When working with a Virtual Assistant, it is important to be organized, otherwise, you will waste your valuable money and time, which is the exact reason why you hired a VA! Learning how to organize your business before bringing on an extra pair of hands is one way to prepare for a VA. However, if you’re at a stage where you feel you need someone to get you organized for you, VAs can do that too. Let me explain my onboarding process with my clients and even if they are not organized, they will get organized by the time I am done with them!
Trello for Project Management
Trello uses a system of boards, lists, and cards which allows you to clearly organize your information. It’s a wonderful visually collaborative place for you to gather documents, links, meeting notes and audio and video clip URLs. It’s easy to share information while creating tags and checklists for each member of the board.
I chose Trello over Asana or other project management tools because it is so easy. I send an onboarding video (via Loom, see below!) for my client to watch which has them performing tasks in minutes.
Why not just use email, you ask? I prefer Trello to email because things can get lost in email, and searching for specific attachments or conversations doesn’t always yield results. Using Trello, files can be saved and conversations regarding a project can be referred back to without digging through email files.
Below is my basic onboarding workflow for a new client, including some of the brilliant ways that using Trello assists my clients in gaining clarity in their businesses and identifying initial or additional tasks for me to tackle for them.
- I first send my new client a request to join the Trello board I created.
- Trello boards can be divided in different ways depending on the client. I have divided mine by social media, what to do on Pinterest, what to do on Facebook, etc. Or if I have a client that only wants to see her tasks and not the whole board, I assign her a weekly To Do list.
- In Trello, tasks and deadlines can be assigned to one another and checklists can be made. THIS is what gets a client to organize their thoughts, prioritize and assign tasks if they were only vague ideas in their heads before.
- I suggest my clients go through and create a list of tasks they don't want or like to do, tech tasks that they may not have the know-how for or will take too long to figure out, and daily repetitive tasks they perform that could be handed off.
- I want my clients to figure out which tasks are the most time consuming and delegate these first for quick wins to clear time on my client’s calendar.
- A client must put information into Trello, not in their heads, or it won’t get done.
- Because they have timelines in their head for blog posts, social media posts, etc., it forces them to plan ahead so I can do what I need to do.
- Using checklists to see who has done what, or where each of us is in a project saves time which would otherwise be spent emailing each other. It forces workflows to be created that the client has had in their heads.
- Clients love the visual aspect of Trello, of seeing parts of their business laid out.
- Some clients have created their own editorial calendars and social media calendars and then shared them with me.
A project management tool like Trello or Asana are excellent programs and there are many more, but I think these are the most popular FREE options. For FREE training on Trello, I highly recommend my two favorites: Boss Mom, Dana Malstaff and Mariah of Bloom Hustle Grow, both of whom have excellent courses. They opened my eyes to a whole new level of organization for business and home.
Loom for Training
Loom allows you to create instantly shareable videos without needing to download software or the finished video. Each video gets its own unique link that you copy and share with clients, collaborators, or whomever.
- I always recommend clients create Loom videos for particularly complicated/detailed processes.
- This is great for the client and for future or additional VAs.
- No need to duplicate training, just hand off the videos and documented workflows.
LastPass for Password Organization
LastPass is a robust password storage, management and sharing tool with a strong free offering. You can install the browser plugin for your computer, and there are tablet and cell phone apps as well. It’s a great tool for anyone needing to securely store passwords, whether for business or personal use.
- I get access to clients’ passwords for programs using LastPass. This helps a client get their passwords together and in one vault.
- No more passwords are written willy-nilly all over the place.
- I do not recommend sharing passwords via email for security reasons.
- Clients love the added feature of organizing the passwords for themselves personally as well as the security of not handing over their "secret" passwords.
- When your project or relationship is finished, you go back into LastPass and revoke the sharing permissions of the passwords you’ve shared.
Google Docs & Google Sheets for Content Creation Collaboration
Google Docs and Google Sheets are easy-to-use word processing and spreadsheet applications included with any Google account. You can have an unlimited number of Google Docs and Google Sheets, as those file types are not counted against your Google Drive quota.
- Sharing documents is easy with Google Docs, and revisions are easy to make and track.
Google Drive or Dropbox for File Sharing
Clients need to be organized to share with me the resources I need to get their job done. Both Google Drive and Dropbox are excellent file sharing resources. For example, large image files can be shared through Google Drive or Dropbox.
My Own Organize Your Business Social Proof
While all of the above may sound a little complicated, this process works. Not to toot my own horn, but here are just a few words from my clients who are thankful for ME getting THEM organized!
"The thing about Karrie that I appreciate the most is her sincere want to help bring organization to your business, and in turn, life. She helps me stay organized, edits all of my materials, and is SO organized it literally keeps me sane." - Vanessa at VanessaRyan.co
"Working with Karrie has made my life so much easier! She manages my social platforms, my website, and my email list communications. She also led the transition of back-of-house systems so that it was seamless to the people on my list and customers. She is reliable, organized and has a keen eye for ways to broaden my audience and deepen my opportunities. She has introduced me to systems and ways of working that have revolutionized my business, saving me hours of time each week. My business is significantly more sophisticated and targeted since partnering with Karrie." - Jen at Jen-Reed.com
Organize Your Business or Outsource the Organization
Good organization is key for every business. If you’re planning on bringing on a virtual assistant, and have yet to organize your business to your satisfaction, looking for a VA that specializes in organization would be an excellent first step. Alternately, using the above-mentioned tools to organize your business on your own would bring a level of sanity to your life you’ve only dreamed of. Trello is excellent for project management and collaboration; Loom videos for training; LastPass for password organization and sharing; and Google and Dropbox apps for word processing, spreadsheets and sharing files.
Organizing your physical and digital life can lead to mental and emotional organization too. For some quick mental, emotional and physical shortcuts to gaining confidence and enjoying the moment (even easier once your business is fully organized!) please read What is Imposter Syndrome and How to Get Over It. Looking for something slightly more philosophical? How I Apply Minimalism to My Online Business discusses my application of minimalism to my new online business, including how I overcame “shiny object syndrome” and brought a solid plan of action to my work. I did say slightly more philosophical, after all.