Brilliant Ways to Encourage Productivity for Your Virtual Personal Assistant

On average, a typical VA spends around 8 to 10 hours working each day. Most of the time, this is more than the 6 to 8 hours of sleep they get daily (sometimes even less). This means that a full-time virtual personal assistant spends more time communicating with you and working on your tasks than accomplishing their own personal tasks. Therefore, how you treat them in the workplace can make or break their mood and, consequently, their overall productivity.

 

A highly-motivated VA can provide not only outstanding output but also an energized aura that can be contagious for your entire online working space. The positive ambiance this creates can lead to more opportunities for growth and can encourage creativity in performing their tasks. In this article, we will tackle some techniques to help you become more of a leader and less of a boss for not only your VA but your entire team.

Always have their best interest in mind.

To better put this into perspective, treat them as family in the sense that you will never abandon them no matter what. Allow them to know that even if they make a mistake from time-to-time, you will always be there for them without prior judgment. If you make them feel safe from day one, they will most likely have your back and will be willing to help you in any way they can. In a way, this is your VA’s way of expressing gratitude.

Affirm them for something awesome that they did.

That something may be a higher number of answered e-mails, a commendation from your client because of their work, or just a thoughtful note that helped you increase your sales in a day. It doesn’t matter if that something is small in the eyes of others. If it’s an achievement, it’s worth celebrating.

A simple but good way to do this is to acknowledge how their work ethic makes the workplace a little brighter. Even just a short e-mail or a quick chat message on how well they did will surely brighten your VA’s day. Most VAs who receive affirmations perform even better when they are shown appreciation.

Curb the urge to micromanage.

Frustration sets in when meddling with the work they do. Resist the urge to scrutinize their work. If someone were to do this to you, you would surely become frustrated as you are trusted to know your timeline and how to do your tasks. The same is so for most seasoned VAs.

Let your VA take ownership of what they do. Let them handle their time and resources as they see fit. Just ensure that these are within reasonable means and you’re good to go. If you hired a self-starter, you should allow them to set their own pace. Asking your VA for updates around once or twice a week is a good frequency.

Communicate clearly.

Aside from the initial orientation and training that your VA has to go through, you have to be clear with the outcomes you expect with each assigned task. Encourage two-way communication in your virtual workspace. Allow them to reach out to you if they need to ask questions or to simply raise a concern that’s on their mind. They will surely appreciate the openness and perform at their best.

As with work discrepancies and errors, never resort to blaming. This will not only lower your VA’s morale but can create a negative impact on their output, not to mention, they will have lower confidence in what they do.

Support your virtual personal assistant in every possible way you can.

Provide them with learning resources they can use to further improve in their role in your company. If possible, you may discuss the materials with them and obtain their insights. When you do this, you get to train and retrain them – even update their skillset in some cases. In the long run, as you supply them with more knowledge in their respective field, you also boost their confidence

However, make sure you know where to draw the line when supporting them. Ensure that you avoid spoon feeding to further encourage their sense of independence. By doing so, you do not only mold them to be a more productive professionally but help them grow as a person.

Provide incentives when they deserve it.

The incentive can be monetary or otherwise, depending on the current budget of your company. If possible, discuss the incentive system in your company, if there is any. This will give your VA an additional goal to keep in mind. It isn’t actually about the reward itself but about having an additional healthy challenge to take on. Just make sure that the prerequisites to get the incentive are not outrageously difficult or downright impossible. If you do this, you discourage productivity. Why would anyone shoot for something they know is impossible to attain.

There are times that your VA will not feel like working. To be fair, we all have those days. If you treat them well and sincerely from the get-go, they will still choose to log in their hours without feeling as though they are dragging themselves into work. The main difference lies in how you see them and how you make them feel as your virtual assistant. As the saying goes, take care of your employees, and they will surely take care of you and your business. This is possible if they are productive because of high motivation and morale in the workplace.

Practical Tips that can Make You Effectively Delegate to Your Dedicated Assistant

No matter your intention, delegation is easier said than done. It doesn’t just mean you have to distribute work that you hate to your dedicated assistant; in fact, how you delegate is sometimes considered an art. When delegating is done correctly, it can pave the way to more tasks getting done within a day without you technically completing them yourself.

Why Delegate to Your Dedicated Assistant?

One common mindset business managers have with delegation is it’s simply passing off random pieces of work to their VA. When done this way, delegating becomes a constant cycle of trial-and-error. Here are some benefits that you and your company may have if you master the art of delegation:

    • You save more time and resources because your dedicated assistant does not have to figure out how a large chunk of the task should be done.
    • It makes everyone’s workload more manageable, thus reducing stress levels for everyone on the team.
    • Delegating provides you with precious opportunities to teach your VA. Not only will this improve their skillset, but it will also sharpen your communication skills further.

Preparation Before Task Distribution

Preparing does not mean you just have to list down everything you want done. Preparation requires discernment to determine which tasks you can definitely allow your dedicated assistant to handle. To distribute tasks easily, you have to realize that you can’t do all the tasks yourself. To help determine what tasks can be managed by your VA you may use the following tips:

    • Build rapport with your VA. Delegating tasks helps to build a long-lasting and harmonious relationship with your dedicated assistant over time. You have to do this for you and your VA to develop trust before you assign anything to them.
    • Consider their skillset before you give out the tasks. Also, consider their interests before you assign tasks as well as the current workload. Also, determine their success in taking on similar tasks, how they work on those tasks, and how they deal with pressure when working on these things.
    • Explain why you need to delegate the tasks to them. At this point, you may also consider telling them about the bigger picture – how this task can affect business operations. If applicable, you may also tell them how this can affect them as a part of the company.
    • Set your expectations. Set timelines and milestones to further enforce commitment on the project. Specify the delivery and check that they understand this as well as the terms laid out.

The Art of Delegation

Here are some important tips to check out when you decide to assign the tasks to your dedicated assistant:

    • Develop trust and accountability. This goes both ways. Show them that you place your faith in their skills and how they can help you in the long run. Never be overbearing even if you feel the pressure to meet an urgent deadline. Doing so will sap the productivity out of your VA even more.
    • Clearly communicate the tasks. Make sure to specify how you expect the task to be done. If the task does not require a rigid process to complete, you may instead inform your VA of the outcome you expect to have by the end of an agreed working period. Encourage them to ask questions and seek clarification to ensure that you’re on the same page.
    • Devise a project plan and discuss it with your dedicated assistant. You may include how you prioritize the tasks during this phase. Consider the urgency of the project and the length of time needed for completion. When devising the plan, be realistic about the goals and expectations.
    • Use relevant tools and equipment, if applicable. You may also conduct a short training or provide materials and resources to reinforce the skills they can use to finish the project. Thoroughly review the materials that you’re giving your dedicated assistant to ensure that these are up-to-date and relevant to the tasks.
    • Document crucial information such as workflow, tracking systems, relevant project data, summaries, and endorsements.
    • Make sure to be available if ever they have questions or problems as they work through the project. This will help further improve their efficiency with the task. If you can’t be available all day, make sure to set a specific time slot each day when they can easily contact you for any concerns. Your availability is important to resolve conflicts as soon as possible instead of learning about them a few days or hours before the deadline.
    • Provide constructive feedback. Try using the sandwich method when giving feedback to your dedicated assistant. This involves presenting them with some positive points at the beginning then gradually introducing points for improvement. Cap everything off with some more positive feedback based on how they performed so far. When providing feedback, remember to give credit where it’s due. Always show gratitude to your VA for a job well done. Show sincerity and genuine appreciation for their help. To show your gratitude even more, point out the things that they did really well during crunch time. The gesture will not only warm their heart but will also improve how they see you as a leader and as a person.

While following these tips, remind yourself that when you’re on good terms with your dedicated assistant, they will do all they can to do well with tasks so your project will be successful. Be sure to match this level of enthusiasm with your own passion so you can be successful.

Capping It Off

Delegation is a good way to keep your hands off simple and monotonous tasks while you do other things to help grow your business. To do this effectively, you have to remove the mindset that only you can do everything correctly. Learn when to seek help and where to look for assistance. In this case, we can help you by providing you with high-quality services through our brilliant virtual assistants.

Team Productivity: 6 Effective Tips to Help You Improve

No matter how great your team is right now, you can still do something to further increase everyone’s productivity without sacrificing their health and sanity. There is no exact science on how you can do this. However, if you know your team and its dynamics well, you can do something to further boost their productivity with ease. The following are just some tips on how to improve team productivity:

 

Set goals with the team.

Every team is unique so you have to set goals that will work towards everyone’s interests and vision. Set both long-term goals and short-term goals. Long-term goals are usually those that you want your team to accomplish within at least six months to a year. While some may go as far into the future as five or ten years, this is not recommended as you can always review the goals after a few months and revise them accordingly.

As for short-term goals, you may set daily, weekly, and monthly goals. While you’re formulating these targets with your team, make sure to explain in detail how these short-term goals translate within the long-term goals you created with them. Also, speak with them about how these goals will affect them and the company as a whole. Discussing these goals will help everyone appropriately align their motivation to be productive.

Be a good example.

Self-discipline is a good way to go. You don’t have to be the perfect leader – you just have to do what is expected of you. When your team sees you persevering, this causes a ripple effect. Little by little, they will start imitating your example, consciously or otherwise. The end result of perseverance is increased productivity within the group.

Understand the process of creating team expectations.

If possible, you may also teach them how it’s done. To teach them the process, you need to have prior mastery of the skills that you want to impart to your team. Create visual aids and other similar teaching materials to make it easier for you to show them the ropes.

Schedule a meeting appropriately as a sign of respect for their time. If the training can’t be completed in a couple of hours, consider dividing the concepts into smaller parts and teach them in a series-like format.

During and after discussions, encourage them to ask questions. Be open for clarifications and allow them to discuss with you and each other what they think of the process and if they think more suggestions are in order.

Give them free reign to be creative.

They will appreciate the gesture. If possible, allow them the freedom to have flexible work schedules. This is important because no two people have exactly the same “productive time slot”. By allowing them to work during their most productive times, you allow them the chance to make the most out of their creativity by permitting them to be “in their zone” every time they work with the team.

At some point during the work day, they will need a break and that’s okay. Allow them time to regroup, and they will surely feel refreshed and may even return with new ideas that they can share with the group. However, sometimes, patience is key. Creative ideas cannot be forced, so, it may take some time before they have one or two good breakthroughs.

When they do have suggestions, make sure to listen to them without judgment. Never judge suggestions or ideas even if you think the idea is not good at the time. Take note of the idea. You never know when this might come in handy.

Provide everyone with feedback.

Initially, you may give individual feedback in private, then as a group. You may even ask them to give you feedback on how you fare as their leader so far. If you’re planning to do this, assure them beforehand that anything they tell you will not affect how you see them as a team member and as a person. If possible, you may even conduct a survey of anonymous respondents so they will feel more comfortable sharing their insights. The important key here is to discuss the type of feedback system that works best for everyone.

Conduct motivational sessions before crunch time.

It can be somewhere between 5 to 15 minutes. You may also treat this as a short session to check on each member in order to assess how they are doing as a group. For sessions like this one, you may share a quotation or an anecdote and relate this with the current situation that the team is facing. You may also encourage them to share their experiences and relate to them. Discourage team members from judging each experience and provide a supportive environment for everyone.

Despite any setbacks, you should place team member welfare above everything else. Make sure that in the process of doing your part in the project, you will not get so caught up in the job that you eventually forget to see your team members as people from different walks of life. Career growth is important, but, always remember to care for team members. You will surely not regret this.

Efficient Ways to Have More Free Time

A typical office workday has its employees working from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. This 8-hour grind is not a magic number, sadly, but a product of an outdated workplace concept. On average, each employee is expected to have increased productivity during a 40-hour workweek – sometimes even more! However, studies show that expectations are meant to face disappointment because an increase in working hours does not necessarily translate to better output, and this is in terms of both quality and quantity. More free time is the latest hit!

Why is it having a shorter work week popular these days?

In a nutshell, working shorter hours within the week gives people extra time for things that mean more to them, may it be a hobby such as gardening or volunteer work that requires teaching kids at least 5 hours in a week.  Hobbies and other meaningful work helps to give meaning or purpose to our lives and can even aid in fueling out passion and overall satisfaction at work.

How do I get started in getting more free time?

First off, you have to consider the tasks that are urgent and important. List them down and prioritize them according to when it is needed and how massive the task at hand is. You may then proceed with the following tips:

1. Set a workweek “budget”.

If you’re reading this article, it most likely means you want to work less than 40 hours a week. In this case, you have to set a realistic yet comfortable number of hours that you can’t be disturbed. Depending on the nature of your work and responsibilities, it can be somewhere between 15 to 30 hours a week. Make sure to stick to it for the rest of the week. If you change your mind and realize that you have to render more or less time, go for it the week after.

Suppose you picked 15 working hours for this week, determine the number of days you can work on your tasks for that week. If you need to be present online for most days of the week, perhaps a 3-hour work day for 5 days of the week is a good call. Just make sure that when you work, you will anticipate the distractions. If you still don’t have an idea how to manage distractions, don’t worry. We also have a separate article for that.

2. Determine a limited working time for each task.

This is known as “time boxes”. Usually, people have the tendency to stretch the length of work time depending on the amount of time allotted for the task. Therefore, if you give yourself the entire day to work on a task, effects can be detrimental as you’re prone to distractions such as other side tasks that are not as urgent or as important. Set at least one hour to finish one task. If you’re having trouble completing it within this given time-frame, consider breaking it down into smaller chunks of work.

For example, if you’re working on an illustration for your company’s poster, break down this large task into these smaller ones: Creating the rough sketch, smoothing out the lines, coloring in the image, and working on the finishing touches. It seems almost impossible to work on that illustration within just an hour (unless you’re super fast and talented allowing you to whip up an image within a very short span of time). Therefore, we can break down the smaller tasks into 30-minute or one-hour increments depending on the complexity of the poster that you intend to complete.

3. Master the art of setting boundaries.

This is a problem if you’re too hardworking and you don’t want to place the burden on anyone but yourself. While it’s a sweet and thoughtful gesture, keep in mind that you can’t do everything – and you don’t have to! Check your list of tasks and see if only you can handle it. If you think someone else may be up for the job, you may politely decline the task and recommend another person for consideration. Doing this will not only avoid bad blood in the workplace but can also help promote teamwork in the long run.

4. Dedicate a specific time slot for bulky and monotonous tasks.

One of the most common tasks that can really be exhausting is answering e-mails with similar content. Before you know it, this will burn you out even before the day starts.

If you don’t have to answer all the e-mails at once, it may be best to pace your e-mail tasks. Consider distributing the task for the entire week. If you’ve dedicated a 3-hour session for each day, allot 30 minutes of that to e-mails.

5. Never touch work when it’s not within schedule.

The rigidity will help you stay focused because of the limited time you need to spend on it. Aside from helping you reduce distractions, this will help you reduce the frequency of errors. In effect, this increases your overall efficiency.

6. Outsource the rest of your tasks.

If you have little experience working on a task, ask for help from experts. If you need some help looking for a virtual assistant under your niche, we can try to help you.

Where do I go from here?

The main point of reducing your working hours is to make time for more meaningful things. These may be in the form of quality family time, a hobby, or a charity movement. If you manage your time wisely, you may even be able to accomplish all three at once! At the end of the day, working will not define who you are. There’s so much more to life than that!

7 Innovative Ways to Reduce Your Stress

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If you frequently feel stressed out by your commitments and environments, simply continue reading to discover 7 helpful tips on how to reduce your stress levels.

7 innovative ways to reduce stress:

1. Ensure that you’re not taking on too many commitments

If you’re looking to reduce stress at school or work, it may be worthwhile assessing your schedule to see whether you’ve bitten off more than you chew. As an example if you’re a college student who is struggling to balance a part time job with a heavy course load, you may benefit from reducing the amount of hours that you work and applying for scholarships to fund your tuition and living expenses. Whilst if you work a nine to five job and are given too much responsibility, you may want to consider talking to your boss or manager about your workload.

2. Consider hiring a virtual assistant handle some of your tasks

If there simply aren’t enough hours in a day to fulfill all of your day to day tasks you may be interested in seeking virtual assistance from a professional virtual assistant. A virtual assistance can make your life more manageable, by handling simple tasks such as sorting your emails, scheduling your appointments, typing up your college notes, sorting out your bills and making your travel arrangements for you.

Having a virtual assistant handle simple tasks, will free up your schedule, so that you have a chance to relax and socialize with your friends and family. As if you fail to take time out for yourself on a regular basis, you’ll just end up feeling over worked and stressed out.

3. Take time out to exercise on a regular basis

By visiting your local gym, swimming at the beach or taking your dog for a walk, your body will release endorphins which will leave you feeling happier and less stressed out. So if you’re feeling stressed out after a busy day at work or at school, it’s worth lacing up your trainers and heading out for a run. As an added benefit, the fitter you are, the better your body will cope with day to day stress.

4. Don’t be afraid to vent to a trusted confidante

Bottling up your feelings will only leave you feeling more overwhelmed and stressed than you already are. So if you’re struggling with coping with symptoms of stress, consider ringing a family member or a trusted friend, who’ll provide a comforting ear. Who knows, your confidante may have experienced similar feelings and may be able to give you helpful advice on how to handle the stress which you’re experiencing.

5. If you don’t have someone you feel comfortable confiding in, book an appointment with a counselor

Contrary to popular belief you don’t have to be crazy in order to book an appointment with a counselor. In fact, a large percentage of individuals who visit counselors book appointments in order to simply vent their problems and decrease their stress level. If you’re still at college, your college may even offer free or inexpensive on campus counseling as part of your tuition fees.

6. Remember to reward yourself for meeting your goals

Too often when individuals achieve the goals which they have set themselves, they immediately focus on their next set of goals, without taking adequate time to congratulate themselves on a job well done. So next time you reach a goal, ensure to take a break and reward yourself. As an example, you may want to treat yourself to a weekend getaway or enjoy a meal at your favorite restaurant.

7. Take a break for social media

Whilst social media was created to add value to our lives, if you find yourself feeling stressed out by maintaining social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, you may be in need from a mini break from your online life. After all, your goal should be to live a life that makes you happy, rather than projecting that you’re happy on your social media accounts.

So if you’ve noticed that you’re feeling stressed out on a regular basis, don’t feel too disheartened as by taking small actions, you’ll be able to reduce your stress levels, in no time. As an example, you may be surprised at how much stress you can off load by hiring a virtual assistant or how great you can feel after a run around your neighborhood.