In many parts of the world, people will be gearing up for Christmas. 

If they haven’t started already. 

There is much to think about when planning for the celebrations. Writing and sending greetings cards, ordering and buying food for the festivities, thinking about and purchasing gifts for family and friends, sorting out who will visit whom and when, making travel arrangements and more. 

All of that is on top of work, family and the day-to-day household stuff. 

Chances are it would help people if they had a plan for all that. And, in similar fashion, it’s a good time to add your job or business into the mix – and start your planning around that for next year. 

If you’ve reviewed the past 12 months, as I recommended in last week’s blog, you will have a good picture of how things have gone. 

When you’ve consolidated, considered and evaluated it all, you can begin to act on it. 

Ask yourself three questions 

Q1. What do I need to start doing? 

Q2. What do I need to stop doing? 

Q3. What do I need to continue doing? 

These questions may sound simple but they can be very powerful. If you have worked with a coach before, you may have heard them ask you the very same questions. 

If things are not happening the way or as fast as you would like, it’s usually either because of something you are not doing (that needs to be done) or something you are doing (which is not worth doing or distracts your focus from more important activity). 

It may feel like a challenge or uncomfortable to change things. But this is your job, your career or your business we are talking about. 

It is probably a big part of your life. It impacts your income, your confidence, your wellbeing and your freedom to live the lifestyle you want. 

Get Thinking on Career Planning 

If you’re an assistant working within an organisation, your planning is more likely to be around how to advance your career. 

That might be about earning a higher salary, achieving a promotion or considering a move to a different organisation. 

In this hybrid world of working, it could also be connected to where you want to work from (remotely at home, in the office or a mix) – and your working hours. 

What is it you want in 2022? What needs to be in your planning to make that happen? 

If brushing up or advancing your skills in Microsoft Office and 365 are part of that, you could do worse than check out my online courses or invest in the complete box set, known as The HUB

If it’s In the Diary, it’s Planned 

And when I say diary, it could be a physical diary, an online calendar or even a task management app. 

Whatever works for you. You may even be the type of person that likes to ‘double up’ and have a record both on paper and in the cloud. Go for it! 

Microsoft Outlook’s calendar offers a neat way to plan and organise things as part of your communications and control centre. 

Whatever system you use, make sure it works for you. And be consistent in how you use it.  

Knowing what’s coming up each day, during the week and the month ahead, helps you to focus and set aside the right time to get things done in a timely manner, with minimum fuss. 

Plan Your Holidays First 

Yes, yes. I realise planning is designed for work and business but – and this applies to freelance assistants most – it’s easy to forget you will want and need time off at some point each year. 

One way to ensure that has at least a 99 per cent chance of happening is to plan your holidays or short breaks first. 

Block out some time in your diary or calendar. You can change the dates later on if you wish but the act of marking out time for you puts that in your mind upfront. 

The danger is, you don’t do it and, before you know it, it’s June and you’ve not taken a single week off. 

Put your holiday and breaks in. Pencil them in. By the time you take them you will have earned them. 

Next, Get Down to Business 

After you’ve snapped out of the reverie of imagining your dream holiday next year, it’s time to focus again. 

Time to put the work and business planning in your calendar. 

Think back to your goals. Consider forthcoming projects. Give some thought to any CPD or skills upgrades you want to do to support those. 

If a goal is getting on top of Microsoft Office, explore relevant individual online courses or invest in a complete suite of training, such as The HUB

Professional assistants can also benefit from customised 1:1 training

December is a great time for planning. Even if you can get your January or the first six weeks of 2022 sorted now, you’ll be able to relax and enjoy the season’s festivities more. 

What’s keeping you? Get planning. 

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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.

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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