Do you notice the way you work when you plan to get more done, let me ask “are you being productive for your VA business as well as being productive for your clients?”
Do you ever find yourself working evenings and weekends, are you busy being busy? So quick question – how much quality do you then apply to your work if you are tired or if you are trying to focus on more than one thing at a time? Long term, it is a challenge to keep working in this way without letting someone down as you become stressed, productivity is low, and quality is affected.
Productivity is not about how busy you are, it’s when you can measure how much you have accomplished!
When you are offering your own services as a VA, you are encouraging your clients to just focus on what they do best so that they can focus on the tasks which will enable them to be productive and accomplish something. But are you walking your talk?
Leveraging your time and outsourcing is also something you should be focussing on even as a VA. Apart from creating the time to conduct client work, how much time are you putting aside to be productive for your own business? Are you struggling to work on your business without any clear focus or a strategy… because if you are, how can you be productive and accomplish as much? Are you trying to do things yourself using tools which are not your skill-set and know this is taking up your own “valuable time?” Who do you know who can help you so that you can accomplish the task at hand far sooner?
The first thing to think about now is where you use your time and by creating a log of activities will enable you to identify exactly where your time is going. Look at how much time you spend on low activity tasks, how many interruptions are you allowing, do you have a call minder to help with interrupting phone calls? You could track your time fully – not just track the client work but track your own business work too.
This is all about self-awareness.
Do you know when you create your most outstanding work?
If you understand your patterns, you can then work accordingly and plan tasks in the day according to when you have peak performance. It may seem simple, yet it is VERY effective. Therefore, you may find that your best time for the type of client work which involves lots of detail is best in the morning when you have lost of energy and the afternoon can be for work which requires more creative skills.
Motivation for productivity – If you want to be super productive, especially when you are working from home alone, you need to be very self-motivated. What motivates you to do your best work? If you are doing work which you do not enjoy or are struggling because you do not have the skills required to complete the task, then you will feel stuck. This is where you must be focussed on the work you are accepting as well as ensuring you have other VAs who DO love doing the tasks you do not enjoy or possess the skills where you do not. You must be able to work in the flow to achieve results.
As human beings we are not designed to work in the same way as a computer, we have a very natural productivity flow. What we need to do is understand how to tap into this and use it to our advantage. When I was still VA’ing for clients, one of my clients introduced me to the work of a leading pioneer in sleep research, a Russian by the name of Nathan Kleitman – he had discovered something he called the “basic rest-activity cycle” – the 90 minute periods at night during which we move progressively through five stages of sleep, from light to deep, and then out again. You may have heard of REM sleep – this is what I’m referring to – periods of deep rejuvenating sleep. He also identified that that our bodies operate by the same 90 minute rhythm during the day. When we’re awake, the movement is from higher to lower alertness. This is called this our “ultradian performance rhythm.”
When we need a rest, our bodies send us clear signals such as fatigue, hunger, drowsiness, and loss of focus and we start to fidget / more around in our seats. Most people, ignore the signs and instead drink coffee and eat a snack. There’s a better way – a far more effective way to get more done and not feel stressed – is to work in these 90 minute productivity segments.
What are you doing about interruptions?
Bring in contingency time to deal with any interruptions from people either by phone or email. You know how stressful it can be when you have a deadline to meet, and your friend calls for a chat, no personal boundaries or an email comes through or a phone call? Call minding is great for filtering calls and avoiding those distractions.
Create a plan to handle those distractions – what if a friend calls, politely tell them you will call them when you are out of work time, ensure you make it clear from the start with friends and family that just because you are working from home you are not open to receive visits or phone calls on a social basis until specific times. Interruptions from clients – ensure your clients know when you are and not available and how to contact you in an emergency.
By having a call minding service allows you to have the peace of mind that callers are not being ignored and that you are still presenting a very professional image by having a voice at the end of a phone instead of an answer machine. Have specific set times when you will visit your emails and even social media such as Twitter. Have specific times when you will partake in online forums as well or do personal development.
Practice what you preach to your clients.
If you look at each project that requires completing you can sometimes look at the whole task as something that is mammoth. The important thing here to avoid overwhelm and anxiety, so I suggest breaking it all down into small and manageable chunks with a plan of action for each chunk. Look at time slots for a start and finish of each chunk and plan in advance which resources you need to have to hand for each chunk in order to complete it so you can work in the flow.
Remember what I mentioned earlier to walk your talk!
It’s easy to tell your clients that it is important to delegate to you so that they can be more productive and in the same breath, in order for you as a VA to be providing sufficient support to your clients means delegating yourself sometimes. It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking it’s easier to do it yourself or that if you delegate you will not earn the full hourly rate even.
However, if you train another VA whom you trust to complete aspects of your client work, then you are in effect building a team of VAs to help you on a continuous basis to support your client efficiently and effectively.
One of the things a lot of my one to one clients and VA Membership members do is attend the VACT co-working session every Friday morning, they ring fence 90 minutes to ensure they are being the CEO of their business, working “on” the business rather than “in” the business.
As part of the VA Membership Programme, we have been talking a lot about whether you are being productive for your VA business as well as for your clients. Read our blog “Why the need for an associate VA?” – https://www.vact.co.uk/why-the-need-for-an-associate-va/ as this could be the solution to helping you become more productive for your business and that of your clients.
The VA Membership is the only UK VA business accelerator that’s designed specifically to help you build and grow your VA business, to help you create recurring revenue and consistent growth through regular and consistent action. With over 100+ hours of courses, weekly co-working sessions, weekly group coaching calls, a private support group and the ability to pay as you go – when you’re ready to grow or scale your business online. As you review and refresh you will want to tap into our business checklists, templates, example documents, swipe copy and so much more to ensure you are supporting your business to the best of your ability. (We can often get sidetracked supporting clients in all honesty.)
The VA Membership has the option to upgrade to more one to one coaching and mentoring support as part of the Luminary VA coaching and mentoring options. If you would like to see / learn more, then please do check out The VA Membership.