Author Archives: Ariel Kostrna

About Ariel Kostrna

I absolutely love helping people grow! One of the best ways I can do that is by sharing things that I've found helpful, in any area of life.

The Perfect Music for Working

When it comes to either working in silence or with music, everyone is different. For specific tasks that require high concentration, music can be a hindrance rather than a help… but we’ve found that most of the time, music boosts our productivity and helps us be more creative!

Here at the AVA office, we’ve been rocking out (er, I mean working) to the Jazz Groove. This is a fantastic, FREE online station with two different channels (in case you’re not a fan of a song, you can switch to the other channel) of jazz music. But it’s not just any jazz music, it’s the perfect music for working. The Jazz Groove mainly consists of non-intrusive tunes that lift your mood but aren’t distracting. About 90% of the songs are purely instrumental, but there is song with a vocalist occasionally—which we don’t mind at all (especially if it’s Ella)!

If any of you out there are like us, you know the difference between real jazz and elevator jazz. The Jazz Groove is 100% real jazz! Give it a listen and you’ll see what we mean.

In case you’re wondering, we weren’t “sponsored” to promote them or anything… we just couldn’t help sharing! We sincerely just love that the folks who run this site are providing quality, delightful jazz music without ads. Oh yes, I didn’t mention that… there are no ads! This is also a huge perk, because an annoying Pandora ad can totally throw you off your focus.

So what if you don’t like jazz? Well… then we can’t be friends. Just kidding! (kind of 😉) Actually, we truly hope that you find a station that plays the music that you work best with, whatever floats your boat! The most important thing is that whatever music you listen to reduces your stress, boosts your mood, and gets you humming your way through your work day!


Take the Train down Memory Lane

As some of you may know, AVA Virtual Assistance was originally called A-Train Secretarial Services (a nod to the jazz standard Take the “A” Train). In honor of that, we’ve decided to post this amazing video we found. It’s a live stream of a train traveling somewhere in the world over a winter wonderland–but you’ve got the view of the very front of the train!


Do you like trains and forward momentum? Us too! We’d love to know how you keep up the momentum in your business. Send us a comment in the section below.

Get your inbox under control

unread emailsHas your inbox ever looked like this poor cat’s? Hundreds or thousands of unread emails?

“Hold on,” you say in your defense, “I deal with all the important ones.”

So why even put up with the unimportant ones,then? Why have them taking up space in your inbox? Massive amounts of unread email don’t only take up virtual space in your mail system; they also create visual clutter that can increase stress levels.

Do you dream of a managed inbox? It’s not impossible! Here’s a few things you can try today to get your emails under control.

Utilizing Folders

Every email system out there offers the option to create folders other than your inbox. Junk and spam folders are only part of what I’m talking about here. Consider creating folders for each part of your work—perhaps a folder for each client or project. Not only does this make it easy to find a particular email when you need it in the future, but it greatly reduces the number of emails in your inbox.

I once worked with a woman who was so excellent at organizing her emails into folders that she never had more than 10 messages in her inbox! If you want to get really fancy, you can set up rules in Gmail so that emails from certain people will automatically go into certain folders.


One of best things to do when it comes to organizing emails is to distinguish between actionable emails and non-actionable ones (which are often communication-type emails). If you’re fortunate enough to have a task management system that integrates with your email platform (we love that Asana does this!), you can create a task based on that email and then archive it. But either way, make sure to archive emails as you’re done with the actionable part of them.

If there’s a task you can deal with in another day, or week, consider using the free tool Boomerang. It will remove the email from your inbox until the date and time you specify.


Maybe this seems like a “duh!” to you, but you’d be amazed at how many people don’t take the 10 seconds to unsubscribe from junk advertisements, or newsletters that are no longer relevant to them. This one isn’t a quick fix, but it’s a permanent fix. Go through your emails starting at the top and unsubscribe from every one that’s unread. Ruthlessly prune your subscriptions.

There is a free tool called that will supposedly mass unsubscribe for you.  I haven’t used so I can’t vouch for it, but it’s worth trying since it’s free!  Once you finally have a clean inbox, you’ll never want to go back to having to scroll through 5 unread advertisements for every 1 piece of “real email.”

Purchasing a Tool

If you feel like your inbox is beyond DIY repair, consider using an affordable tool like SaneBox. Sometimes it’s worth paying a little bit to have a stressful piece of the workday made peaceful and, well, sane. Again, I’ve personally never used Sanebox, but I’ve heard great things about it.

Whatever method makes most sense to you, I encourage you to start it today! What better time to get your email under control? I promise: you won’t regret it.