10 Cool Products for Overwhelmed Professionals

If you are like me, you love to find products and resources that can help you be a more efficient professional or that make your life richer, easier, or both. Here are ten that I recommend as I wrap up the 10th birthday of HOPE we’ve been celebrating all month. (One more chance to win the Chick-Fil-A gift card here!) (I have personal experience with each product and can recommend it based on that experience.)

All products with an * can be purchased through my store.

1. Stainless steel straws*: I use these tall straws in my insulated mug (from Quik Trip–great insulated mug that doesn’t sweat) for drinking water and sometimes tea. The straw conducts the temperature of the drink, and they come with a small brush for cleaning. You can also put them in the dishwasher.  metal straw

2. Out of Milk app. This app is great for the “third space” of my life–when I’m out and about. It has both a to-do list section and a shopping list section (as well as listing store deals.) It syncs with my husband’s phone, so when he does grocery shopping (bless him) he can hit “sync” when he gets to the store and see anything I’ve added to the list at any time prior to his stop. I also use the to-do list section when I’m doing a number of errands. I like how you can easily rearrange the order of the tasks, helping me map out an efficient loop.timer app

3. Books.* I try to finish a book a month and track it on a pad and Goodreads. So far I’ve been successful at this goal since January of 2012. Recently finished: More Than His God Card.

More than His God Card


4. Platform University/Platform book. I’m a charter member of this online resource founded by Michael Hyatt. Each week, new content is added specifically related to expanding your influence and all the elements that go into that, including your “why” and “how.” Plus it has helped me connect with other like-minded professionals. Enrollment is available only once or twice a year, so I recommend the book if you can’t enroll.

Platform UPlatform Book

5. Timer apps. I use a few. Multi-timer Alarm Clock Xtreme free and Thyme. These apps are great for helping me keep track on time spent for my clients, or if I want to try to stay focused on one type of activity for a period of time. Timers are your friend!

timers too


6. Essential Oil diffuser.* I use this water-based diffuser mainly at night, to contribute toward a pleasant night’s sleep (something all overwhelmed professionals need.). I like the nightlight effect and that you can see steam coming from it. diffuser

7. Blue Apron. We’ve been using Blue Apron food delivery for a few weeks. I have pros and cons on this one, but share it because I think it can be a big help to busy professionals. You do have to allow time to prepare the food, so if you enjoy cooking as a relaxing hobby, but don’t really like meal planning and shopping, this type of service might be for you. It is helping me grow to enjoy the prep/cooking process more, and skip the shopping/planning part which I enjoy less. It is introducing us to a number of interesting dishes we would probably never try otherwise. Overall we feel it is about 75% successful for our current lifestyle as empty-nesters. We had the opportunity to try one week free when a friend had free weeks to give away. (If you are interested in a free week, contact me.)

blue apron


8. Dry erase board. I’m a big fan of keeping a dry erase board at my desk so I can jot quick reminders or do some quick figuring and then erase it. I prefer this over using sticky notes that can tend to proliferate on desks and monitors.

dry erase board

9. Samsung Galaxy. My smartphone is a mini computer with me all the time. I like the ability to check email, take photos, take notes, use timers, have an up-to-date calendar, and more.


10. My books and resources. I believe in the information I offer you and ask that you consider buying one of my books. Next enrollment for the Conquer Your Calendar online class is coming up soon too. Stay tuned.

Beth books


I hope you’ll visit my store to purchase some of these products. And, if you shop at Amazon anyway, would you like through my site first? At no extra cost to you, I receive a small portion of your purchases.


 Your turn…what is a favorite product to help your overcome overwhelm?

10 Tips to Celebrate 10 Years

What are your top tips for overwhelmed professionals?

Before I give you mine, I’m happy to share that the first entry in my business checkbook is 4/22/2005 and we’ve been celebrating the 10th Birthday of HOPE all month. (Did you enter the drawing for the Chick-Fil-A gift cards yet?)

Thought it’d be fun to list 10 tips to help overwhelmed professionals, as we continue to celebrate on the theme of 10. So in no particular order:

1. Maintain one calendar but a few task lists. Since you can (conceivably) only be in one place at a time, keeping one calendar is helpful. However, keeping a separate task list for home, work, and errands can keep your mind less cluttered.

2. Invest in your professional development a little each week. You can do this by reading articles, blog posts, taking a class (such as what I offer in virtual training classrooms), etc. You don’t have to do hours worth of study a week…just learn something new.

3. Take time for yourself each workday. Even if only for 15 minutes, get away from your work for a bit each day. Take a walk. Get outside for a few minutes. Enjoy a casual chat at the coffee pot.

4. Avoid overuse of sticky notes. These things can proliferate all over your desk and monitor and can either start to blend in with your environment or constantly remind you of something undone.

5. Use a small dry erase board to jot notes that are temporary. This centralizes your doodles and quick figuring and is easily erased, keeping your desk neater.

6. Arrive a few minutes early. It is so much nicer to be able to catch your breath, take your coat off, boot up your computer, etc. first before having to launch into answering questions or the phone.

7. Develop a helpful “closing shop” routine. About ten minutes before you leave, begin to shut down your workspace. Leave it neat, and consider what you have going on the next day. Take a look at your calendar, move undone tasks to the next day or so, and even wipe off the desk surface.

8. Have healthy routines at home. A solid morning and evening routine can set you up for better days, whether going to work or for spending on your own time. Examples: setting outfits out the night before, packing lunches, having a morning quiet time.

9. Try to meet new people. Both online and real life opportunities about to expand your network. Often, people who are at least acquainted with a number of folks have someone to call on when they need someone with a particular expertise. Some jobs even come about because “someone knows someone.” Be kind, be sincere.

10. Be responsive. A major problem in business today is lack of response. It’s as if emails and voice mails go into black holes. It doesn’t build credibility and trust–something desperately needed if you want to build a loyal client base. If you are too busy to respond, it’s time to consider an assistant–in person or virtually.

Join the conversation: What would you add to this list?

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Pointers for Professionals: 10+ Experts Weigh in on Productivity Apps

Iphone notifications

Welcome to the first “Pointers for Professionals.” Because this is part of HOPE’s 10th Birthday Celebration, I was hoping for 10 contributions and I received 11!  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 any.do combined with Nimble CRM. Both allow for great integration with Social Media and a quick way to handle upcoming tasks. One of the ways he organizes his tasks and his weekly schedule is using a weekly formula.  Connect with Jeff.

Meredith Jones (@thismeredithj) of MeredithJ.com shares why she keeps coming back to Remember the Milk as her favorite productivity app – easy upkeep and great integration!  Connect with Meredith.

Matt McWilliams (@mattmcwilliams2) of MattMcWilliams.com throws out a totally contrarian view here – 6 Benefits of Getting RID of your smartphone. He got rid of his smartphone more than six years ago and thinks it might be a good idea for you too. Connect with Matt.

The one app Kevin Monroe  (@kevin_monroe) of Cairnway Center for Leadership Excellence relies on daily to boost productivity is Evernote. With it, all vital info is always accessible on any device. Connect with Kevin.

Being a curator of content & a learning junkie, Lanette Pottle (@positivitylady) of Positivity Lady Enterprises says: “Evernote is my favorite productivity tool. It saves me time by keeping me organized.” Connect with Lanette.

Holly Payne  (@hollyreneepayne) of HollyReneePayne.com is a Dropbox app fan, because it removes all geographic distance barriers from team collaboration and project sharing. Connect with Holly.

Amy Porter (@amylynn_porter) of Amy Gets Things Done  says her favorite app to keep productive is the 7-Minute Workout. It helps shake off the last project and focus on the next. Connect with Amy.

Lori Schofer  (@LoriSchofer) of Level UP Now Coaching has found an app that has increased her productivity – Nozbe. She’s able to keep track of multiple tasks with efficiency. Connect with Lori.

Suyenti Sunarto (@YentiSunarto) of Day 2 Day Concierge Service tells us her favorite productivity app is Google Voice. It helps to keep track of personal & business phone calls/texts, and voicemail. Connect with Suyenti.

Paul Tedder (@paulstedder) of AT Your Design shares: I use two apps to help me manage articles. Feedly for curating articles and Pocket for managing them. Together they make a great team. Connect with Paul.

Karina Whisnant (@livehispurpose) of Life in Abundance  shares that one of her favorite apps is Big Oven. It is a great software that holds both her own recipes as well as recipes they have already stored in the software. It is easy to add a recipe from either paper or online, and having the app on her phone makes it quite accessible when she is getting ready to cook her meal. It saves time in hunting for that “favorite” recipe. Connect with Karina.

Thanks again to our contributors.

Next topic: Tips for managing your calendar

Deadline: May 8

Contribute at this link. New contributors welcome!


In keeping with April’s birthday theme…


Congrats to our First 2 Winners…2 More Thursday!

The first two winners of the Chick-Fil-A cards were drawn on April 2 and notified. Congrats! We’ll give away another two this coming Thursday so get your entries in here! You can enter several ways and several times (but only win once.) Tell a friend!


10 Things I Learned in 10 Years of Business, Part 2

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.)

  1. 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.”]
  2. 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.
  3. 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.)
  4. 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..
  5. 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!