I’m that person who sees your mountain of mail or your paperwork strewn office (or your inbox!) and gets excited at the prospect of filing it neatly, in date order with beautiful folders, labels and post it notes for any actions – one of my favourite ever executives called me ‘odd’ once for this very reason (in the nicest possible way) but this is why I set up this thing!
This week is FULL ON.
Sunday night I was at a venue setting up for a full day corporate event on the Monday, 7am – 6pm (short day events wise to be honest!) but then today I’m heading for London for another event tonight, staying over, back to Warrington for college in the morning and then back to London for an event on Wednesday night, I will get home on Thursday night and I have done nothing but MOAN about it all and wish away the week to Friday when I’m taking the day off.
Why? So much travel / having to squeeze college in because they gave us the timetable super late / so much to organise at the same time / trying to be in two places at once / eating well (and vegan) on the go isn’t easy / the AirBnB instructions are too complicated etc etc.
I’ve just had a quick word with myself in my journal for this nonsense. I’m giving my power to be happy away to others by putting the responsibility on the situation, rather than myself, to view this from another angle and turn things around.
Yes, I’m going to be tired, but there is a lot of positive coming out of these next couple of days! Plus, I have been wanting to be busy since before Christmas when all went a little too quiet for my usual pace – be careful what you wish for as they say.
So, to shift my own perspective;
– Yesterday’s event was great, met some wonderful people, got a bit of a head start on how the set up will look for future events (I also got a free breakfast thanks to the guest who didn’t show up)
– Travelling to London today gives me time to think, plan, read and write on the train
– The AirBnB will be an experience at least, think of it more of an adventure! (the instructions to get into the place are LONG though haha)
– The event tonight will be well attended and is well organised, plus you will get to see your client in person and she is awesome and always puts a smile on your face
– College tomorrow, yes it’s far, it’s an early start on a long day BUT it’s also the first one of the new term and you’ll meet all of your new cohort and it’ll be a great day
– Travelling back to London will give you time to absorb your first day, make notes, plan for the final event of the week
– Wednesday night Roots Programme event is going to be fun, it’s sold out and could be great for business, lots of influential people in the room and partnerships to be had (plus you’re staying over so not far to go to collapse into bed)
– Thursday morning strategy meeting will probably use up almost the last of your brain power but then you’re teaching a yoga class that evening back in Warrington and you LOVE your class
I feel better, ish, it’s going to take some re-reading and re-programming but by the time I arrive in London and pick up the key to the AirBnB I’ll feel like myself again I’m sure.
Now there’s a question!
9 months ago (yesterday, actually) I was taken into an office and let go from a job I had once absoltely adored. Admittedly, if they hadn’t decided to let me go, after reading in my emails that I was planning to hand in my notice that same day, I’d have handed in my notice that day anyway as things had gone somewhat sour and I was seriously unhappy. Life since then has been somewhat of a fast lane.
Now unexpectedly unemployed and with zero savings I had to put some of my ‘flighty’ ideas into action if I was to pay my relatively new mortgage. I registered self employed later that week and set up as a Virtual Assistant, as that’s where my skills lay at that time, I read article after article, joined several facebook groups, bought a load of books I still haven’t read a lot of and I feel like I’ve been winging it ever since.
When people ask this question, I often start with ‘freelance executive assistant‘, but then we get talking about other things and I chip in things like, ‘oh I work with charity fundraising too’ and ‘I’m actually a qualified yoga teacher‘ and then, ‘funny you should say that, there’s this mountaineering business…’ that’s without getting into the Community Interest Company I run with two of my friends, with the bold aim of trying to knit the UK back together.
Add to that studying counselling skills, the odd bit of coaching, planning a yoga retreat (and a wedding) and who knows what my job title would actually be! Or where I find the hours in the day.
The key for me is scheduling I suppose, my week to view diary looks like a school timetable and I forward plan at least 6 months, with client events for 12 months.
It’s fun though, this freelance/small business owner life. No two days are EVER the same, my week is all over the place, but I have a surprising amount of free time actually and it allows me to work around my partner’s shift pattern which means we actually see each other from time to time. Yes, I may start early (the commute is short), work weekends, work late or take a random 3 hours midday to run errands, but the work is good and my clients and business colleagues are happy. You’d be hard pushed to get me back in the 9-5 put it that way.
Challenges mostly include eating too much when I’m at home and a little isolation, but I try to work in some shared office space from time to time (actually helps with the productivity on those off days), I have calls when possible over emailing or whatsapping and working from cafes or libraries helps too. Also being disciplined enough to actually get dressed properly some days can be a challenge, but you have those days where you’re not going to see anyone anyway so what’s the point? I do find myself completely overdressed for the office days now though – like it’s some sort of special occasion.
At times, money has been tight, but I’ve not had to borrow a penny (not even from my partner) and I’m now looking at hitting that one year mark quite comfortable with my income.
I’m grateful for life forcing my hand at this, I’d recommend it to anyone considering doing it, to just do it. Take necessary precautions of course (I will never hide the fact that I took a couple of temp jobs when the client work was thin on the ground) but don’t let fear or self doubt hold you back.
Yoga Teacher / Operations Directors / Events Coordinator / Personal Asssitant / Counsellor / Coach / One half of a Mountaineering Business
Do you take accountability, or do you lay blame?
Being accountable for something doesn’t have to be terrifying. Something goes wrong, the response is one of two options;
- How do I take a proactive response to this, figure out what happened and why and find a solution that moves the situation forwards
- How do I make myself invisible so someone else can take the wrap?
The response is, unfortunately, the latter in most situations (especially when you have an assistant to blame!) but why do we do this?
Accountable does not mean “blame-able.” Accountability and blame differ entirely, with blame usually meaning someone deserves a disciplinary approach, with a solid outcome for the error. Que anxiety, stress, upset and tension, resulting in a complete lack of trust and often, permanent damage to a relationship, professional or personal.
Working to understand what happened helps us avoid making the same error in the future. With blame, we’ve found the person who’s fault it was, dealt with it and the situation is over. No learning, no progression.
By appointing blame, you provide an environment for negative emotions to breed. Past experiences of blame culture are regurgitated and everyone feels tense, pressure, anxiety and they’re afraid to bring their full selves to a situation, organisation or relationship. Fear ensues and everyone is too nervous to get it wrong so they avoid it. It’s a vicious circle.
Take a step back, consider how your response to a situation might affect someone else and the impact it could have on future occasions, and adjust your response accordingly.
You can always go ahead and say ‘It wasn’t my fault, so and so didn’t do their job’, absolve yourself of responsibility, but be aware that it may come back and bite you on the backside when you need something from so-and-so in the future.
What are your business goals?
‘Earn X amount per year’
‘Employ X people’
‘Speak at X events this year’
‘Open a new location’
‘Become an international super star’
‘Take over the world’
Whatever your goals, how do they compare with your Monday morning to do list?
‘Email so and so back’
‘Chase Mr Always Late Paying His Invoice’
‘Book train tickets’
‘Write funding bid’
‘Prepare speech for event next week’
‘Update social media and post on LinkedIn’
And so on, and so on…
How do they compare? Although these small tasks on your to do list eventually add up to the big things on your goals list – doesn’t if feel like a million miles away from that dream when you’re checking your receipts or changing the password to your travel account because you forgot again and low and behold the price just quadrupled because you went to book last month but took that phone call instead… it’s no wonder you occasionally feel deflated.
Let’s go back to the Goals list and work backwards from there, consider the steps you need to take to get there and then re-asses – are you spending too much time on the ground when you should be elsewhere?
Can I help? Being able to outsource effectively enables you to lead your business towards those goals, get in touch and see if I can support you in reaching them.