With First Night upon us and Mother Nature is a chilly mood, I am happy to see 2013 end and welcome 2014 with open arms. Was 2013 a not-so-great year? Absolutely not! With 2014 be great? Most likely.
Another fresh new year is here…
Another year to live!
To banish worry, doubt, and fear,
To love and laugh and give!
This bright new year is given me
To live each day with zest…
To daily grow and try to be
My highest and my best!
I have the opportunity
Once more to right some wrongs,
To pray for peace, to plant a tree,
And sing more joyful songs!
— William Arthur Ward
As the end of the year rolls around, I have the tendency to smirk at those who profess their New Year’s Resolutions. While I applaud your efforts for thinking about what goal you want to accomplish, why wait until January 1st, or why not put off things until February 1st? I know, I’m not a lover of procrastination, but hear me out…
A New Year
With the new year, there is bound to be change – new laws, new taxes, new client protocols, year end bookkeeping, and a week or two of holiday hangovers (whether this be from alcohol, food, cookies, sleep, cookies .. did I mention cookies?!?). Just getting back into the swing of your traditional work week is f.u.n. with a capital “Blech!”
Tip: Spend January getting your clients’ new plans ingrained into your schedule, so that by February 1st, it’s a habit and not requiring extra time.
Begin a New Habit .. Monthly
Inspired by Leo Babauta’s A Year of Living Without concept, think about adding (instead of removing) something into your life both personally and professionally. If you notice, he didn’t begin his quest until July. July! Not January 1st. Spend Q1 planning, think about what you want to change, modify, augment and begin your quest on April 1st.
Need some ideas?
Over the years, I added piece by piece to my business and to my personal knowledge (it’s no hidden secret that I read way too much). So here are some ideas to aid you in planning.
- No TV/Gaming/Netflix one day during the work week and pick up a book to read. Limit yourself to non-fiction and to something pertinent to your business, or to learn something new to add to your service list. Blogs, news aggregators, feeds, etc. do not count. High five is you finish a book within the month.
- Establish your boundaries. This is a really good one to start out with. Decide on your office hours and stick to them. Set up your home office as a professional proper office. If your office hours are 9-4, then be prepared to walk out the door between 4:00-4:15p. Close the doors and try not to think about work until tomorrow. If you find you are getting behind in work, then see the next tip.
- Learn/create a time management & productivity system that works for YOU. There are tons of systems out there, but they are irrelevant if they don’t work for you. Review (maybe from reading a book *hint, hint*) some of the time management systems and tools out there and adapt one to your method of getting things done. If you are struggling, then partner with mentor or coach to help you figure out where you an streamline things. Ultimately, the more streamlined and productive you are, the more clients you can take on and service properly.
- Learn how to plan. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it does happen if you plan things out. This is different than time management. Learn how to effectively plan for your business goals and your personal goals .. so invest in yourself.
- Use the slow cooker once every other week. Nothing says “this is home” than a nice soup or stew in the cold winter months. Using a 6.5 qt crock pot, make some healthy soups and stews .. and you won’t have to “cook” for at least 3-4 days/nights. As an added bonus, plonk out that bread machine from the back of the cupboard and make some hearty rich bread to go with the soup. It’s home cooked, inexpensive, and saves time (from cooking) leaving you time to do something else.
- Schedule a series of appointments. Your business works when you are healthy so set up appointments to see your general practitioner, your dentist, and your eye doctor. Ladies, see your OB/GYN and also schedule your mammogram.
- Schedule a “brownie meeting.” For those who have attended any of my Hangouts on Google+, you know how I tout the effectiveness of a brownie meeting. Do one. ‘Nuff said.
- Spend an hour a week on philanthropy. This does not mean “give money” .. western thinking has poorly botched the definition of philanthropy. It means to give without the expectation of compensation. Help a new virtual assistant, volunteer locally, and help someone who needs it.
- Get up! Plan 5 minutes every hour during the work day to get up. Go flip a load of laundry, run the dog out, stir the crock pot or do some squats or arm curls.
- Take another step in going paperless or being more eco-friendly. With incandescent bulbs going, going, gone in 2014, there are still other things you can do to be a greener business. Get coaching on how to go paperless (something we can help out with). Set up a system for digitizing your everything – CD’s, papers, faxes, bills, bank statements, etc. The world will thank you.
- Learn to control one social media platform. It’s also no secret that my preferred social media platform is Google+. While I’m content with LinkedIn, I’m not a lover of Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest .. although I post on all of them. This means not only staying consistent with posting and engaging, but also limiting your time on social media. Wasted time does not earn money. In this month of discovery, pick one social media platform and conquer it. Learn it’s nuances, learn not just how to post, but how to use the platform to its fullest, as well as any software that might enhance your engagement. For example, learning how to deep search in Twitter. Pick a new platform the following quarter, while re-evaluating your ROI.
- Say Thank You! Once a week, reach out to someone and thank them. I’m not talking a #FollowFriday shout out. Write an email, *gasp* send a physical handwritten note, or post a personal message to someone on social media. Genuinely, thank someone for something they did. Perhaps they provided some really good insight that inspired or affected the way you think; perhaps they offered encouragement when no one else had; perhaps they empowered you to take the next step; or perhaps you just felt they needed to hear it. Be personable and express gratitude.
Inspired? Hell Yeah!
Now that you have some ideas, plan out how you want to implement them and when you want to start. It may not be until July .. and that’s ok. If you feel like sharing your adventure this year, please feel free to comment .. I am truly interested in the choices you make and to help you, if I can.
In conclusion, you sail your ship – don’t let the wind take you wherever it sees fit. Improve yourself, be healthy, and be a better person.
That’s a Wrap!
About Out of the Office Virtual Assistance:
At Out of the Office, we are committed to providing earth-friendly administration and offer ideas and ways to increase your productivity, decrease your workload, and work more efficiently. We nurture a successful business relationship, while continuing to grow as your business partner. We are focused on streamlining your administration, social media planning and execution, and offering creative solutions for your business success.