5 practical work from home tips for a productive day

You might have fantasised in the past about working from home but now this might actually be your new reality and realised it’s not all it’s all cracked out to be. Maybe you have the kids at home too, so trying to find the balance of doing productive work whilst keeping the kids entertained is darn challenging or you could be feeling unmotivated to work because your worried about family and given these uncertain times can be quite overwhelming.

One way of coping and making a smooth transition to working from home is focusing on what you can control. One thing is to think about how you start your day.

As a work from home veteran, here are 5 practical things you can do:

1) Wake up an hour earlier to get some work done before the kids wake up. If you don’t have kids, take full advantage and use this time to focus on your health like doing a YouTube workout, meditate or declutter a corner of a room. All this helps boost your health and wellbeing and you’re more likely to feel you can tackle the day ahead, no matter how challenging.

2) Create blocks of time to do productive work with pockets the day for regular breaks. If possible, have a big bottle of water and snacks in your designated office space to stop you going to the kitchen to stare aimlessly into your fridge for hours at a time.

3) Let friends and family know your office hours. Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you have all the time in the world to chat. Being constantly interrupted will have you feeling defeated by the end of the day. So set yourself up for success by setting boundaries and be vigilant.

4) Schedule everything in your diary. Whether you like to use a paper diary or an online calendar, make sure anything that is going to take more than 5 minutes to do is recorded. Our brains have so much to contend with these days, so give yourself some breathing space by not having to remember everything. Use the tools to help you.

5) The Law of Diminishing Intent basically means the longer you wait to do something, the less likely you are going to do it. So tackle the hard stuff as early on in the day as you can. You might choose to do an easy task first to ease you into work mode while you have a coffee but if you have a few calls your avoiding, or a report that’s killing ya life, schedule it in before lunch. Trust me, lunch will taste so much better.

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Is motherhood brain-numbing and lonely?

Recently I saw a post from a stay home mum who was saying that she wasn’t afraid to admit that although she absolutely loves and adores her kids, being at home all day everyday can be seriously brain-numbing and lonely. She added that of course, she could be in an uninspiring job working the 9-5 wishing that she was home with the kids, so either way she was doomed!

What I took from her dilemma was regardless of what circumstances you find yourself in, do something you love and gives you joy.

That’s not to say divorce your family or quit your job, instead look for joy in what you do and perhaps incorporate more things in your life so that you do feel fulfilled.

Right now my son JohnnyMax in playing independent with is toy trains, something I’ve been encouraging before Axel was born so he didn’t need mummy so much. Axel is strapped on me in a carrier as I type this. Prior to this he was asleep on the bed and woke up crying as if he had a bad dream. At this moment, instead of being frustrated that I had a moment of “me-time” completely stolen from me, I felt this overwhelming appreciation that I was his safe place. Being able to hold him and settle him immediately, welled my eyes with tears knowing that he 100% relies on me to keep him feeling safe, secure and loved. These are the pockets of joy I’m talking about.

Throughout the day, in-between naps and play, I also get to work on my side hustle which gives me tremendous joy. It gives me the fulfillment of mental stimulation (building a business to fund our family travels and saving for house goals), connection with other adults (my amazing team) and feeling of contribution (financial rewards) whenever it suits me.

In the last 6 months, I was pretty much MIA, busy with the finishing touches of growing a 4kg baby, preparing my home for a homebirth and getting as much family time with our only child before we become a family of 4. It’s these moments when I can step back and still see that my business continues to support our family.

Remember what your focus on grows, so what are you focusing on? If you want more joy, focus on the joy already in your life and you will attract more of it.

Putting yourself first

Today I took myself out to a cafe to sit alone and read. Having this quiet time filled me up with joy. 

I’ve been guilty since becoming a parent not making “me time” a priority. Having children had shifted my perception on what was important and ultimately I had created a habit of putting myself last.

But as I sat here in my lonesome bliss. I found my cup overflowing with gratitude and missing my boys. It’s taken me a long time to get here. Whenever there was an opportunity for me to have “me time” I would quickly dismiss it as there was always something more important to do. Taking time for me had always felt somewhat selfish.

It’s only with the perseverance of my husband literally shoving me out the door for 3 years, that I realised it’s okay to take time to fill my cup. 

Our kids need us to be healthy, calm and present. Being a conscious parent is the ability to hold space for our children especially when things get tough and the days are full of tantrums and big emotions with these little people. It’s hard to feel in control when we’re running on empty. I didn’t want to be that mama that spent her days screaming and crying in the bathroom. 

After speaking to so many mamas about how-to’s raising multiple kids, I’ve come to my own conclusion I can do anything if my heart is full. Waking up being grateful, getting to live another day and seeing motherhood as a privilege, I now know that filling my cup and making me a priority is how I can be the best mother for my children.

What fills your cup?

Is vaginal discharge normal?

For some reason I dislike the term vaginal discharge. Discharge to me carries some negative connotation that implies the body is rejecting or expelling fluids because it’s bad or somehow unhealthy. However vaginal discharge is in fact a very normal function of the vagina to ensure the area of the vagina and vulva is kept clean by removing bacteria and maintaining moisture.

So now that we now know that vaginal discharge or secretions are normal, let’s talk about the secretions and why it’s such an interesting topic and why every woman needs to know.

Throughout our monthly cycle, our secretions change in colour, viscosity, smell and even taste as a result of the hormonal changes happening in our bodies!

The skin of the vulva is very sensitive and delicate, so it’s important to recognise any changes that may indicate an infection or irritation. Some things that aren’t normal include redness, swelling, burning or itchy sensations, the skin is splitting or cracking, the skin feels too dry or that the odour is unpleasant.

Some immediate things you can do is avoid wearing tight underwear such as G-strings and clothing. Switch to breathable underwear that’s made of cotton.

Avoid using products that can further irritate the skin and may contain harmful chemicals that affect the balance of the bacteria. Consider switching your laundry detergent / powder to clean label products, avoid feminine hygiene products that often have synthetic perfumes and toxic chemicals, use organic cotton sanitary pads / tampons, avoid any perfumes to make the area smell fresh, switch to plain unscented or natural toilet paper, avoid “fancy” condoms and when looking at lubrication used for intercourse perhaps opt for natural oils like almond oil.

It’s important to seek the advice of your healthcare provider and in the meantime, since the weather is warming up in Sydney, make a trip to the beach, it’s amazing how healing a swim in salt water can do!

How to reduce everyday radiation exposure whilst pregnant

I was getting ready for the day and my husband was baffled with the layers of items I was putting on as I was getting dressed. I’m sure he was thinking if I was getting ready for battle. In a sense, I kind of was. Other than a bra and undies, I was wearing a radiation shielding belly band and a supportive pregnancy belt before I had even put any clothes on. Just in case your wondering, I’m 30 weeks pregnant.

Most people might be aware of pregnancy belts which are designed to support a growing belly and help reduce lower back pain but many might not know what a radiation shielding belly band is. Have you heard of it?

I definitely didn’t when I was pregnant with my first child!

As a work from home mum and running an online business, I spend a lot of time on my phone and computer. I was already concerned about radiation in our home, every night I turn off the WIFI and put my mobile phone on aeroplane mode charging in a separate room.

Now that I’m pregnant with my second child, I bought myself a radiation shielding belly band and blanket from Radia Smart and I use these two products every day when I learnt that a child’s head absorbs more radiation than adult, I can’t imagine the impact it would be for brain development for a growing fetus.

Everyday radiation is a health risk. As an OBGYN, I recommend my pregnant patients and those looking to conceive to minimize their exposure, and using a barrier from possible radiation sources is a practical way to do this.

Dr. Huai-Yan Ang, Obstetrician & Gynecologist

What is radiation?

Radiation is energy, it’s something we can’t see but affects us. A good example is sunshine radiation. Depending on the weather, time of year and day, it’s the effect on us varies on how the sun’s strength, distance to our location and how long we are in the sunshine for.

The radiation I’m most concerned about is the artificial radiation that is emitted by things such as mobile phones, laptops, computers, power lines, cell phone towers, wireless networking, cordless headsets and microwaves. I think we can all agree that mobile phones would be the number one source of everyday radiation particularly for the most part it’s always switched on and we carry it with us at all times. We pretty much do everything with our mobile phones, I know for me I use it a lot for navigation, as an alarm, timer when I’m cooking, banking and online shopping on top of using it for work and keeping in touch with friends and family.

Why is too much exposure is bad for our health?

Both human and animal studies report large immunohistological changes in mast cells, and other measures of immune disfunction and disregulation due to exposure to ELF and RF at environmental levels associated with new electrical and wireless technologies.

Dr Olle Johansson

What we know about radiation is that it has a biological impact on cell growth, DNA replication and brain function. I don’t know how many times, I’ve had to stop women placing their mobile phones in their bra, on their lap or anywhere near their reproductive organs and recommending them to go back to corded headphones. I guess this would also apply for men too, carrying their mobile phones in the front pockets and this latest obsession with smart-watches.

I think also we need to consider the impact of baby development in the first trimester when cell division is so critical. Reducing exposure needs to be taken into consideration even before conception occurs.

A joint study conducted by Denmark and United States surveyed the mothers of over 13000 children who were aged seven between 2005 and 2006, they found that mothers who had used a mobile phone while they were pregnant were 54% more likely to have children with behavioural problems, such as hyperactivity and difficulties interacting with other children. ¹

Photo by Bruce Mars

How can we reduce our everyday radiation exposure?

There are two main ways:

  1. Get rid of the source or significantly reduce the exposure to the source
  2. Use products that help reduce the exposure to the radiation.

With mobile phones, I prefer to use a corded headset or use the speaker function. The added benefit is that you don’t have to charge corded headsets! I always have my phone or tablet on aeroplane mode when my son is using it. So make sure you have pre-loaded games and movies ready to go. I don’t wear my mobile, it’s either in my bag or up high. I know when I hold my mobile phone for too long, the heat and radiation start affecting my arthritis so limited use is intentional when checking emails and social media.

Since my work life revolves around my laptop, I make sure I never rest my laptop on my body. I will only use this at a table or desk and if I haven’t got my radiational shielding belly band on, I’ll use my radiation shielding blanket.

RadiaSmart has a bundle deal I purchased that includes the belly shield and blanket. I would recommend to start using radiation shielding products before conception even occurs if you are trying to fall pregnant. You can use my referral code MERLY to get a $10 discount.P.S Join to my mailing list for more tips and support about hormonal health, fertility and pregnancy aswell as exclusive offers. Subscribe here

What fruits and vegetables to avoid

The Environmental Working Group EWG released the 2019 Dirty Dozen where they have listed my son’s favourite fruit, strawberries at the top of the list.

Although sometimes it can be expensive to buy organic (certified or uncertified), you can skip organic produce listed under the Clean 15 and try to aim for organic produce listed under the Dirty Dozen below:

  • Strawberries
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Nectarines
  • Apples
  • Grapes
  • Peaches
  • Cherries
  • Pears
  • Tomatoes
  • Celery
  • Potatoes

However it’s still better and healthier to eat fresh locally grown produce, even if it’s not organic than nothing at all.

There is nothing more satisfying and beautiful than seeing a plate full of colourful fruits and vegetables being enjoyed by the whole family.

What’s your favourite fruit or vegetable?

Self-care during pregnancy

Your mental health during pregnancy is just as important as your physical health if not more. I find if I’m not mentally well, it’s hard for me to have the energy and motivation to do the things that are good for me, like eating nutritious foods and engaging in fulfilling exercise.

For me, checking items off my to do list actually release oxycontin, the happiness hormone but sometimes I can get a little bit too carried away and next thing I discover is that I’ve said yes to too many things and I’m feeling more stressed than accomplished.

So it’s important that we check-in with ourselves on a daily basis and one of the most simple ways is, meditation. Meditation isn’t about sitting cross legged and saying ommmm and waiting for enlightenment. For many, it’s an opportunity to go inwards. To seek guidance from our own inner wisdom that often we neglect. Women’s intuition is a powerful tool that sometimes we overlook. When we scheduled 10 minutes day for some quiet time, it’s amazing what can happen. It’s very common to feel “too busy” to meditate but what you’ll discover that meditating actually helps you become more productive, intentional and focused. You actually get time back threefold!

Right now I’m 26 weeks pregnant and admittedly there are moment that I’d like to go and have a 6 week vacation to get away but for me that’s not quite that practical with all the things that’s going on in my life. However incorporating a few minutes to recentre and rejuvenate as part of my daily routine helps me feel happier and supports me to make healthier and better choices.

Here are some soul nourishing tips that you can implement straight away:

Enjoy eating without technology

For many women, we have a negative relationship with our food. Eating while watching a series, scrolling on our mobile phones or working actually robs us of the enjoyment of eating and it encourages mindless eating.

When I use to work on corporate, it was common to see women eating at their desk thinking that multi-tasking was going to save them time but does it really?

I know for me sleep is so important, I’ve actually made it a rule not to watch a series whilst pregnant, getting hungry at midnight and eating out the fridge only to find myself at 4am finishing a series then to be greeted by a toddler at 6am to start his day.

Take every opportunity to eat for quiet reflection or to catch up with your partner, friends and loved ones as a great way to refocus, connect and eat mindfully.

Do one task at a time

In the home when your pregnant, you might have this desire to start nesting and suddenly by the end of the day, you discover that you have created more mess! Although women are great at multi-tasking, it can also make us less efficient because we are devoting ourselves to multiple tasks at once.

Checking items off your to-do list actually releases oxytocin so even if you just have a list that says something like, do the dishes after every meal and complete 1 basket of laundry each day, it can be quite fulfilling.

Tip: Putting a timer on for 10 – 15 minutes and focusing on one area of the house a day.

Put your phone to bed

Not take your phone to bed! These days it’s hard to imagine living without our mobile phones, we use it to get to places, stay connected to the people we love and to research pregnancy and baby stuff! But at the end of a long day, adopting a “no phone in bed” policy can be key in getting a good night’s rest.

Sleep is essential for the energy to help your baby grow, so relaxing and unwinding and creating your own bedtime routine is so imperative to setting your body and mind for bed. The blue light from the phone screen and alluring desire to see what’s happening on social media, flicking through Netflix or checking your email just one more time can make it harder to fall asleep. So try putting your phone to bed charging in a separate room.

Do you have some tips on self care tips that helped you when you were pregnant?


Would you like help in incorporating self care in your life? Curious about how health coaching can help you make your own healthy changes? Let’s talk! Schedule a free maternal wellness and self-care assessment with me today.

Learn more about my training and my unique approach to health coaching.

How to make the sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is a great staple to have in the fridge to add to any dish as a side, awesome salad replacement when you’re lazy and strange I know but pretty nice in smoothies too!

This has got to be the easiest recipe. It just requires a bit of manual labour but it’s all worth the effort.

  • Slice red cabbage as thinly as possible. The thinner the slicers the better. If you have a food processors or slicer, this would be very handy. Unfortunately I don’t and if you don’t either, don’t worry – you’ll still make delicious sauerkraut.
  • Place the sliced red cabbage in a big bowl and add a teaspoon of pink salt. Massage the red cabbage until the cabbage starts to glisten. You’ll start to notice, the cabbage is also sweating. The more sweat, the better.
  • Once you are happy with the amount of juice, place the sliced red cabbage and juice in a jar. Make sure the brine is covering all the cabbage. You can place a smaller jar with (sand / water inside) as a weight or rocks to help the cabbage submerge.
  • Cover with a tea towel and secured with a rubber band. You can leave the sauerkraut to ferment for a couple of days. Keep tasting it every now and then until you have the desired taste and texture. I have my fermenting between 3 – 7 days depending how quickly I want some. Once the sauerkraut has reached the taste and texture to your liking, place the jar it in the fridge and consume within a week.

Tip: make sure the red cabbage is at room temperature. I made this sauerkraut while the cabbage was cold from the fridge and almost froze my fingers off!

Should you become a health coach with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition?

I graduated in November 2018 from The Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) and I loved it every minute of it.

When I enrolled I was a stay-at-home mum and breastfeeding my 9 month old baby and this transition into motherhood was a turning point for me to turn my passion for health and wellness into a career.

My story

Prior to enrolling into IIN, I had been researching a couple of courses, I looked into counselling, naturopathy and life coaching but something about IIN really resonated with me.

About a decade ago I studied with the Australasian College of Natural Therapies to study Nutritional Medicine but didn’t complete it due to lifestyle circumstances at the time.

So when I happen to come across a friend who had studied with IIN, I reached out and everything she shared with me, I just knew it was exactly what I was looking for. That’s why I believe it’s so important to be able to talk to someone who has gone through it, especially in Australia when health coaching is in it’s infancy.

When I look back, I don’t know how I was able to run my online wellness and consulting business, function as a co-sleeping and breastfeeding mama and still manage to fit in my study.

It really came down to the fact that studying with IIN felt so aligned with what I wanted to do with my future. So instead of feeling tired at the end of the day, I was excited to be studying between naps and from the hours of 9pm to midnight!

What is the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN)

IIN is the world’s largest nutrition school that offers a year-long online program designed for people who are passionate about health and wellness.

Perhaps you just want to study for your own personal benefits, launch a new career or adding it to your existing business in health and fitness.

Below you can download a sample class:

What is a health coach?

Firstly, Health Coaches do not replace the role of a GP, Psychologist, Nutritionist, Dietitian or any other allied health professional.

The same way a Fitness Personal Trainer can work in partnership with a Physiotherapist, is the same as a Health Coach can work closely with GPs, specialists and other allied health professionals to support clients in their journey to build healthy new habits and create sustainable dietary and lifestyle changes.

Whilst studying, I developed a strong understanding of many dietary theories however this is considered secondary in our training, primarily we focus on the food that nourishes the soul such as things like fulfillment in relationships, career, exercise, spirituality and home environment to name a few and how this has an impact on our health.

Our lifestyle choices are interrelated to our food choices.

I’ve heard some Health Coaches say they are like Life Coaches with an emphasis on food, self-care and healthy living.

The mission of the school is to “play a crucial role in improving health and happiness, and through that process, create a ripple effect that transforms the world.”

What I loved about the health coaching training program

  • It’s a 1-year program that’s delivered entirely through an impressive online learning platform where you can study from your phone, pretty useful when I had to maximise my time like breastfeeding or trips to the grocery store
  • They have a coaching circle where you get to speak to a Mentor and other students to delve into more what you’re learning and putting it into practice
  • They have a Facebook Group dedicated to all the students that are studying the same time as you, so you can connect with students in your country and abroad
  • You’ll learn over 100 dietary theories as well as business skills and coaching training
  • The school teaches you how to work with clients one-on-one, run group programs and hold workshops
  • IIN covers cutting-edge, modern, traditional, and holistic nutrition concepts you won’t find in a traditional nutrition program
  • You’ll fall in love with it’s founder Joshua Rosenthal, hubby called him my boyfriend because I talked about him so much
  • IIN has a global community of over 100,000 students and graduates from over 150 countries and provides ongoing training and support

Sharing the love

Graduating from IIN was a turning point in my life. I had already had years of experience running workshops and coaching people 1:1 in my corporate career and online wellness business and doing this course was the next piece of the puzzle.

I get questions all of the time about my journey as a health coach, I love sharing information about the program with anyone else who might benefit from it and created this post specifically to answer the most frequent questions I get.

This may or may not be for you but if you’re curious about starting your journey? I’ll be in touch to answer any specific questions and I can share exactly how much you can save through me. Click here to chat!

As an IIN Ambassador, I received a small commission for every person who signs up and mentions that I have referred them. I choose to be an Ambassador because I had such an amazing experience and it has changed my life!

Ready to enrol?

Call (844) 780-3300 (US) 212-730-5433 (International) to speak with an admissions advisor, or email: admissions@integrativenutrition.com to schedule an appointment.

Be sure to mention “Merly Hartnett” as your referrer to get you savings and bonuses!