What exactly is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is described as a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings and thoughts in the here and now. When we become more aware of our own mind, we become more aware of those around us. When we start to become more present and apply mindfulness to our everyday lives, we can begin to see the benefits.
Mindfulness is an extreme sense of awareness. We can observe our thoughts and actions along with the feelings and emotions of others.
Like a muscle, mindfulness is something that we must practice all the time. Times in which we do not believe that we need to practice are the most important. It is easy to be mindful when the world around us is calm. We must exercise sincerely in these times so that when the world around us becomes chaotic, we can remain in this internal place of stillness.
Be Here Now
The present moment is the only moment that we have. If you are continually dwelling on the past or the future, you cannot pay attention to what is. Being out of the now will affect the quality of your life.
Simple ways to bring mindfulness into our daily routines
It’s said that we eat with our eyes first. When bringing mindful awareness to eating this is undoubtedly true. We see our food before consuming it. Notice the colors on your plate. Become aware of the smell of your food. Feel the temperature of the food as it warms or cools your plate. Take the opportunity to experience tasting your food fully.
As you walk, notice the sensation of the air on your face and arms. Feel the ground beneath your feet with every step you take. Tune into the sounds around you. Simply become aware of how it feels to place one foot in front of the other.
As you breathe in, notice the cooling sensation as the air moves up and into your nostrils. Feel the air fill and expand your lungs. In that split second before you breathe out notice how the breath is held in your body. As you breathe out, recognize the sensations in your body as your ribs contract. Breathing mindfully not only increases awareness but is a tool to reduce anxiety and stress in the present moment. The next time you are stressed out try to take a few mindful breaths to bring tension levels down.
Every time you take a shower, visualize washing away your stress and anxiety. Concentrate on the feel of the water touching your skin. Envision the power of the water washing away your negative thoughts. Let it all go down the drain, you’ll start feeling lighter and much clearer.
The more you practice mindfulness, the more you will understand how your thoughts, feelings or sensations influence each other, as well as your mood and the way in which you respond to the world.
We all experience emotions from an early age. As adults attempting to navigate the often chaotic world of modern life, the range of emotions we experience in a day can change dramatically.
Our ability to feel and respond to our emotions is often taken for granted. We rarely stop to think and pay close attention to what we’re feeling. We do not consider the impact it has on our mental state, or the long-term implications that holding onto emotions has, that might be harmful to us.
Until you become fully aware of your inner experiences, emotions will rule. Emotions are highly conditioned, meaning that they are automatic reactions that arise in you in response to things that happen. A memory comes to mind? You don’t need to make yourself feel sad, you just do, and your whole day may be affected.
Feelings begin with either internal or external events and follow a cycle which eventually leads to an action urge. By understanding the feelings model below, you will be able to apply mindfulness to cope with emotions as they arise in response to events.
- Action Urge
- Action Results
Identifying & naming emotions
An important part of emotional regulation is the skill of identifying and naming your emotions. This helps you to access a wise mind by quieting your body and mind to prevent being caught up in an emotional mind.
7 Primary Emotions
Your other emotions either fall under one of these broad categories or are made up of a combination of the above. Sometimes we experience secondary emotions, these are an emotional reaction to a primary emotion. The key here is to figure out what the root or primary emotion is so that you can take action.
Emotions are neither good nor bad, right or wrong
Feelings just ARE. You do not choose to feel what you feel.
Emotions do not last forever
What you are feeling at any given moment will eventually lift and another emotion will take its place.
Feeling and emotions versus acting
There’s a difference between having an emotion and acting on an emotion.
When a strong emotion is experienced, you do not have to act on the feeling
All you need to be able to do is recognise/name the emotion and feel it.
Emotions are not facts
Emotions can be very powerful and the person experiencing it may feel that it’s undeniably true, but emotions remain subjective.
You cannot get rid of emotions
Emotions can only be felt and thought about. You must be willing to radically accept your emotions as they arise, without judgement, and finding appropriate ways of handling these feeling without turning to impulsive behaviour.
Emotions are the best way to tell you what you are thinking
If you are feeling sad, anxious or angry, you are thinking sad, anxious or angry thoughts.
When emotions arise, it may be helpful to see the emotion as a wave coming and going.
What great blogging can do for your business
Since it made its first appearance in the 1990s, blogging has come a long way. Blogging was first used as an online journal or diary to share a person’s own individual thoughts, feelings, opinions and experiences and it usually attracted just a small following. These days, blogging is a platform used by individuals and businesses alike and can be read by thousands and even millions of people worldwide. Blogs are easy to set up and update regularly making them an important and usually a low cost tool for companies wanting to stay in touch with their customers and followers.
Benefits of a company blog
Increases traffic to a website using links
Inbound links in a blog will direct readers to relevant parts of a website, increasing overall traffic or increasing traffic to particular pages.
Improves a website’s SEO
If a blog is regularly updated and relevant to your business, it is more likely to be picked up in Google and other search engines which focus on a website’s quality of content and frequency of posts. Blogs create an opportunity for businesses to insert keywords that are likely to be used to search for your company or brand.
Promotes a brand and company as an expert in the industry
By regularly talking about a subject in well written blogs, your brand will become associated with and respected in its particular field thus encouraging readers to go to your site for valued information.
By providing high quality content and advice in a particular field, a blog can help give readers/customers the confidence to trust the brand. Comment sections in a Blog are often read and if monitored and updated regularly, this can further improve levels of trust with potential and existing customers.
Creates sharing opportunities
Including a sharing option in a blog creates viral traffic via twitter, email, Facebook or other platforms. Free marketing!
To increase your company’s online exposure and to establish yourself as an expert in your field, blogging is a must! And remember, it doesn’t have to be written by the company director himself, it can easily be outsourced and written by anyone as long as they do their research and create good quality pieces that are interesting to the reader. In fact, it is advised that a company’s blog is written by several people to vary the writing style and knowledge base.
Set up your company blog with a few launch articles and see just how easy it is! Use a Virtual Assistant to keep it updated and fresh with regular new content.
What to Expect When Working with a Virtual Assistant
A Virtual Assistant (VA) is a person who works remotely – she can sit in an office down the street or across the world. Working with a VA is very different from having an employee sitting in your office. Most Virtual Assistants work for more than one person, splitting their day up between their different clients. Virtual Assistants can assist with anything from general admin, marketing, diary management to virtually anything. The concept of working with a VA is a relatively new idea and so there are things that people are not always aware of.
Communication is key
Communication in this working relationship is key, use emails, WhatsApp, voice notes or weekly meetings. Be mindful that the Virtual Assistant is not in your office and is unable to come into your office and speak to you face to face, should the need arise. When giving instructions to your VA, be sure to provide all the resources that might be needed for the task at hand, together with all the relevant timelines and goals that you as an employer will expect. There should always be an open line of communication.
Work out the process
Working with a Virtual Assistant takes time to perfect. It is suggestible that especially in the beginning, all the assignments that are given to your Virtual Assistant are reviewed and that constructive feedback is given to the VA. This process will allow her to grow in her position and for her to ensure that over time she consistently provides what you are looking for. Never under estimate the power of a few kind words or praise for a job well done. It will do wonders for her self-esteem and will make your VA strive harder to ensure her work exceeds your expectations.
Stay in touch
It is the client’s responsibility to ensure that your VA knows what is expected of her. Regular communication to make sure she is coping and on point, will eliminate unwanted surprises. Having said this, there is no need to micromanage her. This could lead to serious problems down the line and could very well disrupt the relationship between the client and the Virtual Assistant and blur the boundaries as to what exactly is expected of her.
Remember the human touch
Remember that your Virtual Assistant is a person, who also has feelings and emotions. Given that that many clients have never had a face to face meeting with their VA, they forget that she too is a person. When problems arise as they normally do, it is easy get upset and vent their frustrations at their faceless Virtual Assistant.
All in a day’s work
Having a well-balanced working relationship between client and Virtual Assistant is one of the best things a client can do for his business. By the general day to day tasks been taken over by someone else, the client is left free to focus on growing his business without the everyday mundane tasks to contend with.
Being a VA is not for everyone, and that is okay
Question to a VA: What do you do?
Answer: I am a Virtual Assistant (VA)
Question: Okay and what exactly does that mean, what does a VA do?
Answer: a VA offers multiple PA and operational support to individuals and/or companies who are in need of these services but do not require someone to be physically present at a desk. In essence, a VA works for themselves, manages their own hours and invoices their clients on a monthly basis.
Question: Sounds like the perfect position. Would you say anyone can be a VA?
Answer: The simple answer is no, not everyone is cut out to be a VA. Being a VA takes a lot more dedication, time management, change management and discipline than one may think.
The so called “Perks” of the job, is that one works for themselves, has flexible hours, one does not need to rush in the morning to get dressed and out of the door in time to hopefully miss the traffic, there is no sitting in an office at a desk one does not like or with people that one doesn’t like either. This is called the “one-sided-glass” view. Here is an inside look into what being a VA is really like.
1. Mindset is Key
One may only need to dress the top half of their body, twist their hair up and you are ready to be seen via a PC camera, but one still needs to get into the VA mindset, ready to be productive and get tasks done. Personally, I always make sure I get up early, just like everyone else, get in a gym session, have a shower and get dressed as if I am going to sit at a desk with all the other VAs. Although one works from home, they still in fact work with someone else, and that someone is paying for a service. Therefore one needs to be on their A game, giving it just as much attention one would sitting in an office.
2. Always be switched on
One can never really switch off. All of those who don’t like emails on their cell phone, and when leaving the office at the end of the day get to switch off, a VA does not. A VA is continuously interacting with others, working on different projects for different individuals and/or companies. The hours in the day are filled with different tasks, in different roles. There is no time to switch off and especially for those who bill according to hours worked, time switched off is time not being billed.
3. Failing to plan, is planning to fail
As a VA, this is the most important part of the work. Every day needs to be planned out when one works on an hourly rate basis for a client. Hours need to be tracked and more importantly one needs to show that the hours put in have been meaningful and produced results. There is no room for excuses. One needs to be accountable and responsible for the tasks at hand.
4. Be a “Master Juggler”
A Virtual Assistants scope can range from being a personal assistant to one or multiple directors, managing HR, managing accounts, managing people, etc. therefore one needs to be able to juggle a number of tasks in one given day. The needs and requirements of the managing director, will differ from the sales director, the marketing director, etc.
Understanding this and understanding the different needs will allow one to be a better VA, and allow the juggling to be a mastered skill than a master disaster.
5. Know what you are good at
Being a VA means wearing many different hats but also in doing so one needs to be careful of biting off more than one can chew. I ensure that I never take on the responsibility of any task without full understanding and commitment. Faking it until you make it doesn’t work. One should be upfront about their strengths and weaknesses and rather concentrate on those strengths than filling the basket with all the eggs and never being able to finish one task to the best of their ability. Know who you are and what you can offer and stick to your guns.
6. Miss Independent
Being a VA means being independent, being able to work alone, and able to be alone. Being a VA can be a lonely job, so if you a person who doesn’t like to be alone, is easily distracted or like to be in your own space, then being a VA is not for you, and that is okay.