How many of us spend time scrolling? Are you wasting time or is it constructive? It depends on why you are scrolling. Throughout the day unless I am doing Facebook Community Management I tend to stay off social media of all types.
In the evening I can be found scrolling again but I combine it with looking at business groups which I belong to. I spend about an hour a day checking my preferred channels and thinking about my business and how to engage on social media.
Some people recommend chunking it into 15 minute intervals, throughout the day. But for me I know that this realistically won't just be 15 minutes and will interrupt my work flow and probably the rest of my day too. My plans for this year are to schedule time to work on LinkedIn each day and also Facebook, scheduling and planning the time makes the rest of the day that much easier - and run a lot smother than it might otherwise. Often when I am reading or watching the news I will see something that I choose to share across my social media platforms, it's my way of keeping myself up to date - and my platform too.
As a planner, and someone who likes to be in control, I spend a couple of hours each month planning and scheduling most of my social media posts. It doesn't have to be monthly if that doesn't work for you, if weekly works for you then that is great, it is whatever works for you. For me, a quiet Sunday morning with a cup of coffee (biscuits are optional) works the best!
My posts tend to be similar each week to provide consistency to the people who follow me, as well as appealing to those people who might be interested in working with me.
My 3 top tips for social media are simple (and I don't mean 'simple' - I mean simple)
Do you struggle to do it all? We choose to be in business for many different reasons - but whether we choose to admit it or not we are doing it to make money!
For some people this honesty might be uncomfortable. As business owners looking to survive there are many more things than working with clients, whether providing a product or service. The unseen aspect of running a business is time consuming and at times stressful.
You are your own IT department, Bookkeeper, Customer Service Department and Social Media Manager, while also working in your Business Development department. This is as well as delivering the products or service.
Along with this you are also trying to balance this with your own life, whether as a partner, parent or carer or more frequently a combination of all of them.
Outsourcing the things that you hate or feel overwhelmed by can make your life a lot easier and you a more pleasant person to be around. I say this from a personal point of view and my daughter would certainly agree! This frees you up to concentrate on the things you enjoy doing, rather than the things you feel you have to do because there is no other option.
This isn't a new idea, if you read Chillpreneur by Denise Duffield-Thomas she advocates this from early on in your business journey.
For me, I outsource my bookkeeping & accounting. I am comfortable preparing my invoices and uploading my expenses but anymore than that, means I am then way out of my comfort zone. My lovely accountant knows this and is always patient with me. She must despair at times, I know I certainly do! Even though I am organised you can never find one piece of paper when you really need it (it is usually in the right pile but in the middle of it)! One year in the (hopefully) not too distant future, I will surprise her and not have to spend time looking for something. To make her life easier I now scan everything as it comes in.
Everything else I do in my business (with some assistance from my teenage daughter). Interestingly I having spoken to a few other Mums recently we have all co-opted our teenagers - willingly or not into working in our businesses. A tip for any teenagers reading this is that you can't pick & choose what you do, in the working world everyone hates some aspects of their jobs but you can't choose not to do them!
And it is the same for business owners, we don't get to choose which part of our jobs we don't want to do - but that is always why, if you are in the position to do so, outsourcing is a good option. It limits the chaos (and removes the parts you really have an issue with - such as my accounts book-keeping), and allows you to really focus on doing what you enjoy.
Often weekends are spent working on my business and I know I'm not alone on this. My next plan is to get a cleaner (Covid permitting) - so that's one thing off my always growing to-do list. In the meantime if this post resonates with you and you feel like you are drowning, work out what you dislike doing & think about outsourcing.
Recently I had an altercation with a car, but what does that really mean? The reason I ask the question is because what you think you said, what you said and how people interpret what you said might be completely different.
When I advised my clients of this their interpretation was different to mine. They assumed incorrectly I had been involved in an accident when driving. The reality was very different, I had been knocked over by a car! You are probably wondering where I am going with this.
Basically in my head I had been clear (admittedly still shocked when I sent my unambiguous message), but I wasn't which led to the confusion.
When my clients actually realised the reality they were shocked but please I had only sustained minor injuries. For me, who is usually clear and coherent in my communication it made me think about how sometimes, we see and read what we think is there.
If you are reading or listening to this using adaptive technology and my story is resonating with you and you regularly find yourself in a similar situation, where your messaging isn't getting across or people misunderstood what you are trying to say, then hiring a Virtual Assistant can help you get your ideas across, in your voice.
As a Virtual Assistant I work with you in the way you are most comfortable with. If voice messaging works for you then great - one of my clients sends me voice messages all the time and I write his emails for him using the recording he has sent to me. If you prefer to video call we can set up a regular time, and you can call me to tell me what you would like doing. As after all, that is the whole point of a Virtual Assistant.
This year I decided to try something different. I still love my logo & branding, but decided on a fresh approach to my social media. It is very easy (almost too easy) to get caught up and imitate other people's websites. As they say the best form of flattery is imitation. To date I have never seen anyone imitate me, thank goodness.
Maybe to some the imitation is a compliment, but business for me, has always been about being authentic, being me and making no apologies for it. Being unique and honest, and not trying to be something I'm not. I am me, and refuse to apologise for my love of pink.
The real me, is an introvert and will never be the noisy one in the room. I dread networking, but underneath the quiet persona is a sense of fun. I am calm, patient and passionate about everything I do (ok, maybe not the housework)!
I decided I wanted to ensure consistency across my social media and the channels I use. So hopefully you will see more consistency in what I am doing, while letting my personality shine through with the new templates that I now have to work with.
You might be wondering where I've been going with all of this, and honestly, if there is one thing you take away from this, I hope it is that to be in business does not always require corporate design. Be authentic, and be you, and let your business reflect that - no apologies are required.
With the introduction of the second lockdown last week for those in England I thought it was time to share my top tips for survival.
Recently my daughter had to have a COVID-19 test, which thankfully was negative. She had a sore throat which made her cough. In previous years she would have gone to school but that is no longer an option, as the school would have been rightly concerned & insisted she was tested.
During the first lockdown I found it easy to cope, mainly because as an introvert I am very happy staying at home. But as soon as you throw into the equation the possibility that she may have COVID-19 it becomes a totally different ballgame. The panic set in of what if (just to put this into perspective, I wasn’t convinced she did have it) but that little nagging doubt did creep in, thankfully her results did come back within 36 hours and our sense of normal life returned.
Anyway, back to my top tips.
Plan your day
Get up at a regular time, try to set a routine. Although I get up at 6.30 am for my morning commute – yes just down the stairs! I am not able to eat breakfast at that time, so will often have my breakfast at around 9 am. Make it work for you. As a creature of habit, I like to eat at regular times and this routine helps me break up the day.
Set up your workspace
Working on your sofa is not a long term option. Someone even told me they were working from their bed, although this one was a little hard to understand when they told me they had a table they could use! In an ideal world you would have your own workspace, but any decent table will do for now. Tips I have seen is getting a big box and packing it all away at the end of the day. I dream of the day when I can have a dedicated office but for now, I have my own space in an alcove, set up with everything I need to run my business.
A good chair is essential. Like shoes, chairs, take time to get used to. Over the years I have gone through a number of different ones and my current one is a fabric office chair with arms and is adjustable in height and the back mechanism tilts. The week I bought this chair I also bought my daughter a different one, by the end of the week I felt like I had a degree in interpreting awful diagrams and non-existent instructions! There were tantrums (from me) & bruises from trying to carry the parts upstairs. Who knew how heavy a chair can be even when it’s in bits?
For me noise cancelling headphones are a must. I own a set for my computer but also for my phone. The ability to type or write and avoid a frozen shoulder from holding phones under your ear are underrated. You don’t need really expensive ones but read the reviews. Last year I bought a set but they were so heavy they ended up going to the local charity shop as they were not comfortable.
I am very short-sighted and needed varifocals (christened by my 7 year old at the time as fairyfocals) very early in my 40’s, getting the lighting right has probably been the hardest thing for me. What works for a few months changes regularly. At this time of the year when some days are very dark I use a different combination to the height of summer. Ideally natural light is the best and sitting by a window is ideal. I don’t have that luxury so have mimicked day light above my desk, with bright white light and then I have a daylight lamp attached to my computer, which allows me to vary the brightness and change the intensity of the light as I need to. At the moment this is working but when I start to get headaches I check my lighting and adjust it until it is comfortable again.
Dealing with Monotony
Last lockdown it was spring into summer – we had hope and bright sunny days. This time we are heading rapidly to the shortest day. This feels gloomy, so when I am doing the same sort of tasks I try to break them up, I add in taking time to go outside – it is usually only to put the washing out but it still helps. I am also a someone who loves to snack, so will reach for snacks (not always healthy ones)!
Staying Warm & Comfortable
I hate being cold with a passion, so the key for me is layers – the more the better. Yes, I wear thermals to keep warm. I know of people who wear fingerless gloves when they are working & woolly hats, anything to avoid putting the heating on in their office! I am also a massive fan of slippers. I spend more on slippers than the average person and depending on the season as to what I am modelling! Not that you’ll ever know as you will only ever see my top half on video calls! I also keep a heater where I work for those cold days – why heat the whole house when it is only you.
This time, we can leave for as much exercise as we want. I am a fair weather exerciser. You will never find me willingly leaving the house on rainy days. I love to exercise at home and have a Personal Trainer – the only person who gets to tell me what to do and when, & I don’t complain!
I am a pacer and when I am on phone calls will happily walk around. Who knew you can do over 4000 steps just walking around the inside of your house? The downside to this is you can’t do it when you need to take the minutes for a meeting!
As someone who has worked at home for over 10 years this is my least favourite time of year and to get me through the next month I am ordering small things like seeds as something to nurture and look forward to next spring.
I am a small business Virtual Assistant and run my business freeing people up to do what they do best, while loving the paperwork you hate!