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5 reasons why you DON’T need a virtual assistant

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5 steps to create a great morning routine

A good morning routine will set you up for a great day ahead. Since Emma left her corporate life in 2015, the alarm clock still goes off at the same time every weekday morning and she’s often at her desk by 8am ready to start working on emails and client work.

A morning routine can help you achieve your goals in every single area of your life. Morning routines have helped people stay more consistent with health, fitness, business, and relationships.

Being an effective early riser isn’t just about waking up before everyone else. It’s about putting yourself in a positive mindset and getting important things done before everyone else.

Prepare the night before

Preparation is key to having a great morning routine. If you’re planning on exercising in the morning, have your gym kit out ready. You’re more likely to go and get it done if you’re kit is ready to go.

Plan your day – it doesn’t have to be a minute by minute account but if you know what you need to achieve the following day, you’ll know what needs to be focused on.

Wake up early!

In a poll of 20 executives cited by Laura Vanderkam, a time-management expert and the author of “What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast,” 90% said they wake up before 6 a.m. on weekdays. PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi, for example, wakes at 4 and is in the office no later than 7. Disney CEO Bob Iger gets up at 4:30 to read. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is up at 5:30 to go jogging. This might be a little extreme but clearly these are people who get tasks done and are successful in business.

Re-hydrate and move your body

You’ve probably been asleep for 8 hours so your body is dehydrated. Once you’re up, try and drink at least a pint of water if you can. Exercising in the morning can be a huge benefit as well. Emma will go to a 6.30am spin class and is home before 7.30am so that she can can showered and ready to face the day. Exercise can have a huge effect on your mindset whilst improving energy levels, positivity and productivity. We’re not suggesting you go for a marathon length run every day but even 10 minutes of yoga will help.

Add in some personal development

There are so many ways to easily add in some personal development every morning. John likes to read a few pages of a business or personal development book most mornings whilst having his first cup of coffee. You may wish to include some daily affirmations – you can either write these out or say them out loud to yourself. Another popular personal development idea is morning pages where you sit and just let your pen write whatever comes to mind. Emma has tried this but just ended up writing a huge to do list…which isn’t the point of it! Emma writes her gratitude list every evening so spends some time reflecting on the day just before bed. Gratitude can be ticking off something from your to do list, getting out at lunchtime for some fresh air or enjoying a sneaky bit of chocolate with your cup of tea!

Tackle the tricky stuff first

Go through your to do list and highlight 1-3 things that MUST be done today and concentrate on those things first.  As Mark Twain says “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” Once you’ve tackled those tasks or eaten those frogs, anything else you get done is a bonus!  Keep your daily to-do list small so that it’s manageable and not overwhelming.  When you’re able to cross items off this list, it inspires you to keep going and accomplish even more!

These morning routine ideas are what we’ve found work best. Take what works for you and your schedule, and adjust accordingly! Even if your morning routine is 5 minutes long, having some intentionality in the morning to set yourself up for success is essential and will have a huge impact on your day, your week, your month and your life!

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Motivation Productivity Virtual Admin Services

2020 – The Look Back Post

What a year 2020 has been.  If you’d said at the start of the year, we’d find ourselves in the middle of a pandemic where we wouldn’t be allowed to mix with our loved ones and friends, that ‘sitting on a park bench was allowed’ and there would be scuffles over pasta and toilet roll we’d have all said you’ve lost your mind.

We think it’s really important to celebrate the good times and reflect on the positives that have happened in an otherwise strange 2020.

Awards

We kicked off the year learning that Emma was included in the 2020 f:Entrepreneur’s iAlso awards. This campaign celebrates the UK’s inspirational and multi-achieving female entrepreneurs.  The aim of f:Entrepreneur is to showcase multi-achieving women like Emma in the #ialso Top 100, to provide lessons of challenge and success for all small business founders – both men and women.

You can read the full blog here.

We were also were shortlisted again for the South West England VA of the Year awards and throughout the year discovered that we had made it through various rounds and in November we were announced as the Runner Up, VA of the Year South West region! 

A trip to the House of Lords

As part of the iAlso awards Emma went to the House of Lords just before the first lock down started.  We were under instruction to greet each other with elbow pumps whilst tucking to an early breakfast.  The atmosphere in the room was incredible and it was an honour to be in a room with 99 other business entrepreneurs who not only run their business but they also undertake extra roles.

Birthday Celebrations

Wow – we hit 5 years of business this year!  Emma never thought she’d have her own business, let alone be celebrating 5 years.  With such a difficult year for everyone, we’re grateful more than ever for everyone’s support.

We managed to get in a celebratory meal at The Ivy in Bath just before lock down 2.0 hit – we were totally surprised to be greeted by a glass of champagne each from a client who’d caught wind of our whereabouts.

Read more about our round of up of 5 Achievements in 5 Years.

Clients

We continued to work with our amazing loyal clients this year and welcomed many new clients from different business sectors.  We now support around 15-20 different clients – some on a daily basis, some on a monthly basis and some on a quarterly basis.  Our passion for helping our clients achieve more has been welcomed by everyone.  We welcomed our 60th client into the fold in September and this has now rising to 70!

Expanding our Services

2020 was the year that we did some market research and realised that it’s not only admin that people often put to the bottom of their to do list.  Bookkeeping was something that came up again and again.  We took the plunge to sign our first associate in Catherine Body who loves doing bookkeeping. 

Emma and Catherine have known each other for a couple of years in the VA world so it seemed like a natural fit. Catherine comes with a wealth of experience gained through years working in an Accounts Office and more recently as a School Bursar.  She will be able to help you keep on top of your finances; processing invoices, paying suppliers, reconciliation, VAT/CIS submissions using QuickBooks, Xero or FreeAgent.

This additional new service has been utilised by several of our clients and feedback has been that it’s been great to have both admin and bookkeeping done by the same business.

Branded Photo Shoot

The benefit of having an accountability buddy that’s a photographer means that you can get some branded photos taken!  This was something Emma and Kate of Copper and Blossom had talked about at the start of the year however lock down hit and plans were put on hold.  We managed to get a date in the diary when cafes started to open and Emma asked her favourite local cafe if they would help out.  After a bit of lunch, we found ourselves with an empty cafe an hour before closing so made the most of it!  It also helped that Divine on the Green’s outside seating area is in Boatman Admin Services branded colours!!

WHAT A LIST!  Thank you to everyone who has supported us not only in 2020 but throughout the lifetime of the business! 

Here’s to an awesome 2021!!

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Creating Work / Life Balance Organisation Productivity Virtual Admin Services

How to make Batch Working work for you

Most of us probably start our working day with a ‘bit of a plan’ as to what needs to be completed by the time you switch you computer off. BUT how many of us are jumping from one task to another to another. What is batch working and how could it work for you?

Multi tasking might make you feel that you’re achieving LOADS when actually you might not be giving each task your full attention. Multi-taskers reduce productivity by FORTY PERCENT across the board. (American Psychological Association) When multitasking, it takes 50% longer to accomplish a certain task, not to mention, it increases errors by 50%. The average time spent on a task before losing focus is one minute and fifteen seconds.

We have all heard that multitasking is extremely uneffective, but as entrepreneurs and business owners, it’s so easy to fall into because there are always at least 100 things we need to get done at any given time.

What is Batch Working?

Essentially, batch working is a time management system that allows you to be super productive to maximize your time. It means dividing your work into different days or hours to focus on one specific topic.

For those that run a product based business it could be as simple as splitting your day into AM and PM. It might be that in the morning you focus on orders so processing / creating / dispatching. In the afternoon you might spend some time catching up on your bookkeeping / admin/ checking your social media.

For those that run a service based business it might be that you spend a morning doing client work. You could even split this down further into an hour on Client A, 2 hours on Client B. In the afternoon, you might record a couple of YouTube videos – you’ve got to set up the lights, camera, make yourself presentable etc so you may as well record several videos in one go.

Where to start with batch working

We would suggest you start with a bit of a brain dump and write down everything you do regularly for your business. this should start to create a pattern of frequent tasks that you undertake. Examples of what to batch can include:

  • Recording Podcasts
  • Recording YouTube Videos
  • Writing blog posts
  • Creating images in Canva
  • Writing your social media content for the week ahead (rather than frantically 10 minutes before it needs to go up!
  • Bookkeeping
  • Social media scheduling
  • Taking photographs of new products

Once you have your batches of tasks that need doing, you can start to look at your diary and allocate time in which to do so. For example, we have the whole of the afternoon off to write blog posts – that doesn’t include creating the graphics etc, that’s scheduled for later in the diary. We spent 30 minutes brainstorming some post ideas and then the rest of the afternoon researching and writing.

Regularly review the process

Assess the amount of time you’re allocating to tasks although this could take you a few weeks or months to get your head around. Always over allocate time otherwise you’ll be panicking that you only have 30 minutes left for another 2 hours work.

You might find that you are scheduling social media content too far in advance and perhaps only want to do 2 weeks at a time.

Review what’s working and what’s not – then change it, and review it again in 6 months.

Increase your efficiency

Batch working will increase your efficiency in your business – by having a clear focus for the hour / AM or PM / day you’ll find that you’re more focused and will get the job in hand DONE. How often have you ended the day and wondered…’what did I do today?’ despite running around chasing your tail.

Are you ready to give batch working a go? More time will on your hands will allow to do so much more – whether that’s more on the business or just taking a well earned morning, afternoon or day off!

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Creating Work / Life Balance Motivation Virtual Admin Services

5 Achievements in 5 Years

Celebrate!!! We’re so proud to be celebrating our 5th birthday with you this month. We couldn’t let it slide by without sharing our Top 5 Achievements with you all.

Getting Started

When Emma left her corporate life after almost 15 years at the same company, she wasn’t sure where her path was going to take her. Little did she know what the next 5 years had planned.

It’s no secret that the business didn’t have a plan at the start. It was Emma, helping John with his admin needs at Boatman Financial. Little by little, we started to pick up the odd client here and there and before we realised what was happening, a business was born.  Running a business really pushes you out of your comfort zone.  Emma attended networking meetings to try and meet new people and expand the business – even managed to stand up at one of these events and tell her story.  Anyone that knows Emma knows how much she dreaded doing this!  It was through doing networking that we started to obtain new clients, thick and fast.

Our 60th Client

We’ve just signed our 60th client this month – that’s 60 businesses we’ve helped ease their workload in 5 years. Some of these clients have been for a one off project, other clients have been with us from the very start. We’ve worked with mortgage brokers to mental health therapists, candle makers to vets, doggy day care to copywriters, will writers to chefs…and everything in between!!

It really does highlight that you simply cannot do it all when you run a business.  You can’t be the CEO, the marketing team, the IT helpdesk, customer service, receptionist, administrator and the bookkeeper ALL THE TIME!!!

Working with such a wide range of businesses means that no two days are the same and we’re never sure what’s going to cross our desks each day – which makes it even more interesting.

Awards

We’ve stepped forward in the industry and are pleased to say we’ve picked up the following accolades along the way:

  • 2018 – Short listed for VA of the Year, South West region in the VA Awards
  • 2018 – National recognition in the #smallbiz100 awards
  • 2019 – Short listed for VA of the Year, South West region in the VA Awards
  • 2019 – Shortlisted as Female Entrepreneur of the Year in the South West awards
  • 2019 – Finalist in the national VA of the Year awards for PA Life
  • 2020 – Finalist for VA of the Year, South West region in the VA Awards
  • 2020 – National recognition in the #iAlso awards

Again, this leads us onto…

Going to the House of Lords – not once…but TWICE!

Emma…going to the House of Lords?! Who’d have thought it?! It was an honour to attend the Small Business Saturday afternoon tea in 2018 and the F:entrepreneur iAlso breakfast in 2020. The ability to meet 198 other women and men in business from across the UK and discuss the highs and lows of self employment. To have a member of Parliament there to listen to questions about support for us when times are difficult (particularly in recent Covid times) and take these back to the government was incredible.

Our First Associate

It wasn’t until 2020 that we decided to take the plunge and bring our associate, Catherine on board. After doing some market research, we realised that not only were people struggling to keep up with their admin, it was also their bookkeeping that was getting left behind. Emma and Catherine have known each other for a couple of years in the VA world so it seemed like a natural fit. Catherine comes with a wealth of experience gained through years working in an Accounts Office and more recently as a School Bursar.  She will be able to help you keep on top of your finances; processing invoices, paying suppliers, reconciliation, VAT/CIS submissions using QuickBooks, Xero or FreeAgent.

Catherine is on hand for our bookkeeping clients and to assist Emma when demand for work increases. In time, Catherine will have her own bank of clients to look after.

 

Writing all of that down really does make you think back and feel proud of what’s been achieved.  Has it always been easy?  No.  Has it been worth it – hell yeah!!

Here’s to the next 5 years!!!!

 

 

 

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Creating Work / Life Balance Organisation Productivity Virtual Admin Services

Using a Virtual Assistant – a case study with Reshma Field

If you’re thinking of hiring a Virtual Assistant but are still unsure whether it’s right for your business we’ve written a case study to help better explain.

Reshma Field runs two very different businesses but remains super passionate about both of them.  A former partner at a law firm in Kent plus the head of department advising on Wills, Inheritance Tax, Powers of Attorney and Probate administration she now runs Swindon Will Writing.  In complete contrast, Reshma also runs Ishbel’s Wardrobe, a personal stylist business.

These two businesses couldn’t be more worlds apart but they are equally as busy.

Reshma Field, Ishbels Wardrobe

On top of these two businesses, Reshma is also a busy Mum of two amazing young ladies, has a husband who spends most of the week in London and is a cat and dog mum. Juggling work, family and ‘life’ is tough!

Emma met Reshma a few years ago on the networking scene and got on straight away.

It was in 2018 that Reshma was having some technical issues with her computer and needed to get some draft Wills over to a client urgently so she contacted Emma for help with getting the documents over to the client. It was last minute and late in the day but Reshma was impressed by Emma’s advice, her calmness and the ‘get it done’ attitude.

In 2019, Emma and Reshma’s paths’ crossed again when Emma took advantage of Reshma’s Colour & Style session and then went on a personal shopping trip.  It was during this trip that Reshma and Emma discussed work life balance and how on earth Reshma managed to get everything done whilst remaining professional and business like.  It was clear to both of them that running two businesses on her own was impacting her work life balance and she needed to find a solution.

Reshma needed someone she could trust with the sensitive nature of the Will Writing business whilst also having a bit of creative flair with work for the personal styling business.  After agreeing to meet for a coffee outside of the personal shopping day, it became clear that a virtual assistant was the way to go.

Emma with Reshma Field of Swindon Will Writing & Ishbels Wardrobe and Hadi Brooks of Rays Ice Cream

Needless to say, the work that was passed over to Emma came thick and fast but with no more typing up of meeting minutes, this meant Reshma had more time to get out and see more clients.  Therefor earning more money to cover the outsourcing costs.  The summer of 2020 did not let up in workload for Reshma – you might even go as far as saying there’s nothing like a pandemic to make people stop and think about their future and getting their Wills in place.

In Reshma’s own words…

I can’t imagine life without Emma now!  Taking the plunge to outsource my admin and social media scheduling has freed me up so much.  Emma is worth her weight in gold plus a lot more.  She is meticulous, prompt and so incredibly helpful. My businesses are thriving and I’m getting so much more done and seeing so many more clients because I have the time!  Every small business owner needs Emma in their lives.  Once you see for yourself how great she is, you’ll wonder why you didn’t contact her earlier!

To have an informal chat with me about how Boatman Admin Services might support you and your business, email us at emma@boatmandadmin.co.uk to arrange a free 30 minute consultation.

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Organisation Productivity Virtual Admin Services

5 Benefits of Hiring a Virtual Assistant

If you’re looking at the rest of the year ahead and wondering if this is the time to get organised then this blog will explain the benefits of hiring a virtual assistant. 

Are you constantly looking at your to do list and wondering how your going to do it all?  Often in business it’s a case of all the ‘things to do’ and never enough time to do them in – unless you want to work 24/7…and we’re sure that’s not why you set up in business!

Increased Productivity

In this (somewhat worrying!) report, office staff are only productive for around 3 hours per day.  If you consider we work on average for 8 hours per day, it makes you wonder what you might be paying an employee for the other 5 hours!

A VA has the ability to focus and dedicate time to getting tasks done without the distraction of being based in an office.  A virtual assistant is motivated to hit the deadlines set by clients – if they’re not met, we’re not likely to get more work!

Increased Flexibility

It’s a known fact that business has its ebbs and flows, it’s peaks and troughs.  It can be difficult to therefore make a commitment to employing a member of staff, be that full or part time.  

You can get a virtual assistant to work with you for a couple of hours a week to start with and see how much they are able to accomplish.  You can then work with a VA to do more work for you when necessary and then take a break when it’s a quieter period.

Reduced Operating Costs

By having a member of staff, you’re going to incur additional costs including taxes, sick pay, holiday pay, any staff benefits plus new laptops if necessary.

A virtual assistant doesn’t need desk space or a computer as they’ll have everything they need in their own office.

You simply hire them to perform a specific job, pay them for their time, and that’s it. Think of all the money you’ll save that can be better used elsewhere!

Get the work DONE!

That to do list that you never look at as it’s pretty epic and probably a scary thought will start to actually get some ticks on it. When you outsource work to a virtual assistant, it will actually get DONE. A VA can sit and focus on that particular task without the distraction of customers coming in or producers calling you. You’ll be surprised how quickly you start to get through work leaving you time to focus on the business rather than be so involved in the business.

You get to do the stuff you love!

You didn’t set up your business to be bogged down by ‘all the things’! You set up your business because you’re passionate about it – whether that’s making candles, being a copywriter, making artisan food goodies.  We’re pretty sure it wasn’t because you wanted to do all the admin! You’ll be able to focus on new ideas, get creative or spend time with family and friends as you’ll have the knowledge that someone else is helping you build your business.

So working with a virtual assistant could be a huge benefit to both you and your business. You’ll reduce your workload (& your stress levels), be able to focus ON the business rather than be IN the business and you’ll get some time back to spend with family.

If you’d like to know more about working with a Virtual Assitant, please get in touch.

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5 tasks you can easily hand over to a Virtual Assistant

You’ve made the decision that you want to start working with a Virtual Assistant but how on earth do you decide what tasks you can immediately start to hand over?

Calendar Management

black and white diary with apple product
Managing your diary can be critical to running your business

Calendar management can be critical when running your own business. We’ve all experienced trying to set up a meeting and it’s taken 5 or more emails flying backwards and forwards to find a suitable time.

You don’t want to spend all of your days rushing from one side of the city to another for different meetings. Ideally, you’ll want one or two days where you’re out of the office where your sole focus is meetings. That way, you can use the other days to be at your desk or in your studio doing the actual work. A Virtual Assistant can arrange your diary to work for you and give you maximum time out of your day.

Database Building

Do you have a huge list of clients and customers that you need to keep track of? Having it all in your own mind might not be the ideal. What if you couldn’t work for a period of time? Nobody would know where to start other than you. A Virtual Assistant can help you build your CRM and ensure that it is kept up to date.

Meeting Minutes

notebook and pen with computer on desk
Meeting Minutes can also be outsourced

Once you’ve organised your meetings, it might be necessary for someone to be there to document it especially if it’s a board meeting or a disciplinary matter. A Virtual Assistant can either dial in or be there in person to take the minutes so that you can focus on the content of the meeting.

As previously mentioned, the VA can also arrange the meeting to start with!

Inbox Management

Emails can easily start to get out of control! Inbox management can be done in several ways.

A client of Boatman Admin Services is now in the habit of responding to emails and asking clients to contact her VA for certain tasks. Over the course of 3-6 months, customers and clients soon learnt that we are responsible for certain areas and could answer a lot of questions.

It might be as simple as organising your inbox and getting your sub folders in order. This way, you’ll know exactly where to look rather than one big mass of 10,000 emails in your inbox!

Online Research

Online research can be hugely time consuming and before you know it, you’ve fallen into a downward spiral and you’re looking at people’s Aldi shopping hauls on YouTube (how on earth did you get there?!)

A Virtual Assistant can help with any number of research requirements:

  • Product research
  • Competitor analysis
  • Latest trends
  • Prospecting
  • Data gathering

Hopefully that’s given you a head start on what you could easily handover to a Virtual Assistant giving you MORE time!

You may also want to read our previous blog around What should I delegate?

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Productivity Virtual Admin Services

Understanding why success is different for everyone

We’re all chasing success in one form of another but what exactly does success mean? Defining your own success means knowing what you really mean.  Everyone has a difference of opinion however the dictionary describes it as:

More often than not, the word success might bring to mind more money, a better car, a bigger house or a relationship.  Success has somehow been transformed to also mean luxury.  For us, success has many faces.

It might be that:

* You’ve just secured your first client
* You’ve sold your first product
* You’ve just managed to pay off your business loan
* You’ve managed to pay yourself this month
* You’ve crossed off that task that’s been on your to do list forever
* You’ve managed to take a well deserved day off
* You’ve had a lunch break today
* You’ve made your bed
* You’ve had your accounts done and you’re up on turnover and profit for the year

Being successful doesn’t have to mean all those fancy things previously mentioned.  Too often, we let comparison get in the way of celebrating our own successes. Success has no definite measures – everything is relative when you talk about it.

Don’t let other people define success for you – decide what success means for YOU

Just because you follow a successful business on social media, don’t try to follow their success.  What works for them might not work as well for you. Measuring yourself against another lets them define your reality.  Allow yourself the opportunity to build something that is truly meant for you and your business.   Think about some ambitious but realistic goals and reverse engineer how you might achieve those.  If your goal is too big, you might loose momentum, thinking you’ll never achieve it – but don’t forget to reach for those stars!  It’s a process to improve your success – little by little, day by day.  If it happened overnight, it would be too easy. 

We can always strive to be better – is there ever a point where you’ve really reached your limit or fulfilled your potential?

What does success look like for you?

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Creating Work / Life Balance Motivation Organisation Productivity Virtual Admin Services

Tips for Managing Stress in your Business

April 2020 is Stress Awareness Month so we thought it would be a good time to stop and think about how we run our businesses. You can have a LOT of plates spinning if your running your own business. Running 3 businesses in our case is BUSY and we work in a fast paced environment. Naturally, with this comes periods of stress but it’s important to understand how to manage that.

Establish your boundaries

Boundaries are SO important when you’re running your own business. It’s SO easy to be all consumed by work.

Know your working hours – We’ve mentioned this several times on the blog but have some defined working hours. Your customers and clients will know that you will respond to calls and emails during usual working hours. It can be far too easy to then start to answer emails at 10pm at night. Before you know it, some clients may expect this of you. It’s essential that you have down time for family, a social life, exercise and rest.

Have a defined work space – Again, something we’ve mentioned a few times! It’s important to have a set work area if you are able too. Whilst the pull of working from bed with your laptop is strong sometimes, it’s good to be able to separate this space from a ‘work place’.

Make time for YOURSELF

You can’t do ALL the things, ALL the time and you can’t pour from an empty cup – well known phrases we’ve all heard a hundred times already. Once you’ve set your boundaries and got your time managed efficiently, you should see little nuggets of time for you. It’s important that you get outside for a lunch break – even 20 minutes away from the screen will do you a world of good. Read a book, have a dance around the kitchen to your favourite song (Beyonce anyone?!), take a bath or just call a friend for a quick catch up.

Time Management

This ties in nicely with boundaries. Time can often run away with itself and before you know it, lunchtime has come round and you haven’t actually achieved anything from your to do list yet. We think the best way of planning your time is to plan ahead and make best use of your time. If doing your accounts is something you dread, look to outsource this to someone. They’ll be able to do the work in half the time you can and you’ll know it’s 100% correct. With that free time, you’ll be able to focus on another area of the business where your expertise is best placed.

Learn to say NO

This is the HARDEST of all to do but will ultimately pay off in the long run. If a client calls you with something at 5pm and you’re just about to head out to collect the children, go to a gym class or shut your computer down, it’s OK to say that you’ve finished for the day but will look at this first thing tomorrow.

It doesn’t mean that you’re a failure or that you’ve managed your time incorrectly. One of the most important phrases Emma has heard and has stuck to is ‘don’t make your emergency, my emergency’. This works particularly well if someone is disorganised and then tries to push a ton of work onto you at the last minute meaning that you’re stressed out as well.

It’s virtually impossible to remove yourself from the demands of running your own business, but that’s why it’s even more important to be aware of triggers of overwhelm and anxiety.

We hope you have found these tips helpful – you can always reach out to us to see how we can help take some of tasks away from your to do list and discuss outsourcing.

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