fbpx

Helpful Tips

time management

The Ivy Lee Time Management Method and Why It Works

time management

The Ivy Lee Time Management Method and Why It Works

task virtual assistant

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

DOWNLOAD WORKBOOK

Send download link to:

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

Fcous

4 Easy Tips To Help You Focus On Success

4 Easy Tips To Help You Focus On Success

task virtual assistant

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!

Time Vampire

What Is Your Time Vampire?

What Is Your Time Vampire?

Part I of our Time Management Series

One of our most valuable resources is time. In fact, in some ways, time is the only limited resource. Every person has the same time each day to accomplish whatever it is that they desire. On average, most people have approximately the same number of years of life to achieve all that they want too.

If that’s true, why do some people seem to get a fantastic amount accomplished, while others seem to lack time to do the same, even given the same time to get things done?

The truth is that many people sabotage themselves when it comes to being productive. They waste time without even thinking about it, in ways that do not notice, and then wonder how they’ll ever be successful with the limitations given to them.

The first thing to do to eliminate time wasters in your life is to recognize them for what they are and how they affect your life. Once you identify what is wasting your time, either delegate the task or item or eliminate it. That sounds easy, but some things may be more challenging to identify than others.

Grab a pen and paper, find a quiet place, turn off your phone – set up a no distraction zone, and find your time vampires.

Be Honest About How You're Spending Your Time

You’ll need to get real with yourself. It’s so easy to say that you don’t have time for things, but how much time are you really spending on Facebook, watching TV, surfing the Internet, gaming, and doing things that do not lead you toward meeting your responsibilities and realizing your life’s goals? Can you spend your time better? Absolutely!

What is a Timewaster?

For most people, time wasters are apparent. They consist of activities like watching TV, surfing social media, playing games, and doing things that get in the way of productivity haphazardly. For others, they may need to dig to figure out where they’re leaking time. For example, is a friend calling you every day and talking to you an hour or more? Does a co-worker stop by your desk for “one quick question” that turns into a 30-minute chat session?

Even things that seem significant on the surface, like talking to your co-worker, can end up becoming a time sucker if you are allowing it to get in the way of your overall schedule. Write down any item that you think might be a timewaster.

Do you procrastinate on this task?

Now let’s look at some tasks at which you tend to procrastinate. Make a list of them without any judgment. Right now, don’t deem them as timewasters or essential tasks. If you tend to put it off, or often don’t do it until the last possible minute, or even at all (even when it’s needed), write it down.

The truth is, most of the items you procrastinate about are going to be timewasters, but they might not be something you think of immediately as a timewaster. Of course, you must pay your bills, but if you put it off, pay them late, do it last minute, and aren’t scheduling and organizing, you’re wasting time someplace.

What Bottlenecks can you Identify?

Look at a day, or a week, of your life. Write down any times of the day that seem overwhelming in terms of the time you have available versus what you need to accomplish. For example, are you having trouble preparing healthy meals on practice nights? Are you missing deadlines to submit work to clients? Do you often feel rushed and overwhelmed? Write down each time that happens during the week that you monitor.

Each situation needs to be analyzed so that you can figure out how better to accomplish your tasks. For example, on practice nights, eat leftovers for dinner, such as leftover turkey wraps that can easily be thrown together in 15 minutes and eaten with the hands.

Are You Losing Track of Time? Why?

During some portions of your day, you may find that you’re losing track of time when you’re doing those things. For example, some people lose track of time while surfing on the internet, or social media. They’re looking for a 30-minute recipe to cook their favorite meal, but they get sucked into the internet, and it takes an hour or two to find the recipe.

Other things might be less noticeable. However, if you think something takes 30 minutes to do and it really ends up taking an hour or more to do, you’re either losing track of time for some reason, or it really takes longer, and you’ve scheduled incorrectly.

Can You Identify an Outside Source That's Distracting You?

Some timewasters almost seem as if they’re utterly uncontrollable because they come from outside sources. They can be family, friends, colleagues, and bosses, and others, causing the issue for you. Identify these issues for yourself. Once you realize what’s happening, start setting boundaries, or find a way to work around the person or thing distracting you.

People really cannot multitask/ Our brains are simply not wired for it; we just think we can. If you have set aside time to journal each night to become more thankful, you may be wasting time by keeping the television on while doing it. However, knitting a birthday sweater while you watch TV might work out great. The only way to know whether you’re more productive without multitasking or not is to try doing things without multitasking and time yourself.

What Is and What Is Not Getting Done?

Believe it or not, sometimes, the things that are getting done don’t even need to be done and get in the way of you getting important things done.

Make a list of things and tasks that are and are not getting done. What was the purpose of the tasks you completed? Were they a part of your plan, or did you get sidetracked? What about the tasks not getting done at all by you or anyone due to being overlooked. Put all these in order of importance. If you want them to get done, put them at the top of the list. If they don’t matter in the scheme of things, put them at the bottom, and then eliminate them.

Time Vampires

Let's talk about a few of the typical time vampires that you probably want to work on stopping right now. You'll likely find more as you work toward discovery in your situation, but most people can agree that the following are common time suckers that you should stop doing now.

Not Setting Goals

The very first thing you should do is to set goals based on your morals and values for your entire life. Set life goals for your life psychologically, physically, and spiritually in each area of your life, including personal, relationships, and work. For example, if you want to be healthy, you’ll need to set healthy eating goals, healthy exercise goals, and so forth, according to the results you desire.

Once you have set your goals, you need to look hard at the tasks you perform and ask yourself:

Does this task align with my goals?

If you feel any resentment at all about a task, it’s important to ask yourself questions about your goals and how the task helps or does not help.

What deliverable will result from doing this task?

When you do this task, what is the result of doing it?

Does doing this task move me closer to my goals? How?

All of us can be guilty of doing busy work in life. By asking how the task moves you nearer your goals, you will find you can eliminate most busy or filler work. If the task is not moving you toward your goals, and you can do it another way, you should examine that other way to figure out if it’ll work for you. A task that many can identify with is going to meetings. So many meetings are useless and time vampires.

Not Planning and Scheduling What’s Important to You

Once you have identified what’s important to you, it’s essential to create a plan and make a schedule of the steps in chronological order of what you need to do to get to success and reach your goals in the time frame you’ve set up for yourself. For example, if you believe it’s important to eat dinner with the family four nights out of seven, what are you doing to ensure it happens? Likewise, if you want to publish an 80,000-word novel by December, what do you need to do to get there?

Lack of Organization and Systemization

One reason people don’t reach their goals promptly has to do with not organizing based on the actual amount of time you have to do the tasks. If you want dinner on the table at 7:00 pm each night, plan the meal carefully, consider the time it takes for prepping, cooking, and setting the table.

Plus, not creating systems with automation in place is a huge time sucker. For example, there is no reason to spend hours paying bills each month when you can automate the process via your bank. You can even organize and systemize family dinner by assigning each person a task to do that ends up with dinner being on the table by 7:00 pm in a realistic manner.

Not Delegating and Always Doing Everything Yourself

Whether you’re a stay-at-home parent, a salary earner, or an entrepreneur, you can’t do everything yourself. It’s imperative to your future that you learn to delegate and stop trying to do everything yourself. There are people in your life that can help you, and if you don’t have those people yet, you can find them.

Ask yourself: What is the point of doing this task? What is the reason you’re doing it? Assess every task to decide whether you need to do it yourself, or you should let someone else do it.

Delegate any task that you do not need to do specifically. Underline any task that you can transfer, even if you don’t think you know who to ask or you don’t think you can afford it. Just note the ones that you can delegate.

Not Setting Boundaries and Saying Yes Without Thought

This is usually related to being a people pleaser, too. Some people call these people “yes” people. You see them in every single PTA, Church Group, Office, and volunteer opportunity. Some may see this person as the “go-for,” who gets things done for others. These people are often stressed, overwhelmed, and have low self-esteem.

Many people-pleasers say yes to every single ask of them without even thinking. This is a huge time vampire because there is no reason why you need to say yes to everything. First, weigh the things people ask you to determine if it’s worth being involved or not. An excellent way to decide is to have criteria for saying yes.

Ensure that doing this will get you closer toward your goals in each life area. Check your calendar to be sure that you do have the time available before saying yes. Say yes with enthusiasm or no without guilt.

Now take a look at your own life and start identifying time vampires. Only you can truly determine what a time sucker is and what is not. For some people spending five minutes on social media is a time suck, but it might be how you schedule your downtime. It’s your time, so if you can reach the goals you set for yourself, you can choose what tasks you want to do and what responsibilities you don’t want to do.

Tell us what your Time Vampires are.

Use the workbook along with the other guides in this series to take control and manage your time. 

TIME MANAGEMENT WORKBOOK

DOWNLOAD WORKBOOK

Send download link to:

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

Time Management, Time Vampires

12 Steps to Vanquish Your Time Vampires

Time Management, Time Vampires

12 Steps to Vanquish Your Time Vampires

Part II of the Time Management Series

task virtual assistant

Now that you’ve identified the time-vampires in your life, you can now work on finding more time in your day. Once you let go of time wasters and focus on being productive without over scheduling, you’re going to meet your life goals faster than you think.

1. Check Your Attitude

If you don’t believe you have control over your own time and that you can eliminate time wasters, gain more time, and get more done, quite simply – you won’t. When it comes to time, it can be challenging to develop an abundance mindset. Not only can you eliminate time wasters, but with smart delegation, you can buy more time.

2. Go to Bed and Get Up and the Same Time Each Day

It might seem counterproductive when you want more time, but by going to bed on time and sleeping 7 to 9 hours a night, avoiding over or under sleeping, you will create a situation where your mind and body get used to functioning at the time you need it.

Going to bed and rising at the same time every day is going to give you more energy. You’ll be more productive after a good night’s sleep. When your mind is clear and not sleepy, you can do more, better, and faster.

And finally, it gives you the same amount of time each day to be super productive.

3. Breathe

Take the time to take a few deep breaths. In through your nose on a count of four, slowly – now hold it in, count to four, and then slowly let the air out of your mouth on a count of four.

Practicing this breathing technique for 5 minutes is a great way to center yourself before starting your day.

Take one or two deep breaths before each task to calm you and set your focus.

4. Organize Tasks by Priorities

The 34th president of the United States came up with a method to figure out what’s important to do and what can wait. It’s called the Time Management Matrix and, over time, has become the Time Quadrant and made more famous by Stephen R. Covey, who wrote the book: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Essentially, you need to organize tasks in one of four quadrants to determine how you should schedule it.

Quadrant 1: Important and Urgent – This includes crises, projects with deadlines, and pressing problems.

Quadrant 2: Important and Non-Urgent – This includes building good relationships, new opportunities, and recreation.

Quadrant 3: Not Important and Urgent – These include issues like emails, phone calls, meetings, interruptions, and especially things happening now when you’re trying to do something else.

Quadrant 4: Not Important and Non-Urgent – These types of tasks are often called busy work and can include calls, emails, fun games, water cooler chats, and are usually time wasters.

5. Schedule Everything Realistically

Once you have an exact list of things you need to do, learn to schedule everything realistically with deadlines. Batch all tasks or errands, and use your time wisely.

Are you running errands? Combine efforts to ensure you don’t spend too much time in the car. If your dry cleaner is near the market, drop off your dry cleaning before picking up groceries. You’re going to pass it anyway, so don’t make a second, time wasteful trip.

Don’t schedule time wasters and always add high-value tasks over low-value tasks. High-value tasks move you closer to your goals. Low-value tasks do nothing to advance your goals and can even take you backward.

6. Delegate More

Delegate jobs when you can. In some cases, you can delegate household tasks to family members according to their age.

For many of your business tasks, you’ll want to hire someone. A virtual assistant can easily assume the low-value but necessary tasks that take up so much of your time.

Spending money is often a roadblock when it comes to delegating. However, it can be seen as a money-saver, particularly if it’s eliminating your time vampires and helping you stay on track. For example, ordering groceries for delivery might have an additional charge. Still, the fact that it eliminates a couple of hours of work, plus the possibility of picking up junk that interferes with your goal of eating healthy, is a win-win.

7. Plan Your Day the Night Before

8. Cross Things Off Your Schedule

Each night at a specified time, set aside 10 minutes to plan tomorrow’s tasks. Look at your master schedule to quickly see what you need to do at a glance, and then organize it in order of importance. Do the most important tasks first.

This is also an excellent time to review your day. What did you get accomplished, what needs a follow-up, and what tasks didn’t you have time to do.

As you accomplish your tasks on any given day, make sure you take the time to cross them off your list. This will provide you with another look at your schedule and calendar, so you don’t forget anything, plus it feels good to check something off the list.

I have a whiteboard calendar, and I use small post-it notes to keep my month on track. My daughter saw this and immediately adopted her own version. She says it is very satisfying to take that sticky note off, crush it in her hand and toss in the garbage when she completes a task.

My point here is, the more you focus on feelings of accomplishment, the more motivated you’ll be to keep going.

9. Use Gap Time

No matter what you do, you’re going to find that you have some gap times in your day. You’ll be waiting in lines, waiting for your doctor, commuting, waiting to pick up your kids, waiting while they’re at practice, and so forth. Sometimes you know when you’re likely going to have to wait on something, but sometimes it’s going to be a surprise.

Keep something with you that enables you to be productive during gap times. If you knit, bring your knitting; if you read, bring a book. If you are a writer, you can bring your laptop. It’s up to you what you do during gap times, but it’s an excellent time to be productive, and it’s also a perfect time to read for pleasure. It depends on your goals what you choose to do during your gap times.

10. Let Go of Guilt

One problem people often experience when they try to get rid of time-vampires is guilt. No one wants to explain to their mother why they cannot talk for an hour every day at 3 pm. However, know that guilt is a wasted emotion. Choose to do things or not do something and just let go of the blame.

11. Arrive Early

One other way to get more time in your day is to arrive at every appointment you have 15 minutes early. That might add gap time to wait, but you have a plan for that. More than likely, it’s going to ensure that you are on time, not rushed, and due to that keep, your mind functioning at a high level.

12. Be Done When You're Done

One thing about being productive and managing your time better is that it is crucial to accept that perfectionism and procrastination are roadblocks that waste time. It’s okay if the towels are not folded the way you want them as long as the folding gets done.

It’s okay if someone formatted the report slightly different from how you’d have done it if it’s what the client wants. It’s okay that dinner was delivered tonight instead of made from scratch. It’s okay to stop tweaking something when it no longer changes the substance. Let go and accept being done, and you’ll discover so much more time in your day.

For most people, the first step toward eliminating time vampires is identifying and acknowledging them and then working toward replacing them with planning, goal setting, and decisive action. TV, internet, games, email, social media, and so forth can be substantial time-vampires, but that doesn’t mean you should never participate in those fun things. Of course, you should. However, when you are doing it, do it with purpose. Know how long you’re going to spend and make it a fun event and not something you do out of habit.

If you find that you are procrastinating on doing anything, you have to dig deep into the why of it. Organize things better, set a deadline, cut out all distractions, and get the thing done as quickly as possible. The ball is in your court.

Next week I'll show you how to improve your focus and productivity so you can manage your time better.

If you have any comments or questions, please post them below or on our Facebook page. Have a wonderfully productive week!

 

Use the workbook along with the other guides in this series to take control and manage your time. 

TIME MANAGEMENT WORKBOOK

DOWNLOAD WORKBOOK

Send download link to:

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

cybersecurity

10 Tips to Keep Your Online Environment Safe

cybersecurity

10 Tips to Keep Your Online Environment Safe

task virtual assistant

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month.  Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart.

Let's face it; we live in a very technological world. A world of smartphones, smart homes, smart cars; and we can find at least one or more devices connected to the Internet in more than 90% of households.  According to a study by Deloitte, U.S. households have an average of 11 devices!

"a significant increase in connected devices,” ... Kevin Westcott, vice chairman and U.S. telecom and media and entertainment leader at Deloitte

There is a lot of new opportunities for hackers. New ways to enter your home virtually and steal your data, your personal information, and even spy on you! You can protect yourself significantly just by following these ten tips.

1. Stay Off Public Wi-Fi

Public Wi-Fi is not secure and is a hacker's playground. They can set up a look-a-like network, hoping you'll connect to it, they can intercept your data, and even create fake Wi-Fi access points. Once you've connected to their network, they can see what you see—going to check your balance in your checking account? And now, they have your password and account information. They can also get any information you have stored on your device. When you're out of the house and need to connect, it's always better to use your service provider's network. There may be a fee, but what is your data worth to you?

2. Use a VPN

Maybe you're in public often and rely on public Wi-Fi? If so, I suggest signing up for a virtual private network (VPN) to ensure your data is safe on an unsecured network. Many VPN providers have free trial periods. TechRadar lists the Best VPN Services in 2021. Your Internet Service Provider may also have a VPN service as well.

3. Best Router Practices

I really wish router manufacturers would require manual set up rather than being ready-to-use right out of the box. The default router settings are very common, it's like using "password" for your password. We'll talk about that later. So what are some of the things you can do to make your router secure?

  • Rename the admin account and change the password
  • Create a unique network name (SSID), do no use the default name
  • Turn on encryption, use WPA2
  • Hide your network from anyone doing a random search
  • Place your router in a central location, away from windows and doors, and exterior walls.

4. Use Complicated Passwords

Avoid simple passwords. Using “password” might be easy for you to remember, but that is the first word a hacker will try. Most sites now require a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters. Creating a complicated password is a good rule of thumb, even if the site doesn’t require it.  In general, a good password is at least eight characters long, but the longer, the better. The best password is 25 characters.  Another good practice is to form a password from a phrase. For example, you can create t1$!C4gtMpSd from “This is so I can’t forget my password.” You can use multiple methods to help you form unique and cryptic passwords.

5. Use a Firewall

Most routers will contain a built-in firewall that will protect and prevent any network attacks from intruders.  The default setting is typically disabled, so be sure to confirm that your router's firewall is on.

6. Keep Security Software Updated

Just like technology moves at a fast pace, so does malware. Your Anti-Virus and malware software is only as good as the latest update. If you are not updating regularly, you are putting your computer and any other device on your network at risk. I recommend setting a schedule for the updates to run, preferably during non-peak usage times, as they can be resource-heavy.

7. Protect All Connected Devices

Your computer is not the only device at risk. Keyloggers, spyware, viruses, etc. can also infect your smartphone, Xbox, Playstation, tablet, iPad, pretty much anything connected to your network is at risk and must be protected.

Ensure all devices are behind your home router/firewall to protect them from unrestricted access from the Internet.

8. Scan External File Storage

Run your anti-virus scan on all USB drives and other external file devices before you open any files. Keyloggers are often passed on by a thumb drive. You open the infected file and it secretly installs on your computer and sends every keystroke to the hacker.

9. Look for the S 

Always make sure you are on a secure site before transmitting any personal or sensitive information. Just look at the address bar for the locked padlock, and make sure the website address has an S. For example, http://notsecure --> https://secure

10. Backup! Backup! Backup!

Perform regular backups. How often you schedule the backup to run depends on how often you make changes or add files. Having a backup is not just good common sense, but it can save you a lot of time and trouble should you ever be faced with a ransomware attack. I store all my backups in the cloud, and on an external drive.  I do a full back up monthly, and nightly file backups. Take it from someone who has lost all their information, it can happen to you!

Did you know that every single year, about 70% of the US population experiences SOME form of cyber-attack. The truth is, 99% of computers ARE vulnerable to cyber-attacks.

Learn how to protect your home network and keep your information safe.

cybersecurity at home

 

1o tips to avoid burnout

10 Tips To Avoid Burnout

1o tips to avoid burnout

10 Tips To Avoid Burnout

task virtual assistant
Burnout often happens when we end up disillusioned by something we are doing. Even if you love what you do, burnout can still happen. Most of the time, burnout is related to a feeling of mental and physical exhaustion and being unable to do all that you need to do to get to a place of rest.
Taking care of yourself physically, mentally, and spiritually is vital to being a healthy person that can avoid problems with burnout. Eat right, exercise, see your doctor on schedule. Talk to a mental health professional or your religious leader if you need help dealing with something.
Follow these 10 tips to avoid burnout. Even if you think you’re already there, these tips can still help you because you can identify what you’re doing to cause it and stop doing it.

 

Sleep more
Sleeping enough each night is an essential component of ensuring that you live a life that will help you avoid burnout. If you are well-rested, you are going to perform at a higher level every single day, thus making you more productive. If you are tired due to a lack of sleep, problems will seem more prominent and less surmountable. P.S - Exercising every day is a big key to sleeping better every night.

 

Exercise
Aim for 30 minutes of cardio daily. Studies show most people get the most benefit exercising this way within a couple of hours of waking, but a walk in the evening will help your body prepare for sleep. Try not to exert yourself two hours before bedtime.

 

Meditation
Having downtime can help you avoid burnout. Meditation is a type of downtime that is very productive for most people. If you fear you are already experiencing burnout, starting a meditation practice today will help you recover. The good thing about meditation is that you don’t need anything special to do it.

 

Practice Positive Self-Talk
When you’re mindful, you’ll start to notice your internal monologue more often. If it’s negative, it can be a sign of impending burnout. Try to turn those thoughts around to positive thoughts. At the very least, try to make the thoughts more neutral.

 

Find Joy in Your Day
The best way to avoid burnout is to help yourself feel happier and more satisfied. One way to accomplish that is to keep a gratitude journal so that you can remember that sunrise you saw or your grandchild’s laughter on any given day.

 

Understand Your Limitations
It’s easy to compare yourself to others. If you see that other successful people are working 100 hours a week, it’s tempting to think you must. However, you really don’t need to do that, nor should you. There are 24 hours in a day, and you need to sleep at least 7 of those hours, exercise about an hour, and eat for about three hours a day and spend time with your family, friends, and yourself learning and exploring.
One of the keys to success in life and avoiding burnout is to learn how to make a reasonable and realistic schedule. Try various methods until something clicks for you. One of the best methods to help you avoid burnout is the block schedule. Another is using the Pomodoro Technique to get your tasks completed.

 

Know Your Priorities
When you look at your overall life plan and goals, what are your actual priorities? You have priorities for all the different areas of your life, including spiritually, personal development, health, romantically, socially, family, business, career, and so forth. Create one or two S.M.A.R.T. goals for each area.

 

Reassess Your Goals
The only way you can be sure that anything you do works is to test it and look at the data. Once you do that, you may discover that a goal you made was the wrong goal for you to be shooting for in the first place. After all, as you learn, grow, and change throughout your life, it’s normal for your priorities also to change.

 

Unplug Every Day Early
It might get old for night owls to hear this but turning off your technology a few hours before bed is essential for a better night’s sleep. Sleeping well improves your health in every way, especially mentally, giving you the strength to avoid burnout.

 

Let Yourself Get Bored Sometimes
One problem with today’s always-on society besides rampant burnout is that no one is bored. Being bored is a significant catalyst for invention. Spend an hour in a hammock without your phone, go on a walk with your five-year-old. Spend a day fishing. It’s okay to do nothing.
avoid burnout

3 Tips to Avoid Small Team Burnout

avoid burnout

3 Tips to Avoid Small Team Burnout

task virtual assistant
A recent study found that staff members in small firms, with fewer than 10 employees, are less likely to take vacation days. One reason for this is that these employees are not sure if there is anyone who can cover for them during their absence. However, these small teams actually lose productivity and the quality of their work diminishes when they do not take time off.

If you own or manage a small team, create a workflow to accommodate for time off. Here are a few tips for filling in when a key player is on vacation or is suddenly away:

1. Set up a clear process for decision-making and hand over responsibilities while they are away

Create a workflow that includes assigning roles as well as delegating decisions to individuals who feel most comfortable with them. Then, set up a time with the delegates to review the goals for each position and any other pertinent information.

 2. Keep Everyone Updated and in the Loop

When a planned vacation is on the horizon, it's easy enough to schedule some time with the delegate and get them up to speed. But what if someone has to leave for an emergency, such as medical or a death in the family? Obviously, there isn't time to brief whoever will be filling in. Add some extra time in your weekly staff meetings to highlight updates and keep everyone in the loop.

3. Create an easy way for team members to track what's getting done in their absence

Sometimes it's critical we stay in touch or be aware of what's happening in the office while out. Email is certainly one way, but not the most efficient. Using project management software like ClickUp or Asana will allow staff members to check in and track what's getting done, or decide if they need to put out any fire that suddenly pops up. Most project management programs today have chat functionality as well as a desktop version and mobile apps to help team members stay connected. You can find project management links and other helpful software tools on our Resource page.
Everyone needs downtime to maintain a work-life balance, but their time off should not bring your business to a halt. Developing your workflow to allow for planned, and unplanned, time off for your staff will help keep the team motivated and more engaged with their tasks at hand.
The power of small changes

Mini Habits: The Power of Small Changes

The power of small changes

Mini Habits: The Power of Small Changes

task virtual assistant

1. Identify your keystone habits that lead to success

What are keystone habits? These are your basic habits used routinely but do not confuse them with routines. A routine requires intention and effort, whereas a habit, once set, will happen effortlessly and without much thought.
Your keystone habits will evolve over time, building upon each other. For example, a simple core morning routine that includes exercise, reading, and meditation will build by improving your overall health and mindset, which can lead to getting more creative at work.
Set yourself up for success from the start by setting small goals, your keystone habits, such as deep breathing for five minutes before you get out of bed, or being on time for a meet-up with friends. As these habits begin to take hold, notice how larger habits begin to form.
Also, by setting small goals you’re much more likely to meet them. The benefit of meeting these small goals leads to the mindset where you start expecting success. Then as you start to feel the energy of that success, you create motivation to keep going. 

 

2. Adopt small changes that will have a big impact

A small change can have a big impact when it is done correctly. As a copywriter, I ask myself "what will make this piece of content better?" and then I make those small edits accordingly. Some of the small changes I have adopted are:
  • Making sure that the content is easy to read.
  • Making sure that the content is written in an active voice instead of a passive one.
  • Using short, to the point sentences.
Just by making these small changes, I've watched my click-through rate increase to 2.8%!

3. Set achievable goals and track your progress throughout the day

There are a number of apps that can be used to help you keep track of your tasks and goals.
ClickUp is a productivity app that will help you monitor and manage your daily tasks. It even has a feature allowing you to set up checklists for different projects so you can easily see how much progress you have made on them. Other features include communication and collaboration tools, task assignments and statuses, alerts, and a task toolbar.
Habitica puts the fun in your task list and keeps you focused. If you like to game, this is the task-list tool for you! Complete quests (daily tasks), level up your avatar and pets, and battle monsters with friends or team members.
Mini-Habits not only change how we do things but change how we think and act. Making a practice of Mini-habits every day will build up those larger habits that you’ve been trying to build all along. 

Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going. - Jim Ryun

working from home (still)

Working From Home (still)

working from home (still)

Working From Home (still)

task virtual assistant

Last year I gave you tips for working at home, something many were not accustomed to and definitely not prepared for. It was a temporary situation, or so we thought, and we can accept short-term change. However, many are still working remotely, some started their own work-from-home business, and others, like Julia K. have been placed in a permanent remote location as many businesses have found the true benefits of virtual offices, but many of the employees don't share the same optimism.

I mentioned Julia because she wrote to our Ask the CEO earlier this month. After speaking with her, and giving her some tips, she agreed to let me use parts of our conversation to reach others out there who are struggling with remote life. Julia told me, in the beginning, it was a bit fun and relaxing. She loved being home with her kids and four dogs, and she felt like she was more productive without the distraction of the office. She soon realized that could not be farther from the truth.

She quickly set up her temporary home office in the kitchen, where she could also monitor her kids' online schooling. The problem with setting her office up in a central hub of her home opened her up to distractions. The kids would shout out questions to her from their computers, her husband would walk by and ask what was for lunch, or could she make a quick trip to town and pick something up, and her dogs were non-stop demanding of her attention. She told me that after six months of this, she started to lock herself in the bathroom, turn on the shower, and just cry. So why is she writing to me now, with most of the world opening back up?

Early June, her company sent out an email informing everyone they have decided to remain virtual; back to the bathroom for a good cry. Then she saw our newsletter, and asked our CEO, "How do I manage my family and work, and make them [family] understand that I'm not on vacation, I am working?" She is also struggling with her own time management. I recommended she read our 4-part Time Management series and download the workbook. I also gave her some suggestions to implement immediately and separate her professional at-home life from her personal life. These tips can be used by anyone whether you are a remote worker, entrepreneur, student, or homemaker, and I am very happy to share my five tips for those maneuvering the remote office jungle.

1. Don't set your office up in a central hub

Home offices should be separate from where all the personal activity takes place. If you place yourself in the center of it all, expect to be disturbed. Think of an office receptionist. The receptionist is located in a central spot, usually the very first point of contact. They are the resource center, the one where everyone goes with questions or other needs. If you require a quiet space, distraction-free, then choose a space, preferably with a door. If that is not possible, set up a privacy screen and let everyone know, when the screen is up you are not to be disturbed. I use these sliding panels, available on Amazon. We installed the track on the ceiling, and I just slide them all the way out when I'm working. They're also a great backdrop for Zoom meetings.

2. Post your office hours

I know many of you might have snickered at this, but when you were working outside the home you left at a designated time and arrived back home pretty much the same time every day. Why should your home office be any different? Posting up the hours acts as a visual reminder and will help keep the distractions to a minimum

3. Don't forget about you.

This past year has been a hectic year for many all over the world. People have been coping with all that life brings in many ways. One way is working on self-care practices. There are many reasons why introducing practices of self-care into your life can make a pivotal difference in your life. Making space for self-care in your life provides great benefits to physical and mental health. Some aspects of self-care are personally enriching and fun. It's important to remember that self-care is not selfish; it is vital to being a well healthy and balanced person. This lets you face whatever life throws at you without breaking your stride.

4. Run your house like the office, everyone has a job.

Set schedules, daily tasks, and downtime for everyone. Give the kids a job to do after school such as emptying the dishwasher, taking out the trash, or walking the dog. Schedule their homework and tasks and post the schedule in a prominent location. This not only helps them to build great time management skills early on but helps to keep them out of your space.

5. Keep an eye on the time

You have your space, you have your privacy, the family is respecting the boundaries and you're finally able to focus on your projects. Congratulations! The final step is to set up a way to track time to remind you when to break for lunch and to end the day. Don't laugh, and don't think this isn't a necessary step. As you have already figured out, working from home is a lot different than going to an office. It's really easy to lose track of time when you're running solo without any co-workers around. Continue the healthy work-life balance by sticking to a routine. Use reminders on your computer and/or cell phone. If you have an AI device such as Alexa or Google Home, set up a routine with the device and let it act as your "quittin' time" whistle.

workaholic

Could You Be A Workaholic?

workaholic

Could You Be A Workaholic?

task virtual assistant

I always knew I was a workaholic. Both my parents are Type-A personalities and I suspect, workaholics, so I come by it honestly. Today is National Workaholics day, so I thought I would dig into the phenomenon a little more, and was surprised to see it is a treatable condition!
Work addiction, often called workaholism, is a real mental health condition. Like any other addiction, work addiction is the inability to stop the behavior.
Some signs of a workaholic may include:
  • Working late and/or taking work home often and unnecessarily.
  • Checking messages at home, or at inappropriate times such as during family dinners, holidays.
  • Consistently canceling plans.
  • Your relationships are suffering because you are always working.
  • Lack of sleep or poor sleep.
  • You're defined by your work
Do not confuse workaholism with long hours, however, as there may be times you will need to work longer hours or cancel some plans, that doesn't necessarily mean you're a workaholic. The same goes if you just love your work so much you work more than an average "40-hour week", which means you're probably engaged, not a workaholic.
So then what is a workaholic? The dictionary defines a workaholic as a person who compulsively works hard and long hours. They might as well put my picture in the definition! It is not uncommon for me to put 18-hour days in, or to get up in the middle of the night and check email, or jot down notes for my blog. I've even been known to forget to eat! But this isn't something new for me. I've worked like this for as long as I can remember. I was always finding extra work to do, taking work home, and working long hours. I thought I was just a hard worker, trying to show my worth. Turns out I'm a bonafide workaholic (ok, tell me something I didn't know!)
Workaholism can become a serious condition, and if left untreated can lead to impaired cognitive functions stemming from sleep deprivation, affect mental and physical health, and even create conflict and discontent in your personal relationships. Ladders.com published indicators of workaholism to look out for. Take a look at these 5 signs of workaholism and see where you land:
1. Workaholics have anxiety

Do you gain a sense of comfort when working? Do you feel guilty or restless if you are not busy doing something? I personally can not, not, be doing something. I always have 10-15 or more computer windows and Chrome tabs open so I can easily and quickly switch between tasks rather than take any downtime.

2. Work is priority #1

Workaholics will put the job before and above all else. Holidays, family time, it doesn't matter. A workaholic spends little-to-no time connecting with others and will always arrange their schedules so work comes first.

3. No social life

As I mentioned above, a workaholic has very little time for socializing. Some may even stress out from the guilt of doing something for themselves. A workaholic must make themselves completely available and indispensable to their job and have oftentimes been accused of being a martyr.

4. Won't admit the problem

A workaholic cannot admit they have a problem, or they might not even realize it. Working long hours, "to the bone", is acceptable in our society and quite often expected.

5. They're unhappy

Oftentimes a workaholic doesn't even like their job, but they have a need to remain busy rather than have nothing to do.

If you find yourself in any of these signs there are some ways you can address the unhealthy behavior. Plan activities for the end of the workday, and don't cancel them. Other ways you can balance your work and home life are by reading books, listening to music, or doing something that prompts inspiration.
prepare for disaster

If Disaster Strikes, Will You Be Prepared?

prepare for disaster

If Disaster Strikes, Will You Be Prepared?

task virtual assistant
Chances are that sooner or later you’ll face some sort of a disaster that will leave you without power, and hinder your access to purchase necessary supplies. It could be a natural disaster like a hurricane, snowstorm, flood, tornado, or earthquake. It could be a manmade disaster that has the power grid failing or requires you to stay put in your home such as the COVID-19 pandemic. No matter what strikes, we can lessen the personal impact by preparing for disasters most likely to occur in our area.
Your first step in disaster preparedness is to find out what types of emergency situations happen in your area. Take a few minutes to research and know what types of disasters your area is most susceptible to. I've listed a few natural and man-made disasters below to give you a place to start.

Natural Disasters:

Hurricanes originate in the Atlantic basin, which includes the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico, as well as the eastern North Pacific Ocean, and, less frequently, the central North Pacific Ocean. If you live in any of these areas you should prepare for hurricane season which is most active from June 1st to November 30th.
The only difference between a hurricane and a typhoon is the location where the storm occurs.
Typhoons most frequently occur on the western Pacific Ocean off the east coast of Asia near Japan. Typhoons, like hurricanes, have a long, active season running from May 15th to November 30th. The only real difference between the two storms is the location where they occur.
Tornadoes are more common along the Great Plains of the central United States, known as Tornado Alley, and are caused when dry cold air moving south from Canada meets warm moist air traveling north from the Gulf of Mexico. However, don't be fooled into thinking they only happen in “tornado alley". The U.S. tornado threat shifts from the Southeast in the cooler months of the year, toward the southern and central Plains in May and June, and the northern Plains and Midwest during early summer. Tornadoes can occur and have been reported in all fifty states as well as in many parts of the world, including Australia, Europe, Africa, Asia, and South America. Two of the highest concentrations of tornadoes outside the U.S. are Argentina and Bangladesh.
Violent tornadoes do happen outside “Tornado Alley” every year.
If you live in the North East or south of the Great Lakes, you should get ready for big snowstorms and blizzards. But, like tornadoes, these storms can occur anywhere, albeit not as likely. If you're on the East Coast of North America, you will have Nor'easters to consider, and along the Pacific coast - earthquakes. Mother Nature does believe in being fair and gives everyone a little something!

Man-Made Disasters:

Man-made disasters are not confined to one specific area, hence the term "man-made", and can happen anywhere. However, you may live in an area that is more prone than others. For example, if you live near a dam, you may need a plan of action for flooding. Do you live near a wooded area or large forest? Then you need to consider wildfires. If you live near a nuclear plant, you should think about a way to get out quickly if something were to happen at the plant. You get the idea. What disasters we prepare for will be different for a lot of us and what sort of emergency plan you have will depend on those variables.

Get Prepared

Should I stay or should I go?
The first question you need to ask yourself is where you will go when an emergency arises. Will you stay at home and shelter in place? Will you head out of town and evacuate? How long are you prepared to stay at home, and at what point do you decide to evacuate?
Obviously, those decisions may be outside of your control, such as in the event of a mandatory evacuation, but there will also be plenty of times when the decision is up to you.
Where Will You Go?
If you are heading out, where will you go and where will you stay? These are important questions and you don’t want to make those decisions when you are in the middle of a disaster. Those are stressful times and it can be hard to make smart decisions quickly.
A big part of your emergency preparedness plan should be to think through possible scenarios and then get the information you need ahead of time. For example, figure out what routes you can take to get out of the area, determine where you want to go if possible, and then get the contact information for a hotel or the people you’ll be staying with.  If you have pets, keep a list of pet-friendly hotels in your go-bag.
How Will You Stay In Touch?
There is nothing scarier than not being able to get in touch with loved ones during a disaster or emergency event. Just as important is being able to get news and emergency alerts or announcements. Think about how you will accomplish this both while you’re on the road and when you’re staying in your home or emergency shelter.
Making sure everyone has a mobile phone is a great start. Keeping your devices charged on a regular basis will help make sure you have a full battery in case of an emergency. Put extra chargers, including car chargers, in your go-bag. Having an additional battery or a backup power supply will come in very handy as well.
Be conservative with your device usage to make the battery power last as long as possible. Turning off data when you're not listening to news reports is an ideal way to conserve battery. It’s important to talk to your kids about this ahead of a disaster and remind them regularly.
Just as important, don't rely on just your smartphone for news and communication. A backup plan will come in handy when you can’t get a good connection or run out of power on your device. Designate a meeting point or a person that everyone contacts when you can’t get a hold of each other. Have a backup solution for finding out what’s going on like a weather radio.
What Supplies Do You Need?
Start with the basics you need for survival including food, water, shelter, flashlights, candles, and matches (keep them in a waterproof bag), prescribed medication, and a first aid kit. Don’t forget about your pets.
From there, start thinking about creature comforts like light, entertainment, and the likes. Having a headlamp and a good book can make waiting out a power outage a lot more pleasant.
Be Prepared
Think about what makes the most sense to you and your family. If you are able to stay put, you can take care of issues as they pop up and prevent further damage. If a storm blows out a window, you can board it up and prevent water from coming in for example. At other times, it may be safer and more convenient to get out of the disaster’s way.
For all cases, you will want to prepare in advance and have a go-bag for every member of the family, including your pets. Things move fast when a storm hits, especially when evacuations are ordered. You don’t want to waste time trying to make decisions and gathering supplies.

The more prepared you are, the safer and more comfortable you’ll be when disaster strikes. Download our free Emergency Supplies Checklist to help you along the way.

Emergency Go Bag

DOWNLOAD WORKBOOK

Send download link to:

Automate Your Business Finances

Organizational Efficiency: Automate Your Business Finances

Automate Your Business Finances

Organizational Efficiency: Automate Your Business Finances

task virtual assistant

Every business must figure out how they plan to keep track of income and expenses and set up benchmarks for planning purposes. In Organizational Efficiency: The Anatomy of your Business, I showed you how automating your business helps free up your valuable time to do more money-making activities. The poster child for automation is business finances. Think about it, most of your business finance tasks are recurring and rarely change, making it perfect for automation! The tools that exist today, such as Quickbooks and Xero, are easy to use, inexpensive, and work great. Today, most bookkeeping software, even Go Daddy’s version, will automatically book your purchases and income for you and categorize the expense, saving you hours! It doesn’t get much easier than that!

Below are some finance tasks you can easily automate:

Invoicing and Reminders

Send recurring invoices automatically based on the criteria you set up. You can also set up auto-reminders for invoices that might need a little tweaking before they go out.

What’s more, when your client clicks the invoice to pay, the software automatically records the payment.

Payroll

If you have employees, then you know how timely payroll can be! Investing in payroll software can save you time and money.

Depending on the size of your staff or how many contractors you have, having an automated system will help ensure your people are paid on time, and letting them self-manage their pay helps save you time. Look at your bookkeeping software to determine if there are add-ons to help automate this or try using SurePayRoll.

Bill Paying

Set up automatic payments through your bank or credit card company, so you don’t have to think about them every month. Another plus, automatic payments prevent late fees!

Storing Records and Receipts

Use receipt scanning apps like Wave to take a picture of your records and receipts so that it’s always there when you need it. Your accountant will thank you!!

Expense Management

Managing expenses, especially when you’re away from your office, is easy today with software like Zoho Expense and fylehq.com that help you collect receipts, appropriately book the expense, and so forth. Even your existing bookkeeping software may have an option.

Investing and Saving

The truth is, if you don’t invest and save on a regular basis, you won’t do it. Set up automatic transfers with your bank to send money to your investments and savings accounts, whether personal or business finances.

Automating your finances helps you avoid making the same steps over and over again. There is no reason to repeat tasks today when there is software available to do it for you. You can save hours each day by implementing these financial automation tips and tools.


Download our free Organizational Efficiency Workbook and start taking control of your time!