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8 Ways to Get the Best Garden on the Block this Spring

8 Ways to Get the Best Garden on the Block this Spring

Have you been admiring your neighbors foliage and landscaping talents for years? Maybe you’re lacking the green thumb or your budget for a bountiful garden is limited. If you begin to plan and prepare now, you will have the best garden on the block this spring and into the summer. These tips are easy ways to spruce up your exterior view whether you’re into rustic or manicured.

1. Fresh Sod for the Spring

The foundation to a beautiful yard is healthy, green grass. If you really want to impress the neighbors, consider laying down sod this spring. Home and Garden suggests that sod should be laid in the Spring or early Autumn. Cooler temperatures with some rainy days help sod to root much more quickly. You can prepare the area for the sod yourself or get professionals to do it to ensure you get a healthy, thriving lawn.

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2. Preparation in Winter

You can begin pruning the hardy hedges if you have them as well as winter shrubs that have stopped flowering. If you’re planning to grow vegetables, you can prepare the bed if the ground isn’t frozen.

3. Map Out Your Garden

If the weather outside is still bitterly cold, stay inside, and create a diagram on the computer or by hand to determine how you want your garden to look. Think about where the sun hits on your yard and choose which sun-loving plants you want. You can also create a spot for your shade-loving plants. If you want your shade lovers to be in a sunny spot in your yard, you can conceptualize a creative way to block the sun. This is a great indoor project that will get your geared for the upcoming gardening season.

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4. Order Summer Flowers and Seeds

Let the creative part of you flow as you choose what summer-flowering bulbs you will want for your garden. Lilies and Gladiolus can be planted in early spring, giving your garden color. Looking through gardening catalogs can help to inspire you when it comes to how you want your garden to look. Based on your map of how you want your yard to look, you can order now to get them in time for spring planting.

5. Prepare Your Soil

Good soil is the lifeblood to any thriving garden and preparing it in the winter months is the best practice. Creatures that assist in the ecosystem of your garden by converting dead material into that of organic matters. Earthworms, centipedes and fungi assist in making your top soil perfect for growing. Your top soil should be about 12 inches deep but this depends largely on whether soil has been well cultivated. One of the best methods to improve your soil is to cultivate deeply as it open soil up for air and water. Dig 6-12 inches in the winter months and add organic matter such as seaweed or leaves.

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6. Sow Slower Seeds Now

The garden experts recommend you begin sowing seeds that need a longer growing season in the months of January and February. Now is the time to sow your Geraniums, Begonias, Peppers and Aubergines. They will need to be grown under a heated propagator or something that promotes growth.

7. Collect Rain Water

If you’re in an area where it rains a lot, collect this natural water while you can. Rain water is best for many plants such as Camellias, Blueberries and Rhododendrons. A lot of tap water is slightly alkaline which plants may be sensitive to. You can have a water barrel or install water butts that are right under your downpipe in order to catch as much rain as possible.

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8. Garden Decor

Garden decor can really spruce up your yard appeal and it takes no effort. Create a theme that matches with the flowers you have decided to go with. Even little pockets of themes are a fun way to bring your yard to life. For instance, if you plant tulips, you can put a garden windmill in the same area. Voila! You now have a mini Dutch garden. Decks and law furniture give a welcoming area for visitors that come for a BBQ or just to admire your yard. The good news, lawn ornaments and furniture aren’t so pricey so you can achieve a great looking yard for very little money.

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Loraine Couturier

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Last Updated on November 19, 2019

20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

Are you usually punctual or late? Do you finish things within the time you stipulate? Do you hand in your reports/work on time? Are you able to accomplish what you want to do before deadlines? Are you a good time manager?

If your answer is “no” to any of the questions above, that means you’re not managing your time as well as you want. Here are 20 time management tips to help you manage time better:

1. Create a Daily Plan

Plan your day before it unfolds. Do it in the morning or even better, the night before you sleep. The plan gives you a good overview of how the day will pan out. That way, you don’t get caught off guard. Your job for the day is to stick to the plan as best as possible.

2. Peg a Time Limit to Each Task

Be clear that you need to finish X task by 10am, Y task by 3pm, and Z item by 5:30pm. This prevents your work from dragging on and eating into time reserved for other activities.

3. Use a Calendar

Having a calendar is the most fundamental step to managing your daily activities. If you use outlook or lotus notes, calendar come as part of your mailing software.

I use it. It’s even better if you can sync your calendar to your mobile phone and other hardwares you use – that way, you can access your schedule no matter where you are. Here’re the 10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track .

Find out more tips about how to use calendar for better time management here: How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space

4. Use an Organizer

An organizer helps you to be on top of everything in your life. It’s your central tool to organize information, to-do lists, projects, and other miscellaneous items.

These Top 15 Time Management Apps and Tools can help you organize better, pick one that fits your needs.

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5. Know Your Deadlines

When do you need to finish your tasks? Mark the deadlines out clearly in your calendar and organizer so you know when you need to finish them.

But make sure you don’t make these 10 Common Mistakes When Setting Deadlines.

6. Learn to Say “No”

Don’t take on more than you can handle. For the distractions that come in when you’re doing other things, give a firm no. Or defer it to a later period.

Leo Babauta, the founder of Zen Habits has some great insights on how to say no: The Gentle Art of Saying No

7. Target to Be Early

When you target to be on time, you’ll either be on time or late. Most of the times you’ll be late. However, if you target to be early, you’ll most likely be on time.

For appointments, strive to be early. For your deadlines, submit them earlier than required.

Learn from these tips about how to prepare yourself to be early, instead of just in time.

8. Time Box Your Activities

This means restricting your work to X amount of time. Why time boxing is good for you? Here’re 10 reasons why you should start time-boxing.

You can also read more about how to do time boxing here: #5 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity.

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9. Have a Clock Visibly Placed Before You

Sometimes we are so engrossed in our work that we lose track of time. Having a huge clock in front of you will keep you aware of the time at the moment.

10. Set Reminders 15 Minutes Before

Most calendars have a reminder function. If you have an important meeting to attend, set that alarm 15 minutes before.

You can learn more about how reminders help you remember everything in this article: The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

11. Focus

Are you multi-tasking so much that you’re just not getting anything done? If so, focus on just one key task at one time. Multitasking is bad for you.

Close off all the applications you aren’t using. Close off the tabs in your browser that are taking away your attention. Focus solely on what you’re doing. You’ll be more efficient that way.

Lifehack’s CEO has written a definitive guide on how to focus, learn the tips: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

12. Block out Distractions

What’s distracting you in your work? Instant messages? Phone ringing? Text messages popping in?

I hardly ever use chat nowadays. The only times when I log on is when I’m not intending to do any work. Otherwise it gets very distracting.

When I’m doing important work, I also switch off my phone. Calls during this time are recorded and I contact them afterward if it’s something important. This helps me concentrate better.

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Find more tips on how to minimize distractions to achieve more in How to Minimize Distraction to Get Things Done

13. Track Your Time Spent

When you start to track your time, you’re more aware of how you spend your time. For example, you can set a simple countdown timer to make sure that you finish a task within a period of time, say 30 minutes or 1 hour. The time pressure can push you to stay focused and work more efficiently.

You can find more time tracking apps here and pick one that works for you.

14. Don’t Fuss About Unimportant Details

You’re never get everything done in exactly the way you want. Trying to do so is being ineffective.

Trying to be perfect does you more harm than good, learn here about how perfectionism kills your productivity and how to ditch the perfectionism mindset.

15. Prioritize

Since you can’t do everything, learn to prioritize the important and let go of the rest.

Apply the 80/20 principle which is a key principle in prioritization. You can also take up this technique to prioritize everything on your plate: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

16. Delegate

If there are things that can be better done by others or things that are not so important, consider delegating. This takes a load off and you can focus on the important tasks.

When you delegate some of your work, you free up your time and achieve more. Learn about how to effectively delegate works in this guide: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

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17. Batch Similar Tasks Together

For related work, batch them together.

For example, my work can be categorized into these core groups:

  1. writing (articles, my upcoming book)
  2. coaching
  3. workshop development
  4. business development
  5. administrative

I batch all the related tasks together so there’s synergy. If I need to make calls, I allocate a time slot to make all my calls. It really streamlines the process.

18. Eliminate Your Time Wasters

What takes your time away your work? Facebook? Twitter? Email checking? Stop checking them so often.

One thing you can do is make it hard to check them – remove them from your browser quick links / bookmarks and stuff them in a hard to access bookmarks folder. Replace your browser bookmarks with important work-related sites.

While you’ll still checking FB/Twitter no doubt, you’ll find it’s a lower frequency than before.

19. Cut off When You Need To

The number one reason why things overrun is because you don’t cut off when you have to.

Don’t be afraid to intercept in meetings or draw a line to cut-off. Otherwise, there’s never going to be an end and you’ll just eat into the time for later.

20. Leave Buffer Time In-Between

Don’t pack everything closely together. Leave a 5-10 minute buffer time in between each tasks. This helps you wrap up the previous task and start off on the next one.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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