Virtual Assistant Help

I’m always cautious in my blog posts to not say things that may offend some, but I have a calling to write a little differently this time. Of course, I don’t want offend anyone. I want to build an awareness because as the title states: Being doer of all, could be the downfall of some.

 I saw this post last week in a FB group:  I need to hire a VA asap!  [VA = virtual assistant]

There is only one good thing in this post – that someone has recognized they need help!

There is so much wrong with this post. Let me highlight 3 reasons:

  1. When you are in the thick of things in your business, you are too far down the path to actually build and nurture a good relationship. You now have to take the time (that you don’t really have) to help someone succeed in working with you.  A great VA can pick up tasks very easily; however, they still need to know about your business and your processes.
  2. What does a VA mean to you?  There are so many niches and levels of VAs. So what exactly do you need?  This was a very large FB group. My guess is there will be over 100 replies or tags. How can this help you hire a VA? Where do you even start to know who to hire?
  3. Why does it need to be done asap? Did you not plan, did you not think about it earlier, did you not anticipate, did your VA quit or go missing in action?

I could go on with more but I will stop there. Hopefully at this point, you are asking – so what should I do when I need a VA?

The first step is the planning. I go back to “the doer of all, could be the downfall of some.” If you are handling all aspects of your business, it’s time to stop and plan.

  • Define a small budget and a few tasks that you do not need to do that you can give away to someone else.
  • Search in the right areas – a FB group with hundreds or thousands is going to be far too overwhelming.  Ask your colleagues, your smaller networking communities.

Find the right person early on when you have time to have them learn with you. Start a small relationship with a good assistant and let them grow in your business with you. It should be a partnership not a challenge.

The doer of all needs to delegate to grow!

I read a blog the other day that made me think more positively. Rather than dwelling on the things I can’t do right now or the challenges I face, this blog hit home and made me think of the things that I can be doing right now! 

So I created this list of FREE things which, for me, makes a double positive! I’ve also included some links or ideas that are also FREE!

Although this list is written for entrepreneurs, many of these things can be adapted to just about anyone. No doubt, this is a time when everyone is watching their finances and may feel unconnected due to isolation. Stay safe, stay healthy and stay positive!  

DREAM
I start with this one because I think it’s important to not forget to look ahead. Dream about the opportunities ahead. Dream about what you would like to do when you are no longer in isolation. Dream about ideas and journeys and what makes you happy. Create a list and every day, review it, or one item that makes you smile when you dream about it!  Here’s a link to popular journaling apps. 

NEWSLETTER
If you are not doing a newsletter then it’s a great time to start one. If you are, then continue to gather materials so you have the resources when you need them. Gather articles, your own photos, ideas, themes. Plan them out for a few months. Stay ahead of the game. Here’s a quick read about newsletters.

SOCIAL MEDIA
Although there may be too much on social media right now, it’s still a good a communication tool. Take time to clean up the groups you belong to and the pages you like. Review new groups. And share positive, real, and relevant posts. Comment on people’s post with positive and happy notes.

SOCIAL MEDIA CALENDAR
If you’re a business owner, take a bit of time each day to create or continue to build your social media calendar. Once business picks up, you’ll appreciate having the content ready to go. HubSpot offers some excellent templates.  

TOUCHPOINTS
Spend a few minutes each day checking in with people. An email, a call, a private message – whatever it is, select a few people a day and make it happen. I’m sure they’ll appreciate it.

REVIEW YOUR BUSINESS (OR LIFE) PLAN
When business is a bit slower, take out the business plan and see where you are. Is it time to adapt or set out new timelines? It’s also a great time to review your life plan – do you have your Will and Power of Attorney’s up to date; what places do you want to visit that you now have time to research. It seems that life will never be normal again, but it will be normal again, so continue to plan & dream.

CREATE FREE OR NEW OFFERS
As a business owner, what can you give your audience? Is it time to create some new materials, new opt-ins, new programs? Start a list of ideas and see what jumps out at you. Or take a look at the list you have and what can you put into action right now. This is a limited time offer, but here’s a link to a Udemy course to create your own online course.  

TRAINING
There is an abundance of free training out there. What do you want to learn? Check out  YouTube or LinkedIn learning. What is of interest – and this doesn’t just apply to work – maybe you want to try yoga or some type of cooking lessons – Google is your friend. Many people are offering free online training so take advance of it!

UPDATE YOUR CONTACT LIST & DATABASE
No better time than the present to do an export and a clean up.  Check your emails and see if there should be people on your list that aren’t or your business card pile that you haven’t tackled in awhile.  From a personal standpoint, same thing – what little notes and scraps of paper do you have floating around the house with phone numbers and names, put them into your address book!

SET UP NEW APPS YOU WANT TO TRY
Need to get organized, there’s an app for that. Want to create an online notebook, there’s an app for that. Struggling with your scanner, there’s an app for that You get the point. Now’s the time to select a few and get them setup and working for you. Here’s a few of my favourites:

  • Trello – task list
  • Calm – meditation
  • OneNote – online notebook
  • LastPass – password saver
  • Genius Scan – scanning from your mobile device
  • Dropbox or Google Drive or Microsoft One Drive – get set up on a cloud

BONUS FREEBIE: One very important free thing you can do & should do is to back up your computer!  

I hope you find a few of these FREE things helpful as you contemplate what to do next.


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Feeling like your drowning?  If you are not used to working at home, it’s not an easy transition especially when the kids are home, possibly your spouse or partner is home & there’s no where to go to get some quiet time.

Here are some thoughts on structure, focus and overwhelm.

Structure

  • Set daily routines & times … this means for everyone. Post a daily schedule and outline work time, quiet time, school work time, lunchtime, etc. If your kids are old enough, they can easily read and follow and understand that work time and quiet time are important.  If the children are younger in age, then add some images for them to recognize and check off as you work through the schedule.  
  • Make sure you add Prep Time in the schedule.  Time to prepare activities, school work and meals. Divide up prep time so everyone gets involved, if that works for you. If you prefer to manage it yourself, just block the time for yourself.
  • (TIP: quiet time could be for the kids, not for you, or for the whole household where there are no phone calls or tv.) 

Focus

  • Once you have a structure set, think about focus. What are the top 3 things you MUST do today during your work time and quiet time. This is a list you can create first thing in the morning or the night before you will tackle them. 
  • Once this short list (3 items) is done, you can get started. Try your absolute best not to get into something else until you have your focus items completed.
  • If you have completed the 3 items earlier than planned, then write another 3 down. Tackle one at a time so you don’t get stressed trying to fit too much in in a short period of time.

Overwhelm

  • There seems to be so much more to do when our routines are disrupted. But, in reality, there really isn’t. We just need to take a bit more time to adjust how we get things done.
  • Make a list of all the tasks you need to do. Keep a running list as you probably won’t remember it all in one sitting.
  • Now look at the structure/schedule you have set.  How do these items fit into that schedule – for things that are easy like meal prep, kids school work, etc., – slot them in and check them off your list.
  • What is left?  Probably all your work stuff. So now, create your focus items by due date or for the next 3-4 days – remember 3 items per day. Check those off the list.
  • What is left? Consider if you really need to do what is left. Can it wait? Do you need help?  Should you adjust the daily schedule?

It is challenging to change overnight and to re-adjust life. Don’t take it lightly and don’t think you are being defeated. It’s a process. It requires action. It requires a new way to look at things. It can be done … slow & steady wins the race.

Do you ever read an article and it’s “bang-on” with what you are experiencing?That is what happened to me when I read this article on www.themuse.com.  

Here’s a quick snapshot of 4 Ways You’re Making It Harder Than It Needs To Be:

  • Outdated process
  • Everybody’s stamp of approval
  • Forgetting previous feedback
  • Planning for every scenario

 

It simplified a lot of what I experience as a virtual assistant. My introductory calls always get into similar themes:

  • No time to learn new tech stuff
  • Stalled or delayed because of uncertainty or indecisiveness
  • Too much time planning and not executing

 

Now, we know that we can plan all we want but until we execute, there’s no money coming in! But if there’s no action – there’s definitely no sales! So let’s keep this short and sweet.  Stop making it harder on yourself and start taking the right action.

Find a team that will make you accountable, will listen and offer good feedback and keep you accountable.  Keep a journal of previous feedback and planning ideas for future reference.

But most of all – stop making it hard on yourself!

Reach out – build your team! You’ll feel so much better and you’ll be surprised that greater success is within reach!

After my last blog, A Dog, A Lake and An iPad, I had a few inquiries about cloud storage and backups.  Hmmm, who would have thought that my experience would prompt a bit of fear in others!  So I’ll take advantage of those inquiries and share a few details on clouds and backups.

Clouds – A magical place, not on your actual computer, where you can store files. The 3 most common ones are Google Drive, OneDrive and Dropbox. They are all very similar in the way they store files. Some have a greater storage capacity than others, some have a fee for more storage. Benefits to cloud storage:

  • The files are not on your computer so if your computer crashes or is lost/stolen, the files are still accessible.
  • In most cases, you can access the files from other devices or computers. So if you are travelling and you want to access a file, you can do so.
  • You can use them as a back up – keep files on your computer but sync to a cloud as well. This is not a replacement for a full back up, but it does help to keep a second version of the files.

Backups – An absolute MUST DO for everyone with a computer. There are various ways to do a back up. It’s best to talk to a tech person to set one up properly so that your entire computer is backed up – which would include your software, settings, and files.

If you have an iPhone or iPad, you have automatic back up to iCloud so be sure it is set up.

And, finally, some people have asked me about OneNote.  OneNote is an electronic notebook. It is a great way to save notes and data in a notebook format. As with Google Drive, OneDrive and Dropbox, you can have this saved in a cloud and access the info anywhere.

My upcoming Computer Clean Up Challenge will provide support in using clouds and OneNote to clean up your files, make them more easily accessible and help you stay more productive.  Sign up for my newsletter or follow me on Facebook to be sure you hear of the start date and the special early bird sign up offer!

 

You’re probably wondering what all 3 have in common and what they have to do with a virtual assistant.  Well, I must say it’s nice to be able to work virtually especially sitting by a lake. However, this story is about computers and back ups.
A few weeks ago, we were up north and I decided that it would be lovely to sit on the dock, watch the sunset, and read a book with my dog sitting beside me. That thought lasted about 3 minutes before chaos struck. The dog somehow slipped off the dock, his leash wrapped around my arm pulled me back and my iPad promptly joined him in the lake. My iPad is just as important to me as my computer! It holds a lot of data and information for me. It’s part of my “trilogy” – iPhone, iPad, and MacBook. They work in sync.
The story is rather funny now but not so much at the time. The dog escaped the chaos with no injuries.  Wish I could say the same for my iPad. By the time it was fished out of the lake, it was too wet for repair.  BTW, rice did not work 🙂
Now the good news, I’m a firm believer of the “cloud” and all my info is stored in clouds.  I had an iCloud backup, I use Notes, Office 365 and OneNote along with Google apps. I had no loss of data!
Moral of the story:  use clouds, back up and always be prepared!  I encourage you to watch this video ….. and to always be prepared should chaos hit your technology tools.

I knew that a messy desktop can distract from the task at had, but I had no idea how much. I recently read a post that said:

Participants at a UBC study took 10% more time to perform tasks when sitting at a messy desk (compared with control group at clean, organized desk).

I thought that was pretty interesting because I know that I am far less productive when I’m surrounded by a messy workspace.  So in doing a little research, I came across this article that highlights even more statistics about messy workspaces.  Did you know that the average person wastes 4.3 hours per week searching for papers?  I’ve been there – how about you?

Organize Your Desktop with These Six Items

Here are six well-priced items, totalling under $60 for all, that are effective tools to keep your desktop organized so that you can enjoy your workspace.

File Organizer – Files should always be upright on your desk. Why, you ask?  Once you lay a file folder flat, you start to pile other things on top of it and it’s no longer accessible.  A vertical file holder allows you to see the folder and label and you can slip papers into the proper folder quickly.

File Folders – I like end tab folders. They have tabs on the top and on the side.  Perfect because no matter which way you have your file organizer facing,  you can read the tabs on the folder.

Odds’n Ends Organizer – The perfect little holder for pens, notepads, loose papers, and other odds’n ends.

Notebook – Keep at least one notebook handy at all times.  Write all your notes in it rather than little bits of paper here and there.  If you like, have separate notebooks for different topics.  But get into the habit of using it for your lists and notes and you’ll keep a tidier desktop.

Post It Tabs – Love, love, love!  Keep them handy with your notebooks or your file folders so you can flag specific pages for easy reference.

Pens – A few different colour pens not only adds a touch of colour but you can make notes in different colours to help you highlight and separate ideas.

It doesn’t take much to keep your desktop tidy. These six items are reasonably priced and versatile. If you’re struggling to get your workspace tidied up, give this a shot. At these prices, you don’t have much to lose – but you have so much time to gain!

Being an executive assistant for over 30 years, and now working as a virtual assistant, I’m always reading articles about the admin profession. I’m passionate about what I do and my goal is provide the best support I possibly can.

I came across this article recently.  Although it’s a few years old, it’s written really well and can easily be adapted from personal assistant to virtual assistant.

Being an assistant, to me, is a balance between cheerleader and partner – working alongside you to give you the best support for your success!

10 Things that Personal Assistants Do Better Than Anyone

by Bonnie Low-Kramen for Estate & Manor Magazine | August 14, 2015

The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” – Steve Jobs *

It’s about love.

The great assistants all love what they do. They unabashedly and unapologetically love their work in support of others. They blow off comments like, “You’re just an assistant,” because they know better. Personal assistants are some of the brightest, most organized and resourceful people on the planet. That is why not everyone is cut out for this demanding work. They are very far from being “just” anything. The smartest people in the business world know to invest in the true power of the assistant.

I worked for 25 years as the personal assistant to Oscar winner Olympia Dukakis, and I loved it. Yes, I said it. Friends would say that I was one of the only people they knew who genuinely loved their job. That always struck me as important feedback as I observed how often the world treats assistants with disrespect. That happened to me too. Working with a movie star did not make me totally immune. Now I teach Be the Ultimate Assistant workshops for assistants all around the world and I want to share some universal truths about this thing we call love. These apply whether it is an assistant in Maryland or Malaysia or any point in between.

Here are the top 10 things that assistants do better than anyone else:

  1. They are relentlessly adaptable. They love the variety the job offers and that no two days are ever the same which makes it easy for them to shift gears at a moment’s notice.
  2. They love a challenge. “No” is usually not an option. True confession: I used to play a game at work called “How few emails or phone calls in the shortest time will it take to get this answer?” I won if it took three or less in five minutes or less.
  3. They underplay their power. Looks can be deceiving. The assistant has the ear of her manager and wields tremendous influence. Do not underestimate this. Seriously.
  4. Making people happy is their goal. Going above and beyond is SOP. Personal assistants have an innate desire to please and to figure out the myriad of ways to do that. Assistants are born with a “service heart” and receive great pleasure and satisfaction from being supreme implementers.
  5. They read minds. They usually need a clue or two. A look on their principal’s face or the way a fellow staffer responded at the staff meeting. Great assistants are clairvoyant and truly know when “it is a good time” to approach the boss, and more importantly, when it is not. Anticipating what needs to be done is their gift.
  6. They love to put out fires and bring order to chaos. The assistant is the go-to person in any crisis whether it is prepping for Hurricane Sandy or untangling a meeting gone haywire.
  7. They are master jugglers. The best assistants enjoy managing 12 invisible balls in the air and are able to handle #13 and #14 too. Just give them a fresh cup of coffee.
  8. They are hungry to learn. Assistants know that they need to commit to life-long learning in order to stay at the top of their game. Smart CEOs and business leaders recognize this need and invest in their assistant’s professional development.
  9. They are connected. Resources are an assistant’s best friends. The best assistants have the widest and deepest networks. They know the magic power of relationships to get it done…now.
  10. They yearn to make a difference. Assistants are the ultimate enablers for their managers and companies. It gives them great pleasure to see the results of their plotting and planning. They don’t need a lot of feedback. A little goes a long way.

If fully utilized and are well managed, assistants are the eyes and ears of their principals and can be the powerful secret weapons of every household and estate.

10 Things that Personal Assistants Do Better Than Anyone

 

The true old saying tells us that money can’t buy happiness.  I have to disagree. Money can buy happiness.

Top health problems are related to stress – heart disease, asthma, obesity and headaches are all stress-related ailments. Stress is one reason for arguments, relationship problems, and business failures.

So if we can eliminate some stress in our lives, we can be happier in our relationships, be healthier and run successful businesses.

Common ways to relieve stress include:

  • Going for a walk or a workout
  • Meditation and yoga
  • Deep breathing
  • Keep a gratitude journal
  • Do something you enjoy

 

But what about getting the help you need to alleviate the workload in your home and in your business.

♥ A cleaning service for your home

♥ Lawn service or snow removal service

♥ Home services such as grocery delivery or organizing

♥ Bookkeeper

♥ Virtual assistant

 

We often feel that we can’t afford the services so we just continue being stressed and overloaded.  It’s not doing any good!  These services come at different price points so you can negotiate to fit to your budget.

The best term I heard when I started my business was “money flows”.  Somehow, when you decide that you need to rely on a service to help you maintain balance, the money follows.  Maybe it comes from the extra time you have not worrying about the service; maybe it comes from more time to sell; or maybe it was there all along.

Money can buy happiness & health & wealth!

 

Featured Contribution submission for SheOwnsIt.com

time

When I tell people that I’m a virtual assistant, I almost always get a reply of, “oh, I need you!” That is a great feeling – to be needed. And that is a wonderful way to start a conversation about the “needs”.

So when does a business owner really need a virtual assistant? My answer is usually the same … it’s all about time. When you find you are spending time doing administrative work but could be doing something else. What is that something else?

  • It could be more time to connect with your clients or prospective clients to generate a larger revenue.
  • It could be more valuable time with your family.
  • It could be more time to investigate a new venture or create a strategic plan for growth.
  • It could be that the administrative work has grown to a larger time commitment due to increased business.

It’s really different for everyone. It’s all about return on investment. What is the “time” worth to you and what are you willing to pay to get that time back?

Often letting go of a few small things is the best way to start. It can lead to greater growth and prosperity as well as peace of mind. Give up the monotonous tasks and you find a new level of love for what you do!

If you think you’re in need of more time, think of what tasks keep you from it and let’s chat!