The core problem with all of us today is that we are trying to manage our time. Even if you put in longer hours at work, it does not increase the total value. Longer work hours can leave you exhausted, having little or no personal life, having to explain to your wife and kids the reason of your constant absence from all family engagements. The later you come back from work; more exhausted you are in the morning after. You seldom exercise and give up healthy meals for fast food pickups. This lifestyle is a vicious circle and it never lets you out until you break it. Increasing demands at workplace takes a toll on you physically, mentally and emotionally.
First comes the realization that “Time is a finite resource”. We can’t expand it. Energy is another story. Energy can be expanded, renewed, enthused by practicing certain behaviors and rituals. Over time these practices become a part of your daily unconscious life and get automated to fit in. The big multinationals are always organizing newer strategies and methods to keep their work force motivated. The goal is that each one of their employees bring “more of him each day at work”.
- Do not check your inbox first few hours (2-3) when you wake up: When you wake up, what is the first thing you do. Check your phone for emails, then start skimming through them without realizing that you spent the most productive time of your day in bed skimming emails.
- Designate first few hours of your day for creative work: Pick the favorite spot in your office and think and work on creative work. Like writing a new lecture, sales pitch or your new marketing strategy. You are at your creative best in the morning and need to utilize it best
- Go for your morning run, or your exercise routine everyday. It will keep your from gaining weight, make you feel good about yourself and full of energy all day long. After all your body and mind need to feel good about themselves too.
- Increase your capacity without inflating your work hours: When you work energized, you are increasing your capacity to do the same amount of work manifold in less time. Keep away from the distractions at work and manage your energy rather than organizing your time.
- Delegate: Even if you can do the lower value services more efficiently and in lesser time yourself than someone else doing it for you. You should learn to delegate these tasks. Your time is worth more than you think. Even if you are faster and more efficient in filling your reports having someone else do it saves you stress, money because it creates a window of opportunity of time that would have been lost on mundane tasks. That is where Tasks Everyday helps you create a window of opportunity by making you more time. Outsource your daily tasks to your personal assistant while you spend your energy on higher value tasks.
- Create a routine and follow your principles: These come with your own encounters and experiences with reality. Learn, process, improve and deliver. Stop spending long hours at your desk and part of the trick is being super efficient at what you are doing, when you are doing it. Give that one task that is super important all your energy and attention while you are at it, rather than trying to multitask and not giving your best. This can be done only if you follow a routine that you create for yourself and stick to it everyday.
Spend time with your family, friends and once in while read that book you always wanted to: These are not out of the world activities and should not be neglected because your “life got busy”. Hiring someone to do your chores, organizing your inbox, meetings, research, filling reports can be easily done and managed by someone else and does not cost a bomb. Do not stop yourself from becoming a writer just because you have kids and you got busy dusting!
After the euphoria of New Year celebrations with dazzling fireworks, edible confetti or crystal ball drop of NYC has passed, we return back to work with a list of New Year resolutions along with the things we failed to accomplish in 2013. Every year we try to cram all our tasks like-winning a lottery, starting a company, spending more time with our family, reading more books, taking piano lessons—into a year! Most of these tasks are not realistically achievable like becoming famous overnight, right! Besides being over ambitious the real problem why these tasks cannot be accomplished is because one year has only 365 days and there is only so much you can do along with your 9-5-work schedule.
A new year is a brand new beginning; here is a list of things to help you prepare and set the tone for the year ahead.
- Delegate your work: To have more time to do what you want to do, you need to free up what’s on your plate. Act like a manager of your own life, take the reigns and be in control. Effective delegation of your tasks can help you stay more organized and have more work done. We have talked about how delegating your repetitive tasks to your assistant can help you save time, money and more importantly sanity.
- Complete outstanding projects: Clear off any nagging old projects that are chewing off your energy and time. Make a quick list of projects and set a deadline and have them done.
- Set new goals: Note what worked for you in 2013 and what did not. Think about what you want in your career ahead and your goals should be in line with your aspirations. See what you would like to do differently. There is also a takeaway to be learnt from your accomplishments of 2013. Set higher goals for yourself each year. For lets face it, it does get more competitive each year! Your personal assistant acts as your reality check. Having someone do the legwork, filling reports, checking deadlines and giving you honest opinion when you need it the most sets the tone right for 2014!
- Audit yourself: In this new digital Internet where everyone is online all the time are you doing enough! Every person is a brand and needs to keep oneself updated. Take a step back and reflect back on your brand. Are you doing enough?
- Do things differently: Don’t repeat 2013 in 2014. Make a list of your priorities, get organized and tie up the loose ends.
Make 2014 not only as year in which you accomplished your goals and came out as a winner, but also an year in which you had more time for yourself and your family. Ask us today how we can help take your load off!
Have you ever asked these questions to yourself? – “How does your neighbor find the time to exercise daily?” or “How does your college find the time to get more done everyday?” or simply how does someone else who in your eyes is productive “Find the Time?” I say in your eyes, because we all have people in our lives we admire for being more productive than us and would like to be productive like them.
Before I start outlining steps or actions that you can follow, first we need to determine what do you think being productive really means? We all have our own definition of productivity based on our personal and professional goals. Goals are the predecessors that trigger our sense about how productive we really are. If there were no goals for us to achieve, productivity would cease to exist.
What makes you think you are NOT Productive? When you think about this – a list of goals pop up that you missed. As we link our goals as a measure of how productive we are. I want you to strike off the goals that are based on what your peers are doing and you think you should be doing too. Just because your colleague gets promoted, doesn’t mean promotion is your next immediate goal too.
Cross-off all the parameters that are holding you back, cut out all the “what ifs”. Stop waiting for the ideal situation to write your next creative. Stop finding time; rather start making time for tasks that lead you to the road of productive and better life. This will eliminate all the scenarios that you have decided should be ideal for you to work on your goals. What you will be left with on your list; a set of goals that are realistic, genuine and can be achieved if you work on them. A decided person is more productive.
What are the three things that the leaders of productivity have?
- Clear Direction
- Consistent hard work to “work” towards that goal
Your action plan based on above attributes
Clarity of Direction: If you don’t know where you are going, you will never reach there. You spend most of your time figuring out your goals and planning. Planning is important but that shouldn’t be the only thing you are doing. Don’t overdo, overthink and plan all day. Get down to work. There needs to be visible evidence at the end of each day for the time that you actually spent on working on your business or project. Instead of thinking, procrastinating and planning, you need to create, work and produce. You will notice a shift in your actions and at the end of the month you will be closer to the goal you have set for yourself.
Passion coupled with desire: When you are passionate about something, you will go that extra mile to work on it. Ditch your favorite show, skip that extra hour of prolonged sleep you stretch every morning. Desire to achieve and passion are interlinked. We all face “passionless days” when the desire to work is not fired up. But we need to push ourselves and get through those days or hours. Passion will propel you to actively seek and work towards your direction. The mantra is not to give up, keep doing what you are doing and set your eyes on the goal.
Consistency: How do you feel when you go to your daily Starbucks corner and not find your favorite drink up to your usual standards? If you drink the same drink each day, you can tell when the proportions are not right. Consistency is the hardest to achieve. Normally we are all excited at the start of a new venture and as time passes by, we overlook the path and start procrastinating about the goals that we need to achieve and stop working on the direction or path that we had set. Its good to keep an eye on the finish line, but what’s important is not to loose the track. If you follow your direction and work consistently, you will be prepared to take the bull of productivity by its horns.
Direction + Passion + Consistency = Productivity
I would like to hear your story on what changes you made to your lifestyle to turn the clock and make yourself more and more productive each day.
It is whole big world out there and no matter how unique your idea is there is someone else doing it, even if not exactly the same thing, a slight variation of that already exists. Should this stop you from experimenting and giving it a go ahead? Or is there something that you can learn, improve and better out than others.
The key is to find your ONE thing – Your signature. And why we need to do that, the reason is simple: Be the best at it.
How to do it exceptionally well!
- Statement: What is that one thing that sets you aside from the herd? Find that something special and make it better. Tap into the untapped market with a familiar product or service that they are already using but much better than the existing providers. The idea is to do what you are doing exceptionally well.
- Engage your customers: We have been providing virtual assistant service and if there is one thing that we have learnt, it is to keep your customers close. If your product or service is engaging and delivers what it says it does on the cover – you are in for gold! Customer engagement comes before the satisfaction and economic benefits. It’s all about the experience. Make them a part of your story.
- Nurture relationships: Establish the trust and share your experiences with your clients. Re-energize the bond between you as a company and your customers. Tasks Everyday flourishes on relationships. We as humans have a basic instinct to co-operate and form relationships. All we need to do is to tap into this primate instinct.
- Focus on your target market: Don’t try to do everything for everyone. Find your niche, cultivate it, nourish it, empower it, give it the right tools for growth and once that is done it is time to sit back and bask in the glory.
- Improvise and learn: Don’t be stuck with your idea. Be open to the possibilities of change and improvise with them. Be open to constructive criticism and learn from your shortcomings. That is what Tasks Everyday has done over the years. Each client has made us better. We are not perfect and no one is. We have learnt from our mistakes and with each error there is a lesson learnt.
The hardest part is knowing what all needs to be done but not having the time or skilled people to help you achieve your goals. You need to get rid of the clutter and focus on your One Thing! All those things that are a part of the clutter need to be cut down. This doesn’t mean you stop filling your expense reports, because you hate to do the paper work and it is keeping you astray from focusing on your One thing! But have someone else do the data entry work. So that you get to keep your sanity and do what you love to do while your assistant works on the mundane sheets and tasks.
Last century was all about hyper-consumption. Economy no wonder corrected itself and forces us to look and reinvent our ways of consumption. It is our primate instinct to share; back to the old civilizations when you could exchange a bowl of rice for wheat, because you have excess of rice and would like to have some wheat, which another farmer had in excess and all this happened; without money exchanging hands was collaborative economy. It is called the Barter system. It is the oldest example of sharing resources, where the value of the commodity was not measured in money but in its usefulness.
21st century has re-invented this trend. Social networks and real time technology is enabling sharing and trust between strangers. Our pattern of consumption is changing and we can access resources from Couch surfing to sharing our ride within a matter of minutes with total strangers. The need of sharing is overpowering the need of owning “what’s mine”.
As a resource sharing company, we have embraced this phenomenon by sharing skills or expertise of your workforce. It is ridiculously easy to find the skill, share the resource amongst your peers and collaborate. We have seen a surge of digital sharing resources and companies that allow you to share files and videos online. What do you think about sharing skills and expertise in the same way?
We allow our clients to share their assistants with their peers. This is not purely for the economic advantage; over time it creates this amazing resource sharing pool. Scale, maturity and purpose of having a personal assistant are not about the ease and convenience. It is about becoming a part of this new age of collaboration. Instead of mere hand off’s and take off’s, hiring an assistant means collaboration, co-operation and sharing. It is changing our work dynamics and behavior of individual success to a much bigger message of working together and sharing our resources.
Famous Italian economist, Vilfredo Pareto observed that 80% of Italy’s land was owned by 20% of its population, as per Wikipedia. He made many similar observations related to productivity, sales, business, economy and other daily applications. And what he concluded was that, the 80-20 rule applied to all these diverse situations and economic areas.
Think about it,
- You spend 80% of your time, doing 20% of your tasks
- 80% of your revenue is made by 20% of your clients
- 80% of your company’s growth is related to 20% of your employees
- 80% of your productivity is because of 20% of your work
Rule of vital few:
It is called the rule of vital few. That means vital 20% account for the trivial 80%. As Tim Ferris suggests in his book “4-hour work week”, it is these vital 20% of tasks that we should be focusing on. He even goes on to suggest that those 20% of clients that make majority of 80% of complaints and trouble, that we should fire them.
How it can help you:
What we learn from this principle is to focus on those vital tasks that really matter. By doing do we reduce stress and maximize productivity. All those mundane tasks can be easily delegated to your virtual assistant and taken care of should be outsourced to your assistant. It will take very less time, if any to send these over, if needed small amount of training and management in the beginning but overall in the end it is a win-win situation. You save more time to work on productive and meaningful tasks and have someone else do the tedious, repetitive and boring work for you. When you have more time to yourself, you will find yourself worrying less and being more creative.
The end result of delegation is to focus on what’s important and that as per the rule is only 20%. So if you start thinking the Pareto way, you will have 80% of your time to yourself enjoying your life, doing what you love to do.
Pareto way of life is very addictive! And Tasks Everyday is your ideal partner to help you work smart on the Right Things that matter.
Tasks Everyday and GTD go hands in with each other. GTD is Get your Tasks Done or Getting your Things Done! Whatever you may call it, it’s the stuff you need to do.
In our daily work life we come across a list of tasks we need to get to. In most of the situations we get to our tasks one by one. Do the most important one’s first and then move down the list based on priority. Priority is purely based on what’s due today. In most scenarios the bigger tasks that are not due this week, we don’t get around to doing those till the last day or two. Who is to blame, your boss! Well, we love to do that don’t we? Our hectic life schedule, social meetings, networking, long commutes and just life basically doesn’t leave us much time to get productive.
Our Mantra – follow these steps of effective if not perfect GTD
- Prioritize based on time: Suppose you have a list of tasks you need to do. You start skimming through the list. Few of them need just few minutes to get done, do those right away. Others can wait and mark them waiting.
- Determine: Who can do the tasks that you have marked on the waiting list. Broadly into 3 categories:
- First list is of tasks that only you can do.
- Second one being anyone can do those – this is where Tasks Everyday personal assistants come into picture.
- Third you can have someone do the legwork, while you can do the final formatting, analyzing and reporting – exactly the kind of tasks your assistant at Tasks Everyday can help you with.
- After you have finished scanning, send your tasks that you marked in your waiting list to your personal assistant.
We have worked with business owners, busy individuals and have helped them in implementing GTD. Tasks Everyday motto is “get your tasks done”. And we stand by it and help you proactively. It is about time that you realized your true productive potential by freeing up your precious time.
Suppose your goal is to climb to the peak of a mountain and there is no trail to follow. General rule will be to start climbing towards the top until you come across an obstacle you can’t cross and then follow it around to the right until you are on your path again. But that would be the times of Galileo. We have technology, maps, GPS tracking devices and whatnot to make the trek as pleasant as possible. But even with all the gadgets in the world, there can arise a situation that you cannot predict or have a solution for. And this can or usually happens in our life on daily basis. Our situations or problems are not as big as climbing to the top of a peak but what’s important is how we overcome those and stay on our path while keeping our goals realistic.
Productivity defines us as who we are. It helps us getting our tasks done. Some of us are more productive than others. It is based on our efficiency. How do we manage our tasks and how efficient we are at arriving solutions defines our productivity. Here is a list of patterns in delegating tasks to your personal assistant to help increase your productivity.
- Set Daily goals: Identify the tasks that need to be done on a daily basis, which are repetitive in nature. Delegate them to your personal assistant and set timelines.
- Identify your worst fears: There is always that one task, that research report you have been delaying forever, or some database formatting that you hate to do and it always stays at the back of your head. Tackle it first. This should be the first task that you should assign to your assistant. You will be so glad that you took the bull from his horns. Once done you can now work at peace.
- Batching similar tasks: Group together tasks that are similar in nature or go hand in hand with each other. It will save your assistant a lot of time in grouping it together for you. Data mining and data entry should go together. Assign time your assistant should be spending on research and then compiling it all together before the end of shift same day.
- Reduce your stress: Relaxed body and mind are bliss. Free mind is a hub of creation. If you have a personal assistant who can save time from your busy schedule, you will find yourself in that cone of creation.
- Don’t succumb to distractions: Sticking with a plan is important. Set targets and clear focus to get your tasks done. Try sending detailed your instructions in the beginning of delegating your tasks, you will have less to worry and monitor if you had explained yourself clearly in the beginning.
- Set Deadlines and goals: Before you know it, your assistant will start holding you accountable for all the commitments and promises you made. You will be pushed to do more when you know someone is holding you accountable.
- Optimize your delegating definites: Each task and process is a learning process. Improvise your method of delegation if you think one set of rules work better than the second. All processes improve with time if optimized.
- Slice and Dice: Break bigger projects into smaller well-defined tasks. You will accomplish more by working on big tasks in parts then boring yourself and your assistant with one long never ending task.
- Maintain the rhythm: It is important to maintain the continuity. At end of each shift, remember to set tasks that your assistant should be tackling first thing in morning. Assign enough time to prepare for the task ahead of time.
- Rewards for achievement: Don’t forget to thank your assistant. Little appreciation goes a long way in boasting the morale of your virtual assistant.
Its time to realize that its better to let go of small and repetitive time consuming tasks and have someone else, capable someone, to work on those tasks for you, so that you can have a clear mind and focus on what’s really important. Be your productive best!
Running a business soon becomes all-consuming, and as your business grows, you often find it’s impossible to cope up with the extra work. And If you are the one of those “I can do it all” kinds; you will soon find yourself in a pile of work that could easily be done by someone else. You know you want help, but simple can’t afford it or the skills needed to do the job are simply not available locally.
Finding the right talent at the cost you can afford is a challenge that most business owners face. Productivity needs to be coupled with cost efficiency.
Even offline businesses these days need computers, manage excel sheets, data processing, and taking care of all sorts of tasks that can be done by someone using online software’s. Every business these days need online presence, a least minimum having a website, updating blog or your store based on if you are selling products or services online, and not all of us a business owners are technically savvy. We are good and fast learners, but do you really need to learn wordpress- or Photoshop or e-commerce store updates to do all your work yourself. or you rather be spending that time on something more productive, like thinking of newer strategy , analyzing the analytical reports, customer surveys and behaviors.
Goal of every entrepreneur is: How to stay ahead in your business.
The answer is simple, be the best in your niche market, keep your costs low and always stay a step ahead of your competitors.
Virtual assistants play a vital role to help you realize your goals. How do they do that: Here are few pointers:
- Cost Advantage: well you knew this one, your assistant comes at $6.98/hr and you can use his services for all the mundane or specialized tasks you need help with
- Focus on staying ahead and best in your space: when you can delegate your tasks effectively to your team of assistants (we have talked about delegation in one of our earlier posts), you can now spend your precious time brainstorming new ideas, and stay on frontlines. As you no longer have 100’s of unchecked emails, or never ending to-do list on your calendar.
- Commitment: your assistant asks you for tasks everyday, even if you don’t have something immediate to be taken care of, you start thinking of all those extra things and details that could help your business grow. Like designing marketing email to announce your specials for Labor Day weekend special. Its that little foam in your cup of coffee that keeps you coming back to the same cafeteria, so does your business have that special foam!
You will start delegating tasks that you never knew existed. Going that extra mile, thinking of newer ideas and ventures, while your assistant stays grounded and does all the leg work for you, you can give your business that extra lift it needs to fly and take over the newer skies of opportunities and growth!
Time and again, tenured writers, business analysts, professors, leaders have talked about concepts and theories of maximizing benefits of work-life balance. They might have different approaches, possibilities and paths but one thing that they have in common is the goal and that is “how to get the most out of your employees and how to help your employees get the most out of their jobs.”
Grant, 31, is the youngest-tenured and highest rated professor at Wharton. In his latest article on New York Times, he has highlighted concepts about the work-life dynamics and four-hour workweek secrets. He highlights delegation as one of the key concepts, which we believe is the very foundation of virtual assistant industry. As business owners we shouldn’t be doing half the stuff that we are doing on daily basis. We need to learn to grow and delegate effectively to make the most of our time and energy.
Timothy Ferriss, author of “The 4-Hour Workweek”, New York Times best seller, wrote in lengths about outsourcing your life, hiring virtual assistants and leading the real 4-hour workweek life.
There is nothing virtual about your relationship with your virtual assistant. “Virtual assistants who love to help” was the headline in recent press coverage of Tasks Everyday, that’s exactly what Katie wrote about us in Sunday times UK and the weekend Australian magazine. Virtual assistants at Tasks Everyday feel good about their work. Based out of Mumbai, they get to work for international clients, exposure and the variety of tasks they do on day-to-day basis is overwhelming. This job is very exciting, just like virtual tourism; they feel they are a part of your business located in New Jersey or LA or Texas. They absolutely love their job, as they bask in the financial incentives of working as a full time VA, a little appreciation from their client goes a long way. Motivation and the sense of being able to help is a very strong factor according to some researchers.
Read more about nurturing relationship with your virtual assistant in our upcoming posts…