The story of why I do what I do to help you value your time!
Have you ever wondered why some people seem to sail effortlessly through life – looking cool, calm and collected?
Whilst others seem to be pulled in all directions, lurching from one day to the next, never getting very far?
Ever wished for more hours in the day? I know that I have!
For those of you who don’t know me, I’m part of a growing industry of Virtual Assistants in the UK.
We all come from different backgrounds, all have different skills and all have different reasons for working as a VA. But we all have one thing in common – and that’s helping people to manage their time more effectively.
We work with people who are juggling so many things that really they needn’t be doing, spinning plates and wondering where time goes. The sort of people who wish for at least one extra hour in the day.
Well, imagine that you have £86,400 placed into a bank account every day and every day you have to spend every single penny of that £86,400 otherwise you lose it, at the end of each day. That money gets wiped out of your bank account – gone forever. No getting it back! I know I’d do my hardest to use every single penny of that £86,400 before it disappeared.
Well 86,400 just happens to be the number of seconds we all get in one day. We all get exactly the same amount. And, any of that time that we don’t put to good use is wiped out every single day. We don’t get it back. It’s gone – for good!
So, why do I do what I do?
So, why do I do what I do – helping people get time back for the things they should be doing? Whether that be to further their business or to spend quality time with family and friends.
I do it because I’ve been there! I’ve been that person spinning so many plates, stuck on the hamster wheel of life. What really hits home when I look at it is a portrait of me by my daughter when she was very young.
In that picture, I’m balancing eggs on my head; one of my legs and feet are at impossible angles; I’m balancing eggs on my feet; I’m smiling, yet crying (or so I thought – in later years, my daughter corrected me by telling me the tears were in fact actually beads of sweat!); my daughter wrote at the top of the picture “Mum – You were the best in the balancing act”.
That was an observation made by her many years ago. I’m not exactly sure how old she was. I’m guessing 6 or 7. But I didn’t really stop to look at it properly. It ended up in a drawer. Meanwhile I carried on with my juggling act, balancing a stressful job managing a business centre, 24 hour callouts and running a home single-handedly, whilst trying to be the best mother I could.
It didn’t stop there. If my daughter had drawn that picture several years later, my other foot would have been spinning plates. And several years later, I’d have been doing all that standing on my head as well.
It was just a few years later, having continued to juggle everything, a few other things were added into the pot. A difficult separation and divorce, becoming a single mum, stress at work, running the home single handed, looking after my daughter, school related activities, out of school related activities, finances, fires, floods, a young puppy and a stalker… oh and a little bit of ‘me’ time when I could fit it in.
I was too busy lurching from day to day, crisis to crisis, to step back and realise I was missing the important things in life. I was living in the future… when this happens it will be better. When that happens I’ll be able to x, y or z.
But then along came the straw that broke the camel’s back moment. It was only something fairly trivial. Something that could be sorted. But not be me! I call it my ‘lampshade’ moment.
In the midst of all the above, I climbed a stepladder to change a lampshade that I’d bought when redecorating but hadn’t got round to changing. I couldn’t change it. It was completely stuck and there was no way it was coming down. I sank to the bottom of the stepladders, puppy dancing around me, and I cried. I couldn’t even change a lampshade is what was going through my head (or something a little more strongly worded!).
Such a small thing after everything I had sorted for everyone else. And it was at that very moment that I thought there must be so many people in a similar situation who just needed someone to help them. It was then that I realised my ladder had been leaning against the wrong wall. I’d gone from a high flying promising career that had taken me to London, Geneva and New York, to my life stuck in a house I didn’t particularly like in a little town in Lancashire. And it wasn’t what I’d intended for myself in any way, shape or form.
I realised I needed to get back to what I was good at doing. And that was helping other people. I also needed to value my own time and start enjoying what I did. I’d always enjoyed travel. I used to spend hours looking at a globe as a youngster plotting where I’d like to go.
I’d managed some travel with the Foreign Office, but it had all gone by the wayside through circumstances. I had wanted to spend more time with my daughter when she was born instead of taking just the statutory 12 weeks maternity leave at the time… I wanted to work from home.
The idea was quashed – by other people. How on earth would that work they asked? It was before the days of internet and mobile phones. But if I’d listened to my gut instinct, I’d probably have been one of the first Virtual Assistants in the UK. I’d always enjoyed time outdoors; I wanted a dog; I wanted to dance.
So, the travel was ticked off, I’d got myself a puppy, so that was ticked off, and I started to dance – not the ballet or tap I’d wanted to do as a youngster! But I was dancing. But the most important thing was, I was beginning to learn to value my time and to start spending it doing the things I enjoyed doing. I had a few other things on my list at the time, and I’ve since done them. But most importantly of all, I freed myself of the things I didn’t enjoy and released the time to develop a business I get great pleasure out of.
Think about how you spend your time
So, I’d urge anyone to think about how they spend their time. Think about the value of it – not just in monetary terms – but in terms also of your own time, spending time with special people. What would you miss if it were no longer there?
Think about how that time could be better spent. Outsource things you don’t like – ironing perhaps, gardening, book-keeping, cleaning, web design, admin. The list is endless. Don’t have regrets. Don’t miss out on the special things. That two hours of ironing or watching the TV – how much is that worth in your own chargeable time? Quite an eye opener!
I have two regrets – not spending more time with my daughter as she was growing up. And not listening to my gut instinct and starting my business all those years ago which would have allowed me to. Just as a final thought – the portrait did come out of the drawer and took pride of place framed and on the wall – reminding me of how precious time is and why I now do what I do!
Happy Mother’s Day!