Free Time With Friends – I Should Do This More Often!

Yesterday, I made certain to schedule some free time for myself so that I could spend the day with a friend and her two little ones. I have spent so many hours these last few months trying to get my business up and running, that I did not even have time for myself because I was determined to set it off on a great start. Now I know better. Yesterday was fun, filled with laughter and happiness It was a beautiful day and having a photography skill as a hobby, we made sure to memorialize the day with photos and videos. I rarely ever schedule free time for myself, even though I know it is important, and I don't do it as often as I should or need to. [embedyt][/embedyt] 'Simplifying your life can create extra time in your day,' says life trainer Stephen Yates. 'Doing everything at once actually makes you less efficient and tasks can take longer,' he says. Multi-tasking can also overload your brain, leading to stress, forgetfulness and a weak immune system. There is no need to live like this - with a bit of re-organisation, you can free up enough time to relax, do the things you really want to do. You'll feel less stressed and pressurized which will help boost your mental and physical well being.

1 Learn to delegate

Ask family, friends and colleagues to do things for you. You may find it hard at first, but you'll not only have more time, you'll also feel less resentful of others leaving everything to you.

2 Just say no

Cut out activities that drain energy and time. Ditch regular get-togethers that have become little more than a habit and don't waste energy on people who take without giving anything back. "Saying no is the most effective method of gaining time and energy,' says life coach Suzy Greaves.

3 File your life away

Instigate a clear desk policy. Aim to handle each piece of paper just once: this means dealing with bills, forms and the like immediately then filing them away. If you don't already have a simple and effective filing system, set one up as soon as possible.

4 A place for everything

Avoid those frustrating searches for misplaced essentials by creating special places for keeping things like glasses and keys, which always seem to disappear just when you need them fast.

5 Buy in bulk

A lot of birthdays this month? Consider buying all the cards (and stamps) you'll need in one go. You'll have a better choice and avoid last-minute panics.

6 Manage your email

Check your in-box regularly but only answer emails at specific times. Then you can choose which emails to prioritise rather than dealing with each one as it arrives.

7 Cut out cold callers

You don't have to keep answering the phone to double-glazing salespeople or other unwanted sales calls - just register online at the Telephone Preference Service. But remember to contact organisations whose calls aren't unwelcome, such as charities and companies you do want to do business with, and give them permission to call you.

8 Go for internet banking

Register for internet banking so you can check your balance, transfer money, apply for an overdraft, pay bills and make credit card payments 24 hours a day. Alternatively, most bills can be paid automatically by direct debit - it only takes minutes to set them up.

9 Shop online

You can now buy virtually anything on the internet - books, toys, cosmetics, clothes, groceries, computers, furniture, flights, tickets for concerts - all at the click of a mouse. Opt for well-known companies or those with an address and phone number in case of problems.

10 Know your numbers

Consider setting up the same chip and pin for all your accounts - but then keep it to yourself!

11 Store by the door

Keep a basket by the front door for library books, rental videos and DVDs and anything else that's been borrowed, so you're more likely to return them on time.

12 Create a reserve

Always running out of petrol, golf balls, light bulbs? 'Start to create a reserve,' says Suzy Greaves. 'For example don't wait until the petrol tank is hovering on empty, fill it up when it hits half way, buy in bulk and see how it feels to have more than enough.'

13 Shut down the computer

'Watch out for computer addiction,' says life trainer Stephen Yates. Set a time for stopping projects, for example installing that latest bit of software your children sent from afar, bidding on e-bay or planning the family holiday until 2am and then not sleeping. Say at 5pm, "I will stop and start again tomorrow".'

14 It takes five

'Spend five minutes every day doing something you enjoy,' says GP Dr Rob Hicks. 'Play the piano, listen to some music, whatever takes your fancy. Then gradually extend it to 10, 15 minutes and so on. Before you know it you will have made the time to do what you want to do and you'll be more relaxed, so more productive in other areas of your life.'

15 Breathe deeply

As soon as you get up take 10 deep breaths, then make your 'to do' list. 'Breathing deeply brings oxygen to your brain which clarifies your thoughts and energises your minds helping you to plan your day more efficiently,' says naturopath Jackie Young.

16 Join the club

Avoid going to the surgery to pick up your repeat prescription then queuing at the pharmacist while it's being made up. Join the Boot's Health Club and they'll do it for you and have it waiting for you at your local branch. Visit for more information.

17 Box your pills

Never quite sure if you've taken the right pill at the right time? Get yourself a pillbox at your local pharmacy and worry no more. Most come with marked boxes for each day of the week with four adjustable compartments labelled breakfast, lunch, dinner, bedtime.

18 Use NHS Direct

Worried about a recent diagnosis or an unusual symptom? A quick call to NHS Direct (tel: 0845 4647) will set your mind at rest and could save you a visit to the pharmacist or surgery.

19 Be a pay pal

Sign up to and you can buy online without having to spend time searching for your credit card number and financial information every time you make a purchase.

20 Down-size your tasks

'Do you really need to wash the car every week? Does your garden have to be 100 per cent perfect?' asks Gladeana McMahon, co director of the Centre for Stress Management. 'Look at your weekly tasks and see if you can trim them back, then spend the extra time gained doing something healthy like going for a walk.'

Increase Your Traffic with Improved Image Names

We all know the old cliché, “A Picture Speaks a Thousand Words.”  From the oldest cave paintings and Egyptian hieroglyphs to today’s social media shares, we are consistently finding new ways to use images to communicate, tell stories, and make sales. When it comes to e-commerce, companies like Amazon owe a large part of their success to imagery.  To hold the customer’s attention, most product descriptions need to be short and to the point.  This means you want the photos to speak volumes. Imagine if you will, you’ve gone through the effort to create the right product, buy the ideal domain name, paid for marketing ads, and launched the perfect website.  So, why isn’t traffic to your site what you want it to be? You need to make sure your buyers can find you, or more importantly, your product.  One way to do this is through Image Optimization or, Image SEO. Choose a Descriptive Filename By now in your journey through online marketing you’ve probably heard the word “Keyword” from a vast number of sources.  According to most experts in the SEO field, keywords appear to be the end all be all of SEO.  Primary Keywords, secondary Keywords…Google “Keyword” and the list of sources of info will probably go on forever. With Image SEO the first location to use your primary keyword will be the image filename. This means if your image is a women’s top in a specific abstract design, the file name shouldn’t be DSC12345.jpg. Instead, you want to rename it: “ann-monique-womens-top-abstract-v.” This gives the search engine spiders something to grab onto and take back to their part of the web. Start a file name with a lowercase letter or a number and remove all spaces.  For multiple words, join them with a dash. Make the Image File as Small as Reasonably Possible Loading times can be crucial for websites to maintain traffic. The faster the site, the easier to visit it. Images can have a huge impact on this.  Standard resolution for a screen image is 72ppi and most web pages won’t need an image to be more than 1000-1200 pixels wide. To put that into perspective, a typical smart phone camera today will give you an image at 72 ppi but the file will often be over 3000 pixels wide (or more). When you are using a website builder online, you may have the advantage of the builder site doing some downsizing work for you.  If you aren’t sure yours will, or if you expect to have a lot of images to process, getting a program like Adobe Photoshop would be a good investment. There are also a few online image editors that work quite well and often don’t cost a thing or have a minimal membership fee with added benefits.  Two of my favourites are PicMonkey and Pixl. Alt Text-aka-Alt Tags When you get to the point you are ready to upload your image, you will often be given an option to add “alt text” or “alt tags.” This is another good place to use keyword placement. In one of Google’s articles about image publishing guidelines, they include a section on creating great alt text. Google places a high value on alt texts.  In the article, they give the following reasons to consider: Alt Text provides Google with useful information about the subject matter of the image. They use this information to help determine the best image to return for a user’s search. Many people, like users with visual impairments, may not be able to see images on web pages. Descriptive alt text provides these users with important information. To JPEG or PNG? In most e-commerce catalogue pages, the product is shown in a specific place on the page that doesn’t overlap any other image or text.  JPEG images are most commonly used for this.  I’m adding this quick highlight in case a need arises for you to remove the background of a photo. JPEG images include a visible background showing behind any curves or irregular lines. If you’ve taken the trouble to remove the background of the photo of a product but, save it as a JPEG (JPG), you will still be stuck with a background colour when you re-open it. PNGs allow you to make the background transparent so the image can be used on top of any colour, texture or other text.  This can be helpful if you decide to show multiple products in one virtual shot but don’t have the means to retake the photo. So Now You are Ready As history shows us, images will continue to be a primary tool of our culture and the world around us. Now you have the right knowledge to take your products to the next step.  Taking the time to Incorporate these into your regular marketing routine will assist your product’s ability to be seen in your customer’s searches and get you the traffic you desire. So, get your images together and make them work even harder for you.

Finding Your Passion During Major Catastrophes

[embedyt][/embedyt] I become so frustrated listening to people after a major catastrophe telling some that people are more important than the pets who were abandoned during a hurricane or a flood. All lives are precious folks. No matter if you have 2 legs or four. Not everyone has the same feelings about this. I want to help people and pets. I have a passion for all living creatures. Does that make me feel like a jerk? Not a chance. Just makes me wonder what type of person would criticize anyone for helping in any way possible. We all have our own strengths that have guided us through our journeys, but that doesn't make one person better than another. We find our passions along the way. No one should be criticized for how they are helping another living being. It is better to help than to do nothing at all.  My passion has always been pets as far back as I can remember. As I grew older, I developed a love for helping people. That is why I went thru clinical health programs. Did I make a huge difference in those lives that were in my path on my journey? Maybe. But even working in this field never replaced the love that I have for animals.  Most of us who use social media or watch the news, have watched stories of how Floridians came together to help stranded manatees that had washed up in the mud when the surf water disappeared during the low tides caused by Hurricane Irma Or how folks in Texas were cruising around in canoes scooping up abandoned pets and people who could not get out of Hurricane Harvey's path in time. How about the people who came in from out of state to help ranchers move their horses and cattle to higher ground?  When I had mentioned that I had donated money to an animal rescue and local shelters in Texas and in Florida in lieu of the Red Cross, I was criticized. I mean why would someone criticize for that? Why would anyone care who I donated to? I mean I was asked how I had helped. So I answered and was criticized. I guess I can give blood when they take me off of their hot list for living overseas for over half my life.  The Red Cross is an okay organization, but researching them over the last few years they are just not one that I want to donate to anymore. Especially when you read that they are tax exempt, yet pay salaries that are just gets a bit muddy from there. It seems to me that the Red Cross was being critical of the people who were trying to help their neighbors BEFORE their organization arrived in the flood zones of Texas and Louisiana by bringing meals and supplies to those who had lost their homes or who had no power. They swooped in after the storm and told folks WHO WERE HELPING THEIR NEIGHBORS, to go home and had the "we'll take over from here" attitude.  Well!! WHERE WERE THEY WHEN THESE FOLKS NEEDED FRESH WATER AND FOOD DURING THE STORM? Of course this is not a first hand account. I was not there. But I do know folks who were in those areas who witnessed this for themselves, and they have nothing to gain by exaggerating what they saw.  I also noticed that living in a country that has been so divided by politics, bigotry, and race wars, that people came together to help each other and animals. If there is ever a time when Americans unite, it is during a time of crisis. We have all seen it time and time again after 9/11 and the various catastrophes in recent memory. This is the part that I love when I think of the U.S. We really pull out all the stops when our neighbors are in need. And if we see an abandoned pet in the midst of it all, well, we will help them too.  Being passionate about anything, is not something you learn in a textbook. Being passionate comes from the deepest parts of our hearts and souls. Seeing the photos of people stranded and pets abandoned is heart wrenching and can make even the most solid people wince. It's what we do about it when we see those images that make us all decent human beings. 

For The First Time This Season – I Have Turned On The Heat

It is COLD out there you guys!! I was sitting here this morning working at my desk and I was shivering!! Between Hurricane Irma and the beginning of Autumn, I'm guessing that the earth is cooling down a bit. I have read some crazy opinions and posts about this Hurricane. Some say that President Trump is controlling the weather. I'm not a earth scientist, but I'm thinking he may have better things to do than to stir up a hurricane, disrupting millions of lives, disrupting commerce, and the ability of people to be able to get to work so that taxable income can be generated. But I also think that if he is responsible for the bad, he must be responsible for the good too. So let's assign blame where it is due. I blame, mother nature. Between the earth warming and cooling and causing all sorts of problems, I don't think it would have anything to do with who is in office. Just my opinion guys. Try not to pounce. If if you speak of me, make certain you tell them that I am crazy. [embedyt][/embedyt]