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

 

How to Take Your business to the Next Level with the Help of a Business Mentor

How to Take Your business to the Next Level with the Help of a Business Mentor

According to a recent article I read, women tend to credit having mentors as one of their reasons for achieving their goals. To be honest most of us have heard of successful entrepreneurs having mentors but somehow in the Virtual Assistant industry I noticed that we haven’t embraced this trend fully. This could be due to various reasons, though I believe a huge factor could be that we don’t fully understand the benefits of having a personal or professional mentor.

 

What is a mentor exactly?

The simple explanation is that a mentor is someone wiser and more experienced than you in a certain area, it may be personal or professional and the person may be older or younger than you. A relationship with this person helps you grow as a person, entrepreneur or Virtual Assistant or any area of your life you need to take to the next level. They will challenge you to reach your full potential, not only through words but by actively leading as an example. This is a clear indication to me that it’s important who we choose as our mentors.

 

Key aspects to look for in a mentor

The right mentor for me may not necessarily be the right mentor for you, and that’s why it’s extremely important that we make sure that we are compatible. Your mentor will often challenge you to grow and to step outside of your comfort zone and for that reason you should make sure that the relationship isn’t a strained one. Safe to say a mentor should not be a clone of yourself if you want to grow and achieve your goals. It should also be someone with whom you can build a trusted relationship and who’s expertise in their area will give you the edge to achieve success.

 

Who do I see as my mentor for 2020?

Let me introduce you to Jim Rohn. An American Entrepreneur, expert network marketer and motivational speaker whom I only discovered recently through a Virtual Assistant teammate of mine at VA Connect. Unfortunately, he passed away in 2009 however there are a myriad of books, videos and teachings of his available in the world of media for which I’m forever grateful. Although I can’t have him as a real live mentor, the teaching he’s left behind is invaluable. Especially for those that want to grow their marketing and sales skills.

Since 2020 is my year for improving my marketing and sales skills I am using lots of his material as growth medium. Believe me it’s challenging for me. Simply put, I’m pretty sure that selling something to your friends and family has to be the hardest sale of all. Yes, the hardest! You have to have confidence in your product or service. Remember after the sale you have to see that person, or deal with them, quite often, so if you’re selling them something and the sale goes south, you don’t only loose a sale, but you also loose a relationship. Sales for me is hard, sales for many of us is hard and the reality is that if we don’t have sales, we don’t have a business.

 

Take my business to the next level

I see a few things I can gain from my skills improvement strategy with Jim Rohn in 2020 and that’s firstly believing in your service or product enough, providing undoubted value, so that you would be willing to sell it to your friends and family. Secondly becoming so comfortable at selling that you can do it in such a manner that it adds value to those choosing to buy and those choosing not to still go away with a positive feeling for having had the conversation with you. Lastly for me it’s about using storytelling as a tool to build your client relationships, improve your marketing and sales vocabulary and building a business you love.

If you haven’t found a mentor yet for 2020, may I encourage you to try it? You will be amazed at the benefits in your personal and professional life. We can all do with some success!

5 Books you have to read in 2020

5 Books you have to read in 2020

Welcome to 2020. And welcome to the year that I start to pick up a book and read again! How about you?

Did you know that thoughts are nutrition for the brain? So it would make sense to feed your thoughts with only the most inspirational, motivational and valuable information as possible right? And that is why reading a good, thought provoking or information rich book is so important.

Now, knowing this I went on the search to find some of the top reads for you (and me) to indulge in this year. Whether you are just on a journey of enlightenment or you are a business owner needing the motivation to stay on track and to be the most successful at whatever it is you choose to do, there is sure to be something out there that will tickle your fancy.

Before I dive into that thought let me summarise what, for me, makes a good read:

  1. A great opening line or three. Something that immediately gets my attention and makes me want to read more because I know that yes, I am going to be a changed person at the end of this book.
  2. Not just any information though, relevant information. Information which I can relate to and that is relevant to the title and description of the book.
  3. A great take away that I can put into practice easily and that gives some sort of reward
  4. And lastly – it must make me want to refer it to someone and make me want to read it again at some point

Right, now that I have that out the way – let us get to the list and where you can find it.

 

My pick of 5 books:

Just to be clear, this is merely my suggestion from the plethora of books I found listed. These are the ones which caught my eye and made we take notice. Perhaps you have seen others that speak to you more – that’s awesome!

  1. Girl Stop Apologizing – by Rachel Hollis – If you fear taking on new challenges or taking the steps to do new things because you do not want to fail or be embarrassed, then this book is for you. Great read!
  2. Manage your Money like a F*cking Grownup – by Sam Beckbessinger – I just loved the name of this one really. But in all seriousness, I think the key to success and wealth and just balance overall is learning to manage everything, and especially when it comes to money.
  3. The Power Of Positive Thinking – by Norman Vincent Peale – This one speaks for itself and is one I have actually read. The mind is a powerful thing and when we can tune it to be on a positive frequency all the time, oh wow, amazing things will happen for you. Things you can only imagine. Get this book if you are in a slump and need some motivation and a mind shift.
  4. The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results – By Gary Keller and Jay Papasan – The whole premise of this book really caught my attention and is on my list of must reads this year. I also asked myself, “What is the one that if done right can make everything else in my life easier?” I have not come up with an answer as yet but I am guessing that by reading the book, it will help me on my path of discovery.
  5. The Disruption Mindset – by Charlene Li – This books shows us how many businesses use disruption to be successful. They disrupt the norm without thinking about it, and the results are quite phenomenal. Think Uber, AirBnB
Why clients need coaching on how to work remotely

Why clients need coaching on how to work remotely

Onboarding a new client is always a very exciting experience for any virtual assistant. However, sometimes, a few weeks down the line one or both parties may feel disillusioned and frustrated with the business relationship. I’ve especially found this to be true when either the VA or the client is still new to the virtual assistance industry or when both are. Here are a few pointers to help VA’s (and clients) avoid the pitfalls of unnecessary frustration.

 

Questions…questions…questions

My clients and colleagues will all tell you the same thing about me. I ask questions… a lot! I don’t just accept the status quo of anything, just because someone said so… It might work on your nerves (I know), you will, however, thank me later! Why do I ask so many questions?

The answer is simple, with more information comes informed decision-making.

Whether an athlete plans to run a marathon or a 100m race, one thing remains the same. The planning, preparation and training take up way more time than the actual event. Similarly, we should remember that a lot more goes on before we get to the actual execution of the tasks at hand.

A lot of the time I find clients want to skimp on this part. Make sure as a VA that you help them understand the value of first gaining insight into their business and current structures and procedures while gathering all the information you need to start planning the next step.

Plan…plan…plan

“Failing to plan, is planning to fail.”

This step can’t be stressed enough! Plan your day, plan your week, plan your month! Yes, anything or everything might change, depending on the type of industry. But…without planning, you will not have realistic goals, this will limit your feeling of achievement as a VA and will give the client a false impression that you’re not making the progress they had in mind. It may also lead them to inevitably believe that a virtual assistant is not a valuable contribution to their business. Planning means goals and goals means you can measure results. Let the results speak for you.

Your client may not understand your need for planning, so I suggest you ease them into it. Start with something simple like an email or message (using whichever means of communication your client prefers) every day at the start of your session with the client to just let them know 2-3 things you will be focusing on for the day (it obviously depends on the complexity of the tasks or projects). Also, give them an estimate of the time it will take you to accomplish your goal. At the end of the day give short, to the point feedback.

 

Communicate…communicate…communicate

Vital to every successful business relationship is communication. So why do we often tend to neglect such an extremely important tool for success in the hustle and bustle of our day?

If you find yourself explaining or re-explaining yourself or a task or project’s progress to your client more often than not, it definitely demonstrates a communication gap. This means your client feels their expectations aren’t met, and you might end up feeling the client doesn’t value your service.

The key here is effective communication. Make sure your client understands the process and time each task or project might take and if you run into any delays, which often happens, communicate this with your clients, so they get an understanding of what it takes to get the job done, right- the first time.

 

It’s not rocket science

Only rocket science is rocket science. You’ll find your groove before you know it.  We just need to remember that we all started as newbies in the industry some time, so, a little patience and coaching will go a long way towards building a lasting business relationship.

 

Are you in touch with your emotions?

Are you in touch with your emotions?

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.

  • Event
  • Interpretation
  • Feeling
  • 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

  1. Anger
  2. Sadness
  3. Happiness
  4. Fear
  5. Disgust
  6. Guilt/Shame
  7. Interest/Surprise

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.

 

Conclusion

When emotions arise, it may be helpful to see the emotion as a wave coming and going.