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:
Environment – set 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.
Routine – make 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