Having worked as a PA for over 20 years and now as a VA, I’ve come across quite a few workarounds that help save time and improve productivity – here are 5 off my list that I hope will help you too.1. The Best Online Time Management Tool
An excellent time management tool for your passwords
How many different passwords do you have? Around 9 according to research (2). An in depth poll found that people find forgetting their password more annoying than receiving spam mail, forgetting their keys and losing mobile battery life (3) – annoying it might be, but it’s also time wasting. Something small business owners don’t always have much of anyway.
I use ‘LastPass’ a superb free password management tool. In fact, I couldn’t work without it – managing multiple social media accounts, diaries and other online accounts for clients, there’s no way that I would remember all of the different username and password combinations. And I can’t afford to spend my clients’ time asking for reactivation codes, password hints or having to set up a whole new account – so you can’t afford the time either.
LastPass allows you to store all of your passwords safely in one place and has an auto fill system that automatically completes the username and password box of a website you’ve stored or been to before. You can easily choose whether certain sites are saved, or not, every time you visit a new one – so there’s no need to even remember to turn it on or off.
One HUGE tip though, set up a unique password to access LastPass and activate the phone recovery option in case you ever forget it!
You’ll never look back!
How to be more efficient during and after meetings
It may seem easier to have all of your meetings on set days, back to back, and get them all out the way so you have the rest of the week for bringing in the money. But, when do you get time to reflect on the discussion, work on the actions, diarise a follow up? The best time is during or directly after a meeting.
Your client will be impressed with your efficiency if you deal with quick actions there and then – during the meeting, he’ll know you’re organised and on top of it. It’ll also reduce a common fear of new clients, your efficiency.
One thing I always do for the client’s I provide diary management for is allocate 30-45 minutes at the end of every meeting for ‘reflection’. To enable them to leave the client and note down their instant thoughts, actions and to complete or delegate any tasks that can be done there and then, while it’s fresh in their minds. It saves an enormous amount of time compared to doing it later in the week, at the weekend or one evening when you’re tired, lots more has happened and memories have faded.
3. Interesting Small Business Statistics
You don’t need to employ help
There was an increase of 146,000 private sector businesses in just 12 months, with non-employing businesses accounting for three quarters of the increase (4). How do they cope?
They work with people instead of employing them!
Outsourcing to a freelancer is one of the most popular and cost effective ways to get the jobs done that you just don’t have time for. A freelancer’s hourly rate is sometimes more than you’d pay an employed member of staff, but at the end of the month it’s actually a lot more cost effective. There are no on-board costs, overheads or payroll expenses.
There are freelancers in every sector, so before you embark on a recruitment campaign, take a look on LinkedIn for a freelancer.
4. Event Promotion Tips
Promotion tips for your event – before, during and after
If you’re pretty good at writing, put some text together and send to press contacts, local to the event and national, along with images, links to social media and a call to action – don’t wait for the press to find you. If writing isn’t your thing, or you just don’t have time, call in a freelance journalist or copywriter to put something together for you. They’ll probably have some contacts too!
Get all of your platforms aligned – make sure your brand identity is consistent.
Put together a plan to promote the event before by scheduling tweets, during (yes, live tweets) and post event (again use a scheduler) – milk it for a while after and use it to promote future events.
Tag signed up attendees before, during and after the event – this will widen your audience and encourage re-tweets, likes and love. Include photos and short videos wherever possible.
Be honest – if you’ve got lots of tickets left, don’t tell people you’re almost sold out. It doesn’t always work in the way you’d hope.
5. Staying Focused
Outsourcing email management can benefit your work life balance
It can take, on average, over 23 minutes to get back on track after distraction (1). Even if you work alone there will still be interruptions. A common distraction is email. A notification pops up from someone you’ve been waiting to hear from, you read it and whether you respond there and then it’s inevitable you will continue to think about it. Distracting you from the task in hand.
There are a couple of solutions that spring to mind:
Turn your phone off and close down the email programme on your laptop. Some people can do that, others just worry they’re missing something vital and so they should be. It’s highly possible that any potential new client’s will go elsewhere if they don’t get a quick reply.
Outsource your email management – it’s so easy. I have regular access to two mailboxes for my client’s and seasonal access to another – I weed out spam, send stock replies and holding emails to new client’s and flag up anything that needs urgent attention with a phone call; and I do all of this virtually. You don’t even need to share your password!
If you spot any errors or have any questions on any of the points above, I’d love to hear from you: firstname.lastname@example.org / www.delegatevirtualassistant.co.uk