Productivity Academy Live Q&A – Episode 83

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You can watch the video for the past episode recorded on May 16th, 2019, above, or you can review the transcript below.

In this episode we talked about:

  • How can I use VA’s effectively?
  • Why is time tracking important?

To find recommended tools and other great resources, check out the Productivity Academy Resource Toolkit: https://productivity.academy/resources

Alright, we are live Welcome to the Real World Productivity Q&A, this is Episode 83. Today is the 16th of May 2019.

Today, we got some good stuff, we got a couple questions that I wanted to go over one of them from a new group member, and that’s about using virtual assistants more effectively feels like, you know, he could be doing a better job, he’s not either getting enough out of it, or he’s, you know, maybe wasting time.

So we’re going to go into that a little bit.

And as well, talking about why time tracking is important, and not just from like, you know, theory of like, oh, it’d be neat if we were more productive. But actually what is going on with time tracking, kind of the nitty gritty about why it works. Because up front, like, it is difficult, it’s not. I haven’t talked to anyone who just like, Yeah, I just one day decided to track my time. And it’s easiest thing I’ve ever done, said nobody. It’s difficult, but the payoff is really high. And there’s some really clear results you can get from that. And so I’ll go into that a little bit. And then as time allows, answer any questions from anyone watching live. And we’ll check on that from time to time before we wrap up.

So real quick, if you’re not joining us live, you can always find the link down below, come join us in the world, realworld productivity group. As well as if you’re watching on YouTube, you can hit subscribe, stay up to date, of course with these videos, as well as any updated videos on apps, General productivity, time management, team building automation, all that sort of good stuff.

So if that’s your cup of tea, those are two things you can do, you can subscribe on the channel, or you can come join us in the group. It is a free group, but you do have to answer three questions are pretty tough. Like, why are you here? And what are you interested in? So make sure you’re ready for that? All right, I’m going to hop over and we will get started. So the first question was really about how to use virtual assistants effectively.

And the issue there being actually this is a new member, Brett. And just saying like, I’d like to be able to stop wasting money, reduce stress and provide a better service to the people I work with. That’s awesome. You know, both on your side that you’re trying to improve this and on the side of either your clients or hopefully also, you know, the people you’re working with, right the VA themselves.

And I think this is really timely, I’m going to switch over screens really quickly. I’m working on editing. And the interview I had with Kathryn Jones of CF to design school, met up in February and Nashville had a chat and a great conversation came out of that. And this is going to be a bonus for people who joined the actually just now launching the growth, automation membership. So people who are interested in taking what I talked about whether it’s team building time management, automation, and really that this is more than just a one time thing, right, you don’t just automatically become master at time management, you don’t just end up with a great team.

But like myself, you realize this is something you need to work on over time. And then you can speed that up by working with a group of people as well as you know, building your productivity framework. So anyways, people who join that are going to get this free bonus as well.

And so I’m going through and editing this up into something where people can figure out a lot more about how she and as myself, as well as part of the conversation about growing a business and maximizing the team’s output for growth. And so from this came a lot of really good ideas, we talked back and forth about this and looking at how Catherine has grown her business over the last year going from a team of one herself to a team of I believe six now.

And she’s looking to double or triple that in the next 12 months. And talking about exactly what’s going on in there. And I’ll just cover three large areas. Obviously, this isn’t going to be you know, the master class on how to train your VA team or something. But I do want to tell you go over the the broad areas in case any one of these is missing, this is really important. So the first one is having some sort of an onboarding process. And a lot of people may think like, Oh, I just have a VA who does, you know, two hours of work a week and I don’t need to onboard, I don’t need to have something complicated. And you’re partially correct. You don’t need to have something complicated.

But you are wasting time and you’re wasting their time. If you don’t have something like as simple as just a one sheet you could just write out. Or it could be like a loom video where you just kind of get out, hey, this is hopefully you’ve gone over this before, but what’s your expectations are for like communication? Are there times of the day? Is their preferred style? Do you expect them to Google a solution first and then come to you? Are there tools that they should know how to use better?

Or do you have some, some training for them, you know, have them go through that could be as simple as that. And that’s honestly what I do. And it’s just one or maybe two pages now, and just go through and says, Hey, this is the stuff we talked about, if you need a refresher like on how to use this tool, go here, watch this video I made. And then you know, reaffirming kind of what we did in the pre hire is like, okay, here’s the expectations, here’s what we want. And then going from that. And again, you know, as you grow, that’s something you can hand off maybe becomes more complicated, you have a training program, you have this and that. But again, don’t don’t overdo it.

At the same time, don’t overlook this. And you know, this is something that you do once, and you can edit lightly over time, and it will certainly pay off as well, like the one I have is just a reminder, for people, you know, I say hey, if you forget some of this stuff, just go back to the onboarding page, you know, we sent to you and you know, go through that cannot be helpful for you. as well.

On the other side, and we’re going to get into this is, you know, people appreciate that, right, instead of just kind of being thrown a task, it’s like, oh, this is neat, you know, this is a good reminder of what I need to know. And it makes their job more clear, and certainly would make them feel like how this person is actually, you know, interacting with me and pen help trying to help me.

Secondly, if you don’t have good processes for your VA, that’s okay.

What How’s that, it’s okay, because you need to realize you either have really good processes, or you’re going to have to spend a lot of time with them creating those, okay, and you can do something like Catherine even talked about where she has someone make processes for her. But you need to understand to that that takes time to build up either you go ahead and go that route and get someone to do that.

But then you need to make sure of course, that they’re trained, and they’re doing it correctly. And that’s okay, it takes time. But the investment is in one area or the other, you’re either having the processes already made, or you’re working with someone to get those done where like maybe you record yourself doing it, and then you hand it off to someone who can then turn it into a Trello card or a Google Doc. And that’s certainly enough. But it isn’t one of those where you just say, hey, I want someone to be a social media manager and you just them and walk away, I can guarantee you that probably well done very well.

So again, not not to be, you know, all doom and gloom, but just going into it with your eyes open and saying, okay, I either have concrete processes that I can hand over to someone, get them trained on and expect them to be hit the ground running very quickly, or I need to develop this with them as we go. And you know, maybe the first week or two, I need to invest more time because I’m gonna have to record videos, and get them to develop process and do it themselves. And then after that, you know, things start running a little bit more smoothly.

So I think that those are the first two really important things to think about. And then last, but certainly not least, I referred to this in the onboarding part of me and Catherine talked about this. And I really think this is so true and important.

There are people you know, we have heard stories from different businesses, I’ve worked with different people I talked to, and sometimes people can forget that there’s another person on the end of that, even if they are just doing a simple task. Most people and making a broad sweeping generalization here like to be cared about they you know, it doesn’t mean you need to be best friends. But you know, are you asking if you can help them? You know, maybe?

Are the processes clear? Is there a preferred way that they would like to work is there other things they’re interested in doing? You know, getting them involved on a personal level two is going to help you in the sense, like, maybe they see mistakes, but there, they don’t say anything, because they’re just following the process, they don’t really have a personal connection, you didn’t hire them to find issues. So again, I’ve had some people tell me, you know, it doesn’t work out, you know, I just I send over any task. And then, you know, after a couple weeks, they, you know, walk away or they become less responsive.

It’s like, Yeah, well, you know, I don’t know what to tell you, if you just need someone to do a task, that’s fine, you make it very clear. But again, if you’re hiring someone, you know, 20 hours, 30 hours, 40 hours a week, definitely build that relationship. And it could be as simple as having like a team call, maybe 10, 2030 minutes of once a month, or every few weeks. And you know, it’s really about work again, but asking them, you know, what they’re working on?

Have you noticed any issues? Is there anything that could help you do your job better anything you’d like to try or do, and building that relationship, then also lets you talk a little bit more directly, I’m literally not all the way through the book, radical candor has been recommended by several people that have come on my podcast.

So working through that, but it talks about this, which I kind of knew in a general way. But right, when you have that relationship with somebody, you can be more direct, in some ways with them. Whereas with someone I don’t know, I would be probably a little bit not scared, but you wouldn’t be as direct with someone.

Whereas when you’ve been working together with someone you understand how they operate, you understand how they communicate a little bit better, you can save things more directly to them, as far as criticism, and then you know, but you’ve got to have that two way street, you can be more direct, you can critique them, you can fix their issues, but you’ve got to also then, you know, actually care about what’s going on with them. And you know, what they’re doing. So I think those are the three really big areas to get the most out of your VA is if you are, if you don’t already have an onboarding system, I would immediately do one.

And again, don’t, don’t kill yourself doing this, it could be a simple one page explanation of, hey, here’s kind of our mission, here’s what we’re doing here. Here’s what I expect of you. Here’s a preferred styles of communication, just a reminder, and these are the tools you need to use if you need, here’s a, you know, links to maybe some training or some kind of advanced use cases of, of what you expect. And you know, if you have any questions about this, be sure to bring it up, you know, we encourage that as what I do, I would hope everyone else does as well.

And then having processes and realizing that you either have great processes for them at the start, or you’re going to have to invest some time up right up front. All right, and either way is ok. So right or wrong. And then there are people right, you need to care about them and what’s going on and how they work into your business.

So for two reasons, one, because they’re a person, so you know, treat them like wine and then to so you can be more direct over time. And they can be direct and feel comfortable telling you, Hey, I think there’s a better way to do this, or, you know, I see what you’re doing here. But maybe we could do it differently. Or I’d like to be doing something else. And that stuff is hugely, hugely beneficial. All right, gonna check.

And see a crystal was watching. Hey, Chris, thanks for saying Hi. I’m Kim that a little like keoki. So let’s head back over there is another area I wanted to talk about, which was time tracking. And this has really been on my mind after reading the book clockwork by Mike McCallum wits. And then also at the same time, I know I’ve talked about this few times, but getting the time Wheeler time tracker. And so basically, let’s see if I can do this without. So I’ve got he talks about the four D. So let me go over here. So it’s doing deciding, delegating, and designing. And I’ve added a few other things for like when I’m on a call or learning.

And thank you to my wife for writing on this by done this, nobody would be able to read it. So. But that’s made it a lot easier. I’ve done time tracking where I’ve done it with pen and paper, go and like every half hour an hour, right what I was doing, and that’s worked pretty well, it was. And I still highly recommend doing that a few times a year. But it is tough. Every system I’ve used, you know, it takes some sort of input, like just using this even takes me, you know, setting it down, what you do is you just set it with the face up of what you’re doing.

And it has to be something you do. And so that’s tough, because a lot of times we get busy and then we work maybe for three hours you step away, you go do something else. And then how many people can remember what you did three hours ago, like exactly I I most of the time, I can’t, you know, I’ll be like I was working on that project. But did I work on an email for 15 minutes? Or was I doing something else? You know, what was it so it’s really can be difficult to do.

But I want to talk to you about why you do want to do this and why I’ve kind of switched into using again, the time Mueller device and using a little bit broader categories. But first, one of the most important things I think is it lets us deal with reality. All right, I’m going to liken this to dealing with finances. All right, you know, I’ve had financial issues whether you know, starting a business or you lose clients, you know, are we I how I got slammed with a tax bill this year, we weren’t expecting, but ignoring it right or not knowing about it isn’t the way you want to go.

And that’s not the way that’s going to solve your problem. And so the same way is with time, if you’re just like, well, I don’t know, I probably spend this much time doing things if you’re trying to really optimize your time. Right? That’s crazy, you’re not going to get the increases or the optimizations that you would, because you don’t actually know what you’re doing. And I fall somewhere in between, you know, like I said, occasionally I like to go through and really list out what I’m doing, you know, how much time did I really spend on Facebook or, you know, reading some articles when I thought I was doing some writing or something really important.

But yeah, dealing with the reality of the situation and getting better over time. And that’s the second point is it lets you speed up, everything you’re doing that has to do with time management. Because I am aware, I think that myself and other people, you could probably again, just you know, you’ll say, Well, I think I spent about this much time on this project, or I feel overwhelmed today, or I feel like I didn’t get enough done or I felt like I had a good day. But those don’t always work out. But again, over time, you could probably you know, you’ll slowly kind of work your way into like, Okay, I understand what gets me derailed, or what makes me feel overwhelmed.

But when you do this, and you put it down into numbers, and you know, list, it just speeds this process up, because he said, Oh my gosh, you know, yeah, I spent three hours writing that stuff when I thought it would only take me an hour. And then I had to send those emails and this and that. And so you can really start to iterate a lot faster, and you’ll start to see where your issues are.

And so, to me, that’s the reason I like it, I see an immediate benefit from time tracking. Whereas if I did it on my own, it would probably be not as accurate. And then it would also take a lot longer. So I think those are two interesting times. So if you haven’t tried it yet, I highly encourage you to do it. If you don’t want to spend money on something like the time you learn device, that’s fine.

But you know, just grab a piece of paper and like I use a legal pad. And I’ll draw a line through it and write down like maybe 15 or 30 minute increments for the whole day, right. And I’ll do it ahead of time. And I keep it right there when I do that, and then just go through and maybe set a reminder for yourself. So you don’t get too lost. And yet it’s a distraction, but I find that the payoff is worth it. So you do that for a day or two and then go back and review it.

Say, oh my gosh, you know, Where, where, where? Where can I improve what took longer than I thought it did? And what maybe didn’t take as long as I thought it would already, check real quick.

Right? I don’t see any questions for today from the live stream. So that is fine, we will wrap things up. Thanks everybody for watching this or checking out the replay. If you want to join the 14 day productivity challenge, if you’re looking to really either start or you want to get more out of your daily review, then this is the place for you to do that. And you should go to productivity dot Academy slash foundation challenge. The daily review is only part of it. And the second week we go into automation.

And you get to kind of watch over the shoulder as I’ve worked through how to automate, say dozens of hours and then to kind of choose what you should be automating. And you can do what the example is. But the best part is you can also use the steps to automate something else completely different at the same time and then to keep doing that in the future. So again, head over to productivity dot Academy slash foundation challenge. And thanks again for watching and I’ll see you next week.

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