As a team of Virtual Assistants, we have many years of business experience between us, so we have lots of top tips to share from someone who knows!
One thing that we have always found to be an integral part of running a business is time management. So over the years we have perfected and honed our time saving skills to give the best possible service all round.
So in our experience to achieve this there is a level of planning and preparation involved to help you achieve this.
Planning and preparation
Planning and preparation always starts with a good old fashioned to do list. You need to know what you need to achieve before you can start planning how you are going to achieve it.
It is good to start with a brain dump of everything that you need to get done, so good old fashioned pen and paper, or maybe a word.doc that you use to create your list in.
Once you have a list of tasks, you can then segment them into importance. You can use any styles of to-do lists to help you achieve this.
To do list styles
Traffic light system
Most people have heard of the traffic light system: Red for urgent, important or must do today; Yellow/amber for needs to be done but can wait a day or maybe a week; Green for non-important and can wait a week or maybe a month. Using this system you can plan your days, weeks or month around what needs doing.
Urgent to non-urgent
Using either an A4 piece of paper, an excel sheet or a digital list. Divide it into 4 sections, naming the top two urgent and important and name the bottom two non-urgent and non-important. Then fill in each section with your tasks in order of importance.
Daily and weekly
As a team we find the list that works for us these days is a combination of a Trello board and a colour coded white board. We spend about 5-10 mins on a Monday morning filling in our everyday tasks, any client work and top priorities each week, along with what meetings or zooms we have. This way we have a clear visual in front of us everyday to prompt what needs to be done. This then gets reviewed during the course of the week depending on what crops up.
The key to clearing your to do list, is picking one urgent, one not so urgent and one non urgent task a day, this way your list will go down, unless you keep adding more to it of course.
We as a team at First Rate PA love a good app and Trello is one of the simple ones, you can have a FREE account with up to 10 boards. We use it to store our to do lists, schedule tasks and share information using easy check lists, start and due dates prompts and team allocations on tasks
With some of our clients we also use Asana, so they can take control of their to-do lists and allocate projects and tasks to their VA.
We know that one app doesn’t fit all so here are a few more that might suit your style and business better:
Our advice would be to find the one you find easiest to use, as there is no point adapting to something if you are just not getting on with it. There is no right or wrong method only what suits you, as we all have different styles of working and ways in which we find easier to process information.
Sometimes things happen in “office hours”
We’ve all had days that have not gone to plan, washing machine leaks, boiler breaks or it’s just too sunny outside! And on these days we end up working late to make time up. Now rather than let people think you are working “out of hours” use the scheduling option on your email send button, to help you keep your office hours.
Blocking out time
To do lists don’t always work for everyone, another method we have used in the past is time blocking, this is when you either use your diary or a written/printed A4 sheet and give set tasks set times to do the work.
Give yourself a set time to look at emails
Most people find it hard to not look at their emails throughout the day or when you get a notification. The way we get round this is to set ourselves times to look at our emails. Once in the morning and once in the afternoon, this way you have time to get things done.
Giving yourself deadlines for each task you set yourself can make you more efficient. This deadline can be the day you plan to work on the task or the day the task needs to be completed by. Either way it makes it easier to plan your time round your to-do list.
Set a timer
Most people have a timer on their phone. We find it useful to set a timer throughout the day, this works for 3 reasons:
1 – It helps break up your day and tasks
2 – It gives you set times to look at your phone for messages etc.
3 – It lets you know you need to get up and moving
Turn off notifications
It’s not always easy to ignore notifications be that for social, emails, messages or even unwanted phone calls. If you mute them or put your device on DND throughout your working hours it’s easier to ignore them and get work done.
We hope you found our top tips on timesaving useful. If you would like to find out more about how a VA could help support you and your business, please feel free to get in touch by completing our booking form to schedule a FREE discovery call, so we can find out more about you and your business needs.