5 ways to use an Action List to Organise your Day

5 ways to use an Action List to Organise your Day

Each day only comes with twenty-four hours so to maximise your effectiveness during the time that you have allocated for work, it is important to have a plan and be organised. The best way to keep yourself on track is with an Action List. Also known as a To-Do List, I call it an action list rather than a to-do list because I like to action the items on the list.  Let’s look at how to make an action list most effective for you.

Keep your action list simple

The best way to start an action list is to bullet point your tasks in a simple format.  I really like to have a little box that I can tick off on the side as I complete each task.  I then go through and highlight the most urgent tasks that need to be completed straight away and I also note the larger or more time consuming tasks.

Write your action list the day before

Forward planning is really important. When you sit down to put your list together, make sure to walk through the next day in your mind so that you can picture what you have to get done.

If you plan your list the day before you can start off your day on the right foot and knock off a few items on your list before checking your emails or social media.  Write down the items that you need to complete and then highlight your urgent items that need to be completed straight away.  Also note the harder or more take consuming tasks.

Allocate time to each task

Now that you have your action list, you will want to take some time to figure out approximately how long you think each item will take. That way you can make sure that you have time to work on all the items that you have to get done on that particular day.

Complete your hardest tasks first

While it might seem like a good idea to hold off on the harder items on your list, it will make your day run more smoothly if you get the hardest or longest tasks completed first. In the morning, you are fresh and ready to tackle your list so starting with the toughest or longest task first makes sense.  This will also remove some of the stress from your day or potentially trying to cram this task in at the end of a busy day.

Make multiple lists for different projects

If you have projects or larger tasks that involve multiple steps, then you should break these down into separate steps. This will not only ensure that you don’t miss a step, but it will also provide you with a clearer idea of what your day will hold for you and you can allocate time to each of these steps as well.

These are just some simple ways in which you can ensure that you complete your action list each day.  If you would like some further motivation, try using one of our quirky and unique notebooks or journals.

Susan Wilkin

5 Tips to Email Best Practice

5 Tips to Email Best Practice

Email Best Practice Etiquette provides many unwritten rules for sending out emails, especially for business. As a business owner or employee, you should understand the email best practices that need to be followed.  It is also a good idea to set up your own standards and templates so that you have the basics ready to go:

Basic email best practice rules

Include a greeting and a signature

Include a proper greeting and sign it off professionally.  I recommend using an email signature and you can set one up in any of the programs that you use including Gmail, Outlook, Apple Mail etc. Every email you send out should include a suitable greeting, and you should always close with your signature. It doesn’t have to be formal unless the situation calls for it – use your best judgement. I always like to be that slightly more formal though. When you see how the recipient responds you can certainly adjust your correspondence accordingly.

Check grammar and spelling

This should probably go without saying but you absolutely must make sure your grammar and spelling are impeccable if you want to be taken seriously. This is really important because if this is the first time that a client is hearing from you, then this is their first impression of you. Most email clients include a spellchecker these days – use it! If you don’t consider yourself a good writer, just keep it as simple as possible. If it’s a particularly important email ask someone to check it over before you send it.

Simple formatting and font

Try not to use hard to read fonts (scripts) or colours, backgrounds or anything that is going to take away from the message that you are trying to say. First of all, it can look quite unprofessional. Second, the recipient could come back to you saying that they can not read it as it may display differently in their email program that they are using. It’s best to stick to the basics!

Keep attachments small

Whenever you attach files to an email, make sure you’ve compressed or zipped them so they are as small as possible. Attachments should always be kept below 5 MB, as some email clients can reject them. If you include images in your email, the same rules apply, resize them to take as little space as possible, and don’t include too many of them in the same email.  The other option is to send multiple emails which can be annoying or you can direct the recipient to a file sharing folder or link such as Dropbox or Sugarsync.

Keep it brief!

Finally, understand that most emails should be kept short or as brief as possible. We all spend way too much time reading emails so getting a 5,000 word novel isn’t helpful. This is especially true when you’re making a first email contact with someone. If you make it too long, chances are the person receiving it will only skim the email and won’t read it all so they could essentially be missing some vital information.

We have discussed here 5 really simple email best practice rules to keep your emails professional and simple.  Happy emailing!

Are you organised for May?

Are you organised for May?

I always find that May is the month of Mayhem for my business so I thought I would share some of my strategies with you for finding the right Virtual Personal Assistant.

What is a Virtual Personal Assistant?

A Virtual Personal Assistant is a person that is an independent contractor that provides office support of an administrative, technical and or creative capacity from their home based office.  A great Virtual Personal Assistant has good interpersonal skills, good IT skills and can think like you.

A great Virtual Personal Assistant should have the following attributes

Good interpersonal skills – now this may sound silly from a virtual aspect but the Virtual Personal Assistant needs to be able remain calm and think on their feet and be able to liaise virtually on many means of communication – Face to Face, Skype, Telephone and Email.

Good IT skills – A Virtual Personal Assistant regularly needs to use a variety of mediums to liaise with clients and for diary management and other tasks.  They should have a good grasp on the software that you require in your business.  To start with;

  • Knowledge of an email program – Outlook or Gmail.  Both also have great calendar sharing options.
  • A file sharing program such as sugarsync, dropbox or google docs.
  • Advanced knowledge of the Microsoft Office programs, Word, Excel, PowerPoint

To think like you – A good Virtual Personal Assistant should develop the skills to become an extension of you and be able to reply to emails on your behalf, prepare documents and correspondence, organise events, make complicated travel bookings, conduct research, prepare presentations, update websites, source information and office supplies.

Create order in your business

Well you know the saying; Messy Desk, Messy Mind.  So when was the last time that you de-cluttered your life?  I’m not talking about just cleaning your desk, but also your email inbox, your files, scheduling those meetings in advance and contacting those potential leads that you met at your last networking meeting or that came through your website.  How much time do you really spend on these items or thinking about these items?

Yes I’m talking about procrastination!  Most of us are prone to it and expend energy thinking, rather than doing or delegating.  It is proven that if you are organised, you are more likely to be focused and efficient in your everyday life.  So why not delegate these tasks today?  They will free up your head space so that you can think about the important aspects of your business and focus on what is really important.

Contact us now to discuss how a Virtual Personal Assistant can assist in your business, we have some great package specials to get you ready for your month of May Mayhem.

Brand your Emails; the importance of an email signature

Brand your Emails; the importance of an email signature

Email signatures, when used correctly, are a powerful tool in marketing and branding your business and, directing traffic towards your website.  What is interesting is that not too many people or small businesses use them.  Without an email signature, it can be difficult to return a phone call without needing to search records or websites for contact details.

Think of an email signature as being similar to your business card.  Business cards are normally well thought out, well designed and contain all of your relevant information.  Email signatures should be developed in the same manner, ensuring that they remain consistent in branding across your business and contain all of your contact details.

Email signatures only require a few lines and should include at the minimum your full name, business name, phone number and website address.  To brand your business further, you can include your business logo, job title, social media links (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Skype) and an alternate email address.  Some people also include quotes or affirmations but we recommend staying away from political and controversial quotes.  A simple email signature template is below:

First and Last Name
Job Title
Business Name
Phone number
Website address

If emails become too long when you are replying or forwarding a particular email chain, consider using a smaller signature but stick to the rule of including your full name, business name (this can be hyperlinked to your website) and phone number for easy contact.  This will ensure that you are contacted easily and that there is no delay in a response.

There is no excuse not to use an email signature as most email programs, tablets and smart phones include an option to setup your signature to automatically append to the bottom of each email.  If you have different businesses, you can create more than one signature file to use for each business or email account and you can append these when selecting which account you are using or append for a reply or a forward option.

So get started today, set up or update your email signature files and watch your business grow!