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When you run your own business, there’s no denying that the single biggest pressure is usually time. There are so many tasks to juggle and little support when you’re first starting out. You’re trying to do a million different things, and do them to an amazingly high standard as well. It’s no wonder you feel like you need a personal assistant to help you keep it all in check. Trouble is, most small business owners can’t afford to hire help like that straight off the bat, so you end up doing everything yourself.
Sometimes it isn’t possible to work harder – so working smarter is the only answer. The secrets every good PA knows revolve around brilliant time management and knowing the right tools to get the job done – and those are tips you can use yourself. Small things can have a big impact, so have a few tricks up your sleeve and you could really start to see results.
Master Your Email
Email is the bane of modern working life – we spend far too much time battling through our inboxes, getting involved in huge email chains, and getting distracted from vital project work when the latest notification pops up. You simply don’t have time to let your email be the master of you – you need to master it yourself.
- Batch process your email – set aside dedicated time to respond to emails in each day and simply don’t look at them outside of those blocks. This can sound scary, but if you let frequent collaborators know that’s how you work, they won’t panic. This approach lets you focus on the job at hand and catch up on long chains all at once rather than constantly flitting back and forth. If something is really so urgent it can’t wait an hour, people will call you.
- Cut down on chains – long email chains are infuriating, eat time and generally don’t help anyone involved. If a complex matter is going back and forth, arrange a teleconference or face to face meeting instead – it’s more likely to solve the issue
- Call where possible – equally, if you have a quick enquiry, it’s always better to pick up the phone. It takes far less time and usually gets you a much faster response as well. That way you won’t have to keep hovering in your inbox waiting for a reply.
- Use a bulk unsubscribe – how many old newsletters and unwanted marketing emails are you signed up for? Wading through these messages – even to delete them – takes time. Unroll.me allows you to unsubscribe from email lists in bulk and then group the ones you do still want into one daily digest message.
- Use the subject line well – if you have a short message, condense it into the subject line and leave the body blank so it can be seen and responded to at a glance
- Set Up Rules – if you use multiple folders to keep projects organised, make sure you know how to get up email rules so that your messages channel automatically into the right folders – this will cut down on time spent processing your messages
Cut Down On Meetings
Who hasn’t sat in a boring, unproductive meeting thinking about that looming project deadline they should be tackling instead? Good PAs know that most of the meetings that we have could be avoided – and they act as the gatekeeper for their bosses time. If you don’t have a PA, make sure you’re guarding your own time. If a meeting doesn’t come with a clear agenda, downgrade it to a phone call instead. If it’s just a matter of communicating something, compile a memo. Learn to say no to meetings and you’ve learnt a great but very simple secret PAs use to help out.
Know The Right Tools
Half the battle of being good at something is having the right tools and knowing how to use them. Keep on top of the latest software solutions to really make an impact. Whether it’s cloud based invoicing that chases payment so you don’t have to or a site which helps you to make powerful startup presentations in minutes, a good PA always had a solution for every crisis up their sleeve – and so can you.