Thursday 29 January 2015

Too many balls to juggle - what to let go?


As the snow has set in to my part if the world this week, and I'm almost half way through the 245 days, it's become clear that I need some fresh impetus to be able to move forward.

The home office is more organised and is set up to take the next steps in weatherproofing, but the sealing needed on the roof and the painting on the inside have completely stalled when the weather is like this. With a few major other jobs to do around the house to get that up to scratch, I've struggled to make the time to get anything else done in the road to opening my estate agency.

I listened to a radio interview on BBC Radio Five Live a couple of weeks ago with the author Emma Healey. She spoke about dedicating your energy to one thing at one time. She said that if you are writing a book then put losing weight or any other long-term goals on the back burner as writing a book takes enough energy and concentration of its own. At the moment I've possibly got too many balls in the air, including-

Writing five different blogs
Writing a self-help book for home buyers
Attending a college class in photography
An Open University course on creative writing (with a view to writing a novel)
Mystery shopping, where I aim to conduct 10 shops per week
Expanding my Amazon and eBay selling accounts to generate income

As well as trying to set up the business, work part-time and live as part of a family of four with two children aged 8 and under.

I'm probably biting off more than I can chew and I need to look at everything I'm doing and decide what is important.

Watch this space.

Friday 23 January 2015

A regular schedule is starting to emerge


I'm now falling into a regular schedule in my new role at work. It's my second week in my new role, with my new hours and I've mainly got two days in the week off, starting this week. I've divided this up to one day earning money and the other for setting up the business.

This will start this weekend or next week with finishing off the garage conversion into my home office. It's probably the best first place to start movng towards having the business up and running. When it's decorated, made to look like an office and weather proof, I'll have a space to be able to sit away from the hustle and bustle of family life for periods of time to concentrate on getting stuff done. Plus insure I'll find more things in the garage to sell on eBay, to bring in a little more money.

Yesterday was a money-making day with mystery shopping at the following-

2 supermarkets
A specialist retailer
A toy retailer
A museum
An entertainment provider
A bookmakers

In all, the fees earnt were more than I would have earnt in a similar day at work, and it took me less time, got me some products and was more interesting.

Today has been a day for getting things done around the house. I've cleaned windows, painted a ceiling, touched up other paint, changed a photo frame and sorted out the porch. I want the house robe fully up to scratch with all maintenance issues before I start the business, as I won't have spare time to devote to this then.

I've also listed several items for sale in eBay and Amazon today - unused video games and books I've already read.

Time to look in the mystery shop websites to see if there are any available ships for my days off next week!

Monday 19 January 2015

Weighing myself daily sheds a while new light upon my diet


Weighing myself daily sheds a while new light upon my diet.

Since I started my new diet (for the avoidance of doubt, I'm just watching what I'm eating) I've weighed myself daily just before cleaning my teeth. I've found the results fascinating. Having never fine this before, it's a whole new world to me. My weight fluctuates by a few pounds and in starting to put together an idea of how this works, and what I need to do to keep the pounds off.

Take yesterday, for example. It was a day off work and as such I moved around a lot less. Usually on a work day I'll walk approximately 10,000 to 12,000 steps as I am on my feet in different areas of my work all day long. I probably struggled to reach 1,000 steps yesterday. So, even though I ate less, I've our on 2 pounds. 2 pounds on! That halves my loss of 4 pounds from the whole of last week.

Conclusion -walk more, every day but also I need to look at eating much less on lazy days around the house. Logic dictates that I need fewer calories when I'm burning fewer calories.

I'm back to work today and last Thursday, Friday and Saturday I think I found the formula. My normal lunch, plenty of fluids and walking everywhere - and I lost 2 pounds a day for each of these days. I now have the next three days at work before I need to think about how I conduct myself on Thursday. I've got 5 mystery shops lined up so far (only one of them is good based) and I will have to think about things like where I park to ensure that I'm walking at least a reasonable distance to keep the calories burning!

Friday 9 January 2015

245 days is worrying a little as the new venture starts in earnest


I'm not sleeping the last bit in the night/morning very well. I have no trouble getting to sleep - I inherit this habit from my father. It's the last hour or two, usually from about four or five in the morning where I start thinking about what I'm doing and what I'm about to get myself into. I think that it's the mixed focus that's getting me in a spin at the moment. I've got three things in trying to focus on a they are all a drain on time and effort-

Making money to replace the list income from reducing my hours at work.

Getting the house in shape so I don't have to spend time and money in it when the business starts.

Actually setting up the business that I think will be the thing that keeps me gainfully employed (or self-employed) until I retire.

The extra money will come from the mystery shopping I do and from buying books and games and selling them on Amazon along with sales of my two existing self-published books plus any new ones I write.

There are several jobs that need to be completed around the house, most of it painting. I want the house in a condition where we have it just how we want it, as I won't have the time to spend on it when I'm setting up and starting the business. One of the most important of these is the home office. Getting this ready will give me the space to so what I need, without getting in the way of everyone else (and without them getting in my way as well.)

Which brings me to the reason for the whole blog, my change in working hours and everything I'm doing at the moment - the new estate agency business.

I've documented before in this blog what I feel needs to be done, so it's now a case of just doing it.

I'll keep you updated with the actual process of each step, as well as updated in how I feel about things.

Wednesday 7 January 2015

Developments in my photography style


My photography course at the local college started again this week after the Christmas break. It was his to get back to it, and a chance to review and assess the photos I'd taken over the Christmas period.

Here are a few of them and my notes in how I've progressed over the course of the lessons-

The first two are taken with my new lens and are of a Buddha ornament into back garden. I have used the lens to create two depth of view shots of the same subject. One where the Buddha is in focus and the other where the branches of the plant in front are in focus and the Buddha a blurred into the background.

The second pair are a set of lights taken from two slightly different angles. I was at a museum and it was very dark inside the museum, so I wanted to capture something from a light source. I saw this strip of lights at the top of a set of stairs and thought their light against the darkness of the museum was quite a contrast.

The last photo I think is indicative of my developing style in portraiture. I captured my subject in light and dark, in the same museum. I was talking to one of the guys in the class and he showed me the work of Steve McCurry.

I was taken by how he used the dark as much as the light to create his portraits. This is my attempt.

Sunday 4 January 2015

A year of experiences to go alongside opening my business


Last year started with all my thoughts on my impending 40th birthday. It was in early February and the birthday celebrations were in Rome with my wife and kids, Mum and Dad and met up with my cousin and his Roman girlfriend while we were there.

Thinking about the fact that I was nearly 40 got me thinking about all the things I wanted to experience, both in that year and before I leave this earth. So I did the following things-

Trained for and ran the Great North Run half marathon and raised nearly £500 for 2 charities close to my heart. In the process I got fit again, lost over a stone in weight and felt more confident about myself and the world.

Entered the audition process for The Apprentice television programme. I got from the original 22,000 that entered down to the last 200 or so, but it wasn't to be. The audition process was thrilling and the atmosphere was truly electric, but I didn't get through to the final round of selection.

Entered into the audition process for Mastermind the television programme, and got to the round just before TV filming. This involved going through two rounds of testing and interviews. Again, I found the process in itself very rewarding.

Self-published my own book on Amazon. It's the book listed at the bottom of the page here, What Traditional Estate Agents Don't Tell You. It's a self-help guide for consumers to choose the right estate agent and how to help themselves and their agent in how to sell their home. I followed this up with a second self-published book for estate agents, which was an analysis of the estate agency For Sale board.

Plans for this year include-

Run the Great North Run again
Take an online fiction writing course
Self publish another help book
Self publish a fiction book
Re-enter Mastermind
Enter The Chase television programme
Set up Massive Online Open Course (MOOC)

What Traditional Estate Agents don't tell you: A guide to getting the most out of selling your home by Steven Thompson