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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How to free up time

How to free up your timeSometimes we just can’t put our fingers on where the time has gone today, it always seems a surprise that it’s time to clock off and do the other job you might have, for me its mummy duties!   

We all say the same thing ‘OMG where has today gone’ I am such a culprit of those sayings, you’ll find me saying it half way through the year too, and the same at Christmas time, sadly the time goes to the same place it does every day lol, it is no real surprise really ‘Time and Tide wait for no man’ and it’s true. 

But it’s a bit of a double edge saying, as yes the days do go fast but when you have that pig of a task that you are doing, time just d-r-a-g-s doesn’t it, it makes it even more painful, it’s bad enough that you have to do the damn task, but to make your day hell is just not acceptable.

So, what tasks are time-consuming?

  • Social media – oh my days what a total time zapper, you popped on to check your page, and then you find out that Karen’s daughter has a new hamster, or Darren has scrapped his car and is looking for a decent repair garage!!
  • Spreadsheets – yes they do still exist, they haven’t become extinct (yet) and yes they are still long winded and painful, whether its expenses or keeping track of work related performances to plain old data entry, it is still time-consuming. 
  • Newsletters – this is one of those ones that you know you should be doing, but finding the time to create your newsletter, create the address list for it to go to, then find the time each month to get a new one created and sent out, is frankly boring and time zapping, you haven’t got time for this! But your little fairy is telling you otherwise! Who needs sleep anyway!
  • Research – there is still no quick way of doing this, well unless you were researching in the 80s then yes Google has happened and has sped some things up, but basic researching is still the equivalent to teeth pulling in Edwardian times.
  • Late payment chasers – ah this is one of my favs! Doing a job and not being paid for it, luckily in my VA business this has only happened once, in my other joint business sadly this has happened too often, and the time it takes to get in touch with them and give them suitable warning that payment needs making, that could be 20-30 mins wasted. 

Have you got any of these tasks?

Do you have to do any of these during your time on your business? If so then of these can be outsourced to a virtual assistant.  As well as audio transcription, copy typing, diary management, travel arrangements, event management, data entry, database management, CRM set up, a blog set up or creation, website assistance. Then you can start considering those VAs that have specific Nichè, like those that can do your paperwork for your tax returns, those that have medical or law background, you will also find some that have design as their forte.

My tip to you is a simple one, if you have a task or 2 that is taking up far too much of your time it is possibly the right time to get that extra pair of hands in.  

I am happy to have a chat with you on where you need to look, or just happy to speak to you about the whole process.

Chat soon

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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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Getting the most out of your day

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Being a business owner is great, I love it, it is so rewarding, I work around my little family, get to do the school engagements, homework and make memories with them.

So, hands up all those that have fun trying to fit everything into their working day! Yep ME, I sometimes open my diary on Monday and think ‘What the heck’ and I can feel myself going into overdrive, but we need to remember we are human! We can only do what we can with the time we have.

National Stationery Week (honest)

I have found some useful hacks to get me through those hectic weeks.  See I am a tech loving gal, but I do adore my stationary, a little apt as its National Stationary week this week, (it really is a thing check it out HERE), I do love writing things down, and trust me I have written down notes, keywords for this blog that you are reading now, before I drafted it and posted it to my website. No matter how much I try to move everything to electronic, my inner child just loves going into a stationary shop and buying lush books, pens and other amazing bits and bobs for my desk.

So here are a few hacks that I use to stay in control and get the most out of my work day:

  • I plan my week on Friday before, or latest on Sunday
  • Block out any long-standing commitments, I have 2 of these in my working week, and they are blocked out on my electronic diary and my desk diary every week, so I know that Tuesday 9.30-11.00 and Thursday 9.30-11.30 each week are blocked out regardless, I know I cannot book anything in during those times. So I work my other tasks around those times. I also know that I have the school run to do so that is blocked out.
  • Highlight ‘DFT’ Distraction Free Time, this is the time when all pings, dings and notifications are banished, use this time for when you NEED to have your head down with NO distractions, so turn off your phone, don’t open certain apps and programs. Imagine you are heading into a cave lol – I wrote about it HERE in a previous blog.
  • Colour coding, for me each of my clients has a colour code, this way it’s easy to see in my diary, who is blocked in where and when, but equally my business has a colour too, and I make sure that I give myself equal time to market and promote my business, as well as my own admin/finances etc.
  • Use systems to optimise your productivity, I use Trello and Canva, both are incredible in their own right, Trello is my go to program that holds all my social media content past and future, ideas, helpful information like Hashtags, advertising rules for Facebook groups etc, and Canva helps me create amazing images and Memes in a heartbeat.
  • Find tools that will aid you in progressing your business but not suck up all your time. Social Media alone is one of the biggest time suckers out there, we have all been there, nip on for 2 mins and bang 1hr gone, so use tools like Hootsuite etc to schedule in your daily/weekly posts, I do this every Friday for my content and my clients work, that way I don’t have to worry about it each day, and I haven’t lost stupid amounts of time on social media
  • Timer, I work with a timer, not only for my client work but for me too, I have noticed that as soon as I click on that go button, my procrastination waivers a little and find I am more productive knowing my timer is going. Before I used this I would happily waste time on what I thought was useful but turns out I was unproductive to my business.
  • Visible clock, again I have mentioned this before, you need to have a visible clock in your office, you need to be aware of the time you have left on that particular day, and if a task is taking too long, then schedule it for first thing the following day, give yourself a break from it. I have noticed since having a clock in my office I am more aware of my day, crazy I know but for me, it has really worked.
  • Set an alarm, remember you are not a 24/7 business, you have to eat, sleep, relax and do things you enjoy, you need to remember those office hours, if you do not have office/working hours in place, I urge you to set some this week. And make sure you stick to it. Can you imagine being in your old employed job and your boss tells you that you never log off!!!

These are just a few small hacks I have found very useful to my business, I hope they help you if you have any of your own do share them with us.

Get in touch

If it is becoming apparent that you are struggling to stay on top of your day to day tasks, and you are finding you are having less time to do those things that pull in the money, then why not get in touch, would love to have a chat and see if I can help you. You can connect here

 

Chat soon,

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The power is in your hands……………Honest

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Hey everyone, in my last blog I mentioned to you above trying to find your self-discipline, how has that gone? It can be a tricky one to grab hold of and run with, because of so many distractions, I also gave you some tips on how to cope and deal with those distractions.

This month

I want to talk to you about the importance of staying in touch with your crowd, we all know we can stay in touch via Social Media, but sometimes it’s just not enough is it.  I have got into a good routine of keeping a check on my insights on my social platforms, I post at various times, some when my crowd are online and other times when they are not active, most of my crowd are online late afternoon/early evening, I do schedule posts for that time, but I do like to do things in real-time too.

In March’s newsletter, I spoke about the amazing competition that I won back in October 2016, which was run by the A.M.A.Z.I.N.G Emma Holmes of Coaching Rockstars. I had seen her posts on social media and a few friends through business had shared her post too, but still, didn’t feel compelled to enter it as I felt I wasn’t lucky enough.  Then I had a Rockstar newsletter hit my inbox which went into more detail, with all the relevant links, it just spoke to me, I felt it resonated with me and the situation I was in at the time, it was that email just pushed me into entering, and how glad am I that I did! I have managed to spend time with some AWESOME, inspiring, knowledgeable women in the industry.

The power of e-marketing is huge and can have such an amazing effect on your business.  You can reach out to your crowd with a push of a button, you know it will land in their inbox when you ask it too, and it will be filled with great content, you can get your message over in more depth, as on social platforms you don’t want to flood your crowds timelines nor make it too long.  This way you can create that eye-catching content.

Winning this competition has change my business completely, and it landing in my inbox gave me that push to enter myself

I think how Emma ran her competition and made sure it landed in the right hands was amazing, she clearly knows her crowd and she knows how to make you feel that she is reading your mind. This IS something you can learn over time, but you need to start somewhere, so being in touch with your crowd regularly via a newsletter is key. You can grow your list with sign-up boxes and links to freebies, these are things I will be talking about in future blogs and newsletters.

Growing your list won’t happen over night, think back to my favourite saying “Slowly Slowly Catchy Monkey”

On the Social

Over the last few weeks on my page we have celebrated International Women’s Day, it’s a powerful day, and one that should be celebrated.

Also, I shared a video from Eric Thomas who claims there is no such thing as procrastination, he says people get it confused with something that is of no interest to you, so in turn have no desire to do the task, what do you think?

I also touched upon a subject that is close to my heart and to a few fellow Virtual Assistants, over recent weeks I have seen a few small business owners getting frustrated that people are either late paying or the next worst thing asking for a discount! As I stated on my page, I do not give discounts, I have packages that benefit my clients, I may give a discount should they recommend me, but I will not give a discount off the cuff! You can read that post HERE

Build A Door!

Why wait? I asked my followers why wait for that business to find you, sitting in your office behind the PC isn’t going to pay the bills, you have to be active looking for business, you need to get yourself out there, be bold, be bright, be seen (I’m sure that’s a tagline for crossing the road!) If opportunity isn’t knocking then build a door! What do you do? do you go networking, or have another avenue you go down to generate leads and business? share with us what you do.

Build a door, why wait

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If you have anything you need help with or want me to discuss then leave me a comment, I have a huge list of thigs that I want to share with you over time, so do let me know as I could be doing a series that could benefit you.

Don’t forget I have my freebie – What to ask your Virtual Assistant, I created this to help those that are hoping to hire a VA in the near future or maybe changing to a new one, its just a small guide to help you.

If you are struggling to stay on top of things and wondering if outsourcing is the way forward for you and your business, I am happy to have a chat with you to help you decide.  It suits some but not all.

How to connect with me

 

 

 

Logging Off…….You can do it honest!

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I don’t know about you, but when it gets to a certain time of day I seem to struggle to log off, ever since launching my business and I became a small business owner, I constantly feel compelled to stay logged on and producing more work, more Facebook posts, more tweets, more memes, just more in general.

But when is enough really enough? As I have mentioned in previous blogs, I had to get strict with myself purely for my own sanity.  There I was constantly telling you all to free up some time and have quality time with your loved ones or even do your hobby, and there I was still logged on churning out work.

So, when I felt slightly burnt out Mr RAS put his foot down and reminded me that  I started this business to firstly to fit around our small family, followed on by helping fellow business owners take control of their time, and help them with their tasks, and he was right, burning myself out wasn’t helping anyone, least of all myself, as I was creating a monster that was going to implode one day.

So, I sat there and redrew my plans for the business and for the family, and not surprising my family came up first, which I think I would have been surprised if they hadn’t.  But I had a massive shake up, I set myself proper working hours, and a dedicated late night for online networking and that’s it!

This has been in full swing now for a few months, things have gotten a little easier now both of my children are in full-time school, so a lot of client work is getting done during my office hours and not when the children have gone to bed, don’t get me wrong, if one of my clients comes to me in a real bother and urgently needed help, then of course I will try my hardest to help them out of that hole they are in.

You owe it to yourself, and your growing business to be firm with your expectation,  I bet when you was employed in the corporate world, come 5.30pm you was out that door queuing to get out of the car park, so why are you still sat there at 8-9pm at night working! And I bet you have even taken your laptop to the family room to work, to make it feel like you’re still part of the family! And then you wonder why your body feels like you have gone 10 rounds with Tyson!

Now is the time for tough love!

Top 5 tips on getting our time back

  1. Sit down and set realistic working hours, I have set mine as 9.30-3.00 then 6-6.30 (finishing off any rogue tasks) and one late night on a Tuesday for online networking.
  2. Plan your week, this needs to be done on one of 3 days, either Friday afternoon before you log off for the weekend and finalise the week you have had, or Sunday afternoon fresh from the weekend, fresh eyes, fresh mind or first thing Monday morning before you check anything else and get waylaid by any other tasks.  Personally, I prefer Friday afternoon or Sunday afternoon, there are fewer chances of me getting distracted.
  3. Schedule, there are loads of free tools out there for you to use in order to schedule your posts/tweets etc, I personally use the free version of Hootsuite – with this I can schedule in my post for Facebook (I have my business page linked to it) I can also schedule my tweets, I have my Google+  and LinkedIn accounts connected to my Hootsuite. I recommend to try and schedule in around 2 posts a day on Facebook, and one on other platforms, Twitter is different as it’s so fast paced so it depends on how visible you are on it depends on how many you need to be tweeting, you need a consistent stream on all your platforms, I believe Instagram and Pinterest have their own scheduling tools built in,  Whilst on that note, Facebook do have their own scheduling tool built in which is brilliant, so if you only use Facebook then that will be perfect.
  4. If something isn’t working, then take a 10 min break, go grab a bite to eat or a cuppa, don’t sit there stressing and letting it consume you, if it’s a task that seems to be beating you, then ask a friend or see if you can find an accountability buddy that you can bounce off, fresh eyes can sometimes help a fuzzy situation, just because you work at home for yourself, it doesn’t mean you have to be isolated and alone!
  5. Lastly, if things are just getting out of hand, and no matter what you are doing, you can’t get on top of your workload, then maybe it is time for you to look at outsourcing. Now this word often generates fear and anxiety amongst business owners, I can pretty much bet my shoes that you have a friend that has used someone in the past for outsourcing and it turned into an absolute nightmare.  This doesn’t have to be the case, if you do your research, connect with people and join some relevant business groups, you will soon grab some tips on how to find someone suitable, or you could connect with me and I can either help you with your issues, or give you some guidance on finding someone that you wish to work with.

Try and put these in practice, you owe it to yourself, your mind body and soul as well as your family to get a grip with your workload and working hours.

Give them a go and let me know how you get on, change needs to happen, if it doesn’t you will just run yourself into utter exhaustion.

Love

Claire x

 

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Keeping Track of your work time

Keep track of your time - blog header

So in my last blog we spoke about logging off, and that we not only owe it to ourselves but to our nearest and dearest, we need that time to relax and let our bodies and brains relax.  We forget that our loved ones have to put up with us being snippy, tired and stressed.

I had set you a goal last time, I suggested that you were to sit down and work out your opening/working hours and stick to them, so did you? how did it work out for you? fill me in and let me know if putting in place those set hours has made a difference.  I would go as far as to say I bet you have been slightly more productive, I know that sounds weird, but it’s true, if you have a finish time in sight then you work towards that goal, and lets face it at the end of the day life and work are all based on goals, and your clocking off time in business is no different, its a goal.

So keeping track of work time is the subject of today’s blog, I don’t know about you, but in my employed days we didn’t have a timer per say, but we had targets that had to be met by certain deadlines, we would have weekly catch-up meetings, during those meetings we had tasks that were assigned to us, once they were finished, we were all circulated the minutes with our new or ongoing tasks on there,  how we chose to keep track of them was a personal choice, some would enter them into their email calendar system, some would use the team project management tool, it was what worked for you.

This stands true for you now, you need to find a system that is going to work for you and your business, what you may have used in days gone by, might not work for you today.  But you need to keep track of your work time and the tasks you are doing during the day.  If you don’t keep track this is when the working over your hours and late nights start to creep back in, and this is what we are trying to avoid.

Logging Off!

For me at the moment, I have an inbuilt clock that tells me that I need to be out of my home office no later than 2.55pm to get to school on time to start collecting the children, and would be a BIG NO NO in my children’s eyes should they be left at the school door.

But, I also use a few tools to help me stay focused and on track with time, we all need a toolkit in business, don’t we!

Asana

I use this a fair amount to keep track of client projects that I am doing, and is great as my clients can add things too, this is fab for keeping track on your progress and time spent on projects.

Trello

So this is similar to Asana, but this is for my own personal progress and work projects, this is my system for keeping track of what I am doing, what I want to do, what I need to do, it is incredibly easy to use, and user-friendly.  I use Trello for most of my content ideas.

Email calendar

I use this daily for those things that aren’t necessarily a project but could be a call, webinar, or an appointment that needs keeping, and let’s face it your clocking off time is really an appointment, isn’t it.  So why not put your end time on the calendar so it goes off at the end of your working day. Better still set 2 reminders, 1 to go off 10 mins before you finish to overview what you have achieved and what needs to be done tomorrow, and the other to say home time 🙂

These are the 3 biggies I use daily in conjunction with each other as well as my screaming internal clock at 2.55PM ‘SCHOOL RUN, SCHOOL RUN’ that helps me stay on track.  Here are a list of other things and tips that may help you in the quest for time keeping and time management:

  • Bullet Journal (paper planner fab and very addictive)
  • Mind Mapping (empty out your mind with all your ideas, as they can slow you down)
  • Use one calendar and sync with all devices
  • Turn off all distractions, yes including Facebook, it may be your main lead generator, but it is also your biggest time waster (trust me!)
  • Set a visible clock, sounds daft but it will work, it’s too easy to ignore that one in the bottom right of your screen
  • Set 30 minutes aside every morning to plan your day and set out your time planner, this will help you stay on track, and don’t forget to pencil in distraction time, lets face it we all get distracted, but at least if we account for it, it’s not eating into our productive time.

 

Nothing is set it stone here, I am only trying to offer some solutions to the problem, maybe one thing might work, maybe more will work, who knows, until you give something a go you just won’t know, will you? One size does not fit all when it comes to business.

Remember, if you are still struggling and you need help or advice, or should you wish to outsource, or discuss outsourcing, then I am always here for a chat, I do offer free 30 min phone consults.  If you want to chat here’s how:

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So let me know if you try any of these, would love to hear your comments.

Take care, have a fab week, don’t forget to have a summary of the week before you log off tonight and plan from next week.

Love

Claire x