Tag: life balance


Christmas, Business, Life Balance – Aarrgh!

Christmas + Business + Life Balance =

  1. “Bah humbug”
  2. “Life’s like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get”.
  3. “There are no winners in life, Only survivors”
  4. No problems – I got it sorted!
  5. Love Christmas, this is my favorite time of year.


Now, I don’t know your response. But I can tell you over the 34 years of Christmas, my response has changed.

Businesses are generally in one of two categories.

Category 1. This is our busiest or most stressful time of year.

Category 2. We close down for business.

I am sure you can see your business in one of these categories.

So why does Christmas create such stress for so many of us?

  • Personal memories or anniversaries
  • Paying of monies without income
  • Extra costs and delayed income
  • Super Busy
  • Trying to fit so much in with limited time available
  • Un realistic expectations
  • Business anniversaries – End of Year, budgets, reviews, planning etc.
  • External commitment increases, e.g. where you volunteer or assist, end of year functions etc.
  • Balancing staff with holidays, religious and cultural anniversaries

Just to name a few

So how can you achieve all this and have a good Christmas?

There is no magic answer, as it is different for everyone.  However I do have some suggestions that have made my Christmas’s much more enjoyable.

  1. Pre Plan – Lists, Budgets, Basically treat this as a project and plan, plan, plan.
  2. Set a budget and stick to it. – Easier said than done, but include in your budget a bit of a buff zone.
  3. Plan time out for yourself. Without this you will most likely not enjoy christmas
  4. Allow yourself a bit of selfishness. Get yourself a small treat e.g. a massage, or hair appointment, or good book.
  5. Be at peace with saying – No. Everyone will want something from you, feel OK about refusing every single request.  In short, you really will only increase your own burden if you are not OK with saying No.
  6. Look after your health, your spiritual, your mental wellbeing. This is important.

Now, for 33 of my 34 business years, I have improved on Christmas each year. However each year I strive to get better at this.  However, Last year, I finally found my magic formula.  So I am going to let you into my secret.

I have a Category 2 business.  So we close down, have no income, have expenses, increased demand just prior to Christmas, and know we are coming back to a full load in the New Year.   Each year I have planned, budgeted, and even given myself some time off e.g. a holiday.  But each year I have felt stressed – until last year.  I tried something totally new, and for me – wow, what a difference.  So much so, that now I won’t do Christmas again by choice without this new step.

Here is what I do.

  1. Plan, budget and organize.
  2. Watch my health, mental, and spiritual wellbeing.
  3. Express in advance all the steps with my key staff, so we are all on the same page.

Here is the magic for me.

I disappear and float down the Murray River for the 5 days to a week leading up to Christmas, only returning home on Christmas Eve.  So I no longer deal with the stress on the road, with last minute shopping, Christmas wrapping, extra drinks and dinners.  I am either ready a week before, or too bad.

This really works for me.  I had everything ready either around the tree, or in the freezer ready to pull out.  The fresh food I need, I pick up on the late afternoon of Christmas Eve.

So in simple terms, I found my “opt out” option that suited me.  I took it, to escape the worst time.  Why has this been the worst time?

  • I used to get extra requests to meet, catchup, do something. – Even if asked, I just can’t do anything.
  • Last minute shopping and dealing with all the stress that involves. Being away in a river with no shops – this is not an option.
  • I forgot something – too bad. We will have to live with this fact.  It is surprising how little of this matters, or can be easily solved, when you have to.
  • People start realizing you are not there and they stop asking you to help. Now, that is nice for a week.
  • You are planned and organized and you are prepared to leave. So you just let go on the mental pressure.

My suggestion, is for you to find you’re off switch, and use it at the best time for you.  So if you are a category 1 business, this may be before the Christmas build up.  You may also need another one after Christmas.  If you are a category 2 – like me, consider your own opt out.  It may be a simple as demanding a day or two to sit in the back yard and read a book – without phones or family demands, so this may take a bit of pre thought – but you can do it.

For those of you who face a bad anniversary Christmas, such as a family loss anniversary.  Sharing your pain can often help.  I know of a few people in this boat, and friends to these people we keep in our prayers, in our Christmas plans – so that life is easier for them during this period, and we are open to allow them to share or talk when they need during the difficult times.  So if you wish to share, please comment on this blog, and share.  Sharing this information often reduces the pain dramatically.

I know this will sound selfish, but I have found my solution, and I plan to have a really blessed and peaceful Christmas.  I hope that if you read this, you will “like” this, and have the Christmas you desire.


Hope behind Endings

Accede Holdings begginings endings
Accede Holdings begginings endings

image from one-story.com

For those who read my blogs, you will know I am currently in Lent. Last week’s my studies took me to consider Death/Endings. To top this off, I have felt like death warmed up. In fact I have been in bed for days. So whilst laying up and getting over this horrid cold, I have had time to consider Endings.

All the endings I have faced have been painful and hard. I may have felt glad it was the end of a bad situation, but even with that, endings are painful and hard. However, without endings, there cannot be beginnings. I wondered why they are painful and hard, my logic understands that this is part of a process, and one that is necessary. I am not a person who fears change, I have accepted that Change is the only constant in life. So why, I wondered are Endings hard and painful?

As stated, I have had time to ponder.

When a relationship comes to an end, whatever the reason, without meaning to, we review or at least need to review. We see both the good and the bad. We see happiness and sorrow. We call this mourning and we do need to do this, so that we can let go and move on. Even a bad relationship we need to mourn, not due to missing the other person, but to allow ourselves to put things into perspective. How often people who have issues find when they explore these issues, that they need to go back and mourn or review a past relationship. Moving on without mourning, really creates many issues.

I wondered why in Lent we need to Give up and Take on things. By giving up something generally that something that creates clutter in our lives (too much food, too much shopping, too much alcohol etc.) we give ourselves the space to review which in my opinion is the Taking on of something the review.

Endings are rather interesting. I have been reading about some old traditions regarding the end of a year and the start of a new one. Quite often this time is spent in festivities. Brushing away the old, and welcoming the new. Some funerals are a celebration of a person’s life, and a renewing of old friendships.

So in business. A contract comes to an end. Why do we have such a range of emotions Gladness, hollow, empty, happy, satisfied the list goes on. The emotions are natural and need to be allowed to be reviewed. We review so that we can improve. If we allow ourselves to review, then we can improve. Nothing is more helpful than experience. But experience will only cement itself to being useful if we review what has past ended.

I am now in my 34th year of being a business owner and employee. I am preparing for my own succession my own ending at Accede. I still have habits of reviewing my performance on a weekly basis something I have done since my first 6 months in business (note: I lost 18 secretaries in my first year of business pretty bad boss!). I have learnt, and now I am passing this on. Endings are natural, but even being natural, expected and accepted they are painful and they hurt.

I realised that this is just a fact and a fact I have to accept. My only hope as my succession comes, that the pain and hurt I feel, I hope to minimise for my staff, my clients and my friends.

Only time will tell.

Cate Schafing is a successful Australian business woman in the IT field serving as CEO of Accede Holdings Pty. Ltd. makers of Ezymeetz, ICE and Virtual Gym. She develops innovative new technological products as a programmer and entrepreneur. In gratitude for her success her company supports NFP’s by donating $5000 per month in programming time for NFP’s requesting work.


E-Marketing = Transparent Understanding


After 30 years in business I have seen “Marketing Experts”, and frankly 95% of them are a waste of time. However, that 5% are really worth their weight in diamonds to a business. A few years ago, I was so dissatisfied with what marketing cost my business and what we got out of it, that I went back to university to learn about marketing. I did this with the University of SA via a Masters in Business course.

In this course, there was a topic called “Accountability in Marketing”. Wow! Those two words in the same sentence blew me away. I always thought Marketing was a black art. So I was hooked. However, what this course taught me, was that even the best – absolutely world class proven marketers, can get it wrong, and waste millions for a company. So, I was back to my sceptical belief.

However in the last 4 months, something has happened that has changed my mind.

As a business owner, I know Marketing for my business is essential. However, marketing is not sales. Without constant sales, a business dies. But without fresh new injection of clients, the existing clients will dwindle, and eventually the business will die. So, over the years, I have kept my ears and eyes open to gain marketing knowledge.

At last, I found a 5%er. I attended a course called, “Lights, Action, Blog“, put on by Baker Marketing. I attended this course with a varied range of other professionals. But not only did I get some fantastic gems of knowledge – that basically costs me nothing, but I also finally met a 5%er. As an IT person, I know what IT can do for marketing, but how to bring that together in reality, is something different.

So in this simple blog, I am going to pass on some on the Gems that I acquired. With all respect to Baker Marketing, this is my own personal perspective, and may not apply to all types of businesses – but these are the Gems that I collected during this course.

  1. SEO – Search Engine Optimisation is essential. However, the question is how to keep up with a moving target? As people abuse search engines, such as Google, the Search Engines have to get smarter, stop the abuse and continue being a worthy search engine. With this constantly happening, the goal posts are constantly on the move. I have decided, that this needs a full time person to handle our work, and so we have employed a person to stay on top of this. To achieve this cost effectively, we have employed a Virtual Assistant. Currently we keep updating, our Web Content, Key Words, Do Key word research, Info Graphics, Videos and Links to other Web associated businesses.
  2. BLOGS – Be regular e.g. weekly, Be topical, Do it yourself. Easier said than done. However, I found a solution. I write my blogs now each week (actually about 2 weeks in advance), then I send them to my Virtual Content Writer, who dresses them, checks them grammatically and for keyword improvement. My VCW also adds images and suggestions. Then when I sign them off, they are published. This means I can fit this into my already overly busy schedule.
  3. GRAPHICS – For ages now, I have used “stock” images. However, these are now so well known, they are not necessarily the best option. So I have learnt not to hesitate to create my own images, when possible. I do this simply with my phone. As most web images need to be quite small, the quality of the image of a good smart phone, is usually quite satisfactory for this sort of function. This includes simple video’s.

These are the basic Gems I picked up at the course. However, I have since added 2 new and personal Gems of knowledge that I wish to share.

  1. Sales is not marketing. Balance is essential. One needs to sell to stay alive – so Don’t forget – Sales is essential. One also needs to Market ones business to get new clients, so invest in marketing. But never lose sight of the fact that both are essential, both are different, and both need investment for a business to grow.
  2. Take a break.  I mean, really time out. Get away from the phones, the family, the business, the demands. Just breathe, and take stock for yourself. Every year, I do this, and what a difference it makes in all of my business. By having this time, I review my own personal goals, my business goals, I then in a very honest manner, assess how I am going with achieving these goals in my desired time frame. My own honest assessment, may lead to the need for mentoring, or changing. But because I am in an open safe place, I can take this on without stress of adversity. I think this is an essential nutrient for business.

I hope this information gives you one or more Gems. I know that even writing this blog, is great for me to help me in purifying this knowledge. How well e-marketing will work, well the fact you are reading this blog, is meaning that it is working – so thank you.


Cate Schafing is a successful Australian business woman in the IT field serving as CEO of Accede Holdings Pty. Ltd. makers of Ezymeetz, ICE and Virtual Gym. She develops innovative new technological products as a programmer and entrepreneur. In gratitude for her success her company supports NFP’s by donating $5000 per month in programming time for NFP’s requesting work.


Have Databases Helped or Hindered Life Balance

database-design-developmentAfter 30 years of writing databases, employing programmers and owning a software company, I question if databases actually help or hinder our lives. Today, data is power. Those who have access to data and can use data information to get an advantage, can take a pivotal position in the choices of their lives.

Using data well could mean working less hours, and using the time for other interests, hobbies or family. It could also mean doing more work and achieving more goals. Using data well can also give a business or company leadership in decision making – because the facts that they can weigh up, are far more accurate.

With the advantages of data control, also comes higher demands. More demands have come from government, consumers, employees and users.

Each of these points, offer both positive and negative aspects – however, the question remains: Has data improved our life balance?

Quality of life has definitely improved in the last 50 years in relation to health, hours of work, workplace environments, and learning. Information and access to information has also brought with it many other issues, divorce, single parenting, depression, stress and a huge line of similar problems.

I believe in the most part that work life balance is actually up to us as individuals. Databases have given us knowledge. This knowledge has both advantages and disadvantages.

I am going to weigh up database information to Santa Claus to help you see my opinion.

Remember as a child, you believed in Father Christmas but, then when you were still fairly young, you were told he was not real. The advantage of believing was that you believed someone watched over you, cared for you, gave your gifts and encouraged you to do your best. Knowing that Father Christmas was not real led you to be more aware of what your parents did and sacrificed for you, and made you responsible for yourself. However at 16, I decided that Santa Claus (St Nicholas Claus) was real and that his spirit still brings Christmas to many people, but that I had to be responsible, and I am thankful that I had loving, supporting parents.

In short – I used my knowledge to make a life choice that would bring me balance. I believe databases give knowledge – the quality of the knowledge is totally dependent on the quality of the data. However what we do with this knowledge really is the answer to life balance. It is our choices that bring life balance, and we can make better choices if we have better databases. However the decision is ours.


Cate Schafing is a successful Australian business woman in the IT field serving as CEO of Accede Holdings Pty. Ltd. makers of Ezymeetz, ICE and Virtual Gym. She develops innovative new technological products as a programmer and entrepreneur. In gratitude for her success her company supports NFP’s by donating $5000 per month in programming time for NFP’s requesting work.