3 Quick At-Home Workouts

I’m still having a hard time believing that Thanksgiving is next Thursday, and right behind it is the Christmas season. There are 3 things you can be sure of this time of year:

  1. You’re going to eat too much
  2. You’re going to be extra busy
  3. You’re going to find excuses to NOT exercise

Making time to exercise isn’t easy when it’s not the holidays, so it’s the first thing we check off our list…until January when we realize we now have 10 pounds to lose. One of the benefits I’ve found working from home is being able to fit exercise in more regularly than when I worked in an office.

What helped me was scheduling time to exercise right into my calendar; if I treat it as an appointment I’m more apt to do it than mentally making a note of it. I don’t say that I “want” to exercise…I say I “have” to. The challenge is finding something that you can get the most results with the least amount of time.

There are days that it’s easy to find an excuse to not exercise, but setting aside just 20 minutes a day to fit in a quick and efficient workout will leave you feeling refreshed and even help boost your immune system when flu season hits.

I wanted to share 3 of my favorite, go-to workouts I use that you can do in under 20 minutes right in your home office. I’ve tried hundreds over the years and these are the best workouts I’ve found:

20-Minute Kettleball HIIT Workout. Good, all over workout you can do in under 20 minutes (my personal favorite and go-to workout).

Tracy Anderson’s 15 Minute Total Body Workout (video) Good, all-over plank position workout.

I made a graphic for my favorite go-to for abs: (I use the timer on my phone and move from 1 position to the next without taking a break; 8 minutes and you’re done…and sore!)

8-minute

 

Keep your mind fresh and pounds at bay with these quick and efficient exercises you can do right in your home office. When January rolls around you’ll  be glad you did!

Laura is the founder of Elite Virtual Assistants. If you need a VA to help keep you accountable and on track, give her a call at (440) 973-7005.

 

How To Afford A Virtual Assistant

I’ve found a couple things to be true over the years; if I really want something I find a way to get it. When I come up with an excuse on why I can’t do something, it’s just that…an excuse.

Instead of saying, “I can’t afford a virtual assistant”, you need to change your mindset to “how can I afford a virtual assistant”? Once your mindset makes that change, you’re ready to work the help you need into your budget.

In the beginning stages of a business, money is tight. You need to allocate dollars carefully to areas that are going to bring in revenue. For some it could be a website, buying office equipment or hiring help to get things off the ground. Many of us will create a list showing our needs vs. wants. Once you put in place the things you need, you’ll eventually get to the stage that you can go after what you want. When you consider a VA as something you need to grow your business, you’ve overcome the obstacle of thinking you can’t afford it.

Hiring help tends to be at the bottom of everyone’s list. As an entrepreneur or small business owner we feel the need to do everything ourselves and do as much as we can for free… and there’s a lot of information out there for free. But free only goes so far, and then it’s time to really decide what you need to get to the next level and invest in what will get you there.

Having a family member that wants to help run your social media campaign is not going to deliver the same results as hiring a professional VA who does that for a living. Sure, free or discounted rates might initially look good on paper, but they’re not going to look good a year down the road for your bottom line.

Highly successful people have a secret; they don’t do everything themselves. We all have the same 24 hours in a day, so making the most of that time is what will make the difference in your business. Change your mindset from “I Can’t” to “How Can I” and you won’t believe what you’ll be able to accomplish!

Laura is the founder of Elite Virtual Assistants. If you’re ready to change your mindset, give her a call today!

10 Ways To Make The Most of Your Virtual Assistant

Hiring a virtual assistant is a great asset to many professionals. Regardless of your industry a VA is a cost effective way to bring experience to the table and only pay for the services you need without having the overhead of an employee.

But it’s not just enough to HAVE a VA; it’s knowing how to work with one that will determine your success with this type of relationship. Understanding how to get the most out of your virtual assistant is important in keeping and maintaining a long term, healthy relationship.

COMMUNICATION IS KEY. Having open communication early and often is what will lay the foundation for a good experience.

  1. Be upfront and honest about your expectations with your VA.
    1. Outline your goals.
    2. Outline what you’re hoping to accomplish.
    3. Outline how you want to accomplish them.
  2. Decide on the best form of communication. If you receive too many emails already, have another system in place for quick questions and responses. You can try:
    1. Whatsapp
    2. Facebook Messenger
    3. Twitter
    4. Text Message
  3. Have a regular weekly meeting. Be sure to set your relationship up for success. If you have a goal to accomplish, be sure you have a weekly plan in place for that to happen. You and your VA can discuss the best route to take to get there. Having a regular check-in date scheduled with clear instructions for the week will not only help you stay organized but also give your VA the direction they need to do their work as efficiently as possible. Be sure you are receiving an update on a regular basis outlining what has been done, what follow up is needed, and that all questions that have been sent to you have been answered.
  4. Encourage File Sharing. One of the biggest areas of concern when working with a VA is not being able to see progress being made in “real time”. You can set up a file sharing system with your virtual assistant to help with this. Google Drive or Dropbox are great and enable you to see where a project is without having to wait for an update.
  5. Progress Tracking. This is important in the beginning to build a healthy virtual relationship. It helps both sides understand how much time is being spent on a task or project. This not only allows you to see where the most time in spent, but can help you plan for the coming months. You can try a program called My Hours where your VA will log their time and send you a report showing what was accomplished and how much time was spent on each task or project. This helps both sides see where and how time is spent and helps you plan going forward.
  6. Don’t Take The “Try It & See Approach”. Typically someone coming in with a “we’ll give it a try and see what happens” attitude is not truly committed. When you give something a “try” you have the mindset that it probably won’t work. You need to have it set in your mind (and your budget) that you will “try” for a reasonable amount of time. Giving someone 5 hours to “see what they can do” and spending 3 of those hours training them will not produce any results. Making a 6, 9 or even 12 month mental commitment will help you get past that mindset.
  7. Make Your Virtual Assistant A Team Member. It’s easy to fall into a pattern of shuffling off the tasks you don’t want or have time to do; that’s what you hired your VA for, right? But as you’re doing that, be sure to get their input and opinions so they feel involved and part of your team. When you treat someone as an equal player it will not only boost their moral but give them the confidence to voice their opinions which could be very beneficial to you and your company.
  8. Ask Questions. If you don’t like the way something is being done or you don’t understand why a task took so long, don’t hesitate to ask. Always communicate openly with your VA and share the good and bad. Don’t wait or be shy to share your thoughts. Brushing something under the rug only leads to a giant pile of dirt, which doesn’t help anyone.
  9. Be Transparent. Although many VA’s are experienced professionals, they are human. Mistakes will be made and just like any other worker or employee you would have, they need to be communicated with regularly and expectations explained from the beginning. Concerns must be addressed immediately so the situation can be rectified as soon as possible. Since a VA isn’t sitting beside you they may not see the eye rolling you’re doing or the concern in your voice if you’re emailing them. Transparency is very important when working with someone virtually.
  10. Be Patient. It takes time to get into a routine with a virtual assistant. People looking for immediate results can be quickly disappointed. Three months is typically a good time frame to expect a flow to be in place working with a VA. Sometimes this can happen sooner (or later), but having some patience through the learning process is the key to getting your virtual relationship on the right track.

Taking steps to make the most of your virtual assistant will help set your relationship up for success. Have a plan, put it in place, and watch your business grow!

Laura is the founder of Elite Virtual Assistants. If you’re ready to put a plan in place to work with a virtual assistant, give her a call today.

13 Habits To Break To Increase Productivity

Do you find yourself falling behind in your work even though you’re putting in long days and time on the weekends? Working smarter, not harder means making the most of the time you have and making that time as productive as possible.

  1. Hitting The Snooze Button. When you first wake up, your endocrine system begins to release alertness hormones to help get you going for the day. When you drift back to sleep, you slow down this process. That extra 6-7 minutes doesn’t give your body time to get back into the deep sleep it needs, so forgo the snooze and get out of bed when the alarm rings.
  1. Leaving Your Bed Unmade. I recently read a Hubspot article where Navy Seal William H. McCraven told a crowd, “If you want to change the world, start by making your bed. If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another. And by the end of the day that one task will have turned into many tasks completed.”
  1. Starting Your Day With Easy Tasks. Your most productive time of the day is your first 3 hours. Sometimes that big project or task seems overwhelming to tackle in the morning, but putting it off until later in the day can lend to you either running out of time to do it or being too tired to do a good job. Utilizing the first 3 hours of your day to get the big things out of the way will also clear your mind knowing it’s done and help you concentrate on the rest of your day.
  1. Impulsively Scouring the Internet. Almost everyone has internet access at work. It’s easy to get side tracked online and soon you’re getting sucked into Facebook or shopping for that birthday gift you still need to buy. Try making a list of the “extra” online things you need to do that you can revisit on your lunch or in the evening.
  1. Multitasking. Multitasking is one of the leading causes of burnout for most people. Although we like to think we can multitask effectively, there’s scientific proof that we can’t. When a person is multitasking they experience a 40% decline in productivity and your IQ can suffer a 10 point drop which is equivalent to missing an entire night’s sleep. It’s time to take off the cape and ask for help.
  1. Checking Email Too Often. We all fall into the “endless email” trap. Checking emails can turn into as much of a time-suck as scrolling through Facebook. Try setting certain times of the day aside to check emails. If there’s something pressing you’re waiting for, use a 3-point system: before work, at lunch and 4 o’clock. Unless there’s something time-sensitive you’re waiting on, the emails will still be there regardless of how often you check them.
  1. Being Disorganized. Being disorganized is a sure-fire way to decrease your productivity. If you’re spending more time looking for things instead of doing things, you’re not spending your time wisely. This is a perfect scenario for being “busy” instead of “productive”.  
  1. Accepting Too Many Meeting Requests. Before you take up your time and that of others, make sure the meeting is not only necessary, but that it’s planned out ahead of time to be short and to the point. Meetings add a disruption to our day and workflow and makes it hard to get back on track.
  1. Failing To Prioritize. When you have a busy day it’s easy to have your priorities fall out of order. Instead of writing down 15 things to do in a day, break those up into smaller, more manageable blocks and assign them to different days throughout the week.
  1. Over Planning. Being ambitious and organized is great until the day slowly unravels and your plans are being pushed out later and later. Instead of planning every detail of your day, try planning for 5-6 hours of an 8 hour day to allow for flexibility.
  1. Under Planning. Just the opposite of over planning, under planning will have a similar unraveling affect. If you fail to have some type of plan in place, you end up wandering aimlessly into your day not quite sure where to start and what your end game should be. 
  1. Taking Your Electronics to Bed With You. According to the National Sleep Foundation, “A key factor in regulating sleep and your biological clock is exposure to light or to darkness, so falling asleep with lights on may not be the best thing for a good night’s sleep . Exposure to light stimulates a nerve pathway from the eye to parts of the brain that control hormones, body temperature and other functions that play a role in making us feel sleepy or wide-awake.” Too much light, right before bedtime may prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep, so keep those LED screens tucked away until the morning.
  1. Trying To Be Perfect. This is where I have problems and need to remind myself regularly that everything doesn’t have to be perfect. It takes too much time and energy away from completing a task or project, and in the end makes us less efficient and less effective. You need to draw a line and decide when it’s time to call it complete and move on.

It’s difficult to try and break all bad habits at once; make a list and prioritize which ones you want to work on first and see how much more productive your day can be.

Laura is the founder of Elite Virtual Assistants. If you’re looking for help in breaking your bad habits and getting some assistance along the way, give her a call today.

Gift Giving Ideas For Your Business

The holidays can be great and at the same time stressful. It’s a time of year that we give that extra thank you to those who have helped us in our business and personal lives, that we may have been too busy to stop and thank throughout the year. It doesn’t matter how big or small the gift is…it’s the time that someone took to express their gratitude that matters. Even the smallest budget can afford to send out a nice card.

Whether your budget allows you to send a card or a gift basket, now is the time to start thinking about getting everything together to avoid the frazzled, final-hour rush. If you already have a virtual assistant that you’re working with, the entire process can be outsourced. Once you offer some guidance on your budget and gift ideas you have in mind, you can turn this daunting task over and they can help you:

  1. Research gift ideas.
  2. Order your gifts.
  3. Hand-write cards for that personal touch.

GIFT IDEAS

Depending on how well you know your clients, below are some unique ideas if you have a smaller group of clientele:

Charitable Organizations

Do you have a client that’s involved in a particular charity, organization or foundation? Make a donation in their name or yours; the charity can send a letter on your behalf noting the contribution.

Gift Certificates

Have a client that’s an avid golfer? Purchase a gift certificate to their favorite local course, or one they’ve talked about wanting to visit. Do they love the Theater? Purchase a gift certificate to a local playhouse.

Wine or Beer Lover

Give them a membership that ships a different variety of wine or beer every month (this may not be available in all States). You can try The Original Craft Beer Club or Wine Of The Month Club. A gift certificate to a local brew house or winery where they can make their own beer or wine is also a unique idea…these are increasingly popular and can be found all over the country.

The Health Nut

Try out a subscription service to a healthy alternative to snacking. Graze is a popular site that offers 100’s of items you can choose from to be boxed and sent to your clients home or business.

Share What You Love

Do you use a service or have a subscription that you love and want to share? Whether you’re a music lover and offer a year subscription to Spotify or you love healthy cooking and use a service like HelloFresh, these are both unique ideas to give to that special client.

Promotional Products

If you have a larger client base you’re looking to send to, you can consider a useful promotional item. Some people think promo items are cheap or that they are a one-size-fits-all solution. In reality promo items can be that little extra you pair with something else for that special touch. You can also find an item that you think most people will find useful and purchase a higher-end version.

If you’re looking at putting together gift baskets, why not include a promo item that goes along with your theme? If it’s a useful, quality item it will get used and be appreciated. With the holidays fast approaching we wanted to share with you some of the hottest holiday gifts for clients we’ve found.

Chocolate – Everyone loves chocolate, your clients will appreciate you for it and your logo will be there to remind them who sent it.

Notepads – Stay in front of your clients with note pads, sticky notes and flags.

Stainless Steel Tumblers— Everyone loves a hot beverage. You can stay in front of clients all day with a tumbler, and they can be paired with gourmet hot chocolate packets, coffee pods or tea bags.

Wine Carrier – You can pair a nice wine carrier with your logo along with a bottle of wine or even sparkling apple cider. 

Mugs– Everyone loves a good mug and especially a good looking one. Just like the tumblers, these can also be paired with gourmet hot chocolate packets, coffee pods or even a gourmet instant soup.

The options are endless when you’re looking at promotional gift ideas. Whether you decide to be unique in your gift giving, offer promotional items or simply send a card, the thought that goes behind what you’re sending means more than the actual gift itself.

Taking care of your holiday gift giving needs is a great task to outsource that will have a positive impact on your business and personal life. 

Laura is the founder of Elite Virtual Assistants and also works with Elite Now Promotions. If you need help getting your holiday gift list and ideas together or need someone to help execute a plan for you, give her a call today at (440) 973-7005. She can also help you find the right promotional product for your business for the holiday season!

 

Are you Overwhelmed?

Elite Scheduling Services, LLC

Are you trying so hard to be successful that you are totally and completely overwhelmed?

Believe me, I get it! It’s super hard to do everything on your own and successful business people will tell you that you can’t do it alone!

I’ve been running a successful business for 7 years and I’ve always needed help. I have a VA that helps with social media and marketing and one with promotional marketing. Not only do these people help me keep my business running, they help keep me motivated! I’m typically a motivator but there are times when you need someone else to step up and say “You can do this!”

If you are a crazy busy person and need someone to help you with your business you are probably thinking ‘where do I even start?’ Well you are in luck because I’ve broken it down below. Use these tips and…

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How A Virtual Assistant Is An Affordable Asset In Your Digital Marketing Efforts

I was recently reading a blog post by Chris Ducker where he notes that “in an online survey of more than 460 small business owners, proprietors and CEOs, 63% said that they spend 1-5 hours on social media every week. The rest are spending much more, with some business owners spending 21+ hours a week on social media alone.”

As crazy as that last number sounds, running a comprehensive digital marketing campaign takes time and energy. You may not see immediate ROI with these efforts, but in the digital age we’re in, it’s an important element you can’t afford to miss out on.

One of the top requests our clients ask of our VA’s is help in running these campaigns. The first question is typically, how can a Virtual Assistant help me with my social media marketing? The honest answer to that is…how much do you want them to help you?

Many people like to create the content for their blogs and posts themselves and also want to be the ones engaging with their audience which is why they’re not sure where to start, but there’s more to these marketing efforts that just the content creation. If you’re not sure which channels you need to be on, it will take some research on your target audience to see where they’re hanging out. Some people like LinkedIn, others prefer the fast pace of Twitter. This is a great place for your VA to start doing some research.

Once you find your channels and you decide you’ll create the content,  your VA can find the right graphics to promote your posts and make sure they’re scaled to fit each channel. I’m sure you’ve seen it before; you’re looking at a Facebook ad and half of it’s cut off? That’s typically because they’re using the one-size-fits-all photo across all channels. Each social network has their own dimensions for graphic posts; it’s best to take the time to resize them  accordingly:

Facebook 940 x 788 pixels

Twitter: 1024 x 512 pixels

Pinterest: 735 x 1102 pixels

Instagram: 1080 x 1080 pixels

Did you know that the human attention span has dropped to 8 seconds, while a goldfish, yes a goldfish, has a 9 second attention span. This goes to show that graphics are a must-have in your campaign. According to a post by Kissmetrics images will get 94% more views than those without. If you were wondering just how important the right graphic is in your campaign…it’s IMPORTANT, so make the most of that 8 seconds.

goldfish

The other time consuming part of your campaign is posting. You can save some time using a platform like Hootsuite, but using a relevant Twitter hashtag for your Facebook and LI posts aren’t going to score you too many points with your followers. Each channel has its own vibe…Twitter is very social, fun and fast paced. Facebook requires a little more attention and interaction, and is a good place to tell a story. LinkedIn is professional and needs it’s own tone separate from the others in your campaign. I’m personally not as familiar with Instagram and Snapchat, but much like Pinterest, those apps use pictures to tell your story. This is a great place to bring in a VA to help coordinate your graphics and postings.

For your blog, you can create your own content but will still need the right photo, some editing, and posting to your various channels. One of the toughest parts of blogging is deciding what topics to write about. This is where internet research comes in handy to see what others are blogging about, what’s hot, what’s not, and so on.

Once you have an established relationship with your VA, you can slowly start handing some of the content curation over to them. Once they get to know you and learn your message and style, it’s easier to hand that task over.

According to Ascend2, email marketing technology is used by 82% of B2B and B2C companies, and e-newsletters are equally important. Email marketing is another area that is an essential part of your digital marketing plan where providing your Virtual Assistant with the content, they can be responsible for putting it together, finding graphics and scheduling.

Another growing part of digital marketing campaigns is video marketing. No one can replace you in your video, but after creating it you need to get it out there. Uploading your video to different channels, reformatting it when necessary, converting, adding a preroll…that all takes time, and is another great task you can choose to outsource.

Running a digital marketing campaign can seem overwhelming, but with the right help to keep you on track and consistent, it doesn’t have to be expensive. A Virtual Assistant is an affordable solution to bring you the help you need to achieve social success!

Laura is the founder of Elite Virtual Assistants. If you are looking for someone to help run your digital marketing campaign, give her a call at 440-973-7005.