My Productivity Secret Can Be Yours

productivity secretI work most efficiently when I bundle like tasks. But what if that client needs only a newsletter prepared monthly; nothing more? How can that be bundled? The bundling comes in how I move through projects in my schedule and throughout my day.

Taking newsletters, for example, I know that my clients typically send out their respective newsletters the beginning of the month, around the 15th and some during the final week of the month. There are three main times that I work on newsletters so I schedule a day or two during these times of the month to work on newsletter projects back-to-back. If someone has a newsletter come in during another time it’s taken care of. Bundling the same types of tasks while I work saves me from switching gears to think about doing research for a copywriting project, 75 minutes later getting into the technical side of newsletter creation then 60 minutes after that writing social media posts or working as a client’s project manager for their business.

The requests that come in can vary widely from admin support to marketing and writing projects to consulting or project management. Switching my focus so frequently throughout the day can be exhausting so my system is to work on similar tasks as I progress through my to-do list. I keep a running list, by client, on my whiteboard. It’s easy to see at a glance which projects are similar and plan accordingly.

One question I am often asked is, “Do you have time to work with me?” Usually this comes from someone who’s visited my website and is inquiring about services. It’s a fair question. The question comes while we’re having our assessment call to see if we’d be a good match to work together and if my services will meet the level of support they are seeking. No one wants to start out with a company only to learn later on that the VA is overcommitted.

What this person doesn’t know is that prior to our appointment I have reviewed my schedule and assessed the needs they have initially expressed – making a decision in my mind about how much time will be needed. Knowing what’s on the calendar for the month allows me to take on clients confidently knowing that productivity and efficiency won’t dip for any of my clients.

Now, you may be wondering if I additionally bundle my email management. For me, I do not. I applaud those who set specific times to review and answer emails but that doesn’t work for me. I keep my email open during office hours and have an audio alert for incoming emails – my little man…he announces “You have mail!”

When the little man makes his announcement I may glance at what’s come in and from who but that doesn’t mean I reply immediately. There are times that a reply must come immediately but often I can finish the work at hand and then address the email. Rarely is something on fire; requiring I drop everything. For those who answer emails at set times of the day I’ve often wondered what they do for those urgent emails that do require an immediate response. And I’ve wondered how they would handle interruptions that happen frequently in traditional offices such as answering phones and greeting office guests.

To me, email is like phone calls coming into the office or guests/clients who cross the threshold of your business. A receptionist wouldn’t ignore a ringing phone to finish an entire project nor would that person ignore someone standing in front of them who came to do business. But that’s a topic for another day…

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