How to outsmart loadshedding and be more productive

In South Africa the practice of ‘Load shedding’ is when Eskom (South Africa’s largest utilities supplier) interrupts the electricity supply to certain areas as a last resort action to balance electricity supply and demand. This occurs due to a lack of electricity available to meet the demand.

Load shedding is now part of our daily lives and it’s affecting us whether we’re at home or work. It therefore makes sense to be prepared so that the situation causes us the least amount of frustration and loss of production.

Load shedding quick tips:

  • Work in the cloud so that all your work is backed up automatically and not lost if you suddenly lose power.
  • Unplug devices when the power is out to avoid damage from potential surges when power is restored.
  • If you work from home check if the neighboring suburbs will have power so you can go work at one of the cafes. Most cafes have free wifi
  • Charge electronic devices (cell phones, laptops and tablets) this may look like a no-brainer but very few people actually plan for load shedding. So, make sure you have charged all your devices before the scheduled load shedding.
  • If you rely on a cordless phone, which would obviously be rendered inoperable during a power outage, keep your cell phone handy.
  • Save your work regularly either manually or by setting up auto-save options in your software. If the power goes out unexpectedly, you won’t lose your work.

3 things that can minimise the impact of load shedding

  1. Get a generator

You ideally need a generator to cope with load shedding and minimise the impact it has on your business. Having a generator on standby means that even if the power goes off for a few hours, your business can keep running.  Decide which appliances you want to run when the electricity goes out. To determine the size of the generator you need you’ll have to calculate the total wattage required.

  1. Know the schedule, don’t get caught in the dark

The first step is to know when your area is scheduled for load shedding.  Having the latest load shedding schedules for your area gives you a better idea of when load shedding is likely to affect your business. I’ve found this app to be very useful and reliable. (Timetable)

  1. Surge protection

There are various devices available to protect your electrical equipment from surges when the supply voltage fluctuates.

Conclusion:

Unfortunately, it looks like load shedding is here to stay, at least for the next few years. This means that you will be affected to some degree. Whether it causes your business to succumb or not is up to you.  Losing power doesn’t necessarily mean losing productivity.

Can We Help You with That?

Can We Help You with That?

Can We Help You with That?

Many entrepreneurs experience anxiety over delegating tasks. Yes, you’re buried in work and know that you need help, but you can’t possibly see yourself handing over your precious work to anybody else.

Is this you?

Understand that delegation benefits your entire company. By delegating, your processes move faster, you have more time to focus on income-producing tasks and you are better positioned for growth.

Yet, delegation remains as one of the most underutilised management capabilities. Countless studies have found that most people say they are too busy to delegate. They simply don’t have the time to train somebody else to do it and they find it more efficient to just do it themselves.

If you’re having trouble delegating tasks or relinquishing control, can we help you with that?

How VA Connect Can Help You!

VA Connect simplifies your life by helping you delegate without the anxiety attached to it. We upskill and allocate a suitable person according to your needs.

With a virtual assistant, you grow your business without growing your staff. We handle all the nitty-gritty while you focus on income-producing activities.

Here are nine reasons to hire a virtual assistant:

  1. It takes a long time to find the right person.
  2. Employee costs are on the rise. With a VA, you pay only for what you need.
  3. Hiring permanent staff means setting them up with an office and equipment too.
  4. You need to keep the permanent staff you have busy.
  5. Availability isn’t the same as competency.
  6. Permanent employees don’t really work eight hours per day.
  7. The recruitment process is a hassle.
  8. Your staff budget is suffocating your margin for growth.
  9. You hate admin work.

Here’s a personal experience from one of our clients who said yes to hiring their first virtual assistant:

When they came to us, Maxiware needed help with the workload in their business. They chose VA Connect and were allocated a VA with the right skills for their needs. We asked the Managing Director what he thought of VA Connect, here’s what he had to say;

  • What do you love about VA Connect? / What would be the one thing you mention to a friend about VA Connect?

I love that VA Connect handles the billing of the relationship as well as provides a pretty cool solution for handling the phone calls side of things. That simplifies things greatly. It’s an easy way to get tasks off your own plate.

  • What do you think about your Virtual Assistant?

Annie is great at hounding people. She’s super friendly while doing it but also super persistent. And she’s so friendly with me, as well. I love working with her.

  • What has your experience been with the onboarding process of your Virtual Assistant?

Onboarding has been easy.

What are some of the tasks you can delegate?

  1. Filtering Emails / Handling Spam
  2. Database Building / Updating Contacts or CRM
  3. Answering Customer Service Emails /Support Tickets / Chat Support
  4. Sending of Greetings Cards / Birthday Messages / Event Invitations etc.
  5. Calendar Management
  6. Email marketing
  7. Appointment Scheduling
  8. Travel Arrangement and Planning
  9. Reminder Services
  10. Audio / Video Editor
  11. Content Writer
  12. SEO / Web Marketer
  13. Graphic / Web Designer / Web Developer
  14. Dropbox / Google Drive Organization
  15. Creating / Managing Spreadsheets
  16. Preparing PowerPoint / Keynote Presentations
  17. PDF Conversion, Splitting and Merging
  18. Transcription of Video and Audio Files
  19. Simple eBook Layout / Formatting
  20. Preparing Online Meeting Minutes
  21. Report Creation
  22. Forms Creation
  23. Document Template Creation
  24. Online Research
  25. Data Mining & Development / Lead Generation
  26. Blog Publishing Management
  27. Moderating Blog or Social Media Comments
  28. Adding Tags & Images to Blog Posts
  29. Receptionist Duties
  30. Voicemail Checking
  31. Invoicing Clients
  32. Basic Bookkeeping
  33. Personal Errands (Purchasing Online Gifts, Reminders, Planning Family Holidays etc.)
  34. Project Management Between You and Team members
  35. Training Employees or Delegates
  36. Preparation of Training Materials
  37. Onboarding of New Virtual Staff
  38. Deadline / Deliverables Tracking
  39. Social Media Management Tasks
  40. Creating Social Media Fan Pages / Groups

If time is your most precious commodity and you can’t afford to waste it, give us a call!

Tips to Get More from Your Virtual Assistant

Tips to Get More from Your Virtual Assistant

Tips to Get More from Your Virtual Assistant

Whether you have hired your first Virtual Assistant or have had one for years, there’s still more you can do to make sure she’s functioning at her fullest potential. In this blog, we will discuss what you can do to get more out of your VA!

Train Your VA

One thing you should never let go of is training your Virtual Assistant on your processes and systems. This is even if she’s been working with you for years. Sometimes assistants have their own way of doing things which may affect their productivity. It’s important to teach her tips and tricks to get her work done quicker.

Besides your personal training, you should also enroll her for some online courses. These courses can help your VA bring a new idea to your business.

Also, request your VA to document her process. This will not only help you to identify where the productivity inefficiencies are, but it will also help you to transition to a new VA quickly when your VA is sick or when you hire a new one.

Offer Coaching Sessions

Training and coaching are two different things. When coaching, you want to focus on building up your VA’s confidence in her abilities. This will help her to do her work more efficiently.

Coaching can take the form of one-on-one sessions, courses or even advising her to listen to a motivational CD for 30 minutes daily. Include this as part of her job and soon enough you will have an excellent assistant.

Give Constructive Feedback

If no feedback is given, your VA cannot grow. Similarly, if you give destructive criticism, it won’t help either one of you.

Focus on giving constructive criticism. This is when you point out both the good and the bad, and recommend ways for improvement.

Here are tips for giving feedback:

  • Make sure you give written and verbal feedback.
  • Use the feedback sandwich method (Positive-Improvement-Positive) often used at Toastmasters and the corporate world. This is when you begin by laying out the positives, then you criticise, and finally, end off with another positive.
  • Criticise the work, not the individual.
  • Be very specific. Instead of saying; “You need to pay attention to detail”, say; “You made grammar mistakes in your recent article. I pointed them out in red. Just make sure you focus on grammar and punctuation.”
  • Only criticise things that can be changed. There is no point in telling someone they need to improve their voice for example.

Show Some Appreciation

Human beings love recognition. It pushes them to work harder to get even more recognition. Recognise any hard work or improvements made by your VA by giving something of value. Gift cards, days off and verbal appreciation work well for a VA.

Throw Her in the Deep End

They say when someone is thrown into the deep end it’s either they sink or swim. Hopefully, your VA will swim when given a difficult task. Push her to take on projects that she hasn’t before. This will not only help her grow but keep her challenged in her role.

Make Room for Growth

If you want your VA to stay with you for a long time you must make room for growth in her role. Challenge her to take on more responsibility and speak to her about where you see her in the future.

That’s all the tips for teaming up and getting more from your Virtual Assistant. If you are yet to hire your first one, there are reasons to hire a VA:

  • They are often highly skilled individuals who left the corporate world for work-life balance
  • You can pay them per hour or per project
  • There are no company costs involved
  • They can work during off-peak hours and high seasonal periods
  • They often give their all because they’re responsible for their own income

Ready to hire a VA? Give us a call!

My Journey with VA Connect by Melissa Nicholson

My Journey with VA Connect by Melissa Nicholson

My Journey with VA Connect by Melissa Nicholson

“Some people don’t change only a direction in our life; they change everything in our life.” – Christelle Salameh

I started my Virtual Assistant journey in 2014, a journey that is very scary and extremely difficult at times to take on your own. A VA entrepreneurial journey is simply not possible alone without the help of mentors and people who have been there and done that previously. Having an idea on your own is great, but a mentor can identify and see areas in you where improvements are necessary for your own personal growth.

In January 2017 I partnered with VA Connect, not knowing how this partnership would change me as a person and also affect my entrepreneurial path. Working alongside the co-founders and serial entrepreneurs, Karen Wessels and Albert van Zyl has changed and impacted my journey profoundly. Not only have I learnt and watched how they nurture and take care of their clients, but how they have made it their life’s journey to not only positively impact everyone they come into contact with, but how they strive to motivate and uplift every single person around them.

We live in a world where people are put down and broken down according to their net worth, education or their abilities and it is very seldom that you come into contact with people who stop and listen to what you have to say and diligently seek to reach down deep and pull out from the core of your being what your strengths are and encourage you on a daily basis to be all that you were meant to be, weaknesses and all!!! That is who Karen and Albert are, and the basis on what VA Connect is built on, uplifting, entrepreneurship, assisting clients to the absolute best of our ability and harnessing a person’s skills until you become the absolute best you can be.

I distinctly will never forget a VA Connect team meeting we recently had in August, Women’s month, where the sole focus of the meeting was to get every single one of us out of our comfort zones and reflect on who we are as people and how to do everything we can to be the best we can be. There is nothing more uplifting in this world than hearing that as a person, you are valuable, you matter and that you can be anything you desire to be. It’s just not something that happens often enough.

I have seen and learnt so much in the last 7 months, that I as a person no longer question my abilities and what I am capable of.  I am much more confident in my work on a daily basis and absolutely believe that I can be everything that I was created to be. Thanks to VA Connect, the word “can’t” no longer exists in my vocabulary.

I believe in life certain people cross your path for a reason and I am truly thankful that mine has crossed Albert and Karen’s otherwise I would not be where I am this day. I encourage every Virtual Assistant to identify mentors like this in your VA career path who will help you to do the same.

Things that have helped me make my life easier and more productive as a Virtual Assistant by Melinda Pennells

Things that have helped me make my life easier and more productive as a Virtual Assistant by Melinda Pennells

Things that have helped me make my life easier and more productive as a Virtual Assistant by Melinda Pennells

In my previous blog I discussed my journey as a Virtual Assistant.  This month I want to discuss how to make your life easier and how to be more productive when working from home. As I said previously it was really daunting at first, I knew that I would have to “sort my life out” in order to be able to handle whatever was thrown my way and in turn make it a success.

I thought long and hard about what I could do, I am already by nature very “OCD”, I thrive on structure and being organised. When I feel organised I know things will get done, that is why I knew I had to bring my “OCD” into my Virtual Assistant position.

Here are some things that helped me and hopefully could help you too:

My work day rules

We have the luxury of sleeping in a little when all our friends are stuck in traffic but make sure you start work the same time every day. It is also important to set your hours of work same as if you had a desk job, if you would leave the office at 5pm then do the same when working from home.

Set up your office space so that everything you need is at hand, and make it beautiful, it really does help if your surroundings make you happy.

virtual_office

Take breaks, take the dogs for a quick walk, sit outside in the sun for 5 minutes. It is so unhealthy to work straight through the day, no matter who you are or what you do.

Organise, Organise, Organise!!

In this environment, it is so important to be organised and know what you want to do during your work day, it’s way too easy to get ahead of yourself and have everything crumble around you. Make lists if necessary, nothing fancy just jot it down on a piece of paper (preferably in a note book as little pieces of paper always go missing) and try your best to stick to it. Obviously, you will have days that “don’t go your way” but there is always tomorrow. And by having your list it won’t fall through the cracks because chances are you’ll forget to do it.

Communication is Key

When you are sitting alone at home working it is so easy to go into your own little bubble. So, it is vital to communicate and to do so often. If you don’t understand something that you have to do, ask the necessary questions. Some might think it’s best to keep quiet but that is definitely not an option when working like this, or in that matter any work environment. If you communicate everyone will be on the same level and you will understand what is expected of you, this makes your life easier and you will naturally be more productive. An added bonus is your work will be immaculate and your clients will love the work you are giving them.

The most important thing when working from home is making everything around you benefit you and make you happy and comfortable. If you are happy and organised you will automatically be more productive and life will be easier.

These things have really helped me on my Virtual Assistant journey and I really hope they will help you too.