27 October 2018

On to the next task...

The way I work is to get things off my plate as soon as possible and move on to the next task.  The problem is it is now filed in the back burner of my mind.  It is still hovering in the background somewhere, but I've completed the work, done whatever I needed to do with it and diarized whatever needed to be diarized and moved on until I need to know it again.  My boss may come out a month or so later and ask me questions about it and sometimes my mind initially draws a blank.  I need a minute to go back and check and then I am completely up to speed again.

I find with the volume of work admins deal with throughout the day, week and month, we need some system to keep things straight.  For me, the thing that helps is to document everything .  I put items in my calendar as a reminder, but the problem with calendar reminders is unless you know which day you put it on or what you named it, you can't easily find it. 

For each meeting or event, I create what I call a meeting sheet.  Most everything I do as an admin revolves around meetings. I'm either organizing a meeting or responding to someone else about my boss's availability.  When I receive an email relating to a meeting, I create a meeting sheet and cut and paste the email in there and make any relevant notes.  If I put a reminder in the calendar, I note the date on the meeting sheet.  If I am waiting to hear back from someone, that is documented as well.  It started out that the meeting sheet was just for my information, but now I use it as a filing of sorts about each meeting.
This system keeps me straight.  I know others who keep folders in their Outlook account and drag and drop emails that have to do with a particular meeting.  Whichever way you do it, you need a way to keep track because ultimately your boss will come back and ask where you are at with a meeting or want to know the background of how they got where they are.

I do the same for all my tasks.  I document what I need to do, I document what I've done so far and I document what I need to do to get me to the end.  This way I'll never forget and can come back at any time to see my progress.

13 October 2018

Introducing Boomerang Virtual Assistants

I finally launched my new website and am open for business.  If you want to take a peek here is my URL address Boomerangvirtualassistants.com

It's very exciting!  Sometimes you just have to do it and quit trying to figure everything out.  My esthetician, who opened her own shop about a year ago, said she is learning the business side as she goes.  Of course you need to know the basics, but some things you really do learn on the go. 

I have the right resources to help me along: a bookkeeper to handle that part of the business.  My website is hosted on another platform so I have the security of being under someone else's umbrella and they have to do all the security work.  I bought a new computer and subscribed to a plan for IT support so I have an IT person at my beck and call.  I upgraded to the professional package offered by Dropbox so I can receive documents and recordings (I was already running out of space).  So I think I have all those bases covered. 

I am hoping my niche will set me apart from the rest.  We are a group of Baby Boomers who are not quite ready to retire (hence the name Boomerang) so we have a lot of experience to offer.  What I can't do or don't have time to do, the others can.

What we are offering is administrative services, but also minute taking.  Many people don't like taking minutes, but I do, so I am hoping that will help us stand out.  I also prepare electronic meeting packages using Adobe Acrobat Pro and have had many compliments over the years on the ease of using it so I hope to market that as well.  We also offer other services like travel arrangements, email management, meeting scheduling and all the regular admin services, but there are some things we don't do.  We don't want to get involved in any kind of budget work, social media help, graphic design and things like that.  It's just not our thing.  That is when I refer them to another virtual assistant service.  I think I'll need to get to know my virtual neighbours better. 

Thought I'd share. 

Have a great weekend all!

8 October 2018

Having an assistant

Recently, my sister (a long-time assistant) retired.  We were doing some work together and because she knew how busy I was at my day job, she immediately took over and started to do the small tasks she knew I didn't have time to do.  I appreciated all over again how nice it can be to have an assistant, and not only an assistant, but a very experienced one.  I didn't have to worry about a thing because I knew she was taking care of it.  It took a real burden off my shoulders.  Unfortunately, this arrangement will be short lived, but it did remind me again how important our role can be.

I have also seen what it is like when it doesn't work.  If a boss and their admin are not communicating expectations, that can create more work for both of them.  It is important that you both know what the other does and where the assistant can take over and the boss can leave it.  This way it can work beautifully.

For instance, I have a flagging system with my boss for her emails.  If I have handled it, I put a checkmark so she knows I have done whatever I need to do and she can just read it for information knowing it is being taken care of.  If it is an item she needs to read, I flag it for her and wait to see what her instructions will be.  She usually cc's me on the email when she replies and then I get to work on whatever it is she wants me to do.

This system has been working well, but it took awhile for her to catch on.  At first she was replying to a lot of the emails I had already handled.  Thankfully, we were saying the same thing, but I needed to reiterate a few times that I was handling it.  I think she finally got it because the last time I was in her office, she mentioned she saw the checkmark beside it so knew I was handling it.  It sometimes takes awhile for your boss to really have trust that the work is being taken care of and will be done, but if you are consistent, over time they will see you are on it.

It also depends on your boss.  My previous boss had no problem handing over things to me and expected I would have the work done.  I don't think it ever crossed his mind I wouldn't do it.  His expectation actually helped me to be focused when going through his emails to ensure I handled whatever I needed to.  Having a one-on-one meeting afterwards, was always a good way I could catch him up on the things I had done and where we were at.  Communication and consistency are key.  As your boss gets used to the new working arrangement, things will go smoother.

I also find we have a role to play to help our bosses have more confidence that the job will be handled appropriately.  If my boss asks me to do something, I write it down as she is telling me.  She can see that I am writing it down and that helps her to have confidence that it won't be forgotten.  Sometimes I will repeat it back to her to satisfy myself that I have it right, but also to help her to know I have it right.  If there is a misunderstanding, that will be a good time to clear it up and get on the same page.

I also ask questions if I don't fully understand what she wants me to do.  Don't say you understand, if you don't.  Sometimes you may think you understand, but when you get back to your desk and start the task, you have more questions.  Never be afraid to ask questions.  This will also give them confidence that you understand the task.  Of course, it is always good to go into a meeting with all your questions in one meeting rather than asking here and there, but at times you need to ask to make sure you are doing what is required.

When the assistant/boss relationship is working, it can be great!