SJW Virtual PA Blog

Beat the Procrastination Monster with the help of a Virtual Assistant!

Published March 5, 2018

It’s Monday morning and you have a mountain of tasks to perform. Are you raring to go or inwardly dreading the distractions you will face? Do you feel the familiar procrastination monster stalking you, scrambling your thoughts and stealing time out of your day? Is he luring you into LinkedIn, other social networks, unplanned conversations or answering a random bunch of emails continuously clogging up your inbox? If at home perhaps he is tempting you to unload the dishwasher or put on the kettle for another coffee? It’s time to face the procrastination Monster! Don’t let him sabotage your day!

There is no doubt about it. Procrastination will make you unproductive. YouGov’s well-known ‘Great British Procrastination Report’ survey of 2000 Britons revealed we each waste on average up to 3 hours a day procrastinating, losing 55 days a year. With ever-increasing online distractions, the problem can only get worse.

25 years a VA in the busy Pharmaeuticals sector, my PA and Virtual Assistance business, SJW Virtual PA Services, helps you manage your workload. Whether I am talking to a Manager in a larger company or the Owner of a small business, I listen and calmly forward-plan how we can manage a long list of tasks on that ‘to-do’ list. I will help you with those office activities which eat up your time. I can book meetings, manage diaries, organise events, do presentation support, purchasing and a whole range of other support activities. Then you can focus on keeping customers happy and your business growing and going in the right direction!

So here are 5 tried and tested ways you can beat procrastination to be more productive.

1) Face the challenges head on. Don’t lose sight of your wider goals. Work out your key priorities. Chunk them down and create a business and/or marketing plan (however simple) to keep them top of mind.

2) Be deliberate and write a list. Break your objectives into monthly, quarterly, weekly and daily tasks. Think ahead, writing your daily ‘to do’ list the day before. Mine covers everything I need to do (even what I will be wearing) so I can hit the ground running! You can use pen and paper or Apps like Trello, Wonderlist and Evernote to keep you on track.

3) Don’t be overwhelmed. Don’t get sabotaged by the Procrastination Monster! Only list the daily tasks you can realistically do. Give yourself buffer time to manage emails, interruptions, business development and networking in a structured way, with timeslots for every task.

4) Focus on your core business priorities. Make sure these are aligned with work which generates money. Put the worst items at the top and feel a sense of achievement as you tick them off!

5) Consider outsourcing tasks which divert you from revenue generation. A Virtual Assistant might be able to offload routine tasks more cost effectively and up to three times quicker, creating more hours in your working day.

Finally, just do it! There is no time like the present. Beat the Procrastination Monster and #getitoffyourToDoList. I am always here to support you if you need that extra pair of hands!


Tips for an organised workspace

Published January 7, 2018

January is a good time to think about decluttering your workspace and increase your productivity.

Being cluttered can have a negative psychological effect on us. It can make us feel anxious, confused and guilty. Frustration kicks in when we can’t find what we’re looking for and we end up feeling stressed.

So, what can we do to help ourselves?

The first step is to accept that you’re in a muddle. It can be an overwhelming thought, but once you’ve made the decision to declutter, you’re on the road to increase your productivity. Secondly, block time in your diary to declutter and start to plan - have a think about your new systems and places to keep things and have a bin bag at the ready. Plan with a small project like clearing your desk, or clearing out one drawer at a time. When clearing your items, decide if you need to keep them… If you don’t, get rid of them straight away and don’t fall into the trap of moving things from one place to the next.

Loose papers – these are often the worst offenders. Try and review these quickly – don’t spend too much time reading everything as you will run out of time. Put them into 3 piles, one to throw, one for reference and one for action. Consider scanning the papers you need to keep and storing them electronically.

Reading material – you will end up with a pile of magazines to review and papers for reference. Block out time in your diary to read these (I try and do this every 2 or 3 weeks). Cut out magazine articles and keep in a “reading pile” and save email articles into a “reading file” in your emails to get them out of your in-box. Make yourself accountable!

Post-It Notes – do you have loads of post-it notes everywhere but don’t want to throw them away? Why not consider using the sticky notes on your computer instead? It’s a great way of keeping those small notes in one place.

Stationery – do you really need it all on your desk? Put it in a drawer and try to keep your desk as clear as you can.

Business Cards - consider if you need to hold on to these. If you have the information electronically, you probably don’t need these. But if you do, keep them in a business card file or box, so that you can find them easily.

HAPPY DECLUTTERING – It’s really not as bad as you may think. I'd love to know how you get on!

Come and chat to me if you think my business can help yours. I am always here to help. #getitoffyourToDoList #justdoit #admin


Lighten the load in the countdown to year end with a Virtual Assistant!

Published October 12, 2017

Autumn’s here! Summer is a distant dream. Bonfire night, Christmas and New Year are just around the corner. Dark, wintry nights are drawing in. Days are short for chasing up and closing business during this last most hectic quarter of the year.

It’s now my clients ask me to clean up and clear out a heap of admin tasks which sometimes sabotage their time. Then they can focus on pleasing clients and closing the books on a fruitful year. This is how I help to keep their house in order and their garden looking lovely.

1.   Gathering in the fruits of your labour. A Virtual Assistant (VA) can help you gather and log receipts, reducing the risk of late tax return penalties and last minute panic. Or chase any outstanding payments you are due.

2.   Battening down the hatches. As days grow cooler, garden furniture must be tidied away or secured and tender plants and water features covered. Equally a VA can tend to a variety of routine tasks like purchasing and invoicing before they grow unwieldy and drag into the New Year.

3.   Event planning. As the clocks go back and begin ticking on social and business events, alarm bells may ring! Stay calm by letting a VA plan ahead, book venues, send invitations and manage personal diaries for shows and events.

4.   Pruning, composting and cutting back. Use a VA to trim and control overgrown back office tasks before the frosts arrive. Proof-reading, research, data entry and diary management can all be delegated in no time at all.

5.   Collecting and planting seeds and bulbs for future growth. Take stock and look forward. Let a VA maintain your back office while you plan for success in 2018.

As winter approaches, don’t put your plans on ice, with a backlog of routine work to do. Let a VA free up time for revenue-generating activities. Then you can celebrate the festive season knowing that your business is growing, your house is in order and everything in the garden is lovely.

Come and chat to me if you think my business can help yours. I am always here to help. #getitoffyourToDoList #justdoit #admin


Grow your business with a Virtual Assistant this Summer!

Published July 12, 2017

The summer’s finally here. We’re dreaming of warm, sunny days and downtime with family and friends. However, this time of year, work is not always a picnic or a walk in the park. The clients of my VA business, SJW Virtual PA Services, have much to do before they go on holiday. They’re covering colleagues on leave, unable to get sign offs until they return. With a Virtual Personal Assistant’s support, they can manage their business like a Summer Garden, doing groundwork for growth to come.

I launched my PA and Virtual Assistance business last year to help smaller businesses tackle a long list of tasks on their ‘to-do’ list, taking back control. I manage the back-end office work, so they’re free to stretch, grow and enjoy doing more of what they love.

So how can a Virtual Assistant help you this Summer?

1) Essential maintenance whilst your team is on vacation. The phone might be ringing off the hook and your inbox filling up. But I’ll help you manage emails, diaries and arranging meetings.

2) Pruning back tasks you perennially put off. From chasing bills to keeping expenses up to date, updating customers and getting quotes out of the door. I’ll free you from unruly admin tasks you don’t have time to do.

3) Sowing seeds for future growth. I’ll help you plan ahead for 2017’s last busy quarter. I’ll be your extra pair of hands, updating contact lists, providing presentation support and helping you organise future events, presentations and campaigns. Then you will have strong, healthy roots to endure those cold, dark winter days.

Summer will soon be over. Make the most of this golden, mellow time before the Christmas countdown begins. Sit in the shade, watch your garden grow and taste the sweet fruits of your labour. Come and chat to me, if you think my business can help yours. I am always here to help. #getitoffyourToDoList #justdoit #admin.


My first year in business; 5 important lessons I have learned

Published April 12, 2017

I love the Spring. New shoots are pushing through. We are getting longer, brighter days. Everything feels fresh, fragrant and new. Last Spring, I planted the seeds of a new career as a business owner of SJW Virtual PA Services and now I am celebrating my first birthday.

So why did I decide to boldly leave a comfortable job to begin a new chapter as a business owner? After 25 years as a PA primarily in the fast-paced Pharmaceuticals sector, I wanted to branch out on my own. I wanted to free smaller businesses from feeling overwhelmed by a mountain of routine administrative tasks. By managing the backend of their businesses, my Virtual PA service gives them back time in their working week to stretch and grow.

So what have I learned in this challenging first year? Whether starting up or thinking of taking the leap, this is my checklist of do’s and don’ts which might also help you on your personal journey.

1. Do dig in and do the groundwork. In time you will reap the benefits of your hard work.

2. Do be prepared to work longer hours when needed to, whilst still enjoying downtime. There is a time and season for everything.

3. Don’t be completely self-sufficient and join a network. I joined Athena, a network of fabulous women business owners who’ve support me every step of my exhilarating journey!

4. Do spend time building trusted relationships. Go the extra mile for people and they will appreciate you and refer you to others who might need your services.

5. Do what you love doing and outsource time consuming tasks you put on the back burner. I recently engaged an Accountant who can look after my tax return. Her helpful advice on offsetting some of my start-up costs saves me time I can use to help more clients.

Spring will soon be over so make sure you enjoy this magical time of new beginnings. Here’s to new beginnings and growth in our businesses for many months to come! I want to thank all my wonderful business owner friends and clients for helping me on my start-up journey.

I would love to share experiences over a cup of tea or have a free no-obligation chat if you think my business could support yours. I am always here to help.


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