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Filtering by Tag: clarity

Increase your productivity and focus

Jessica Mishra

As an entrepreneur, productivity can be a challenge. We have flexible work schedules, we work from home or coffee shops, and we have control over some or all deadlines. I personally love the flexibility of being able to do what I want, when I want. With ultimate flexibility, though, can come distractions and inefficiencies. Throughout the years of being an entrepreneur, I have learned some tips that help me to stay focused and be as productive as possible.

Set a Weekly Work Outline

A to-do list for the week is a good place to start, but I recommend taking this a step further. Have a general outline of what tasks you will work on each day. Assign approximate amounts of time for each task. Be sure to leave time in the day for checking emails and responding to requests/firedrills so you don’t feel stressed when they pop up (because of course they will). Also, know that you will probably flex items on your outline throughout the week, but at least you are starting with a framework.

I find that I feel happy when I am able to hit all the items on my task list for the day. It drives me to be productive and if I get everything done for the day I will either reward myself by stopping early or get a jump on the next day’s tasks (which makes me feel ahead of the game).

Notice Your Productivity Rhythms

Start to notice when you are most productive during the day and when you are least productive. When I am feeling like I am in a lower productivity mode or am feeling tired, I typically try to do the tasks that take the least amount of energy. For example, I might do repetitive, data entry type tasks at that time because I can churn those out with minimal effort.

When I notice I am feeling more focused and productive, I take on tasks that are more challenging and use more brain power, like research or learning a new accounting concept. It can also be helpful to lump tasks of a similar type together. You can fall into a groove when you work on tasks of the same type instead of switching around throughout the day.

Limit Email Checking and Social Media

We are so connected these days. There are many ways we communicate with each other. Email, Facebook, Slack or other chat service, phone, text, and the list goes on. You may not realize it but every time you interrupt your focused work to say check email or take a peek at Facebook, you are affecting your productivity. Your brain switches to focusing on something else, and then you have to get refocused when you switch back to your work task. I find it helpful to limit the number of times I check email or social media during the day.

If this feels too structured, you can simply set a goal to not check email until you finish a designated task. For example, if I am working on writing a blog post, I tell myself I cannot check any email or social media until I have a first draft done. That way my head stays in the game and I don’t get distracted.

Other suggestions:

· Turn your phone to silent and flip the screen to face down so you are not constantly distracted by incoming calls or texts.

· Turn off sounds and limit alerts or other notifications on your computer. Little windows or “dings” constantly going off are distracting.

· Let your clients or employees know when you will be checking email. I have seen people put this in their email signature. They craft a polite message just informing those that email when they can expect a response.

Reward Yourself

The human brain loves reward! All work and no play makes you a dull boy/girl. You can set mini-deadlines for yourself during the day, and then reward yourself when you meet that deadline. You could call your best friend once you finish up one of your deadlines, go for your favorite workout, or spend time with your sweet kitty or pup. Take a coffee or tea break or grab a healthy snack. I say healthy snack because sugar is the enemy of productivity, but moderation in all things of course. My latest favorite is a chocolate banana peanut butter smoothie break. I also love breaking for a noon-time yoga class. My productivity is usually increased after class as an added bonus.

Set Boundaries

Have structured hours in which you work. This is different for each of us, but I find that the brain stays more focused when it knows what the end time is. This can be flexible. Say you typically keep office hours from 9-5 and then one day you work until 6 or 7. That is totally fine, I just think keeping some kind of boundaries can help you be more productive during the times that you have set to work.

It is also important for the brain to have rest and relaxation time. If you are an athlete, you know you need proper recovery time after a workout. This is the same for the brain. If you have the appropriate amount of rest, then your brain will be ready to work once you go back to it.

I know this one is a struggle for many people and may not even be possible with your particular type of work, but as much as possible try not to check emails into the evening hours. Give your brain a chance to disconnect and I promise you will see the rewards. Your clients will also learn that you check emails when you are in the office and won’t expect a late night response.

As an added bonus tip, did you know that starring at a screen an hour or two before bed can impact your sleep? The blue light released from a screen can affect your melatonin production. Less quality sleep leads to less productivity. If possible, try to not look at your phone too much an hour before bed.

I hope these tips were helpful. Please share your favorite tips for being productive!

QuickBooks Online: A breath of fresh air for your biz

Jessica Mishra

Does any of this sound familiar? You are a small business owner. You are currently using spreadsheets to track your income and expenses. Or, maybe you are simply scrolling through bank statements at year-end and trying to pull out any income and expenses that might be related to your business. You feel overwhelmed by all things finance, and you maybe even put off the organization of your finances to focus on, well anything else. Setting up a new record keeping system and/or learning a new software seems daunting. We've all been there, but it's time to take control. No more procrastination, just time to make a choice and act on it. 

This post is designed to tell you about some of the benefits of signing up for QuickBooks Online. I write this post from first-hand experience. Yes, I am a Pro-Advisor for Intuit QuickBooks, but this post comes from direct interactions with the software. I use it to manage my own business, and the truth is, I love it. Clients tell me the same thing! I hope to provide some clarity regarding the potential switch!

Access it from anywhere

Yep, that's right. You could be on a beach in Hawaii working on your QuickBooks (although I hope if you are on a beach you are not working on QB). This software sets you up for financial freedom. You can manage your QuickBooks account from your laptop at any time from any place. There is also a great QuickBooks app that can make your life easier on-the-go. In addition, there are several other apps that interface with QuickBooks that can help you with expense tracking, creating a mileage log (how many of you are currently tracking your business mileage accurately?), and can take pictures of receipts and store them for you. QuickBooks Online is the wave of the future. Further, if you have an admin or other employee that you would like to have access to your account, no problem at all. They can access from anywhere too!

Easy access for your accountant

Sharing info with your tax accountant or financial advisor used to be clunky. You might be sending a file back and forth or your accountant had to come to you at your place of work. Now, by simply entering your accountant's email in the right place, you give them access to your QuickBooks - again from any place or at any time. If you eventually want to hire a bookeeper, they can work remotely as well. No more scheduling issues or coordinating who will work in the file when. Ahhhh, simplicity. 

Security

QuickBooks Online stores your data using the type of encryption that most banks use. Many people worry about storing data on the Cloud, but you can rest easy. Before you may have stored data on your laptop hardrive which can either be hacked or physically stolen. The cloud can offer a security that you may not have had before. You can also exchange financial documents with your bookkeeper or tax accountant through QuickBooks Online. No need to send these files through email anymore (which as you know can be quite risky these days). 

Invoicing like a dream

This section is for any of you that invoice your clients or customers. Speaking for myself, this process for me used to be very time consuming. I would manually create an invoice, had no good numbering system, had to enter each piece of information each time I created an invoice, and had no good way of tracking customer data or outstanding invoices.

With QBO, you can auto-fill all of your customer's data just by chosing their name from a menu. You can also auto-populate your products and services so you don't have to enter the description of the product/service, rate, and even tax info each time. You can even set the account that will record the income for each product/service automatically, and you can automate invoices if you have a need for regularly occuring invoices. I can now create an invoice for a client in about 2 minutes and send it directly to their email. I can also see how many invoices are outstanding at any given time (so I know to send a friendly reminder if it has been a while). So easy it almost seems too good to be true. 

A LOT less data entry (this is a big one)

Do you like free time? Well QBO is about to give you more of it. Features like QBO's bank feed, automation of invoicing/bill pay, and QuickBooks payments can all be huge time savers. Let's take the bank feed for example. QBO allows you to link any of your banks, credit cards, even Paypal accounts. All the data feeds seamlessly into QBO and all you have to do is review, code, and approve each transaction. No more manual entry of each check or expense that you receive or incur. QBO also allows you to create rules so that it will remember repeat transactions. I am telling you, this is a HUGE time saver. 

More insight into your business

As soon as you hit the homepage of QBO, you are being told about outstanding invoices, the types of expenses you have incurred recently, what your profit is looking like for the month, and data is displayed regarding the reconciliation of your bank accounts. Further, there are a series of helpful reports that are very easy to run if you are looking to understand your business profit from month-to-month or want to investigate a missing payment, for example. Having more clarity as to the working of your business allows you to make informed decisions regarding future growth. 

Support - you are not alone in this

QuickBooks online even offers a support hotline. Have a question on how to add another column on your invoice? Call them. Want to know how to run a customized report? Call them. Want to know why you are seeing a certain error message? You guessed it, call them! If you are feel hesitant about learning a new software, don't worry because they will support you through the transition. I myself have them on speed dial. 

I hope this post takes away some of your hesitation. If you want a guide through the financial frontier, I offer QuickBooks training sessions (which can easily be done remotely). Shoot me a note if you are interested. Further if you have QBO set up and want someone to manage it for you, I also offer bookkeeping services. As I always say, don't hesitate, automate!