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It’s the most wonderful time of the year

December 22nd, 2011

It’s that time of the year again, children begging you for toys, hanging up stockings and mall santas. Holiday cheer is all around and here are 6 tips to make your holiday season an even more cheerful one!

1)Christmas tree

Those of you who haven’t put up your Christmas trees yet its high time you did. This year opt for a fake Christmas tree rather than a real one. It’s better for the environment and will be less of a hassle!

2)Gift wrapping

Christmas gift wrapping can be a pain especially if you have a lot of gifts to wrap. Try to wrap them beforehand so that you won’t be left struggling with them at the very last minute. If you are feeling creative you could use old newspaper with colored comic strips to wrap the gifts because let’s face it the kids or your friends probably aren’t going to be very careful to not tear the wrapping paper.

3)Gifts

More important than gift wrapping are the gifts and a lot of people have trouble with this. If you can’t think of what the person may want then gift vouchers or gift cards are a great idea. A good rule of the thumb is to give gifts that are practical.

4)Food and Guests

This can be quite tricky especially if you are a social butterfly who usually hosts a big Christmas party and if the money is tight this can pose an even bigger problem.  To handle this issue, we suggest that you should throw a potluck style end of year Christmas party.  Ask your friends to chip in and try to help with the pre party planning and arrangements. Remember the fashion show style cloth exchange we suggested as a way to save money, you could host one of those and make this event more fun!

5)Staying safe

Every year, during the holiday season, there are a lot of accidents and we all have to do our part to prevent them. Remember to not drink and drive. Have fun but stay safe.

6)Giving

The holidays are supposed to be about hope and giving! So, this holiday season try to cut back a bit on your holiday spending and try to help out those in need. You could drop off gift boxes at children homes. In short, just try to do your part to spread the holiday cheer!

Happy holidays everyone!

To do or not to do it yourself

November 17th, 2011

Over the last few years, Do-It-Yourself tasks have become popular. You will find books, websites & blogs and even TV shows dedicated just to teaching you how to get stuff done without professional help. Indeed it is a great way to save on costly expenses and learn a new trick or two. There are times when doing it yourself sans experience is simply not the best option but every other time it’s important to remember that safety comes first.

Changing bulbs

This is one of the most common DIY activities around the house but it can be
dangerous and carries the risk of electric shock. Make sure to switch off the
power supply before changing any bulbs. If you are a worry wart you could
even switch off the main power supply to the house. Do whatever works for
you but stay safe.
This tip is applicable to putting up lighting for the holiday season as well.
Painting rooms

Many prefer painting their own rooms to give it a more personal touch
but don’t disregard the health concerns. With such a wide variety of paint
available in the market you should choose a day when you have some extra
time and ask the person at the DIY store what kind of chemicals the paint
has so you can be sure you are not allergic to them. Many paints carry health
warnings on the side so do read that.
If you don’t think you are allergic to any of the chemicals and want to stay safe then wear a small mash to cover your nose and mouth.
Cleaning windows

Although exhausting and time consuming, washing your windows from the
inside is fine. But in most cases, this Task is best performed by someone
with experience balancing on ladders for the outside of the windows or on
the second story of your home. Do not attempt this by sitting on the ledge
or window sill and hanging half way out the window, and if you live in an
apartment, check with the building’s administrator for the window cleaning
schedule.
Beware of sharp objects

Remember when mom used to say to be careful with sharp objects such as
scissors or knives? Well, that still holds true. Pay close attention and avoid
distractions when using sharp objects including things like screw drivers. And
always hold these items with the sharp end facing yourself when handing it
over to someone else.
Hanging paintings/decorations

This will ring a bell with everyone who takes the time to decorate his or her
home during the holiday season. Somehow that mistletoe never loses its
appeal. Be careful and always use a proper ladder. The ‘I can just step lean
here and step there and reach up there’ mentality may lead to some pretty
serious falls.
Try not to worry too much

This may seem a little off topic since we are telling you to be safe but the
more you worry, the more easily distracted you are. If you’re worried about
attempting a task, it’s probably best to consider not doing it yourself.
So this holiday season be a safe when you DIY. If all else fails keep a first aid
kit handy and remember that our verified Task Runners are just a few clicks
away.

Around the house in 20 minutes

October 31st, 2011

Think it’s impossible to finish your house chores in 20 minutes? Think again!
Over the past few weeks we have been asking our twitter and facebook friends about the chores they hate the most and laundry topped the list by far. Other unpopular chores included cleaning the toilet, doing the dishes and arranging the cupboard. It’s inevitable that things will get dirty but the time you spend cleaning up is entirely up to you.

1) Laundry loophole

When you think of sorting laundry, it usually means to avoid color from spreading and damaging clothes. But actually, categorizing your laundry into whites and colors before hand and not just on laundry day will save you lots of time. Invest in a couple extra baskets which can be smaller in size and organize your laundry by the settings on your machine; Whites, Darks, Delicates and so forth. Take the time to immediately fold or iron since clothes are easiest to press when they are fresh out of the dryer!

2) Bathroom blues

The bathroom is that one place that no one likes to clean but there is no escaping it. Nowadays, there are some great tools that will help you feel like you’re not alone. Try a toilet bowl cleaner that can be inserted into the tank and everytime you flush, the toilet is de-scummed! There are also automatic shower cleaners that you can attach to the wall that sprays soap and rinses after each shower. Last but not least, keep a glass cleaner handy and clean the mirror every two days or so. The more buildup there is the harder it will be to clean!

3) Beaming bedroom

Now this is one part of your house which can be as easy or as hard to clean as you make it to be. Our best is advice is to spend ten minutes each night before you go to bed to organize your closet or pick up things that have been lying around. Try to make an effort to hang up your clothes and jackets the moment you take them off. This way you won’t have to spend an hour or two tidying up each weekend.

And, just like mom used to say, pack your purse, bag and/or briefcase the night before. Use the extra time in the morning to have a sit down breakfast or catch up on the news.

4) Kitchen kraziness

The kitchen is where things can be the ‘kraziest’. If you haven’t allocated cupboards and drawers for specific items such as spices and utensils, it’s high time you did that. Labeling never hurts either!

5) Get your family involved

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – Doing the house chores alone can not only be a pain, but is simply not fair. Share the workload among  family members. You could assign chores and give out rewards such as a family picnic at the end of the month or treating the kids to their favourite candy.

Good luck and remember Taskhire is always around to lend a helping hand whenever you need one.

Perks to getting Verified. A special message to our devoted Task Runners

October 15th, 2011

Hi Task Runners! Thanks for taking the time to learn why you will benefit from verifying your identity with us.

One of the main things that makes Taskhire different from other similar marketplaces are the layers of security involved when a person selects a Task Runner to work with. First, the Poster gets an initial message when you apply to their Task, then they view your profile to get a good idea of what you’re are all about and finally, they can review ratings and reviews from your completed tasks. Adding Identity- Verification to this list is one extra step that will help you stand out from the crowd and only one of the many big changes coming to Taskhire.

So what is the added value?

1) Trust Trust Trust

People simply feel more comfortable when they are dealing with people they know. Many of our Task Posters are busy parents who want to use Taskhire for a quick way to get help with their errands and chores. They don’t have the time to interview people for such jobs and therefore trust Taskhire’s network of Task Runners to help them out. Having an Identity-Verified badge on your profile is that extra level of security and comfort our Posters are looking for.

2) Get selected

It’s harder to get selected for jobs right now if you don’t already have ratings and reviews on your Taskhire profile. By adding our Verified badge, you will be picked for more Tasks even without reviews. This is a great opportunity for you to build your profile and get selected for more Tasks.

3) More Tasks

Our main goal right now is to make our Task Posters and Runners happy. With Identity-Verified Runners on board, we are sure to accomplish this Task. Posters are more willing to put jobs up for you if they can deal with Verified Runners. It’s a win-win!

4) Earn Money

More jobs means more money (duh)! And with more Tasks being posted, you are likely to find things you want to do. We are thrilled to have a network of Runners with such varying skills and this is a step in the right direction to put those wonderful skills to good use and extra dollars in your pocket.

So what now?

a) Email us with “verify me” in the subject line

b) Log in to your Taskhire account and update your profile with a photo and completed information fields

c) You will be contacted to schedule an online video interview*

Looking forward to getting to you all better! Talk soon!

*Video interviews will be held via Skype. If you don’t have access to a webcam/Skype, please email us and briefly explain your situation. We will do our best to accommodate you another way.

Have a boo-tastic Halloween!

October 13th, 2011

You might be a parent trying to make your child’s first Halloween as special as possible or perhaps you’re a seasoned holiday organizer. Whatever the case, these tips are sure to help make your Halloween boo-tastic!

1) Collaborate with your neighbours

Get in touch with other parents and friends in the neighbourhood and put something special together for the kids on Halloween night. This is a great way to come up with new, out-of-the-box ideas. Also, halloween decor can get expensive! Sharing the cost with neighbours will be lighter on the wallet, and dividing the stuff for storage will be easier on storage space too! Let’s not forget the time you will save by having others to help with all the planning and shopping.

2) Keep it healthy but fun

Whether you are going to send your children trick or treating or have them stay home in their ‘haunted house’, Halloween is nothing without some treats and candies. Parents are becoming more concerned with the high sugar intake on Halloween and for good reason. Healthy snacks can easily turn kids off, so get creative and find a happy balance. Look online for some ideas, we really liked these 9 healthy treats ideas . Don’t forget to keep some mini chocolates around the house!

3) You don’t need to buy new costumes each year

This holiday is signified by scary props and fun costumes. Don’t break the bank when buying costumes for the kids. Chances are they are not going to want to wear the same thing year after year and there’s a chance it will no longer fit. Throwing a sheet over your child and calling it a ghost costume might not be the way to go but cheaper alternatives like value stores are worth taking a look at or, similar to a tip from our last blog try swapping with other parents.

4) Let Taskhire make Halloween a little less scary this year

Like with most holidays, getting ready for Halloween can be a time consuming task. But have no fear, Taskhire is here! Our network of Task Runners can help you every step of the way. Be it putting up or taking down decorations, pumpkin carving or even handing out candy the day of – they can get it done.

7 effective money saving tips and no you are not doing them all!

October 7th, 2011

When it comes to saving money, a lot of people have the mentality that small changes won’t help much. However, as the saying goes, drops of water make a mighty ocean. You will be surprised how following some (or all!) of these 7 simple tips can save you from putting a dent in your wallet.

A quick thank you goes out to our readers and twitter friends who were nice enough to make some suggestions from personal experience.

1) Make your own coffee

First on our list is making your own coffee. If you are already doing this, you know how helpful this can be. If not and you can’t start your day without a cup of joe then it’s about time that you tried this tip. It may seem like a mammoth task to accomplish in the morning but consider what you could save; just cutting down on one cup a day can save you $60 a month which you could put to much better use! Not only will it be cheaper but most of your favorite shops sell their own coffee brand and you can have more than one cup if you like.

2) Bring your own lunch

Lunch time is a great opportunity to network with others. It can be difficult being the only one carrying a lunch bag but don’t be ashamed for even one second. More and more people are shying away from the pre-packaged and sugar-filled foods available in most cafeterias. Bringing your own lunch is beneficial for more reasons than just saving a few extra dollars and you don’t have to feel guilty splurging on a fancy lunch with your co-workers every now and then.

3) Swap your clothes

Once the seasons change and you feel like getting rid of your old clothes, why not throw a little fashion show at home with your friends?

You can trade or borrow each others fashion finds without spending a dime! Another option is to find some thrift shops looking to buy second-hand clothing or sell them on eBay.

4)  Keep a close eye on expiry dates

Yes! This is something that not everyone does and you end up taking home something that may expire within days. So next time you are at the grocery store, keep a look out. It takes just an extra moment and you can work some stretching into it – look down low and way in the back for items with the latest expiry dates. This easy tip can save you more than a few dollars and that extra trip to the grocery store.

5) Disconnect your land line

Unless you have small kids or elderly parents at home it is unlikely that you rely on your landline for communication. Most of us use our mobile phones for communication purposes and so that extra $30 to $40 a month is not doing anyone any good.

6) Bottle your own water

Water is essential to keeping healthy and you should be drinking at least 8 glasses a day. Stay far away from vending machines which are pricey and have an unhealthy selection. You can buy bottled water from stores once in a while but try to invest in a water filter such as BRITA and canteen for easy transport. This is not just a time and money saver but it’s good for the environment too!

7) Regulate your electric use

Even if the building is paying for it, be green! Switch off appliances when they are not in use. Unplugging the TV saves more energy than  just turning it off. When purchasing new appliances, always opt for energy efficient brands.

We hope that these 7 tips will help you put your hard earned money to better use. Try to follow as many of these as you possibly can! Remember they are simple but you still have to put in an effort to accomplish them! Good luck!

Time management tips for frequent travelers

September 25th, 2011

Many careers require a lot of traveling. On the surface it may seem like hotel living and traveling from place to place is a glamorous lifestyle and you may even envy those who travel for a work, but the reality is it’s very difficult to balance your life when you’re away from home so often. Having to be away from family and friends is difficult enough, and along with that comes a never ending list of issues that need to be dealt with.

Below is a list of problems that frequent travelers face regularly and hopefully some solutions to help ease the life for those away from home.

1) Jet lag and sleep deprivation

The very first issue that many travelers face is jet lag. Traveling across the country or abroad can cause serious sleeping issues. Research has shown that the brain needs to go through a certain number of sleep cycles and the minimum duration needed for that is 90 minutes. So make sure that you get at least a 90 minute nap when you are trying to catch up on your sleep or get back on track. Make it your priority to find a sleeping pattern that works best for your upcoming schedule.

2) Accommodation issues

Many freelance workers have to arrange their own accommodation when they travel. It would be nice to have a ‘home away from home’ and great to avoid pricy hotels. Luckily there are now alternatives to hotel living; Some great websites for saving time and effort on booking hotels are airbnb. Do read the reviews before booking and note the distance from your place of work as well as your transit options.

3) Spending time with loved ones

When you travel often, the one thing that’s very important to you is spending time with family and friends before flying off on yet another assignment. Allocating your home time efficiently between family, work and your to-do’s is very important. Use the last 30 mins of your flight to plan something for your loved ones. If you are in such a situation we would suggest throwing a potluck style party! Not only will you get to meet all your favorite people but you will also save time on cooking. Remember you can always ask taskrunners to help you organize such events.

4) Changing seasons

The demands of each season are different. For instance, in Summer you need to weed out the garden, in fall you need to rake it and yet in winter you have to shovel the driveway. Imagine how nice it would be if you could have peace of mind with the help of a reliable taskrunner who could take care of the seasonal chores for you on a permanent basis and you won’t have to worry about them ever again. Tips from our previous blog on minimizing post vacation stress can help you find ways to keep on top of things when you’re in and out of town.

5) Most important tasks

There are some tasks that you can’t outsource to other people such as banking. In cases like this you should try bundling the tasks together and allocate a time slot to them so that you can make the most out of the rest of your day.

6) Relax

Remember the whole point of trying to save time and hiring help is so that you can relax. Don’t get so engrossed in trying to save time that you forget to relax. Remember, downtime for yourself is just as, if not more important than your work, so thoroughly enjoy the free time that you have for yourself and for your loved ones.

We hope this helps, if we have missed out on issues that you would like us to address do comment and feedback!

Keeping it together for Fall

September 4th, 2011

When Fall comes around we think of beautiful colored trees, kids back at school and the holiday season to come. However, Fall also brings with itself never-ending chores and housework and to top it all off the days get shorter. All of this can be a little overwhelming but a little focus and organization will do the trick. These 5 tips can help you get a jumpstart on the new season.

1) Pack

Pack away summer clothes, furniture and other items you won’t be using for a while (punch bowls, picnic baskets). Don’t forget to pack mothballs in the clothes boxes and seal them so that they will be as good as new next summer. This will create more closet space and  clutter-free cupboards.

2) Add storage space

Go through your closets, cupboards and different rooms in the house (kitchen, laundry room) and see where you could add shelves or other storage units to keep things in place and out of the way. Take a look at Ikeas online catalog for ideas. Keep in mind that Task Runners can go to Ikea, buy what you need and come and assemble/install it all for you, making this task as easy as 1 2 3!

3) Label

Apart from packing it is important to label as well. Label all your boxes, be it for clothes or kitchenware for easy retrieval at a later date. This simple tip can save you loads of time.

4) Maintain your Backyard

Next on our list is your backyard. All those beautiful leaves falling can create quite a mess. If you can’t find the time to rake them regularly then try to do it at least once or twice a week. You and your spouse can take turns or you canmake it a weekly family affair by having a mini picnic while doing it to make things more fun! If you’re short on time then don’t forget Task Runners are more than happy to help with raking leaves, pool cleaning and other outdoor work.

5) Get the kids involved

This is one of the best ways to reduce your workload at home and to teach your kids how to be responsible. Assign them simple tasks and tell them to take ownership of their things and keep them clean such as their room. It’s always a great idea to offer a reward for good behavior so treat your kids when they’ve completed their tasks or sign up with a website like HighScoreHouse to keep them motivated.

Remember: Things are only as hard as you make them out to be. A little organization and help from your loved ones can make your chores and tasks easier and more fun! For more on Fall organizing, see our recent newsletter.

New Years Resolutions: Better late than never

August 28th, 2011

More than half the year is already over so we thought it was a good time to follow up on our resolutions blog from the beginning of the year.

Everyone is uber ambitious at the start of the new year and we enjoy coming up with never ending lists of resolutions. But many people give up by mid January itself, so if you have kept up with your resolutions, Well Done! And if you haven’t, don’t worry, the year is not over yet! It’s important to keep in mind that it is difficult for us to change our routines with the snap of a finger (or a simple flip of the calendar), so don’t be too hard on yourself.

First things first, review all the goals from the start of the year and give yourself a pat on the back for those that you have already accomplished. If you haven’t kept up with any, it’s time to prioritize! Pick one or two things that you would like to achieve by years end and focus on those. Break each goal down into mini goals that you can reach monthly, or even weekly. The smaller your targets, the more achievable they are.

Studies show that we are more likely to fail if we try to change too many habits at once. Like if you want to give up drinking sodas and quit smoking, it’s best to tackle them one at a time. It takes at least one month for our bodies to adjust to these changes, so allow yourself the time to get used to it. For example, perhaps one of your goals is to stop eating fast food. Start by trying to cook just one healthy meal a week, and work your way up from there. Also, remember that our bodies respond well to routine. so if you plan to join the gym, make sure you stick to your schedule and head to the gym at the same times each week even if you go for just 10 minutes.

In a nutshell:

  1. Focus on one goal at a time
  2. Break that goal down into mini goals
  3. Set realistic targets
  4. Reward yourself when you reach your goals

The important thing is to set goals that you are comfortable with. Remember no goal is too big or small, as long as it’s something you want, it is worth aiming for with all your might.

Good luck!

6 tips for students: Get back into school mode

August 22nd, 2011

It’s back to school time! Whether you’re a freshmen or a high school senior, these simple tips will have you back in school mode in no time.

1. Get organized

The key to any fresh start is to first get organized. Browse through student-friendly apps like student life organizer for the iPhone or Complete class organizer for the iPad .

First try out some free versions on your smart phone or tablet to find one that works best for you. A notebook with empty pages would even suffice! Take note of your timetable early so you have time to get used to which classes you are taking and their timings and location beforehand. This will save you a lot of time searching for the classes on campus.

2. Get a head start

It’s a great idea to get a head start on your reading, so get your books early! This is very important, especially for university level students. We’re not saying to spend your last few days of summer studying, but try to familiarize yourself with chapter titles and important headings to get a good idea of what the semester holds. Also, browsing through the glossary is a smart way to get comfortable with new words and will keep you from feeling like you took a foreign language class ;)

3. Save money

Borrow books at your school library, or use a website such as Coursesmart that rents out books for a semester or lets you buy e-books. This can help you save up much needed cash. And don’t forget keeping a roommate (or two) and packing your own lunches will save you hundreds of dollars a month.

Keep detailed notes of your budget or try an app like “My student budget planner” .

4.  Earn money

You have to be creative when finding ways to earn money that work around your school schedule. Seasonal jobs like mowing lawns or shoveling snow are good ideas.

Don’t forget that you can become a Task Runner for Taskhire and do some odd jobs and errand running for the extra dough you need.

5. Find balance

School comes first, but we are fully aware that spending time with with friends is a big part of student life. Find balance in your work and play; forming study groups and offering yourself rewards for getting your work done are good starting points.

6. Sleep!

After late summer nights it can be hard for most students to reset the body clock but fret not, getting to bed just 20 minutes earlier each night will make it an easy transition. Not only will getting enough sleep keep you healthy and attentive during classes but waking up early may also put an end to your parking woes!

When your second semester is around the corner, set your classes earlier – time flies in the morning and you’ll have plenty of time for more fun after class!

The aforementioned tips will help keep you focused on what’s most important during school: Staying healthy, studying hard but studying smart and maintaining a productive balance. School is about learning, making friends and memories for life. Good luck!