Book review: An Edited Life by Anna Newton

Why we should all be reading this book

I’ve been meaning to review this book for sometime and as always, work and life have gotten in the way! I was initially introduced to the author via the lifestyle editor, Erica Davies. She hosted an event with the author that I attended.

Anna Newton
Anna Newton is a life-style You Tuber

The book’s sub-title “Simple Steps to Streamlining Your Life, at Work and at Home’ really does explain the book. There is no stone that is left un-turned, not only does it feel like a conversation with a close friend but it actually gives you the tools to actually follow what she is saying.

Broken down into chapters with clear headings and illustrations, you can dip in and dip out of this book when the need arises. I found the diary, budgeting and planning your working day sections really helpful. I’ve implemented a few of the suggestions and they have made a massive difference. Anna uses her own working life as the example to which you can apply to your schedule. She, like me, works from home and is self-employed. She needs to plan, remain motivated but also accepts that from time to time, she’s going to want to read a book all morning instead of answering emails. Her honesty is refreshing and reassuring at the sametime.

I am defiantly applying some of her rules to help me become more disciplined with this blog. I feel that in my working life, I do plan and schedule for work projects but with this blog, it gets a little…hazy. She’s also a big fan of bullet journals, something I’m considering but one baby step at a time.

An Edited Life by Anna Newton
This book needs to be read!

Lastly, the book is truly about the process of editing – editing your day, your home and your work life – choosing the elements that make you happy, keep you less stressed (there is a big chapter on financial planning) and also removing any of the ‘stuff’ that doesn’t add to your situation.

I found it really helpful and I can often be found heading back into it on certain subjects. I’ve subscribed to Anna’s You Tube channel and love her honest approach. She’s somebody that we can all learn from.

Inside pages of An Edited Life by Anna Newton
The inside pages are beautifully designed and clear to read

You can read Anna’s blog here: www.theannaedit.com . Subscribe to her You Tube or follow her Instagram: @theannaedit

An Edited Life by Anna Newton is published by Quadrille £16.99

Other recommended reads:

*This post is my opinion only. I bought the book as part of an event I attended to hear the author speak. *

How I work: Louise Webster

Louise Webster Founder of Beyond the School Run

When I started this blog, I was keen to connect with other parents who were passionate about finding solutions to the parent/work juggle. I was thrilled when I became a follower of Beyond the School Run which is ran by Louise Webster. Working in publishing, I make it my business to be aware of books in an area that I am particularly passionate about and I’m looking forward to sharing a review of her book, A New Way for Mothers in another post. I was delighted when Louise agreed to be part of my How I Work series because she is so determined to help those who are looking to work but have children too – something you may notice I am a strong advocate of too!

  1. Name of your business?

Beyond the School Run (this is a Limited Company)

2. What do you do?

I am the Founder of the Beyondtheschoolrun.com platform, and author of the book,A New Way of Mothers.

I run the platform during school hours and in the windows available during school holidays.  My role involves, sharing content daily with our community, we have a weekly schedule ranging from Monday motivation, to wise words Wednesday and Fashion Friday.  I communicate via our FB pages, Twitter and instagram.  I also focus on preparing our fortnightly newsletter and making new connections, speaking with people in this space and potentially finding ways to work together.  The Beyondtheschoolrun website features links to various connections and opportunities and I am regularly engaging with those connections or identifying new ones.  I work on the PR of my book ‘A New Way for Mothers’ which often involves speaking events or working with the media. I am currently working on a program to support the workplace.  

3. Where do you work?

I have a small office at the top of our house. I love it.  It only has my work in there and items that inspire me. As soon as I walk in I feel like I could be anywhere.

4. How did you get to this point in your career?

Before children I worked in PR and ran a PR agency that I set up.  About a year after having my first child, I sold the company and took a year out- at which point we moved out of the London and had my daughter (my second child).  It was during this time that I started to see for myself and others the barriers for parents in working alongside caring and that’s when I started to develop Beyondtheschoolrun. 

 I have been growing it in the hours available to me – which is what Beyondtheschoolrun is all about. I have a deep passion for the collective potential of parents when utilising their skills in the hours available to them.

5. The best part of my job is…?

Louise Webster at No.10 Downing Street
Her job has taken Louise to No.10 Downing Street

I love hearing from people who have somehow benefitted or been inspired by my work in some way – whether that’s connecting with a flexible job role via the platform, an opportunity or reading my book.  Beyondtheschoolrun has also taken me to places I would never have imagined, No.10 Downing Street and has connected me with dreams I never imagined possible such as writing my book ‘A New Way for Mothers.’

A new Way for Mothers book
Louise has written a book about the parenting/work juggle

6. The worst part of my job is…?

Working out how to make the business model work.  I am working in this new way that I explore in my book ‘A New Way for Mothers’ and also growing a business in a new way. 

7. Favourite time-saving trick?

It may be contrary but taking time to exercise – the 30 minutes you put in can give you so much back.  I find so much clarity after I have exercised, whether that’s yoga, running etc.  It is not so much about the time that you have but what you achieve within that time and finding your flow is really important.  I write about this in more detail in my book.

8. Best advice for anyone working 9 to 3?

Be kind to yourself.   It’s not a race we’ll all get to where we dream of just focus on your steps, don’t compare and try to collaborate. 

9. Favourite social media accounts/blogs?

Maria Forleo from her Facebook page
Louise is a fan of Maria Forleo

Arianna Huffington, Marie Forleo, Oprah Winfrey amongst others.

You can buy Louise’s book here. Do follow her on Instagram: @beyondtheschoolrun

How to manage the school holidays…

…and still have a good time!

I don’t know about you but the forthcoming school holidays always fill me with joy and dread. Joy that I get to spend time with my gorgeous girl but dread because I still need to find time to work.

Mum and Daughter

Full disclosure – I take a financial hit during the holidays. I’m not truly working – instead I reduce my hours massively and take on new projects that start in September. I posted about how I save before the holidays in this post and I’m currently beavering away to try and set up work from September.

I do this because I never want to feel torn between choosing work over time with my daughter. I am really LUCKY that I can do this because of my freelance lifestyle. My work tends to be on a project by project basis. I’m not forgetting this and we all know the benefits AND the negatives of a freelance gig but it is a choice I am currently choosing to make.

So during the holidays I do:

Working on the move
  1. Check my email – everyday and I answer anything pressing from my phone.
  2. Work for an hour every morning and in the evening.
  3. Check in with clients – wish them a happy summer or just remind them that I’m ready to start in September
  4. Network through meeting with ex-colleagues for a drink or coffee when I’m child-free.
  5. Plan a day every fortnight when I am child-free and can binge on work stuff/admin
  6. Revise any plans/goals for the Autumn
  7. Assess my financials – where am I in invoicing/earnings.

I can thoroughly recommend that you have a look at the article here by Skills you need website.

Falling into the freelance trap

…and how to avoid it

I recently read an article in the Telegraph by Maria Lally that was warning mothers to not ‘fall into the freelance trap.” It was published in March 2019 but I do feel that it is still very relevant.

In the article, Lally suggests that by being a stay at home working mum, you actually double your workload – you end up doing the household chores AND your work. Your days are longer and you get the joy of seeing your partner skip out the door each morning knowing that the pick ups, PE kit, swimming lesson taxi driving role is being handled by you.

It is all true – it really is. In the last few years, I have definitely ended up doing a lot more round the house, and I wrote about this in this blog post about ’emotional labour’. Lally only rescues herself from this role by taking an office job which takes her out of the house. Her partner works from home one day a week to help out.

Me and Maggie at work

This is the bit that sticks with me – why should you have to change your job or get an office job to be able to work and live happily? Working from home is no picnic even if I know that I’m envied by my office job friends. There is the inevitable distractions and I do a lot of the housework but I have spent a few years now honing my day structure and this has really helped me.

Here is what I do:

  • From the hours of 9am to 3pm, I prioritise work. It is that simple.
  • Before 9am, I set up the household chores – washing machine is put on, dishwasher emptied , clothes put away, beds made.
  • I take natural work breaks – hang the washing out, or prep the dinner but nothing that takes longer than a work break in the office.
  • After 3pm, I down tools, go pick up my daughter and then parenting stuff.
  • After bedtime, I may get my laptop out and run through a few emails but otherwise, I’ll wait until 9am the next day.

How I am able to do this?

  • I am really honest about my working hours to my clients
  • My husband is aware of the work that I do every day – we have a shared calendar so he can see what I have lined up
  • There is nothing like a deadline to focus you! I work smarter and harder on my chosen limited hours than I was when I worked longer hours in an office
  • I try and not take on too many clients. Does this mean that I am losing potential income? Absolutely but it is a sacrifice that I am willing to make at this stage in my life.
  • It is a juggle and I’m always re-addressing it but so far, this seems to be the best way of working for me.

Suggested reading:

Ms I Can Do It All blog post

Mothers beware of the freelance trap

Working when on the move

How I get work done whilst completing chores…

As I work from home, I tend to be the person that also does the errands – take the car for its service, take back library books and take the dog to the vet. It does help that I do these things during my working hours – it is always easier to get chores done without a reluctant 8 year old following me. But I, of course still need to get my work done too! I live in the middle of nowhere so just popping to the shops for milk is a round trip of 40 minutes – and I do not usually have a lunch break! So here is what I do:

  1. Preferably the day before, I would have written a list of the chores that need doing. I’m not perfect and this doesn’t always happen!

2. Being freelance means that I do choose my hours and I am an advocate of leaving the house once a week to work somewhere else so it makes sense to make chore day, the time that I also work off site!

3. I try and place the chores in groups – by location. This means that I can work out the best way to get everything done. I check library times, Vet opening times and also if there are nearby cafes that I can work in. It may seem a bit over the top, but by planning in advance, it really does save me time!

Notebook and tea

4. Check that my laptop and phone has enough battery. I carry a mobile charger (check that is fully charged too) that I can use as well.

5. If I can, I like to do an hour of work before I leave the house – running through emails and downloading files that I may need. I save everything else on a memory stick that I travel with.

6. I then head out! Making sure that I have my notebook with me too. I’ll use my phone to answer any urgent emails that come through between chores but I will wait until I find somewhere with free wifi before I use my laptop.

Dropbox logo
I rely on Dropbox when I am on the move.

7. The hours can go by quite quickly but if I can get 60-90minutes on the laptop whilst also completing my chores then I am a happy person!

If Wifi isn’t an option, I’ll either work offline or connect my laptop to my phone – this has saved me many times! I’m also a fan of Dropbox for retrieving files (really handy when I’m just using my phone) and iBooks for reading pdfs.

Essential equipment:

  1. Laptop and phone
  2. Battery charger
  3. Noise cancelling headphones
  4. Dropbox app