Time Management - How productive are you?

Posted on 10th July 2017

Having spent 14 years as a PA at Executive level and as a freelance PA (or virtual assistant) to professionals and time-poor sole traders, I've worked alongside many busy people. I've observed how they work, which has allowed me to develop the following thoughts on how best to manage time in the office and thereby increase productivity.

Have a single Focus

I know we ladies like to pride ourselves on our ability to multitask, but actually, there is a time and a place. If you can check your social media while stirring your risotto and testing the kids on their homework - great! However, in the workplace greater productivity comes from having a single focus. Disruptions cause you to lose your chain of thought and result in having to backtrack. Not productive at all!
It's much better to focus on one thing at a time if at all possible and 'give it your all' before moving on to the next task in hand. Mistakes happen through trying to 'keep too many balls in the air.' I know, I've tried!

Block out Distractions

One of the main factors preventing us having a single focus is the constant 'noise' around us which comes from emails, social media, telephone calls etc.
If you use social media for business, have you tried turning off your notifications? The same applies to emails. You know how regularly they need to be checked (and this may not be the same each day). Block out a few minutes in your diary to do such tasks and work for the rest of the day uninterrupted. 
The telephone is a trickier one. It can be very disruptive, but, on the other hand, it may be new business. When you need to focus your full attention on something, set up a bespoke voicemail message. Alternatively, you could divert your calls to your virtual assistant who can answer the phone with a more personal touch and take an accurate message for you. A virtual assistant can be a good ambassador for your business and ensure your clients, prospects and suppliers are greeted just as you would wish when you are unable to do so yourself.
Infographic of time management tips for small businesses provided by Kerry Lummus at KL Secretarial Services

Beware of lengthy Meetings!

Meetings can have a nasty habit of over-running. 
I would recommend sending out the agenda to attendees in plenty of time to allow them to consider their thoughts and carry out any research. This minimises the possibility of having to have a follow-up meeting. Have a clear purpose and objective to the meeting and ensure this is communicated to those attending. Stay alert to any straying 'off-topic' and be prepared to pull it back where necessary. Don't allow any debate to 'go round in circles.' Bring to an end any discussion which has run its course and be clear on any action points. 

Start with the Tasks you like the least

Once you have got any urgent tasks out of the way, move on to those you like the least. Not only will you feel much better psychologically, but your day is guaranteed to have been a successful one. 
Most of all, use the first 15 minutes of every workday wisely - however that might be for you.

I'd love to hear from anyone who has any tips to share. 

Alternatively, if you recognise that you could push your business on to the next level if you outsourced some, or all, of your admin to a specialist while you concentrate on your core activities, I'd love to hear from you, too. I offer an initial one-hour consultation, free of charge and without obligation.  Please 'Contact me' for ways to get in touch.
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