How to Be More Productive

Being productive is one of the main talents VAs should have.

Productivity is something that we can all struggle with at times -- but that doesn’t mean we have to. It can be difficult to get everything done, especially in a season where things are piling up, businesses are booming, and it’s hustle time. (Not to mention -- we need a vacation, but won’t take one because we have too much to get done.)

I get asked by clients, other VAs, and friends how I do it all the time.

“How are you so productive?”
“I don’t know how you get it all done.”
“How do you have so much focus with so much happening?”

Here are my top productivity tricks -- ones I use every day to help me stay focused, efficient, and happy.

  1. Plan your work, and work your plan. My calendar is the ultimate authority. If it’s not on my calendar, it doesn’t get done. To help manage this, I use Google Calendar, and my Productivity Planner. Every night, I look at my to-dos for the next day, and write them down in order of importance, in my Productivity Planner. I only ever write five tasks down. This keeps me focused, organized, and able to prioritize easily. I start the next morning at the top and work my way down.

  2. I use the Pomodoro method -- something you can research more on its website here. This method sets a 25-minute timer for you to focus on one task, then a 5-minute break, then another 25-minute timer, and so on. By working in hyper-focused chunks throughout the day, you’re able to get more done. My favorite integration for this is the Strict Workflow extension for Chrome, because it blocks websites that are horrible for productivity, like social media, news sites, and more. Plus -- the sites you have blocked are customizable, so if you are a Social Media manager, and work via twitter, you can enable it.

  3. Get OUT of your inbox. This is the #1 thing I help my clients do when we start working together. Honestly, email is such a timesuck that it’s hard to get away from -- we just stay in, keep spiraling, and keep triple-clicking on emails we’ve read already. My best tip is to hire a VA to manage your email. If that’s not possible for you right now, I really love the Newton mail app, which combines all of my inboxes in one, and allows me to be laser-focused when writing people back. I also love The Email Game which is a fun way to manage your own email inbox if you’re without a VA.

  4. Track your time. VAs are naturally really great at this, because we use awesome tricks and tips to keep track of every minute we spend for you. My favorite time tracking software is Harvest, and it’s what I use to bill, track, and time my clients’ work. I love the clean interface, the ease of use (I set it up in 5 minutes), and the fact that I can have my team members on it too. It’s easy for me to see what’s happening from a quick glance. When you know where you’re spending your time, you no longer have to guess at where your hiccups or time bottlenecks are -- which means you can begin taking accountability. (If email takes you 4 hours to get through, you’ll know.)

  5. Automate social media as much as possible. It’s not always a great idea to automate your replies, but automating everything else is good! You can spend the time you do have on your social replies! I’ve used two programs consistently to get my social media in order. Hootsuite, and Buffer are my long-term social media loves. I’ve been with them both for years and love them. Hootsuite is great at pulling in feeds from my favorite blogs (like Asana, Danielle LaPorte, and others) while giving me a robust way to answer tweets with replies. Buffer is awesome, and I use it in conjunction with Zapier and Pocket. (PS - if you haven’t checked out Zapier, you’re missing out.)

  • Example: I have my assistant save relevant articles to my Pocket, which (through Zapier integration) get filled into a spreadsheet. At that point, the spreadsheet content is transferred over to Buffer, (through Zapier integration again) and my queue is filled. I go in once a day and add personal comments to the tweets for the day, and then it’s done. Like magic.

There are tons of productivity blogs and strategies out there -- and each strategy is valid. These are a few of the ones that work best for me. Hopefully they are equally as effective for you in your work and life!

I’d love to hear what you think of these on twitter!


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