Hiring Tips from a VA who Hired a VA

Hi guys! So I wanted to give you an update on what’s new with me.

I hired a Virtual Assistant.

Yes, I’m a VA that just hired a VA. (I’ll admit, it’s kinda fun to say that.)

I thought this might be an interesting hiring perspective to share on my blog.

As a bit of a Type A person, the idea of entrusting business tasks to someone else seemed difficult. If you’re a business owner, you feel like the business is your baby and that no one will care for it like you do. However, if you want to scale your business, that is no way to think about delegating tasks!

Embrace the right thought process

Oftentimes, I feel like I can do everything. That, plus a hesitancy to entrust my business tasks to someone else made the idea of hiring a VA rather uncomfortable for me. But I knew I needed to change my attitude if I wanted to grow as a business and a person.

There’s an old saying, “You can do anything but you can’t do everything.”

It’s ironic that I ran into this need to change my thought process. It’s something I’m constantly telling my clients to do.

So it became clear that I need to change the way I thought about delegating tasks. Because the old saying rings true – I may be capable of doing the task well, but I cannot do everything.

Be aware of ways to whittle down your list of applicants

This will look different for everyone, but I’ll share what worked for me, my business, and business needs.

So I put together an application form via Google forms. On the application form, I asked applicants to check off the software and social media platforms they knew how to utilize. I also asked applicants to list both their strengths and weaknesses.

Then there was a little section titled “pitch me.” It’s a spot I created for people to show off their personality. I wanted to get to know these individuals who applied for the VA position. I value personal connections, people I can just sit with and talk to. Because I couldn’t talk to everyone in person, I figured this section would be a great way to “connect” with people.

In the end, I received over 120 applications through my google form. It really surprised and thrilled me!

But now I needed to come up with a way to quickly whittle down my options.

If someone didn’t bother to list their weaknesses, I disregarded their application. Why? Because everyone has a weakness. It’s important that we’re aware of our strengths and weaknesses.

Remember the “pitch me” section? Some people didn’t fill that in. Those who left that blank were eliminated from my pool. It concerned me that they left it blank. Why? Because if you can’t put the extra effort into filling out a complete application, then I can’t help but wonder if you’d put that extra effort in for me.

The phone interview

Finally, I narrowed my list down to three people.

The next step? A phone interview with each of the three applicants.

Here’s the thing about a phone interview – it’s harder because it’s like putting a face to a name. You get to connect with people when you hear their voice and it’s just harder to turn anyone down. I wanted to hire them all, but I’m just not at that point in my business yet.

So, when it was all said and done,  I hired someone.

Moving forward with my new VA

I was scared.

I didn’t know what to expect.

So I got on Asana and prepared tasks for my new VA. Within each task, I put down – step by step – how to complete what I wanted to be done.

My main tasks entailed repurposing my blog. I gave her a few weeks to get into the swing of things so there wasn’t any unnecessary pressure. After all, I’m a VA too. I know what it’s like to be her in shoes.

In addition to setting her up with tasks on Asana, I wanted a simple process to communicate back and forth with her, making sure we’re both on the same page. So I decided to use Slack for our communication. It worked out great because she came back with questions and suggestions. I gave her answers.

Funny thing is –  I gave her more work than I intended to give her.

So miss Type A over here ended up giving her more of my tasks!

Free up brain space, hire a VA

Sometimes these tiny tasks accumulate and take up so much of our brain. When you give these tasks away, it frees up precious brain space.

In my situation, I wasn’t necessarily concerned about her background experience. I just wanted someone I could connect with. If the right person came along, I knew I’d be able to train them!

I knew what I wanted and of course, we adjusted as we went along.

Let me know if you have questions. If you need a VA, I’d be glad to personally help you or find someone who can!

nicole_hatcherAmanda Leigh, with her business savvy tools and upbeat attitude, helps entrepreneurs develop systems that work for, not against them. By setting up project management systems and email management protocols curated specifically for each business, Amanda’s dedication to helping others thrive means making sure nothing is forgotten.

If you could use an extra set of hands in your business, Schedule a FREE Discovery Call here. flogo_rgb_hex-brc-site-250

Three Steps to Writing a To-Do List That You’ll Actually Stick To

Introduction

So recently, I had the pleasure of inviting Nicole Hatcher of the Corporate Women’s Lounge to share an invaluable workshop. She lays out some killer tips on how to create and tackle to-do lists that work for you rather than against you.

A mother of three, practicing attorney, and a consultant, Nicole understands what it’s like to juggle multiple hats. She knows very well it’s important to not drop the ball on any of these responsibilities. So what’s her secret? How does she keep on top of things?

The problem with to-do lists

We’ve all been there. It’s the start of a new week and you sit down with optimism to write out all your grand plans. But by the end of the week, you’ve barely scratched the surface of your list.

Before you know it, the next week rolls around. And so do last week’s tasks on top of the new. This pattern continues on repeat. Your to-do list spirals out of control.

And with the growth of your snowballing to-do list, so grows your disappointment, discouragement, and negativity.

This is certainly not what you had in mind for a productive lifestyle.

3 steps to writing a to-do list that you’ll actually stick to

What’s the missing ingredient to blasting through your to-do list? Should you chuck that to-do list out the window? There’s no use in a to-do list that isn’t serving you well, right?

Here’s where Nicole comes to the rescue. She shares a three-step process to get out of the mire of inefficiency and into a lifestyle of active productivity. So before you throw out that to-do list, why not take a look at some of Nicole’s advice. You’ll find that with the right attitude and structure, you can format a to-do list you’ll actually stick to!

Step 1: write out who you want to be

Begin your journey towards effective to-do lists by writing out an affirmation of who you want to be.

Using herself as an example, Nicole writes out the following:

“I am a gentle, present parent.”

“I am thorough in my work, I am responsive, and my clients love working with me.”

“I am a kick-ass consultant. I show up for my clients.”

So think about the different hats you wear and think of the person you want to be in those spheres. Write it out as exemplified above and there you have your affirmation.

You can leverage the power of these affirmations by reading them each morning before you start your day. Nicole says they work wonderfully to calibrate her attitude to deal with oncoming tasks of the day.

Step 2: Write a to-do list in four quadrants

Now here’s where we come to writing out the to-do list. To visualize the four quadrants, Nicole uses a large index card – she draws two lines to divide the space on the card into four sections. (As an aside, Nicole is quick to point out that she isn’t the first to uncover the four quadrant system. She’s merely adapted it into a way that works best for her.)

What you put on this card will guide you through your day. Every morning you can sit down with your cup of coffee and come up with a strategy for the day using this method.

Now let’s discuss what each quadrant represents:

Focus. First, we have our focus quadrant. This is where you write the things you will get done. Nicole cautions viewers to list no more than five things to ensure success. To the right of each list item, write the approximate amount of time it will take to get that item done.

Up next. In this quadrant, you’re going to scribble down things you want to get done the next day (but today, if possible.) This quadrant will serve two purposes – first, it lets you gain a preview of the next day. Second, if you breeze through your focus quadrant and find yourself with time to do more, you’ll know exactly what to work on.

The queue. Within this quadrant, you will list what’s happening in your life – projects and commitments on the horizon. It lets you get an overall look at upcoming commitments and deadlines. This quadrant helps you figure out if you need to say no to new opportunities that come your way.

Manage. For those projects in life that you’re overseeing or managing, whether it’s your child’s book report or your team’s progress, you can write them down here. This quadrant will remind you to check up on these tasks that aren’t necessarily something you’re directly working on but still come under your responsibility. Just don’t fall into the trap of being a micromanager!

Step 3: Tying your affirmation and to-do list together

Now here’s the big secret that will help you stick to your to-do list! Incorporate your affirmation into your to-do list, it’s as simple as that.

By viewing your to-do list through the lens of your affirmations, your to-do list isn’t going to be seen as something you have to do. You’ll see it through renewed purpose – your list will be something you need to do or that you want to do so you can be the person you want to be.

Want to be a superhero for your clients? Your to-do list will be a roadmap of what you need to do to be that person.

To-do lists that work for you

In summary, to-do lists that you’ll actually stick to require three things. You need a powerful affirmation, a to-do list divided into manageable chunks, and you need to see that list through the lens of your affirmation.

And the best thing of all? You can adapt Nicole’s system into Asana or other task management apps. Give it a try and see what works best for you. With the right attitude and processes in place, you don’t have to feel overwhelmed.

nicole_hatcherNicole Hatcher is a corporate and securities attorney whose practice and clients are remarkably aligned with her personality: passionate, strategic and rule-oriented.

In between consulting and lawyering in Silicon Valley and San Francisco, you can find her in the East Bay running after her three children and instilling in them (or hoping to) a love of cooking, reading and toy organizing.  flogo_rgb_hex-brc-site-250

 

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Toggl vs Time Doctor vs RescueTime: Which Time Tracking App is Right For You?

Time tracking.

It’s not the most exciting or glamorous part of running a business, but it’s oh so important!

Time tracking is not only important when you’re charging by the hour, but it’s important to know how long tasks take you to complete for two main reasons:

  • You can plan your day more effectively. If you’re planning your day or week, it’s difficult to know how much you can do during those timeframes if you don’t know how long anything takes you to complete. This can result in putting too much on your schedule, which will force you to fall behind schedule and can lead to stress and overwhelm.
  • You can give more accurate quotes to your customers. When you give a quote to a customer, many entrepreneurs figure out how long it will take to complete and multiply that by your hourly billable rate. You can’t do this accurately if you’re not sure how long it takes you to complete a task! Knowing how long the task will take will also allow you to give an accurate date of when a customer can expect the deliverable! This accurate time and money quote result in a win-win for you and your customer.

There are a lot of different time tracking programs available, but it can be a little overwhelming and time-consuming to try to decide which is right for you and your needs.

Toggl, Time Doctor, and RescueTime are the ones that I have seen recommended the most often, so I decided to compare them!

Toggl Time Doctor RescueTime
Pricing Free

Starter: $9/user/month

Premium: $18/user/month

Enterprise: $49/user/month

$9.99/user/month Lite: Free

Premium: $9/month

Adding manual time Yes Yes; can require manager’s approval Yes
Offline mode Yes Yes Yes
Reporting Yes Yes Yes
Billable rates With all paid versions Yes N/A
Rounding time With all paid versions N/A N/A
Project time estimates With all paid versions N/A N/A
Projects/Clients Unlimited Unlimited N/A
Team size 1 with free version
Unlimited with all paid versions
Unlimited N/A
Integrations iCal, Asana, Basecamp, Freshbooks, Github, Teamweek Asana, Basecamp, Citrix, FreshBooks, FreshDesk, GitHub, Google Apps, Intellitnote, Jira, LiquidPlanner, MavenLink, Microsoft Project, Payroll Hero, Pivitol Tracker, Podio, ProjectManager.com, QuickBooks, RedMine, SalesForce, SharePoint, Slack, VisualStudio, TeamWork, todoist, Trello, unfuddle, Workflow Max, Wrike, Yammer, ZenDesk, Zoho N/A
Apps Mobile (iOS and Android)

Desktop (Win, Mac, and Lotus)

Chrome Extension

Mobile (iOS and Android)

Desktop (Win, Mac, and Lotus)

Desktop
Screenshots No Yes, optional setting No
Website and Application Monitoring No Yes Yes; this is the main feature
Client Login No Yes No
Payroll No Yes, optional setting No

Toggl

I believe that Toggl is the easiest to use of the three options. You don’t have to download anything and it can be used right in your browser.

You can easily navigate around the system by using the left menu. Here, you can view your client list, teams, project lists, workspaces, and tags as well as the timer, reports, and insights. (Insights are only available to Premium and Enterprise users.)

To track time, I simply go to the website, select the client and project, and press the start button! You really can’t get any easier!

If you’re looking for an easy application to track your time for different clients and projects, Toggl is perfect for you.

Time Doctor

With Time Doctor, you can fully customize the projects for you and your team. You can turn on/off the following settings:

  • Screenshots
  • Work schedules
  • Payroll
  • Client payments
  • Website/application tracking
  • Project/permanent tasks (including a user’s default project and requiring the selection of projects)
  • Add clients
  • GPS tracking
  • API

Time Doctor is a pretty robust system. You have the ability to do many different things. This includes:

  • Tracking time for yourself to increase productivity
  • Tracking billable time from you and your team to invoice your clients directly
  • Tracking your employee’s time so that you can pay them through the system

It took me a little bit of time to comfortably maneuver around within Time Doctor just because I was immediately looking for a place to easily add clients and projects (similar to Toggl) to get started. Once I got used to how the system is laid out, it was much easier to navigate.

There’s a 14-day free trial, so I’d definitely recommend taking a look at Time Doctor if you’re trying to decide on a system.

RescueTime

RescueTime is a little different than the other two. It seems to be more focused on your own productivity and not tracking your time for certain clients and projects. It keeps track of different websites you’re on and how much time you’re spending on each while you are working.

You can categorize these websites and create goals for how productive you want to be each day. For example, a certain number of hours of productive work. You can then run different reports to see how productive you were and how much time you spent in various applications.

I did have to download the application onto my desktop but once it was downloaded, it is easy to start!

If you’re looking for something to do a self-audit to see how you’re spending your time in order to become a more productive worker, RescueTime could definitely help you.

In summary, I’d recommend:

  • Toggl if you’re looking for a simple platform to track your time for clients and projects.
  • Time Doctor if you’re looking for a more robust system to track and bill your clients
  • Rescue Time if you’re looking to track your own habits to increase your productivity

What do you use to track your time? What do you like/dislike about it?


Amanda Leigh, with her business savvy tools and upbeat attitude, helps entrepreneurs develop systems that work for, not against them. By setting up project management systems and email management protocols curated specifically for each business, Amanda’s dedication to helping others thrive means making sure nothing is forgotten.

If you could use an extra set of hands in your business, Schedule a FREE Discovery Call here


 

 

 

 

Calendar Scheduling Tool Comparison: Calendly VS Acuity VS 10to8

We have all been there. You and your potential client (or colleague) agreed to have a meeting.

That’s awesome.

Well, it was awesome before that dreaded conversation starts.

You know the one. You go back and forth several times determining a time that’s convenient for the both of you.

Then you realize you’re in different time zones. Whomp Whomp.

It’s so much easier to just send a link and say “find a time that works for you!”.

There are so many online scheduling tools out there. It’s hard to determine which works best for you and your business.

They all have their pros and cons, but to figure those out can also be time-consuming, so I’ve done that for you!

I’ve chosen to take a deeper look at 10to8, Calendly, Acuity.

10to8.com

Calendly

Acuity

Pricing Small Business: Free

Basic: $9.30/month

Grow: $20/month

Bigger Business: $40/month

Basic: Free

Premium: $8/user/month

Pro: $12/user/month

Freebie: Free

Emerging Entrepreneur: $15

Growing Business: $25

Powerhouse Player: $50

Automatically syncs to an online calendar Yes Yes With Paid Accounts
Multiple Appointment Types Unlimited 1 for Free Account
Unlimited to Paid Accounts
Unlimited
Time Zone Conversions Yes Yes With Paid Accounts
Number of Events Per Month Small/Basic: 100 appointments/month
Grow: 300/month
Bigger business: 600/month
Unlimited Unlimited
Event Notifications Yes Yes Yes
Customizable email notifications and reminders Yes With paid With paid
Integrates with your website Yes Yes With paid
Collect Payments Yes. Paypal, Stripe, Sage With Paid. Stripe and Paypal With paid. Stripe, Square, Braintree, Paypal, Authorize.net

All three of these online calendar scheduling tools are pretty easy to use. They have similar features in that:

  • You can set your office hours and when you’re available to your clients
  • You’ll get a custom URL to give to your clients to find a time that works for them
  • They all have amazing integrations with paid versions
    • They all integrate with Zapier, allowing countless automations
  • You can create multiple meeting types and durations for both 1:1 and group bookings.

10to8

10to8’s interface is so easy to use for both user’s point of view.

From the client’s perspective, it is very simple and clean. The URL is only customizable with a paid account. I love that I can create my own header, image, and copy to greet the users, who can easily click on an appointment and select a date and time that works for them.

10to8 Image - AmandaLeighVA.com 1

10to8 Image - AmandaLeighVA.com 2.png

From my perspective, it’s very easy to use but the design and the colors are a bit antiquated in my opinion. It’s a tad clunky, but I think that everything is really easy to find. There is a side menu where you can navigate to the page you’re looking for.

10to8 Image - AmandaLeighVA.com 3

You’re able to speak directly with the meeting coordinator through 10to8 via email or text, which is very convenient when there is a follow up needed.

You can add questions for the attendee, which is really nice for me since I like to gather birthdays!

Calendly

From both user’s point of view, Calendly’s interface is very simple and clean, which I love.

From the client’s perspective, they can see my custom URL and my public meetings. You click on my 30-minute meeting and my client can select the date and time that works best for them.

Calendly Image - AmandaLeighVA.com 1.png

From my perspective, setting up events and availability is very easy to do.

Calendly Image - AmandaLeighVA.com 2

I feel like Calendly is a little too simple. I want to be able to set my office hours, then go to each type of event and adjust accordingly. But instead, I had to go to each event and set the office hours. This seems like a really silly downfall, but it took me a little bit of extra time to figure it out.

I really like that you can easily add questions to the attendee. For example, it automatically asks for their name and email, but you could add phone number and birthday.

With the paid version, the person scheduling the time can automatically book another appointment as well as other custom links such as a thank you page.

Calendly also has some direct integrations (integrations without having to use Zapier). These integrations include:

Acuity

Acuity’s interface is visually appealing and easy to use for both you and your meeting attendees.

From the client’s perspective, I like Acuity’s interface the best. You can view multiple days and times at once and it looks really nice. You can do a lot of customizations on this page, which is really awesome.

Acuity - AmandaLeighVA.com 1.png

With Acuity, there are so many customizations – it’s really amazing.

With the client’s view you can:

  • Use monthly or daily calendar view (the below screenshot is daily)
  • Allow/disallow recurring appointments
  • Allow/disallow client login and registration. This will save the client’s information for future scheduling.

When you schedule your availability, you can set a regular availability or select particular days. You can create a client intake form.

Acuity also has approximately 1 billion direct integrations. I’m kidding, but there really are a lot of integrations such as:

Are you ready to see my recommendations?

  • Calendly is super clean and easy to use but is a little basic. It’s great for someone you simply wants an online calendar scheduler, without all the extra uses.
  • 10to8 has an amazing free option with a great interface for your clients. There are many great options in the free version but the interface for the original user is a little clunky.
  • Acuity’s free version is very limited. It does not sync with your calendar or automatically convert time zone. The free version also doesn’t have event reminders or website integrations but the paid version is amazing. With the paid version you have so many different options available.

I would recommend…

  • Calendly for a free very quick and basic setup
  • 10to8 for free, more customized setup
  • Acuity when you’re ready to pay for an upgraded version

So, what online scheduling tool do you use? Why did you choose it?


Amanda Leigh, with her business savvy tools and upbeat attitude, helps entrepreneurs develop systems that work for, not against them. By setting up project management systems and email management protocols curated specifically for each business, Amanda’s dedication to helping others thrive means making sure nothing is forgotten.

If you could use an extra set of hands in your business, Schedule a FREE Discovery Call here


4 Reasons You Need A Project Management System

 

4 Reasons You Need A Project Management System AmandaLeighVA.com 1

If you have any projects going on at the moment, you need a project management system.

That would be you!

I know. A “project management system” sounds so intimidating. You may think because you only do (insert what you do here), that you don’t need a system.

I’m sorry, but I think you’re wrong.

A project management system is just that. It is a way to organize everything that you have going on.

No matter what stage you are in with your business, a project management system is essential to staying on top of all of your “to-dos”. (We all know that there are a lot of those!)

I personally love Asana, but there are so many systems out there for you to choose from.

I honestly don’t know what I would do without Asana, so it’s not difficult to come up with 1,000 reasons why you need a system, but I thought 4 would be a good start.

  1. Everything is in one place

Maybe you have sticky notes all over your desk.

You have a notebook full of notes.

Your inbox is full of to-do tasks.

You forget to do things because either (1) you have things written in so many different areas, you wouldn’t know where to look or (2) you never wrote it down anywhere!

You have so many ideas that you try to remember. That project that would be great, but just not at this moment. What about your blog post ideas? Do you think of a great idea, only to forget about it later?

Well, with a project management system, this is all solved. Your project management system will be your one-stop shop for everything that’s going on in your business (and your personal life).

When I open Asana, I see a list of all of my tasks that must be done (with due dates).

I have projects that are filled with blog ideas and notes.

I also have a project for my social media planning, marketing, and client tasks.

There’s something amazing about being able to have one spot for everything!

  1. Keep track of due dates

I mentioned due dates before. It deserves a whole category for itself.

Having all of your tasks compiled in one area is great, but how do you know what to work on?

Have you ever looked at the date and thought “Oh, no! I was supposed to do XYZ today!”

Well, when you have a project management system like Asana, you can enter due dates. That way, anything that must be done immediately will show up on the top of your list. Any tasks that you do not have to worry about at the time will show up on the bottom of your list.

Sometimes, I put tasks in there each year so that I don’t have to think about it anymore – just put it in Asana and it’ll be there when you need it.

  1. Communication becomes streamlined

Do you have to search through your emails to find the ones from your clients?

Then each client will have 1,000 different email chains?

You are trying to find information about a particular project, but can’t seem to find it?

Or maybe you constantly receive emails from clients, or are constantly sending emails to clients, that say “What’s the status on…”.

Can you relate?

Well, it doesn’t have to be like that!

You can use your project management system to correct this time-consuming issue by sharing your system with your clients!

Make a project with information for each particular project. Share that with your clients!

All of your deliverables will be listed out so, at any point, you and your client can see what has been done.

All of your communication can be right in the project. (Feedback, questions, etc.)

There aren’t any more missed/forgotten emails. Nothing goes to spam.

  1. Documents are in one place

Have you ever received (or sent) an email that says “I know that was sent, but I can’t find it.”

What about losing track of how many times a deliverable was edited or not being able to find previous edits/notes?

Any attachments can be stored right in Asana (and most other project management systems out there), so there’s no more scrolling through emails looking for your attachments.

I have many tasks where I update a spreadsheet each week. I post a Google Doc link to that spreadsheet in my task so that I never have to go searching for it!

So,  what are you waiting for?


Amanda Leigh, with her business savvy tools and upbeat attitude, helps entrepreneurs develop systems that work for, not against them. By setting up project management systems and email management protocols curated specifically for each business, Amanda’s dedication to helping others thrive means making sure nothing is forgotten.

If you could use an extra set of hands in your business, Schedule a
FREE Discovery Call here