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Helpful Tips

Coronavirus Is Changing The Workplace

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Coronavirus Is Changing The Workplace

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Coronavirus is here and has us scrambling. Google is recommending their North America employees work from home until April 10th,

"Out of an abundance of caution, and for the protection of Alphabet and the broader community, we now recommend the you work from home if your role allows," the Tuesday email from Chris Rackow, Google's vice president of global security, reads in part.

Northwell Health has sent their non-essential employees home to work as well, and are offering telemedicine for everyone, as well as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is asking businesses to allow people to work from home, or to stagger shifts to reduce potential exposure during high peak commute times.

As a virtual assistant, I will not feel as much of an impact as many other workers do. My home is my office, where I am afforded the benefit of video conferencing and email rather than in-person meetings and handshaking. Let me first say, working from home is not for the faint of heart. It requires a steady discipline and accountability, but it can be achieved with minimum disruption to your life.

You've been asked to work from home during this outbreak. What can you do to ease the transition from your office to a remote location, i.e. your home office? First, don’t panic. Your life does not have to suffer or come to a halt. The most important step is to take a moment to put together a quick time management program; a way to track the things you need to do each day, such as a task list that you can check off.

It’s vital for you to know how to gain control over your time.  Here are a few techniques that will help you organize your day, week, and month efficiently so that you get a lot more done.

Set Goals and Priorities

Before you can even start deciding on how to spend your time, you need to set your goals and priorities for the period in question. It works well to make an overall plan for the time you will be working from home and then translate that into smaller chunks. For example, monthly goals, weekly goals, and then finally into daily tasks.

Create Daily Rituals

Keep important commitments on the front burner by carving out a specific time for them each day.

Designate the hour before bed for reading stories with your children or learning something new.

Create momentum that will drive you forward through-out the day. Score a quick win when you go for a morning run or meditate while it’s still quiet.

Shorten Your To-Do List

Weed out the nonessential items. Decide which tasks require excellence and which can be considered good enough if you complete them on time. For example, as long as your bed sheets are washed and dried, maybe you can skip ironing them. Sheryl Sandberg, author of “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead” said it best, “Done is better than perfect”.

Smart Scheduling

As you work your way through your goals, it’s tempting to guess how long things will take you to complete. However, the best thing to do is schedule everything in your daily to-do list realistically. By being realistic about how much time you need to do things, you’ll avoid roadblocks and bottlenecks.

Here is a useful formula for planning a project:

In minutes, calculate the normal time it takes you to do the task (x4) + fastest time you have achieved this task + the longest time it has taken you to achieve this task.  Divide that number by 6, this is the minimum plan time.

For example, when planning out a social media content calendar for a week:  (normal time) 240 min x 4 = 960 minutes + (fastest) 120 minutes + (longest) 300 minutes = 1,380 minutes divided by 6 = 230 minutes, or about 4 hrs rounded.

Include Flex Time

One mistake people often make when scheduling tasks is that they don’t take into consideration that time is fluid and needs flexibility. Remember to account for things taking longer than you think, and other variables; allow yourself 15 minutes in between tasks to help your brain switch gears to the next task.

Set Time Limits

When you set your schedule, it’s imperative to set time limits for tasks. Schedule blocks of time so that you don’t go down a rabbit hole and spend five hours there being unproductive while being busy.

Remember You Have a Life

Disconnect for a while. Limit the time you spend online, making calls, and watching TV. Rediscover the beauty of nature.

Health and Wellness

Self-care. I should be able to end this with a “ ‘nuf said”. When it comes to your health, nothing else should take priority. Focus on lessening your anxiety with yoga once a day, meditation 5 times a week, eating right, going to the doctor for yearly checkups, and so forth.

Take Breaks

 Downtime restores your ability to concentrate.

Many think they have to work non-stop when working from home. While it does help to fill in your calendar and daily schedule with everything that you need to do during any given day, don’t panic if you see empty space in your calendar. You deserve, and need, to have downtime and “me” time.

Be realistic about living your life. It’s great to have goals. However, you don’t want to overburden yourself with work from sunup until sundown. You want to organize your schedule so that you have time for all areas of life. Having downtime to do nothing is perfectly fine if you’re otherwise being as productive as you want to be.

If you interested in hiring a virtual assistant, contact us at thetaskva.com. If you are interested in becoming a virtual assistant check out the tools and resources at VAnetworking.com.

Get Out Of Your Head For Success

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Get Out Of Your Head For Success

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Success in business stems from success in other areas of your life. You can’t really succeed to the extent that you would like to financially without making sure you’re up to par in other parts of your life, such as your mental state and physical fitness.

By keeping up with those parts as well, you’ll be much more well-rounded and able to succeed so much easier. Mental wellness is a very important aspect of your life and it’s extremely important for your success.

Mental health, for many years, was overlooked and not seen as a priority. In recent years, a new term has emerged, “high functioning anxiety”. Although it is not yet a mental health diagnosis, it helps to give words to something so many are experiencing. It has been shown that mental health is extremely important and is directly linked with your success in life.

You can’t really go far in life when you’re struggling with things like anxiety, because you’ll always be in your own head and unable to make those advancements that you need for success. In her book, The Happier Approach, Nancy Jane Smith, walks people through how to get out of their head, and into their body. Shifting your focus is sometimes just what you need!

In order to have a healthy mind, you need to give yourself time to relax and decompress, because, if you’re crowding your life with all work all the time, you’re going to get burnt out and start to dislike the job you’re doing. If you don’t enjoy what you do, it’s going to go downhill fast. You’ll put in less and less effort and you’ll never attain that success that you want.

Just as your mental well-being is important, so is your physical health.

Good physical health allows you to wake up each day feeling refreshed and ready to go, something that’s very important for your happiness and for your success. Being physically active and fit is good for your health, and it also helps you find happiness more frequently.

Keeping your body hydrated, properly nourished, and challenging yourself physically are the best ways to keep you in top physical health. I can hear you saying “but I don’t have time to workout”. Guess what, you really do have the time, you just need to find it.

“Workout, workout as hard as you can, and workout without excuses nor apologies. The discipline of tough physical training is obviously great for mental and physical strength, but over time, it also instills many more important lessons in a gradual and subtle progression. … It is the sheer effort but also the rest, nutrition and focus. These same skills, that are so important to our business and personal life, cannot become better engrained than through challenging training." --Itay Rosenfeld, CEO of Voxbone, a provider of Communications-as-a-Service (CaaS)

Without a healthy mental state and physical fitness, life can become a bit stale. Tracking progress in both of these categories is crucial. When you’re journaling or making notes about your day, talk about things that you’ve done to better your physical and mental health and be specific.

By keeping notes on your progress, you can tweak your methods in order to have better results, especially after seeing what worked for you and what didn’t. Everyone has different needs, so what might work for one person might not work for you. Find your balance.

Remember, as tempting as it is to only focus on success, you need to focus on all aspects of your life in order to truly be successful,. Take a look at  33 Daily Habits, which gives you simple, daily habits of successful entrepreneurs. There’s no fun in being financially well-off if you’re depressed and out of shape.

The Art of Sacrifice

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The Art of Sacrifice

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The negative connotation connected to sacrifice can be linked back centuries. Even most definitions scream SACRIFICE IS BAD. Upon utilizing the almighty Google, the very first definition is about living sacrifices for religious purposes. Well, I can promise you the sacrifice I want to talk about has nothing to do with throwing poor innocent women into a bubbling volcano for the sake of appeasing the ancient gods.

The Law of Sacrifice is very simple: In order to get what you want, you have to give something. Success is measured by the individual wanting to succeed. However, there is no success without small sacrifices, sometimes big, along the way. Let’s talk about the most common sacrifices.

Time Is The Number One Sacrifice Made

It is often the first. Trying to succeed in college? You are sacrificing time spent playing Call of Duty or going to that house party. Need success in business? You may miss out on the office birthday party or even sleep. This doesn’t necessarily mean you become boring and undependable. I talked a lot about time in a previous article, so I won’t repeat myself, but priority is key in all things.

Things!

If you are trying to save for a house or vacation, you will probably sacrifice your daily coffee from that super hip coffeehouse or pack your lunch. Maybe you won’t use your weekly budget on that great pair of shoes or floor tickets to that basketball game. All these small sacrifices will lead to something better in the long run right? Seriously.... needing validation as I sip my Folgers this morning.

Stability.

It feels good to have a steady paycheck and steady working hours. However, the greatest successes start with the most uncertainty. To reach a goal you will sacrifice this warm blanket of income and insurance for highs, lows, and a lot of faith. This sacrifice is truly the hardest to make and the bravest. Having a great support system will be imperative.

Remember sacrifice is not evil, and it will change over to time. Give up something good now for something even better. You can do this, and TASKVA is here to help along the way.

Plan Ahead to Take the Stress Out of Tax Day

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Plan Ahead to Take the Stress Out of Tax Day

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April 15 is a dreadful day for many people, simply because it's the deadline for filing income taxes. The truth is this day doesn't have to be ominous or overwhelming. You can reduce your stress and improve your financial future simply by getting a jump on your income tax preparation early.

Gather your records early. Take the time to gather all of your documentation together beforehand so you have everything you need to get started. Gather your past tax returns as well, as these will provide valuable insight for where you can save money on your taxes in comparison to previous years.

Look to government resources for help. The Internal Revenue Service website and taxing authority websites for each individual state are valuable resources for individuals seeking tax help. Use these free resources to your advantage to get some extra assistance while filing your taxes.

Make last minute tax-deductible purchases. Especially if it looks like you'll owe money on your return, before the end of December, make any purchases that can give you an extra tax deduction. If you're self-employed, purchase necessary items for your business.

Donate cash or items. Remember to make your donations before December 31st so you'll receive your tax deduction for this year. Be sure to get a receipt!

E-File your return. There are a number of benefits to e-filing, or electronically filing, your tax return. For example, most E-file software will compute tax credits and deductions for you based on the information that you put in. Plus, if you're getting a refund, it's quicker than mailing your return.

The Bottom Line

The best way to get the most out of your income taxes is simply to get a jump on them early. With planning and preparation, you can maximize your deductions and simplify the filing process without stressing yourself out along the way.

Spend Extra Time Wisely

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Spend Extra Time Wisely

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According to statista.com a study done in November of 2019 showed people, on average, spent 63% of their day on some form of digital media. Although not all of that is simply goofing off, I am quite sure there is a larger than ideal percentage of that number wasted on mindless scrolling through social media and trying for the 38th time to beat level 287 in Candy Crush.

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We, as a society, strive to be more efficient and squeeze as much as possible into 24 tiny hours. We use pressure cookers to save time serving quality meals. We use smart devices to start coffee or make our grocery lists. We even have automatic feeders for our pets that save us precious few minutes. And we have hired a virtual assistant to handle our most time-consuming tasks in our businesses.

What do we do with all these saved hours? If your response is less than ideal, allow me to make 5 suggestions on how to transform extra time into productive time!

  1. Learn a new skill:  This is not as daunting as it sounds. Find something you’ve always wanted to do and set forth on your digital media to uncover how to videos! There are tutorials online for virtually everything from painting snow to learning all the really neat things you can do with office software. You never know what new skill could further your business!
  2. Try new ways to promote yourself and your business: send out promotional postcards to your contact list or even write an article for a newsletter! Anything for contacts and new customers.
  3. Contact someone you would like to have a business relationship with: Find out who you admire and who you would like to connect with then have a power session. You could get an interview or even secrets to success. Never a bad idea to have solid contacts with whom you collaborate!
  4. Do some research: What’s new in the industry? What is most needed. Brainstorm ways to incorporate those ideas into your own success.
  5. Do what you enjoy! Read a book, take a cooking class, host a game night. Strengthen your relationships and remind yourself of who you are without the stress of business.

Whatever you do with your time, make sure you use it wisely!

Is Staying In Your Comfort Zone Holding You Back?

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Is Staying In Your Comfort Zone Holding You Back?

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We’ve heard a lot about getting out of our comfort zone. But have you ever thought about why you should? After all, our comfort zone is where we feel in control and safe. It’s where we can predict what will happen and how we will feel. There won’t be any surprises that we can’t deal with.

So why would you feel compelled or even want to get out of your comfort zone? You need to do it because getting out of your comfort zone is the key to your personal growth and happiness. Stepping out of that zone helps you build up your self-confidence and the way you view yourself.

Is being there holding you back for living a fulfilled life and growing in your business?

The answer is yes. Being in your comfort zone and staying there is keeping you from realizing and achieving what you desire. Staying safely within your comfort zone keeps you from being challenged and you don’t have to rise to any new occasions.

Here are 3 ways staying in your comfort zone is holding you back.

  1. It’s keeping you from growing personally. When you are afraid of something, staying in your comfort zone keeps you from facing that fear. Then you suffer from it forever or until you do face it. You stay away from situations that would put you in a position of having to face the fear in order to overcome it.

For example, your fear of public speaking keeps you from taking a job that requires you to speak in front of others, even though it’s a step up on your career ladder.

  1. You comfort zone is keeping you from being happy. Maybe you struggle with self-confidence and self-esteem issues. These problems can grow unless you take steps outside your comfort zone to begin addressing them. Stepping outside your comfort zone helps you build confidence in your self and see yourself in a better light. When you are confident and have good self-esteem, you are happier.

For example, if you’re not confident in your abilities, you tend to stay in your comfort zone instead of trying something new. This drags down your confidence making you feel less competent and making you unhappy.

  1. Staying in your comfort zone can make you feel trapped and unhealthy. Often our comfort zone keeps us doing bad habits out of fear. You might want to be more active, run a marathon, feel less aches and pains and go on adventures. But to do any of these things means doing something that is outside your comfort zone.

For example, you want to run a short marathon. It’s always been a dream of yours, but you procrastinate and make excuses why you can’t. You’re too out of shape. You don’t have time. You’re too old. But the real reason is because you are afraid to get out of your comfort zone and begin training with a trainer. As a result, you continue to eat unhealthy, gain weight, lose muscle tone and put your dream on the back burner until eventually, you’re health becomes a problem.

When we stay in our comfort zone, we are holding ourselves back from living a life we love, from being happy and from growing. We end up letting our fears rule and settling for mediocrity.

…to be continued

Make Your Monday Suck Less

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Make Your Monday Suck Less

Mondays are inevitable and they carry a bad rep. But they don’t have to be that way.  As you head into the busy fall season, try these tips to start off your week for a healthier, and more mindful you.

Monday’s are bad enough, but the first Monday after a time change can be a real drag. We tend to stay up later on weekend nights and sleep in during the day, really messing up our circadian rhythms and making us a little less than pleasant when the alarm goes off on Monday morning.

It would be perfect if we could slowly ease into the morning craziness. You may not be able to avoid Monday, but there are things you can do to make it suck less. Here are a few ways to help make the weekend-to-weekday transition a more positive, healthy reality.

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1. Make a Monday to-do list on Friday

I am a big fan of to-do lists. It’s the last thing I do every day. That’s right, the last thing. Take 10 minutes at the end of the day and list out what you need to do the next day. This is especially important on a Friday because everything is still fresh in your mind. Capture it now and you’ll be off to a running start on Monday morning. “If you start the week without this list, you’ll have to brainstorm on Monday morning about the lingering projects from last week, which could be tough when you’re sluggish. You’ll already be starting off a step behind,” says Samantha Ettus, a Los Angeles–based entrepreneur and the author of The Pie Life: A Guilt-Free Recipe for Success and Satisfaction.

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2. Create a Morning Ritual

What puts you in a good mood? You could do a few cat-like stretches before getting out of bed, make a really good cup of coffee or tea, meditate for 5 minutes, cuddle with your furbaby.  My Amazon Echo wakes me with a happy good morning, then I have “mommy and me” time with my furbaby Stumpers. She’ll get on my chest, and I scratch and rub her face, chin, ears, and she purrs happily. It’s quick, usually 2-3 minutes, because she wants to be fed, but it’s a nice way to start the day.  Don't forget to be grateful! I always thank my body for its excellent health while I’m getting ready, and I thank the day for all the magnificent things that are to happen.  This definitely puts me in a more positive state of mind for the day.  After I’m dressed, I make some tea and meditate. “Our brains love routine, and the less work your brain has to do, the happier it will be,” says Colleen D. Cira, PsyD, founder and executive director of the Cira Center for Behavioral Health in Chicago.  What I like most about my morning ritual is how centered I feel, and more in control of my day.

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3. Stick to a Sleep Routine

Research suggests that staying up late on the weekend can make it harder to fall and stay asleep during the week. And trying to catch up on your sleep on Sunday can lead to feeling even more tired on Monday.  The best rule of thumb is to stick with a consistent sleep schedule all week long.  Try to stay within an hour of your normal sleep and wake times and, if needed, take your nap between 1:00pm and 4:00pm and for no longer than 30 minutes.

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4. Grab Some Natural Vitamin D

Perking up your morning might be as simple as getting a dose of natural light. Open your shades, tend a garden, or take a walk. Being out in nature, even for five minutes, can give you a happiness high, according to a 2018 study in the Journal of Positive Psychology. If you can’t get outside in the morning, change your indoor space to bring the light to you. Move your computer closer to a window.

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5. Write a Reminder

Again, I’m a big fan of lists, and the good old-fashioned way of pen to paper. Nothing beats it. All too often we hit the “snooze” on electronic calendar or task list reminders  ::raises hand::  Guilty! However, I know I’ll be rushed at times in the morning, who isn’t? And it helps to have a sticky note on my door reminding me that I need to grab the cupcakes out of the fridge, or did I remember to turn off the curling iron? Writing out your most crucial morning tasks and strategically placing reminders in an easy-to-reach location is a simple way of taking the chaos out of your morning.

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6. Don’t Skip Breakfast

Yes, it’s true, eating a healthy and balanced breakfast is good for you, good for your health, good for your memory and concentration, and the list goes on. That doesn’t mean you have to eat as soon as you get up, but a good rule of thumb is to try and eat within the first hour, no longer than 2 hours. You can make grab and go no-cook oats. Prep 5 jars on Sunday for the week. Whip up a protein shake with fruit and some greens. Try oatmeal with blueberries and walnuts, or whole-wheat sourdough toast and avocado, with fruit and yogurt on the side. There are several healthy choices that can be fit into your morning routine.

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7. Wear Something That Makes You Feel Good

This is my go-to when I need a mood lifter. You know how good you feel in your favorite power suit, or that blouse that looks perfect on you. And if you're not limited by a certain dress code, then wear what makes you feel good! Life's too short to wear boring clothes after all!! Helpful tip: pick out your outfit the night before along with the accessories so you avoid a wardrobe crisis Monday morning. And don’t forget to check it for wrinkles – does it need to be ironed, or can you hang it in the bathroom and allow the steam heat from a hot shower to reduce the wrinkles?

Monday - can't live without it!! Hopefully some of these tips will help lift that Monday morning fog and start your day chaos free!