Digital records management isn’t something we spend time thinking about until we need to find a file. We spend far too much time searching, wondering where we would have thought to save the file when we were working in it. Frustration sets in as we jam every term possible into the search bar and still we have to sort through file after file to find what we need.
I personally despise wasting time looking for files. It’s one of those delays that drives me nuts mainly because it’s so easy to prevent.
If you’re relating to this, don’t worry – most people do. We’ve become disorganized digital hoarders. With endless storage capacity and search functions, we aren’t as discerning about what we’re saving and how it’s organized.
Unsurprisingly, email tends to be most workers’ biggest headache. Whether it’s a burning desire to document everything or senders just like the ease of email, we are inundated with messages at all hours of the day.
How do we manage the chaos?
Well, first, start thinking of your inbox as a tool, not the bane of your existence. There are a lot of functionalities built into email clients to make our lives easier – we just have to discover them or actually use them.
So, set some time aside today and let’s get organized!
The real title of this blog post should be “The Crazy Amazing Benefits of Hiring a Real-Life Virtual Assistant Instead of Doing Everything Yourself or Relying on Technology.”
But that’s not catchy.
I hear it all the time. “With all the technology today, why should I hire a virtual assistant?”
Simple. Technology can’t replace human critical thinking, strategy, brand awareness, autonomous behavior, compassionate response, and much more – all at once.
Sure, there are plenty of ‘virtual assistants’ out there – Alexa, Echo, Siri, Google Assistant, and tools to automate your business. You can set up all your systems and hope they do exactly what you’d like them to do. But chances are you going to spend more time managing your tools than you will be working on your business and still none of those tools can apply years of administrative and business expertise to make sure you make the right decisions for your business.
Sold yet? No?
In our ever-connected world, we are being drained by our work. Access to email means your boss can find you wherever, whenever. Customers and colleagues are using social media for business at alarming rates. Throw in collaboration and communication tools like Slack, workflow managers, chat, text, *gasp* the phone… and the idea of unplugging becomes downright laughable.
On top of all this communicating, you have to get actual work done and live a life.
It’s enough to drive people absolutely mad. And I’ve seen it happen.
I’ve been there.
Years ago, I was working myself to insanity because I felt an overpowering sensation of indebtedness to my job and an unwavering commitment to an unscalable definition of good customer service. I was always on-call, responding to emails within moments of receiving them and handling tasks quickly because I didn’t want to be a bottleneck in productivity. People would politely chastise me, “It’s so late! This isn’t urgent!” But for me, it was. Good customer service meant dealing with every single task with a sense of accessibility and urgency.
But the burnout hit me hard.
Color coding your calendar is one of those organizational tricks that most people shrug off. Either they think it takes too much time or they won’t implement it or it is just plain frivolous.
I’m here to tell you – if you aren’t color coding your calendar, you’re missing out.
Color coding your calendar allows you to see how your time will be used at a glance. Colors can be used to distinguish between projects, clients, meeting types, activity types. You name it. You will know in a matter of seconds how your time is allocated just by looking at colors.
The system will take you a mere few moments to set up and I guarantee you’ll see the benefits immediately.
How to color code?
Being productive isn’t something you just “are”. Productivity stems from having numerous tools in your toolbox to tackle the hundreds of tasks that get thrown at us every week.
In addition to setting daily priorities and scheduling my to-dos, I have one more big trick up my sleeve to keep the overwhelm at a minimum. I batch my work.
What exactly is batching your work?
One of my biggest frustrations as a business owner is the sheer amount of information I have to maintain. Even being small, I still have to keep track of business licenses, client contracts, EIN documentation, web logins… the list can go on and on.
Even with my organizational skills, I reached a breaking point.
My contracts were stored electronically, but one glitch and it could all be gone.
My business license was sitting in a folder amongst a bunch of other random documents.
I was constantly looking up my business banking information.
And oh yeah, what is my password for that software?
Enough was enough.
A common productivity hang-up is the inability to stay focused on what’s important. Whether it is feeling buried under all the tasks that need to be completed or dealing with constant interruptions, getting thrown off course is so easy. Plus, life is just full of distractions. Then you get to the end of the day and feel like it was wasted. Where did the time go? Did you actually get anything done that you needed to?
I’ve been there – I get it.
However, you don’t have to be a victim of this black hole. There is a way to get everything done and feel accomplished, rather than frustrated, at the end of the day.
Every year, I attend an executive assistant conference. I have wonderful conversations with interesting women and men from all over the country and come away with an expanding network… and a stack of business cards.
Don’t get me wrong – I love business cards. They can be creative, interesting, and incredibly effective at creating a lasting connection.
However, there are some downsides. Inevitably, cards get lost or I run out of cards. I try to write a quick note about how I met someone or a follow-up note on a card, but it’s bad etiquette to write on a business card and there’s rarely enough space. Then, what happens when I get home? I have a huge stack of business cards that I spend time converting to contacts anyway.
Finally, I had a brilliant idea to make my life and others’ a tad easier.