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5 simple tips to skyrocket your work productivity

Any professional can use these five tips to save time and boost productivity, and they’re quite simple means to improve efficiency.

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The critical nature of efficiency

Whether you sell real estate, run a home staging business or own a restaurant, there never seem to be enough hours in the day to get everything done. Between running your business, doing everything that you can to provide quality customer service, and marketing your business to its fullest potential, you could probably find something that needs to be done ’round the clock if you didn’t need to sleep.

Virtual assistants typically work with multiple clients at once, and they’re expected to execute all marketing efforts flawlessly for each one. Time-saving tactics are a lifesaver in our industry, and they’re a must-know skill for anyone who has to run their own business or brand. Here are a few tips that have proved helpful for me over the years:

Tip one: organization

The key to getting everything done as quickly and efficiently as possible is organization. Start with a to-do list and prioritize. What absolutely, 100%, must get finished today? Start by tackling those things and give them your full attention.

The rest can be done on-the-go, during your lunch break, or right before you go to sleep at night. Stick to this priority list unless an emergency comes up. You’ll find that you’re much more efficient, and you’ll get all important things done right away.

Tip two: technology

Sure, we can’t work all the time, but that brings me to my next point: use technology! Today’s technologies are designed for people who are on-the-go all day long.

Take for example tablets – they are productivity boosters for any professional. You can check and respond to emails, update your social media sites and prepare presentations while you’re between meetings, on your lunch break, or waiting for an appointment.

No longer is it a requirement to be sitting behind a desk to get your entire internet marketing out of the way. You have the technology available to you, so you should use it to maximize your time.

Tip three: time blocking

Another time saver is blocking out portions of each day for “paperwork time” or “email time.” If you say, “Every morning between 7:30-8 and every night between 8:30-9:15, I’m going to check and reply to emails”, you’ll find that you can avoid the distraction that comes with it throughout the rest of the day and focus on other, pressing tasks.

We’re all slaves to our inboxes, and if you see an emergency email come in, respond to it, but if you block out times each day that are dedicated to addressing emails or signing off on paperwork, you’ll be less inclined to let it distract you throughout the rest of the day.

Tip four: track ideas

Some of the biggest time-wasters that exist at the moment are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and blogging. You could spend half the day alone perusing and updating all of these sites. My suggestion? Carry a notebook or tech tablet and keep a running list of possible post ideas. Much of the time on these sites is spent trying to figure out what to post or how to word things in a witty, clever or professional way.

If you keep a running list of ideas that come to you throughout the day of things to post on social media or your blog, you’ll have a list of ideas to refer to when you sit down to do it. If you stay focused, write in your natural voice and use your handy “idea book,” you will accomplish things in half the time and focus on doing your day-to-day business tasks.

This is another marketing task that you should really “block time” for each day. Whether it’s a half hour or forty five minutes, pick a time each day, stick to it, and don’t exceed it.

Tip five: take a break

Oh, one more thing: if you need to, take a break. Nobody can work quickly or efficiently if their mind is running 500 miles per hour with thoughts about what needs to be done. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or distracted by the daunting list of to-do’s on your list.

Stand up, take a drink of water, go for a walk, stretch, call someone for a quick chat…anything that you can think of to take your mind off work for a few minutes, do it. You’ll go back to work refreshed and ready to focus, which will only allow you to work more quickly and efficiently.

You can do this

These trusty tips might sound simple, and that’s because they are! You don’t have to do anything fancy or over-the-top to save time. It’s as simple as staying organized. If you put some of these suggestions to use, you’ll probably find that you’re getting more work done each day, which might even give you some time to do the unthinkable: relax.

Carrie Gable & the Real Estate Virtual Assistant team at RealSupport, Inc. work virtually for many top real estate agents & brokers nationwide, offering marketing campaigns, branding, website & logo design, listing marketing efforts, lead management, technical support, marketing presentations, social media setup & management, copywriting, blogging and much more.

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64 Comments

64 Comments

  1. Market Leader

    May 10, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    Great tips!

  2. Jasonmartinezrealtor

    July 19, 2012 at 9:08 am

    Kiss

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Business News

Price-predictable subscription to legal help for startups

(BUSINESS) Startups in growth mode need extra help, and legal services is not where successful companies cut corners. Check out this subscription option for your growing company.

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legal help for startups

If you’re running your own business or are planning to start one, legal help is probably low on your list.

Most of us have access to free resources from your local Chamber of Commerce or state website, or may have a “friend” who can help you with the forms and other things.

For a lot of things, a DIY attitude won’t cost you much. You could float your own drywall for example. But when it comes to the law, you must trust an expert. Trying to cut corners on legal expenses can cost you a lot in terms of liability or lead to a few headaches, disputes, and litigations. And even if it didn’t cost money, it will cost you time.

Fortunately, you may not have to pay a lawyer directly, as there are several online solutions, including LegalZoom or LegalShield that can help you with forms, provide advice or help you get your business started. Legal advice could cost you hundreds per hour, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Although online legal services are available, one thing that may be challenging for startups is that it can be difficult to budget for: cost transparency isn’t always available and it may be contingent on demand, time and resources.

Atrium is legal firm specifically designed for startups. This firm was founded by Twitch founder Justin Kan, and Silicon Valley lawyer, Augie Rakow in response to what his needs were as a startup: fast, reliable, and transparent services.

To date, Atrium boasts 890 completed startup deals; $5B raised by companies, and 10 companies started by it’s members. Atrium breaks down its services into four areas:

Atrium Counsel – which provides standard day to day legal processes, including board meetings, NDS, contract/personnel review, etc. – this is available as a subscription service or if you have unique needs, there are special projects available.
Atrium Financing – to help work with venture capital transactions and help explain the deal and it’s process, including upfront price estimates for advice with pitches.
Atrium Contracts – to help with contract review and form generations.
Atrium Blockchain – to help provide legal advice on the many regulatory issues involving blockchain issues.

Atrium’s major competitive advantage is the end of the billable hour paradigm and the focus on subscription models. This is great for a startup in growth mode because you can get a lot of value for a fixed price.

That said, Vitality CEO, Jamie Davidson said, “Just had a call with these folks. You pay a minimum of $1K a month (based on your company size) to be able to ask them questions. You then pay above-market prices for actual legal needs, like privacy policy/TOS generation ($5K), GDPR ($10+K), etc. Our current lawyer does not charge me to ask him questions, but he does charge for actual legal work.”

Others have noted Atrium’s technological advantage and expertise, so mileage could vary.

If you find that community resources aren’t available or not meeting your needs, Atrium could be the service that helps take you to the next level. If you’re considering shopping for legal services, check out Atrium’s site, get to know their team, and see if it’s the right fit for you. The bottom line is that there are a lot of places to cut corners for your growing business, but legal services are not one of them.

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Business News

Courts to decide if ‘overqualified’ is being used as a code word for ‘too old’ to hire?

(BUSINESS) Many have long held that job seekers are told they are “overqualified” when some employers mean they’re just too old and they’ll carry higher cost and leave quickly. The court system is considering this contentious topic as we speak.

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overqualified woman

According to AARP, “age discrimination in the workplace is alive and well.” But a case before the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago questions whether older job applicants can sue for certain biased recruiting practices.

The Chicago Tribune reports that the case “raises a critical question about whether job applicants can pursue” a lawsuit raising the argument whether the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) protects external job applicants.

Therefore, the question is, does 'overqualified' truly mean an applicant doesn't have the right qualifications, or is it a code word for someone being too old to hire?Click To Tweet

The case is Kleber v. CareFusion Corp digs into this challenge. Dale Kleber applied for a position with CareFusion. The job description asked for “3 to 7 years (no more than 7 years) of relevant legal experience.” Kleber had decades of experience, after all he was 58. The company never even interviewed him.

They ultimately hired a 29-year-old to fill the position. CareFusion insists that Kleber’s age had nothing to do with him not being considered for the role. Kleber argues that “overqualified” is a code word for “too old.”

The case has been working its way through the courts. The first judge dismissed the claim, ruling that the statue doesn’t cover external applicants, but that decision was reversed on appeal by a three-judge panel of the 7th Circuit which stated it “could not imagine” that Congress intended to only protect internal applicants from age discrimination.

CareFusion was given a rehearing in front of the full court in September. Depending on their ruling, the case could go before the U.S. Supreme Court.

What does this mean for you?

This case is just one of many that attorneys are filing with various courts. There is a case in Arizona in which two firefighters, the oldest in the district, were let go due to their age. Age discrimination could affect anyone, because everyone eventually becomes eligible. The courts are conflicted over the types of protection offered by the ADEA, but it’s also difficult to prove when age discrimination has occurred.

For small business owners, it’s imperative that you look at your hiring practices. Think about your recruiting practices. Do you simply look for talent at your local college? You miss valuable talent if you’re not looking at older applicants, and people are working well into their 70s these days, no longer retiring early. Think about the connections and experience an older team member could bring to the job.

If you (or your company) refuse to care about any of those things, fine. But consider this – based on the results of this and other lawsuits, you could be opening your business to being sued if you overlook age in the recruiting and hiring process.

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Business News

Killing the 9-to-5 work day can improve workers’ output

(BUSINESS) Doing away with the tradition of working 9 to 5 in a cubicle can work wonders for a team’s productivity – let’s discuss why this isn’t an imaginary dream, but today’s reality.

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work productivity

As we’ve seen in recent years, many of the old concepts about work have been turned on their heads. Many offices allow a more casual dress as compared to the suit and tie standard, and more and more teams have the option of working remotely.

One of these concepts that’s been in flux for a bit is challenging the norm of 9-to-5 work days. Offices are giving more options of flex hours and remote work, with the understanding that the work must be completed effectively and efficiently with these flexibilities.

Recently, I got sucked into one of those quick-cut Facebook videos about a company that decided to test out the method of a four day work week. This gave employees the option of what day they would like to take off, or, it gave employees the option to work all five days of the week, but with flex hours.

Despite the decrease in hours worked, employees were still paid for a 40-hour work week which continued their incentive to get the same amount of work done in a more flexible manner. With this shift in time use, the results found that employees wasted less time around the office with mindless chit-chat, as they understood there was less time to waste.

The boss in this office had each team explain how they were going to deliver the same level of productivity. The video did not share the explanations, but it could be assumed that the incentive of a day off would encourage employees to continue their level of productivity, if not increase it.

This was done with the goal of worker smarter, rather than harder. Finding ways to manage time better (like finishing up a task before starting another one) help to stay efficient.

During the trial, it was found that productivity, team engagement, and morale all increased, while stress levels decreased. Having time for yourself (an extra day off) and not overworking yourself are important keys to being balanced and engaged.

There is such a stigma about the way you have to operate in order to be successful (e.g. getting up early, using every hour at your disposal, and using free time to meditate).

Let’s get real – we all need a little free time to check back in with ourselves by doing something mindless (like a good old fashioned Game of Thrones binge). If not, we’ll go bonkers.

Flex hours and remote working is not all about having time to do morning yoga and read best-seller after best-seller. Flex hours gives us the time to take our kids to and from school and comfortably wear our parenting caps without fear of getting fired for not showing up to work precisely at 9 AM.

Bucking the 9-to-5 cubicle life can improve the quality of work and even increase quantity of work.Click To Tweet

The 9-to-5 method is becoming dated and I’m glad to see that happen. So many people run themselves ragged within this frame and it’s impossible to find that happy work-life balance. Using flex options can help people manage every aspect of their lives in a positive way.

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