Productivity Academy Live Q&A – Episode 84

Join us live each week at www.productivity.academy/live and get your questions answered by submitting them at anytime right here: www.productivity.academy/questions.

You can watch the video for the past episode recorded on May 23rd, 2019, above, or you can review the transcript below.

In this episode we talked about:

  • What is the first step to take if I have no productivity system?
  • How can I get started using VA’s effectively?

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

Alright, we are live Welcome everybody to Episode 84 of productivity Academy weekly Q and A, I am going to get started here. As usual, if you’re watching live, that’s awesome. Thanks for joining. If you’re catching the replay, that’s cool to wherever you’re watching it probably on YouTube, which if you are, and you want to stay up to date with these, as well as app reviews, as well as a ton of other stuff, if you’re basically if you’re into time management, automation, productivity, all that sort of good stuff, hit the subscribe button down below.

Or you can find the link below as well to come join us in the real world productivity group, free Facebook group, but you do have to answer some questions like, how did you find the group? And what’s your biggest productivity problem, really complicated stuff. But now just want to make sure that it’s a good fit for you.

And we get people in there who are really into productivity, time management, automation, team building, all that sort of thing. So today, we are going to be talking about a couple questions from people actually, who just joined the group and around these areas. So the first one is, you know, what’s the first steps if you don’t really have a productivity system, you know, you’re just kind of chugging along, but you’ve realized, man, things aren’t going smoothly, or like I really want to take things up a couple notches, where do I start.

And then just as importantly, one of the new members was asking about, you know, using VA is effectively virtual assistants, really where to get started with that, and kind of what are the big things there to deal with. So those are going to be the topics for today. And as I switch over here and get the cameras configured correctly, to make sure I can share some stuff later. All right, let’s dive into it.

And also, I just want to say for those who are watching live, you can feel free to ask questions, and also those as we go. And again, this time allows, we’ll get to those. So quick, fun note, speaking of productivity, and efficiency and matching and all of that. Dealing with a one of these, I almost said terrible, I guess in the grand scheme of things, it’s not terrible. But one of these things with the airlines where, you know, it’s a back and forth, had to cancel one part of a trip and we said, okay, now, before we do this, you know, because we’re going to miss the flight.

The second part, our return trip is okay, right? You know, we’re going to have to buy our own ticket we understand to get there. And they said, Yes, of course, you know, just call us back, let us know. And of course, that isn’t the case, they canceled the entire trip. And then now they’re trying to charge this crazy fee. So it got me thinking as far as like bashing tasks, and like how much of a pain in the butt that can be. But how that’s a really good example of like, not putting out fires, and just doing like, hey, maybe once a day, that’s something you keep that conversation going, or you added in into your email tasks. And so this was something my wife was asking me about.

And so I was I typed out a quick email. Hey, so here’s what I think we should do. And thinking, yeah, you know, that’s a good thing that I should not be doing right before I do this live stream, I should be matching that into, you know, my other emails and things like that. So anyways, some realworld applications and stuff that going on in the background. And you know, it’s funny, because it happens to all of us, it doesn’t matter what systems you have, you know, you just get better at it over time. And so as soon as I said that, I was like, you know, what, wasn’t the best use of my time, this isn’t going to make it be resolved better or faster, I should have just bounced that into regular kind of email time, if you will.

All right. So the first question had to do with what’s kind of the first step if you have no system yet, as far as productivity, and I will always say that the daily review, and setting a reminder for the daily review, and getting that into practice. And you know, start here, don’t go out there and try to go crazy and say, I’m going to do an hour of planning and review every day.

Because I don’t like me, that’s not going to happen. I’d rather somebody start with five, maybe 10 minutes, and do some very simple things, which is generally just gathering all of your information and right, you know, credit where credit’s due something like getting things done GTD David Allen, you know, kind of get all your task, if you got sticky notes, you know, get those if you’ve got to do is if you’ve got Evernote, whatever you use, but have those brought into a central location, okay.

And by that I just mean maybe you transferred into one of those that I mentioned, right? So it could be again, you have to do list or Evernote, but you bring in all those things, and you have a place where you just bring in all that information. And then you can prioritize, you can batch tasks, and then you can sort them out and say okay, here’s what’s actually on my plate today, and go through it and start looking at how you can arrange your day, not highly suggest doing this, too. I know some people might not like it right off the bat, but organizing it based on time.

That’s why I use the best self journal right now is to then once I’ve got all my tasks, I then go through the day and say, Okay, here’s, you know, the top three things, here’s what I’m doing. Here’s the things that I already have scheduled that I need to work around. And then going from there, if you want to add in the things like gratitude things you’re like, what are your big goals? I think that that’s also important. But if you have no system yet, I think it’s important to start simple.

Because it’s more important that you’re consistent. And you add as you go then to say, Okay, I’m going to go all out and do 10 things, and then you know, kind of crash and burn or you’re not very consistent with it. Another thing that I would do is set the reminder, like I said, so you’ve got the daily review. And then setting a reminder, maybe it’s just an alarm on your phone, for whatever it is that you’re generally sitting down and starting to get ready or starting work. Because you want to do this before that can be maybe a calendar reminder, whatever it is, that’s going to really you know, trigger, or you know, you to do this needs to be something that you see or hear easily.

And this is just helping you build that habit, I still have this, I’ve been doing it daily review for a long, long time. And I still have reminders set up just so you know, when I get busy or something pulls my attention away from time to time I woke, Okay, come back, get focused, do my daily review, then I can go back after I’ve basically brought everything in prioritized. And if that thing that was pulling me off is still important, great, then I can go do it. But only once I’ve actually kind of evaluated against everything else. I think it’s important to to think about the benefits of this instead of just saying, Well, why you know, I’m just going to do this because somebody told me to do a daily review. But you know, it helps you with your consistency.

And then the consistency helps with not having the surprises, you know, like saying, Oh man, there’s no deadline that came up that I never saw coming. Or, you know, I had a meeting at 10am that I totally spaced on. Because I got busy at eight and got into a project and didn’t look at my day and planet. And then over time, you’ll start to see these results. And you can start adding things in again, that’s why I say keep it simple. Just get that daily review going. There is right over here. Let me switch over. Okay, how to do a daily productivity review, I’ll pop this link in actually right now. And that is a great way to get started, let me share that.

And you can just go through here, check out the two videos, got a little bit of an over the shoulder with me using to do list. And then you know, just some highlights here of how you can do that. But the meat and potatoes is in the videos, check those out. And that’s a great way to get started easily. Alright. Let’s see, I had a couple more notes on this. Yes, as good as, as kind of a bonus of this. You get time management out of this kind of automatically.

Because if you’re already doing the daily review, and then you’re scheduling out your day with like, okay, here’s the meetings I have, here’s how I’m going to fit in the tasks that I’ve assigned myself. That’s time management. All right, I’m not saying that that’s going to make you an expert at time management, that’s not going to make you perfect. But over time, if you consistently do this, you’re going to build in some of these habits like one planning ahead and scheduling your day.

And then to starting to realize, Oh, you know what, every time I say I’m going to write this email, and I give myself 30 minutes, it ends up taking 45 minutes or 15 minutes and really screwing everything else out. Hot, I think I need an hour to do that. So you know, over time, you’ll start getting a lot of benefits from this. Cool. All right, I’m going to grab some water and see if there’s any questions before moving on. Okay. So somebody else who had recently joined was asking, you know, they said, they really don’t have any good idea or a way to manage or use, sorry, VA’s effectively.

And I think that the first thing that we could do, or I would point someone to is to hear kind of an overview of how people, other people are successfully using virtual assistants, and starting to build teams. And again, let me share over here. One way to do that I had a great interview with Kathryn Jones of CF design school. She’s a successful business owner entrepreneur, and had a great interview with her when we met up in person in Nashville a couple months ago. And I think that again, this is a great way to see how both myself and her are using vas and get having a lot of success with building teams.

And so I’m just going to say that before hopping back and kind of going over what I think are some of the important details. And with the interview with Catherine, you’ll hear how she’s done it. But also getting into some of the really important areas. And I’ll just jump right into it. One of them is, a lot of times we forget it, we think like we’re going to hire someone to just do these tasks. And we just view it from that point of view, and there’s nothing wrong and you’re paying them you should expect them to get it done. But keep in mind that these are people too.

They have goals, aspirations.  There’s things they like doing things they don’t like doing. And so if you have someone who’s performing on your team, or you know, maybe you have a probationary period, like 30 days, but if they’re performing well keep in mind that you know you should you should invest in them, ask them what they’re good at, is there anything else that they want to do? Or do they see anything that they could be doing better, and this is definitely a big topic that me and Catherine discussed.

And there’s different ways to do this. But it doesn’t have to be that complicated. It could be once a month, you sit down and talk to them, or you have a quick Skype call or chat and just touch base and ask them and over time you build that up, you build that relationship up. And that also lets you can be more direct with them, you understand how they communicate. And by having that that losing lost my train of thought the word by building that relationship. So you’re able then to be more direct with them. Instead of where you know it’s a, it’s a, you don’t want to have it where the only time you talk to them is when something’s wrong and you’re criticizing them or you’re angry.

You know, you want to build that relationship, tell them what’s good, what’s working, what’s not, and ask them for feedback as well, because they’re the ones doing the tasks, I guarantee you, they have some insights that you don’t have. The other thing to realize that I think is really important with this is when you go to make a hire or another hire, as you either have processes already, or you have time, and it’s going to take one or both of those. And I just mean that when you bring someone on if you don’t already have processes laid out for that person, then you’re going to have to invest your time, either training them or creating the processes with them.

So a lot of times people will think, Okay, well I’m hiring this person to do social posting, they should already just know exactly what I want. Okay, maybe not, we don’t think exactly that. But like, well, I heard them to do that. So they can do it, I’ll just tell them kind of what I want, that’s generally not going to turn out too well. Depending on what kind of level you’re hiring. Again, if it’s kind of a VA, and it’s more of a process task oriented job, then you definitely need to have something laid out for them or work with them for a period of time until the process is made.

That’s not to say you can’t hand up the process, Catherine talks about it in the podcast episode, talk to many other people who do this, I do it as well hand something off and train them from the beginning to say, hey, when I do this, maybe I create a video showing you how I want something done or me doing it, you create the process, of course, that means you then need to teach them how to make the process.

But that’s something you can do once or improve over time, you know, maybe it’s okay, when I send you a video. And if I asked you to do it and make a process, you need to make process and Trello here’s an example of a finished product, etc, etc. So you can get a lot of great processes out of that. And it’s done by the people who are going to be doing them. Okay, so, you know, kind of Win Win and my mind there. And then I’ll just reiterate investing in them.

And this doesn’t have to be something that’s a burden, you know, you’re forming that relationship with them asking them, that’s a form of investment, what do they want to do? is there other stuff they think that they could be doing? Do they see areas that could be done better? Is there a tool that they could, you could provide, maybe that would help them do the job either better, more efficiently, you know, anything like that, and just building that relationship with them so that they can help you as well.

So I think that that’s a great way to really get the most out of virtual assistants, at least to get started kind of a higher level way. And then if you start building a team, one of the positions you can think about is, let’s say you have three or four virtual assistants, and almost guarantee that out of that one of them is going to be you know, more interested in managing or just kind of go getter. And that is not to say that the others aren’t as important. I really liked the way it’s put out in the book, radical candor.

That they’re called rock stars, you know, they’re solid, like a rock, there’s some people, virtual assistants, employees, whoever, that they’re really interested in doing what they’re doing, doing it very well and continuing to do it. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. So I don’t want to get in the mindset of Okay, well, because they just want to do that they’re not as good as this other person who wants to maybe be a manager or move up or do other things. Both are really important, you want that stability, you also want to have someone who can manage.

So something we’ve done is take, hey, we’ve got one of the virtual assistants who’s clearly demonstrating excellence, and who was interested in as well as, as some management and move them into kind of a project manager role, they can still do their job, maybe part time and then the other part time they’re dealing with interfacing with the other. VA is making sure things are going smoothly and managing. So that then you don’t have to deal with so many direct reports, you get to deal with that one person for the tasks. And then you can kind of, you know, continue to build the team as by having those weekly or monthly meetings where everyone gets to deal with you to certain degree.

So I think that those are some really effective ways to go about building a team and getting a lot more out of virtual assistants. So any other questions on that would be awesome. It’s a huge topic, lots of areas to dive into. So I also let me share this real quick. There’s another two articles. I will link to in here how to start building a team. This is more just the start. So you know, first hires, asking, getting ready, and then how to actually hire and then your very first making the team.

And then also from that there’s the checklist hiring employees, which I will link to these are great ways to get started. If you’re either not sure, or if you haven’t been through this before, you’re just wanting a little bit of a guide to kind of step you through this. But that said, Let me check. I think that will do it for this week. Alright, that looks like all the questions. Thanks, everybody.

And that’ll wrap it up. If you’re again watching the replay. on YouTube, you can either hit subscribe, stay up to date, or you can find the link below as well to come join us in the real world productivity group. You do have to answer a few questions. But to answer those given the group, make sure that you want to be around other people that are super interested in time management, productivity, building teams, automation, all that sort of good stuff. So that’ll do it for this week. Thanks everybody, and have a good one.

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