For any skilled virtual assistant, productivity is more than just a measure of work produced. It’s a tool. And used skillfully, it can mean the difference between getting the job done and getting the job done properly.
It’s the nature of the business: your virtual assistant is stepping in to help you with the tasks that most frequently take up your time and chew up your mental bandwidth. So, it makes sense for a virtual assistant to have smart techniques in place to deal with the volume of work that needs to get done.
We All Want to be More Productive
Take a moment and think of someone you know who’s really productive. Someone who has the same number of hours in the day, but always seems to accomplish more. Are they superhuman? No. Are they more intelligent or gifted than you are? Again, almost all of the time, no.
So what is it that gives them the edge? The answer: systems. Systems of thought and action that are often invisible to an outside observer. And it’s these same systems that could be referred to as ‘virtual assistant productivity hacks’.
What’s Your Time Worth?
At MYVA360, we frequently check in with our clients, as any good business should. And, very often, we hear the same thing being said. How do your VAs manage to get so much done? They’re so much more productive than I am!
Now, one of the primary reasons for engaging the services of a virtual assistant is to free up your valuable time. So you have time for the most important functions in your business and life. It’s a smart call. Time is the one currency that dictates the value of all the others. And in business, time is money.
Your virtual assistant knows this, too – and because of that, has to use the most powerful and efficient tools to ensure you get the very best value for the time and expertise you’re purchasing.
So, in answer to the question about virtual assistant productivity techniques, here are a few you can use yourself.
The Secret Toolkit of a Virtual Assistant
Prioritization is a Priority
The first hack used by your virtual assistant is deciding what to do first, and what’s most important. In business (and in life), there are constant demands on your attention and focus, and you should have some kind of automatic filter to separate the signal from the noise. Many of our VAs use a simple (but incredibly powerful) task grid called the Eisenhower Matrix to distinguish what’s important, what’s merely urgent, and what’s peripheral in terms of task planning.
Batching Like a Boss
Next on the list of virtual assistant productivity secrets is the habit of batching tasks. So, if you have lots of email traffic, for example, you can waste hours each day by logging in and out, constantly checking and replying. By setting a period, maybe twice a day, dedicated solely to clearing emails, it’s far more efficient.
Short Work Sprints
Humans just don’t have the ability to work or concentrate for hours at a time. The harder we try, the worse we become as the hours tick by. Smart virtual assistants know to work in short bursts or sprints – usually between 25 and 45 minutes at a time, with a 5-10 minute complete break between sprints. This allows your attention span to ‘reset’ and vastly increases your ability to deliver high-quality work over a longer period.
If a virtual assistant should be good at anything, it would be multitasking, right? Wrong. Research has proven, over and over, that it’s a recipe for poor performance, burnout, and even brain damage. A skilled virtual assistant doesn’t do it, and neither should you. Multitasking negatively affects productivity and should be avoided at all costs!
The Pareto Principle
The Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 Principle, states that 20% of your best work produces 80% of your results. The Pareto Principle is a fascinating mathematical theorem proven correct throughout centuries of observation and statistics:
- 20% of your customers are responsible for 80% of the complaints you get.
- Another 20% is responsible for 80% of your profits.
- 20% of the population owns 80% of wealth, globally.
This principle is true for urban planning (80% of traffic will happen on 20% of the roads), engineering (80% of a motor’s output produces only 20% of the power), agriculture (20% of farmers produce 80% of the crops), and even fitness (20% of your workout gives you 80% of the results) – in addition to a hundred other examples.
Virtual assistant productivity hinges around this principle, and good virtual assistants know where to focus their attention and energy the most, in order to achieve more in less time.
Plan and Structure
The old saying tells us that ‘if you fail to plan, you plan to fail’. Virtual assistants use strict planning guidelines to ensure that everything is scrupulously attended to and completed – according to plan. Planning (even basically) is also a form of visualization: it prepares your mind for the task ahead and attunes it to skills you may need for the task, like agile thinking or problem-solving.
Virtual assistants are skilled at communicating information accurately and concisely. No wasting time or adding unnecessary details. They highly value clients who communicate their business needs and instructions clearly and in detail and are great at conveying information from you to your customers. It’s also one of the primary reasons why having a virtual assistant as a receptionist makes so much sense for your business.
The ‘One Touch’ Principle
If you open an email, don’t put off the reply – do it now, one touch, and it’s out of your hair. If you’re dealing with a customer, try to resolve the query or problem immediately, so you don’t waste time and attention later on just because you put it off. Virtual assistant productivity rests heavily on being able to tackle a task.
Parkinson’s Law is a semi-humorous observation that work expands to fill the time allocated to it. For example, if you have a full day to plan a dinner for guests, you’ll use the full day to do so. But if you suddenly have unexpected guests arriving in three hours, you’ll very likely achieve the same result in a third of the time – because you have to!
A virtual assistant gets things done in time. They can’t perform miracles though! And in the same way, you should always ask yourself if you could do something in half the time (or less) that you’ve actually allocated to it. It’s surprising how often you’ll achieve your goal just as well – or better!
The Secret’s Out
Virtual assistant productivity isn’t a mystery – it’s simply working smart in addition to working hard.
The one single thing you can do – right now – to implement these virtual assistant productivity techniques? Engage the services of a virtual assistant. They’ve been doing this better than most of us, and have a wealth of experience and skill to offer.
Want to harness greater productivity for your business?
Book a discovery call with us today and find out just how affordable and effective a skilled virtual assistant can be.