3 Tips to Use Your Schedule to Get More Done Every Day

Why The Calendar Should Be a Virtual Assistant’s Best Friend

Being organized is a quality that a lot of Virtual Assistants bring to the table in their work.

Keeping client tasks organized and getting things done is even a common part of our service offerings.

But sometimes it’s not the way we run our own business.

Or, sometimes when we bring on a number of clients to work with at once, it becomes more difficult to make the decisions necessary to properly prioritize each client’s tasks and get things done.

Are you struggling with getting everything done in a day?

If so, I recommend using your calendar as much as possible.

Keeping a schedule makes all areas of your business better. It not only shows you what you need to get done, but it also helps you to manage your time around each thing.

Here are a few easy ways to use your calendar to get more done:

1. Schedule your business hours

Make sure that your clients and your family know when you are supposed to be working. Having regular business hours can really help everyone. For your family, it lets them know when not to disturb you, and for your clients, it tells them when they can expect to hear back from you. Business hours don’t have to be super long every day (you could have your office open just a few hours a day), but it helps communication with everyone around you, and it makes things run smoother for you.

2.  Schedule blocks of time for work

Use your calendar to block out your day. Jumping from task to task interrupts your brain’s signals too often. If you want to really focus on what you are doing, and become more efficient at it, schedule a block of time anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes to work on something specific. That may not sound like a lot of time, but when you are focused during that time you will see just how much more productive you can be. Short blocks also help you to move things around as necessary if you need to. Try it for a week!

3. Schedule your distractions

I know what you’re thinking – how can I schedule something I don’t even know about? I recently came across an awesome suggestion to deal with distractions – it’s called a Distractions List. When you are in the middle of a task, and something distracts you, simply write it down on a piece of paper or in a notebook that you keep beside your computer. Then, schedule time in your calendar to handle the items on that distractions list. If you find that you have a lot of things on your list, you might book in distraction time a few times a day – mid morning, midday and mid afternoon works. Cross the things off your distraction list when you have looked after them, and get back to work!

Bonus tip: When you are scheduling your time, be sure you have a start and end time, so that you know when you are supposed to STOP working on something. If you have ever gone down a research or social media ‘rabbit hole’, you’ll know what I mean. Set a stop time, and stop then. Assess whether you completed your task on time or if you need to adjust the schedule for future.

When you work by yourself like so many VAs do, managing your time is really important. Productivity is really essential to run a profitable business, to practice excellent time management every day. 

Don’t feel that you need to jump when a client (or a family member) needs something. Hold yourself to your schedule, and advise them when you can look after what they need. Put them on your distractions list!

And remember that short blocks of time are more manageable - instead of jamming something new into the middle of your day, see what you can move to another time slot.

Simply put, scheduling works to get more done. Try it for yourself!

For more tips on time management for your VA business, check out my free Virtual Assistant training videos on my Youtube channel.

Time is Money: 3 Tips to Use Your Time More Wisely

Guest Post: Author: Jimmy Cowan www.myspeedreading.com

A Virtual Assistant (VA) charges for their work either by the hour or project basis. The rate charged will depend on the work that you’re undertaking and the complexity of the project. Every VA wants to earn the best value for their time that they are dedicating for their service. So it’s important to charge the best value for your work.

Every VA wants to find success in their work. Time management is a big part of being successful. Our rates, schedule and productivity are all more effective when we manage our time well.

Do you have a plan?

For a VA, time is money. Every minute wasted is a loss of money. A VA must plan their day efficiently. The first thing to do when you begin your day is to plan your schedule so you can complete the work that you desire to finish in that day.

Also, make a plan for that month to achieve the targets or goals you have set for yourself. Ensure that you finish your work in that stipulated time. Planning is very important to be successful. It is rightly said that if you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.

Can you multi-task?

Multi-tasking is doing more than one thing at a time. Not everyone agrees with multi-tasking. Some say that multitasking reduces the quality of the work, or will cause you to lose focus. In fact, multi-tasking is a skill that you will acquire with experience. As you gain experience, you will tend to be able to juggle multiple tasks more effectively.

Can experience make you more efficient?

In your initial days, you might take a couple of hours to complete work. As you get more experience, you will complete work faster. For instance, if you're a proofreader, and you used to take an hour to proofread a 10-page article. Over time, now you could proofread the same 10-page article in half an hour. So now, you can complete double the work in an hour. Efficiency and expertise come with practice.

So, what’s the importance of reading?

A VA has to read a large amount of information in a day. Things like reading client emails, documents, contracts, blogs, business news, and books to improve their skills.

Most VAs book their time for client work and don't always think about how to improve simple tasks like reading.

Speed reading is a skill that a VA can acquire through practice and training. Being able to read and comprehend things in a more efficient way impacts your whole business.

Here are three quick tips for to become more efficient at reading:

  1. Skimming – Just scan through the documents to pick up information that is important. Skimming is a technique of speed reading. From a sentence or a paragraph, just read the important words or sentences and skip the irrelevant information. This saves a lot of time from reading long documents or emails. Of course this should not be used for proofreading, but practicing skimming is an effective technique for daily reading.
  2. Pointer method – While reading, just keep your finger below the word or line you’re reading and just continue sweeping the finger along the lines or sentences that you’re reading. This method helps in focusing on what you’re reading and you will read at a much faster rate.
  3. Eye Exercises – When you read, you engage your brain, eyes, ears, mouth and more. Our eyes have a tendency to go back and forth while reading. Doing a few eye exercises can help you train your eyes to take in more information by expanding your vision field.

Practice these techniques and you can invest your time more wisely while reading. And you can get more done quickly, which will increase your earnings.

And most importantly, don't forget to take frequent breaks!

When your stress increases, you efficiency and quality of work get impacted. A 5 to 10-minute break every hour will revive your brain and you will feel fresh. A short break will not impact work but will boost your productivity.

For more great tips on how to read more efficiently, visit www.myspeedreading.com.

Building A Business Plan For Your Virtual Assistant Business

I wanted to do a quick video for you today about  building a business plan for your Virtual Assistant business. 

If you do not have a business plan, and this is something that a lot of Virtual Assistants are starting out or who are having a little bit of difficulty growing their business really often don't have in place.

When you write anything down it really helps to reinforce it in your brain.

So when VAs ask me if they need a business plan, my short answer is always: yes.

Because if you want to have any success in your business, you have to have a plan.

You have to know certain things and doing your business plan is what is going to be one of the easiest things for you to do.

One of the reasons that people don't like to do them is they get really scared of massive documents and that kind of thing. So I've got a business plan template that for my clients that I think just fits enough stuff into it.

It's not overwhelming. Well, it is overwhelming if you don't know the answers to things, but it helps you to look at what you don't know yet, what you need to figure out.

It helps you to put strategies in place but it also helps you to make decisions and that's the big thing.

If you have a big gaping hole in your business plan because you haven't figured out what your rate is, or who your ideal clients are, or  what services you're actually going to offer, or how your money's going to look, then that's a really key thing that you need to look into.

So the components of your business plan that I provide to my students are:

Your Business Model

How is your business going to be structured? Are you going to work by the hour?  By the project? By package of services? 

When you look at your business model, you can bring revenue into your business in a lot of different ways.

Are you going to work on retainer?

Are you going to work with a team?

Do you plan to have subcontractors?

Do you have part-time work?

Are you earning commissions?

How is your business going to work? There are lots of different ways.

You don't just have to work one-to-one with clients. That's obviously going to be the main way that you earn income, particularly in the first few years of your business, but there are lots of ways that you can supplement that income.

So you want to look at that and figure out how you can really make the amount of money you want to make. And the business model is a really big piece of that.

Finance and Revenue Forecasting

Because this is a really challenging area for a lot of people, I often suggest to just get help with it. Learn what you don't know.

So if you don't know how to do the finance part of it to figure out what your startup costs are, what you're going to have to pay on a regular basis, what you need to earn pre-tax, and and what you're going to bring into your household, what you need to earn in any particular month, that's what you need to look at.

You need to figure it out.

If I need to bring in $2,000 a month, and my billable rate is going to be around here ("$XX"), how does that actually convert -  how does that make sense for you in terms of client number of clients, or what those clients need to pay you?

Do you need to have two big clients at $1,000 a month? Or can you have eight smaller clients  who pay you $250 a month (is my math right?). So less commitment - it is a lot easier to get clients at a lower level, but you need more of them, obviously.

And then how does that work into how your business is going to be set up? 

So finance and revenue forecasting is really important to learn how to do.

That's something I teach, so I can definitely help!

Services and Rates

When you know what your revenue levels are going to be, then you can break that out into services.

If you need to make $500 per client (or whatever that looks like for you), how does that look and what services can you provide for clients to get them to that level? Determine what your rate is and and how much you'll do.

Services and rates always go hand in hand, so I quite often teach them together.

Clients

Big question! Who are your clients going to be?

A lot of VAs think they can serve anybody - that they can work with anybody - and although that's not false (it's actually quite true!), it really makes it hard to run a business, whenever you are sort of 'everything to everybody'.

If you target a particular industry for your marketing, in any given time you can determine the markets that you would like to work with.

I settled quite early on, on business coaches because they were often solopreneurs. There weren't a ton of people around. They were the decision-maker in their business. We could develop a one-to-one relationship. They wanted somebody long-term. They needed someone to do the things that I could do, like client care. There was always ongoing business. They did launches every few months, so I could take my marketing stuff and work into that.

So there are lots of different things that you can look at in terms of who your clients will be, and where they'll be.

Sometimes you want local clients. Sometimes you don't want local clients. That's a really big piece of your business plan as well.

Competitive Analysis

A competitive analysis is not about looking at your competitors or other VAs as competition to you. In fact, the VA industry is really really collaborative, and people who are in the industry and doing well, know there's more than enough work for everybody - really good clients!

There are tons of really good clients right now that simply don't have any help, because we're just still a growing industry ourselves.

So doing a competitive analysis (I really hate that word!),  is what it is you need. To look and see what the market will bear for the services that you want to offer.

You can't just sort of fix a price to it and go. I wouldn't suggest it, anyway.

You want to make sure that that the industry that you are going to be working with is able to support the rate that you want to charge. You want to know that you're somewhere in line with what other people are doing.

You can also get some really good ideas about how to package your services, or maybe who to market to, by doing a little bit of kind of competitive analysis for your clients.

Research is always going to be your friend here, but you have to use that research then to make some decisions.

Marketing Plan

You need to really put things down on paper. 

Set your end goal - this is always the way I do goal setting - set your end goal, and then you break it down into the steps that will take you to get there.

You break things down into actionable pieces, and then you can take those action steps and you can break those down into smaller daily activities, so that you can actually get things done.

Looking at marketing in terms of that perspective, what do you want to get? It's probably clients, right?

How do you do that? You need to write it all down. You need to  make sure that you do what you need to do.

When you put these things into your business plan, you can look at them.

You can see where the gaps are, and you can see what it is that you need to get support with, or you just need to make some decisions around.

If it's your rate, you know sometimes it's just set a rate and get going. It's not about looking around, and asking a million other people.

If you don't know how to do some pieces of the marketing, maybe that's where you need to get some support or some training.

So ... it's really important to get your business plan written down.

You can see exactly what it is that you need to work on, and then you can just get working.

There's a really great quote that I love:

Benjamin Franklin says "Failing to plan is planning to fail "

When you put things in place you can see what you need to work on.

You can see what needs to happen next, and it's really going to help your business.

For more Virtual Assistant training, visit our YouTube channel here or click the image below!


 

Skyrocket Your Success as a VA with a Specialty

3 Questions to Answer Before Choosing Your Niche

Are you considering choosing a specialty for your Virtual Assistant business?

Choosing a specialty is a great thing to do in your business for a few reasons.

Working with specific clients help you to:

  • Get your business in front of a bigger pool of potential clients who need the same services
  • Develop specific service packages that you can charge higher rates for
  • Manage multiple clients more easily because you are doing similar tasks every day

But you can’t just pick a specialty out of the air.

To make the right selection, you need to ask yourself some important questions.

Question #1: What am I really great at?

Look at your service offerings. Choose a service (or a combination of services) that you do really well. Starting with what you are really good at is key. One of my coaches told me once: ‘What comes the easiest to you, you should be charging the most for. ‘ and this is so true in business. If you have an amazing skill – organizing, delegating, project management, bookkeeping, business communication – you should consider providing this to your clients. Even if you don’t realize the value behind it, they will.

So what are you good at? Bookkeeping? Client care? Social media?  Start there.

Next question.

Question #2: What do I love to do?

The second question is so important. If you do not love the skills or services that you listed from Question #1, you need to go back to the drawing board!

To make your business happy and healthy for the long term, you need to provide services that you really enjoy. I know how to do bookkeeping, but I don’t like it. Just because you know how to do something doesn’t mean you have to do it.

You really do have to remember that your business is yours and you need drive to keep it going every day. Doing stuff you don’t like to do is not going to do you any favours.

Once you have a list of things you do really well, and that you love, there is one last question to ask yourself.

Question #3: Will people pay me to do this?

Again, take the answers from Questions #1 and 2, and now ask yourself the third question.

Are there people who will pay you to do this? You have to offer viable services to a viable audience.

For instance, I hear a lot of VAs say they love to do proofreading. And while that’s a really important skill, I’m not sure that you could build a business on it alone.

If you can’t think of people who will pay you to do what you do well and love, then you are back to square one again.

To find the best specialty for your business, you need to have services you are great at, that you love to do, and that you can get paid to do. Lots and lots of clients need to be able to pay you to do this!

 


 

Choosing a great specialty is just one of the important steps to building a profitable and sustainable business. For more great tips and information about how to build your amazing VA business, join our free Getting Started as a Virtual Assistant Facebook group here.