Do you have admin burnout? Does your head go fuzzy, or do you just want to fall asleep when faced with a mountain of admin tasks?
I saw a post on LinkedIn last week, where a businesswoman described how completely drained she felt whilst doing her admin tasks…
“I’m better at people and creative stuff,” she added.
Interestingly, the post evoked a lot of similar responses, like: “Admin is so exhausting”, “I feel you”, “Yep ..one of those things where I go: oh no, not you again!” and “Hate admin stuff too! 🤦♀️ Creative all the way!! 🙌”.
Does this sound like you when faced with a pile of admin?
It’s quite apparent from the post responses that admin tasks are hated by many people!
You won’t be surprised to learn, having worked as an Executive Assistant for over 20 years, that I’m very good at organisation and admin. After spending years working with lawyers at the top of their game, it was very evident to see that they needed to focus on other more important issues rather than the admin side to keep their clients happy. That post inspired me to share some simple techniques with all of you admin haters out there, that will help make your tasks much easier.
Eight Top Tips For Managing Your Business Admin
As a business owner, you need to focus as much of your time as possible on running your business and not getting bogged down by admin. Using these techniques below will help you manage your admin effectively and can make a big difference, not only in freeing up your time, but making it feel as if it’s not super painful doing it!
Admin tasks almost always end up at the bottom of people’s to-do lists. Yes, they might be dull but get some proper procedures in place and you’ll be far more organised in no time.
Prioritise Your Admin Tasks
Prioritise! Write a list! Yes, we VA’s love a list! It really is the best way to prioritise your admin tasks by having them all in one place (whether written down on a piece of paper, on a document on your computer or on your phone notes etc). Basically, anywhere you can easily access them… but not in your head! Next, you need to break down your tasks into more manageable chunks. You’re far more likely to do things if they’re not going to take you hours:
Urgent – identify the urgent, time-sensitive tasks to make sure you address these immediately or by their due date. Urgent tasks, if not completed, may increase your workload or lead to you paying out more than if you addressed them immediately, like paying your tax bill. Add urgent task due dates to your phone or desktop calendar with alerts e.g. 1 week until due, one day until due etc. It’s important if you have tasks on your urgent list that you just can’t manage or don’t have the time to complete that you delegate or outsource them to get them done.
Important – For important (but not urgent tasks), block off some time in your calendar (based on their deadlines as mentioned above) to get these tasks completed.
Not Important – There is either no rush to complete these tasks or they may not even be necessary. Regularly review your ‘to-do’ list and if these tasks remain in the ‘not important’ list for a while, see if you can remove them entirely.
(Tip: some people use post-it notes to sort their tasks into the three categories on a noticeboard)
[NOTE: For all categories of admin task, set deadlines for each specific task based on when they need to be met, so you know when they need to be moved into the urgent list]
Set Admin Task Due Dates
As I mentioned above, setting admin due dates as the tasks come in can help you identify which admin tasks are urgent and need to be done immediately and set aside a time to complete those that are not such a high priority. It is also beneficial to assign enough time to complete each task. As easy as it is to drop what you’re doing to answer an email, etc. don’t try to multi-task. Admin will never get done if you start to do other things. So turn off your phone and emails when completing your admin, dedicate some time so you don’t get distracted and give each task your full attention. Complete it within the time you’ve assigned.
Use Calendar Alerts to Keep Track Of Your Admin Tasks
Make use of your calendar! Once you’ve categorised your admin tasks and set a deadline/due date for each one, now is the time to add the task to your diary whether in bulk (as you schedule a date in your calendar to attend to the tasks in your ‘important’ list) or one by one, so you never miss another deadline.
Keep Comprehensive Records
Whether you are dealing with urgent or non-urgent admin duties, your task will be a lot easier to complete if you have kept thorough records. For example, keeping receipts in one place so you have them to hand when catching up with your bookkeeping or keeping notes of dates and times of conversations or events so that when you write that important letter or email you have all the relevant information to hand to complete the task quickly and efficiently.
Don’t let your admin pile up on your desk. Use clearly marked, colour-coded folders to organise your tasks immediately they come in. For example, have one folder for customer orders, one for invoices, one for bills, one for stock ordering etc. Once complete, be sure to file the documents so they are easily accessible if you ever need to find them again. The same goes for your online systems. Place emails and your documents into clearly named folders or use colour coded flags (if your email system allows) to categorise your mail into the same kind of system as your tasks i.e. urgent, important etc. It’s amazing how much time is lost looking for things in our inbox.
Use Technology To keep Your Admin On Track
As I’ve touched upon above, using digital calendars and email and document folders on your computer can help you be more organised. There are also plenty of office task automation tools and apps that will allow you to ditch the paperwork and save you hours of precious time, such as bookkeeping apps like QuickBooks, Sage or Wave where you can scan in receipts and automate your invoicing, and task managers such as Monday, Slack or Trello where you can easily manage your team’s workflows and tasks. You can also manage your banking using your bank’s own app.
Try your hardest to keep a clean inbox. Yes, it’s difficult to start with when you already have lots in there, but take some time to organise your folders in your inbox. File the emails daily, weekly, but don’t wait too long. Leave only the actionable items in there and keep on top of it. It makes a massive difference to your mindset when you look at your inbox and see that it doesn’t overwhelm you.
Make sure you perform back-ups on your admin, to ensure any important (and time-consuming) admin work is saved so that you don’t have to do it again.
As well as knowing what admin tasks are on your to-do list already, it’s beneficial to know both how long those tasks will take and to be alert to future tasks you expect will arise so that you can manage your time effectively and make time for the unexpected admin tasks that will undoubtedly drop on your desk.
Outsource Or Hire a Virtual Assistant
If, after organising your tasks, you realise that you’re still struggling for time, or are still completely unmotivated and unenthusiastic about your admin, it’s time to outsource your work. Hiring a Virtual Assistant to get your admin tasks done will save you precious time and may save you money in the long run as you concentrate on doing the things you want to, like running your business, building your career, getting fit or spending quality time with your family.
You can use a VA for both urgent and non-urgent work. They are there to make your life easier. A good tip is to look for one that compliments your business and your working personality. Your VA should be your biggest cheerleader and will want to see you and your business thrive. A VA can simply make those jobs you hate disappear!
I hope these tips will help some of you who struggle with your admin manage it more efficiently. However, if you’ve decided you would prefer to outsource your admin so that you can spend your time focusing on more important tasks, please book a free one-hour consultation (using the contact form below) where we can have a chat and see where your business could benefit from an extra pair of hands.
Do you need flexible business support and want to make savings by hiring a VA? Get in touch!