tools

3 Ways To Be More Productive And Streamline Work

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The great thing in life is efficiency. If you amount to anything in the world, your time is valuable, your energy precious. They are your success capital, and you cannot afford to heedlessly throw them away or trifle with them.

–Dr. Orison Marden

Have you ever broke down the hours in a day and thought if you really needed to, how much you could get done in 16 hours?

Ways to be more productive and streamline work are high on any modern day business agenda.

The general 8-hour sleep, 8-hour work, 8-hour play routine varies from person to person, but one thing remains undisputed; a day accompanied by structure and deep work can achieve more than a frantically busy, fragmented one can in a week.

So what are the factors most conducive to maximising productivity? 

1.     Routine

Timings are everything. A start and finish time bookends each day to allow a window of complete focus, the same way it can allow a switch off when the day is finished. This relates more to freelance and flexible workplaces; but whatever the hours you work, make sure to pin down a start and finish time and stick to it militantly.

When a routine is so ingrained that it’s equivalent to going autopilot, it takes one less thought process from the day’s decisions; in turn minimising time on admin and maximising time spent on work.

2.     Structure

Being mindful of exactly what a day can fit in if you break it down incrementally, is quite eye-opening. There are many ways people can divide a day up, but whichever you adopt, it will dictate how you see your time and the opportunities available within it.

Writer and TED Speaker Tim Urban, breaks it down (minus 7-8 hours sleep) into 16-17 hours or 1,000 minutes, broken down into 100 10-minute blocks, which is what we get each day when we wake up.  

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Throughout that day we spend 10 minutes of our lives on each block, which when looked at as a whole, reveals interesting clues on how we use those 100 blocks we get each day, and how we can make our day more productive and streamlined.

 

“How many of them are put towards making your future better, and how many of them are just there to be enjoyed? How many of them are spent with other people, and how many are for time by yourself? How many are used to create something, and how many are used to consume something? How many of the blocks are focused on your body, how many on your mind, and how many on neither one in particular? Which are your favorite blocks of the day, and which are your least favorite?”

3. Streamlining

To increase efficiency and productivity(particularly after implementing an allotted window for deep work), all email notifications should be turned off, with emails only being checked twice a day at the likes of 11am and 4pm. The sporadic and spontaneous alert of email notifications not only interrupts your train of thought; but switches it completely off the task and onto the subject of the email, suspending any chance for deep work to enhance productivity.

Once notifications are off, it’s a good idea to set an auto-responder, saying something to the effect of, “Thanks for reaching out. I currently only check my emails at 11am and 4pm each day, to increase efficiency and productivity.

If you require assistance that cannot wait please get in touch on [YOUR PHONE NUMBER].” Being in control of incoming information this way, can structure and streamline your day in a way that enables deep work, not debilitates it. 

 

Efficiency when maximised, slots work into a finite window of confined, deep, productive focus, where a lot can get done in a shorter space of time. Optimum productivity needs practice, maintenance and work but when mastered over time, it can transform the way you approach your life and opportunities within it. 

 

We are at our very best, and we are happiest, when we are fully engaged in work we enjoy on the journey toward the goal we've established for ourselves. It gives meaning to our time off and comfort to our sleep. It makes everything else in life so wonderful, so worthwhile.

–Earl Nightingale

The Best Productivity Apps and Software Tools for Collaborating with Your Virtual Assistant

productivity apps and software tools for virtual assistant

These days, closing a deal or launching a product or service can come from the swipe of a finger. In a quick-moving and adaptable start-up world, it’s essential that all members of your team – including your virtual assistants, project managers, marketers, and IT help – are all flexible and open to communication.

Using virtual assistants for different aspects of your operational support can create a lean and structured system that allows you as the business owner to think, plan and grow your business, rather than get stuck in the execution. When it comes to the practical aspects of collaborating with a virtual support team, there are several tools, apps and programmes that allow for effective communication and project management.

There are countless new tools that are developed everyday, but we’ve found that these are our top picks for creating seamless efficiency and productivity for the modern entrepreneurial team.

Apps and Programmes for Your Start-Up Team

Asana

Easily manage projects and workflows within your team. Track projects, set responsibilities, and turn conversations into collaborations with Asana's sleek interface. It integrates with several other tools and it’s simply a great project management tool, whether your team is virtual or not.

Slack

Communicate within your team across channels and private messages. Fully synced with all of your devices, it also integrates with Google Drive, Asana, Dropbox and more.

Basecamp  

If your virtual support provider is doing more project or client-based work, we love Basecamp for its checklist system and its ease in going back and forth between parties to share files and progress reports. It also has a built in calendar system that allows for a centralised schedule that you can add to your favourite calendar.

Skype for Business

We still find Skype to be one of the most streamlined tools to use for communicating with your team if you want to use face-to-face calls, but it's also still an inexpensive and effective tool when your virtual assistants need to make conference calls or overseas calls without fuss.

Zoho Vault

The entire Zoho suite is a pretty integrated and comprehensive operating system for business. Though it’s not the most user-friendly, it has exceptional functionality, so pick and choose your most needed features for what works best for your business. That being said, we absolutely love Zoho Vault. As a virtual assistant, it’s imperative to keep your team’s passwords and personal information secure and this tool is perfect for keeping credit card information, passwords and more safe.

Hootsuite

The are many tools for social media management, and we like Hootsuite as it is inexpensive and easy to use for social media scheduling and analytics. The ease of use can work from freelancers to major corporations, and Hootsuite simplifies the social media marketing game for virtual support.

TripIt

Are you or your team taking a lot of trips? TripIt streamlines the travel planning process with instant itineraries, team calendars, and safe storage of travel documents.

Time Doctor

Time Doctor is a remote time tracking application built specifically to track remote employees’ productivity. Unlike other apps that just have screenshots, Time Doctor tracks your actual productivity so you can improve how productive you are at particular tasks. With integrations with over 27 different software applications, including Basecamp, Trello, Asana, and Slack, you can manage both your time and your team's productivity wherever they are based and for whatever project they are doing.

Xero

If you are an entrepreneur or start-up, you may find yourself without a large finance or accounting team. In that case, Xero is a fantastic cloud-based accountancy software that gives you a real-time view of your cashflow. With Xero, your virtual assistant can now easily manage invoicing, PO creating, payroll, and deal with expenses without problems.

LivePlan

Following on from Xero software, Liveplan is the perfect tool for the entrepreneur or small business as it takes all the guess work out of pitching, planning and tracking the financial and operational progress of your business. And it doesn’t stop with creating the business plan and forecasts. Liveplan is a living document that integrates seamlessly with Xero and allows you to stay on budget, make sure you hit targets, track sales and expenses, and overall keep a steady look of your companies' profit and loss – and adjust your business plan accordingly.

What tools do you use to manage collaboration with your virtual assistants?

Hiring a virtual assistant isn't simply about answering telephones without contact with the business owner and start-up team. PA&GO is redefining what virtual operational support looks like - in all areas of your business - and it involves real communication and collaboration with a personal touch. Get in touch to see how PA&GO can help grow your business today.