Week 14 // RFVA Tip: 5 Quick Fixes for a Better Work Week


Some of your best untapped tools have the dual role of helping you help yourself.

These five tips have made a huge difference for me and are really quite easy to do.

1. Plan out your entire week Sunday night. Use your calendar as your greatest ally and add tasks, things to remember, shopping lists, everything.

2. Color code your closet.  Sound too OCD? You will be amazed at how quickly you can knock this out.  Your efforts will reward you continually, as you will come up with all kinds of new combinations for your wardrobe. Everyone will think you’ve been shopping.

3. Clean out and organize your trunk. Got too much junk in your trunk? You are not alone. With a little TLC, your trunk can be an extension of your office as it offers plenty of space that can be organized to help you be more productive on the go.  Get a small plastic tub with a latching top and keep your most important go-to files and other supplies, such as an extra power cord, there.

4. Pick a day each week to purge files. If you could save money like you save papers, you would be super rich. For most of us, this is true but just taking a little time each week to get rid of or make a digital record of paperwork get us well on the way to staying organized.

5. Prepare a few lunches ahead on Sunday. Chop up a couple of salads and put together a few of your favorite sandwiches. Set them up in the front of your fridge to make them easy to grab and go. Put a few sets of utensils, napkins, and packets of condiments in your lunch bag to pull from throughout the week.

Even if you can only work in just a couple of these work week habits, you will see a nice payoff for your efforts. Are there any other things you’ve been doing that make a huge difference for you? Please post your comments.

Much success to you,



Books To Read Before Starting A Business



Week 13 // RFVA Tip: 3 Ways to Communicate Faster

1. Clearly Identify Solutions: Sometimes, the reason why communication breaks down is because we are responding emotionally to the problem and getting frustrated. Developing solution-oriented thinking will help us avoid spiraling into a bundle of reactionary statements that don’t mean much to quickly getting to the root of the problem and offering clear solutions. Start by making a mental outline and breaking your response down into short statements that layout one, easy-to-do step at a time.

2. Keep Emails Short: If you cannot convey an idea in at most five sentences, maybe the subject needs to be broken down into several emails. We all tend to respond better to bite sized pieces of information that we can act on or respond to quickly. When you can, break larger projects down into smaller tasks. Once you make this a pattern, you will see more productivity from yourself, your team, and your clients.

3.  Set Realistic Goals and Deadlines: This may seem unrelated to communication. But setting goals and deadlines that are reasonable will help you with tips 1 and 2. It can help to start your week off by not only setting up your calendar, but also thinking strategically about who you will need to contact for each appointment or task. Then, you can go ahead and draft a few emails with action items and deadlines that are clear and that can be done readily.

Now, you are off to a great start with improving the way you communicate to do it faster and with better overall results in getting things done effectively. |

Week 12 // RFVA Tip: What Customers Want to Hear

Teamwork makes the dream work.

Teamwork is only that if both service provider and customer truly work in sync.

We all know what it’s like to be a customer. Really, that is what we all are most of the time. So, why do we sometimes forget what it’s like to be one when we are on the other side of the transaction? We are by nature self oriented because we are after all, ourselves. In any situation, our primary focus is seeing things from our current point of view. Here are a few things to keep in mind, despite ourselves at the moment, when we are the provider of services to our customers. Like us, they want to hear:

1. Realistic delivery dates. We all want what we want when we want it, but having a reasonable and reliable idea of when you will deliver is really what helps customers set the right expectation. This in turn keeps them happy when you actually get it done when, or even before, you say you will.

2. A good price. Ah, that word “good” can be a moving target, right? Really, each person’s definition of value for their dollar varies as widely as the temperatures in Atlanta each week. But in general, we all have a pretty good idea of what we are willing to pay, within a pretty reasonable range, for almost anything. And really, you are not that different from most people. Think about your price as your “customer self”. Then, set it and forget it.

3. Our goal is the same. Exceptional customer service only happens when we, as the service provider, make the need of the customer our own to the greatest extent possible. Just like we can, our customers can tell when we are squarely on board with getting them what they need. See serving them as a “we” thing, not just “I” and “you”.

4. We Have Solutions. Let’s face it. We don’t have super powers. So, it’s likely that on any given project, there will be something your client needs that you yourself cannot provide. Have a ready bank of resources and solutions that you can offer them and follow up to assist them as needed.

5. You Are A Priority. Focusing on one person at a time is becoming a lost art. With cell phones, tablets, and the like buzzing in our pockets and bags constantly, we are just one distraction away from making our client’s feel as if they are not important enough. This mistake can be a relationship killer. Whenever you are meeting with a client, get in the habit of keeping all alerts switched to off. If you must take a call, it’s good to let your client know this at the beginning of the meeting and suggest a way that you will make it up to them should the call come. |

Week 11 // RFVA Tip: Organize Your Desk Fast In 7 Steps

A clear desk means a clear head means a clear schedule!

Prioritize your valuable desktop real estate.

Few things slow you down at work faster than a desk cluttered up with so much stuff that you can’t really find anything. Sure, you want the things you use most and are working on right now at your fingertips. But, it’s important that only the most vital things have valuable real estate on your desk. Think of your desk items as a set of your most well chosen words. You want them to be right on your lips just when you need them. Likewise, when your desk is clear and organized, you can get straight to what you need quickly, maximizing your workflow and keeping your office life low stress. Here are seven quick and easy steps to organize your desk now:

1. Prioritize files. Create a a set of Incoming and Outgoing hanging files and put three folders in each labeled “Critical”, “Medium”, and “Low”.

Keep these in a small standing hanging file holder on your desk and only keep files in them that need attention for the week. Everything else goes in a folder off your desk. Keep items that you no longer need hard copies of in the “low” folder and designate a day of the week to scan these and recycle the originals.

2. Prioritize office supplies. Designate a desk drawer for your most used office supplies: a couple of pens, staple machine, staple puller, letter opener, and a headset for your cell phone.

If you don’t have a free drawer or drawers at all, get a decorative box and put it beside your printer or on another surface near your desk.

3. Organize and keep project files handy. Bundle all the paperwork for each project or file you are working on and clip it together with a clip binder. Place them in a stack, turning every other clipped set to the side so that you can easily see each alternating set.

4. Increase your short-term, nearby storage. Invest in a rolling hanging file cart and keep these project file sets in them in hanging file folders.

5. Streamline writing essentials. Keep a notepad and pen that you jot down everything with until you can enter it into your calendar, document, email or whatever you need it for. Once you have made use of the information, throw that sheet away.

Having just one place you keep these kind of notes will keep post-it and paper clutter down.

6. Keep decorations to a minimum. Can it go on the wall? Hang it up. Does it have sentimental value? Put in a shadow box, on a wall shelf, or pin it on a framed cork board.

7.  Digitize as much as possible. Download a desktop widget as your desk clock. Create a computer desktop shortcut to notepad or another quick note taking application to take brief notes as needed.

Make it as easy as possible to put things on your computer and retrieve them with shortcuts, rather than writing or printing them.

Once you have made some headway, reassess your desk-clearing system and tweek it as needed. Your goal should be to make keeping your desk clear one of the easiest things you do each day. Check out your local thrift store to see if you can scoop up some of the organization aides mentioned. Otherwise, Wal-Mart, Target, Ikea, and Container Store all have a tons of low-cost options for all the items suggested in this post. If you like online shopping, here are some links to get you started:

Hanging Files

Rolling Hanging File Cart

Desktop Hanging File Holder

Decorative Office Boxes

Week 10 // RFVA Tip: Turn Tasks Into Routines

Routines don't have to be routine.

Routines make the world go round, especially yours!

What is the difference between a task and a routine? Well, it’s a bit like lettuce and hamburgers. By itself, that lettuce is, well, boring and uninspiring. It doesn’t accomplish much for your taste buds or your appetite. But add it in with mayo, ketchup, a scrumptious beef patty, cheese, a bun and BAM! Now, we have a delicious hamburger that satisfies and gives you a boost of energy. Sometimes, we have tasks that are like that lettuce. If we could just move on to something more fun, we would. Still, getting it done clears the way to get the next thing out of the way, creating a feel good, get-it-done momentum. Stringing a series of mundane, yet recurring and necessary tasks together into a daily or even weekly routine is something that successful business people have learned how to do well.

You can start by choosing three things that you must do all the time, like these for instance:

1. Reconciling banking transactions

2. Opening mail and scheduling bill payments

3. Filing away paperwork for completed projects

If you have an accountant and assistant who handle these things for you, great. If not, you are in the boat with thousands of other small business owners who wear many if not seemingly all the hats of their operation. Why not try to get these things out of the way together on a designated day of the week at a set time, say 10AM on Friday, just after you’ve made your first few calls but before lunch.  Then, you can spend the rest of the day closing out a successful work week and getting in gear for the usual Monday rush.  Now, you have established a winning routine that, like that hamburger, will give you an immediate sense of satisfaction and get you in gear to wipe out the next set of things you have to do. |

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