How many times do you sit in meetings and wonder why you are there? Do you ever find yourself clock watching and thinking that rather than discussing it you could be doing the work. How often do you attend meetings about meetings?
I know some meetings are essential but can recall times when I have been asked to attend meetings that are a total waste of time (this is not just in my former jobs but also to make a team appear bigger and make the coffee)! As a business owner, I have met people who seem to spend a lot of time attending meetings, to such an extent I wonder when they actually get down to doing some real work.
With the advent of applications such as Zoom life has become easier. No more travel time and the ability if you are the host to record the meeting. Today I was on a work call from the UK with us situated in various parts of the UK, with others in India and California, with the associated time differences, we were all in the same 'room' at the same time.
Even virtual coffees (or wine), depending on the time of day are a great way for meetings both for business and social purposes. From a business perspective It reduces the need to travel, I am certainly a fan of them, as it gives me a chance to build working relationships
Of course, there are times when face to face meetings are the best way forward and I too love a good chat and cup of coffee with a real person.
However, I do believe it is a fantastic opportunity to embrace the technology and enables you to 'meet' people that perhaps you would previously have had to travel to meet.
My top tip is to practice first with a friend as like all new things it can take a little time to learn how to use it and research the market to see what options are available and the most suitable for your requirements.
This month I have been challenging myself to learn new skills, not necessarily to offer to clients, but for use within my business.
For me, I thrive on learning new skills and it helps to keep me motivated. All my learning is online based, so it fits in around the rest of my workload, so whether it's 15 minutes, while I wait for a response or an hour in the evening it is about adding value to my business.
I have noticed that all the challenges I have found suggest the bite size approach, with this in mind I decided to undertake a 5 day challenge. Days 1 & 2 went well and so was day 3 until every parent's challenge occurs - the call from school, telling you your child is unwell. That saw the end of the challenge for that day. Days 4 & 5 - no point doing those until I completed day 3. So on day 5 I started day 3 and then didn't finish it as paid work was a priority.
No problem the weekend arrives, I had a couple of days to catch up on days 2,4 and 5. Again I was caught up sorting out paid work. Reassuringly the videos were still available for another week. Monday morning arrived - I had a little quiet time, so caught up with days 3, 4 & 5. Hooray finished! I loved it and despite a couple of moments of worry - experts always make it look easier (they have had lots of practice) but the feeling of something new was brilliant and now I am putting those skills into practice.
I love routine and order, in my work life. Anything outside of my normal day to day activity makes me slightly nervous. Imagine my horror when my teenage daughter announced in May, she had been invited to visit Liverpool and due to the nature of the visit it was midweek.
Usually, I would have said fine and taken the time off - but knowing that we were going away to visit relatives for 3 weeks, I was unsure how my clients would react to another couple of days off. Yes, I hear you shout I am a freelancer and can do what I want. However, when one of my clients sounded surprised about my extended break I decided another couple of days off so soon wasn’t a great idea.
Being the organised person, who always works at her desk, surrounded by everything you can ever need and having moved away from a laptop last year, I knew this might be a challenge. Out came the laptop – which recently needed a factory reset, the dongle, notebook, pens, cables and everything else you might ever need. That all worked perfectly at home. Then came the packing my daughter’s comment 'we’re only going for one night do you really need all this?' Yes, of course, (I like to cover all eventualities - even if we are only going out for a few hours I am known for packing everything except the kitchen sink) - I love a large handbag!
I negotiated that on arrival I would need an hour to catch up before we went exploring. We arrived at our hotel, the dongle wouldn’t work, panic set in – it worked at home. Our room wasn’t ready – great! Finally, we got access to our room, the dongle worked, I calmed down checked everything I needed to do, did it and we headed out for a few hours. After exploring etc. we went back to our hotel and I did some more work. By this time, I had calmed down and was enjoying the change of scenery.
The following morning, I dropped my daughter off and went back to the hotel to get another couple of hours work done. By the time I picked her up at lunch time and headed back to Lime Street, I realised I had done something so different to normal and loved not only our break but working elsewhere. Admittedly it was quieter than usual work-wise, as it was the end of August. I did work most of the way home on my phone, but the pleasure of seeing my daughter achieve her dream was worth every minute of stepping outside my comfort zone.
That feeling of actually doing something different was amazing. Yes, we will be going back to Liverpool but next time I am taking the time off and intending to spend more time relaxing, but just pushing those boundaries has made me realise I can.
I challenge you the next time you immediately think no – try it – you never know what the result might be! You might just enjoy it!
Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash
I love quotes and love the way they make me feel, when you need that piece of inspiration. For me I can usually find one which lifts my mood just when I need to.
This week I attended the Elevate Virtual Summit aimed at Virtual Assistants and full of inspirational speakers organised by VIP VA. I for one was brimming with ideas at the end of the day.
Going forward and reflecting on the day I realised that many of us as small business owners forget about self care - whether it's drinking enough water, eating or just moving. I am guilty of all three, so going forward I am intending to use my inspirational quotes on my social media feeds to inspire not only me but also other people, so if you can spare a few minutes please have a look.
What is GDPR?
It stands for General Data Protection Regulations and is EU wide legislation. It comes into force on the 25th May 2018.
Having recently attended a seminar and followed various threads on Social Media there still seems to be a lot of confusion and uncertainty around the concept of GDPR. Providing you have stringent policies in place for the Data Protection Act (DPA) GDPR should not worry you unduly, as it builds on what you already have in place. Some of the questions I am seeing are around how do I manage the data I already have? Other comments include I am only a sole trader, so it won’t affect me.
To me the former will depend on how you signed people up, did you pick up their business cards and add them manually or did you get them to sign up to a newsletter using a double opt in?
Perhaps more worryingly is the comment I am only a sole-trader, so it won’t matter. In response to this would you leave your children unbelted in the car? No, I thought not, so why take a chance with this? There are plenty of resources out there, both paid and free as well as people claiming to be experts. Personally, I don’t sign people up to newsletters, but many small businesses do. For me, consent jumps out. There is a much greater emphasis on how you gained consent and the need to record how you gained their consent and the rights of the individual.
I have read plenty on the subject but for me the ICO guide Preparing for the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) 12 steps to take now jumps out as my go to information.
This is what I have been using to prepare myself and the organisations I work with. However, clarity is still required for certain aspects and I for one will be looking out for updated information.
My strategy for GDPR is don’t panic and look around for the answers you need. The ICO have recently set up a dedicated helpline for small businesses.
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!