As experts in productivity, we are sharing with you today some of our very own SmartPA’s top tips on how they best optimise their day and manage their workload.
Holly Harker, SmartPA Partner
Trello: I use it to keep a track of all my personal and client tasks. If I’ve had a particularly hard day, it's nice to look in my "Done" list to see what I'd actually been able to accomplish.
Google Chrome: By having multiple profiles in Chrome I've been able to separate my person, business and clients’ information, bookmarks and logins. I'm guilty for having a million and one tabs open in one window but at least they're not all muddled together.
Zoho Assist: A client recently learnt that I was taking an IT Technical Specialist course and has volunteered me to help with their IT department. Sometimes the easiest way to fix an issue is to take control of their computer and fix it myself - I have to stop the power going to my head.
Zoho CRM: I have tried MANY (nearly all) CRMs and I always gravitate back to Zoho. I'm not saying it's the best because I think a CRM is a very personal choice and you need to find the right one for you, your business and how you best function.
Fellow SmartPA Partners: This has been invaluable, the passion we all have for offering world class service is refreshing and contagious. Having each other offering support and advice like we're one big family, lets me offer something unique to clients.
There are many more tools like the MS office suite, especially Outlook and the calendar, but if I'm being really honest with myself, my most valuable tool is my passion for what I'm doing.
Jo Falcon Cross, SmartPA Partner
Aside from all the apps which are extremely helpful, the more holistic things I try to adhere to are:
Keeping a 'clean desk' policy at the end of the day as I feel much better if it is clear when I start the next day. As soon as it's warm enough, open the windows and get a plant on your desk. I also invested in a seriously comfortable and supportive desk chair!
Go for an early morning swim at least once a week before I start the work day
Connect with other SmartPA partners and other VA's in your area, everyone has good experience and tips to share
I am conscious of my most concentrated, energised and productive times of day - very early morning and mid-afternoon - I then shuffle tasks that need the most work or have the most detail to these times if I can. I listen to podcasts on Stitcher to keep my brain active if I am doing repetitive work
Switching off my laptop at the end of my working week and I do not put it back on until Monday. The whole point of joining SmartPA in the first place was to have quality family time so I am very strict with myself that this is achieved.
Harindur Kaur Dulai, SmartPA Partner
I really enjoy starting the day with Yoga (10-15 mins), some very basic videos I follow on YouTube that creates a calm and focused start to the day. I also 'try' heading to the gym 3 times a week and usually go after work, around 6-7pm and what an impact it makes mentally.
Setting the diary the day before is something I find so vital as it allows you to start the next day on a lighter tone and able to get on with the tasks or attend meetings in smoother flow. And perhaps adding some visualisation before starting the day if you’re a visual person - this was a very handy tip by Rebecca Cross, and it does work really well if struggling to prioritise your schedule.
Music goes a long way for me especially getting through long-ended tasks/projects/deadlines. Love a good play of Magic Radio and meditation music on YouTube in the background!
During breaks, I like to spend around 15-20 minutes of blog reading online on interesting articles around health and reading into the AAT magazines, including SmartPA blogs for some continued professional development.
Tracy Franz, SmartPA Partner
My morning starts with meditation and yoga and walks with the dog are scheduled 2 to 3 times during the day.
I have a detailed daily schedule in my Outlook calendar with colour codes for each of my business tasks and personal time, e.g. Admin, Bus Dev, Networking, BNI, 121s, dog walks, lunch, etc. I also have colour codes for each of my clients, or a separate calendar that is colour coded and overlaid with my calendar. This ensures that all recurring tasks are visible, and I have a plan for the number of hours I have to complete for each client each week. I spend 15 minutes every Monday morning reviewing my schedule and adjusting where absolutely required. There are times I have to move things around in a day/week to fit in with a Client's or Prospect's available time.
My desktop notifications for emails are turned off so that I am not tempted to look at emails while busy on a task.
I have recurring meetings set up with each of my clients once a week to discuss the week before and to plan the week ahead.
Most importantly I love what I do, and I remind myself of everything I am grateful for.
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