As is often the case, January has whooshed by like a stoked-up Snowpiercer through the mountains. 

That’s one month down. A twelfth of the year gone already. Eight per cent of 2022 you’ll never get back. 

You may have had a brilliant start to the year as a professional assistant. If so, well done. 

How will you reward yourself? 

On the other hand, you may have found January a bit of a letdown. Perhaps it has delivered a slow start. Perhaps it’s not delivered the work, projects or results you had hoped for. 

If that’s the case, you’re probably not alone.  

January can be a tough month.  

We’ve all only just finished a challenging 2021. Despite some encouraging signs there also remains uncertainty about the year ahead. 

If January has felt like a bit of a letdown, it could be down to one or more reasons. 

Here are seven of the most common reasons and what to do about them to give your February a kickstart. 

Lack of Vision Power 

Do you have a clear vision for yourself, your purpose on this planet and how you would like your life to be? 

Without one, there can be less motivation, inspiration and incentive to get up and do the work necessary to make that vision a reality. 

Your vision is the big picture thinking. 

Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world”. That is about having a higher purpose and understanding what difference we want to make. 

What is your dream? Your ambition? How do you want to serve the world? 

When you have a clear, strong vision it gives you a meaningful picture and a foundation for what needs to happen. 

Create that vision. Make it stronger. 

Be bold. Push the limits. Use your imagination. Dare to dream.  

As you’re doing this, the vision should excite you. Until it does, you’re not quite there. 

Poor Plan, No Plan 

Once you have a vision, it’s time to make a plan. 

I’ve talked about the Art of Planning before and how important it is. 

One of the reasons goals, targets and outcomes fail to materialise is down to poor planning – or zero planning. 

There may be moments when you can wing it. 

But for longer-term success, clarity about how you are going to achieve your vision and latest goals is key. 

List what needs to get done. Break down large projects into smaller chunks. Work out what you can do in the time frame. 

What do you need to do this quarter? What does that mean for your activity in February? What tasks do you need to complete in the next seven days? 

Whether it’s in a diary, calendar, notebook or on your computer – get it down. 

A good plan will guide you along the way to success. 

Un-Smart Goals  

Another possible reason, if January has been a bit of a letdown for you, is around goals. 

Without goals, you don’t really have anything to aim for. You only have a general sense of direction. 

Smart-thinking assistants will set goals. And those goals should be SMART. 

You may have heard this said so many times you are bored of it. But the reason people like me keep talking about it is because it works. 

If goals are vague they don’t hold much value. 

Make your goals specific. Make them measurable – so you know whether you’ve achieved them.  

A goal should be achievable and realistic. It can be challenging or a stretch. Just don’t make it ‘mission impossible’. 

And, of course, there should be a time limit or deadline for each goal. By when will you aim to achieve it? 

If you’ve not set any goals, get setting. If you set yourself goals for January but fell short, review what got in the way of success.  

And reset for February. 

Productivity 

If January was a particularly busy month for you, you may have achieved some goals but fallen short on others. 

That could have been down to a lack of productivity. 

Was working from home a distraction? Did being in an office make you feel uncomfortable? Was your home ‘office’ or work area not set up right? 

Was the problem procrastination with a specific task, perhaps one that you find challenging every time you face it? Many people feel that way about doing their annual tax return. 

Was the issue more about jobs taking much longer than you would have liked? Were you stuck on how to do a task using Microsoft Office? Did you have to look up how to do it or just finish the job more slowly?  

That suggests there is a skills gap – and the solution is online training

Skills Gap 

Not being able to get things done or taking ‘ages’ to complete a task may be down to not knowing how to do it – or how to do it efficiently. 

The savvy assistant knows how valuable their time is. 

Efficiency, productivity and performance are important – whether you’re serving a boss or clients. 

Microsoft Office and 365 provide the tools to carry out all your essential tasks. 

The smart-thinking assistant would ensure they know how to use them. Wise up on Word. Excel at Excel. Perfect your PowerPoint. Freshen up your Outlook. Tame Microsoft Teams

When you are confident rather than competent in using all the tools, it allows you to perform better. 

A good way to be in that position is to have the right training across the Microsoft suite of applications. My version of that is called The Hub

When you can complete tasks faster to a high standard, it frees up time for you to spend how you wish. That could create room to take on a new project or client. 

And, of course, the better your performance the higher your value. This means you can charge more for your services and give your career a lift. 

Life Gets in the Way 

When things don’t go the way we would like, it’s easy to make excuses rather than find the real reasons. 

But it’s also true that we’re all human beings. 

And sometimes life does ‘get in the way’. There may have been an unexpected event or unforeseen circumstance that prevented you from making January the start you wanted. 

It could have been down to your own ill health – or sickness in the family. Perhaps you were homeschooling. Maybe your child had an accident or an elderly relative needed support. 

There are many ways life can get in the way of performance and results.  

We don’t know what’s around the corner so building in some contingency time into each month might be worthwhile. 

Other than that, having the energy and resilience to get through the challenges of each week is important. 

Energy and Mindset 

Being professional. Starting a business. Running a business. Development and growth. 

It all takes time and energy. 

Without proper sleep, good exercise and the right refreshment we can feel tired, lethargic or lazy. 

It’s good to take notice of how your mind and body are feeling each day. 

Productivity and success also require focus and commitment. If your mind is not on it or your heart is not in it some days, that can affect your ability to reach your goals. 

There are plenty of coaches who can help you with your mindset, mindfulness and motivation. There are experts who can assist with diet and exercise. 

If it’s gaining more confidence with Microsoft Office that’s on your mind, there’s always the 1:1 option with me. 

Kickstart February 

It’s time to put January behind you. 

If you had a great month, build on that this month. 

If things didn’t go so well, review what happened. Look for the learning points and changes you can make to kickstart February and your 2022. 

I find Shelley’s training easy to follow and the very best thing is that you can do it all at your own pace and revisit modules if it doesn’t quite sink in the first time round! I have learned so much from her training and continue to do so! She is responsive to my questions and I learn something new with each module. I find Iam hardly ever having to Google or YouTube information now, so it really is saving me time in my work day. Time that can be better used by learning more about the business I operate in!
Thanks Shelley!

Tracey Whitehouse – Executive Assistant

I have been following Shelley on Linkedin for several years, and always loved her hints and tips. In May of this year, I had the opportunity to recommend Shelley as one of our workshop speakers at the annual HMC Heads’ PA Conference in Sheffield.

On receiving the brief Shelley quickly produced content for two IT Microsoft Skills Workshops covering nuggets from Outlook, Word and Excel. Shelley then delivered (virtually) these two fantastic workshops to over 60 PAs at our conference.

From initial enquiry to delivery Shelley is the consummate professional and it was my pleasure to have had the opportunity to engage with her.

I would have no hesitation in recommending Shelley to any individual or group.

Michaela Fletcher – Heads PA

Shelley is THE guru on all things Microsoft.

I love Outlook, use it every day, and think I have a pretty good understanding of it. But every time I attend one of her sessions I learn a lot more. Her knowledge is remarkable. And she delivers her knowledge in a really clear, engaging way.

Thanks Shelley

Kathy Soulsby

I have just spent less than an hour at one of Shelley’s presentations and my mind is truly blown! I thought I was fairly proficient in Outlook, but I had no idea it could do so much more! So many time saving tips and shortcuts to help me – I can’t wait to get stuck in and implement them all! Thank you Shelley – I would highly recommend!

Hayley Rose – Executive Assistant -Dalcour Maclaren

Shelley joined us for the annual HMC Heads’ PAs conference in May 2023, where she delivered two hands-on practical IT skills workshops for over 60 PAs in attendance. Both sessions were warmly received by all participants, and from a personal perspective it was an absolute pleasure for me to work with Shelley both offline in the extensive prep phase ahead of the sessions, and online during the day itself – sharp in subject knowledge, flexible in content delivery and everything executed with a really affable manner and “can-do” approach throughout. I would recommend her services wholeheartedly.

Gareth Johnson – Leader GRE Education

Heads PA Conference

The session was well structured and the explanation was very clear. It was amazing how Shelley managed to squeeze so much info in just one hour and a half! Colin’s support and contributions were also very valuable, and so were “Virtual Veronica”‘s. Thank you for a most interesting and useful training session at the Miss Jones Virtual Summit!

Laura Carizzo- Royal Norwegian Embassy in Argentina

I haven’t used PowerPoint in 20 years, this has really boosted my confidence.

Lyn Parker

Course is packed with so much valuable information in a easy-to-understand and follow language, even for a complete beginner. I can respect the fact that sometimes it’s very hard for an expert to break the information down to basics. but Shelley has done it brilliantly. I was sure that I knew quite a bit but Shelley has proven me wrong even at the very beginning of the basics of PowerPoint. Lessons are short and precise which allowed me to easily transfer the new skill into practice without being overwhelmed and to carry on adding on more with each lesson. I had so many ‘Aha!’ moments and for most of them I couldn’t believe I used to pay graphic designer to do it for me, now, thanks to Shelley, I am looking forward to creating, designing, converting my presentations all by myself!

Iva Freeman – Vertex Human Capital

Shelley was very thorough and knew a lot of tip’s for using Teams, thank you 🙂

James O’Connor – Cavannah Homes

Very informative, constantly getting everyone in the meeting involved, loved every bit of it!

Dylan Teal Hopkins – Cavannah Homes
Fantastic and informative training and great to see all of the exciting functions with Microsoft Teams.
Laura Rigby – The Apprenticeship College
Shelley was really clear in her teaching and went at a pace that was helpful to us. We covered all we needed to know to get us started, as a small team, using MS Teams. She was also very helpful in the run up to the session, with check in calls and ensuring our platform was set up correctly. I would highly recommend Shelley to anyone wanting to learn to navigate their way around MS Teams.
Leigh Dowling – Innuous

Microsoft Teams One to One Training Session

Shelley was approachable, easy to work with, and agile with answering questions to apply the session to my specific needs

Melissa Marshall – Present Your Science

A course on Outlook had been on the top of my list when Shelley asked VA’s what they wanted to learn. It was a real case of ‘so that’s how you do it’ or ‘I never knew that’. I have to say that I learnt so many great tips it has definitely improved the way I work in Outlook and my inbox is looking colourful and organised and I can’t wait to share this knowledge with my clients.

Jacqueline Leake – JLeake VA Services – Outlook

A great course with lots of examples and step by step instructions. I can now confidently create infographics and as a bonus, I learnt a lot of new PowerPoint functionality that will enhance all my PowerPoint work and save me so much time.

Jessica Bailey – Integral Resource

I really like Shelley’s courses. She has a clear and easy to follow teaching style. In ‘How to Create Fillable Forms’ I’ve learned about the functions of the Developer ribbon which will mean I’ll be able to create a bespoke Returns Form for a client who has an online shop

Freya Henderson – Virtual Office Orkney