10 tips for better time management

Good time management is an essential trait for any successful business owner. The way you organise and plan your time will have a huge impact on how effective your day is and ultimately, how well you manage your business.

So it’s understandable that we all want to get a little more control over our time!

The following time management tips will help you to improve your ability to manage your available time, even if you’re up against the clock and running to a deadline.

1. Use a calendar

This will not only help you keep track of appointments and meetings, it will also help you see where your time is going. But it’s important to keep just one central calendar for all of your scheduling – regardless of whether it’s personal or business. Use them to allocate slots for all your daily essentials – including self-care!

2. Stop multitasking!

Multitasking actually makes you less efficient. It splits your focus and concentration, so you’re never giving your all to a task. It’s far better to focus on one task at a time.

3. Set yourself weekly goals

The goals you set for yourself will give you focus and motivation. By allocating time to them in your calendar, you’re also ensuring you are actively working towards them too.

4. Prioritise your tasks

This is especially important if you have multiple goals you want to achieve or client work that needs completing by a certain date. It helps ensure you don’t forget critical tasks, helps you avoid getting overwhelmed and ensures you’re focusing on the right thing, at the right time – essential elements of good time management.

5. Minimise distractions and interruptions

Close down apps and tabs you don’t need, cancel notifications and put your phone on silent. Let people know when your working hours are and stick to your working day yourself – it helps establish boundaries and lets people know when you’re available for them. If you want to get better at time management, you need to remove distractions and interruptions from your working day.

6. Take regular breaks

This helps to clear your head and recharge your batteries. Take breaks throughout your working day and always have a day or two off each week. This is essential for your self-care and your mental health.

7. Delegate and outsource tasks

It’s one of the basic business unspoken rules of business, stop doing everything yourself! If you want to get better at time management, stop doing tasks you either don’t want to do or can’t do well – and pass them to someone who can! It’ll really help your business grow faster (check out How a VA can help your rural business grow faster to find out how!)

8. Start saying no

This is essential for your sanity, stress levels and your time management skills! Say no to tasks that aren’t essential to your business, say no to tasks that don’t light you up, and say no to tasks that someone else can easily do. It’s far more cost and time effective, to outsource them to a VA or another team member.

9. Drop perfectionism – done is better than perfect

This is a big one! Perfectionism can really make you lose control of your day, as you spend too long on task, trying to reach that level of perfection you have in your head. The vast majority of the tasks you do in business simply need to get done – they don’t need to be perfect.

10. Set time limits

It’s easy to get carried away with a task and suddenly, you realise it’s eaten into your entire day! If you want to manage your time, start allocating specific slots of time to each of the tasks on your list. Not only will it help you better track your day, it will also force you to focus on the task at hand, as you know you only have a set amount of time available to complete the task.

Good time management is an essential trait for any successful business owner. By following the time management tips above, you’ll be able to improve how you manage your available time and get more control over your day, even if you’re up against the clock and running to a deadline.

 

How a VA can help your rural business grow faster

Working for yourself is often a labour of love. It takes time and dedication to run your own business, especially as you’ll inevitably end up doing everything from marketing to bookkeeping, yourself – and this can really slow the growth stage of your business. So if you’re thinking you want to grow faster, it may be time to look at how a VA can help.

But if you’re wondering how a VA can help you grow faster, here’s a brief overview of the different ways they can!

Help you get your back office organised

This is one of the first areas that tends to get neglected, when you’re trying to do everything alone. A VA can help you set up the necessary systems and processes you need, to run more efficiently – and better organisation inevitably leads to faster growth.

How a VA can help you with flexible time and help

A VA is able to not only help you with the tasks you need, but also at the times you need them for. By knowing the specific tasks you need them for, (such as invoicing, filing, data entry and website maintenance) you’ll only be paying for your VA for the time needed to complete those tasks.

Project management and event coordination

Many rural businesses are linked to hospitality or wedding industries, especially if they’ve converted buildings on their land into wedding and corporate event venues. Often though, business owners aren’t used to handling the logistical side of this type of business, and struggle to coordinate everything. How a VA can help here, is they can take the reins and improve the management of it all. They can help you ramp up the customer experience and overall levels of satisfaction – leading to an increase in word of mouth marketing, feedback and an uptake in bookings.

Help get your business online

If you want to grow faster, you need to be visible online. But digital marketing and online profiles are often neglected, due to a lack of knowledge and expertise. A VA can take on these tasks for you, ensuring you have a consistent and visible online presence. By working on your website and blog, content marketing, email marketing and social media, they can improve your SEO – meaning an increase in site traffic and ultimately, sales.

Free up your time

And of course, that leads onto the number one reason how a VA can help your business grow faster. A VA can help you free up your time, so you can be where you need to be. Regardless of whether that gives you the freedom to work on the areas of your business that light you up, or if that’s giving you back your much needed free time, it’s essential to your health and the success of your business.

Working for yourself is often a labour of love, one that takes time and dedication – but it doesn’t have to mean you need to do everything yourself. If you want your business to grow faster and not be limited by how hard or long you can work, it’s sensible to hire a VA.

How a VA can help your business depends on how much you’re willing to let go. If you’re finally ready to call in some help and let go of those tasks you’re no longer able to manage yourself – get in touch. Let’s talk, and see how we can free up your time and get your business growing faster and more efficiently!

National Handwriting Day

With today’s technology and the fast pace world, there seems little need for handwriting documents.

I love it, always have. At primary school we had handwriting lessons, copying poems written in script style writing. A little while ago I took the opportunity to do some training in modern calligraphy, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

There are many times when handwriting is still needed. Here are some examples:

      • Invitations to weddings, parties and events.
      • Gift tags, to give a more personal look.
      • Table place cards.
      • Thank you letters.
      • Menus
      • Christmas Cards to business clients.

 

Strawberry Office offers a handwriting service either in everyday handwriting or modern calligraphy.
For more information, please send email anne@strawberryoffice.com

Thank you for reading

Anne

Visiting the Farm Business Innovation Show 2019

Earlier this week I attended the Farm Business Innovation Show, at the National Exhibition Centre Birmingham. It was a super day, not only were there many great exhibitor stands, there was also an extensive programme of seminars. Two of the ones that I attended were Tara Punter of Tara Punter PR, and Kelly Chandler, wedding consultant. Tara talked about her five golden rules for PR, and Kelly talked about the current and future trends for arranging weddings. Both really interesting subjects and will certainly help me and my business.

Attending the show made me think about all the preparation beforehand and how much time is taken up with it.

As a virtual assistant it also made me think of how I could help rural business owners plan for this kind of event, and that turned into a list of things I could help with, for instance:

  • Booking and registering for tickets.
  • Researching travel and accommodation.
  • Booking accommodation.
  • Researching parking and arrival at the venue. Not all venues are as straight forward as the NEC!
  • Planning your schedule.
  • Booking meetings with exhibitors or visitors.
  • Assisting with last minute changes.

After the event

  • Transcribing notes from meetings.
  • Sending information.

 

Thank you for reading

Anne

 

Anne Clarkson of Strawberry Office provides flexible administrative support services to small businesses.  If you are interested in outsourcing your administrative work contact me by email at  anne@strawberryoffice.com to arrange a free Discovery Call.

 

How do I outsource my business office support?

When you set up your business you were not only doing something you were skilled in and enjoyed, but also the business administration. As your business has grown the amount of administrative work has increased too. This probably means you are not spending as much time marketing your business as you would like, and you may be feeling stressed and overwhelmed. You could change this by outsourcing your routine administration.

Consider how much time you spend on routine office work each week, and consider what you could do with that extra time. Imagine how that time could be spent working on your business and achieving your goals.

If you are considering outsourcing your admin to a Virtual Assistant here is what you need to do.

List all the administrative tasks that you do.

For each task, ask yourself three questions:

            • Do I need to do this?
            • Do I have the time?
            • Do I like doing this?

If you answer ‘No’ to them, then you need to outsource them.

To give you some ideas, here are some examples of the tasks you could outsource:

            • Diary Management.
            • Arranging client meetings and producing the documentation.
            • Research suppliers.
            • Audio Transcription – could be of meetings, webinars, podcasts, clients notes, eBooks.
            • Setting up social media accounts (eg Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn)
            • Creating social media posts (using your content)
            • Scheduling social Media posts.
            • Travel research.
            • Creating Powerpoint Presentations.
            • Creating Blog posts (using your content)
            • Creating reports and various documents.

Once you have decided what you can outsource, you could seek the assistance of a Virtual Assistant to undertake these either on an ad hoc hourly basis, or for a regular number of hours per month. This would be discussed in a Discovery Call with a potential Virtual Assistant to establish what kind of support you need.

Thank you for reading.

Anne

 

Anne Clarkson of Strawberry Office provides flexible administrative support services to small businesses.  If you are interested in outsourcing your administrative work contact me by email at  anne@strawberryoffice.com to arrange a free Discovery Call.

 

How can a Virtual Assistant help me?

Back in January you may have decided upon your goals for this year, a few months, or next year.

We are now half way through the year; how are they going?  Are you achieving them as quickly as you had planned?

If not, have you considered outsourcing your routine administration to free up some of your time?

You may be thinking you can do all the work for your business yourself, but have you considered how much time you spend on your administration each week, and more importantly, what you could do in that time to achieve your goals.

When you set up your business it was probably doing something you are skilled in and enjoy.  As your business has grown you have had to undertake the business administration, sometimes learning how do things as you go along.

There may be tasks that you just don’t like doing and keep putting off.

A Virtual Assistant has the skills, knowledge and expertise to do those tasks.  They will be skilled, and up to date with the latest tools and systems.

By outsourcing your administration to a Virtual Assistant you can:

  • Be more focused
  • Be more organised
  • Increase productivity or sales
  • Have the time to spend at networking events
  • Have more time to spend with your family, doing hobbies, or just resting.

Here are examples of the tasks they could do for you:

Social Media

Setting up new accounts

Creating social media posts

Scheduling social media posts

Meetings

Arranging meetings – researching and booking the venue

Preparing the documentation

Creating PowerPoint presentations

Typing up the minutes

Travel

Researching travel – accommodation, trains, flights, places to visit

Helping you to be organised by creating travel information packs

Events

Assisting with event planning

Researching venues, suppliers and services

Distributing invitations and coordinating the responses

Documentation

Producing documents – creating forms, templates, letters, reports

Typing

Transcribing webinars

Audio transcription for meetings and webinars

Copy  typing, including e-Books

Copy typing clients notes

Lifestyle Management

Booking Restaurants

Researching gifts

Diary Management

Booking appointments

 

Thank you for reading

Anne

 

Anne Clarkson of Strawberry Office provides flexible administrative support services to small businesses.  If you are interested in outsourcing your administrative work contact me by email at  anne@strawberryoffice.com to arrange a free Discovery Call.

 

8 Tips for Attending a Conference

Attending business or trade shows is a great way to connect with businesses, network and learn new skills.  Here are some of my tips to help you prepare for your next conference.

1  Plan ahead.   Preparing ahead is so important. as time spent preparing and planning will help to ensure you arrive in a calm, organised and timely manner. Time spent planning your travel and accommodation will also help to make sure you find the most cost-effective options.

2.  Study the agenda.   Have a plan for the day to make the most of your time. Plan which seminars you will be attending, and check who is attending.  Many conferences have social media accounts specifically for the event, which provides a great opportunity to connect with businesses prior to the event.

3.  Print your tickets.   Another option is to download to your phone.  However, don’t forget to have the image of the tickets saved in an option that does not rely on access to the internet.  As there may not be a connection at the entrance / registration area.

4.  Business cards.   Remember to take a good supply.

5.  Arrival at the Venue.   Arrive early to avoid spending time in a queue at registration, and to maximise your time at the event.

6.  Event Venue.   Familiarise yourself with the layout of the event to save time and ensure you are in the right place at the right time.

During the Conference

7. Take Notes.  Write notes on the back of business cards as a reminder when following up at a later date. Or if you prefer a digital option use a system such as Evernote to make notes, creating a notebook specifically for the conference.

After the Conference

8. Follow up.   Follow up on connections made, ideally the day after the conference whilst it is still fresh in everyone’s mind.

 

Thank you for reading.

Anne

 

Anne Clarkson of Strawberry Office provides flexible administrative support services to small businesses.  If you would like help with planning your next visit to a conference or business event, contact me by email at  anne@strawberryoffice.com to arrange a free Discovery Call to discuss how I can help you.

 

 

Do you need to clear your Inbox?

Do you dread opening your email account because it is clogged up with hundreds of messages? Do you feel overwhelmed by an ever-growing list of incoming emails?

Not only is the beginning of the year a good time for setting goals, it is also the perfect time to clear out your email Inbox and take steps to make it more manageable.

Here are some tips for cleaning out your inbox, and then putting steps in place to make incoming messages more manageable.

1.  Delete in Batches

To make it easier, and quicker, to delete messages that are no longer required, sort your Inbox by sender.  You can then work through and delete the messages in batches. Eg newsletters, junk mail.

2.  Create folders for archiving

For the remaining messages, create new folders and label them in an appropriate way for your messages such as one for each previous year, or months. Sort the inbox by date. Highlight the emails for a particular year or month and drag them across to the corresponding folder. You can then work through the more recent ones when you have the opportunity, or use them just as a reference if you have a query. If you have not used or looked at them in six months’ time – delete them.

3.  Unsubscribe

To reduce the volume of incoming messages, unsubscribe to unnecessary newsletters and messages.  Another option is to create another email account and only use that account for subscribing to newsletters.

4.  Create new folders

To manage the incoming messages, create new folders for types of messages or specific senders.

5.  Set up rules

To save time, create rules for incoming messages so that they divert straight in to your new folders.  By monitoring when there are unread messages in those folders, you can read them by subject or priority.

 

Strawberry Office provides administrative support to small businesses, and lifestyle management to busy people.

If you would like help with reducing your inbox, and setting up new systems for managing your incoming messages, please contact me at anne@strawberryoffice.com to arrange a discovery call to discuss how I could help.

 

Thank you for reading.

Anne

8 Interesting Facts about Christmas Cards

Whilst planning my Christmas card writing service, I came across some interesting facts about Christmas cards and thought I would share them with you.

Who invented the Christmas Card?

Well, back in the Victorian period the tradition was to send a letter to family and friends at Christmas.  Sir Henry Cole a founding director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, was also a great supporter of the introduction of the Penny Post on 1840.  In 1843 he received large quantities of letters and was concerned that he would not be able to reply to them all, which would have been considered rude.

He wanted to find a quicker way of replying to his letters, and decided to use a card to write a short message.  He commissioned John Callott Horsley to paint a picture for the front of his card, which was in the style of a postcard and the size was 5 1/8 by 3 3/4 inches.

He commissioned one thousand cards, and the surplus cards were sold for one shilling, making them the first commercial Christmas Cards.

When did the format change to a book format?

People found that they wanted to write longer messages and didn’t have room on the postcard style.  In 1915 a Kansas Card Company, the Hall Brothers Company which later became Hallmark, designed the book style format we have today.  They were 4 by 6 inches and folded to fit in an envelope.

Why are robins featured on cards?

In the Victorian period postmen wore red waistcoats and were nicknamed “Robins” and this is why cards often show a robin delivering the post.

How many cards were sold in the UK?

In 1880 following the introduction of the Half Penny postage approximately 11.5 million cards were sent.

In 2017 one billion cards were sold in the UK, including 100 million single Christmas cards, and 900 million in boxes.

Charities estimate that £50 million is raised for good causes.

Thank you for reading.

Anne

 

Strawberry Office provides flexible, virtual, administrative support to small businesses, and support with lifestyle management.

If you are struggling to find the time to write your cards, Strawberry Office has a Christmas Card Writing Service, and more details can be found on the Strawberry Office website.

 

I’ve heard the term VA, but what is a Virtual Assistant?

Whilst attending networking events, I have noticed that not many people are familiar with the term Virtual Assistant.  Indeed, I think some may think is it some form of robot or virtual online help, perhaps built into a car.  So I thought I would write a few lines to explain.

Where did the term come from?

It is believed that the term Virtual Assistant was first used by Thomas Leonard, a coach and speaker, who founded Coach U.  He travelled throughout the US living in a Winnebago and had an assistant who helped arrange his travel.  With no physical office, and constantly travelling, he never met his assistant, Anastacia Brice, and once referred to her as his “Virtual Assistant”. He continued to use the term and encouraged other coaches to have a VA to assist with their businesses.

Who was the first VA?

Having done some research, there doesn’t seem to be a definitive answer, but two of the pioneering VAs were Anastacia Brice and Christine Durst.  Secretaries were working from home back in the 1980s, but with advances in computer technology in the 1990s it became possible to provide administrative support further afield, even to other countries, hence the term ‘Virtual’ Assistant.

Stacey Bryce went on from being a VA for Thomas Leonard to establishing the VA training business, AssistU, and Christine Durst wrote “The 2-Second Commute” book.

What does a VA do?

A Virtual Assistant is someone who is self-employed, works from their own office, providing administrative support to business owners, or busy people, in any location.
They may provide traditional PA support or specialise in a particular skill such as social media management, book keeping, or an IT system like Mailchimp or WordPress.

Support is usually provided on an hourly basis, by the project, or on an hourly retainer package, which provides great flexibility, especially for small businesses.

Thank you for reading.

Anne

 

References:
The 2-second commute by Christine Durst & Michael Haaren
Become a Highly Successful, Sought After VA by Diana Ennen & Kelly Poelker