When partnering with a virtual assistant to streamline your business, you want to make the most of the time you’re paying them for. There are a number of useful tools and strategies that can help you streamline your partnership with your virtual assistant. These range from materials you can create yourself, to apps and websites for project or schedule management. Some of the ones I use in my business are listed below, along with other suggestions to make your life easier when partnering with a virtual assistant.
I’ve written about procedure manuals before in more detail, but they deserve mention here as well. If you’re just starting out and working with a single virtual assistant, you might not immediately see the need for a procedure manual. However, as your business grows and you take on more help in a virtual capacity, they are invaluable documents to have.
A procedure manual takes everything a virtual assistant might need to know or utilize and puts it all in one easy to access place. Manuals reduce the number of times you have to walk individual workers through every detail of your business, and thus save you a huge amount of time.
Google Drive + Dropbox
When it comes to organizing outsourced work which may need to be collaborated on by multiple team members, you can’t go wrong with Google Drive and Dropbox. Google Drive gives your team the ability to work on the same documents in real time, viewing changes made by other team members as they make them, it’s easy to keep one updated copy of a document instead of passing around endlessly renamed copies containing edits by different people. You can also use create spreadsheets to plan out editorial calendars for your blog or social media platforms, which can then be updated as work is accomplished on them.
Dropbox is a free data sharing system that allows teams to access media without sending endless back-and-forth emails. Because files are all saved within the cloud-based software, when one team member changes or moves a file, the updated format is available in real time to everyone else working on it. Dropbox also allows users to access their files from just about anywhere with a WiFi connection, eliminating the need to be at your personal computer or laptop to get work done.
When it comes to organizing and scheduling social media posts, there is no better option than Hootsuite. You can collaborate with your virtual assistant to plan two weeks or a month of social content out at a time. That way you know they’ll be getting it done the way you envision, and it will all be scheduled ahead of time so you don’t need to worry about trying to coordinate posts to multiple platforms last minute.
There are a number of online project management systems out there, but Asana is both one of the most powerful and simple to learn. It is the most effective way of keeping on top of deadlines, work that needs to be done, and looping in other teammates when necessary. With the ability to attach documents and comments to individual tasks, everything necessary to get the work done stays organized in a single location, preventing important details from being overlooked. Asana also has a mobile app which syncs with your online account to streamline task tracking on the go. With multiple options for alerts (email, push notifications on your mobile, etc.), it’s easy for individual team members to set up their own preference for staying on top of the day’s work.
Syncing your Calendar
If you’re still using a wall calendar, it’s time to go digital. Google Calendar and other online calendars have become so sophisticated in recent years, and are far more powerful than any office or planner-based options. There are associated apps for multiple mobile device platforms (usually at least iOS and Android). You can access and alter your schedule from any device, anywhere in the world, so you’re never without it. No more worrying about leaving your planner somewhere and being at a total loss!
Shared Team Calendars
While it is possible to share calendars and have multiple users with viewing or editing access via Google Calendar, it can get messy quickly. If you want a simple team calendar for keeping track of everyone’s schedules, you could try a program like Teamup, the shared calendar for groups.
Slack is one of my favorite tools for keeping a virtual team organized. Slack is like instant messaging on steroids. It brings all your communication together in one place with real-time messaging. You can share documents, spreadsheets, images and PDF with you entire team in one easy to use app. If you have a virtual team and you aren’t using Slack, it’s time to jump on board.
Apps & Other Scheduling Programs
In addition to the apps mentioned above which act as extensions of the online programs discussed, you can find mobile-only apps with single functions which may meet a unique need for your business. If you need to track time spent on individual projects, you might consider a program like Harvest, which integrates with Asana.
All in all, there has never been a better time to partner with a virtual assistant to work efficiently and with a minimum of difficulty. If concerns over staying organized to make the most of the time you pay a virtual assistant for were previously leading you to hesitate, you can put them aside now and see the difference partnering with a virtual team can make for your business. Check out my free download How to Use a Virtual Assistant Team to Grow Your Business & Get Your Life Back and see exactly how I can help.