Boost Productivity by Setting Your Schedule Right

If you have a lot of major tasks laid out for the entire day it can really be overwhelming especially if those tasks need to be done within the day. In some instances, you may even find it hard to get started. One way to help counteract this problem is to set up a routine. This routine, when carefully planned out, can provide much-needed structure. This, in turn, can lead to systematic completion of tasks without stressing you out so much. Read on to know how you can implement proper scheduling in your routine.

Determine your number of working hours.
As much as possible, allot the average number of hours that you work in a typical day for the scheduling. Include meetings and calls in your total computation. If possible, make these activities short and sweet. Going for this approach helps everyone get to the point because of the limited time. This eventually helps you save more time.

Decide on the working approach that you will use.
When you set blocks of time for the tasks, try to set them in 30-minute intervals. During this period, make sure that you will only focus on the task set out before you. After this period, allot 5 to 10 minutes for a break in between tasks. After two hours of working on a large task, take a longer break that lasts for 15 to 30 minutes. By using this technique, you can stay productive without taking a toll on your body.

A word of caution though: If you intend to approach your tasks using this technique, make sure that the time slot where you will place the task will indeed be uninterrupted. This is a technique that does not allow you to pause in between and just return when you feel like it. If you do this, it defeats the purpose of this approach.

If you are not a fan of this technique, you may also go for a 90-minute interval work period. In this approach, you will be asked to work for 90 minutes with minimal to no interruptions. After that, you may rest for about 20 to 30 minutes. The intense work session during the 90-minute duration is set at that length to ensure a good attention span. If you try to extend the working period beyond this, your productivity levels will most likely go down.

List the tasks that you need to complete for the week.
At this point, you don’t have to think about priorities and sequencing. Just go ahead and list your tasks as they occur in your mind. After listing them, place them in clusters. There isn’t a hard and fast rule on clustering. Just make sure that you group them according to how you will work on them and how urgent these tasks are. For instance, you may group them according to the nature of the tasks. E-mails and correspondence go together, meetings and phone calls can be clustered, and so on.

Block out specific times of the day for specific tasks.
Plan each day at least one day in advance and assign specific hours to certain tasks. There are two main types of time blocks.

• Reactive time blocks are those that you can allocate for tasks that may be interrupted. Some tasks that may be placed under this category include spontaneous meetings and answering automated e-mails.
• On the other hand, proactive blocks are used to pave way for important tasks that may not be interrupted. Some tasks under this group include creating a business model and drafting important documents.

Be accountable for the time you spend on each activity.
If you are having a hard time keeping track of the time you spend on each task, have someone else help you do this. Tell them of your intent to boost your productivity while keeping tabs of the time you are supposed to spend on each activity. You may even go as far as to report your progress to this person.

Include personal time in the list of priorities for the week.
Now that you have plotted your average working time for the week, the rest of the time for that week should be spent on your personal life. Unlike your working schedule, you don’t have to go for rigid structure. Just allot a personal activity for each day or block out one or two days in a week and you are good to go.

Take note that when you set up a routine, you need to be consistent with what you planned out. At the same time, you need to be ready for urgent events that may spontaneously arise during the day. Aside from the tasks that you need to complete within the day, you should not forget to incorporate some rest periods in between demanding activities. That way, you will not burn out. Remember, you are following a routine, so expect that most days are structured according to your planned schedule. In the end, your schedule might as well be an enjoyable one.

Make the Most Out of Your Vacation Through Your Virtual Assistant

Traveling can help you get some much-needed fresh air and disconnect from the daily hustle. When planning for a trip, using an application alone may not cut it. A better choice is to seek the help of experts who know their way around booking trips and taking care of similar tasks. In cases like this, enlisting the help of a virtual assistant is one of the best ways to go.

What are the benefits of hiring a virtual assistant for vacation planning?
While you prepare for your vacation, let your VA do the research. Some tools that you can use for planning include Google Flights and Expedia. Here are just some benefits that you may reap if you decide to get some VA help:

• They can keep you updated with business matters even if you are away.
• Virtual assistants can assist you with the logistics of your trip to include booking tickets, planning out the itinerary, taking care of luggage check-ins, and knowing the basic facts on how to get around not only the airport but the general vicinity.
• While you are on your vacation, your VA can also help take care of your tasks.
• You may also enjoy a stress-free experience after your trip.
• If you are still a student and you just need to plan out your trip for an upcoming break, a VA can help you maximize your relaxation time while worrying less about how you should take care of the technical arrangements for your trip. Some of these arrangements include booking a hotel and looking for a company that offers great vacation packages without breaking the bank.

How do I get started with planning my vacation?
If possible, inform your assistant at least one month before you plan to travel for your vacation. For major events like weddings and birthdays, a notice period of 60 to 90 days is reasonable, as well. This will not only physically prepare them for the tasks but will also serve as a thoughtful gesture on how you value their time as you do yours. Spend this time discussing the tasks that need to be completed and train them, if needed.

Set some “rules” before you head off.
This will mostly revolve around how you will communicate with your VA while you are on vacation. Would you prefer purely no communication or some correspondence throughout the day? In setting up the communication rules, consider the following:
• How many days do you intend to be away?
• Is your itinerary filled to the brim or do you have a lot of room to take it easy?
• Are you comfortable taking care of business matters while you are away?

If you intend to be away from work for more than three days, consider communicating with your VA at least once every two days. This will somehow give you a hint on how things are going and how you will deal with them for the meantime and once you get back. In case you are expecting more pressing issues to surface while you are on vacation, increase the communication to at least once per day.

Prioritize your tasks.
Do this before and during the notice period that you gave your VA. This way, the tasks will not be compromised even if you are not available.

• List all of your tasks. In this context, just list the tasks that you are supposed to do during your absence. It does not even matter if you will delegate the task or not. Just jot down whatever comes to mind then take care of these during the next few steps of prioritizing.
• Distinguish the urgent from the important tasks. Urgent means that the task should be done as soon as possible. On the other hand, the important tasks are those that need to be completed but can still wait. Next, you should inform your VA to complete the urgent tasks as soon as possible. For the important ones, set a due date for each task and plot them in your business calendar accordingly.
• There is a chance that not everything on the list will be accomplished. In this case, sequence the tasks in the “important list” according to the due date. If you have other ways to determine which of these tasks should come first, this is the part where you can implement them.

Delegate your tasks.
Instead of checking your e-mails while you are away, you can readily delegate this task to your VA. The VA, in turn, can check your e-mails at least once a day and notify you if something urgent comes up. Otherwise, you may instruct them to just take care of the matter on your behalf.

You do not even have to allocate all the tasks to them, just the tasks that you are comfortable assigning to other people. This way, you can save more time while maintaining a certain level of productivity for your business.

Ask for notes of events that transpired while you were away.
To achieve this, ask your VA to create a database for you where you can check the details of the follow-ups and concerns that you may have missed while you are away.

In general, travel arrangements are not easy to accomplish, especially if you have little experience with tasks such as these. Aside from helping you save a lot of headaches in the process of making travel arrangements, hiring a virtual assistant to do the tasks can help you save a lot of time. In turn, you may use the extra time to take care of other tasks that you cannot readily delegate. You may also use this time to recharge or prepare for your vacation ahead.

How Virtual Assistants can help with Christmas

christmas-design-elements_1045-315It is correct to assume that you may be thinking of hiring a virtual assistant for your office, particularly with the holiday season fast approaching. Consumers tend to always scramble to get things done right before Christmas despite the fact that they have the same number of days to prepare every year for the big holiday. As usual, business is going to be somewhat crazy for everyone, starting from last minute projects and assignments, to needing last minute favors and help.

Depending on your situation, you may be considering bringing
in additional help during the festive season, seeing that it never misses to
bring the same amount of stress and chaos each year. As a result, if you want
to maintain a steady routine, and keep your head above water, what choice do
you have other than securing extra help? However, rather than bringing in additional personnel, it may be much more beneficial for you to hire a virtual personal assistant.

A virtual personal assistant is an excellent alternative to
hiring extra staff members since they can work whenever you need them and do not have time limits. If you would like to save money when it comes to hiring costs and still get an extra pair of hands this holiday season, your best option
would be to bring on a virtual personal assistant to handle some of your tasks.

We can all agree that the holidays tend to be a busy time
for everyone, and we could all stand to benefit from some bit of help here and
there. Luckily, if you have a virtual personal assistant, you will be able to
handle a variety of tasks with their support.

The following are some of the ways on how a virtual personal
assistant can help with Christmas:

Brainstorming gift ideas and finding the best prices

For some people, gift-giving is one of the most stressful
aspects of the holiday season. You may like to hand out presents, but hate to
shop for them since you never quite know what to get for those closest to you.
Fortunately, there are literally dozens of online resources for the finding the
best Christmas gift. Providing your virtual personal assistant with a list of
the people you are shopping for and little bit of information about each one of
them will enable your VA to find some of the most thoughtful presents for
everyone on your list. After picking out each piece, you can have them compare
prices in different shops in order to find the best deals.

Arranging travel plans

If you intend to travel over the holidays, you should let your virtual personal assistant handle flight and hotel reservations. On the other hand, if you plan to stay with relatives, your VA can book you a relaxing and soothing getaway for when you get home.

Research for you year-end tax saving tips

Every year, there are certain tax strategies that you can take advantage of. The good thing is that your VA doesn’t have to be a financial guru to help you out. They can simply do the necessary research on various tax sites in order to find the best year-end tax breaks available. The truth is that investing in a virtual personal assistant could end up saving you huge chunks of money next year.

Ordering and mailing holiday cards

Christmas cards are a fun and exciting tradition that most
of us treasure. However, the time required to make and send them out can be a
quite much at times. As a result, instead of handling such tasks on your own
during the holiday season, you could send your VA some pictures and have them
come up with a couple of designs using built-in softwares such as TinyPrints or
Shutterfly. After they send in what they have, you can pick your favorite.

Take care of things in your absence

It is always a good idea to take a bit of time off over the holidays to be closer to your family and friends as you reflect on the years’ events and mentally prepare for the upcoming challenges. However, for some of us, it is not that easy to leave work behind, and this where a virtual personal assistant can prove to be quite handy. They can cover all your bases while you are away so that you can have peace of mind over the holidays.

Expressing gratitude on your behalf

While you are running around, trying to make everyone happy during the festive season, your best and most loyal customers may feel unappreciated more than usual. Since it is that time of year to give thanks and show appreciation, it is vital that you show your top clients how grateful you are for their loyalty to your brand.

You can even go an extra mile this year by hiring a virtual personal assistant who will send out Cards showing your appreciation. They can even include some kind of generous gesture like offering a discount. Such things will help to show your top customers that you are grateful for all your dealings throughout the year and would like your business relationship to continue and prosper.

Conclusion

We are on the cusp of the festive season, and you could have
schedules filling up, orders coming in, and your time being pulled in all
directions. Faced with such a situation, a virtual assistant can prove to be a
huge asset, not only for your sanity, but your bottom line during this busy
time of the year.

Also to consider…

If your virtual personal assistant has been providing you
with adequate help for most of the year, or they have added substantial value
to your life, you could consider paying them some kind of year-end bonus or
giving them some extra days off. After all, they would also like to be appreciated.
Such some small gestures can end up paying big dividends when it comes to
long-terms success and loyalty.