Jill S. McIntyre

Life isn't about finding yourself. It's about creating your self.

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12 Easy Ways to Restore Balance

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I am a dyed-in-the-wool Libra.  Though I don’t always bank on my horoscope, one thing is certain: I constantly seek the balance of those archetypal  Libran Scales.   Like most of us, the more things I have going on in my life, the less I feel in balance.  Whether you are a stay at home mom or the CEO of a Fortune 500, you have a multitude of work-related responsibilities along side your life commitments.    Leaving your work at work can be difficult, especially if you work from home in any capacity.  Recent research on work/life balance by Brandman University shows exactly how challenging escaping work can be.

 

BY THE NUMBERS

Here are some of their findings:

  • 30% of employees feel burn-out
  • 27% report being emotionally drained from work
  • 42% of those surveyed feel fed up by the end of their work day
  • 81% of U.S. employees check work emails outside of work
  • 50% say work interferes with life responsibilities 2 or 3 times each week
  • 55% check work email inboxes after 11 p.m.
  • 40% of women have delayed having children because of work/careers

Can you identify with this?  I sure can!

TAKING SELF-INVENTORY

A helpful tool I came across while conducting my fact-finding expedition for this article and upcoming workshop I am giving on Work/Life balance is Mallika Chopra’s “My Balance Wheel”.  Taking an honest look at yourself, rate each area using the scale provided.  This will give you an idea on which areas of your life need improving the balance in your life.

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12 TIPS ON RESTORING BALANCE

While some stressors will come and go, others will stay.  However, the more balance we can find in our lives, these stressors will be more manageable. Try applying these tips to your life to achieve that equilibrium you seek.

  1. Have a designated tech-free time each day or each week. In this day and age, it is harder than ever to be tech-free or screen-free. Work this in during times you already notice yourself stepping away from your laptop or cell phone.   I will admit it.  This one has been challenging for me.
  2. Be organized, and learn time management skills. Really?  Yes!  I would always get so annoyed at my husband for telling me to write things down in our shared planner.  However, after missing an event and being late to my youngest daughter’s well baby check-up, I realize that this simple task is so important.  One of my busiest times of my life was when I was seeking a second degree, running my cleaning service, and getting my oldest daughter through high school.  Without proper time management, I could have never done it.  Important note: Include commuting times when you jot down your appointments and child’s activities.
  3. Exercise on a regular basis.  I used to struggle with this one.  I would buy workout videos, and do really good for awhile.  But, then I would just get bored.  When two of my closest friends got into powerlifting, I thought I would try more than just 5 lb. hand weights.  This didn’t last long either.  I realized I wasn’t as passionate about it as they were.  Then, two years ago, I stepped out of my comfort zone and attended a group fitness class by myself. This was a pretty big deal because in the past I would “need” someone to go with me.  This class was like no other I have ever taken!  Oula is really “dance mania for the soul” like their advertising claims!  I am a regular Oulakin both at my gym (I kept that membership after I decided not to give powerlifting any more thought) and at the new Oula Studio here in Bozeman.  I love it so much that I plan on taking the instructor training when my baby gets a little older. I finally found the exercise routine that I am passionate about, and that’s a wonderful feeling!
  4. Nurture relationships, and commit to plans with friends and family.  All relationships need work to stay healthy and alive.  Pencil in time with your family and friends if need be.  Most importantly, stick to those plans.  And, do keep your phone out of sight unless you need it.  When my oldest daughter pointed out I wasn’t fully engaged with her because of my cell and tablet use, I was heartbroken.  No Facebook post or silly text from your sister is more important than the people right in front of you, especially your children.
  5. Learn to say “NO!” Funny this should follow committing to plans.  You are allowed to say no to projects and events you have no interest in or are too busy to do.  True friends will understand your needs.  Just don’t say “NO!” so often you are no longer considered to be asked.  When I served on a social life committee at a local church, I didn’t voice my “NO!”, and subsequently got roped into doing the dishes after social hour. Every. Single. Time.  I got so frustrated that eventually I just quit the committee.   Had I voiced my frustration and felt like I could say “NO!” things would have probably turned out different.  Hindsight is 20/20.
  6. Don’t waste your vacation time! Life happens. Sometimes you do need to use vacation time when sick time is used up or for emergencies.  The idea here is to actually take a vacation or at least a stay-cation.  And definitely don’t be stuck on your phone checking work emails the whole time you are on your get-away.
  7. Get sleep.  This is way easier said than done.  Having an infant, myself, I know that I need to get rest and sleep whenever I can find it–even if it means going to bed at 8 p.m. when she does.  Many experts also say to stop hitting snooze and just get up because 9 more minutes of sleep between alarms won’t do much, or you may not even really sleep at all.   I say do what YOU need to do to get in a few extra winks here and there.  Life is so much easier to navigate if you feel well rested.
  8. Create a study area.  This quiet area with no distractions is helpful for the student and non-student alike.  Use it to further your education, as reading nook, or as a homework station for your children.  I should add that the terms “quiet area” and “distractions” are relative to each individual.  I like music when I study and am more distracted without a little background noise.
  9. Seek out companies with flexible schedule.  When I interviewed for my AmeriCorps VISTA position, I also interviewed my host site about the flexibility of the schedule.  Flexibility is important to me as an entrepreneur.  Since my host site is an entrepreneurial launchpad, my supervisor had no issue with my needs.
  10. Break your phone habit!  You know what I am talking about.  I do it too.   There are other ways to kill your boredom.  Also, remember, the phone is there for your convenience not the caller’s .
  11. Pursue a hobby. Hobbies?  I have several: Zentangle, journaling, gardening, collecting Pez dispensers.  Hobbies like refinishing furniture or embroidery could become income streams for the budding entrepreneur.
  12. Self care, self care, self care!  This one should be a no brainer.  Unfortunately, a lot of us give so much of ourselves to work, family, and friends that we often overlook our own needs.   From drinking enough water and eating healthy foods to a much needed soak in a hot bubble bath,  get in all self care you can!

Try these pointers to be a happier, balanced version of YOU!

 

6 Blog Topic Generators You Can’t Live With Out!

 

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Got an idea for your next blog post? Me neither.  Writer’s block can be a blogger’s worst nightmare.  Fortunately, inspiration can strike at any moment.  I had one such serendipitous moment recently while reading an online article about entrepreneurship.  When I had scrolled all the way through the article, I saw a link to a related article about cures for writer’s block.  Following the link, I skimmed through the article and read a brief mention about blog topic/title generators.  Aha!  This could help me, I thought.  With the help of Google, I found several such generators.    Using the key word phrase “Working Moms”, I tested out 6 popular blog topic/title generators to see what they would give me.  Surprisingly enough, I have found the spark I needed for my next blog post. Yay! And  with any luck, you too will find just what you need to kill writer’s block.

  1. Content Idea Generator  With this easy to use blog topic/title generator, all you need to do is type in your keywords and voila! “13 Ways Working Moms Can Make You Rich!”  Content Idea Generator uses humorous thought bubbles to comment about the title choice and offers the user tips and extra resources to fill out a content plan.  I will without a doubt be using this generator when I need it.
  2. Hubspot Blog Topic Generator This handy dandy blog topic/title generator gives a week’s worth of topics/titles after you type in your keywords.  Using the same “working moms” keyword phrase, this generator gave me these 5 topics: Ultimate Cheat Sheet on Working Moms, History of Working Moms, 7 Things About Working Moms Your Boss Wants to Know, The Worst Advice We’ve Ever Heard About Working Mothers, and 14 Common Misconceptions About Working Moms.  Given the variety with the week’s worth of titles, this generator is worth checking out.
  3. Blog Title Idea Generator This generator automatically generates a blog title idea, or you can click on the “Need More Inspiration” prompt to generate another title: “[Number] Essential Tips for [Keyword]”.  Quick and painless.
  4. Content Ideator The Content Ideator gives you a plethora of ideas depending on the relevance of your topic keywords.  A few title/topic ideas that came up for my keywords “working moms” include: Book Reviews for Working Mom and Their Kids, How Working Moms Find Emergency Child Care, ” and “Working Moms Site of the Week”.  With an upgrade to the “pro” version for $79/month, you can get relevant sats on the keyword content on LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, and Google Plus as well as being able to see how your competition stacks up.  Want to save your results or get more results?  Pay for the pro version.  This service could be useful for a blogger who has monetized his or her blog or wants to take the blog to the next level.
  5. Link Bait Generator I’ll admit it.  I fall prey to link bait  (also called click bait) quite often.  Seriously?! Who doesn’t.   However, as with fishing, the  best bait will actually lead you to an awesome catch or in this case an awesome article.  This generator was by far my favorite because it gives you 25, yes 25!, title possibilities.  Unfortunately, the titles are the same each time you input different keywords  just in a different order on the page.  Be that as it may, I found some worthy titles play with for my next post.  One of my favorites from this generator:  8 Unbelievable things you never knew about Working Moms.

It’s Me!

On my journey as an entrepreneur, I have come to a crossroads.  I am unsure where to go from here and what my next project will be.  How do I market myself after only marketing services and products for the past 13 years? Recently, the idea of “personal branding” has come into my radar.

How do I go about creating my personal brand?  Essentially, without knowing, I have already created one.   When I Google myself, I see that I have a book on Amazon, made Honor Roll when I attended college for my post-bacc degree, am part of The Team at the Blackstone LaunchPad at Montana State, use a public Facebook account as well as personal one, and  have a LinkedIn profile.  Whew! The question is how do I manage my personal brand so that others see what I WANT them to see?

Keep Your Personal and Professional Lives Separate

It is important to make sure that I keep my professional life separate from my personal life when it comes to social media.  For example, I recently created a public page Facebook to promote my book and upcoming projects to a wider audience.  This way I can keep my family photos and political rants and preferences private. Now, how do I want to project my professional image to the world?  Authenticity is key! Am I an expert at anything?  How do I stand out against the other Jill McIntyre’s of the world? When I understand how I want to be perceived, I can then take measures to be more strategic about my personal brand.

Be Consistent

Keep consistent between social media platforms.  Does your name match up between your accounts?  I had realized that I used my middle initial for my book but had not for my LinkedIn profile.  This was easy enough to change.  Plus, now it is consistent with my name on this website too!

Get A Personal Website

Build your personal brand by creating a website using your moniker as the domain name.  Apparently, “Jill McIntyre” is a fairly common name and jillmcintyre.com was taken.  However, when I searched “Jill S McIntyre.com” that domain name was available.  Just by adding the middle initial, I am able to be differentiated from the other Jill McIntyre’s.

Be Deliberate with What You Share

Every blog post, every tweet, every update, every photo reflects your personal brand.  When you discover how you wish to be perceived, your posts and tweets should reflect that.  You can now be more strategic with your personal brand.

Associate with Other Strong Brands

It is who you know.  Remember the 3 C’s: college, colleagues, and company.  There are opportunities there to cross-promote one another so scour those LinkedIn and Facebook contacts.

Reinvent! Reinvent! Reinvent!

Revaluate your personal brand from time to time to make sure it still works for you. Strong brands have a clear story.  If you have a variety of passions, it is essential to have a clear story and unified theme.   There are books and online resources to help you define your theme and brand story. Your personal brand, just like YOU, should  be fluid and ever evolving.

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