As a business owner, proper time management is essential to sustaining personal productivity and ensuring the success of a business. One of the keys to remaining focused on top priorities, according to famous business author Stephen Covey, is not to prioritise what’s on your schedule, but to rather schedule your priorities. Because, as Stephen says in his book, Seven Habits for Highly Effective People, “most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.”

  1. Being a skilled delegator is a powerful time-saving tool

One of the best ways to delegate tasks effectively is by taking on a skilled and experienced Virtual Assistant. Handing over your business’s routine work to a VA in the areas of administration, operations, marketing and bookkeeping will free up valuable time to invest in what is important.

As Stephen Covey defines it, “delegating involves clear, up-front mutual understanding and commitment in five areas.”  These are:

  • Desired results: creating a clear mutual understanding of what needs to be accomplished, focusing on results (what is needed), not methods (how it’s done).
  • Guidelines: setting parameters and warning your assistant of potential ‘failure paths’ – or what you know they should not do.
  • Resources: briefing your assistant on the technical, organisational and financial resources the person has at their disposal to accomplish the desired results.
  • Accountability: establishing the standards of performance that will be used in evaluating the results and the job’s deadlines – the specific time when report backs and evaluation will happen.
  • Consequences: specifying the knock-on effects and outcomes of a task or project well or poorly done.
  1. Automate and optimise calendar use

An online calendar like Google Calendar – which is free and can be visible to your whole team – can be a great tool to help you gain better control of your time. There are several ways a VA can help you to manage your online calendar. For example, a Virtual Executive Assistant who knows your preferred weekly routine can block time, set up your appointments for you, send automated reminders and help to prepare meeting documentation. They can be preemptive in making sure you have what you need ahead of time and handle any last-minute reorganising when a meeting runs late or there is an unforeseen complication.

Here are six ways you can use your calendar to optimise your week:

  • Plan your following week in advance on a Friday afternoon.
  • Start with priority items.
  • Include important commitments like exercise and family time
  • Plan your meetings and phone calls into blocks of time
  • Block time for other daily tasks
  • Keep one day free from meetings to allow time to focus on tasks without interruption.
  1. Employ an online project management tool

Regular communication between business owners and their team members is essential to business success. With the prevalence of remote work, this communication is often not as simple as wandering over to a person’s desk to follow up or share important new information with them. An online task management system helps to improve communication by providing a central place for each team member to report on and update tasks or exchange information. This helps increase productivity by providing the necessary structure and organisation for managing projects.

Here are four ways to optimise the use of your project management software:

  • Find the project management system that’s right for your business.
  • Choose a platform that is optimised for mobile to allow your team to be productive and efficient wherever they are.
  • Make sure the software can integrate with other key digital applications to sync your data and workflows across different sources and destinations.
  • Find someone to champion the software.

Your Virtual Assistant can champion your project management tool – such as Asana or Trello – by creating tasks or projects, assigning tasks to team members, tracking progress, and ensuring that everyone in the company is updating project information on a regular basis. A tech-savvy VA can connect your project planning software with your email, calendar, or messaging app to send notifications, reminders, and updates to your team members and clients.

More energy for free time

One of the greatest benefits of using time saving tools in your business is that that this will allow for taking guilt-free time out. Project management tools allow you to pre-determine when tasks and projects will be completed before you even start the work. This means being able to schedule the most appropriate time out of the office. And having trusted Virtual Assistants who will see to keeping the business operating smoothly while you are away, and will give you peace of mind that your business is in good hands and not disrupted while you take quality, personal time to relax and re-energise.