Why should you hire a consultant for your business?

Why is it that when we make the jump to be self-employed, we immediately assume the titles of marketing, HR, strategy, finance, as well as implementing the service / product delivery and expect ourselves to be expert at all of these things otherwise we are clearly failures?

This is the same story I hear from clients time and time again and I call it a line of BS. Since I began my business I've hired consultants in the form of business coaches, mentors, web developers, accountants, virtual assistants, and so many more. Sometimes it's required a leap of faith (because oh my goodness, shouldn't I know this already?!) and sometimes it's been quite a simple choice, but I've always learned a lot and seen huge benefits in my business, and they haven't always been what I thought they might be.

Sometimes these people can be called coaches, sometimes they're called consultants. I'm doing a course at the moment where the teacher says there's no difference between the two, they're all the same thing as the dictionary definition of a consultant is: "engaged in the business of giving expert advice to people working in a specific field".

Have you ever considered hiring a consultant for your business? I know that when I invest in my business in this way, it's an investment in me and I know my clients feel the same way, but there's more to it than that, so I've shared four reasons why I see working 1:1 with an expert is beneficial to your business.

1. They help you grow your business quickly

Of course, the main reason you hire an expert is to help you grow your business. You want to grow steadily as a business, you have goals (however unreachable they may feel at times!) The expert will not do the work for you, but they will offer you the expertise and wisdom you need to implement. With my clients, I ensure that I make time in my calendar every week to implement the advice my coach gives me so that I can actually see my business growing right through from setting goals, understanding who I want to target, through to actually finding those clients and booking them. I know that when I work with my clients it's the same way. Just look at Fairclough Studios, a husband and wife photography duo from north west England who shared their results of working with me:

"We have 100% got more bookings as a result of working with Maddy. We were getting bookings but rarely our target client and at a much lower rate. We have now increased our prices, so we are earning more from fewer bookings which is ideal and this year we were booked out by our target clients. We are earning approximately 30% more now as a result."

2. They help you stay accountable to what works

It's incredibly powerful to have someone to stay accountable to when you're running your own business. Heavens know I've gone off on plenty of tangents only to come back to what I know works. Working together with an expert really gives a sense of purpose and motivation to do the work. I love checking in with fellow entrepreneurs but there can be a sense of wanting to put up a front to let everyone know you're doing ok, which is simply impossible to do with someone you're paying to speak to. By working 1:1 with a consultant, you know that you're going to get more bang for your buck when you stay accountable to what you intend to do that week. When clients work with me on my VIP program, we meet every 2-3 weeks, but they send me weekly updates with goals they've met and goals they plan to meet.

3. They support you

One of the biggest qualities you get working with someone on a 1:1 basis is that you get support, and it's extremely important to me that I offer this to all my VIP clients. I am available for questions through the time we work together. You don't have to do this on your own, anymore! I aim to motivate and encourage my clients, just as I am motivated and encouraged by my own coach to do the work I feel passionate about. Working on your own, it can be lonely, and whilst your partner/significant other/WhatsApp group can cheer you on, they don't know your business like an expert does!

4. They help you get a clear head and provide clarity

An expert will be able to see things you just can't see around your business, the way you work and the way you promote yourself. I particularly focus on creating and developing a marketing and search engine optimisation strategy with my clients which can be so fun because it actually goes to show you how you can have fun with these supposedly dry topics! You need an expert in your life to say "Yes, that's how you do it and here's how you can do it even better." You don't want to spend hours doing this on your own when you could be spending that time with your loved ones.

"It’s gone beyond a purely “give me the information and I’ll do the work” relationship. It can be like that with other courses and experts. We have a lot of trust in you. We aren’t insecure about admitting when something isn’t working, we know we can work together a solution together. The value of that relationship is worth more than anythingIf we didn’t hire you, we’d still be flopping around, with no idea what we were doing, lacking any structure." Fairclough Studios

Did you identify with this? If you're feeling ready to step up your game as we head into 2019 and develop a marketing and SEO strategy with me, come and check out my VIP marketing program. Through a series of six calls we grow your business together through marketing and SEO. It's currently on special offer to celebrate the holidays at £2200 rather than the usual £2400. Book a discovery call here to see if we're a good fit.

I'll be increasing the prices for 2019 so you best get in quickly! NOTE: You'll benefit the most from this program if you're not a newbie but rather if you have been in business for a while and you're ready to take that step up and invest in your business growth. Together we'll take your bookings to the next level (and have fun with it).This is your chance to see amazing results like these clients did.  The sky is the limit, let's do this!

"We are the most successful we’ve ever been thanks to working with Maddy. We’ve attracted the most ideal clients ever." Fairclough Studios

“She is awesome! Signing up to Maddy isn’t and never was a "quick fix" but rather a process of guidance. It's changed the way I think and behave, and I'll be forever grateful.” Christine McNally Photography

"I love the way she delivers above and beyond what she promises. I particularly love her passion and dedication to each project, her enthusiasm and thoughtfulness around the specific marketing needs of my business. Every session with Maddy has brought value and in every direction!" Brighton Lace

"Maddy helped us to make our business shine, literally, translating to a huge increase in bookings in less than a month!" Tredudwell Manor

What I learned from not blogging for two months as an SEO expert

It's quite ironic that I wrote a blog post about pushing my comfort zones in the summer and then I didn't blog for over two and a half months. When I did, I wrote a blog post last week where I was inspired to draw similarities between dating and SEO (yes, really) because you can't expect to get lucky on a first date if you want a long lasting relationship - you can read that here.*

Today I want to talk to you about what happened with my SEO rankings when I stopped blogging.

The reasons why blogging is good for business are vast, and I've even written a blog post with fifty two reasons (I originally wanted it to be ninety-nine reasons so I could make a pop culture reference)

So here's what happened. Bearing in mind I kept up with all other marketing activities, still launched two rounds of my SEO course Let's Get You Found i.e. directing traffic to my site.

Three major things happened:

  1. My traffic plummeted. I had stopped giving people much reason to visit my website and therefore felt disappointed when they weren't engaging with what I had to sell.
  2. My enquiries dropped. This could be down to the fact that I now have a Facebook group where people can ask questions and learn from me right there, but also I think it's because I wasn't giving them a reason to visit my site because I wasn't blogging. Whenever I blog I get messages which warms up my audience and then leads to enquiries.
  3. My keyword rankings went down the toilet. I've enjoyed being page one for my search terms for a little while now and I must admit I got cocky. Be ye not so silly. I am no longer on page one for many of my keyword phrases and it's going to take a while to get back there. Just because you've carved out a niche for yourself doesn't mean you get to stay at the top! Many competitors have emerged since I started this business, plus, of course, the competitors who were there before me, I need to keep that in mind always!

Now, I *could* have let the anxiety of this overwhelm me. However will I recover? What if people find out what a failure I am? I'm an SEO expert, I *should* be doing so much more. This was the perfect recipe for the panic attacks that used to frequent my life so much before. Indeed, the more I overthought about it, the less I wanted to blog. It's also the reason why I don't like to use the word 'should'. It adds unnecessary pressure which is unhelpful to all involved.

I'm really good at hitting myself round the head with a metaphorical sh*tty stick and this has only ever increased since becoming 100% self-employed four years. Luckily I have a great support structure in place thanks to a relaxation technique I've been learning for the past seven years and counting. With this practice, I have a personal mentor and a business mentor and a worldwide community who all remind me I'm doing just fine and to focus on solutions and gratitude. With their support I can stay accountable to what I want to achieve, which is quite a bit.

So why am I not just not hiding but actually blogging about it? Well it's because I care what happens to my site and it's SEO and I know you do too. That's why you're reading this. I see people complain about the fact that their traffic is rubbish but at the same time, they haven't made time to blog. They watch my free videos and go 'yeah but' and don't action them and still complain to me. I know this well because I've done it too! We all brush it off and push SEO to the bottom of our to-do list.

Perhaps the biggest shameful confession is this: I have over 116 unpublished blog posts and many more titles and topics to write about in my head, on various notebooks. I became stuck and didn't know where to start. I wasn't taking my own advice. My favourite excuse that I happily shared with people was "I'm a perfectionist". This is not an excuse. Perfectionism is socially acceptable procrastination.

I was so busy ignoring my own advice that my business suffered. Don't get me wrong, I've booked in some wonderful students on my Let's Get You Found course, and I've been busy streamlining my services ready into head into 2019 with a bang, but at the end of the day, I just had to start.

And now? My traffic is improving because of the blog posts, and I've already started to see changes in my rankings. I have more content for you to enjoy which makes you happy which makes me happy. I enjoy writing, and I intend to now write weekly.

So I call out to you - who's with me? Who's going to commit to blogging weekly again? We can always find reasons not to do something. It's never too late to pick up and focus on the longer-term health of your business. I know my life is made a lot easier when I just hit publish.

P.S. As much as I have mixed feelings about a motivational quote, I also think that I don't enjoy many of them because I don't identify with 95% of them. But then I've started creating a few on my Instagram this year and they seem to go down well. So I've made a few here - you may share them as you wish. If you don't, be like Thumper and don't say anything at all. #bemoreThumper

Perfectionism is socially acceptable procrastination1 

P.P.S. See what I did? I referred to other pieces of content on my website within a blog post - this is a good thing for SEO and that's just one of the tips I talk about in my SEO for beginners guide available here.

 

Why dating + SEO are similar a.k.a. why you aren’t making more sales

Putting the time in with your business is a bit like dating. You actually need to put in the work, play the long game, to get what you want out of it. Bear with as I share more about what I mean….

Every day I receive requests for guest blog posts on my site. Some more spammy than others, some wanting to buy a guest post spot. They’re just trying to get a link back to their site from mine so as to collect backlinks, clearly having ignored Google’s latest algorithm updates about relevancy and quality over quantity.

I have a template stored that I copy and paste in response to these requests which is essentially a polite but firm no together with some tips on how they might be more successful in their future link endeavours.

I rarely receive a response but when I do they fall into two categories:

1. IGNORE: They’ve ignored my advice and they’re still trying to go in for what they want out of the situation
2. YEAH BUT: They use the excuse ‘yeah but’ and try to make me feel sorry for them in some way

When I started to notice these two attitudes in link building, I started to notice it everywhere.

I see it when people complain about the follow/unfollow strategy adopted by some on Instagram
I see it when I have spammy requests on Instagram (why thank you, darling, yes I *am* a gift from God!)
I see it when people comment in my Instagram feed and try to make a sale right there

When they ignore my advice, they’re not just ignoring me, they’re ignoring everyone. They’re blindly moving on with asking for the sale because they just want the sale goddammit why aren’t you booking already….

And the second…they have a huge To Do list and getting through it is more important than getting results.

Now, I know I’ve found myself in these two camps many times before and I have to say that these two attitudes didn’t work in my favour then either.

This is pretty similar to turning down someone you’re just not interested in and actually, they’re not particularly interested in you either, they were just hoping to get lucky. It’s not a good sign of a lasting romance now, is it? I’m not saying I want to be sent chocolates by these companies, but I am saying I don’t want to feel used. I know I’m not the only one who receives these requests, and this definitely is not a “poor me I get so many emails” post, but it got me thinking.

It reeks of desperation, and no one likes a desperate date. You want to feel a bit special, right?

So what’s the solution?

Let me tell you a funny story I share with friends over wine…it’s where I say I’m going to write a book called “How to date” and it’s quite short.

1. Ask the other person questions
2. Listen to the answers
3. Ask more questions based on those answers
4. Remember the answers in future conversations

The end.

And this is how it is with getting more sales.

You have to warm up your audience…put out your work, listen to what the audience has to say about it (likes, comments, engagement, analytics) and drip feed them with metaphorical compliments, roses and chocolates and listen to them.

Everyone’s favourite topic is themselves. Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, you spend more time thinking about yourself than anyone else. Therefore, it makes sense that people want to see themselves in what you do.

Make them feel good with Instagram photos and stories that speak to them, with blog posts that are helpful, that entertain, that provide value.

People buy from people they like. It’s why social media is so good for business. People want to buy into the idea of you because they think they belong in your lives, which is great! But so many people are scared that they won’t be liked. They’re scared that they won’t be accepted. I say embrace who you are, go for it with all your soul and be unashamedly you. Listen to what your audience likes - which photos get the most likes and post more of them! Which blog posts get more eyes on them - check your Google Analytics and share those blog posts more often.

Just like with dating, you don’t highlight the bits you don’t like about yourself, you highlight the bits you do. It’s not enough to just exist and be gorgeous like you are. You need to show off, but listen, and pay attention.

Maximise your best features and you’ll make more sales. But only if you’re willing to put in for the long game. Which I’m guessing you do, otherwise you wouldn’t be running your own business, am I right?

P.S. this was a bit different, wasn’t it? But I figure, I haven’t blogged in two months, it’s about time I put my money where my mouth is.

What I learned from pushing myself out of my comfort zone

Ironically, this blog post about pushing the boundaries of my comfort zones has been sitting in my drafts for some weeks because I've been waiting to feel comfortable enough to post it. I realised last week that I have accomplished so much from the place of not waiting for that thought to appear. I'm getting to used to this increasing ability to face everything as it is and use my energy to create rather than hold back, particularly as the post about my business story told in GIFs was the one of the most popular pieces of content I've ever written! So here we are...!

What I've really come to know and deeply understand this summer is that showing your vulnerability doesn’t mean you are weak. Indeed, it can actually help so much more than putting on a front.

Oh my I have fit a lot into this summer so far! If you follow my Instagram Stories you’ll have seen me getting involved with more women in tech events, and as a result, starting my free Facebook group "So Exciting Obviously: SEO for Creative Women".

Global Gender Parity Week

First up, I went to the Global Gender Parity event at Facebook organised by London Global Shapers and it was so much fun stepping outside my normal sphere of comfort to see what I could learn here. With an inspiring lineup of powerful speakers, I was reminded of the power of women coming together, indeed humans coming together because there were men in the room (we cannot have a conversation about gender diversity with only one gender in the room) to speak about their experiences and look at solutions, together.

I particularly loved listening to the founder of a company called Lensational shares about their business of empowering women all over the world through developing their photography skills. It was a powerful reminder that photography transcends cultural barriers and languages. The problems were widely shared - discrimination at every level for any kind of difference - gender, race, ability, class, culture. With thanks to my increased education in diversity (shout out to Nova Reid) I feel a little bolder in writing about it here.

I was particularly keen to hear about the solutions offered on the panel which I think can be applied to many situations in business and indeed, life:

  • Start with low hanging fruit - what can be changed easily, who is already open to educating themselves
  • To encourage more personal sharing in the workplace so we learn from each other's experiences
  • To actively learn about other experiences than our own
  • To write and share our experiences of diversity education (hello!)
  • To spend time on self-reflection and self-evaluation
  • Asking yourself on a regular basis "What is the cost of not taking this step for my business?"

I found the event quite emotional and hugely inspiring and now that I'm back in London, I've signed up to many more event mailing lists and I've had some very interesting meetings as a result already, the fruits of which I'll be sharing in months to come.

Ask yourself on a regular basis "What is the cost of not doing this for my business?" Click to Tweet

How Martha Lane Fox made me cry happy tears

June was also the month event Martha Lane Fox (founder of lastminute.com) speak at the Women of Silicon roundabout and how a large part of her pitch with lastminute.com was convincing people about the internet. I felt like, in 2018, I still witness this every day. Convincing people that this is the way to be more visible, to get more money so we can have the life we want (because that, at the end of the day, is what we want, right?)

Running an online business can sometimes make it all feel invisible, because the business is intangible - there’s no actual place to go into work, but this is how blogging and social media has changed the visibility of online businesses significantly. I actually started blogging back in 2004, when many of my friends at that time didn’t know what it was, and so I allowed lack of confidence to halt those dreams and stopped until 2012 when I started blogging for other people and fell back in love with writing.

But that's the key difference isn’t it - allowing something or someone to stop you in your tracks, or continue on, with what you want to achieve. It’s quite a luxury being an entrepreneur, and I do not take it for granted. We are our own bosses and we can do whatever we want with our days with no boss demanding that we work through lunch.

Martha’s talk highlighted this for me, and this is when she made me cry - she pointed out that people who would never have thought of starting their own business would be able to use the internet to do so. When I started coding in 1999 at the age of 16 then this was not going to be a job, let alone a career. I took endless Careers tests and the job I have didn't exist then so of course it never came up.

I adore that the internet exists and I am not ashamed to say it. I love that it connects people across time and space in a way that would never happen. I love how vibrant and dynamic the world has become because of technology. Martha also said something else which I loved - "I’ve been able to do my job way better because of Twitter" She was so humble, passionate and completely wonderful. You can find out more about her here in this candid interview about her extraordinary journey which is a few years' old, or you can follow her on Twitter here where she campaigns fiercely for more women in tech and for a more ethical internet.

These two events have caused a ripple effect in me which then coupled with the fact that I took the first two weeks of July off to spend on an incredible wellbeing retreat in Sweden, has meant that my willingness to take it all the way has stepped up quite a few notches. I'm thrilled that this has happened but it was only because I decided to do something about it.

So with that, I'm going to leave you with this thought today, what are you going to do to step up and push out of your comfort zone? Because you never know what might happen when you do....

Maddy x

All photography by Julia Gold Photography - we did this shoot in the Swedish countryside where I felt I was winning at life by wearing this sequin jacket :o)

My Business Story to date told in GIFs

It may or may not surprise you to know (if you watch my InstaStories) that I enjoy a gin of an evening. Whilst having my gin, I have been having a few conversations over Instagram about personal business stories recently and this got me thinking that whilst my About page is all spruced up and sparkling and ta-dahhh, I haven’t actually shared my business story here on my blog. I do love reading other people’s stories, and so I thought it might be fun to share my own almost entirely in GIFs. It's important for me to inject humour as much as possible into what I do because it's a crazy world and I think kindness and humour is key.

Enjoy!

I have always loved weddings. When I was a little girl I had an alter ego. Her name? Mrs Wedding.

I went to a convent school which I kinda loved actually.

I grew up by the seaside in Devon....


....where I watched Splash a lot indoors on VHS....

I actually won certificates at school for smiling so much. Whilst others got them for doing well in geography or achievement in maths, I got awarded for being so happy.

I learned to code in HTML in 1999 when I was 16 - my dad gave me a page on his business website! The masterpiece was all about Ace Ventura....

I went to university in Bristol and studied business, and left for London and expected this.

But it was more like this...

But as a side job, I worked in rowing PR...as you do. There were quite a few perks...

Oh, and I used to organise a LOT of fancy dress parties.

I got very, very tired and needed a break. It was the recession and I lost my job.

My partner at the time loved India and encouraged me to go...so off I went. I expected this....

and instead got this...

Having space to think about life made me realise....

After six months, I came back to England to live on a houseboat, engaged.

I read about 100+ wedding blogs regularly. I entered all the competitions. I won my wedding photographer in a competition on a blog!

I started interning for the blog, and then, dear reader, I got married.

Meanwhile, because I like to keep busy (LOLZ) I led an international media campaign to save my houseboat community from extinction (side note: they're still there seven years on)

I qualified as an English teacher so I could work abroad. After travelling for 18 months, I was ready to come back to England

I started to network (read: fangirl) the shiz out of the wedding world. And things started to happen....

Also me...

The wedding blog where I won my wedding photographer (Darling Lovely Life) offered me a job where I wrote and shared my adventures.

I helped organise a networking event and met Nu Bride who hired me as an assistant researcher. She sent me to John Nassari’s masterclass at the Savoy later that year where I met Laura Babb (who I totally fangirled over and she forgave me) as well as Nicola at Propose PR.

I was then involved as a model in a photoshoot where Fiona Kelly was the photographer Fiona became my first real SEO client. Apparently it was this photo that led her to hire me....

That was 2014. In December that year I finished my last ever temping job and had my first logo and was officially madeleinenoblejones.com.

Having gathered a group of clients, I went off to Goa again for a few months but this time came back single.

Pouring all my energy into the business, I started getting speaking gigs.

(this is actually how much I talk with my arms...)

I had to change my name and therefore updated my brand, fully embracing my love of pink and became Madeleinejones.co and hired two assistants - Bex & Emily, so now we were 3.

I was asked to run 1:1 SEO reviews with attendees at Snap Photography Festival which went down a treat, it was here I was crowned the Queen of SEO by the fantastic Snap community, so much so that I was asked back again for a second year in 2017. (I gush publicly fairly often about the wonder that is Laura Babb but I'm not going to stop now!)

In the winter that year I made the brave decision not to go to Goa and stayed in England.

The gamble paid off and 2017 was the biggest year yet - we completed over 70 client projects and countless internal projects! I travelled all over the country sharing more SEO goodness, Pinterest fun and drank gin with wonderful people.

And so here we are in 2018, where I’ve published the research I had spent much of 2017 working on with (mostly) positive reception and we’ve been busy setting goals for the future. Working with VIP marketing clients to create their strategy and my SEO course Let's Get You Found continues to be wonderfully popular.

I’m mega excited about where this journey is going. 

Thanks so much for reading, and I hope you’ve enjoyed the journey thus far. I’d love to know your business story, so send me a link to yours!

Maddy xo

Huge thanks to Natalie J Weddings for this image of moi.

16 Ways To Take Care of Yourself When You Work at a Computer

We know what it’s like at this time of year, the wedding season is over and you’re sitting for hours at your desk editing / admin-ning / working away on your business. Having a sore neck, back and shoulders (and everything else in between) doesn’t need to be a given when working from your computer. I know from experience on running a full-time online business that self-care is important and gets pushed down the priority list *if only you could just send those final 10 emails already*. Phew.

I got the fabulous Team Shine together recently and we decided to share how we all take care of our minds and bodies when sitting at a computer for hours on end.

So here we are, we have 16 ways to take care of yourself when you work at a computer - there are quite a few reference links here for you to enjoy, and we promise, we're not affiliates of any kind 😀

1. Get up and stretch regularly. Do you ever go into one of those work-time-warps and look up from your computer screen 5 hours later? Setting a timer in your calendar at hourly intervals can be a really great solution, even if that mini-break only means putting the kettle on, you’re still encouraging yourself to get up from the screen for a few moments, move around and think about something else.

2. Drink plenty of water. Now, I hate to admit it but common sense might be onto something here. We are made up of 70% water after all so it’s hard to expect our brains and bodies to be in tip-top shape if their constantly dehydrated! As a reminder to drink more (water… not gin) try having a big glass of water next to your desk when you sit down to work..

3. Drink herbal tea rather than caffeinated drinks. If you know me then you’ll know that I am a coffee and tea connoisseur, however the last 6 months I’ve been switching over to mainly decaf and I tell you, it really can make a huge difference to your concentration and energy levels. Many of the women on Team Shine also try to drink less caffeine and stick to herbal tea or decaf and have noticed it makes a difference too.

4. Starting off the day with a walk. I may be the least physically active person I know, so I try to start each work day by leaving the house and going for a stomp. I listen to a Spotify playlist called "Walking Like a Badass" which may amuse you. If you like rock music, you may enjoy it too, you can follow along here. Even if you walk around the block to get yourself a sneaky (decaf) latte, then you’re still ironing out some of those kinks before you sit down and get cracking (pun intended).

5. Writing an end of day review specifically for my work day. Call it an ‘end of day review’ or just a scribble in your diary, writing a few words about what you are grateful to yourself for today can be a really supportive practice. Here at Team Shine love to emphasise what we’re grateful for and have found it to be so supportive when it’s so easy to spend all our time dwelling on the negative / sh*t you didn’t get done that day!

6. Getting a screen that's the right height for you. Do you find yourself slumping over or rounding your shoulders when you work? I had the worst posture but since I got a laptop stand to prop up my laptop it has stopped my neck being at such an awkward angle, highly recommend! I found it so supportive that now all of Team Shine have laptop stands for their work and we love using them achieve the correct height for our posture. It is affordable, portable, lightweight, easy to adjust, comes in multiple colours (including gold! If only they had a pink sequin one...

Here is a great (if not slightly grey, soz) image to show good posture at your desk:

Source: http://ergonomicsfix.com

7. Get a proper chair (your bed doesn’t count) We all know the temptation of not getting out of bed, propping up some pillows and working in your PJ’s but it really is the worst thing to do for your posture. Here on Team Shine we are big fans of this Ikea chair as it was voted within the top 9 ergonomic office chairs in April 2017 and really doesn’t break the bank.

8. Using an alternative/body-friendly desk and chair
There are so many different ways that you can work, and often it can be nice to be able to switch things around to give your body a break from one position. At Team Shine you can find us working at standing desks or sit down desks, alternating chairs, sitting on a meditation cushion and a low table or even the occasional yoga ball! It’s all about switching things up so that your muscles don’t get worked too hard in one position.

9. Your hands need looking after too. Whereas some people might be terrified of clowns and buttons (seriously, look it up, it's a thing!), I’m terrified of carpal tunnel and RSI (repetitive strain injuries). Investing in a cool ergonomic mouse, for example this one named the 'Penguin' is a perfect way to support our wrists. This is also a great website for ergonomic keyboards and other desk supports. Some of us love our gel cushion wrist rest (increase ergonomics of the keyboard), but a rolled up tea towel can work, too.

10. Not forgetting our favourite wobble cushion here
Now it may look like I’m recommending some kind of torture device to you, but I swear this is the real deal, I mean look, they come in hot pink! My spiky cushion supports my posture and eases back pain as I’m working and it’s way more comfortable then it looks, I swear. I’d really recommend you give this a try throughout your work day, even if it’s just for a few minutes here or there.

11. Listening to ambient music whilst you work.
Depending on the work, I like to listen to meditation talks or classical film soundtracks on Spotify, it really helps and is totally worth the few minutes you might ‘waste’ Googling the film trivia. I love music - it sets the tone and really makes work so much more fun, it’s quite often Rihanna or best of musicals playlist (esp Les Mis!) or lately I’ve been really into Paolo Nutini’s Pencil Full of Lead. Here’s to dance parties with yourself on one of your tea breaks, it’s only going to get your body moving, what’s not to love?!

12. Take care of your feet/knees/hips and heating! I don't have an adjustable office chair, so will often put a rolled up blanket under my feet to keep good hip/knee/foot alignment and I love to have a hot water bottle in the mix when it is even a touch chilly. It’s good to just scan your body from time to time, see which area might need a little help and make adjustments accordingly, it really is the ultimate in self-care.

13. Remember to streeeeetch. Going back to our suggestion earlier of taking short timed breaks, here is a program that you can use on your computer that will remind you to take a 1min break with stretches and movements - exercise videos included - it's very funny, and you can set the timing to suit your needs which is really helpful!

14. Go outside for a few minutes. If you’re feeling like you need a breath, just do it! Go outside or open your windows and get some fresh air in your lungs. When anxiety, stress or tension comes up this can be a really great way to just refresh. We love to do this at Team Shine, especially when it feels like you really really need to hurry and get something done, these can be the best times just to take a moment, and breath.

15. Look outside the window. I have my table positioned so that I can look out the window whenever I can, this helps to relax the eye, as by gazing into the sky you will relax the muscles that continue to strain while looking at the screen. Being a global team that loves to travel, there are always different seasons and different countries to look around at whilst we’re working!

16. Go chat with someone in real life. I find that the best breaks - along with the dancing - can be catchups with friends. Real life connections really do bring fresh air into the brain and sometimes even new ideas and solutions! It can be easy for us all to feel like there is always too much to do, but prioritising socialising with dear friends is always a good plan - just don’t drink too much or you’ll have a killer hangover and that’s never fun when you’ve got to work! (Ahem.)

I know as much as anyone how much our work days can feel like a complete time-crunch, however, it really does pay off to take a few moments throughout our day to just relax and prioritise our mental and physical health as well!

Do you have tips you'd add to the mix?

Maddy & Team Shine xo