My Top Little Luxury for the perfect home office

I love that word – luxuries, it’s something everyone needs in their life. Not in a fancy car, huge house, safe full of diamonds kinda way, just a little pat on the back for your efforts, a little luxury to keep up the motivation to work and reap the rewards.

I’m slowly falling back into love with my home after putting it on the back burner while divorce stuff was being sorted, and now my home office (by that I mean desk in the corner of my dining room!) is a settled feature and a place I can type away with blissful abandonment, but I’ve also been looking at making it a more functional area.

Yesterday was spent having a sort through of all the paperwork and receipts which were building up, I work much better in a tidy environment and a tidy desk, for me, is key to a productive day. my littlest boy is in preschool an extra day so I’m getting my work buzz on big style.

I just need to make my workspace as productive as I possibly can so get the most out of those kindred work hours.

“So what about these luxuries Ali!”I hear you say.

So, say you’re typing away at home, a diary to your right (I’ve gone for a Stick To Stigu again this year BTW, love it) glass of water to your left. An inspirational quote at eye level, amazing smelling reed diffuser to stir those feel-good senses. It all seems pretty simple, right?

Yet there’s but one little thing missing; the coffee break. I don’t have the luxury (see there’s that word again) to pop out to a barista for the perfectly brewed latte, but if there’s one thing in life which I refuse to compromise on, it’s coffee.

So my top little luxury, the top of my list for all the above, the one which completes the perfect home office has to be a small yet funky coffee machine.  The type which will guarantee me the perfectly roasted caffeine hit at the touch of a button, my Dolce Gusto is one of the more a compact coffee machine with a minimalist design, which won’t take up too much room.

small luxuries for a home office

I simply don’t have the time to faff around grinding beans, measuring out, waiting for machines to heat up or pots to brew. I’d much rather walk 10 paces to the kitchen, pop in a pod, fill up the tank, press a button then get back to my desk and crack on. (And the great thing about a coffee machine is you can buy pods to suit whatever coffee mood you’re in, now the braces are off, I’m not tied to lattes.)

I draw the line at a water cooler though, I know they’re a pinnacle meeting point of most offices, it’s just I can’t argue that one,

what with having a tap and all that, which pretty much does the same thing!


This is a collaborative post 



The Reality of Being a Single Parent Working From Home.

I’ve always had dreams. At primary school, I thought I’d be famous as my best friend and I made up our own shows and performed for the school, I dabbled with the idea of being in a successful rock band but my bad attitude and teenage laziness meant I only ever learnt 4 songs on the bass guitar. It sort of came back in college when I strived to be the next Annie Leibovitz, but I was never really that good at channelling one particular talent, like many teens I was easily distracted by friends and boyfriends.

Yet that all changed when I became a mum, something inside kick-started an ambitious streak, suddenly I needed to prove to myself and my son that I could be a good mum and have a career. It was never about not enjoying just being a mum, far from it. It was the making of me and gave me a determination and focus which had always been lacking.

I also knew that I needed to provide for my family as much as my husband, that the days of him going out to work while I stayed home and kept the house clean and kids entertained was just not possible if I wanted to have holidays and a home big enough for a few more kids. It needed to be a team effort.

For a while it worked perfectly for a while, I finished my degree and found the perfect job which allowed me to be around for my boys and a stepping stone to a career I’d been aiming for, at that point, as a working mum I did have it all. My husband and I tag parented, and for a while, it worked

Then things changed; meant my marriage crumbled beyond repair and now I was stepping into a whole new world as a working single mum, my optimism became my drive telling me I could still do this.

While on the outside I probably appear to have it all. I can work from the comfort of my desk at home, I have the freedom to drop off and pick up my youngest son from preschool and change my working hours as and when needed. The reality is very different.

That ambition I mentioned, it’s very much still there. More than ever in fact. Now I’m doing this all on my own, it’s all down to me to earn enough to make sure they don’t miss out simply because things didn’t work out between their dad and I.

It’s not so easy when you don’t have a husband coming home at the end of the day to take over with the kids while I complete work deadlines. I can’t get up early in the morning to go for a run with the dog while the kids are still asleep, freeing up precious work time later when they’re all at school. Life as a single working mum is all about juggling and careful time management. Just as it was when I was married, but now I don’t have a backup partner.

The reality of being a single parent, working from home is –

about using your free time constructively to catch up on work and housework while still maintaining a personal life.

It’s about grabbing every free minute of the day and night to reply to emails, or making phone calls. working while cooking, walking the dog, standing in a super maket queue and walking up to pre school.

It’s about working late and getting up early. Working while watching TV just so you know what the rest of Facebook is talking about so you feel you’re in touch with reality.

It’s all about balance; giving your children undivided attention while resisting work and not fretting about getting it done. Something which I often get wrong.

But on the flip side, I don’t have a husband coming home in a bad mood after a bad day at work, I don’t have the worry of being home at certain times to cook dinner. If the boys and I are out for the day in the holidays there’s not rush to get back. I don’t have someone moaning that I’m working in the evening,  unaware that I don’t have the luxury of just stepping out the door to go to work in the morning without making sure the kids are sorted for the day and coming home to relax. That stress is gone.

Plus I get every other weekend, while my kids are with their dad, to catch up on work if need be.

And while I often wonder if my life might be easier if I went out to work every day, at set times and not bring my work home with me, I wouldn’t be following my ambition and I wouldn’t have the flexibility like I do now.

Plus, my kid’s won’t be living at home forever.

So while I perfect the single, work from home, mum lifestyle, it is only temporary.

And I wouldn’t change it for a thing.

The reality of being a single parent, working from home is about It's about grabbing every free minute of the day & night to meet deadlines



Did I Tell You About The Time I studied With Digital Mums?

Digital Mums? What’s she banging on about now? Read on and I’ll tell you about the time I retrained as a social media manager with a course especially aimed as mums looking to study around family and work.

It all began one late summer evening……….

So there I was wondering how I was going to take my social media skills to a new level step on yet another switch on the career path. Despite spending most of my thirties studying for an Open University degree and finding a dream job I got itchy fingers and something didn’t feel right. A new baby meant when I went returned to work I’d be juggling jobs, childcare and mum guilt, I just couldn’t see it all panning out right and beside, blogging was fast becoming an even better dream job which I could do it around naps and in the evening.

Along with blogging came a little knowledge about social media, it goes part the parcel and the more I blogged the more I learnt, but it’s a fast paced world and I had a thirst for knowledge. I needed to find out more, really get my head around it then along came Digital Mums with a cup full of that knowledge and some. Blogging’s great but it’s not a steady income, retraining as a social media manager would fill that steady income gap I needed, and as a single mum to three kids, I needed that steady income more than ever.

I signed up, took the interview and the rest is history.

if you're looking to make your business more environmentally friendly then why not consider running a paperless office? Starting with my own small

‘Cause history is what’s already happened, right? 6 intense months of history in the making, studying as a social media manager on the Digital mums community manager course, my history in the making.

I’m not going to lie to you, it was tough.

Not only did I have personal stuff bobbing along in the back ground. I was now chief in charge of EVERYTHING at home. By day I was mum, doing mum stuff, house stuff, keeping fit stuff so I didn’t get ill, (getting ill just isn’t an option) and by night I was Ali the Digital Mum student and Mum in a Nutshell the blogger.

For 6 months there’s been a long stream of burning the candles at both ends and panic rants to my mum.

Along with the reading, (all on-line luckily, I have a dodgy knack of putting anything paper in the log burner, homework included) I had a weekly Google Hangout with my Social Sisters tutor group, definitely the highlight of the course. Online learning can be pretty lonely when it’s just you and a laptop, but with those ladies it all felt real and when the going got tough, we spurned each other on.

Then came the campaign, and that was when life got exciting.

Suddenly it all became real and everything I learnt put into practice as I grabbed social media by the horns and rode that bad boy through a full on round of social media-ing the pants out of east Devon. I tweeted, grammed and Facebooked within an inch of social media’s life. My phone glued to my hand as I tried to kick my targets into touch. It was hardcore live learning and I loved it!

Sure, there were moments when I was spinning so many plates, I contemplated whether I’d bitten off more that I could chew, but this was a social media course aimed at mums, created my mums who knew exactly what their students (who were mums) would be juggling.

The struggle was real but knowing I was riding it out with women all in the same boat as me took the edge off. I wasn’t the only one working, studying and mum-ing at the same time and when you see everyone else managing it you realise it’s not such a struggle after all, it’s simply a case of being box clever with your time.

And I did it….still here to tell the tale of ‘the time I became a Digital Mum’ ready to set out on an exciting career managing social media from the comfort of my kitchen table/sofa/bed/

The commute doesn’t get more perfect and my co workers a dream.

I managed to juggle family life and working while studying to become a social media manager completing a Digital Mum course

If you’re a small business looking for a social media manager please do get in touch or pop over to my website for more information (click here)


How To Run A Paperless Business

I’ve got my work head in again. Since shutting up shop on my small business a couple of weeks ago it’s given me the head space to reassess the most effective and productive way of working from home as a social media manager.

It’s all too easy for the lines between family and work life to blur and trying to juggle 2 businesses and home life in the past resulted in me working every spare moment. Even car journeys (as a passenger I should add) I’d been catching up on emails.

The hardest part, though, was having defined areas to work. I’d created a multi use workspace but I didn’t always have the time to go there and paper work wold end up in piles around the house waiting to be filed.

Not a great idea with an inquisitive toddler roaming free!

I also try to live a relatively eco-friendly lifestyle and  with most of my work being carried out online, it seemed the sensible option that I tried to create a business which operated entirely online. Paperless was the way forward, my recycling bin was testament to that, not to mention the wasted hours shredding important documents.

So for anyone looking to do the same there are several companies out there which can give you a head start,. For example, I use online accounts, at the moment it’s Wave but have used Quick Books for my now closed business as well as trialling Xero (click on the link to read my review if you’re interested). Both are pretty good and make invoicing a doddle as it’s all done through email and you can see clearly who’s not paid.  It also makes wrapping up end of year accounts easier.

But for bigger businesses who rely on reporting  and data management, E-Workbooks from firms such  as IDBS take the paperless office one step further. Combine that with online calendars such as Teamup makes sure everyone is clear on who’s doing what and when. This proved invaluable back in my days working in an office and can be applied to busy home life too.

So a little food for thought for anyone working as a freelancer, small or large business owner.

The clear message here is that paperless can be done,

And who wants to waste time sitting at the shredder anyway?

f you're looking to make your business more environmentally friendly then why not consider running a paperless office? Starting with my own small


Seriously Loving This Pirongs Planner!

I’m a planner, always have been, will always need to be. I’ve tried winging it in the past, not too long ago as it happens, I had so many plates to juggle my planning skills took a back burner but pretty soon those spinning plates came crashing down.

So I’m back to being a planner, Ali the Planner. I like that, it has a nice ring to it.

And why am i telling you this? Well, i think YOU should be a planner too. Come join me in a perfectly organised, stress free world where we write everything down, where we never miss an appointment, parents evening or birthday. You’ll love it, I promise!

To get us started we need a planner to be a planner. (funny that) so I’m going to tell you about my latest find, are you sitting comfortably?

You’re going to love this;

And for the pessimists amongst you;

shhhhhh you’re negative mind

because this planner’s different. There will be NOTHING, not a thing, de nada, you won’t like, because this planner is unique to you.

Not just a planner, a Unique Planner

I’m talking about personalised Unique Planners  where YOU design it  exactly how you’d like it. You choose the  cover, add in photos, quotes and information pages right down to the colour of the pen holder. I pondered over these small details way longer than I should’ve, but the choice is so good and I needed something which I wouldn’t mind looking at for a whole year, I had to be sure it was what I wanted. (And I’m annoyingly indecisive, just ask my husband.)

I'm a planner, a bloggerm freelancer and mum of 3 I have to be, I love this customisable one from Unique planners .

After finally settling on something girlie and pretty, something my life as mum of 3 boys lacks. I chose a lay out which I could see my week divided in family, blogging and social media. I tried keeping personal and professional separate with 2 different planners before and that resulted in some an epic parenting fails.

I'm a planner, a blogger, freelancer and mum of 3 I have

Like A Kid In A Sweet Shop

Once those decisions had been made, it was on to playing around with the back pages, with so many different designs to choose from I chose keep my work accounts in one place too. Along with some christmas present lists, blog goals and must-do bucket list. You just never know when you realise all those new years goals have been long forgotten. (my new years goals is to be more organised and stop forgetting things, funnily enough!)

Oh, oh, oh, wait! Did I tell you that you can choose the start date too?

Anyone looking to organise their life at a the start of a new academic year can kick-start their planner in September! You might even want to consider a teacher’s planner as a gift to fast track to the ranks of alpha mum /dad on the PTFA.

Bribery did I hear you say?

Not at all, it’s simply supporting your child’s teacher in a mission to easing the stress of a challenging career, if it means your child gets picked for every sporting event, then so be it. (While we’re on the subject a big photograph of your child might help jog their memory of who gifted them this amazing planner.)

I'm a planner, a blogger freelancer and mum of 3 I have

One Last Thing, Or Maybe Two..

So all that was left ,once I’d added a photo which would make me smile every time I saw what a mother of a week I had coming up, was to choose the colour of a ribbon, the wire binding, elastic holder and pen holder.

Decisions, decisions.