Being grateful.

When I wrote my last blog post I never imagined that 10 months on we would still be living with COVID-19.  I suspected it would be with us for a while but I was optimistic that we would be mask-free and back up and running by the Autumn.  Now here we are in winter and in a New Year and the situation seems worse than ever. Such strange times for all of us.

On a positive note, I am surviving as a Virtual Assistant.  Little has changed in my line of work as I have operated remotely for nearly 4 years now. I am so grateful for the fact that I have had the privilege of working with some super clients during these tough times. It’s amazing to see how they have adapted and moved their services online.  Thanks to today’s technology a lot of businesses will survive this crisis. I know mine has! Yes, it can be lonely, because I see much less of my friends and family than before but I am grateful for ZOOM!

I am still optimistic that the rollout of vaccines and the other measures in place will lead us out of this pandemic and I am sure that the future will bring a new surge in online Irish businesses as well as Virtual Assistants.  So, despite it all, I am very grateful.

Here’s to a much better year ahead.

Where did those three years go?


Tea Break

On Friday 27th March 2020 I was officially three years in business. Yeaaaaa!!!

Being self-employed can be a precarious occupation and especially now during the COVID-19 crisis.  Suddenly the benefits of being your own boss and setting your own working hours and conditions are outweighed by fears of instability and loss of regular income.

But when I reflect, I remember that the reason I am working for myself now is that when I returned to Ireland in 2008, as a well seasoned professional, with international work experience, I found that nobody wanted to employ me.  I was shocked! I was advised that the only way to broaden my chances of full-time employment was to upskill. This professional learning curve began in 2010 and was to last seven years (recession years) during which time I achieved a 1st class honours degree in Communications, studied Digital Marketing and completed the Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Enterprise Graduate Certificate with the Innovation Academy.  I also held down a couple of short term contracts.  By the end of 2016, I had decided that I would take control of my destiny and package all of my expertise to provide Administration and Marketing support to small business owners remotely.  The point here is that out of adversity comes opportunity.

Little did I know that three years on, working remotely from home would become the ‘new norm’ as thousands of employees and business owners in Ireland self-isolate during this unprecedented health crisis.

Now, I think about how lucky I am that my working environment remains relatively unchanged.  I still work 4 days a week.  I get up and get dressed, grab a coffee and switch on my laptop, go through my to-do-list and check client emails.  My day is spent doing what I do best which is supporting those clients until it’s time to log off again.

So if you are now working from home here are some tips on working remotely:

Environmentset up your working space.  Where possible find a place in your home that is relatively quiet, away from others or distractions.  All you need is your laptop, its charger, your phone, its charger and a notebook and pen and Wifi of course.

Routinemake sure you have one!  Set your alarm, get up and get dressed each day (make-up optional) before you settle down to work. Use your ‘out of office hours’ function on your email so that you physically have to switch it off at the same time each morning and switch it back on each evening when you have finished your day’s work.

Organise – be organised.  Have a plan on how you will spend your day, write it down, make a list.  Allocate times and tick off as you go along. Toggl is a fantastic free tool for recording your daily work.

Schedule – plan your week ahead.  Use your online calendar to set up Skype calls / Zoom meetings with clients or colleagues or friends!  Having some social interaction will keep you sane!

Exercise – get up and walkabout.  It’s very easy to get absorbed online while working remotely.  You may find hours have passed since you moved – get up, stretch, go out to the garden if you have one and get some Vitamin D!  Of course you can also find exercises to follow online!

Finally, you are very welcome to my world and I wish you the best of luck during these coming months. We will survive this!

Gillian B – Virtual Assistant

A day at the office…

A day at the office…

Orange nails

People often look at my profile on LinkedIn and then ask ‘what do you do exactly?’  Although the title ‘Virtual Assistant’ is becoming more familiar in the Irish business space, small business owners often don’t know what a Virtual Assistant is all about.  So, I decided to write a short blog describing my day at the office!  I should point out that other VA’s can specialize in specific areas of work depending on their own professional background, which means their days can differ from mine.

My services include administration and marketing support.  I work Tuesdays to Fridays from 10 am to 4 pm, that means that I am available to handle work for clients during those timeframes.  At 10 am I switch on my laptop and switch off my out of office message and check my inbox.  I also look through my daily schedule (to-do list) to see what work I have planned for the day.  If any additional tasks have come in by email, I add them to the schedule.  I then work through the various business tasks per client and record the time spent on those tasks in  Tasks vary each day but could include:

Sourcing images and content for social media posts, creating graphics, creating & updating social media calendar, scheduling social media content, drafting and creating newsletter, responding to client emails, taking client calls, updating client customer data in excel/google drive, Dropbox, sending and receiving emails from client’s customers, creating email filters and monitoring client inbox, archiving and de-cluttering client’s inbox and Dropbox folders, sourcing information online about upcoming events, making enquiries on behalf of clients, creating and editing MS Office files…and so the list goes on.

As all of these activities can be managed online, I can work remotely without any need to meet with the client.  Regular contact by email and phone is all that is required to get things done.  Working remotely means that I can work with clients in Ireland and from the rest of Europe, once we are in a similar time zone and speak a common language.

nolan-issac-Coffee heart

I can drink as much coffee as I want and of course, take a lunch break when convenient.  If I have a gap in my schedule, I usually work on my own business admin or social media so I can keep on top of things or I might just put on a wash!

At 4 pm, I switch my out of office message back on and update my work schedule for the next day.  I log out and enjoy my personal time during the evening.

And that’s it!  It’s a perfect life for me and a great service for small business owners who need stuff done.  If you would like to arrange a half-hour free consultation by phone, drop me an email at

We all need time off!

Lady in Sea

As summer approaches (not that you would think that here in Dublin where we are experiencing heavy rain!) most people have either planned or are planning a holiday away with family or friends.

If you are a small business owner, taking time off can require a lot of planning as you have to decide on the least disruptive dates to travel and you have to think about your client’s demands while you are away.  If you don’t plan any support, you may end up spending your holiday taking calls and answering emails instead of relaxing by the pool.

In this Ted Talk, Josh Leibotwitz talks about Holiday Goals –

Ask yourself “Why am I taking this holiday?“

Leibowitz suggests that the answers are:

  • To relax
  • To have fun
  • To connect with family / friends
  • To immerse
  • To learn

I think I can agree with at least 3 of those answers, can you?

The reality is you can do none of these things if you are preoccupied with what’s happening with your business back home.  You will not be present, you will not be engaged and you will not be de-stressing!

One solution is to get support from a Virtual Assistant and the best way to arrange that is to plan it at least 3 to 4 weeks before your holiday.  By inducting your VA to your business for a few hours a week before your holiday she will pick up the key tasks that need to be managed while you are away.  That way you can relax in the knowledge that a trusted partner will be answering your emails, making calls, scheduling appointments or keeping your social media up to date while you enjoy the holiday you deserve!

To find out more about Gillian B services – click here.

Getting Value for your Investment

Are you wondering if investing in a Virtual Assistant is the right thing for your business?

I can only imagine the doubts that might be holding you back but these are the usual suspects:

  • Committing to trust a 3rd party to handle aspects of your business
  • Investing a % of your hard-earned profits in a 3rd party service
  • Deciding on what and how to delegate tasks to a 3rd party
  • Being concerned about how to train-up a 3rd party on your systems

This is my opportunity to answer some of your doubts.


I have had a long career working in Administration, Marketing and Customer Service.  I have an excellent track record and have been described as highly reliable and responsible with a great attention to detail. I am diligent, completely trustworthy and will do a great job.  Still unsure then check out what my Clients Say!  You can also check out my CV on LinkedIn.


The charges are very competitive and are agreed in advance with the client.  They cover the actual time spent preparing client workloads, working on client tasks, dealing with client requests by phone or email, preparing client weekly or monthly reports.  The time is recorded in Toggl which details each task and the time spent on that task.  The client decides whether to work on an hourly basis or on a monthly retainer basis.  Work can also be charged per project.

But you want to know how much value you get for your money?  Right?

A major benefit is that you don’t have to cover my holiday pay or sick pay or any other additional costs that a waged employee would incur.  You also have the flexibility to book whatever number of hours you require on a weekly or monthly basis, or per project. That means you can choose the amount of support you need during the busy or quiet periods of your business year. You can also postpone or cancel the working contract with just two weeks’ notice. The time you save by handing over everyday business tasks is extremely valuable because it’s time that you can spend on growing your business or just making up for lost time with family!

Delegation & Training:

So how do you get started? To really benefit from your investment, you do need to collaborate with your VA as you would any business partner and by that, I mean you have to take responsibility for ensuring that you communicate your expectations on a regular basis and that you delegate the tasks that actually allow you to focus on other key aspects of your business or life.  This can actually be very difficult for business owners to manage, especially when they are so busy.  The best approach is to allocate an hour or more to write down everything that you handle each day in order to run the business.  For example; reading and answering emails, handling queries, creating orders or invoices, social media posts, calling suppliers, meeting clients, making product etc. Once that list is written and no doubt it will be a long list, go through it and highlight the tasks that could be delegated to a 3rd party (Tip! If the task can be handled online or by phone, it can be delegated).

During a consultation, I enquire about the various software packages being used to run the business to see if I am familiar with the package or would need some initial training.  As an experienced VA, I will research the system myself and then plan a gradual induction on the platform to become proficient using the software.

Once you have a general outline of the work you want to outsource you will be ready to negotiate the number of hours of support you will need.  This does need to be realistic in terms of how long certain tasks take to complete.

To sum up!  If you have reached the stage in your business where you cannot manage the daily operations without losing precious personal time, then contracting a VA will be the first step in taking back control.  If you are committed to investing a little time at the onset then your VA will be up and running within a few weeks and will be making a big difference by supporting you and your business.

Look forward to hearing from you!

Gillian B