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Helpful Tips

know the signs of burnout

Know The Signs Of Burnout

know the signs of burnout

Know The Signs Of Burnout

task virtual assistant
Burnout is often mistaken for being overworked, burning the candle at both ends, all work no play, you get the idea. And while yes, all those can and will lead to burnout, it's also important to know there are other factors such as hating your job, your situation, or not getting the support or appreciation you need from others. The thing is burnout can be prevented if you know what to watch for and what to avoid.

 

First, understand that burnout is essentially a state of chronic bad stress that leads to physical and emotional exhaustion, detachment and cynicism, feelings that you aren’t accomplishing anything, and that everything you do is ineffective and doesn’t matter. While, at the same time, feeling irreplaceable and unable to say no to anything. It’s like being stuck in a revolving door. Many new entrepreneurs experience this in the form of imposter syndrome, meaning they lack confidence in their skills and work twice as hard to prove they are "worthy". This can start a downward negative spiral about what they're doing, and soon, all the joy and anticipation felt when they first embarked disappears as they work harder and harder but never get anywhere. You’re tired, overworked, and not accomplishing your goals. In all the chaos, you may not even have goals to check.  So what can you do? The best way to protect yourself against burnout is to understand the signs to watch out for.

 

One or more of the following signs can signal either outright burnout or the potential to experience burnout if mitigation methods aren’t imposed.

 

Chronic Fatigue and Insomnia

It’s often one of the first signs. If you are always tired, or you can’t sleep, or both, primarily due to circular thoughts about the work you’re doing, it can be due to burnout or approaching burnout. Get checked out by your doctor to ensure you don't have any physical reason that keeps you up at night. Then try meditating, or deep breathing exercises, twice a day. 5 minutes in the morning, and 5-10 minutes at night before bedtime. Also, make sure you're getting some physical exertion during the day - a 30-minute walk will do wonders to help your brain turn off the daytime drama.

 

Forgetfulness, Lack of Productivity and Poor Performance

Directly related to fatigue and insomnia. When you can’t sleep well or concentrate, it is natural that you may forget things, not work fast as you did before, and do things poorly. If this continues unchecked, you will end up in that revolving door. Practice self-care now.

 

Inattentiveness and Detachment

It’s hard to focus and pay attention when you’re suffering from burnout, and it can look like detachment and even inattentiveness. If you have been accused of this by someone else, pay attention.

 

Isolation, Apathy, and Hopelessness

When burnout gets really bad, you might want to pull away from others due to not caring about anything. If you feel like your actions don’t matter, it can lead to hopelessness. If you find yourself self-isolating or feeling like it will never get better, talk to someone. A trusted friend, clergyman, family member. Oftentimes just reaching out will help turn things around.

 

Illness and Physical Symptoms

The thing about mental and emotional distress, they can lead to physical illness. You can become more susceptible to colds and infections because your defenses are down. If you're suddenly getting sick for no reason - ok the toddler's birthday party last week might have played a role - It could be a sign to look at your self-care routine. .

 

Lack of Appetite or Poor Diet

All the feelings you’re experiencing can cause you to either not eat at all or eat very poorly. It might not seem apparent immediately but eating a diet high in nutrition is one of the ways to avoid burnout and adverse health outcomes such as diabetes.

 

Anxiety and Depression

Mental illness can also rear it’s head as you are experiencing burnout. Sometimes it’s due to nutritional imbalances, or chemical imbalances, but sometimes it’s situational. Depression is not to be ignored.

Anger, Pessimism, and Loss of Enjoyment

When you are experiencing the brunt of burnout, you may act out with hostility due to being disillusioned about business and life. You may micromanage your employees, or show annoyance towards a client. If you aren’t enjoying it and feel like you never will, you will in all likeliness experience burnout.

 

If you aren’t enjoying your business or your life as you once did, and the feelings of discontentment are intruding on your ability to move forward, you may be experiencing burnout. If you think you are, it’s a good idea to start right now, today, creating a plan that will work better for you as an entrepreneur. After all, you deserve all the good things in life, including security, satisfaction, and joy.

 

If you feel depressed, or find yourself idealizing death, please seek professional medical care. You can call the US National Suicide hotline to get help at 1-800-273-8255.

Trying to do it all?  Imagine if you could get rid of all the time-wasting tasks that clog up your schedule, and just focus on what matters most to your business. Sounds good, right?

Contact me at Info@thetaskva.com for more information, or schedule a quick 15-minute chat.

Take our quiz and see if you need a helping hand

client communication

How To Communicate With Your Client

client communication

How To Communicate With Your Client

TASK Virtual Assistant

As a small accounting firm, your main goal is to deliver an exceptional client experience to everyone who solicits you for business.

However, building trust and confidence in your clients isn't just about offering a great product or delivering world-class service. Well, it is, but it's also more than that.

Communication plays a huge role in whether people decide to become repeat clients of yours.

After all, even if we're doing our very best job for people, sometimes things go wrong that are outside the realm of our control. Let's face it, most accounting clients dread hearing from their accountant. Very rarely is it good news.

You must be able to communicate effectively and quickly with your clients. How you handle the difficult moments and how you choose to communicate with clients during a high-pressure situation is the real test that determines whether or not they'll return again despite the difficulties that cropped up.

Remember, how you communicate to your clients is the key to helping them grow confidence in your ability to deliver. Therefore, it's crucial that you:

🗝  Remain calm and reassuring throughout your ongoing dialogue with clients.

🗝  Convey a certain sense of empathy so the client will get the impression that you genuinely care.

🗝  When circumstances call for it, apologize or offer to make good on a situation if necessary.

🗝  Help clients stay on track with shared goals rather than dwelling on what may not have happened.

It also helps to remind them why they chose you. It would be best if you always infused the following in any communication with clients:

✔️The value you provide to them.

✔️ How it can help them.

✔️ Let them know they have options and tell them why they are.

✔️ This is also an excellent time to review what you need from them to keep the job moving forward.

And always let them know who to contact if they need support.

Do you control your day, or do your tasks control you? Take our short quiz and find out. The results may surprise you (or maybe not).

Check it out for yourself!  Click below to get started

time management

5 Tips To Stay Ahead Of The Curve

time management

5 Tips to Stay Ahead of the Curve

task virtual assistant

Running an accounting firm is not easy, and oftentimes, not the most exciting. There are so many mundane, everyday tasks necessary to keep the business running. Tasks such as filing, billing, and data entry bog down a daily task list; they have to be done, but not by you! Hiring a virtual assistant can be a simple solution. But how do you know when to outsource? These five tips will keep you ahead of the curve by helping you sort through your tasks and decide what you can do and what you could be letting someone else do.

1. Set S.M.A.R.T Goals

Have you looked at where your firm is, and where you want it to be? Do you have a clear road map to get there? Many times, we fail to reach our goals because we haven’t defined them clearly. It’s simply not enough to say, “I want to make more money this year,” or “I’d like to spend more time with my family.” Your goals need to be very specific. They should provide direction, and motivation, and clarify the importance of what you’re aiming for. Setting up SMART goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely is a recipe for success! So, instead of "I want to make more money this year", say, "I will increase sales 17% by end of Q4".

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2. Know Your Why

Once you settle on a goal and a specific target, you need to clarify the purpose of the goal, or ‘your why’ If your goal, for example, is to increase earnings over last year, determine WHY you need more money. Do you want to take on more clients, or maybe you want to staff the office?

 

The ‘why’ is more important than the ‘what’.  Your ‘why’ is the foundation, the passion driving you. If you lose sight of why you have settled on your goal, it will be much more difficult to stay motivated.

3. Work Smarter Not Harder!

Building a successful accounting firm isn’t easy. Many accountants burn out within the first 5 years. They lose the passion and the drive that is necessary to stay competitive, especially if they are too busy working 70+ hours a week. Believe it or not, there is proven research behind the 40-hour workweek. It wasn’t designed to help workers, but to boost productivity, which has been shown to drop dramatically after working more than 40 hours per week for a month. Being busy is not the same as being productive.

 

time management

Let me say that again - Being busy is not the same as being productive.  Top performers focus on the activities that support their goals. They leverage technology and other services to help them be more productive.

4. Create A Daily Task CheckList

If I were asked which one of the five tips I'm providing is the most important, it would be this one. A task checklist is a visual tool of accountability.  Start the first 10 minutes of your day by writing down all the things you need to accomplish. Ask yourself: which activities generate the most income? Begin prioritizing your most income-producing tasks first using the Eisenhower matrix:

time management

1. Do First

Tasks in the green box should be the core tasks that directly earn you money such as responding to new leads and current clients.

2. Schedule

Important, but not urgent tasks belong in the blue box.  Schedule tasks like continuing education, reading the latest IRS updates and researching virtual assistants.

3. Delegate

The yellow box should be reserved for less important tasks, but need to be done rather quickly. These are tasks that do not necessarily have to be done by you. These tasks can and should be, delegated to someone else. Hiring a Virtual Assistant is a great way to delegate tasks.

4. Don’t do

The red box is for STOP. These are the tasks that aren’t helping you at all. For most people, these will be time-wasters such as spending time on social media related. For example, have you been spending an hour a day on Facebook with nothing to show for it? Probably time for a new strategy. These tasks should definitely be turned over to a Virtual Assistant.

Prioritizing your daily tasks will make you that much more productive and mindful of how you spend your time. By using a Task Checklist daily, you’ll start to recognize patterns in your routine and find solutions to improve your results.

5. Hire a Virtual Assistant

 

No one person can do it all. Delegate or outsource everything except the stuff you’re good at because it allows you to focus on the tasks that you’re amazing at, like analyzing the numbers!

Virtual AssistantLook back on your daily task checklist, how many of the tasks are not high priority or goal-oriented, but need to get done? How many of those tasks can you delegate to your VA - social media accounts, your monthly mailings, engagement letters, administrative tasks.

A virtual assistant is your customizable asset!

7 tax time tips

7 Tax Time Tips

7 Tax Tips

7 Tax Time Tips

Prepare Now, No Stress Later

task virtual assistant

April 18th  will be here before you know it (March 15th for many small businesses). Start getting ready today with our FREE Tax Guide and ChecklistPreparing ahead of time for the filing of your income taxes can reduce your stress.

For many reasons, feelings of dread and the tax season seem to go hand in hand.  Waiting until the last minute to file and scrambling to find your documents will only add to that sense of dread and elevate your stress levels. Follow these seven tips to get organized and file your taxes on time:

1. Collect all income related documents

W-2 Forms: If you held a job in 2021, you should have a W-2 for each job. Find the W-2s for each person in the household that worked. A W-2 contains your wage information and the various taxes that were withheld. Your employer is responsible for getting this form to you by February 1, 2022.

1099s: You should receive a 1099 based on the source of income such as NEC: contract labor, G: unemployment, MISC: school loans, gambling winnings, DIV: Dividends, INT: Interest Income.

1098: You can find payment information on your 1098  for items such as property taxes and school loan payments.

Other income-related documents and Information:

    • Various income and interest statements from your bank or brokerage. Ensure you have a statement for each account.
    • Bank account number: If you’d like your refund deposited into your account, you’ll need your account number and routing number. This information can be found at the bottom of your checks.

Be sure to review all the forms and information. Is everything accurate? It’s not unusual to find a mistake or two. Take the time to review all documents with a fine-tooth comb!

2. Collect all paid receipts

  • Collect any work-related receipts for anything you purchased for your job and didn’t receive reimbursement. If you are self-employed, the list of qualifying items is likely to be much longer. Computers, furniture, marketing expenses, and utilities are all viable deductions for the self-employed. Using a Profit & Loss (Income) statement during the year is a great way to keep it all organized. Bonus: you can track your monthly cash flow at any point and adjust your goals as necessary.
  • Hiring a bookkeeper will take the burden off your plate, and in many cases, it's tax-deductible! 

3. Collect proof of energy-efficient improvements

  • Did you make any energy-efficient improvements during 2021?  You may be able to take a credit of 30% of the cost, limited to $500. Items like insulation and energy-efficient doors and windows qualify. Have your receipts handy.

4. IRA/Retirement Documents

  • Collect proof of your IRA contributions. Cancelled checks or the brokerage statement are ideal. Your employer will provide your 401(k) contribution information.
  • You will also need any payouts you received such as lump-sum distributions. You might have gathered this with your income related documents, so go ahead and put it in a separate pile. This type of distribution is not considered income, but may still be taxable.

5. Social Security Documents

  • Collect social security information for everyone in the household you will be claiming on your return.  The social security number is required to ensure that each child/dependent is only claimed once. If you have a young child, it might be necessary to apply for a social security number. IMPORTANT: You must have a social security number for all dependents before any applicable tax credits will apply. This includes credits such as Earned Income Credit (EIC), Child/Dependent Care Credit, and Child Tax Credit.

6. Charitable Donations

  • Collect information regarding charitable donations. It’s becoming more important with each passing year to be able to detail and substantiate your charitable donations. Receipts are especially important. Taking pictures of donated items isn’t necessary, but recommended. Cancelled checks and credit card statements are also important.

7. Review Last Year

  • Review last year’s tax return. Last year’s return can be useful. You might find a carry forward from last year that should be applied to your current tax return. This is especially true for business gains/losses and depreciation.

Filing taxes doesn’t have to be a stressful process. Organization is the key. Keep track of your important documents and receipts. Take pictures of items you’re donating.

Make next year better than this year. After your return is filed, develop a system to manage your documents and receipts for next year. Choose a place to store everything you’ll need for the next time. A small amount of preparation can make everything easier in the future. When tax season rolls around, you’ll be ready to go!

The Kaizen Way to Better Computer Performance

computer speed

The Kaizen Way to Better Computer Performance

task virtual assistant

If you run a business then you may be familiar with the concept of Kaizen, a technique designed to improve your business process. This basically means making continuous improvements to your business model and workflow so that you see exponential gains in your productivity and profits. When we think about making small changes on a regular basis in order to ultimately improve on a larger scale, it brings to mind areas like Financial, Business, Personal Goals, Relationships, and Health. But there is another time-leak source that is often overlooked - your computer's boot-up time. And it could be costing you money.

The Time You've Lost
A good computer should boot up in approximately 1-2 minutes. Bad ones though can take anywhere between 5 and 10 minutes. And while 10 minutes a day might not seem like the end of the world, it's worth bearing in mind that that's 50 minutes a week. 50 minutes a week meanwhile is 200 minutes a month, which is 2,400 minutes a year. To put that in further perspective, that's 40 hours a year.

Imagine what you could have accomplished in 40 hours a year!

Now apply that to an office full of workers. If you have a team of 20 people, all with computers that take 10 minutes to load, then you've lost 800 hours of work every year! That's like having 33 extra sick days in that year and all the while you'll still be paying the heating bill and rent. Not to mention, computers that are slow to boot tend to be slow to run also. So you've probably actually lost much more time than that in reality.

Hopefully, this has made it clear how important it is to keep your computers running smoothly. Follow these simple steps and you will speed up your boot time, help keep your computer running efficiently, and maybe even increase your ROI:

Delete unnecessary files and empty the recycle bin

You should check your files regularly as well as empty your recycle bin. Files in the recycle bin are still on the hard drive, and as the hard drive nears capacity, your computer will slow down.

Run virus checks and malware checks on a regular basis.

Malware can seriously impact your computer's performance and significantly increase your bootup time. Make sure you keep your software updated to the latest version. You can find out more about Malware in my course "Cybersecurity At Home".

Stop unnecessary programs from starting when you start your computer.

Many apps, or startup programs, automatically load while your system is starting up. Reducing the number of active startup programs is an effective way to get a fast startup in Windows 10.

Upgrade your hard drive.

It takes much longer to load Windows on an older hard disk drive (HDD) than on a newer and faster solid-state drive (SSD). SSDs access data instantaneously, which can load your files in seconds rather than minutes. Now that's ROI!

Upgrade to Windows 10 or 11

If you're running  Windows, upgrading to Windows 10 or 11 will make a big difference in your bootup time. Also, enable fast startup in Windows 10. This can be done through "Power & Sleep" under "Additional Power Settings" in the Windows 10 settings menu.

This is one example of how making a very small change can have profound impacts on your productivity, overheads, and profits. Imagine what else you could accomplish if you took this approach in every area of your business?

prepare for your return

Tips For A Smooth Return After The Holidays

Holiday vacation

Tips For a Smooth Return After the Holidays

thetaskva

Taking some time off during the Holidays? Looking forward to enjoying some festivities, but dread the mountain of work you know will be waiting when you return? Make a few preparations now, before you leave, and follow some tips when you return, to help ease you back into a routine and maybe even stretch your relaxed and festive mood well into the first week or two of the new year!

christmas

Tips Before You Leave:

Automate Your Email

Create Rules to Filter Emails:

Setting up filters to determine which emails should receive priority upon your return is a huge time saver! Gmail allows you to mark which email type, or contact, as important or with a star. You can even color-code your stars in order of priority in the Settings section.

In Outlook, go to “Rules & Alerts”. There you can fully customize how you want your incoming messages to behave. Sending them to a folder or marking as high priority, are just a couple of timesaving filters.

Out of Office Automatic Reply:

First, take time right now to set up your Out-Of-Office and Voicemail message. These are probably the two most overlooked yet simplest tasks to quickly take care of. Outlook’s “Automatic Replies” and Gmail’s Vacation Reply will let you schedule the OOO in advance. Your message can be anything from “I’m outta here!” (not really recommended ????) to something more elaborate with information the sender may need. You can also decide if you want the automatic reply to go to everyone, even those outside your organization, or contact list only.

Most voicemails will let you schedule an outgoing message to run at a specific time, but if your phone system doesn’t allow for advance messaging, write the message out now and have it ready to quickly record.

Remember, the idea of advanced settings is so you don’t stress yourself unnecessarily by waiting until 5 minutes before you’re trying to get out the door!

Organize Your Calendar Now

Schedule Meetings Now:

That New Year staff meeting can wait until  Tuesday afternoon – 2:30PM to be exact – after you return. A study by YouCanBookMe, shows this to be the very best time to schedule a meeting. Also, don’t forget to schedule a reminder, preferably with a scheduled email in addition to the popup reminder notification.

And, while you’re adding meetings to your calendar, I want you to schedule 3 lunches your first week back. As you ease your way back into the routine, time away becomes paramount. Schedule alternate days (I recommend this!), or consecutively, but do it in “ink” and do not allow yourself to cancel.

Make Time to Socialize:

Michael Kerr, an international business speaker and author of "The Humor Advantage,” recommends:

"If your work situation permits it, leave a day after you've 'officially' booked off and arrive a day before you've announced your official return. This buys you an extra distraction-free day at both ends of your vacation so that you leave feeling better prepared and more relaxed and return to work without feeling overwhelmed."

 Another wiggle room tip is your catch-up time. Everyone wants to catch up, get the details of your holiday, whether they stop by your desk, or catch you in the Zoom meeting,  these quick “water cooler” chats can quickly morph into a time vampire! Block about 30 minutes of “catch up” time to socialize and catch up with your office pals. Scheduling this time will help avoid unnecessary interruptions and keep you focused.

Prioritize Your Task List:

Make a complete list of all the projects you are working on. Are there any projects that have been on a backburner for over a year, take a good look at it – are you really going to work on them? Can they be delegated or even discarded? Take a few minutes to prioritize everything – use the Eisenhower Matrix to help organize these projects. Your “vacation brain” will thank you when it’s time to jump back into things.

time management
The Eisenhower Decision Matrix

Set up your return task list now for at least the first two days back. When adding tasks, keep it real! Don’t set unrealistic deadlines for your first day back and don’t try to do everything on that first day, this will only leave you overwhelmed, underproductive, and put you behind in your work.

The first day should be sorting through and answering priority emails, just dip your toe in the water, no cannonballs on this day!

Day two should consist of your top three priorities, in order of deadline dates.

Schedule Social Media Posts

Schedule your Holiday messages now using programs such as Hootsuite and Sendible. You can also schedule posts directly on your Facebook and Instagram business pages using Publishing Tools.

If you have a lot of customer interaction, you could hire a Virtual Assistant to reply to comments and private messages, and keep the engagement going.

Communicate

Get in touch with your clients and let them know you’ll be away. If you’re able, have a backup contact for them in case any urgent needs arise.  Clients will appreciate the high-touch service.

Kerr says:

"Contact any high-priority clients before going to make sure you've answered any questions and addressed their needs before heading out. It's not only a great customer service habit to get into, it will give you greater peace of mind. It also gives you a simple but legitimate excuse to reach out to clients you may not have talked to in a while."

If you work with a team, make sure everyone is aware of your travel plans and how to reach you in case of an emergency.

Clean Up Your Desk

About 20 minutes before the end of your day, take some time to clean up your desk. Put away the files you’ve been working on, put books back where they belong, straighten up the supplies. Take one last look at your Task list. Are there any projects that have been on a backburner for over a year – are you really going to work on them? Can they be delegated or even discarded?

christmas

Tips For Your Return:

Stealth Mode 

Try to stay in a selective stealth mode the first few days back, giving those that “need to know” a heads up about your return.  Break up the first few days into little chunks. For example, take care of emails and phone calls on the first day,  and review reports on day two.

Do Not Stay Late

As tempting as it might be, slowly easing back into that full “work late” schedule will help you be more focused and productive.

Part of the lure of a vacation is that you're free to do as you please. Work often seems like the end of the fun part of your vacation. Nonetheless, with a bit of strategic planning, and following a few return tips, you can help relieve the stress of the return and harness the excitement and happiness of your vacation.

christmas

Happy Holidays!

handwritten letter, letter writing

The Handwritten Letter

letter writing, handwritten letter

The Handwritten Letter

task virtual assistant

Letter writing seems to be a lost art in today's age of instant messaging and email. However, whether it's the power of the written word or the belief that a handwritten letter is more meaningful and unique, it is still alive and kicking as many people prefer to receive handwritten letters and cards.

I remember receiving my birthday card, or an encouraging note (on a notecard!) from the VP of our division, back in my Corporate life. I cannot express how I felt opening that card and reading the handwritten note from her. Even more amazing, was knowing that she took the time to write a personalized message in all the notes and cards she sent out, to all the employees. This is the same tradition my mother instilled in us girls, and I hope I have passed it on to my daughter. The handwritten letter or note is about as personal as you can get, and something I do in my business today.

The process of letter writing has changed over time as we moved more into a digitalized world. However, some people continue to put pen to paper because they believe that there is something more personal about it than other digital formats. Handwritten letters can be more personalized than an email because they can show personality in their words through the actual handwriting itself, or drawing pictures on the letter or card. This personality cannot be replicated in an email or text.

While some people may argue that handwritten letters are less efficient than paperless postcards or emails, there are many benefits to handwritten postcards and letters.

Surprise and delight your clients

Companies should not underestimate the power of handwritten letters. It can increase clients' enthusiasm and surprise them with a personal touch. A handwritten letter helps to form a bond with your client.

Improves your memory

Handwriting helps us remember things better. The act of writing by hand engages more of the brain than typing on a computer or using predictive text on your smartphone. It's easier for us to remember what we've written down if it's in our own handwriting.

Promotes mindfulness

The simple act of handwriting something generates a sense of calm and mindfulness that you can’t get from typing or even talking on the phone. This is the same sense of calm we feel when coloring. Some people use handwritten letters as an excuse to send snail mail – hand-written postcards, letters with drawings, thank you notes, etc. Others use them as a creative outlet – drawing doodles or little sketches on their envelopes for no reason at all.

Allows for reflection and a more thought-provoking message

Handwritten letters are deliberate, thought-provoking, and represent a deeper meaning than an email can. As we move deeper into the digital age and instantaneous writing with predictive text, we sometimes forget how important it is to be intentional with our words and expressions.

Sends the message that you care

Companies that use handwritten postcards or greeting cards for clients show that they have taken the time to personally put something together for them - which is an unexpected touch.

A handwritten letter is a time-honored tradition. It is the perfect way to show someone how much you care. Whether it's a heartfelt note, a long overdue apology, or even an invitation to be your date for the evening—a handwritten letter will express all of your feelings in just the right way.

Handwritten letters are not just about saying what you want to say—they are about who you are as well. Understandably, there are many things that people send by email these days that would have traditionally been sent by paper mail. But if you're looking for something personal and thoughtful, nothing beats the intimacy of the written word on paper!

why do we need cybersecurity

Why Do We Need Cybersecurity?

why do we need cybersecurity

Why Do We Need Cybersecurity?

task virtual assistant
Today is Computer Security Day and I want to answer the question:

Why do we need cybersecurity?

First let me say, I had a completely different statement prepared, until last week. What changed? GoDaddy's major security breach, of which I was affected. I spent pretty much all of last week trying to get in touch with their tech support, and had my awesome web guy, Mark Hunter of MarkOfApproval, looking into what we could salvage if GoDaddy was not able to get me back up and running. It was probably the most stressful week I've had since I launched my business in 2019. And completely avoidable!
Many of you may have heard of GoDaddy's system breach which affected over 1.2 million users, as well as managed hosting resellers. This breach could have been avoidable if GoDaddy had proper cybersecurity systems in place, first and foremost being encrypted passwords! We can make our passwords strong, complicated, and basically unhackable for 30,000+ years, but how secure are we if we write it down and leave it out for anyone to see? Or, if the company there to protect your data is using plain text to store passwords? This is pretty much the same thing as writing it down. Shame on you GoDaddy! The good news is that they are now using encryption. So let's move on to what today is about.
Cybercriminals can make changes in a system without being detected by antivirus, and they know about the software vulnerabilities. They are smart beings and they find ways to get into our systems and create havoc in less time than we expect. One of the most common transgressions is phishing or social engineering--deliberately trying to get you, a family member, or an employee, to download malware or give up their credentials by pretending to be someone they trust. Security experts predict that these malicious activities will only increase in the future, so this is a serious issue that needs our full attention.
Still asking why do we need cyber security? Woman Shrugging on Facebook 13.1 Here are five pretty good reasons why:

Reason #1

Hackers are everywhere; your business rival, your neighbor, or simply a person out to take over your computer. Hackers make use of software loopholes and hijack your computer through backdoors, usually installed programs, or through cracking software. They can gain access to possibly all your personal and sensitive information such as bank accounts, credit cards, or top trade secrets. They can also use your computer to attack other networks, with you oblivious to all the malicious operations.

Reason #2

Internet scams and frauds are rampant. These include phishing, a very organized cybercrime, which deceives people into giving their banking and other sensitive details by pretending to be representatives from legitimate financial institutions, sending e-mail messages, and asking unsuspecting people to verify their passwords, account numbers, and other vital information.

Reason #3

A virus can slow down your computer. Worse, it can cause your system to crash. The virus reaches your system through a number of entryways. One is through unsecured and unknown websites from which you download files, programs, applications, or tools for free. As much as it can infect home computers, viruses can leave damaging effects on companies, both big and small.

Reason #4

Spyware, as the name hints, can spy on you. A computer program automatically installed on your computer, spyware tracks personal information you entered and sends it to its creator. Unlike computer viruses, spyware leaves the computer owners totally unaware of its presence. Most users with infected systems don’t even know that spyware has been installed into their computers.

Reason #5

Adware can fill your screen with those annoying popups. Like spyware, adware penetrates the system through shareware. On its own, it downloads ads and allows them to run and pop up. This proves to be quite annoying for computer owners. But what’s even more troubling is that adware can sometimes contain spyware. This increases the risk for cyber threats.

Computers today are faster and more advanced, and so are the cyber bad guys trying to gain access to your information. Computer Security Day reminds us to protect our computers. The nature of the Internet as a tool for communication and education has been used and misused for personal gain, which has resulted in an unprecedented rise in cybercrime rates. We need Cybersecurity to protect our people and data from threats like ransomware and hackers. The threats are real and they happen more often than we think.

So take a few minutes today to review your cybersecurity habits. Use the #ComputerSecurityDay checklist below to secure your computer.

Enable Windows Update.

Install and keep running antivirus software.

Turn on Windows Firewall.

Keep all software updated. 

Always use strong passwords.

Don’t share passwords and don’t write them down. 

A password is required to access my computer.

Remove unused programs.

Secure your wireless network. 

Back up critical data. 

Use caution when browsing the Internet. 

I log off the computer when I’m not using it.

My web browser does not store or remember my passwords.

Periodically remove temporary Internet files.

Spread the word on social media using #ComputerSecurityDay to inform others how they can secure their data!

cybersecurity at home

For more information on how you can protect yourself, your family, and your home-based business, grab my e-course "Cybersecurity At Home". Get it today and use Coupon Code: CSD21 for a 30% discount! Expires midnight 12/1/21.

Read more on the GoDaddy breach here: GoDaddy Breached

12 Ways to Improve Your Mood

mood lifter

12 Ways To Improve Your Mood

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We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming to bring you these much-needed mood-lifting tips.

We set our clocks back an hour this coming Sunday, and, if you're like me, the shift back to standard time might leave you a little less than cheerful. I love Fall: sweater weather, vibrant colors of the leaves, eating pumpkin flavored anything, and not getting the strange looks, but I also love sunlight. Through the technology of Smart Home living, my living room lights are set to come on at sunset, and as it happens every year, they've been coming on a little earlier each night, and I can tell you that when it happens at 4:44 pm on Sunday, my mood will most likely go down with the sun!

Now I can't go through the next five months with a dark cloud over my head, and neither can you. So I put together a list of some of my favorite mood lifters and added a few others I've come across here and there. I can't promise you the daylight will last longer, but your mood will stay up long after the sun goes down.

1. Put some drops of lavender and orange essential oils in a diffuser. This is my go-to mood lifter. These oils have been shown to help with anxiety and promote calmness and positivity.

mood lifters
 

2. Have a snack. A handful of nuts or, my favorite, a square of dark chocolate will send endorphins flooding into your brain and lift your mood fast.

3. Get some natural vitamin D. Go outside and get some fresh air and sunshine. Studies have shown that people who have significant exposure to light have less depression, fewer sleep problems, and are even more productive. If you can't make it outside, go and look out of a window.

4. Go for a walk. Even walking around the block will help to lift your heart rate and energy levels.

mood lifter

5. Close your eyes and focus on your breath. Breathe in and out deeply three times. Focused breathing lowers your blood pressure and calms the mind.

6. Lift your shoulders up to your ears and then let them drop. Do this three times and feel the tension ebb away. It’s easy to hold onto a lot of tension and stress without realizing it.

7. If you’re feeling nervous before an interview or presentation, go into the stairwell or the restroom. Breathing in, open your arms wide, breathing out give yourself a big hug. It’s almost impossible to do this without smiling.

Mood lifter

8. And speaking of smiling, don't forget to smile! Smile and make eye contact with a colleague or the guy in the coffee shop or the person serving you at the deli. The physical act of using your smile muscles can genuinely make you feel happy. And it's contagious. Chances are you'll make them smile too and improve their day.

mood lifter

9. Stand up straight, lift your head and throw your shoulders back. Adopt a superhero pose and feel the change in your energy. 

(Cape is optional 😉)

10. A cup of tea or coffee will instantly lift your mood. You probably know that caffeine is a stimulant, but even low or no caffeine hot drinks will give you a boost or calm you down whether it’s chamomile or green tea, a chai latte or hot water, and lemon.

11. Listen to music that you love. You can choose custom mood music, or play your old favorites. Music has been shown to have a powerful effect on mood. 

12. Ask for a hug. Probably not from your boss, but a family member or friend would love to give you the instant comfort of an embrace.

If you’re feeling a bit blue, give these a try. You'll be back in better spirits before you know it!

Keep Smiling!

success

Are You Living With Purpose?

purpose success passion

Are You Living With Purpose?

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Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.

Throughout history this quote or some version of it, has been used by many. Could this truly be the real secret to success? I certainly do not have the answer to that, but I know that I never feel like I’m working, and I love what I do! I sometimes feel guilty, wondering, am I working hard enough? I feel too good, too happy. I no longer have that toxic stress that plagued me so much in the Corporate world. And for that, I am truly thankful!

Ask yourself “Do I love what I’m doing?” Don’t worry, no one will know the answer but you. However, if you didn’t answer “Hell Yes!” without a moment’s hesitation, it’s possible you have misplaced your sense of purpose. Read on and see if you can find that excitement you once had.

Know Your Purpose

I suspect you want to be your best possible you. How will you know who that person is and what they’re capable of unless you know your purpose?  

Discovering and aligning with your calling means you identify and build on your talents. What is your passion? What do you love doing? Chances are you’re already good at it. Why not focus on your natural gifts and turn them into your greatest strengths?  

Know Your Priorities

Your priorities are shaped by your purpose. Once you know your purpose, it becomes easier to achieve your goals. This clarity means that saying no to some things and a hearty yes to others becomes more natural, and you’ll get ahead much faster.  

Balance It Out

Once you’re comfortable with your purpose, you will find some of the stress and anxiety ease up.  Those little things that added up to big things, no longer seem as important. You don’t have to work 24/7. You know how important it is to stay healthy, emotionally, and physically. People living with purpose make sure to connect with the people they love, and they don’t forget about self-care.  

Follow Your Passion 

Knowing your passion will help you find and nurture your purpose. Passion means energy and motivation; it means being really engaged with life and focusing on getting the most out of it.  A new day is full of opportunities and promise, and you’re ready to go for it! 

Be Happy

This might sound a little surprising, but knowing your purpose and living it,  gives you time to smell the roses. Knowing your purpose takes the anxious edge off things and allows you to feel grateful for where you are now, and to be excited for the future.  

Live in the Now

Perhaps the best part of knowing your purpose is that you relish every moment. There’s no room in your life for regret because everything you do is part of the big adventure. Challenges and setbacks become easier to ride out because you’re not letting failure define you. Being plugged into the present allows you to feel the abundance that’s already in your life.  

Finding your purpose, the reason why you are doing what you do, can turn everything around. It can make your life and work immediately more meaningful, giving you a reason to bound out of bed in the morning instead of grouching your way to the coffee pot.  

And living with that purpose helps to make the tough times easier to deal with, and the good times even better.  

 

time management

The Ivy Lee Time Management Method and Why It Works

time management

The Ivy Lee Time Management Method and Why It Works

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Throughout the years, time management has accumulated many rules and tricks. As a result, there are many proven methods of time management techniques that we use today that appeal to your work type. For example, problem solvers and analytical thinkers may use the Pareto Principle or the Time Blocking Method.  Creative thinkers will do well with the Pomodoro Technique, while critical thinkers may thrive using the Eisenhower Matrix. But only one method boasts simplicity and has stood the test of time and efficiency: The Ivy Lee Method.

What is the Ivy Lee Method?

The method goes back to 1918, when Charles Schwab, president of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation, sought help with making his team more efficient. So he scheduled a chat with Ivy Lee, who was a respected businessman and productivity consultant.

Lee agreed to help, free of charge. His only request was to spend 15 minutes with each of Schwab’s executives. Then, he said if the method worked within three months, Schwab could send him a check for whatever he thought the process was worth. Fast forward three months, and the method, although simple, was worth $25,000 in Schwab’s eyes, saying it had been the “most profitable advice he received.”  

Ready to see the steps for this incredibly simple but powerful time management technique?

The Steps

Step 1:
At the end of each workday, write down six tasks you think are essential to accomplish tomorrow.

Step 2:
Decide priorities for each of those tasks, ranking them in order accordingly.

Step 3:
First thing tomorrow, get started on the first task. Work on it until you finish and then begin the second task. Continue to work through your list, one task at a time.

Step 4:
When you finish your day at work, look at your list. Move any unfinished items to tomorrow’s list of 6 tasks for the day.

Step 5:
Repeat this method every day of the workweek.

Why it Works

As I said, this method is simple, which is precisely why it works so well. With cell phones, social media, and all other forms of advanced technology, we’ve become activity addicts. As a society, we’re often restless and antsy to do a million things at once, multi-tasking.

We used to believe that multi-tasking was the most effective way to work. But neuroscience has now proven that it is the exact opposite. We get less done in more time and end up frazzled at the end of the day. It can take our brains up to 25 minutes to get back into a work rhythm after we’ve been interrupted. When we multi-task, we switch quickly between tasks and never get into a rhythm, which kills our productivity and stresses us out needlessly.

The Ivy Lee Method is straightforward and goal-oriented. It keeps you on track so that multi-tasking and distractions do not interfere with the important stuff. It provides you will the kind of laser-focus that will help you get through your work tasks without breaking a sweat.

 

Want to learn more about prioritizing your tasks and get more done in less time?

Our FREE workbook along with the complete time management series will help you take control and manage your time.

TIME MANAGEMENT WORKBOOK

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Part I – What Is Your Time Vampire

Part II – 12 Steps to Vanquish Your Time Vampires

Part III – Improve Focus and Productivity for Better Time Management

Part IV – The Truth About Procrastinating

Focus

4 Easy Tips To Help You Focus On Success

4 Easy Tips To Help You Focus On Success

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Does this sound familiar: It's 5 o'clock, you've been at your desk for eight hours, but nothing has been crossed off your task list? It's so easy to let your mind get preoccupied and lose track of your goals. And the world is more full of distractions than ever before, and they are all at our fingertips - social networking, computer games, television, mobile devices, Tik Tok! Even if you don't give in to those distractions, there are life distractions - kids, household chores, errands... How do you stay focused on success?

First, it's important to understand that no one can remain focused on one thing all day every day. That would be impossible, especially in this world where multiple demands are characteristic of the average day. But you can focus on success by adopting a successful mindset. Here are some ideas on keeping focused on success.

Keep a Log

Every day, write in a log or journal about what you did for your business that day. Highlight all your successes and things you did toward your goals. If you spent the morning designing a logo, that's not wasted time - that's a success, and a step toward your goal. When you log in this way, you will also be able to see areas where you are losing focus and need to step things up a bit.

Write Your Goals Down

You probably know this, but writing down your goals is important. What you may not have thought of is displaying them where you can see them. Keep them nearby - maybe even frame them - so that you can look often and get your mind back on achieving success. I keep mine pinned to my bulletin board and review them often. 

Visualize

Visualizing takes the concept of the daydream up several notches. You remember the movie  "If you build it, they will come", same with seeing it. Take some time every day to visualize your success. It only takes a few quiet minutes to envision yourself succeeding. Be specific - imagine yourself meeting clients, making them happy, and then imagine those clients telling others. Try to make it real, as if you're watching it happen. Think in vivid colors, sights, and sounds.

Go For It

Experts say that it can hamper your success if you keep thinking you need a backup plan "just in case." It may be better just to go for it 100 percent and not look back. Otherwise, you may jump into your backup plan at the first sign of trouble, and success takes effort.

Gaining control of your focus is no easy task. Once you get into the habit of setting your daily goals and visualizing your successes, you'll get more done with seemingly very little effort.  Taking the time to create new positive habits, and challenging yourself to focus more can all result in a changed attitude and the ability to focus on success.

Not sure where your time is being spent? Download our FREE Time Management workbook and learn:

✓ How to identify things that waste your time

✓ How to determine what is getting done, and if it's the right things

✓ How to better organize your priorities

✓ How to plan your days, weeks, and months to reach your yearly goals

✓ How to improve your focus and productivity

✓ How to stop procrastinating habits and patterns so you get more done in less time

 …and a whole lot more!