time, asset, distractions, cell, to do list, email, schedule, busy, The BeneChoice Companies, Stacia Robinson

4 Tips to Save Time and Yourself

Time. There never seems to be enough of it yet there is always the same amount available in every day. In business, time is one of the most valuable assets. Now more than ever before, there are distractions available to bombard us from every side. The important part is to steer yourself away from the time wasting distractions and to profit building assets.

1) Avoid your cell phone in the morning.

Temptation is lurking every morning to check your phone for anything you missed while sleeping. However, looking at your phone can set a bad tone for your day. You may think of it as “only five or ten minutes” but that easily can turn into thirty or more minutes of browsing your social media, reading pointless emails, and countless other meaningless tasks. Before you fully realize which, time has left your side and you have yet to even accomplish anything as you are still laying in bed. Instead, dedicate those first five to ten minutes to something productive like meditating, journaling, or another simple productive activity. Changing your routine to be something positive in the morning will give your mind a chance to start the day being positively centered.

2) Long to-do lists are daunting.

Not only are they intimidating to look at for a day, but they also give a sense of defeat when you look at the list at the end of the day to see only a few things accomplished. Follow this rule: list out three to five things that you must absolutely do for the day. This will help to narrow your focus by prioritizing the essentials. If you complete all of them before the day is complete, you can easily add to the list.

3) Long emails fall into a similar category of long to-do lists.

Make it a habit for yourself to keep your emails to less than five sentences; this includes your replies. Keeping to this will make you more efficient and your emails will be easy for other people to respond to as well. The reasoning? Replying to lengthy emails with a lengthy reply is a double time suck. Avoid the over explaining and get to the point, helping all parties involved.

4) Overscheduling your life is a hard thing to avoid.

If you are chronically late, you waste everyone’s time. When you arrive, you will be in a state of rushing still which means it will take you time to compose yourself, thus wasting more time which will make you rush to the next meeting as well; a vicious cycle. Tip? Give yourself at least 10 minutes between meetings and at least 20 minutes if you are in a chaotic/busy setting. It is better to miss a potential opportunity than to risk being considered sloppy by an overbooked schedule.

By adhering to these four tips, you will save yourself time, one of the best assets to running your business and personal life seemingly together.

Kind regards,

Stacia

side effects, medical attention, health, tired, memory loss, appetite, hunger, insurance, The BeneChoice Companies, Stacia Robinson, Colonial

Aging “Side Effects” that Need Medical Attention

We all know that getting old means having more memories and our bodies start to wear down year by year. But when is a “side effect” of getting old not just a side effect but a warning of something more serious? We have gathered a few of the common side effects of getting old and why you should check with your doctor rather than chalking it up to age.

 

1.) Being Tired

Often people equate getting older with a desire to take naps more frequently because they are constantly tired. In reality, fatigue and weakness are not common signs of getting older. These are signs that something is wrong and a medical evaluation should be scheduled. Fatigue can be a side effect from various health concerns that can easily be remedied. Sometimes a simple diet change will be in order or supplements. Your medical professional will probably run blood tests to determine what to initially rule out and/or where to begin. Often times fatigue can be a result of blood pressure issues, sleep problems, pain and gastrointestinal reflux, an small infection that simply needs an antibiotic, arthritis related, or related to a thyroid issue.

 

2.) Memory Loss

Some memory loss is to be expected, but this should be a gradual process. Consult your medical professional if your thinking becomes suddenly cloudy, unreliable, you are dizzy, and / or your balance is off. Additionally, if you find yourself tossing and turning at night then quickly needing to go to the bathroom, this is not just a side effect of old age. Speak with your physician sooner rather than later to identify the problem at hand.

 

3.) Appetite Loss

Loss of appetite with an unhealthy amount of weight loss is a large concern of older adults. Between 15 and 30 percent of older adults have what is known as “anorexia of aging.” There are several possible contributing factors for appetite loss that may be from aging such as a loss of vision, taste, and smell. Additionally, a decrease of saliva production, constipation, depression, social isolation, or dental problems may all contribute. Some medications may cause appetite loss as well.

 

If you or a loved one are experiencing any of these concerns, seek medical attention to determine what could be the root cause as these are not simply side effects of getting old and can be resolved to have a healthier quality of life.

 

Kind regards,

 

Stacia

goal, goals, aspirations, goal setting, Stacia Robinson, The BeneChoice Companies, 2017

Setting the Right Goals

Take a moment to flash back to January 1, 2017. What were you doing? Who were you with at the time? What were your life aspirations / goals for 2017?

Now jump to the present.

How have your goals for 2017 been achieved? Do you even remember what goals you put in place for the year?

A yearly resolution can take place at any time; it’s not reserved for only January. Now that three quarters of the year is complete, it’s time to reflect on what you have accomplished and work towards what you want to achieve before the year ends. A great amount of change can happen with three months left in the year!

Let’s begin by looking at HOW to know you’ve set the correct goal because yes, there are incorrect goals. Setting goals in your business should follow the SMART algorithm (Specific, Measurable, Achievable / Actionable, Results-focused, and Time- bound) and setting goals in your personal life are similar but with one added step:

Does your goal make you excited to attain? Take a brief moment to think about the word excited. A simple Google search will tell you that the adjective “excited” can be compared to meaning: very enthusiastic, eager, thrilled, exhilarated, animated, enlivened, electrified, enraptured, intoxicated, feverish, adrenalized, high as a kite, fired up, aflutter, and psyched. Does your goal make you feel THAT way?

If not, the answer is simple: change your goal to something that does make you excited, eager, and exhilarated.

Begin by visualizing the positive aspects of your dreams. Look at how your life would be different when that goal is achieved. For example, if your goal is weight loss, think about more than how you will look with clothes that are tight. Think about how
going up and down stairs would be easier. Think about how the weight loss would impact your energy levels, your time with your kids and spouse.

You need to clearly understand WHY you want to succeed in this area of your life for the goal to be right. Now that you have accomplished learning how a goal should make you feel, delve into your why and you will have a new perspective to give you hope for how to accomplish which.

The BeneChoice Companies, Stacia Robinson, gift, holiday, Christmas

Is It Too Early To Think Of The Holidays?

School has started, the days are getting shorter, the nights are getting cooler, and before you know it, the holidays will be here begging for every cent of your paycheck.

We’ve gathered suggestions for you to stay within your budget and ideas for free / minimal cost gifts to begin preparing for the holiday season.

holiday, Christmas, gift, Stacia Robinson, The BeneChoice Companies

1) Creative Gifts are Memorable
Think about gifts that you can make instead of purchasing.  You don’t need to be a “crafty” person to make a creative gift. You can bake your favorite recipes and include them in a box, basket, or jar. Purchase small or relatively inexpensive items that you know people will enjoy. A small thoughtful something is better than an expensive gift that someone will never use.

2) Divide Large Gift Baskets
Purchase a large gift basket from a place like Costco or Sam’s Club then divide it into several smaller gifts. Doing this may cost you $50-75 initially, but you may also be able to give 5-10 people gifts from one purchase.

This splitting idea also works with other multi-packs. Think about fuzzy sucks, golf balls,  beauty sets, coffee mugs etc. You will save money and be able to personalize gifts as well – a double win!

3) Clearance & Discount
There is no reason to buy into the belief that you need to pay full price for a gift. Even if you strategically budgeted full price for an item, try to find coupons or sales for the item. There’s never a good reason to overpay for an item.

Look at secondhand items that don’t show worn signs. These are also great places to find baskets to gather treats into for people to give a polished look for low cost.

4) Unused Giftcards
Think about the gift cards you have yet to use and don’t intend to use; these are easy to give to someone else. Some places, especially restaurants, will have deals to purchase two or more gift cards for a discounted cost. Take advantage of these opportunities.

Whether you’ve started looking into your holiday budget yet or you’re simply getting back into the swing of school starting, the holidays will approach quickly. We’re hoping with these savings ideas you can not only save money but also be ahead of the game by getting things early and being on the lookout for the discounted items.

Happy Fall everyone!

Best wishes,

Stacia

Source 

[USM_plus_form]

 

Awarding Vacation Requests the Easy Way

As the holidays begin to quickly approach around the corner, employers need to begin thinking about when their employees will be taking their time off. Balancing who can take time off and when can be a challenge for some businesses, but it does not have to be. We have accumulated some easy planning steps to help you plan for your employees to take time off; which ultimately helps your business thrive.
vacation, time off, Stacia Robinson, The BeneChoice Companies

Begin by planning ahead. If you have yet to ask your employees about their holiday plans, do this immediately. To plan accurately, you will need to begin the planning phase no later than the end of summer / early autumn. Try having a calendar (virtual or paper, whichever fits your business needs best) available for time off requests that has dates 6-12 months out from the current time period. Weddings, anniversaries, baby showers, and holiday plans are usually planned months in advance so if your employee is attending something important, chances are they have already begun planning.

Getting the request in writing will be a short and long term benefit for everyone involved. (Another benefit to having a time off calendar available for employees to write requests on!) Additionally, having a form accessible for employees to fill out will help with consistency. Relying on your own memory is relying on a detail to be forgotten or a message to be misinterpreted. This form should have the employees name (and identification number if your business location uses which), the date they are putting in said request, the date(s) the employee will be out of the office, who they report to, and (if applicable) any allotment of PTO/Sick/Vacation time to be used.

Does it seem like everyone in your office wants the exact same day off? Unless you plan to have your business closed that day, make certain days “Premium Time Off” as a privilege. Reserve this “Premium Time Off” for high-performers or employees who have made significant sacrifices during the rest of the year or constant team players. Reward their good actions and they will continue to contribute well to the success of your business.

Lastly, make sure employees fully understand the business needs and goals. Do not be afraid to black out certain dates when projects are typically due for completion or high business traffic happens.

When these steps are put in place and your employees are fully aware, you will have a successful plan in action for meeting business needs and giving your employees the vacation times they request.

Highest regards,

Stacia

healthy eating, Benechoice Companies, insurance, benefits, employee, employer, health, wellness

Minimize 3 Foods & Increase 3 Others for Healthy Eating

Limiting certain foods and eating more of others is the actual key to healthy eating for your heart, experts say.

To help keep the right things at a minimum, read the list below for helpful tips.

healthy eating, health, insurance, wellness, employment, employees, The BeneChoice Companies, Stacia Robinson, AL, Alabama, Colonial

Minimum Consumption of Sugar, Salt and Saturated Fat

Empty Sugar Calories

For a sweetener, use local, raw honey instead. Raw honey from your local area will build up your allergy defenses as well. Look at unrefined coconut sugar because it also has low levels of micronutrients. Limit added sugar to 6 teaspoons daily for women and 8 teaspoons for men, per the American Heart Association. Sugar is in many unexpected areas such as marinara sauce, salad dressing, and some pickles. Read the ingredients on items you purchase; you will be shocked at how often sugar is added unexpectedly.

 

High Salt Equals High Blood Pressure

Keep daily salt consumption under 2,400 milligrams a day, under 1,500 would be ideal. Dropping your salt intake to these levels may be difficult at first, but start with an easy step of eliminating 1,000 milligrams a day for a week. Each week eliminate 1,000 milligrams and getting under 1,500 milligrams will be obtainable. For comparison, 1 teaspoon of salt has 2,300 mg. Avoiding processed foods will help as these are very high in sodium typically.

 

Saturated Fats

Fatty meat and trans-fat like hydrogenated oils increase your risk of developing coronary artery disease. Avoid these all together if you can.

 

Higher Consumption of Whole Grains, Fruits, Vegetables and Good Fats

Whole Grains

Not only are fiber and nutrients in whole grains, they play a role in regulating blood pressure and heart health. Whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, farro, millet and amaranth are all great options.

 

Fruits and Vegetables

Vitamins, fiber, and great nutrients are found in fruits and vegetables. Each color of fruit and vegetable offers a different array of health benefits. Substances in plants may help prevent cardiovascular disease, according to the Mayo Clinic.

 

Good Fats Decrease Inflammation

Add Omega-3 fatty acids to your daily consumption. Examples would be canola oil, walnuts, ground flaxseed and fatty fish such as salmon. Omega-3 fatty acids decrease inflammation in the body, thereby lowering the risk of heart disease.

 

Increasing your consumption of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and omega-3 acids while lowering your intake of saturated fat, salt, and sugar will be actions that your heart will thank you for long term.

Highest regards,

Stacia

[USM_plus_form]

Source

Student Loans: A Plan of Attack for Each Generation

As a nation, student loan debt is over $1 trillion. Millennials are not the only generation fighting the snowball of student loan debt. 26 percent of Generation X workers and 13 percent of Baby Boomers have student loan debt.

 

For Millennials, student loan debt can be a suffocating overwhelming battle. Figuring out where to start with paying off student loan debt is a foggy forecast. The graduating class of 2016 has an average amount of $40,000 in student loan debt. Finding a balance of paying off that debt while also looking at short-term goals like finding a place to live, buying a car, or even long-term goals like retirement is like balancing multiple plates on poles.  Often times, millennials chose to not save for retirement as a way to pay off the current debt they face. This is not the best move as many employers offer matching 401(k) options, which is an easy way to save more money for retirement with a small amount dedicated to retirement every paycheck.

 

Most experts recommend setting aside three to six months of living expenses. Although this amount can initially be daunting, start small with a goal of $400-$500 in savings. Build upon the goal once it is achieved. By building on savings goals, your confidence in saving will grow as well.

 

Many Gen Xers, have growing families and are in the best time of their lives for earning and saving for retirement. However, they are facing the daunting task of saving for their child’s education, paying off a mortgage, or other financial obligations they may have. As a tip if this is your situation, check with your company about financial help tools they may offer. Speak with a financial advisor to assess your finances and optimize your efforts to save and pay off debt. This will help you identify the how and where to focus future efforts for your finances.
For Baby Boomers, they have $66 billion of the debt as of 2015. When it comes to student loans taken through the Department of Education, the government may even be able to garnish Social Security payments for those that may default on payments. Talk about daunting! A tip would be to look at re-amortizing the student loan; this will lower the current monthly payment but will lengthen the total loan repayment period. Additionally, just like the Gen Xers, speak to a financial advisor, as they can help assess your specific situation in detail.

Warmest regards,

Stacia

facebook, business, professional, BeneChoice Companies, AL

Using Facebook Professionally

Facebook is more than a platform for sharing pictures and connecting with friends; it is a marketing platform of many business tools that allow a connection with customers and employees to you.

By using Facebook, employers can connect with previous co-workers and potential friends of the business. The big difference between Facebook and LinkedIn is that people are usually real friends or friends of friends. With LinkedIn, people are often a superficial connection that may not be a true connection. Facebook has a “realness” attached to it; it is genuine.

Look at the things shared on your Facebook timeline; choose posts that are appropriate for your profession to know. People will scroll through your Facebook page to develop their own perspective of you. These are potential connections for your business. Keep inner workings of your life private and the other parts of your life selective. This will only benefit you and your connections – both short term and long term.

By linking your Facebook to other platforms such as Instagram, blogs, or other social media, people can view portfolios of your work. Update all of your accounts and keep them connected to each other. This will give a full spectrum of your accomplishments easily. Be proud of the achievements in your life!

Likewise, post photos that best showcase who you are. Chose photos that display interactions with the people that you are close to: friends and family. Select photos of events that you are excited to attend or have attended. Use images to “decorate” your Facebook profile to present the best snapshot of yourself for others to see. People that are enticed by your page should not see your entire life; just portions that show your professional life and part of your identity.

Selectively “like” items on Facebook. Every post you like is viewable; this is an insight into the professional fields that spike your interest. By liking every page that is funny or every meme that made you laugh, you will give yourself too wide of net. Pick posts that align with your professional quests.

In all, Facebook is a platform for marketing yourself as a person that people should WANT to be connected to; be someone that SHOULD be connected with genuinely.

I hope this was  helpful to you.

Warmest regards,

Stacia

Prepare For Next Year’s Taxes Now

Other than keeping track of your income, mileage and your expenses there is something else you can do now to help you with next year’s tax appointment. Find overlooked tax deductions.

 

The goal is to keep your hard earned money in your pocket if at all possible. Now saying this, everyone’s financial picture is different and it is best to consult with a tax professional before making any final decisions.

 

Colonial Life reports that “In recent years, 45 million Americans claimed $1.2 trillion of itemized tax deductions.” That is $26,666.67 annually.

 

Commonly overlooked tax deductions are:

  1. IRA contributions – Depending on your tax bracket, making IRA contributions make sense and could save you a few thousand dollars.
  2. Tax credits – 25% of eligible taxpayers don’t claim this credit and could save you money come tax time.
  3. College savings – If you don’t claim the child as a dependent, they can qualify for tup to  a $2500 deduction for the interest you pain on the student loan through the American Opportunity Credit.
  4. Home improvements – Normally home improvements are not tax deductible in the year they are created but can be added to the cost-basis of the home when you sell it.
  5. Job hunting costs – Itemize transportation, food and lodging, employment agency fees and printing costs for resumes, postage and business cards if your expenses are greater than 2% of your adjusted gross income (AGI).
  6. Use your Health Saving account, which is a pre-tax contribution that goes into a separate account for current and future health expenses.
  7. Keep track of and keep receipts, pictures and lists for charitable donations.
  8. Track moving expenses.
  9. Watch mortgage refinancing points.
  10. Make energy-efficient home improvements whenever possible.

 

It should be your goal to keep as much of your own money as you can, as you earned it. Your tax professional is trained to make sure you benefit the most.

 

Warmest regards,

 

Stacia
Source