Hope is not a financial strategy

In a few days, I’m going to my home town and I cannot wait to see friends and family again. It will be fabulous to sleep in a bit and catch up with them. Despite my best efforts, I will also look after tedious banking affairs. “Hope is not a financial strategy”, as Suze Orman once fittingly said.

Your strategy may be adjusted over the years, reflecting your age, family and job circumstances. When you’re in your 20s, retirement may be far away and you may focus on paying off any student debt. Forward 30 years and planning for your retirement may have become your top financial priority.

What do you want to achieve in life? Or what do you want to get out of life? For some, it’s saving enough that they’ve achieved financial freedom. Others may want to make enough money to travel to foreign places. For others, it may be providing private education for their children. I realise that this is probably one of the hardest questions you’ll ever ask yourself. By defining (in writing) what you’re looking for, you’ll gain clarity.

One you know where you’re heading, ask yourself:

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Productivity tips from entrepreneurs

This weekend, I was meeting some ex-colleagues for a delicious and relaxing high tea. It was so lovely to see them again and, as usual, one of the first question we asked each other was how the other one was. “Busy!” This seems to be the answer these days. When was the last time you heard anyone answer with “Good, keeping well, thank you”? Who’s not a busy bee?

As our afternoon carried on and we left the superficial “How are you” question, it became apparent that “busy” had all kinds of meaning. One was introducing an automisation project at work, for others, it was relocating the offices, helping their children with their homework or researching the next holiday destination for the upcoming Eid weekend. Everyone had so many things to juggle every day.

The conversations left me thinking how we use the same 24 hours in a day. Like you, I know some folks who seem to be constantly chasing the activities on their to-do list, looking frazzled about what to do and completely stressed when not achieving as much as they’d like to. Then, there are others who seem to just breeze through their day, with hardly any signs of stress or panic.

What can you do to use your 24 hours in a day more wisely? Here are some tips from entrepreneurs for you:

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Emotional Clutter – Get a tissue

About 2 years ago, my mother and I embarked on our own little decluttering journey: We went through the storage room which also included some of my grandma’s stuff. Even though my grandma passed away in 2000, it was a deeply emotional process. For my mother, it was a final good bye from the woman who meant the world to her.

There was the manicure set which my grandma frequently used. It had surely outlived its days – it was so loved. It was time to throw it out. Besides, my mom probably had 2 or 3 manicure sets of her own. Yet, she struggled to put it in the bin.

The question asked most often that day was: “How about we give this away? You don’t need and there are other people who’ll enjoy having this item.”

Knowing that she could help other people made the process of clearing the storage room and letting go of my grandma’s belongings a lot easier. She would make someone else happy with things she no longer needed or wanted. And for that, my mom was grateful.

You may have gone through similar experiences. A relationship has ended or loved one has passed away. You don’t want to simply throw out their things. Emotional clutter, just like physical clutter, can weigh you down and pause your life. But what do you do with emotional clutter?

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Get the most out of attending an exhibition or conference

With kids going back to school, so are colleagues coming back from their summer holidays. The office is fully occupied again and meeting rooms are reserved for pretty much every hour of the week. Business is back to normal!

Later this year, we’ll see the influx of invitations to exhibitions and conferences. In fact, I’m already registered a few local conferences later this year. For many companies, the question though comes naturally: Who can attend which conference? Sometimes, the budget may only allow you to attend free ones, held locally. In Spring of this year, I’ve been very fortunate to present at 2 conferences. As a speaker, you can generally attend the entire conference free of charge, something that I’m sure sounds like music to your Finance team’s ears. No matter who gets to attend, you want to get the most out of attending an exhibition or conference. Do you know how to?

The majority of work will actually be done before the exhibition/conference even starts. Here are my tips for you to get ready:

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Medical check ups – Have you booked that doctor’s appointment yet?

There are certain things we like to postpone for as long as possible. Getting out of bed after a fun filled weekend. Returning to normality at the end of a relaxing holiday. Or booking that annual appointment with your dentist.

Prevention is the key focus today. We can’t always avoid falling ill and early detection is oh so crucial. Over the last few years, I’ve heard too many stories where colleagues have been diagnosed with severe illnesses. For some, the regular visit to the doctor actually made a difference between life and death. But which check-ups should you do and when?

You and your doctor can discuss which check-ups are the right ones for you. Your doctor will keep in mind your age, medical requirements and family history. My GP and I went through required routine follow ups due to my personal circumstances. She also advised on what to do in case something does come up in between.

The following are general suggestions so please don’t take them as or substitute them for medical advice:

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Eat your frog first – 10 tips to beat procrastination

Does this ever happen to you? There’s something lingering on your to-do list. No matter how often look at it, it’s still there. No matter how much you wish it away, it’s still there. It’s procrastination of its finest and it happens to all us.

Having to write that business report, ironing the shirts or deciding when to visit relatives may make you cringe. It’s easier to wait for another day, then tackle it. How many other things can you do than the one you should be doing? It happens to all of us. Yes, also to me. Rather than cleaning my stove top yesterday (it was already long overdue), I could find everything else to do. Calling a friend, doing the weekly shopping, watching TV, surfing the web, you name it. It’s procrastination of its finest.

What can you do to eat your frog first? Here are 10 tips to beat procrastination:

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Paper battles – How long to retain important documents

Next week is my birthday and I love looking forward to it. It’s my special day and this year, I’m giving myself a special present. Instead of continuing to be brought down by my stuff, unfulfilling activities and draining energy vampires, I’m starting my new year already. I’m removing unnecessary clutter from my own life!

For me, keeping paper under control is a huge undertaking. Despite aiming to save as much electronically, there’s a constant battle and questions run through my mind: “Do I need to keep a paper copy?” or “How long do I need to keep this for?” or “Can this go?”

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