Excellent productivity is vital as a virtual assistant. With the work of numerous clients to juggle at once, it’s important that I’m using my time effectively for each of them so that I keep on top of work and so they get the best out of my time.
To help me be as productive as possible, I use a number of different tools that keep me organised. Here are some of my favourites, the reasons I love them, and how you can make the most of them.
There are alternatives to all of these tools out there, and you might find that something different works slightly better for you and your business. This list is intended as a guide to my own personal preferences and those tools that I use myself.
Trello was an eye-opener when I first discovered it soon before I set up my virtual assistant business. It’s an amazingly simple but useful tool to help you manage tasks and teams. You can have several boards, which are split into lists, which are further split into cards. You can assign team members to each board, list or card, add reminders, keep track of notes, create checklists, include labels, and much more. If the basic options aren’t enough for you, there are also many other (usually paid) add-ons you can make use of.
There is a great free version and also subscription options. As a business that consists of me, myself and I, I don’t find that I need more than the basic free version, but bigger companies may want more.
This is one for those with an iPhone (though there are alternatives available for Android too). Reminders is a standard app on the iPhone that is simple but useful. I use it in particular to remind me to do tasks at certain times. While my Bullet Journal (see Number 5) is great for general planning and creating an overview of tasks, Reminders helps me schedule things in more specifically during the day. You can create notes, add due dates and times, get notifications about those due dates, and even get a reminder when you reach a certain location. I use it as an extra back-up when I have a meeting coming up, or if I need to do something at a particular time in the future.
3. Keeper Security
Keeper Security is a paid password manager that securely stores all my login details, of which I have many. It suggests strong passwords whenever I create a new account, too. This is a great, safe way of using difficult-to-guess passwords without having to remember each and every one of them, or look them up each time I need them. I have an extension on my browser and an app on my phone.
To be honest, I initially wasn’t overly impressed with Keeper and thought it was lacking a lot of useful functionality. For example, I had to open the website and do a search there to find a specific password if it didn’t automatically detect the login details I needed. However, they’ve made some great updates recently to make things more user-friendly. It seems they’ve fixed many of the issues I initially had, which makes the whole experience much better.
I find Dropbox a really useful tool for storage and file management. It allows me the flexibility of working with clients remotely, either from my own office or anywhere with decent WiFi signal. Dropbox is a great way of sharing files and information: you can control who has access to do what, share a specific document via a link, or allow a team to access and edit certain files.
As I work with a number of large files such as videos and high-res images, the free version of Dropbox wasn’t enough for my needs, so I upgraded and pay a fairly low amount each year for more storage. However, you may find that the free version is absolutely fine for you, or you might want to upgrade to a higher level.
You can now also edit files directly in Dropbox using Google Docs. As I’m not a great fan of this particular Google offering, I don’t use that, but selective sync allows me to easily open and edit documents using my own desktop programmes.
5. Bullet Journal
I’ve always loved a pad and paper, mainly as tools to scribble down notes that I can either copy into a task list after a meeting, or to aid my memory.
A Bullet Journal – also known as BuJo – was a new discovery of mine this year, though the concept has been around for some time. The basic use is to organise your life by jotting down daily and monthly to do lists in a way that helps you keep track of everything, reassign tasks, and prioritise what’s important. Particularly handy is a contents page at the front that helps you know where you’ve written what. It’s simple and flexible, but it really helps keep me on top of upcoming tasks. Having small daily task lists that I can check off keeps me motivated to do tasks I may otherwise put off for another day. And I always get a little burst of pleasure when I complete my to do list for the day!
So there are some tips I use for keeping on track and getting things done. Do you have any favourite productivity tools?
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