Processes

Creating processes

Just like making a cup of tea or coffee, or doing the laundry, you carry out those tasks with a process.  It is the same in business, every job that we carry out has a purpose and a process, it the steps we take to complete whatever task that needs to be done.

Sometimes those processes can be long-winded and detrimental to our energy and passion, certain tasks with either no process or a process that isn’t working for your business can make that task undesirable, and give you that dreaded feeling when it comes to carrying out that task.

If it is a task that needs to be done, and then having that sinking feeling when the time comes to carrying it out, can make you put it off, drop it to the bottom of your to-do list as well as a spot of procrastination, and we all know procrastination is the thief of time!

How do they work?

It is very simple, basically, every task we do has a process, from opening our emails to sending out newsletters they all have steps to take, and it’s finding the right steps to get you from A to B without visiting C, D, E…… creating a process is looking at how you do something currently, and tweaking it to make it smarter and more streamlined.

Be honest with yourself

When looking at the process that you currently take, be honest and ask yourself is that step really necessary or do you do it because it’s just the way you have always done it? Try to avoid resisting change!

If its that latter then that could be your sticking point, if steps need to be removed because they are causing you to get stuck, then we need to find a workaround. Is that particular step 100% necessary?  Can it be broken down into 2 steps?

 

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Time yourself!

This one can often freak people out, they can get a panic on when they know they are being timed, but the thing is you need to get an idea of how long something is taking you.  But when timing becomes a regular part of the process, remember you are not being timed to see how well or how quick you are doing something, you are using a timer so you don’t overrun on something, as that is a common reason for a task taking longer than it should.

There are just some tasks that can take you on the scenic route, and that is what we need to avoid, things like social media in general, you know what it’s like, one moment you are online to check your stuff and to get content up, and then before you know it,  you have come across a video of a dog eating or running away from a kitten, or you have found a video of a cat stuck up a tree you know where I am coming from, and Shelia your mother-in-law posted one of the OMG games ‘what flower are you?’ these are all the things that drive you away from the task in hand, so setting a timer will help you stay on track.

Turn off

This is another tip that many do not seem to do, if you are not working on a certain program but you find it’s a distraction TURN IT OFF, or mute your notifications! It will help I promise you.

These are just a couple of steps you can add into your process, so if you know you will be image sourcing then in your process you could put:

  1. Turn off unnecessary programs and notifications
  2. Set a timer for 20mins
  3. Do not open all stock photo sites, only one at a time
  4. Only pick 5 -10 per sitting
  5. Have a dedicated drive with sub-folders for images

It could be that simple, we are here to create a simplistic, effective, streamlined process to help you through your tasks.

How do you create your processes?

 

Download my Taming your Social Media e-book, it has a 6 step process on creating content, images, and scheduling your content – get your copy HERE

We all have those jobs!

We all have those jobs!

I am not sure anyone prepares you enough for certain things in life, for an example, no one really prepped me for having children, everyone tells you its magical, but they all miss out those tantrums! And when they become senior school age they forget to tell you about the attitude they grow!

It is the same with business, I often feel we have painted a very different picture, a lot of people will tell you that working from home is liberating, you have the flexibility and the time is yours to do with how you please.

Now, before I get set upon, I love running my own business, I would struggle at the thought of going back to working for someone else and not having that flexibility, but it’s bloody hard! It is hard work, and the one thing that often suffers is family life.

How many times have you worked late?

How many times have you worked over the weekend?

How many times have your rushed Storytime?

We have all done it, but its how we move forward that counts, I have worked many late night, I have worked over weekends (granted not many) we all do, but you need to ask yourself why this is happening? Why am I having to work late, what has happened that day or that week that has made me work late, work over the weekend, miss storytime……………… And there will lay the answer.

More often than not it is a task that has sucked up your time, may it be a huge task, or a task that you are unsure on and need to research, or a task that happens every week/month but you haven’t prepared for, again it’s NOT failure, its realisation, now is the time for you to pinpoint and rectify and claw back that time and NOT feel guilty.

Let’s face it guilt is horrendous, guilty for working, guilty for not working, I mean make your mind up, but lets see if we can provide some tips and tools to help you move forward.

Now ultimately, I would say to you outsource, but that is not always the right solution, or it may not be the right time for you, so what other things can we do to help you.

Identify the task – We all have those tasks that suck up out time, more than many others, but it is identifying this task and figuring out why that particular task is taking up so much time.

Why is it taking so long – Now you have identified the task, now it’s trying to figure out why this task takes so long.  Is it because the task is large and takes up too much time? Do you feel you lack knowledge in completing this task or is it just because you just DON’T want to do it?

If it’s a large task – if the task has a long deadline, break it down, you’ll find breaking it down over a course of a few weeks, will make it more palatable and easier to digest than sitting there for hours trying to complete a task you hate!

Start it as soon as you get it – make a start on it, putting it off will only make the task even worse, so if it lands on your desk on a Monday afternoon, make a start, do 15mins worth, that way you have started it, the worst part is done.

It feels muddled up – Try putting a process in place, I know a lot of people talk about processes but they are pretty important, and if you can look at how you are currently doing that task and then how you can amend it, by maybe adding a step or removing a step, or even bulking steps together to give you a streamlined process.

Not sure how to complete it  – if it is something new or you just don’t know how to complete and you need to do some training, then maybe you need to take some time out each week to train up.

If you can work through these and make small changes you will notice that you will have more control over your time.

Obviously, I would love to be able to support you in your business, help you free up more time, and be able to use that time guilt-free with your family.

My hourly rate starts at £25ph or you can have full peace of mind with a retainer package which you can find here

10 Essential Pieces Of Software To Nail Your Biz Admin

10 Essential Pieces Of Software To Nail Your Biz Admin

I am an advocate for making sure we use things in business that is going to make our lives easier, benefit the time we have, and make our day to day tasks run more smoothly.

I also am a keen process implementer, I do feel that when we have to do things for our business and on a regular basis, having a process is key, this not only helps you to stay on track making sure you do all the right things in a specific way but also very handy should you hand certain tasks over to a VA for an example.

But, processes aren’t the only key aspect of making sure your business runs smoothly.  Also having the right tools makes a massive difference, but there are ridiculous amounts of tools out there that do the same thing, but having the time to research, compare and learn is the tricky part, so I have compiled a top 10 list of essential guide of what I feel are essential tools for your business:

Read more

What’s on your investment list

What's on your investment list

Yep Investment List!

If you are anything like me your life is probably built on lists, shopping, kids, business, bucket, you name it everything goes onto one, whether we follow it and tick things off is another thing (there is a list on my fridge, paint kitchen, new shower screen, paint hallway! This has been there since the beginning of the year!)

But my investment list I take incredibly seriously, because I am so passionate about what I do for work, and have the thirst to better myself for my clients, this list is so important to me.

For me, this isn’t solely about money, this can be things that are free but beneficial (yes that does exist!)

When I started my Virtual Assistant business I knew I had the knowledge of being a PA/Admin support as I had been working in that field since I left school, but what knowledge I had on running a business I could have written on the back of a stamp, so I spent equal time working and growing my business with researching how to run a successful virtual/online business, and before I knew it I found a list of things that I wanted to invest my time and money in to make my business thrive.

So what was on this investment list of mine?

1. Training – this is no different from my corporate days, except I pick and choose the training I want and what is going to benefit my business and help me move forward. Being an online/virtual business there are a wealth of programs/systems out there and always new fancy ones being released regularly. So, it is a case of staying on top of new systems and keep my knowledge levels replenished.  Also doing research to see if any new systems that come out could benefit my clients in their business.

2. Software – this ranges from upgrades to new software, we always need to be up to date with our software, and making sure the one we are using now is still the right one for your business, if not sourcing a new piece of software to fit in your business now.

3. Hardware – when I started I had an old laptop and that was it, but over time I have upgraded my hardware to suit my business, I have a new laptop better running system, separate keyboard, bigger screen, this all makes my working day run more smoothly and easier for me to work throughout the day, but have added to my arsenal of hardware, printers, office phone, equipment for recording videos.

4. Support network – this is one that does NOT need to cost you any money at all, every social media platform has groups of small businesses, there are even business groups for specific
industries, I am in a few dedicated to Virtual Assistants, but am in a few that are for small businesses, and some that are dedicated to either women in business or mums in business, bizarrely not just for support but those categories are my ideal clients too.

5. Dedicated space – when I first started out I was working out of my kitchen, then a small area in my bedroom, but it became obvious in the early days of running my business that I could benefit from that space, as a VA I don’t really need a dedicated space as everything is predominantly online, but I felt I needed that place where I was undisturbed, not just from people but household chores that were staring me in the face all the time, I was lucky to have a Summerhouse at the end of my garden that we could convert, and that is now my office or ‘The Cabin’ as its affectionately known as.

What’s on my list going forward:

My list is always evolving like my business, so my list changes over a course of time, what may be on my list now, may not be there if I decide a different direction.

1. Audio equipment, even though I do video’s I want to move into podcasting and webinar support, so on my list for future investments is a new external microphone, podcasting/webinar software and a better camera.

2. Courses – I can’t get enough of information, there are a few courses that have a monthly cost that I want to start being part of probably from the new year.

3. Accreditation – As a VA I want to be seen as the professional that I am, so I am working towards and getting the things in place to become fully accredited with VIPVA association, this is more something for me and my peace of mind, gives me that little bit of security and back up from an association.

4. Accountant! Yep, I want to be able to outsource my accounts, now don’t get me wrong my accounts aren’t huge at the moment, but it’s a job I dislike, so being a person that people
outsource too I see those benefits of not having a job you procrastinate over sitting in your trays!  I would like to outsource my accounts, I would like to start as I mean to go on with my accounts, as my business grows it would be nice to have that person working with me on my accounts and making sure all is in place and correct. Yes even a VA outsources.

So what is on your investment list? I certainly cannot tell you what you should have yours, as everyone’s list is going to be different. You may have all the equipment you need to run a successful business, but may not have that support network around you, so that could go on there. As I said it’s not necessarily all about monetary investment, it about making your business work with you and becoming fruitful in all ways.

Your list isn’t set in stone either if you have things that were on your list they can be tweaked, our businesses change on a regular basis, mine has changed a lot over the years, even though the function is the same, other aspects have changed.

Don’t keep yourself trap, adapt to your business. Sit down and create your very own investment list, you do not need to put deadlines on them, sometimes they are helpful, but not always necessary. For an example, I want to be fully accredited by the start of the new tax year 2018, so this gives me plenty of time to get all those bits in place.

You may want to put a Virtual Assistant on your list for when you get super busy 🙂

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Monkey Around with Memes

Monkey around with Memes

 

So memes! Most people love a good meme, and frankly, anything visual on the social networks works wonders for your reach.  But surprisingly it’s a task that can suck up so much vital time in your working day, you start with all good intentions but before you know it 2 hrs later and you are still no further forward! Yet I was able to create these easily for clients, yet my own was like pulling teeth.

I found that when I started doing these, I felt like I was bobbing up and down in a sea of quotes and images, I would spend a few hours on this task, and by the time my eyes were watering and frankly bored to death of them, I hadn’t really made a dent.  It became frustrating and an annoyance, which then made the task a less important one, and one that I did as and when a meme was required.

So, what changed? I re-visited my process (which was non-existent) and pinpointed my stumbling blocks, and believe it or not there were a few.  So I went through what frustrates me, what was the need for them, why it wasn’t working and so on.

And now I have a whole new process that seems to be working, remember like with any process, it’s a work in progress, if you need to tweak then do so, don’t wait for it to stop working again, if you find one thing isn’t working then change that one thing, instead of letting it manifest into a bigger problem.

So what did I change?

Themes

I found giving myself themes for each day of the week has given me some clarity, I use these themes to create memes and posts with ease, some days I will use them for motivation other days maybe things that can make your business work better for you. 

If you want to work with themes write down the days of the week, and pick a subject that you want to talk about for each day, so for example only, you could say Motivation Monday, Top tips Tuesday and so on, a fantastic way to find ideas is via Twitter, you will find under trending theme days. 

Imagery

Ok, so this one is quite possibly my biggest time sucker, I am slightly partial to a good business image, now for me I work alongside my branding, I had my branding done this year by the ever so talented Vicki Nicholson of Branding Therapy, once she completed it all she gave me my guidelines, which consists of my brand colours, fonts etc, I also know that my business, in general, is designed to support mums in business, so that helps me narrow my images, so based on branding, colour and ideal customer it makes that a little quicker, my problem is there are so many lovely images, and at the moment I am still only on the free stock option! 

My tips for imagery sourcing 

  • Colours, go with your branding colours, if you have not had your brand done, then go with logo colours, and what you feel makes your business stand out
  • Go for images that reflect your ideal customer
  • You don’t have to go with people in images all the time, backdrops, scenery are also very good, and could work better if you chose certain themes
  • Choose 5-10 at any one time, more than that and you are not really picking because you like them, it’s because you have gone into click overdrive!

Block time

Set yourself 30 minutes a week, I know that doesn’t sound much but It’s enough once you are all set up, now when you first start a new process you might find that you will be spending a few hours a week on this, to perfect your process it will take time.  But once it’s how you want it, try to only do 30 mins a week sourcing images and thinking of content.

Concentrate on 4 

Ok so my biggest problem when I first started doing these was working on the basis that I had to have one for each day of the month, so was sat down trying to create 30 of these things and was meant to still be in love with them when I finished, when in reality by the 15th I was sick of them.

So now, I’ve simplified it more, as an example, in October there were 5 Mondays, so at the end of September I created in Canva 5 of my Monday themed memes, transferred them to my other system Trello where I create the content and they were done, so within less than 15 mins all my Monday memes were ready for October, the following day 15 mins set aside and I done 5 Tuesday memes, and so on.  I have managed to drop the length of time now as I am into the process, but at the start, I had to set a timer, and this will be the same for you.

Schedule 

So once I have done my creating, I start to schedule my memes, I currently only schedule on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn as I feel these are my most relevant platforms, I schedule direct on Facebook by use ContentCal for the rest of my scheduling (love it, it’s so visual), again because you have batched them into themes, you could on a Friday at the end of each month schedule in all Monday and Tuesday posts in one sitting, and so on.

These are some of the slight changes I have made to my meme and general posts to my social media, each of these small changes has given me back more time, and frankly, I find the whole
process less stressful, boring or monotonous.

Give is a go and let me know. Have you got any processes that save you time that you want to share with us?

Don’t forget I can help you with creating these, if you just find that this is something you desperately want to do, but no matter what process you have you just don’t have the time, then get in contact, I am happy to have a chat with you to see if I can I help you move forward from being stuck!

 

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