We all want to be more productive, to further our careers and grow our companies, whilst still being a good parent, friend, sister or brother, but there’s always too much to do and never enough time.
The more our to-do lists lengthen, the more we feel out of control and disappointed by our lack of achievement. Most professionals rarely have more than two to three hours a day to focus on a task without interruption; then according to Atlassian (link: https://www.atlassian.com) you waste at least another 16 minutes trying to refocus. It’s a frustrating problem.
That’s why physical prioritisation is so important: make lists, create reminders and set deadlines. Don’t have the time? Enter the virtual assistant. One of the most valuable jobs of a PA is prioritisation. They can keep control of your to-do list to ensure you are aware of what’s urgent so that you can concentrate more of your attention, energy and time onto that particular task. They take care of the scheduling and gently feed you reminders to stop your mind wandering onto something of less value.
A good assistant will understand your company and you well enough to make well-informed decisions, to know what will be of most benefit and to know when not to bother you with an HR request, complaint or event invitation.
- Ray Johnson, in his book, CEO Logic : How to Think and Act Like a Chief Executive, argues: “Prioritising is the answer to time management problems – not computers, efficiency experts, or matrix scheduling. You do not need to do work faster or to eliminate gaps in productivity to make better use of your time. You need to spend more time on the right things…”
That also means careful management of your diary. It’s all very well prioritising, but the important tasks still won’t get completed if your day has been filled with meetings and phone calls. Again this is the art of a personal assistant: to effortlessly juggle your schedule with deadlines allowing you space to think, create and develop. An assistant can even manage your inbox, filing requests of low importance, sending holding emails and forwarding you anything that may need your immediate attention. It’s effective behind the scenes work that will help you to be more productive and successful both in the work place and at home. Take your mother’s birthday for example. It’s next Wednesday but you have meetings all week, a proposal to write and a business trip in between. Your virtual assistant can order the flowers online, accompanied by a message and have them delivered straight to your mother’s door, whilst also keeping you updated on your travel plans and ensuring you’re prepped for the meeting. Forgot to check in online for your flight? No problem, your assistant’s already done it and sent the boarding pass to your phone. Those are the little things that are so time consuming and of the least long term value.
Of course, assistants aren’t mind-readers, as much as they might seem to be. Effective prioritisation requires communication, understanding and trust from both sides, but done well, it’s the easiest way to consistent success.