How to cope with working and being a mom during Covid 19 lockdown

How to cope with working and being a mom during Covid 19 lockdown

“If you love yourself, STAY AT HOME, keep the virus out.”

Anonymous

 Being a South African at the moment is tough.  We are outside, braai and socializing people. Now with the rise of the Coronavirus in South Africa, our president took the very brave step and put the whole of South Africa under lockdown for 21 days.  At first many thought “holiday, fun, braai and so much more”, not realizing what lockdown meant. Not even dog walking or jogging is allowed, and you are only allowed to leave your home for essential services or to buy food.  Schools closed earlier than usual and will be closed until further notice.  Being a VA, mean  that work still needs to continue, but now I have to entertain a 6 year old, 3year old and 2year old……… for 21 days.  I googled everything for 2 days, from not getting depression under lockdown, to school activities for kids, to keeping your family life as stable as possible.  And even now a few days later, still more WhatsApp’s, Ideas etc. are doing the rounds to make our “new” norm as normal as possible.  For me the following tips helped to keep me focussed and proactive as VA:

 

WORKING WEIRD HOURS

  • Inform your clients that you are moving your time table around to accommodate your kids, and that you will focus on certain projects during different times than usual.
  • Every reasonable person on earth is aware of this epidemic, be reasonable, positive and gracious when hard decisions and issues need to be handled.
  • Set up your “office” so that you can be with your kids and work. For me this personally meant doing most of my work on my mobile, and moving the rest out to when I have time to sit in front of my PC.  Personally this freed up a lot of time while being with the kids.

 

CREATING STABILITY

(Please note this is how I have done it the last couple of days, but you can change it as fitting to your situation.  The most important is to keep doing what works for you and your family.)

  • Stability is created by a healthy routine
    • Wake Up, drink your java, put on clothes (it is important not to stay in your pj’s the whole day) and do some work.
    • When the kids wake up, make them breakfast, do a “school activity, craft and arts, read them a story”, and let them play for 30 minutes outside to catch some rays. Vitamin D is important for staying positive. Remember staying healthy and social distancing is the important during this epidemic.  If you do go outside while staying in a flat, draw crayon lines on the floor in which areas everyone are allowed to stay in.  Now jump on your phone and start working. This time is usually great if you have to keep up with your social media and networking.  If you have lost clients or have a loss of income, now is the time to search for new opportunities.
    • Prepare lunch, and involve the kids. Usually they enjoy to eat what they help made.
    • After lunch, let them have their 30min screen time. I hope for your sake a nap follows.  Usually mine sleep between one to two hours.  During nap time I check my emails and see if any new projects or urgent messages need to be handled.
    • When everyone is a wake normally a fruit or yogurt are enjoyed, and then it is “active time”. Their brains were stimulated during the morning, now we need to get the legs moving.  Find a fun kids yoga session online and join in.  This is relaxing for young and old, followed up with exercising with anything heavy.  A butternut for kid’s weights, onion bag for adult weights, jumping rope, short sprints and many more.  You can jump online and get x100 ideas.
    • And lastly you can make dinner. Let the kids have a bath on their own while you sit and relax with glass of wine, coffee, tea or cold drink.
    • Let them have some screen time again if needed. And now you can jump on the rest of the work not yet done.  Personally for me, I do the work that takes less thinking as the day is more tiring while looking after kids and working. That being said, as Coronavirus takes over work is also getting less.  I do not need to work after 22:00 anymore, a luxury at this moment.
    • Remember you made it through today, tomorrow you can do it again.

 

STAYING HEALTHY MENTALLY

  • Prioritize your kids’ needs before your own.
    • Remember kids are part of the vulnerable list and can get sick easily, please stay at home to keep the virus out.
    • This is a strange time for them also. Do not show them you are tired or scared.  Keep going, this lockdown will not last forever.
    • Use technology such as WhatsApp, Zoom, Skype and FaceTime for children to keep in contact with grandparents, maternal parents, family and friends.

 

  • Prioritize your relationship
    • Lockdown can bring your relationship issues into sharp focus if both of you are confined at home. Now you have to talk, listen and be in each other’s personal space.  Stay positive and always talk with respect.
    • Make time for each other especially if you have children. When they have screen time, try to sit with each other and talk about what is worrying you, how to overcome your fears, and plan for the future.
    • If your relationship is rocky try to find online help, podcasts, seminars etc. Now you have the time to work on the problems.
    • Lastly if you are in an abusive relationship, please go online and find help for your sake and that of your children. You will be seen as venerable and can be removed.

 

I am not a psychologist or remotely knows what it takes to run a country under lockdown.  But I do know this lockdown did make me appreciate the small blessings I usually take for granted.  Things like going to the shop, dropping kids at school, visiting friends and family, walking outside or having small talk with neighbours; made me realise we as humans chase after the next day, often missing today.  I hope I can keep some of my own tips going in the future when our reality changes to post lockdown again.  Maybe being a VA prepared me in some why for the lockdown, as I have been doing all the above, just without the kids around 24/7. Stay healthy mentally and physically. And remember being with family during this time is special, we may never have this solitude again.

Photo by Anastasiya Gepp from Pexels

 

Asana versus Monday.com:  What is your tool of productivity and why?

Asana versus Monday.com: What is your tool of productivity and why?

What does it mean to be productive? The word productive is often described as a person’s capability to do a lot of work successfully.  How can we maximize our productivity in our careers? Nowadays, the most common answer would be through the utilization of a Project Management Tool.

What is the best suited software for you? A popular comparison would be of Asana verse Monday.com, which are both powerful Project Management Tools. Asana can be described as a simple, more traditional approach and better suited for small to medium sized businesses, while Monday.com is a more sophisticated, detailed option and better suited for medium sized businesses. By comparing the core features of each tool, it will allow you to select the best option for you and your team.

 

Pricing

This can be the ultimate deciding factor and the fuel behind your system of choice; Asana is free for up to fifteen team members per a project and would require an upgrade to a paid plan to make use of certain features. Monday.com offers a free fourteen-day trial and then the option to purchase the basic plan at $39 USD per month. Asana is slightly pricier than Monday.com when comparing the paid plans but it does offer the option of a free plan and not only a trial.

 

Task Management

Task Management is achieved by setting tasks with deadlines and then meeting the set deadlines. Asana allows you to create a task, name the task and then assign it either to yourself or a team member, accompanied with a deadline. By clicking on the task, it will expand to show you more detail, you can comment mentioning team members and attach documents or links used to collaborate. Asana displays tasks that are due soon in the ‘Home Section’, and you can see a complete list of all tasks assigned to you by viewing ‘My Tasks’. Monday.com refers to tasks as “Pulses”, you can name the Pulse, assign it to a team member, set its status and make it dependent on other Pulses. Asana has a basic and to the point task management method, while Monday.com has room for customization.

 

Workflow Management

Workflow Management is the optimization of your company’s business processes through automation. This includes mapping, planning and coordinating all parts of your business structure. Workflow in Asana is created through views such as lists, Kanban boards, calendar and timeline formats. Monday.com operates in a similar way, it allows you to see different visualizations for Pulses without having to switch between browser tabs. Monday.com shows a list view of your Pulses with a mini progress bar for each one, it also shows the visualization of your choice in the section above the fold. You can change the Pulse statuses in Monday.com using a drop-down menu in the list section, you can stretch and shrink Pulses in the timeline view or drag-and-drop cards in the Kanban board. Monday.com gives you more freedom to customize your workflow than the traditional approach of Asana.

 

Communication

Communication is a key factor to a successful team; a team must establish communication standards and a shared task management system contributes to those standards. Asana gives you the option to comment at task, project and team levels and Monday.com only lets you comment on tasks. Asana allows communication between your team in various ways, you can comment directly on a task or start a conversation in a dedicated window within a project. If you have a team page, you can host team discussions and post announcements on one dedicated page. The inbox keeps track of all communication, alerting you when a conversation has started, when you are mentioned in a comment or when a team member prompts interaction. Monday.com offers one way to communicate with your team and that is at task level. When you click a task in a project, a window will open, and this is where you can leave update. Here is where you can leave comments, mention other users, add GIFs or attach files and links. Monday.com offers the use of an inbox, that will display all communication on the subscribed boards, even if you are not assigned to an item or mentioned in a comment.

 

Integration

Integration is a method of coordination that allows various software systems to work together. Asana offers over 100 integrations from Dropbox to Slack. Monday.com does not match that number.  The the integrations offered by Monday.com are useful, though this feature is dependent on each individual business and will depend on your preference. Asana is a clear leader in integration.

 

My preference

What is the best Project Management Tool for me as a Virtual Assistant? My conclusion and chosen tool of productivity is Asana, simple is better.

 

CoSchedule VS FreshDesk:     which  is best for you?

CoSchedule VS FreshDesk: which is best for you?

As a business owner you want to make sure you are giving your clients the best service around … all the time! But it is human nature to let things fall through the cracks as we juggle a myriad of things, most times not purposefully, but it happens.

So how do you keep your clients happy, get the work done and keep track of what is going on overall in your business (and ultimately in your clients business)?

 

Project Management Tools

Using apps and software programs that can help you keep everything in one place and that can allow you, at a quick glance, to see what has been done, what is on hold and what still needs to be done as well as the timeline and so on is imperative in this day and age. Having effective project management tools in your business is the best thing you can for yourself and your clients.

Now, there are so many available out there, which one should you choose? That all depends on the type of business you have. Is your niche marketing, are you a graphic designer, website developer, customer service or a blogger? The type of business you have will determine which tool will best serve you and provide you with the outcome that desire.

In this article I am going to discuss two lesser used tools which specialize in the marketing space and the customer service space. CoSchedule and FreshDesk – Both are great project management tools for the marketing and customer service sector (and can be applied to many other sectors too).

Which one is the most beneficial for your business? Let’s find out …

 

CoSchedule

CoSchedule is great for the marketing industry as it has a Marketing Suite built in with features such as:

  • Marketing Calendar – A global visual real-time calendar that allows you to see (wherever you may be in the world) how the content will look with graphics and text. This can be shared with the entire team. The calendar is customizable and can be changed as the business need changes.
  • Content Organizer – Imagine a triage for your content schedule and strategy. Prioritize things and shift as needed, all in real-time and allowing your global team to access it all.
  • Work Organizer –This one is all about your team. Help them reach their full potential, set deadlines, allow them to see progress and so on. This will alleviate bottlenecks and possible missing of important deadlines.
  • Social Organizer – Make templates so that they can be filled in and re-used, eliminate the busy work. Keep the workflow and work communication transparent and you can automatically set tasks and social plans and content that need to recur. “Set and Forget” is their motto.
  • Asset Organizer – Categorize the work at hand. Quickly locate and access and use the folders you need to get the work done, on time every time.

Overall this feature is perfect for business and enterprise. It allows strategies to be put in place, it allows for flexibility, it gives global real-time views so that a team can have access no matter where they may be in the world. Transparency and customization is also evident in this feature of CoSchedule.

If you are an individual or a startup, do not fret, you too can benefit from the Editorial Calendar feature of CoSchedule.  These include:

  • Blog Editorial Calendar
  • WordPress Integration
  • Social Media Publishing
  • Re-queue Social Automation
  • Task Management

You can organize everything in one place and schedule out content and articles without the headaches. The automation and integration features of the key benefits with this feature.

 

FreshDesk

Is providing stellar customer service more your buzz? Then FreshDesk may take preference between these two project management tools. Let us find out more.

“Trusted by 150,000+ businesses”

That statement says a lot, there are many reasons as to why this statistic is the truth and here are some of them.

  • Convert emails to tickets – This feature allows you to take emails from customers and automatically turn them into tickets and respond that much faster. Never miss another email.
  • Intuitive Reporting – This feature is great because you track team performance and customer satisfaction.
  • Social Helpdesk – This is a brilliant feature as it allows you to take Tweets and Facebook messages and automatically convert them into tickets. You can now respond to customers anywhere, anytime.
  • Smart Automations – Automate the ticket assignment process
  • Seamless Integrations – Have everything your support team needs in one place with ease of access.
  • Knowledge base – Set up a Knowledge Base. This allows customers to possibly find the answers they are looking for, and therefore they would not have to wait on a response from the support team. For example, adding screenshots or links to changing passwords, or changing profile details and so on.

Overall, Freshdesk would be great for anyone who wants to create a seamless, effective communication channel with their customers and provide high-end customer service around every corner.

Is this you?

 

Conclusion

These two project management tools are by no means the only ones available, however they seem really great and capable of handling the tasks at hand.

As you can tell they both have different functions in the workplace, but that is not to say you would not benefit from both. Essentially, if you have a product or service that you offer, you need to have systems and processes in place (CoSchedule) and a customer service platform (FreshDesk).

For a comparison as far as usability and price points go, you can click here and get up to date information to help you decide on the way forward.

Happy Project Managing!

How to find your happy place at home

How to find your happy place at home

Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic that we are all facing at present I thought that it would be very appropriate to encourage everyone to find that place that you can call your happy place.

Do you have a happy place? A physical place that you can retreat to that grounds you and makes you feel peaceful and find balance. Finding your happy place sounds cliché, I know, but everyone has at least one. A happy place is a serine place that puts positive thoughts in your mind and a smile on your face. This is where we can be our true selves allowing ourselves to be present, casting aside grudges of the past and pausing our worries for the future.

 

Recharge your batteries

Everyone needs a place they can go to where they can step out of daily life and just relax. All of us need a place to recharge our batteries, where we feel safe and where we can do things that bring us joy. We all have that one place our mind immediately goes to when we imagine a safe and comfortable environment. It’s important to remember that your happy place mustn’t be something that uses up your energy,

I have a love affair with the beach.  There is something about looking out over the beautiful endless ocean, feeling the sand beneath my feet, and smelling that fresh salty air.  It never disappoints, rather it is always there to soothe my soul and dissipate my worries.  With each wave that rolls in, comes calm and loving energy. It is definitely my happy place.

When finding a happy place, you need to have an open-mind and be willing to try new things. It is always good to experience new things alone. You will know if the place or activity you are doing brings you peace of mind and become stress-free.

 

How it benefits you

A happy place gives you the chance to be in your own little world, feel happy and de-stress. Whether it be with a good book, a movie, a meal, exercising or at a relaxing spot. You get to find out what really makes you happy and how beneficial it is in your life. A happy place can get you out of a bad mood or a bad state of mind.

 

Creating Your Happy Place

  1. What kind of environments are you most drawn to?
  2. Where do you feel most energized and alive?
  3. Where do you feel most calm and at peace?
  4. It’s somewhere you feel safe.
  5. It has things in it you enjoy.
  6. It has privacy.
  7. You literally look forward to being there.
  8. You feel peace and joy in it.
  9. Take a few minutes to jot down a list of the places that always brings you the most pleasure.
  10. It could even be that your happy place isn’t physically real, but a mental place you can go to when you need to.

I hope that these 10 tips help you find your happy place.

 

Conclusion

If you don’t have a happy place, dealing with your stress and isolation during these very trying times will probably be much harder. Stay Safe!

The positive effect of spending time outdoors

The positive effect of spending time outdoors

The Coronavirus pandemic is forcing us into isolation and cabin fever is already a problem for many.    If you can safely engage in outdoors activities, there are so many benefits.   There are so many fun things to do, even if you cannot use a public facility.

 

Research shows that there are both physical and mental health benefits to being outdoors (even if it’s just 20 minutes!),   Here’s some top benefits of spending time outdoors:

  • Taking a walk in nature improves short-term memory.
  • Helps de-stressing you.
  • Help eliminate fatigue.
  • Helps fight depression and anxiety. A natural stress-reliever.
  • Lowers blood pressure.
  • Improves your ability to focus.
  • And of course, absorbing the much needed Vitamin D.

 

Spending time with children outdoors

There are many benefits for children and youth playing outside. Outside they release energy, use their loud voices, play vigorously and engage in messy projects. Children can also experience the plants and animals in their local ecosystems. Children should work on their fine and gross motor skills – mastering both is good for their growth and independence. Having good motor skills can help them explore the world around them and gain strength and confidence. Other research shows more benefits for children to play outside, like:

 

  • Better physical health
  • Numerous opportunities to strengthen motor skills
  • Greater visual-motor integration (the ability to control hand and body movement guided by vision)
  • Stronger verbal and social skills
  • Production of Vitamin D (essential Vitamin for bone health)
  • Increased attention and cognitive abilities

 

The outdoor space is suitable for a wide variety of activities, active and quiet. Playing in the park and going camping are great ways to spend time outdoors. Here is some ideas to teach the young ones while outside:

  • Quiet area: Painting and reading outside.
  • Physical area: Activities and materials to strengthen motor skills. Playgrounds / Playing with balls / jump ropes / riding bicycle and group games (Playing tag)
  • Nature area: Activities and material found in nature (Finding different leaves/bark)
  • Social area: Where the picnic table and benches are located
  • Drama area: Where they can role play, for example play in a doll house

 

Make time for outside learning experiences by planning fun and creative experiences. Do not be afraid to bring the indoors out too. Fresh air is always a good thing for children.

The outdoors boosts your immune system whether young and old, enhances creativity and provides free aromatherapy, as research shows it’s really important to sometimes stop and smell the roses.

 

The influence of Covid-19 (Coronavirus)

Amidst the worldwide pandemic it’s difficult to spend time with family and friends outdoors, as big gatherings have been banned. South Africa has imposed severe restrictions, as the number of cases reported has rise and rise.

Restrictions include closing 35 out of 53 of South Africa’s land border crossings and 2 of its 8 seaports. Banning air travel entries from most countries and shutting all schools till after the Easter weekend in mid-April.    Authorities recommend staying at home during the Covid-19 restrictions, but outdoor time does not have to be restricted if you have a private yard/back yard. For those with or without a back yard, here is some fun activities to do:

  • Build a fort.
  • Read and role play.
  • Board + card games.
  • Puzzle challenge.
  • Make cookies (Let them cut their own cookies and make their own designs/ let them ice them with different colours.}
  • (Learn them to filter water, plant seeds, identify different shapes and sizes leaves etc)
  • DIY – make drawings/paintings for family or friends.

 

How to keep safe while at home:

  • Wash your hands regularly
  • Avoid touching your eyes and mouth – especially if your hands are unwashed
  • Cover your face when you sneeze or cough
  • Avoid gatherings with extended family and friends
  • If you go out – avoid touching objects used by many (Example: Railing) and use hand sanitizer

 

Spending time outdoors has a lot of health benefits for you and your children. However, during the outbreak – keep safe for future outdoor adventures and outings. Be positive and make the best of this self-isolation situation. Be safe, be healthy.

 

Photo by Emma Bauso from Pexels

Do your thoughts really become things?

Do your thoughts really become things?

We all have dreams and aspirations. Things that inspire us to do better and be better. What is that for you? What do you use as your way to stay on track and keep your head in the game when it feels like you are drowning?

For me, it is knowing that I can create and manifest anything I want, whenever I want (okay maybe not at the snap of my fingers), but I know that if I use the power of mind and the techniques I have come to learn over the years that I can bring to me all that I deserve. And you can too!

 

So what’s so special about the brain?

I am inspired by the idea that our brains are not just sitting there helping us to talk or walk. Our brains and our thoughts have a vibrational frequency. That old saying, “On the same wavelength”, pretty much refers to the brainwaves we emit – the same ones we send out into the Universe with every thought.

It has been proven that positive thoughts creating positive vibrations move faster into the universe and the more we think them and the more we feel them the more likely what you are wanting to be present in your life will become a reality.

I have many stories of my own where I believe fully this is how things have manifested in my life. From going to work on a cruise ship at 21 to meeting the love of my life (just as I had pictured him in my thoughts) when I thought love was something I was not destined for. Even something as simple as working from home with like-minded people and raising two beautiful, high vibrational little boys.

All things I believe that my thoughts helped me make possible.

 

Great, I’m gonna sit back and wait for happiness!

Now let’s get something straight, there’s no way you can sit back, think beautiful thoughts of finding your soulmate and having riches and BAM, they fall in your lap! No. no, that is not the way it works.

How I see the Law of Attraction working in my life is this: I think about what I would want to come into my life. What I desire. I keep that thought, I feel gratitude for that thought and for everything else around me. I believe that what I desire is coming to me and I feel grateful for that.

I then believe what happens is, the universe hands you an opportunity, or two, or three, and what you choose to do with those opportunities determines whether your desire is manifested.

I can imagine it is difficult trying to figure out whether you have been given the signs as it were. You probably wondering, “But how will I even know?” Believe me you will know, and sometimes we do not even think about it, the opportunity comes along, we go with it without a second thought and maybe 6 months or 1 year down the line you will be sitting on your couch and suddenly you will look at where you are and what you have achieved.

You start to retrace your steps and land right back at that point where you had that initial thought about what you wanted and sent it out there to the universe. You then awaken to the fact that a few days later “X” happened or, “Y” came into your life and it just kind of happened and lead you to where you are at this exact moment.

It may sound strange and like some New Age, hippy mumbo jumbo, and you know what we are all entitled to our opinions because no one person is right. We are all human and all have our own beliefs.

But for me personally, I can think of so many instances in my life where because I constantly thought about something, it did happen and came into being. Some good, some bad. Because yes, just as positive thoughts become things, so to do the negative ones.

 

Conclusion

Truth is, I could talk for days and write thousands of words about why the power of my mind inspires me to be a better person, to think better thoughts, but I won’t! Instead I challenge you to go and take a moment and start thinking about things you want in your life. Feel that warmth of gratitude filling you up for these amazing things that you ‘have’. Feel gratitude for the things that you had and have left you (because these too were not by chance).

Then I would like impart on you a list of some of the books I read while on my journey. There are hundreds of titles available for you to read and learn from.

  1. The Law of Attraction by Esther Hicks
  2. Money and the Law of Attraction by Esther Hicks
  3. The Secret by Rhonda Byrne
  4. The Power by Rhonda Byrne
  5. The Magic by Rhonda Byrne
  6. Ask and it is Given by Jerry Hicks
  7. The Gratitude Effect by Dr John Demartini
  8. The Breakthrough Experience by Dr John Demartini
  9. Count Your Blessings by Dr. Demartini
  10. You can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay

I am also including some links to things that help to bring about the sense of self, sense of being centered which really helps you on this journey of manifestation.

  1. Binaural Beats
  2. Hacks for Enhancing Brain Power
  3. Attitude of Gratitude
  4. Vision Boards

Happy reading, and happy manifesting!