Small Seeds #2 – Read Something Different

I absolutely love reading, anything and everything!

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I suppose it is one of the reasons I absolutely LOVE social media, it opens you up to all sorts of information you might never otherwise have happened upon.

One of my absolute favourite finds ever is a blog called Brain Pickings

It is simply brilliant!

Not only is the writing of a quality that I could only ever dream of being able to produce, but the subject matter is such a wide variety and never fails to suck me in.

The logo is a little on the Hannibal side of macabre but I doubt you will be disappointed with the never endingly interesting content 🙂

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It’s Not Genetic – You Can Be A Problem Solver Too

It is a much overused word, it seems everyone claims to be a problem solver in their CV’s today, but what does it really mean to be one and how do you hone the skills.

My job demands that I am good at this particular skill.

With a to-do list that rarely maintains the same content/ priorities for long and as the go to person when things go wrong you really wouldn’t get too far without it.

Being a creative problem solver is not a skill you are born with but a skill that can be consciously developed, here are some of my ideas on how you could become one too …

Being Comfortable With Change And Uncertainty

An essential part of being a creative problem solver is not needing everything to make sense up front. As a born organiser this is something I struggled with early on in my career, I felt unsettled and out of control if I wasn’t able to make things happen immediately.

It took me years to realise that I would only able to count myself as really great at my job when I had learned to become comfortable with …

Not knowing how things were going to be around the corner

AND

How they were ultimately going to work out.

The flip side of this and one I think you will find with many people reliant on being able to deal with constant change … they build lots of routine in to their lives to balance it out.

We all need a balance between structure and spontaneity.

My weekdays at work are hectic and based upon an ever changing landscape so my weekend/ home life are based catching up on my peace and continuity.

No one can run at a hundred miles as hour all the time and unless you want to burn out you really shouldn’t try.

First Attempt In Learning (FAIL)

You can’t be worried about failing – it absolutely will happen and you should never take it personally. Many people try to hide from failure because of the almost primal feelings of inadequacy and frustration associated with it.

Successful people know that these feelings, however strong, should be entirely ignored. To be human is to fail and the only productive way to deal with it is to reframe the experience and make a decision to move ever onwards and upwards as soon as possible.

My 8 Year old very excitedly told me about FAIL when she I came home from work one day a few weeks ago. She had been learning about it in school and was delighted with the concept.

The first time I really realised the power of it was when I was teaching her how to ride her new and much bigger bike last weekend … she was frustrated with falling off and on the point of giving up when we talked about FAIL. Instead of descending further into the stubborn and relentless ‘I DON’T WANT TO’ as children her age can have a tendency towards she got up, brushed herself off and carried on trying.

Realising that there are times that you will fail helps you accept, deal with and move on when you do.

It isn’t the number of times that you fall that count

BUT

That the number of times you rise always outnumbers them by 1!

Have The End In Mind But Be Flexible On The Route

You can only work out the most efficient route to a destination when you know where that destination is. What exactly is it that you are trying to achieve and work backwards from there.

It is one of the principles of great project management …

Know where you are going

But constantly reassess your route and goals

AND

Be flexible and open minded enough to make adjustments along the way.

There can be many paths to the same place.

And you should never assume that the place you are aiming to get to remains the same either. Over time and with changing priorities the destination might change, always keep that in mind.

Never Stop Listening, Learning & Questioning

I read as much as I can, listen to as many people as I can and question what I am doing/ how I am doing it almost constantly.

Sometimes it feels exhausting to be honest but for 99% of the time I know the benefits that an inquisitive mind affords me … especially in my capacity as a problem solver.

You should never assume you have the absolute right answer.

And being aware of and questioning your assumptions should be constant.

The greater your knowledge and experience the greater the well from which to make connections/ innovations that might not have occurred to you otherwise.

Never tire of building up those resources.

Add A Word To Your Vocabulary … YET!

This is an important word for problem solvers, use it more!

I haven’t found the answer … yet!

It isn’t quite right … yet!

I am not sure how we get that done … yet!

It reminds us that this is a process … an ongoing process that will follow you through life.

And the better you get at it, the easier and more productive life becomes!

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And on that note … enjoy the rest of your weekend, J 🙂

Small Seeds #1 – Take Control

I love it when you have a flash of inspiration don’t you?

I find blogging such a relaxing and satisfying activity but all of my blogs up to now have tended to be quite long. Time for something shorter and punchier, the Small Seeds Series!

Sometimes life can be a roller coaster and seem unsettlingly out of control, if you are like me that could be a feeling you have most of the time 🙂

But think about this …. how can you start to make a difference tomorrow, how can you take back a little bit of control?

My favourite one is to think of someone I want to be more like and pick one trait I can work on for the week to come. I won’t bore you with who she is but she is serene, bright, classy and always seems so very in control.

I think this is probably Dr Seuss’s fault, if I want to pick myself up from the doldrums I always think of ‘Today I am going to act as if this is the day I am going to be remembered’. A rather fabulous and effective fake it till you make it kind of a vibe!

It doesn’t have to be that for you – is there a problem at work that has been bothering you? Can’t see a way out? Pick one little thing you can do next week that would get you closer to your goal. Relationship problem? Do the same. Pick one thing, however small and start to move forward. Problem with your business – boil it right down to the very simple and pick something to work on.

No one else if going to do it for you, and in a week/ a month/ a year/ a decade you will wish that you had started TODAY.

Your mission for this week should you wish to accept it …

Decide What Would Make You Happier

&

Move You Closer To The Life You Want

Then

TAKE THE FIRST STEP!

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Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.

I love Dr Seuss!

Reading his fabulous books as a child never failed to elicit a giggle.

To this day, I still get the same result when I read them with my own children.

The greatest thing for me is that now, all of these years later,  I’m able to appreciate the still very relevant life lessons in his work.

How about you?

Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living. It’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do. And that enables you to laugh at life’s realities – Dr. Seuss

What a fabulous outlook on life!

I thought I would put together some of my favourites, I’m a complete sucker for all things positivity and growth 🙂

So many to choose from, but here goes …

 

The More That You Read

The More Things You Will Know.

The More That You Learn

The More Places You’ll Go

 Today you are you, that is truer than true.

There is no one alive who is youer than you.

 Don’t cry because it’s over

Smile because it happened

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You’re off to great places!

Today is your Day!

Your mountain is waiting!

So get on your way!

Why fit in when you were born to stand out?

You’ll miss the best things if you keep your eyes shut

You have brains in your head.

You have feet in your shoes.

You can steer yourself any direction you choose.

You are you. Now, isn’t that pleasant?

A person’s a person, no matter how small.

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Be who you are and say what you mean.

Because those who mind don’t matter

And those who matter don’t mind.

Will you succeed?

Yes you will indeed!

Ninety-eight and three-quarters percent guaranteed.

From there to here, and here to there.

Funny things are everywhere.

Step with care and great tact.

And remember that life’s a great balancing act.

Today I am going to act

As if this is the day I will be remembered

Maximising Your Social Media Mojo

I am sure that anyone reading this will understand when I say that social media can be a fickle beast, some days you are gaining followers at a speed that you can’t keep up with and some days it doesn’t matter what you do you just can’t seem to engage with anyone.

Great fun at best, really quite frustrating at worst.

Now, I am an avid people watcher. In my work it is a bit of an essential skill to notice the unsaid and to have a great sense for what is going on behind the scenes. Aside from the day to day work benefits this affords me, it is a skill that has stopped me from walking into many a minefield of office politics!

It occurred to me some time ago that it is not altogether unlike my approach to Social Media, a process of trial and error but if you are paying attention to the subtleties and are open to making adjustments when required depending on the needs of your audience you will eventually master the process

1. Work Out Your Why

Ask yourself why are you using social media?

If you know your why the how should always be a lot clearer!

Knowing your ‘Why’ is something you could explore for all aspects of life but my why for social media is for my little business – my twitter feed for instance is a the live bit of my homepage that gives my potential customers a clearer idea of who I am and what I know about/ am interested in. It isn’t about gaining lots of followers, although people following you is a great feeling, but this might be one of your drivers. It doesn’t really matter what your why is, the important thing is to understand it so it makes the how obvious.

People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it!

Do you want some guidance on finding your why? Simon Sinek is someone you should definitely check out …

2. Do Regular Engagement Checks

Pay attention … take some time out periodically to skim through your recent posts and take in what is getting traction, what is being shared, what is getting lots of likes and what is inspiring people to follow you?

Now I am not obsessive about this. You don’t have to look far to find lots of articles about how to gain thousands of followers in no time at all and get a constant stream of leads … Personally I think that kind of hard sell can be quite off-putting.

However you approach it engagement is rather like an iceberg I think, I read a lot of articles posted on Twitter but I don’t always like or share them. Just because people aren’t actively engaging don’t assume they are not reading and paying attention to you.

I had a call from a new client once who had realised that she really needed a Virtual Assistant and called me as she had seen many posts of mine on Twitter. I was the one who came to mind so it was my website that she visited, yet she had never liked or shared a single tweet.

The moral of the story, don’t assume a lack of physical engagement means no one is listening to you and get discouraged. However, that said, when you do get indications your audience likes a certain type of content … pay attention!

Twitter Analytics are great, and all the platforms have similar functionality.

3.       Get organized.

If you find yourself scratching your head about what to post on social media next, this tip is for you. It’s time to create a content bank.

This process takes two forms for me …

Internet Explorer – most people don’t use it anymore having been overtaken by Chrome and Edge but it is still there sat on your desktop somewhere, why not put it to good use?

My day to day browser is Edge, I open it and it immediately comes up with Twitter, LI, WordPress etc – the sites I use most frequently. But I also have IE set up with my most tried and tested sources of inspiration, up to date news and therefore content. At the click of a button you have a tailor made spring of bang up to date info and inspiration at your fingertips!

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Trello – Whenever you have an idea but for one reason or another can’t/ dont’ want to post it right then and there … add it to a content bank.

I absolutely love Trello for this job – it is free, very visual, you can have lots of different boards for all manner of things and as a fan of the tactile I love being able to drag and drop everything! You can also invite people to join boards which is fab for someone who works largely in remote partnership.

Simply put, the app is brilliant for someone who is a natural organiser and spends her life organising other people!

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Whenever you have an idea, add it to the a board. When you use an idea you can archive it or if you are seriously organised you can reshuffle ideas into archive lists of content that worked well and not so well. Perfect for when you want to start recycling.

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Social Media can be a valuable content marketing asset for your business, but being organised is important to maximising success and minimising it taking over your life.

And if you know the benefits but don’t have the time to do it yourself, then you can just give me a call 🙂

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Don’t Worry, It Might Never Happen

I have been worrying incessantly this week, I won’t bore you with what – they never come to pass after all, or at least I keep telling myself they don’t – but it is safe to say that whether valid or not I am driving myself completely crazy.

So I thought I would do something useful … write it out with a blog whilst enjoying the charming peace of Bake Off on the telly. Cake week, who could worry their way through the delights of Mary Berry and Roulades?

I am very familiar with the spectre of worry, I have to admit to being a little bit prone to overthinking things. I’ve always been so terribly jealous of those people who can turn their brains off at will, it isn’t a skill for me. And I am sure there are lots of people out there who feel the same way.

SO what to do?

Well I am quite a big fan of The Chimp Paradox – if you are a worrier you should definitely check it out too –  and one of the ways to deal with a rampaging chimp in your head is to distract it! As the cakes weren’t completely working, I am resorting to WordPress, the internet and Pinterest.

Always Remember, Many Of Your Worries Are Unfounded!

Lo and behold, it turns out that 85 percent of what subjects worried about never happened, and with the 15 percent that did happen, 79 percent of subjects discovered either they could handle the difficulty better than expected, or the difficulty taught them a lesson worth learning.

I love The Huffington Post, I seem to spend quite a lot of time reading it and this article was as good a use of my time as any. The research backed stats to persuade you that you are likely stressing yourself out for absolutely nothing, and a couple of ways to put a stop to your brains rampage.

Ask Yourself – What is the worst that could happen?

Have you ever read Feel the Fear And Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers? If you haven’t and worrying is something you are prone to I would highly recommend it.

I have a very well worn copy that has been on my bookshelf for many years, just opening the book to any of the yellowing pages has a soothing effect now. It is something I pick up before an interview or meeting a client, if I am worrying about work or money or kids … the situation doesn’t really matter. It’s about recognising what is causing the worry and tackling it head on.

Pushing through fear is less frightening than living with the bigger underlying fear that comes from a feeling of helplessness! This is the one truth that some people have difficulty understanding. When you push through the fear, you will feel such a sense of relief as your feeling of helplessness subsides. You will wonder why you did not take action sooner. You will become more and more aware that you can truly handle anything that life hands you.

Now I have to apologise in advance for this, but this is one of my favourite memes … just avert your eyes if you are sensitive to bad language … but this helps me immensely.

If they don’t offer you the job it means there is something better around the corner, if the client thinks you are too expensive they don’t deserve your talents, I never had a money worry that I was still worrying about in a few months and kids will always find a way to give you grey hair.

What’s the worst that could happen? Chuck it in the f**k it bucket and move on!

People Don’t Think About You As Much As You Think They Do

And with googling this point I have just solved my own worry, just like that – and with another one of my favourite sources for blogging wisdom too. LifeHack.Org

I’m a people pleaser, and as anyone who recognises that trait in themselves will understand, this causes me a HUGE amount of worry and stress. Whether it be a boss, a partner, a colleague or even a child it can be quite an insidious and unconscious tendency.

The key is in recognising it!

There are advantages to having someone’s high regard but if it doesn’t come naturally, by just being you, you are also paying a high price for their esteem. There will be a tendency to shuffle issues under the carpet and tolerate things that don’t work for you.

Not everyone will ‘get’ you and that is entirely ok. There is an awful lot of awesome in being a little bit weird, all the best people are you know – it is what being a real individual is all about.

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 And finally …

It is important to keep in mind that worry really is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do but gets you absolutely no where.

If all else fails, write a quick blog to distract yourself – after all, tomorrow is a brand new day. Grab it with both hands!

Remember her? She is still there....inside you....waiting.....let's go get her (your inner child)......:

Bee Smart In Your Busy!

Last night, whilst doing a bit of social media wandering  it occurred to me what I was doing was rather like a bee … buzzing between platforms whilst all the time finding and transferring posts, ‘cross pollinating’.

And so a Virtual Assistant related blog idea was born … There is much to be learnt from bees on the art of being smart with your busy.

On the art of being smart with your business!

1. Honey bees are super-important pollinators for flowers, fruits and vegetables. Bees transfer pollen allowing plants to grow seeds and fruit.

They are absolutely essential in helping other plants grow.

Many SmallBiz and Start-up Entrepreneurs see a Virtual Assistant as an ‘expense’, something to afford at a time when they are trying to put any and all cash into building on their success.

Whilst I completely understand this (strategically balancing incomings and outgoings is something I wrangle with frequently) saving money in this area eventually risks doing more harm than good.

The economy seems to be rather missing the point – any VA worth their salt will throw their all into helping you grow, pouring all of their small biz expertise into maximising the return on your investment.

Essentially … your success is my success, and vice versa!

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2. They produce honey as food stores for the hive during winter. Luckily for us, these efficient little workers produce 2-3 time more honey than they need!

A Virtual Assistant is a small business professional too – they have experience and knowledge of many businesses which means they have a WEALTH of experience that you can benefit from.

VA Support can be about simple admin support if that is what you need, but if you find the right Virtual Assistant it can mean so much more for the growth of both you and your business.

I recently had a client who asked me to make some tweaks to his website, which I was more than happy to do as I love playing with WordPress.

Pretty standard stuff really – doing some resizing, setting up an automatic email/download for an ebook etc. The fiddly technical bits he couldn’t quite get right himself.

But whilst I was there I noticed some things that really weren’t great – there was no services page, the testimonials carousel only had one unattributed testimonial on it, the copy was a little verbose and confusing, the menu in a really strange order and some of the visuals were really bad quality.

All stuff that wouldn’t take me long at all to do but that would make the world of difference to his conversions. Some times it just takes fresh eyes!

The administration skills are the honey that you are looking for but there is so much more if you keep your mind open to the possibilities.

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3. The bee’s brain is oval in shape and only about the size of a sesame seed, yet it has remarkable capacity to learn and remember things. It is able to make complex calculations on distance travelled and foraging efficiency. 

As a professional Executive Assistant I have worked in the most amazing companies and even in Whitehall, and in all of those jobs I have worked alongside some of the smartest and driven people – the Brain Trust!

You really should never underestimate the knowledge, skills and resourcefulness of a professional assistant.

Your business might be new territory but having had a career of thinking on our feet, dealing with problems on the fly and learning new things at the drop of a hat there is no professional more ready to take on the challenge with gusto and style.

Skilled administrators are the people who keep the world of business turning, and any CEO worth their leadership salt will tell you the same.

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4. Honey bees communicate with one another by dancing. More on their awesome sense of time, communication of distance and direction in “The Awesome Honeybee Dance“. 

One thing I have learnt throughout my career is that a great assistant/ boss relationship is rather like a dance.

When I am working with someone I spend time getting to know the way that they work and their drivers. When you understand those two things you can create a truly effective working relationship like no other.

It is one of the things that I love most about my job, when you know the person you are supporting so well that ‘Already done’ trips off of your tongue several times a day.

Words can be overrated, and sometimes quite unnecessary!

5. Honey bees are fab flyers. They fly at a speed of around 25km per hour and beat their wings 200 times per second!

It has long popular wisdom that  Bumble Bees shouldn’t fly, but we have learned since that they actually just manage it by doing it DIFFERENTLY.

Hiring a Virtual Assistant might not be the first solution that pops into your mind when you start thinking about needing help … Won’t it be too difficult working remotely? How will I know they are doing any work? Isn’t it going to cost too much?  &c &c &c

Don’t discount something just because it is new and different.

The range of Virtual Assistants out there and their services vary hugely. Just as with any new hire for your business you need to work out what exactly you are looking for and then find the person who is going to fit into your life with most ease and effectiveness.

A great VA (and I know I am biased but you should definitely consider me to be one 🙂 ) will bring more professionalism, skills, cost effectiveness and flexibility to grow with your business than you can possibly imagine!

Are you interested in looking at how a VA could make a difference to you and your business but are concerned about taking the commitment?

That is why Our Other Office offers a free trial so you can see what you think with no obligation – visit http://www.ourotheroffice.co.uk.

Don’t Just Consider It, Get It Done

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