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Why Stepping Away From Your Business Makes Sense

Why Stepping Away From Your Business Makes Sense

For many business owners, stepping away from their business can feel like a daunting prospect. After all, your business is your baby! As your business grows, it can be increasingly difficult to keep up with all the responsibilities that come with it. But there are some very real benefits to stepping away, and leaving your business in the hands of a capable team. You could also consider increasing your team members by outsourcing. Here are some reasons why you should consider letting go of the reins once in a while.

1. Delegating tasks allows you to focus on growth opportunities

When you’re bogged down in the day-to-day running of your business, it can be easy to be too busy to take on bigger projects that could help to take your company to the next level. By letting your team handle the essential day-to-day tasks, such as accounting or customer service, you free up time and energy that can be put towards achieving more ambitious goals.

2. Helps to stay competitive

By delegating certain tasks to professionals who understand the market, you can make sure that you’re up to date with the latest trends and best practices in your industry. This will ensure that you remain competitive in an ever-evolving landscape.

3. Outsourcing increases efficiency

When work is outsourced to a third party, they often have access to better resources and technology than what is available to you in-house. This means that tasks can be completed more efficiently and with greater accuracy than they were before.

4. Reduces costs in the long run

Of course, outsourcing does come with an upfront cost. However, it’s often worth it in the long run when compared with trying to do everything yourself or relying on expensive full-time employees who may not be as productive as external specialists would be.

5. It gives you time for other areas of life

Sometimes, running a business means you put other important areas of life on the back burner. This may be spending time with family, looking after your health and well-being, or neglecting personal projects that you want to do. With a good team around you, you can take some time to focus on other things.

Is Stepping Away Right for You?

If you’re not sure whether leaving the responsibility of your business to others is right for you, here are some things to consider:

  • Are you struggling to keep up with the demands of running your business?
  • Are you finding it difficult to find time for the things you love outside of work?
  • Are you feeling burnt out and in need of a break?
  • Are your profits stagnant or declining?
  • Are you having trouble scaling your business?

If any of these things resonate with you, then delegating might be something worth considering for your business. It can take some of the pressure off, free up your time, and allow you to focus on the things that matter most to you.

Stepping away from your business isn’t always easy, but it can have numerous benefits if done correctly. By outsourcing or delegating certain tasks, you’ll be able to focus on high value activities while staying competitive and saving money in the long run – all while giving yourself some much-needed breathing room!

Hiring an OBM

One of the best ways to step away from your business and leave it in capable hands is by hiring an Online Business Manager (OBM). OBMs specialise in taking on the day-to-day tasks of running a business, so that you can focus on the big picture, or take some much-needed time for yourself. But that’s not all! They can manage your team and help them be more productive, help you develop and implement strategies that will drive growth, and provide valuable insights and feedback based on their experience in the industry.

Whether you are in the coaching industry, or a small business owner, I can help you achieve your business goals while you take a break. Feel free to book a call for a friendly chat, and gain back some time for yourself!

Top 5 Tips for Creating Balance in your Life

Top 5 Tips for Creating Balance in your Life

Is Your Work-Life Balance Causing You Stress? Here’s How To Fix It!

We all know that work-life balance is important, but what does that really mean? We’ve all been there… you work from home and the kids are off school, so your attention is divided. Or, you’re working long hours that eat into your personal time. Maybe you are under financial pressure and feel you have no choice but to prioritise work over family time. When you are spinning many plates, it brings many feelings, including guilt, worry and stress!

What if we thought about it in a different way? Life is messy, unpredictable and full of surprises, so forget trying to achieve a perfect balance. You will never get there!

Instead, think about work-life integration. Work-life integration means being able to bring your work and personal life together seamlessly. It means making choices that make sense for you, your family and your job. It’s not about balancing things out, it’s about integrating everything as best you can to suit your lifestyle and make life that little bit easier. Here are my top tips for achieving work-life integration:

1. Take regular breaks and get outside every day

If you’re working from home, or even if you’re not, it’s so important to take regular breaks throughout the day and make sure you get outside, even if it’s just for a short walk around the block. Getting some fresh air helps clear your mind and makes you feel more refreshed when you return to your desk. It also means that you can get some exercise in whilst fitting it into your day without having to make time for a separate workout later on. Win win!

2. Set your own hours and stick to them!

If possible, set your own hours and try to stick to them. For example, if you start work at 9am, then aim to finish at 5pm (or whatever time suits you). This means you have some time in the evenings with your family or doing something fun. This might not always be possible but it’s worth aiming for.

3. Set boundaries

Having clear boundaries for yourself is essential to your well-being, and the structure helps you stay focused and organised. One quick change you can make is to not take work calls or check emails outside of work hours. It can be difficult to switch off from work when you’re always connected, so setting boundaries will help you integrate work and life in a healthy way.

4. Make time for the things that matter to you

You can’t have a healthy work-life integration if you’re constantly putting your job before everything else. Make sure you take time for the things that are important to you, whether that’s your family, your friends, your hobbies, or just some time for yourself.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

If you’re struggling to find balance in your life, don’t be afraid to ask for help from a friend, family member, or professional. Sometimes we need a little bit of help to get back on track. Accept that you’re only human, and that you can’t do everything all of the time.

As an OBM and VA, I can help you take back control of your time and find a better way to integrate work and life. Outsourcing some of your work can help you handle the mundane tasks that eat up your time, help you stay organised and on track, and give you more time for the things you love.

The modern way of working means that the lines between work and personal time are increasingly blurred. With the help of a VA, you can get more of your personal time back and create a work-life routine that helps you thrive. If you are ready to make some changes, feel free to schedule a call!

How Productive Are You?

How Productive Are You?

To be productive in this fast paced land of notifications and distractions isn’t easy, even for those of us who like to write about it sometimes. I can often be found in a heap at my desk thinking I may as well give up work for the day because there have been so many distractions and interruptions.

There are many productiveness killers, especially when you work from home, and I like to break them down into these categories:

Interruptions

  • The telephone (whether business or personal), it can interrupt you at anytime during the day and whatever you’re working on at the time will have to be put to one side.
  • The doorbell, family/friends, the postman, cold callers, people spreading the word of the Lord… it happens, although not so much for me now I have moved to rural France.
  • Lunchtime, I put this as an interruption because for me I would happily go on working through the whole day without stopping for lunch if I could, but I need to eat. The same applies to tea/coffee breaks.

Distractions

  • Email notifications, if you have these set-up they can take you off task by dragging you over to your email to respond.
  • Social media notifications, the same applies here, they distract you from what you’re supposed to be working on.
  • Dogs, they need walking… and although they get me away from my desk twice a day for a walk, it’s a distraction that somedays I could do without.
  • The radio (if you have it on while you’re working), I tend to have the radio on during the day, music I can work quite well too but when there’s a lot of speaking it distracts me quite a bit.

Well-being

  • If you’re feeling under the weather it’s going to cause you to be less productive, I know that some days I feel like I’d rather be laying on the sofa with a good book or watching a film.
  • Stress, this is a big killer of productiveness, if you’re stressed you’re not going to achieve anything.
  • Not getting enough fresh air, if you’re stuck at your desk for up to 12 hours a day it’s not doing anything for your health or your productivity.

Clutter

  • An untidy office is going to create a messy mind, if you have paperwork everywhere, can never find anything, then you’re not going to be working efficiently.
  • If you work from home then having a messy home the other side of your office is probably going to cause you some stress – it does me!
  • No filing system on your computer is just as bad as having a messy office, it causes inefficiency.

Can you think of any other categories?

I had originally planned to give you some of my favourite iPhone apps for this article, but it’s turned out to be a much more in-depth post, so I’m still going to give you some apps to check out after my relevant tips.

How to deal with interruptions…

  1. You could ignore the telephone and put voicemail on when you are busy working on a project, I think it’s perfectly acceptable not to answer every single telephone call, you don’t answer emails instantly (well most people don’t).
  2. You may like to install CCTV at your front door so you can see who is calling and then choose to ignore them or not… that’s a bit of a joke, but seriously, if you’re working on something, ignore the door too, or just check out the window first to check it’s not anything urgent.
  3. Lunch is difficult to miss, and you shouldn’t skip it, you probably could do with the break anyway, so why not take half an hour to do something else even if it’s just to hang the washing outside.

How to deal with disruptions…

  1. Any notification can be turned off, so if you’re working on something, turn it off. I find that this is great for productiveness, I can work for much longer if I don’t see the emails appearing in my inbox and all the social media stuff appearing on my computer and iPhone.
  2. Give the dogs something to chew on which will keep them entertained while you’re working, or if it’s walk time, then take them out.
  3. I have found that when there’s lots of speaking on the radio and it’s distracting me from my work (usually if I’m writing something I need to concentrate on) I mute it (in fact I have just done that so I can get this post finished). Mute is a handy tool, use it more!

How to improve your well-being…

  1. If you’re not feeling 100% then take a break, if you have deadlines then prioritise these and then set a time where you can take a break. If you set aside some time to relax you’ll get on with your work more efficiently as you’ll be looking forward to relaxing.
  2. Stress over a long period of time can really inhibit your working day, so you need to stop and look at what is causing the stress. Money worries? Workload? Personal problems? Try to write down what is causing your stress and find ways of dealing with it, the stress won’t go away overnight but just by acknowledging the problems on paper will commit you to taking the first steps.
  3. Take a break – You must get outside in the fresh air everyday, I used to be really bad at this. I used to sit at my desk all day, and then I got a dog, I now have two dogs! They force me to get outside at least twice a day and I feel much better for it. Sometimes having to take the dogs for a walk isn’t good for getting things done, but once you’re in a routine it does get better. Even if you go out for a 5 minute walk around the block at lunchtime, it will give you enough energy to get the rest of your work done.

Here are some apps that I feel help with well-being. I have used a few of these apps, Insight Timer is great at night and I have a great iPhone app called BetterMe which has some breathing exercises for various situations, anger, irritation, worry, sadness etc… I’ve also heard HeadSpace and Calm are also great apps for well-being.

How to deal with clutter…

  1. This is such an easy thing to achieve but I am my own worse enemy sometimes. Just spend 10 minutes each morning or evening tidying your office, making sure things have been filed away, clearing your desk. Before I worked from home I used to be great at this, things have slipped a bit now, but I think that’s because I know it’s only me that has to look at the mess. But it only takes 10 minutes… 
  2. Housework causes me stress, I hate it… I have managed to get it under some kind of control. Having pets with a lot of hair is the worst thing ever. I think you have to accept it, you’re going to spend the rest of your life clearing and cleaning. The best thing you can do is the same as with your office, spend 10-15 minutes each day (maybe at lunchtime) having a tidy up. If you do this each day, even if things are not spotless at least you’ll be less stressed. If like me you can afford a cleaner once a week, then even better… it has taken me 7 years of freelance working to put cleaner at the top of my priorities, and it’s so worth it!
  3. With the amount of things you can download onto your computer these days it soon ends up being very cluttered. If you start as you mean to go on, again this won’t be a long job. Every week check through your files and make sure they are in the relevant folders so you can easily find them again. Many people believe that it’s not necessary now because you can easily run a search of your whole computer, but what if you can’t remember what you named it? Better to have specific folders for specific files.

Here are my favourite apps which help me control my clutter and save time:

Hazel watches whatever folders you tell it to, automatically organizing your files according to the rules you create. Have Hazel move files around based on name, date, type, what site it came from and much more. Automatically sort your movies or file your bills. Keep your files off the desktop and put them where they belong.

Toby is a great add-on for Google Chrome, it’s like a filing system for all your websites, you can easily find all the important sites you use time after time without keeping all the tabs open and slowing down your computer.

TextExpander is a massive time saver, you can create snippets and templates which appear at a touch of a button or two. This saves so much time when writing emails, and anywhere else you need template text quickly.

LastPass keeps all my logins safe and secure, not only that it also keeps my client logins safe and secure too… I can also login to accounts with a click of the mouse.

What are your top productivity tips? I love to find out what other people do to increase their efficiency while working so please add your tips in the comments. I hope some of my advice is helpful, and look forward to hearing about yours.

For more of my favourite tools and apps, you can listen to my podcast or join my Facebook group.

Make Your Working Day as Productive as Possible with My Top Tips

Make Your Working Day as Productive as Possible with My Top Tips

If you’re like me and have a whole bunch of different clients you work with on a regular basis, your daily task list is probably pretty hectic – I know mine is! And while this isn’t necessarily a problem in itself, it sometimes means I can’t see the wood for the trees, which makes planning my day that bit more difficult and can (occasionally) impact my productivity.

That’s why I wanted to write this post and share with you some of the tips I use on a daily basis to keep my productivity on track.

Use a task management tool/app

Task management tools and apps – like Todoist (my current fave) – allow you to see at a glance all of the tasks you’ve currently got on your to-do list. They also enable you to sort them by priority and flag ‘must do’ tasks, allowing you to easily see exactly what you ‘have’ to do that day. But to use these tools effectively you have to remember to add every single task and flag/label it appropriately, that goes for non-work tasks too!

Don’t spend too much time on email

I always try and get a couple of tasks out of the way in the morning before I start replying to emails. It gives me a nice sense of achievement early on in the day, which puts me on the right track.

In addition, I use an app called MailButler (for Mac) that allows me to stagger (schedule) my email replies, preventing a deluge from coming in a little later.

Minimise client distractions

It can be hard, but try not to let your clients/customers distract you by constantly calling or instant messaging. Instead, set some time aside for having these types of discussion and ignore/turn off notifications at the times you really need to work.

Learn to triage and say ‘no’

A triage system for clients and customers that lets them know you can’t complete tasks at short notice can really help. It manages their expectations and reduces the likelihood of them asking.

If something urgent does crop up then decide if you can stop what you’re doing easily and assess how it will affect the rest of your day.

Also, remember that saying “no” sometimes is a fact of life. And even though it might cause some extra stress for your client, you need to look after your own stress levels too. Having a clause in your contract that says urgent work will incur a surcharge on their invoice may deter clients/customers landing you with priority tasks all the time.

Swap email for chat apps

Something that has worked well for me is using Slack with a couple of clients rather than email. All our projects are in different channels and it’s very easy to see what’s going on at all times. It definitely cuts down on emails, but do be careful with new message notifications and don’t get sidetracked chatting rather than working.

Save time (in the long run) by making templates

If you often get clients/customers asking you the same questions (I tend to with my author clients) a great way to save time is to either set-up an email template you can customise (MailButler offers email templates) and/or do a short video of your screen (I use Zoom) which walks them through the process. This saves massive amounts of time and lets you get on with the things you need to.

Spread recurring tasks throughout the week

Many productivity experts say you should batch similar tasks together in one day, but when you’re scheduling social media updates for upwards of 2/3 clients such an approach means you’d need to spend a whole day or more just doing that! I find spreading these tasks throughout the week means I get a nice variety of jobs each day.

Set aside some time for yourself

Try and have a couple of days each week where you’re not totally bogged down with tasks. It allows you to do things for your own business and not have clients on your case. For me, Wednesdays and Thursdays are my designated ‘quiet days’ where I can take a bit of a break (and publish a blog for instance – like today), but still be on hand if anything urgent crops up.

Over to you…

I’m always on the lookout for new tips to make my working days more productive. Do you have any you can share? I’d love to hear from you!

10 Ways a Virtual Assistant Can Help a Small Business

10 Ways a Virtual Assistant Can Help a Small Business

“I-like-things-to-happen-and-if-they-dont-happen-I-like-to-make-them-happen.”I regularly speak to small business owners, on both a personal and professional level, and if there’s one thing they all tell me it’s that when they first started out they tried to wear too many hats. In other words, they bogged themselves down with tasks that they really shouldn’t have been doing and ultimately lost focus on what they should be doing: building their businesses.

Unfortunately, this is one of the pitfalls of running a small business. It’s only when the owners realise that by trying to do everything themselves they’re actually hindering their businesses that things start to change.

But as we all know, hindsight is a wonderful thing and we can all learn a lot from it. That’s why I wanted to share with you some of the tasks that I carry out for my clients. While you will undoubtedly know about most of them, there are a few that may surprise you.

What I want to do is get you thinking about which of the tasks you’re currently doing yourself that could be delegated to someone else. Even if you manage to reclaim just five minutes of your time each day by delegating or outsourcing a task or two, I’ll feel as though I’ve done my job.

Here are just some of the duties I perform for my clients:

Project management – most business owners have got lots of nice little projects they want to undertake, but overseeing them all personally is often a time-consuming nightmare and something that detracts from the overall value of the project.

Newsletters – this newsletter didn’t write itself and yours won’t either. That means you’ve got to spend time thinking about what you want to include and then even more time compiling it. Time that could perhaps be spent doing something more constructive.

Social media management – we keep being told that our businesses need an online presence and one of the easiest and most cost effective ways to achieve this is via social media. But unless your business pages are updated regularly and your audience kept engaged, your social media efforts will fall by the wayside.

Blogging – Like social media and newsletters, blog posts are another necessity for most businesses today. And, like social media and newsletters, blogs are at their most effective when they are regularly updated with fresh content. Can you give your blog the time and attention it deserves?

PA services – general admin duties need to be done, but it doesn’t have to be you who does them, right? Even if they’re mundane, there’s someone out there who would willingly help you with them.

Email management – how many emails do you receive each day that warrant a reply, but not necessarily require a personal response from you? Responding to emails consumes a lot of time and unless those replies produce leads or sales, your time may be better focused elsewhere.

Calendar management – okay, so it’s similar to email management in its nature, but nevertheless it’s still a crucial part of running a business. Much better you concentrate on preparing for client meetings than organising them.

Research – conducting research is something that every small business does from time-to-time. And while the Internet has given us an overload of information at our fingertips, wading through the sea of resources to get to the stuff that matters can take hours.

WordPress management/maintenance – WordPress updates seem to be released on an almost weekly basis nowadays. Couple this with the constant plugin changes that also occur and maintaining even a basic WordPress site can be time consuming. That’s before you’ve even thought about making any content updates.

Data management – as your business grows, so too will all its data. Nothing is more frustrating than not having the information you need to hand. The technology exists to make it so, but all those documents and files still need to be put in the right places.

Did I give you any ideas? I really hope so…

Need a bit more inspiration? Drop me a line and we can talk about it in a bit more depth.