I recently gave this presentation at a networking event in Nottinghamshire. As a Virtual Assistant, I hoped that my 5 easy ways to boost productivity would help the small business owners who attended take away a nugget of information to help them be and feel more productive – rather than give them yet another task for them to add to their ever growing to do list.
I am not a natural presenter, so my notes to myself were SMILE, BREATH & ENJOY! The first two were no problem at all. The feedback from the presentation was good so I hope that other small businesses in the South Yorks and Notts regions (and anywhere else in the world) will be able to benefit from my top productivity tips.
1 – Time yourself
If you feel as though time runs away with you, set self imposed time limits and track your time so that you can see exactly where your time is going.
In both my Virtual Assistant role for clients and my own marketing and admin I use a free app called Toggl. This creates a little button on my web browser which I just press, I can type in what I am doing or what client I am ‘working for’ during that task and then just click the button to stop when I have finished.
It is really simple and for me it is better than using a note book because I may not have that book with me at the time/forget to log it and before I know my strategy for focusing my mind on the task in hand is out of the window. I also rarely wear a watch so that wouldn’t help me either.
There are other apps, but Toggl is my preferred one.
2 – Make a to do list
This is obvious right? But there are lists and then there are LISTS, let me tell you!
The most common mistake people make is to put too much on their To Do Today list. I put 3-4 key tasks that I have to complete, this number doesn’t overwhelm me, and I can always add to it if I complete everything.
Eat the Frog – As Mark Twain once said “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” So, get the horrible tasks out of the way and the rest of the day will go swimmingly – unless you are the frog that is!
How to manage multiple to do lists
How many of you have more than 1 list of things to do?
I have my tasks for the day listed on paper as I like the feel of striking something through with a pen when I have completed something. However, my ongoing ‘list’ is digital, and this houses things that I want to keep on my radar but are not required to be actioned immediately.
These programmes are good if you are working on a project, working with a number of people or collaborating with someone such as a Virtual Assistant.
Alternatively, you can use these virtual lists as a way to essentially ‘park’ information you see as you are out and about or scrolling though on your phone.
I use trello a lot, mainly for ‘parking of info. For example if I am on LinkedIn and I see an article that I want to save or an idea I would like to explore for my own Virtual Administration business then I click on the little drop down arrow next to the post, select ‘share to’ which is always shown as this little 3 dot icon you can then scroll down and share it to trello.
It just means that you can list things you want to revisit without losing them or creating piles of paperwork for yourself.
3 – Make a don’t do list!
This is a game changer for sure.
What makes your time slip away? For me it is falling into a scrolling vortex on social media – before I know it an hour has gone. So, to combat this I make sure that my own social media voyeurism is left until lunchtime or the end of the day.
Another don’t do for me is Google Analytics – once I open that little treasure chest of graphs and data then I get sucked in and I can’t stop myself analysing to the hilt website traffic in more detail than is required for the task in hand.
Don’t Do lists can be put together quite easily if you have tracked your time and can identify those tasks in which you are being the least productive. It also means that you can’t procrastinate and idle away time in order to avoid more pressing, business critical tasks.
4 – A 2 minute quickie!
This is all about breaking up your day with a few very short, quick-fire tasks. It could be answering an email, making 1 phone call, filing or unloading the washing machine. It breaks up the day and makes you feel more productive.
My 2 min quickie this afternoon is logging my expenses from this networking event to make sure it gets done.
5 – Take regular breaks
Its not only good for your eyesight but good for productivity as well.
Researchers at Florida State University have found elite performers (athletes, chess players, musicians, etc.) who work in intervals of no more than 90 minutes are more productive than those who work 90 minutes-plus. They also found that top performing subjects tend to work no more than 4.5 hours per day.
How good does that sound?
And the bonus is…
6 – Get some help if you need it!
Essentially, if you don’t finish a task you should rollover, delegate or drop it.
Don’t roll over more than 2 tasks a day, especially if it is an “eat the frog” task in which case do it first thing and stop procrastinating!
If they are still not done after 2 days then delegate or drop.
Dropping a task is fine so long as it isn’t business critical but if it can add value to your business then delegation is always an option.
Enter me – as a Virtual Assistant and freelance Marketing Assistant I am a really good person to delegate tasks to. With over 20 years of employment across retail, not for profit, commercial business sectors I have the skill and know-how to get this done right for you. I have over 10 years marketing experience including copywriting, blog writing, social media management, sales follow up calls and trade show activity.
You can book me for as little as 30 mins or as much as 20 hours a month. I can work on an hourly rate or a bespoke package depending on what you require.
Hire a UK based Virtual Assistant - I am between Sheffield and Nottingham – but I can help any UK business!
Contact me or call 07734430590 to discuss how I can help you and your business. I offer a free 30 min discovery call, if we think that we would be a good fit for each other then we can take it from there.