Comfort Zone, Hot Tips, Solopreneur, Travel

Traveling and Working Remotely as a Virtual Assistant

girl-with-travel-bag

Tomorrow I leave my bedroom office and take my work satchel with me for 5 weeks.

This is one of my “why’s” for leaving Corporate – because I need more than two weeks per year to get out of Las Vegas. I’ve left for a weekend here and there, but this will be awhile – so here are a few of the things that I’m making sure I have to get my work done over there!

A nice big personal carry-on item

The standard measure measurement for a personal item is 9 inches x 10 inches x 17 inches, or 22 cm x 25 cm x 43 cm.

This needs to be big enough to safely store and protect your laptop, your neatly wrapped cords (note: do NOT just throw cords in a bag. Use the little Velcro strap to safely wrap. I have had wires and connectors stop working from being squished and banged around in a personal bag), and your wireless mouse. Try and have a little pouch for your mouse to protect it and keep it free from dust and debris. Also your external hard drive and a Mophie. Don’t forget a power converter depending on where you’re traveling to.

Fossil Bag available on Amazon

I my go-to purse is a small to medium crossbody bag that will easily fit within my personal carry-on bag. That’s how I’ve always managed to get both a purse and a personal item onboard, not to mention my rollerboard.

Try not to have more than 3 files if possible in your computer bag if you can help it. The goal of being virtual is to have everything on your computer, so less paper = less weight and less bulk.

A good VPN

A VPN, or Virtual Private Network is good for a couple of reasons: One, it protects and encrypts your work. Especially if you are using internet cafes or public Wi-Fi. Second, some countries will not allow you to access certain sites. Some American sites will not allow users from certain countries to access their sites. The VPN allows you to look like you are logging in from wherever it is you want to look like you’re logging in from. No matter where I’m traveling, my VPN allows me to log in from San Francisco. This is something you need to have up and running before you travel, fo because you may be unable to access it once you are overseas depending on the laws of the country you are visiting. I use Strong VPN and have had no problems with it for over 3 years.

Lots of Skype Credit

Part of my job as a Virtual Assistant is making phone calls – I will still need to do this on the road. So far the least expensive and least hassle-free way to call Land Lines and Mobile Phones seems to be Skype. I can call North America for $6.99 per month or $0.03 per minute. There may be other avenues to try but this seems the easiest to me.

Miscellaneous

Lots of pens, your business cards, a mini-stapler, and any office supplies you use on a regular basis.

I always bring a face mask just in case I’m sitting next to Typhoid Mary. Seriously, I became very sick with the flu once. All because of a coughing, nose-blowing passenger I had to sit shoulder to shoulder with for 4 hours in coach. Now I travel with a face mask, just in case.

Moisturizer! For your face, lip balm or gloss to keep your lips silky, and hand cream or body lotion for everywhere else.  You can become a fossil on those long-haul flights without it!

Everybody is individual about their go-to items for working on the go but these are some off the top of my head. I would love to hear what you can’t live without as you roam around while working. Thanks for reading and see you on the other side of the Atlantic!

Anxiety, Comfort Zone, Empowerment, Hot Tips, Procrastination, Wellness

5 Hacks to Escape Procrastination

Jim-hunt-procrastination
Procrastination has the power to keep you from enjoying and succeeding in your life and career.

It robs you of positive self-esteem. Left unchecked, it can derail your intentions and aspirations.

Here are 5 easy hacks to overcome excessive procrastination in your life that you can start using today.

1. It’s OK to be OK.

Many folks who endulge in procrastination (myself included) get hung up on “I can’t do it unless I can do it perfectly.” Liken this to taking a test in school – the student may think to herself, “I can’t get an A on this test, so I refuse to do it.” This choice results in an F on the test. On the other hand, she might more rationally think to herself, “I know I’m not going to do well on this test but I’ll give it my best shot.” This decision usually results in being average. Would you rather have a C or an F on that test? Sometimes we just need to give ourselves permission to give a C performance.

Megan Bruneau, writing for Forbes Magazine says, “Because we have unrealistically, inflexibly high expectations for ourselves, we feel overwhelmed and paralyzed. We don’t want to make a mistake or screw up. One of the easiest ways to prevent perfectionism-related procrastination is to aim for “good enough”–75% or 80%. You know that saying “Perfect is the enemy of good?” Truth: If every time I sat down to write an article, I tried to write THE BEST article I’ve ever written, I’d never produce a thing. Aiming for “good enough” empowers me to actually press the Publish button. “ 

“Done is better than perfect.” — Sheryl Sandberg

2. Schedule deadline reminders.

If you know something is due on Friday, plug several reminders during the week into your smart phone or planner. This will remind you to get started, or to schedule time to work on it.

If necessary, schedule several reminders for each day leading up to the deadline. Tell yourself in advance you’re only allowed to ignore one of those reminders.  Then hold yourself accountable to act on the rest. You may surprise yourself and actually finish ahead of schedule.

Wouldn’t finishing early feel great?

3. Get some fresh air.

Often the culprits at the heart of procrastination are that we’re mentally fatigued, bored or unmotivated to continue working — or even to start a difficult task. Research shows us that taking a walk outdoors, looking at plants and trees, breathing deeply, listening to birds, or even children playing in the playground has the power to help us regain alertness and mental clarity. It enables us to regain focus when we get back to our office. According to a University of Michigan study, psychology researchers “found memory performance and attention spans improved by 20 percent after people spent an hour interacting with nature.”

Lifehack.org states that “Science has shown that going out into the wild and enjoying nature can double or even triple your brain activity and get your creative juices flowing. Set work aside when you feel overwhelmed with a task and get something like a twenty minute walk or so outdoors. It will do you a lot of good, boost your fitness levels, and strengthen your willpower to get stalled projects moving again.”

4. The Old-Fashioned Pros and Cons List.

You already know how to do this.

What are the pros to my procrastinating this activity? I can watch more TV. I can surf Facebook longer.

What are the cons? I will feel more anxiety. I may sleep poorly tonight  worrying about it.

What are the pros to getting it done? I will feel like a burden has been lifted from my shoulders. I will feel better about myself.

Cons of getting this done? That’s funny – I can’t think of any cons for getting it done.

5. Reward your successes.

Procrastinators often don’t allow themselves rewards. This ties into the perfectionism trap – “If I didn’t do something perfectly, why should I deserve a reward?”

Throw that idea out the window! Just getting through a challenging activity, no matter how small, is a big win. Treat it as such – whether writing it in a journal, or on your whiteboard or on a steno pad, make a list of all your accomplishments during the week. Sort of a post-to-do list. Give yourself a pat on the back, or a bubble bath or treat yourself to whatever activity makes you really happy. Indulge yourself when you accomplish something you really didn’t want to do.

Dale Carnegie said,

“Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Be hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.”

Be kind to yourself – give yourself some credit!

By approaching tough and/or dreaded tasks a little differently, you can change negative behaviors into good habits that will serve you in positive ways and put you on the path to success in all that you do.

Thank you for reading and I would love to hear any tips and tricks you may have to share for overcoming the urge to procrastinate.

One more alternative to getting past unwanted but necessary tasks is to delegate them to a competent Virtual Assistant. Find out more about the services and packages I can assist you with here.

 

Comfort Zone, Solopreneur, Travel

A Solopreneur Needs a Travel-Savvy Virtual Assistant

Are you a solopreneur who is on the road a lot?

When you’re a solopreneur, who takes care of your customers and clients when you’re traveling?

woman-in-airport

Getting Help

Do you need someone to hold down the fort while you’re away? You would likely feel more comfortable with a seasoned admin professional who:

  • Has worked in the airline and travel industry
  • Has been heavily involved in travel arrangement, event prep and registration
  • Delivers highly rated Customer Service (see my LinkedIn profile!)
  • Is an experienced long-haul flight traveler, with lots of tips and tricks up her sleeve to make  your flight more pleasant!

I am that person. Allow me to help you affordably with:

  • Travel research. Finding you the most convenient flights and lodging with your budget in mind. Whether you’re looking for a high-end hotel, a comfortable AirBNB room or something in between, I can assist with that.
  • Make sure your shuttle arrangements to and from your destination are in order.
  • Reserve your rental car with or without GPS.
  • I help with little details like researching cellphone requirements, weather reports, and local attractions at your destination as well as local restaurants and internet cafes. Need reservations made? I can do that.

While you’re away, I can:

  • Take your calls and messages. Follow up with clients. Engage on your social media.
  • Take care of other important administrative tasks that need doing while you’re away from your desk.

man-and-taxi

Don’t go it alone!

A solopreneur does not have to do everything themselves. You’re not alone! Put your mind at ease by delegating travel arrangement and client care to a capable Virtual Assistant. That’s me!

Comfort Zone, Empowerment, Introvert, Networking

In-Person Networking for Beginners… especially for Introverts! Part One

One of the best ways to find new clients is to attend networking events in your local area. Sounds easy enough, right? You find a Meetup.com event, you sign up, you attend. No big deal. What if you are an introvert who struggles in social settings, especially when you don’t know a soul? For me, the anticipation of stepping into a room with lots of vivacious, chatty people makes my chest feel tight, makes my awkward meter feels like it’s going to go through the roof, and for some crazy reason I feel like cotton-mouth sets in and that I’m going to trip all over my tongue. So why do I put myself through this?

Let me tell you why.

One, the obvious. The more eyeballs I can get in front of and the more people I can connect with, the better chance I have of finding that person who is interested in what I have to offer. Facebook is great, reaching out to people online is a viable option, but connecting with someone face to face is a great start to developing a relationship with somebody. You can get a much better feel as to whether or not you “click” with this person – and whether or not it’s someone you’d like to get to know better , even if they don’t become one of your customers. They may never become a client, but they may become a friend.

Another reason – these people get “it”. They understand all about this crazy thing we do when we quit a reliable job and a steady income. Instead of looking at you with a raised eyebrow, they can be your biggest cheerleaders. Verbal high fives and encouraging comments flow freely in these meetings. It’s like you’ve just discovered your new tribe, that until now, hadn’t realized was out there. In my brief experience of attending networking meetings, people are universally supportive of new entrepreneurs who have made the leap from full-time employment to becoming our own bosses.

So back to my tight chest, cotton-mouth and awkward meter… how do I get around that?

So far my drive to these events have been a minimum of 20 minutes – that car drive is my own private little locker room where I give myself my own pep talk. I turn the radio off, I practice my elevator pitch, I repeat affirmations, whatever it takes to get myself in a more self-confident frame of mind. For some this comes naturally, and for others, like me – it requires some effort but self-confidence can be learned!

Another thing I have found is when I get there a bit early, only a few people have arrived. I feel a little less overwhelmed when the group is small and the atmosphere is calmer and less noisy. I can settle in a little better, and get over those initial butterflies (and they do dissipate, I promise!) than when I show up late and arrive to a deafening chattiness level.

Something else that has really helped is inevitably, there is always somebody who is standing alone, and often it’s somebody who is there for the first time. I muster the courage to approach that person first. More often than not, they are new and I think they’re relieved that somebody else made the first move. When I focus on others, it helps me to forget about my own self-consciousness.

As far as the cotton-mouth problem, I solved that after my first couple of events by making sure I ALWAYS have my water bottle with me. I’m sure it’s just nerves, but by bringing my own drink, it’s one less thing I have to worry about.  And when I do give my elevator pitch, I’ve learned if I slow down just a little, I’m less likely to trip over my words. I try to remember that if I do stumble, my own impression of my flub is magnified x 100 compared to the people who are listening. I promise you they are not sitting there criticizing every verbal morsel that leaves your lips. I know this because a girl I was sitting next to lamented on how badly she did and I honestly thought she did fine. I didn’t pick up on any of the things she was so worried about. If nothing else, this helped me to see that we can over-inflate our shortcomings in our minds.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of In-Person Networking for Beginners… especially for Introverts!

Comfort Zone, Empowerment

Empowerment in doing Guy Stuff

As a wife and a mom of 3 sons, I have rarely had to concern myself with mechanical things.

There was usually an available male to take care of that for me.

Fast forward to my empty nest and a husband who is currently 8,000+ miles away and it’s time to get my left brain on and build myself an office chair.
new chair parts_Fotor
No big deal, right? For someone with my lack of mechanical talent, it’s very empowering to be able to do this myself. Not to mention that my $10.00, 40-pound behemoth scavenged from Deseret Industries was giving me severe NBS (Numb-Butt-Syndrome) and attacking the backs of my calves with that big metal ring… they may be semi-permanently bruised…

Anyway, building my Amazon Basics Low-Back Office Chair was relatively painless. In less than 30 minutes I had opened the box and built the chair. I’d been kind of procrastinating and staring at the carton for the past week and now I feel kind of silly about that. It’s really comfortable, my butt isn’t falling asleep anymore (Yay!) and it has 4.5 stars on Amazon Prime (522 reviews) so I’m pretty confident it’s going to be a great chair. It’s lightweight and spins really smoothly. No tools necessary – it includes the hex wrench which is the only tool you need.

Not to go quietly, Big Behemoth gave me one last little poke right in the shin as I was dragging him down the stairs to the curb. Hopefully he can induce buttock numbness on someone else for awhile.

old chair_Fotor

Just a little leap out of the comfort zone today but it almost always feels good once it’s finished. I’d love to hear about your comfort zone off-ramp experiences!