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A Fast and Dirty Hack for Failed Resolutions and More of Your Questions for March

Like advice on how to get something … anything … done on Fridays and freshening up your exterior for spring.

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What do I do about my co-owner’s idiotic plan for a social media event? I’ve outlined a much better idea, but she stubbornly refuses to get it.

Work on your diplomatic skills. You could explain your much better idea four or five more times, but it will have no effect. That’s just polarizing. Instead, take a non-oppositional approach by asking, “What would change your mind?” For example: “I’m concerned that if we ask people to take selfies with our store mascot and no one does, it will reflect badly on us. What would you need to see to change the concept?” This prompts her to admit that she could imagine changing the idea, while also giving her a chance to articulate why she has glued herself to it. And that tells you how to frame your argument in terms of addressing her priorities.

So another year when my resolutions have failed already. Give me a quick and dirty hack so that I can at least give up some of my bad habits this year.

Making a resolution makes you feel like you’re making a real change, when most likely you’re doing little more than wishing harder. And you’re not taking into account the social and psychological forces arrayed against you. Do you think, for example, that deep down your psyche even wants you to stop being a people pleaser? Then there’s the little problem of focus that damages personal efforts at habit change: Go on a diet, and suddenly you’re thinking about food all the time. That’s why the best fast hack we can offer to eliminate bad habits is to replace them with specific new habits. Donuts with your 2 p.m. coffee killing your diet? Start a habit of leaving the store at 1:55 p.m. and going for a walk around the block. Can’t force yourself to go to the gym? Take up badminton or an activity you actually enjoy.

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I just can’t get any meaningful work done on Fridays. Ideas?

While such slumps in any regular work week are normal, they’re not inevitable. If, despite all your efforts to inspire yourself, you just don’t seem to be able to get much self-directed or “deep” work done, give up and fill the day with other less mentally demanding tasks that still need accomplishing, such as rosters or a discussion with staff on how the week went and what obstacles they may be encountering. Or schedule calls with vendors or important customers. Engaging with live voices will shake you from your stupor. If all else fails, aim to get some mindless, repetitive tasks out of the way. It’s unlikely to be important work, but at least it’s something.

I know I’ve left it late, but where do I find the best CPA?

There are more than a few sloppy accountants around so it pays to be picky. A good CPA will be a stickler for details and accuracy and very time conscious. So a useful initial indicator is how long it takes them to reply to your first enquiry (although if it’s April 10, cut them slack). Look for someone with a history of working with small businesses but be careful about relying too much on the recommendations of business friends. Draw up a list of three or four prospects and make a decision after you’ve sat down and discussed your particular needs with each of them. If they want to charge for the time, look elsewhere. Final word of wisdom: As good as the person may be, never ever abdicate your responsibility to know what’s going on with your finances. Get tax smart.

Spring is around the corner and I want to freshen up my practice’s exterior look with new landscaping. Any suggestions that will  keep the cost reasonable?

It’s absolutely possible to create a beautiful look on a budget if you plan wisely. Start by choosing perennial flowers whenever possible, which give your store a consistent look along with reduced costs, says Ed LaFlamme, president of LaFlamme Landscape Management Co. Another great option is ornamental grasses, due to their variety and low maintenance needs. Grasses may be allowed to grow tall and can be used as screens and backdrops on their own or in conjunction with trees and shrubbery, LaFlamme says. “Different types used for variety in color and height can really add dimension to a landscape,” he explains. In addition to pedestrian traffic, consider vehicular traffic, soil types and climate when choosing the foliage for your landscape. Finally, there are security considerations. Rather than planting large bushes that create concealed areas and hidden doorways, many businesses with such grounds are choosing upright trees with higher branches that contribute to open spaces.

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Since launching in 2014, INVISION has won 23 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INVISION's editors at [email protected].

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