Eco-friendly DIY Projects for Fall

By / 26th October, 2017 / Thought of the Day / Off

With Fall upon us and the time change just around the corner, now is the perfect time to take on new projects that will not only be good for you, for your home, but also for the planet.  These 4 DIY’s are presented in an effort to minimize the amount of plastics reaching our oceans.  We have all heard about fish and marine animals ingesting micro plastics because they resemble food.  Today a new study was released stating that corals actually like the taste of plastic.  Yikes.  So with that said, roll up your sleeves and try these simple recipes for natural, plastic free options that are good for you and our oceans.

DIY your own cosmetics instead of buying ones in plastic tubes.

Try DIY-ing your shampoo and conditioner instead of buying plastic bottles.

Skip the plastic tube toothpaste and make your own!

Reduce plastic packaging in your cleaning routine by making your own natural cleaners.

 

 

Recipes courtesy of http://www.onegreenplanet.org/crushplastic/

Premiere Suites Partners with The Inn at Laurel Point

By / 18th September, 2017 / Featured Establishments, Hospitality Industry / Off

We are very excited to announce our new partnership with the Inn at Laurel Point!

Inn at Laurel Point

 

You may be wondering why a corporate rental firm would refer their guests to an industry competitor like the Inn at Laurel Point.  For us at Premiere Suites Victoria, we do not see accommodation providers as competitors but rather partners in our field.  We do know our suites provide a home-like atmosphere that you won’t find in a hotel, yet there are times a hotel stay is exactly what one might need.  The Inn at Laurel Point provides a perfect housing solution for our guests that are staying for less than 7 nights, or may just need a few nights accommodation until our extended-stay suites are ready for their arrival.  There is so much to love about this gorgeous waterfront property.  But what really speaks to us is the assurance that our guests will be well cared for at The Inn.  We are especially pleased to provide our discounted corporate rates to our guests, and will even handle the reservation from start to finish.  It’s just one of the many services we offer.

8 Events to Celebrate Fall in Victoria

By / 5th September, 2017 / Activites in Victoria BC, Downtown Victoria BC / Off

Fulll article from Tourism Victoria here

We’re just going to go ahead and say it: September in Victoria is amazing. The weather is gorgeous and summery, the majority of people are back to work and school and there’s still lots going on around the city. For locals, September is a chance to relax, refresh, and enjoy the last weeks of summer before the fall season.

 

ATTEND RIFFLANDIA FESTIVAL

Celebrating its tenth anniversary from September 14-17, Rifflandia Festival will bring over 150 performances to multiple venues across the city over three days and nights. With artists spanning genres from pop to indie and electronic music, attendees can curate their own festival experience and choose from shows taking place at almost twenty different stages.

While there is ample opportunity to party, Rifflandia is also super family-friendly and welcomes around 800 kids to enjoy the daytime festivities at Royal Athletic Park each year. Don’t be surprised if you see a tiny human riding atop someone’s shoulders wearing a pair of hilariously oversized ear protection.

Get Rifflandia tickets now!

Image: Rifflandia Festival 

 

CELEBRATE CRAFT BEER

Have we mentioned that Victorians like craft beer? On September 8 and 9, the Great Canadian Beer Festival will take over Royal Athletic Park to showcase 78 breweries and 2 cideries, a VIP cask tent, food vendors, live entertainment and more. Get all the details and buy tickets online here.

 

Image: Great Canadian Beer Festival

 

INDULGE IN SPECIALTY TEA, WHISKY, AND CHOCOLATE

Victoria’s very own Terroir Tea Salon (recently licensed, and with a charming outdoor courtyard perfect for enjoying a cup of tea) will be hosting a special Tea, Whisky and Chocolate Tasting event on Saturday, September 16. The Whisky Manager at The Strath Liquor Store will serve four single-malt whiskies, while the founder of The Chocolate Project will introduce four bean-to-bar chocolates that are making their Canadian debuts at this event. Served alongside four pure teas selected to highlight aroma and flavour fusions and contrasts, this unique tasting menu will certainly highten the senses. You can register for the event online here.

Images: Terroir Tea Salon

 

LAST CHANCE TO SEE TERRY FOX & FAMILIES EXHIBIT

September is your last month to see the Terry Fox: Running to the Heart of Canada exhibit at the Royal BC Museum. It’s moving on at the end of the month, so visit now while you still can! The exhibit includes a timeline of Terry’s life, including key moments along the Marathon of Hope, as written by Terry in his own journals. His iconic running shorts, shoes and t-shirts are included in the display, as well as the Ford Econoline van that housed Terry throughout his journey.

While you’re at the museum, make sure to visit the permanent ‘Our Living Languages’ exhibit, which showcases British Columbia’s diverse First Nations Languages. Also on at the museum is special exhibit Family: Bonds & Belonging, which offers a surprising and unconventional look at the broad concept of family through the eyes of Canadians over the past 150 years.

 

Image: Royal BC Museum

 

DO FRIDAYS LIKE A LOCAL

Another way to feel like a local during your visit to Victoria is to attend the Bites, Brews, Bands on the Barge event at Odgen Point. Each Friday, people gather on a floating barge at sunset to celebrate the end of another week with food trucks, live music, local craft beer and cider, and great company. It doesn’t get much more Victoria than that. On tap will be beers from Phillips Brewing & Malting Co.Hoyne Brewing, and Driftwood Brewery, and cider from Sea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse.

See the full music lineup schedule here.

Images: The Breakwater Barge

 

ENJOY SPECIAL FARM-TO-TABLE HARVEST DINNERS

Get dressed up and enjoy a spectacular evening overlooking the Inner Harbour from the Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe Resort & Spa  on September 16. Supporting the BC Children’s Hospitality, Harvest on the Harbour will include a harvest dinner, dancing and entertainment under the stars – all for a good cause!

You can also indulge in a special Harvest Dinner at Woodwhynn Farms near Brentwood Bay on September 7. This four-course dinner will feature freshly-harvested heirloom fruit and veggies, locally farm-raised poultry, and more – each course paired with tea cocktails by Silk Road Tea.

Image: Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe Resort & Spa

 

PARTAKE IN THE PGA

If you love golf, September is the right time to plan a visit to Victoria. We’ll be hosting an official PGA Champions Tour event from September 11-17 at the world-class Westin Bear Mountain Golf Resort & Spa. At the Pacific Links Bear Mountain Championship, you will see top golfers including Sir Nick Faldo, John Daly and Tom Lehman compete for a $2.5 million USD prize purse. See available tickets and learn more about the event here.

 

Image: Bear Mountain Golf Resort

 

SOAK IN THE SUMMER WEATHER

It’s looking like summer’s planning to stick around for a few more weeks, so now is the time to cross off those last summer bucket list items. Check out our Essential Summer checklist for inspiration – and 9 Can’t-Miss Patios in Victoria so you’ll know the top spots to soak in the summer rays.

Image: Sombrio Beach, photo by Nik Dunn

Cool down this summer with a little help from Spinnakers

By / 11th August, 2017 / Featured Establishments / Off

Cool down this summer with a little help from Spinnakers

Spinnakers beer

 

It’s all about the little things in life.  Like coming home from a long day at the office and cracking a cold one on a hot day.  And we’ve had our share of heat this summer, that’s for sure.  This is why we treat our hard working guests and tired travellers to a chilled artisan brew, provided by Victoria’s own Spinnakers Brewpub.  Spinnakers is the oldest brewpub in Canada, opening for business in 1984.  So check into your suite, get comfortable, and be sure to take a peek in your fridge;  a chilled libation awaits you!

 

Here is a sample of Spinnakers feature beer and ciders we provide in each of our rental units:

West Song Wit:

Light, sessionable, and perfect for a hot day. This classic witbier was brewed with coriander, fresh orange zest, and Vancouver Island grown Red Fife wheat.  At 4.5% alcohol, this one is light and easy drinking on Victoria’s summer days.

 

Red Fife Hefeweizen:

Red Fife Wheat, Canada’s first contribution to Slow Food International’s Arc of Taste, incorporated into this classic Bavarian style symbolized brewing in the new world, blending old world techniques with new world opportunities.  Craft beer at its finest.

 

House Dry Apple Cider:

Spinnakers craft ciders are made from freshly pressed 100% BC fruit varietals, each individually fermented and then blended and then back sweetened to taste with freshly pressed juice.  This refreshingly dry cider packs a punch at 6.5% alcohol.

 

VIC Common Amber Lager:

To celebrate their brew #6100 in Roman Numerals – VIC, they offer a new take on a California Common.  A “new world” malt forward amber lager featuring delicate caramel notes balanced by moderate bitterness and a light hop character.  Enjoy now because this limited edition lager won’t be around forever!

Canada 150

“Canada 150”

Celebrating 150 years of Canadian Pride

Canada 150 marks a celebration like no other.   Over 100 free live performances are scheduled for 11 days leading up to the culmination of events this Saturday, where nearly 50,000 proud Canadian’s will gather in Victoria’s Inner Harbour to celebrate what it means to be truly Canadian.  For those needing a brief history refresher, Canada Day, formerly known as Dominion Day, marks the historical event in which Canada gained their independence from Great Britain in 1867.

Canada Day celebrations kick off at 12pm on July 1st.  The day will be filled with multicultural artistry, diverse food & beverage offerings, and live music, and of course a grand finale fireworks display to commemorate our nation.

Grab your flags and be sure to check out this eventful Canada 150 Day schedule in downtown Victoria:

 

Main Stage, BC Legislature Lawn:

12pm: Coast Capital Savings living flag tee shirt pickup

2pm: Coast Capital Savings living flag photo

3:00pm: Elder Blessing

3:15pm: Esquimalt Singer & Dancers

3:30pm: Lekwungen Traditional Dancers

3:50pm: “O Canada” – Valdy & The Childrens Choir

4:10pm: Stella Swanson & The Rosie Joyfuls

4:55pm: CIBC Reaffirmation Ceremony

5:30pm: Dirty Mountain

6:15pm: De Temps Antan

7:10pm: En Karma

8:05pm: The Funk Hunters

9:15pm: Arkells

10:15pm: Fireworks

Harbour Stage, Ship Point Inner Harbour:

12:30pm: Mexican Folklore Dancers

1:15pm: Lilia’s Polynesian Dance Co

2:00pm: To be announced

2:50pm: Sooke Community Choir

3:30pm: Shan-e Punjab

4:15pm: Fortune Killers

5:15pm: Violet

6:00pm: Stinging Belle

7:00pm: Deep Sea Gypsies

8:00pm: Band of Rascals

 

Canada 150

 

Top 6 Reasons To Use A Realtor

By / 2nd May, 2017 / Property / Off

Top 6 Reasons To Use a Realtor

Shaking hands with a Realtor

There is a time and a place for DIY, but buying or selling your home is certainly not one of those!  For most, buying a home will be the biggest purchase of your lifetime.  Your realtor will save you time and money, all the while supporting you during a highly sensitive time.  The following is Premiere Suite’s top 6 reasons to use a Realor:

1) Negotiating

Negotiating skills are essential if you want the best deal.  Realtors are skilled negotiators because they are able to bring an objective voice to a very subjective situation.  They are able to remove themselves emotional aspects of the transaction, which enables them to negotiate professionally on your behalf.

 

2) Sourcing

Your realtor will have the inside track on properties before they even hit the market.  On top of MLS listings, they have access to every home on all market sources, including ones that may not be listed publicly.

 

3) Access to information

Agents have heaps of information that will come in handy when deciding on a property.  They can provide neighbourhood details such noise levels and quality of schools, home features and precautions, as well as market conditions such as how long the house has been on the market, square foot cost of similar homes, and other important criteria that will help guide you on your decision.

 

4) Understanding the fine print

Shopping for a home is the fun part, but navigating your way through complex contracts and legal arrangements can leave your head spinning. Today’s contracts are often 50 pages or more, with added riders and addendums on top of that.  Because real estate agents know the buying & selling process, they can navigate you through lengthy and confusing paperwork that goes with the transaction.

 

5) Emotional support

For most, property represents the biggest purchase you will ever make.  With that comes a rollercoaster of emotions that accompany the excitement and stress of the buying/selling process.  Having a concerned, yet objective 3rd party will keep you focused on the most important issues.  And when you reach that moment of buyer’s remorse, your realtor will offer professional, objective advice when you need it most!

 

6) Connections in the industry  

Your realtor has spent years, if not decades, building connections with industry professionals.  Utilize your realtor’s networking – they can recommend the best lawyers, mortgage brokers, bankers, inspectors, and even tradesmen for renovations.

 

 

 

 

Compassionate Resource Warehouse Brings Hope into our Hearts

By / 7th March, 2017 / Uncategorized / Off

Together we are stronger:  Simple donations bring a community together to make a difference

Premiere Suites Victoria makes a donation to Compassionate Resource Warehouse

Dell Wergeland from CRW accepts a donation from Premiere Suites Victoria

To uphold our 4 star quality standard in our suites, we are continually upgrading and improving our products and services.  With nearly 50 suites in our portfolio undergoing updates, we do end up with a lot of perfectly good, usable items that are certainly not destined to fulfill their days in the landfill.  Hence, our philosophy is that what we don’t use or need, we donate.  Today was a day not unlike others, but what started out to be an ordinary donation drop off, turned into a heart-warming glimpse into the human spirit of our dear Victorian neighbours.

Today we made a trip to the Compassionate Resource Warehouse, or the CRW as they are known locally. The CRW is a registered charity that helps those in need by collecting, processing, packaging, and shipping a variety of donated goods and equipment to responsible charities around the globe.  Walking into the Compassionate Resources Warehouse was like entering into a working beehive.  Dozens of volunteers buzzed about between towering shelves stacked high to the ceiling.  Rows upon rows of boxes stretched back into the shadowy depths of the huge warehouse.  It was almost too much to take in at first; the vast quantity of supplies was dizzying.  We were quickly greeted and welcomed a tour of the space and operations.  What initially appeared to be complete chaos, soon took the form of a tightly organized, well-oiled machine of an operation.

Every body makes a difference.

I couldn’t believe how many people came together to make a difference.  Everyone had a job to do, and everyone did it happily.  Someone was assembling educational kits for a country in need, another  was fixing sewing machines and replacing the electric components with a hand crank – so that anyone in any country could make use of the machine whether they had access to electricity or not.  Dozens of wheelchairs were collected, disassembled, reassembled, fixed, and stored.  Everything had a place in the warehouse, from sporting goods to educational materials, tools, toys, medical supplies, clothing, and housewares.  Last year alone, the Compassionate Resource Warehouse shipped over 500 walkers overseas, 2956 sewing kits, 689 bikes, 4145 medical supply boxes, and 1267 hospital beds.

It stretched my mind and warmed my heart to think that this kind of compassion is coming from our fellow friends and neighbours, who freely give their time, skills, and resources to make a difference.   The CRW is an all-volunteer organization and reflects the generosity and community spirit of Victorians, and we couldn’t be happier to donate our gently used goods to this charity.  For drop off information, visit the CRW website here.

Premiere Suites Victoria tours Compassionate Resource Warehouse

Rachelle Keeley of Premiere Suites Victoria gives a heartfelt thank you after a tour of the CRW

 

Images of people helped around the globe by Compassionate Resource Warehouse

Seeing these faces make it all worthwhile

 

Row of sewing machines ready for shipment by Compassionate Resource Warehouse

Sewing machines refurbished, labeled, and ready for shipping

 

Map of container shipments made in 2016 by Compassionate Resource Warehouse

Victoria’s CRW ships a full container every other week to responsible charities worldwide

Join Premiere Suites and the Women’s Real Estate Network to find out if Corporate Rentals are right for you!

By / 20th February, 2017 / Featured Events, Uncategorized / Off

Women's Real Estate Network

Women’s Real Estate Network, along with Premiere Suites Victoria, are hosting a meetup!
“Short Term Rentals & Understanding Your City Bylaws” will be featured, so if you have ever considered entering the world of Corporate Rentals, you won’t want to miss this!

        When: Tuesday, February 28, 2017 to

        Where: Premiere Suites, 834 Johnson Street, Victoria, BC (map)

        Price: CAD25.00 /per person (Refund policy)

 

Hi Ladies,

Please come join us and be inspired by an amazing panel of Women real estate investors, business owners and educators.  We have an incredible line up of speakers that will be sharing their knowledge, expertise and stories with all of us.

Does the thought of making extra money with a vacation or corporate rental locally or globally get you revved up? Are you confused about the regulations and the amount of work involved? Is a turnkey property that someone else manages for you they ticket for you?

Join Rachelle and Beverly as they give an overview of what to expect and how to prepare to enter this now global billion dollar economy.

Rachelle Keeley
Premiere Suites
President & Managing Partner

Rachelle Keeley, Premiere Suites President & Managing Partner, speaks about Corporate Rentals at the WREN meetup

Rachelle was teaching French at the University of Victoria when she first heard about Premiere Executive Suites. She was intrigued by a hotel model that utilized fully furnished condos for accommodation, and after some investigating with her business partner they purchased the franchise for Victoria BC. 10 years ago they started with one apartment and $3000, which has now grown to nearly 50 apartments and a staff of 10. In her years of running the Victoria location, Rachelle has enjoyed meeting new guests and clients from all over the world. She enjoys traveling, particularly cycling trips through Europe, and is very fond of French white wines.

 

Beverly Booth
Premiere Suites
Marketing Manager

Beverly Booth, Premiere Suites Marketing Manager, speaks on Corporate Rentals at the WREN meetup

 Owner and founder of the Magical Marketing Booth, Beverly combines twenty years of diverse experience with her passion and expertise in the tourism and hospitality industry.  Bev has held senior sales and marketing roles in the hotel industry and has used her strategic alliances ability to garner exclusive, long-term business agreements with prestigious clients.  Bev delights in using her creativity to offer clients unique insights, perspectives and relationships gained through consistent and proven successes.
Her “magical” ability is in her enthusiasm for matching a large network of suppliers and buyers in the leisure, luxury, corporate, incentive, and educational markets.  Her strong community involvement spans tourism and chamber boards, chairing organizations such as Vancouver Island Meeting Planners & Suppliers, the Liaison Committee of CFB Esquimalt, Friends of Protecteur, VI South Film Commission, and the Victoria Hospital Foundation.  Bev plays golf, is dedicated to her family and friends, and loves to travel and experience new adventures.  Premiere Suites Victoria is thrilled to have Beverly join our team!  Her warm, outgoing demeanor and drive for professional growth are an inspiration to us all.

 

Mia Frankl
Experienced Bylaw Officer

Mia Frankl, Experienced Bylaw Officer

Eleven years in municipal government with five years focused on bylaw enforcement in two of Vancouver Island’s largest municipalities. In this general overview, Mia will highlight common enforcement matters to consider before buying a property and how to manage your way through the compliance process should a violation occur.  The key is understanding the regulations and doing your due diligence.

 

 

AGENDA: 

6:15pm –  Registration
6:30pm – Laurie & Liza welcome and real estate up-dates
7:00pm – Mia Frankl
7:30pm – Rachelle Keeley & Beverly Booth
8:00pm – Discussions, questions, roundtable

Your $25 Pre-Paid admission will include an evening of real estate knowledge, networking with like-minded women, a glass of wine and light snacks.

REGISTER NOW!

Short Term Rentals & Understanding Your City Bylaws!

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2017, 6:15 PM

Premiere Suites
834 Johnson Street Victoria, BC

6 Women Real Estate Investors Attending

Ladies,Please come join us and be inspired by an amazing panel of Women real estate investors, business owners and educators.  We have an incredible line up of speakers that will be sharing their knowledge, expertise and stories with all of us.Does the thought of making extra money with a vacation or executive rental locally or globally get you r…

Check out this Meetup →

 

We look forward to seeing you there!

 

10 Professional New Year’s Resolutions

By / 27th December, 2016 / Holidays, Thought of the Day / Off

Lighting a sparkler to signify the start of a new year of resolutions

 

Full article from  Hubspot here:

 

If you’re anything like I am, you have mixed feelings about New Year’s resolutions.

It seems like a natural time to make important changes. It’s like a universal pressing of the “reset” button. Maybe that’s why 45% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions in the first place. But here’s the thing — only 8% of us are successful in achieving them.

We suspect it has something to do with the nature of the resolutions themselves. According to a study by the University of Scranton’s Journal of Clinical Psychology, the top 10 resolutions of 2015 included things like losing weight and falling in love. And sure, those goals are great — we’re all about being happy and healthy — but will they make you better at what you do every day? 

Next year, we challenge you to come up with and stick to professional New Year’s resolutions — things that will make you more creative, productive, and generally more content at work. Short on ideas? Here are 12 of ours to help you get started, along with resources to help you actually accomplish them.

1) Resolve to be electronics-free.

Why?

Our bodies are smarter than you might think. They’re trained to respond to light and dark, which according to the National Sleep Foundation send us important signals, like the time of day. Those signals also aid our bodies in adjusting our circadian rhythms — that’s the handy 24-hour physiological cycle that helps us fall asleep at night and wake up in the morning.

All of that is pretty cool … until screens are added to the equation. Our brains recognize the brightness from phones, computer monitors, and even TVs as external light, which sends the signal that we should be awake. That’s why it’s harder for so many of us to fall asleep when we’re exposed to too much screen time at night. The verdict? Put the devices down before bed.

How?

At INBOUND 2013, Arianna Huffington — who later went on to pen The Sleep Revolution — gave some great advice regarding the sleep/screen conundrum: Ban electronics from your bedroom for good.

“I never take devices to bed,” she said. “iPads, iPhones, Blackberries — I don’t charge them near my bed, because I feel it’s imperative to be able to have uninterrupted renewal time.”

This habit is a tough one to break, and it’s one that I’ve personally been working on for years. So if you like to watch movies or shows on your computer before bed, for example, I can relate — these are the mindless things that help us unwind at the end of the day. Luckily, there are solutions to help you resolve the problem for good, some of which might still allow you to indulge in your evening TV viewing.

Helpful Resources

We’d encourage you to ditch the electronics completely before bed. Instead, try reading, journaling, or maybe even a few minutes of yoga. And if you absolutely cannot part with your electronics:

  • Try downloading a desktop app that reduces your screen’s blue light as the day progresses — that’s the kind emitted from most electronics and is often cited as the culprit for sleep loss. We recommend f.lux, which adjusts your screen’s blue light depending on the time of day, or the similar filter from PC Sun Screen.
  • Plus, the latest iPhone OS now comes with a “night shift” mode, which accomplishes the same thing after sunset.

2) Resolve to write something every day.

Why?

Sadly, the decreasing quality of writing in the U.S. has been making headlines for a while now. And people want to become better writers — they just have trouble investing the necessary time.

But it’s an important skill. And if you’re going to be blogging regularly — which we recommend you do — the writing needs to be good.

If you want to become a better writer, then you need to write a lot. The way to improve that skill is the same way you’d approach any other — with practice.

It’s the same advice we give to people who want to blog more consistently (another worthy New Year’s resolution) which is to treat it like working out. You’ve got to do it consistently to see great results. After all, you can’t just publish a blog once every few months and expect to rack up views, leads, and customers. The same goes for your overall writing skills.

How?

To start, get into the habit of writing on a daily basis. Neil Patel suggests writing for at least 30 minutes every workday, skipping the weekends. Remember the advice we just gave to journal before bed, instead of looking at a screen? Here’s a great way to put that time to use.

And even if you don’t identify as a writer, pick a question — something from a customer, a friend, or a topic that’s always piqued your curiosity — and write something about it. Or, just write nonsense. It’s the habit of writing regularly that’s important, especially in the beginning.

Helpful Resources

When we encourage people to write more, one of the most common objections is, “I have nothing to say.” We profoundly disagree, and thought that these tools might help to generate some ideas:

  • Daily Page: Emails you a writing prompt every morning, and you have the rest of the day to write your response. Once you’ve written your response to the prompt, you can either share it or keep it private.
  • 750 Words: Encourages you to write 750 words per day about anything you want. It gamifies writing by giving you points for writing at all, for writing 750 words or more, and for writing on a consistent basis.
  • Twords: Calls itself “the app that nudges you to write.” It notifies you when you haven’t written in a while so you can keep yourself accountable — and even gives you the option to connect with others who will help you stay on track.

3) Resolve to improve your design skills.

Why?

In case you haven’t heard, visual content is a pretty big deal in marketing. For one thing, it’s 40x more likely to be shared on social media. Plus, when a relevant image is paired with information, people retain 55% more of that information after three days.

But quality visual content goes beyond a Google image search or stock photography. At the same time, however, not everyone has an ample design budget. For that reason, we believe that 2017 is the year for you to master some design skills. That will allow you to create the content yourself — or, if you do have a bigger budget, learn to better communicate with contractors and agencies that create it for you.

How?

These days, learning a new skill has become its own industry. Never before have there been so many online resources — many of which are either free or relatively inexpensive — to self-educate. And many of them are available outside of the classroom, like on YouTube how-to videos, Coursera, or Khan Academy.

If your company has something like a tuition reimbursement program, here’s a great opportunity to take advantage of that benefit. Many community colleges offer design courses, some of which are taught in the evenings. Do a local search for these classes in your area, and find out what’s available — it might not be too late to enroll for the next semester.

Helpful Resources

4) Resolve to take breaks.

Why?

Despite 90% of employers encouraging breaks, it seems that only 45% of us are okay with taking them.

So what’s with the other 55%? It turns out that we’re too guilty to leave our desks for prolonged breaks — we’re afraid that it’ll make us look less productive, or take away time that could be used to get work done.

But it turns out that the opposite is true. In fact, the top 10% most productive employees take 17-minute breaks for every 52 minutes of work they put in. There’s tremendous value in breaks, and we could all stand to benefit from them.

How?

When we’re “in the zone,” so to speak, it’s easy to forget to come up for air. That’s why I take the advice of that top 10%, and actually put reminders in my calendar to take a 17-minute break every 52 minutes.

During those 17 minutes, I completely step away from work — no email, no work-related calls, and whenever possible, no sneak peeks at my phone. And during those 52 minutes of work? That’s your time for hyper focus. Close those tabs that you have open to check social media — unless you’re using it for work, that is — and remind yourself that there’s a break coming.

Helpful Resources

5) Resolve to listen to one podcast per week.

Why?

Podcasting is a thriving mini-industry. It’s no wonder — listening to podcasts is a great way to learn something new without it being a direct skill you are mastering.

That’s true from an early age, which is why many teachers are also incorporating podcasts into their lesson plans. In fact, one English teacher found that assigning the Serial podcast to his students helped them pay more attention to the written word. While listening to any given episode, he reported that their eyes became affixed to its written transcript. In other words, it seemed the auditory version of a story aided their ability to process accompanying written content.

And maybe that’s why the popularity of podcast-based lesson plans increased by a whopping 650% in 2015 — the year after Serial first launched. It’s not just that podcasts themselves are tremendously informative (which they are). As it turns out, they might even enhance your skills in other areas, too.

How?

A simple app download can go a long way when you’re aiming to discover more valuable podcasts. We particularly like Stitcher, which catalogues over 65,000 podcasts and allows you to curate your own listening collection, depending on your subject interests. Whether you’re looking to become a better marketer or a better cook, chances are, there’s a podcast out there that can help.

Helpful Resources

6) Resolve to ask for help.

Why?

In 2014, Care.com took a survey of working mothers that was quite eye-opening. Among the more surprising findings was one about the concept of asking for help — something that 29% of respondents felt guilty about doing, especially when it came to things at home.

At the same time, however, 79% also felt like they were falling behind at work, and 75% saw an overall reduction in stress when they did enlist help.

These numbers go beyond working mothers, however. It seems that there’s an epidemic of fear when it comes to asking for help at work. Many of us sense that asking questions about an assignment, for example, will make us look like we weren’t paying attention, or aren’t as smart as our peers thought. But when we don’t ask questions, we’re actually setting ourselves up for failure, by forcing completion of a task without all of the necessary information.

How?

This resolution is one that actually begins with management. On my very first day at HubSpot, my boss said something to me that I will never forget: “I’ll help you with whatever you ask me for help with. The most successful people ask for help when they need it!”

If you’re a manager, think about how often your team is asking for your help. If you’re not receiving a lot of questions, you might want to send a similar message. By setting that tone, your team is aware that it’s okay if they don’t know everything.

And on the flip side, don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s more likely than not that the person you need it from is happy to answer your questions.

Helpful Resources

7) Resolve to develop a mobile strategy.

Why?

If you don’t have a mobile strategy yet, it’s time.

2016 was a pivotal year for mobile, and it’s only going to get more important in 2017. In August, Google announced that it would be cracking down on invasive mobile pop-ups. On top of that, the use of voice search via mobile and personal assistant devices is on the rise, with Google Voice Search queries seeing a 3400% increase since 2008. Plus, we’ve witnessed the launch of Google’s AMP, or Accelerated Mobile Pages, in which certain pages are optimized for mobile in a way that allows them to load instantly.

If you haven’t truly invested the resources to learn about mobile and adapted your marketing strategy accordingly, it’s time to sit down and develop a strong mobile strategy, which means overhauling your website, emails, social accounts, blog, and any other online content to be mobile-friendly.

How?

You might have to go back to the very basics on this one. When it comes to mobile optimization, a lot of it has to do with SEO these days. That is, if your content isn’t optimized for mobile platforms and searches, your ranking could take a massive hit.

Start by brushing up on the history of SEO, or learning more about Google’s algorithm. From there, you can start getting into the nitty-gritty of mobile strategy.

Helpful Resources

8) Resolve to use your vacation time.

Why?

Believe it or not, there’s a phenomenon out there known as “vacation shaming” — the act of being made to feel guilty about going on vacation by managers, colleagues, or ourselves. No wonder 47% of us feel shame or guilt at work for taking time off — it’s mostly because we’re afraid it’ll make us look less dedicated.

That’s actually not how it works at all. It turns out that taking time off actually makes us more productive. In fact, in regions where people tend to take more vacation — like Brazil and Sweden, where paid time off is mandatory — employees tend to bring greater urgency to their work. That’s probably because, according to the Harvard Business Review, “spending less time at your desk forces you to waste less time.” Makes sense, doesn’t it?

How?

Vacation aiding productivity echoes the research done about how breaks help us as work. The biggest requirement is planning. Have a look at your calendar, and figure out when you’ll be the busiest. Are there certain weeks when you’ll have a little more time to get ahead? Those are good pre-vacation weeks, since they’ll allow you to increase your output before you head out.

Here’s where that resolution to ask for help can be put to use, too. In addition to planning your own workload, ask the same of your colleagues. If there are certain weeks when they’re able to fill in on your behalf, that might be a good time for you to plan a vacation. But that goes both ways — make sure they’re aware of when you’re available to pitch in, too.

Helpful Resources

9) Resolve to read more.

Why?

The most successful people never stop learning. There’s a reason why 70% of adults in professional or managerial roles continue their education — it’s one of the best ways to keep up with industry trends, learn from experts, and get the creative juices flowing.

One of the best ways to do that outside of a classroom is to read what others are writing about. Reading more might even help you become a better writer, and exploring external content helps you to gain different perspectives of vital issues, whether they’re of personal or professional interest.

How?

The tough thing is, since there’s so much content out there, you have to be discerning to find the really good stuff. To start, three places where content quality stays high are Harvard Business Review, the New York Times, and Slate. (Don’t be afraid to pay for top-tier content, by the way. There’s a reason it costs money, and it’s often well worth it.)

You’ll want to spend time reading more niche or industry-specific content, too. To make it easier to read them all, look for applications that let you read all your favorites all in one place, like Feedly.

Helpful Resources

10) Resolve to move to the next level of your career.

Why?

“Next” can mean different things for different people — changing your title, getting more responsibilities, gaining more authority in your industry, or starting your own business. Whatever it is, start now — it could take longer than the next year to fully accomplish it.

Don’t let that scare you out of it, though. If you don’t start moving forward now, it’s easy to keep putting it off. Even if you’re happy in your current professional situation, we’ve outlined many reasons in this post to continue learning, or at least add to your success with new goals and accomplishments.

How?

When it comes to big, life-changing moves, planning is fundamental. If your goal is really monstrous, try breaking it into a year-over-year plan, and using the first year’s plan as the basis for your resolutions.

But if you’re simply looking to grow and accomplish more, there are smaller steps that you can take this year. Jumping on opportunities to share your skills with others, for example, can enhance your career, especially if you do so through public speaking engagements. These aren’t just beneficial for your audience — they provide a great way to present yourself as an expert, increase your visibility both online and offline, and build your personal brand. Plus, getting your name out there in the context of your job is beneficial for your company, too.

Talk with your manager about opportunities your company can introduce, like local meet-ups or conferences. You could also get in touch with a university and offer a guest lecture — after all, there’s something very rewarding about inspiring future talent.

Helpful Resources

Show Your Resolve

There you have it. New Year’s resolutions don’t have to be quite so flighty, or involve gyms and special diets. They can help you become a better employee, and to continue learning and improving, no matter where you are in your career.

That said, do what works for you. We wouldn’t expect anyone to try to tackle all 12 of these resolutions. Depending on where you are in life, some might be more feasible and practical than others. Think about your priorities, and choose from there.

From our team to yours, Happy New Year.

Tips for Safe Driving in the Snow

By / 9th December, 2016 / Tips and tricks / Off

Nothing creates a buzz in Victoria like a good snowfall.  Even a light dusting creates excited chatter among Victorians, mixed with a healthy dose of trepidation.  For many locals, venturing out in their vehicles is a daunting task in winter conditions, as driving in snow and ice can be dangerous and unpredictable.  Below are 10 tips to stay safe on the roads this winter in Victoria.

 

driving snowy road

 

Be prepared and stay safe with these 10 winter driving tips:

 

1) Check road conditions.  Before starting your trip, check the current road conditions and weather forecast for the areas you will be travelling. Listen to the radio or visit www.drivebc.ca

2) Prepare your vehicle.  Make the time to clear the entire car, not just the windshield wipers.  After starting your vehicle, wait for the window to defrost completely, and clear snow from all windows, lights, mirrors, hood and roof of the car.  Don’t forget to top up your windshield washer fluid.

3) Get winter tires.  In British Colombia, winter tires are required on most highways from October to March.  Make sure your tires display the mountain/snowflake symbol, or the M/S (mud and snow) icon.  Be advised that all-season tires must also display the M/S symbol to be considered a winter tire.

4) See and be seen.  Turn your headlights on during the day to help you see ahead and be seen by other drivers in poor visibility.

5) Watch for black ice.  Just because you can’t see ice on the road, it doesn’t mean it is not there.  Reduce speed and watch for black ice on roads with shaded areas, bridges, overpasses and intersections where car exhaust and packed snow freeze quickly.

6) Prevent a skid.  If you drive over black ice and start to skid, ease off the accelerator, and look and steer smoothly in the direction you want to go. Don’t brake—this will make the situation worse. You may need to repeat this manoeuvre several times until you regain control.

7) Keep your distance. The normal following distance of 3 to 4 seconds should be increased to 8 to 10 seconds to account for the additional time it takes to slow down and stop in snow.  Be extra cautious when approaching snow plows and salt and sand trucks, as they throw up snow and spray, making it difficult to see.

8) Drive SLOW.   The posted speed is the maximum speed under ideal conditions. In winter, it is safer to drive below the posted speed.   Be aware that everything takes longer on snow-covered roads. Accelerating, stopping, turning – nothing happens as quickly as on dry pavement.  Give yourself time to maneuver by driving slowly, and plan for extra time to get to your destination.

9) Avoid sudden movements.  Maintaining a slow, steady speed is the best way to avoid skidding.  Avoid unexpected quick movements that could put you in a spin by accelerating gently, turning slowly, and braking carefully and early. Anticipate turns, stops, and lane changes well before they occur.

10) Stay home.  If you really don’t have to go out, don’t. Even if you can drive well in the snow, not everyone else can. Don’t tempt fate: If you don’t have somewhere you have to be, watch the snow from indoors.