Never Write the Same Email Again — Here’s How!

Email.jpgEvery week we send hundreds of emails off to our employees, customers, partners, and prospects. This, of course, takes up a lot of valuable time that can be spent doing other office administration tasks.

In line with our continuing efforts to improve efficiency, we recently discovered a program that has helped combat our email backlog problem. It is a Google add-on named CloudHQ!

CloudHQ has allowed us to create and import our own custom templates that are saved directly to our cloud. This means we have relevant templates at our disposal, on all our devices, at any time.

The layout is extremely simplistic and user-friendly, too! In order to use a template you simply compose a new email, click the ‘Insert Template’ button, and choose the one you’d like to use.

So how do we use CloudHQ? We have custom branded templates for every frequent email we may need to send out. From newsletters and memos, to job application responses; we have a planned, branded, and consistent template ready to go.

The thing that makes CloudHQ so great for our team is the ability to easily share these templates with everyone in our company who may need them. This helps keep our brand message and image consistent.

The time savings we experience is tremendous; from what would normally take 5 (if not more) minutes now only takes seconds. We’ve found that with repeat tasks, even shaving just a few minutes off really begins to add up.

Now, branded templates are not readily available to you at first. You must invest the time into making it your own, but it’s worth it — not only for you but also for the people receiving them, as information can be found easily in a visually appealing way.

Don’t worry, you don’t need to create your own templates from scratch, CloudHQ provides some very general base templates that any company can use as a foundation to make their own.

So now the question is, what’re we going to do with all the time we’ve saved?

Well, to start we’re telling you so that you can also save some time with this one innovate trick any company can utilize to become more efficient, all while improving the consistency of their brand.

If you’d like to learn more about how CloudHq may work for you and your business, visit https://support.cloudhq.net/how-to-enhance-emails-with-gmail-templates/

Quinn Wilson
Co-op Student, Plan A Simcoe

Make 2018 Your BadAss Year!

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Have I got your attention? I read a fabulous book in 2017. It was the title that caught my eye and it was the hottest book in our Toastmasters Christmas Book Exchange in December 2016. In fact, at least 3 of the members of our group brought it as a giveaway for our exchange. Not sure about you, but when I hear the same theme more than twice, I typically pay closer attention.

This book did not disappoint. In fact, it INSPIRED me as I hope it will for you! And the audiobook is even BETTER!

Let me share a few of the nuggets that have truly impacted my life:

1. You are a BadAss. The very title of this book was exactly what I needed to hear at the time. What did this mean exactly? Was I miraculously going to be a completely different person? Prior to reading this book, the last word I would use to describe myself would be BadAss. Ask my friends. My sister was the BadAss in the family! I was the good one, the one who followed the rules, the one who rarely broke curfew. My sister was the rule breaker, the challenger. I was…well…BORING! NOT ANY MORE!!

2. No. Matter. What. A powerful trilogy of words. Say them out loud when you commit to your dream. You’ll find it truly changes the way you feel. Inspiration rises up and you KNOW without a shadow of a doubt that you will achieve what you’ve set out to do. I haven’t yet reached my dream, but I will never give up because I know that achieving it will take me to new levels in so many aspects of my life: health, wealth, business, and even personally. To get me to my big, hairy, audacious goal (BHAG), I feel it relevant to share it with you. Sharing means vulnerability…potential for judgement and also brings me a step closer to achieving as I am now accountable to those of you who choose to hold me accountable (and I invite you to do so!) My BHAG for 2018? I am COMMITTED to helping 100 people transform their lives this year. Yep…one hundred! How will I do that? Take a look at #3.

3. Be crystal clear on what you want to achieve. The Universe loves clarity. When you say you want to earn more money, that’s a pretty low bar. You can get a paper route and that will earn you more money. Mission Accomplished. And by the way, that would be a heck of a lot of work; I know, I substituted for a friend who had a paper route and vowed this would not be the way I ever earned money, even at 9 years old! When there is clarity, there is focus. Identifying what you truly want and phrasing it in the present, as if you already have it, is the key to achievement. I am so happy and grateful that I will have this blog done by January 5. See…easy! On a more serious note…taking my 100 people transformation above and making it SMART becomes: I am truly grateful to use my executive coaching skills to challenge 100 people to transform their financial health by showing them how to earn an extra $500 per month (or more) by December 31, 2018 or I am truly grateful to use my executive coaching skills to empower 100 people to transform their physical health by December 31, 2018.

Don’t know what SMART is? The basis for any goal setting. Ask yourself: Is this Specific? Is this Measurable? Is this Achievable? Is this Realistic? Is it Timely? Voila…the perfect goal statement.

4. Words matter. What words do you use on a daily basis, like repeatedly? As a Health Management Consultant, I often hear the word try. When working with Plan Members, they are typically having their worst health crisis ever and my role is to assist them in transitioning towards return to their new normal (aka. return to work). One of the first things I ask of them is to consider removing the word try from their vocabulary. Why? Because try allows you off the hook. ‘Well, I tried!’ Or ‘I really gave it a good try’ or ‘I will try to do what you are saying.’ Total cop out! Replace try with I will and watch your life change. I will start that workout today, no matter what.I will start saving $20/pay towards my emergency fund beginning with this pay, no matter what! Other power words include: easily, naturally, experiencing, because, abundant, fabulous (one of my favourites!). Disempowering words include: can’t, try, if, could have, should have, but, might, maybe, someday.

5. What if this crazy Universe we call life truly wants you to succeed? In the words of Jenn Sincero, “You are loved. Massively. Ferociously. Unconditionally, The Universe is totally freaking out about how awesome you are. It’s got you wrapped in a warm gorilla hug of adoration. It wants to give you everything you desire. It wants you to be happy. It wants you to see what it sees in you.

It’s time to stop doubting your greatness and embrace the BadAss you truly are. I know I am.

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Lynne Raven Fahey BadAss-in-training and Executive Coach

Making the Switch 

It’s been a few months now, but I recently shifted gears in my career. In April 2017, I decided to leave my job of four years. It might not seem like a massive deal to most, but this had been my first taste of working full-time after university. In 2013, I began my career as a Communications Specialist FedNor intern at NORCAT. I was an eager university graduate who thought I could take on the world. I quickly jumped into a newly created role, and started molding the job. Not only was I an intern, I was in a brand new role; at first this seemed daunting, but only afterwards I realized how rewarding this would be. I was twenty-one, had just moved back in with my parents, and had to start putting my pricey paper to work. That first year had taught me more than anything I had learned in university.

Fast forward a few years… During my time at NORCAT, I had always felt a sense of pride in my work. I had successfully implemented several inaugural programs, had grown social presence, and had organized more events than I can remember. However, a mentor once told me that “all progress takes place outside the comfort zone”.  Sure, I absolutely loved my job… over the course of four years, I had built invaluable relationships, lasting friendships, and hit personal milestones, but as my mentors told me, “Don’t be too comfortable. You’re only 25”, I knew it was time.

For a few months it had truly been bittersweet. I had been a summer student, an intern, and full-time employee with NORCAT. I had friendships, clients, and projects that were very close to me, but I knew that if I was going to make a change, it had to be now. During my time at NORCAT, I had been exposed to so many entrepreneurs making that same decision, which I realize now, only motivated me to follow suit. Of course it’s a major decision; it’s hard to leave something you’re so familiar / comfortable with, but opportunities to expand your career don’t present themselves every day. I’m thankful for my time at NORCAT; the experience truly shaped my career, and gave me opportunities I probably wouldn’t have elsewhere. Although, my new journey is still getting started, I’m still that eager university student at heart.

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Hailey Short, Marketing and Communications Coordinator – Greater Sudbury Airport

Husband of a She-E-Oh

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First of all, I don’t exactly have the ability of writing wonderful blogs like my wife and her colleagues do on a regular basis, so please bear with me on this one. Second, this is my first ever blog post and I have to say, it’s not exactly an ideal way to spend my long weekend. But okay, seriously, I’ve never religiously followed blog postings by anyone other than my wife. I have read a couple of the other blog postings that were very nicely written by her co-workers at Plan A and StaffStat, and I must say I do enjoy some of the topics they discuss week to week. These women really know how to get their ideas across to the reader and I applaud that. Great work ladies.

Now getting back on topic… Now that I’ve humbled myself and promised to write a wonderful blog about being the husband of a she-e-oh, here’s my story.

There are times where I think that what makes someone so committed to their work or so committed to what they’re doing is that they’ve had to put certain things on hold. They might be on hold just for a moment or maybe for a while, just to make sure that they are on the right path or to make sure everything is how it’s supposed to be. It’s only one in a million… okay maybe that’s a tad exaggerated. One in a thousand… ok that’s too little… Once in a while you get a person who is so dedicated to their job because they actually love what they do.

Every morning and every afternoon I try and stay in tune with what Mel is going through at that moment. After being with her so long, I get these “hunches” and I can tell how she might be feeling. Ninety-nine percent of the time, the day starts with a “looking forward to the day” kind of feeling. We talk about regular stuff, give each other a hug and a kiss and be on our way. This usually takes place after the excruciating task of getting our teenage boys up and making sure they don’t miss the bus. Somedays this is an absolute nightmare, as we are also tired and don’t really feel like dealing with it at the moment. The other one percent are the days where she worries about things; things about the company and what the next steps are. This is where I become “Curtis the Criticizer”. I’ll purposely ask the tough questions to try and get her going. Good thing this woman loves me because if I were a stranger I think she would boot me out the door. But this usually becomes an understanding, a “mutual respect” type of thing, where she has very legitimate answers for my unnecessary questions. Her knowledge and ability to answer my unnecessary questions never ceases to impress me.

The afternoons or after-work periods are not necessarily times to relax or unwind. As most of you know, she also has this band thing happening and she does photography with her sister too, both of which she excels at. In saying that, I truly believe that whatever she puts her mind to, she pours everything she can into it to make it the best it can be.

This now brings me to the time we have together. It’s precious. It’s what I look forward to, week in and week out. As a shift worker my schedule doesn’t help the situation. It’s hard to get quality time together, but we find time, and the time we do have, just her and I, is wonderful. We have meaningful conversations, we prod into each other’s lives, and we want to know what’s been going on with one another. Still after all this time together, we’re getting to know each other and I’m good with that. Our lives have purpose and our lives mean something to one another. Our days always seems to end with a smile or a chuckle and that’s perfect to me.

I have composed a list of 5 tips for other husbands of busy wives and they go like this:

  1. Support her every move. I cannot stress this enough. It’s important to let her know you’ve got her back no matter what the situation is.
  2. If she loves what she is doing and spends a lot of her time doing it, you should love what she does too. This enhances what you’re doing in the tip #1, and it also keeps things positive and confirms for her that she is doing the right thing.
  3. Find time to have “dates”; date night, date day, date-whatevers. This is the necessary break you both need to unwind, take work off the table and have meaningful conversation. I personally always look forward to the next one.
  4. Do your part around the house – sometimes even take on extra. As a husband of a she-e-oh, I sometimes have to do more around the house because of her busy schedule. This doesn’t bother me, it is what it is. The last thing she has on her mind after a hectic day is to come home and do chores. As a shift worker I have days off during the week, so this is where I try and catch up on the extras.
  5. Enjoy life, period. Try not to let work rule the household conversation. When you walk in the door, close the books and pay attention to each other. Sometimes a humorous story will pop up in your head about something that happened at work and that’s fine, but keep it like that. Nobody wants to hear how “Bob” screwed up at work and made everyone angry. Who really cares about those things anyways? Keep conversation about work upbeat and funny and leave the negative stories in the dark.

Thank you for reading and enjoy the rest of your day. May your fellow employees treat you well and may your employment be meaningful. You have one life to live, so live it to its fullest! This world is beautiful and there are people in it that make it wonderful, and the main one for me is the one I married.

 

My 1st Blog

My name is Stephanie.  I am not the type of person to share about myself or voice my opinion (unless of course I know you and then you can’t stop me), so blogging is something new to me.  I am a pretty down to earth kind of person who doesn’t need much in life.   I enjoy consistency, knowing exactly what my day is going to be like, where I’m going and what I’m doing. I’m happy when I have a plan.  Not to say I don’t enjoy doing something spontaneous, getting out in the world, meeting new people or doing new things, but I am happy to stay home, work in my garden and play with my kids. I like living in, what I call, my “bubble”.

I’ve had so many secretary (and no, I don’t find that word derogatory) jobs in my life but they were all temporary. I had no consistency in my work life, no job that I could call my “career”.  Then I started, what I called, my favorite job of all time.  I was a Ward Clerk (secretary) on the surgical floor in our local hospital for 9 years and truly loved my job!  I could do my job with my eyes closed even though the floor I worked on is one of the busiest and most challenging floors in our hospital.  It was nice to have just one job that I did exceptionally well (or so I was told).

Then one day life decided that I needed a change.

I started working as a secretary for Plan A Health Care Staffing.  I knew a lot (or so I thought) about the business because it was my best friend’s “baby” and I had been around the Plan A Vision since it was born.  The difference between being around a company and working for it is very different. For me, after being in the same job for 9 years, going to work and knowing exactly what to do, was comforting; having to learn the ins and outs of a new job, however, was frustrating. Ever-evolving policies and procedures, client care, interviewing, hiring and dealing with staff, making sure our files were up to date, organizing orientation, taking care of bills and making sure the office ran smoothly…there was so much to learn!

After 2 years, I am happy to say I can again do my job with my eyes closed and I can talk about Plan A with confidence!  Working at the hospital gave me first-hand knowledge of what happens when not enough staff is there to take care of a patient and the same goes for Long Term Care residents. I love the Vision we bring to our community;  helping our elderly receive the care they deserve in their homes makes the change and challenges of learning a new job worth it. There is nothing more satisfying than watching our shifts disappear because the staff that we hired understand our vision and want to make a difference in the lives of our elderly too.  This is a “career” that makes me feel that I am making a difference in the world even if it’s just a small one.

Well guess what…. the girl who loves consistency is changing it up again!!

I was asked to take on the role as the Franchise Coordinator for Plan A Long Term Staffing and Recruitment Inc.  Again, I am going to have to learn a new job and a different type of position, too. I’m now going to be in charge of, technically, a new business.  I have to be more than the secretary, I have to be in charge of every aspect of starting a new business.  Learning how to run a Franchise from the ground up without policies to rely on (I’m big on policies) is difficult but I am pushing myself “outside of my box” and learning as I go. I am so lucky that I get to work with my best friend who is now also my mentor.  With her guidance, knowledge and business background and my administrative skills and an affinity to following the rules, I am confident that this new venture will be challenging and rewarding.  I have finally found my new favourite “career”!

Steph Candid

How We Put the PRO in Productivity

We all know the feeling: Monday morning, halfway through your first coffee… thinking you have a manageable day ahead, and them BAM, things get crazy. Deadlines, problems to be solved, errands to be ran. Your to-do list is growing by the second. 

Here is how we manage our time to make sure that everything gets done, and done well:

The Trusty Notepad: We would be lost without our notepads. The messy scribble that lives on their pages helps us to get all the little ‘to-do’s’ out of our heads while we are focusing on other tasks.

Our best practice? Each night we create a to-do list for the next day; things that were not completed that day, appointments, projects – the big things. That way, when we come in the next morning we don’t waste anytime refocusing. We know what we need to do and what the day should be dedicated to.

Have you heard of Bullet Journalling? This method is entirely focused on helping you do more in less time. This is something Sarah and I have just learned about and are looking to implement into our daily lives. If you find yourself trying to squeeze more and more into your jammed packed days I encourage you to read up on the method here: http://bulletjournal.com/ Let us know how it works for you!

Mini Meetings: In our small office, it is easy for me to turn to Sarah whenever I have a question or would like her input on something, but these little interruptions seriously inhibit our productivity. We realized this pretty early on and decided to swap in our constant chatter (read ‘cooonstant’) for a few ‘Mini Meetings’ each day, where we check in with each other, discuss any problems, and share feedback and ideas.

Not only does this allow us to concentrate more fully on our individual tasks for the rest of the day, but it helps us to only ask the important questions and to collect our thoughts more fully before bringing them to the soundboard.

Furry Friends: We love having our office pooch, Simcoe. While it may seem that having a dog in the office would inhibit productivity and be a bit of a time suck, we find it is just the opposite! 

Apart from Simcoe being a major stress reliever, having him in the office with us forces us to to get outside and take a breather. Giving yourself proper breaks is so fundamental to productivity, but it is often the first thing we deprive ourselves of, especially as business owners.

By taking time to get out of the office and re-collect our thoughts, even if it is just for 5 minutes, we come back feeling refreshed and more motivated to tackle the rest of the day.

And… did I mention he is adorable?

That’s it for me. What helps to keep your day running smoothly? I would love to hear your tips and tricks! 

Rachael

I am Lucky!

My name is Sheri-Ann Morin, owner of Plan A Algoma. Today I have decided to take the plunge and share with you what led me to open a Plan A in my community.

I was always content with my job within the school board. I cannot remember ever thinking “I don’t want to go to work!” I will tell you, however, that I was always looking forward to summer vacation. When you work in an environment with 700 plus kids, the need for a break is almost always on the back of your mind—always! It was like clockwork; just a few days into summer vacation and I would find myself bored and needing to do more.  I wanted to create a life for myself where I didn’t always want to be on vacation. One day, I asked myself a simple question: “Sheri, when was the last time you were most happy and doing what you love?” I instantly had my answer: I knew I wanted to be my own boss again. I’ve been an entrepreneur in the past, and I was still attached to this feeling. The problem with being an entrepreneur is coming up with a good idea. I wanted to do something that would not only change my life in a positive way, but also better the lives of others, too.  This is when I found Plan A, a company based on helping Long Term Facilities with shortages in staffing. Brilliant! Why didn’t I think of this? I read a book recently that said “Good entrepreneurs are not, per say, lucky or smart, they are just smart enough to realize when they are getting lucky.”-Bo Peabody.  This quote signifies my feelings of my partnership with Sheri Tomchick, founder of Plan A Health Care Staffing Solutions.  Plan A is a fundamentally innovative and morally compelling company with passion, energy and activity which I am grateful and proud to be a part of. When I purchased this model/franchise, I was not sure what to expect, but the process has been nothing more than exceptional and smooth. The continuous support and passion for me to be successful shines through in an authentic, caring way. The Plan A Sudbury Team has gone above and beyond. I want to thank Sheri Tomchick of Plan A and her A-mazing team.  You can clearly see the passion when a team really, really cares about doing what they are doing, and the natural by-product of this is quality, excellence, impressed customers, happy employees and a new franchisee owner who is smart enough to realize that I am lucky!

Kevanna Portraits

-Sheri-Ann Morin, Owner of Plan A Algoma


Have a case of the “entrepreneurial itch”? Dreaming of becoming your own boss? Now’s the time! Open a Plan A franchise in your area! Our staffing agency is the first of its kind to use StaffStat – revolutionary shift-filling software – to connect health care professionals to open shifts in Long Term Care homes in their community! No need to call down lists to fill shifts – simply focus on the exciting day-to-day tasks of running your very own business! For more information about this inevitably successful opportunity, please connect with Sheri Tomchick today at opportunity@planahealthcarestaffing.ca. To learn more about our dynamic businesses, visit http://www.planahealthcarestaffing.ca and http://www.staffstat.ca.