My Blog

The Rational Decision Maker, the Gratification Monkey and the Panic Monster!

The Rational Decision Maker, the Gratification Monkey and the Panic Monster!

Procrastinator

Great title?  That’s thanks to Tim but more on that later. People, who know me, see me as being someone who’s ‘extremely organised’.  That’s because I always prepare for everything well in advance, and I always meet deadlines.

The truth is, like many other people, I procrastinate on a regular basis.   Yes, it’s true!  This especially happens when I’m online.  I find myself getting very easily distracted from’ the task at hand, because I have somehow ended up on Facebook, or I’ve found a new amazing online tool that I need to explore and then add to my ever growing list of amazing tools, none of which has anything to do with the task at hand.  To be fair, the distractions normally take over because the task I’ve set out to do doesn’t have a fixed deadline.  So, say I am doing some secondary research for Gillian B, to keep up to speed with what’s going on with competitors, or pricing, well, because it’s an ongoing activity it doesn’t really have a deadline, and when I don’t have to do it by the end of day, I struggle to do it at all!

But if the task relates to work for a client and it has a deadline, then I love to do it!

Working time

When I have to do something for someone else I jump into action and get it done in plenty of time!  Why?  It’s because I love to feel that I am really efficient, totally organised and that I can be completely relied on!

So I guess a big problem for a procrastinator is that tasks that relate to our own business growth or personal development seem to be the hardest ones to undertake on a regular basis.  Nobody is going to thank me for setting up my filing systems onto Google Drive, thus freeing up my hard drive.  Nor are they going to thank me for writing a weekly blog post.  So, it seems, I have less incentive to get those things done.  Well here comes the blog post at least!

Anyway, this happened to me one afternoon.  I was sitting at my laptop, aware that I had a few hours to spare which could be put to productive use, but I found I had no incentive whatsoever to do anything.  Then the word came into my mind ‘procrastination’, this is what they call procrastination, so I googled it (I love Google) and came across a Ted Talk by Tim Urban.  Tim claims to be a serious procrastinator and describes this very effectively with some simple media and a witty sense of humour!  He talks us through the Rational Thinker, the Gratification Monkey and the Panic Monster, hence the title of my blog.  Check it out here and I think you will agree that we could all learn something from his closing remarks.

Gillian B

Do you dread Networking Events?

Do you dread Networking Events?

Business Networking

Is it just me, or do other people also dread Networking events?  Why is that?  Why do we become anxious about introducing ourselves and our business to strangers?  Are we worried that no one will be interested in what we have to say?

I guess most people want to fit in and be liked, but that can be difficult to achieve at a short networking event, which only allows a very narrow margin of time to make an impression.

Just like any other business, as a Virtual Assistant, I need to attend a lot of networking events to connect with people whom I can help, and who in turn, can help me. I do feel a certain degree of trepidation before attending an event, so I decided that I have to prepare in advance, to help me get over my fears so that I can get the most out of networking opportunities.  Having researched a little (I love Google) I have put together a Networking Checklist which I am sharing with you!

Have you done your Research?

Make sure you understand what you have signed up to.  Take some time to review the details of the networking event.  You should know who is running the event and why, whether there will be speakers and what they will be presenting.  I believe you should also make sure that the speaker topics are of interest to you otherwise you may not be meeting with like-minded people.  For instance, I have no interest in Accounting or Financial services so I would not be interested in attending events focussed on those subjects.  If you are sent an attendee list in advance, make sure you spend some time finding out more about the other attendees (I love Google). You may find that you want to connect with a particular person at the event.

Have you fully prepared?

Apart from stuffing lots of business cards in your pocket,  you also need to think about how you are going to present yourself.  The whole point of networking is to connect with other people who may be interested in your business services, or who may be able to refer you on to other people and vice versa.  It’s vital that you are able to convey what you do in a clear and understandable way.  For some business owners, it can be easy enough, as their business is self-explanatory.

For example: “My name is Jane Brown and I am a bespoke jewellery designer”.  So now I know what Jane does, and I’m pretty sure that she makes and sells high-quality designer jewellery.  I can now ask her more questions about where she retails etc.

For others, they need to be more specific.

For example “My name is Joan Kelly and I am a web developer.”  To be honest, I still have no idea what Joan does exactly, or how I can help her.  But if Joan said, “I build and design business websites”.  I would immediately understand what she does and could let her know about someone I know who needs a new website.

This is mine.

“I’m Gillian and I help small business owners with Marketing, Social Media and general Administration, I basically make their lives easier!”.

Make sure you become expert at describing what you do in an easily manageable sentence and practise it!

Have you checked the Event Details?

Just make sure that you know what time the event starts and where exactly it’s located.  Is there parking, public transport etc.  This is obvious, but arriving on time makes a better impression.  In fact arriving early offers you ample opportunity to chat over coffee with the other early birds and to relax into the occasion.

How are you going to engage with other attendees?

Networking Women

So you are all set now.  All you have to do is attend on time, be open to conversation, introduce yourself in one manageable sentence, listen to what the other person is saying, take an interest and ask questions, ask for a business card,  as then, they will probably ask for yours.  When it’s time to move on, offer your hand and wish them continued success!  Actually, this can be an awkward moment as you don’t want to appear rude and leave the person alone.  You can also just gently suggest that you both continue to mingle either together or separately.

Have you followed up?

Finally, the next day, it may be worthwhile to go through the business cards and connect with those contacts on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter, with a short note suggesting you keep in touch!

Do you know what!  Now that I have my Networking Checklist, I don’t think I feel that dread anymore!  Oh, and as a special thank you for reading my blog, check out this Ted Talk on Networking skills.

Happy Networking!

Gillian

Did you know about National Workplace Wellbeing Day?

Did you know about National Workplace Wellbeing Day?

When I heard about this annual celebration I thought ‘what a great idea’.  Apparently it has been celebrated here for three years already.  Who knew!

Coffee Laptop Pen Image

I’m a Virtual Assistant and I work from home.  I guess that sounds nice and cosy, conveying images of me clicking away at my laptop on a snug spot on the couch.  In reality I had to have a proper dedicated space to manage my workload productively.  I am still organising my workspace which resides in an upstairs room with loads of natural daylight.  The room is quiet and away from distracting noises.  But that is not enough for my wellbeing. I still need to get a decent ‘spine’ friendly office chair to make sure that I mind my back, which, I’m afraid, is beginning to show signs of wear and tear!  And the reason for that?  Well, there is something that I think many of us are guilty of, and that is sitting for long periods of time staring at our desktops or laptops.  I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because I am shocked when I look at the little digital clock on my laptop and realise how much time has passed since I last stood up and walked around the house for a few minutes.  As we all know, and I am talking to the small business owners, freelancers and entrepreneurs out there…we can get bogged down with incoming email, social media updates, making appointments, invoicing etc. etc. etc.

So I decided today, enough is enough, time to find a solution to this daily problem!  It only took me about five minutes on Google…I love Google!  I found a lovely little Awareness App for my desktop.  The reason I chose this special App is that it plays a sound which I find very calming.  It is the sound of a Tibetan Singing Bowl.

Singing Bowl

The gentle chime is so lovely.  Now I will be made aware, after an hour, that I need to stand up and take a breather.  But hold on, there is more!  When the App chimes, a pop up appears suggesting ‘Break Ideas’ and when you click on that, a window opens where you can look at a choice of things to do during your break…the downside, is that you could easily spend another ten minutes looking at the list of choices!  Oh well.

Whether it is National Workplace Wellbeing Day or not…make sure you take a break!

Gillian

My Story

My Story.

Hello, you are very welcome to my blog!  This is my opportunity to tell you a little bit about myself, and how I ended up starting my own business.  I’m Irish, and grew up in Dublin, and apart from a stint in Spain as an au-pair back in the 1980’s, I never really imagined that I would live or work elsewhere.  But life dictated otherwise, and I moved to Madrid in the early 1990’s. Madrid is a large, noisy, busy city which enjoys very hot summers and very cold winters, and unlike Dublin there are many days with uplifting bright blue skies.

cibeles
Cibeles, Madrid

I was hired to work within the Marketing and Sales team at Rothmans Tobacco Company (now BAT) and learnt so much there.  We worked hard and partied hard!  Life was fun and the food was great!

Padron Peppers
Fiery Padron Peppers

In 1999 I moved again, this time I found myself in Amsterdam which was quite a contrast.  I lived on a houseboat on a quiet canal.  Apart from the swans and ducks there was very little traffic passing by! I had a great job at ESOMAR, located right beside the lovely Vondel Park, just a ten minute walk from my houseboat on Da Costakade.   My job involved travel around Europe a couple of times a year, so I discovered lots of other lovely cities during that time.  Life was good!

Costakade
Da Costakade, Amsterdam

In 2008, circumstances steered me back home to Dublin.  I arrived feeling confident that I would find a great job and a nice place to live, after all, that was what I had left behind. However, finding full time employment and a decent wage as a returning emigrant was extremely difficult.  Being unemployed for the first time in years brought its lows but it also brought opportunities.

Dublin
Dublin

I had time on my hands and decided to use it proactively by upskilling both in academic and practical terms.

DCU Graduation
Graduating, DCU, 2013

I now have a 1st Class Honours Communications degree and a key understanding of Social Media management.   These are really practical skills to have under your belt today.

This all sounds great, doesn’t it?  But I still had challenges.  I was getting older, and although experience and expertise count for a lot, many employers pass you by, when skimming through a pile of CVs.  I did some volunteering and eventually got some contract work.  When my last temporary contract ended, I heard about an interesting course on Springboard.  It was the Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Skills course with the Innovation Academy, UCD.  It sounded a bit daunting as I certainly did not consider myself an entrepreneur!  I applied for the course hoping to upskill once more, but by the end of the first module I had decided to start my own business and I have not looked back since!  I have packaged the extensive range of office support skills I have acquired over the course of my career and I offer these services and any advice I can give, to small business owners, who don’t have the time to take care of everything on a day to day basis.  I do this remotely from home so my clients don’t have to worry about paying an additional salary or providing office space and equipment.

So that’s my story and thank goodness it has a positive ending…well not ending, after all I am still on a journey.

Gillian B

What the hell is a Virtual Assistant?

This is the post excerpt.

What the hell is a Virtual Assistant?ladies-virtual-assistants

When people ask me what I do for a living, I hesitate and then tell them “I’m a Virtual Assistant.” They look back at me with a blank expression and ask “What’s that?”  So I tell them that I’m a self employed Freelancer who works with clients from home. This triggers the next question …“But how do you help, what do you do?

I describe it as Online Office Support because I connect with clients via the internet, email, or Skype.  What I do each day depends on what clients need done.  Sometimes it can be one-off projects like creating a customer database that captures their customer’s details in one file. It can be managing their social media sites so they can focus on other business activities.  It can also be assisting the client with a marketing campaign or customer survey.  The list is endless but you can get a better idea by reading this online article which tells you all the ways a Virtual Assistant can take care of the little jobs that take up so much of your precious time.  The article is written by Nina Feldman of the IVAA, just click the link to read more  101 Ways to Use a Virtual Assistant

Image: Momoandsprits