We have come of age in the professional world under the guise of “The key to productivity is multitasking.” You can get more done, faster, by training yourself to manage multiple tasks simultaneously.
You’re encouraged (or expected) to respond to email while texting and updating this quarter’s numbers. How many of us go from our inbox to editing a document, to logistics, to finalizing a sales proposal, to client management and back again before we’ve had our morning cup of joe?
Multitasking professionally is bunk. The key to saving time and inflating your productivity is to focus on what you do best. Each of us excels at one particular aspect of our careers, and that piece—your core competency—is usually the reason you entered your field to begin with.
What you didn’t bargain for, however, was all the adjacent responsibility which surrounds it.
Break down your day
How much of your day do you spend on income-generating activities versus administration, or the inevitable to-do items surrounding your work?
Let’s say you’re an attorney who has just split from your big name firm, along with that big name pay check. You hung a shingle and you’re ready to go. You love the law, consulting with clients, performing research and drawing up contracts. Or you’re a litigator. Or you’re a sadist turned divorce lawyer (same difference.)
Turns out in addition to the billable activities that you love, which are, by the way, the reason you entered the field, you’ve just discovered you need to:
• Book speaking engagements to land clients
• Blog and maintain a social media presence
• Manage your CRM system and pipeline
• Write and disseminate a client newsletter
• Have a social media presence (and strategy!)
• Invoice clients regularly
• Categorize your email and respond to all inquiries within 24 hours
• Order paper and ink, comparison shop for a printer and send flowers for your anniversary
The guy or gal behind the guy
What you need is a virtual assistant. The best way to watch your efficiency soar is to delegate the many time consuming responsibilities that do not fall into the category of either:
“This is something ONLY I can do”
“I love this – it’s the reason I do what I do”
Everything else? Outsource it.
You need a proverbial gal behind the guy. Someone who stands (virtually) behind you, making everything you do appear seamless. Someone who speaks your language, relates to your culture and can beg you not to spoil the finale of Breaking Bad—since she recorded it and hasn’t gotten to it yet (because she’s furiously blogging for you).
Not Your momma’s virtual assistant
Today’s virtual assistant is an educated, proactive native English speaker whom you would consider hiring in-office. As the world gets smaller, thanks to technology, the importance of distance and physical presence wash away.
For example, did you know that there are virtual assistants not only in the United States, but across the globe who work American hours and have American phone lines? You can even conference call with your client or partner while your VA silently takes the meeting minutes. The call completed, she converts those minutes to a PowerPoint half an hour later and uploads it to your client-shared DropBox folder.
You did what you do best, your VA did what she does best, and you appear to be multitasking. Efficiently.
Show me the money
Today’s VAs have it all over traditional employees. We’re talking about a group of tech savvy professionals who have made it their business to empower you to run yours. Gone are the days when you have to dictate and document what to do and how to do it.
Premier virtual assistants actively opt to leave their corporate careers in favor of no-commute, independent entrepreneurialism. Just like you. Oftentimes, they hold university degrees and corporate pedigrees, just like you. They can bring ideas to the table, help you brainstorm, learn your business inside and out and act as your sounding board.
The financial advantages of an experienced, enthusiastic, professional and committed virtual assistant are tremendously attractive:
• You pay for only the time you use, often clocked to the second
• VAs cover their own benefits (vacation, sick time, pension, social security)
• No productivity loss for bathroom breaks, water cooler chat or Facebook updating, since it’s not clocked time
• Expenses are nil: no office space to rent, desk or computer to purchase, high-speed connection to reimburse
• No complicated tax filing; VAs bill you and generate a receipt
• You get an assistant who has the best work-life balance of anyone you know, and is therefore enthusiastic, happy and satisfied
Show me the time
Let’s return to your day. Considering the average manager spends 30-60% of his time on administrative tasks, it’s a safe bet that outsourcing just the following would save you at least two hours each day:
• Calendar management
• Inbox administration
• Travel arrangements
• Proposals and documentation
• Database management
Given that today’s VA can handle not only the basic admin tasks but probably help handle your marketing, content creation and social media presence as well, if you can hire the right VA and outsource effectively, you have just eliminated 50% of your to-do list. Ahhhhhhhhhh.
And, best of all, you spend your time doing only the work you’re good at (and love). Productivity skyrockets and it looks like you’re keeping all your balls in the air, all by yourself.