fbpx

Working From Home

why do we need cybersecurity

Why Do We Need Cybersecurity?

why do we need cybersecurity

Why Do We Need Cybersecurity?

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

Why do we need cybersecurity?

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

Reason #1

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

Reason #2

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

Reason #3

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

Reason #4

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

Reason #5

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

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

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

Enable Windows Update.

Install and keep running antivirus software.

Turn on Windows Firewall.

Keep all software updated. 

Always use strong passwords.

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

A password is required to access my computer.

Remove unused programs.

Secure your wireless network. 

Back up critical data. 

Use caution when browsing the Internet. 

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

My web browser does not store or remember my passwords.

Periodically remove temporary Internet files.

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

cybersecurity at home

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

Read more on the GoDaddy breach here: GoDaddy Breached

focus and productivity

Improve Focus and Productivity For Better Time Management

focus and productivity

Improve Focus and Productivty for Better Time Management

Part III of the Time Management Series

task virtual assistant

Improving your focus and productivity so that you can manage your time better is within your grasp. It's all about knowing how to set goals, create well thought out to-do lists, and then implement the actionable schedule you create. With planning, mindfulness, and mindful dedication, you can become a very productive and focused person in all areas of your life.

Create and Set Smart Goals

If you want to be productive, and focus on your goals, learn how to set SMART goals. A SMART goal is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. When you ensure that your goals meet the criteria, it's easier to create a to-do list that leads to your desired results.

For example, if you want to keep your home organized, the first thing you need to do is write a SMART goal for it. Depending on your goal, it may look similar to this one below.

Smart Goal Example and Elements

"By December 20, 2020, every room in the house will be organized and decluttered for maximum productivity. All items unused the last year will be donated or thrown out; items kept will be organized for maximum usability. I will accomplish this by tackling one room per week in my home, including the garage and the car."

Identify which elements below have been included in the sample goal above to help you format goals for your personal needs.

  • Specific: Every room, including the car and the garage, will be organized and decluttered. Write down everything you're going to do as precisely as possible.
  • Measurable: It'll be done, one room a week, by December 20, 2020. Write down what constitutes done for each area. Go ahead and list out each room and what you will do in every room.
  • Achievable: There are 12 "rooms" when you add the garage and the car. I will list in the calendar one room and spell out what is to be done in each room for that month, each day, including putting the task list on each day of the month that I should be doing it.
  • Realistic: I know that I have 1 hour a day to devote to the organization and decluttering of my home.
  • Timely: One room will be done each week, at one hour of work per day, from 7 am until 8 am five days a week, and I will complete all rooms by December 20, 2020.

Go through your objectives and create SMART goals based on the result you want to achieve. Whether it's home, work, personal, or family issues, you can accomplish a lot by taking the time to truly get your goals into writing and then break them down. Be as precise as possible; this will allow you to create a useful task list.

Create Effective Task Lists

Once you have developed SMART goals, use those objectives to build your to-do list. The list will become your schedule that you put in your calendar. You'll use those entries to make daily task lists that help you get done with the things you've set an intention for doing.

Creating useful to-do lists will increase your productivity because it'll be clear what you need to do to complete any item on the list. You will know if it's a small step toward a bigger goal or just a step in your day that you want to hold yourself accountable for doing.

Choose the Right Tools & Technology – You know yourself best. What tools will you use? Don't waste your time trying to use something just because everyone else is using it. However, do give technology a chance because you never know when you'll find a tool that resonates with your way of doing things.

Write Actionable Tasks – When you write down your tasks, you want to write them down very specifically in actionable terms. Use words that truly describe the action you need to do to get to the result you want to reach. Instead of "clean the drawers," try "Clean out the top drawer in the master bath for 15 minutes by tossing anything not used for a year and organizing the rest in containers that make it easy to see what's in there."

Prioritize Your Lists – It's essential to know how to set priorities. It's easy to put things in order of due date. Therefore, assign due dates to anything you want to get done promptly.

Daily Scheduling – Your to-do list should only consist of the things you will do in that one day. For best results, you don't want to fill each day from wake up to sleep time because you'll run out of time. Put only the actions you're going to do that day on the list.

Set a Time Limit – Give yourself a time limit regarding when you should be done with the task and how long you think the task will last. Make the time limit realistic, and give yourself a slight buffer before and after each task.

Understand What You Need to Focus On

One thing that can be confusing is that busy is not the same thing as productive. You can be busy and be productive, just as you can be busy without ever being productive. Outside forces can also decrease your focus. For example, if you don't feel well, it will be hard to focus on anything.

Know the Goals and Results You Expect - If you have a business, you may want to focus on tracking the results from your Facebook Advertisement. If you are trying to lose weight, you may want to monitor your calories, micronutrients, and exercise. If you're going to learn a new language, you will want to track your lessons and practice sessions to find out if you're improving over time. Whatever you need to focus on will be due to the result you're hoping to achieve.

Focusing on the right thing often requires you to make an educated guess about the situation and track the results. You can always adjust as you move forward.

Prepare Your Brain for Each Task - One issue that many people have with getting things done is a lack of direction. They jump from one thing to the next without knowing why they're doing it or what the results should be from doing whatever it is that they're doing. If you want to be successful and productive, take the time to prepare your brain for each task that you need to do.  Read my blog on Mastering Brain Power for Success

Stop Between Tasks - Give your mind enough time to transition between tasks. Setting up your day so that you don't overwork yourself in any area while getting things accomplished on time will help you focus more. When you plan for breaks in your day, you'll end up enjoying your day more, and you'll get more done too.

Review Your Actions - First, you need to ensure you have created SMART goals so that you have something to measure. Then use technology to measure the results of what you are doing. For example, if you are trying to get more traffic to your blogging site, you'll want to look at the traffic generating actions to compare what works and what doesn't. If you're trying to think more positively, it might take more work to track your negative thoughts and your positive ones, but you can do that too.

Discover Your Peak Time - Everyone has a time when they can do specific tasks better than others. There are day people and night people. Some thrive on a high-pressured deadline-driven day, and others do not. Find the way that works for you. The way that you enjoy working and get the most accomplished for each task. If you assign yourself the task during your peak time, you'll do that one thing best; you'll see more results.

Test and Adjust - Once you note what works and what doesn't work, do more of what is bringing the results that you want. Then track the results. Most things need a minimum of 21 days to find out if they're working in the way you want them to, but some ideas might take more time, even up to a year, to know if it's the most productive that delivers your desired result. Once you try the new plan, analyze it, and then adjust it if you need to so that you can make it even better.

For example, what if you could exercise only 30 minutes a day and get the same results as a 40-minute workout? What if you can eliminate a task because it doesn't produce results compared to another action you can take? How much time will you be saving then?

Know What Makes You Tick

One thing to keep in mind about improving your focus and productivity is that you'll need to take a deep dive into what makes you get excited about working to your full potential.

SWOT Analysis - What are your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats? Do this in each area of your life, personal, professional, spiritual, and social, each as needed.

Why Do You Get Up in The Morning? -  As Simon Sinek suggests, "Start With Why."  What inspires you to do what you do? What do you hope to achieve in your life overall? Try writing your obituary as if you die at 120 years old after living the life you really want to live. Remember to write it from the perspective of every critical aspect of your life.

 What works best for you? -  Do you learn better by doing, by touching, by watching, by example, or what?

Do you feel energized or drained after spending time with others? How do you communicate with others best? Are you a morning or night person? Knowing this about yourself is vital. All of these are things that you can improve or accept them and work around them.

For example, suppose during your discovery phase, you learn that you're spending 4 hours a day watching TV or surfing on the internet. It will be up to you to accept that this interferes with your productivity if you truly want to do better. No one can do that for you.

Likewise, if you discover that you're a night person, but you have to get up at 5 am every day for work, you may have to accept that this is not ideal until you can find another way to generate income. But you can still work around it by moving detailed tasks to later in the day when you're able to focus better.

When you apply the knowledge you have gathered about yourself to improve your focus and productivity, you will find it easier to manage your time. Whether you need to do the hard things in the morning or at night, it does not matter. The best solution is the one that works best for you and enables you to tap into your most productive times while reaching the most productive results.

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

procrastination

The Truth About Procrastinating

procrastination

The Truth About Procrastinating

Part IV of our Time Management Series

task virtual assistant

Do you find yourself waiting until the last minute to finish that project? Have you ever pushed a task to the back burner and found other things to do instead, knowing that you need to get that one task done? I know I have and do. As a matter of fact, here I am, late on Sunday night, writing this to make sure it gets to your inbox by 8:00 am. Poor time management? No, it’s just procrastination, plain and simple.

Procrastination is an issue that many people use to put off doing something that they don’t want to do, or maybe they just don’t know how to start. And it is a destroyer of any time management system you may have in place.

People who procrastinate know that they must do something before a deadline but wait until the last moment to do it if they do it at all.

Types of Procrastinators

The six most common types of procrastinators all have various reasons for putting things off, but they are very different. You may find that you identify with more than one type because, for some people, it depends on the task they must do to determine the type of procrastination they practice.

One step in recognizing, halting, and turning around your procrastination habits is to identify the type of procrastination you’re experiencing for each task that you’re putting off. Once you do that, you can often find a way to halt that pattern and even change it to increase productivity.

The Perfectionist

If you have an article or speech due, do you find yourself writing, and rewriting, and rewriting, and rewriting? When you’re getting ready to go somewhere, do you find yourself messing with your hair so much, it ends up a disaster and you have to pull it back in a ponytail? It might feel good to say, “I’m a perfectionist,” but the truth is a lot less flattering. Whenever I was asked “what are your strengths” in an interview, I would tell them my strength is my weakness. I am a perfectionist.  In my mind, this is a good thing as I want to make sure the work I am putting out there is my very best. But being a perfectionist is not only a time-waster, it’s procrastinating.

You may often feel as if you’re not good enough, you may even have imposter syndrome adding to the problem you’re experiencing. Perfectionists tend to put things off until the last minute, or may not even try because they cannot live up to the expectations that they’ve set for themselves.

To stop this type of procrastination, it’s crucial to learn to make realistic goals so that you can meet your own expectations.

The Idealist

This procrastinator will spend their time planning and organizing without getting results. Their plan is not realistic because they don’t think of the roadblocks and obstacles that might get in their way. The moment something goes awry, they give up.

This idealist also likes to think they need a muse, or the right emotion, or the perfect space, to do the work they need to do. They will put off getting started until everything is set just right.

To stop this type of procrastination, make solid, concrete goals, that are both challenging and realistic, but broken down into achievable easy to do steps.

The Worrywart

This type of procrastinator is very negative, all doom and gloom. They may suffer from general anxiety disorder. The worrywart turns everything into a tragic catastrophe and often have tons of drama going on. They are often resistant to change and tend to fear anything new or different or unfamiliar.

To stop this type of procrastination, first, determine if medical treatment is necessary for a general anxiety disorder.  Then look strategically at a task or project, and plan for all possibilities. It is essential to accept that getting caught up in so many “what if” scenarios isn’t the real problem. When the circular thoughts get out of control, take it a step farther, and plan for those possibilities.

The Adrenaline Drama

Many people claim that they work better during a crisis and with deadlines. This type of procrastination means that the person may enjoy the adrenaline rush that accompanies the drama of putting things off until the last moment.

Often this person will say that they always do their best work under pressure. I’m one of those. I think I do my best work under pressure. Sadly, this is seen as a good thing by society. Tragically, it’s a lie. Even if you’ve done your best, and the work is good, at the last minute, you can always do better when you give yourself enough time.

To stop this type of procrastination, realize that choosing to do things at the last moment is a choice you’re making, not something you have to do. Reward yourself for setting up the project in advance and working on it a little at a time.

The Rebel

Many people who suffer from this type of procrastination simply hate deadlines, authority, and all expectations from others. They think of themselves as a free spirit.

The hallmark of this type of procrastination is that the person is overt about doing things their own way, including reinventing the wheel if they deem it necessary.

To stop this type of procrastination, understand that you do have choices, even when under someone else’s authority, such as with work, school, or even as an independent contractor with clients. Avoiding deadlines isn’t going to lead to success.

The People Pleaser

Many people are procrastinators only due to being overworked. They’ve overscheduled themselves to the point of overwhelm and then tend to miss deadlines or just not do anything because it’s so much, they don’t know where to start.

This type of person often does not know how to say no. They think they can do everything, yet they cannot. They don’t know how to set the right type of boundaries.

To stop this type of procrastination, you must learn to do is say no. Start saying no or at least, “let me check my calendar” before saying yes. It’s okay to have free time for yourself and to do the things you do well in the time necessary and set by you.

Regardless if you are experiencing one type or a combination of the types of procrastination, it’s important to identify when it’s happening. Once you name the type and your reasons, then you’ll be able to reverse it.

Are You Procrastinating?

We’ve all done it. You know you need to get out of bed, but you keep pushing the snooze button. You need to study for a test but suddenly want to clean the fridge. You need to write 5000 words for your book, but you surf the internet instead. You need to catch up on your bookkeeping, but you clean your email instead.

The list goes on and on. You may not know it, but you’re procrastinating. Let’s look at some signs that may help you figure out when you’re procrastinating. Being mindful of your thoughts and feelings is an excellent start to stopping procrastination habits.

  • You Have Negative Thoughts About the Task – Break down the work into smaller chunks and give yourself a tighter deadline to ward off the downward spiral of negative thinking.
  • You Find Things to Do Other Than What Needs to Be Done – Force yourself to start the task and stick to it. Add the other things like the dishes, cleaning the baseboards, or other busy tasks that don’t have deadlines looming, to your to-do list in order of importance so you can see for yourself that it can wait.
  • You Do Mindless Things Instead of What You Need to Do – This is classic procrastination. You find yourself spending four hours playing Words with Friends or other games, or mindlessly watching videos of cute puppies when you have something else to do. To limit this, set break timers. For example, take 15 minutes to check your Facebook. If you need more time, then schedule it for the end of the day, when you’ve completed your tasks.
  • You Avoid Seeing or Thinking About What You Need to Do – Keeping your “head in the sand” is not a positive or effective tactic for dealing with things. If you find yourself avoiding a task, especially if it’s important, like paying quarterly taxes, understand that by avoiding it you’re making a choice and it may have consequences.
  • You Keep Waiting for The Right Time That Never Comes – The right time will never come. Set up concrete steps that can help you realize your dreams, and implement them.
  • You Downgrade the Importance of The Thing – You have already determined the importance and priority of your tasks when you added them to your list. If you start making excuses or decide it isn’t important to do when you decided, you need to look at your overall objectives and re-do your task list accordingly.
  • You Keep Learning Instead of Implementing What You’ve Learned – The “professional student”. You like learning about things, but not so great at implementing. Learning is never a bad thing, but you need to set a goal to put what you’ve learned into practice. If you learn about marketing funnels but never do them, you’re never going to experience the benefits.
  • You Keep Making Yourself Busy – You know the person who is always busy but never seems to accomplish much. If that’s you, you’re always cleaning, but your house is always a mess. You’re always working, but you never finish anything you start because you’re always starting new projects, at the same time. To stop this, pick one thing to complete before saying yes again.

Tips to Stop Procrastination

Now that you know how to recognize the different types of procrastination that may be affecting your productivity and causing you to waste time, let’s talk about ways to stop putting things off and start managing your time.

Set SMART Goals

Set goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-dependent.

An example of a smart goal:

“I will finish writing my 80,000-word (specific) romance novel by December 20th, 2020 (timely) by writing 2000 words (realistic) a day five days a week, (measurable) Monday – Friday writing from 2 pm until 4 pm each day.” (attainable)

Plan Your Task List

Start with a planner and enter long-term and short-term planning that covers yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily planning. As you create your long- and short-term planning, you will start to identify potential roadblocks and will be able to plan actions to take in advance.

You can also take this time to determine which are urgent and important and must be completed by you, and which you might want to delegate or outsource.

Break Big Tasks Down

When you are being specific about your goals, remember that any big goals need to be broken down into smaller tasks. For example, if you are working on household organization and minimizing the things you have, don’t plan to do it all in one day. Instead, break it down to small daily tasks that will, over the course of the year, add up to an organized and decluttered home.

Develop Positive Habits

The best way to ensure that you end procrastination entirely is to replace your bad habits with good habits. For example, if you tend to press the snooze button each morning, move the alarm to a point where you cannot touch it or turn it off with your voice without fully getting up. If you tend to put off getting in your 10K steps, do that first thing instead of later. If you are always looking at the negative side of things, then come up with three positive thoughts each time you have a negative thought.

Visualize What Being Done Looks Like

One thing that can really help if you are a procrastinator is to practice visualizing what is being done and what it feels like to do that in the timeline given to the best of your ability. Don’t let that push you into perfectionism. Remember, perfection doesn’t exist and never will.

Ask Yourself: What’s the Worst That Can Happen?

One way to stop procrastination is to ask yourself what is the very worst that can happen. Go ahead and think about it. The trick here is to be realistic in your analysis of what the worst is that can happen. Say your biggest fear out loud, adjust your goal to account for possibilities, and move forward anyway.

Reward Yourself for a Job Done

Reward yourself when you succeed. Most people who set up and follow a plan overcome procrastination and become more productive. why not give yourself a reward for doing it?

Stopping procrastination requires that you first recognize it, and then accept that you’re doing it, and then make plans to stop doing it. Once you realize you’re procrastinating, you can figure out how to work around it and get the task done.

I hope you have enjoyed this four-part mini-series on Time Management as much as I enjoyed putting it together. I gave you a lot of thought-provoking information as well as tips to help you manage your time. To further help you, I have created a workbook you can use to help identify your time vampires, sets goals, and make a plan. The download link is below.

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

 

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.

Outsourcing

Outsourcing: The Key to Success

Outsourcing

Outsourcing: The Key to Success

task virtual assistant

Think back to when you first set out to build your business. Do you remember what your “wants” were? For most, whether building a small business or becoming an entrepreneur, the first need, or “want,” was to have a business that provided the income you needed without overtaking your life.  Working in the Corporate world was sucking your life away. Sure, you had an awesome career, maybe an excellent salary and title, but at what cost? Long commutes, long hours, you were missing out on the joy of life. So you decided to take matters into your own hands.

Fast forward – six months? One year? Five years? Are you enjoying your business success, living that full and rich life, both professionally and personally? If you are, Congratulations! But I’d be willing to bet you are still overworked.  So how do you build that successful business and get everything you want? The key is outsourcing.

My Story

My story is very similar to many independent contractors. I was in the Corporate world, living the dream. I had an excellent, well-established career, a fantastic salary and benefits, and a commute from hell. But I loved my job. Then my company had a corporation-wide restructuring, and I found myself without a job. Trying to land another job in an unstable and volatile employment outlook proved futile and frustrating, so I stopped looking and decided to build my own business. My first thought was, “what do I want to be when I grow up.” After careful deliberation, I knew what would make me happiest would be helping others.   I thrived when I was employed as a secretary, an administrative assistant, even an assistant manager. I was at my best in these positions because I was helping, I felt needed, and I knew I was making someone’s life a little bit easier.

So I did what makes sense to me, leveraged all my years of experience and skillset, and became a virtual assistant to help give you back your time to do the things you love, to focus on growing that business you worked hard to build. This is the number one reason why virtual assistants exist and why we outsource our skills to you. Keep on reading to learn how outsourcing helps your business.

How Will Outsourcing Help My Business?

  • Grow - Well planned outsourcing can improve your efficiency, cut costs, speed up product creation, and give you time to focus on the important planning and directing that a business owner must do, aside from doing the actual tasks in the business.
  • Boost Resources - adds key resources and skills to your arsenal. No need to learn how to manipulate Excel or take a coding class when you can hire someone to do it when you need it.
  • Save Money - Outsourcing means you use an independent contractor only when you need them and not pay someone for non-productive hours.
  • Remove Bottlenecks - When you start to outsource tasks in your business, you’ll notice bottlenecks start to clear up, and tasks are being completed more efficiently. Because the truth is, in most small businesses, the bottleneck is the business owner.
  • Frees Up Your Time – As a business owner, you have a lot to do, but you don’t have to do it all. You started your business to offer your expertise, your point of difference, not spend your day on mundane and overwhelming tasks. By hiring an independent contractor, you focus your talent on doing things that only you can do.
  • Improve Customer Satisfaction and Reviews – The truth is, someone else can probably do some things better than you. Because of that, if you outsource to the right people for the right things, you can improve your offers, thus improving your customer satisfaction dramatically.

How Do I Outsource Successfully?

Before you start the search, define what it is you want to have done. Being clear on the parameters of your project is half the battle.

  • Evaluate contractors carefully – Look at testimonials, examples, and always make sure they are who they say they are. If needed, ask for personal references. Most independent contractors will not be willing to provide client contact information but may have personal references available.
  • Make your decision based on their skill and expertise, not price – Don’t always hire people based on the lowest price. Sometimes a higher price ends up being a lower price due to time and expertise. “You get what you pay for” is true for outsourcing.
  • Start Small – Choosing a small task or project to outsource will help you determine how well they meet deadlines and stand by their work, as well as fit in your environment. They may be capable, but a bad match will leave you feeling frustrated.

Outsourcing is the biggest key to your freedom. Remember that many things you need to be done can be done by someone else. You really can hire experts remotely for a lot less than you think and increase the capabilities of your business fast. I'm going to leave you with a few final tips to help you choose your awesome, amazing independent contractor for your business needs:

  1. Know What You Want – Write a detailed job or project description highlighting the expected deliverables, timetable, and budget.
  2. It’s OK to hire more than one contractor for a project – Hiring out for parts of a project, such as writing, editing, and formatting, may turn out a better product. And if one gets sick, the project doesn’t come to a halt or fall back on you.
  3. Know Your Budget – You need to know the range you’re able to pay for the projects you’re trying to outsource.
  4. Do Your Research – Visit their website, check out their social media pages, read their reviews and testimonials. Remember the saying, “if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.” Always check up on anyone you plan to work with, especially if they will be associated with your business name in any way. You would do this if you were hiring an employee, and you should do it anytime you plan to have someone work in your company, no matter the status.
  5. Respect Their Business – Chances are, your independent contract will not be exclusive to you as they are not your employee. How many active clients they have or how they produce your deliverables is not any of your concerns. The important part is that they deliver the results you paid for, on time, as per the agreement you both sign.
  6. Communicate Regularly and Quickly – A regular touch base is important, especially with long-term projects or retainer bases services such as office admin and management. When your contractors have a question, try to get back to them as quickly as possible with the answers.
  7. Pay on Time – This is probably the top three if not the number one complaint most independent contractors have. If you promise to pay them a certain amount of money for their service, pay them according to your agreement. Don’t hire people if you don’t have the funds to pay at that moment.

Many awesome independent contractors want to work virtually, so if you know what you want and do your due diligence, you will find them.

Need a virtual assistant? Schedule a call with me personally! Let's talk about your business and how I can help you.

Are you considering starting a virtual assistant career? I recommend checking out VA Networking. (write up). Unsure how to start? Check out the free resources or enroll in the VA Career program, everything you ever needed to start up a VA business including a made-for-you website/hosting/domain name.  A positive investment in your future!

 

 

 

cybersecurity for kids

Cybersecurity For Kids

cybersecurity for kids

Cybersecurity For Kids

task virtual assistant

Your children need protection from the lurkers and hackers in cyberspace. With more schools shifting to online learning, almost all kids now have access to the internet. Parents should be actively involved in teaching their children safe cybersecurity habits.

Most kids who access the internet are not careful enough when giving out personal information online. They don't realize the risks and dangers of having their confidential and personal information online. From viruses to hackers to identity thieves, these people are lurking in cyberspace, waiting for that opportunity. I can only stress the importance of cybersecurity for kids.

There are several ways to help teach your children the proper methods of accessing, behaving, and protecting themselves online. The most common areas your children go on the web are social network sites where they have online profiles, photos, and keep online journals. Explain the dangers of accepting online friend invites, especially if they don't know the person.

cybersecurity for kids

It's important to remember that you are not just adding that one person; you get the "friends of friends" spiral. When you add someone as a friend, their friends will also have viewing access, and, if the settings are not locked down, they will also be able to comment. Most of the time, your kids won't even know these people, and now, if they choose, these individuals can gain access to your kid's personal information. Use the privacy and/or parental controls on the social media apps your kid's access. Many are interactive and easy to set up.

Put their computer in a high-profile area, such as a kitchen, where one or more people are always there. Setting them up in the main traffic area allows you to monitor their browsing activities more easily or encourage them to ask questions. They can call your attention to their monitor if they want to ask questions or show you something. It also discourages them from visiting lewd and otherwise undesirable websites.

cybersecurity for kids

These websites are not only inappropriate but are also a breeding ground of malware, spyware, and virus applications that can destroy files, the computer, and even other devices on your network. It's best to be proactive and use controlling mechanisms like content blockers that prohibits them from accessing certain websites and a monitoring application, so you can review what sites they are visiting.

Talk to your children about what they can do online. Get them to engage in a healthy conversation about what they do online, and to let you know if anything seems off. Help them to develop good online habits to ensure their safety online. Teach them the pros and cons of social networking, online file sharing, and even software piracy and illegal downloads. Increasing their knowledge and understanding of the technology of computers and the internet and cybersecurity is arming them with the best protective gear.

cybersecurity for kids

Keep in mind that children are naturally curious. Their innocence, and their desire to be independent, can cause them to be careless. Ordinary safeguards are not enough when it comes to protecting your kids in cyberspace. You need to know what your kid's computer habits are so you can better protect them.

Summertime Skincare: What You May Have Forgotten

stressing out

Summertime Skincare: What You May Have Forgotten

Jay Headline Tag

The things that seem to take a backseat during times of crisis are typically the things that make us feel good. I had a routine, like many of you I am sure. Up at 6am, shower, and religiously followed a skincare routine. I was seeing people daily which involved a lot of travel, so my moisturizer had SPF and I always primed before my foundation. Nighttime would come, and I would work in reverse taking off the pollution of the day and indulging in a luxurious night cream. Three times a week I would apply a treatment to exfoliate the skin and help it glow the next morning. After all, I would be in the public eye and needed to present my best self.

My routine faded, and so did my skin

Along came Covid-19, and  I am working from home.  I get up at 7:30 a.m., it's just a few steps to my home office. I quickly shower and cleanse my face, throw on a clean pair of pajamas (do I even remember what pants look like??), turn on the computer and start my day. If I am lucky I’ll be able to slap on a 5-minute makeup for a Zoom meeting. I looked in a mirror the other day, in what can only be described as absolutely horrific lighting, and noticed the damage I had done. I am breaking out, the bags under my eyes are very prominent, and my skin just feels dry and tight. What happened to the youthful, radiant glow I worked so hard to maintain??

My routine faded, yes, but I was still cleansing and moisturizing. Didn't that count? I didn’t do treatments 3 times a week, but I was not in the elements anymore and I didn’t wear daily makeup. So what caused this change? Since I started working from home, like most others, my company was trying to acclimate to the new environment. We had multiple daily changes to policies and procedures, lack of proper equipment to do the job, and way more technical difficulties than I care to count.  Not to mention, I am home now, with three kids and a dog!

Stress! Stress! Stress!

Feelings of being pulled in so many directions from my boss, family, and friends. There could only be one answer as to what was wreaking havoc on my skin....good ole cortisol.

Cortisol: the hormone released when you are stressed. High cortisol levels contribute to heart disease, migraines, neurological diseases, and, as if that wasn’t enough, premature aging. In Brain-Skin Connection: Stress, Inflammation and Skin Aging, authors Ying Chen and John Lyga discuss how cortisol affects your skin.  Definitely check it out for a more scientific look.

Realistically I cannot remove all the stress from my life. I can, however, fight against the effects.

My Top 3 Ways to Fight Back

Right Arrow on Microsoft Windows 10 May 2019 Update Listen to my body and take breaks when needed. Deep breathing, meditation, a quick 15 minute full body stretch anything to bring the stress into manageable levels.

Right Arrow on Microsoft Windows 10 May 2019 Update Exfoliate! Cortisol breaks down collagen! Encourage cell turnover by sloughing off some of the dead so that your body sends reinforcements.

Right Arrow on Microsoft Windows 10 May 2019 Update Use a good cream with retinol. Not sure about using a synthetic Vitamin A? Read the Retinol myth-busters 11 Retinol Myths That Derms Want You to Stop Believing before deciding.

Follow these three tips and you will be well on your way to regaining that youthful glow. Put yourself on the front burner every once in a while. You’ll be glad you did.

Time Management Hacks Used By Successful People

Time Management Hacks Used By Successful People

Time-Mgmt-Illustration-pdf
Add-a-subheading

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!

Separating Home from Work

Image provided by https://www.womenonbusiness.com/setting-up-your-home-office-for-working-remotely/
Image provided by https://www.womenonbusiness.com/setting-up-your-home-office-for-working-remotely/

Separating Home From Work

Jay Headline Tag

A few months ago (feels like a lifetime right?) many of us were displaced from an office setting to a home office setting. There have been a few that made that transition seamlessly. I am not one of those few! I am an extrovert by nature. I recharge my batteries (energy if you will) by interacting with people around me. This is not to say I don’t like alone time, but Socialization is imperative to my existence. I went from an office full of wonderful coworkers to a table at home with my children and my VERY needy Boston Terrier, Rueben.

Sitting in my kitchen staring at the laundry, floors that need swept, dishes in the sink, oh my goodness I should repaint this room! I quickly blurred the lines between home life and work life. My productivity dropped along with all motivation. This was simply not going to work. I mean let’s be honest, it had to work whether I wanted it to or not. So what to do?

Figure Out What's Working and What Isn't

I made a list of the reasons my home work space was not working out. First thing on the list was my home work space was not a work space at all! It was a laptop on my kitchen table. This was the very lack of separation! Well I could change that for sure. I found a corner of a room, away from the main living spaces. I turned that corner into an “office”. This gave my brain what it needed to understand we are at work and not at home.

Set Boundaries

Second thing on my list was a little tougher, my kids...and Rueben. I had to create a schedule. Setting time limit boundaries, gave me the space I needed to do as much as I could and be able to handle little things needed throughout the day. Schedules work for the kids too! They need those boundaries. Think school setting for them. Giving them timed daily tasks keeps the boredom away and helps me accomplish what I need. 

Untitled design

Don't Bring Work "Home"

Work at work and home at home. This is by far the hardest thing to do since I can not physically leave. When the work day is done I close up all folders, projects, and laptop. I put all my supplies away and silence the work phone. All those things will be waiting for me the next work day, and I am free to work on home tasks. As hard as it will be, try not to do work things on home-time or home things on work-time. Setting strong boundaries will be difficult at first, but are so important for success.

These are unprecedented times, but I hope my experience helps you build a successful work at home atmosphere! If you would like to read more, here are a few articles I found helpful:

http://www.oprah.com/omagazine/work-life-balance-building-boundaries-between-your-job-and-your-home/all

https://www.workflexibility.org/separate-work-life-when-you-work-at-home/

Like what you're reading? Please share! Have questions/comments? Please post in comment section below.

 

Establish a Great Home Environment for Success

A Mother's Arms
Add-a-subheading

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.