Effective Ways to Improve Productivity Fast

Science presents us with the concept of neuroplasticity. In a nutshell, this is the ability of the brain to adapt and change based on its surroundings and what is needed. This is also one way that the brain compensates if you are lacking in some areas. For example, if you are not much of a mathematician, your brain may compensate by being more receptive to linguistic concepts. Fortunately, you can train your brain to undergo that “change”. In fact, you can even train your brain to help improve your productivity levels. Think of your brain as a muscle. It needs exercise on a regular basis. In the same way, you need to constantly stimulate your brain to boost productivity. Below are some ways to improve productivity.

Adequate Sleep

Consider this as a way for your body to recover from all the stress that it experienced throughout the day. Getting a high-quality good night’s rest is crucial for cell regeneration. This helps remove toxins that may have accumulated during the day. For best results, go to bed at around 9 or 10 in the evening. Make sure to have at least 6 to 8 hours’ worth of sleep for proper replenishment. Anything above or below this value is considered non-beneficial.

Balanced Diet

This is important because your brain gets nutrients mostly from the food you eat. You might as well feed it with good stuff, then! Some good brain food items to choose from include the following:

  • Nuts:  Increases supply of omega-3 fatty acid that’s good for brain health.
  • Salmon and other types of oily fish:  Additional omega-3 fatty acid.
  • Banana:  More vitamin C and B6 in your diet.
  • Avocado:  Abundant supply of healthy fats.
  • Blueberries:  Improves memory.
  • Whole wheat grains:  Helps to better utilize energy sources of the brain.
  • Eggs:  Brain and memory development.
  • Tomatoes:  Improves brain development and decreases inflammation.
  • Pumpkin seeds:  Better memory.
  • Blackcurrants:  Reverses manifestations of aging such as rapid memory loss.
  • Sage:  Enhances memory and concentration.
  • Broccoli:  Improves cognitive functions such as attention span, concentration, and memory.

On the other hand, avoid eating the following to maximize your brainpower:

  • Soda:  Hampers learning and memory.
  • Canned fish:  Negatively affects mood and thinking.
  • Ribeye steak:  Increases the risk for dementia.
  • Frozen pies and pizza:  Decreases concentration and attention span.
  • Soy sauce:  May lead to dementia and brain artery damage when consumed in excess.
  • Ice cream:  May cause impaired cognition and increased risk of dementia when eaten too much.
  • Cured meat:  May cause mood swings.
  • White rice:  Causes weakness and fatigue when consumed excessively.
  • French fries:  May cause brain-related problems such as stroke.
  • Alcoholic drinks:  Impairs concentration and focus.

Regular Exercise

Exercise at least 3-5 times a week. This helps improve your brain function by enhancing the rate of oxygen that gets to your brain. In effect, this helps improve the functions of your nervous system because you essentially provide it with more fuel. This also pumps up more feel-good hormones in your system. These hormones, known as endorphins, help uplift your mood. As a result, you get to focus more on what you do, thus improving your productivity levels.

There are various exercises you can do to stimulate brain function. Some of these include jogging, dancing, biking, weight lifting, and swimming. Even brisk walking can be considered a good exercise. Just make sure that the activity is slightly more difficult than the usual level of activities you perform.

Make sure to include a 5-minute warm-up before the exercise and a 5-minute cool down after to prevent or minimize muscle soreness. Also, perform the exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes to raise your heart rate to the ideal level.

Music

Studies show that children who frequently listen to piano-accompanied music are a lot better in activities that require focus and increased concentration, such as solving puzzles. In another study, children who were exposed to classical music before taking IQ tests garnered higher scores than children who were required to listen to relaxation music and children who took the exam in complete silence.

Writing

Writing is considered a way to tell your brain what is important. It helps with recall and clarifies thoughts. This also helps hone your creativity and your analytical skills. Before working on any tasks for the day, make it a point to write 500 words a day.

The rule is simple: Write down any random thought until you reach the 500-word mark. The goal is to warm up your brain for more activities throughout the day. The composition does not have to be free from grammatical errors. It also doesn’t have to make much sense to anyone because you’re the only one who will have access to it.

Hobbies

For quite a number of people, hobbies are referred to as relaxing activities. In the context of boosting productivity, this is considered a form of active rest. Studies show that people with hobbies that are unrelated to their line of work are more successful and productive in the workplace. In fact, those who engage more in these activities perform better than those who do not have at least one hobby.

There is a wide array of hobbies to choose from if you still do not have one. You may consider photography, carpentry, baking, sewing, and knitting. Hobbies should be fun. You may even wan to share your finished products in the workplace to add to the beneficial aspects of having a hobby.  Who knows, you may discover shared interests to help build bonds with colleagues.

In the end…

You don’t even have to spend a lot of money to help improve your productivity with a hobby. All you need is some dedicated time to train your brain daily with your chosen activity, and, by doing any of these regularly, you will start to see some results in a couple of weeks or months.

Best Virtual Personal Assistance Approach to Prevent Burnout

Fred and Alice are siblings who run different kinds of e-commerce stores. Alice is very passionate about make-up while her brother loves to sell gaming consoles. Both their stores are currently doing great. To help free up their workload, they decided to get the best virtual personal assistance in their fields.

Like her client, Alice’s VA is always excited to work on the store no matter how heavy the workload gets. On the other hand, Fred’s VA is not doing so well and seems to be on the brink of burnout due to lots of pending work. To help with her brother’s problem, Alice gave him some tips to help him and his VA through the hurdle. She shared what she taught her assistant so they can also apply the concepts ASAP.

 

Awareness is Key

If you don’t know the nature of the problem, you will have a problem solving it. Therefore, one way to prevent burnout is to determine if you are even dealing with it in the first place. For that matter, knowing its difference from stress and identifying the signs and symptoms are helpful first steps.

 

How is stress different from burnout?

Stress is a physical, emotional, and mental manifestation that usually takes place in bouts. It’s possible to be stressed for around five minutes. It’s also possible to be stressed for three days straight. With rest and some basic coping mechanisms (i.e., meeting with friends or going for a quick hike), these tend to go away.

On the other hand, burnout is a more complicated concern. It is a result of lots of consecutive and even simultaneous stressful episodes that lead to a breakdown. Unlike stress, you cannot easily address burnout using quick fixes that normally works for “stress episodes”. Also, the manifestations are worse than a short and stressful episode. For one thing, burnout can sap a person’s willingness to do what they need to do. Aside from that, this lack of motivation lasts for more than just a few days. In some cases, it even leads to problems such as anxiety and depression.

 

What are the signs that a burnout is underway?

In the case of Fred’s best virtual personal assistance provider, he seems to be so down while working on his tasks. Initially, the low spirits just last for a span of about two days. Lately, it seems that his depressed state remains.

He also showed indications of constant exhaustion even during days with relatively lower workloads. In fact, he seemed not to be interested in working anymore. Even if he showed up for work, he seemed not to pay much attention to his tasks. In addition, it appeared that he practically dragged himself to work even though he was home-based.

Aside from these, the VA’s quality of work started to decline. It initially started with some minor slip=ups that eventually became too frequent not to be noticed. At the time, there were too many errors, and Fred talked to him in private to see if there was something that he could do to help. To his surprise, his VA tried to deny that something was wrong and that he had nothing to worry about. Fred would not have it and taught him what his sister told him about prevention techniques for burnout. Hard as it may seem for Fred, he let his VA go for a leave of absence for one month so that he could rest and get himself together. Below, you will the changes the assistant made on his leave of absence.

 

Breathing and meditation exercises

First, assume a comfortable position such as sitting or lying down. Focus on one word, phrase, or object while doing this exercise. If possible, close your eyes while you are at it. Take a deep breath through the nose, hold your breath, count to three, and slowly exhale through the mouth. Be aware of how your breath feels against your nose, mouth, and skin. Repeat the technique for about ten more times and assess how you feel at the moment. Even if you’re currently feeling a negative emotion at the time, never fail to acknowledge it. This approach brings forth awareness not only of your body but also of your mind and your emotions.

 

Practice thankfulness

It may be the fact that you woke up this morning or someone gave you a piece of your favorite candy without any apparent reason. Whatever it is and however small the thing may seem, be thankful for it. Write your thoughts down in a journal daily. State something about the person, thing, or gesture that you are thankful about. Talk about how it made you feel and why you think it’s important. If possible, also discuss how it caused an impact on your day, big or small. Acknowledging such things helps rewire your brain and your thoughts. In the long run, it can help create positive thoughts, especially when done with the help of a healthcare professional.

 

Get away from work from time to time

In the case of Fred’s VA, Fred made sure that during the month-long break, he could do whatever he used to love. He also made sure that his VA knew to seek medical assistance to help him cope and recover from his condition. During this time, Fred made it a point to make his VA report to him on a weekly basis. During that period, his VA went out for nature trips, friend and family gatherings, and even art sessions. When he returned to work, he performed even better than when Fred first brought him to the team.

 

Epilogue

After a few weeks of implementing these techniques, Fred’s best virtual personal assistance partner was doing great. In fact, he even exceeded Fred’s expectations in terms of performance. He also turned in deliverables not only on time but earlier than his deadlines. Right now, Fred also applies the techniques that his sister taught him to help him improve his productivity levels as well.

Virtual Personal Assistant Routines to Improve Productivity

Annabelle always feels at awe whenever she has Dorothy, her virtual personal assistant, do important and urgent tasks for her. Dorothy seems so efficient at what she does that Annabelle can’t help but feel fond of her. When she asked her VA how she finishes her ton of daily tasks, Dorothy was quick to say that she makes sure not to break her routines. Here are some of the tips that she shared with Annabelle:

 

Start off your virtual personal assistant day with some exercise.

The exercise actually doesn’t have to be too strenuous, as opposed to the common belief. It can be as simple as a bout of stretches done for about 10 minutes at a time. It can also be around five minutes’ worth of walking and you’re good to go. The main goal is to make sure that you’re “awake enough” to do the rest of the tasks for the day. In our virtual personal assistant’s case, she typically gets up  around 5 AM and brisk walks her way to the nearest bakery to get her breakfast. It’s already productive in the sense that she already accomplished two things: Getting her breakfast while performing her routine to prepare for more mentally-draining work.

 

Eat your breakfast.

Dorothy does not recommend just having a random granola bar for breakfast. She meant having a full and nutritious meal to help with the first part of the day, at the very least. Nutritionists advise having breakfast with carbohydrates, protein, and a little fat in it will help to begin the day.

Here are some great combos you can try out:

  • A piece of hard-boiled egg, a couple of slices of toast, and half an avocado.
  • A cup of fruit yogurt, a slice of broiled chicken, and a cup of whole wheat oatmeal.
  • An egg sandwich, a piece of apple, and a cup of coffee.

 

Deal with the most difficult tasks in the morning.

This is important because if you’re still feeling refreshed after a good night’s sleep (assuming that you did sleep well the previous night), there’s a great chance you’ll be up for tasks that require a high level of concentration.

In contrast, leave easier tasks for the afternoon. As the day wears on, so will your mind. If you do the easiest tasks first, chances are you’ll no longer have much energy to deal with the more difficult tasks for the latter part of the day. Because it will harder for you to focus on these tasks by then, you may also have problems in terms of the quality of output.

Which brings us to the next tip…

 

Prioritize what you need to do for the day.

Based on the tip stated above, you have to deal with the most difficult tasks first to be more productive. To determine what tasks will take much of your time, you need to know what they are!

Five-minute hack: Have a rundown of all the things that you have to do for the day. You do not even have to rank them or consider them as urgent or important. Just list down the things that come to mind. After that, select the top three things that you think will take a lot of your time during the day. Rank these according to priority or urgency. Focus on these tasks first. Never move on to your other tasks unless you’re already finished with your top three.

 

Watch what you eat.

Before you know it, that sugar-packed bag of sweets that you just had earlier will take its toll on you. It will eventually make you feel drowsy. Result? You’ll end up not doing as much during the afternoon. Another result? You’re about to miss a deadline.

Sure, this seems like exaggerating, but the point is you have to make sure that what you eat will help you focus more during the day. This does not necessarily mean that you need to throw out every sweet you have in your stash. This just means that you have to keep everything in moderation and ensure that you have proper nutrition even before you set off for the day.

It actually happened to Dorothy. Since this virtual personal assistant is trying to lose some weight anyway, she gave up on the sweets and looked for healthier alternatives such as apples and bananas. These food finds not only keep her awake in the afternoon but also improve her concentration levels.

 

Read an article before you set off for work.

If you’re not a fan of reading, take baby steps first. Read at least 500 words of a light article. By mentioning light, it means an article with a topic that does not drain your energy. At the same time, the article should provide you with some insights or substantial takeaways that you can ponder on during your downtime.

 

If you want to take it up a notch, write.

This does not mean that your writing needs to be “perfect”. In fact, it can be anything under the sun. It can be a random thought or a plan that you’ve been dying to implement since last month. Talk about it in your entry. Don’t be afraid of being judged – it’s for your eyes only. More than the content of what you write, the intent of writing is more important. In this case, writing serves as a warm-up for your brain and provides some stimuli to your brain in preparation for the more tedious tasks ahead.

 

The bottom line

You can’t develop routines and habits overnight. In Dorothy’s case, it took her at least a month to at least work on the routines “automatically”. Therefore, never feel disheartened if you don’t feel like doing much at the time. As long as you work on your consistency each day, there will come a time that you can be slaying it with your skills and your drive to make the most out of each day.

Efficient Ways to Have More Free Time

A typical office workday has its employees working from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. This 8-hour grind is not a magic number, sadly, but a product of an outdated workplace concept. On average, each employee is expected to have increased productivity during a 40-hour workweek – sometimes even more! However, studies show that expectations are meant to face disappointment because an increase in working hours does not necessarily translate to better output, and this is in terms of both quality and quantity. More free time is the latest hit!

Why is it having a shorter work week popular these days?

In a nutshell, working shorter hours within the week gives people extra time for things that mean more to them, may it be a hobby such as gardening or volunteer work that requires teaching kids at least 5 hours in a week.  Hobbies and other meaningful work helps to give meaning or purpose to our lives and can even aid in fueling out passion and overall satisfaction at work.

How do I get started in getting more free time?

First off, you have to consider the tasks that are urgent and important. List them down and prioritize them according to when it is needed and how massive the task at hand is. You may then proceed with the following tips:

1. Set a workweek “budget”.

If you’re reading this article, it most likely means you want to work less than 40 hours a week. In this case, you have to set a realistic yet comfortable number of hours that you can’t be disturbed. Depending on the nature of your work and responsibilities, it can be somewhere between 15 to 30 hours a week. Make sure to stick to it for the rest of the week. If you change your mind and realize that you have to render more or less time, go for it the week after.

Suppose you picked 15 working hours for this week, determine the number of days you can work on your tasks for that week. If you need to be present online for most days of the week, perhaps a 3-hour work day for 5 days of the week is a good call. Just make sure that when you work, you will anticipate the distractions. If you still don’t have an idea how to manage distractions, don’t worry. We also have a separate article for that.

2. Determine a limited working time for each task.

This is known as “time boxes”. Usually, people have the tendency to stretch the length of work time depending on the amount of time allotted for the task. Therefore, if you give yourself the entire day to work on a task, effects can be detrimental as you’re prone to distractions such as other side tasks that are not as urgent or as important. Set at least one hour to finish one task. If you’re having trouble completing it within this given time-frame, consider breaking it down into smaller chunks of work.

For example, if you’re working on an illustration for your company’s poster, break down this large task into these smaller ones: Creating the rough sketch, smoothing out the lines, coloring in the image, and working on the finishing touches. It seems almost impossible to work on that illustration within just an hour (unless you’re super fast and talented allowing you to whip up an image within a very short span of time). Therefore, we can break down the smaller tasks into 30-minute or one-hour increments depending on the complexity of the poster that you intend to complete.

3. Master the art of setting boundaries.

This is a problem if you’re too hardworking and you don’t want to place the burden on anyone but yourself. While it’s a sweet and thoughtful gesture, keep in mind that you can’t do everything – and you don’t have to! Check your list of tasks and see if only you can handle it. If you think someone else may be up for the job, you may politely decline the task and recommend another person for consideration. Doing this will not only avoid bad blood in the workplace but can also help promote teamwork in the long run.

4. Dedicate a specific time slot for bulky and monotonous tasks.

One of the most common tasks that can really be exhausting is answering e-mails with similar content. Before you know it, this will burn you out even before the day starts.

If you don’t have to answer all the e-mails at once, it may be best to pace your e-mail tasks. Consider distributing the task for the entire week. If you’ve dedicated a 3-hour session for each day, allot 30 minutes of that to e-mails.

5. Never touch work when it’s not within schedule.

The rigidity will help you stay focused because of the limited time you need to spend on it. Aside from helping you reduce distractions, this will help you reduce the frequency of errors. In effect, this increases your overall efficiency.

6. Outsource the rest of your tasks.

If you have little experience working on a task, ask for help from experts. If you need some help looking for a virtual assistant under your niche, we can try to help you.

Where do I go from here?

The main point of reducing your working hours is to make time for more meaningful things. These may be in the form of quality family time, a hobby, or a charity movement. If you manage your time wisely, you may even be able to accomplish all three at once! At the end of the day, working will not define who you are. There’s so much more to life than that!

Make the Most Out of Your Vacation Through Personal Assistant Services

Traveling can help you get some much-needed fresh air and disconnect from the daily hustle. When planning for a trip, using an application alone may not cut it. A better choice is to seek the help of experts who specialize in personal assistant services. These people know their way around booking trips and taking care of similar tasks. In cases like this, enlisting the help of a virtual assistant is one of the best ways to go.

 

What are the benefits of getting personal assistant services for vacation planning?

While you prepare for your vacation, let your VA do the research. Some tools that you can use for planning include Google Flights and Expedia. Here are just some benefits that you may reap if you decide to get some VA help:

  • They can keep you updated with business matters even if you are away.
  • Virtual assistants can assist you with the logistics of your trip to include booking tickets, planning out the itinerary, taking care of luggage check-ins, and knowing the basic facts on how to get around not only the airport but the general vicinity.
  • While you are on your vacation, your VA can also help take care of your tasks.
  • You may also enjoy a stress-free experience after your trip.
  • If you are still a student and you just need to plan out your trip for an upcoming break, a VA can help you maximize your relaxation time while worrying less about how you should take care of the technical arrangements for your trip. Some of these arrangements include booking a hotel and looking for a company that offers great vacation packages without breaking the bank.

How do I get started with planning my vacation?

If possible, inform your assistant at least one month before you plan to travel for your vacation. For major events like weddings and birthdays, a notice period of 60 to 90 days is reasonable, as well. This will not only physically prepare them for the tasks but will also serve as a thoughtful gesture on how you value their time as you do yours. Spend this time discussing the tasks that need to be completed and train them, if needed.

Set some “rules” before you head off.

This will mostly revolve around how you will communicate with your VA while you are on vacation. Would you prefer purely no communication or some correspondence throughout the day? In setting up the communication rules, consider the following:

  • How many days do you intend to be away?
  • Is your itinerary filled to the brim or do you have a lot of room to take it easy?
  • Are you comfortable taking care of business matters while you are away?

If you intend to be away from work for more than three days, consider communicating with your VA at least once every two days. This will somehow give you a hint on how things are going and how you will deal with them for the meantime and once you get back. In case you are expecting more pressing issues to surface while you are on vacation, increase the communication to at least once per day.

Prioritize your tasks.

Do this before and during the notice period that you gave your VA. This way, the tasks will not be compromised even if you are not available.

  • List all of your tasks. In this context, just list the tasks that you are supposed to do during your absence. It does not even matter if you will delegate the task or not. Just jot down whatever comes to mind then take care of these during the next few steps of prioritizing.
  • Distinguish the urgent from the important tasks. Urgent means that the task should be done as soon as possible. On the other hand, the important tasks are those that need to be completed but can still wait. Next, you should inform your VA to complete the urgent tasks as soon as possible. For the important ones, set a due date for each task and plot them in your business calendar accordingly.
  • There is a chance that not everything on the list will be accomplished. In this case, sequence the tasks in the “important list” according to the due date. If you have other ways to determine which of these tasks should come first, this is the part where you can implement them.

Delegate your tasks.

Instead of checking your e-mails while you are away, you can readily delegate this task to your VA. The VA, in turn, can check your e-mails at least once a day and notify you if something urgent comes up. Otherwise, you may instruct them to just take care of the matter on your behalf.

You do not even have to allocate all the tasks to them, just the tasks that you are comfortable assigning to other people. This way, you can save more time while maintaining a certain level of productivity for your business.

Ask for notes of events that transpired while you were away.

To achieve this, ask your VA to create a database for you where you can check the details of the follow-ups and concerns that you may have missed while you are away.

In general, travel arrangements are not easy to accomplish, especially if you have little experience with tasks such as these. Aside from helping you save a lot of headaches in the process of making travel arrangements, hiring a virtual assistant to do the tasks can help you save a lot of time. In turn, you may use the extra time to take care of other tasks that you cannot readily delegate. You may also use this time to recharge or prepare for your vacation ahead.

7 Tips on How to Keep Work Off and Enjoy Days Off

Fashion photograph designed by Jcomp – Freepik.comHaving a day off from work should mean exactly that. A day far from normal working day schedule and should be very different from other days of weekdays. Unfortunately, with persistent bad habits and technology, it has been a challenge for most people to enjoy days off from work. Numerous individuals have not mastered the art of having fun and letting go off work during these important days. From time to time, you get some days off and it is during this time that you should rejuvenate and re-energize. To others, days off seem like working days continuation due to their normal routines. However, to some, days are spoilt by calls from work to come and assist. This is your day off, the day’s routine should also change. Below are some useful tips on how to enjoy days off. You will also be enlightened o how to step in for urgent tasks during your days off without really stepping in. Here you go.

7. Keep off from normal day schedule

When it is your day off, your daily routine should change. For example, do not be up too early. This is your day to relax and if possible, take your breakfast in bed. It should be a unique day where everything is different from a normal day. If you carry out activities as usual, you will not embrace or appreciate the day. This is the day where you should refresh yourself, treat yourself and do some offbeat. You should, therefore, be creative in order to ensure that your days off are special and thoroughly enjoyed.

6. Take your time

During normal working days, everything is rushed and done in a hurry. This is to meet deadlines among other things. This is now the world of technology and information and for this reason, demands are higher. Hence, productivity requires more efficiency. This translates to workers working at faster rates than it has ever been done. If you handle tasks slowly, you become less competitive and you risk getting sacked anytime someone potential shows up for your role. This is why it is important to handle things slowly when the time allows. During your days off, do not do things the way you do them. Days off are days to be more relaxed and calm enjoying and appreciating every minute that passes. Whatever you engage in during this day, whether it is shopping or treating yourself, ensure that you take your time. Give every activity ample time to enjoy days off and the experiences that come with it.

5. Hiring a virtual assistant

Being your day off does not mean someone from work cannot call you and ask you to step in for urgent assistant. This happens almost every time simply because there are those who will view days off as wasted time. These people will, therefore, assign you duties all over sudden and they cannot wait for you to come back. They need you during those days when you are free. In such a case, should you wait for urgent tasks to go beyond deadlines and lose clients? No, this is where you step in without really stepping in. You do this by hiring a virtual assistant. Virtual personal assistants will help you to handle tasks that are light. You can later attend to what needs you when you have time to do so. They ensure that urgent tasks have been attended to prevent things from going wrong when you are on your day off. However, in this case, you only need to hire the best.

4. Plan ahead

There are those few individuals who will do things well without planning. However, majority of the people lie on the other side. Those that need to have a to- do- list in order for them to carry tasks out well and in order. If you do not have a plan, you will end up doing things randomly and at the end of the day, you will be tired, having enjoyed nothing. It will be better and more helpful to have a list of things that you will engage in in order to enjoy days off.

3. Disconnect from work

It is through the PDA’S, blackberries, internet and laptops that we keep track of our working progress. These devices help us to connect to our tasks 24/7. This is very positive when it comes to productivity. However, for a day off, they will not give you a chance to keep off and refuel your creativity and energy. It is for this reason why you should avoid anything that can bring your work closer to your day off. They are the devices that will take you to work mode when you need an off mode. Anything from your job should be shut off completely if you want to enjoy days off.

2. Treat yourself

A day off should be a rewarding day. It creates perfect time to spoil yourself. Pamper yourself a little like dining at a favorite restaurant, getting a massage, little shopping and such like things. With so doing, you will not only miss your day off, but also increase the appreciation of such a day. It does not matter what treat you do to yourself, but if you associate your days off with rewards, they will be more productive. Working is fun and you might be in love with your job, but you should be in love with your off day even more.

1. Get fresh air

Unless you work outside in nature, the time employees spend in concrete buildings is astoundingly high if it were to be calculated. During your lifetime, much of your time is spent indoors and so you do not get fresh air as you ought to or as you would love to. This is perfectly the reason why a day off should be spent outside in nature. You should not necessarily be out throughout the day, but you can take a walk to the park or ride a bicycle for some change. Exposure to nature is important as this is when you get rid of anxiety and stress. This way you get to enjoy days off since they become unique and interesting. If you do your work indoors, you should not spend a day off watching TV or in front of a computer. Make a change, you do this adequately every day of the week.

The tips above are going to help you enjoy days off. They will help you make a difference between a normal working schedule and a day off. They will bring back the art of enjoying days off like you should. Relaxing, rejuvenating, and resting will bring even more productivity to your work. Days off are not wasted they might be the most important of your working days.

How Virtual Assistants can help with Christmas

christmas-design-elements_1045-315It is correct to assume that you may be thinking of hiring a virtual assistant for your office, particularly with the holiday season fast approaching. Consumers tend to always scramble to get things done right before Christmas despite the fact that they have the same number of days to prepare every year for the big holiday. As usual, business is going to be somewhat crazy for everyone, starting from last minute projects and assignments, to needing last minute favors and help.

Depending on your situation, you may be considering bringing
in additional help during the festive season, seeing that it never misses to
bring the same amount of stress and chaos each year. As a result, if you want
to maintain a steady routine, and keep your head above water, what choice do
you have other than securing extra help? However, rather than bringing in additional personnel, it may be much more beneficial for you to hire a virtual personal assistant.

A virtual personal assistant is an excellent alternative to
hiring extra staff members since they can work whenever you need them and do not have time limits. If you would like to save money when it comes to hiring costs and still get an extra pair of hands this holiday season, your best option
would be to bring on a virtual personal assistant to handle some of your tasks.

We can all agree that the holidays tend to be a busy time
for everyone, and we could all stand to benefit from some bit of help here and
there. Luckily, if you have a virtual personal assistant, you will be able to
handle a variety of tasks with their support.

The following are some of the ways on how a virtual personal
assistant can help with Christmas:

Brainstorming gift ideas and finding the best prices

For some people, gift-giving is one of the most stressful
aspects of the holiday season. You may like to hand out presents, but hate to
shop for them since you never quite know what to get for those closest to you.
Fortunately, there are literally dozens of online resources for the finding the
best Christmas gift. Providing your virtual personal assistant with a list of
the people you are shopping for and little bit of information about each one of
them will enable your VA to find some of the most thoughtful presents for
everyone on your list. After picking out each piece, you can have them compare
prices in different shops in order to find the best deals.

Arranging travel plans

If you intend to travel over the holidays, you should let your virtual personal assistant handle flight and hotel reservations. On the other hand, if you plan to stay with relatives, your VA can book you a relaxing and soothing getaway for when you get home.

Research for you year-end tax saving tips

Every year, there are certain tax strategies that you can take advantage of. The good thing is that your VA doesn’t have to be a financial guru to help you out. They can simply do the necessary research on various tax sites in order to find the best year-end tax breaks available. The truth is that investing in a virtual personal assistant could end up saving you huge chunks of money next year.

Ordering and mailing holiday cards

Christmas cards are a fun and exciting tradition that most
of us treasure. However, the time required to make and send them out can be a
quite much at times. As a result, instead of handling such tasks on your own
during the holiday season, you could send your VA some pictures and have them
come up with a couple of designs using built-in softwares such as TinyPrints or
Shutterfly. After they send in what they have, you can pick your favorite.

Take care of things in your absence

It is always a good idea to take a bit of time off over the holidays to be closer to your family and friends as you reflect on the years’ events and mentally prepare for the upcoming challenges. However, for some of us, it is not that easy to leave work behind, and this where a virtual personal assistant can prove to be quite handy. They can cover all your bases while you are away so that you can have peace of mind over the holidays.

Expressing gratitude on your behalf

While you are running around, trying to make everyone happy during the festive season, your best and most loyal customers may feel unappreciated more than usual. Since it is that time of year to give thanks and show appreciation, it is vital that you show your top clients how grateful you are for their loyalty to your brand.

You can even go an extra mile this year by hiring a virtual personal assistant who will send out Cards showing your appreciation. They can even include some kind of generous gesture like offering a discount. Such things will help to show your top customers that you are grateful for all your dealings throughout the year and would like your business relationship to continue and prosper.

Conclusion

We are on the cusp of the festive season, and you could have
schedules filling up, orders coming in, and your time being pulled in all
directions. Faced with such a situation, a virtual assistant can prove to be a
huge asset, not only for your sanity, but your bottom line during this busy
time of the year.

Also to consider…

If your virtual personal assistant has been providing you
with adequate help for most of the year, or they have added substantial value
to your life, you could consider paying them some kind of year-end bonus or
giving them some extra days off. After all, they would also like to be appreciated.
Such some small gestures can end up paying big dividends when it comes to
long-terms success and loyalty.

7 Innovative Ways to Reduce Your Stress

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If you frequently feel stressed out by your commitments and environments, simply continue reading to discover 7 helpful tips on how to reduce your stress levels.

7 innovative ways to reduce stress:

1. Ensure that you’re not taking on too many commitments

If you’re looking to reduce stress at school or work, it may be worthwhile assessing your schedule to see whether you’ve bitten off more than you chew. As an example if you’re a college student who is struggling to balance a part time job with a heavy course load, you may benefit from reducing the amount of hours that you work and applying for scholarships to fund your tuition and living expenses. Whilst if you work a nine to five job and are given too much responsibility, you may want to consider talking to your boss or manager about your workload.

2. Consider hiring a virtual assistant handle some of your tasks

If there simply aren’t enough hours in a day to fulfill all of your day to day tasks you may be interested in seeking virtual assistance from a professional virtual assistant. A virtual assistance can make your life more manageable, by handling simple tasks such as sorting your emails, scheduling your appointments, typing up your college notes, sorting out your bills and making your travel arrangements for you.

Having a virtual assistant handle simple tasks, will free up your schedule, so that you have a chance to relax and socialize with your friends and family. As if you fail to take time out for yourself on a regular basis, you’ll just end up feeling over worked and stressed out.

3. Take time out to exercise on a regular basis

By visiting your local gym, swimming at the beach or taking your dog for a walk, your body will release endorphins which will leave you feeling happier and less stressed out. So if you’re feeling stressed out after a busy day at work or at school, it’s worth lacing up your trainers and heading out for a run. As an added benefit, the fitter you are, the better your body will cope with day to day stress.

4. Don’t be afraid to vent to a trusted confidante

Bottling up your feelings will only leave you feeling more overwhelmed and stressed than you already are. So if you’re struggling with coping with symptoms of stress, consider ringing a family member or a trusted friend, who’ll provide a comforting ear. Who knows, your confidante may have experienced similar feelings and may be able to give you helpful advice on how to handle the stress which you’re experiencing.

5. If you don’t have someone you feel comfortable confiding in, book an appointment with a counselor

Contrary to popular belief you don’t have to be crazy in order to book an appointment with a counselor. In fact, a large percentage of individuals who visit counselors book appointments in order to simply vent their problems and decrease their stress level. If you’re still at college, your college may even offer free or inexpensive on campus counseling as part of your tuition fees.

6. Remember to reward yourself for meeting your goals

Too often when individuals achieve the goals which they have set themselves, they immediately focus on their next set of goals, without taking adequate time to congratulate themselves on a job well done. So next time you reach a goal, ensure to take a break and reward yourself. As an example, you may want to treat yourself to a weekend getaway or enjoy a meal at your favorite restaurant.

7. Take a break for social media

Whilst social media was created to add value to our lives, if you find yourself feeling stressed out by maintaining social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, you may be in need from a mini break from your online life. After all, your goal should be to live a life that makes you happy, rather than projecting that you’re happy on your social media accounts.

So if you’ve noticed that you’re feeling stressed out on a regular basis, don’t feel too disheartened as by taking small actions, you’ll be able to reduce your stress levels, in no time. As an example, you may be surprised at how much stress you can off load by hiring a virtual assistant or how great you can feel after a run around your neighborhood.

 

Top 7 Ways a Virtual Assistant Can Improve Your Life

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If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your day to day schedule and would love to have more free time up your sleeve, you may want to seriously consider hiring a virtual assistant. How can hiring a virtual assistant, transform your life? By delegating personal tasks and basic business tasks to a competent virtual assistant, you’ll free up time to work on taking your business to the next level and will have more time to spend with your friends and family.

If you’re curious about the types of tasks which can be outsourced to a virtual assistant, simply continue reading to discover a variety of examples.

Examples of personal tasks and basic business tasks which can be handled by a virtual assistant:

1. Email management

If you receive dozens of emails per day, a virtual assistant can manage your inbox and can highlight important emails which you should address as soon as possible. A virtual assistant may also be able to prioritize personal emails that you receive from family members, so that they don’t get lost amongst your emails.

A virtual assistant may also be able to unsubscribe you from any email lists, that you’re no longer interested in receiving emails from. As there is nothing worse than logging into your email account and being confronted with dozens of promotional emails, from companies that you’ve only shopped with once or twice.

2. Social media management

If your business has a social media presence on websites such as Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter, a virtual assistant may be able to run your business’s accounts. As an example, a virtual assistant acting as a social media manager, can engage with your customers, run competitions and put up posts on behalf of your company.

You may also be tempted to hire a virtual assistant to act as your social media manager, if you’re running an international business and would like posts to be placed on your accounts around the clock. After all, you already have enough on your plate without having to worry about placing posts on Facebook and Twitter, in the middle of the night.

3. Research tasks

Virtual assistants can also be hired to conduct research on your behalf. As an example, virtual assistants can assist you with personal tasks such as finding the lowest price, on a gift for a loved one. Alternatively, virtual assistants can also help you out with business related research tasks such as finding a suitable restaurant for a business meeting or arranging transportation to and from meetings.

As an example, if you’re flying out of town for a business trip, a virtual assistant can assure that their is a shuttle or taxi cab waiting for you when you get off your flight. Better yet, a virtual assistant may also be able to find a hotel or resort, which meets all of your specifications. As an example, if you require your chosen hotel to be located within a ten minute drive of a specific conference facility, a virtual assistant can send you a list of hotels which suit.

4. Appointment management

A virtual assistant can contact clients or employees on your behalf, in order to arrange meetings that suit each individual involved. Better yet, your virtual assistant can also program your appointments into your calendar, so that you’ll be alerted about each meeting, on the day of each meeting. If for some reason you need to reschedule an appointment, a virtual assistant can also contact those involved, in order to make alternative arrangements.

5. Personal shopping

If you lead a busy life, you may be able to free up some well needed extra time by delegating menial shopping tasks to a virtual assistant. As an example, if your preferred grocery store offers an online delivery service your virtual assistant may be able to manage your orders and if necessary add items to your shopping list, on a week to week basis. As an example, if you’re planning a social get together, a virtual assistant can ensure that you’ve ordered enough food and drink to cater for everyone on your guest list.

As an alternative example, a virtual assistant can also watch your saved auctions on Ebay and can scour the internet to see whether your favorite pair of jeans are still for sale.

6. Family related tasks

Whether you need to find a reputable babysitter in a hurry or need to find a venue for your child’s birthday party, a professional virtual assistant, will be able to assist you with your family related tasks. As an example, if you need to find a new dentist for your family, a virtual assistant can research all the dental practices in your vicinity, to find out which practices have the highest reviews. Once you choose a dental practice, your virtual assistant can also handle your family’s dental bookings.

As an alternative example, if you don’t have the time to keep your house looking pristine, a virtual assistant may also be able to hire a cleaning company for you. Best of all, a virtual assistant can check potential cleaning companies references, before making a booking, as you need to be able to trust a cleaning company, before inviting their staff into your home.

7. Proofreading tasks

If you’d appreciate a second pair of eyes, in order to proof read an important document, a virtual assistant will be able to help you by carefully proofreading your document. Better yet, your virtual assistant may be able to help you with editing your document. So if you assumed that you’d have to hire a professional editor, in order to proofread a document or marketing material, think again. Most virtual assistants have a tertiary level education and have plenty of experience proofreading documents.

So if you find yourself overworked and stressed out and wish that you had more free time to spend with your family and friends, it’s certainly well worth considering hiring a virtual assistant on a trial basis. Just a word of warning, once you discover how hiring a virtual assistant can transform your life, you’ll never want to go without a virtual assistant again and may come to see a virtual assistant as a necessity not a luxury.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring Break: How to Take the Stress out of Planning your Spring Break

Image by skitter photo
Image by skitter photo

If you’re looking forward to celebrating your spring break by travelling to an exotic destination which boasts an endless array of white sand beaches but are a little overwhelmed by the prospect of organizing your dream spring break trip, continue reading to discover six tips which have been designed to make travel planning a breeze.

 

 

Six tips on planning your dream spring break:

1. Remember that the longer you stay, the cheaper your accommodation is likely to be

Whether you plan on staying at a luxurious five star beach resort, or you’re looking to rent an apartment, if you have time up your sleeve it’s well worth considering vacationing for a few weeks as most hotels, resorts and apartments offer highly discounted rates for customers who are booking an extended vacation.

2. Research each of the destinations on your short list thoroughly 

By researching each of the destinations which have made your short list, you’ll be more likely to find a destination that suits the style of spring vacation that you’re looking for. As an example, if you’re a student whose looking forward to beach parties and pool parties, visiting Cancun, which is known for it’s legendary parties may be a great idea.

Whilst if you’re looking to plan a family friendly, spring break vacation you may prefer visiting Puerto Vallarta, which has a more laid back vibe. Also consider whether you’d prefer to visit a location where English is the official language such as Oahu or Maui in Hawaii, or whether you’d prefer to test out your high school Spanish in a location such as Cancun or San Jose.

If you have a busy schedule leading up to spring break you may want to consider getting a virtual assistant to help you research travel destinations.

3. Consider seeking virtual assistance 

If you’re short on time but want to ensure that you’re getting the best deals possible it’s well worth hiring a virtual assistant to organize your spring break for you. A virtual assistant can take care of a variety of tasks, as an example your assistant can browse hundreds of resort reviews on websites such as Tripadvisor, to ensure that you book accommodation at a resort which boasts exceptional service and a wide array of amenities and facilities. As another example, a virtual assistant can search the websites of multiple airlines in order to find the best available deal, on your specified travel dates.

Other tasks which a virtual assistant can take care of include organizing shuttle transportation from the airport to your hotel or resort and booking tours, attractions and activities that you may be interested in, in advance of your vacation. So once you embark on your vacation, you won’t have to worry about organizing an itinerary.

4. Book your spring break well in advance

Many airlines, resorts and hotels offer unbeatable deals for early birds who book their vacation in advance. So if you’d like your vacation budget to stretch a little further, it’s definitely worth booking your flights and accommodation well in advance. Remember that it’s also worth booking your vacation in advance as spring break is a high peak travel season, so the longer you wait the higher room prices are likely to be and as many spring breaks are extremely popular, accommodation may sell out at certain resorts and hotels.

5. If you’re on a budget consider sharing a room with friends or family members

If you’re on a strict budget, why not book a twin room and split your accommodation costs with a friend or family member? Remember, that if you’re on spring break you’re likely to spend the bulk of your time exploring your destination, so you’re unlikely to spend much time in your hotel room anyway!

6. Make sure that you have an up to date passport

What’s more important than a new bathing suit and your smart phone? Your passport! Even if you’re sure that your passport is lying around somewhere, it’s well worth checking the expiration date of your passport as many countries require your passport to be valid six months after you return home.

So if you’re in the process of planning your next spring break, simply follow the six tips listed above and you’ll have your spring break planned in no time! Also take our advice and hire a virtual assistant, as they make travel planning a breeze!