Things can become alarmingly busy in any job, but especially so for a Virtual Assistant. We are interrupted far more frequently than office-based workers, so time management is crucial if you are going to deliver the best service to your clients. My best laid plans can turn into chaos without any warning if my family needs me, or there’s a crisis with the plumbing and there’s nobody but myself to sort it out.
Here’s how I work to be organised and flexible at the same time:
Use a calendar
I use my calendar to do a monthly and daily plan, with time slots for specific projects and tasks with reminders of deadlines. This way I can see at a glance what free time I have and plan family activities and even that essential shopping trip to spoil myself! It’s quick and easy to jiggle projects around as you need to.
If you use more than one calendar on multiple devices, it is essential that they sync regularly.
Establish a rhythm to start the day
Working to a rhythm will help you to stick to your plans. These steps will help you to assess your workload for the day:
- Check your calendar
- Check all your email accounts for new tasks, projects and deadlines
- Check your to-do list
Use a to-do list
I make quick notes as I work of anything which I might forget – personal, business, whatever it may be – and cross them out as they are done. The last thing I do every day is to transfer any unfinished tasks to a to-do list.
Prioritise and re-prioritise
Sometimes you know that you are not going to get everything done. Decide what absolutely must be done today and prioritise the rest.
Read email at set times
Email keeps arriving all day long, and you are interrupting yourself when you keep your inbox open while you should be focused. I read email first thing in the morning, at mid-morning, just after lunch and last thing before I shut down the computer. This is a cunning trick – if you don’t reply to every email the minute it appears in your inbox, often you don’t need to because a few hours later you receive mail that the issue resolved!
Plan, plan, plan and plan again
Lastly, keep planning. When things go wrong, instead burning the midnight oil or spending less time with family, have a fresh look at your planning and priorities before you go into panic mode.
Working this way helps me cope with deadlines and crises and keeps me cool, calm and collected (most of the time).