How To Get Back Into A Routine

How To Get Back Into A Routine

So, we are already halfway through the week and it’s a lovely short working week for most of us because of the three-day weekend, due to the May bank holiday (UK public hliday). I’m guessing you have relaxed, maybe travelled and you are trying to transition back into a routine. Let’s face it, most of us small business owners will have worked throughout the extended bank holiday weekend.  

If you turned your out of office on and took some time out for your family/friends, then you may feel that you need some tips on getting back into a routine when you just don’t feel like doing anything. Whether you are running your business full-time or it’s still a side hustle while you pluck up the courage to take the leap of faith and run your empirefull-time, these tips are for you. 

1.     Be realistic  

If you have taken time out and struggling with the early start or late finishes, look at doing things, to begin with, that won’t sap you of energy and make you hate being back in the driving seat. Perhaps you could just check your emails for the day, respond to any that don’t require much and make notes to follow up for the rest of them. If you are a one-man-band, your clients/customers will have received your OOO (out of office) autoresponder informing them of your absence, so won’t be expecting a response before your return. Any that you cannot resolve immediately upon your return, why not drop them a line to say that you are back in the office and will be in touch again in X hours/days. PLEASE be realistic with your response time, do not add more pressure to what you already have on your plate.  

2.     Accountability Partner 

This might be something that you have in place already. Book a call/zoom meeting where you can meet up with your accountability partner upon your return. You can look at what you must do right now, you can both map out what that looks like and the timeline in checking those items off. An accountability partner is there to support you and vice versa. Think of them like a sounding board. Accountability partners can also bring clarity to your business. Try to choose a person/friend/colleague who is going to be honest with you 110%, nobody wants a people pleaser, you should be the same for them, complete honesty, and transparency from you for their small business. If you cannot find an accountability partner, you may want to do some research for a Mentor or Coach. This will usually be a paid service, ask around as many entrepreneurs swear by their Mentor/Coach.  

3.     Be kind to yourself  

Running a business can be extremely stressful especially when you are working all hours, to keep money coming in. Reach out and ask for help where you think you need it. Outsource what does not fit your skillset, which may be sending out contracts or packing orders. Keeping costs low will be something to take into consideration, but as soon as you can please do. Take regular breaks and stay hydrating. Lack of fluids can cause headaches and fatigue, that is where mistakes can happen which can be detrimental to your business, so be careful.    

4.     Lists, lists and more lists  

If you have been reading my blogs for a while, you will know I am a fan of lists. Create ato-do list and focus on the top three tasks for the day. This way, you will be eased in nice and gently. I feel that it is such a good feeling crossing through completed tasks. I am not sure if intentional, but I always want to do more thereafter.  

Sometimes to find inspiration we need to take a rest for a bit, it is only when we are refreshed that we can look at our personal and business lives and see what needs to be done.  

As you can see, there are multiple techniques to get back into the routine of running your business. You could try one or all or develop your own plan for getting back into the swing of things after taking a break. 

Working Remotely Is So Much Better For Me

Working Remotely Is So Much Better For Me

This year will mark five years since I opened Format Services, it was slow to begin with as I juggled part-time work with existing clients. It meant I would leave home at 7:00am to head to the office, get back home at 2:00pm to cook dinner for the boys and get back to work.

I am not quite sure how I even did it, but I knew that it would pay off eventually. Crunch time came when my workplace was looking at extending my hours and I just knew that I loved what I had going on as a side hustle more. I bit the bullet and chose to hand in my notice and try my hand at freelancing.

I said I would give myself a year, if it did not work out, I would head back into the world and secure another role, after all I was skilled having started my work history as an Office Junior right up to Executive level across various industries.

What I love about working remotely is:

Freedom & Flexibility

I have so much more freedom and flexibility. As I am an Autism mum, I juggle many appointments for my son and always felt a pang of guilt when needing time off of work or having to rush straight back. Now I am able to look at my workload and see what I can move around to incorporate motherhood without the added stress.

Travel Costs

Living in London is quite expensive to live in, compared to some of the other cities in the UK so saving on travel is great. London transport (TFL) put their prices up each year and most of my employment have been spent working in and around Central London, sometimes it felt like I was just paying for the privilege of working in Zone 1.

Location

I work from home so the perfect location for me. Prior to the world going into lockdown, I would spend many days out and about sitting in cute coffee shops, and just working away for hours. My client base has increased dramatically since then, with so much variety. I got myself a new desk and now have two monitors to keep me on track………two screens are priceless (thank me later).

Although we are able to roam freely now, I still enjoy working from home but try to pick one day a week to head to a co-working space. I signed up to &Co. Life who has some gorgeous co-working spaces dotted around London. This also allows me to network with other members and create new relationships with those whether in or outside of my industry, I actually met a client at a co-working space.

Productivity

My day begins at 5:00am every morning. Chaos normally begins at around 6:30am so it is nice to be able to get up, have a hot drink and collect my thoughts on how my day is going to run while the house is peaceful.

I always write my to-do list the night before or on a Friday afternoon before I sign off, so I always know what needs to be done when I sit down at my desk. I have failed once or twice in creating my to-do list in advance, this never ends well if truth be told!

Overall, I think the best thing for me about working remotely is my work/life balance. I have a much better handle on things in regard to work, family and friends. I can choose my own hours ensuring I never scrimp on the quality of my work. I have managed to build strong working relationships with my clients who really trust me and the things that they want my support with.

For that I am extremely grateful and love what I do, knowing that I am contributing to another business’ growth in a small way, fills me with content and gives me that lil pat on the back, that I made the right choice.

Free Up Your Time With These 5 Outsourceable Tasks

Free Up Your Time With These 5 Outsourceable Tasks

If you’re an entrepreneur or bootstrapping your startup idea, it may seem that there’s just not enough time in the day to get everything done. Anything you can outsource will help free up your time and allow you to focus on the parts of your business that only you can handle. Let me show you five ways you can outsource tasks, so you can have more time for yourself and grow your business.

Email Management

If you have been reading my blogs for a couple of weeks, I have spoken about how to manage your inbox and avoid overwhelm. If you are a small business owner, start-up or even if you have been running for a while and feel that you have everything under control, there is always one thing that my clients tend to want to get rid of straight away. It is usually the emails.

You open up your mailbox at the beginning of the day with loads of unread emails and you end the day with the same. Although your autoresponder acknowledges every email that comes in, sometimes you may miss responding within the 48 hours that you promised.

I manage a number of mailboxes on behalf of my clients. It could be as little as checking in once/twice a day or it could be consistently responding to what comes in on a daily basis. How nice is it for your customers to receive a tailored response within 24 hours? I know I feel great when I get a speedy response once, I have hit send. You could also create email template responses for your VA to use, these can be tweaked but your tone, sound etc are infused in each.

Diary Management

Outsource your diary to ensure your days run smoothly. Everyone is busy so having back-to-back meetings will eventually catch up with you physically and mentally. Double booking yourself can put clients off so it is advisable to have another pair of eyes to review your calendar and slot in meetings where they will work.

Blocking time for travel is a great tip, getting across London in rush hour traffic is an extreme sport at times. Another great tip to outsourcing is that your VA can give you a buffer where you will have time before and after a meeting, whether it be 10 minutes for a water break or even 30 minutes to record voice notes to your VA to type up meeting notes later on, you run the day, or the day will run you!

I will pencil in a regular client meeting to have a glance at calendars for the week ahead to just ensure that everything is where it should be, and my clients have everything that they need. This extends to even making travel arrangements. This includes booking taxis, train tickets etc.

Research

 Research can be really time-consuming. This can often spiral down a rabbit hole as the internet churns out so much information for us to process.

Outsourcing this task will allow you to continue growing your business and know that information will be on its way to you, in whatever format you choose.

It’s advisable to provide a brief if possible, which should include:

  • Clear instructions on what you need
  • Any examples you may have
  • Ideas of what it looks like for you
  • How you would like the information presented to you
  • Given the opportunity for any questions to be asked/answered

Remember although the instructions may make sense to you, they may not make sense to somebody else. To get the most out of the support you have, work together to get the best outcome and be available to answer any queries.

Website updates

You might want to outsource to somebody that just does tech support, although there any many VA’s that can do a variety of tasks including tech. Things like uploading videos, blogs, podcasts, website tweaks, tutorials etc. can be really time-consuming so this is something that you will probably spend doing during an evening or the weekend. This then takes you away from having time for yourself or your family/friends.

Creating short how-to videos can work just as well, as you can stop/start as much as you like. Your VA will be able to familiarise themselves with the correct format, steps to take and your how-to videos can be used time and time again, especially if your support moves on or you take on more support.

Social Media

This is a very popular one. Although I was offering this service years ago when I started out, I thought I had to offer what everyone else was offering. I no longer offer this as I decided to only offer what I actually love doing!

There are many apps where you can batch your content and schedule it all out across different platforms but having someone manage your account to target your ideal audience, interact with your tribe and nurture potential working relationships is invaluable. You simply don’t have the time, as much as it is on your daily to-do list, you cannot do it all. You can grab a social media manager who specializes in just that.

So, have a think about the bits that you would rather be taken off your hands immediately. I have listed a few but there is so much more Virtual Assistants can do for you, the list is absolutely endless. It is all about the customer experience, you would like to retain and gain new business all the time. Look around and see what areas you can improve on and areas that you could definitely do with some extra support. If you want to see how I can help you, book a call with me.

 

Let’s Create That Level Playing Field, It’s Overdue

Let’s Create That Level Playing Field, It’s Overdue

I often say to myself, where would my children be without me, they look at me as though I am superwoman and some days I really feel that I am. Walking tall, chest puffed out. Dad is on hand but mum, there is something about mum, she knows everything. Truth be told and we have all been there, here are some days when I just want 2 minutes to myself and other times (more often than not) where I am falling over backwards to please them.

We owe so much to the women in our lives whichever role that they play, mother, auntie, sister, cousin etc. Today marks International Women’s day and it is a day of celebration for the accomplishments, the determination and the doors which are being kicked down.

Today marks International Women’s Day and it is a day of celebration. We are celebrating the incredible women that juggle it all, and usually juggling it all with a smile on their faces.

I love offering the services that I provide and supporting great women in leadership roles. I could not imagine doing anything else.

I admire many women, including:

  1. Rosa Parks, the American activist
  2. Oprah Winfrey, Media Mogul
  3. Michelle Obama, Former First Lady of USA
  4. Brené Brown, Author and Public speaker
  5. Malal Yousafzai, Young Activist
  6. Nadene Martin, the author of this blog (yep, that’s right!)

These women should be celebrated daily as they have all inspired so many of us, to reach for the stars and be unapologetic about being a woman.

How will you be celebrating today? I have organized an e-coffee date with some girlfriends over Zoom, we are going to share some good news stories and things we are most proud of. There will be no apologies here, did somebody say big up yourself sis?

Although things are changing, there is still a long way to go for many across the globe. In various countries, women are seen as not equal and it is really about creating a level playing field for everyone regardless of your gender.

Taken from the International Women’s Day website Imagine a gender-equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. A world that’s diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. Together we can forge women’s equality. Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias.

Celebrate women’s achievements. Raise awareness against bias. Take action for equality.

My favourite quote is from Michelle Obama, it goes:

Here’s to Strong Women
May We Be Them
May We Know Them
May We Raise Them

This resonates so much with me. I admire each one of my clients in very different ways and you can tell I do, I am one of their biggest cheerleaders when good things happen. My client base is full of hardworking, creative female leaders who put their heart and soul into growing their businesses.

For the next 24 hours, I am offering 15% off my 10-hour package to women in business. Book in your slot today.

 

Avoid Burnout Before It Catches up With You

Avoid Burnout Before It Catches up With You

I have been saying for a while that in 2022 I would be making more of an effort to make time for me, not my husband and me or the kids and me……just me!

This week alone, I have looked at my client list and it is steadily increasing with various requests. Some new and some challenging, bring it on!

This week I have booked a hotel stay for the weekend to just relax, regroup and rest. I can feel when my alarm goes off at 5am, it is getting increasingly more difficult to have that spring in my step and get to work. That alarm is being snoozed and once the cat starts scratching at my bedroom door, that’s my cue to get up.

We often only stop and take stock of how we are feeling when it is too late. So how can we avoid burnout within our business especially when a solopreneur.

Burnout can have a massive effect on both our body and our mind. The niggling aches and pains followed by fatigue, physical exhaustion and more. This can build up over a period of time and this is usually due to you working around the clock.

Let’s look at some of the symptoms:

  • Lack of focus
  • Writer’s block
  • Creative streak dwindles
  • Continuous exhaustion
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Emotional and feeling teary
  • Procrastination
  • Constantly worrying
  • Your sleep habits have changed (become poor)

This list is not exhaustive and varies for every individual. It is important to get a handle on burnout so that you can recover well, and to look at ways in which you can avoid this in the future.

The solution to overcome burnout is for you to feel good physically and mentally. It does not mean you should jump right back in the driving seat quickly. Take as much time as you need, it is extremely important for your well-being.

Tips on overcoming burnout are:

  • Prioritise your work/life balance
  • Reduce your workload, assess how much you can manage at any one time
  • Ask for help – outsource if you need to
  • Take on what brings you joy
  • Schedule in regular breaks
  • Be strict on your working day. If you finish at 5pm, finish at 5pm and leave your working space
  • Make time in your day to eat
  • Move your body – That can be doing a quick workout, going for a walk or grabbing your mat for some meditation
  • Netflix & chill
  • Remember that it is your business – You can take time off here and there. If you can give your clients some advance warning in regards to your holiday plans, there should be no issue with you having some downtime
  • Phone a friend/relative – have a chat with somebody to talk about anything else other than your looming deadlines.

I hope that this gives you some food for thought today. Your health is so important, and we often put it aside, as we want our business to thrive and grow, but how will it grow if you are unwell and exhausted. Exhaustion occurs when you experience long-term stress in your working day. Let’s get you back to feeling your best.

Keep Your Sanity During School Holidays

Keep Your Sanity During School Holidays

Some have already had their half-term break, how about you? My children were at home last week and as I work from home, it meant juggling it all between preparing meals, shouting to turn off the lights in empty rooms as well as handing out cash left, right and centre.

Working from home has its positives and negatives. How can you stay focused when you have endless questions, uninvited discussions and the likes? I survived, my sanity is intact and here are some tips of what I did.

Plan ahead

Before the half-term break, I updated my scheduler to reflect when I would be available for new client calls. I blocked out times where I knew my home would be booming with traffic and focused on early mornings or late in the day. This way I knew there would be less noise, and I can inform the kids to disturb me for an hour or so. For potential clients to book calls, I use Dubsado and I really like it, I also get to pre-qualify them to see if I can in fact assist. All my services are on the website so usually, I can.

Set your expectations

Are you a morning person, or an evening person? Whatever time you feel that you are at your most productive, do that. Busy does not always mean productive. When you worked in the office, how much of your 8-hour day was full-on working mode and you smashed every item on your list? You work for yourself now and although you can smash every item on your list, you are not required to do it all in one sitting.

Find that balance

If you have young children at home, they will want mummy/daddy time whether that be making/eating lunch together, watching Coco Melon or doing some Arts & Crafts. Carve out some time in your day to do that. You could finish your day a little earlier or start your day a little later, depending on client work. If you plan to put your OOO (out of office) on, give your clients a heads up with as much notice as possible. If they have important work or a pending project, request a quick meeting a day or so before you head off so everybody knows where they are at. You want to switch off and switch off completely, not worry about what you have outstanding.

Outsource during holidays

This is something new that I offer for those that want it, we can talk about it further if you wish here. One of my clients provides me with some dates that their own VA support is away throughout the year, and I will step in and cover so the support is never lost. I think it is a genius idea.

Stay in your zone of genius and do what you love. If you currently use a VA, ask if they have any recommendations on others within their community, that would be happy to step in should you need it. I have heard of clients having a couple of VA’s doing different things and it works very well.

Be kind to yourself (and your children)

Lastly and I guess the most important of them all, be kind to yourself. I know as parents, we wear that invisible cape because we are essentially heroes for our children and our clients but be kind to yourself. If you need to take numerous breaks to deliver high-quality work, then do that. You don’t want to burn out and then take even longer to recover or maybe you then need even longer to get back in the saddle. Remember you cannot pour from an empty cup.

Take regular breaks, eat well away from your desk and if you have time that you end your day, please do so. Our wellness is just as important as the work and please don’t lose that thought, you matter too!