5 Ways To Be Available And In Control Of Your Time

These days, it seems like the world is moving way too fast for any of us to keep up. If you’re trying to run a small business while trying to keep up with the hustle and bustle of life today, it’s especially difficult. There’s just so much to do and so little time to do it. We’ve all experienced times where you’re so bogged down with stuff to do it seems like you’re never going to get to everything you need to. Where does the time go?

If you feel like you’ve lost track of time and you’re ready to take it back, then read on my friend. We have compiled a list of five ways you can take back your free time and be more in control of your availability. So without further ado…

  1. Where is all of your time going in the first place?

    Before we can figure out how to better manage your time, we need to know where it’s all going in the first place. Track your time for a couple of weeks and see where you’re spending the most of it.

  2. Time to Eliminate

    Now that you’ve figured out where all your time is going, you’re ready to start eliminating those non essential tasks you’re spending way too much time on. Have a virtual assistant or part time employee? Delegate these tasks out!

  3. Avoid Multi-tasking

    I know, I know, this is much easier said than done. But think about it… if you focus on one important thing at a time and just keep busting them out, eventually, you’re going to be through your to-do list and it’s only noon… Time for a lunch time margarita, don’t ya think?

  4. Set Aside Time to Communicate

    Only check email a couple of times a day and set a specific time aside to do it! Continuously checking your email throughout the day is extremely wasteful because you’re focusing on more than one item, and you’re going to get distracted by new items coming in all day long. Just stop. Check first thing in the morning and after lunch, and that’s it!

  5. Learn it’s OK to say NO

    You need to figure out what your limits are. If you’re already stretching your time thin, say NO. It’s really OK to say it if you just can’t manage the work. Your customers will be much happier waiting for products and services if they know you can focus your entire energy making sure they’re getting the best of your products and services. If you’re rushing through too many client orders at once, things can get messed up, mistakes can be made, and customers can get upset.

Still having trouble trying to figure out time management? We would love to help get you back on the road to vacations and free time with the family. Contact us today to get started.


Why You Need to Delegate to Succeed in Business

As a small business owner, do you ever think you yourself, “I’m doing way too many things myself”? Guess what, most small business owners are in this category. They’re doing way too many things that they could, and should, be delegating to someone else to take care of for them. If you feel like you’re overloaded in work and don’t have the time to focus on more important things (like growing your business), ask yourself these four questions:

  1. What am I doing that someone else could do better? (social media graphics, blog posts, admin tasks?)
  2. What are tasks that you could easily give others to do? (posting on social media, updating your website, filling out weekly reports?)
  3. What are tasks that you don’t necessarily like completing? (bookkeeping, legal stuff, faxing?)
  4. What kind of budget do you have to spend on extra help?

Chances are… you’ve got about twenty things on your list of tasks that could easily be delegated to a virtual assistant or someone else on your team suited for the role at hand. There’s no reason for the owner of a company to take the time to send a fax or file folders when they could be focusing on revenue generating activities such as meeting with prospective clients and joining planning sessions for new products and services. Let’s face it, a lot of things just aren’t in your job description any more. Doing work that takes away from accomplishing the tasks that you should be doing will distract you from getting anywhere with growing your business.

Delegating tasks is a great way for you to build teamwork and trust with your team. Giving your employees work to do tells them that you trust them to get the job done. Splitting up big group projects and giving tasks to different individuals helps your employees understand the role they play within your company and encourages open communication and trust between team members. In addition, it stimulates creativity and initiative within the team to get things done together.

Don’t have a team to help you get stuff done? Hire a virtual assistant! Most of the time, these individuals can take care of simple tasks and even help to manage the more sophisticated parts of your business (with a little training… you know, as a manager, it is your job to develop people after all ;-P). Virtual assistants can be a highly valuable asset due to their cost effective nature and the specialized services that they offer. You could find someone to take care of simple administrative tasks, or hire a virtual assistant to literally manage your whole company online for you.

When you invest in extra help to take care of the more mundane, time consuming tasks, you give yourself the opportunity to get back to what you do best: bring in new clients, keep current customers happy, and creating innovative new products and services to help your business flourish. Get back to focusing on the aspects of your business that only YOU can do, and let someone else take control on managing the rest. In addition, handing off a load of tasks will lower your stress level and get you back on the track to a healthy work/life balance.

Overall, delegating work will always benefit your team, your organization, and yourself. If you’re not delegating, it’s never too late to start.

9 Reasons Why You Should Hire A Virtual Assistant

There are a lot of reasons why small business owners and entrepreneurs should hire a virtual assistant. One of the biggest reasons is to help you pull yourself out of the giant pool of work you seem to be drowning in. Sound familiar?

Here are just nine reasons why you should consider hiring on a virtual assistant to help you get things taken care of.

  1. You’re Letting Core Tasks Slip Through The Cracks
    Ever feel like you’re so overwhelmed with things to do that important tasks start to fall through the cracks? Don’t worry, we’ve ALL been there. If you’re starting to let the important stuff get behind, it’s time to hire some help.
  2. You’re Not The Best At Everything – Others Could Do It Better
    Ever heard the phrase “Jack of all trades, Master of none”? Is this what you’re currently considering yourself as a busy entrepreneur or business owner trying to handle everything yourself? Guess what, it’s time for a reality check. In most cases, there’s something way better suited for the job than you. Don’t be afraid to give up a little power and let the professionals take care of it. NO MORE STICK FIGURE GRAPHICS OK!
  3. Your Business Is Growing And Employees Are Expensive
    Office overhead can get super expensive… and so are full time employees. The positive thing about hiring a virtual assistant? No overhead costs since they work from their own space and no additional employee costs since they are strictly contract workers.
  4. You’re Absolutely SICK Of Repetitive Tasks
    I don’t know about you… but I get sick of repetitive tasks I have to do on a daily basis. TALK ABOUT BOOOOORING! Want to gain that time back so you can spend it on more important things? Get a VA to do it for you.
  5. You’re Sick Of Trying To Find Work To Keep Your Employees Busy During Downtimes
    Growing a small business usually keeps employees pretty busy, but what do you do about those pesky downtimes that always seem to show up? It can be hard trying to find productive ways to keep your employees busy and making you money. With a VA, you can assign them a couple of hours of work and bam, that’s it. You can reach out to them again when you’ve got more to do… No worrying about keeping them busy during a typical work day.
  6. My Customer Service Sucks Because I Am Too Busy To Respond
    One of the biggest challenges of growing a business is keeping up with GOOD customer service and with all the ways customers can contact you these days (social media, email, phone, etc) it’s almost impossible to keep up with it all. Don’t get caught up in administration… Let a virtual assistant handle your business reputation and keep customers happy.
  7. Ready To Take Back A Health Work/Life Balance
    Often time’s clients tell us their biggest pet peeve at the moment is not having enough time to enjoy their own lives outside of work. They’re so bogged down with things they need to get done they literally don’t have any time left over for themselves. Take back your work/life balance by pushing off work on a VA so you can get back to being YOU.
  8. You’re Overwhelmed Trying To Keep Up With Schedules/Meetings/Calls/Emails
    It’s Monday morning and you’re sitting there looking at your calendar like, “How am I going to keep up with all these meetings, calls, emails this week?!?!?” Guess what, virtual assistants can handle your scheduling just like any personal assistant. Let them take care of your inbox, manage your phone calls, and set up your meeting schedule (making sure to keep that life/work balance we talked about in #7).
  9. Your Work Is No Longer Making You Happy
    Are you so stressed out about your job or business that you’re no longer enjoying it? Or you’ve completely forgotten why you got into it in the first place? A lot of that stems from being way too bogged down with work and business responsibilities. Knock that crap off and get back to doing what you love by hiring a virtual assistant to deal with all that nasty stress and anxiety. Focus on the tasks you love doing the most and delegate the rest.

Any of this sound like you? If so, you should totally give us a call. No lies, we can really take the stress out of building a business and help you get back to the things that matter most – growing and running your business efficiently.

Small Business Secret Weapon: Hire a Virtual Assistant

Small Business Secret Weapon: Hire a Virtual Assistant

A lot of the time, business owners believe hiring a full time personal assistant is the only option, when they could easily hire a virtual assistant. What many people don’t realize is that it takes forever to find the right person. In addition, employees oftentimes cost a lot more than their salary. Keeping people busy during their daily eight hour shifts can be a lot harder than you might think!

Any one of the following things describe you?

  1. You’re overwhelmed by meetings, emails, and phone calls.
  2. Tasks are falling through the cracks.
  3. You’re getting sick of all the repetitive tasks that come along with growing a business.
  4. Your personal errands are getting in the way of becoming more productive.

What if I told you there was an easy way to avoid a lot of the frustration and heartache of growing a business without having to hire an internal employee?

Yeah, I know… Sounds way too good to be true.

But listen up, virtual assistants are the perfect solution because you can hire them to do literally ANYTHING for your business without having to hire them outright. Accounting, data entry, marketing, web development – you name it, virtual assistants do it.

Think about it this way… You could hire a VA take over managing your business phone (kind of like having a personal secretary, and who doesn’t want one of THOSE?), schedule, and even your inbox. There goes all the frustration with trying to keep up with everyone yourself.

Need someone to update your social media a couple of times a week, manage your email marketing campaigns on Infusionsoft or MailChimp? Virtual assistants can do that too. There goes the frustration that comes along with those repetitive tasks and other important things that have been falling through the cracks.

So, how the heck do you even hire a virtual assistant? There are a number of great sites out there that can help match you to potential companies or candidates. Another way to find out about good assistants is by asking friends or family who own or work for companies that utilize VA services. There’s really nothing better than a personal referral!

When hiring VA’s, make sure to always double check references, portfolios, web reviews, etc and always make sure to be clear and concise with your expectations and what you need the VA to accomplish.

If you have any questions on how our virtual assistant services can help your company grow, contact us!

3 Questions to Move Your Message Forward

written by our guest and client Elizabeth Marshall of www.elizabethmarshall.me

Not seeing enough progress with your message?

“It’s complicated!”

You may have used this phrase to describe family dynamics or intimate relationships, but the same can be said for the business of thought leadership. As a thought leader, the relationships you have with your audience, message and market are constantly changing. As a result, there are a lot of moving parts to manage and a seemingly endless number of decisions to make along the path to creating a lasting impact.

Some days, you can feel confident in handling what’s in front of you. On other days, you can feel overwhelmed, frustrated and, yes, even ready to pull your hair out.

It’s All About the Approach

While frustrations and setbacks are part of the journey, you can often make matters worse by how you approach these situations. When you’re facing uncomfortable challenges, it can be tempting to react in one of these two ways:

#1: Deciding To Do It All Yourself
With this approach, it’s easy to get stuck. In some situations, you just need an outside perspective to “see” the solution. In other situations, you may lack the skills and experiences you need to solve the problem.

#2: Hoping Others Will Do It All For You
With this approach, the end product is never what you want. Why? There is a big difference between delegating intentionally and abdicating ownership of a situation or project. To succeed in the thought leadership world, your work has to come from you. No one can just “give” you a ready-made platform, book concept, or network of relationships.

In either case, you lose sight of this important truth: you are the CEO of your book and business.

It’s All About the People

As with successful CEOs, experienced thought leaders know the importance of building a great team around them. They use their network to find experts to augment their skills and experiences. More importantly, they know the value of finding people who will tell them the truth – instead of what they want to hear.

Pick one of the current challenges that’s standing in your way. Ask yourself:

  • Do I need a fresh perspective to solve this problem?
  • Do I have the expertise and skills to create the caliber of results I want?
  • Who do I know that can recommend the expert help I need?

Whether it’s joining a mastermind group, finding an intern or hiring the right expert, the sooner you surround yourself with the right people, the faster you’ll move forward.

Delegation Revelation: Do What Only YOU Can Do

To Do ListTo Do ListAre you overwhelmed by your To Do List? Is there so much to do that you don’t know where to start? If you are doing tasks that someone else can do, then who is doing the tasks that ONLY YOU CAN DO? The answer: ???? Effective time management = The ability to delegate.

For most everyone, regardless of position, the cliché is true: Time IS money. If we don’t manage our time correctly, the business won’t run smoothly and there will be things, important things, that don’t get done or aren’t done correctly. If you are like most people, there is always the temptation to do it all yourself, because it is easier than delegating it to someone else and trusting that they are going to get the job done right. However, if you are stuck in that mind set, you are also stuck in the rut of “too much to do and not enough time to do it”. There are steps you can take to bring focus to your life, both professionally and personally, and organize your day so it doesn’t disorganize you.

The first step is to realize you need to delegate. Without the willingness to delegate, learning about time management is like cooking a delicious meal and then just sitting at the table and not eating it. Sound ridiculous? Yes, is does. But so is trying to do everything yourself. Delegate, delegate, delegate. You may ask, “How do I decide what to delegate and what to do myself?” Here are some tips:

Surround yourself with people you trust and who can do things you can’t do. Having a team you can rely on, a team with skill sets that you don’t necessarily have, is vital to any organization’s success. You personally don’t have to know or learn everything about everything. That takes a lot of time, energy AND money. You don’t know HTML? When you need your website updated, it is a wonderful thing to have an HTML diva on your team who can do it for you. You’re not a good copy writer? Delegate it to someone who has a way with words and knows the ins and outs of today’s market place. You can decide to delegate and then have the final approval and, yes, control the outcome.

Make a list of what needs to be done. This is a complete and comprehensive list of tasks – from answering the phone to making bank deposits and everything in between. Daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly things. Things like checking emails, calling clients, picking up and dropping off the mail, doing annual inventory, sweeping the floor, setting up a webinar, arranging travel to a quarterly conference, etc. The list goes on. The important thing here is to make sure the list is complete. Write down the things you do as you do them and how often you do them and how much time it takes to do them. This is an excellent way to get an overall time snapshot of your world.

To Do ListMark the things on that list that ONLY YOU CAN DO. Not the things that you WANT to do, mark the things that only you can do. These are things that are unique to your position, whatever that is – functions that only you can perform. This can be the hard part, though, because there are probably things that you have been doing that you like doing and want to do, but someone else can do them. You need to let go of those things. You need to focus your time and effort on areas where you are most effective. That is usually doing the things only you can do.

Provide the details when you delegate to other people. How you delegate tasks to other people is as important as the actual delegating. If you don’t provide enough information when you delegate (details AND a deadline), then don’t expect the results to necessarily be what you want. Yes, occasionally there will be someone who “knows what you are thinking”, but most people don’t know unless you tell them. The degree of detail you provide is directly related to the level of success you can expect when you delegate a task to someone. Of course, delegating the task of sweeping the floor doesn’t sound like it needs much detail, right? But if you don’t specify that you want all of the furniture moved and swept under, then those lint balls will probably stay under the desk. If you delegate the task of organizing your filing system and don’t give any detailed instructions, then you probably won’t be able to find that file you are looking for when you need it. Always be sure to delegate with details and a deadline.

Trust them to get the job done. Micromanaging is NEVER a good thing. It will suck the time out of your schedule, and it can be worse than not delegating at all. If you have ever had to work with someone “looking over your shoulder”, you know that is uncomfortable and counter productive, so don’t do it when you delegate. If you have surrounded yourself with knowledgeable, trustworthy people, you can delegate and let it go. People tend to live up to expectations, so if you maintain a high standard of expectation, your delegation process should be a success.

Be willing to adjust your delegating plan. We always have the best of intentions when we start anything new, and this is no different. Once you have your list made, your tasks assigned (to yourself or to others), and your people and your plan place, be flexible and willing to adjust along the way. If you have a team with diverse skills, then you should have no problem in delegating to the right person to get the job done, on time, and the way you want it done.

Regardless of your situation, whether a solo business entrepreneur or a high level manager, your ability to delegate is a key to smooth work flow and overall business success. When you figure out what only you can do and delegate the rest, you are well on the way to the next level. Have a “Delegation Revelation” and take the first step: Let the Smart to Finish Office Solutions virtual assistant team come alongside you to implement your day to day operations and Infusionsoft support, so you can focus on your mission and your passion – DOING ONLY WHAT YOU CAN DO! Happy Delegating!

written by – Janet Broer, Smart To Finish Diva