It puzzles me when I see people trying to multitask and constantly fail and end up burnt out and miserable. If you have a proven way of making money, why would you do that to yourself?
You don’t get VERY rich by simply being active, doing every little task yourself, or even “working your ass off”. Sure, these things can take you some places, but ultimately you want to have self-sustainable systems in place, and businesses that don’t need babysitting.
The point of this post is to show you how certain tasks can be simplified and why that should be your aim.
Who is this for?
This is for everyone who often finds themselves doing boring, repetitive crap or wasting time in general. Being active for twelve hours per day doesn’t mean you’re being productive, and chances are that “work” can be condensed and minizied.
What am I talking about?
Let’s say you’ve created a successful graphic design service and you have about five designers working for you. Sales are going great, but work JUST NEVER ENDS. You don’t want your designers communicating with your customers directly for obvious reasons, so you’re the middleman for every single issue. You have to assign the order to the designer, you constantly go back and forth with customers and designers and you often end up doing little design edits yourself even, simply because it would be faster. You think that no one else but yourself would be able to manage your business, and excluding yourself from it or taking more time off would end up in a disaster.
This is a flawed business model, and one you can often end up enslaving yourself in. Been there, done that and would often end up doing things I never enjoyed over and over again, while being the creator of that flawed model in the first place. Three years ago, I was even paying a full-time assistant (not a virtual one) to help me with my affiliate sites. Having him do unorganized work with little accountability and me doing most of the hard labor anyway, just ended up in more costs and most of the things we did were doomed to fail. I would have him show up for work at 7am, only to spend the next two hours having coffee and scratch out heads discussing wtf we should do that day. This was frustrating and unproductive for both of us, with 0 sense of achievement in the end of the day.
The key to designing a successful system
Before you create a system, you should have two things in mind: process, and simplicity.
By “process”, I mean that you should have a way of doing things. Every person who works on your project should know which part of the process is their work and what they should be doing to complete it. This brings us to the second thing, simplicity. You want to simplify things for your workers as much as possible. People don’t want to think, so the more you chew out what they’re supposed to be doing, the better it will work out for you.
How you can put a simple project management system in place
You can put a very simple project management system in place by using two tools – Google Sheets and Trello. Even though I call the system “simple”, you can get quite complex things done with it, much faster than you would without it. Don’t know about you, but I’m not a fan of Skype groups and pointless chatting. I prefer to get to the point and only discuss things if truly necessary. Things like “how are we doing with that website” and “did that order get shipped” are something I would prefer to be able to quickly look up, rather than have to talk to someone about.
You’re probably familiar with Google Sheets – it’s basically an improved version of Excel, available online and which multiple people can work on at the same time.
Trello is a project management tool, which can be used as both a to-do list and a nuclear reactor part manufacturing management tool. I like it most because you can have workers communicate with each other and moving things along, while you can have a nice visual representation of how things are going and in which part of the process is what.
Going back to the graphic design service above, here’s what a simple Google sheet would look like:
You don’t necessarily need to give all your workers access to this, but it can be useful to simply keep records, as well as be able to transfer your work over to a manager who will oversee the workers, communicate with clients, and do everything else you would be normally doing, if that’s what you wish to do so.
Trello is where the real magic will be happening. Here’s a sample system which could work for the graphic design service:
Trello works with Lists and Cards. Each List can be a different task, or set of tasks that are part of the whole process. Cards, in this case, are the individual orders – these can be articles, websites, items in production, or entire projects by themselves. They’re all part of the process and each Card needs to go through the appropriate parts of that process (Lists). You can assign members to cards, add due dates, labels, comments and attach files to make sure everyone knows what they should be going and you or a manager can oversee the entire process. Here’s what the graphic design services system would look like when in use:
Trello Board Members will also get notifications when they’ve been assigned to a card, and if a card is moved or commented on.
You can connect Trello to IFTTT for additional automation of tasks, to make your life even simpler. You can, for example, create a card as soon as you get an order, with the order requirements in the card description. Then, you can give your designers a queue of who should take which order. A manager (another VA perhaps) can go back and forth with the customers and discuss any necessary modifications on the Trello cards with the designers themselves.
The possibilities are endless. Need a VA to post a bunch of YT comments? Make it a trello card. Producing videos with a designer and a video editor on your team? Get them to communicate between each other and get the videos done themselves. Make a process that’s simple enough to learn, and every member on your team will be replaceable also – a huge perk in case someone wants/needs to go.
Would love to write more about this, but I’m running out of things to say. Anyway, having a system like this in place might just be what you need in order to get a break from the never ending to-do list and get more free time to do things you actually enjoy working on.