project management

Two Frogs

frogsIf you follow our blog or social media, you know that we are constantly boasting and bragging that our Virtual Assistants bring efficiency and time management to overworked clients. Perhaps you’re considering hiring your own Assistant and that’s why you’re here! If so, congratulations! That’s a big mile marker for many business owners and associations. Either way, we thought we would share some of our tips for maintaining a tight ship at the office.

Tackle the most difficult task first. If you can accomplish the task you have been putting off, you will get a boost of energy and motivation that will carry you through a much more productive day!

“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” -Mark Twain

Turn off alerts. A constant stream of email bings, text chimes and calendar reminders truly bring productivity to a halt. Yes, it’s true that sometimes we need to be available and accessible to clients and staff but let’s be honest, immediately responding to everything coming at us could be a full time job in itself! Treat your work time like a meeting. Phones off!

Time blocks. Start at 30 minutes, or even just 15! You’ll be amazed to see how much work you can accomplish in short, dedicated, time blocks. Sometimes the hardest part of a task is getting started. If you have long term projects that haven’t been moving forward, try working on them for 15 minutes a day, or week!

What’s stopping you? Have you come to a road block on certain projects? Or do you need more information from coworkers in order to complete a task? Take a close look at those items on your list that don’t seem to get crossed off. Determine what is stopping you from completing them and make a plan to get what you need, to get it done.

A more productive workday leads to more free time after work and we are all about that work/life balance. These small adjustments can add up and make a big difference in the amount of work you can accomplish. And a higher productivity leads to more motivation and confidence. Start your week out right by choosing a small change. You’ll be happy you did!

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.