Ep. 003: 6 Tools Virtual Assistants Can Use to Make Their Lives Easier
Every virtual assistant has their favorite software, tools, and programs to help them stay organized and on top of everything. When it’s your job to keep OTHER people organized, it can be hard to find time to keep yourself organized. I find that once I start to slip in my own organization, everything else slowly starts to fall apart.
So today, I’m giving you a look inside my toolbox and sharing my favorite ways to stay organized, automated, and sane.
Ready to dive in? Here we go:
Okay, so I know that everyone is different when it comes to keeping their calendars organized.Some people are strictly pen to paper, some people like a combo of physical and digital, but for me, it’s all Google Calendar, all the way. I have tried again and again to use paper planners, but I ALWAYS fall off track. Here’s why I LOVE Google Calendar:
It’s so visual! I can color code everything. I can put all of my different calendars in one visual space. I can block things off. And it’s just sooo pretty and satisfying.
It syncs with everything! I LOVE this. I can see my calendar on my phone and computer. I can use it with Zoom to automatically add meeting links to my calendar. I can share my calendar with other people. It’s just so easy!
I can easily duplicate meetings and events.
I can create multiple calendars. I have a calendar for each of my clients to track projects, I have a calendar that tracks my daily routine, with time blocked out during the day. I have a calendar for my family to keep track of birthday parties, school events, etc. And I can view them one at a time or all at once.
If y’all aren’t using Trello, I don’t even know what you’re doing! Seriously! Okay...so if you haven’t heard of Trello yet, let me tell you about it. Trello is an online project management tool that allows you to create visual boards to map out projects and processes. I also love Asana, another project management tool, but I tend to use that more with my various teams and Trello more for my personal project management. Everytime I want to start a new project, like designing my website, or getting this podcast launched, I map it out from start to finish in Trello with deadlines to keep me on track. And I love Trello because it’s drag-and-drop, and extremely user-friendly. And Trello is another tool that you can use for almost everything in your life! You can use it for everything from planning your next vacay to planning your next product launch.
So I have a total love/hate relationship with Instagram. I LOVE Instagram because I believe that when used correctly, it can be a really powerful way to tell stories and connect with your audience. But I HATE being in Instagram all the time. Thinking up captions and coming up with posts is NOT something I want to be doing daily. But I know that as a V.A., it’s important for me to maintain a consistent presence on social media. That’s why I’m OBSESSED with Planoly. Planoly is a visual planning tool for Instagram. I love that I can sit down for 2 hours once a month and schedule ALL of my Instagram content for the month - from stories to hashtags to posts. And I absolutely love that it has a desktop version because I cannot stand typing up captions on my phone. AND Planoly auto-posts to Instagram, which means I just have to set it up and go!
When you’re working with clients, it probably means that you have about a MILLION passwords to remember. Seriously, for each of my clients, I probably have logins to about at least a dozen different websites. And it can feel IMPOSSIBLE to keep track of them all. Even if you keep a running spreadsheet with all of your passwords, first of all, that’s not safe, and second of all, you PROBABLY won’t remember to update it each time you change a password. That’s why I LOVE LastPass. LastPass stores all of your passwords for you, will generate super-secure passwords, and will update your passwords when you change them! AMAZING! And it’s great if you work on different teams, because you can share passwords with each other. Seriously, so helpful.
I don’t know about you, but email STRESSES ME OUT!!! Seriously, having an inbox full of emails takes my anxiety levels up. And emails from clients always feel like they’re urgent and need to be taken care of right away, even when they’re not really that urgent. In all of my online teams, we have moved completely off of email and into Slack. If you used AOL Instant Messenger back in the day, Slack is kind of like that, but even better! You can create different channels for different projects, private message or group message, and it keeps everything organized for you. That way, if my client has something they want to ask me, they can reach out to me in Slack instead of sending another email to my inbox. A serious sanity-saver.
When I was first starting as a V.A. and billing hourly, I tracked my time with my clients manually in a spreadsheet. While this was an okay solution at first, it ended up getting way too complicated and taking way too much of my time. That’s when I found Toggl (spelled Toggl). It’s a virtual time tracking tool that allows you to clock your hours in real time and organize by client and project. SUCH a timesaver. Even now that I’m working on a retainer with most of my clients, I still track all of my time. Here’s why: sometimes my clients are evaluating their return on investment on certain projects like social media or email marketing. It’s great for me to be able to tell them exactly how much time I’m spending on each area. It also helps me to track which areas of focus take up the most time so that I can plan accordingly. To put it simply: it’s smart to know where you’re spending your time, and Toggl can help you keep it all organized in one place.
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Alright, so those were 6 tools that make MY life as a virtual assistant easier. And I would love to hear from you about what makes your life easier. What are your favorite online tools to help you with time management and productivity? Let me know on Instagram at @the.support.squad or in our private Facebook group, The Support Squad Hangout. I love jamming with other virtual assistants because I always learn new things. I’m so glad that you’re a part of this growing community. It seriously makes me feel all warm and fuzzy to connect with other virtual assistants from around the globe.
Until next time, boss babes!