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Category: Support Systems

Organize Your Home Office to Encourage Productivity

Creating a home office is a huge step towards being able to focus and get work done throughout the day. Unfortunately, if your home office space is a landing pad for other items, or a haven of disorganization, you may not realize just how much it affects your productivity. Creating an organized office space will help you organize your approach to working at home, or at the very least it will cut out distractions in your work zone.

Simplify

The first step to organizing your home office is to remove everything and anything that you don’t need or use on a regular basis. Simplify what goes on your desk surface, the items in your drawers, and everything on your existing shelves. In this step, you need to become a minimalist, and be ruthless about it. Relocate as much as you can out of your work space to keep it uncluttered and basic.

Arrange

Keep all of your most used items in constant, easy-to-access places. You will save yourself time by doing this because you will always know where items are, and because you won’t have to move around to grab them. If you’ve decided that an item is something you need to have in your workspace, but that you don’t use often, put it away so as to avoid clutter.

Organize

Find a system that works for you! Organization isn’t a one-size-fits all undertaking. If you prefer baskets to be labelled by size, colour and contents that is great. If your organization is a little more abstract, that’s okay too; it’s your office and you can organize it in whatever way makes sense to you.

Update

Are you still chasing paper trails and filing cabinets? Consider going all-digital to curb clutter. Keeping your files on your computer is often easier and takes up far less room than collecting paper. While you’re organizing your office, you may consider making this change as well.

You can find unique and interesting folders and boxes to organize your office in a certain style of décor. Try labeling folders and baskets so that you remember where each thing goes, and get into the habit of tidying your space every evening before you finish for the day. This will keep your productivity high as your work space stays uncluttered.

4 Steps to Getting out of a Rut

Have you stalled? Is your business in a rough patch? Things can’t always be perfect for those in business, and an entrepreneur must be prepared for the inevitable ups and downs. Still, when you find yourself lacking motivation and forward motion, it can be difficult to find your way out of the darkness and back into inspiration, but with these tips you’ll be able to push yourself out of the rut and back where you belong.

Inspire Outside Of Work
When you find inspiration outside of work, it often breathes new life into your career. Find a hobby, or rekindle a love for an old one. Something fast-paced such as dance or a team sport can help you to find your groove quicker than you may otherwise.

Accept Change
Oftentimes, instead of accepting that things are changing, we try to fight against them. Instead of digging in your heels, try going with the flow on change. Take a look at the way things are shifting, and try to go with the flow. It’s important, in business, to be able to stick to your business plan, but sometimes these things require flexibility as well as persistence. Look at your problem from a different angle to see if you can find a solution.

Try Working Somewhere Else
Pack up your laptop and spend the day in a café, on the beach or at the library. See if changing up your physical location makes a difference in your motivation. Sometimes the fresh air can make a big difference in how you’re feeling.

Go For A Walk
If you’re feeling as though you’ve hit a wall, and you’re banging your head against it, it’s okay to get up and get out. Once you reach a point of no return, the best thing to do is shake it off. Head out for a walk, even just around the block, to get your creative juices flowing. You may be surprised by just how quickly you find the solution to your problem.

How to Avoid Business Burnout

Business Burnout is a phenomenon that happens to many small business owners at one time or another. Let’s face it; we all start our businesses for different reason, but at the core there is a passion, a desire to make a comfortable living, and a dream.

When you begin as a small business owner, there is no doubt that you’re going to come blazing out of the gate. You’re excited, and motivated, and it’s this that will lead to success while you pursue with reckless abandon. It’s likely that you’ll be so enamoured with your new undertaking that you’ll stay late or start early. You’ll forego meals and plans will be put on hold while you’re busy realizing your business dreams.

Sooner or later, your long hours and dedication will slip into something else, as you lose steam. It’s only human; we only have so much to give. Your family will suffer, your social life will suffer and then suddenly you’re in it; business burnout has you firmly within its clutches.

The truth is that business burnout is even more dangerous than it sounds. It is a tiny spark of discontent that leads to physical illness, the loss of motivation and in some cases the demise of a company. You’ve put your all into this and the last thing you want to do would be to sabotage your success.

If business burnout is becoming a reality for you, or you’re worried that you may be headed down this road, there are a few helpful things that you can do to move away from the inevitable frustration of this common business issue.

Take Care Of Yourself

First, when looking to stave off business burnout, be sure that you’re focusing on your health wherever possible. It’s tempting to pour everything you have into your business, but it’s extremely important to take care of yourself first. Without proper meals, downtime and laughter, you’re going to be facing burnout in no time. Take time out each day to go for a walk or call a good friend. If you feel as though this is a waste of your precious time, be aware that some studies have shown entrepreneurs who exercise regularly have higher sales and better success rates. Why? Because people who create a healthy balance in their lives don’t experience burnout!

Delegate or Collaborate

There are some things that you have to do for yourself. For everything else, there’s delegation. Let your staff, family, friends or even a virtual assistant help you to get things done that you don’t have time to do. Work with colleagues to organize meetings and collaborations. Take some of the load off of yourself!

Focus

You don’t have to multitask. In fact, many in business today have shunned the idea that multitasking is good business practice. In reality, you should take the time to focus on one task to ensure that your attention is exactly where it needs to be at all times. Embarrassing mistakes happen when you’re divided between tasks.

Remote Collaboration Using Skype

As technology becomes more widespread and reliable, one thing that businesses are taking advantage of is the ability to hire a team remotely and work together, while not physically being together. For many, the best person for the job isn’t necessarily going to be the closest. When it comes to employing a team remotely, or even hiring a consultant or getting business advice, there are tools that can make collaborating easier despite geographically being apart. Skype is one of these tools.

Skype calls and meetings offer the ability to be able to see your team, to check in and read body language during conversations. This is an obvious advantage over using the phone, as it gives management teams a better idea of how things are going and what may need to be addressed.

Skype calls can be great for more than just video conference calling; they also offer your team the ability to share documents, share work screens and instant message one or more members of the team. The potential that this holds is nearly limitless, as you can easily work together on team projects in a way that is otherwise extremely difficult. Send out the agenda via Skype before your meeting starts, or even set the agenda for your next meeting before you finish up.

If you’re working with people from multiple time zones, there are days and times that a video meeting will not be plausible for everyone. Skype is great for this in that the video option is exactly that; just an option, and you don’t have to sign on to video in order to attend. If some of your staff wants to weigh in on voice only, that’s easy to achieve with just the click of one button on Skype, and it doesn’t impact the quality of call for anyone else.

Holding Skype meetings is an excellent way for each member of your team to feel as though they are being heard as an important member of the team. Not only that, but connecting visually tends to connect remote members better to your workplace and projects, which in turn leads to more focused work.

How To Use A Virtual Assistant and Free Up Your Time

If you’re considering using a virtual assistant for your business, chances are that you already how well a VA can free up your time. For busy entrepreneurs and CEOs, a virtual assistant is often the perfect solution to poor time management; the truth is that you really can’t do it all on your own. If you’ve found things slipping through the cracks, or you’re feeling overwhelmed by all that you have to tackle throughout a day, then a virtual assistant is probably the right choice for you.
A well-trained virtual assistant will work with you to handle your administrative needs so that you don’t have to; freeing up your time and allowing you to bring your business to new heights. A virtual assistant will work with you on a number of different tasks to ensure that the tasks that you need done are handled professionally and in a timely manner.
Wondering where to start with your virtual assistant? Begin by deciding which things you can let go of; this can be harder for some people than others, but consider tasks like invoicing, transcription and website population. Are you ever overwhelmed by social media outreach? Your VA can handle that. Do you fall behind on answering emails? With access and a little guidance, your VA can do that. What about keeping appointments or keeping track of where you need to be? Your VA can set up a calendar for you to ensure that you’re never double-booked.
If you keep clear lines of communication open, your VA will be able to carry out your administrative needs as well as if you had done them yourself. Of course, you’ll be out schmoozing with potential clients and landing new accounts which is what you love to do. Delegate your needs concisely and keep your expectations structured, and you will find working with a VA frees up plenty of your time to focus on the other stuff.

How to Collaborate Using Evernote

If you, like most small businesses today, are taking advantage of remote employees in a number of different locations, you may be looking for easy ways to streamline projects and share notes. Evernote is an excellent tool for collaborations because it offers a great way to view and share notes, notebooks and ideas with other team members in real time.
To begin using Evernote, sign up at evernote.com. Once you have signed in you can create as many notebooks as you like. In order to share, simply click on the share option and ask your team members to do the same. This is the best way to manage evernote, though you can also send out the URL to a note to allow non-users to see it. Non-users will not be able to make changes or edit notes unless they sign into an account of their own. Evernote allows you to invite team members to notebooks, which can only be viewed by those who are invited, and which keeps sensitive documents more or less protected.
Probably the most reliable and efficient way to share notes across a remote team, Evernote is an excellent way to allow your team to be heard and informed on business issues. Evernote is easy to set agendas before collaborative meetings, or to allow employees to make note of concerns that they may have. If you have multiple members working on a project, it’s also a spectacular way to keep up with who is working on what aspect of your collaborative efforts, as well as offering practical and relevant advice as things take shape.
For managerial staff especially, Evernote is currently the best way to streamline your involvement on collaborative projects within your workplace. It allows you the opportunity to remotely oversee exactly what is happening, and give pointers on changes that you would like to implement. Evernote can give you a good idea of how well your team is working, and it can offer insight into the ways that you can all work more effectively together, even when you physically can’t be.
My favourite part about Evernote is that it can be installed on multiple devices and syncs with each one. I have it installed on my desktop computer (yes those still exist), my laptop, my Ipad AND my IPhone – AND they all sync together so whenever and wherever I have an idea or even a blog post, I can write it down and then when I get a chance, I can finish it off on any device.
I’ve hooked up the family and even they use it to create things like Christmas lists, party plans etc. The best part is that you can add in links and it live connects to the site the link lives on, so you can add Pins, Amazon products etc. and compile all of your info in one place.
Do you use Evernote? How has it changed your business practices? Do you use an alternative? What is it and how is it better than Evernote?

5 Ways To Stay Motivated In Business

By shaking up your approach to your career, you will find new and innovative ways to keep yourself from growing bored, and you’ll also see your business improving in the long run.

Keeping momentum and motivation in your small business are often two of the biggest challenges that an entrepreneur faces on a daily basis. When your heart isn’t in your company, your clients know it. Your sales will begin to fall, which leads to an even bigger lack of motivation.

Sometimes it’s hard to see the forest from the trees when it comes to inspiring growth, but it’s important to take steps towards rejuvenating your love for the craft when your motivation starts to slip.

If you’re finding yourself trapped in a place of listlessness or even bordering resentment, there are some important steps that you should take to get active in your business.

Look Backwards

You’re in this to win this; you want to be successful. Yet, losing your motivation hurts those chances for success by dragging you down. Take some times to look back on your past successes. These are the things that will motivate you most, because they will remind you how good you can be. Focusing on these achievements will serve to get you back on track and guide your way into success once again.

Try Something New

A lack of motivation very often comes from a place of becoming stagnant. When you allow yourself to get too set in a daily routine, there’s a possibility that you will lose your passion for your career. Stir things up a bit! Take a new approach to an old problem. See how you can alter your perspective and come at your problems from a new angle.

Challenge Yourself

In the same way that routine can get boring and cause you to become unmotivated, so can a lack of challenging problems in your daily workload. Set goals for yourself, whether small or large, and ensure that you work towards meeting each one. Spend your work hours creating steps of action which get you on track to be successful in your goals.

Make sure your goals are YOURS

Have you ever sat back for a minute and asked yourself WHY you’re doing this? If you have and realised that you’re doing this daily grind for someone else, then it’s time to rework things. Obviously some things are for others (feeding the kids etc.) but if your business’ main goal is to make something or someone ELSE happy, you will very easily lose motivation to keep it up.

Make your END GAME very visible

You know those “Vision Boards” everyone chats about? They work! They keep you on track and keep your goals in view. You don’t need a fancy vision board, you can have a list if you’d like or even a jot note on a napkin but the key is to have it VISIBLE to you so you can see it every day – that way you see what all your hard work is contributing to!

Above all, don’t give up! If you need to find an accountability partner, do so.. Join a group like YRCIA or get a few business friends together and help lift each other up!

How to Say NO and Why You Should Do it More Often

Isn’t life all about creating boundaries?

You need boundaries with your friends, boundaries with your children and boundaries when it comes to your business. As a business-owner, it’s tempting to hoard opportunity. You want to get experience! You want to get your name out into the marketplace. You want to be seen and cater to people who are clients or have the potential to one day be clients. In some ways, this is a clever approach to business, but if you’re not careful it can quickly slip into a matter of entrepreneurial suicide.

Let’s get this out of the way, shall we?

You cannot be everything to everyone. You can’t take on every invitation. You can’t do it all. It’s tempting to try, but this is not the way lasting growth is made.

So, now that we understand that, let’s take a look at how to start saying NO!

Identify What Works
Before you know what to decline and what to accept, take a step back and evaluate the events that you’ve seen as successes. Which events led to new clients? Which undertakings produced measurable results? Once you know which things work for your business, you can develop a list of criteria for future acceptance.

Don’t Lose Focus
When we say yes to everything, we become strained. When we’re strained, a few things happen to our business. First of all, we begin to dread getting up every day because we know how much work there is on our plate. We become discouraged when the work that we’re doing rules our life and doesn’t actually deliver us closer to our goals. We lose our focus, drive and passion, and it happens fast. Saying ‘no’ to things that aren’t directly beneficial will ensure that you have the time and energy for the things that will directly aid you in success.

Practice Makes Perfect
Saying ‘no’ isn’t easy at first, which is probably why you’re tempted to avoid it. Still, like most things, saying ‘no’ will become easier with practice. Design yourself a quick two sentence decline, thanking the inviter for the opportunity and asking them to consider you again in the future when opportunities arise. Becoming a master of this decline is an excellent way to make a good, albeit different impression on other entrepreneurs and marketers. You establish yourself as someone who values their time and who gives great consideration to your business, which is an admirable quality.

Have you found yourself taking on too much? Have you decided to say NO? How did you go about getting out of the rigorous grind and what was your experience once you said NO?!

Creating Your Circle Of Support

No matter which line of work you’re in, it’s easier to be successful when you’ve got a support net that you can lean on. For many, finding those with similar interests and experiences makes all the difference in getting through the harder times, and celebrating the great ones.

You may have heard business people talk about finding a tribe, and a circle of support falls into the same kind of an idea. When you’re an entrepreneur it becomes especially important to create a core group of people with similar business values that you are able to lean on and learn from. The question is, where do you find them?

A circle of support is a mutually beneficial relationship that allows members to come together and help reach goals. How often you meet is completely up to you, and may be dependent upon your members and your current goals. Circles don’t have to consistently be the same, and can shift as your situations do.

To create your own circle of support, first you must get an idea of who to include. It’s likely that you already have a network of people that you lean on personally, but this group is going to be a little different. You’re going to want to put together a circle of people with expertise in business, or in a particular field.

After you’ve decided who you want to gather, you have to pitch the idea. This is important, because you’re representing your idea and making a lasting impression. You have to convince your peers that they want to be involved, and show them the benefits that they stand to see by doing so.

A circle of support is a planned meeting of the minds with the intention of brainstorming and learning. Together, your circle of support will work through business challenges, profit stalls and other common business problems. You will learn from and celebrate one another’s triumphs, while also creating deeper connections within your industry.