Time Management Principles for Virtual Experts

time management principles

Time management is essential to a successful workday, especially for an expert virtual assistant. Since virtual assistants are paid for their time, managing is what determines success.

Making the most of the workday by applying basic time management principles can support a more organized and efficient process in completing work responsibilities. This, in turn, supports building professional client relationships that then support a successful career.

When managing responsibilities for multiple clients, one of the pitfalls a virtual assistant can run into is not properly prioritizing those responsibilities. Switching from the workflow of one client to another can lead to unfocused outcomes. Learning time management principles and utilizing them throughout the workday can lead to moving from being a part time virtual assistant to a virtual expert.

Time Management Is a Skill

A limiting mindset is thinking that some people are naturally good at time management while others are not. This mindset can completely derail the success of your time management efforts.

Time management skills can be learned, improved upon, and grown over time. How you approach building these all-important skills is important. An agile mindset can set you on the right track toward becoming a virtual expert.

What Is an Agile Mindset?

An agile mindset involves cultivating a belief in the ability to learn and adapt instead of relying mainly on a fixed belief that you can only do what you do naturally well.

To be clear, believing that you can learn time management and organizational skills is foundational in learning to do these skill sets well. Applying this agile mindset to your work and learning to do your work better helps you become more effective in responding to clients’ ever-changing needs.

An agile mindset model emphasizes the need for:

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Respect: Making sure everyone is heard and valued for their individual qualities, abilities, and perspectives.

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Collaboration: Working together on a shared goal ensures an ability to respond quickly and with flexibility.

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Learning: Knowing that learning is a continual process makes it possible to be more flexible and responsive to changing parameters.

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Improvement: Focusing attention on continuous improvement, problem-solving, and flexibility allows for meeting a client’s ever-changing expectations.

By applying this agile mindset model to learning time management principles you can develop methods and strategies that support you in meeting deadlines and increasing the quality of your work. Several of these methods and strategies are listed in the strategies of time management section later in this article. Mastering these fundamental principles of time management can lead to further opportunities.

Core Time Management Principles

There are many strategies to organize your time and workspace to make the most of your workday. Understanding a few fundamentals of time management helps those strategies stand on a stronger foundation. These foundational time management principles include:

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Workplace productivity requires balance

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Prioritization is essential

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Efficiency follows effectiveness

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Time management and motivation are linked together

Workplace Productivity Requires Balance

What is workplace productivity? It refers to the amount of work that can be completed over the course of a set timeframe. Getting things done for your clients is why you were hired, but you need to accomplish those things without sacrificing work quality. The goal is to do quality work in a timely manner. Quality work plus timeliness equals high productivity.

How you use your time in all aspects of your life is important too. You need to have energy and concentration to do your best work. You cannot have that if you are not taking care of yourself, your relationships, and your overall well-being. Productivity suffers when you do not balance the needs of work with the needs of life. Eating well, getting enough sleep, taking care of your personal relationships and having time to take care of your mental, physical and spiritual well-being is important if you are to be productive in the workplace.

Prioritization Is Essential

High-quality attention yields high-quality work. This requires prioritization. It is impossible to put every task and responsibility at the top of your list at any given moment. You have to prioritize what gets your attention. Setting prioritization as a key time management principle allows you to give your attention where it is needed most. More on this in the time management strategies below…

Efficiency Follows Effectiveness

There is often pressure to get more and more done in a shorter and shorter timeframe. The problem is that getting more done is not always getting the best done. Flipping your focus to being effective first can alleviate this pressure. If efficiency means getting it done fast, then effectiveness means getting it done well.

A key time management principle is that efficiency grows from concentrating on how to be effective first. Putting your emphasis on doing effective work means focusing on understanding your workflow and allowing enough time to do a task right rather than doing it quickly. Otherwise you may only be getting the wrong things done fast, which in the end is a waste of time.

Time Management and Motivation Are Linked Together

The last key time management principle is that time management and motivation feed each other. Whenever we are learning something new or something we are trying to improve, success begets success. Motivation to keep learning is built on small accomplishments. The better we feel we are becoming, the better we do and the more we learn. Remembering that time management is a learned skill allows you to focus on improvement. Then, once your productivity increases you are motivated to continue building your time management skills. This is a continuous process that yields results over time and supports a successful career as a virtual expert.

Where Are You on the Learning Curve?

Improving your time management skills starts with evaluating where you are on the learning curve.
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Are you using your time effectively?

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Are you setting priorities?

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Are you balancing your workday?

One way to discover how well you are using time management principles is to keep a time-tracking log of everything you do during the day, including interruptions, distractions, and how often you stop and start tasks. Using time tracking software for virtual assistants can help in this eye-opening exercise. The goal is to figure out where you need to focus your efforts in incorporating time management principles into your workflow. Once you have a better idea of where you are on the learning curve, you can successfully apply time management strategies throughout your day.

Time Management Strategies

Stop Multitasking

The human brain was not built to multitask. We only tell ourselves that when we are rushed for time. Neuroscience research has demonstrated that the human brain struggles to focus on two things at once. The building blocks of our brains have developed between attention and executive function, which makes us better as one task at a time thinkers. A research study from the University of California at Irvine found that it took workers, on average, twenty-five minutes to recover from an interruption before returning to a task. What we label as multitasking is actually a distraction, which makes tasks take longer, lowering productivity. Understand how long it takes to complete a task and focus on finishing one at a time.

Plan To-do Lists

Set daily goals and plan out how to accomplish them. Organize a task list at the end of the previous day or at the top of your current day. Once you have a plan in place, stick to it. Ticking tasks off your to-do list creates a sense of accomplishment, which creates momentum. It is that momentum that helps you avoid procrastination and distraction.

Do the Least Desirable Task First

Doing the thing you don’t particularly like to do or are not looking forward to doing clears your brain for more quality work. Everyone has something in their work that they don’t necessarily like doing but it is something that needs to be done anyway, whether you like it or not…When we try to put the thing we are dreading on the back burner, it surprisingly keeps moving to the front burner. It slows us down because we can’t stop thinking about it. Not doing it makes us think about it more and takes up space in our brains. Get that thing off your list. When it stays, it takes up brain space. Do it first. You will work more effectively and efficiently once it is cleared away.

Organize in Time Blocks

Schedule your day into blocks of time that allow you to focus on completing your responsibilities. Use a calendar or a color-coded visual aid to help you organize daily, weekly and monthly blocks. You can reserve certain days of the week for certain tasks and certain times of the day for others.

Using a virtual assistant time tracker can help you discover how much time is needed to complete each task on your to-do list. Investing in VA time tracking software can help you set reasonable expectations.

Know how to schedule an appointment within a time block as well as answering your emails or managing your inbox. Let clients know how you structure your time for these tasks so that you have time blocked out for focused work. Group similar tasks together within a time block so you can cut down on switching from task to task. The switching cuts down your productivity. Limit the switching and you become more effective and more efficient.

Limit Distractions

Working virtually comes with added distractions since you are merging home and work responsibilities into the same space. Limiting distractions in this environment is vital to adhere to time management principles. Set up your space with this in mind. Design a process for re-focusing when you are interrupted so you can stay on task.

Do your Best Work when You Do your Best Work

Take the time to learn when your peak energy hours are and plan your day around them. Schedule your day to take advantage of when you are at your best. This is an essential way to boost your productivity and increase your motivation.

Find What Works for You and Stick to It

In the end, applying time management principles to your workday is a matter of finding what strategies work for you and sticking to them. In no time at all, you will build more organized and efficient work processes to complete your work responsibilities and be well on your way to a successful career as a virtual expert.

Time Management and the Real Estate Business

One business where timing can mean everything is the fast-paced world of real estate. Bad timing when lining up a lead can mean a lost opportunity. Missing a deadline when coordinating a transaction or in your billing process can interrupt cash flow. Slow reaction time on organizing maintenance can mean a breakdown in customer relations. All that bad timing equals lost revenue. Having a virtual expert who knows real estate, which means exceptional time management skills, can help close the deal, take advantage of the opportunity, and build a roster of loyal, reliable customers.

These eight signs show that you need a virtual assistant who understands timing and can help you get your timing on track:

Reason #1 – Your Schedule

Your schedule is more than filled up. It not only uses every color of the rainbow to differentiate your meetings and tasks but some colors are also even repeated. You don’t have time for mundane tasks, let alone the ones that lead to growth and increased revenue.

Reason #2 – Your Inbox

Your inbox has more unread messages than read messages. That means missed opportunities. A VA can turn your inbox into opportunities instead of headaches.

Reason #3 – Growth

You have more clients than you used to. That means growth, which is good, but it also means your workload has increased, and without assistance, growth can mean burnout instead of a better business.

Reason #4 – Paperwork

Your paperwork has piled up and become unmanageable. No business thrives buried in paperwork. A real estate virtual assistant can prevent the pileup.

Reason #5 – Your To-do List

Has your to-do list grown past your capacity? Does it seem only to grow longer and never shorter? Are there items on that list that could be delegated, automated, or coordinated by someone else? The answer is yes. A real estate VA can do that.

Reason #6 – Your Personal Life

Has your professional life become your personal life because you don’t have time for anything else? Even if you love what you do professionally, balance is required for long-term success.

Reason #7 – That One Task

Chances are you are not good at everything. Even if you are great at what you do, there is always that one task or two that bog you down. The one that always needs to be done when you are least able to do it. A trained real estate VA can do that task better than you.

Reason #8 – Your focus

The bottom line is that even if you are running your own business, even as the boss, you do not have to do everything. In fact, it is best if you don’t. Your talent and resources are put to the best use when focused on the things that close deals, increase revenue, and grow your business into the thriving enterprise you dream about.

Time management principles and skills apply not only to virtual experts but to real estate professionals as well. Bad timing in real estate can mean the end of your business. Hiring a virtual team to get your timing on track can lead to successful growth with a lot less stress.

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