The top 3 things to do in Gauteng, with young children!
Having 2 young girls who are as active as they are vocal about what they want, like and need (their needs are more like wants, but to them it’s a need) means that I need to ensure that there is always something fun and exciting, active and hopefully educational for them to do!
Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens
Just this past weekend, with winter on its way, I decided that some fresh air was just the thing we all needed. Along with a great friend and her two young children we set off for the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens. The goal was to hike to the top of the water falls. I remember this hike, from back in the day, however on this day I was put to shame by a 4 and 6-year-old, who led the charge up the precarious 3.5 km hike to the water fall. This hike was not what I recalled, and though the struggles were real for me, not having exercised in longer than I can remember, the fun, the perseverance I saw in these young children reminded me that giving up was not an option!! This fun journey should be one that everyone should try at least once. The tranquil gardens, the educational aspect, the fresh air and the quality of time spent with my daughters was an amazing experience.
Second on our list is the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa otherwise known as the Pretoria Zoo. What can I say but WOW. Animals for Africa, huge. A great time out for the entire family! My daughters were able to spot animals all over the place! Unlike the Johannesburg Zoo which feels very run down and desolate, you will find every animal imaginable!! Even the Kangaroo! and leopards, Guerrilla’s, tigers. A fun time, also walked for hours, a gold cart may have been better, but the chance to spend that time enjoying the looks on their faces was the highlight of my day. Revisits are definitely in the cards!
For the young at heart where coordination is not a problem, we Roll eGoli! Roll skating! Not for the feint hearted as demonstrated by myself, where my butt was more on the rink than my roller skates. An immensely fun time, learning a new skill, the music is great, the friendly staff are amazing and the pizza to die for! Parties, or just a casual visit will have you revisiting the 80’s!
I’ve learnt the hard way that trying to find things that we all enjoy need not be the most exhaustive thing to do! With google only a tap away, and my daughters eager and excited faces as we head off on yet another awesome journey is worth more than words can ever tell!
And I did have an ice-cream or 2! How can I not!
My life as a Virtual Assistant. Let me show you what my typical day looks like.
Most people think being a Virtual Assistant is “easier” thank having a “office” job… but actually it is the very opposite.
Yes, you do manage your own time… but just exactly that. When you have an office job, you have a set time for doing your work, nothing else can actually interrupt, for example you cannot do your hobbies at the office, but if you are a VA you can do anything anytime…
Luckily for me I have “easy” clients, the one is only a three hour a day client (client 1) and the other is a full day (client 2)…but the full day client is situated in the UK so that already makes it flexible for me to juggle and come and go as I please.
Before I got pregnant, I went horse riding everyday and at anytime, and of course my Husband who is in construction get’s long weekends every end of the month so I can join him when he is off.
I wake up around 5:00am as my husband has to be at work at 6:00am, YAY for me, as I get an early start to get things ready for the day, do a little exercise. So my work day starts at 8:00am, where I usually attend to Client 1, checking emails, checking what is ahead for me that time. Because she has three hours, I try do 3 check-ins (which is not time specific); one in the morning, one just after lunch and the last one just before “knock off”.
For client 2, we usually checking at 17h00 SA time, just check if I have a new project, and what it is and if I have question I can still ask I will then only start on the project the next day.
So basically I can schedule my work day completely around my personal day… but I still need to manage my time correctly and ensure that I do get to my work.
In the next few months I will be able to see how I will juggle being a VA and a new mom!
I learned time management in a hard way a while ago, when my husband had a “long pay weekend” , which means he is of from Thursday up until the next Monday – we decided to go away.
We drove that Thursday afternoon, when I was also done with my work. Friday came, we slept in late, had breakfast when it was 13h00 the next moment I realised that I still had to complete a full days of work…
Luckily being a Virtual Assistant I was able to complete my work… as my clients allows me to do the work whenever during the day, as long as it gets done.
So my everyday I get to be flexible, I can start work as soon as I get up, or even as soon as I have a moment. If I have to schedule I doctors appointment I don’t have to check first or to take leave. I get to have long weekends off with my hubby and I get to complete all my VA work from anywhere.
Spend a day in my life as an efficient Virtual Assistant
When I became a VA, the thought of working from home seemed idyllic. I mean, who wouldn’t enjoy being able to get up, go for a run and have coffee before firing up the computer? Not to mention being able to catch up with friends or wear comfy clothes all while tending to your family and work.
It didn’t take me long to realise that I needed to set myself boundaries and a routine if I were to be a top notch VA. I know that I crave structure and social interaction in order to be productive. As race walking has always been my go to “happy place”, I start my day with a 8km walk, breathing in fresh air and starting my day off on a positive note.
After a long walk I fire up the computer, whilst I have a well-deserved cup of coffee. For me the need to dress for success is vital, one cannot be productive if you do not dress for success, I don’t have to don a jacket and high heels, but being clean and presentable does wonders for one’s self esteem and allows me to feel motivated throughout the day.
As I sit down at my desk strategically placed in front of the window, first thing I do is check my emails, as this will determine the type of day I will have. Normally, whilst the emails are loading, I look out of my window at my goose splashing in his pond and that is when I feel truly blessed to be able to work from home. I have found that setting specific work hours has helped me to establish my own unique work style.
I have learnt that I cannot be in front of the computer all day and I need to take regular breaks. Going out during the day, goes a long way to keeping me connected with the world, a trip to the grocery store or a chat to friends at lunch time always lifts my spirits and allows me to come back to my desk after lunch refreshed and ready for what the afternoon might bring.
Every day I have a “to-do” list that I strive to get complete, this ensures that I don’t procrastinate and I maintain a steady pace throughout the day instead of a mad rush at the end of the day. There is nothing as satisfying as crossing off a task on your list (“tick”). Working from home allows me be able to have dinners cooked and the house cleaned as this is all part of my daily routine. There is no greater pleasure than having the kettle boiled for when my daughter comes home in the evening.
It takes dedication to stick to a routine when there is no one there to hold you accountable, however, if you are committed and have support, a day in the life of a VA can be a wonderful experience.
For more information on Annie please visit our team page.
Use Your Virtual Assistant to Grow Your Social Network
Those who use it know of its amazing benefits. Yep! Social media is Godsend for business. With features such as live videos and stories, businesses can increase their sales via social media networks.
Perhaps you haven’t tried using social media as a business tool because you’re not sure how to use it to generate business or you just don’t have the time. In this blog, we will teach you how to grow your social media network via a Virtual Assistant.
Virtual Assistants who specialise in social media are equipped with the strategies and tools to grow your following and to drive engagement on all your platforms. They know how to get people talking about your brand. They can also recommend which platforms would be suitable for your business.
Social Media Assistants also understand what type of content to publish and promote. Content that your followers will love and which will ultimately lead them to your store. They are often social media influencers themselves and have a large following on social media.
How to Use a Social Media Assistant:
- Set up social media accounts. Your assistant can create your accounts for you and manage it. She can also design your logos, cover images and profile pictures.
- Create descriptive profiles. Not sure what to add in your profile bio? Your assistant can come up with a compelling story.
- Build a social media strategy. She can develop a strategy that can help bring in the followers.
- Write posts for social networks. Your assistant can write compelling posts and publish them.
- Edit content. If you are not comfortable with her writing your posts, you can allow her to edit posts only.
- Perform a social media audit. To understand what is working and what isn’t, you must look at your analytics. Your assistant can analyse your data and put it in an easy-to-understand, readable format for you.
- Research key hashtag conversations. By researching certain conversations, your assistant can find relevant topics to write about.
- Engage with your audience. Your assistant can help direct your audience to the right place i.e. Website or store.
- Participate in groups/forums. By participating in relevant conversations, your assistant can lead people to your website.
- Run a giveaway or challenge. Giveaways are great ways to grow your accounts. Your assistant can manage the entire giveaway including shipping the prize to the winner.
- Create and manage groups. If you want to create a community surrounding your brand, let your VA do this for you.
5 Questions You Need to Ask Before You Delegate work
We’ve all heard the quote that if you want anything done, you’ve got to do it yourself. While it’s true that you are more than capable of getting things done by yourself, it may not be in your best interests. Studies show that business owners spend way too much time on tasks that don’t contribute to their income. To succeed in business, you’ve got to learn to delegate these tasks so that you can focus on more important things.
When delegating tasks, it’s easy to assume that everybody is as smart as we are and so we delegate according to how we would want work to be delegated to us. What I’ve learned in my years working with other people is that delegation is not as simple as just handing over tasks. Here are five questions that you need to ask yourself.
1. When does a task need delegating?
There are certain tasks that you must absolutely delegate, and others that you shouldn’t. Apart from helping you get free time to focus on more important tasks, here are other reasons for delegating a project/task:
- You need to meet a tight deadline
- You require extra resources and skills that you don’t have
- To build skills in team members and foster continuous professional development
You should not delegate a task when:
- To avoid accountability. You should never delegate a task simply because you want nothing to do with it. Accountability remains with you because as much as you won’t be intensely involved in the fieldwork, you will still be responsible for overseeing the work. People who delegate tasks to avoid responsibility often fail at overseeing the work too. Don’t fall into this trap.
- If a client requests your work specifically. We all have those demanding clients that request a little something extra, and they’re willing to pay for it. If a client requests that you do something yourself and you agree to it, don’t delegate the task to someone else.
Make sure that you delegate tasks that are not critical to success if you’re not sure of the person doing the job. I know executives who hand over everything to their VA’s because they’ve worked with them for multiple years, but if you’re not sure of the work quality, rather do critical tasks yourself.
Delegate almost all your admin work. Answering emails or filling in forms is something someone else can do without causing too much havoc in your business.
2. Who should I delegate to?
Think about the skills you need for the job. Start by writing down a list of skills, traits and characteristics needed to complete the job successfully, then look for the suitable assistant.
If your project is running smoothly, you can look at delegating to someone with less experience, but if your project is not going well, make sure that you get an expert for the job.
3. What do I want to achieve by delegating this task?
This question is important and it ties back to question 1. Besides time-saving, you must identify the goals of delegation. The pros of delegating versus the cons of not delegating.
4. Will my assistant need any tools to complete this work?
It doesn’t help to delegate a task and not empower your virtual assistant with the right tools to complete it. First research on what tools, apps or programmes your assistant will need before you even choose the right candidate. If you don’t, you may find that the person you delegate to costs you more money because you have to purchase extra programmes.
5. How would you like the work to be delivered to you?
Of course, you must know in which format the work must be sent to you. Don’t expect your assistant to assume that you would like an update every day if you haven’t asked for it. If you don’t set the right expectations from the beginning, you run the risk of a failed project.