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Tag Archives: to-do lists

Out of My Element

This week is an exercise in stretching myself. My husband will be out of the office most of the week and I will be fielding most of his calls and handling whatever comes my way.

It’s exciting to try new things. Most days I see how he does his job but ultimately he does it without much advice from others. I watch and listen to how he evaluates vehicles, how he interacts with the customers, how he tries to put out fires without losing a customer when problems arise. Until you are actually in the position without someone else to consult you really don’t know difficult the job is on a daily basis.

He brings approximately 35 years of experience to his job in buying and selling vehicles as well as being a  mechanic which doesn’t hurt if you are going to sell cars. I’ve done bookkeeping for the business for many years and do the paperwork with the customers for buying and financing vehicles. It’s a whole different ballgame giving enough information to the customer and putting them at ease in the car buying experience. He is definitely better at his job than I am and I will be happy to have him back. I’ve got just enough information to be dangerous.

One of the most difficult areas is determining the trade-in value of a vehicle. If you give the customer too much for their trade in you may lose money on the car you are selling and not make any on the trade when you sell it depending on what work it may need to get it ready for the lot.

If you give the customer too little they may feel you are stealing their vehicle from them and are insulting them. The key is to have enough trustworthy evaluation information available to back your dollar amount for the trade. We always give the customer the option of trying to sell their own vehicle and buy our vehicle without a trade.

Most of what I planned to accomplish on my own to do list didn’t get done but phone calls were answered, appointments were made, warranty work was done, and cars were sold so I guess it was a good day.

Tomorrow is another day with the opportunity to grow and learn.

 
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Posted by on January 4, 2012 in Business Matters, Photography

 

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Taxes Are Done and I Think I Have My Life Back…

Every year I walk around with a feeling of dread until I have our taxes done. My first task after the new year is to gather all the necessary information for our accountant for our business so he can get started on our business taxes.

Before I can begin on the taxes I have to finish all the 4th quarter payroll reports and pay the quarter taxes for the business and get all the W-2’s out in the mail before the end of January.  “Happy New Year to Me”  for the past 26 years between my former job as city clerk for ten years and now the bookkeeping for our business.

This past week I finished giving the accountant the rest of the information on the phone that he needed to finish up the business taxes. When we finished discussing the business taxes he asked me “By the way have you sent me your personal taxes yet?” This was on Tuesday afternoon. I promised him that I would indeed mail them to him before the end of the day on Wednesday.

I already had everything gathered for the supporting information for our forms but hadn’t filled out our tax organizer that he emails me each year about any changes in our status since the previous year and predictions for possible changes for the next tax year. The organizer is 28 pages long. On Wednesday of this week I spent my lunch hour filling out the organizer and getting everything packaged for mailing to our accountant. I was definitely walking lighter as I left that load at the local post office. Yay! Something else off my to-do list.

The taxes are done and now I realized we have arrived at the end of the first quarter and it’s time to do quarterly reports again. Only nine more months until it is tax time again. Each year I vow I will do things differently and get things done sooner but the reality is that when you work in a small business such as ours you still have all your regular work to do  and have to somehow manage to fit all the tax stuff into an already full schedule.

This afternoon after work my husband and I bought our fishing licenses for the year. It has been three years since we went fishing. When we got home we put on our boots, jackets and gathered our supplies and walked out on the lake for some ice fishing. It has been about twelve years since we last went ice fishing. Our luck has not changed but we were able to enjoy a beautiful afternoon on the lake.

This summer I’m looking forward to more time on the lake and less time at work. Perhaps that will happen since we made the effort to buy the licenses today. I can always read a book while fishing if the fish aren’t biting.

 

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In A Fog

This morning my mind is literally and figuratively in a fog. 

I stepped outside this morning in my plaid flannel nightshirt and black snow boots to capture this photo. We are socked in with heavy fog this morning. In the background of this picture is a snow-covered lake that you can usually make out the shorelines even with snow on the lake but not so this morning.

As I was walking down to the lake to take a few pictures I heard sounds of birds singing which amazed me because before I went outside I had watched my bird feeder this morning for birds to come and none had before I went out and none since I came back in. The other prevalent sound was the dripping of water. I could hear it falling from the trees and roof of our home.  As I walked through the snow it had a crunching sound and not the almost silent sound of walking through fresh snow.

The figuratively nature of my mind’s fog this morning is in preparing for an upcoming trip. I don’t know if you are like me when you plan for a trip, you start adding things to your to-do list that have needed to be done for years and somehow you think you will finally do them just because you plan to leaving town. My husband looked at me like I was crazy when I said that we needed to load up and deliver the crib that we had borrowed from his brother and wife almost a year and a half ago. It has only been sitting against the wall in our bedroom for the past month. 

Do I have a fear that I will not return from this trip so everything I have ever borrowed must be returned to its proper owner?  Certainly not, but why not use the reason for leaving town to get some of those things accomplished. I’ve concluded that if I only had less stuff it would be easier to leave more often.  Too much of my day is caring for all the things we have accumulated. I have downsized a lot in the past year but there is so much more that can go but I want to do it in a responsible way.

I don’t want to fill the landfill with useful items so I need to find places to donate. I need to assess just how many pots and pans I really need.  Afterall I only have four burners on the top of my stove and my oven can only hold so many baking dishes at one time. Clothes are a problem around my home. I am not a clothes hound by any means but because of the different seasons we need to have a variety of clothes for the different seasons and all the winter clothes take up more space.  I was thinking that if we didn’t live where there was a winter how much less storage I would need.

Time to emerge from the fog and head to work in the fog with renewed energy to carry out great things today or at least a few important things on my list knowing that some time off awaits me soon. 🙂

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2011 in Life Happens, Nature, Photography, Vacations

 

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What Each Day Has to Offer…How Does Your Week Flow?

Sunday evenings are always a time of reflection and planning for me.  I look to the past few days for signs of accomplishment, things that I had looked to in anticipation of the weekend.  Last evening I was thinking of the days of the week in general and how some days seem better than others and other days seem not so great.    I realized that I have expectations and opinions of each day.  Each day has a personality of its own.

  • Sunday– I find Sundays restful, time when I give myself permission to relax, read and retire.  It’s the one day of the week when I don’t feel like I have to be “on duty”.  As a mother of four kids when they were young this was difficult to do.  My kids are grown now and demands on my time from them are  not as great.  It’s okay to read a book all day long if I wish, take a walk or even a nap. 

 

  • Monday– I have energy and a to do list like no other day of the week.  I bound into work ready to get things done.  The only problem with this is that there are so many others out there like me.  My phone rings the most often on Mondays and I have the most interruptions on that day in part because I have been out of the office since noon on Saturday and things happen over the weekend that need to be dealt with on Monday.  I spend part of the day setting up schedules with customers for work to be done the rest of the week.

 

  • Tuesday-This is the day of the week that I tend to get the most accomplished at work in my office.  My energy level is high, the phones are a little less busy and everyone at work has settled into what will be the rhythm of work for the week.  If we have a lot to get done everyone is working at a little faster pace, if not as much needs to be done a steady, a not so frenzied rhythm takes over.

 

  • Wednesday-This is a day I look forward to each week.  Some call it “Hump Day”  when you have reached the middle of your work week and the end of the work week is in sight .  The anticipation of the weekend starts to kick in.  My reason for liking Wednesdays is different.  For some it may seem a bit quirky but I like Wednesday because it is trash day.  The garbage man comes to our home and business each Wednesday.  For me it is a physical and mental unloading of “stuff” day.  I try to cross a few things off my to do list each Wednesday.  If there is something out there that I have procrastinated on I try to attack it.  I may not get it completely done but I try to make some progress each week.

 

  • Thursday-A day for  physical work for me.  My mental energies are less by this time each week and I move out of the office to more physical work.  The kind of work that has me up and on my feet.  Thursdays tend to be my day of Thanksgiving while I work.  I love that when I am doing more physical things I have thinking time available which allows me time to give thanks for the good and the bad in my life.  It’s hard to be thankful when you are in difficult circumstances but I find that is a time I can truly shine in my abilities.  Just ask my husband.  If I am upset, that is when some serious cleaning gets done at home. 

 

  • Friday– A day to pull my week together.  I try to wrap it up in a neat little package with nothing hanging out of my box of work for the week.  It is not always possible but I try to finish something if I can and not take on something new.  I love to start new things and get them 90% done and move on to something else.  Fridays are my 10% days, not that I am giving only 10% of my time and efforts to work but trying to complete some of those 10% items.  This is an opportunity to start my next week with less hanging over my head. 

 

  • Saturday – I love the anticipation of Saturdays.  Most people have them off from work.  I work most Saturdays at least until noon but I anticipate them just the same for the things I will be able to do outside of my regular work week.  I’m a project person.  I usually have at least one or two home improvement projects I’m working on .  I love Saturdays that allow me to see some forward momentum on my projects.  I love Saturdays for the change of scenery from work to home.  I truly appreciate my home more on Saturdays than any other day of the week.

When I think about how work flows for other people at work I noticed that they have their individual preferences for their schedule.  My husband rarely schedules warranty work for Monday unless no other day will work.  He usually schedules it for Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.  Our detail person rarely starts cleanup on a new car on Friday.  She has her own rhythm and pattern for her work.  The service department usually doesn’t schedule big jobs for Saturday.  This is in part to a reduced staff but still they don’t want to leave Saturday with a big  job partially done waiting for them on Monday morning.

Knowing and recognizing  rhythm of work can make our workplace and home a better more efficient place if I try to work with the flow instead of against.

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2011 in Business Matters, Reflections

 

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My Life was Simple in 1976 and So Were My Taxes

Last evening I spent three hours sorting through boxes, stacks and folders of paper.  My goal is to pare down the amount of paper I have to deal with in my home, which has become overwhelming.  I watched the movie “The Fugitive” with Harrison Ford while I sorted through the paper.  As each commercial started so did my shredder.  The end product was less stacks, boxes, folders of paper and three bags full of shredded paper.

One of the boxes I went through last evening were my tax records since 1976.  I kept the past ten years of income tax records and then began shredding each year prior to the last ten.  One observation I made was the further I went back the less paper I had for each year’s tax records and the tax manuals themselves were less pages. 

It is soon tax time again and which was my inspiration for last evenings project.  I want to be organized for the accountant at an earlier date than last year.  When I got my first job that required filing taxes it was my responsibility to do my taxes.  My dad told me where to get the forms and how to work my way through them to file my taxes. 

I continued to do my taxes until the year that we became part owners in the family business.  At that point in time taxes just became too difficult to do.  I had to call the accountant too many times to make sure I was doing our taxes right.  I caved in after 22 years of doing my own taxes.

In 1976 my tax filing consisted of a one page federal form, one page state form and one W-2.  This past year our taxes included 2 W-2’s, supporting documents for itemized deductions, 1099’s.  The stack of forms and supporting documents measured 3/4 inches in height for last year’s taxes. 

Each year as I look through the tax forms and manuals for our personal and business I have to laugh at the estimated time that the IRS estimates for doing the forms.  One assumption they make is that you will actually understand the forms to complete them in the estimated time.  We moved a long way away from a person’s ability to do his or her own taxes due to the complicated tax code. 

It’s a shame because it was always an area of my life that where I felt pride and a sense of accomplishment as I mailed the tax filing forms each year.

 
 

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T Minus 58 hours..

 

This morning I am feeling a little bit like this bird being pursued by the neighborhood cat as Christmas Eve  approaches.  I just realized how many hours I have until our first gathering on Christmas Eve and just how much I need to get done before then. 

This year is no different from any other as far as leaving things go until the last-minute but I had high hopes somehow this year would be different.  I guess the key to things being different is to actually have a plan to do things differently.  That didn’t happen.

My family keeps looking under the tree to see if there are any presents for them.  I haven’t wrapped one present yet.  It will be another late night.  This last snow storm has put me behind schedule because of the work involved clearing the snow at the shop. 

I’ve got a mental list going in my head for what I have left to do that I should really put down on paper to see if there is anything I’m missing on my list.  It’s hard to check off an item on a virtual list or add them for that matter.

Tonight I will be spending the evening in the kitchen trying to get food ready for Friday evening.  I always make the Swedish Meatballs and flatbread for our traditional Swedish Christmas Eve dinner.  I like making both items just not the mess.  I like to make them ahead of time and freeze them so it is not so stressful at the last-minute.   There is nothing more depressing than coming home on Christmas Eve with a disaster in the kitchen to clean up before going to bed.

The original plan for the shop holiday hours was to close all day on Friday and open on Monday.  The guys decided this week that we will be  open until noon on Friday and closed all day Monday.  I think they forgot to ask my opinion of the change.  I would have said we should be closed all day Friday and all day Monday.  I was so looking forward to having an entire day to get ready at home on Friday.  It’s always hard to work in the morning and get things ready for the evening.

This morning as I look out my living room window it is dark and dreary, something we have had way too much of lately.  A little sunshine would surely help me get motivated to get some things done.  Maybe tomorrow…

 
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Posted by on December 22, 2010 in Holidays, Life Happens, Nature, Photography

 

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B is for Books, Biscotti, Bread, Biscuits and Building Blocks

This Sunday evening is different from most for me.  I’m usually plagued with a serious case of Sunday night blues but not tonight.

I decided that I needed to get a thing or two off my to do list this weekend.  The first on the list was to hem 2 pair of slacks and 2 skirts for my mother-in-law that she dropped off nearly two weeks ago.  I accomplished that yesterday afternoon.  Little did I know that my daughter would bring me two pair of slacks that she needed hemming as well home this weekend.  I finished them for her this afternoon after church.

This afternoon we took the snowmobiles out of the garage and the girls took grandson Jack for a snowmobile ride.  He loved his ride but  didn’t like getting bundled up like Ralphie from A Christmas Story and complained loudly.

After supper I decided it was still early enough to bake a couple of loaves of bread.  While I was waiting for the bread to rise I made a batch of biscotti.  In the middle of my baking my youngest daughter decided to make Buttermilk Biscuits. 

While we were busy baking Grandpa kept grandson Jack busy building with the blocks in the other room.  He has learned how to stack the blocks into a tower rather than just knocking down the towers you build.  Quite an accomplishment and he is generally pretty pleased with himself and applauded his successes.

We have had our fill of the bread, biscotti, and biscuits.   I’m finally settled into my recliner in a messy but quiet house with a cup of coffee and a good book to finish off a busy weekend.

 
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Posted by on December 5, 2010 in Family, Life Happens

 

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