Mary Wu, Virtual Assistant

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Tag Archives: Productivity

Outsourcing: A Worthy Investment

Outsource Definition Closeup Showing SubcontractingDuring the past two posts I might have convinced you to think about looking for some help. You might call people, get some quotes for some assistance, and then have sticker shock (especially if you have not had contractors working for you).

A few things to keep in mind. (more…)

What will you “give up”?

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Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler

As I’m writing this it’s Mardi Gras, and in some parts of the world, people from some Christian traditions are discussing what they are “giving up” for Lent.

So, inspired by that and also by a post from Michelle Combs at Huffington Post, I’m going to state what I’m “giving up” for the next 40 (or more) days.

  • PERFECTION 
    Have you ever started something but couldn’t get it finished because it wasn’t “perfect?” This can happen with blog posts, artwork, graphic design, or insert your own challenge here. I am here to assure you that you can do more “skating by” in life at an 80% or 90% efficiency than you can by sitting quietly in your room WAITING for things to be 100%.
  • WORKING BACKWARDS 
    This is one of my challenges. Sometimes you have plans, goals, or projects that you have an outline for and something happens and you fall behind and you realize that you will NEVER catch up to where you were SUPPOSED to be. I’ll give an example. I have a pedometer and I have challenged myself to do 10,000 steps a day. I’ll be quite honest and say that I don’t always make it. The real problem comes if I decide that I’m going to do 70,000 steps a week. Let’s say Sunday comes and I get busy and I only make it to 7,500 steps. So that means MONDAY I have to do 10,000 steps + the 2,500 steps I’m behind from Sunday. So let’s say there’s an emergency and I have to pick up a child from school and take them to the doctor and I only make 6,000 steps. So that would mean on TUESDAY I’d have to do the 12,500 steps I was supposed to do MONDAY and then the extra 4,000 steps and … I completely throw in the towel because now I’m so far behind I’ll never catch up. I suppose there are some people out there that can work backwards and manage to make up the steps (or the time or the ….), but it’s really okay to look FORWARD and say, “Well, I fell behind and instead of trying to catch up, I’ll just move forward from here and do …”

Additionally, there is one thing I am not giving up (with an exception for emergencies).

  • SLEEP
    Girl Asleep On Her Notebook ComputerIn theory, middle-aged adults are supposed to spend 7-9 hours a night resting. I find if I don’t do that, everything else suffers. I have less focus, less energy, less patience, and I’m less healthy. At the beginning of 2015, many people I know were setting intentions with a “word of the year” and I realized I didn’t have a major insight into that. And then one day it came to me.

    REST

    Because the 1/3 of my life I’m schedule to spend rejuvenating my body and my mind is really the most important part of the day.

Is there anything you can “give up” that will improve your life?

Related articles:

Thursday Tea Time Tip

IMG_5364People who know me, especially those who know me well, know that I’m rather a coffeeaholic*. I don’t function in the morning without my java. Usually the coffee is made (in the programmable coffeemaker) the evening before, and I’m greeted in the morning with that lovely smell of the bean. Some days it’s the only thing that gets me moving.

In order to improve both my sleep and energy levels, I need to be caffeine-free in the afternoon. Some afternoons though, I either run into a wall or get frustrated or get overwhelmed and can’t figure out what my next step should be. Often when that happens I find that my best next step is

DOING NOTHING!

More specifically, doing nothing while making myself a nice, hot cuppa.

Because sometimes (whether it’s a Thursday or a Monday or a Saturday), you can find yourself about to spin out of control; you need to just stop and get re-centered.

*Really dictionary? Coffeeaholic isn’t a word. I have to talk to the Merriam Webster people about that.

Everybody’s Talkin’ at Me

Stress. Woman stressedIn honor of Administrative Professional’s week, I’m going to do a 5-day series with simple tips.

One thing many people struggle with is an overflow of incoming information. We have email (and sometimes multiple email accounts), phone calls, texts, tweets, and Facebook notifications coming at us from all directions. Sometimes it’s hard to filter out the flow of information. What can you do to prevent feeling overwhelmed?

Here are a few tips:

1. Prioritize. Determine who may need to urgently contact you, and set up a way that you can receive their information. For me, if I’m married to you, have given birth to you, or adopted you (or if you’re caring for one of the above), I will answer your calls. This means that my husband and children have very specific ringtones and the school nurse line has a specific ringtone. Other calls can (and often do) go to voicemail.

2. Turn it OFF. I’m fairly certain the default for everything on my Android phone is to have really irritating notifications turned on. This might not be true but I was noticing that I would often get rings and beeps and vibrates for many reasons during the day. I went through my settings and turned off notifications on most items that I did not deem important.

3. Schedule. There are certain times of the day that I focus on certain platforms. For example, I check email at 9, noon, and 3. I’m not distracted by email at other times (unless I’m waiting for information from a client), and when I’m checking email, that’s the only thing I’m focused on.

4. Get rid of it. (Thanks to Heartbleed.) When the Heartbleed bug caused us to need to change all our passwords, I had some issues with bringing certain things up on my phone. I found this to be a fortunate circumstance, as I discovered that I could actually manage without instant access to certain email accounts. I find some things are really best handled on my desktop computer instead of my phone.

The other thing that we have to allow ourselves and others is some breathing space. If I haven’t heard from someone in 24-48 hours, then I can bug them again. We tend to have an expectation of immediate responses, but (provided none of us are ER doctors) most things can wait.

Related Articles:

Is Your Smartphone Making You Stupid? Kathy Colaiacovo. (timeontaskva.com)

(If I were to go where the weather suits my clothes, I’d have to go someplace where I could wear Birkenstock sandals year round).

Outsourcing: What we can learn from Harry Potter

Outsource Definition Closeup Showing SubcontractingThis week is my week to have car stuff done. I’m getting tires rotated on both vehicles and I’m getting the oil changed on one of the vehicles. (That’s three trips to auto service places in three days).

There are certain jobs that I will never do on my own. Some I won’t do because I don’t have the expertise, some because I don’t have the proper knowledge, and some because I lack the proper tools. Some jobs are easy to give to someone else. Many people take their autos into a shop for an oil change. It’s not necessarily a difficult job to do yourself, however there are specific tools needed to remove the the drain plug and other tools needed to remove and replace the filter. You also need to have jacks or stands, and oil and filters handy (and the knowledge of what kind to use for your car). In some areas there are also laws about the disposal of used motor oil. With all that in mind, I (and most of us) will gladly pay someone else to deal with it for me. (I’ve included a DIY guide on oil changes in the “Related Articles” section – just for grins).

Some jobs are difficult to hand off to another person or company. When you’re a business owner, it can be difficult to determine what jobs to pass along to someone else. Once you do determine which tasks you’ll have someone else do, it can be hard to determine who should be doing the work. In this series, I will touch on those issues and make your decisions a little easier.

WHAT TO OUTSOURCE

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Tips and Tricks for January

Every month or two I will be doing a posting on timely tips and tricks. For the most part these will be guided by the questions I run across from clients or while networking. In other words, if I have to dig out information, I’ll pass it along instead of having others need to look up the same information.

LinkedIn Recommendations. While helping a client update her LinkedIn profile, I ran across an article about getting and using LinkedIn recommendations. The link to the article is in the “Related Articles” section. While this article is mostly focused on people in the job market, many points are the same as for a solopreneur asking clients for LinkedIn Recommendations, especially #6 (reach out personally when you ask for a recommendation) and #7 (only ask those who truly know your work.) This emphasizes what was said in my post on finding your social media voice. Be authentic and consistent.

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Forming a Social Media Success Plan – Step 8

Tools in the pocketThis series started by discussing the 7 steps to a successful social media plan. After a few of the posts, I realized it might be valuable to some to have an understanding of some of the tools I use to make social media less time consuming.

To review, the 7 (now 8) steps to forming a social media plan are:

  1. Create a Vision
  2. Set Strategic Goals
  3. Find Your Social Media Voice (Persona)
  4. Build Your Social Media Platform
  5. Create a Publishing Plan
  6. Build Your Tribe (Community)
  7. Evaluate Your Results
  8. (Yes, I said there are 7 steps, but I’m going to be doing 8 posts and #8 will be a summary of tools of the trade – stay tuned to find out about useful things like Buffer, and Hootsuite).

Hopefully most of the people reading this understand the basic need to have an active presence on at least some social media platforms. But if you’re a small business owner or a solopreneur, you may wonder how you’re going to find the time to add social media to an already full schedule. We’ve talked about consistent publishing and maximizing engagement. While consulting with clients, I’ve suggested that most of them put some content on their social media platforms at least 5 times each week. So, you might question how you’re going to find time to post while also running your business. Here are a few tips.

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