Monday, December 18, 2017

Where has the year gone

As a lot of people are saying they really don’t know where the y ear has gone and I can totally agree with that. It is now the 18th of December and that means that there are less than 2 weeks left in 2017. What have your accomplished?

I am one of those that gets goals at the beginning of the year and at the end of the year I sit down and got over what I have been able to achieve and then what has changed over the year. Normally I am able to accomplish some of the original goals and I think that is going to be the same for this year. I haven’t looked at the original goals and will do that at the very end of the year. I know that there are still things that I want to accomplish this year so that means that I just need to sit and get things done.

This past year has been busy for us and I have to say that I have really enjoyed what we have been able to do. Sure I know it has meant some changes in what our original goals were but at least I know that I am feeling happy with where things are standing at the end of year. I know one thing that wasn’t on my list this year and that was getting my Certified Professional Bookkeeper designation so that is something that I can admit has changed where I have been focusing some of my time and energy over the last little while.

For a lot of people setting goals at the beginning of the year isn’t something that they do and that is fine because everyone is different. I also know that when I set my goals I am setting them at a given point of time and things around me can change the overall goals and that I am fine with. My goals are just things that I am going to try and achieve but again if they aren’t achieved I am not going to be upset because I always know that I have been able to achieve other things instead.

Some years I do a review of the goals at the mid point of the year and this year I didn’t and that is fine with me because I know that I have been doing other things. New projects have happened in the last half of the year and those are going to be some of the things that will help me set the goals for 2018 when I sit down and do that. Being able to look back at a year and see that you have been able to accomplish something is important and as long as you have been able to get things either moved forward that is what you need to be happy with. Some goals are going to take a lot longer to achieve that you originally thought and some goals are just not going to happen and that is fine as well.

Look at your 2017 list of your goals for the year and realize that some probably were achieved, some goals won’t be achieved any longer because of other changes and some of the goals may go back onto the 2018 list but remember to write down the other big things you have accomplished so that you can see that you may not have achieved everything that you originally set out to do but you did achieve a lot of other things.

2017 is almost over and 2018 is just around the corner and before long we are going to be saying where did 2018 go but at least seeing that you have got things done is what is important.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Bookkeeping - jumping right in

If someone a year ago would have told me that I would have achieved a Bookkeeping Certification in the last year I would have laughed at them. I probably would have laughed because it was something that I hadn’t thought about at all. Sure I am someone that has an accounting background and spent quite a few years as a Property Accountant and Budget Coordinator but saying that I want to help small businesses with their bookkeeping isn’t something that I really thought about.

Now the timeline of all of this bookkeeping idea is something that I am happy with because it all seems to have some together very quickly.
  • In June we were at the Sage Summit and I found out about the IPBC (Institute of Professional Bookkeepers of Canada) and that is when things really started moving forward. IPBC has an exam that you can take to being certified if you meet certain requirements. I had looked at the requirements and I thought I had met all of them so I figured it was something to look into.
  • I became a member of the IPBC in July and then signed up to attend their conference which was held in September.
  • August was the month when I started to think about maybe taking the exam to become a Certified Professional Bookkeeper. I decided it was time to do some studying so that when I decided to write the exam I would be ready.
  • In September while thinking about the conference I finally decided that I was going to write the exam while at the conference so registered to take the exam. I then finished up the studying and attended the conference where I work the exam and passed it. The conference was great as it gave me a chance to leave about some of the apps and also some of the other bits that I needed to start figuring out.
  • October was another month of thinking things through and getting a little more organized and that is when I decided to find out about QuickBooks Online and see what it was like. I think started working with QuickBooks so that I can learn it and then continue to get the knowledge that I needed to say I could do bookkeeping for clients. I also in October take the QBO Core Certification course and write the exam. This step means that I am now a QBO Pro Advisor and have my core certificate.
  • November was another month of doing some talking about being a bookkeeper and that is when I got the first perspective client and now to see how that goes.
  • December there was one more conference and this time it was Intuit hosted the QuickBooks Connect 2017 in Toronto so I registered for the conference and spent three days learning more about QuickBooks and all the different apps that can assist in making things easier for both myself and also the clients. During the conference I then took the QBO Advanced Certification course and will hopefully soon write the exam for that certificate.

Now as you can see the entire idea of starting out with the bookkeeping business started about 5 months again and now I am sitting and happy with the idea and how I have been able to get things rolling as quickly as I have.

With the certification I need to have 20 hours of education each year in order to maintain the certification and as soon as I realized I needed that I started making sure that I was looking at the various webinars and such that would help me get this hours. I started getting the hours that I needed at the IPBC conference in September as that is when they could start for me and then I have participated in some webinars and now the QuickBooks Connect conference and am happy to see that I have already achieved my 20 hours for this coming membership year. I have already been able to achieve 41 education hours and I know that there are going to be more added before my certification anniversary comes around in September. 20 hours of education really isn’t hard if you look at webinars that are an hour long and you try to attend 1 or 2 each month. In my case I had 6 hours of education when I took the QuickBooks Core course and with the two conferences they are both helped with the hours as well. If yo are someone that needs to achieve education hours or cpe’s just think about how you can do them easily and get into a routine and stick to the routine even after you get the hours that you need. CPE’s are to help you gain knowledge so continuing to learn what you can is great.

Bookkeeping is something that I know I enjoy doing so now my new job is to work on getting the clients that I want and then start helping them makes their lives a little less stressful. Yes, 6 months later I am happy with what I have been able to achieve and now to see what the next 6 months have in store for me.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Journal - it's purpose


I just finished reading a blog entry about the important of the journal book and I started to laugh. It was called “Organizing My Plan to Organize” by Sandra Tayler and I could so relate.

My journal book is where I can capture a bunch of thoughts and ideas and it is my way to try and keep a little more organized or at least an attempt to do that. I have found that when I cannot locate my planner I start to get upset because it does carry a bunch of my thoughts and ideas in it. A method of tracking all the thoughts and ideas that you can can make it so much easier to handle the actual work.

My journal has a few pages of shopping list sheets and those are used to write down on the little things that I need to pick up when we are out. Sure some of the things have been on the page for a while and some are quickly marked off as purchased but at least now I am not forgetting those little things or trying to track those small pieces of paper that I was using before.

My journal/planner has different tabs and that is how I keep my brain organized a little better and I know that there are a lot of people that don’t use the tabs and just write all there thoughts and ideas in the journal and they can manage it that way. It is amazing how each person can handle their planner differently. I am thinking that making sure that the planner works for you is what matters. There have been times that people have looked at my planner and said they couldn’t deal with how I manage things and I agree and say that as long as it works for me that is what is important.

One part of my planner is just lined paper and that is for capturing all the ideas and thoughts that don’t have a tab yet. I have found that sometimes have doing some writing I discover that I need another tab in the planner and it gets added and then the pages that I just wrote get moved into that section. Being able to create the planner as I go is very important and it is how it helps me manage things. Sure I sometimes look at the planner and laugh because of all the different sections but it is how I seem to manage things and I will continue to do it this way as long as it works for me.

My planner has a purpose and that makes me feel good. Just being able to keep my life a little more organized would help me feel better and it would also help me get through all the things that I want to do. A planner can be as personal as you want it and when it goes missing it can add stress but finding it again gets your back on track and gets things moving forward again.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Journal/Planner

M by Staples Notebook
A lot of people have planners or journals that they carry with them and I am one of those and I have finally found a planner that I like and use quite often. The planner that I use is the M by Staples Arc Customizable Durable Notebook System

Now for my planner I decided that there were some things that I wanted and I went through all the different products that there available and got the items that I wanted and then discovered that there were things that I still didn’t have. Here are the items that I purchased to help me get the planner that I wanted.
1. M by Staples Arc Expansion Discs, Black 1”
2. M by Staples Page Flags, Assorted Colours and Sizes
3. M by Staples Arc Index Dividers
4. M by Staples Arc Customizable Poly Notebook 8-1/2” x 5-1/2”
5. M by Staples Arc Pocket Dividers
My tabs
6. M by Staples Arc Task Pages
7. M by Staples Arc Hole Punch
8. M by Staples Arc Zipper Pockets
9. 1 Ream of 28 Pound white paper

What I really like about this customizable notebook system is that you can easily insert and move paper around in the notebook when you need to do that. I have actually found that just being able to move the pages around makes it so much easier for me to keep things in the section that I want them to be in. I have also found that I can have another book that I don’t carry with me with the pages that I no longer need with me all the time but I want to keep them.

So after spending some time trying to figure out what I wanted my planner to look like I started to actually customize it so that it would work for me. The index dividers are great because you can label them now you want them and they come with extra labels so you can change the label as needed.

You may have asked why I had purchased 1 Ream of 28 pound white paper and that was so that I could make some of my own pages for my planner. I found that there were some pages that were available for the bigger book but not for the smaller version so I decided that I could always make pages that I wanted using my printer and the planner would work for me. Sure other people may not like some of the pages that I have in my planner but at least with this system is is totally customizable which is what I wanted. Most of the pages that I have designed for my book were simple either word or excel sheets that I could print in booklet format. The one thing that I did do was find a two page a month calendar and after getting it as a pdf I once again printed that in the booklet format on the printer and now have a calendar for my planner.

Penholder
Now with the Poly notebook I did find that there was one thing missing that I really wanted and that was a pen holder so thanks to a friend I was able to find a youtube video on how to make a pen holder out of some duct tape so that is what I have as my pen holder and it works great. The leather notebook does have a pen holder and even interior pockets so you can decide which one you want for your system.

Well now that I have a planner that makes me happy I have also purchased the bigger binder because it is something that I can take with me to meetings and it works great. I got the black leather notebook for the bigger version and that made me happy because it looks professional and also still gives me the ease of moving pages around as I need to do that. Again I have been able to print a calendar for that notebook and it fits in well.

A planner or journal is something that can be very personal depending on what you want it to do. For me it is my to-do-list, shopping list, calendar, thoughts and ideas and a notebook all in one. Sure I might be able to use an electronic device to do some of that but this is something that I can use no matter where I am and I can customize it for my own personal use and not for what someone else thinks should work for me.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Juggling projects

I think for all of us juggling of multiple projects can be a challenge. The more projects that you have on the go and the bigger the projects the harder it seems to manage everything easily.

I am one of those individuals that normally has multiple projects on the go and am trying to figure out how to manage all of them and actually get things done on all of them. The challenge with the larger projects is actually feeling like you are getting somewhere on them. Sure you can spend hours working on something and sure you have moved the project ahead a bit but can you really see any progress.

How you manage the projects will depend on you and also how many projects that you have on the go. Here is how I manage some of the projects that I do both professionally and personally.

Work projects
For the work projects that I have on the go the list of the various tasks that are going to be involved in the project normally get written out. Sure the list can be rather long but just being able to mark off as even the little things are done can help a lot. The long list of tasks is also helpful to ensure that all the tasks are completed and nothing is forgotten.

For the work projects I also try and keep each project listed separately so that it makes it easier to see how each project is moving along. The number of projects can vary and the detail for each of the projects can vary but the lists are normally handy and something that I can update when I have a few minutes.

Personal projects
For my personal projects I handle it in a couple of different ways. In some cases the list of the various tasks are listed out similar to the work projects because it helps me see that I am getting things accomplished. This can mean some time of feeling overwhelmed when you see the size of the list but it does get a little easier once things start to get marked as completed.

For my cross-stitch projects when I am working on a project I have got into the habit of taking a picture each day that I work on a projects. This gives me a picture of the progress that I have been able to make. With cross-stitch there are days that it doesn’t feel like you have made much progress but when you can compare pictures you do see that you did get the project moved forward. Also for my cross-stitch projects I have got into the habit of tracking the completed blocks that I do. A block is an area of 10 x 10 stitches or possible stitches and I track when I get blocks done for the month.

General notes
For me yes there can be times when I have a lot of lists on the go but I have to admit that I am one of those individuals that like seeing progress on things. I know that some people complain when they see the lists that I make but that is how I manage the juggling of all the projects and tasks that are needed to be completed.

Not everyone would be able to handle the lists that I made and I know that. This is how I handle the various projects that I have on the go and it can make my life just a little easier to manage. Sure the tracking of all the projects both for work and personal can be challenging but at least I know that I am getting things done.

The other tool that I use lots is my calendar because that is where I track a lot of different things. It can be the various conferences and meetings that I attend as well as webinars, appointments and even when the various bills are due. Just having one place where I can go to see what some of the obligations are makes it a little easier for me to manage things.

Juggling projects can be a challenge at the best of times but when you have a large list of projects it can really start to be something that takes a bit of time and energy. Making sure you have a means of managing your projects is important and knowing what works well for you is also something that you need to figure out.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Volunteering

Volunteering is something that some people would like to do and it is something that I know that we do when we have the time. There are organization that take volunteers throughout the year because there is such a demand and then there are organizations that take volunteers at a specific time during the year to meet their demands. Organizations that take volunteers at a specific time during the year normally need the volunteers for a specific project or if there is training involved they want to do the training at a specific time.

When you ask a charity or organization if they need help when you put your hand up it is important to understand that you may get a variety of answers to that question like the following:
  • What experience do you have volunteering with an organization like ours?
  • What is your available time evenings, weekends, or weekdays?
  • How much time are you willing to volunteer?
  • What type of volunteer work are you looking to do?
  • Where are you located? (this can happen when you apply for a volunteer position with an organization that is national and you don’t give your location)

Now here are some of the answers you might receive when you volunteer:
  • Thank you for your interest, please let us know a good time to contact you and we can discuss how you can assist our organization.
  • Thank you for your interest, at this time we are currently not accepting volunteers but will keep your name on file for when an opening comes up.
  • Thank you for your interest but we are not accepting volunteers. Please try again at a later date.
  • Thank you for your interest and we are having a meeting on (specific date) and look forward to meeting you then.

Sure the questions and answers are just a few ideas of what you might receive and you have to be willing to accept any of these. I work with an organization that does need volunteers for specific events and projects and we always have to ask where the person is located to see if volunteers are needed at the specific time. We always keep the contact information so that when we need volunteers we have a list of people we can reach out to.

When you get an email saying that an organization doesn’t currently have any positions available, understand that and appreciate that you get a response. Don’t get upset that they don’t have something immediately for you because everyone organization is different. Also it is important to understand that if you reply again with a tone of being upset that the organization cannot assist you immediately it doesn’t look good on you.

Volunteering is something that can be very rewarding but it can also require a lot of your time and energy and you have to know what is expected of you before you make the final commitment of your time for any organization.




Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Women in IT

Women in IT
I have heard a lot of people make comments about being women in IT and yes I am one of those women.

I may not have the full networking and security knowledge as some guys or even other women however I am not afraid to stand in front of a rack and do some of the work that is required.  Yes, I will even stand behind the rack and work on the connections if that is required.

A lot of the work on the servers is now done remotely so it means that you don't have to stand like I am standing very often.  In this case the work that needed to be done required a physical presence so that meant it was a trip to the client site and into their server area.

In this case this is only part of the servers that the client has because they are located in more than one location so they spread out the servers to the various locations. Yes this rack looks small but because of virtualization is means that there can be a lot of data in a smaller space now.

I have heard a lot of comments when I have attended the various IT conferences because I am a women.  In some cases I have been asked if I am in sales or marketing or was I an assistant in the IT department.  Well, in a lot of cases I am in sales, marketing and accounting and every other department that a business has because when your business is only two people you work in all the departments at various times. Having the opportunity to learn and understand some of the server work that is required for the clients has made me happy because now I can assist the clients better.

In some cases for our clients I don't do any of the server or computer work and in some cases I am checking to ensure things are working like the client expects them to be working. It is sometimes nice to let the client know that they have an issue even before they are aware of it and sometimes we have even solved it before anyone sees the issue.

Through the various courses, seminars and conferences I have attended I have learned quite a bit and am now able to say that yes I am a women in IT.