Harrington Group Blog

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Tips for a Tangible To-Do List

No matter what it is you’re juggling, there just never seems to be enough time in the day. Whether you’re working from home, running a family household, juggling a job and going to school at the same time, or running multiple businesses, it's all too familiar to be stressed over a to-do list.

Modern day life can be overwhelming, to say the least. Tasks seem to stack up quicker than breakfast joint pancakes. Luckily, there are ways to manage! In comes…the TO-DO list. The catch all of your unresolved tasks and projects. At times, this list can be your worst enemy. But today we’re guiding you on how to turn your list into the invisible shoulder to cry on when you’re feeling like you don’t know where to start.

Not every approach to list making is effective…if you just write it down and forget about it, spill coffee on it and then accidentally throw it out, write it on a current page of your calendar planner but flip the page next week and leave the unresolved list behind…let’s just say there are some missteps that can stand in your way of productivity. Although not everyone works in the same way, we’ve got some tips for effective list making that are sure to help the average Joe or Jane. Let’s take a look…

Make A List

Okay Okay…this is a pretty obvious place to start but why do lists help? This is an important psychological step to calming your mind. Having all of your tasks floating around in your head contributes largely to the feeling of being overwhelmed. Once you are able to extract them from your cluttered mind and transfer them to a physical list, you can start to focus your attention on completing them, rather than just thinking about them.

The most important part of this step is to make a list that works for YOU. Some will prefer an old school pen and paper method (cute notebook, planner, scrap paper, post-it notes??), others will do better with a digital version (I-Notes, note taking apps, etc) or maybe you’re the type who likes a dry erase board next to your desk.

Personally, I have multiple lists locations. I use a white board marker on my bathroom mirror, so that I am reminded every morning of tasks that I can easily complete that day (there’s something ever so satisfying about erasing as the day goes on). Additionally, I am also an old school pen and paper loving kinda list maker. I carry my little notebook around in my bag, so that I can add to my list whenever I think of something in my head (we all know this can happen at the most random times and if not written down immediately, the idea is likely to slip away again, to return at another unknown time!).

 Keep It Updated

It’s important to stay active with your list. Keep it updated by crossing off items that have been completed and adding new items as they come up. Having access to your list when you are out and about will be helpful for this tip, so try to carry your notebook or planner along with you or if you choose a digital version, make sure it is accessible from your phone.

As the days or weeks go on, it is also helpful to evolve your list. Once you have crossed off a good chunk of items, transfer the remaining items to a new list and continue to add to that. This makes the most sense with handwritten lists, as they can get messy as you cross off and jam new items onto the paper.

Roll The Ball With Small Stuff

When you stare at a long list of TO-DOs with nothing checked off, it can feel a little like there’s no end. That’s okay because we can quickly jump over that hurdle by starting with some small and easily achievable tasks. Maybe one of your TO-DOs is to wash the dishes (which you estimate will take 10 minutes), this can be a great place to start. It may seem like something you don’t really need to write on your list, as you will see the dishes in your sink and remember that you need to handle that BUT adding even the smallest of tasks will allow you to cross them off. If you can cross off a handful of short tasks within, say 30 minutes or so, you will start to feel the joys of progress and your motivation to tackle the more time-consuming tasks will increase!

Identify Your Top Priorities 

Small tasks are perfect for building up your motivation and feeding your productivity but they aren’t always the most important line items. Every morning try to identify at least 3 of your top priority tasks. Is it tax season? Have you been putting off your bookkeeping? You don’t want to have a false sense of productivity by only checking off small stuff but continuing to avoid the big stuff. A good strategy here is to put some stars next to your high priority tasks. Make sure you are crossing off starred items on a daily or at least regular basis (depending on the length of your list, your schedule and timelines for completion).

It’s normal to procrastinate some of the big stuff. Another strategy that I like to use, is to add upcoming tasks (such as tax prep) to my TO-DO list very far in advance to the deadline that I wish to complete them by. This allows me to procrastinate them, without putting them out of my mind. I know that I won’t forget because it is accounted for but I also know that I have time to put it off…which for some reason feels relieving. By the time this big task becomes top priority, as deadline is approaching, I feel more ready to tackle it, as I have been writing it down on a continuous stream of TO-DOs for months and mentally preparing myself to get it done when the time is right.

Plan Ahead

Having a list is helpful, we’ve established that. Yet, what if you don’t save yourself the time to actually tackle the list? This can be problematic and renders the list mostly ineffective. In order to avoid this, make sure you plan ahead. Whether you have a set 9-5 job or your working hours are more sporadic, choose some time slots that you can spend crossing items off your list. Maybe 30 minutes when you wake up in the morning is a good time to tackle some of the small stuff, to get the ball rolling. Perhaps you can take a lunch break to handle a top priority item and maybe the evening is a good time to check off one or a few more things. Everyone’s schedule is different but if you plan accordingly, you can even set yourself a timer. Whether it’s a 10-minute timer to tidy up your house or a 30-minute timer to work on a more time-consuming task, it will help to keep your mind focused on productivity and allow less distractions to veer you off course.


Life can be overwhelming but the most important tip I have for you is to stay calm. No matter how expansive your list is or how busy your life is, you will always be more equipped to handle the load when you are cool, calm and collected.
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Meet the Partners: Carlos Davis

Like any great family, Harrington Group loves to shine a spotlight and celebrate our people! This week, we are shining the spotlight on managing partner Carlos Davis.

Carlos was born and raised in Lima, Peru. Being a part of a family of accountants, his exposure to the accounting profession started early by performing physical inventories during his school breaks in the summer. Before transferring to the Universidad San Martin de Porres’ to focus on accounting, Carlos studied art for a while. After his first semester, Carlos began his auditing career by joining the CPA firm Pizarro, Coloma & Asociados. As a Staff Auditor and later Audit Manager, he worked on financial and operational audits of governmental agencies on behalf of the country’s Comptroller General.

Carlos was also a part of JLV Home Health Care Agencies, a nonprofit organization in Los Angeles, where he worked as an Accounting Manager. At JLV Carlos embraced the passion of working in the nonprofit sector and it is where he first encountered the need for individuals to receive services and closely witnessed the outstanding work that nonprofit organizations perform in order to fulfill those needs. It was in 1999, when Carlos A. Davis first joined Harrington Group.

At Harrington Group, Carlos works closely with many of the firm’s government-funded nonprofits. His client areas include residential programs, foster family agencies, mental health service providers, non-public schools, vocational training agencies, child care agencies and legal services corporations. Fluent in English and Spanish, he especially enjoys interacting personally with people at all levels within his clients’ operations, and building relationships that extend far beyond the engagement at hand.

Outside of work, Carlos has always been a big Lakers fan. He is guaranteed to be decked out in Lakers paraphernalia during the season.  Carlos’ additional passions include attending soccer matches and Formula 1 racing events. Carlos’ perfect vacation is traveling to coastal cities with his wife, daughter, and son while relaxing on the sand “doing nothing” as a way to break from his daily routine.

Carlos is a member of the California Society of Certified Public Accountants and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).

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Every year, we feel so lucky to be in Pasadena! In addition to the amazing food, shopping, and drinks, we always look forward to the holidays. Because this means its time for our favorite local event, The Pasadena Tournament of Roses.

The Rose Parade travels down Colorado Blvd for five and a half miles and has four different types of entries. A participating corporation, non-profit organization or municipality, equestrian units, bands, and Tournament Entries can enter a floral decorated float in the Rose Parade. Many of the participants have been in the tournament for years and enjoy keeping the tradition alive.

At the first Tournament of Roses, the parade hosted 3,000 spectators that came to watch horse-drawn carriages decorated with flowers. Fast forward more than a century later, the parade floats feature the best in technology but all tucked under the flowers.

This year’s theme, announced by the Tournament of Roses President, Amy Wainscott, is “Turning the Corner”. This theme exemplifies all thats to come in 2023, the unlimited potential brought on by the new year. Wainscott explained, “Turning a corner means rising above – alone, or with family, friends and community. This year, as we turn the corner together, we share in the hope, beauty and joy of what 2023 will bring.”.

Whether you’re looking to see a football game, beautiful floats, or hear music from the best marching bands, Pasadena’s Rose Bowl is the place to be on Janurary 2nd.
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The holidays are here and while reuniting with family and shopping for holiday gifts can be the best of times, there's no denying the stress that can often come with these festivities. From financial advice to mental health tips, we hope this blog helps you thrive this holiday season.

Reflect on what is important to you during the holidays. Sitting and thinking about what you want for yourself and/or your family this holiday season could be very beneficial. This can lead to more intentionality regarding who you’re spending time with and what you’re doing. If you value having a meaningful holiday, giving yourself the time to determine what will make it meaningful is extremely valuable. While it may change each year, this reflection can help steer your holiday season in the right direction.

Communicate clearly how others can assist or support you. When family members or friends offer to help you wrap, cook, or shop…accept! Sometimes people may be unsure how best to help as needs and wants change so frequently from year to year. When people understand clearly what you need, they are happy to help and are able to make the time to provide ample support.

Manage your spending. The holidays tend to make us feel the pressure of consumerism. One way to decrease the financial burden is by setting and sticking to a budget. Thoughtfulness doesn’t always have to mean a hefty price tag. By initiating a Secret Santa or White Elephant gift exchange in place of buying every individual a gift. Some other options include giving to a favorite charity in the name of a family member or providing gift certificates for things like snow shoveling, baby sitting, a home-cooked meal, movie night, or other time together.

Manage your expectations for family gatherings. Before a gathering, think through your boundaries, what you need, and what you can be flexible on. With different generations and multiple families in one place celebrating all together, it can sometimes lead to conflict or not feeling heard or understood.

Realize the holiday season is a marathon, not a sprint. With the many social gatherings this time of year, it can be easy to begin compromising your physical or mental health by doing too much. Be sure to pace yourself, practice saying “no” without remorse, and allow yourself to deal with missing out on some outings. Remember to pace yourself this holiday season.

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It's that time of year again…Thanksgiving and Friendsgiving Dinners are in full effect. Struggling to decide what to contribute? Want to switch things up? Harrington Group is here to help! Whether you are hosting dinner, or adding to the potluck, this side dish is SURE to shine.

Butternut Squash Lasagna

Here’s what you need:

Fresh Sage. Finely chopped, 1 tablespoon.
Onion. The whole thing, diced.
Kosher Salt.
Olive Oil. ½ Cup.
Butternut Squash. About 4 cups, peeled.
Oyster Mushrooms. 1 pound, roughly chopped.
Swiss Chard. 1 pound, with leaves removed from stem.
No-Boil Lasagna Sheets. 12 to be exact.
Parmigiano Reggiano. About 1 cup grated.
Low Moisture, Whole Milk Mozzarella. 8 ounces, pulled into small pieces.

Ready to cook? Here’s all you need to do:

Get to Saucin. Start by heating olive oil in a pot and add in chopped sage until you begin to smell it. Next throw in your cubed squash, diced onion, water, salt, and pepper. Simmer this until your squash is tender. Once that is ready, place the mix into a food processor. Adding salt and pepper to taste is necessary. Transfer your delicious sauce into a bowl or some sort of storage vessel.

Make that Lasagna. Preheat your oven to 375. Oil a large skillet and raise heat. Next, add in your mushrooms and season with salt and cook them until the edges are browned. Move these to a bowl to cool. Going back to your skillet, add in your swiss chard leaves and season with salt. Using tongs, rearrange the leaves, encouraging them to wilt. Lastly, transfer your leaves to cool.

Lasagna...Assemble! Layer up! Line a baking dish with your butternut squash sauce and three sheets of lasagna noodles on a baking dish. Evenly distribute your mushrooms, swiss chard leaves, parmesan, and mozzarella cheese into the layers as well. Repeat this until your final layer, which will instead be topped with boiled water to ensure moisture.

Final Product. Let the lasagna sit covered with foil in the fridge for up to 24 hours. Lastly, transfer the pan into the oven to bake for 40 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 10-20 minutes. You’ll want to remove the pan once the cheese is melted, golden, and bubbly.

*Recipe courtesy of alexandracooks.com*
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7 Ways to Stay Safe this Holiday Season

Tis’ the season of shopping and travel! Harrington Group wants to help you stay safe and cheerful for the holidays. In this blog, we’ll provide some tips for the upcoming months.

1) Plan Deliveries. Consider having your packages delivered to a designated delivery location, place of work, or providing delivery instructions. When your packages are mailed to your front door or mailbox, you are at a higher risk for theft.

2) Do not leave property unattended. When you’re out and about, remember to protect your belongings. Don’t place a purse in a shopping cart, a wallet on the counter while paying, or a cellphone on a restaurant table that could potentially go unattended.

3) Lock It, Take It, Keep It. During this time of year, theft from vehicles is much more common. Make sure to always take items of value out of your car. If you cannot, make sure these items are not in view. Items such as laptops, purses, cell phones, credit cards, wallets, and sunglasses are easy targets for thieves because of their small size.

4) Limit cash and credit cards. Only carry the amount of cash and credit cards you need. This can prevent loss in the event of theft. On the financial side of things: this can also help prevent unnecessary spending.

5) Be aware of your surroundings. Mind your Personal Safety by always parking in a well-lit, well-traveled area. Avoid situations in which you’ll be overloaded with packages. When in a crowded area, personal belongings are at high risk, be mindful of distractions. Don’t carry social security cards or passports.

6) Protect your home. With burglaries at an all-time high, it is essential to keep all doors and windows locked. Consider checking in on your exterior lighting and security systems at home. If you are leaving town anytime soon, you should consider the following: put timers on interior and exterior lights, get mail and packages picked up by someone, and most importantly, ask a trusted neighbor to check on your home while away.

7) If you see something, say something. Contact your local Police Department to report any suspicious activity. Pasadena: (626) 744 - 4501. Oakland: (510) 777 - 3333. To report a crime in progress, call 9-1-1.

Cheers to staying safe this holiday season!

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For today’s blog, we’re happy to give an introduction to the newest of our partners, Oswaldo, also known as Ozzie, Torres.
Oswaldo graduated from Cal State LA with a degree in Business Administration. Since then, he has become a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and has been practicing public accounting and consulting since 2006. He specializes in providing accounting and advisory solutions to clients in the non-profit industry, making him a vital part of the HG Team.

Throughout his career, Ozzie has performed many consulting projects, agreed-upon procedure engagements, and financial and compliance audits, including those in accordance with Government Auditing Standards and the Single Audit Act. He has assisted many entities with the implementation of complex accounting standards.
At Harrington Group, Ozzie is responsible for planning, preparing, conducting, and completing audits. In his capacity, he interacts with clients’ finance and accounting personnel throughout the year. He facilitates internal training on accounting and auditing topics.
Outside of the workplace, Oswaldo enjoys attending sporting events, venturing out to new cycling trails, dabbling in home projects, and spending time with his family and friends.

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Mental Health in the Workplace

In honor of  World Mental Health Day, we’ll be informing our readers on how they can consider, honor, and promote mental health within the work space. As a leader within a company you can control the company culture. Make it one where people feel they can be open and honest about what they’re going through, and one that promotes the wellness of its members.

World Mental Health Day has been acknowledged since the early nineties. Since then, our sensitivity and self-awareness towards mental health has changed for the better. Even as things change and we become more aware, things can only continue to improve if we implement these changes into the work space.

Promote a Work/Life Balance

Without this balance, it is very likely that your team can face burnout and productivity can decline overall. Some ways to implement this balance can be by insisting all employees take regular vacations and not expecting answers to emails off the clock. As a leader, you can ensure breaks are regularly occurring. Not just those off the clock, but by providing a space for employees to go for a quick pause from their work days. By encouraging your team to live a full, rich life outside the office can really help your company in the long run.

Discuss Mental Health in the Workplace

Bringing up issues related to stress, depression, anxiety, or other mental illness can be extremely beneficial. Training leadership within your company on the signs of mental health issues can also be helpful to your team. A caring conversation between a supervisor and employee can be vital for a person too afraid to get help.

Consider offering programming related to mental health. One way is by inviting a speaker or licensed therapist during a work day to put on  a presentation emphasizing the importance of healthy habits. Regularly mentioning mental health, self care, and stress management can all help in reducing the stigma regarding mental health in the workplace, as well as improve the lives of employees.

In addition to offering benefits, mention them regularly

While your company likely already provides an Employee Assistance Program, it is likely employees aren’t aware of what these benefits entail. Reassuring folks that these services are both free and confidential can reassure them that they’ll actually be used.

Another benefit for your team, can be free screening tools. Many times mental health issues will be left untreated because employees don't recognize the signs and symptoms. Mental Health America offers free screening tools that you can provide to your team to allow them to anonymously assess their risk factors and be far more likely to seek help.

Make Wellness a Priority

Encourage your team members to live an active, healthy lifestyle outside of work. You can do this by incentivizing steps taken, hosting health challenges, or providing a free gym membership.

Make it known that you value your organization’s wellness. Let them know by treating therapy appointments and mental health days like you would a dentist or doctor’s appointment. This can definitely change the culture within your team.

May this advice help you and your team to both improve and move further! May it inspire you to create the mentally healthy workplace cultures that should have existed all along.

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Tonetta Conner

Today we want to give an introduction to an extremely valuable member of the Harrington Group family, our very own Managing Partner, Tonetta Conner.

Tonetta’s passion for accounting started at the age of fifteen, in her first accounting course in high school. While in this class, she managed and prepared “mock” corporate books and developed a desire to help others manage their business operations. This led to Tonetta’s majoring in Business Administration, with an emphasis in accounting at the University of California, Berkeley. And of course this also led to her becoming a licensed CPA.

Early in her career, Tonetta worked as a Controller for a design-build firm and then as an accountant at a Los Angeles based CPA firm. Tonetta has been with Harrington Group since June of 1997. Right away she knew, this role was the perfect blend of her passions: accounting and serving nonprofit organizations.

Over her many years with the firm, she has drawn upon her extensive experience to provide accounting, auditing, tax, and management advisory services to our clients. A knowledgeable professional, Tonetta has developed her expertise in working with a range of nonprofit organizations—from privately funded community organizations, mental health agencies, foster care organizations to private and charter schools. Tonetta truly believes in the focus of the firm to be “a trusted nonprofit partner.”

Tonetta stands strong in her leadership role at this company and beyond. Her tenacity and her captivating public speaking abilities support her in leading others. As a speaker at both California CPA Education Foundation’s Nonprofit Organizations Conference and CompassPoint she has been able to share her insights with other folks in the industry. Tonetta is often the speaker at the firm’s “NPO Symposiums” which are hosted quarterly on a variety of nonprofit topics and she provides tailored nonprofit management training to the Boards of her clients.

Her accolades include membership within the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the California Society of Certified Public Accountants (CalCPA). Tonetta also holds a Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) designation from the AICPA.

Outside of her professional pursuits, Tonetta enjoys spending time with her family, attending sporting events and traveling the world. Those who know her well would say she is a “daredevil” and a “world traveler”, which are truly supported by her many traveling adventures—ziplining over the rainforest in Costa Rica, bungee jumping in Australia, driving an amphibian dune buggy through the Dominican Republic, and being up close and personal with “big game” on safari in Africa.  Tonetta loves to travel the world not just for the adventure, but also for cultural enlightenment. “We live in a society made of up people from various backgrounds and cultures. Seeking to know more about other cultures is to embrace that fact.”
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Local Labor Day Fun

To some folks, Labor Day is a mark of the end of the summer and the start of the school year. To others, it marks the end of wearing white for the year. But what is Labor Day really? This holiday celebrates the social and economic achievements of American workers. Labor Day honors those who fought for better pay and working conditions years ago in what was called the 'Labor Movement.

As a business owner, this can be a great opportunity to show your staff your appreciation. As a client or local resident of the areas we serve, there are many opportunities to enjoy the holiday weekend right in your own backyard. Not sure where to get started? Let us at HG help you come up with some last minute, local, Labor Day fun!


Supa Friends: Labor Day Weekend
Looking for something free and enjoy listening to music? Consider attending this show at Crybaby on Telegraph Ave. Daghe, Drew Banga, Emelle, and DJ Shellheart will all be playing a set!

Hiero Day Music Block Party
If you’re seeking an all-ages, fun-filled, hip hop block party, Hiero Day is the place for you! The celebration aims to showcase the variety of culture, talent, food and crafts of the Bay Area.

Labor Day Family Ice Cream Social
In need of something more lowkey for you and your crew? This ice cream social is just the vibe for you. It takes place at Morcom Rose Garden at 4PM. Your family can enjoy bubbles, music, and ice cream all in one place!

Labor Day Flow with Bex Urban — Metta Yoga
Getting some physical activity in can be another great way to celebrate the holiday! Join Metta Yoga in San Rafael at 9:30AM. This is a great way to reset, relax, and sweat before your evening activities.

Shakespeare in the Park
If you are looking to take a trip to the city, there are quite a few events going on today as well! One that sticks out to us: Shakespeare in the Park’s production of Much Ado About Nothing. This free community event takes place at the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater.


Labor Day Summer Family Fun Festival
Enjoy water slides, water balloon games, arts, crafts like bird house making, a donut eating contest, and ice cream sundaes at this family friendly event. The festival goes from 12:00 to 5:00PM and is sure to be a blast!

Rising Tide Pasadena
Looking to learn and network this holiday? Consider joining Rising Tide Pasadena for their September meetup, where they will be discussing inclusivity! Lunch will be provided and the event begins at 11:00AM.

It's a Scavenger Hunt! Pasadena
Just bring your phone and your team! At this event you can join in on the fun in your own neighborhood on your own schedule. All you have to do is sign up and begin following instructions provided by the in-game host.

FNV at 626 Night Market
Hungry? This local foodie festival is back at the Santa Anita Race Track. Here you can check out tons of vendors, try a variety of cuisines, stay hydrated with the fun drink options, and of course–support local businesses! You can join in the fun from 3:00-11:00 PM.

Vegan Ice Cream Showdown
With this heat, we just can’t seem to get enough frozen treats! This Labor Day, Cafe Gratitude Larchmont in Larchmont Village will be hosting an ice cream showdown. From 2 to 4pm, ticket holders will sample frozen treats from JD's Vegan Ice Cream, Dream Pops and other local vendors. And of course–you get to submit your votes on who has the best vegan ice cream.

We hope this blog provides you with some insight on this holiday and some new ways you can celebrate it. Enjoy the day!
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