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Monday Minute: Trading The Urgent for The Important

Leijun Campbell - Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Today, you (hopefully) return to work after a relaxing weekend. You've had to time to sit back and do a little bit of brainstorming on your next major project. You say good morning to your coworkers (or family if you work from home), sit down at your desk, fire up your computer and open your email inbox.

 

You don't remember the last time you had seen so many red-flagged messages. "Emergency" after "emergency," you type your fingers to the bone with an unrelenting ferocity as you send requests for further information, email questions to people involved in the projects in jeopardy and set out researching and problem-solving the issues on your own. In between tasks, you attend meetings, some beneficial and some not so necessary. You continue until the 4 o’clock hour and breathe a sigh of relief when the last concern is resolved. You then realize you never started on the project that, until 8:30 a.m. that morning, was considered the most important on your checklist. As much as our minds want to jump to solving the most urgent of problems, your productivity will suffer because you aren’t given full concentration to the projects and ideas that matter to you and your professional development.

 

With the inevitability of the urgent always looming, setting aside and blocking off time to work on the important is crucial. We discussed creating a conquerable to-do list here. A Little Assistance is here to help you make your professional ventures as effective as possible. For more information on how we can help YOU, email leijun@alittleassistance.com!

Monday Minute: You'll Meet 0% of the Goals You Never Make

Leijun Campbell - Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Former NHL star Wayne Gretzky famously said: "You'll miss 100% of the shots you don't take." More than a simple sports strategy, the quote served as a life lesson for people across every industry. As an entrepreneur, your ideas and innovation guide your company first and foremost. You want to accomplish something that no one has ever believed was possible. If you've been around long enough to acquire employees, you want to inspire them to think outside the box and reach their full personal and professional potential. If you're just starting out, however, you balk at where to even begin. No matter how big or small you want your business to be - whether a full-time dream job, serious part-time position or a freelance gig - you will never figure out your next steps until you discover your mission, and you’ll never discover your mission until you set your goals. 1) Start small - If you are wanting to start a business selling your famous chocolate chip cookies, build a small customer base of family and friends. Read as much as you can about the hospitality industry, business trends and proper procedures. 2) Be consistent - The fastest way to seal the fate of your company is to start big the first week and let your goals be an afterthought by the following Monday. 3) Set deadlines - There’s always a chance things will not work out in your expected timeframe, but better to have an idea of when and what you want to happen with your fledging company than wandering aimlessly with the hopes that things will magically take off. 4) Expand your professional reach - Find unique client opportunities and customer bases. Have a target audience, but pay attention to those who appear a bit left of the dial. 5) Accept the idea that you will fail - If we’ve discovered anything about life, it’s that you experience a lot of disappointment when chasing the things that matter to you. But you must remove the phrase “I give up” from your vocabulary if you want to see things through. For more information on professional organization and setting entrepreneurial goals, contact us at leijun@alittleassistance.com

Making Professional Resolutions That You Can Achieve And Make You Grow

Leijun Campbell - Saturday, January 10, 2015
We’re nine days into 2015 and hopefully nine days into making some headway on our personal and professional new year’s resolutions. However, you might be someone who has never believed in making resolutions on January 1st or maybe you’ve experienced the “full steam ahead for two weeks, back to old habits the rest of the year” cycle one too many times. Despite any of this, I encourage you to focus on at least one or two realistic goals that you can achieve by the end of 2015, but will leave you with an authentic sense of accomplishment and visible results. 1) Write it out first - Before you start the action part of your goal, you must have your plan. Start generic for the first few sentences, composing a personal mission statement for that goal. However, you need to eventually begin adding specific steps. Want to increase your business’s influence? Think carefully about what exactly that means and how you can put together the little pieces of the big puzzle daily, weekly and monthly, whether you’re making a certain number of cold calls, creating direct mail campaigns for each month or scheduling social media posts. Keep checklists with deadlines and evaluate your progress periodically. 2) Ensure accountability with those closest to you - After you create your list and plan for your resolutions, start communicating your goals to your family, friends, company and/or followers. Find one or two people who will ask you about your progress at the end of each month. If you need help with getting a task done, ask a friend or colleague to assist you, especially if they’re an expert in the field and willing to teach you new skills. 3) Give yourself grace - Establishing your plan and grabbing a few friends to help you are good ways to help your success, but if you miss a deadline or don’t accomplish a task in the exact way you hope, don’t fret or give up. Remembering that you’re human helps you push through the small failures and continue taking risks in 2015 and beyond. For more information on professional organization and accomplishing your business goals, email us at leijun@alittleassistance.com!

Wednesday Word: Staying Organized During The Holidays

Leijun Campbell - Thursday, December 18, 2014
Christmas is eight days away, and 2014 will end in two weeks. Phrases such as “I can’t believe 2015 is weeks away” and “where did this year go?” will inevitably pepper our speech. Commitments, shopping lists and work deadlines will seem to overwhelm every moment of our lives for the rest of the holiday season; how do we even begin to stay on top of everything? Fortunately, a lot of we have discussed over the past few weeks regarding personal organization can also be applied to the holidays. 1) Calendars and reminders are always essential - Though it may seem everything is in a state of flux while you finish everything at work and prep for Christmas visitors, you can save yourself a lot of headaches by putting everything down on a physical, digital or mobile calendar. These tasks include picking a relative up from the airport, turning in an end of the year report to your supervisor or client, finishing shopping for food and presents or even preheating the oven for the turkey. Set reminders 8 to 24 hours before the scheduled task and be sure to include follow ups as it gets closer. 2) Embrace teamwork and delegation - One of the biggest organization mistakes we make at work and home is thinking we can do it all. If you’re the president, manager or supervisor of a company or business team, know your employees’ strengths and delegate accordingly. Similarly at your house, split the responsibilities with your spouse and, if they’re old enough, your children. Allowing someone to help you with even the most rudimentary task can save you minutes or hours in the long run. 3) If something goes wrong, fix it quickly and move on to what’s next - No matter how hard we try to create the perfect meal, holiday experience or business proposal, things don’t always go as planned. If a mistake does occur in whatever task you’re trying to accomplish at the time, spend a few seconds evaluating what went wrong, fix it if possible or necessary and then quickly switch gears to the next responsibility on your to-do list. Don’t allow overthinking the past to derail future victories. We hope you have an productive, yet relaxing holiday season. If you have any further questions, feel free to contact us at leijun@alittleassistance.com!

Tuesday Three: 3 Habits Hindering Your Professional Development

Leijun Campbell - Tuesday, December 09, 2014
The term “professional development” get thrown around as a buzzword these days, especially in the area of industry conferences and literature. Attending these conferences and sessions can be beneficial to opening your creative and professional mindset to innovative approaches in your work life. However, your daily routine can often derail any important lessons you’ve learned outside the office. Here are three habits that are hindering your professional development: 1) The inability to say “no”: If you’re a people pleaser by nature, you most likely struggle with this habit. Your mindset towards job advancement goes something like: “If I say ‘yes’ to this opportunity, it will make my career. If I say ‘no’ to this opportunity, it will break my career.” Learning to be in tune with your own ambitions and desires as well as the true cause and effects of those “yes or no” decisions can help you tremendously. If saying “yes” helps you in the short term, but not in the long term, you may want to say “no” at this time and seek opportunities that will be a more lasting and beneficial investment. 2) Not keeping a calendar or writing things down: With the New Year approaching, most of us will make some resolution regarding time management. No successful employee wants to enter the office with the intent of wasting the workday. However, thinking that your mental task list will suffice and not invite possible distractions can set you up for a rude awakening. Taking two minutes out of a Sunday night to plan your next few days or week will save you hours of frustration later. Also, any new developments in your schedule or task list should be written down immediately whether on a small notepad or inputted directly into your phone’s calendar. 3) Not asking questions or seeking help: Oftentimes, we allow ourselves to walk down a lonely road to success. In this mindset, our teammates and coworkers are competition and hindrances to our professional progress, and we don’t need to reach out to them in times of need. However, one of the best elements of teamwork is the ability to learn from each other. Asking questions about a particular project or task is not a sign of weakness and can help build mutually beneficial relationships. These are just a few tips on habits to avoid in your professional development. What habits do you feel are preventing you from reaching your professional potential? If you’d like more information on the subject or have any other questions, contact A Little Assistance at leijun@alittleassistance.com.

Maintaining Professional and Personal Organization

Leijun Campbell - Tuesday, November 25, 2014

We’ve all heard the term “work/life balance” when it pertains to separating our personal lives from our professional ones. However, in some cases, the two worlds can’t help but collide. Specifically, this collision occurs in the area of personal and professional organization.

 

Last week we discussed “Creating A Conquerable To-Do List”. Today we’ll talk about 3 ways to best maintain these habits in the two main areas of life, work and leisure.  

 

1) The earlier, the better: One thing we can make a habit inadvertently is slight, yet consistent tardiness. A common text message that occurs right before meetings, business lunches or even family dinners usually goes something like this: “I’m really sorry, but I’m running about five minutes late.” Five minutes may not seem like much of a difference, but you lose that time to ease into the interaction and can sometimes make you feel on edge, especially if you’re presenting to an important client. Arriving ten or even fifteen minutes prior to an engagement gives you plenty of time to breathe and prepare for whatever's next on your agenda. 

 

2) Limit the small decisions: Some of the most successful people today don’t worry about the minute details like what they will wear to the office or what they will eat for lunch. Some CEOs like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg wear the same outfit every day just because they know they need as much time as possible to make the decisions that will best impact their companies and customers. You can take this approach as well. You don’t need to worry about wearing the same shirt day in and day out, but you can take some time on Sunday afternoon to plan out that week’s wardrobe and lunches/dinners. And like we’ve discussed before, try and make the day’s to-do list before you leave your home for the day.

 

3) Know where to find important messages for your tasks: When you open up your email at the beginning of the workday, you’ll find new items, old tasks that you still need to complete and even some irrelevant messages that you keep meaning to delete. If you work with multiple clients, teams or tasks, be sure to create folders in your inbox for the different categories and make a conscious decision to put every message in its appropriate spot while deleting the messages that are no longer needed. You can also do this with your personal email address when it comes to messages from family members, promotional offers and electronic bills.

 

For more information on creating a personal or professional organizational strategy, contact leijun@campbellbusinessservices.com!

Monday Minute: Creating A Conquerable To-Do List

Leijun Campbell - Monday, November 17, 2014
More often than not, our to-do lists take on the characteristics of our New Year’s resolutions. We approach a new job or task with an intentional focus on being as organized and efficient as possible. “It won’t be like last time,” we promise ourselves. To ensure that we carry out this vow, we create a to-do list. Even pulling up a blank Word document or flipping to an unmarked page in a notebook accompanied by the fresh ink of a new pen energizes us. We’re professionally invincible. However, we at A Little Assistance know how easy the distraction come and how quickly a plan comes together and falls apart, even with the roadmap right in front of our faces. Here are a few tips on a creating a conquerable to-do list: 1. Make the list before you arrive at the office: Each new day brings unlimited opportunities for both success and failure. As much as we want to keep work at work, taking a little time before you get in your car to prepare for the day can help you zero in on the most important tasks you want to accomplish. If you arrive at the office without a list (whether at home or an actual building) the “urgent” can quickly overpower the important. 2. Assign a time frame for each task: You’ve racked your brain and have noted down every single important task for the day. However, as soon as you get to the office, your email and calendar remind you of meetings scattered throughout the morning and afternoon. You try and take care of the little items on your list in a hurry, but you’ll usually end up putting the “big items” off until the afternoon or the next day. By isolating a time for each task in accordance with your scheduled meetings and events can keep you from experiencing surprises and experiencing a loss of productivity. 3. Complete one task at a time: As much as we want to flex our mental muscles by multitasking, recent research has shown that “single-tasking boosts your productivity”. Instead of splitting your energy on three different projects and making a third of the progress on each, focus on one task at a time. You might be shocked to realize how little time it takes you to accomplishment on assignment. Those were just a few tips on creating the conquerable to-do list. However, if you would like more suggestions or have any other questions, contact us now at leijun@alittleassistance.com

Friday Five - Five Ways to Promote High Performance

Leijun Campbell - Friday, November 07, 2014
As a supervisor or manager, you provide the motivation and direction for your team. You sometimes delegate the small details to others, but you take charge in driving forward the overarching theme and vision for your organization. You want to provide the greatest service for your customers no matter how big or small the task. To accomplish this, you must encourage your employees or team members to be consistent in all aspects of their position.
 
The key question you may be asking: “How do I even begin?” Let us give you five tips on promoting high performance among your employees on a daily basis:
 
1) Lead by example - If you want your employees to complete a task in a particular way or to exhibit certain behaviors in client settings, make these intentions clear in both your instructions and your actions. Be consistent in how you manage your own tasks and clients and be quick to correct yourself if you digress too much from the “usual way” of doing things around your employees.
 
2) Offer feedback often with tact and encouragement - You’re probably familiar with the concept of yearly and mid-year reviews for employees. While these do provide some direction in a sincere attempt to encourage positive achievements and to help curb negative behavior, they often come off as ineffective because of the sheer amount of information delivered once or twice per year. To avoid any surprises, make coaching and feedback sessions more frequent, either on a quarterly, monthly or weekly basis. Allow your workers to ask for feedback whenever they need it and be sure to respond in a timely manner.
 
3) Equip your team with tools for success - Most of your employees possess some form of higher education, either a 2-year degree from a community college, 4-year degree from a college or university or a Master’s degree in their field. However, people work a lot longer than they are in school, so presenting them with opportunities of certification classes, seminars or even just a healthy dose of industry literature makes their job intriguing and less monotonous.
 
4) Reinforce team collaboration - Most people played some kind of sport growing up to promote unity, the exchange of ideas and the willingness to listen and/or compromise. These ideals shouldn’t change when one enters the workforce. Some of your employees stand out as the “stars”, but reminding everyone that they are an integral part of the organization (even if some believe being “just” a receptionist or data entry clerk makes them less important) is one of the quickest ways to boost company morale.
 
5) Recognize a job well done - Just like with feedback and coaching sessions, shining the light on employees for accomplishing both major and minor tasks can encourage continuously high performance. You can make these recognitions publicly in a team meeting or company-wide email; you can also offer a quick private message to the person who put in the extra hard work as soon as the task is complete. These are just a few ways to encourage strong performance among your employees.

Less Headaches at Tax Time

Leijun Campbell - Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Worrying about what records to keep and for how long can be a headache all on its own.  However, when tax time rolls around each year a lot of Small Business owners and Contractors find themselves with many Tension Headaches.  

If you are a small business owner, there are certain receipts and documents that you should hold on to.  If you have employees you are required to keep all your employment tax records for at least four (4) years after the tax itself becomes due or is paid, whichever comes later.

Listed are some types of important documents that business owners should hold on to for at least four (4) years:

All Gross receipts from Operation:

Cash register tapes, credit card charge slips, bank deposit slips, receipt books, invoices, and 1099 forms

All Proof of Purchases:

Purchase receipts, canceled checks, credit card sales slips and invoices

Expense  Documents:

Account statements, credit card sales slips, invoices and petty cash slips for small cash payments

Verification of Assets:

Purchase and sales invoices, real estate closing statements and canceled checks

If you are a Small Business Owner or operating under a 1099 classification, other documents you will want to keep on file for three (3) years are:

Credit card and other receipts

Invoices

Bills

Mileage logs

Any Proofs of Purchase

Canceled Checks

Any other records to support your deductions or credits you are claiming on your return

Organization

Leijun Campbell - Wednesday, October 19, 2011
I get asked quite often, what is the best way to organize my business/home files?  In an effort to lend A Little Assistance, I have put together some basic suggestions to get you started.  Get out your pendaflexes file folders, manila (or colored) file folders, labels and lets get started! Start with a list of your major categories.  For example: Automobile Credit Cards Medical Insurance Home Mortgage Etc. All of the above will be your Pendaflex Folders.  Now that you have all the Main file folders completed we can move on to the subcategories, this is where your manila file folders come in, label each file folder according to each subcategory.  For example: Automobile -Car Insurance -Lender Credit Cards -Visa/ABC Bank -Mastercard/123 Bank Medical Insurance -File for each family member, i.e. Johnny -Suzy -Flex Spending Etc… I think you get the general idea.  One last little suggestion, to keep all my receipts organized I purchased a coupon holder you can label each slot with each month, and keep your receipts for your personal use for several months, or if it is a business receipt you can hold a whole years worth in one of these holders. I hope you find this helpful.

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