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A Day in the Life….. by Janet Walker

9.45 am

I’m a nocturnal type so, having eventually overcome my allergy to the morning, I let the family all get out of the house, clear up the kitchen and open and date the post before I start my commute of 14 paces down the garden to the office I share with my husband, who also runs a small business.  He has put my computer on but I’ve probably already sneaked a look at my emails on my BlackBerry so I know what’s in store.  I flag my emails different colours according to the client to whom they relate, check my desk diary for the To Do list and general focus of the day, and access Facebook for any work-related messages and to send any birthday greetings before I get started on client work.

10.00 am – 1.00 pm (ish!)

Client A has several meetings a day and thousands (literally) of contacts so I usually start with his emails and checking his online calendar, making or cancelling restaurant bookings, liaising with his clients and contacts and their PAs and helping him plan and deliver corporate and charity events.  Today I need to make sure he sends me his final list of attendees for registration at an evening fundraising event tomorrow.  I also contact the local print shop to check they have printed the pledge forms for the event so I can collect them tomorrow en route toCentral London.  Next I need to circulate the Committee agenda and supporting papers I’ve compiled for the Governors of a local school.  I’m the Governors’ Clerk – a flexible, very-part-time job which fits nicely around my VA business but requires some extra study in educational law.  Finally there are actions to follow up for the small charity (connected withItaly) whose virtual office I organise.  Some of the work requires much more Italian than I have and yet again I realise I’d better try to get the Clerk’s course finished this year and start on Italian GCSE…

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1.00 pm – 2.15 pm

My husband has had an earlier lunch so I join him to catch the One O’Clock News, get some food, empty the washing machine and perhaps listen to the Archers!

2.15 pm – 6.00 pm

I’m about to devote a chunk of time to my next learning curve which is contacting and negotiating with adult education awarding bodies about accreditation for a small company which provides a literacy/typing course for those with educational needs in schools, prisons etc.  I check my emails before switching Outlook off for a while, but I then get a phone call saying Client A’s supper meeting has had to be postponed and needs rescheduling so I prioritise that.  Back to the accreditation project and the late afternoon emails.  I note in the desk diary that tomorrow I must do a set of Party Wall agreement papers for a home extension design and construction company and attend to the Director’s expenses and mileage claims.  I ought to check too that his promotional cards have been delivered by the printers to the distribution company for the latest marketing campaign.  Before I think about dinner I look at any of today’s items that need moving to tomorrow or another day, adding up and noting on a spreadsheet the work time for each client today and the time I also spent on my own business admin, relationships, marketing or professional development.

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8.00 pm – late!

A couple of times a week I spend the evening in the office, sometimes to catch up on personal emails.  Tonight I’ve got a complex set of Minutes and action points to draft from the last Full Governing Body meeting at the school and there’s no way I can concentrate on something like this during the day, with all its interruptions.  Like Magnus Magnusson, “I’ve started so I’ll finish” – however long it takes me.  I have certainly hit my target of 5 paid hours per day.

I put on Radio 4 while making sure I keep up to date with news from SVA and other professional organisations.  I pop a status update on my Facebook personal and/or business page and might have a look at LinkedIn.  I’m really in night-owl mode now so I probably don’t get into the house until around 11.45 pm.  My sons are watching a DVD or are on their computers.  I tidy up the kitchen again to the Midnight News, grab a late-night snack, spend a bit of quiet time with my Bible and creep into bed.  Hubby needs his sleep; he’ll be up early tomorrow and will bring me my first of many cuppas of the day.

Janet Walker

Virtual PA for Business and Charity Executives

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‘helping you to serve others’

Janet has first hand experience of supporting executives daily facing the challenges of funding constraints, tensions between business and ministry and the difficulties of finding suitably qualified staff sympathetic to the organisation’s work and ethos.


Email: janet@janetwalker.net

Phone: 07799 068 539

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