That is the question and what a question it is! Organization is needed in all aspects of everyone's life, especially the Virtual Assistant.
If the Virtual Assistant is not organized, she or he will not maintain any clients. Being unorganized usually means you cannot meet deadlines, cannot arrange for meetings, or cannot keep your jobs straight for which clients. Well, the last one is pretty drastic but it can happen. This can be very detrimental to your Virtual Assistant business.
Organization can come in many different forms. Since the 1980's there have been programs created to do just that - keep us all organized. It started, I think, with the calendar on the computer. Even without a computer, a calendar is very important to have.
Below is a list of different programs that can help you keep organized. I have also included a basic step by step routine you can practice repeatedly to stay organized and before you know it, you are staying organized automatically. This is only a suggestion to assist you with being organized so you can work more efficiently with less stress.
1. Document Sharing - Google Docs - this program is like Microsoft Office but you do not have to send the information via email as an attachment. Your client logs into Google Docs and the client can retrieve the document(s). If you have Gmail, you can use your log in information to sign into Google docs.When you sign up, you will get 5 GB of free storage. As with other similar programs, you can always purchase more storage.
2. Calendars - There are many free online calendars you can use to keep track of all your events, meetings, lunch dates, deadlines, etc. You can use www.google.com/calendars or www.inbox.com/calendars - to name a few.
3. Video Conferences / Online Meetings - AnyMeeting.com host webinars, video conferences and hold online meetings for free. Have up to 200 attendees free with ads. Ads are the sponsors to allow you to have this many attendees for free. This program allows you to send invites & RSVPs, share your screen, record your meetings, have 6-way conferencing, integrate with Twitter and Facebook, and present Power Point slides. The premiums are low for additional features.
4. Remote Access - Logmein.com - this program provides basic remote access to your PC or MAC over the web. Stay connected no matter where you are. This program also has many other good features. Visit their site to see other great features that will help keep you organized.
5. File Sharing - Central Desktop.com - Share files, manage projects, inspire ideas and connect people. This is a free program.
6. Invoicing / Billing - FreshBooks.com - this program lets you track time, log expenses for each client, track unbilled time. When it is time to invoice your client, you can pull the tracking information for your time into the invoice. This program offers a 30 day free trial.This software is cloud accounting for small business.
7. Time tracking and billing software - (Harvest Time Tracking) this program is simple to use, simple to access anywhere, one-click time entry, and perfect for teams.
8. Press Release Distribution - Vocus.com - can help you send your news directly to millions of journalists, media outlets, newsrooms and more for maximum visibility. Plus, Vocus will help you optimize your press releases so that your news ranks in major search engines, like Google and Yahoo!
9. Project Management software - Intuit is a trusted name. They offer a free 30-day trial. No credit card required for the free trial. You can be instantly productive with on-demand, customizable reports. You can keep your entire team informed with automatic e-mail alerts, notifications, and reminders. There is 24/7 web based access so you can so you can be more productive and collaborate faster on projects. QuickBase has a mobile interface for the ability to instantly create and access data from anywhere.
10. Internet Security - This is of the utmost importance in regards to keeping you safe as best as possible when researching the internet. There are three programs that I have and do use. They are Trend Micro, Norton Security and Avast.com. These programs are very good. I have used Trend Micro and it always kept my computer up to date on viruses and other computer infections. You also did not have to pay for each update. Avast is free for home use. Some security programs charge you for the update to keep viruses at bay. Norton Security is also very good. If you have Xfinity cable or Comcast cable, they offer it for free and it scans your system continuously for any viruses or spyware. There is a premium for these programs but offer different levels for different coverage.
Now that we have programs to use for organization, here is my suggestion on the procedure of organization:
1. Keep a calendar - mark deadlines, meetings, any conferences you need to set up and keep the calendar open at all times for reference. If you use Yahoo.com for your email, they have a calendar included with your email box. Yahoo has a free email program. You can also use the above listed links for calendars. They are also free.
2. Create a central file for each client and prospect so to have everything at your fingertips, such as location and contact information, when you need it. Make sure you include the likes and dislikes of your clients. This information will help you introduce new programs to your clients to make the end results more efficient for both parties. There are a few programs that offer the ability to create separate client and prospect folders. One suggestion is www.evernote.com I have not used this program but understand it to be very good. This program has a section called Personal Notes. This is where you would create your files for your clients with their information. It just stays with you and not shared.
3. Check your storage capacity. Make sure you have enough storage to keep programs and client information on your computer without slowing it down. This can include dropbox.com or amazonclouddrive.com. These programs work on the Cloud. Storage frees up your computer so it can run the programs you need quickly and without hesitation. This is important to a Virtual Assistant in regards to efficiency and meeting deadlines.
4. Time tracking and invoicing - you will need to be very detail oriented with the time tracking. Usually clients like to see exactly what you did and when. There is a time tracking program for free on www.virtualassistants.com or you can look into virtual assistants freshbooks.com.
5. If your client requires you to schedule online meetings and conferences, use www.anymeeting.com. It is free and very efficient. You can have a few participants or many participants. They will all be able to connect and participate in the meetings and conferences.
I feel that if you can incorporate programs like the ones listed above, organization and efficiency is at your fingertips.
About the author:
Vanessa Jones is an experienced Virtual Assistant with 30+ years of administrative experience with a variety of managers and executives. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions regarding this article or if you need my experience as a Virtual Assistant.