I hope your holiday season has been a blessed one so far!
I’d like to encourage you to take a look at my books as possibilities for Christmas or New Year’s gifts. You can find them all on Amazon.com or link here. Here’s a summary of what each book is about:
- Time Management, Jesus’ Way – a 30 day devotional using Jesus as a model for great time management
- 52 Ways to be More Organized – 52 tips to help you overcome overwhelm by implementing simple organizational tips into your life
- Organizing from the Heart: Change Your Mindset, Conquer Your Challenges – Co-authored with Stephanie Baker and Karina Whisnant (both certified Christian Life Coaches), this book is a Bible study and a practical guide for helping you get more organized for the right reasons
- A Light for Your Path: Helping You Reflect on Each Chapter of the Bible – this book is really more like a guided journal and would be great for the new year. It provides one question for every chapter in the Bible, to help you go a bit deeper!
- Boost Your Workplace Morale: A Practical Guide for Employees (and Their Managers!) – this is a fun book, with lots of easy and practical ideas for bringing a little joy to your workplace.
- 52 Scripture-Inspired Affirmations for Your Work Life – my newest book gives you a Scripture-based thought per week in relation to your working life. It is a source of encouragement all year long!
Thanks for supporting small business and authors by your purchases!
Some of you are looking forward to a vacation that’s coming soon.
Others of you can’t wait to go on another one.
Whenever your next trip happens to be, it takes some work–at work–to properly plan to take a vacation. Here are some tips from professionals like you!
Jessica Broadstreet of Triad Virtual Assisting makes sure all her deadlines have been met and looks into what may be coming up to see if she can make a jump start. She also sets her email to respond with when she will return and if she plans on checking her emails etc. Connect with Jessica.
Meredith Jones (@thismeredithj) of MeredithJ.com shares that since she does client work, she makes sure her clients have plenty of prior notice that she will be going on vacation. While I do handle some work while on vacation, she makes sure that she completes any project work before she leaves. Connect with Meredith.
Lori Schofer (@LoriSchofer) of Level UP Now Coaching advises to delegate everything you can well in advance of your vacation. Be sure the major responsibilities are covered and communicate that to your boss. Connect with Lori.
And a few from yours truly:
- Since my tasks are established in Outlook and assigned to certain days (whether standalone or recurring) I can look ahead for days I’ll be gone and try to do some things that I could work on ahead of time. I love to return to a zero task list that picks up with the day I’m back to work.
- Consider what tasks could simply be suspended altogether while you are gone. There are some things (i.e. office supply ordering) that don’t really have to be done EVERY week.
- Try to truly unplug–or at least be hard to reach. Being a little less available may help coworkers and bosses stand on their own feet while you’re gone for a few days. Sometimes our penchant for checking in is really a cover for the security of feeling irreplaceable (or wanting to feel indispensible.) Life–and work–will go on while you’re out!
Also, you may want to check out this great post, The Go-to Strategies to Prepare Yourself the Week Before Vacation.
Whether you have a trip coming soon, or are already planning your next vacation, I hope it’s refreshing and restorative.
Now you: What’s your best tip for preparing at work before going on a vacation?
You can leave a comment by clicking here.
Do you find it challenging to maintain an accurate, helpful calendar? Take a look at these suggestions from professionals like you! Thanks everyone and also the Frontline Festival series over at Let’s Grow Leaders, upon which this post series is modeled.
Read on, click on links, support our contributors, and see below what our next topic will be.
Jeff Baker (@jeffbbaker) of Shoes Optional currently uses a combination of apps and browser extensions for Calendar management. Any.do provides a quick way to setup a task or to-do list that can be scheduled or assigned to others. His go-to app for calendar on his phone is Cal (by the same developers as any.do). The any.do extension for Chrome provides quick access to upcoming tasks and an easy way to check things off. Connect with Jeff.
Jackie Beyer (@organicgpodcast) of Organic Gardener Podcast has found that Schedule Once is the best investment she could have made for scheduling interviews for her podcast. It’s easy for guests to pick a time at their convenience. It’s simple to use and integrates with many platforms like Google, ical, etc. Connect with Jackie.
Jessica Broadstreet of Triad Virtual Assisting uses the calendar that comes standard on her computer. Events are displayed of the screen automatically. Less chance of missing something! Connect with Jessica.
Meredith Jones (@thismeredithj) of MeredithJ.com uses Google Calendar to manage her calendar. She loves that it is accessible and synced to every device she owns and she can section out the different areas of her life to share her appointments with those that need to see it. Connect with Meredith.
Holly Payne (@hollyreneepayne) of HollyReneePayne.com has found that setting reminders in her calendar keeps her on task. After all, she can only keep appointments she remembers she has! Connect with Holly.
Suyenti Sunarto (@YentiSunarto) of Day 2 Day Concierge Service uses her most frequently used device (her phone) to manage her calendar. She consolidates all her calendars on my phone and is sure to enter any appointment, to-do, important dates, etc. to it. Connect with Suyenti.
Thanks again to our contributors!
Next topic: Tips for preparing for a vacation from the office
Deadline: June 19
Contribute at this link. New contributors welcome!
Question: What’s your best tip for calendar management? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
Still in the mode of celebrating ten years, here are five more lesson I’ve learned since being in business for ten years. (For the other five, click here.)
- Your mission may change, but your character shouldn’t. I went from focusing on church office personnel to a more general audience, and back to “overwhelmed professionals” which is still a big group. Throughout the iterations of my business, I never stopped trying to operate the business with professional standards–paying the proper taxes, keeping up with the right paperwork, etc. [Tweet “Your mission might change, but your character shouldn’t.”]
- Be responsive. It’s quite frustrating to think your emails to someone go into some black hole somewhere. We must extend grace of course–technology doesn’t always work right and people can become overwhelmed. However, if you run a business and don’t respond to leads, or answer emails in a reasonable time, you aren’t going to build trust in those potential buyers/clients.
- Don’t undercharge. For years I offered resources at pretty inexpensive prices. I still have several e-books for .99 on Amazon. However, for the more hands on services, such as speaking and virtual assisting, I’ve learned to up my fees to better reflect what really goes into offering such services. Costs like up-to-date technology, travel, preparation, etc. need to be factored in. In addition, I moved toward rarely doing a speaking engagement–even locally–for free. You’d hire a plumber if you need one…why expect a speaker to speak for free? (For more on what you should think about when hiring a speaker, click here.)
- Don’t burn bridges. I’ve been blessed to work for/at a number of organizations through the years, and almost comically, I’ve hardly ever left a place by my choice to put in a resignation. It’s been due to a move, or often, to a reorganization that I no longer fit into. However, I’ve tried to maintain friendly relationships and also have pleasant connections online with other entrepreneurs.. This has always been a blessing. You never know where a recommendation may come from, or opportunity to go back years later to speak to that group again (yes, that happened.) And, perhaps the biggest lesson of all..
- I’m not for everyone. Sometimes, in the quest to make somewhat of a living, entrepreneurs don’t want to say “no” to anyone, but having too general of an audience doesn’t build a business well. People begin to think, “What is it that you actually do?” The Platform materials are helpful in encouraging you to come up with a more laser-focused “value proposition.” That’s why I now state up front that I’m a virtual assistant, consultant, author and speaker. Even that, though, needs wisdom on a case-by-case basis. It’s freeing to be able to discern if a potential client is, frankly, going to be more trouble than the job is worth. Or that if I have to follow up multiple times, they probably aren’t ready for a professional collaboration. Or if the speaking engagement would take more prep than the organization is willing to pay for. Or that not everyone is going to resonate with my style of communication, my personality, or my products/services. I need to serve well the ones that connect with my style, pricing, and skills and for whom the timing is right for both of us.
Running a business is eye-opening, wonderful, and a challenge all at the same time. I’m glad for the lessons I’m learning, how I’m growing, and how I can serve others. I hope HOPE has been a blessing to you at least once in the last 10 years!
Your turn: How has HOPE Unlimited blessed you in the last ten years? I’d love to hear!
It’s time for a big birthday celebration and that’s going to happen in April! In fact, there will be a special announcement later this week about how we are going to celebrate, which includes the giveaway of 10 Chick-Fil-A gift cards (worth $10 each!) Why am I doing this? Read on…
In April of 2005, I launched HOPE Unlimited, which initially stood for the variety of ways I “helped other people excel.” It was an umbrella business to consolidate freelance writing, speaking, contract work, and online products. One of the catalysts for establishing an official business was that I had the opportunity to obtain and take over a resource for church secretaries, called PROfile. I spent several years providing encouragement and resources to those in church office work, and it evolved into encouraging professional women as a whole.
In 2012, I became a charter member of Platform University, and a new journey began. I started to learn current and relevant principles of building a business and an online presence, and in 2014 happily won a ticket to the Platform Conference in Colorado. I went back and forth about whether I should go–could I cover the expenses not included with the ticket? I finally decided to go for it and I’m so glad. I began to get more clarity and came away with a narrower focus from Helping Other People Excel to Helping Overwhelmed Professionals Excel, and I got more serious about offering services as virtual assisting and consulting, creating resources and remaining available for speaking/training engagements.
I’m seeing steady strengthening of HOPE in this new chapter, and as I take some time to reflect on the last 10 years as a part-time entrepreneur, here are some lessons I’ve learned and am still learning (in no particular order.) I’ll be sharing 10 in celebration of HOPE’s tenth birthday, breaking it into a two-part post:
- A small business often remains small. HOPE Unlimited is not yet a huge source of income. My needs have always been met, but entrepreneurs must realize that their part-time business may remain just that–a second source of income, or something that is not equivalent to full-time. And that can be ok! You have to figure what you need/want for your particular lifestyle.
- Avoid overly comparing your business with someone else’s. Each business is unique. Because my business involves having a public platform (promoting books, etc.) I have regular input from other platform builders (including some clients) and if I’m not careful, I could be jealous of their level of success, the number of followers they have, etc.
- Success is not always measured in money. You never know how you might touch someone. Once in a while you may hear how someone implemented a tip or idea, or is just encouraged by your faithful presence online. Being faithful doesn’t always mean a tangible paycheck, but it can mean an investment in something far more eternal.
- Excellence is not the same as perfection. I’m not really a perfectionist. However, there are plenty of entrepreueurs who are. However, to quote some successful business folks, sometimes you just have to “Ship it.” Get the product out there–without glaring errors of course–and tweak as you go. Online business has opened a world of being able to correct on the fly. At the same time, this isn’t an excuse to be sloppy. While resources don’t have to be perfect, glaring errors aren’t going to gain you points of trust with an audience either. I should be excellent in my writing skills even when posting on social media or writing an email. That means sometimes, I need to slow down.
- Feedback (especially complimentary) is a gift. You may not realize how much it means to have someone take a moment to write in or mention that they read your posts. Just last night someone I highly respect mentioned that she follows my postings on Linked In. On a recent Sunday, in passing, someone said, “Your blog continues to get better.” You may think writers get lots of uplifting feedback, but in my experience, we may not get as much as you think. Those uplifting words and engagement mean a lot!
Next time, I’ll pick up with the other five lessons I’ve been since being in business. In the meantime, your turn. What lesson have you learned in the last ten years? Contact me or let’s get the discussion going on social media. (I’ve gotten the comments started on the blog, come chime in!)
Watch for a special announcement later this week to kick off HOPE’s birthday month!
Play this video for a special message related to HOPE Unlimited’s upcoming 10th birthday in April! Please note: the gift cards mentioned for the April giveaway are actually going to be Chick-Fil-A cards instead!