As a small business owner providing virtual assistant services, you are probably wearing many hats:
- Marketing manager
- Content developer
- Client support
Because there is always just so much to do in the life of a small business owner, you need to figure out how to prioritize tasks in your virtual assistant business.
The juggling game
Here is something important to remember when prioritizing. Yes, you’ll have to juggle multiple things. It’s almost unavoidable. So how do you prioritize? Remember that not all these things that you are trying to juggle are equally important. The trick to knowing what to prioritize is to think about what depends on what.
For instance, the task of marketing is probably more important than bookkeeping because it is marketing that brings in the money. Without marketing, you won’t have any money to do any bookkeeping. So bookkeeping depends on marketing. So you’d put more of your focus on marketing, right?
And even when you choose to put more focus on one area, it is important to consider how much time you’re spending focusing on each task in that area. Yes, marketing is important, but you can’t spend all day sprucing up the design of your website and forget about organizing and sending those important emails for your mailing list.
Great, so you have a good-looking website. But guess what? You’ve missed an opportunity to drive traffic to that website.
For a virtual assistant, it is not as simple as putting on your CEO hat and delegating the rest to someone else. When you’re starting out, you don’t have anyone to delegate to. Instead, you’ll have to find a way to work smarter and spend your time better. You definitely need to figure out how to prioritize tasks better.
How to prioritize to do lists
You probably have your preferences for the types of tasks you want to do based on your skills or even simply what motivates you. For instance, you enjoy doing bookkeeping and absolutely hate doing client support. You probably have an introverted spirit, which means you dread getting on those kick-off or consultation calls with clients because you hate phone calls.
But personal preference should not be what determines what stays at the top of your to-do list. You shouldn’t be trying to put what you dread the most at the bottom just to try to avoid it.
What should be at the very top of your list? Any task that will drive revenue to your business. Money-making tasks. Like those consultation calls you hate so much.
Other money-making tasks for virtual assistants might include:
- Social media management: building an audience and promoting your services on social media to attract new clients
- Content building: drawing organic traffic to your virtual assistant website through content creation
- Email marketing: sending cold pitches to potential clients
- Client engagement and outreach: doing things to keep your clients and potential clients happy so they’ll buy, stay, buy more, and come back.
Figure out what the money-making tasks in your virtual assistant business are. Then prioritize those tasks every single day. Put them at the top of your to-do list.
How to prioritize your time — important vs urgent
Stephen Covey in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, suggests prioritizing tasks based on a time-management grid. Each task would be assigned to a quadrant of that grid. That assignment is based on whether or not it’s urgent, important, both, or neither.
|Important||Quadrant 1||Quadrant 2|
|Not important||Quadrant 3||Quadrant 4|
You can have a good idea of what you should be working on at a particular time once you know where a task falls on the grid.
For example, imagine that you are trying to prioritize your time right now with multiple things to juggle. You have pitches to send and a trip to plan. Meanwhile, phone calls are coming in and you have to prepare for an ebook launch on your website. What should you prioritize right now?
Emails and planning might be important, but at this time, they are not urgent. An incoming phone call could be considered urgent right now, but maybe not important. However, the launch of your ebook, which is expected tomorrow, is both urgent AND important at this moment. So that is what you’d prioritize.
|Not important||Quadrant 3|
Priority management tools
To help you manage your time better and focus on what matters more, you can consider using certain tools. There are various types of time management apps that can help you accomplish better priority management. There are apps that can do the following:
- Time tracking: use these apps to see how long a particular task takes to complete. These can help you plan and prioritize your days better. Having a better understanding of how long a task takes to complete can help you create weekly schedules that will ensure that the tasks that need to be prioritized are given enough focus on your schedule.
- Distraction blocking: small distractions can bring huge waste. Sometimes the two minutes we decide to take to read a funny post on Facebook can lead to an hour of complete distraction when we get pulled in by unexpected things. There are various types of apps and tools that can help you avoid the distractions that can pull you away from your priorities.
- To-do lists: we’ve talked about to-do lists, but how about actually creating one. Maybe you should consider doing more than just writing a list down on a piece of paper. To-do list apps can be integrated with your calendar, enable reminders, enable collaboration, and enable better project management. You will find to-do list apps with features that can enable you to better manage your priorities. For instance, you can easily move a task up or down a list.
- Reminders: a simple reminder app is another great way to keep your priorities in focus. If you’ve set a schedule, set reminders to alert yourself when it is time to tackle the priorities on that schedule.
Automation is also something to consider to help with prioritization. Automation can either help to ensure that your priority tasks get done by doing them for you, or save your time so that you can put more focus on your priorities.
For instance, since marketing might be a priority, there are ways you can automate elements of this operation, such as email management and social media management. This way, you can get these very important tasks done and save time that you can put back into another priority.
Prioritization won’t always be a perfect science. You won’t always get it right. But as you think about how to prioritize tasks, perhaps these principles can help you know where to start when you are trying to get it right.
As you continue to build your virtual assistant business in the Caribbean, it is important to make a conscious effort to organize and prioritize your days. Otherwise, it’s chaos.
Finding a prioritization approach that works for you will enable a lot less stress and free you from becoming overwhelmed.