Helpful Tips

Time Management Hacks Used By Successful People

Time Management Hacks Used By Successful People


When you think of a successful CEO, do you wonder how they make it look so easy? How did they get where they are? It almost seems a fantasy that someone can run a company, spend time with family, exercise every day, yet still manage to enjoy their hobbies as well, such as writing a book, or building a boat. You know the kind of person we’re talking about because there are loads of these successful people out there. Do you want to know how they do it? What is their secret formula?

Here are a few time-management hacks from some of the world’s most successful people:

Wake Up Early - Every Day

It’s nice to have some level of structure before a busy day. I don’t know about you, but if I’m rushed in the morning and leave out my morning ritual, my entire day can be off! You set the tone for your day! Waking up early gives you that "self" free time so you can get things done that are important to you. In this YouTube interview with Jocko Willink, former Navy Seal Commander, Casey Neistat explains why it's so important to wake up early every day and have a morning routine that you stick to.

Reduce the Number of Decisions You Have to Make

Steve Jobs wore the same outfit every day so that he didn’t have to mull over a bunch of wardrobe options every morning. Barack Obama limits his outfits to gray or blue suits. Nick Taranto used to only wear shoes without laces, so he didn’t have to tie them. Keep a diary of all your repetitive daily tasks; which ones require a decision or take a little time? Can you narrow the choices down, or eliminate altogether? You may think that trivial decisions only take seconds away from your time, but those are seconds you’ll never get back.

Make Task Lists that you Actually Do

How many loose papers with untouched to-do items have you accumulated over the years? First, stop calling it a “to-do” list. That gives your subconscious  the impression that someone is telling you what to do. I personally don’t like someone telling me what to do, I’d rather it be my idea! So, change it to your task list, or objectives, or goals, anything that motivates you. A friend of mine has a Daily Challenge list. She is quite competitive, joins almost every challenge she sees, and this works out wonderfully for her!

Next, set aside a few minutes at the beginning of your day, every day, to make a realistic list that you will knock out. Make that promise to yourself, and don’t break it.

Reinvent Meetings 

Take it from American businessman and billionaire, Mark Cuban: "The only way you're going to get me for a meeting is if you're writing me a check.” Plenty of successful people avoid meetings like the plague. Why? They are almost always a waste of time. Most things can be handled via email today, but if you really need to schedule a meeting, have a streamlined agenda and a time limit for the meeting – and stick to it!  Otherwise, migrate your meetings to an email chain or work chat platform like Slack.

Stop Wasting Time

This sounds like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how much time is wasted unnecessarily. If you’re waiting in line, check off some of your task items, or when you’re driving, listen to a podcast or audiobook that will teach you something new to implement into your life. To put it simply, train your brain to always be productive.

Turn Your Tasks into Games

Get competitive with yourself. Instead of thinking, “Ugh, I have to get this done by noon,” say, “I bet I can get this done before noon!” If you want to ratchet it up a notch, try using a gamifying task list app such as Habitica.  Have fun with it!

The art of time management is an involved practice. It doesn’t come naturally to everyone, and it often comes with roadblocks that deter people from optimally using their time. Do you have any tried and true time management tips? Don't keep them to yourself! Use the comment section below and share your tidbits!

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Establish a Great Home Environment for Success

A Mother's Arms

People read about having a great work environment or an atmosphere at work for success. But if your environment at home is less than optimal, this can affect your work, no matter how great your work environment is.

If you often find yourself fighting with your spouse, or you are constantly yelling at your kids, you may want to refocus your energies and try to rectify what is going on. Your conditions at home are going to affect you in every other aspect of your life. This couldn't be truer today as COVID-19 (Coronavirus) has started a new norm with so many businesses having their employees work from home. This may require some outside assistance, but the first step is recognizing what problems are occurring and try to use that knowledge to come up with a better way.

For some people, there just is no better way. If two people were simply not meant to be, the right choice for them might be to go their separate ways. But even before doing that, it may be worth trying to save the relationship.

Another way to turn around a difficult home situation is to get more involved in what your family is doing. It could be that you’ve been working too many hours, and they are getting frustrated with not being able to see you. Remember, people can find new jobs. It’s really difficult to find new families.

If you have been one to skip vacations instead of work, you should stop doing that. Take your vacations. That’s why companies give them to people. They realize that vacations can be good for employees so you should not feel guilty about taking them yourself. There are sometimes valid reasons not to take a vacation due to a work situation. But it should be postponed, not cancelled entirely.

Consider taking up new hobbies and learning activities with your family. Perhaps you can start hiking to learn more about the area you live in. If you have never taken your family camping, now could be a great time to do so. These kinds of activities can be a great way to reconnect and mend up any tense home situations. Bonus points if you unplug during the camping trip, or any other family activity you choose to do.

Having a happy home environment is going to do wonders for your work. You will burn out less because you have the support of your family, and you will see your productivity soar! It will make you want to be home on weekends and after work. It will reflect well on all of your family members as well.

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Coronavirus Is Changing The Workplace


Coronavirus Is Changing The Workplace


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.

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Plan Ahead to Take the Stress Out of Tax Day


Plan Ahead to Take the Stress Out of Tax Day


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.

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Is Staying In Your Comfort Zone Holding You Back?


Is Staying In Your Comfort Zone Holding You Back?


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

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Make Your Monday Suck Less

corgi monday hello

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.

Canva - Pen on to Do List Paper

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.

Canva - Transparent Teapot with Flowers

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.


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.


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.


Canva - Colorful Paper Block

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.

Canva - Bowl of Oatmeal With Berries Beside Glass of Juice

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.

Canva - Woman Walking Holding Lantern

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!

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