They say time is money, and in my case as a virtual assistant, I charge by the minute for tasks so it is important that I make as much use of my time as I can.
I was far from a bad employee before being a VA, but as an employee I don’t think I appreciated the effect that time management has on customer satisfaction and the bottom line. That soon changed when I set up my business.
On the very rare occasion that I visit / work on site for a customer I am so aware of the misused time spent around the coffee machine or going from one team to another, I also inwardly get frustrated during meetings when people lose focus or get side-tracked.
So here are my 5 tried and tested tips on maximising your time.
1. File things properly
57% of office workers spend an hour a day looking for missing documents*. Keeping things organised helps you retrieve them immediately and you won’t spend time searching. – If you do have to search use the search function in your email or file explorer to speed it up.
Set your priorities daily. It’s very easy to work for the sake of working. Use a “To Do” list, paper or electronic, and record the things you want to achieve based on importance and urgency.
Over the last 4 months I’ve been using Todoist it’s made a massive difference to my time management. I record everything in there along with the anticipated time to complete, I schedule it into a specific day, and it’s given a priority rating. By doing this I don’t have to think about what I should be doing and at a glance I can see what is scheduled in over the next 7 days and where I have gaps for other tasks.
3. The 4 Ds
I love an acronym. When working through my emails I use the 4 Ds:
- Do – if it’s going to take less than five minutes do it
- Delete – if it’s not relevant delete it
- Defer (Diarise) – If it’s going to take more than five minutes, add it to your list and plan it in (I add it to my Todoist)
- Delegate – Do you need to do it? Will it be done more effectively elsewhere?
Getting to grips with the 4Ds might take you a bit of time as you’re changing habits, stick with it for a while, it will enable you to get your work done with less overwhelm and increased efficiency.
I batch a lot, it is a productivity trick that improves your focus and efficiency. Batching is grouping similar activities together and doing them in the same time block. For example, if I have 3 different presentations to pull together, I’ll work on them in one morning, if I’m checking social media for one client, I’ll check the others afterwards. It takes advantage of efficiency and concentration by keeping similar tasks together and avoids going between programmes.
5. Delegate effectively
This is hard to master. It’s natural that we feel that we are the only one who can do something to the highest standard, but when we’re busy with deadlines and a large list, we are spread thin so it’s not always the case. Personally it’s something I have really struggled with when growing my team, and it has held me back.
Generally, it is more efficient to delegate tasks to somebody with the skill set you need. As a virtual assistant I get delegated to everyday, my customers know that by outsourcing tasks to me it can a) enable them to do what they need to, b) get it done faster and more effectively, or c) action something that they are unsure how to do or don’t have the resource to do. Whichever one it is it frees up their time to do only the things that they can do.
It is not always easy to learn how to do this, as I can testify, but once you have started you will have more time to work on what really matters.
Which one of these 5 tips will you be trying?
*source ‘Unlocking the UK’s Daily Savings Time’