Mental Health Awareness Week

Mental Health Awareness Week

I was going to avoid this topic this week, may it be due to burying my head in the sand, or scared to talk about so a huge topic.  But I sat there and thought maybe it is something I should talk about as I am aware of so many business owners who are suffering from stress.

Stressy Topic

Stress is close to home for many people, it does not single out any sex, race or religion, it can hit anyone at any time. It can also be subjective, what is stress to one may not be to another, but we need to be so mindful of this as well. Scoffing at others stresses never mind how little they are to you is not supportive at all, and can have such a detrimental effect, so be aware of how you support people. I have been on the receiving end of someone not being supportive to what to me felt like the most stressful situation I had encountered, they just laughed and said ‘you’ll get over it’ just not what someone needs!

Stress is the key focus of this year’s Mental Health Awareness week, I don’t think there is a single person I know that has not been hit somewhere along the line with high-stress levels. Stress can be:

🌸A new job, the worry of starting over, being the new person
🌸An old job causing you angst, office politics, workload
🌸Illness, any number of health problems can cause stress all round
🌸Money, never enough! Cant earn what you need, going without
🌸Family, disagreements, health, worries
🌸Exams, this week sees the start of exams, so stress starts earlier now
🌸Bereavement, we all lose people and this can trigger off stress levels
🌸Being self-employed, the pressure to earn what you used to earn, or the pressure of success.

As you can see there are many things that can trigger stress, but the keyword here is #awareness being aware of how you are feeling, being aware of those around you are feeling, I am not asking you to take on other peoples problems unless you have the mental capacity yourself. But support and acknowledgement are powerful.

My stress levels

You see, I am not excluded from this either, I have my worries and stresses, my goodness they certainly know how to make themselves known, I have the standard worries and stresses, some of which may be to you, are not stresses, but for me running a business is tough, making sure I earn a certain amount each month, being seen by my crowd, making sure people can see that I can provide value and really make a difference in their business.

I have my 2 young children going through school life, and that throws a lot of stress in the mix, watching them worry about friendships, worrying about homework, my eldest has been bullied, and he is aware that this time next year it will be him sitting doing his SATs.

I have a poorly mum myself, she is a huge priority for me, she has looked after me for the most part of my life and if I am honest she still looks after me now, but due to her health, I am always making sure she is ok, taking her to appointments etc.

I have a partner who stresses about things too and works very hard to help me stay doing what I love doing. And if I am honest, I worry about him as being the typical man of the house, he does tend to hold a lot in!

Sometimes those stresses can topple me over the edge, but its ok!

Tough pickings

Mix that with the month of May, and its a tough one for me, not only do I have the general stresses mentioned above, but I get to celebrate my children’s birthdays, as well as acknowledging the passing of my dad too, its a tough tough month and one that is full of mixed emotions, and a month that does not get any easier, whoever says time heals clearly is telling fibs!  So I am very aware of my feelings this month and how to keep a check on them.

But making sure I am aware of my feelings and my stress levels is a necessity, I will admit I don’t always have a handle on my stress levels, but I try. I would love to try some form of meditation, so if you have any recommendations please share them.

Watching out for my clients

I see so many business owners with the weight of the world on their shoulders, wanting to do well in business but just not knowing which way to turn can be the stress trigger they don’t need. I have had clients in the past tell me that the hour or two a month that I support them has been a massive game changer to their mental wellbeing, and that to me is 100% satisfaction.

We may be online more nowadays, let’s build that community for each other, I have an amazing support network in business, I would love to help you get one too.

If you feel like your business is just getting too much, let’s have a chat, let’s see if working with me can help you a little bit, get in touch HERE

#mentalhealthawarenessweek

Love and hugs

~Claire💜x~

Virtual Assistant vs employee

Virtual Assistant vs employee

This is something I get asked often:

‘why would I use a VA and not hire an admin assistant?’ 

Firstly, there is no right or wrong here, it is what suits you and your business at that time and place, you may find having a VA at the start of your business suits you better, then as you grow and business becomes more fruitful you may find that you need to start employing staff to be in your office/shop, and that is fine too.

There are many stages of business, and there are solutions for every step of the way, so make sure you do your research. You will know roughly your budget and workload, so your options should be clearer to you.

So, let’s take a peep – Let’s get this straight, I am not saying one is better than the other, let’s just take a step back, 5yrs ago I was an employed member of staff, so I have been both, this is just a broad overview of VA vs Admin Assistant, I am not here to tell you one is better than another, there are pros to both as well as cons to both.

Hiring an admin assistant 

Having someone based in your office is a plus, there is a huge advantage in having someone based in your office, that presence can be a plus for you and your clients but remember there is a price tag to having a member of staff in your office.

Some of those costs are can be a hindrance to your business:

  • Equipment
  • Sick pay
  • National Insurance contributions
  • Holiday pay
  • Lost money when the member of staff may not have much work on
  • Hiring fees (if using an agency)
  • Training

But the plus side of hiring an office-based member of staff:

  • Someone based in your office for specific times
  • Hired personal has set jobs and works solely for your business

Hiring a Virtual Assistant 

When you are just starting out or do not have the budget to hire a full-time member of staff, hiring a VA is a great way to get that support without breaking the bank balance.  But by no means am I saying that a VA is only suitable for small/medium businesses or start-ups, as 2 of my biggest clients are larger businesses with 10+ employees so that just shows that you can have a VA working alongside your bank of employees.

So, here are some pros and cons to hiring a VA:

  • You only pay for the time spent on a task
  • You can pay hourly or most VAs will have monthly retainers
  • No sick pay
  • No holiday pay
  • No equipment overheads
  • No training costs
  • Most VAs have a large network of support should there be a task or problem they need to work out
  • Your VA will 9 times out of 10 be located offsite, so this may play a part in your decision
  • Your VA will most definitely have more that one client, so offsets their time between their clients

Both work well 

Depending on where you are at in your business journey will heavily depend on your choice, as I said earlier there is no right or wrong, having support with your business is key, and how you chose to do it is down to you and your plan.

Small business support 

I know a lot of small business owners do prefer to support other small businesses, they like the relationship that you can build with your VA, and that they know they are also supporting another growing business.

For me, I have clients that have an hour a month and I have clients that have 10hrs a month, I also have project-based clients as well as ad-hoc clients.

Work on a plan

Your first action should be to sit down and work out what is keeping you stuck, what tasks are keeping you away from doing what you love to do, you know that thing that earns you money, that thing that made you start your business, so if there are things keeping you away from that, then you need to be figuring out what they are.

You then need to decide which will suit you and your business better. Remember you can hire someone on a part-time basis and you can also have a VA to work on large projects. It is your business you know what is best, and both options work well.

If you feel working with a VA is a viable option for you and your business then get in touch HERE I would love to be able to support you.

 

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How to work from home productively

How to work from home productively

I know when I was in my old employed job, working from home was a breeze, I would often long for a ‘WFH’ day just to catch up on housework and have an easy day, but those days are well and truly gone.

 

Ever since I started my business it has been a steep learning curve on how to be as productive with my hours during the day, I have set hours due to having primary school age children, so I need to make sure I am as focused as I can be.  Running your own business throws up a lot of tasks that you wouldn’t have thought of when you were in your employed role.  So now you wear all the hats, you need to be able to juggle your time in the best way possible.

 

Granted, it this took me a really REALLY long time to get into the swing of, first my office setup wasn’t ideal at all, it was in a place in the house that was constantly busy, I moved around the house for a good year before I realised that this was a big problem to my productivity as I wasn’t able to close a door from the distractions, so for me I was lucky enough to have a wooden cabin at the end of my garden, and a lot of time and work (hubby’s blood and sweat) I finally got my office space!

But you do not need to have a cabin at the end of your garden, a space in your bedroom, a spare room or a space that isn’t in the thick of it will help, I have on occasions, when I must work when my children are home, I work from the kitchen! Thankfully that does not happen often as that is an even bigger distraction, I can see breakfast bowls in the sink and washing needs doing etc etc.

 

So, my tips for being as productive with your working day as possible are:

Suitable space 

As mentioned above having the right space is key, working from your kitchen may not be the best solution long term, look at trying to find a place in your house that you can close a door too.  Failing that maybe trying to rent a desk at an office block (like Regus) for a morning a week, to give you that away time.

Having that space will really help your productivity.


Plan

Before you log off the night before, grab your diary and plan for the following day. I use both a paper diary and my diary on my email system.  I make sure that whatever I have planned for my day is electronically logged with an alarm or timer.

I am slightly crazy with colour coding, so I have colours for each of my clients, colours for my personal work like content creation morning, or source images for memes etc, I make sure that
before I switch off my day is as planned as I possibly, now I know the unexpected can happen at any time, so I factor some time in just in case.  Always best to be on the safe side.

Timer

Now, I mentioned timers in my last point, this is quite important, and its one that I am getting used to as well, I actually log my hours now, as I found there were times where I would sit there and think ‘blinking heck where did today go’ and have that feeling of not achieving much.  So, I use a timer for my client work and have been using it for my business time too (timer is on now as I write this blog!) this gives me a clear indication of how much time I am spending on client work vs my business time.

If you do not want to use a timer on your PC then you can always do the visual aid of a timesheet and block out time physically, it is what works for you.  But you will start to see a pattern and you will see that you faff a lot too (I have a faff category on my timer!)

Set a duration

This may sound weird but give it a go.  So, I know that I can lose HOURS yes HOURS sourcing images for my blogs or my memes, so I now set myself a duration, 30 mins a day or 2hrs a month etc to do that task, and set an alarm, it’s as plain as its simple, some tasks can literality suck up crazy amounts of time (social media being a biggie).

It is all about making sure you have the right balance of time on your tasks that need to get done to the ones that would be nice to do, we can’t run our businesses on doing the tasks we love, sadly that doesn’t work, we all must do those we dislike (or outsource them) both tasks go hand in hand. You will find if you spend too much time on those tasks you dislike you will start to procrastinate and put it off which is when things get out of hand.


Regular breaks

This is so important to your day, sitting at your desk FORCING yourself to do things for hours, is going to only put a negative spin on your day and you will become disheartened, it is impossible to stay focused on any tasks loved or loathed for hours on end, we all need breaks, not just for our mind but for our body too. We need to get up and walk or stretch and clear your mind. So, schedule in short breaks every 1hr -1.5hrs your mind and body will thank you for it, trust me!


Be forgiving

We are our worst critics, we are honestly the worst, we almost bully ourselves, if we don’t get something done on time, or we haven’t pulled 4 blogs out of thin air in an hour we chastise ourselves
and make ourselves feel incompetent! And why? Could you imagine your old boss doing this to you? You would be in HR filing a complaint, so why do we do it to ourselves? Be forgiving to yourself, you may not have done everything you wanted to for that day, if you haven’t managed to get something done that day when you go to plan for tomorrow and add that task onto your plan, schedule it in and give it a duration.

When being creative, you can’t force those creative juices, and sometimes in small batches, you get more done, instead of forcing hours of paper staring do lots of small blocks of 20 mins! Mornings are also better for me to create my content.

Don’t bully yourself! You are only human after all 💕

If there are tasks that you are constantly struggling with, instead of suffering why not think about outsourcing them, I am always happy to have a chat with you and see if I can help you moving forwards, book a discovery call with me and lets see if I can take some or even one of those dreaded tasks from you.

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Working with me

I have written a number of blogs recently, I have gone from once a month to weekly (minus one week where I forgot to schedule), and I thought on this occasion maybe writing a blog about me and working with me might be a good thing.

So, who am I?

That’s a straight forward one really, I am Claire and I am your Remote Admin lady! I have been a VA now for over 4 years, but have been in admin support in some shape and form since I left school back in the 90s.  It was a field that I enjoyed, and it grew from there, so getting made redundant from my last employed position, which was more than just admin, I saw this as the opportunity that I needed to create a business around me and my family, and hey presto here I am.

Why do you need me?

Running a business is so rewarding, you sit back now and then and look at what you have created and feel a sense of pride and achievement, but equally, it brings you a whole heap of work you are either unsure of or don’t want to do.
And this is where I come in or in fact most VA’s, we know that employing someone full time is probably not on your radar just yet, so having someone on hand to help you with those annoying, time-consuming tasks is really handing, and with a VA you are only paying for the time they have been working for you. We do also support businesses that have staff, but you may not be in the position to employ another member,  but just require a little helping hand.

So, if a task takes me an hour, that is what I charge you. There are loads of comparison blogs out there that give you all the breakdowns of how much employing someone full time vs hiring a VA and it’s an interesting one at that.

What can I do for you?

What exactly can I do for you?  how can I enrich your business life?  simple! I free up your time so you can go do what you do best! Whether that is to make things to sell, go fix a boiler, go create and sell some classes, or if you are supporting your own clients with their pain points. I help you build your dream but removing those time-consuming, relentless or just plain boring tasks that you don’t want to do or just do not have the time to do.

My services are varied and you can find them here, I try to grow my list services each year, if I can, I like to stay on top of new systems and trends, I like to put myself forward for online courses to help me better serve my clients, so whilst my lists of services is vast it is always changing, if what you are struggling with isn’t on here do check with me just in case.

How does it work

This one is straight forward too, we tend to have a discovery call on a day suitable for both of us, we run through the things you are struggling with, or the things you need to outsource, once we have gone through the requirements and discussed the finer details, and we both happy to proceed, I then set up secure sharing folders where we will share any work that is needed to be carried out or work completed.

It is all about communication! If you need to call me or email me several times at the start then so be it, I am here to support you, so if you feel that you need time to get used to having someone work alongside you, helping you grow your business then that is fine. If you feel happy only out-sourcing an hour a month to start, again this is all fine, I will work with you at your pace!

I will let you know when that work is complete, and send over my invoice and timer report, and we start all over again for the next month and so on.

FAQ 

When it comes to working with a VA there are always questions, and that is fine, at the end of the day this is YOUR business, and I will be supporting you, so if you have concerns or questions please tell me.

But here are some that are asked on a regular basis:

Q: Is there a minimum amount of time I can use you for?
A: Yes, I have a minimum of an hour

Q: Are the shared folders secure?
A: I use Dropbox which is secure, it is shared with you via a link that I send you.

Q: How do we stay in contact, when we are not in the office together?
A: I am online often, you can either email, Skype, Google Hangout, Facetime, Messenger, phone call, I am pretty flexible on most forms of communications.

Q: Do you work a standard 9-5, Mon-Friday?
A: No, my hours of work are flexible, I focus on deadlines, once the work has been outsourced to me, I will work the necessary hours to complete the work and get back to you within the set deadline.  I am at my desk between the hours of 0930-1530 Mon-Fri and these are the times I am contactable. There are more details in my paperwork when we agree to move forward.

Q: Do you visit?
A: If you are local and need me to visit the office or your place of work then yes this can be arranged. If it is going to be a regular thing there will be a small additional travel cost.

Q: How will you work on my tasks as well as your other clients?
A: I have a very strict working policy and routine with all my clients, I know what they are giving me, how long those tasks will take, I schedule in my time on a weekly basis.

Q: Do you work under my business name?
A: No I will always work under my business name, but should I be making calls or chasing on your behalf I will say that I am calling on your behalf your company.

These are just some of the questions I get asked regularly, I have a few blogs that cover outsourcing, but the one I have had most communication on is ‘How to stay calm when outsourcing’ – a lot of people do go into a panic when they start working with a VA for the first time, so this was just a little guide to help.

One tip from me, if you can, outsource before you feel you really need to or get someone in place for when workload takes off! This will just eliminate some stress.

Yes, please……………. 

If this is something you have been thinking about and have decided that NOW is that time, then get in touch with me, I would love to have a chat with you, and run through those things that are causing you a headache. You can either contact me via here or email me on claireb@remotedminservices.co.uk

I hope to chat with you soon and work with you to grow your business.

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