Virtual Personal Assistant Routines to Improve Productivity

Annabelle always feels at awe whenever she has Dorothy, her virtual personal assistant, do important and urgent tasks for her. Dorothy seems so efficient at what she does that Annabelle can’t help but feel fond of her. When she asked her VA how she finishes her ton of daily tasks, Dorothy was quick to say that she makes sure not to break her routines. Here are some of the tips that she shared with Annabelle:

 

Start off your virtual personal assistant day with some exercise.

The exercise actually doesn’t have to be too strenuous, as opposed to the common belief. It can be as simple as a bout of stretches done for about 10 minutes at a time. It can also be around five minutes’ worth of walking and you’re good to go. The main goal is to make sure that you’re “awake enough” to do the rest of the tasks for the day. In our virtual personal assistant’s case, she typically gets up  around 5 AM and brisk walks her way to the nearest bakery to get her breakfast. It’s already productive in the sense that she already accomplished two things: Getting her breakfast while performing her routine to prepare for more mentally-draining work.

 

Eat your breakfast.

Dorothy does not recommend just having a random granola bar for breakfast. She meant having a full and nutritious meal to help with the first part of the day, at the very least. Nutritionists advise having breakfast with carbohydrates, protein, and a little fat in it will help to begin the day.

Here are some great combos you can try out:

  • A piece of hard-boiled egg, a couple of slices of toast, and half an avocado.
  • A cup of fruit yogurt, a slice of broiled chicken, and a cup of whole wheat oatmeal.
  • An egg sandwich, a piece of apple, and a cup of coffee.

 

Deal with the most difficult tasks in the morning.

This is important because if you’re still feeling refreshed after a good night’s sleep (assuming that you did sleep well the previous night), there’s a great chance you’ll be up for tasks that require a high level of concentration.

In contrast, leave easier tasks for the afternoon. As the day wears on, so will your mind. If you do the easiest tasks first, chances are you’ll no longer have much energy to deal with the more difficult tasks for the latter part of the day. Because it will harder for you to focus on these tasks by then, you may also have problems in terms of the quality of output.

Which brings us to the next tip…

 

Prioritize what you need to do for the day.

Based on the tip stated above, you have to deal with the most difficult tasks first to be more productive. To determine what tasks will take much of your time, you need to know what they are!

Five-minute hack: Have a rundown of all the things that you have to do for the day. You do not even have to rank them or consider them as urgent or important. Just list down the things that come to mind. After that, select the top three things that you think will take a lot of your time during the day. Rank these according to priority or urgency. Focus on these tasks first. Never move on to your other tasks unless you’re already finished with your top three.

 

Watch what you eat.

Before you know it, that sugar-packed bag of sweets that you just had earlier will take its toll on you. It will eventually make you feel drowsy. Result? You’ll end up not doing as much during the afternoon. Another result? You’re about to miss a deadline.

Sure, this seems like exaggerating, but the point is you have to make sure that what you eat will help you focus more during the day. This does not necessarily mean that you need to throw out every sweet you have in your stash. This just means that you have to keep everything in moderation and ensure that you have proper nutrition even before you set off for the day.

It actually happened to Dorothy. Since this virtual personal assistant is trying to lose some weight anyway, she gave up on the sweets and looked for healthier alternatives such as apples and bananas. These food finds not only keep her awake in the afternoon but also improve her concentration levels.

 

Read an article before you set off for work.

If you’re not a fan of reading, take baby steps first. Read at least 500 words of a light article. By mentioning light, it means an article with a topic that does not drain your energy. At the same time, the article should provide you with some insights or substantial takeaways that you can ponder on during your downtime.

 

If you want to take it up a notch, write.

This does not mean that your writing needs to be “perfect”. In fact, it can be anything under the sun. It can be a random thought or a plan that you’ve been dying to implement since last month. Talk about it in your entry. Don’t be afraid of being judged – it’s for your eyes only. More than the content of what you write, the intent of writing is more important. In this case, writing serves as a warm-up for your brain and provides some stimuli to your brain in preparation for the more tedious tasks ahead.

 

The bottom line

You can’t develop routines and habits overnight. In Dorothy’s case, it took her at least a month to at least work on the routines “automatically”. Therefore, never feel disheartened if you don’t feel like doing much at the time. As long as you work on your consistency each day, there will come a time that you can be slaying it with your skills and your drive to make the most out of each day.

The One Key to My Personal and Business Success (and my Sanity!)

 

Throughout my 20s, I was laser focused on building my business. This meant all my resources were poured into my venture. There was one thing I wasn’t willing to sacrifice though, and that’s the quality of food I’d eat.

You hear it all the time – stories of entrepreneurs living off dollar pizza and ramen for years on end just so they could get their business off the ground. I was never one of those people. I valued my health way too much. Plus, I believed that the better I felt, the more I’d get done.

The irony is that I missed one important point – that our health goes beyond just our body. We have to mind our mental health too.

 

While I was willing to pay extra for food, I wasn’t as willing to splurge on other things. I’d do just about anything to keep that extra penny. I’d wait for hours until a taxi would pass by because I refused to pay higher Uber rates. Paying for cleaning and laundry services was beyond me, and don’t even think of making me pay for a virtual personal assistant. I chose to do everything on my own.

I thought I was making the best choices. I even took pride in my prudent lifestyle. But then it all caught up with me. For a few months, things got out of control. My dirty laundry piled up, I’d run out of groceries, and my home was in complete chaos. I almost had a psychological breakdown! Just the thought of doing something as simple as taking out the trash gave me anxiety attack.

I knew I had to make a change. It simply wasn’t working anymore.

The Key to Leadership Success

In the world of business, people are often told about how delegation is an important key to leadership success. According to Harvard Business Review, delegation benefits all the players in a business – the managers, the subordinates, and the organization as a whole. All the same, research showed that almost half of the participating companies were seeing a lack of delegation skills in their employees. Several leaders hold on to their instinctive tendency to protect work, which then fuels a constant state of overextension.

I am a solopreneur offering women’s wear via an e-commerce store. I own a dropshipping business, which allows me to run a solo operation.

To give you a quick background on the kind of business that I run — dropshipping is a type of business model where the retailer sells products without the need to have goods in stock or to work on logistics. Customer orders and shipment details are simply transferred to either another retailer, a wholesaler, or a manufacturer who then takes charge of shipping the products directly to the customer. With the logistics covered, all that I (the retailer) have to do is market and sell the products. I maintain an online store and advertise my products on social media channels. I also respond to customer inquiries and concerns.

At a glance, you’d think my business would not benefit from delegation. I thought the same, but boy, was I wrong.

It took a life crisis that bordered on a psychological breakdown for me to finally make a real CEO move – I started delegating certain aspects of my daily life! Because it meant spending money on something I would normally skimp on, that took a lot of courage and willpower on my part. But boy oh boy, did it change my life!

 

The Most Important Resource

It all started with realizing what my most valuable resource is. And no, it’s not money. It’s definitely not the few pennies I save from suffering through daily indignities. My most important resource is time! Ironically, the more I acknowledge this fact, the more money I end up saving.

Case in point, I started allocating the hours I spent waiting for a taxi to other more productive and income-generating activities. Because the marketing I do actually amounts to more sales, my time is pretty valuable. It was simply foolish to sacrifice hours of my precious time for a few dollars of savings on a taxi ride.

Now more focused on saving time rather than a few dollars, I’ve started to delegate many of my daily tasks. This boss move eventually propelled my business to new heights of success — and earned me more profits! I now also have resources to do more of the things that I love, like travelling and volunteering. Success, after all, is about living a fuller and more meaningful life.

Here are some of the tasks I’ve started to delegate:

1) Laundry

I have completely delegated my laundry to a service that includes pickup and drop off. It’s a far cry from the days when my laundry would pile up to the point where I’d have to devote a day just for the task. This used to bring me such anxiety; I still shudder from the thought of it. Now, I even have a virtual personal assistant contacting the laundry service for me. I just breathe better now.

2) Food Preparation

It’s funny how I’d care about my health so much I’d only eat healthy food but then get too caught up in my daily tasks causing me to go for hours on end without food. Well, this foolishness ended a while back. Thanks again to this lovely thing they call delegation. All it took was a few clicks on an app. I am now signed up with a food preparation and delivery program that makes sure I eat right and on time. My virtual personal assistant did a great job finding a vegan delivery program that makes sure I get the proper amount of calories and that I actually enjoy my food.

3) Household Cleaning

I have OCD, and I’m a bit of a germophobe, so I spend way too much time cleaning my home. If this task were to bring in profits, I’d be much richer for it. Hiring a cleaner is probably one of the most cost-effective things I’ve ever had to do. I also feel happier and more relaxed in my home now, I just can’t believe I didn’t do this sooner.

4) Business Operations

I didn’t realize it, but the thought that my business is a one-man show unnecessarily restricted its growth. Now that I have a virtual personal assistant taking care of the smaller tasks like responding to customer queries and complaints, I’ve just had more headspace and time to focus on the big picture. This resulted in a more put-together and successful marketing strategy. I’ve even branched out to other product lines! The returns are unreal.

Delegation has become a crucial ingredient not only for my business success but for my sanity as well. I’d prescribe it to anyone.

 

Best Virtual Personal Assistants’ Tips to Prevent Burnout

Emma is an online entrepreneur. She currently is busy researching for some winning beauty products that she can sell internationally. Because product research takes a lot of her time lately, she decides to hire some of the best virtual personal assistants that she can find for e-commerce.

The work is long-term and the tasks are monotonous. Being the empathic person that she is, she knew her VA would become eventually sick and tired of the work. Therefore, she wants to keep them productive without burning them out. She believes this will help prevent turnovers in the long run.

Provide rewards for great performance.

Even if her best virtual personal assistants are remotely working, she makes it a point to give her VAs the care they need. On top of salaries and bonuses, she also makes sure to provide medical and dental benefits for them. She does not only do this because they are an investment but also because she wants to make them feel appreciated. As soon as the workload became manageable for everyone, she also enforced more vacation days for everyone to help them recharge.

Never give your virtual assistant too much work.

One way to help her assess the optimal workload everyday is to check her VAs’ performance. She checked on the volume of work done per day and correlated this with the number of errors incurred for every ten outputs turned in. To do this, she first “segregated” the work days with the best outputs done and the work days with the lowest quality of work. From there, she checked the volume of work for both.

Based on her “research”, Emma found out that her VAs perform better with an output (completed product listing) of 20 or lower per day. Knowing this figure, she initially tried to set a quota for each VA. However, because of varying numbers of product listings that the team has to work on every day, she just made it a point to prioritize the most important listings first and allocated these to her best virtual personal assistants.

“Too much work” is a subjective thing and Emma knows this. Another quick way to let her know the perfect workload for her best virtual personal assistants is to ask. After a week, she asked her VAs what each person’s workable number of listings would be in order to benefit all members of the team. Her VAs answered 15. She tried to match this with the needed outputs per day and eventually compromised with 18 listings per VA per day. The team accepted this proposal. Everybody was happy with the expected number. After a few weeks, Emma checked some product listings, and they were superb!

Provide opportunities for growth.

Provide means to help them hone their skills more. It may be a tool or a short course about skill set that’s relevant to them. In Emma’s case, she asked one of her best virtual personal assistants which skill set she was interested in learning more about at that time. Her VA was interested in taking up photo editing classes.

Emma sensed that this was a good investment for both of them. While her VA showed enthusiasm at the idea of taking classes, Emma’s business could also profit from it at the same time because she could then use her VA to help edit photos for the product listings. With these things in mind, she gave her VA some time off to finish the course. Upon returning, her virtual assistant was excited to work and wanted to try out the things that she learned as soon as possible.

Best Virtual Personal Assistants’ Top Tip: Motivate them the best that you can.

Emma does this by mixing up the routines once in a while. She knows that when you stick to one type of work say for about a month, you’ll eventually get bored no matter how easy the job is. On some days, she even sets up leaderboards to further increase productivity. She does this on really busy days to help the team manage the workload even if more work keeps pouring in on those days.

Get rid of the things that dampen motivation.

If you’re not sure what lowers your best virtual personal assistants’ morale, observe. You may even conduct a simple anonymous survey to help them speak up. Two of the most common things that will surely kill motivation are ineffective communication and lack of organization within the company.

Encourage them to participate in the activities.

At the same time, be excited to take part in the activities as well. Your energy levels can be infectious even if you’re not aware of it. On days when her schedule permits, Emma helps out with the product listings. She even asks her VAs to comment on her work. This earns her more respect from her VAs.  As simple as this gesture may be, this further motivated her VAs to also become more productive. It’s because they know their client truly cares for them.

Some Takeaways

When it comes to work, money is not the sole motivator. Increasing your VA’s salary may not be the only solution to help them keep going despite the busy schedule. Emma knows this, so she does her best to see her VAs as more than employees. She realizes that their backgrounds may be different from hers. She believes that if you treat others nicely, they will definitely feel that they are important and are cared for. Eventually, this will not only help prevent burnout but will also pave the way for great friendships and working relationships.

E-mail Hacks to Effectively Organize Your Inbox

One of the most common means to communicate online is through e-mails. John knows this too well. This is one of the reasons he hired his new virtual assistant.

Things are now going smoothly as far as answering e-mails are concerned. John can take care of his business while his assistant ensures that every e-mail is answered adequately. However, as his business began to gain traction over the last few months, the e-mail bulk started piling up faster than his VA could accommodate. His VA should answer at least 80 e-mails per day. In some cases, she was able to answer more than a hundred on extremely busy days. How did he handle this without hiring another VA? He taught his assistant the following e-mail hacks.

Use the “three-category system” to classify the mails.

He instructed her to set three main categories for efficiency:

  • Sales/Customer Transactions
  • Inquiries
  • For John’s direct handling (receipts, important documents, and statements of accounts)

John advised his VA to do this as soon as she was done clocking in. This helped lessen the guesswork that came with analyzing each message. Looking for common keywords may also help with the classification of each mail.

There’s just one exception to this technique: If she can answer the e-mail right away after seeing it, she might as well go ahead and do it. If it takes her more than 5 seconds to think of a cohesive response, it’s better to place it in one of the three folders until later.

John also recommended his VA to classify the e-mails according to business needs or personal preferences. Here are two possible choices you may use as well:

  • Deadline-focused: You may use later, tomorrow, and next week as your three categories.
  • Action-focused: You may utilize refer, reply, and hold as the folders.

John’s VA uses the deadline-focused classification system. John’s transactions are time-sensitive, after all. The system helps her prioritize which e-mail should be answered first. In the long run, this helped them timely close the most number of deals in a week. Classifying emails increased customer satisfaction and lessened stress for the VA and the business owner. This is a win-win situation!

Cut down on unnecessary e-mail queues.

John taught his VA to set blocks of time to reply to different types of e-mails. For example, the first three hours of the shift is used to address inquiries alone. The next four hours are used for the transactions. Allocating tasks using this technique helps his VA focus more on answering the same types of questions. She can do this without compromising the quality of the message. Also, she will not lose her momentum easily because she only has to think about one general theme (read one type of e-mail topic) at a time.

He also trained his VA to scan the e-mails to see if the messages needed replies in the first place. There’s no need for a reply if the e-mail only contains a simple thank you. Responding with “you’re welcome” is not only counterproductive but also a time-waster. The VA may instead archive or delete the message after receiving it.

Installing or setting up an e-mail filter is another e-mail hack that helps significantly lower the queues to a manageable number. In this case, John set up the e-mail software to whitelist potential customers and business partners. This helps prioritize the whitelisted people when they send an e-mail to John’s company. The other filtered mails are answered at a later time.

To further reinforce this filtering system, he also taught his VA to identify spam e-mails from the typical ones. Pressing the “mark as spam” button teaches the software over time to identify messages that are not important. Experts say that this can significantly lower the queues by as much as 30%.

Compose canned messages.

If John’s VA will manually answer the same set of questions with the same set of answers for the entire day, it would drive her nuts! Just imagine saying the same thing to different people throughout the day. You’ll surely end up exhausted and exasperated. To address this concern, John required his assistant to come up with the company’s FAQs. From there, she had to compose the most common but comprehensive answers possible. This saved her a lot of time in the process.

John did not interfere with how his VA chose her template and how she applied each one as appropriate. In this case, she used Sticky Notes so she can easily copy and paste her replies to each message. Take note that while this may be the best approach for her, it is not the only one available. For instance, Google Mail also provides this feature.

E-mail hacks, in a nutshell…

Answering e-mails is possibly a waste of time depending on how you handle it. It is much easier for you to use the rest of the time to take care of other more important tasks once you learn the ropes. Using plug-ins and tools can further improve the way you handle the messages in the long run. Right now, John’s company receives wonderful feedback on how timely they take care of customers’ concerns through email, and this is thanks to a set of simple e-mail hacks!

Dedicated Assistant Guide: Done vs. Perfect

Charlie is a very busy CEO. Aside from juggling with management-related tasks, he also attends graduate studies to further boost his arsenal of skills and expertise. Being a working student brings about a lot of sleep-deprived nights and a lot of caffeine-boosted mornings and evenings. He finally tried to snap out of the cycle and hired Warren, a dedicated assistant, to help him.

Having Warren on the team is one of the best decisions that Charlie has made since building his company. He was able to take a lot of things off his plate in a breeze and seems to get a lot more done than he can do himself. However, there is still a lot that needs to be done that he can’t delegate to his dedicated assistant. Aside from paperwork, he has to take care of the financial part of the business and talk to potential clients. Right now, his main problem is how to get everything done without compromising the quality of his work.

Charlie has always been a perfectionist. This is especially true when it comes to written work. He would literally take hours to complete a single page of text for his clients to review. Before he knew it, each workday came to close, and he had yet to take care of other things. Warren saw this concern and offered him some insights to get things done.

Prioritize the tasks.

Almost all the productivity tricks that you can get from most experts will require you to know which task should come first. Charlie’s dedicated assistant asked him to determine which of the tasks are important and which are urgent. To this, Charlie remarked that all tasks are important in the first place. So they proceeded to analyze which of the tasks should come first.

At the time they were discussing the above, Charlie pointed out three important tasks that he needed to do:

  1. Existing clients’ invoices
  2. First draft for his school presentation
  3. Draft of the contract for new clients

The invoices should be turned in the next day. The school presentation draft was due the next week while the contract drafts were to be be done in three days’ time. Sequencing the tasks according to priority was not much of a problem. However, Charlie dwelling on an item for too long would be concerning.  His dedicated assistant saw this as a potential problem, and he then proceeded to the next tip to prevent this from happening.

Set a deadline for each task.

During this phase, Warren reminded the CEO that he does not have to make the paperwork perfect – he just needs to complete them for the time being. To do this, they agreed on a set time slot for each task. Charlie needed to issue 10 invoices for the next day, so they set a maximum of 30 minutes for each. That means he should complete this task in 5 hours or less.

After that, Warren will help him distribute these to his clients so Charlie can work on the contract draft. For this task, they agreed to have the task done in about 10 hours. Warren will then take care of proofreading and editing before sending out the final copy.

For the final task, they divided the presentation into four parts. These will be due in four days. Charlie will work on one part of the presentation per day and Warren will help recheck each part.

Have the correct mindset.

Charlie was obsessed with the idea that he should present paperwork that reflects the company which for him meant high quality work that was free from mistakes. The point is, no company is perfect. In fact, his clients don’t care much if the invoice and the contract he sends have impeccable spelling and grammar. As long as the essential information in each document is accurate, they’re good to go and ready to close the deal with him anyway.

Upon closer examination, Charlie’s dedicated assistant noticed that the perfectionism came from previously given ill-worded feedback a few years back. Charlie was too afraid to make the same mistakes again so he made sure that investors would not see any loopholes as far as spelling and grammar were concerned.

While this is a good approach, it actually defeats the purpose of being productive because the tension from incomplete tasks piles up the more time he spent polishing a single line of text. Warren advised him to not focus on the feelings of shame and judgment while working on the papers. After all, he does the important work to further the name of the company. Therefore, he might as well focus on getting more done so the company can benefit a lot from it in the long run.

The Dedicated Assistant’s Main Takeaway

At the end of the workweek, Charlie was thankful to have his dedicated assistant around. Because of that, he managed to complete everything in time. He also had the best week ever in terms of sleep! By the time the following week came rolling in, he managed to recharge. Because of this, he closed new deals with new clients, maintained great relationships with existing ones, and aced his school presentation. Along the way, Warren constantly reminded him not to be afraid of making mistakes. In this case, his VA told him that he should not be too conscious of committing some minor grammatical errors one way or another.

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!

Boost Productivity for Your Dedicated Assistant 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 for you and your dedicated assistant. 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 the 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 your working approach.

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.

Dedicated Assistant Tip: Include personal time in the your of priorities.

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.

7 Tips on How to Keep Work Off and Enjoy Days Off

Fashion photograph designed by Jcomp – Freepik.comHaving a day off from work should mean exactly that. A day far from normal working day schedule and should be very different from other days of weekdays. Unfortunately, with persistent bad habits and technology, it has been a challenge for most people to enjoy days off from work. Numerous individuals have not mastered the art of having fun and letting go off work during these important days. From time to time, you get some days off and it is during this time that you should rejuvenate and re-energize. To others, days off seem like working days continuation due to their normal routines. However, to some, days are spoilt by calls from work to come and assist. This is your day off, the day’s routine should also change. Below are some useful tips on how to enjoy days off. You will also be enlightened o how to step in for urgent tasks during your days off without really stepping in. Here you go.

7. Keep off from normal day schedule

When it is your day off, your daily routine should change. For example, do not be up too early. This is your day to relax and if possible, take your breakfast in bed. It should be a unique day where everything is different from a normal day. If you carry out activities as usual, you will not embrace or appreciate the day. This is the day where you should refresh yourself, treat yourself and do some offbeat. You should, therefore, be creative in order to ensure that your days off are special and thoroughly enjoyed.

6. Take your time

During normal working days, everything is rushed and done in a hurry. This is to meet deadlines among other things. This is now the world of technology and information and for this reason, demands are higher. Hence, productivity requires more efficiency. This translates to workers working at faster rates than it has ever been done. If you handle tasks slowly, you become less competitive and you risk getting sacked anytime someone potential shows up for your role. This is why it is important to handle things slowly when the time allows. During your days off, do not do things the way you do them. Days off are days to be more relaxed and calm enjoying and appreciating every minute that passes. Whatever you engage in during this day, whether it is shopping or treating yourself, ensure that you take your time. Give every activity ample time to enjoy days off and the experiences that come with it.

5. Hiring a virtual assistant

Being your day off does not mean someone from work cannot call you and ask you to step in for urgent assistant. This happens almost every time simply because there are those who will view days off as wasted time. These people will, therefore, assign you duties all over sudden and they cannot wait for you to come back. They need you during those days when you are free. In such a case, should you wait for urgent tasks to go beyond deadlines and lose clients? No, this is where you step in without really stepping in. You do this by hiring a virtual assistant. Virtual personal assistants will help you to handle tasks that are light. You can later attend to what needs you when you have time to do so. They ensure that urgent tasks have been attended to prevent things from going wrong when you are on your day off. However, in this case, you only need to hire the best.

4. Plan ahead

There are those few individuals who will do things well without planning. However, majority of the people lie on the other side. Those that need to have a to- do- list in order for them to carry tasks out well and in order. If you do not have a plan, you will end up doing things randomly and at the end of the day, you will be tired, having enjoyed nothing. It will be better and more helpful to have a list of things that you will engage in in order to enjoy days off.

3. Disconnect from work

It is through the PDA’S, blackberries, internet and laptops that we keep track of our working progress. These devices help us to connect to our tasks 24/7. This is very positive when it comes to productivity. However, for a day off, they will not give you a chance to keep off and refuel your creativity and energy. It is for this reason why you should avoid anything that can bring your work closer to your day off. They are the devices that will take you to work mode when you need an off mode. Anything from your job should be shut off completely if you want to enjoy days off.

2. Treat yourself

A day off should be a rewarding day. It creates perfect time to spoil yourself. Pamper yourself a little like dining at a favorite restaurant, getting a massage, little shopping and such like things. With so doing, you will not only miss your day off, but also increase the appreciation of such a day. It does not matter what treat you do to yourself, but if you associate your days off with rewards, they will be more productive. Working is fun and you might be in love with your job, but you should be in love with your off day even more.

1. Get fresh air

Unless you work outside in nature, the time employees spend in concrete buildings is astoundingly high if it were to be calculated. During your lifetime, much of your time is spent indoors and so you do not get fresh air as you ought to or as you would love to. This is perfectly the reason why a day off should be spent outside in nature. You should not necessarily be out throughout the day, but you can take a walk to the park or ride a bicycle for some change. Exposure to nature is important as this is when you get rid of anxiety and stress. This way you get to enjoy days off since they become unique and interesting. If you do your work indoors, you should not spend a day off watching TV or in front of a computer. Make a change, you do this adequately every day of the week.

The tips above are going to help you enjoy days off. They will help you make a difference between a normal working schedule and a day off. They will bring back the art of enjoying days off like you should. Relaxing, rejuvenating, and resting will bring even more productivity to your work. Days off are not wasted they might be the most important of your working days.

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.

 

Top 7 Ways a Virtual Assistant Can Improve Your Life

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If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your day to day schedule and would love to have more free time up your sleeve, you may want to seriously consider hiring a virtual assistant. How can hiring a virtual assistant, transform your life? By delegating personal tasks and basic business tasks to a competent virtual assistant, you’ll free up time to work on taking your business to the next level and will have more time to spend with your friends and family.

If you’re curious about the types of tasks which can be outsourced to a virtual assistant, simply continue reading to discover a variety of examples.

Examples of personal tasks and basic business tasks which can be handled by a virtual assistant:

1. Email management

If you receive dozens of emails per day, a virtual assistant can manage your inbox and can highlight important emails which you should address as soon as possible. A virtual assistant may also be able to prioritize personal emails that you receive from family members, so that they don’t get lost amongst your emails.

A virtual assistant may also be able to unsubscribe you from any email lists, that you’re no longer interested in receiving emails from. As there is nothing worse than logging into your email account and being confronted with dozens of promotional emails, from companies that you’ve only shopped with once or twice.

2. Social media management

If your business has a social media presence on websites such as Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter, a virtual assistant may be able to run your business’s accounts. As an example, a virtual assistant acting as a social media manager, can engage with your customers, run competitions and put up posts on behalf of your company.

You may also be tempted to hire a virtual assistant to act as your social media manager, if you’re running an international business and would like posts to be placed on your accounts around the clock. After all, you already have enough on your plate without having to worry about placing posts on Facebook and Twitter, in the middle of the night.

3. Research tasks

Virtual assistants can also be hired to conduct research on your behalf. As an example, virtual assistants can assist you with personal tasks such as finding the lowest price, on a gift for a loved one. Alternatively, virtual assistants can also help you out with business related research tasks such as finding a suitable restaurant for a business meeting or arranging transportation to and from meetings.

As an example, if you’re flying out of town for a business trip, a virtual assistant can assure that their is a shuttle or taxi cab waiting for you when you get off your flight. Better yet, a virtual assistant may also be able to find a hotel or resort, which meets all of your specifications. As an example, if you require your chosen hotel to be located within a ten minute drive of a specific conference facility, a virtual assistant can send you a list of hotels which suit.

4. Appointment management

A virtual assistant can contact clients or employees on your behalf, in order to arrange meetings that suit each individual involved. Better yet, your virtual assistant can also program your appointments into your calendar, so that you’ll be alerted about each meeting, on the day of each meeting. If for some reason you need to reschedule an appointment, a virtual assistant can also contact those involved, in order to make alternative arrangements.

5. Personal shopping

If you lead a busy life, you may be able to free up some well needed extra time by delegating menial shopping tasks to a virtual assistant. As an example, if your preferred grocery store offers an online delivery service your virtual assistant may be able to manage your orders and if necessary add items to your shopping list, on a week to week basis. As an example, if you’re planning a social get together, a virtual assistant can ensure that you’ve ordered enough food and drink to cater for everyone on your guest list.

As an alternative example, a virtual assistant can also watch your saved auctions on Ebay and can scour the internet to see whether your favorite pair of jeans are still for sale.

6. Family related tasks

Whether you need to find a reputable babysitter in a hurry or need to find a venue for your child’s birthday party, a professional virtual assistant, will be able to assist you with your family related tasks. As an example, if you need to find a new dentist for your family, a virtual assistant can research all the dental practices in your vicinity, to find out which practices have the highest reviews. Once you choose a dental practice, your virtual assistant can also handle your family’s dental bookings.

As an alternative example, if you don’t have the time to keep your house looking pristine, a virtual assistant may also be able to hire a cleaning company for you. Best of all, a virtual assistant can check potential cleaning companies references, before making a booking, as you need to be able to trust a cleaning company, before inviting their staff into your home.

7. Proofreading tasks

If you’d appreciate a second pair of eyes, in order to proof read an important document, a virtual assistant will be able to help you by carefully proofreading your document. Better yet, your virtual assistant may be able to help you with editing your document. So if you assumed that you’d have to hire a professional editor, in order to proofread a document or marketing material, think again. Most virtual assistants have a tertiary level education and have plenty of experience proofreading documents.

So if you find yourself overworked and stressed out and wish that you had more free time to spend with your family and friends, it’s certainly well worth considering hiring a virtual assistant on a trial basis. Just a word of warning, once you discover how hiring a virtual assistant can transform your life, you’ll never want to go without a virtual assistant again and may come to see a virtual assistant as a necessity not a luxury.