As a Online Business Manager it is my job to know what everyone is doing with their time and how to improve the efficiency of not only my business but the ones I serve.
For years I have managed my productivity and I have put systems in place to reduce distractions. I don’t allow any notifications except text messages to come through to my phone. There are literally only a handful of people that have my number. If they text, I pretty much want to reply back! I go on Facebook on my phone when it suits me. I reply to Instagram comments when it suits me.
I check my emails when it suits me.
You are seeing a pattern right?
So how did I get hooked on Facebook?
I use a Mac and a Laptop for most of my work. I have an iPad which I only use at indoor soft plays. I actually have to use Facebook for business. This could be checking in on a Facebook group, adding people to a group, replying to business messages. However, I was always so good and going in and getting done what I needed to and then moving on. Over the last few weeks I had noticed that my time on Facebook had increased considerably. However my billable hours didn’t reflect that.
You see I use Toggl to track my work. I only put the timer on when I am doing client work. When I am done I turn it off. So I was getting done what I needed to and I would get this itch to carry on looking on Facebook. I hadn’t seen what had changed. I literally couldn’t help myself, a few wasted seconds turned to wasted minutes and then minute turned to wasted hours. I was literally distraught. What has happened to me? I am like a drug addict. I can’t get enough. I want more even though I KNOW it isn’t good for me. Just this list time… 5 more minutes won’t hurt… All the excuses you can think of I used to justify my wasted time. Not to mention the unearned £££s that I had thrown away.
Why and How?
My Kill News Feed browser was not working. You see if I remove it on my Mac it does it to my Laptop too. I am not sure how it happened but I know it had a massive impact.
I have reinstalled it now and I feel better already. Without the temptation of the news feed I don’t feel I need to keep scrolling and scrolling.
It is the huge FOMO that makes us keep going. If I stop now, I might miss that really important thing that I really needed to know… It sounds stupid now, but at the time you cannot stop yourself. The only way to reduce your wasted time is to put the systems in place to ensure you don’t waste your precious time.
Here are some other things you can do to make sure Facebook doesn’t get you hooked too:
Install Kill News Feed right now on whatever browser you use
Have set times to login and logout for interaction – use a time
Turn off all notifications on your phone so they do not distract you
Keep your phone in another room so you don’t get tempted
Use a Pomodoro time to keep you focused
Set boundaries with your clients and use a communication tool like Slack
Do you have any other productivity tips to help you keep off the Facebook crack?
We all feel like it’s the end of the world when the Internet goes down right?
Or we go somewhere and the WIFI is poor, we would moan about it on Facebook if we could…
So I thought I would put together a list of productive things you can do when you have no internet.
1. Catch up on your Instapaper reading. Instapaper allows you to bookmark and download articles that you would like to read later but don’t have the time right now. If like me your 4G on your phone is none existent it’s great to use this app when you are on the training, in a waiting room at the docs or in an awkward social environment that you want to avoid! A bonus is that you can actually link your Instapaper to your Buffer account and share posts easily to your social media. Also another cheeky hack you can use is IFTTT.com and set it that for every article you ‘heart’ it will automatically share to your Buffer queue.
2. Put together content ideas and bullet point a few main ideas for each point. These could be blog posts ideas, social media posts, eBooks and VLOGS. Choose one per week and pop into into your calendar/diary so you know what you are writing for the next few weeks, instead of winging it! The great thing about knowing in advance is that say if you write on a Wednesday, you can plan to research your topic further on Tuesday and have some facts and figures to hand when you come to create your content.
3. Take a Braindump. Do you constantly have ideas swimming around your head but nothing seems to happen with them? Even if you don’t want to take action on these ideas in the near future you have the idea out of your head and on paper. This way you can return to it when you have time to implement it and it will give you more head space to work on your current projects.
4. Sort through images on your phone. Delete old ones that you don’t need. Uploads images to your ‘iCloud’ or ‘Dropbox ones and label and sort so they are easy to locate in the future. Whichever way you choose to backup your photos, if you don’t do this add it to your todo list as it can be a lifesaver if you ever lose your phone.
5. Declutter and File – Keeping on top of admin is a must but mostly put to the back of the todo list. It soon adds up when you put things off a few times. The ideal time to get on with this task is when you have nothing better to do! With no internet you are limited and you will feel better once it is done. Things like filing receipts, invoices and filling in the relevant spreadsheets with the information will mean you are more than grateful come tax season!
6. Tidy up your PC! Start with your desktop, this seems to be the place where everything is dumped when you have no idea where else to put it! The next port of call is the Download folder. Sort through everything and file and label them accordingly. Delete what you no longer need or you are no longer going to use. Use Dropbox to store your images and eBooks for future reference. You could have a folder for things that you want to take action on and next time you don’t have internet you can head there and get started.
7. Use the time to check in with clients and touch base with ex and prospective clients. Don’t look to sell to them just so see how they are getting on. You will be surprised on how many people will have been meaning to get in touch with you themselves but haven’t got round to it yet. So go grab your phone and get texting.
8. Write without distractions! Whether it be a blog, a sales page, an eBook or some emails, when you have no internet it is an ideal time to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard! Before you know it you’ll have written an epic blog, a week’s worth of emails or the first chapter to your first book! If you have always wanted to write your own book, you could use internetless times to brainstorm ideas and then take every opportunity you can do write.
9. Read – I know we have already mentioned Instapaper, but if you are anything like the business owners I know you have a bookshelf full of books you keep meaning to read! Perhaps you have downloaded a book from Audible but you haven’t listened to it yet. Business books are great but don’t underestimate the power of fiction. It’s a great way to escape the real world and boost your imagination.
10. Last but not least is exercise! It should be a major part of your life to get active but more often and not people put their work before their health. However, there is no job in the world that will not allow you a quick 30 minute workout. Working out will improve your productivity, energy levels and focus when you return. It’s a great use of our time and you’ll reduce stress, burn calories and you’ll feel good too!
We often feel that when the internet is down there is nothing we can do other than nap. Yes I am a big fan of napping, but only when your work is done! It’s the ultimate reward for me! SLEEP!
The next time your internet is out, use it as an opportunity. I would say working 1 hour without internet being 100 % focused can be with 3 hours of distracted work with internet.
One of the most frequently asked questions by new VAs is:
‘How do I find clients?’
In this blog I’m going to show you a handful of ways that you can do this. Be consistent in your efforts and they will pay off!
Here are 5 things you can do to find clients
Online forums and groups allow you to connect with business owners from all over the world. Facebook groups in particular are a fantastic way to build professional relationships and many virtual assistants get clients this way.
There are a few things to keep in mind, however:
Pick the right groups – When it comes to building professional relationships with the aim of increasing your client base make sure that you’re in groups where your ideal client hangs out.
Be helpful – Don’t just promote your services, because people will tire of it. Aim to provide useful and valuable information that answers their questions. And if it is something you feel you can offer a bit more help with then suggest a quick chat.
Abide by the rules – Facebook group admins enforce various rules and with good reason. Stick with them and stay in their good books!
Answer postings – Often you will see someone looking for a VA for their business. If it sounds like something you would love to do then do two things: 1. Read the posting carefully, and 2. Follow their instructions when you answer it.
Action step: Go ahead and identify a handful of groups that you will engage with daily.
Just because you plan on working virtually doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be networking face-to-face. Local networking events will give you the chance to meet with other small business owners in your area.
Go to these events and build relationships with the other business owners there. But don’t just tell them what you do, ask questions and show them that you are interested in what they do! You should also get the business cards of other business owners so you can connect with them later on.
Action step: Identify upcoming networking events in your area and mark them in your diary.
Following on from my previous point, use LinkedIn to connect with business owners you meet at networking events. Send them a short and sweet message reminding them who you are.
Ensure that you’re regularly posting great content on LinkedIn, such as:
This will help you position yourself as an expert!
Action step: Connect with others on LinkedIn and get a plan of action in place for the content you’ll post.
Get out your address book
If you haven’t already considered family, friends, old work colleagues and acquaintances to help you get more clients, then you really should!
Many VAs start out by doing tasks for people that they already know or who have connections to their family and friends. Whether you’ve worked with them in the past or you’re related, you never know just how many business owners your connections know.
Start off by letting your contacts know about your new business and ask them to keep you in mind if they or someone they know needs some support in their work.
Remember, if you get on well with someone then they should have no problem recommending you!
Action step: Draft a list of your contacts and write your email for them.
Approaching businesses you’d like to work with
This is a strategy that some people may feel a little nervous about doing because you’re essentially cold-emailing businesses you’d like to work with. However, if done right then this strategy can work very well.
Think about businesses that fit your criteria of an ideal client. Learn about them and then draft a personalised email.
Once you introduce yourself and your business, tell them about how you know their business and what you think you could help them with. You could even provide a couple of tips to demonstrate that you know what you’re talking about. Finally suggest setting up a consult or quick chat on Skype to discuss things further.
Action step: Research businesses and learn about them. Use the information you find to draft your email.
Using all these strategies will help you build your client base and grow as a virtual assistant!
You’ve identified your perfect client, pitched your services and just found out that they would love to work with you.
Well, the next step to take is to send them a Welcome Pack! Now, before you starting thinking about what to include in your pack, we first need to go through why you should do this.
Why send a Welcome Pack?
All in the one place
Some of the information you will include may already be on your website. But with the Welcome Pack you’re putting all the important details together in one handy document that your client can refer to when needs be.
It will help clarify what you and your business is all about
The Welcome Pack is perfect for showcasing what it is that you do, how you do it and all the terms and policies you abide by.
It shows professionalism and that you value your clients.
Having a clean, easy to follow and informative pack is a great way of demonstrating your professionalism and it also shows that you’ve taken the time to ensure that your clients are well informed.
It’s a nice way to welcome them to your business.
And isn’t it nice to be nice?
When you sit down to create all the individual components of your Welcome Pack, keep these whys in mind.
What you should include
A personalised welcome letter
Take the time to properly welcome them as a client. A short and sweet personalised letter will show them you care.
A quick overview of what is included in the Welcome Pack
After your letter, include a number of bullet points that outline what the rest of your pack includes.
An introduction to your business
Here you can tell them all about…
What you do
Who you work with
Your vision and mission as a virtual assistant
How you work
This section contains important information about how things are done and when they are done. Here you should include…
Your working hours
Methods and times of communication
Availability and holidays
Your working processes
Give them overview of the tasks or projects you will be involved in. Include a breakdown of each task, the desired outcomes and the timeframe.
It can be as simple as using bullet points, but the important thing to remember is to be clear.
State your rates, whether you work on an hourly, per-project or package basis.
Your payment and invoice terms
How you are to be paid
And policies for late payment
While this may include some of the details you’ve already included in the pack, the Contract itself provides even more detail.
Here’s an idea of the sections you should include in your contract:
An agreement between both parties
Office hours and holidays
Payment and invoice policies
Availability for work hours
Terminating a contract
Ownership of work
Code of ethics
Give them a quick overview of your contact methods and preferences.
Phone (if using)
Finally, here are some things you may also like to include in your Welcome Pack
Have previous or current clients given you raving reviews? Add them to your pack and show your new client the kind of results they could have!
A list of the various software you are proficient in
Show them what you are skilled in. You never know, they might have a few more things they need help with.
What are the most common questions you are asked as a virtual assistant? Could the answers be useful to your new client?
Is there anything else you’ve included in your pack?