Category: Business Essentials

Jun 30 2012

Organize Creatively to Eliminate Clutter

Productivity on both the personal and professional front depends on being organized at all times. A person with a cluttered office and crammed closets and cabinets will end up spending a great deal of his or her time shuffling about trying to find even the smallest item, eating up valuable time that they can ill-afford if they are working as a freelancer or outsourced hourly worker. In this case, time is money, so getting organized should be one of the first items that you tackle on your to do list.

One of the best ways to organize your office and become clutter free is to look at it from a creative standpoint. Try to make every item in your home office or living space attractive but functional at the same time.

For instance, if you are using a spare bedroom as your new home office, it might be worth it to removed the double bed and get one with a roll out trundle bed that will sleep two people or several children, plus have storage space in the drawers for bedding and other essentials. The rest of the time, the room can serve as your home office. A desk or workstation and filing cabinets on wheels can help you easily expand or contract your work space,

Look for furniture items that can help you stay organized and which make the most of the space that you do have. For example, if you live in a small apartment, you might consider creating a loft bed in order to put your home office underneath it. If you have two children who need to share a room, a bunk bed with a desk, chairs, shelves and drawers can make the most of the space so that everything can stay uncluttered.

Keep clutter to a minimum with clear storage drawers and bins that will help you spot what you need right away. If you do have to opt for color, choose bins with differently colored covers. Use color for your files as well, dividing up home and work files and perhaps even color coding important client files.

By being creative in terms of your organization and storage solutions, you can create a clutter-free work environment you will enjoy spending time in, which can lead to increased productivity and more profits.

How to Create an Organized and Productive Home Office

How to Start Working as a Successful Freelancer

Successful Outsourcing: A Step-by-Step Guide

Jun 27 2012

7 Top Tips for Time Management

1. Save time when banking
On your next visit to the bank, get copies of bank forms that are usually available at the counters. Store them in a place where you can easily find them.The next time you need to do another transaction, fill out the forms beforehand.

2. Consider your body’s “peak time”, the time of the day when you are at your best. Use that time to accomplish major tasks and do less important, shorter ones when you start to run out of steam. Even if you feel tired, you will also gain a great sense of accomplishment at how many things you have managed to clear off your to do list.

3. Start your day 15 minutes earlier.
If you can manage to get up 15 minutes earlier or shave 15 minutes off your schedule by getting ready for the morning the night before and/or cutting down on commuting time, you can become more productive due to less distractions during what are usually going to be the usual hours of 9 to 5 in the office.

4. Use your computer to create templates of documents you use on a regular basis, such as letters, reports, invoices, and other spreadsheets. You can always modify these templates according to your needs and have them handy in folders as well in case you ever have to refer back to the correspondence..

5. Locate your files faster by using different colored labels on your file folders. You will easily find the files you need because of the color codes.

6. Create a list of frequently called numbers. You can save a lot of time locating names individually. Your speed dial list should be for the most important people and clients in your life.

7. Create a list of things you can accomplish in fifteen minutes or less, such as writing a letter, clearing your drawers, using social media to promote your business, and so on. The next time you find yourself with time to spare, choose items from your list.


How to Manage Your Time Each Day: Essential Time Management Skills

How to Create an Organized and Productive Home Office

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Jun 24 2012

How to Organize Your Home Office to Increase Efficiency

One of the first rules when it comes to organizing your work space to increase productivity is to make the space as inviting and multipurpose as possible. A person will naturally work better in a pleasant environment and can be more productive if they have everything they need right at their fingertips.

All the elements of your work area should be fully functional, and if possible, they should be able to do double duty. For example, instead of having a printer, scanner and fax machine, consider getting the Hewlett Packard 3050A Wireless All-in-One Color Photo Printer, which does all three jobs as one, and even acts as a digital photo printer. If the printer is wireless, that can give you even more flexibility when it comes to organizing your home office.

If you still sit down with a pen and checkbook to pay a lot of bills, consider banking online and using personal finance software and checks that will go in the printer in order to pay all of your bills. Also think about having stamps, envelopes and return address labels organized in a small mailing station for you or your assistant (such as your spouse or the kids!) to be able to mail out your correspondence regularly.

The secret to an organized home is to put like with like and put the item you are using back in the same place when you are finished with it. You may not be able to get everyone in your house to cooperate, but at least assigning the spot can help it make its way back there in the end.

You should have more than one of any office essentials, one for your home office, and one for the rest of the house. Do not let them leave the room. If need be, label them OFFICE ONLY so that you can help remind people that you need to work and therefore need to have all of your important tools at your disposal.

It can be difficult to balance the needs of working at home with living in the home, especially if you are working as a freelancer, but a little organization can go a long way to encouraging you to procrastinate less and work more. A clutter-free environment with everything at your fingertips can help you become far more productive, and enjoy your work more as a result.


How to Create an Organized and Productive Home Office

How to Start Working as a Successful Freelancer

How to Work Smarter, Not Harder: 101 Strategies to Make the Most of Your Working Hours and Become More Efficient and Productive

Green Business Guidelines: How to Green Your Business  to Make it More Sustainable and Eco-Friendly

Jun 09 2012

How to Manage Your Time Efficiently for Less Stress

Everyone is leading busier lives these days, so the idea of avoiding stress can sometimes seem impossible. Between raising the children, caring for aging parents, and dealing with work, life can seem like one huge juggling act that can leave you with soaring blood pressure and a backbreaking load of work and stress. Dealing with the day-to-day stresses and strains of your work schedule are bad enough, but if you are lacking in time management skills, you can add even more stress and strain to your busy day.

Perhaps the most important thing to remember is to avoid overwhelming yourself with too much work. This counts for both home and office. Don’t volunteer to coordinate your child’s class bake sale when you are already handling a vital office project. Don’t agree to take the family away on a vacation when you know those dates coincide with tax time.

The simplest way to keep up with your schedule is to use a planner to record all your responsibilities and activities. If someone ask you to do something, there is no harm in getting out the planner and looking, or simply saying that you need to look at it and will get back to them.

All of us want to be helpful to others, and we will often give a yes, of course reply automatically and then think better of it afterwards. We will also then try to soldier on in order to keep our word, but might also start feeling more and more stressed, frustrated and resentful in the process.

One new skill to develop, therefore, is to learn to say no. Particularly if you are running your own business, you need to remember that time is money. If you are a freelance with a flexible schedule, especially one who works at home, many people will start to think that you have “free time” to help them, when in fact you might really be struggling to make ends meet if you do not have enough projects on the go. You need to balance constantly home, work and marketing demands to keep the cash coming in without wearing yourself out in the process.

If you are considering taking on another commitment, look through your schedule and identify if and when you have time available. Remember, just because there is open time does not mean that you should fill it up. Everyone should schedule some personal time to relax and rejuvenate. Be sure to schedule time for a walk or trip to the gym, dinner with your partner, and a picnic in the park with your family.

Another key component of managing your stress is to know when to delegate your duties. If you have an assistant, s/he can be an immense help in minimizing work-related stress. Assess your workload and identify the responsibilities that can be delegated to a helper. If you have no in-house person, consider hiring an outsourced worker or a virtual assistant to help you with the menial tasks that need to be done but can eat up your time if you are not careful.

With so many people unemployed or underemployed in the U.S., offering people the chance to work at home for minimum wage cash in hand is an opportunity that they would be silly to refuse. Just remember that it will take some time to train them, and plan your schedule accordingly for the first two weeks.

But the investment in terms of time and money should more than pay for itself when you start seeing how much better you are able to manage your time and balance your family and business.

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Jun 03 2012

Use Planning Tools For Time Management and Organization

Many people laugh at paper day planners as the cast-offs of the eighties but there is something very convenient about pen and paper as you hurry through your busy day. A written record of your schedule is always available in your pocket or purse, and you can also jot down other things you need to remember in order to not only help you stay on top of your appointments and important dates, but also increase your productivity both at work and at home.

A planner typically contains information that most people consider important: a blank calendar, contacts list, to-do lists, and other resources like the days of important holidays, depending on the planner and how expensive and extensive it is. Rather than keeping notes all over the place, a planner that you carry around with you every day can help create one main location to track all of your commitments and keep you organized every day.

Electronic planners are handy too, such as on your phone, but you have to be sure to keep the battery charged and know how to use the item and software correctly. You can also use a free email program like Yahoo! email, which has a handy calendar feature that will also send you reminders of important events either by email and/or text depending on what you choose.

Many people love Outlook because it can combine your email with your calendar and allow you to download data for meetings like webinars and coaching events in order to make sure you do not miss any important items on your schedule and that you are always prepared by giving you a timely reminder at least 30 minutes before the event is to take place.

No matter which you use, the paper planner or the electronic one, you need to remember to use it. Carrying paper and pen in your pocket can be one of the best ways to take note of anything important you come across. Combined with a small planner and several business cards, you can network widely throughout the day, organize, and follow up with the people you meet easily. Block out some time to follow up with any leads you get and you will impress others with your efficient time management skills and your great follow up as well.


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May 12 2012

Building Your Business in 2012: Outsourcing

One of the most important skills you could learn in business is the skill of delegating or outsourcing. You’re not going to be able to do everything in your business, nor should you. Focus on doing what you do best and find others who can do the rest better.

Below are some of the most important areas of running a business. Ask yourself honestly, do you have a particular skill? Or should it be done by someone else?

==> Finance

One of the most commonly outsourced areas of business is the financial aspects.

Do you know how to book keep? Do you know how to balance a checkbook? Do you know how to do a profit and loss statement? Can you track and categorize your expenses for tax purposes?

==> Management

Are you good at managing people? The most important role of the head of a company isn’t actually management, it’s leadership.

Leaders decide which direction the company should go. Managers make it happen by getting the staff to do it.

Political campaigns are a great example of this. Barack Obama does not manage his staff; his campaign manager does. Obama sets the direction for the message, then someone else manages the staff for him.

==> Marketing

Are you good at marketing? Do you understand all the different kinds of media available to you? Can you write sales messages or finely tune a brand?

If not, hire a great marketing director to help you through the process.

==> Idea Generation

One common reason companies stagnate is because the head of the company insists on being solely responsible for coming up with creative ideas.

The reality is, just like anything else, there is a limit to the amount of ideas you can come up with. This too is something you can outsource.

Take Google’s “20% time” for example. Larry Page and Sergey Brin don’t try to come up with all their ideas themselves. Instead, they let their employees play with whatever ideas they want – to see what sticks.

That was how both Gmail and Google+ were born.

==> Recruiting

Your people will make or break your company. The ability to find and attract top talent is a crucial skill to have in your company. It is a very specialized skill set, however, and not every business owner has it.

Instead, it’s often best to hire someone who really knows the ins and outs of the industry. Someone who can lure the best talent away from other companies to come work for you.

==> Product Creation

The head of Kraft Foods doesn’t need to know how to make a good slice of bread. They have someone to do it for them. Larry Page doesn’t need to know how to build an Oracle router; he has people who can do it for him.

Product creation is yet another area that’s often better done by specialists.

What skills do you have? What skills don’t you have? Be honest with yourself and find others to do the things that you can’t do.


Successful Outsourcing: A Step-by-Step Guide

How to Increase Your Profits Through Outsourcing: Free Up Your Time as an Executive to Boost Your Business Revenue

May 09 2012

How to Use Stories to Engage Your Customers

One of the best ways to build customer empathy is through telling stories. Stories suck people in, keep people entertained and can help get your message across in a much more heartfelt way.

When people listen to a story, they immediately put their guards down. People aren’t looking out for a sales pitch. Instead, they relax and let you take the lead.

When you tell a great story, your audience will not only love the experience, but also understand your point and connect with your brand more.

So how do you tell a great story?

==> Focus on the Opening and Closing

The two most important parts of the story are the beginning and the end.

The beginning of the story needs to catch people’s attention so they pay attention to the whole thing. You need to set up the “what’s in it for me” right from the get go. Let your audience know that an essential lesson is buried in the story and that they need to listen closely.

The end is equally important. This is where you reveal the moral of the story and tie it back to your audience’s real life. The end of your story should feel like an eye-opening experience to your audience.

==> Trim the Fat

Beginning storytellers often try to tell the story as completely and accurately as possible. Unfortunately, that often results in rambling and overly long stories.

Trim out as much of the story as you can, without losing the core of the story and without losing any of the punch.

Don’t worry about getting all the details in. It’s okay if the story is just slightly different than what happened, as long as you’re abbreviating and not lying.

Keep it simple and to the point.

==> Make the Characters Come Alive

One of the biggest things to pay attention to in the story is the characters, especially the main character.

The audience should be able to relate to the main character. As you’re telling the story, they should be able to vicariously experience the emotional arc that the character is going through.

Every story should have a beginning, where the problem is set up. Throughout the story, some sort of tension arises. The character battles through the story and eventually comes out victorious or defeated.

Throughout the story, the audience should get to know the character more and more until they feel like they somehow know this person.

==> Use Stories from Everywhere

The best storytellers use stories for all over their lives. Always be on the lookout for ways you can turn experiences you’ve had in your life into stories to help hammer your message home.

Storytelling is one of the best ways to build empathy with your customers. Focus on the opening, trim the fat, emphasize the characters and look for stories from all over your life.

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Jul 16 2010

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