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time management

5 Tips To Stay Ahead Of The Curve

time management

5 Tips to Stay Ahead of the Curve

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

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

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

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2. Know Your Why

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

 

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

3. Work Smarter Not Harder!

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

 

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

4. Create A Daily Task CheckList

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

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1. Do First

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

2. Schedule

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

3. Delegate

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

4. Don’t do

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

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

5. Hire a Virtual Assistant

 

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

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

A virtual assistant is your customizable asset!

vacation tips

Prepare Now for a Stress-Free Return

vacation tips

Prepare Now for a Stress-Free Return

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Modified from original post, published December 19, 2019

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

Taking care of a few things now before you leave, will have you thanking yourself when you come back!!

Notifications: Set up your Out-Of-Office and Voicemail messages now. These are probably the two most overlooked yet simplest tasks to quickly take care of. Many email programs such as Outlook and Gmail will let you schedule the OOO in advance. If your phone system doesn’t allow for advance messaging, write the message out, and have it ready to record quickly. Don’t stress yourself by waiting until 5 minutes before you’re trying to get out the door!

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

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

This becomes all too important, especially with our new work-from-home routines. It can become easy to forget about ourselves because, in our minds, we are already at home and feel guilty if we take any "me" time.

Whether you are returning to the office or multiple zoom meetings, you need to add a 30-minute “catch up” time to your schedule. The purpose is to socialize and catch up with your office pals. Scheduling this time will help avoid unnecessary interruptions.

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Task List: You know I’m all about these lists! Make a complete list of all the projects you are working on, including the ones you’ve been putting on the back burner. Take a few minutes to prioritize everything – use the Eisenhower Matrix found in my 5 Essentials Tips blog to help organize these projects. Your “vacation brain” will thank you when it’s time to jump back into things!

Clean Up Your Desk: Put all tasks away and take the last 20 minutes before you leave to clean up your desk. Put away the files you’ve been working on, put books back where they belong, straighten up the supplies. Take one last look at your returning Task list. Make sure you have only the most urgent and important tasks scheduled your first week back.

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Tips for Your Return: Returning to the office has been sometimes compared to getting a root canal! Just the volume of emails alone is enough to make even the bravest quiver!!! Three good rules for returning:

  • Try to stay in a selective stealth mode the first few days back, giving those that “need to know” a heads up about your return.
  • Break the first few days into little chunks. For example, take care of emails and phone calls on the first day, and review reports on day two.
  • Do Not Stay Late! As tempting as it might be, slowly easing back into that full “work late” schedule will help you be more focused and productive.

These are just a few things you can do to help relieve the stress of returning to work after an extended Holiday, with an emphasis on getting out of the office or away from your desk - have lunch with a friend, take a walk – get away for at least 30 minutes.

I’d like to close with one final list, it’s my "To-Don't List":

  • Don’t schedule multiple meetings your first day/week back
  • Don’t set unrealistic deadlines for your first day back
  • Don’t try to do everything the first day back

This will only leave you overwhelmed, underproductive, and put you behind in your work.

Negative Social Media Comments: How to Deal

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Social Media Is A Relationship Building Tool

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As you become more popular you’re going to get more people who love you, but also more people who hate you. Some people don’t even hate you, they just like to be trolls. It’s important to know how to deal with these types of people so that you can use social media marketing to build traffic, make more connections, and increase your return on investment.

Develop a Policy

If you have many people helping you manage social media, you need to develop a policy. There is a difference between a troll and someone who has something negative to say. Therefore, you want to treat them differently. A troll should be blocked, and their comments deleted. Someone who is negative might just need some extra attention to turn them around.

Ignore Real Trolls

When someone is a real troll they have nothing useful to say at all and are intent on disrupting a discussion or even an entire business. These types of people may even be paid. You have no way of knowing. The best course of action is to ignore them, delete, and block them. There is an exception to this rule. If the issue becomes widely known due to not deleting fast enough you may have to fight back by outing the troll for who they are and let your real audience deal with them.

Make a Joke Out of It

Sometimes trolls and negative people are a little bit funny. It depends on your audience of course, but if you can make a joke out of something that’s a great way to deal with it. For example, if someone asked you what’s taking so long for a shipment to get to them and you know you mailed it the day they ordered it you may need to point out in a humorous way that you have no control over the post office.

Look for The Deeper Message

Sometimes trolls or people who make negative comments are just unhappy people who need something. If you can read between the lines and find a better message answer that message and ignore the nastiness. Killing them with kindness can work very well for riding your feed of trolls.

Hire or Get Volunteer Moderators

When your community grows very large you may need to get help managing your social media to prevent the proliferation of spammers and trolls from taking over your page or community. One of the reasons some big-time coaches have ended their Facebook Groups has to do with poor group management. If it’s getting too big, get some help.

Build Relationships with Your Community

Don’t just talk one way to your community. Don’t just sell them all the time. Have real conversations with members of your community and let them get to know you. When someone is nasty or trolling they’ll report it and probably attack the offender on their own even if you’re sleeping in bed.

Show the Facts

If it’s appropriate baffle the negative person or troll with facts. If you have facts you can prove with real study and research, you’ll find that most of your community will value what you’re saying a lot more than someone who drives by with some negative info.

Dealing with trolls and negative people can be daunting. But, if this starts happening take heart in the fact that it’s mostly because your community is growing, which is a good thing. But don’t take it personally. When it’s possible the very best thing you can do about a troll is not provide a platform for them and delete and block them.

Social Media is a Relationship Building Tool

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Social Media Is A Relationship Building Tool

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Social media is an amazing invention that puts word-of-mouth marketing on steroids. It’s like having a coffee shop, community center, and bar all from the comfort of your home where you can talk to a wide variety of people about almost any topic you can think of. That’s why, at its heart, social media is a relationship building tool.

Building relationships online takes a little time and effort but the pay off is huge. Let’s look at some ways you can use social media to build relationships.

Be Authentic

No one likes to find out someone they admired lied. If you’re not running a six-figure business don’t try to tell others how to do it and don’t make people think you are. You will be found out. Instead, just be who you are, because that’s so much easier. You won’t ever have to feel fake or get nervous because you are who you are.

Understand Your Niche

Every single day keep studying your niche and your audience. Killer apps come along every single day and disrupt businesses all across the world. It can happen to you too if you’re not keeping your ear to the ground and paying attention to industry news. Consider how fast technology is changing in relation to your niche so you can stay ahead of the game. Plus, when you show a deep understanding you can better engage intelligently with your audience.

The Customer is Right

Most business owners hate hearing this but even when the customer is wrong, on social media the customer needs to be right. Do not fight with customers on social media. Even if they say hateful things cancel out all that and address only the issue at hand that you can fix for them. They likely told you how they want you to fix it, so now it’s up to you to do that, even if they’re really wrong because the optics of this type of situation on social media can spell the end of any business fast.

Create Brand Ambassadors

One way to make your customers rave about you is to rave about them. Share projects with them that aren’t complete, ask their advice. Use social media to communicate directly with your audience. Make them feel as if they’re part of your company because you listen to them so much that the products and services you create make some of your audience feel as if you’re reading their mind. You can even incentivize some of your customers by making them referral partners if you wish.

Follow Everyone Back

On some social networks, you have a choice of following people back who follow you or not. But, you should follow them back. The more people you have in your social networks the better. You never know who they’re connected to that might see something they “like” or share of yours so always when possible reciprocate. One exception is your personal Facebook Profile where you only get 5000 friends.

Building relationships with your audience can take some time. But, once you set up a process for succeeding with social media marketing to build traffic to your website, if you don’t skip the engagement portion of social media marketing you’re going to do fabulously.

Evergreen and Immediate Social Media Traffic Tactics

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Evergreen and Immediate Social Media Traffic Tactics

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When using social media to drive traffic it’s important to recognize that some activities provide short-term, quick bursts of traffic while others work for the longer term.

For example, when you post something on Twitter, it runs through the feed and people either see it and click on it, or they don’t. When you put something on Pinterest it’s searchable for as long as it’s on Pinterest and will send traffic for the long-term.

Ensure that you have a good mix of evergreen content and trending content with the focus primarily on evergreen content. This tactic allows you to use social media marketing successfully to drive traffic all the time, not just when you share something in the moment.

  • Read Industry News – This is a great way to find things to share on Twitter, but also provide good fodder for original content that you can create for other platforms like Pinterest or a blog post for your blog.
  • Provide Quality over Quantity – Whether it’s evergreen content or trending content ensure that anything you create, or share is high quality, accurate, and relevant to your audience. In the quest to find content to drive traffic it can be tempting to skip that step but if there is no reason that is relevant to your audience to share the content, don’t do it.
  • Mix it Up – Do both Evergreen content and trending content. Set up your Social Media Planner according to your promotions you already know about, industry events you already know about, and then keep up to date on the news so that you can add in trending information. Share all of it across all of your social media platforms.
  • Change up The Format –Don’t focus your content on only text content. Use different formats to present the same content. For example, if you read a trending article that really made you think, make a video about it to introduce it and then link to it.
  • Add in Seasonal Content – One type of trending content that you should consider adding if it’s appropriate for your niche is seasonal content. Let’s say your industry group is having a Christmas party, that’s something to talk about and to blog that will get a lot of attention.
  • Share Everything – Whether it’s evergreen content or not, focus on sharing it in its various forms on every social media platform that you use. That way you get both short bursts of traffic plus set yourself up for having traffic build slowly over the long-term.
  • Focus More on Evergreen Content – The most important content you can create for your business is evergreen content. That is content that will be useful to your clients for a long period of time. With today’s advancing technology it may not be good forever, but evergreen content should be good at least a year.

Evergreen content, for the most part, will start on your blog. It doesn’t matter if it’s text content or content in another form, but it's on your blog too. Trending content sometimes will go on your blog first, but often it’s a matter of sharing it because someone else talked about it. But sharing it is important too, because it shows that you’re paying attention to your industry.

The Importance of Being Consistent in Brand and Message

Social Media Traffic

The Importance of Being Consistent in Brand and Message

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Your brand, whether personal or business, is how other people view you. If you use the right methods, you can control the message and optimize how your brand is presented to others. This is called branding. If you want to be known as your brand, it’s important to be consistent in brand and message across all social media platforms.

Know Your Audience

Everything you do starts with your audience, so it cannot be repeated enough. Remember just because you studied your audience last year doesn’t mean you’re done. They will continue to grow and evolve so it's important you keep studying your audience.

Consider that Dove has been around for a long time, but if you look at their marketing, it’s changed because, while their customer’s demographics have not changed, the way they talk to them has. Why? Because the customers have changed with the times. Yours will too.

Find Your Brand’s Voice

A great way to determine your brand’s voice is to think about what you want to stand for and how you want to talk to people. Do you want to be soft and subtle, polite and nice, or do you want to be bold, irreverent, and maybe even loud?

One way to accomplish this is to look at how you are as a person. If your company involves you as a solopreneur that makes it easy. You are going to be more comfortable if your brand mirrors your personal brand. Another way is to look at your competition and determine how you can use your brand’s voice to differentiate your brand from the others.

Repurpose Content

You don’t have to make brand-new content for each social media platform. You can share the same exact content across all channels. But, what you want to do is change the blurb, change up the images in terms of size and type of image, but you want the message to be the same regardless of the channel you’re delivering it on.

Stay Relevant

To maintain a brand takes a lot of work on your part. You’ll need to stay up to date on what’s new within your industry and niche so that you can improve your knowledge and be the go-to person in your field. But, don’t do that by changing your brand’s voice, logo, images, and so forth because you want people to recognize you on any platform.

Maintain Consistency

You’re more trustworthy when you are consistent. It’s also easier to find and recognize you. Ensuring that you are consistent means that you’ll see a steadier stream of prospects, develop rewarding partnerships, and your perceived value will increase. Your audience will feel listened to and inspired because the more they see you the more they’re going to trust you.

It’s a lot simpler when you realize that you want to be the same person/business on each network. All you really must tweak is how you deliver the message, not the entire message or the content that you’re linking to. Keep the same business name, personal name, logo, and colors across all networks and you’ll become recognized.

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.

Infographic: The Mobile Takeover Continues | Statista You will find more infographics at Statista

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.

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.

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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!