Original Posting June 1, 2011
Let’s face it, as Online Business Managers and Virtual Support Professionals, there are certain tasks and clients we prefer to spend our time working on. So how do we manage the tasks or clients that are not at the top of the list of ‘fun things to do’?
I dare say, many of us put off these tasks until the last minute and then do not give them the attention to detail or expertise that we would ultimately desire to give. This is a very real issue in business, but specifically in the ‘support’ business. Businessowners are relying on us to give it our all and go the full distance with every project, regardless of the task or the relationship you hold with that client.
Honestly, this may not be a major issue for a web designer or a graphic artist, but for those of us who work hand in hand with the growth and day in and out tasks of running a business, this is an ever-increasing reality of preference. In the theater, one might say, “you are only as good as your last performance”. I believe that this is true in this industry as well. Your ability to serve your client is only as good as the last service you performed.
Take a minute to think about the last service offered to your clients’ business. Was it YOUR best effort? Did you go the distance?
I often find myself doing the same things first (or putting certain clients ahead of others) in my day to day tasks, while I put off other tasks until the last minute. Seems my pattern is, if I do not fully understand the ‘how’, I will put it off until I absolutely HAVE to figure it out, doing all the things that I fully understand (or easy things) first. What I have learned though, is that often those tasks I put off never get my full attention nor the level of excellence I want to offer my clients.
I have come up with 3 easy ‘self-checks’ to keep myself from doing the client ‘juggle’ which often leaves the lesser desired projects at the end of the list.
Tackle your least desired project first!
I know this seems obvious, but sometimes we just have to state the obvious: don’t wait until the eleventh hour to tackle a project that has the potential to go over your time limit, a learning curve or you just flat out don’t enjoy. Give the projects that take the most out of you the first part of your day, your most creative time and your highest priority of attention.
Truthfully, as support professionals, we do 85% of our ‘work’ on auto-pilot; responding to emails, sending a broadcast or updating a webpage. These tasks that we do constantly and really, though time-consuming, are not thought consuming. So do them AFTER you have done the higher engaging tasks. Why? Because if it’s the eleventh hour and you need to bust out something you do a hundred times a day, you are less likely to make a mistake and keep your level of excellence for that task. Remember you are only as good as your last performance!
Determine which of those tasks you don’t enjoy, or which client you are not as drawn to, can be served better by someone else on your team. Specifically, as Online Business Managers, we have many tasks that land on our plate that, quite frankly, could be better performed by a team member. I like to look at everything that needs to be accomplished each week and see if either a client’s team or my personal team, is better suited to do the task in order to open my time up to other tasks. I am not the person to do research on a topic or be the one to do repetitive tasks, such as load up tweets to Hootsuite or set up the Instant Teleseminar for various calls. These tasks with a written SOP can easily be done by a VA. So clearing my plate of tasks that really should be accomplished by someone else on the team is my second self-check.
Know your strengths and weaknesses. I have to know ‘why’ a task has become an ‘end of the pile’ task for me and I need to recognize if it is simply something I am weak in. Note: just because I am weak in it, does not give me the excuse not to do it with excellence. If anything, it should be a greater motivator to put it at the top of the pile so I can give it my best effort and attention. The simple truth is we can’t all be good at everything all the time. We each have our weaknesses and we sometimes have to do what we are weakest at, and that’s okay. I have learned that this discipline tends to build great character and accomplishment in myself when completed.
So short recap: Self –Check how you are juggling tasks and clients and prioritize the thing you least enjoy. Get it done and move onto those things that really keep your business love tank full! An added plus is you will generally walk away from your office feeling good rather than bad, which will build up even more satisfaction in your business efforts on a personal basis.