Sometimes it feels like there is just not enough time in the day. Between kids/dogs/elderly parents (delete as necessary) and work, travel, trying to fit in your 10,000 steps and your 5 a day, etc, etc… It can be overwhelming!
Your to do list is getting longer by the day and the cracks are beginning to show. Things are slipping through the net.
You just need more time.
If you don’t even have the time to finish reading this article and want a quick fix then, long story short, hire me!
These are all things that I do myself to help keep focused, on track and where I want to be. As the saying goes, fail to prepare and you prepare to fail.
1. Say NO
Are you a people-pleaser? There’s no judgment, I definitely am! It kind of comes with the territory of being an Assistant though. But for busy professionals and business owners with more to do than you could shake a stick at, the word “no” could be the most powerful part of your vocabulary.
Channel your inner Nancy Reagan (without the 80s hairstyle!) and just say no. Say no to things that do not take you close to your goal; say no to things that drain you; say no to people who exhaust you.
Embrace the power of no and free yourself from unnecessary obligations. We have enough obligations as it is!
2. Make a to-do list
Now, I love a list. I find writing lists therapeutic and very calming, as I can see exactly what I have to do and when. Whether you prefer a physical list, putting pen to paper (I am partial to this), or using an app like Todoist, just take the time to stop, think, and make your list.
Then once you have all the things you need to do – which may well be a scary amount, but one step at a time – you have all the information you need to prioritise.
To start yourself off on a positive note, give yourself an easy quick win to tick something off (i.e. “Write my to do list”). Plus it is oh so satisfying ticking something off! Then prioritise no more than 3 things you need to do that day and crack on. This will really focus your attention on what really needs to be done. And bonus, if you finish all three, you can continue ticking things off the list!
3. Manage your email
It can sometimes feel like we live at the beck and call of our phones, particularly our email. Chuck in social media (Facebook messages, Insta, LinkedIn, Twitter, how many ways are there to contact one person?!) and we could easily waste a whole day just replying to messages!
Instead of this, try blocking out certain times for emails. Check at specified points throughout the day and follow the four Ds:
DELETE – do you need it? If not, delete (or if appropriate unsubscribe).
DEFER – does it pass the two minute rule, or will it take longer? If so, defer and schedule some time to deal with it properly at a later time.
DELEGATE – do you have to be the one who does it, or can you pass it to someone else to deal with? If so, delegate.
DO – if it is none of the above and will take you two minutes or less, then just do it.
Quick, simple, effective. Just like me!
Do not let your email rule you – you can choose to prioritise based on things that come in. Remember, just because something is urgent and important to someone else does not mean it is the same for you! (Unless you’re my client, and then of course it is urgent and important to me too. Obviously.)
4. Turn off notifications
Linked to the above, notifications are a distraction that take away your focus and drain your time. The interruption of constant pinging of your phone can actually be quite intrusive and stressful! Either that, or a notification pops up and somehow you end up down some Instagram rabbit hole and 20 minutes has passed. Yikes.
You can permanently disable notifications on certain apps, but if that is a bit too scary an option then you can use airplane mode, DND or (ironically) use an app to control when notifications appear. This allows you to take back control, choosing when you would like to have notifications and when you want to check your emails/social media/whatever. You can keep your flow, well, flowing.
5. Learn to delegate
Ah. Delegating. This can be a tricky one. There are tasks that always need to be done, this is true. However, the first place to start is to ask yourself, do I have to be the one to do it? Just like with the emails!
At home, perhaps your partner or family member can do it instead. Even my 8-year-old has his tasks to do so I am not doing everything. Maybe you can get a tradesperson/gardener/cleaner/other to do it?
At work, do you have a colleague you can ask? Perhaps your manager can help? If you are the boss and don’t have colleagues, fret not. Don’t ever feel like you have to do everything alone, there is always some help out there.
Secondly ask yourself, should I be the one to do this? I outsource my book-keeping and accountancy because I am in no way qualified to do that, would probably mess it up and it is money well spent in my eyes! Or maybe by outsourcing it, that person could do it much quicker and to a higher standard than you. We all have our strengths and we should play to them. Delegate the rest. A Virtual Assistant can definitely save you time, as by outsourcing the menial, time-consuming and/or hated tasks, you can focus on the meaningful ones.
If you have been considering ways to free up more time and like the thought of an assistant, then why not look at some of the things I can take off your hands. No task is too small and I can give you the gift of time. For a very reasonable fee, of course.