Why a Recurring Task list is the Ultimate Gamechanger with Virtual Teams
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In this episode, we dive into the nuts and bolts of the ‘recurring task list’ concept and why it is such a game changer for those that want to achieve entrepreneurial freedom using virtual teams.
This episode is jam packed full of actionable tips and tricks from Barbara on exactly why and how to build a rock solid recurring task list for your business …. So you can do more of the things you love.
- Why the recurring task list is THE ultimate game changer if you want to achieve entrepreneurial freedom
- Why keeping it simple and basic is the key to getting started with a rock solid recurring task list.
- Why delegating correctly actually gives you control rather than taking it away.
- How the belief that you can do it faster is the thing that’s keeping you stuck in business.
- How to run multiple businesses and look super-human while doing very little yourself.
- Why this strategy will bring you more enjoyment, fulfillment and success in business.
Let us know what your key takeout has been from this episode and join the continuing conversation over in the Virtual Success Facebook Group.
Today’s Gift for listeners:
In this episode:
01:36 – Keeping it simple – The recurring task list
06:46 – Delegating correctly
08:15 – “…but I can do it faster myself”
10:00 – You can be superhuman
15:11 – Gain more enjoyment, fulfillment and success in business
18:23 – The ultimate ‘What to outsource’ guide
19:24 – Wrapping things up
Barbara: Hey everyone, welcome back to another episode of Virtual Success where I am joined with my fantastic co-host, Matt Malouf
Barbara: Matt how is it going?
Matt: Well, how about yourself?
Barbara: Fantastic, great this week. We’ve been punching out some amazing episodes this week and I have learnt so much myself, to be honest, from some of the people we’ve been interviewing and from you and the insights that we are sharing.
Matt: It’s always amazing! I love this time we spend together because even though we’re sharing our own insights on what we’ve already learned, I find we learn so much along the way as well. It’s a lot of fun, isn’t it?!
Barbara: Oh yeah, some of the insights that I have personally gained from some of the guests on the show and from you, have actually been shaping the business I am growing which is Virtual Angel Hub. You know, it’s really helped me a lot. So I can only imagine how much it’s helping those out there who are listening and maybe have just started with their first VA, you know just trying to get insights from people who’ve done it before. It’s a constantly evolving thing.
Matt: Absolutely, and lots of fun too.
Keeping it simple – The recurring task list
Barbara: Yes, I am excited about today’s show because we are going to be talking about something that is very close to my heart and that I have spent a lot of time teaching our clients how to do. It’s a concept called the ‘recurring task list’. It is something that is so pivotal that I feel, to get success with your virtual teams, it is something that I focus on a lot. It just alleviates a lot of the stress and pressure. The problem is though, that it is onerous to set up in the beginning and a lot of people avoid it. And when they avoid it, unfortunately, they can fall into massive holes later. So I always encourage people to really focus on this recurring task list as much as possible in the beginning, so you can have the freedom of using virtual teams later.
Matt: So, I agree with you. I think this is probably one of the most critical areas for success with your virtual teams. So Barb, let’s start with how did this evolve for you personally and then how it evolved with your clients.
Barbara: Yes, that is a great question actually Matt, because I didn’t wake up in the morning and decide, wow this is a great way to do it. It happened when I got my first VA a few years ago. I was very lucky because she was actually fantastic. She was very skilled, she was a lovely person, I got on great with her and she sort of helped me to understand the virtual world a lot. But what I found myself doing every day was, I had actually taken her on full time, so I had her every day. But I found myself waking up early in the morning with that anxiety feeling in my stomach going “Oh my God, I am so busy today and I don’t know what I am going to allocate for her to do.” What I found was, I was waking up every day with an extra job on top of everything else that I had to do. And the job was to figure out what was I am going to allocate her and overtime I was thinking, this is not working. It’s just not working for me because I am feeling stressed out, half of the time she had nothing to do because I was too busy to allocate anything. And then overtime I thought, ‘ok, I just need to figure out how do I get rid of this problem?’
And I think I just started to realize that there was a couple of things that were happening every day and I thought, I’ll just set that up as a recurring task, and it just evolved from there. Before I knew it, in a few months I had a list in Asana – which is the project management tool that I swear by – I had a daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly list of tasks and from there, over time, I started to build out a process map for each one. This took, I’m talking six months by the time I really got this going. But when I did, it totally revolutionized my life because I didn’t have to speak the VA every day, she knew what she was doing, I could see the output coming through every day and it just changed everything for me. It was the game changer.
Matt: So what kind of tasks did you come up with for those lists?
Barbara: Well you know, there were very basic things. I think, when I speak to people about this now, they are trying to over complicate it and they try to think about all these complex tasks they can do, but the thing to do is start with the most simple thing. I sort of thought to myself, what are the things that happen in the business every day that need to keep the engine running. You know, answering the phone. This is something that is so basic.
You know, people are probably wondering how do you get a VA in the Philippines to do this? I actually set up a Skype number and I got her to start answering the phone and then from that came, well what are the answers to the questions that she is going to get on the phone. So we had to create a process for that around the type of questions she might get. And then another task was, what if there were follow-up things. So we created another task which is to very simply transcribe the phone messages or the messages and put them into a spreadsheet so I can just look at one document every day or few days and I could see the phones calls that were coming through and what the outcome of the call was. It was very easy for me to have oversight over that particular task, then I started doing the same with a Facebook group that we had. You know, there were people commenting on stuff that was in there, so I set up a little process for that. And the big one for this particular business we were working at that time was a Meetup group that we had.
Now, the business I am talking about is a tennis business that my husband runs. We had this Meetup group that had all these people in it but it was tripping us up every single day because nobody was watching it. Sometimes people would post messages there with questions and nobody got back to them. Sometimes people would book stuff through Meetup but because it doesn’t sync with our booking system, it didn’t show up in our calendar and then maybe the class might not have been on so we had people showing up on courts for classes that weren’t on. I mean, it was a total debacle. So, then I started thinking, maybe the VA can manage this. And then again, we set up a little process, it was a daily thing, and it just worked a dream. Absolutely took the pressure away. So there are just three small examples of how it started with that.
Matt: And the skills of the person that you are delegating this to, would you say they are a highly trained and skilled person or they are trained and versed in administration?
Barbara: No, in admin. She was a lovely girl, and she was just an admin assistant though. And the trick really is too, you know, a lot of people say to me that they are afraid to delegate because they will lose control. I think I’ve said this in a couple shows before, my feeling is if you delegate correctly, use processes and the proper format for delegating, you actually gain control. Because what I found was, when I set up a process for her, she loved it because she felt so confident, because she could execute the process, she knew I led the process and I had developed it so she felt confident in that. And then it was very easy for me because I had my stamp on the process and so it had our business stamp all over it. Her job is merely to execute the process. She didn’t need skills to do that.
Matt: Yeah I love that. If you recall back to the interview that we did with Siimon Reynolds about this, he was saying “Even if it’s a task that only takes you a minute, it’s well worth delegating it to somebody else because every minute that you save is dollars in the bank.”
Barbara: Absolutely, when I look at my daily recurring task list now all of those things probably only take a minute. But when there’s 50 of them, or you know 20 of them, that’s another hour of your day. You know, an hour of your day is a lot of time fiddling around with Facebook things and Meetup groups and all those things that are really admin tasks, when you should be spending that time on the things that drive your business forward, not just keep your engine running.
“…but I can do it faster myself”
Matt: That’s right. You know that is interesting, in the coaching that we do often the resistance we hear is, ‘I can do it faster’, ‘it’s easier for me to just do it myself’. Something even as simple as booking an appointment in my diary. But you know what, if you do the math on just saving a minute a day, 5 minutes a week, calculate that over a year, apply your hourly rate to it. And you then do that for ten, 1-minute tasks, it can add up to quite a substantial amount of money.
Barbara: Absolutely, and also I would say on that, you know it doesn’t matter if you can do it faster, you can get somebody a lot cheaper than you, if it takes them five minutes to do a tasks that takes you one minute and you’re paying $8-$9-$10 per hour. I can guarantee you if anyone is listening to this and you can’t make more than $10 an hour in the business you are in, then you are probably need to think about being in a different business. Because really your time should be worth more than that.
Matt: Minimum wage in Australia alone, and I know there are people all over the world listening to this, but we are talking about $20-25 an hour. You should go and get a job.
Barbara: Yeah, you are probably in the wrong business. And also, I know you will agree with this Matt, it’s a complete mindset problem. People who say, ‘well, I can do it faster myself’ immediately come into the delegation game with a resentment towards the other person. They come in with the wrong attitude, they see that person as a cost rather than an asset and that destroys the relationship from day one, as far as I can see it. It’s a very dangerous mindset and if anyone out there listening is knowing that they have that kind of mindset, I would really think about it and change your mindset around this because it will trip you up badly with delegating, whether that person is virtual or not.
You can be superhuman
Matt: Absolutely, just quickly what are some examples of daily, weekly monthly tasks that you can share with our listeners?
Barbara: Sure, yeah. Actually, our members that join Virtual Angel Hub, we actually give them a very extensive list of daily, weekly monthly and quarterly tasks that they can dip into and use and then we also have a project list just to give people ideas, as often people say to me ‘I just can’t think of what to outsource’. So you know, it’s basically things as simple as ‘re-tweet any mentions we get on Twitter’. You know we all have Twitter accounts, and there are loads going on there on a daily basis that we don’t even know. Another task that I get my VAs to do is to give me a daily update across our social media accounts. You know, what were the mentions, what were the likes, what happened. I find it amazing because in Asana, I just jump in there and I can see we got 25 new likes/new contacts on Twitter – we have someone re-tweet that. I can start to see traction very quickly at a glance and that’s a report my VA does for me. For example, if you have a business that has an online shop or you have inventory management or anything like that, that’s a job a VA can do for you providing you have a good process you can teach them. But updating inventory, managing stock, updating you on what’s happening in your shop, general reporting, payments coming in maybe on zero.
You know, a VAs are obviously not bookkeepers, but they can reconcile basic invoices for you on your Zero. Obviously managing your calendar and replying to emails for you. There is nothing professional than having someone reply to an email from you and their title is Personal Assistant. It makes your business look incredibly professional. Even if that email is just simply, ‘Hi Barbara, I just want to let you know we got your email. And I will be having a meeting with x later on today to discuss your question’. I mean, how professional does that sound? Makes your business sound very professional.
You know, I get my VA’s to follow up on documents that haven’t been signed. And social media. Your social media content calendars is a massive job, a much bigger job than people realize. And that is a weekly task and can be a monthly task that I get my VA’s to do, where they create our social media calendar for the week or for the month. And then we have a meeting about it and I approve it and then they schedule it all across social media. So then I never have to worry about keeping our social media train moving. So that’s a huge job for them. Researching things, optimizing content on your websites for traffic, for the right traffic. That is a massive job and I can guarantee you that most of the people out there who are trying to do content marketing are not even thinking about this area of it. Is your content actually getting any traffic? You know, is there any point in this content right now? There is a lot of that that VAs can do for you as well. Those are some ideas you know.
Matt: Yeah, there some ideas just off the top of your head. One thing that I teach the clients that I work with around when they started to delegate tasks to their virtual assistants is to put a little Post-It note on your computer screen that says “What could <insert virtual assistant name> do for me right now?”, so in my case, ‘What could Vanessa do for me right now?’ And actually just have that staring you in the face, day in and day out. And if it’s there and you are looking at it, you’ll start to think about well, I’m about to do this, but hey, Vanessa could do that for me. It’s having this mindset that the task I’m doing somebody else can do. You made a really important point, Barb, that I want to reiterate, which is around ensuring that you’ve got both good systems and processes that your virtual teams can follow. And then, the last part, and that is why I am a huge fan of Asana as well, is having accountability around it to ensure that it gets done.
The only other thing that I’d probably add is there is a quote that I live by when it comes to people, which is “I can only expect what I inspect.” So, what have to do, particularly in the infancy of somebody else doing this task, is inspect their work. Not from the micromanagement perspective but just from a perspective of helping them to learn and to get it right. You know what I mean, you may not have done it right the first time you did it and you can’t expect them to either. So it’s there to support and help so they can get it right.
So then these things will run like a really well-oiled machine, without you having to think about it. So that email will come in, and your VA will know exactly what template to send, what tone it’s going to have, when it needs to go and it will get done. And you’ll be like WOW. And you were talking about making it look really professional. Having your VA doing these things makes you look superhuman.
Barbara: Yeah, you can do a lot. You can run multiple businesses this way, I run multiple businesses like this.
Gain more enjoyment, fulfillment and success in business
Matt: 100%, I think you know without these lists and without giving them the guidelines – you know, this is no different whether you’re using virtual teams or people in your offices. If you are not doing this, what Barbara has been sharing today, you are setting yourself up for failure in your business.
Barbara: 100% percent.
Matt: You know, you’ve only got to look at any great organization and they all run like well-oiled machines. They know business comes in, it goes through the machine and comes out the other end.
Barbara: You know the beauty of this as well Matt is I’ve changed VA’s in businesses several times. Not because I got rid of the VA but because I’ve promoted them. And do you know how easy it is to put a new VA into any of those businesses right now? I barely have to spend any time with them because I am like, here is the list, here is everything you need. It is so well set up now.
Barbara: The VA’s love it because they come in and they feel so calm because they don’t feel this horrendous stress of not knowing what they are supposed to be doing. Anyone who is an employee and has that situation, it’s very stressful for them. Now the only point I do want to reiterate here is that I see a lot of people looking at this and they try it, and the reality is it is a lot of work. I am not going to lie to you, setting up this task list and process takes focus, it takes attention and you probably are going to take a step back in your business so you can make forward. A lot of people will tell me ‘I don’t have time for that’. My response to that is, if you don’t have time for that now, then you will never have time for anything because the investment you make in this right now pays so many dividends. I can’t explain how many dividends it pays to you later. I am living proof of that because I run multiple businesses. I mean the only way you can launch successful multiple businesses is by launching them, systemizing them, putting teams in to run them and then moving on. You know, making sure the oversight is there. It does take work, and it’s probably the most valuable work you can do for your business if you want to scale it.
Matt: Absolutely, and I’ll just add one other thing. Even if your goal is not to grow a massive business, for you to enjoy what you do in your business each day, if you could eliminate what I call those ‘energy vampire tasks’, those things that you just loathe doing and give them to somebody else who loves doing them, you are going to enjoy your business so much more. It’s going to bring you so much more fulfillment and happiness and joy in your life. Not everyone’s made or built to do admin, but there are people who love it. So the key is, allow them to do what they love so that you can do what you love.
Barbara: Absolutely, you can do fun stuff like what we’re doing with this podcast. I mean, when would we have time to do stuff like this if we were stuck, you know, creating images for our social media, answering the phone and emailing? I mean, you’d never have time. The only way you can do this sort of stuff is you actually have good system in the back and a good team running it for you.
Matt: I’ve got one last thing to wrap this up Barb, where should somebody start?
The ultimate ‘What to outsource’ guide
Barbara: Yes, that’s the great question, actually. So we have a little gift for the listeners today that will definitely help you to start with this process. I’ve got a very simple PDF and it’s just basically what to outsource. It’s not the big list, the daily, weekly, monthly thing because that can be quite overwhelming for people who are not ready yet. When people join Virtual Angel Hub they will get access to that full list only after they have this first more basic list. I break it down basically into five segments and in there we give you examples of things you can have your VA do. There are probably a hundred different things in there and it helps people to realize ‘oh yeah, I didn’t think about outsourcing this, I don’t think about outsourcing that’. There should be a link at the bottom of this show where you can download that from us.
Matt: Fantastic, and I’ll add to that on top of that list just think about five tasks you’ve done in the last week that you loath doing, and that’s where you want to start.
Barbara: Yes absolutely, absolutely.
Wrapping things up
Matt: Fantastic, Barb thank you for sharing your insights on that. I think that it’s going to be amazingly helpful for everybody who has listened to the show. Just remember to keep it simple and if you can eliminate something that saves you one minute, it’s going to help your company and have greater success with your virtual teams in the long run.
Barbara: I would just add to the Matt, if you can invest 1-2 hours now to eliminate that 1-minute task, you will get your time back tenfold down the track. You know, it’s not about investing a minute to outsource a minute-long task. It may take you an hour to teach that person or to develop a process but it’s so worth it. It’s worth the work.
Matt: Fantastic, Barb thanks again for another great show.
Barbara: Great I loved this one, because this one is very close to my heart. I really believe in this particular topic.
Matt: Yeah me too, it’s critically important for anyone growing for their company. So until next time, everyone please keep listening and keep sharing. We really want to encourage and grow this community of likeminded entrepreneurs to share their experiences. If you’ve got any thoughts or shows that you’d like for us to talk about, please feel free to share that in the comments below and we are happy to research and put that show together.
Barbara: Absolutely, yeah.
Matt: Thanks again, Barb.
Matt Malouf is a passionate business coach, speaker, author and entrepreneur on a mission to help entrepreneurs around the world break the shackles of mediocrity and reach new levels of personal and business success.
Barbara Turley is the Founder & CEO of The Virtual Hub, a company that specializes in recruiting, training and managing superstar ‘Virtual Assistants’ in the social media, digital marketing and systems automation space.