What is the Soundtrack to Your Life?

Music has always been a huge part of my life. I remember sitting in my room as a teenager, listening to records and cassette tapes of my favorite artists – Michael Jackson, Prince, Duran Duran, Men at Work, Journey, Loverboy, REO Speedwagon. Oh, the 80s. Those were the days.

I listened to songs mostly for their beat and sound but I also listened to song lyrics and dreamed about a life and love that I hadn’t yet experienced. It was like a window to the world and what it might look like for me someday.

As the years went by, my taste in music changed. And, my reason for listening changed. I started to really listen to lyrics to find meaning. Music started to move me in a way it never had before.

In the last year, as I journeyed through the biggest changes in my life, music spoke louder than ever. It felt like my favorite artists were writing and singing for me and about me and somehow they knew me. I felt connected to music in a whole new way. The window had become a mirror.

My current soundtrack includes That Wasn’t Me by Brandi Carlile, Try by Pink, Born and Raised by John Mayer (this entire album, actually) and Freedom by Tyrone Wells.

What music speaks to you and why?

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Yes, you can!

All my life I’ve made up that I can’t do things. I would regularly say “No” to activities, invitations and opportunities. I was afraid to try new things, afraid to fail or afraid to look foolish. I was really saying “No” to life.

I’ve had quite a personal transformation over the last 9 months – separation, divorce, 40 pound weight loss, practicing extreme self-care and becoming truly independent for the first time in my life. I am now coming from a place of love instead of fear. I’m coming from a place of “Yes” instead of “No”.

Yes, I can support myself.

Yes, I can golf in a charity tournament even though I’ve never golfed before.

Yes, I can ride 400 miles on the back of a Harley without having an anxiety attack!

Yes, I can lose weight and keep it off.

Yes, I can take care of myself first and not feel selfish.

Yes, I can ask for help when I have too much to do.

Yes, I can run a successful business and do the work that I love.

What are you making up that stops you from taking care of yourself and experiencing life?

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Do Your Clients Know You Love Them?

Featured article from Deb Brown, founder of Touch Your Client’s Heart.

In your heart you appreciate your clients.  You hope they feel it from you.  In reality, it’s probably one more thing on your, “I’ll get to it” list.  You need a plan in place so the things in your heart are not forgotten.  It doesn’t have to be big things.  Sometimes the little things are the most meaningful.

Why?

The only reason to appreciate clients is because you sincerely appreciate their business. This can’t be a marketing ploy where you shamelessly plug your business at the last minute.  It can’t be about making you or your business look good.  It has to be about your client.  The ironic thing is – when you make it about your clients it does make you look good and it is good marketing.

How?

There are 5 main ways that you can communicate your love and appreciation to your clients. Gary Chapman has written numerous books on what he calls the 5 Love Languages.  He translated this to a business setting in the book, “The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace.”  According to Chapman, your love language is the unique way you most prefer to receive love (and in this case appreciation).  He has identified the following 5 Love Languages:

  • Physical Touch
  • Receiving Gifts
  • Words of Affirmation
  • Quality Time
  • Acts of Service

You will probably find that you are already doing things that reach some of the love languages.  You might shake hands or give hugs to your clients.  Perhaps you are great at handing out compliments.  Maybe you go above and beyond in service to your clients.  These things that come naturally to you are a vital piece of endearing your clients to you.  The place most businesses get stuck is in gift giving.  It can be hard to pick an appropriate, meaningful client gift.  The key is to pick something that reflects your business relationship while also personalizing it to the client.

Wow!

Incorporating these 5 languages of appreciation into your interactions with clients and potential clients will make them say, “Wow!”  It will set you apart and help you develop a relationship with your clients.  As they get to know, like and trust you, they will be more likely to do business with you and stay a loyal client for the long haul.

If you’re not sure where to get started, Touch Your Client’s Heart can help you develop a customized client appreciation plan for your business as well as execute it for you.

Deb Brown is the founder of Touch Your Client’s Heart.  Through their special Heart-to-Heart process, they can help you create the perfect Client Appreciation.  They also help execute that plan so you can focus on the work you do.  They do the things for your clients that you have been meaning to do.  To find out How to Make Your Clients Fall in Love With You, go to www.TouchYourClientsHeart.com.

 

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These are a few of my favorite things…

Getting Organized in the Google Era

Lifehacker: The Guide to Working Smarter, Faster and Better

Getting Things Done

Time Management from the Inside Out

Organizing for the Creative Person

ZenHabits.net

SimpleProductivityBlog.com

BalanceInMe.com

Real Simple Magazine

The Energy Project

These and many other great books, websites, blogs and products can be found under the Resources tab.

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Resilience

Resilience: The ability to adapt to life’s misfortunes and setbacks.

In the last month, my resilience has been tested. And, I felt like I failed completely. When one stressful event after another happened, I stopped all self care and went directly into feeling sorry for myself, anxiety and depression.

In my work supporting clients as a VA and coaching clients on productivity, I am usually the preacher of all things self care. I encourage clients to delegate, take time for themselves and create systems that allow them to make self care a priority. In my own life, I struggle, sometimes even more than my clients do.

The key to managing stress and building resilience is to surrender to it and realize that you have little or no control over the situation. Create a system of habits that are so set in stone that even under stressful circumstances you can keep self care going and allow yourself to get back on track much sooner.

So, how do you build resilience?

  1. Put yourself first – Make self care your first priority. Create habits and routines including exercise, nutrition, sleep and spiritual practice. Find an accountability partner to be sure you stay on track.
  2. Ask for help – When disaster strikes, don’t try to do it all yourself.
  3. Be proactive – Take action instead of retreating.
  4. Remember “This too shall pass”.

How do you handle stress and build resilience in your life?

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Time Management

I was so lucky to participate in a call with the amazing Anastacia Brice of AssistU and Angie Mattson of Mattson Business Services.

We spoke to a group of Virtual Assistants about time management. Time management can be tricky for a lot of people. With information overload, trying to do it all, and an overwhelming inability to say “no”, we just don’t know where to begin.

Though time management is difficult, our advice to the women on the call was really quite simple:

  1. Take care of yourself – to create focus and productivity
  2. Set goals and priorities – to know where you’re going
  3. Put it in your calendar – to know when to get it done
  4. Create a system that works for YOU – to get it done
  5. Make it a habit – to keep getting it done

It really can be that simple. Remember, simple is good.

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Feeling Unproductive? Take a Look at Your Energy

I recently read Be Excellent at Anything by Tony Schwartz. Schwartz is the author of the New York Times bestseller, The Power of Full Engagement and the founder of the Energy Project. In the book, Schwartz writes about the four key sources of energy: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. He uses a series of quadrant diagrams to illustrate the positive and negative aspects of these areas of energy and how they affect our productivity. He also suggests that we are not meant to work for long periods of time. In fact, we work best when we work in periods of no more than 90 minutes followed by a brief period of rest and renewal.

A few weeks ago, I started planning my day according to this principle. I schedule projects for 90 minutes and then I take a 15 to 30 minute break. It has made a huge difference in my productivity. I feel focused and able to put my full attention on the scheduled project. My reward is a break that includes a cup of tea, a quick walk or spending a little time on Facebook.

Visit The Energy Project website and take the Energy Audit. It’s a series of questions related to the 4 key areas of energy. You will receive tips to help improve your energy and productivity.

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Organize: 20 Minutes at a Time

Overwhelm is a huge problem for many people. If your office is cluttered and disorganized, it can be extremely difficult to find the energy and motivation to start digging out. Where do you begin?

Like any big project, the key is to break it down into smaller tasks so it’s more manageable. Try to work on it for just 20 minutes a day. Here’s what you might get done in 20 minutes:

  1. Clean out a file drawer.
  2. Clean a desk drawer.
  3. See how many electronic files you can clean out, creating new folders.
  4. Remove everything from your desk, clean it and put back only what needs to be there. Put the rest in a box to sort tomorrow.
  5. Sort the box from yesterday. Donate, recycle, trash.
  6. Clean up your computer desk top. Remove unused icons.
  7. Clean out your pen holder.
  8. Clean off a bookshelf. Donate books you no longer need.

If after 20 minutes you feel motivated to continue, by all means, do. If not, begin again tomorrow.

Remember that once your office is organized it takes maintenance to keep it that way. Still set aside 15-20 minutes a day to put things away and keep your desk looking neat and tidy.

Tackling any big project this way is sure to help ease overwhelm and make some serious progress on your goal to creating an organized space.

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It’s Tax Time. Do You Know Where Your Receipts Are?

It’s that time of year when people are cleaning out files, getting ready to file taxes and trying to stick to that elusive New Year’s Resolution: “Get Organized”. Maybe you’ve printed off your reports from your reconciled to the penny QuickBooks file and then meticulously placed your alphabetized 2010 files into a sturdy, white banker’s box from Office Max. Or, more likely, you’ve scooped up all of your receipts and crammed them into a shoebox to hand over to your accountant.

If you’re a small business owner and you don’t have some kind of software to keep track of your income and expenses, get one! Software like QuickBooks is very easy to use – I’d even call it idiot-proof. If you are not inclined to keep up with your books, hire a bookkeeper to enter your receipts and reconcile your accounts.

Other helpful tips:

Write expense categories on your receipts the same day you make the purchase and file them by payment method for easy bank and credit card reconciliation.

Don’t forget to enter cash receipts.

Enter receipts into your software weekly (or even daily) instead of monthly to avoid overwhelm.

File your receipts and statements right away. Avoid putting them in a pile or into a “To File” folder. Again, this just leads to overwhelm and procrastination.

Ask for help. Your accountant may also do bookkeeping services. If not, they are sure to have a referral for you.

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Destination Organized?

“The life we want is not merely the one we have chosen and made, it is the one we must be choosing and making.”  ~Wendell Berry

Today I was thinking about my goals and I ran across this quote by Sid Caesar: “In between goals is a thing called life that has to be lived.” In Simple Abundance, Sarah Ban Breathnach talks about her authenticity and says: “It is the striving to be authentic that makes you so, not the end result.” We are not always moving in a linear way, we often move in circles. People strive to become something or accomplish something but the truth is we are never done. We are always changing and evolving.

Many people have a goal to “get organized”. They think that once they are organized that all of their problems will be solved. It’s important to clear the clutter and put everything in its place but if you don’t have great systems you’ll be right back where you started in no time. Organizing is a process that truly never ends. You will set up systems and those systems will evolve and change. Know that you have a system that works right now. Follow that system. Change and adapt the system as your life changes.

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