Time Management, findingourwaywnow.com

Let me introduce you to one of my best friends and she also happens to be my blog assistant. I have known Elizabeth Scott for over 10 years. She was my executive assistant when I was a VP of Sales and has continued to be an invaluable resource for me in the blogosphere. She has just recently launched her new website Virtual Admin To Go showcasing her new business. When I asked if she would like to do a guest post, she was delighted.

Time Management, findingourwaywnow.com

Time management is a constant concern for we bloggers. Not because we don’t know how to manage it. It’s because it’s not the only thing we have in our life and finding the time to squeeze all that is required to run a successful blog is very challenging indeed. Elizabeth has helped me find that extra time with her services. So take it away Elizabeth.

Time Management
Keeping Your Plate From Running Over.

When Susan asked me to write a guest post I was honored. I was introduced to Susan when she became the Vice President of Inside Sales at PennySaverUSA.com. Shortly after, two offices were consolidated into one; Susan started interviewing for an executive assistant. I threw my name into the hat and was honored when I was hired for the position. Being the assistant to Susan and five additional Regional Sales Managers helped me find my passion of administrative services.

Time Management, findingourwaywnow.com

I immediately jumped into my new position with both feet. There was so much I needed to learn, but I found the most important thing was time management. Assisting the VP of Inside Sales, five Regional Sales Managers, and up to 70 employees was no easy task, and my plate was always full. There was always a project or impending urgent task that needed done. In order to complete all the daily tasks, I needed to perfect my time management skills.

Time management by definition means to analysis how working hours are spent and the prioritization of each task in order to maximize personal efficiency at work. What does that really mean? Here is what I consider to be a good plan for time management.

First rule of time management is to write down the tasks at hand. This can happen in different ways. Some people prefer lists to track their daily tasks, a desk calendar, or some use agendas or daily planners to schedule their day. I would use a Franklin Covey planner to help plan my days and schedule future projects. I would meet with each manager prior to completing my list of daily tasks to ensure all needs were covered.

Time Management, findingourwaywnow.comSecond rule is to prioritize each task. I would use “buckets” to figure out which tasks went where. Bucket one were tasks that required immediate attention. Returning urgent customer emails or phone calls, human resource needs, assisting internal customer needs, etc. Bucket two would be tasks that were important but not needing immediate attention. This could be anything from preparing agendas for upcoming meetings, running daily reports, daily accounting items, etc. The next bucket was for the end of day tasks. These could be ordering supplies for the office, updating reports, data entry, etc. Things that needed to be done but could wait until more pressing tasks were completed. The final bucket was the scheduling bucket. These were projects that needed to be completed within the next week. I would schedule these projects out to ensure that nothing was forgotten.

Third rule I follow was to update all the buckets. When a task was completed, I’d mark it off, so I knew at a glance what tasks were remaining. I consider this extremely important, so I wasn’t re-reading the complete list every time I glance at it. I knew by sight the tasks were completed because I have crossed them out. Additionally, some tasks would lead to additional items. I would remember to put those additional tasks into my different buckets.

Time Management, findingourwaynwo.com

The fourth rule I followed regarding to time management was to report my progress. This was a quick email stating what was completed, asking if there was anything else I could assist with and any follow-up with questions I may have regarding any tasks.

The final rule that I considered important in time management was to know the signs that my current time management needed revision. The telltale sign that I was waning from my time management plan was when my desk had become unorganized. I considered myself to be compulsively organized at work, and there was always a right place for everything. When I notice my desk had become cluttered I knew I needed to take a moment, step back, and reconsider my action plan.

Time Management, findingourwaywnow.com

I find that each person will come to perfect their own time management program. How do you manage your time?  What tools do you use? What is your best tip for managing your time?

I call Elizabeth my secret weapon in the blogosphere.  She helps me find and squeeze that extra time I need to keep my blog running well.  When you have a moment check out her website.  Who knows she might be able to help you too.

The blogging life continues…

If you liked this, check out Choices: StoryJudge A Book By Its Cover? and Jelly Beans and Opinions.  Enjoy.

PS: What happens to be on your mind? If you would like to write a guest post about an experience, we would love to hear from you.

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  • http://twitter.com/geekgirlusa Cheryl Therrien

    So nice to read the story behind my blogging assistant! Love you Elizabeth & congrats on the new business! :)

    • http://virtualadmintogo.com/ Elizabeth Scott

      Cheryl, It is clients and friends like you that make me successful. You have been such a wonderful help and a very good friend. I am so glad I was able to partner with you.

  • http://writespeaksell.com jeannettepaladino

    Thanks, Elizabeth, for this helpful post on time management. I see that Susan has introduced you to members of our great and supportive LinkedIn blogging group. I just visited your website and I’m impressed with the services you offer. A recommendation from Susan Cooper is good enough for me!

    • http://virtualadmintogo.com/ Elizabeth Scott

      Jeannette,

      I have been extremely fortunate to meet and get to know some of the wonderful bloggers on Linked In BHB. I have learned so much about what bloggers accomplish each and every day. I envy each bloggers determination. I started this business because of the leadership and education that Susan has blessed me with. She is such an inspiration to myself. I have found my passion and dedication with helping bloggers and I believe I have found my home.

  • http://twitter.com/JeriWB Jeri Walker-Bickett

    I’ve always struggled with prioritizing, but I’ve recently started listing the three most important things that I want to get done for the day rather than a long list. Thanks for the tips.

    • http://virtualadmintogo.com/ Elizabeth Scott

      Jeri, Three things a day is better than running around not finishing anything. Great idea… I always try to schedule some “free time” in my day. It may be a half hour that I can read a couple pages of a good book or a chance to work on a project with a later deadline.

  • Catarina Alexon

    Welcome Elizabeth! What a nice story about you and Susan. Reading your bio a lot of things make perfect sense.

    If I were you I would add Google Plus administration to your services. It looks like we all need to pay much more attention to Google Plus, if we wish to end up high on SERP’s that is.

    Have noticed that activity on Linkedin is going down and much more is going on on Google Plus.

    • http://virtualadmintogo.com/ Elizabeth Scott

      Catarina,

      Your suggestion is wonderful and I thank you for the advice. Since I recently created VAtoGo, I am still in some learning stages. I will definitely be adding Google Plus Administration to my services offered. I believe Google Plus is something that is going to be very good.

  • http://www.patricia-weber.com Patricia Weber

    A pleasure to meet you here Elizabeth.

    I used the Pomodoro technique – this year anyway.

    Last year I tried – no lists whatsoever. I can reaffirm your blog ideas here by saying emphatically THAT does not work.

    Thanks for the valuable insights.

    • http://virtualadmintogo.com/ Elizabeth Scott

      Patricia,

      Likewise it is so nice to meet you also. You have given me yet another avenue to look into. I am not familiar with the Pomodoro technique. I believe it is not a matter of making sure you get everything done but a way to organize yourself and lessen the daily stresses.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jon.jefferson.73 Jon Jefferson

    I have found lately that spending a few minutes at the start of my day (waking up) and at the end of my day (before going to bed) talking about what I need to get done, actually helps me out immensely with staying on my path. I have tried to do lists and others like that and they just don’t work for me.

    • http://virtualadmintogo.com/ Elizabeth Scott

      Jon,
      Lists do not work for everyone but the important thing is to know what you need to do and fit all the vital things into your schedule. I like lists or action items so I have a central location for everything and I can make sure I mark things off as I go. This way, I do not go back and wonder if I am forgetting anything.

  • http://twitter.com/wizardofwords Doreen Pendgracs

    Wow! Elizabeth sure sounds well organized! I confess that since I’ve been writing my book, I’ve had to let things slide. Though I’d like to be, I just can’t seem to focus and get ahead of the game. But definitely having things (tasks) written down helps keep one on track, and being able to check them off when they’re completed sure feels good!

    • http://virtualadmintogo.com/ Elizabeth Scott

      Doreen, Start small and soon you will have all your tasks prioritized before you know it. Start one day with scheduling your tasks for the day. Then it is easy to branch out and manage more of your time. What is your book about?

  • http://twitter.com/m4bmarketing Susan Oakes

    Elizabeth sounds like she would save you so much time Susan and her way of time management makes sense. One thing I got into the habit of years ago was to set aside time each month and list all the projects, the steps or tasks that had to happen in detail and dates. This means each day I know what has to happen and it seems to usually keep me on track.

    Good luck with your new business Elizabeth.

    • http://virtualadmintogo.com/ Elizabeth Scott

      Thank you very much Susan. I believe that scheduling out your projects and daily responsibilities is vital. I am a busy mom as well as a Virtual Assistant and scheduling gives me the opportunity to not miss something important.

  • http://twitter.com/KeepUpWeb Sherryl Perry

    Elizabeth and Susan, This was a great introduction to Elizabeth’s blog.
    Congratulations are in order. It was insightful to hear how Elizabeth brought her
    organization skills to the position of executive assistant. It sounds like sh had her hands full!

    I’ve got to know Elizabeth a little already since she started helping with the LinkedIn Bloggers Helping Bloggers group and I can attest to the fact that she is extremely well organized.

    Elizabeth, I’m sure you are going to do well with your new business.

    • http://virtualadmintogo.com/ Elizabeth Scott

      Hi Sherryl, Thank you for your comment. I am very excited to be invited to guest post on Susan’s site. Thank you for the complement. I have enjoyed working with such a wonderful group of bloggers.

  • http://joannerambling.wordpress.com/ Jo-Anne

    For many years I have been one for setting time limits to activaties I do sometimes it is the simplest way to get everything done like the ironing or cleanning that bathroom. The tasks rarely take as long as I expect them to so getting started is for me the hardest part. Great guest post

    • http://virtualadmintogo.com/ Elizabeth Scott

      Thank you Jo-Anne, I to always try to organize the tasks and sometimes depending on the task I will complete a lot of “5-minute” tasks and then have more time to focus on the larger tasks.

  • wendy mccance

    Great article. Organizing tasks is something I am always trying to tweak. What a great idea to break up the tasks by length of time needed.

    • http://virtualadmintogo.com/ Elizabeth Scott

      Hi Wendy, I too had struggled with time management. I am a busy mom and business owner who knew if I couldn’t figure out a system, nothing would ever get done.

  • http://twitter.com/YLTL Dan Meyers

    Elizabeth – I really like your use of the “buckets”. I’ve always kept a list of action items, but haven’t bucketized them. Also, I had a Manager who made me do weekly progress reports; as much as it annoyed me, it really kept me on track.

    • http://virtualadmintogo.com/ Elizabeth Scott

      Dan, When I was a manager I tried to encourage my reps to really organize their tasks. Every Friday they had a check out list that they needed to complete and turn in to ensure that all the important stuff was complete. Using buckets help me make sure if a “fire” comes up, I can organize it in the correct are to make sure I am on top of it. How’s your trip going?

  • http://www.margaretduarte.com/ Margaret Duarte

    I’ve seen you in action, Elizabeth, and I was impressed. Love your website. Good luck with your new venture.

    • http://virtualadmintogo.com/ Elizabeth Scott

      You are so kind Margaret. I am hoping to use my passion to help bloggers grow their success. I want to be a partner with them.

  • Debra Yearwood

    This is great and practical advice Elizabeth. It’s common sense that I don’t always use but wish I did. I think that I’ll print it off and post it for me and my office colleagues to consider. Thank you for sharing.

    • http://virtualadmintogo.com/ Elizabeth Scott

      Debra – Sometimes it is the little common things that give us the worse time. Thank you for your comment. My office has a lot of printed nuggets of information I always want to remember.

  • Darlene Nemeth

    I use the same type of system at work to organize my tasks. And yes, when my desk starts to get cluttered, I know it’s time to make a change. Now if only, I could use those time management skills at home.

    Thanks for sharing your insights.

    http://darlenebnemeth.blogspot.ca

    http://mylittleshopoftreasures.blogspot.ca/

    • http://virtualadmintogo.com/ Elizabeth Scott

      I can not work when I am cluttered. Everything on my desk needs to be neat and in order or I feel like I am chasing my tail. I too need to take my own advice at home.

  • http://twitter.com/klagowski Krystyna Lagowski

    Time management has never been my strong suit. I keep a weekly “work in progress list” that gets added to as assignments come in, and do a daily listing as well. Still, there just never seems to be enough time, and I stay up way too late. Your system is infinitely preferable!

    • http://virtualadmintogo.com/ Elizabeth Scott

      There is never enough time in the day. That is one reason I started VAtoGO so I can give back time to bloggers who are searching for some more time in their day.

  • Mary Slagel

    I love the idea of throwing different assignments and projects and “the things that need doing” into “buckets”. I am a big fan of prioritizing by lists. I remember sitting in middle school and writing down what I needed to do each afternoon in order of importance. It has always kept me on track.

    • http://findingourwaynow.com/ Susan Cooper

      Hi Mary, That is awesome. SOme of us never learn to do that. I still struggle to stay on track because I am so easily distracted. That’s what I get for having a curious mind. :-)

    • http://virtualadmintogo.com/ Elizabeth Scott

      Mary – it is a great way to stay on task and the sooner you get started the better. In school my son is learning to organize and the school provides an agenda book to help with that.

  • Claire Cappetta

    When I had my office I would take out all the files which I knew needed to be worked on they would start as a huge pile on the right hand side of my desk and finish on the left side to be put away again sometime that evening… even if that was 11 at night.
    Now work has changed for me as a writer and author. I have a stay at home husband who is incrediblt talkative…. It has taken sometime for him to recognize that if I don’t answer him then I’m busy! lol He’s slowly catching on… I reckon he completely understand in say…. another year! ;-)

    • http://findingourwaynow.com/ Susan Cooper

      I had exactly the same problem, Claire. It’s as if they see you so you must be free to talk. Keeping organized and having a chatty husband can be daunting, can’t it? :-)

    • http://virtualadmintogo.com/ Elizabeth Scott

      Claire – Chatty husbands are the best… :-) I too have a husband that loves to talk and it is normally when I am right in the middle of something. Let’s hope it doesn’t take another year. That is why I am creating my office space so I can close out the family and focus on what I need to at the time.

  • Mark Brody

    I will say, admin professionals have helped me out of more jams, and I am truly thankful for them. It looks like you found a gem in Elizabeth!
    Time management is the one area that I continually struggle with. There have been times in my career that I have been in a time management “zone”, however, I can honestly say, right now is not one of those times.

    Thank you for sharing those tips and helping me get back to ground zero.

    • http://findingourwaynow.com/ Susan Cooper

      Hi Mark, I understand that and I too have been saved by some very good admin assistant, Elizabeth being one. :-)

  • http://twitter.com/TakeChargeBecc Rebecca Thompson

    Great tips. I used to be in an admin job (several different ones actually) and did something very similar to you to try to keep on top and not let anything fall through the cracks.
    I also love the point where when your desk is not organised and you recognise the need to step back. That is my point where I know I need to stop too :)

    • http://findingourwaynow.com/ Susan Cooper

      Hi Rebecca, Then I would say you understand the challenges of time management. It sure isn’t easy. I too love that tip, and have been using it as a result of Elizabeth. :-)

  • Ann

    thanks

    • http://findingourwaynow.com/ Susan Cooper

      You’re welcome Ann.

  • Althea

    Thank you for a great article on time mangement. As a full time, never at home, mom. Any and all tips are valuable.

    • http://findingourwaynow.com/ Susan P. Cooper

      Hi Althea, Your welcome and thank you for stopping by. I think we all need a little help in this area… LOL.