10 easy ways to increase your productivity as a virtual assistant
Life as a Virtual Assistant can get pretty hectic, that’s why it’s important to ensure your days are spent as productively as possible. These tips and tools will free up extra time so you can work on your business, as well as in it.
Keeping on top of tasks
Asana can be used in many ways, as a simple to-do list which makes it easy to break your tasks down into different projects or as a much more in-depth collaboration tool. Asana has both a free and premium option depending on your needs.
There will be those projects which need extensive planning before you get started and for this Trello fits the bill perfectly. Trello is almost like a virtual pinboard where you can take tasks and move them around easily. It’s good for planning out e-books, courses or just keeping on top of what you need to do for each client as a VA. You can also collaborate on Trello, so you could give your clients access to their own boards if you need to share content, images or attachments.
Tracking your time
You will often be working by the hour as a VA and therefore it’s important to be able to track your time accurately. Toggl is a free tool which lets you track every minute of the day. You can easily switch between tracking tasks and even create a report which you can give to your clients outlining in detail how your time was spent.
Toggl can also be very helpful in helping you discover times in the day which could be spent more productively. For example, are you switching constantly between repetitive tasks which might be better batched and done all at one time?
It’s important to focus on growing your own VA business at the same time as serving your clients. If you have your own website or blog, one of the best ways to do this is by building an email list. You can opt for a service like MailChimp, which is free for up to 2000 subscribers, and then add an opt-in form to your website so you can collect names and email addresses. You can then send out a regular newsletter to your list, plus set up autoresponders so you connect with your new readers on autopilot; saving you a great deal of time in the process.
Social media scheduling
You will want to share your own social media updates but sharing on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter etc. might also be part of your role as a VA. Instead of spending time daily to post the updates use a scheduler like Buffer, which now even includes the option to post directly to Instagram. If you want to recirculate evergreen content and memes then Smarterqueue is another great option.
Creating great graphics
A valuable service to offer as a VA is to be able to create graphics for your clients. The good news is that these days you don’t need to be a whizz on Photoshop to be able to do that. Canva, PicMonkey and Stencil all offer accessible ways to design amazing images your clients will love. Stencil even allows you to resize images on the fly so they fit all the different requirements of the social media platforms.
Do you offer prospective clients a free discovery call to find out more about what they need? If so, stop all the time-wasting going backwards and forwards to find dates which suit you both, and instead set up an online booking system. Calendly and Acuity both allow you to set the times you are available and then let people book directly in your calendar. This then syncs with your Google calendar so you can always keep on top of appointments.
There will be many times when you have to send very similar emails to people. This could be emails which outline your services or answer frequently asked questions. If you use Gmail you can set up canned responses which then only need to be tweaked to make them applicable to the person you are sending them to.
One of the most valuable tools you have available to you as a VA is Google Docs and Google Drive. In Google Docs you can create many types of documents including spreadsheets, questionnaires and PDFs. If these are saved in Google Drive you can then also collaborate on these documents with clients or other team members.
Power through tasks
If you want a way to cut through procrastination and power through tasks then check out the Pomodoro technique. This works on the premise that we do better when we focus for short periods on the task at hand. After that, you take a short 5-minute break to stretch or drink a glass of water. This technique really does work and you will find that you get way more done in an hour of concentrated work, than in an afternoon of less structured time. You can find many free timer tools online to help with this.
If you implement even some of these tips you are going to find that your productivity rises. Parkinson’s Law states that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”. Therefore, if you set a deadline for a task you are more likely to get it done and off your task list than if you just leave it open-ended. We often have deadlines in place for the work we do for clients but make sure that is also true of any projects you want to pursue within your business.
As your productivity rises you are going to need to balance that with sufficient rest and relaxation time. A VA can often feel on-call, so make sure you set boundaries with your clients as to when you will and will not be available. Good boundaries make for satisfied clients and a happy VA.