We’ve all heard the expression, “When it rains, it pours.”
Occasionally as a full-time virtual assistant (as well as a professional actress, director, and producer), not only is it pouring, but the sprinklers are on, all faucets running, and somehow I wound up in the pool.
Whether we’re juggling creative passions, several kids, or the myriad surprises life tends to throw our way when we couldn’t possibly fit any more on our plate, it’s natural to feel like we’re barely treading water.
Here are some thoughtful tips and tools to get you back on your pool float with a fruity drink, where you belong.
1. Be Your Own Client
We spend countless hours making sure our clients are organized and scheduled to a tee. But why do they get to have all the fun?
It took me all too long to realize that while my client’s tasks were clearly labeled and dated, my own personal tasks were all over the place. Getting all of our professional and personal tasks organized will not only keep us on track but will save precious time and mental space.
Instead of wondering what it was you were meant to do today, you can, in fact, do that thing. Here are some tools we love over here at DPM:
- Asana: For me, the sun rises and sets with Asana. This easy-to-use platform provides a place for you to organize all of your tasks with due dates, helpful reminders, and a way to keep your clients and teammates in the loop without diving into the riptide that is your inbox.
- LastPass: Nothing brings your workflow to a screeching halt like trying to remember if that password was Ross&Rachel4e!(!) with one exclamation point or two. LastPass is a great tool not only to ensure your client can comfortably give you access to everything you need but to store all of your personal passwords in a sealed vault for your convenience. No more stopping to think twice when you don’t have a spare second to do so.
- Buffer: Social media plays a crucial part in industry strategy across the board. Whether you are managing your client’s accounts or your own, this can be a very time-consuming feat without planning ahead. Get organized with Buffer, a solid social media planning and analytics platform that allows you to set it and forget it. When life gets chaotic, the last thing you’re going to want to worry about it getting a tweet out on time.
2. Make a Plan
The only thing scarier than a looming pile of work and personal obligations is not knowing where to start. We’ve all experienced that paralyzing moment of indecision. Schedule your day in advance, prioritize your tasks, and promptly cross those babies off the list one by one.
- One thing at a time: #SpoilerAlert, you are not a super-computer! Trying to accomplish everything at once not only leads to burnout and overwhelm but seriously stunts productivity. Instead of making baby steps in eight different directions, set your intention and power through.
- Eat the frog: Mark Twain once said, “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning.” In other words, if you’ve got a complex task, it’s best to get it out of the way first thing, then move on to less pressing or daunting assignments.
- Tasty as it sounds: The Pomodoro Technique! Pasta aside, this time management technique uses timed intervals to maximize your focus and productivity. Apps like Focus Booster can help track your time and ensure you’re stopping to take breaks, which leads me to my next point!
3. Take a Break!
I know what you’re thinking. “Jaz, are you flippin’ kidding me?! I have a flobbity-jillion things to accomplish today, and you just told me how to start working on them! I don’t have time for a break!”
First of all, watch your language. Secondly, if you want the stamina to power through the insanity you’re swimming in, do yourself a favor and schedule in a break or two.
Without one, you are prone to decision fatigue, loss of focus, and procrastination. Whether you’d like to take a walk around the block on a nice day, cue up a 30-minute yoga video on YouTube, or more realistically, go to your car to cry, stepping away from your desk a couple of times a day will help you stay motivated and inspired. Here are a few great ways to take your break:
- Calm Meditation: Breathe in. Breathe out. You’ve got this.
- Brain Food: This list of snacks help boost your productivity! It’s a win-win!
- Get Creative: Whip out those adult coloring books, folks. I’m serious.
4. Ask for Help
This might be the most difficult tip for some of us to accept, but hear me when I say you are not alone! Ask for help when you need it. Delegate where you can.
Giving up control isn’t always easy, but there’s no need to wear all the hats. Whether that means calling on a coworker for support or calling on your partner to handle bathtime, lightening the load will ensure you’re able to provide quality if not the full quantity.
Now take a deep breath. Your new balanced life is just a moment away!