Top Productivity Tips to Smash 2017!

Can you think of anyone you know who’s not busy?

In the connected world, we are under ever-increasing pressure to navigate a sea of digital distractions, tackle a relentless to-do list and manage crammed diaries.

Throughout my career as a PA, I’ve worked to help busy Directors maximise their productivity. Here are some tips we’d like to share:

  1. Start tomorrow today
    The best way to ensure the optimum start to your day and make sure it is a productive one is to start the day before. Before you leave your desk, or before going to bed, spend 10 minutes planning the next day. What tasks are a priority? What are the 3 things you MUST get done and can’t be missed off the list? The busier you are, the more vital it is that you do a quick review the day before. This ensures that you waste no time in the morning deciding where to start, or gathering information (and finding out that item isn’t available when you need it).
  2. Write It Down
    Is your head buzzing with all of the things that you need to get done? Taking the time to write down every task and commitment means that it’s out of your head and frees your mind up from having to remember details. The first step to managing your time is getting every task out of your head and into a reliable system. There are a range of digital tools out there to help you, such as the GetitDoneapp, but even a simple pen and paper can get you started.
  3. Check email in the morning
    By checking your email first thing, you will ensure that it does not eat into your working day and distract you from other tasks.
  4. Tackle the task you dread first
    What is the one task that you are in danger of procrastinating on because it is not one you relish? Everybody has an item on our list that we are not looking forward to tackling. Perhaps it’s a challenging phone call you don’t want to make, updating your sales forecast, writing blog posts, administrative tasks, or perhaps a project that just overwhelms you because of its magnitude. Whatever it is, it stresses you out, distracting you with guilt because it keeps getting pushed to the next day and the next. Do it first thing. Start to chip away at that difficult task. Yes, you might not finish it in one day, but you can at least get started. Just do it! The satisfaction of crossing this task off your list will motivate you and lead you into a positive and productive day.
  5. Schedule a break
    List all the things you want to do on your break, be it browsing the web, checking emails or social media. Squeeze these activities in between work time but schedule these activities for a capped time e.g. 15 minutes.
  6. Set a timetable for your tasks
    When you’re assigned a task, set a timetable for each step. For example, here’s how you might break down the tasks required for sourcing a venue for an event.

    09:00 - 09:15
    Set up a folder or project management tool for you to put all information relating to the project in one place.

    09:15 - 10:00
    Internet research for different venues

    10:00 - 10:45
    Compare pricing options

    10:45 - 11:00
    Break time!

    11:00 - 12:00
    Draw up a shortlist of preferred venues

    12:00 - 12:50
    Contact providers via the phone/send emails to get further information, check availability for dates and negotiate rates.

    12:50 - 13.20
    Schedule reminders in your calendar or CRM for follow up calls.

    By breaking the project down into bite sized pieces, you can create manageable deadlines to get things done. Setting a specific time to finish a task creates a time pressure to get the task done.
  7. Get Exercise
    Be sure to get some exercise every day. Take a walk around the block, do something to get your heart pumping. It will enhance your general wellbeing and your ability to think more clearly. Take a break from your desk!
  8. Learn to Delegate
    This is tricky for the best of us. Sometimes it can seem more hassle taking the time to explain a task to someone else than to just do it yourself. But by doing everything yourself, you are not necessarily maximising your productivity. Evaluate that to-do list carefully; What tasks must be done by you? Which tasks could be done by someone else, freeing up your time to focus on the things only you can do? Who is available to do some of those tasks? A family member? A paid helper? An admin assistant? A crucial key to productivity is doing those things that only you need to do and allowing other people to get on with the rest.
  9. Say NO!
    If you try and please everyone, you will end up pleasing nobody. Whilst there are always going to be different jobs, different people in your life competing for your attention, it is up to you to take control and decide which ones to focus on. Just remember what the opportunity cost of one task can be. Is that distraction the one that you should be prioritising? Has it eaten into your time and made you stay late at the office and feel resentful?

Make 2017 your most productive year ever.

Plan. Be Healthy. Work Smart. Delegate. Say No! Be productive! 

10 things to delegate to a virtual assistant

The value of hiring a virtual assistant (VA) is outlined by one of the bestselling business books over the last decade, The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss.

An important aspect of successfully running a business is self-awareness. Many business owners tend to start out as a jack of all trades, but if you really want to grow your business you’re going to have to work out quickly the areas you excel in and delegate the rest.

We no longer live in a time where the only solution to get the business support you need, is to hire a full-or part-time employee.

Entrepreneurs can use VAs for everything from customer service calls to sending out event invites prospective clients. Just as you would with a permanent employee, it’s important to build trust. They become a team member who just works remotely.

Do any of the following apply to you?

  • Don’t have the time or inclination to do certain tasks?
  • Don’t have flexibility in your schedule to learn new skills?
  • Don’t feel like you’re following up on leads and pushing your business forward?

Hire a Virtual Assistant who is dedicated to the role, and outsource.

Whether you’re a start-up business or an established one looking to expand, outsourcing work to a Virtual Assistant frees up your time – allowing you to focus on starting up or expanding

Here are 10 areas where you can use a virtual assistant to improve your business.

  1. Database entries: Do you have a pile of new business cards picked up at networking events or updated information from existing contacts? Keeping databases current is a suitable task for virtual assistants. Following up is vital for business owners. It is essential to update your CRM to facilitate regular client contact and organise marketing activity to convert leads.
  2. Managing email: Some virtual assistants will filter your most important emails and respond to the rest on your behalf. Such email management is easy to do remotely, but you need to provide guidance on how to pick out key emails and ask the assistant to copy you in before sending out any responses to reduce the risk of errors.
  3. Scheduling: Because many scheduling tools are available online, virtual assistants are managing the calendars of many clients. Tasks include dealing with meeting invitations, scheduling appointments with clients and helping to plan events.
  4. Presentations: Whether you’re speaking at an event or preparing an internal presentation, outsourcing certain tasks to a VA can allow you to focus on content, preparation, ensuring you optimise your delivery. Formatting of presentations or summarising research findings to convert raw data into a clear presentation, can be a huge timesaver.
  5. Personal Admin: Virtual assistants can efficiently handle tasks such as organising fundraising activities, sending corporate Christmas cards, sourcing gifts and staff rewards. Such tasks can be distracting and time-consuming for business executives, but a good virtual assistant can take care of it all.
  6. Travel Research: Whether you need help arranging accommodation, booking flights/train tickets and mapping out trip itineraries both for business and pleasure, a VA can really save you time. By making use of global metasearch engines, such as, Skyscanner and review sites they can get the best travel deals and secure currency at a competitive exchange rate.
  7. Event Management: It’s stressful enough when presenting at an event or running a webinar, let alone having to manage it as well. Whilst a Virtual Assistant can’t eliminate the stress entirely, they can assist you by managing it so that it runs smoothly allowing you time to create the content and rehearse.
  8. Chasing business: Prioritising potential business opportunities can be challenging, but virtual assistants can help with the process and systematic follow-ups.
  9. Proofreading & Editing: Never risk publishing or printing another piece of marketing material with typos or lack of flow. Whether you need someone to simply cast their eyes over an article or format it for online readability, a specialised Virtual Assistant can ease the burden and ensure quality is maintained.
  10. Research: You can easily outsource internet research to virtual assistants. Tasks may include finding information on corporate websites, exploring new products and even vetting potential employees or business contacts.