Blend and Balance

Blend and Balance

For most business owners who are parents to school-age children will be juggling hot potatoes this week, as its half-term. Personally I don’t mind this one as its only a week and it’s easy to flit between the two. Its Easter I am not a fan of, its long with bank holidays and the endless need to have been doing everything.

My kids get bored, they love the week holidays as it’s a little break but the Easter one they get bored, the summer holidays are a very different kettle of fish (where did that saying come from?)

How to manage

Not everyone has the luxury of having family around or nearby, so holidays can be a real juggling act and the sense of guilt, see there is that word again, its an emotion I am working so hard on dispelling for as many parents in business as I physically can, we need to banish guilt, and find a way of making running our business and school holidays work for us.

I blend…………. Not as in Nutribullet kind of blend, but I blend my time between business, children and both. It has taken some time for me to find the right balance and formula so here are my tips on getting through the half-term minus the guilt and truckload of stress!

My Tips for getting through the holidays

Set your intentions – this is the most important step, you need to be realistic with this if you normally work Monday – Friday 9 am to 3.30 pm without the children, then you need to set your intentions knowing that you will have company, take into consideration their ages, are you going to be able to still work those hours?

My two are 7 & 11, they are at that age now where I can do blocks of time uninterrupted, but I know as soon as I jump on a call or do a video war breaks out, so I avoid those tasks until I have business time.

So be realistic, you know that you will not get that normal time, so don’t fight it.

Grab a cuppa and your diary – spend 10 mins looking at your diary, seeing what you have going on, if you know that you have a call on Wednesday then make sure you make that day a business day and work your other days around that, so pick that one thing that HAS to be done and get that planned in and work the rest of your week around that one important task.

For me I know I have a call Monday afternoon, and I have a call Wednesday morning, so I have those days as business days, and the others are blended.

Blend – so when I say blend it’s using your day to please both, so an example of this could be AM family time, watch a film, play games, go for a walk, PM work time, but pick tasks that will only take small snippets of time, save the big tasks for your business days, don’t put big tasks in because if you get interrupted you’ll get frustrated and annoyed and start feeling stuck and guilty.

So, you could schedule some posts, source some images for your blog or newsletter, respond to posts or emails. But blend without GUILT.

Business days these are the days where you get shi!t did! Use these for your full-on tasks, those that you need concentration on, those that you know you can’t do when the children are home, so make sure you use that time wisely, and oddly I get so much more done when I have set time when I know that these things need doing without fail.

Enjoy – we need to remember our children are only small and at school for a really short period of time in the grand scheme of things, so be flexible, be realistic, enjoy your blended time, enjoy those days where you have blocked out to play mum or dad, and DON’T beat yourself up if things go awry!

Half-Term SOS  If you still find that the juggling is too much then you can use my specifically designed package to assist you, you can find out more HERE

I use this process for all of the holidays, it makes for a less stressful time, now I need a process to stop my two arguing…………..any suggestions? I am thinking double-sided Velcro and sticking them to the wall.

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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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Surviving the school holidays!

Surviving the school holidaysIf you are a parent then you know the school holidays are coming around FAST, those that have children and run a business know that this can be one of the most stressful times of the year!

We are aware that our families are probably one of the reasons why we started our businesses, but equally, we know that if we don’t work then we don’t get paid, which that is a concept that some children just don’t understand!
They see mum or dad at home which to them equals family fun time!

So, what do you do? I hear you sigh 

Last year was probably my most successful summer holidays with my children, I removed the pressure from my shoulders and reminded myself why I am doing my business and that my children are small for such a short period of time.


I follow a lady called Claire Mitchell of The Girls Mean Business, and last year she published a book dedicated to surviving the school holiday. Not all of it was relevant to me, and necessarily be helpful to me in my business or with my children, so I had to adapt and learn as I went through the 6 weeks, and I can honestly say, that come September when my children went back to school, I didn’t feel as frazzled as previous years.

What did I do so differently?

Most of my clients are family orientated, so I could let them know that I was still available during the school holidays, but made some changes:

  • I spoke with my children and set a rota, so for an example,  Monday AM I was working, clearing any weekend enquiries, and schedule in my social media for the week. Then Monday PM I would take them out to a park or something fun, this would happen throughout the week. It gave them something to look forward to and I got to tick a few things off my list.
  • My reply time changed from within an hour to the same day response. If I had a message come in just as I went out with the children it gave me some breathing space knowing I could still have fun and reply when I got back to the office.
  • Soft Play! This was a great one for us, it gave my children that time to run off steam and have fun, and I could sit there with a coffee and laptop and work, that was a great compromise, and will be doing that again this year.
  • Park trips, this one was quite useful for me, as it meant I could get away from my laptop yet still get some work done, I found I was able to sit and write or come up with topics for my posts and blogs etc
  • Logging on when they went to bed, this one goes against most of my ethics really, I tend to have one late night a week, but I did allow myself to log on once or twice a week in the evening to clear things and get back to people should they have messaged me. But again, I was strict!

These were just a few of the slight changes I made last year, it was all about compromising with the children, and myself, I also learnt how to manage my expectations on what I can and what I wanted to get done, luckily my children are at that age now where when they see me in my office ‘mummy is working’.

I plan to do the same this year, we will sit down and work out a rota for time with the family and time for work, this will be put in place a week or so before they pack up from school, giving them time to get used to the rota.

Work-life balance is hard to achieve but you can do it, you need to compromise with yourself and cut yourself some slack too. This is your dream, you have been building your business for some time don’t let school holiday break you.

Remember, you can outsource too, there is no shame in having a VA on hand to help you out either regularly or through holidays, this option does give you that peace of mind and free up some time, it’s one less ball to have to juggle.

If you are struggling to stay on top of things, why not have a chat with me, I am happy to discuss outsourcing and how I can help you gain back sometime during your week.  And check out my latest freebie HERE

11 Things to ask your Virtual Assistant

 

 

 

 

 

Hope to chat with you soon

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5 things to expect from outsourcing

5 things to expect from outsourcing

Previously I have spoken about the things you should expect when working with a virtual assistant.

But what can you expect when you outsource? So you have spoken to a VA, you and told them what your pain points are, and the possible tasks you want to outsource.

5. Offload THOSE tasks! – we all have those tasks that take an age to do, or forever to get off your to do list, these could be the type of tasks that you can outsource to your new VA, it could be that type of task that would take them half an hour, where it would take you hours or days.

4. Reduced stress – Knowing that you could be working into the dead of night on the endless tasks you have, can be a real stress inducer, so knowing that you have that extra pair of hands at the ready will reduce the stress, knowing that those tasks that have taken you forever to get done are being done by your VA will reduce those stress levels.

3. Having an expert on hand – Now I am not saying your VA is the all seeing all singing superstar, but she/he will undoubtedly have a vast knowledge on may things that will help you move forward in business, and most VAs have a wide support network that they can call upon should the task or problem become troublesome.

2. More time in business – You will find that you will be gaining back more time to spend ‘IN’ your business not ‘ON’ your business, there is an enormous difference with this one. We all know that working ‘in’ your business you are working with clients, selling, making, planning whichever it is you do, basically making money, the ‘on’ the business is the amount of time you are having to spend doing the background work, emails, invoicing, marketing, advertising, social media, overdue payments, the list is endless, but these are the tasks your VA can do, which then turns your ‘on’ to ‘in’ time.

1. Happier you! – This one speaks for itself really, but yes after your initial settling in with your new VA, and things start to tick over and your business relationship grows, the less stress you will have and the happier you will be knowing that they are being taken care off, giving you that time you need to grow your dream.

If you are looking to outsource or you think you could benefit from this, then get in touch, will be more than happy to have a chat with you.  Check out my latest freebie HERE

11 Things to ask your Virtual Assistant

 

 

 

 

 

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Talk to your family………

talk with your family

Again, another random title lol but it is something I want to talk about, as let’s face it, your family have a massive influence in your business, at the end of the day I am pretty sure they are one of the top 5 reasons you started in the first place.

But do you talk to your partner? Do you bounce ideas off them? Do you ask for advice? And MORE importantly, do you NOT talk about business!?
Let’s face it we are all culprits of having a moan, or talking to your partners as soon as they take the key out the door, not least because it’s nice to see them, but also to the fact you have been in your home office all day, so adult company is always nice.

But we need to be mindful not to bombard them with our woes and worries, it’s nice to bounce those ideas off your loved ones, but equally, it is nice to SWITCH OFF, you’ll hear this a lot from me in the future.  I am all for working to grow my business but I am also a massive advocate of having that downtime, and more so lately with all the #headstogether campaign too.

#headstogether 

I know this is so off topic when it comes to business, whichever industry you are in, but it’s one that needs to be out there and spoken about, and being a business owner I worry about this too, when working from home we lock ourselves away in a bubble and sometimes forget to come out for air.

Your family are the ones supporting you, so make sure you are connecting with them and making sure if you have any problems they are aware of them.

Equally, you need to make sure you have plenty of down times too, this is such an important part of your business thriving, if you are not logging off and enjoying what is around you then it becomes a chore and no different to going and working for someone else.

 

Remember your reasons  

Now and then you need to put things in check and you need to remember why you are doing what you are doing, this works on other things too not just business related.  But sit and ask yourself what were the reasons you started your business.

 

  • Stick to your hours
  • Switch off
  • Play and talk with your family and friends
  • Enjoy downtime
  • Remember you need to make sure you talk to those around you, it’s so easy to lock yourself away
  • Enjoy your business, but also enjoy the reasons why you started

 

Your family and friends are there to support you, talk to them, be honest with them, and more importantly ENJOY what you have

 

If you are struggling to stay on top of things, why not have a chat with me, I am happy to discuss outsourcing and how I can help you gain back some time during your week.  And check out my latest freebie HERE

11 Things to ask your Virtual Assistant

 

 

 

 

 

Chat soon

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