If you want to get more things done, hiring a Virtual Assistant is a smart and proven way to increase productivity. By delegating tasks to your Virtual Assistant, you are able to free up more time to focus on the core functions of your business.
Virtual assistants are also experts in organizing your business. With a system in place, you can spend more time working on solutions rather than waste precious time looking for files and important references.
But virtual assistants are human beings. They have their limits and individual thresholds for effort. If you push them to work beyond capacity too often, they will hit a point of diminishing returns.
This means every unit of input produces less and less output until the quality of work eventually regresses.
We recognize that as talented as they are, we need to work within the capacity of our virtual assistants. Our goal is to generate maximum productivity without burning out our virtual asset.
Over the years, we have developed 3 hacks to increase Virtual Assistant productivity:
Use Focus Blocks
A 2014 study showed that on average, regular office workers only render 90 minutes of productive time per day.
To put that number into perspective, out of 480 minutes of paid work hours, only 19% results in a measure of productivity.
Yet, the United States remains the most powerful and most economically developed country in the world. Imagine what the US could do if companies could increase productivity by 294%?
One of our favorite productivity hacks is the use of focus blocks. This is predetermined period of time which is dedicated purely for work.
The Virtual Assistant will be asked to focus 100% of her time just on accomplishing outlined tasks. No distractions whatsoever. During the focus block, we don’t hold meetings or contact the VA unless it is absolutely necessary.
The focus block could range from 30 minutes to 90 minutes depending on the individual capacity of the Virtual Assistant.
Studies have shown that most people can maintain focus for 90 minutes. However, there are some virtual assistants who are able to sustain 120 minutes of focused concentration.
Once the focus block is over, we assess if the work has been completed according to prescribed guidelines. If not, another focus block on the same task will be initiated.
At any rate, the Virtual Assistant will be given a rest period equivalent to 30% of the length of time of the focus block. For a 90 minute focus block, that would equate to a 30 minute rest period.
The purpose of the rest period is for the VA to recharge and re-focus her mind for the continuation of the task or to re-orient for a new one.
By applying our focus block approach on the US office worker, 480 minutes would yield a total of 4 focus blocks. That could translate to more tasks being accomplished every day.
Instead of 19%, the productivity rate would soar to 75%. An improvement of 294%!
Establish CLEAR Goals
For years, we have been advised to establish SMART goals. SMART is the acronym for:
S – Specific
A – Attainable
While this advice has been useful, we have taken a different view on goal setting. Instead of SMART, we set CLEAR goals:
C- Collaborative. Goals must encourage people to want to work together
L- Limited. Goals should be limited in duration and scope
E- Emotional. Goals should work toward establishing emotional connectivity with people and inspire them to work with greater passion and commitment
A-Appreciable. Goals should be broken down into smaller units or objectives so they can be accomplished faster
R- Refinable. Goals should remain firm, consistent but flexible. You should allow goals to be revised to accommodate new information or developments
Goal setting is an effective way for raising productivity. But a Virtual Assistant often makes the following mistakes when making SMART goals:
- Not categorizing goals by priority
- Taking on too many goals at one time
- No effort in trying to understand the objective behind the goals
A thought process such as this will not encourage productivity because the motive is to quantity of accomplishments not quality of work rendered.
As you can see, CLEAR goals encourage people to work together; assume realistic targets and take into consideration the interest of the client.
The Virtual Assistant is asked to identify 3 goals based on priority. Then the VA will have to break these goals down into smaller goals so they can be accomplished on a step- by- step process.
The CLEAR approach to goal setting maintains the quality of work and reduces the risk of mistakes without compromising the time line for deliverables.
Schedule Weekly Meetings
Contracting a Virtual Assistant from an agency gives you the advantage of close collaboration versus a freelancer.
This is because agency- based virtual assistants are required to follow mandated protocols. There is more structure, organization and a greater degree of control on the activities of a Virtual Assistant from an agency.
In our case, we schedule one day in the week to meet with the Virtual Assistant assigned to a specific client. The meeting has the following objectives:
- To address persistent issues and concerns
- To find resolutions to persistent issues and concerns
- To keep all campaigns moving progressively
- To update the Virtual Assistant on new developments
- To foster stronger relationships
By having the once- per- week meetings, we can help the VA address potential roadblocks, arrive at immediate solutions and maintain a productive pace.
Hiring a Virtual Assistant will definitely push your business to the next level. It is a strategy that combines a low cost solution with a high value option; both important variables in the profitability equation.
Lack of involvement is one reason why many Client – Virtual Assistant engagements fail to deliver sustainable results. The agency functions to provide greater involvement and oversee work that it stays on track.
As talented as the Virtual Assistant is, you still need to exercise supervision to ensure the job is done right and is moving in accordance with your time line.