Why dressing for Success can create the right mindset
I’m sure almost everyone would agree that one of the big perks of working from home is that no specific dress code applies. If you feel like working in your pyjamas all day, no one is stopping you. It’s your choice, but does it have an impact on your productivity? Sorry guys and gals, but research has shown that it actually does. The author of The Golden Apple: Redefining Work-Life Balance for a Diverse Workforce says that work clothes do impact you on a business and a personal level. It is also important to set boundaries between working hours and personal time. When the official work day is over, it’s best to change out of the business attire otherwise you could feel like work never ends.
Self discipline and how you dress does pay off
A few years back I worked half day for an elderly man who was a magazine publisher and worked from home. Every morning when I arrived at his home office, he was dressed in formal office wear. I asked him why he bothered. His answer was that if he were to dress casually, he would be more inclined to first wander around his garden and play with his dog than get to the office and before he’d realise it, most of the morning would have gone by and he’d have achieved very little. He only worked mornings, accomplishing what he had set out to do and then changed into casual wear and spent the afternoons playing golf, meeting up with other retired friends or pottering around in his garden.
I had a mentor once that set her goal to be a millionaire before she turned thirty, which she did achieve. She started out working from home in her garage. Every morning she would get dressed up in her working attire complete with heels and handbag and be in her garage office by 9am sharp.
Gaining respect and being taken seriously
What impression do you give those around you? Do you look like you take your business seriously? I experienced this first hand with family members. When you look like a frumpy mum, that is pretty much how everyone is going to treat you. Step up your game by dressing to match your business and see the difference in the attitude of those around you.
Dress up to resist multi-tasking
When working from home it is easy to get caught up in exhausting multi-tasking. When wearing your sweats it’s easy to dash from your desk to the washing machine, desk to the wash line… and so on. If you were dressed for work, you would be less inclined to do some of these things. Agreeably, there are the benefits to multi-tasking, but it can also affect your overall performance.
If dressing up every day really doesn’t appeal to you, throw in a casual day or two into your week. You are the boss after all so you get to choose. 😉
You Teach People How To Treat You
This is so true and it took me a while to realise this, many years in fact. It is important to set healthy boundaries.
Very wise words from Dr Phil : “I’m not saying that you’re responsible for another person’s behavior. This is not about blame. But I am saying that you have power over your reactions. So if there is a person in your life who isn’t treating you with the respect and consideration you deserve, you have a couple of decisions to make. Are you willing to accept accountability, and do you really want to make a change? If the answer is yes, then you should ask yourself: “What am I doing to elicit this person’s behavior or to allow it to continue?” Even if you think you aren’t doing a thing, your inaction is speaking for you.”
Learn to speak up
We should not silently resent and not speak up. I have certainly been guilty of this. If we want a different result then we should speak up and make it known if we want a different result. Yes initially it will be difficult to do this but practice makes perfect!
Speak your truth
When we are asked as to what is wrong, do not answer nothing when there is in fact plenty wrong! I have said this many times that there is nothing wrong when in actual fact I have felt most uncomfortable. We have to actually teach that person or persons how to treat us and believe me they will take their cue from there!
Personal boundaries are of importance
Teaching others to respect your personal boundaries is healthy. It does not mean controlling or punishing others but rather are guidelines as to what is acceptable in your life and what is not.
I have for many years thought that always making myself available is a way to win the love and respect of others but it certainly does not work this way.
It will of course take time to differentiate between a genuine request and some taking advantage, therefore we have to learn the difference between being firm and inflexible.
I have had to learn that I am entitled to my own thoughts, opinions and feelings.
It certainly does not come easy to set your boundaries in the workplace or on a personal level. Knowing them and actually setting them are two different things but it can be done.
Setting the above in motion will certainly enhance our self-esteem and self-worth.
Acting assertively takes practice. Know your limits. Remember too that teaching people how to treat us is a process that involves teaching them.
Love and respect yourself first
Look at how others that act with self-confidence and demand respect are treated well. Follow their example. This will not happen overnight, I know, but others will start to treat you differently. Do not allow certain behaviours from others that make you feel uncomfortable.
I love this quote by Anna Taylor :
“Love yourself enough to set boundaries. Your time and energy are precious. You get to choose how you use it. You teach people how to treat you by deciding what you will and won’t accept.”
To sum up, good advice from Morgan & Wiseheart:
- Start with yourself
- Talk about your “rules of engagement”
- Communicate your needs clearly and compassionately
- Model how you’d like to be treated
- Reinforce behaviors you like
- Pick a role model to emulate
- Have realistic expectations
What is your “what if” plan?
Now, what if is a very common and also important question in our industry. We should always assure that we have a
contingency plan in place for the majority of “What if?” moments in our day to day lives. This question could be interpreted in many circumstances in your daily lives as a virtual assistant. Today I will be discussing a few of these what if questions.
For my first example, I would go with one of our latest and greatest fears that we currently have in South Africa and that fear is named “Load Shedding”. Hopefully, according to Eskom, this will not affect us much but if or when it actually happens that you mid-sentence loose power, all your unsaved work will be gone and your internet router will be of meaning that your internet access will also be gone for the +- 2 hours that the load shedding is going on. For you to be prepared for this “what if” moment, you should in case that you are using a laptop ensure that the laptop is constantly charged up fully so that you do not lose any mission-critical information. The full battery should allow you to save the essential files and also maybe finish the project that you urgently need to finish. If you are using a desktop pc my suggestion will be to invest in a good quality UPS of at least 1000KVA to allow you to save your work and safely shut down the computer. Some models actually have space for you to plug in your power supply for your internet router so that you can still have a few more minutes of internet.
For those of us that do not have the luxury of owning a UPS but are working on a laptop witch, I strongly suggest the internet router going down can be bypassed at least for a short while. You can invest in a small internet modem/router that works off a battery and a sim card and can also be charged on using the USB port of your computer. It works by creating a small range wifi network that allows you to still access the internet.
Another “what if” moment is when you have to work away from home due to any reason. It could be that your child/spouse is sick or that you go out for an afternoon lunch with an old friend or whatever the reason may be. For situations like this, I will suggest a few things. Firstly as before I would suggest that you rather do your work from a laptop or notebook computer. Also as suggested before invest in the wifi modem that runs of a battery that you can quickly and easily charge from your computer.
Also what I suggest is that you and your client keep in continuous contact with each other and explain to him if you have to leave your house for any reason you can inform him/her that you will be working from a different location but you will still have your computer as well as internet access so that you can continue doing the work from a different location.
Now, “what if” this is not possible? Then it would be in your as well as your clients best interests to say to your client I will not be available during this time but will be back, however as soon as I am back again I will carry on with the work required of you.
A MAJOR “What if” moment and also very important is What if I lose all my data? I know it is a horrible feeling and inconvenience not only to you but also your client if something is to happen with your data. In this case, it is my recommendation, out of a personal experience, that you have the following in place: firstly do a regular backup of your most important documents and information to an external drive. Preferably not a flash drive as they tend to get corrupted, go missing or most often the capacity is not big enough. There is also another option that I suggest you have in place in addition to the external drive for backups and that is to have a cloud service in place. There are several ones available. Some are free like Google cloud, Dropbox and also mega.com and some paid cloud services like box.com.
Lastly my final “What If” moment is what if you do not have enough time to finish your work or do not understand what exactly it is that your client wants you to do, then feel free to ask your client. Rather ask and make sure before you start than starting with something you do not understand and having to do double work. Remember, your client is also a person just like you and would be able to assist you with any queries that you may have regarding the assignments given to you.
The Importance Of Virtual Communication
Effective communication is one of the most important life skills that we can learn, yet one we don’t usually put a lot of effort into.
Learning how to improve communication skills is an ongoing process that should grow and develop continuously instead of remaining static throughout our lives.
As the world becomes more dependent on the internet and other global platforms communication is vital. For virtual teams, communication is even more critical and even more difficult. The very first, and most important thing to understand is that there is a big difference between virtual communication and office interactions. In the absence of facial expressions, body language and voice signals, your underlying meaning is not always clear.
As with most tasks in life, the essential part of any client/Virtual Assistant relationship is communication. You cannot get tasks completed, and goals achieved, without constant communication.
Communication is key to any relationship, but communication with your VA is vital to ensuring success. In order to develop a productive partnership with your Virtual Assistant, communication will be the key element for success. Opening up the lines of communication should work from both sides.
What Is Virtual Communication?
We define virtual communication as a mode of communication that includes the use of technology – audio and video to communicate with people who are not physically present in front of us.
Effective virtual communication provides the ability to communicate more efficiently and quickly. A successful and effective outcome of virtual communication includes a message that is clearly sent via technology and accurately received by another person.
The intention of effective virtual communication is to accurately send a message using technology that is received by the recipient in an understandable way. Virtual communication is only considered effective when the message is both sent and received with clarity.
With so many options of virtual communication tools available, it definitely makes our lives easier. Nowadays, the ability of communicating virtually and instantly or sharing our information in seconds is very crucial. Effective virtual communication comes in different forms, the internet is the largest component in virtual communication. Here are some example of platforms to communicate or share content.
- Google Drive
Managing time – especially across multiple time zones
When you are communicating across time zones, it’s important to put systems in place that suit both sides. Virtual Assistants generally work at the convenience of their clients, making the time factor less important.
Learning verbal communication skills can’t help but will improve our written and digital communications because we develop a better understanding of what people are trying to convey even in short messages.
It is no doubt that communication plays a vital role in human life. It not only helps to facilitate the process of sharing information and knowledge, but also helps people to develop relationships with others. Therefore, the importance of communication cannot be underestimated.
“THE WAY WE COMMUNICATE WITH OTHERS AND WITH OURSELVES ULTIMATELY DETERMINES THE QUALITY OF OUR LIVES” ~ ANTHONY ROBBINS
Continual learning as a Virtual Assistant
The world is always changing. New technologies offer new challenges and new methods. Clients have different needs as their business changes and grows. A Virtual Assistant must keep up with all these changes to deliver the best service to their clients. Apart from this working for a variety of businesses also exposes the Virtual Assistant to new industries and markets.
Doing research is a great part of learning
My first assignment with VA Connect was research on Smart Home products. I was amazed at how a Smart Home works. There is a huge range of products available which makes life easier and safer and they are integrated to varying degrees. In many cases the system is controlled by a smart speaker which is voice integrated systems from e-commerce providers. The irony is that such a system is also known as a Virtual Assistant. Many people already rely on artificial intelligence systems which remind them of appointments, book a restaurant or orders food based on what stock there is, or isn’t, in the smart fridge. I could give many more examples but cannot list them all. The most interesting product I learnt about is a device which releases a scent upon request. Various aromas are available which create the mood required. Because this costs around US $400 I am not interested in buying one, but it would be nice.
Being a Virtual Assistant also teaches me life skills such as managing my time and prioritising. On a typical day I have a routine so that I can do the necessary chores and fit in my client’s work as planned. Of course, there are days when my plans don’t work out and I need to get up early and put in a few hours before breakfast. At other times I work late into the night, but the work gets done and I meet my deadlines.
Learning new life skills
What I have also learnt is that I can be disciplined as well as flexible. I perform better when I don’t allow myself to feel stressed. There is no manager or colleague anxiously hovering over my desk, breaking my concentration and slowing my down. I have also learnt how to manage my family’s needs and we are all more organised as a result.
The new technology I have been exposed has opened my eyes to the wealth of products which I would never have known about. My confidence has grown as a result.
Because clients rely on their assistant for help it is also important that I acquire skills and learn how to use new technology. There are many, many options for learning on the internet – YouTube, online courses and help forums are some examples. If I cannot manage, there is always the team at VA Connect who can point me in the right direction.