Here’s to new #beginnings!

The reason behind my online absence? Little Bethany 💙 She became my number one priority way before she came into this world. She is also the reason why I’m not getting any sleep. Not even a wink.

Working on my projects and taking care of Beth is a new challenge I’m diving into, head first. I cut back on some work for the first few weeks but am slowly getting back on track. It’s not like no one ever went through this before but it hits you right in the face when you’re actually experiencing it.

One thing you’re in dire need of if you’re a working mum is flexibility. I must admit that being my own boss does help. I can get work done when she sleeps, be it at four in the morning (I’d be awake anyway) or 11 at night. And perhaps also try to squeeze an hour of sleep in between. 

As an avid planner myself, I am now aware of how naive I was to think I had everything under control. Once a newborn was in my arms, I realised that planning was not going to be on the agenda any time soon. 

My clients were extremely understanding. I couldn’t have asked for a better lot ❤ I made sure to meet up with everyone before I popped. And together, we planned and scheduled most of the work. I wanted to make sure I had everything covered. And, I did. 

When my water broke, the first thing I did (after taking a shower & calling my better half), was to sit back down and tie loose ends. An hour and a half later I was in the labour ward. 

I quite like privacy and am not one to shower my social media with pictures of myself and my family. In fact, most people didn’t even realise I was pregnant. Not until after I posted a picture showing Beth’s tiny feet.

I’m also aware of the irony given my line of work. But being or becoming an ‘influencer’ has never been on my agenda. I have always been a behind-the-scenes kind of person.

Having said that, I will be sharing just a few pictures in the coming days on my IG account 👇

Follow me on Instagram

It took me forever to write this blogpost! The minute she closed her eyes, I sprinted to my laptop. Inspiration hit and I wanted to pour it all down. It feels good to be back 💙 

Amanda x

 

 

#goingfreelance #1yearlater

@byamandalia

It has been a year. The 16th of December marks the day I left my 9 to 5 job (it was more like 10am to 6pm) to start afresh. How time flies! And honestly, looking back, I wonder why I didn’t take the leap before that.

It was a year of firsts. The first time I had my own clients, the first time I gave out training sessions on digital marketing, the first time I truly challenged myself to reach new heights. Forget about the New Year‘s resolution. If you want a change in your life, do it. Don’t wait around for another year to start; that’s a waste of time. And time is something you will not get back because once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.

So, here’s a little insight. Working as a freelancer is not all glitter and might I add, is not for everyone. It’s not a shortcut like some people seem to think. It’s more of a long and bumpy ride. After all, you’re starting from scratch. And, on your own. The first month being the toughest because your income will suffer. But, and that is a big BUT, I have to say that if you put your mind to it, it will get better.

It’s challenging because every day is just not the same. I see this as a plus. However, some people are scared by this; about not having a Monday to Friday routine. But that’s just it. There is no Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 routine. Because this way, you can meet up for a coffee on a Monday morning after working on a Sunday afternoon.  It’s more about learning to find your pace. And, more importantly, managing your time wisely.

Until next year!

Amanda x

 

 

#amsterdam #overtheedge

It was love at first sight. I got lost in the beauty of the place. And there were a couple of times I  got lost – literally (I have no sense of direction whatsoever, a couple of people can vouch for that).

During our stay, it was mostly cloudy and raining. Some might have even grimaced and frowned at the less-than-ideal-holiday weather. But honestly, it was a breath of fresh air. A break from the hot and humid weather August was kind enough to bestow on us back home.

What can I say about Amsterdam? The locals are nice and helpful, the food is good (albeit a bit expensive), transport is super efficient and I felt relatively safe roaming around the streets, even after dark. I’m a bit paranoid, so that’s saying something. Obviously, this heavily depends on the area. But, I give the overall Amsterdam experience two thumbs up. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. Definitely.

This blog post will be in pictures <scroll below>. I think they will sum it up quite nicely!

Amanda x

On our way! byamandalia

On our way! Essentials at hand.

Finding our way around Amsterdam. byamandalia

Finding our way around Amsterdam #firstday

When the sun comes out at Zaanse Schans. byamandalia

When the sun comes out at Zaanse Schans.

First, lunch! byamandalia

First, lunch! @ Goos

Flowermarket visit. byamandalia

Flowermarket visit.

Random tile at Zaanse Schans. byamandalia

Random tile at Zaanse Schans.

Cheese from Zaanse Schans. byamandalia

Cheese from Zaanse Schans

Lunch break at Vondelpark. byamandalia

Lunch break at Vondelpark.

Over the edge. byamandalia

Over the edge.

A waffle with stroop. byamandalia

A waffle with stroop.

You cannot not drink beer! byamandalia

You cannot not drink beer!

Rainy day in Amsterdam. byamandalia

Rainy day in Amsterdam.

New best friend at Zaanse Schans. byamandalia

New best friend at Zaanse Schans.

Beautiful Vondelapark. byamandalia

Beautiful Vondelapark.

Mouthwatering almond cake. byamandalia

Mouthwatering almond cake.

Coffee at Anne Frank's House. byamandalia

Coffee at Anne Frank’s House.

Breakfast at Greenwoods Keizersgracht. byamandalia

Breakfast at Greenwoods Keizersgracht.

A must have Starbucks picture. byamandalia

A must have Starbucks picture.

#freelancebenefits

#6

I was meant to post this a couple of days ago BUT I needed to rearrange my schedule to accommodate my new clients *happy dance*. And yesterday was such a beautiful day, I simply couldn’t help myself. I decided to spend the afternoon sipping an ice cold spritz in the sun. Bliss!

Last week, I briefly skimmed through some of the pros and cons of working freelance vis-a-vis having a full time salary job. After giving it some thought, I decided to follow up  on my previous post, and this time, I will go into the possible benefits of hiring a freelancer.

Perhaps the notion of freelance in Malta is still relatively ‘new’.  At least from my experience, it seems that not everyone has fully grasped the concept yet. And to be fair, not every job can be outsourced so I get why the majority of vacancies I came across last week were mostly for full timers only. And, I also understand that businesses might prefer building their own team rather than working with ‘outsiders’. I get that. But, I am biased in this regard and happen to think that an ‘outsider’ can in fact turn out to be someone trustworthy with whom you can partner up eventually. So without further ado, here are some of the benefits that come to mind:

www.amandalia.com (1)

For starters, by affordability, I do not mean that freelancers are cheap. By all means, they should always know their worth. But given that a freelancer is her/his own boss, there are things like, for example, equipment, work space, social security, leave, sick days etc. that an employer need not worry about. As long as both parties agree on the service, budget and time frame, they’re both set!

It may also come in handy having someone to outsource your work to on a need-basis. The flow of work is not always the same; you can have a quiet summer and a super busy winter. So, I think that having someone to turn to in times of need is always a plus! And when having worked with multiple businesses over the years, freelancers are exposed to a diversity of ideas and learn work on their own initiative.  So given the fact that they are used to working solo, there is no need for constant monitoring,  training or anything of the sort.

I also think that one of the main advantages is flexibility. Freelancers do not (normally) have any set working/office hours. For instance, I do not stop working simply because it’s Sunday, a public holiday or after hours. There are no after hours! I usually go about working during the weekend like any other day. A time schedule (and actually sticking to it) is all there is to it! With the exception of yesterday, that is! But as long as the job gets done, there’s no harm in having a couple of hours to yourself and regroup, no?

Amanda x

amandalia.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#freelancevssalaryjob

#5.png

A year ago I would have probably laughed at the idea of working freelance. I was a workaholic, loved my job, loved the team and the clients. I had started off as a part time video editor during my University years and 6 years later, I was managing office operations and marketing. But change has a way of catching you off guard and due to company changes I decided to part ways. So there you have it, change. Which is something not necessarily scary. You have to look at it from a different perspective and take it as an opportunity; which I did with arms wide open.

I figured that I am resourceful. It’s not going to be easy, I thought to myself. It was much easier for me to get a full time job. In fact, I already had a couple of job offers until the end of my notice. And another 2 job offers just last month. Crazy for not accepting, you say? Maybe.

But I have this tendency to walk past the shortcut and up the hill. After 7 years working for the same company (something I wouldn’t change because I learned a lot from that experience), this was my break. A chance to fulfil my true potential because I always knew I was worth more, that I can do more.

There’s always that one nagging thought though, evilly conjuring images of failure. But honestly, isn’t that one of the definitions of life? Failure, after all, is “the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.” Or so Henry Ford said. But I think he was right.

So, to get to the point. Freelance Work vs. a Salary Job. What are the pros and cons? For each person, it’s a different story and this is not about what is wrong or right because what might work for you might not be the best way forward for me. But, based on my experience so far, there are 3 main areas which I thought worth covering in this post:

  • Financial Security & Stability

Although you cannot really foresee the future; one minute you have a full time job and the next you don’t, it is safe to say that a salary job is more stable and financially secure than freelancing.

In general, full time salaried employees get a monthly paycheck as long as they get the job done. They (should) get paid for their off days, are allowed sick days and some even enjoy health benefits.

Freelancing on the other hand is quite unstable. One month you are overflowing with work and the next, you can kiss your wage goodbye. But, on the bright side, if you eventually have multiple clients, if you lose one, you can gain another.

  • Motivation & Job Satisfaction

One of the hardest things is to stay motivated (and focused). In reality, you simply need to have your goals clearly stated and an action plan to achieve them. If you love what you do, then there you have it! If you put your heart and soul into what you’re doing, there is a high chance that others will see it too. And if that doesn’t work, an empty pocket will probably be motivation enough!

As for salaried employees, I think that motivation is linked to job satisfaction which in turn goes hand in hand with appreciation. Regardless of how much you love your job, if you feel unappreciated, job satisfaction and motivation go out the window.

So if you’re doing a good job and your employer acknowledges that with a promotion, a bonus or sometimes even just a “thanks-for-all-the-effort-and-dedication-you-put-into-your-work”, your motivation level shoots up. If not, there is probably something not quite right. Either you’re doing something wrong or else, you’re doing everything right and more, and they just don’t give a flying hoot about it!

  • Flexibility & Control

Although you can achieve a work-life balance when working full time, freelancers have even more flexibility because they are in control of the projects they undertake. Although I’m just starting out as a freelancer, I enjoy the fact that I am able to attend conferences, set up meetings, go to seminars and lectures without having to ask for a day off because I can schedule around an agenda that I created for myself.

And this, not taking into consideration that my work space is different every week! So far: the desk, the couch, on the floor (!), in a garden , in a café (correction – several cafés), at a client’s, at the beach. Endless. The options are endless!

There is so much more to say  and I can go on forever! But I will leave you with my favourite places I go to for inspiration and sometimes to simply clear my mind from the everyday clatter. It doesn’t matter if you’re working freelance or full time; you still need to unwind 🙂

Amanda x

#boostyourconcentration

3-5

I started writing this blog post when I got an idea on how to design my service packages. So, I stopped writing to take what I thought was going to be a quick note. I ended up writing and designing the whole thing. While doing that, I remembered about my husband’s birthday coming up next week and did a quick follow up on the gift status (can’t say what I have in mind because he might actually read this). In the meantime, I had to prepare a baking order for a friend to deliver in the afternoon (baking is something I love to do on the side). Once I got that covered, I found myself staring at my laptop screen. I blinked, twice. What was it again that I was supposed to be doing? That was this morning.

Sometimes, we refer to it as multi-tasking. It’s not.  It’s stopping from doing one thing to start something else entirely without having completed your first task. So instead of getting something done, you will end up with a hundred pending things without concluding anything. This happens to me when I dump ‘the list’ and go rogue. Bad idea.

By all means, if you have an idea jot it down! But if you set out to complete a task, concentrate on getting it done. Otherwise, you will end up with a million incomplete tasks and stress yourself unnecessarily. So, I thought about it and decided that I need to do at least these 3 things to boost my concentration.

  1. Remove any distractions

This may be challenging. I work in a somewhat quiet environment (except for the occasional shout from the neighbour announcing that dinner’s ready) so that helps a lot. Try and find a spot void of visual stimulation (e.g. TV) and noise so that your full attention goes to the task at hand and only that. If necessary, put your phone away. I, for one, tend to have this bad habit of just scrolling through Facebook for minutes on end. And that is super unproductive.

     2. Do not multi-task

If what you’re doing requires your 200% concentration, do only that. Don’t check your phone for emails or other notifications. Don’t switch to another project just for the sake of having started working on it as well. Keep a scrap of paper or notebook nearby so you can jot down any ideas that might pop in your head just so you won’t forget and get back to them later.  Plan ahead – if need be prepare a to do list in the morning or even the night before and stick to those tasks, one by one.

     3. Relax & Unwind

I understand that it is sometimes hard to keep up with the fast paced life that we seem to be living. But do find time for yourself. Take breaks, go outside for a walk (or a coffee, in my case). It helps to shake work off for a while and just be. You will probably return to your work refreshed and reinvigorated!

If you need a little encouragement, I have prepared a couple of motivational quote cards for you!  Just click on the image below to get your free printables 🙂

Amanda x

motivational-cards

#yesyoucan

3

Yesterday has been an eye-opener for me. Despite it being Valentine’s Day, that was not the highlight of the day.

It has been 7 years I think since I set foot on the University campus. And as soon as I stepped inside the Faculty building a wave of nostalgia hit me and it was like I was back there again – reliving the best years of my life. Sure, the building has undergone refurbishment and it is way nicer now. But the ‘feel’ of the place is still the same.

The Faculty of Media and Knowledge Sciences at UOM held a talk by British Photographer and Motivational Speaker Trevor Griffiths. In all honesty, I am always a bit sceptic about seminars and talks  because of my extremely short attention span. My mind has this tendency to wander on its own, unlocking new thoughts and ideas along the way. But this time, I was captivated. Trevor Griffiths managed to keep his audience on their toes (at least, I was) as we relived his past experiences, successes and defeats.

To lightly rephrase the gist of his concluding speech, if you put your mind to the task and if you truly want to succeed – don’t say you can’t. Because you can and you will.

So, as I left the building, I kept mulling over those last couple of words which I believe are going to become my tune for a long time to come. To say that no one ever said that to me would be an outright lie; I have seen nothing but constant support from my family and closest friends.

But still, hearing those words from someone who knows is inspiring. My advice, if you come by an opportunity such as this one don’t let it slip through your fingers. It will only take an hour or two of your time but will make up for so much more.

Amanda x

#gettingorganised

2

The above are two words which have become my mantra over the last couple of months. With all the ideas, checklists and workload, that mantra has been super useful to say the least.

Scheduling and planning are key. Without them, I can freely say that with the zillions of thoughts buzzing through my head, chaos would have probably taken over up there. So I decided to take advantage of what my dad has always preached about Lean and six sigma (a whole topic for another time) and actually make use of the knowledge.

I started with my workspace. I know – what has that got to do with scheduling? It actually does. A lot. At least it makes sense to me. Having a comfy, clatter-free space helps me relax and focus. You’ll be spending quite a while there, so might as well get yourself comfortable! To be honest, I sometimes need a change in scenery. So I either lounge on the sofa in the living room while working or at a local café or even by the sea on a beautiful  sunny day. The change in air might actually give you a new perspective; a brilliant idea, even!

Speaking of which, I usually tend to get those brilliant ideas in the middle of the night or when I’m about to sleep; and as a result end up with an array of multi coloured sticky notes and little torn papers. So, I “invested” in a list book (I’m a stationery lover, so that was just the perfect excuse).  Although I have actually downloaded list apps, I’m kind of a traditionalist when it comes to writing and taking notes – I prefer pen and paper to apps.

get-organised

But having said that, I still tend to use OneNote and Bamboo Spark. OneNote has got to be my favourite notebook so far; with colour coded tabs and the ability to add pages in each tab. Bamboo Spark on the other hand is great for jotting down ideas and sketching. And the best part is having the option to save your notes within the cloud either in handwriting or text (or both).

So that took care of the notes scattered everywhere on my desk! And in lieu of today’s subject, I have designed 2 free To Do List printables for you; maybe it will help a little with getting organised!

Amanda x