5 Routines You Can Implement Now To Make You a More Efficient Virtual Assistant

5 Routines You Can Implement Now To Make You a More Efficient Virtual Assistant

If you are not working with regular routines in your VA business, and instead handling everything ‘as it comes up’, you are probably wasting time and risking burnout.

Routines are an excellent way to bring regularity into your VA business.

All business owners have lots of balls in the air, and it’s important to manage them well regularly, so none of them drop.

One of the best ways you can manage your ever-changing workload is to implement regular routines that can help you to keep on top of what needs doing, prioritize it accordingly, and get it done.

Routines improve your productivity and efficiency – and they don’t have to be boring.

First, here are some ‘don’t do this’ tips for you:

Don’t open your email first thing in the morning. Save the first hour of every day for you. Opening your email as soon as you sit down to work means that you are letting others set your priorities. Set your own priorities for the day and then tackle your email.

Don’t leave notifications open all day. There is no reason for others to interrupt your work flow when you work alone. Schedule times during the day to check in on things that you would normally get interrupted by, and keep those ‘check’ times short so you can stay on task and get your work done.

Don’t forget to take breaks. Working all the way through the day is not productive, and it’s not good for your health either. Be sure to schedule in regular breaks (they can be short!) so you can come back to your desk refreshed.

Knowing what not to do is one thing – making sure you aren’t doing it is another. Are you guilty of any of these things?

Here are 5 routines that can help you start working more efficiently today:

1. Beginning of Week Routine

At the beginning of each week, set your schedule for the coming week. What do you plan to do, and when? Using your calendar to block out time for what you need to get done is an excellent way to preserve that time before the day arrives. Book in 30 minutes to lay out your week and hold those times sacred!

2. Morning Routine

First thing each morning, set a series of things that you need to do for your business - that might be checking your bank account, or doing some business correspondence/follow up, or answering your social media messages. Book in 30 minutes every morning before you start serving others to look after your own business.

3. Midday Routine

Midway through your day, create a routine that helps you stay focused and sharp. That might be checking in on your email or social media platforms – for a scheduled amount of time (again, I suggest 30 minutes!). But maybe it’s just getting out for a quick walk, having lunch away from your desk, or reading a book. Clearing your mind of the things that you have been working on is important to come back to your desk refreshed.

4. End of Day Routine

Before you pack it up for the day, be sure to set up your task list for the next day. It is easiest to prioritize what you need to do when you are not under pressure to do everything ‘now’. By setting your priorities for the following day, you can move and shift things around so that your workflow is efficient.

5. End of Week Routine

At the end of each week, take a few moments to reflect on what you have done. Reporting and analytics are great things to do at the end of the week – they show you what is working for you, and doing this on Fridays helps you close off the week knowing just how your business is doing.

Scheduling time in your day (even just a little) every day also helps you to avoid ‘fitting in’ managing your business around your client work. You must make your own business a priority, just like your clients work.

Managing your business well means looking at it every single day – which many VAs do not do.

Putting routines in place doesn’t have to be boring – in fact all you are doing is putting a framework in place to look after very important areas in your business.

Staying organized and prioritizing what you need to get done helps you become more efficient, and more successful.

And routines are a great way to break your day into regular activities. Try one or all of these routines for yourself – you’ll look forward to it once you get it working for you!

If you need some more help getting organized or trying to manage your time better, check out my Work Smarter: Time Management for VAs program here. You will learn 10 action steps you can take now to start managing your time better. Time is money when you are a VA, so make yours work for you.

About the Author: Tracey D’Aviero is a Virtual Assistant Coach, Trainer, Speaker and Author. After operating a busy VA business of her own since 1996, Tracey began teaching others to run their VA businesses in 2010 through Your VA Mentor. In 2016 she purchased the CAVA and GAVA VA associations and now teaches and coaches VAs exclusively. She has a vast amount of experience working in many different industries which helps her to offer her students and coaching clients a unique perspective and sound advice. She is a proud advocate of the Virtual Assistant industry. Learn more about Tracey’s journey in the VA industry here.

How to Prioritize Your VA Tasks So You Get More Done

Prioritizing your task list is a good idea when you have a lot of things to get done.

What kind of system do you use to keep your VA business organized?

As a Virtual Assistant, we often have many people throwing tasks and things to do our way – and that can get out of hand very quickly.

And of course, the squeaky wheel often gets the grease – so sometimes the pushier clients try to tell us when we need to do our work.

The more organized you can be yourself, the more you can manage your own workload and prioritize your own tasks.

It is important when you are working with multiple clients that you are the one who prioritizes things, and not the clients.

Being organized takes practice and experience, and learning some techniques to do it better is always a good thing!

1. Keep a master list.

Start by writing down everything you need to get done. A master list is a really good tool to get things out of your head and help you decide what needs to be done, and when. Take your master list and break it into daily work items as necessary, but that master list is important to start with.

2. Work tidy.

Are you a piler or a filer? How do you keep things organized on your desk or computer? Working tidy is a good concept – only keep what you are working on in front of you, and put away everything else. If you don’t use paper, then think of this in terms of web browser tabs – close everything you are not using so you can concentrate on what you are doing. When you focus on just the task at hand, you will work more efficiently.

3. Always be on time.

When you are providing support for a lot of different people, you need to really use your calendar to keep things on track. Set appointments and task start times, and make sure you hold to them. Use meeting agendas to keep them running on time. When you start everything on time, that is the beginning of excellent time management.

4. Respect your stop times.

As much as start times are important, stop times are even moreso. You have to make a plan to complete a task in a certain period of time, so that you can be the most productive. If you are supposed to stop working on something in an hour so you can move along to something else, do that. Our brain can work much faster than we think – if we set an hour to get something done, we can do it. If you leave the ‘stop’ time open, you can get distracted and take longer to complete everything you do.

5. Use a prioritization matrix.

To help you decide what you should do first, or next, consider using a prioritization matrix. There are many varieties of them, so find one that works for you. A sample one could use the parameters Urgent -> Important -> Can Wait -> Doesn’t Need to Be Done. Not everything is urgent, but important things need to get done before those that can wait. When you identify the urgency of each task you can put it in your calendar to do at the right time. And definitely don’t forget to remove those things that don’t really need to be done to free up your time for the important and urgent stuff.

If you need some help getting organized or trying to manage your time better, check out my Work Smarter: Time Management for VAs program here. You will learn 10 action steps you can take now to start managing your time better. Time is money when you are a VA, so make yours work for you.

About the Author: Tracey D’Aviero is a Virtual Assistant Coach, Trainer, Speaker and Author. After operating a busy VA business of her own since 1996, Tracey began teaching others to run their VA businesses in 2010 through Your VA Mentor. In 2016 she purchased the CAVA and GAVA VA associations and now teaches and coaches VAs exclusively. She has a vast amount of experience working in many different industries which helps her to offer her students and coaching clients a unique perspective and sound advice. She is a proud advocate of the Virtual Assistant industry. Learn more about Tracey’s journey in the VA industry here.

Just One Hour Can Make a Difference in Your VA Business

It is often said that time is a non-renewable resource, especially in your Virtual Assistant business where time is money.

If you waste an hour - whether it's an hour a day, a week or a month, you could be wasting valuable time.

Many VAs bill their clients by the hour, so it stands to reason that they are hyper-aware of time - but are still not always able to control it well.

When we don't have a lot of clients, we waste time doing research and setting up our website ... usually more time than we need to.

When we do get clients coming in, we often run from client task to client task and don't pay much attention to our own admin or marketing tasks.

What if I told you an hour can make a difference in your business?

It's true.

When you get really clear on what you need to get done - and you focus on just that, you can actually stretch that hour of time into what seems like a lot longer period of time.

Here are a few ways an hour can make a difference in your VA business:

One Hour a Day

I recently attend an event where Jack Canfield (Chicken Soup for the Soul, The Success Principles) was speaking. He shared one of his daily routines - he spends 20 minutes a day reading, 20 minutes a day meditating, and 20 minutes a day exercising. That's an hour. You may not think you have a spare hour, but if you realize that he says his best ideas come when he quiets his mind, the you realize what great advice this is. If you can find 20 minutes a day for each of these activities (and really, who can't?), you can set yourself up for Jack Canfield kind of success.

One Hour a Week

I am reading a book called Clockwork by Mike Michalowicz as part of my business book club. It is about how to put your business on autopilot (so to speak). There is a big framework, of course, but one of the most important pieces of information I have gotten from this book is to spend an hour a week 'designing' your business. That means looking at your numbers, considering your goals, and analyzing your strategies. Many VAs never do this, but it is so valuable. You want to make sure that everything you are doing is leading you towards your goals. Focusing on the design for just one hour every week is an excellent way to keep on top of your goals.

One Hour Whenever You Need It

I often tell this story about my cousin Justin. He gave me some of the best business advice I've ever heard (and he hates it when I credit him, but I do anyway). He told me once that if you feel like you are overwhelmed and too busy, take an hour and spend it in your project management system. Look for things that can be done more efficiently, delegated, removed completely, or completed quickly. When you have too much to do the sense is to run from one thing to another but it's much more effective to take another look at what you have on your list. It works, I tell ya! I do it all the time. Try it.

An hour is an important increment of time to Virtual Assistants. Many of us bill our clients hourly.

But don't forget about your own business. It's important to make sure that you are taking good care of yourself, and your plans.

Whether you take an hour right now, every day, or every week, you'll be heading in the right direction!

For more tips on time management, check out my free VA training videos on Youtube. There are more than 50 free videos there for you!

About the Author: Tracey D’Aviero is a Virtual Assistant Coach, Trainer, Speaker and Author. After operating a busy VA business of her own since 1996, Tracey began teaching others to run their VA businesses in 2010 through Your VA Mentor. In 2016 she purchased the CAVA and GAVA VA associations and now teaches and coaches VAs exclusively. She has a vast amount of experience working in a many different industries which helps her to offer her students and coaching clients a unique perspective and sound advice. She is a proud advocate of the Virtual Assistant industry. Learn more about Tracey’s journey in the VA industry here

5 Important Reasons to Document Your Business Procedures

Creating business procedures for your Virtual Assistant business helps you with more than just productivity.

"The only difference between a mob and a trained army is organization." - Calvin Coolidge

When I work with Virtual Assistants to help them make their business better, we often talk about developing standard operating procedures.

Many VAs don’t have something like this in their business. They often feel that if they are the only one doing things that it’s not necessary.

But I’ve got 5 reasons  that might change your mind!

1. Speeds Up Your Work

Writing out a procedure for how you do something might seem mundane if it’s something you know how to do, but it can actually help you get faster at completing that task. When you have to use brain space to think about what to do next, it can slow you down.

Okay, so it probably won’t take you an extra hour to do something without a procedure, but if you have even been distracted by something while you are mid-task, I bet you could be well served by having that process documented so you could just jump back into the step where you left off. Try it – you will be surprised!

2. Sets Standards In Your Business

Documenting what you do sets the standard for how you want it done in your business. Taking the time to write the steps out one by one when you do something the ‘right’ way ensures that you will not cut corners on the task.

Setting standards is a very professional thing to do and can set you apart from your VA colleagues. You can assure your clients that you take their work seriously and that everything will be done the same way, every time.

It’s like using a recipe when you cook. To make it the exact same way every time, you follow the recipe to a T (except for pasta dough and some bread, which depend on room humidity, but that’s another article). 😊

3. Determines Billable Time

When you have the detailed actions steps on how to perform any task (without missing any steps!), you can also set a standard amount of time to each of those steps. When you do things the same way and in the same order every time, it should take you roughly the same amount of time each time you perform that task.

Then you can take your procedures and assign billable time to those tasks. This is a good way to bill your VA clients – instead of billing them by the hour you can charge them per task. That way the faster you get at something, doesn’t affect the revenue that you make to do it.

Who wants to get better at doing something and then make less money to do it? Not me!

4. Allows You to Bring in Help

When you have procedures that are set to your standards, and that you know are accurate, you can bring in help anytime you like. If you want to have subcontractors do work for you, you can provide them with the documented steps on how you want the task done, and you can tell them how long that task should take them to complete.

Procedures are very important when other Virtual Assistants are doing work for you. You have less to check when you know that they are doing things exactly the way you want them to. And you have better control over your expenses when you can tell them how long something should be taking them to complete (if they are having trouble adhering to your timing, have a conversation about it and make adjustments where necessary).

5. Helps You Take Time Off

Along the same line as getting help, you can actually take time off more easily when your business tasks are documented.

When you have your clients look after a couple of things (I always have my clients run customer payments as necessary if I’m out of the office long term), you can provide them with a detailed how-to so they can get things done. Or if you have another Virtual Assistant acting as backup for you, you can also provide your procedures to them and you will know that they are doing things the way you would if you were doing them.

So, what do you think?

As much as developing the actual procedures takes time and might seem like a boring or time-consuming task, it is really an important part of your business. It is helpful in many ways and it’s something you should really consider doing.

You can start slowly. Whatever you plan to do next, write it down as you go. Continue with the next task, and before you know it you’ll be on your way to a full fledged binder of procedures. Have fun!

For more tips on getting good business foundation in place, watch this video on Boundaries and Procedures on my YouTube channel. There are more than 50 free training videos for VAs there!

About the Author: Tracey D’Aviero is a Virtual Assistant Coach, Trainer, Speaker and Author. After operating a busy VA business of her own since 1996, Tracey began teaching others to run their VA businesses in 2010 through Your VA Mentor. In 2016 she purchased the CAVA and GAVA VA associations and now teaches and coaches VAs exclusively. She has a vast amount of experience working in a many different industries which helps her to offer her students and coaching clients a unique perspective and sound advice. She is a proud advocate of the Virtual Assistant industry. Learn more about Tracey’s journey in the VA industry here