manage tasks

My Needs Expand Beyond My Business (Part II)

As you’ve previously learned how to define your master list of tasks (Article - Part I), let us now take a further look at how we can manage and track such tasks. There are many ways to manage and track lists of tasks, all depending on what is going to best suit your needs or temperament. Here are some ideas to get started with your task management mission.

Just a warning…if you start feeling overwhelmed just trying to figure out how to get started, you just may find that a Virtual Assistant will be the best route to handle most of your concerns!

  • Free web-based to do list managers.  Examples are ToodleDo (our personal favorite!), Ta-da List and Voo2Do.  Some of these applications provide project management capabilities for software scheduling and tasks organized by project.  Downfalls with this…. do you have time to learn more programs and software applications, or are you looking for an easy hand off for someone else to do this for you?
  • Task lists integrated within your desktop computer or online calendar.  Yahoo and Gmail offer simple task list incorporation, as well as Microsoft Outlook and Entourage, and Mac’s iCal software.  Again, easy management, but you will ultimately be responsible for checking and organizing.   Another reason to justify an easy hand-off to someone else.
  • Word processors or spreadsheets, desktop or online.  Microsoft Office or OpenOffice are great tools.  You can create task lists, print them out, and scribble off completed accomplishments.   Online versions (Google Docs and Spreadsheets and Zoho Office) allow sharing capabilities, a benefit if you want to send to a Virtual Assistant, co-worker, family member, etc..
  • Sticky notes.  This is the “old school” version!  They’re great to get projects started or for simple reminders, but to keep your clutter to a minimum, keep your sticky notes to a minimum!

The list can go on and on.  PDA applications, fancy notebook and pen to write and track your best creative moments, a to do widget list, mind mapping, online wiki services, and something just as simple as daily emails can all track and manage your task lists.  Find one that works for your needs and your desired mode of working, and put it to good use!

Another big thing to consider is if you have time to complete all of these tasks or if you foresee your time being better spent elsewhere.  If you feel the answer is elsewhere, that is where I highly encourage you to consider hiring an outside source to assist you in the “simple things in life.”  Are you looking for an extra hour of free time? Would you like to be able to go to the gym at the end of the day?  Are you just plain tired of a certain chore that could be performed by someone else?

If you find yourself thinking “yes” to these questions, then I think it is time you consider hiring a Virtual Assistant.  A “what” you ask?  Well, a Virtual Assistant is generally someone who is self-employed and provides professional administrative, technical, or creative (social) assistance to clients remotely from a home office.  As they are independent contractors, clients are not responsible for any employee-related taxes, insurance, or benefits.

Depending on just what the tasks are that you wish to hand off, this just may be your perfect solution.  In my final Part III of this series, I’ll show you how to search for the Virtual Assistant that best fits your needs in order to maximize the success of your business, or even better yet, your personal life!

This list is a great place to begin your task management, and it may be something you love to do!  If not, you may soon come to the conclusion that a Virtual Assistant is the best route to assist you in accomplishing all your priorities.

My Needs Expand Beyond My Business! (Part I)

Is it possible to need a Virtual Assistant (VA) for a matter other than business needs? We normally think of Virtual Assistants as personnel needed to accomplish business requests on a small or large-scale basis, but what if you needed someone to help you with the “smaller things in life”?

In thinking more in depth on this subject, I thought it would be helpful to write a series of blogs on this exact subject.  The first will touch base on what tasks I’m referencing as “smaller things in life,” and then follow up articles will address how to manage these lists and tasks, as well as ways to search for a Virtual Assistant that best fits your needs.

When I say “smaller things in life,” just what am I referring to?

  • By saying small, I mean simple.  These are not necessarily business related tasks that correlate with your day job, but are more focused on the tasks you need to get done around the home.  Start off by making a listYou don’t need to worry about categorizing anything at this point, just write down everything that you can think of that you need to do in a day, a week, or a month.  Examples from my life would be: run the kids to football, do the dishes, wash the laundry, sort the bills, pay the bills, cook dinner, write thank you letters for a recent benefit, get the oil in the car changed, buy batteries for the wireless mouse, and grocery shop (just to name a few)!
  • Next we reach the categorize step.  This means take everything from above and separate into main categories.  For example, you may use home/personal/work/office/kids/dog.  Once you have the main categories, you can start organizing your tasks into the appropriate categories.  Be sure to be detailed but not overly crazy at this point.  If you have a chore that overlaps with another category such as buy treats (this could be for the kids or the dog), then make sure to write that detail down.  Why are we doing all of this? Well, you want to ensure that we are finding a VA that is specific to your needs and your budget and this will help figure that out.
  • Lastly, you need to delegate.  What do I mean by this? Well, think really hard about which tasks you could let someone do for you and which you would obviously only do yourself.  If you know that you are the only one that can drive your sexy stick shift car, then you are probably the one that is going to take it in for an oil change.  Delegating activities can be hard, especially if you are the type of person that wants to do everything yourself.  That is when you have to realize that you started this process for a reason, and you made it this far, so keep going!  Take the time to review your lists and make notes next to the most important tasks that you could ask someone else to do.  Your lists may change and this is not a bad thing.  Once you narrow down the activities that you are set on having someone else complete for you, then you’re ready for the next step.

At this point I’ve asked you to brainstorm all of the activities that you can see yourself asking someone else to do, whether they are big or small, and sorted them into categories.  In my next write-up, I’ll offer ways to manage these lists and if you see fit, how to search for a Virtual Assistant that best fits what I call, the “smaller things in life.”

Are you bogged down in everyday life?  Would it be a blessing to have someone organize your bills or even run to the grocery store for you?  Well, if this sounds like your life, you’ll want to check back next month for new developments on how to make this a reality!