Using Excel to track your finances – 1

Using Excel to track your finances – 1

Using excel to track your finances – 1

The beauty of Microsoft eExcel is that you can tailor it precisely to what you want it to do and your level of skill. I have a file for each financial year for Busy Lives! and a separate one for the cost of living, which believe it or not I set up in 1994!

This is the first in a series of Excel finance blog posts. It explains how to use some of the simple controls to be able to create, use and track your own finances on excel.

The second post will explain how to insert simple formula, filter information and dropdown lists. Last but not least, the third post will be how to use and show data in charts and graphs.




  1. What sheets to create & why

  2. Having a professional look

  3. Shortcut keys & Freezing panes

  4. Formatting a column to present data the same way

  5. How Busy Lives! can help & support you with this



What sheets to create for your business finances

A good rule with excel is to only have a sheet if you really need it to inform your business. Here are the main sheets I have both used myself and created my clients:

  • Annual Expenditure
  • Car Related Expenditure
  • 12-month Cash Forecast
  • Expenditure / Expenditure (Client) / Expenditure (VAT)
  • Bank Statements
  • Income Invoices / Income Invoices (Client)
  • Client Analysis
  • Thank you

If you sell items I would also suggest / incorporate:

  • Profit Margins
  • Stock Levels
  • Client Ordering




Annual Expenditure – I find this sheet useful to both track and predict how prices increase year on year, along with where my money is going.

12-month Cash Forecast – This has a formula built in which will automatically add your totals up each month showing at a glance what your currently income, expenditure and bank balance is. I find this sheet is really good where have one-off large expenditure occurring in different months such as business insurance and tax. (Blog Post 2 will show you how)

Expenditure (General)/ Expenditure (Client) – This sheet needs to be set up to reflect how your business runs. For example:

  1. Busy Lives! – the vast majority of what I buy is for just my business and I don’t earn enough to be VAT registered.
  2. The BlG Blue Hat Gardening Services – expenditure reflects a combination of tools bought for the business and materials such as plants, gravel and compost for customers. This sheet is set up so that you can see the overall expenditure, the actual business expenditure and what needs to be claimed from the customer.

Car Related – I like to keep this separate. Personal choice.

Bank Statements – It’s good to have a tracking overview to see the movement of monies in and out of your account as opposed to just the month you’re in when you view your statement.

Income Invoices / Income Invoices (Client) – Like the expenditure option above, set it up to reflect your type of business.

Client Analysis – My favourite sheet which really gives me an insight into the business. It has a variety formula in it which will populate graphs as you add to it each month.

Thank you – A useful quick reminder to ensure I follow through and say thank you to my existing clients.



Having a professional look

Adding the little things can make a world of difference to your spread sheet, here are my favourite top three:

  1. Colour each sheet tab and give each sheet a name – right click with the cursor over the word ‘Sheet1’ and you will see the option to Rename and Tab Colour. I often use the business brand colours!
  2. Have the same font and size on all your sheets – select the box between ‘1’ and ‘A’ then select the font and size you wish to use. I usually use Aerial, size 11 on excel.
  3. Make you headings and titles stand out by filling the cell with colour and making the font size slightly bigger – select the cells with your heading in and use the fill option which is directly under the size. Again, why not use your brand colours.


Shortcut keys & Freezing panes

Shortcut keys

The following keyboard shortcut keys can be used not just with excel but across all Microsoft Office Applications. These are the ones which I find really useful:

  • ‘Ctrl A’ – to select everything in the document press Ctrl A.
  • ‘Ctrl C’ – to copy – highlight what you want to copy then press these two keys.
  • ‘Ctrl V’ – to paste – select the cell or area you want to paste the copied information in, then press these two keys.
  • ‘Ctrl B’ – make wording / digits bold – highlight any text / digits you wish to make bold and then press these two keys.
  • ‘Ctrl U’ – to underline – highlight any text you wish to underline and press these two keys.
  • ‘Ctrl I’ – for Italics – highlight any text you wish change to italics and press these two keys.

Freezing Panes

Freezing panes is another expression for locking multiple rows and columns. It’s really useful to have when you have lots of entries, as it enables you to still be able to see the headings.

From the heading ribbon at the top of the excel file select ‘View’ and you will see the options for you to select to freeze multiple panes, just the top row or just the first column.

To lock multiple columns, select the column to the right of the last column you want frozen, choose the View tab, and then click Freeze Panes.

Formatting a column to present data the same way

You can set up the columns in excel for different purposes. For instance, on my Expenditure sheet I need a column to show the date, a column to show the price including the price sign, and a column to give me the option of the different allowable expense areas. This is done through formatting the cells.

Select the column you wish to format. Right click either your mouse / scroll pad and you will see the option to ‘Format Cells’ click on this. You now have a set options to select from.

My top three common ones I always use are:

Date – select the option that suits you I always like the date, month and year as digits.

Accounting – so the pound sign always automatically shows and has the same number of digits after the decimal point.

Text – where you want to insert phone numbers and have the ‘0’ showing at the beginning.


How Busy Lives! can help & support you with this

Busy Lives! was created when I left a busy career that left me time poor and unable to give sufficient priority to what really mattered to me. I now provide a wide range of business support for people in that position or are wanting to start their own business.

I am happy to help by:

  • Teaching you how to use excel for yourself at a pace and time to suit you.
  • Setting up a bespoke financial year excel template for reflecting your business needs.
  • Entering all your finance invoices, bills and receipts for you as and when you need support. (This can be on Excel, QuickBooks or Xero)
  • Analyse your data on a monthly basis and produce a summary of the key headlines in a report. This will help you recognise trends and areas within your business to help it grow in the future.
  • Setting up an easy system for your filing all your financial paperwork and receipts.


Find out more about my Small Business Support Services – Click Here

Let you help you gain precious time back. Ring Busy Lives! 07565 722 031

Drop me a message on this website, LinkedIn or Messenger on Facebook

Or Email:




Top tips for making your home look good before selling

Top tips for making your home look good before selling

Top tips for making your home look good before selling

When selling your home first impressions count. Making your home look welcoming and well-loved can make a world of different to your selling prospects. Below are some helpful hints and tips, organised by room, to help you get your house looking its best ready to be sold. Making your home appeal to the right type of buyer will help it to sell quicker and for the best price.



  1. Outside: The garden and Kerb Appeal

  2. Inside: General tips

  3. Inside: The Kitchen and Dining Room

  4. Inside: Bathroom

  5. Inside: Living Spaces

  6. Inside: Bedroom

  7. Conclusion

  8. What Busy Lives! can do to support you with this.


Outside – The Garden and Kerb Appeal


When buyers arrive to view your property the first thing, they will see is the outside of your home, so making the outside look good is important and thankfully, it is easy to do. These simple steps will ensure your outside spaces are looking their best.

  • Mow the lawn and trim any hedges, bushes and trees.
  • Put bins out of sight. If you don’t have somewhere to hide them consider building a hiding place for them or invest in a couple of large plants to hide them.
  • Make your garden secluded and secure. People like their privacy and if potential buyers have children or pets they will want any garden areas to be secure. This can be achieved by putting up appropriately sized fencing or hedges. Just remember not to make the place look like a prison or dark and dingy.

As well as improving the garden boosting your home’s kerb appeal (the outside appearance) is important, and easy, to do.

  • Clean the windows.
  • Make sure the house number is visible. There is nothing more annoying than buyers being unable to find your house for a viewing!
  • If it’s winter and getting dark early leave an outside light on or put a lamp in one of the front windows. This will make your house look homely and it will also be easier to spot by potential buyers.

Inside – General hints and tips


When selling your home ‘staging’ it, the way newly built properties are staged allows potential buyers to envision themselves living in your home.

If your house screams of you then some buyers may struggle to picture themselves living in ‘your’ home whereas a neutral looking home is easier to envision being filled with the buyers belongings.

Here are some general hints and tips to get your home ready for buyers.

  • Make sure everywhere is clean and tidy.
  • Set the table. This will appeal to buyers with families or who like to entertain guests.
  • Turn on lights. Lamps can disguise dark corners and make your home look more inviting.
  • While you may love your dog, no one wants to buy a house that smells like one. Spray air freshener before a viewing or buy some plug-in air fresheners. Some homemade baking smells coming from the kitchen always work well for me.
  • Check the temperature. If it’s warm open some windows or if it is cold turn on the heating. A house that feels too hot or cold can be very off putting for buyers.
  • Hide the clutter. Put away knick-knacks and small pieces of furniture to make rooms look bigger.
  • Repurposed rooms. If you are using your spare bedroom as a home office try and revert it back to a bedroom. Sometimes buyers can find it hard to imagine an office serving as a bedroom so showing them will avoid this potential problem.
  • If you have any damp get an expert in to find the root cause of the problem and get it resolved.
  • Let in the light. Open curtains and blinds to let the light it. Mirrors can also make rooms look bigger and reflect light.
  • Make it neutral. It is very unlikely the buyer of your home will have the same tastes as you. While you may love your technicolour wallpaper buyers may find it unattractive. Repaper walls in simple designs and repaint brightly coloured walls with neutral colours if necessary.


Inside – The Kitchen and Dining room


Known as the heart of the home the kitchen is one of the biggest deciding factors when it comes to buyers. Replacing a kitchen can a costly and you may not get your money back however these tips will help you give your kitchen a new look without breaking the bank.

  • Replace worktops if worn. This cheaper than buying a whole new kitchen and often a new worktop or counter can completely change the look of your kitchen. Also, keep your worktops clear – buyers like to see how much space they will have.
  • Paint / replace cupboard doors if needed. Again this is cheaper than buying a new kitchen. A quick lick of paint can do wonders and really refresh your kitchen. Go for a neutral colour (white works best) to keep things looking clean and light. Make sure all your cupboards and doors open and close smoothly.
  • If you have old fashioned or broken tiles in your kitchen replace them with a plain tile to give your kitchen a new feel.
  • Most of the time a deep clean can make old floors look like new but if your flooring is cracked or worn then replacing the flooring can help you sell. Once again chose something neutral and easy to clean.
  • Make sure you give your kitchen a deep clean and empty the bin before any viewings. Remembers buyers will often want to look in your cupboards to see how much storage space they will have. Keep your cupboards neat and organised. If your cupboards are fit-to-burst full it may make buyers believe there is not enough storage space.

Whether your dining room is part of the kitchen or separate it is important to make it feel like a welcoming place.

  • Set the table before any viewings and if you really want to impress put a vase of flowers or a bowl of fruit on the table to give that homely feel.
  • No one wants to eat in the dark. Make sure your dining area is suitably lit. If you don’t have overhead lighting put a lamp nearby to eradicate any shadows.



Inside – The Bathroom


After the kitchen, the bathroom is one of the most important rooms to buyers. Keeping your bathroom clean, functional, and modern can be one of the more expensive things to do, so it is important to think about this before starting any improvements. Ultimately the most important thing for the bathroom is to make it functional and really clean.

  • Replaced dated or damaged suite with a basic white suite.
  • Remove carpets and replace with easy-to-clean flooring like tiles or laminate.
  • Bath or shower? If your bathroom is small, then the decision of bath or shower is made for you however if your bathroom is large it may be worth considering putting in a bath and a shower. If you are selling a family home, then this can be a big deciding factor for buyers as they will want a bath for children.
  • Using a grouting pen on stained grout will refresh your bathroom. The same goes for any sealant that is discoloured or peeling.
  • Shower curtain. Replacing an old or bright shower curtain with a new one or putting in a glass shower screen will give a classy look.
  • Put any bottles or toiletries away in cupboards.
  • Ensure your bathroom as a mirror and a medicine cabinet – often medicine cabinets will come with a mirrored door.
  • Add a little personality will fluffy towels in neutral colours and a pretty soap dish maybe a scented candle or green plant.



Inside – The Living Room

The living room is the place where you entertain guest and where families will spend time together. Help attract buyers by:

  • Stick to the rule less is more. Keep the room uncluttered and neat. Remove small items of furniture to create space.
  • Give the room a welcoming vibe. This is can be achieved quite easily with a vase of flowers and a few ‘coffee-table books’



Inside – Bedrooms

The bedroom is the place to relax, get ready for the day and sleep. Storage space and the bed are the most important factors when it comes to bedrooms.

  • Keep your rooms neutral, clean and uncluttered.
  • Make the bed the focal point of the room. If you have a double room always try and put a double bed in it – sometimes buyers can struggle to picture a double bed fitting in a room unless there is already one in it.
  • Less furniture is always better. If possible, remove unnecessary furniture.
  • As with the kitchen, buyers will most likely want to look inside any fitted wardrobes so keep them neat. If your clothes look like they’re crammed in it will give the impression that there is not enough storage space.
  • With children’s bedrooms, make sure to put toys away and keep the walls as uncluttered as possible.
  • Make sure all the beds are made. Adding a few decorative cushions can give a splash of colour as well as making your bed look inviting.




When it comes to making your house look good ready to be sold the main thing to do it make it look clean and neutral, like a blank canvas the buyer can see themselves painting in their own style. Before making any costly improvements, it is good to think about your selling price. Most of the time a few simple things can change the look of your home and several items are things you can then take with you to your new home.

Whenever you sell a house it is important to think about your potential buyers. Is your home ideal for families, young people, the elderly? Whoever your house is best suited to will give you some idea as to how to stage it. Families will want space and facilities for children. Young people will most likely want a modern feel while the elderly may be looking for easy access. Making your home appeal to the right type of buyer will help it to sell quicker and for the best price.



How Busy Lives! can support you with this

Busy Lives! was created when I left a busy career that left me time poor and not able to give sufficient priority to what really mattered to me. I now provide a wide range of business support for people in that position.


I am happy to help by:

Coming and organising your rooms and storage before prospective buyers come to tour your home.

Connect you with a great Gardening Services business to do the outside of your property to make it look fantastic.

Let you help you gain precious time back. Ring Busy Lives! 07565 722 031

Drop me a message on LinkedIn / Messenger on Facebook

Or Email:






House Clearance Organisation Strategy

House Clearance Organisation Strategy

I recently had a friend who found themselves with a house to clear on relatively short notice and didn’t know where to start and what to do. This blog post is aimed to help you if you find yourself in a similar situation.

This blog post provides a strategy moving forward equipping you with an insight to either do this yourself, let Busy Lives! assist you or hire a house clearance company.



1.     What is a House Clearance?
2.     How long does it take to complete a House Clearance?
3.     What is a House Clearance Company?
4.     Preparation – Before Contacting the House Clearance Company:
a.          When the company arrives:
5.     Clearing out a house yourself.
a.          Preparation
b.          Have a system
c.          Throw, Keep Sell, Recycle?
d.          Get rid of the rubbish
e.          What to do with everything else
f.           Selling
g.          Gifting
h.          Charity
6.     Being Safe
7.     How Busy Lives! can help you with this


What is a house clearance?

Several things may require you to clear out a house, a bereavement, a move or a simple desire to declutter may lead you to clearing a house.
In the most basic terms, a house clearance is when a house is ‘cleared’ of it’s contents. If you are a landlord, you may be disposing of items left behind by a tenant.
The very first thing you will need to do is decide whether you will do the clearance yourself or hire a specialist company to do the job for you.


How long does it take to complete a house clearance?

As a general rule it is said that two people can clear one room in half a day. According to the BBC the average UK house has 5 rooms which would, using the above rule, take two people two and a half days to clear. To be on the safe side I would recommend adding on an extra half of a day. Even if you are planning to use a house clearance company I would still put aside time to go through the house first to ensure you remove any items you wish to keep.


Clearing out a house using a house Clearance Company

What is a house clearance company?

A house clearance company is a company that will empty part or the whole of a house. The cost of this service will depend on the size of the property and how much stuff needs to be removed.
When looking for a house clearance company it is best to review the house first and make a list of all the heavy / bulky items such as large pieces of furniture and appliances.


Top Tips:

  • Be sure to ring more than one house clearance company for a quote.
  • When enquiring for a quote be sure to mention any timescale you might have.
  • If the house or flat is has any access issues (no parking, on the 15th floor etc.) be sure to mention it as it may affect the quote given.
  • Be aware that some companies may ask to visit the house before giving a quote.
  • Book a morning slot so that if anything crops up (e.g. furniture needs to be dismantled) they will have to do it without needing to return a second time therefore saving you some expense.

Before contacting any company, it is a good idea to do some research into them to ensure they are reputable and reliable. This can be done online or by asking friends and family for recommendations.


Preparation – Before Contacting the House Clearance Company

Even if you have decided to use a house clearing company it is a good idea to go through the house yourself and remove any items you want to keep or give to family / friends.

Be sure to check in drawers and cupboards as that is where you are likely to find things hidden away there.
It is best to do this before getting any quotes from companies as the items you remove may affect the quote they give.


When the company arrives

Go through the house with the person in charge of the house clearance company, point out anything that is to remain or items which may need to be disconnected such as cookers. Also point any hidden nooks and crannies which may get missed.
If there is any items you can’t find and would like to keep ask the company to keep an extra pair of eyes out for them while they work (but it is best to try and find and remove items beforehand).
Once you have gone through anything it is best to leave them too it. Ask to be phoned thirty minutes before the company is due to finish so you can be there and check everything has been removed and ensure you get a ‘waste transfer note’ – this covers you legally for waste disposal. This is also when you should receive your invoice. Only after you are happy should you pay.


Clearing out a house yourself.


If you are going to be clearing a house yourself it is best to go in prepared. Before starting gather up any supplies you may need. This includes:

  • Packing materials – boxes, tape, marker pens, etc.
  • Food and water – if you are clearing out a family members, friends or unknown house you may need to supply your own food for the duration of the clearance.
  • Helpers. Having more hands will make the job quicker and easier. (Offering lunch may entice people to help)

Hiring a skip or arranging for a ‘man and a van’ to clear away rubbish.


Have a system

Once you have everything you need to get started you need to formulate a plan – are you going to go room by room? Largest items first?
However, you plan on proceeding, it is a good idea to decide before you start. If you are planning on moving room by room then decide what order you are going to proceed. If you would prefer to get rid of the large items first make a list of what needs to go and where it will be going.


Throw, Keep, Sell, Recycle…

Now you are ready to dive in it’s time to decide what your going to do with each item. If you are working alone then you may be able to keep track of things using a pile system (a pile of things to keep, a pile of thing to throw etc.) however, if you are working with friends then you may need to use a different approach.
One useful system to adopt if you are working in a team is to use coloured dots. Rather than having your team ask you about every item or risk them throwing out something you wanted to keep. Go through everything quickly and ‘dot’ items using stickers. For example, use green dots for things to keep, red dots for things to throw and so on.
It may also be a good idea to pack paperwork into boxes for you to sort out later.


Top tips:

  • Don’t hold back.
  • Don’t keep things just for the sake of keeping them.
  • Be thorough.
  • Empty every room, cupboard and drawer.


Get rid of the rubbish

Once you have done a day’s work get rid of the rubbish – either move it all into the skip or make sure your ‘man and a van’ come by and collect it all. This will ensure you having space to work in and all the useless clutter is gone.
Remember to be careful when disposing of paperwork or personal documents. Ensure these are disposed of properly, this could be mean using a shredder or a specialist service.

Also, if you clearing out the house of a deceased relative be sure not to throw away anything important in case it is needed later on. If you are unsure talk to the solicitor / executor before proceeding.

If you come across anything deemed hazardous (this includes things such as chemicals, paint, tyres, batteries, etc.) you must ensure you dispose of them correctly. If you are unsure of what to do contact your local council or recycling centre to find out the appropriate way to dispose of these items.


What to do with everything else?

Now the rubbish is gone you should be left with things you either want to keep or recycle or sell. The easiest thing to do here is move the things you are keeping for giving to friends / family to their new homes.
Once all that is gone you should now be left with things you are getting rid of. Now you have several roads open to you.



Items in good repair may be worth selling. If you stumble upon any antiques, jewellery, or items of value it is a good idea to get them properly valued before selling.
Large items such as furniture can be sold online or to second-hand shops.
You can take items to a car boot sale and sell them there (remember you will most likely have to pay for a plot on the field)
You can sell clothes, DVDs, books, CDs and more online however if you don’t want to individually list items you can go to places that buy clothes based on weight to get rid of them and websites such as ‘Music Magpie’ will bulk buy DVDs, CDs and books.



Ask friends / family if there is anything they would like. Mark it with their name and arrange for it to be collected.



Charities will always be appreciative of donations and some charities will collect items from your home. If you decide to donate to a charity and you have large items such as furniture, call or visit them and ask if they will be willing to collect it.
Some charities cannot take large or heavy items in which case you can either approach a second charity or dispose of the items in another way.


Being Safe

When clearing a house yourself you will most likely need to move heavy furniture around, make sure you get help doing this and work in a safe manner using correct lifting practices – keep your back straight and bend your knees. Also make sure your path is clear and you where you are moving the item to before you lift it.
Open windows to combat dust and if you find an excessive amount of dust or you are going into a dusty area (i.e. the attic) wear a dust mask.


How Busy Lives! can support you with this

Busy Lives! was created when I left a busy career that left me time poor and not able to give sufficient priority to what really mattered to me. I now provide a wide range of business support for people in that position.

I am happy to help by:

  • being an extra pair of hand to assist you if you are clearing a house yourself.
  • Clear the house for you once instructed where you would like all the items to go.
    researching businesses to use if you decide to outsource the task.
  • If you need or would like some emotional support for how you’re feeling whilst doing this, I know an excellent therapist I can refer you to who will help you transition through this difficult period.


Let you help you gain precious time back. Ring Busy Lives! 07565 722 031
Drop me a message on LinkedIn / Messenger on Facebook
Or Email:

Preparing for Important Meetings

Preparing for Important Meetings

Spending time preparing for important meetings can really make a difference not only for yourself but the others who attend. An important meeting can potentially make or break your reputation or business. Whether it’s between you and your colleagues or you and a client / customer, every meeting needs to be professional and efficient.

Below are some tips and advice to help you prepare effectively to make sure every meeting goes extra smoothly.



  1. Purpose of the meeting
  2. Pre-reading and research
  3. Who needs to attend?
  4. How, when and where the will meeting taking place?
  5. Style of meeting
  6. Composing an agenda
  7. Initiations to the meeting
  8. How Busy Lives! can support you with this


Purpose of the meeting

Every meeting needs to have a purpose and goal; something you want to achieve by the end. You may find it helpful to write this down. Make sure your goal is specific, add a deadline and make sure it can be measured if relevant – this can be in terms of sales, product output, delegation, impact etc.


Top tip

Don’t have a meeting for the sake of having a meeting! You’d be surprised how many people make this mistake. ‘I always have a meeting on a Wednesday, so we’re having one!’ Colleagues will quickly become disengaged and switch off if there is no real purpose behind a meeting and using up their valuable time.


Pre- reading & research

Read all the associated paperwork for the meeting, making notes or highlighting against items you may wish to raise or comment upon.

It will very quickly come apparent who has or has not prepared for what is to be discussed. Don’t be that person.

If an agenda item being tabled or discussed isn’t something you don’t have first-hand experience of and will be required to decide upon, research additional information or look at evidence gathered towards it. This is invaluable if there is conflicting views in the meeting for you to be able to provide an insight. It will also help you in achieving the goal you want.


Who needs to attend?

When you set up a meeting everyone who attends should have a role to play or be relevant to what they do. Are the necessary? Decide if each person has a purpose, if you cannot find one, it is time to decide if they really need to attend. It may be better use of their time to either let them have access to the minutes or a short verbal summary of specific parts of the meeting afterwards which were relevant to them.


How, when and where is the meeting will take place?

Once you have decided on how many people are participating, you can decide when and where you are going to hold the meeting; that could mean deciding whether you are going to hold the meeting in person or online. If you are choosing to hold the meeting in person think about the best location for this. You may need to book a room or meeting space, this may dictate the time and place you can hold your meeting if not on your premises. Online meetings have more flexibility, but you should still ensure your participants have enough notice to ensure they are available at the appointed time.


3 Top tips

  • Make sure the room is the right size for the number of people attending.
  • Think what resources you may need access to such as a flip chart or projector if a presentation is going to be made for instance.
  • The layout of the room will influence and make a difference. It needs to be factored into suit the style of your meeting. Think carefully how chairs and tables are set out. For instance, formal, relaxed discussion, presentation, debate, a difficult conversation or recruitment all need different layouts.


Composing an agenda

Now you know when and where your meeting is taking place it’s time to make an agenda. You will already know what the meeting is about. Carefully composing an agenda is the time to carefully allocate your use of meeting time for maximum effectiveness. Having a well-planned agenda means your meeting will flow and stay on track which not only makes your meeting achieve its goal but will also display your professionalism and ability to deliver on-time.

An agenda should typically fit on one side of A4 paper.

Essential information to go on the agenda

  • Date
  • Time
  • Location
  • People Attending
  • Chair
  • Minute taker / attendees taking their own notes
  • Bulleted agenda items – If different people are presenting different items off the agenda, have their initials next to the specific bulleted item
  • AOB (Any other business) – Think carefully if you want to allow this or not.


Other information you may wish to include after the agenda items at the bottom of the page:

  • List of papers and documents that will be used or referred to during the meeting.
  • Business priorities for the period.
  • Vision statement or business strapline.


The agenda should be sent out at least two weeks in advance of the meeting. This allows attendees with different schedules and commitments prepare at a time that suits them.


Invitations to the meeting

Now you have a list of participants and a meeting place set up you need to send out invites. Reinforce the purpose, date, place and timings in the body of the invite you send. Ensure to send any related paperwork, documents or previous minutes that will be referenced or used alongside the agenda.

After sending out your invites keep a note of who is and isn’t attending. If key people cannot attend it may be worth considering rescheduling to a time when everyone can attend. If only one or two people cannot attend decide if the meeting should go on ahead on that date – if you do decide to carry on make a note who cannot attend and send them any minutes paperwork they may need in order to remain informed.


Last Top Tip

Print off the agenda and all papers in advance of your meeting. If there are a number of papers being discussed from the agenda it’s worth spending the time ordering the papers to coincide in the same order as the agenda item. I then label each document in the top right-hand corner with the Agenda item number on. This helps you quickly reference the exact paper you need within the meeting and again demonstrates to others you’re professionally prepared and organised.

This can also be achieved electronically. Create a folder with the agenda all the documents for the meeting in. When you save each document into the folder save the file name commencing with the agenda item number followed by the title. This will help you quickly access what you need to open as the meeting progresses.


How Busy Lives! can support you with this

Busy Lives! was created when I left a busy career that left me time poor and not able to give sufficient priority to what really mattered to me. I now provide a wide range of business support for people in that position.

I am happy to help by:


Let you help you gain precious time back. Ring Busy Lives! 07565 722 031

Drop me a message on LinkedIn / Messenger on Facebook

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Blog writing for beginners

Blog writing for beginners

Having a blog for your business is a great way of connecting with your customers as well as attracting new ones.

Letting your customers, present and future, see your experience and knowledge of your business is a fantastic way of proving to them you are an expert in your field and getting them to put their trust in you and your business. But how do you write engaging blogs that convert readers into buyers?



  1. Do your research.  

Every blog you write should be as factually accurate as you can possibly make it. Giving out the wrong advice can put off your customers and they will doubt your business. This is true for both the large and small details, for example if you mistakenly claim Mount Snowdon is in England (it’s in Wales) you give the impression of either lacking attention of detail or being amateurish.

Top Tip: Spend time to research your facts and figures.


  1.    Plan your blog.  

Once you’ve completed your research you should know exactly what you’re going to be writing about. Now you need to come up with a logical order. Its always a good idea to start with an introduction which tells your readers what the blog is about. Afterwards comes the main body, I recommend you avoid writing large paragraphs and instead opt for short paragraphs. Lists or bullet points are popular are they are easier to read than large blocks of text.

Top Tip: You should also end with a brief conclusion which sums up everything you’ve said.


  1. Get the visuals.  

The beauty of a blog is that you can include lots of full-colour images. Take advantage of that and be sure to include photographs in your blog. These images should be relevant, well composed and well lit. You can even include videos to demonstrate points or techniques.  Top tip: If you are not a particularly good photographer, you can use stock images (just be sure you’re using copyright free images).


  1. Review.

Now you’ve written your blog and got the visuals to match its time to review your work. Go through your blog at least twice to look for any grammatical errors or incorrect information. If possible, get someone else to read it, they might notice something you missed.

Top tip: Try changing the font before you review, this can help stop your from automatically glancing over mistakes. You can also try reading the blog backwards, this is extra helpful for spotting spelling mistakes.


Ultimately, getting better at writing blogs is down to practice. The steps above are a good place to start learning the technical side but the creative side of writing must be down to you. Reading widely is a great way of exposing yourself to new styles and techniques but your blogs must have your voice attached to them in order to make them ring true and display the values you and your business hold.


This is a guest blog post written by Hollie Parkin who is a creative writer and loves this type of work. She has supported Busy Lives! and been a great asset to myself, as I lean more towards tasks that are mathematically bias.

Secrets of being systematic & methodical

Secrets of being systematic & methodical

Being systematic and methodical is not everyone’s strength. Some people in fact find procedural tasks boring or too hard for them to do. This blog post explores some of the secrets of being systematic and methodical. You may find you apply many of them already or you may find some good tips to try for yourself. Why not have a read?



  1. What is the difference between systemic and methodical?
  2. Why should you be systematic and methodical?
  3. How to be more systematic and methodical?
  4. Conclusion
  5. How Busy Lives! can support with this


 What is the difference between being systematic and methodical?

Why do people want to be systematic and methodical? What are the benefits and how do you become a systematic and methodical worker?

Whether you own your own business or simply want to take charge of your life, being systematic and methodical when working can help boost your productivity and help you tick off that to-do list you’ve been procrastinating about.

But what does it mean to be systematic and methodical?

Systematic people are people who do things using a plan or procedure while methodical people do things in an organised way. Both work hand in hand.


Why should you be systematic and methodical?

Being methodical with your decision making often means you’ll be making better decisions. For example when choosing a supplier it may seem easy to just pick the cheapest or the nearest one but if you conduct a little research you may find that although Company X is the cheapest their products are subpar whereas Company Y has the best ratings but in actual fact their products aren’t what you’re looking for. Making the best decision first time around will save you both time and money and prevent the hassle of having to switch suppliers.

Being systematic in your approach to things – by making a plan or following a procedure – can often save you time and effort as you are not wasting time doing things that ultimately will not get your task done any quicker or easier. For example if you are organising paperwork making a list of things to keep, things to shred and things to recycle will make the job easier as you are not wasting time wondering whether or not you should keeping a particular piece of paperwork.


How to be more systematic and methodical?

Being systematic and methodical is not a hard thing to do. Here are some simple steps to help you become a more systematic and methodical worker:

  1. Make a to-do list then cut it in half

Making lists and plans is a simple and easy way to become a more efficient worker. However, when your list becomes too long it can be counterproductive. To avoid this, make your to-do list then strike off anything that doesn’t matter – while it would be nice to reorganise your pen drawer, will doing that really help you complete your deadline task?

I have a Busy Lives! to-do pad at the side of me, so the number of tasks always has be on the one page. The list often lasts for the month but can at times be for a week depending upon the time of year.

  1. Plan out your day

Most people are more productive in the mornings when their brain is fresh. Start your day with the biggest tasks and aim to get them all done before lunchtime, try and schedule meetings for the afternoon. This should help you to boost your productivity and get all those hard tasks done.

  1. Break bad habits

Most of us will have picked up a few bad habits, whether that’s checking your phone constantly for social media updates or putting off tasks until it’s too late. Breaking your bad habits will help you get more done, and free up time. For example, by putting your phone away and getting down to work you may find yourself finishing all your tasks ahead of time meaning you have some spare time to scroll through social media without worrying you’ll get behind on work. Or being methodical with your approach to big tasks can prevent you from having to do the whole thing in one go the day before the deadline – when you receive a large task break it down into smaller tasks and aim to accomplish one or two of them a day.

  1. Stop multitasking

Trying to do ten things at once is counterproductive. List things in order of importance then work your way down the list. Often, you will find you get things done faster than if you tried to do them all at once.

  1. Keep it simple

Working methodically and systematically can take some time to implement. Don’t try to follow fancy or complicated, planning systems. Keep it simple and you’re more likely to stick with it.



Implementing the above steps and learning what it is to be methodical and systematic with your work can help you become a more productive worker which can translate into more money earned and more time saved.

Learning to prioritise your time and get more work done will ease the burden on you overall and guarantee you have healthy work habits as well as ensuring you get all those to-dos done and prevent any of those ‘impending deadline day mad dashes’.


How Busy Lives! can support with this

Busy Lives! was created when I left a busy career that left me time poor and unable to give sufficient priority to what really mattered to me. I now provide a wide range of business support for people especially who own their own small business in that position.

Everyone has different superpowers, mine are being systematic and methodical especially when it comes to organisation and getting things done. If you find you’re become overwhelmed or just don’t know where to start why not let me help and do it all for you!

Let you help you gain precious time back. Ring Busy Lives! 07565 722 031

Drop me a message on this website, LinkedIn or Messenger on Facebook

Or Email: