Virgin Media launches virtual assistant service and online tool to help Brits socialise strategically

As Brits prepare for a deluge of social invitations when lockdown restrictions lift next week, Virgin Media teams up with TV personality Tom Read Wilson to help the nation socialise strategically and ease back into life after lockdown.

Launching just days before indoor socialising resumes across the UK from 17 May, Virgin Media is unveiling a series of lockdown lifting life hacks to help the nation find balance and avoid burnout.

Busy Brits will be able to hand over life admin tasks to their own PA – whether that’s organising reunions, booking restaurants or scheduling ‘me time’ – thanks to the company’s free virtual assistant service.

The celeb-style service, which is open for applications from today until 26 May, will be delivered by a crack team of ultra-efficient assistants assembled by TV personality and pro coordinator, Tom Read Wilson.

This follows research revealing more than a quarter (27%) of Brits are feeling ‘overwhelmed’ by the social plans and life admin that will come with life after lockdown, with more than half (53%) having already struggled to make appointments or arrange bookings since lockdown measures began to ease in April.

Saying no with grace

Many people report having enjoyed a quieter life during lockdown with more than half now admitting they’ve told ‘white lies’ to get out of invitations.

To help Brits streamline their social plans and continue enjoying time at home, the ever-eloquent Tom Read Wilson has helped Virgin Media to create the ‘polite decline generator’ – an online tool that generates an array of excellently articulate excuses to help people say no with grace at the push of a button.

Tom Read Wilson said: “Whether it’s due to the sheer multiplicity of social plans or the daunting thought of hosting a soirée, it’s no wonder we’re all feeling a bit overwhelmed by this new-found freedom that will soon be upon us.”

“As we accelerate towards a post-restriction world, it’s important to remember to pause and practice the art of moderation when reconnecting with loved ones and adjusting to a busier routine – the last thing we want is social burnout.

“I truly believe that a well-organised diary can put a spring into anyone’s step and make the world of difference, which is why I’ve helped Virgin Media assemble a team of superstar virtual assistants to streamline social diaries and schedule that all-important me-time.

“And for those who need a bit of assistance wriggling their way out of unwanted plans or simply want to continue to embrace the joy of missing out, they can head to my ‘polite decline generator’ for some inspiration on how to say no with grace.”

Jeff Dodds, Chief Operating Officer at Virgin Media, said: “After more than a year of virtual get-togethers and boxset binges, we’re excited to reconnect with family and friends again in person.

“But with many people telling us they’ve enjoyed the slower pace of life and wanting to continue with video calls after restrictions end, our lockdown lifting life hacks, combined with ultrafast broadband and brilliant TV, provides everything people need to balance me-time on the sofa with we-time out and about.”

The public can apply for the free virtual assistant service by visiting Virgin Media’s website and completing an online form. Entries close on 26 May at 23.59. More information can be found at www.virginmedia.com/tomstricks.

Tom Read Wilson’s guide to strategic socialising and avoiding burnout

1. Be selective

Indeed, you should utterly prioritise socialising with your nearest and dearest – however not every acquaintance deserves your undivided attention. Perhaps eschew the hen do of a third cousin twice removed? Drinks with your ride or die? Worth your time. Declutter your life and trim the fat.

2. Don’t be afraid of saying no

I know, I know, it’s terribly difficult to say no to a three-course meal or coffee with chums, but even I have been known to say no with grace from time to time. If you’re struggling to find the words for a delicate way out of dinner, my new polite decline generator might just do the trick. It creates fool-proof excuses, believable enough to get you out of any unwanted tete-a-tete.

3. Indulge in self-care

Who doesn’t love an intensely aromatic candlelit bubble bath scattered with a chilled coup of champagne?! Self-care should be your best friend and just as much of a priority as socialising, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you need a night off.

4. Take it slowly

There is just no need to make your diary groan under the weight of social engagements. You may fair a little better if you make plans at your own pace and focus on the ones that you will actually enjoy.

Start off gently with no more than two plans in one week, before slipping into a more vigorous routine.

5. Get organised

Getting organised is essential. You don’t want to find yourself without a ticket to the play of the season, nor left eating at home alone due to an inability to plan ahead. Block out some time in your diary each week for life admin to ensure you can do more of what you adore.

With that in mind, I, with the help of Virgin Media, have assembled a team of wonderful virtual assistants ready to help manage your diary as we come out of lockdown. You can apply for the free service here to be in with the chance of having your very own personal planner solve all your commitment conundrums for you.

6. Don’t lose touch with nature

It probably feels like you’ve gone on more walks with friends this year than in all other years on this planet combined. You’re itching to say goodbye to the great outdoors and say hello to sticky dancefloors. May I please instead recommend that you don’t forget nature as your life becomes hectically busy again? Even if it’s just taking the chance to tend to your garden, or an impromptu trip to the petting zoo, nature is a panacea so don’t leave it behind.

7. Less is more

Even though lockdown is ending, it wouldn’t hurt to be scant with your time. Having staggered plans with close friends throughout the week will make you feel less tired, helping you ease back into the normalities of regular socialising.

A couple of power hours can leave a better lasting impression than a seven-hour dinner; enjoy the aperitif and forget the dessert wine. Don’t push yourself too hard and you’ll be sure your energy levels are always on form.

8. Don’t be a people pleaser

Ensuring your own happiness is an absolute necessity. Don’t bow down to pressure mounted onto you by outside forces to attend every event.

Put yourself first, create your own path and don’t try to simply please others. If they are bona fide chums, they should be sympathetic to your plight.

9. Make time for your passions

Truly, even though we can all socialise again, you should still make time for your passions. Whether you’re a huge lover of Netflix, still enjoy engaging in online fitness classes or just want to lounge back with a wonderful novella, don’t forget about the things that fill and nourish your soul.

10. Minimum effort for maximum gain

Catching up in groups is a glorious way to see several friends in one go and takes less of a toll on your social calendar. Minimum effort for maximum gain, I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Tom’s polite declines to help people wriggle out of unwanted plans

· I’ve been inspired to brandish my quill and must act while inspiration’s hot!

· There’s oodles of sunshine today and I must go and bask before it hides behind a cumulonimbus.

· My garden requires immediate tending to, in order for it to reach full blossoming bloom by summertime.

· I am utterly threadbare, and upon reflection, feel it better to limit my interactions today.

· There’s a pair of great blue tits that have come to visit me in the garden and I don’t quite know how to leave.

· There are some seedlings in my raised bed that really need some encouragement today.

· There’s a nest of baby blackbirds in my garden who are most diverting.

· I need to get better acquainted with my swollen diary before opening up the door to another flurry of social engagements.

· I’m terribly sorry, but I’m busy all year.

· I’m spending the day on my gluteus maximus, after a chronically fatiguing Bridgerton marathon.

· Well, unfortunately, while my great ambition was to attend, I have a date with the Noël Coward theatre to see to the first post-restrictions rendition of The Night of the Iguana.

· Ahead of my upcoming soirée I must hone my culinary skills and master the art of cooking coq au vin.

· I’m deeply flattered but the day in question is dedicated to etymology.

· Whilst out on my daily gander I stumbled upon a quaint public garden, where I plan to sit and smell the roses.

· I’m frantically busy since the easing of lockdown and I cannot commit myself to plans at this moment.

· I’ve just got my hands on the plumpest bird, which I must spend the day stuffing.

· I must amend my fantasy football team, which always gets jolly hard at this juncture of the season.

· My granny is coming for tea, so there’s no time for you and me.

· I’m terribly sorry, however I’m feeling quite weary from all of this socialising, and sometimes it’s important to take time for oneself.

· I’m practicing mindfulness in the hope of achieving enlightenment.

· I’m cleansing my abode with sage prior to welcoming divine energy and feelings of zen.

· Mercury is in retrograde and I couldn’t possibly risk a clash of the stars.

· My peonies have bloomed and are deserving of an intricate and delicate arrangement right away.

· I twisted my ankle while skipping through the orchard and it requires a strict regime of rest, ice, compression and elevation.

· My eyes are lovingly locked on my sourdough starter just waiting for it to take life.

· I’ve got a chronic headache after dangling in a downward dog for far too long.

· I’m practicing my scales in the hope of securing the leading role in Puccini’s Tosca.

· I’m baking a gingerbread cake full of sugar and spice and all things nice.

· I’m tending to my Calathea lancifolia.

· I’m five rounds into a passionate game of ‘in the manner of the word’.

· I’m in the throes of a flirtatious foxtrot.

· I’m due on the field for a clash of the croquet mallets and I must polish my balls beforehand.

· I’m sowing nasturtiums in deep drills.

· I’m basking in the electromagnetic radiation of the universe’s great ball of fire as it’s filtered through Earth’s atmosphere.

· I’m foraging for truffles with my trusty hog in the hope of digging up some ingredients for tonight’s feast.

· I’m slicing strawberries and cubing cucumbers ready to submerge in a jug of piquant summer Pimm’s.

· I’m too tearful after watching re-runs of An Affair to Remember.

· I’m on a three-day spa detox – these lymph nodes won’t drain themselves, darling!

· I’m being microneedled and I shall be red raw for three days.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: