4 Ways to Celebrate Women’s History Month in Your Workplace

The number of working women in Canada is increasing. Women’s History Month is a time to shine the spotlight on women’s issues and appreciate female colleagues. Here are four thoughtful ways to do that.

1. Say Thank You Out Loud

We all like it when people acknowledge our effort and accomplishments. Unfortunately, women in the typical workplace receive less recognition. Similarly, compared to their male counterparts, women are more likely to receive negative feedback. If there’s a woman in your workplace whose work you admire, Women’s History Month is a good opportunity to make it known. For example, if one of your female members of your team performed exceptionally on a recent project, put in a good word for with your supervisor.

2. Take Action

If you’re deeply concerned about women’s issues such as the gender pay gap or sexual harassment, take action to help. Throughout Women’s History Month, call your representatives and insist that they pass legislation that is supportive of women in the workplace. When many people make frequent calls to legislators about a given issue, the lawmakers are encouraged to enact or change the laws to reflect the demands of the people. You can also attend events and protests related to the women’s issues that you are passionate about.

3. Mentor Female Newcomers

Public and private institutions perform well when there is diversity in opinion and experience. You can boost women’s representation in your organization by mentoring them. The higher your position in the organization, the more you have to offer female newcomers who are interested in learning from your journey. Share your experiences and vouch for female newcomers who demonstrate the talent, skills and commitment to succeed.

4. Uplift and Honour Yourself

Many women in the workplace are not good at advocating for their needs. Uplifting and honouring others is important. Doing the same for yourself is just as essential. If you’re among the women who shy away from exhibiting self-congratulatory behaviour, Women’s History Month is a good opportunity to take time to appreciate and reward your successes because your accomplishments are worth celebrating.

Women’s History Month is a chance for us all to celebrate women, but making the above practices part of our daily lives will have the greatest impact.

5 Tips for Backing Up Your Data

You can lose all your data suddenly because of corrupted files, hardware failure, inadvertent deletions, malware or virus attacks and overwriting data, among other causes. When this happens, the only thing that can save you is a backup. Always keep the following data backup tips in mind to be safe.

1. Choose a File Organization Standard that Works for You

The first step to a robust data backup plan is to organize your data. Develop or choose a file organization system that is easy for you and your users to navigate. Having a well-organized file storage system save you a lot of time and effort when you need to retrieve and restore all your data to the right locations.

2. Prioritize Important Files

Identify important files and give them the highest priority. Crucial files include:

  • All files you can’t do without
  • All files you might need in the future
  • All files related to your product or service
  • All files you can but wouldn’t want to recreate
  • All files that can’t be recreated

3. Back Up Your Files in a Local Physical System

Create a local backup for all your important files. Keeping backup files physically at your offices gives you maximum control and makes retrieval easier.

4. Back Up Your Files in the Cloud

An off-site backup system is important because it provides redundancy and mitigates catastrophe. Cloud backup offers an additional layer of redundancy, which would prove useful if your local backup fails. Causes of local backup failure include:

  • Failure to run
  • Failure to run properly
  • Media filters
  • Hardware failure
  • Degradation of data

Local backups can also be destroyed by natural disasters such as floods and accidents such as fires. Having cloud backup helps mitigate these risks.

5. Automate Your Backup Systems

Automation eliminates the need to remember to run scheduled backups. Still, check your backup systems periodically to ensure they’re running properly.

When it comes to data backup plans, something is better than nothing. Implement a backup plan now even if it’s not ideal. Many businesses and individuals have fallen victim to data loss because they were waiting for their data backup plan to be perfect before putting it in place. Remember, the best backup strategy includes both cloud and physical backup.

4 Great Tips for Preparing Your Office for Spring

With spring just around the corner, it’s time to prepare your office for warmer temperatures, upcoming seasonal storms and spring fever. By preparing early, you can keep the office motivated, ensure the safety of your workers and keep work flowing as it should. Consider the following tips and tricks to prepare your office for spring.

Get Organized

Spring clean your office to reduce clutter. Clear off bookcases, throw away documents and files that are no longer needed, purchase organizers to keep office supplies neat and tidy and give everything a good wipe down.

Change Your Decor

Make your office feel more like spring by freshening up painted walls with light pastel colors. You can also bring the outdoors in by adding plants. Plants decorate a space, and a study by the University of Technology in Sydney found lower levels of stress in workers when plants were placed throughout the office. Plants also reduce carbon dioxide levels in the air, making it easier to breathe, and serve as a natural buffer to reduce noise in common areas.

Do a Building Walk-Through

Winter snow and ice can wreak havoc on everything from your parking lot to your building’s roof. Routine inspections can help avoid expensive, time-consuming repairs and help protect your inventory and assets from damage. Look for any obvious signs of water damage to the building’s exterior, including water rings on the walls and soft and sagging spots on decks and the floor. Water damage can cause changes in color and texture of surfaces, cracks in the foundation and odors.

Inspect basements and areas closest to the roof for mold or wear. Also hire a landscaper to remove any of foliage and leaves from the previous season that can cause mold, mildew and rotting wood.

Check All Systems

Schedule a maintenance appointment with your HVAC specialist and have him check the coolant on your system to make sure you are ready to switch from the heat to the air. Failure to have periodic checks can run your energy costs up and can cause component failure if you let your system run for long periods without being serviced.

Banish the cold-weather blues in your office by getting ready for the upcoming warmer weather. By giving your office a face-lift, you can increase productivity and help keep employees healthier and happier.

Getting Your Business Ready for Tax Season

Early preparation for the end of the fiscal year for your business can reduce stress at tax time. Whether you have an internal accounting department that handles your paperwork, or you hire someone out of the office to file your taxes for you, there are a few ways to prepare for getting those returns filed accurately, timely and to help you achieve the biggest refund possible. For most individuals and businesses, the tax deadline is April 30 in Canada. If you are self-employed you have until June 15th to file without penalty, but any taxes owed are due by April 30. Consider the following tips on how to prepare to file.

Organize and Gather Your Financial Records

Update all books to reflect any end of the year transactions to prepare your tax records for your accountant. For a double-entry accounting system, make sure books are balanced so that the sum of all credits is equal to the sum of all debits. If you use a program like QuickBooks, this is completed automatically. Obtain your final bank account statements for the year and make sure your books match the bank records.

Cut down on accounting fees by gathering common business records. These documents include:

  • Income statements
  • Balance sheets
  • Cash flow statements
  • Payroll information
  • Expenses
  • A copy of the previous years’ tax return

Locate All Receipts

Maintain copies of receipts throughout the year as proof of any deductions. The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) recommends you keep tax records for a minimum of six years in case of a business audit. To eliminate stacks of papers tucked all over the office and in filing cabinets, consider going paperless and uploading all receipts to cloud storage. Apps like Bench, Dropbox, Google Drive and Evernote support scanning and storing. Organize all receipts by type. Also, separate personal spending from business spending.

Understanding Tax Forms

When filing taxes on your own, find out in advance what tax forms are required. For a sole proprietorship or partnership, the CRA requires a T1 personal income tax form. For a partnership, the T1 income tax return package is needed, which includes form T2125, which is the statement of business or professional activities. The CRA has a complete list of forms and publications online for both personal and business use.

Start early to ensure important documents and data are in order to help produce a favorable outcome during the tax season.

How Healthy Sleep Helps Job Performance

World Sleep Day is an annual event that focuses on the importance of healthy sleep patterns and calls attention to sleep issues. Not only can good sleep patterns affect your personal life, but they can also impact your job performance and productivity.

This global event addresses the management and prevention of sleep disorders, and it’s held the Friday before the spring vernal equinox. Consider these benefits of getting a good night’s sleep.

Improved Concentration

Sleep is vital for all aspects of brain functioning. This includes concentration, productivity and performance. Sleep has a positive effect on the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for cognitive thinking, decision-making and social behaviours. By getting enough sleep, you are naturally more alert and focused, so you get more done throughout the day, and you are better prepared for innovative thinking and less likely to have sudden mood swings.

Reduced Risk of Disease

Sleep quality and how long you sleep have a direct impact on your health. Individuals who slept seven to eight hours a night are at a lower risk of heart disease and stroke. One study from Harvard University suggests sleep deprivation can cause obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease and can lower your immune system function to put you at a greater risk for the flu and colds.

Expanded Memory Function

There is growing support to suggest that sleep helps improve your memory. Whether you are trying to learn a new skill at work or memorizing your to-do list for the next day, sleep strengthens your memory so that performance is restored the following day.

Make Fewer Mistakes

Our bodies produce a chemical known as adenosine that helps make us drowsy so we can sleep. This chemical is flushed from the brain as we sleep, so we wake up feeling alert. When we fail to get enough sleep, the adenosine is still in our bodies, which can cause grogginess that impacts our performance at work. Proper amounts of sleep can reduce the number of errors made, which is especially important when working on an important project or when numbers are involved.

Getting the right amount of sleep each night affects your overall well-being, including your job performance. Be sure to focus on good sleep habits to help you get the most out of each workday.

Work Happiness: 4 Steps to Loving Your Job

According to a recent international view of happiness at work, the Canadian labour force is the most satisfied workers. In fact, approximately a quarter of Canadian workers said they love their jobs so much they would do it for free. While everyone experiences stress and challenges at times, it’s possible to create happiness at work to help make your job more enjoyable.

Choose Happiness and Breathe

Focus on the positive things at work instead of the negative. Smile more and concentrate on being happy. When you feel stress settling in, take a few moments to close your eyes and breathe deeply. Generally, when you are stressed and angry you breathe faster. Instead, use Sudarshan Kriya (SKY) breathing techniques to increase your feelings of happiness.

Enjoy Your Breaks

While you might be tempted to work through lunch on busy days, give yourself a mental break and take regular breaks throughout the day. Grab a snack, take a walk around the office or find a cozy corner and read. The important thing is to give yourself time to step away from your responsibilities. Also, eating habits have a key influence on your mood. Feed your happiness by choosing healthy snacks like trail mix, fresh veggies, unsweetened applesauce and fruit to help you sustain your energy and stay alert for longer.

Decorate Your Space

Surround yourself with things that make you happy and provide workplace serenity. Whether you bring in a few family photos or your favorite flowers, create an environment that makes you feel relaxed and at ease. Just a few simple personal items can make your work area feel more comfortable and inviting.

Make Friends

The majority of your waking hours are at work. Seeing a friendly face when you walk through the office can help pass the time and make you enjoy your work more. It can also help improve your communication skills and make you can more about getting your job done. To make new friends, try introducing yourself to those you don’t know. Eat lunch away from your desk in the breakroom or in a common area. Bring in food for the group or suggest lunch out.

By nature, work can be stressful and challenging, but it’s possible to focus on happiness to learn to love your job. By following a few tips and tricks you can create a pleasing atmosphere at work where you are happy and feel like you fit in.

4 Ways to Cope With Daylight Savings Time

Daylight savings time began in Canada over 100 years ago. Its purpose was to save coal and energy for factories. Things have changed over the years, but the country still follows this age-old tradition of pushing the clocks ahead and turning them back. To help deal with losing an hour of sleep in the spring, here are a few things you can do.

Focus on Your Sleep

Plan for the time change by catching up on your sleep the weekend before. Go to bed at your usual time instead of staying up the extra hour, and get up at your normal time. You may lose an hour of productivity, but your sleep will be on track, which should make you feel more alert the following day. To do this, avoid caffeine several hours before bed and avoid sunlight and other bright lights late in the evening. You can also start a week before the time change and slowly shift your bedtime for 15 minutes each night. This gives your body time to adjust naturally when the clocks turn back.

Take a Walk

Take advantage of the extra hours of sunshine by going for a walk first thing in the morning. Not only can walking add years to your life, but it also helps wake you up if you are still groggy from adjusting to the time change.

Enjoy a Nap

Use your lunchtime at work to catch up on your sleep with a nap. Try to keep your nap to 30 minutes or less, which is just enough time to let you recharge without affecting your sleep at night. By sleeping on your break time, you also get the added benefits of quicker reaction times, boosted memory and increased productivity.

Try Earlier Mealtimes

When the clock moves ahead an hour, you may find you are hungry earlier or later in the day. Give your food ample time to digest before heading to bed. Digestion can interfere with sleep and make it harder to get up in the morning and stay alert during early morning meetings.

Make the adjustment to daylight savings time smoother by planning ahead and making small changes throughout the day. After a few weeks, your schedule should be back on track and you can once again focus on the task at hand.