collate stock photos. Create your own, consider getting some professional shots taken, use a free stock photo website such as Unsplash or why not create or purchase a preset. Quality media is a must for websites and blogs, whilst more “real” photos and videos are much more acceptable on platforms like Instagram.

10. Create a cohesive brand board

Finally bring everything together to create a cohesive brand board. Your why, tag line, USP, colour palette, fonts, logo, collateral and stock images – all brought together to create your own personal brand.

Next steps – things to consider:

  • Your language and tone
  • Creating easily customisable templates
  • Getting at least one professional head shot
  • Using a stock of buzzwords, tags and hashtags
  • How to best deliver consistent content and connect with your audience

To help get you started I’ve created a FREE personal brand workbook to help brainstorm and checkoff all the different steps mentioned in this post. As an added bonus I’ve teamed up with Anjali from This Splendid Shambles to offer my subscribers an exclusive 20% discount code off her hugely popular Ultimate Blogging Bundle which includes Blogging for Beginners, Unleashing the Power of Pinterest plus exclusive adds on including stock photos, colour palette inspiration, Canva templates, content planner and soooo much more! I purchased this package and it as levelled up both my blog AND my business!

To access your freebie and discount code simply subscribe below to gain access to a Life twintastic’s VIP subscribers only page.

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Do you have a personal brand? What attracts you to particular websites, blogs or instagram accounts?

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A Life Twintastic {ALT} FREE VIP Subscriber List | Newsletter, FREE Resources, discount codes and first looks

Introducing {ALT} VIP Subscribers

It’s been just over 2 years since I first launched a Life twintastic {find out more about me and ALT here} and I finally feel like I’ve reached a point where I’m more clear than ever on my aims and goals for the blog.

As well as working on my own personal development I’ve also been working on my personal brand {more on this on Tuesday’s blog post – including a FREE workbook and discount code for This Splendid Shamble’s Ultimate Blogging Bundle which I can personally recommend} and feel more confident in what I want and have to offer as a blogger and small business owner.

Lots of exciting developments are starting over the next couple of months and I’d love for you to join me and get involved. From 30 day challenges and new digital planners to eBook launches and my FREE VIP subscriber list.

As a VIP subscriber you will not only receive member only assess to FREE resources and specially sourced discount codes but you will get first looks and exclusive offers on all ALT products!

Want to collaborate? If you’re a blogger, business owner / brand or simply want to get involved get in touch here.

Interested? Sign up for FREE below:

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What’s coming up?

VIP Newsletter including:

  • What we’ve been up to
  • What’s new on the blog
  • What’s new for VIP subscribers – FREE resources, discount codes and first looks
  • What’s coming up
  • Spotlights on podcasts, blogs, small businesses, YouTube and books I’m loving
  • Exclusive entry to giveaways

New and improved Digital Planners:

Life Planner, Blog Planner and Business Planner oh my! Plus updated FREE “How To” eBook

30 Day Challenges:

Project Simplify Health and Declutter Challenges with a fun Bingo template!

Coming up in the Next Week:

Tuesday 4 May | New blog post : 10 Steps to Build a Personal Brand {+ FREE Workbook and Discount code!}

Thursday 6 May | New blog post : How to Dress for your Body Shape {Bum, Belly and Boobs}

Monday 10 May | First VIP Subscriber Newsletter! Remember you need to sign up to receive the VIP newsletter and access to FREE resources and discount codes

All my best

How to Create Systems that work {Plans over Goals} | + FREE Resources

Ok, so we’ve already covered a bit about the importance of consistency, how to manage all or nothing tendencies and the benefits of creating systems and habits but how exactly do you create workable systems for, well, life?

Chances are you already have. Simply put, a system is nothing more than a routine. The way you wash your hair in the shower, that’s a system. The fact you lay out your workout clothes the night before your gym session, that’s a system. Checking your emails every morning, that’s a system. Ironing your kids’ uniform on a Sunday, that’s right – it’s a system!

Now I’m the first to admit being the queen of procrastination and in all honesty, I don’t like to work too hard. But then I also hate being overwhelmed and unorganised. It causes me masses of anxiety. I like the idea of structure but I’m not always consistent in my methods. I also don’t like to over complicate things – I’m really a very simple creature at heart.

One of the ways which helps me to break past these conflicting needs and feel more organised is to have certain systems in place. In business I call these workflows. In life I call them routines or habits. But essentially the ways these are created are very similar. Think of it as not only setting goals, but going that one step further and creating a plan for how you are going to reach them.

The benefits of having a system in place are easy to see, they allow you to:

  • Be more productive
  • Work more efficiently
  • Produce higher quality results
  • Make less mistakes
  • Easily outsource certain tasks

Let’s explore some of the ways you can create systems for different aspects of your life.

1. Audit your current systems

One of the best ways to prepare for new systems is to audit those already in place, i.e. identifying what’s working and what’s missing. For example say you want to eat healthier meals or improve your morning routine. After a week or so of following a plan you can sit down and conduct a simple review. By identifying what’s working and what’s not you can determine pinch points or triggers and figure out how to get around them. Thus improving your system.

2. Create habits

I’ve touched on this in previous posts but one of the best ways of starting a new system is to start creating the habit of doing that thing. So for example, if you want to write a book but don’t know where you start set an aim to sit at your desk, open your notebook and write for 5 mins every day. This can then be built on over time but in the meantime you’re simply creating the habit of writing.

3. Create workflows for bigger tasks

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time! Whilst this may seem an obvious thing to do it is so often overlooked. By breaking regular tasks down into smaller manageable tasks you are effectively converting the whole process into a workflow which can be repeated and tweaked as you go. Not only does this ensure nothing gets missed but it also helps get those smaller to-dos done in shorter timeslots. In time this will help you estimate how long it takes to complete a task, schedule in the necessary time and therefore manage your time more effectively. Win win. Below are a couple of free templates you can use {featuring my not-yet-launched new branding!}, or if you prefer to work digitally why not use an app like Planner or Productive – Habit Tracker.

FREE Resources | Workflow template for a blog post + Workflow template blank

4. Create templates

Moving on from workflows another system is to create fill-in-the-blank templates for repetitive tasks such as emails, welcome letters to new clients, blog post structure, different stages of a product launch or even a weekend packing list. Making templates which can be repurposed for specific cases/people helps make repetitive tasks more effortless. For businesses this also means you can easily outsource certain tasks to free you up to do other more important things. For example, I have created a set of templates for my business which my consultants use under my business name. This ensures continuity for my clients and I know everything they need is right there in a template which has been quality assured by yours truly.

5. Automate repetitive tasks

Our days/weeks are full of repetitive tasks, some of which you can choose to spend a little more time on once before automating it and only checking in as and when you need/want to. In order to identify these tasks track all the things you do everyday for a week then take some time deciding which of these could be automated. Next spend some time identifying the tools that are best suited for these tasks.

As an example – I use the Emma App to track my personal finances. I’ve linked it to my main bank account, set my budgets and identified which items go where and the app does the rest. I then get notifications to keep me up to date but I only really need to check in every so often if I want more information or to check something specific. Other automation systems include Trello, MailChimp, Buffer and Canva.

6. Delegate or delete

There’s always going to be too much to do. It’s for you to decide your priorities and what tasks to focus your time on. Time is a limited resource which makes doing everything everyday impossible. Say for example you want your blog to be visible on all social media platforms but you don’t want to spend all your waking hours implementing this so you choose one platform to focus on. You can then choose to delegate/outsource content creation on other platforms or just leave them for now.

7. Systems on the go

Whatever system you decide on the more you can make it easy to access wherever you are the better. So for example if you have inspiration for a blog post whilst on your daily commute you want to be able to capture the essence of it easily and quickly {assuming you’re not driving at the time!} This may be in a notebook or diary you keep in your bag or apps like Notability, Evernote, OneNote or even the voice notes app on your smart phone make it easier than ever to jot things down or work through your systems on the go across multiple devices. The trick is to keep it simple and choose one or two methods or apps to use so it’s easier to keep track.

Do you have a system you follow? Let me know in the comments below.

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80:20 Rule {Intuition vs. Consistency}

“Which Chipmunk are you?” This was the question posed by Sarah Knight from the No F*cks Given podcast as I ironed a million pieces of school uniform. Turns out, similarly to Sarah, I appear to be a Simon teamed with a sprinkle of Theodore. Which is why {put simply} I like to be super organised but also so often feel totally out of the loop.

In the present {hello post-lockdown 3.0} I would describe my tendencies as being similar to the 80:20 rule. I probably spend around 80% of my time in Theodore mode and 20% as Simon. At my best {as Simon} I am creative, productive, form or nurture friendships, take on new clients, take actions on ideas, have school uniform ironed and ready to go and feel like I’m generally winning at life. Flip that to Theodore and I become overwhelmed, recluse, late, unorganised, unwell and unproductive.

Of course this is a sliding scale which ebbs and flows with the season and I acknowledge the fact that this current 80:20 ratio likely has a strong correlation to the recent pandemic.

My most recent Theodore episode resulted in a trip down memory lane. I was working through a free resource from Erin May Henry which included a section on thinking about your past life. Once again the common theme of a lack of consistency shone through. My diet, health, work, business, friendships, Instagram, blog – all seem to fall into this similar 80:20 ratio.

This is an area I’ve been focusing on during my 30 days of personal development challenge. Which now leads me to the question – does it matter? Is it important that all aspects of life are consistent? Is this even achievable?

Intuition vs. Consistency

For me I like the idea of certain things running in the background. In order to do this you need to form habits and create systems. Methods such as habit stacking, setting up workflows or ditching those jobs which are unnecessary will all help create processes for those things you decide need to be consistent. For example if you have a business or side hustle in order to be successful it’s very important to be consistent. On the other hand {for me} things like Instagram or blogging, whilst good to also be consistent, can be much more intuitive depending upon your mood or current circumstance.

Something which has become apparent is that although I’ve always craved structure and consistency a lot of the time strict regimes just don’t work for me. The obvious answer is to have a mixture of both.

Consistency helps create:

  • Habits
  • Discipline
  • Motivation
  • Discipline
  • Accountability

But can also be exhausting and unsustainable. Part of my all or nothing tendencies means I want to work on everything at once but I think the key to creating consistency is to focus on one or two areas {max} at a time.

Which takes a huge burden off the areas where I “allow” myself to be less or inconsistent. Again this could be a sliding scale rather than so black and white. For example I will aim to publish a new blog post once a week; however I’m not going to beat myself up if I don’t. But then I will consistently show up for my children and business {more on this below}.

As I’ve already said I’m simply focusing on the habit of being consistent right now, part of which is showing up on Instagram and posting regularly to my blog. If I were to pick two areas to focus on next where I feel being more consistent would be beneficial it would have to be my health and my business. Now health has a million different aspects so I’d need to give that some more thought. And although I do show up for my business I definitely feel things could be improved by creating workflows and routines so I keep up with regular tasks and subsequently become more productive. Even simple things like checking and responding to emails or checking my diary everyday which in Simon state I’m there, super organised, written the book; but in Theordore state I let pile up so they become overwhelming.

In all honesty right now I’m happy to keep my blog and my Instagram much more about intuitive content creation. I think this makes it more real and therefore relatable rather than flat and uninspiring. And to be honest it’s not content I struggle with, it’s the time to get everything down and in a format to share. I struggle to forward plan content because the majority of my posts are spontaneous. Yet it’s good to be consistent. So how do I keep my intuitive creativity but in a consistent manner? Probably with a sprinkling of discipline. Food for thought.

I’ll talk more about creating workflows and systems in my next post but for now I’ll keep focusing on that scale of 20% consistency and admin to create space for 80% life and intuition.

Which chipmunk do you think you are? Do you struggle with consistency or prefer a more intuitive approach to life?

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All or Nothing Personality | {The Perfectionist}

Something I’ve been thinking about as part of my 30 days of personal development is my tendency to be very all or nothing. I’ve always known I’ve had perfectionist {bordering on OCD} tendencies but it wasn’t until recently that I started exploring my personality in more depth and learning about ways of avoiding certain triggers.

Perfectionism is an interesting beast. It’s not as black and white as people may think and not always about having to do something absolutely perfectly, but more the need to keep doing something until you get it “right” or feeling anxious when things aren’t “correct”.

It’s easy to see how these traits can develop into feelings of judgement, rejection or criticism and often correlate with an element of self-doubt. And how being a perfectionist acts as a protection mechanism.

Having an all or nothing personality literally can mean you’re the life and soul of the party or don’t even show it. It can make you wildly productive and creative whilst also putting the brakes on because you feel if you can’t do something perfectly then why bother or doing something you’re not good at/going to complete is a waste of time and/or energy. The knock on effect being potentially limiting the things you try and therefore finding out what you’re good at or what you can achieve; often projecting as a lack of confidence or self-doubt. You may also put off starting something until the “perfectly” opportunity arises, i.e. when you have time, are in the right setting, when things “calm down” or you’re feeling motivated. And this may be absolutely the best thing to do dependant upon what it is but it again can cause a huge block to not only productively but also consistency.

Let’s take the example of starting a business. You have a great idea, you can image where you want to be and how it’s going to look. When you’re all-in you set up the business, put the feelers out for clients, design a logo, set up an email account etc. but on the other hand you may either a) get declined by a potential client and instantly pull the plug or b) continue to put off starting your side hustle because things aren’t “perfect”. You’re either all in or you’re all out.

I can definitely relate to times when I’ve put off doing something even fairly insignificant to the point it becomes stressful. Like I can’t quite make myself “just do it” because things aren’t set up a certain way. For example I’ve been trying to do daily updates on my Instagram stories about my personal development journey. This is something I would usually very easily put off because my hair isn’t done, my skin isn’t clear or the toddler is running around. To just do it no matter how I looked or felt took a huge surge of confidence and effort to break down the barriers which would usually stop me completing or even starting something I want to do.

Here are some other ways I’ve learnt about to help manage all or nothing tendencies:

1. Focus on effort based goals

As opposed to results based goals, effort based goals are less likely to trigger all or nothing tendencies. So for example, you focus on eating three healthy meals a day rather than the end goal of losing weight. With consistency and patience results will inevitably follow. Focusing on smaller goals everyday helps you stop feeling disheartened and creating habits will help keep you going even when motivation is low.

2. Lower expectations

A perfectionist is unlikely to start something unless they think they will be successful. The pressure to be perfect often limits progress and it can be hard to stay consistent. Perfectionists are also likely to procrastinate and dream about their potential rather than put it into action. By lowering expectations you are more likely to take that risk and start something because the stakes are lower or there is a “backdoor” get out clause. For example, you may not want to go for a run, but you get your running gear on and say you’ll run for 5 mins or once around the block. Or you may have a project you’ve been putting off so you give yourself just 15 mins to focus on it. This technique not only helps make the task seem less intimidating but it’s also likely that once you’ve started you’ll have the momentum to keep going. And if you haven’t then that’s ok because you’ve done the 5 min run or you’ve done 15 mins on your project, which is all you set out to do. Something I remember hearing from James Clear was about a man who started going to the gym everyday. He’d get changed, drive to the gym, go in for 5 mins then drive home. Now this may sound bizarre but he got himself into the simple habit of going to the gym then built upon this until he was spending say 45 mins working out. Food for thought.

3. Grace days

Life inevitably happens and something comes up which means your day doesn’t go as planned. This can often trigger someone with all or nothing tendencies to stop a new {or even established} habit in their tracks which they then can’t/won’t pick it up again until the next the next “perfect” opportunity or level of motivation. For example say you’re starting a healthy eating habit but 2 weeks in you get invited to a party and eat alllll the cake and drink allllll the drink only to then give up your healthy eating because you’ve “blown it”. By granting yourself grace days for when you either “fall off the wagon” or simply cannot commit to something you’re giving yourself permission to take a day {or morning etc.} off and pick right up where you started from the next day {or the next meal etc.}.

The key here is consistency. Which is exactly what I’ve been trying to work on during my 30 days of Personal Development and I’m already seeing the benefits of just taking 30 mins a day {when I can} to work on myself; whether that be watching an inspiring YouTube video, listening to a business podcast or journalling. Ok there have been days when I’ve been poorly, busy with work or just really tired – but that’s ok, because here I am, still picking it up after my “grace days” without either beating myself up and feeling like a failure and pulling the plug completely.

Learning more about myself and my personality traits and tendencies is helping to somehow make them more accepting. I’m not necessarily on a mission to change myself, but more to accept and become the best version of myself, warts and all.

Do you find you have all or nothing tendencies? What aspect of personal development would you like to work on?

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I Made a Balloon Arch! {The Twins’ 6th Birthday}

{This post contains affiliate links for products I personally use and endorse – find out more about affiliate marketing here}

I can’t believe the boys are 6! {You can read my Early Days with Twins post here}. Their second lockdown birthday meant no big party or day out could be planned so of course I wanted to make sure we had a proper celebration at home.

The boys LOVE dinosaurs so picking a theme was easy and of course Pinterest provided all the inspiration I needed.

Of course the balloon arch won me over so I did a quick YouTube search to teach myself how to make one. This video by Camp Dash really helped give me an idea of what to do plus made me realise the set I’d originally bought off Amazon didn’t have all the bits I needed – cue a last minute Amazon Prime purchase {click on image link below or order here} thank the Lord for next day delivery!}

What you will need

Ok so to make a basic balloon half arch you will need:

  • A decent number of balloons! The pack I bought had 70 and I probably used ~60 of them
  • Balloon strip tape – this has holes to poke the knot of your balloon through to keep them in place
  • Glue dots – to attach smaller balloons to fill any gaps
  • Command hooks {optional} – this is something which didn’t come with the pack I bought but you need to think about how you’re going to attach your arch to a wall / door frame etc. We ended up using picture hooks
  • Some string – to attach your arch to the command / picture hooks

How to make your arch

The YouTube video I watched said to make some big and some small balloons and to let some air out to make them into a round ball shape rather than an oval balloon shape. In hindsight I wished I’d just left a few balloons spare to blow up to the right size and add later as I probably would have made some of my small balloons even smaller. And I just stuck to an oval shape which worked out fine.

I started with a rough pattern of balloon colours but, again in hindsight, wish I’d laid out a proper pattern to use – it probably didn’t matter in the end but it would have helped the flow of colours. I put large balloons through all the holes in the strip tape all the same direction. I don’t know if this is correct but it seemed a good place to start and I guess you can use your own creative preferences for this part, especially if you are using different sizes of balloon and depending on what shape you’re looking to create. Anyway my process seemed to work fine so I’d probably do it the same way next time.

The more balloons you add the more you’ll see the arch take shape and you can move balloons into place to create the desired shape or swap colours easily if needs be. I created the main part of he arch upstairs so I could get started before the kids went to bed {and hid it in our en suite!}

I then moved it downstairs {not the easiest of endeavours!} and moved bits around some more once I could see where exactly I wanted the arch to go.

I then worked out where I would need hooks to attach the arch to the wall and tapped in some hooks. I only needed two in the end but this will depend on the size and length of your arch. I then tied string around the strip tape before attaching it to the hooks {with help from Mr H}.

Finishing touches

Once your arch is up you can again move balloons around if you need to {it gets more fiddly by this stage!} then you can start adding smaller balloons to fill any gaps. To do this use a couple of glue dots to attach the smaller balloons to the larger ones.

The end result

And here it is! I was so pleased with the end result – especially as it was the first time I’d ever attempted anything like this! It made a real statement and with a few other decorations really made the room feel special. And the boys absolutely loved it which of course is the main thing ♥︎

Have you ever made a balloon arch? I’d love to hear your tips!

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