Leave work at work

October 30, 2017

Sometimes its hard to switch off from work when you leave the office on Friday, and many people are still thinking about work issues all over the weekend, meaning they give less attention to their family friends, and their own downtime.

Not everyone works 9 to 5, Monday to Friday, but most of us do get some downtime, even if its a few hours in the evening.  Being self employed or a business owner can mean there is no distinction between work life, home life and social life – but we only get one life, so make the most of your down time.

If you find it hard to switch off, and are constantly distracted by work in your downtime, here are a few ideas to help you to focus on your own R&R (rest and recovery, rest and recreation, rest and relaxation, rest and recuperation).

Make a note

If you forgot to do something before you left work, instead of carrying it around in your head all weekend, make a note of it or add it to your calendar as a reminder for when you return to the office.

Fix it when you can

If you make a mistake and it can be resolved, there is no point in worrying about it all weekend, make a note in your diary to fix the error when you get back to work.

Let it go

Some things you cannot fix, some errors can not be un-done.  Sometimes you need to say sorry, or apologise for an error that has been made. If you cannot resolve something, or its too late to fix, let it go, move on and try not to beat yourself up for something that cannot be changed.  Some things are best left in the past.

Save your ideas

Sometimes your creative juices only flow when you are outside of the work environment, and its easy to get distracted or carried away with things that maybe aren’t realistic. Sketch the ideas down somewhere in a book or a ‘back burner’ file, so that when the time is right you can go back to the ideas.

Try meditation

Meditation is a great way to clear your head, even if for 10 minutes, it allows you to focus on you, and notice the small things around you that make up your life. There are plenty of apps and things to try, just Google ‘Meditation’.  Its easier than you think, and surprisingly effective.

Go outside and breath in 

Get outside into the fresh air, go for a walk.  Look around you, listen, smell.  Look up at the sky, buildings, trees, whatever is around you.  Take in your surroundings, notice the colour of things, take a photo close up and a panorama image.  This is something you can do at any time of the day, not just when you have left work, try a lunchtime walk, just be mindful of your surroundings and what else is out there.

Hopefully some of these ideas will help you get some more focus.

Remember work life, business life, social life, park life. You only have 1 life.

 

 

 

 

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FSB Women in Enterprise Taskforce

July 25, 2016

FSB is delighted to announce 15 fantastic small business owners will join its national taskforce established to promote women in enterprise.

The taskforce has been set up by FSB to champion the needs of the UK’s many women small business owners, and build on the recommendations of FSB’s Women in Enterprise report released earlier this year.

FSB’s Women in Enterprise Taskforce, led by FSB Diversity Chair Helen Walbey:

Helen Walbey, FSB Diversity Chair, Recycle Scooters – Wales
Lina Bourdon, City & Country Financial Services – London
Nathalie Christmann-Cooper, TreatOut.com – Kent
Rafael Dos Santos, mi-HUB.com – London
Carolyn Frank, Libby Butler Jewellers –North East
Sandra Garlick, SG Business Consulting – Coventry, Warwickshire
Kelly Gilmour-Grassam, Making You Content – Manchester
Sangeeta Haindl, Serendipity PR and Media – London
Pamela Hargreaves, Xivvi Ltd – North East
Lesley Long, Wild Women Enterprise Co. Ltd – Wales
Bini Ludlow, Sweet Cumin – Somerset
Angela MacAusland, AM PM PA Ltd – Bath, Somerset
Janet Torley, Practical Marketing – Fife, Scotland
Deborah Turner, You Image Consultancy – Kent
Annabelle Webster, South East Timber & Damp Ltd – Kent

The Women in Enterprise Taskforce will look at ways to overcome the challenges faced by female entrepreneurs. It will also develop a series of regional events and networking opportunities to help more women successfully achieve their potential by starting and growing their business.

FSB Diversity Chair Helen Walbey said “We have a huge opportunity to boost growth and prosperity in this country by supporting more women into business. Women-led smaller businesses already contribute over £85 billion to the UK economy. But only one in five (22%) firms are majority run by women. If women were to set up and grow businesses at the same rate as men, the Government estimates it could add £600 billion to the economy.”

A day in the life of me

June 30, 2016

I was recently interviewed by The Business Exchange Bath and Somerset magazine about my day, you can read the article by following the link above, but I have also done an audio blog about it.

Which you can listen to here.

What time does your alarm go off? I don’t have an alarm, I am usually awake with the dawn chorus, and on the odd occasion I am not awake by 5.45am, my husbands alarm clock goes off anyway. 

What’s the first thing you do? The small hours of the morning give me an opportunity to catch up on the world, I check my iPhone for news, social media and any messages/texts that have come in overnight. I then get up, have a shower and get dressed, make a pot of tea and breakfast, and then switch on my computer and read my emails.

What do you do for lunch? As I mostly work from home, lunch is usually either a salad or something I can grab quickly, I always eat at my desk and try to get out for 20 or 30 minutes to walk the dog when I can. When I am out and about I will pop into a local independent deli or café and grab something that takes my fancy – scotch eggs and quiche my favourites at the moment. 

What do you love most about your job? Being able to be in control and not get distracted by office politics and other peoples schedules. I am an organiser and micro manage everything I do, some might say I am a control freak, but I am happy with that, I like things done my way and done well.

But I also love the flexibility that working for yourself brings, granted I sometimes have to work back to back 16 hour days, but I can also take a few hours out to go for a run, get my hair done or just walk the dog when the sun is shining.

What’s the worst part of the job? Being a Virtual PA, most of my interaction with people is through the digital world, so I don’t get to see many people face to face during the day. Whereas that can be advantageous when I am trying to juggle 4 peoples tasks at the same time, I can sometimes feel isolated from remote teams that I work with. Perhaps that’s why I enjoy the social aspect of networking events so much.

What executive tool gadget could you not live without? My iPhone – which is synchronised with my laptop, tablet and desktop computers so that I can pretty much work anywhere in the world – virtually. I would be lost without it – literally in some cases as I also use it as a satnav and run workout tracker. How we managed without smartphones and apps, is quite amazing. I can remember I had my first mobile phone in 1993 and not being able to text anyone with it, because no-one else had a mobile!

What do you do after work? If I am not attending a business networking event, I am usually out running, either on my own or with one of the many running groups I am a member of. Then it will be home to cook supper for whoever is there, and sharing a bottle of wine with my husband, while winding down to watch whatever is on TV for an hour before making sure I am in bed no later than 11am.

If you changed direction, what would be your Plan B? I think I would like to work as a running coach – I already have qualifications ‘Leadership in Running Fitness’ and ‘Guide Coach’ (for visually impaired and blind runners). My plan C would be to work overseas, and to travel, work, travel until I had seen the world and was ready to come back to my hometown of Bath and settle down for a quiet life. (Did I mention plan D – to write and publish a book).

Get in touch with me if you would like to know more angela@ampmpa.co.uk

 

 

New Services

April 28, 2016

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Since starting AMPMPA in 2008, I have had a few changes of direction in the services I offer to clients.  Initially just offering ‘traditional’ PA services, carrying out admin, filing, diary management, typing, document formatting and helping with things like invoicing and low level bookkeeping.

The world has moved on since then and most of the roles I carry out are not PA roles at all, and more business development and marketing. I also coach and train people a lot more now.

Since social media has become more and more popular, I have started offering monthly ‘packages’ for social media engagement. This may include posting regular Twitter updates (including follows, faves, RTs and mentions) to creating and maintaining Facebook pages. I also help people manage their online reviews, and set up mailing campaigns to send out regular newsletters.  All to help raise awareness and increase customer engagement.

And after many times of helping other PAs and VAs set up in business, I am now offering coaching services to people who are looking for help and support in getting started in their Virtual PA Business.

I still retain some of my initial services including my ‘Just a Day’ service and Excel, Word and Powerpoint help, formatting and problem solving.

My aim has always been to provide business support services to small and micro businesses, and even though most of my clients are based in or near Bath, I also work with many clients only virtually.  Skype, Google Hangouts, FaceTime and Messenger are all great ways to keep in touch, and having meetings online cuts down hugely on travel time and costs, and keeps everyone focussed.

If you would like any help or support, please do get in touch, I am here to help, organise, support and grow your business.

Thanks for reading

Angela MacAusland
Your PA for a Day

 

 

50B450

November 16, 2015
50 Things to do Before I'm 50

50 Things to do Before I’m 50

Always up for a challenge, I set myself on a journey to complete 50 things that I have never done before, before my 50th birthday in September 2016

Some people have given me challenges, some I have set myself.

I will be charting my journey on Facebook (one challenge I was set was to take a selfie of every challenge I did and post it to Facebook – here is the link to that album).

Some of the things I have completed so far are…

  1. Find a geocache (too easy so I have upgraded it to find 50)
  2. Make a Great British Bake Off technical challenge
  3. Get Food Intolerence Tested
  4. Volunteer for the day with a charity
  5. Deliver cupcakes to the homeless people in Bath
  6. Run a UK marathon and beat my PB (smashed by PB by 29 minutes)
  7. Sell Poppies
  8. Ride a Zip Wire
  9. Complete a Duathlon
  10. Complete the Movember (move every day in November) challenge

And some on the list to complete are….

  • Win a competition
  • Add to my race medal collection so that I have 50 medals in total
  • Get 2,000 followers on Twitter
  • Learn a new skill
  • Give up wine for January
  • Give up chocolate for Lent
    And many many more

I still have a few challenge spaces left if anyone wants to send me a challenge – just email me angela@ampmpa.co.uk

How to be ‘Time Smart’

September 3, 2015

I am often asked how I manage my time, with so many clients to deal with, emails, phone calls and social media interactions to manage. The answer is – I plan and here are some of my tips of how to manage your time smartly, if you have lots of things to do and not enough time to do them in.

Make a ‘Weekly To Do List’

At the beginning of each week, create a list of tasks that are outstanding and give them each a priority rating.

  • 1) Urgent – Needs to completed today
  • 2) Important – Needs to be completed this week
  • 3) Not Important – Needs to completed this month
  • 4) Personal Tasks – Only do these things once 1) is done
  • 5) Low – Needs to be completed but no specific timescale

At the end of the week, re-do your list, your priority 1’s should be complete, and the other tasks can be re-prioritised, depending on deadlines. It’s worth adding a ‘deadline’ date as well.

For example:

Weekly Task List

Make a ‘busy day’ schedule

If you have back to back meetings, phone calls, things to do, places to be and still have to fit in walking the dog and meeting your friend for a drink after work, plan your day around your scheduled appointments and fill in the gaps with things you can do on the way or in between.

For example

Busy day schedule

Learn to estimate how long it takes to complete a task

Work out how long a task is going to take so that you can schedule in your time more accurately. Keep a record of how long you estimate a task to take and record how long it actually took, so that you know for future planning. Don’t under-estimate how long something takes and then end up with tasks still not completed at the end of the week.

If necessary build in extra slack into you day or allow 50% more time than you originally estimated to complete a task. Conversely do not get into the habit of using up 2 hours of time if you can finish the task in an hour, don’t ‘waste’ time if you have over-estimated.

Use a stop watch or alarm to remind you every 30 minutes, so that you can check if you are on track with your timings.

For example:

Task Estimation

Plan your day in sections

Your mind cannot concentrate for 8 hours at a time and stay focussed all that time. If you are planning to be in your office all day, break up your day into 90 minute ‘productive time’ periods and work through your tasks during that time.

Then every morning and afternoon plan in 30 minutes of ‘non-productive time’ so that you can move aside from your tasks and schedule. Use this time to either get out of the office, grab a coffee, take a walk or just move away from your computer screen or the phone.

Also plan in one 30 minutes session every day for ‘quick wins’ where you can work really fast through lots of smaller tasks, to enable you to clear your backlog.

For example

Daily Planner

In summary

  • Have a weekly to do list and tick off tasks, re-prioritise throughout the week
  • Only create a day list for really busy days that take you out of the office or you have back to back meetings, phone calls etc.
  • Estimate how long tasks will take, record how long they actually take and plan better for the future
  • Plan in ‘productive’ and ‘non-productive’ times into your day and don’t get distracted by email, social media and the internet

If you need some coaching on how to organise your time, get on top of your tasks and generally make a bit of time for yourself, get in touch. These are only some of the techniques we use, and for once a month over a 6 month period, we work with you to help you learn some of these techniques. Let us organise you.

How to bill out your time

June 4, 2015

One of the first things new clients ask is ‘how do you charge out your time?’ so I thought I would write a blog post on this.

I have also created a video blog here

There are several ways in which we bill out our time here at AM PM PA.

  • Hourly rate
  • Daily fee
  • A set project rate
  • Monthly retainer

The other option would be on a part-time self, employed contract, but we generally don’t do that as most clients don’t want us as an extra member of staff and overhead.

Here’s how they work, with examples of each.

Monthly retainer
This would be an agreed set monthly fee, where we are tasked to carry out specific duties throughout the duration of the month. Usually agreed over a 12 month period and reviewed annually. E.g. Marketing Activities

Set project fee
Useful when there is a specific piece of work that needs to be completed within a set timescale and the fees are estimated by us beforehand and agreed with the client. E.g. Formatting and proofing a 250 page training manual.

Daily fee
When we are required to work off site for a full (or half day) we charge a set fee for this, the actual hours may vary but on average a half day is four hours and a full day eight. E.g. To carry out our on-site ‘Blitz the Backlog’ service.

Hourly rate
When clients ask us to bill them for the actual time spent, either on a project or an ongoing basis. We use a kitchen type timer for this, but you can also use a stopwatch or your computer clock, and we then record the actual hours on a spreadsheet timesheet – which we use to create our client bills at the end of each month. You could also use a time logging app such as Toggl

One last thing to explain is the difference between billable and non-billable time.

If you are an employee, you get paid for when you are at work, and this includes the time when you are making a cup of tea or chatting to a colleague about what they are doing at the weekend.

When you are self employed and are working for clients who pay you for the work you do, you only charge them for your billable time (when you are carrying out work for them). When you go to make a cup of tea, have a comfort break or pop into the bank to pay in some money, these are all non-billable times.

We have a non-billable category on our timesheet, so that we can keep an eye on how much time we are spending not working.

I hope you found this interesting and hopefully you will be able to use some of these yourselves to become more efficient in your workplace.

I’m hosting a hustings!

February 17, 2015

The General Election is now less than three months away and already we can see evidence that politicians of all parties are enthusiastically courting local businesses.

And with the vast majority of UK workers either running or working in a small business, there is no doubt that those of us in the SME community will be especially important to those politicians in the run-up to May 6.

But where do the parties actually stand on business issues and what will be their priorities to help the business community if they are elected?

Well, to try and help answer some of these questions, with the FSB’s Bath branch I will be hosting a special business-led General Election hustings on Tuesday, March 24. At the event all six of the declared candidates for the Bath constituency will have a chance to explain to you, the businessmen and women of Bath, what they believe in during a ‘Question Time’ style debate.

We have already communicated to the Bath candidates what the FSB’s main priorities are via our own national manifesto – see it at http://www.ibacksmallbusiness.com/ – and we are certain that the hustings evening at the Bath Function Rooms above the Green Park Brassiere, will be a lively and entertaining exchange of views.

The event is free to attend and is open to FSB members and non-members alike and although business questions will be at the heart of it there should also be time to discuss wider political matters and to get to know little bit more about the personalities of the six people who are fighting so hard to win the Bath seat.

So, why not join us? This is a golden opportunity for the SME community to get our voices heard on the issues that affect the day-to-day running of our businesses and also to start to build a relationship with the person who will be our eyes and ears in Westminster in the years to come.

If you’d like to join us then please sign up at http://tinyurl.com/llnmxgf and then we can make sure that whoever wins the Bath seat will go to Parliament knowing that little more about what the small business community of this city is looking for them to deliver…

Supporting other entrepreneurs

January 15, 2015

Setting up and running a business can sometimes be a very daunting prospect, but the spirit of entrepreneurship can be seen in and around Bath, in communities of all ages, backgrounds and levels of education.

Being an entrepreneur does not necessarily mean starting up a high-tech, high growth export business. The changing nature of business and technology is allowing more and more entrepreneurs to set up and run a business from home. We shouldn’t also forget the growing number of student entrepreneurs that are starting businesses whilst still in full time education.

Entrepreneurs can be found anywhere and although a lot of hard work is involved in turning an idea into a business, it is also one of the most rewarding things that someone can do and can be one of the most positive changes someone can make for themselves and the community they live in.

Think of the local butchers, hairdressers, shop owners, electricians, plumbers and florists (to name but a few) who start up small businesses and become the heart of the local community.

They generate wealth, employment and opportunity. Independent businesses on and off the high street brings growth and income to communities and celebrates the diversity that small independent businesses can deliver.

But starting up a business is not always plain sailing – with business rates, lack of suitable premises, inadequate broadband and the rising costs of power, public transport and parking – being cited as some of the barriers to growth.

It is clear that we need to support the entrepreneurs of today and tomorrow as small businesses are the backbone of the UK economy.

We also need to make sure Bath as a city has the provisions to be able to help start up businesses stay in the city and have the ability to expand as they grow. The last thing we want to see are our homegrown entrepreneurs leaving the area to set up elsewhere.

This is one of the reasons why I am a member of and the current Branch Chairman of The Federation of Small Business as they are there to campaign on behalf of all small businesses and entrepreneurs, not only locally but regionally and nationally.

Angela MacAusland

Federation of Small Businesses Bath Branch Chair

Small Business Saturday

December 6, 2014

Bath is a fantastic city for shopping, we know that because coach loads of people come in, for that very reason, but how many of us stop and think about where we buy things.

With a little thought, we can all make small changes to help support our local traders – people who really do value your business, people who in turn, will spend their money locally and keep our local economy buoyant.

One initiative we can all support is Small Business Saturday (6th December) which encourages shoppers to ‘buy local’ on the first Saturday of December, of course we can all make changes and shop locally every day of the year.

So instead of buying your morning coffee from a large coffee shop chain, why not buy it from an independent coffee shop and next time you are looking for a gift, don’t head straight for the high street stores, seek out some of the fantastic array of quirky little shops that Bath has to offer.

The key thing here is that now we have so many more choices, and we often say the reasons for this are convenience and cost benefits. Your local shops are not always more expensive than supermarkets, and the advantages are that they can you offer a personal service and also a depth of knowledge of the products they sell.

The sad thing is that if we don’t use our independent businesses, we may lose them. One less customer a week for a small shop could mean closure within a matter of months.

So next time you go shopping think small first and shop local!


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