December is a great time to review things. 

The month brings the end of another quarter and another year. 

Setting time aside for review and reflection allows you to evaluate the past months and prepare for the next 12 months. 

When most people think of an annual review, their mind turns to performance and results. 

Of course, those things matter in work and business but they’re not the only measures of your year. There is a more holistic outlook. 

You can choose to review whatever and however you like. To assist, here are some areas you may want to both reflect on and, where appropriate, act upon. In no particular order: 

Timekeeping and Punctuality 

How good are you at being on time for things? Appointments, meetings, zoom calls, trains, flights and so on. 

If you work for yourself, do you start at a set time of day or does it vary? Are you a consistent riser or do you find it difficult getting out of bed some days? Freelance assistants can choose their start time, of course, but avoid getting into the habit of being ‘late’. Start when you say you’ll start. 

Working Hours 

If you’re with an organisation, your hours may be set for you. With hybrid working, you may have some days in the office, some at home. Or you may still be working remotely full-time. 

Whatever your hours, it’s a good habit to keep to a routine that works for you.  

It’s also a good idea to track your hours. It’s really easy, especially when you have your own business, to let work run into evenings and weekends. 

Productivity 

As an assistant, you want to be productive. How much are you getting done each week or month? 

When you look back at all the tasks you’ve carried out, has your time been full? If you’re a freelance, were there many blanks in your diary? Are you maxed out with clients or is there space for more? 

Efficiency 

It’s not just how much work you do that counts. If, say, the average week is 37 hours and you’re putting in 45 hours, does that mean you’ve got tons on your plate or does it mean tasks are taking longer than they probably should? 

If uncertainty about how to carry out essential tasks using Microsoft Office and 365 is holding you back, it may be time to upgrade your skills with an online course

Results and Value 

The value of having a savvy assistant is often misunderstood or underestimated. Some bosses, colleagues and clients may know your worth. Others may not. 

If you’re in an organisation, regular meetings or annual reviews are among the places where you can highlight performance. Star performers tend to get noticed. If you’re not being valued, there could be a conversation to be had. 

Working for yourself? You may have to be more proactive in highlighting what you’ve done and are doing for clients. When you can demonstrate your true value, you can charge higher fees. 

Testimonials and Case Studies 

This may apply more if you’re an assistant who is freelance or running their own business. 

If you’re doing great work for your clients, have you asked them for a testimonial or whether they would help you create a case study? 

These are useful tools for ‘social proof’, to show prospective clients that you have a track record of success and a host of happy clients. 

Income and Finances 

Whether you’re an employee or freelance, money is important. It may not be your number one driver for what you do, but it helps to pay the bills, feed the kids and pays for that long-awaited break or holiday. 

Salary and your business income are part of the equation. Who wouldn’t want more money coming in? 

But what you really want to measure is your net income. That is, what you have left after your expenditure is considered. 

Do you have more in your account at the end of the month than the previous month? If you’re running a freelance business, are you keeping an eye on the cash flow? 

If all is looking rosy, how will you reward yourself? If it’s not looking so good, what will you do to turn things around in 2022? 

Fun 

So far, it’s been all about reviewing the business and work side of things. However, it’s important to think more holistically about how ‘successful’ your year has been. 

Have you enjoyed the year? 

Did you find time for fun? For hobbies and interests? For sport? For getting outdoors and into the fresh air? 

You might know how many projects you’ve completed but how many laughs did you have? 

Family and Friends 

Another more holistic way of appreciating your year is to consider the quality of your connection with family and friends. 

How often were you able to call, visit or chat with them? If you’ve got children, how much ‘quality time’ did you have together? Are there people you’ve not heard from in a while or lost touch with? 

Family and friends can be a part of (and may be part of the reason for) your success. One might be your rock. One might be a great listener. One might be your biggest champion – almost like having a coach for free. 

How will your connection to all these people be in 2022? 

Health and Wellbeing 

This is a big one. It goes hand in hand with the ‘fun’ section and the ‘family and friends’ section above. 

Without our good health, what are we? 

I know from personal experience just how much feeling under the weather can affect your ability to do work and perform at your best. 

How well are you looking after your health? Physical and mental? What are you doing to stay well and what lessons can you learn from the past year? 

Community 

The holistic angle to reviewing the year could ask you to consider your connection to the community. 

Do you feel part of where you live? Are you involved with a local group, association, cause or charity? 

Many people feel a need to ‘give back’ in some way, or even to ‘pay it forward’. That might be by supporting a charity with a monthly donation, volunteering or setting up your own local project. 

Was that part of your year? Will it be part of your 2022? 

Personal and Continuing Professional Development 

Another aspect that can get overlooked during a year is your own personal and professional development. 

The focus might have been so much on serving others that time was not set aside for you – and your own learning and skills. 

Did you want to learn a new language? Play a musical instrument? Learn to bake or improve your cooking? Did you want to take up a new sport or hobby? 

If you felt your Microsoft skills were in need of an uplift, you could always choose one of my online courses or practical manuals to put that right. 

Or maybe for 2022 you’d prefer the 1:1 option to get personalised training on what will help you most. 

And there you have it. A more holistic way to review your year. You can apply it to any quarter, too, if you like. 

How was 2021 for you? 

P.S – I am starting work on a brand new program that will launch in Spring 2022. Planning is done and work is starting. To get to the front of the queue and get all the details about the launch of Microsoft Office Mastery for The Savvy Assistant – go and sign up to the VIP Lounge. You will receive updates every so often and details about the launch – Click Here to sign up. 

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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

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.

Sarah Clements – Inuous

Absolutely superb course, easy to follow and to refer back whilst putting it all into practice! I was unaware of the extent you can customise a presentation and it’s just made me want to know more – what’s next Shelley?

Denise Williams

I thought I had a pretty good grasp of Outlook until I did this course! In her videos, Shelley is clear and concise, and the language she uses is straightforward and jargon-free. Each module is broken down into manageable chunks, which helps keep your attention and means the course is easy to fit in around other commitments. I’ve created email templates and implemented rules that are already saving me time, and as all the other things I’ve learnt start to become second nature, the positive impact on my efficiency is fast becoming clear. This course has been incredibly beneficial and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking to strengthen their skills and boost productivity.

Pip Doleman VA

I thought I knew Powerpoint really well, but I wanted to specifically learn how to use Powerpoint to create better infographics, easily and quickly. Shelley explains everything in a very logical and clear way, so I understood everything the first time I heard it. The most useful thing I learnt was that Powerpoint can do so much more than I thought it could. By also using the short cuts that Shelley showed me I am much quicker than I have ever been and I thought I was already quick!

Susan Marot

Shelley Fishel of Tomorrow’s VA has a wealth of experience in Microsoft Office. I met her in person 2 years ago at the PA Show in London. I also saw her in action in a fab workshop and knew she was the whizz that everyone had told me she was. I have since bought a lifetime access to her HUB and all the courses in there are a MUST if you are a VA on a mission. The courses will give you confidence in all the Office 365 components and will catapult you to dizzy heights

Alex Hughes