To get more done change your daily habits

When it comes to getting things done, I have the same pressures on my time as everyone else.

Children to organise, my own business and the challenge of preparing myself for the Great North Run last weekend. So why do I push myself to the limit and what is that limit?

First of all, I’ve decided that each one of us has the same 24 hours in the day and try as I have I can’t squeeze 25 hours out it. What I can do is determine my priorities.

In his book, Deep Work – rules for focused success in a distracted world, Cal Newport suggests that too much time is being busy doing shallow work (work that serves no real contribution to what we want to achieve).

By this he means, stupid amounts of time checking Facebook and other social media during the day. A desire to read and respond to the constant stream of emails arriving in the inbox (other people’s priorities).

I recommend the book or the Audible version which I have been listening to at 1.5 speed. See, I knew I could squeeze 90 minutes out of an hour – lol. He provides really helpful insights into how to work deep to get things done.

Secondly, I determined what I wanted to achieve and then narrowed it down to intense focus. To do this as Cal suggests, I needed to appreciate that only 20% of possible time spent on a project would really make a difference and I set about determining what that 20% was. We are easily distracted in each working day and naturally drift to doing stuff that is time-consuming and enjoyable rather than the activity that really makes a difference.

Finally, I set up a daily routine and stuck to it, until it became a habit. That was the most challenging part. Other habits pull us away, like a magnet, from the changes we need to make in organising our day.

“For things to change, we must change”. Jim Rohn

If your habits and your focus are not serving you in getting you to where you want to be, you must do something differently.

keeping entrepreneurs on track

Keeping entrepreneurs on track is very much like herding cats.

Don’t get me wrong. I love working with entrepreneurs.

You know the one’s I mean. Steve Jobs described them as “the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently – they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

You need a special type of patience and insight to work with people like this. I get to work with people who have this genius within and feel my focus is to help them release it.

I would like to think I keep them on track. But, I flatter myself. You don’t keep entrepreneurs on track, you just know what needs to get done to keep the track clear for them to do what they do best. Innovate, hustle, produce.

You see ‘would be’ entrepreneurs are still doing stuff they should not be doing. Like arranging meetings, preparing presentations, getting ‘bogged down’ with emails and other distractions. Distractions that take them away from where they are meant to be focused. Working in their business instead of on it. Typically, they are frustrated because they can’t understand why they are busier than ever but not getting where they know they should be.

Distractions are the enemy

Technology and social media can help us all connect and get more done faster but at what cost? Competitors are not the problem, distraction is.

A savvy Virtual Personal Assistant who is already working with ‘a few crazy misfits and rebels’ has the clarity to see who to keep the tracks clear so the entrepreneur stays on track and accountable.

rebecca crossRebecca Cross is an Award Winning Virtual PA with a background experience working with IBM and the Wall Street Journal, amongst others. She specialises in providing creative business and administration support for entrepreneurs and business owners who understand the value of working on their business, rather than in their business. She is especially looking to work with business start-ups, entrepreneurs and professionals who travel extensively

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Staying Focused in 2016

Staying Focused in 2016

I work with many people who need to stay focused in order to achieve that which they set out to achieve. I would like to think that, as a virtual personal assistant (VPA), I help entrepreneurs meet this challenge.

And it’s a challenge for everybody who wants to be successful because, let’s face it, there are so many distractions that can dilute our effectiveness. Pull us off course.

In his post, “How to Stay Focused”, Brendon Burchard nails it, even suggesting that we actually make fewer decisions and that we stop browsing. Heaven forbid, this is probably how you found my post.

One of the biggest challenges, covered in Brendon’s excellent video, is to get action orientated entrepreneurs to say no more often than they say yes.

Anyway, you be the judge. Discover your focus for 2016 to make it the best year ever.

Read Brendon’s Original Blog here:

rebecca crossRebecca Cross is an Award Winning Virtual PA with a background experience working with IBM and the Wall Street Journal, amongst others. She specialises in providing creative business and administration support for entrepreneurs and business owners who understand the value of working on their business, rather than in their business.

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Stop Making Time the Excuse

When it comes to a work life balance too many people think time is the enemy, when lack of priority is the real challenge. Stop making time the excuse.

Too many people think they have to do everything themselves. This video perfectly illustrates the sort of tasks you can outsource to a really good virtual assist when you have prioritised the most effective use of your special skills and talents.

Rebecca Cross is a Virtual PA with a background experience working with IBM and the Wall Street Journal, amongst others. She specialises in providing creative business and administration support for entrepreneurs and business owners who understand the value of working on their business, rather than in their business.

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Chill Out and Outsource Fun Stuff to Your PA

Outsource Fun Stuff to Your PA

Letting go is difficult as a number of my clients have told me.  It’s summer (my calendar tells me) and it’s time to relax.  Time to chill out and outsource fun stuff to your PA.

Building a business is like giving birth and some people want to be involved in everything instead of focusing on the parts that make a real difference.  Instead, we hold on to doing things we really shouldn’t be doing and in particular fun stuff.

I want to share a really good article about outsourcing with the thought for the day. Now is a great time to outsource fun stuff to your PA to create more ‘me time’ or time spend with your family. Simply put – a PA helps you enjoy fun stuff on your terms.

20 Fun Things to Outsource to a Remote Personal Assistant …
Order things you need on Amazon so they arrive at your doorstep like magic! …
When it comes to tasks your remote personal assistant can do, the list is almost …

Come to think of it – if you are really serious about having more ‘me time’ with increased productivity  download a free copy of my ebook MORE TIME ON THE BEACH

getting more done


Best time to hire a PA is when your diary is looking busy

think like a ceo

In my previous post about Overwhelmed, give it to your PA, I shared some thoughts about the role of the personal assistant in the digital age and it isn’t just about diary management. Clearly the best time to hire a PA is when your diary is starting to look busy.

Think Like a CEO

It might not be popular in some quarters but talented personal assistants are taking on the role of middle manager in some organisations and certainly CEO’s can get far more done with an executive PA by their side, making sure that important decisions are carried through and providing feedback in a timely manner.  Even acting as a sounding board for new idea.

The challenge owners of growing businesses sometime have is that they don’t think like the CEO of a substantial business.  The best time to hire a PA is when your diary is looking busy.  When the growth of a business is such that the owner is being sucked into working in the business rather than on it.

I’m not the only one to think this ….

Being a personal assistant isn’t just about diary management …
Ask any successful leader how they achieve their goals while … their time, and
most will say they couldn’t do it without their personal assistant.

What is the Purpose of Automated Email Replies?

I want to pose a question: what is the purpose of automated email replies?

It’s interesting to note the number of automatic email replies I receive.  What is this compulsion to reply instantly. Perhaps the same knee jerk reaction to view every text and answer every mobile phone call in preference to staying in touch with the person they are speaking to live.

Sorry, I digress.  Back to automated email replies.  I received this response at 12.48pm today and I wonder if my reaction is typical.

Thank you for your email ~ Please accept this as notification that it has been received and that I will reply as soon as I am able to.

I would like to kindly remind people that during the week I generally only run the ‘office’ side of my business during office hours 9 – 5. At the weekends I am usually working both Saturday and Sunday all day with my clients.

I will endeavour to reply to all messages as soon as I am able to.

Kind regards

These would be my observations – Office hours are normally 9–5 and as my email was received in the middle of these hours, it could have been answered or a meaningful reply could have be provided a few hours later.  Why do I need any confirmation it has been received?

I don’t expect an email to be answered any faster than a letter, so why is there this obsession a reply by return? If my message was that urgent I would make a phone call.

The person who sent me this email sounds overworked. Working 7 days a week is not a strength, it’s a weakness.  She is either a workaholic and probably not at all interesting or disorganised.

First of all she should ditch this unnecessary email response – it will respect and save time and distraction for everyone who receives it. Secondly, I would recommend she choose 20 minutes at the end of each day to review and reply but only to emails where she can contribute something of value. Others she should ignore.

To reduce her workload to something balanced and sensible she should ask for the help of a Personal Assistant audit, if only to help determine how to streamline her workload and to discover her real values and where she should focus for greater productivity.

Working long hours is not why most people start a business.  Perhaps, it’s time to stand back and re-focus on why we are in business and how we are doing against that purpose.

Focus as a Strategy is a Choice

strategy is choosing what not to do michael porter

When it comes to strategy we make choices and focus as a strategy is a powerful choice.

Back in December 2011, Joan Magretta wrote an excellent review citing Jim Collins’ book, Great by Choice in the Harvard Business Review.

She was clearly inspired as she wrote, ‘He’s the coach or the Dad you always wanted. You can do it, he says. You really can. You can choose to be great.’

Your choice. Everything we are and have become are the results of the choices we have made. Tomorrow we can make different choices, if we decide to. Focus as a strategy is perhaps the most importance choice we will ever make.

Collins is a master at putting the human face on performance. Get the right people on the bus. Be disciplined. Be empirical. Be creative etc. Good strategy makes the direct link between the actions managers take and the financial results of those actions.  Porter is a master of strategy.

I love the point about ‘getting the right people on the bus’.  Surrounding yourself with talented people, people possesses skills and the time you don’t have is smart thinking.

get the right people on the bus

Assuming you can figure out who belongs on your bus, someone still must pick a destination. Is it really enough to choose to be great?

Don’t you also have to make great choices?

Yes, you do. Our destination is all about choices and we must not dismiss, out of hand, the importance of focus as a strategy

Read the Original Harvard Article by Joan Magretta

Challenge of Staying Focused

Where you focus your attention will determine the outcome you are most likely to get.

When it comes to getting things done there is nothing more distracting than distraction. And the distraction that is stopping us from getting ‘the right things’ done is not the obvious telephone interruptions. The challenge of staying focused is a major factor that needs to be overcome if more is to be achieved and ‘burn out’ is to be avoided.

I’ve just watched a very powerful video by Brendon Burchard called How to Stay Focused. Brendon highlights the importance of staying focused in terms of self satisfaction and wellbeing and he offers up some practical ideas about what to put to one side and ignore.


Focus drives everything. It drives your thoughts and emotions. As Brendon says, if you focus on negative things, you are going to be negative. If you fail to focus on the things that are important, meaning, your priorities, then what happens to your relationships? What happens to the overall quality of your life.

The suggestions he makes a not as obvious as you may think and I will encourage you to watch the video until the end.

Experience has told me that the challenge of staying focused is not being met by business owners and the self employed, especially when they are trying to control and do everything themselves.  There are far too many distractions.

It is far easier when you have a good relationship with a reliable personal assistant who can take care of responses to emails, phone calls and other trivia.  Takes some discipline but the prize of getting much more done in a lot less time is certainly worth it.

Business Productivity Tips

As a business owner you have so much responsibility resting on your shoulders, so many ‘plates to juggle’ it can seem impossible to see where you can begin to cut back and save time throughout your day.

Here are a number of ways to be more productive in business and save time.

1. Determine the most valuable action for today.

Handling customer emails is not likely to be your most valuable action and you may be better talking with your best client or prospect. You should always focus on the actions that would deliver the best possible outcome for the time invested. Outsource the handling of emails and phone enquires.

2. The end of each day plan out your next day.

Planning the day in advance will show you where are may be wasting your time and let you see opportunities to accelerate business to the next level, revealing the most valuable action can do before the day even starts.

3. Business Productivity – Focus on Lеаd Gеnеrаtіоn аnd Sаlеѕ

Aѕ a buѕіnеѕѕ owner, сrеаtіng lеаdѕ and ѕаlеѕ for уоur business ranks beyond еvеrу other асtіvіtу of уоur dаіlу tаѕkѕ. I call it ‘income producing activity’. You hаvе the grеаtеѕt соntrоl оvеr уоur buѕіnеѕѕ; you аrе thе іmаgе thаt реорlе see when thеу соnѕіdеr your business. Make the most of the time you have available bу сuttіng оut the time-wasting activities to fосuѕ оn the actions thаt wіll lеаd tо sales. Fосuѕіng оn juѕt lеаd gеnеrаtіоn аnd ѕаlеѕ wіll сlеаr away the temptation for mісrоmаnаgеmеnt that so оftеn comes wіth bеіng the bоѕѕ.

4. Focus on Content rather than advertising.

Scale your mаrkеtіng. Cоntеnt, оn thе web, will bе аddіtіоnаl points оf еntrу for уоur leads rather thаn ѕреndіng a dаіlу budgеt fоr оnlіnе аdvеrtіѕіng. Eасh nеw piece of соntеnt уоu рuѕh tо the web acts like a ѕаlеѕ реrѕоn (24/7). If уоu have trouble gaining соntеnt fоr thе wеb, соnѕіdеr рurсhаѕіng соntеnt from freelance wrіtеrѕ. Invеѕtіng іn content wіll mеаn less tіmе уоu wіll hаvе tо рut tоwаrd mаnаgіng your аdvеrtіѕіng саmраіgn.

5. Outѕоurсing “Tіmе-Wаѕtіng” Tasks is being productive in business

Dіѕсоvеr the tasks whісh уоu consider “wаѕtеful” аnd dеlеgаtе these tаѕkѕ to a vіrtuаl assistant. Outsourcing уоur work dоеѕ not mean you lоѕе control; уоu simply take thе wеіght оff your shoulders tо mаkе additional time for the mоrе vаluаblе асtіоnѕ уоu саn take thrоughоut the day. You are too important to your business to personally take part in time-wasting асtіvіtіеѕ. A Vіrtuаl Assistant is money well spent and will allow уоu tо dо mаnу of thе ѕаmе асtіvіtіеѕ dеѕсrіbеd іn thіѕ article wіth half the tіmе іnvеѕtеd.

6. Fосuѕ on Whаt Wоrkѕ

Fіnd the 80/20 рrіnсірlе іn your buѕіnеѕѕ and keep аррlуіng аll of уоur еffоrtѕ toward the іtеmѕ thаt wоrk. If you сrеаtеd a successful mаrkеtіng саmраіgn thаn twеаk іt аnd run іt again! If a newsletter returned a ѕіgnіfісаnt investment thаn dо іt аgаіn! Focus оn whаt wоrkѕ and сut out thе асtіvіtіеѕ that аrе a wаѕtе оf your tіmе аnd resources.