Easing Back into Work from the Holidays

Easing Back into Work from the Holidays

back-to-workI’m pretty sure we all have vacation hangovers from the chocolate and pie fueled holidays. And the past few weeks would have started off slowly and uneventfully. Everyone has pretty much been answering emails from that one person who kept sending updates during the holidays. (And if you are that person, you probably started the year getting replies from all the emails you sent out over the holidays.)

We’re already halfway through January, so there is no excuse anymore for anyone to NOT get their heads into work. By now things should have “normalized” around the office, and everyone who has gone on extended break should be back from vacation.

January is challenging in some way because new years signify new beginnings. By this time, we’re probably starting new projects, beginning new tasks, starting in new roles, assuming new responsibilities. All of these things would seem overwhelming especially when you’ve just come from a long break. So, here are a few tips to get your mindset back in the work game.

  • Remember your password/s

If you snickered a little bit, I’m glad. But this is a real thing for most of the workforce. Coming from a break, our minds are also in vacation mode and tend to shut out anything that has something to do with work. So I wouldn’t be surprised if, on your first day back at work, you’ve forgotten what your login password is.

  • Start earlier at work

I know this is hard when the last thing you want is for your vacation to end and work to begin. But people will learn pretty quickly that you are back from break, and those requests won’t wait for you to slowly ease into your first day back. They will quickly pile up. But giving yourself a head start on task while the office is practically empty would give you some time of peace and quiet to get yourself organized before more work piles up on your desk.

  • Do not schedule out of office meetings

I would recommend not scheduling meetings at all, in-office or out-of-office. I understand that in-office meetings cannot be avoided but if you can, do not schedule out-of-office meetings. They will add to the stress of an already overwhelming day filled with unanswered emails and piled paperwork. So make sure to schedule them over the next few days after your first day back at work.

  • Don’t be too hard on yourself

Do not work yourself into a stupor on your first day back from vacation. This will burn you out. You can very easily lose your drive if you plan to work a double shift on your first day back from break. Take it easy during the first few days and ease yourself gently into work. You can catch your stride on your third or fourth day back.

  • Have something to look forward to

Schedule a fun activity early in the evening, right after your first day back from work. Spend this time doing something you enjoy: getting a good dinner, going for a quick catch up with a friend over coffee, shopping or retail therapy, scouring the hardware, getting a new hairstyle, or going on a spa date.

The first day back from a long break is the hardest, but you will eventually get back into it. You can always refer to this list whenever you’re back from a long vacation, not just an extended Christmas break. Got any tips for those who have just gotten back from break? Let us know! Remember to stay humble and hustle hard.

 

Written by Jaie O.- The Help

Small Change

Small Change

are-you-readyAre you done making your list of New Year’s resolutions yet?  Have you vowed NOT to have any resolutions for the coming year?

We all aspire to make a change for the coming year, be it big or small. Some may want to go the traditional route and make a list of resolutions. Some shoot for lofty goals like moving to a new country or buying house. Some may opt for small lifestyle changes, like quitting soda and eating more veggies. Whatever you decide, here are a few simple financial changes that office workers can do upon ushering in the new year. After all, the new year is another chance to wipe the slate clean and start anew proverbially.

At the end of the day, empty out your pockets and collect all the loose change into a jar.

It’s a simple, no-brainer way of saving. Although it might be small, it is a good start. Say you have 20 bucks worth of loose change and small bills every day. That adds up to 7,300 bucks at the end of the year! So go ahead and find a bi jar and start filling it out with loose change.

Year-end total: about 7,300

Make your own coffee

Skip the designer coffee and create your own home brew. A cup of joe at the local coffee shop will set you back a few bucks. I’m not saying you should NEVER buy coffee from local joints. If it brings you joy, then go ahead. Some of the best conversations I’ve had are in artisanal coffee shops, enjoying a custom brew with friends. But if you can skip buying designer brews for a few days a week, that could quickly add up to 100 bucks a month or 5,200 bucks a year.

Year-end total: around 5,200

Always bring a shopping list

Most of us are guilty of doing a “quick” trip to the store after work. We all know the drill, “I’m just going to get milk” and then we leave the store with three bags worth of groceries. That is why it is important to have an “active” shopping list. Tack a piece of paper to your fridge door and write items as you run out of them. You can also use a phone app so that you can share the list of family members. That way, everyone knows what to get when they go out for a “quick”  grocery run.

This is very practical and has a lot of benefits. 1.) It saves you time 2.) It keeps you organized. You can quickly see which items are out and which items have multiple purposes. 3.) It keeps you on the budget. If you do see an item that screams “savings!”, then by all means, get it. But if it’s an impulse buy and will set your budget back, skip it.

Year-end total: approx 1,500

Buy generic when you can

Store brands are not all that bad. Deciding on what branded items to buy and what generic items to get is up to you. You will need to prioritize. Do you absolutely need branded toilet paper rolls? Will generic ones do? What about office supplies? Make a list of things that you can buy that are store brands. Buying generic can save you a lot of money in the long run.

Year-end total: approx. 2,600

Making these simple changes will save you about 16,600 by year’s end. Not bad for pretty small changes, right? Do you have anything to add to these? Let us know in the comments! Remember to stay humble and hustle hard!

 

Written by Jaie O. – The Help

An Open Letter To My Dream Team

An Open Letter To My Dream Team

Happy New Year!

To my “Dream Team,”

Happy New Year, everyone! As we close the door of 2016 and welcome 2017, today is an excellent time for reflection. What did we accomplish as a team? What journey did we take to get to where we are at?What are our plans for an exciting and fruitful 2017?

I am thankful for everyone in our team. I appreciate each of you and everything you bring in. I know we would not be where we are without your contributions and hard work.

Last year was a year of challenges, transition, and growth. At the beginning of last year, we transitioned from Elance to Upwork. We were hesitant to move platforms, but we knew it was inevitable. We are still in the process of building our name in Upwork, but we are on the right track. Clients who moved with us from Elance are still with us. New clients outside Upwork were also added.

Kate who worked so hard for the last couple of years moved up to a new position as the Assistant Office Manager. Her management training had been slow because of all the unforeseen changes in the office, but we are hopeful that this year, with all the additional support we have, we would be able to fully train and transition her.

The year 2016 was a very challenging year (to say the least.)  With all the delays in construction, problems with the builder, turn- overs, hiring and termination of workers, setting up of the new office, ending years worth of project, losing customers, starting of new projects and relationships—we were still able to gracefully overcome the challenges that were thrown our way. From a small office that could only accommodate eight workers per shift, we were able to build a bigger one that now can accommodate up to thirty. With prayers, sacrifices, long hours of hard work, flexibility, patience, and resilience, we were able to put together our dream team and make our dream office a reality. We welcomed Jacky, Mari, Jeanette, Josef, Dona, Ryan, and Jordan under the administrative assistance team. Maria joined the management team and started assisting with recruitment and HR.  Philip’s expertise in bookkeeping and accounting helped our team handle more tasks from clients by providing us training and sharing his best practices.

With a more solid management team in place and with the help of our awesome VA team, we are ready to make bigger strides in improving our service offerings, growing our existing customers, and expanding our client and worker rosters.  We have earned an excellent reputation as a trusted partner to our clients. We want our reputation for excellence to extend to other areas within our customer community. In a nutshell, that is our goal for 2017.

Because of the efforts of our amazing team, we not only survived the challenges of 2016, we succeeded.  We want 2017 to be even more successful for the company and you.  It is an unbelievable feeling to know that when I talk to existing and potential clients, it is hard for me not to oversell the competency and commitment of my team.

The Help is committed to making its team members’ situation better. As our company continues to grow and flourish, we promise to provide you with more opportunities and benefits. You are the reason behind our success, thank you for all you do.

 

Sincerely,

Astrid 

 

P.S.

For those who work from home, here are photos of our new office. Visit us soon!

I Need More Time!

I Need More Time!

image1-4Time is a limited resource and we are often told to use it wisely. Being able to manage time is one of the skills that highly productive people have (almost) perfected. As part of the series of “building super habits,” we will talk about the building the skill of prioritization. To prioritize means to rank in order of importance. But how do you know which tasks are important when everything has a post it or a glaring red neon sign that says “me first!”

Here’s a secret, not everything is of equal importance. If you sit down and take the time to think about your tasks, you would clearly see that there are things you can put off for later as opposed to pressing matters that you must attend to…like 15 minutes ago. The key is to spot those urgent tasks from your growing pool of things to do.

If you remember only one thing from Steven Covey’s book “Seven Habits of highly Effective People,” let it be this:

1

This is the famous Covey Quadrant, a guide to effectively prioritizing tasks. If you can spend time putting your tasks into the proper quadrants, then half the battle has been won.

The first quadrant is where you put your absolute must-dos. Passing an article whose deadline was 5mins ago? Taking care of revisions go into that quadrant.

The second quadrant aligns your goals to what you hope to accomplish by the end of a given timeframe. Preparing reports for end of the month go into this quadrant.

The third quadrant is also called the “deception” quadrant where the tasks you mistakenly thought were important because people have been bugging you to do it fall into. These are distractions. You must learn to say no to these unless they are absolutely necessary. The blinking notification light on your phone is a perfect example of things that fall into this quadrant.

Quadrant four is where all the time wasters fall. You’ve been thinking of checking out that cool new Thai place for a while now. And though it may be one of your life goals to try new cuisine, this task is neither urgent nor important for now. Try to find out as many of these time wasters as you can and put them all in this quadrant. What you are left with will simplify your prioritization process and leave you with a list of only the essential tasks.

Don’t be running around like a headless chicken. Using this quadrant will give you direction and structure. After you’ve listed your tasks and placed them in their proper quadrants, you will find that you have successfully gotten your life back and your time under control. All the important things should come into view, and you’d a have a clearer handle on which tasks to tackle first and what projects to work on for later.

With practice, you can master the skill of prioritization. Do you have a technique for strengthening your prioritization skills? Let us know in the comments! Remember always stay humble, hustle hard!

 

Written by Jaie O.- The Help

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays!

Are you ready for the Holidays? Do you have all your gifts wrapped and ready to go for Christmas day? Is your calendar filled with invitations to reunions, get-togethers, and office parties? Have you already planned your menu for Christmas Dinner?

With all the gifts, festivities, and food going on during the holidays, it might be easy to lose sight of the reason for the season. Let us always remember that Christmas is about sharing, giving, and being thankful for all that we receive, both the blessings and the challenges: thankful for being able to share our blessings, and thankful for being able to overcome the challenges that life throws our way.

2016 has been (quite arguably) a very “colorful” year, so to speak. And to say that news outlets and social media feeds are filled with stories that are shocking is an understatement.

Let’s look beyond the din of bleak news and dreary forecasts. The only way for us to fight hopelessness is to be the hope we expect in others. Here at The Help, we are all about service. Not only are we committed to providing excellent service to our clients but we are also committed to giving back to our community.

We are a cheerful bunch of busy bees, and we love to share that positive outlook with others. Over the past few years, we have been involved in many outreach programs and community service. Today, we share a few of the programs that we were lucky enough to have been a part of over the years.

In November of 2013, one of the most devastating typhoons ever recorded in history hit Southeast Asia, with the most damage done to the Philippines killing more than 10,000 people and causing an estimated $2.8B in damages.

The first ever outreach program of The Help was born in December of 2013, where we organized a gift giving and Christmas program for the less fortunate of our fellow typhoon survivors. We all lost something that fateful day but sharing what we have with others has given us so much more in return.

With our pooled resources, we were able to put together Christmas Baskets for more than 50 families. We shared food, stories, and laughter. This was just the beginning. The Help has been continuing the tradition of service ever since.

Here are a few pictures of the Christmas Haiyan outreach 2013:

 

 

In Dec of 2014, we shared a meal, laughter, and gifts with the kids of InJoy Life Children’s Home.

 

 

The year 2015 saw more outreach programs with a total of 6 spread over July and December. Some of our beneficiaries were:

  • Mangas Elementary School
  • Little Angels Home, Inc. (LAHI FOUNDATION)
  • Mother Teresa Spinelli’s Treasures
  • Bahay San Rafael Home for Special Children
  • San Jose Bahay Kalinga (Home for the Aged)

 

 

This year has been a busy year for the whole team, but we managed to put together two outreach programs for the year. The Help teamed up with three medical doctors (Dr. Canuto, Dr. Ordonez, Dr. Gellido) and went back to Little Angels Home in July. Medical check-ups were given to more than 50 individuals in the orphanage. Children and adults living in the facility were also provided with free vitamins, first-aid and medical supplies. Just like last year,  our team shared a meal with everyone and even played fun games together.

The last program of the year just recently concluded on Dec 12th. We had the opportunity to feed one hundred- forty students, provide essential personal hygiene items, and gift each of their family a Christmas dinner.  

Our beneficiaries this year are:

  • Little Angels Home, Inc. (LAHI FOUNDATION)
  • Alfonso Central School (SpEd, K-6th)

 

 

Thank you for being part of The Help and for trusting us with your business over the years. May you always have blessings to share, dreams to realize, and relationships to build. We hope you have had a good year. May this coming year be another chance to create great memories. May you have a stellar Christmas and a bright New Year.

 

Love,

From all of us at The Help