Would you love to enjoy the benefits and freedom of having a virtual assistant but right now, you're budget is feeling a bit squeezed?
There is no doubt about it, having a virtual assistant (plus bookkeeper and even a personal assistant) will help you focus on what you do best. I have someone take care of our grocery shopping, errands, and product fulfillment. Plus, I have my regular virtual assistant Kathy; I'm hiring another "technical" assistant, Kristie, and one more person to help me with P.R. tasks I'm not getting to.
But what if your budget can't stretch quite that much? How do you gain the momentum of hiring help, without spending any money right now?
While nothing substitutes for having an extra pair of hands working on your behalf, here are 5 simple tips to organizing your work day so you gain some of the same advantages you would by hiring an assistant.
Tip 1 Answer email JUST twice a day
Email is a time-sucking fiend, ready to drain you (sorry, I couldn't resist the Halloween reference) of precious focus, energy, and time you could spend marketing for new clients, or serving existing clients.
Think "chunking" here. Schedule email like any other appointment. What to do in between? Close your email program and turn your speakers off so you don't hear that little nagging, "you've got mail!" computer beep.
Will this take discipline? Yes. But the feeling of freedom and control is almost instantaneous, making it well worth it!
Tip 2 Return phone calls only ONCE per day
Like email, being at the beck-and-call of your telephone is guaranteed to make your day hectic and crazy. I like to make outgoing calls early in the afternoon so they will be returned later that day. This way, I can work on projects first thing without getting distracted.
What do you do when the phone rings? If you're working on a project, ignore it! I know, I know. It's sounds tough because you really want to "be there" for people. You will be. Just a little later in the day.
Tip 3 Give yourself twice the lead time for projects than you normally do
Would you wait until the last minute, then hand a project over to your virtual assistant? Of course not! So why would you wait until the last minute for your OWN projects?!
Double the amount of time you estimate a project or task will take. Then start it twice as early as you would normally. If that sounds like it's impossible to do, then it's time to take a serious look at what's running your business (likely a hefty measure of adrenaline with a splash of drama--but that's a topic for another article! ).
Doubling your lead time and time allowed will not only make your life easier now, it will make you a better client when you do hire your virtual assistant!
Tip 4 Leave an hour unscheduled every day for the unexpected
Why not take a hint from great virtual assistants, who plan on the unplanned? If every moment of your day is already accounted for, then the unexpected will throw you off course.
Instead, plan on the unplanned. My guideline is to schedule working on only one "big" project per day. I allow two separate email sessions totaling 90 minutes. Finally, I usually plan an hour for taking care of little paperwork and handling the unexpected. That's it! I'm famous for getting lots done, and launching a steady stream of new products and services (all in support of my 6-figure a year business) so clearly, it's a system that works!
Tip 5 Streamline one task right now
It's easy to get into a habit that undermines your efforts. "I'll take care of it later" will only add to feeling overwhelmed. Choose one task that makes you groan and simplify it.
You may need to set up a different filing system, a different time of day to take care of it, or ask for help from someone you know. You'll buy yourself a lot of new time and energy by streamlining a task that was really getting to you.
As soon as you can, hire an assistant for even just five hours a month of support (believe me, that five hours will turn into ten+ of renewed energy and focus for YOU!). In the meantime, follow these tips to be your own virtual assistant and you'll put more focus into your day, starting right now!
Kendall Summerhawk may be contacted at http://www.kendallsummerhawk.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Small business expert and author Kendall SummerHawk is the “Horse Whisperer for Business.” Kendall delivers smart, simple ways entrepreneurs can brand, package and price their services to quickly move away from “dollars-for-hours work” and create more money, time, and freedom in their businesses. To learn more about her book, Brilliance Unbridled, and sign up for more FREE tips like these, visit her site at: http://www.kendallsummerhawk.com