April Fool’s Day – Rob Brydon Impersonates Ken Bruce

Yes it is my Birthday, have I said that already today? LOL

The fact that my birthday comes on April Fool’s Day doesn’t bother me in the slightest. Yes, I have had my fair share of tricks played upon me but not so much now that I a big girl. To be honest I rarely take any notice of the April Fool’s jokes I am far too busy singing and dancing around.  However, today on my way to work I had the pleasure of listening to BBC Radio 2.  I love Ken Bruce, but hang on a minute I thought, something doesn’t sound quite right – was I right in thinking Rob Brydon was impersonating Ken Bruce?

It wasn’t until I was driving home, listening to Steve Wright, that my suspicions were confirmed.  For the whole show Rob Brydon WAS impersonating Ken Bruce.  Brilliant!  I even heard that Chris Evans was fooled.

I would love to know if you were fooled too.  Have a listen here if you missed it  http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00g277y

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“What do you do?”

“What do you do?” is a question that I come across on a regular basis, like I am sure many of you do.  However, it always surprises me that in this day and age so many people do not know what a Virtual Assistant (VA) is.  I’ve given up calling myself a Virtual Assistant and prefer Freelance Personal/Executive Assistant.  Still people are often baffled.  It is assumed that I do a lot of typing and diary management but to be honest I do very little of that.  That is not to say that I won’t do that but clients tend to use me for so much more.

So what services do I offer?

My services include Accounts, DeskTop Publishing, Digital Transcriptions, Email Management, E-Shots, Holiday Cover, IT Training & Advice, Lifestyle Management, Media Management, Systems and Process Management and Website Administration.

All I can say is clients aren’t scared to ask.  I’ve had some call me from their holiday unable to obtain the Formula 1 results, clients needing lifts or items picking up, even dogs that need walking!  I’m here to help and love nothing more than offering my assistance.

Where do I work?

My office is based at home and most of the time this is where I work but on occasions I am requested to go to a client’s office or home.  Most of my work is emailed, discussed over the telephone or even posted.  Clients give me access to their web mail accounts, web servers and so much can be done online with Web Applications.  I can even access a client’s computer remotely.

So what sort of person do I work for?

Well this ranges immensely; sole traders, small businesses, consultants.  Some of them I work for daily, some weekly, some monthly and the others dip in and out as and when they need me.  I offer a great deal of flexibility and this suits my clients.

Why do clients outsource to me?

I offer expertise that many clients do not have.  A sole trader may feel that they want to do everything themselves but why waste time learning a new skill when they can hire it in and concentrate on other things.

I save my clients time and money. A Consultant earning £100 an hour often spends 5 hours a week on admin – hotel bookings, travel arrangements, accounts, invoicing etc. By completing these tasks themselves they are, in effect, losing £500 a week e.g. 5 hours x £100 ph.  By paying me to do that admin work, at a lower hourly rate, they are then able to earn money they wouldn’t otherwise be able to.

What are the benefits?

  • My clients know that I am dedicated to helping them succeed
  • Flexibility including out of hours work
  • Clients pay for my time and expenses only: no tax, NI/PAYE or benefit costs
  • I provide my own office space and equipment
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Fanurio Software & Customer Support 10/10

Before I write anything on the above title I just want to point out that I do not receive any monetary benefit from Fanurio for constantly plugging their software.  I just believe when someone does a great job they deserve praise.

Before I came across this piece of software I would keep a note of time spent on client’s work with pen and paper.  Then at the end of every month I would begin the laborious task of typing up the timesheets.  A whole day of paid work would have to be written off in order to complete this in order to get paid.

Fanurio time tracking software has saved me so many hours it is unbelievable.  Time saved that can now be spent on paid work and it really is a simple as clicking a few buttons.

Fanurio Time Tracking

In Fanurio each client appears on the left hand side and for each client you can enter different projects and within that different services.  Billing can be done hourly or at a one off price and it is also possible to bill for expenses.

Fanurio Time Tracking TimerWhen you sit down for work all you have to do is highlight the appropriate client, the project and service and then click to start the timer.  You then just either pause or stop and Fanurio keeps track of it.

The really fun bit is when it comes to billing, to invoice you just do the same – highlight, click invoice, type in the invoice number and then either print or export as a PDF.  Now how easy is that, so much better than slaving away with pen and paper, or filling in columns in Excel?

But wait there is more, invoices can be customised, reports run and the support I have received has been excellent.  No automated reponses – thank you for your email we will respond in 24 hours.  Nicu (yes personal terms) replies within hours.  Not that there have been any problems, just when I’ve moved address and I needed my contact details changing.  But on the new release this can all be changed yourself.

Oh yes and one last thing this isn’t just for Macs, there is support for other platforms, including Windows and Linux.

Fanurio Time tracking Mac Dock

So what are you waiting for? Download your 30 day free trial now at www.fanuriotimetracking.com

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Go on Holiday – You Deserve It!!

For many working people taking a break can seem almost impossible.  I am not just talking about a coffee break or lunch but also a holiday.  Can you even remember what one of those is?

Ok, so you probably do take a holiday but is it really a true break?  I can just see you now stopping at the service station to check tweets, at the airport quickly checking your email before the plane takes off, searching the guide book for wifi zones.  This is not a holiday and you really must stop this as it is not good for you.

Come on you work hard all year round and this is your chance to forget about work. With careful planning you can really have that break you deserve.

If you follow me on Twitter you’ll know that the last two months have been madness for me.  Juggling a household full of sick people and a demanding work schedule there has been very little play time for me.  Feeling zapped of energy a break from the daily emails, calls and work load was well and truly needed.

I knew that there were certain client tasks coming up so a whole week was out of the question but with careful planning I was able to block out days to have two long weekends. And wow it was amazing, no emails, no calls, no daily task lists just pure freedom.  We enjoyed walks on the beach, trips to museums, lazy breakfasts, long lunches and lots more.

Not being tied to my desk, going from one thing to another, constantly checking the time was a chance to recharge those batteries.

I am back at work today and loving it!

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Essential Office Item: Bring Forward File

Imagine it is 7:05am.  You’ve over slept.  Your train leaves in 20 mins and you are rushing around the house searching for that document your boss wants to review this morning, not to mention the First Class train ticket you bought last week.  Where? o’where are they?  There is nothing worse than wasting time searching for those important meeting papers, train tickets or invitation.

I think we have all done it once, for some of us it is a regular occurrence.  However, there really is no need to be like this, rushing about and stressing.  All you need is a place to put them.  No it isn’t by the side of your computer, which will eventually slip down behind.  It isn’t in your ‘In’ tray which will eventually get covered up with various papers. Some of you may place it in your diary on the appropriate day, which is a great way of thinking, but why carry them around with you all the time.

Step forward the Bring Forward File

The Bring Forward File is a way to organise your papers, tickets, agenda, invites etc. All paperwork relevant to a specific day is placed in a file ready to bring out on that day. There are two systems you can use, either 1-31 or January-December.

Bring Forward File

1-31

1-31 is a file made up of 31 sections and each section represents a day of the month.  If you have a meeting on the 20th of the month, any relevant papers are marked and placed in the relevant section.  The papers will be there ready for you on the day that you need them.  If you are working for someone and they like you to prepare their papers for the next day then you would place them in the section before.  At the end of the day on the 19th these papers will be taken out and placed with your boss’ diary sheet to be either placed on their desk ready for the morning or given to them as they leave the office that evening.

However, an issue I see with this system is when you have papers for the same day but different months, so it would be a good idea to have individual clear pockets in the section if this occurs for the different months.

January-December

I used to work for a Consultant who’s diary would be booked up 6 months in advance and I would have to hold various documents months in advance so I opted for the Jan-Dec system.  It is system that I still stick to as there is no confusion over which month the papers are for. It has the same principle as the 1-31 but instead each section is for a month.  The date that the documents are needed is placed in the top corner and filed with the nearest date in front.

Daily Checks

Every day you must look in the Bring Forward File for it to be effective.  As you begin to use one you will see how it can work in tune with your diary too.  You can forward plan putting notes in your diary and then the paperwork is placed in the Bring Forward File to back things up.

You’ll be amazed at what else you can use it for – following up leads, insurance renewals, birthdays, car MOT.

Go on give it a try.

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Weekly Timetable – Upgraded

Next week is set to be a busy week and I will need my weekly planner more than ever to ensure everything is accomplished.  The timetable has been a huge success so I’ve now upgraded to an Excel spreadsheet.  This means that I always have a copy with me and others can be printed off to be placed on my office wall and kitchen pinboard.

Below you can see my schedule for the week ahead.  For client confidentiality details of specific tasks have been deleted.

Personal Assistant Weekly ScheduleI like to start the week knowing what is going on and by transferring diary entries to the weekly timetable along with a plan of tasks to complete I feel prepared.   Not all time is allocated to a job or task, however much I like to be organised I am not that much of a control freak!  There also has to be a degree of flexibility for those unexpected issues.

Below is a Timetable Template which you may like to use for yourself.

Weekly Schedule Template

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Week 2 – Prioritising

It has been a funny week this week.  It has all been about prioritising work due to my littlest suffering from tonsillitis and being off school all week.  I have a responsibility to my clients but obviously nursing a sick child is my top priority.  As I mainly work from home it didn’t cause too much disruption but I had to plan my time carefully using the ‘MoSCoW’ system.

I have two notepads where I jot down my tasks.  The ‘Master’ one is with me all the time and in this I write everything that crops up. The other is my ‘Daily’ task list which contains all that I will complete that day – or hope to! Each task is prioritised using the ‘MoSCoW’ System in the ‘Master’ notepad and every evening I transfer various ‘to do’s’ to my daily list.

So what is ‘MosCoW’ you ask?

‘M’ is for ‘Must do now’ tasks.  There is often a tight deadline or without completion of this item other things can not be done.

‘S’ is for ‘Should do now’ tasks. Completing these tasks will help/make things easier if completed now but not top priority.

‘C’ is for ‘Could be done later’ if there is time but not such an issue if not completed yet.

‘W’ is for ‘Will Wait’.  These tasks will eventually get completed but are not so time sensitive.  These usually include my filing or tasks around the house such as dusting!

The ‘o’s do not stand for anything but help you to remember.

I find that by having the two lists I do not have a huge amount of tasks staring at me daily and therefore do not feel a huge weight on my shoulders.  Crossing items off, completing or nearly completing everything on the ‘Daily’ list is a great sense of achievement.  If you get to the end then you can go back to the ‘Master’ list and find some more – maybe cross off a few C’s and W’s.

So this week, with my time restricted, I only transferred the M’s, tasks that were top priority and if not completed would result in problems. I am afraid that all other tasks have been left for me to look at this coming week or maybe left for the following week if their priority is not raised to ‘M’.

I wouldn’t know what I’d do without this system.  Give it a try and let me know how you get on.

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