I get questions from clients regarding inbox management quite often. Below are a few examples of what I’ve come across.

“My inbox is overflowing, help!”

“How am I ever going to get through all of these emails?”

“What if I miss something important?”

Does this sound familiar? Are you struggling to keep up with the overflow of emails coming through 24/7? Are important emails going unanswered because you didn’t see them among all of the others? If so, I think I can provide some easy steps that will allow you to manage your inbox with ease. I’ve helped a lot of my clients get their emails organized while keeping their inboxes at a minimum level.

Now, I’m not going to tell you that this will happen overnight, and I’m not going to tell you that your inbox will be empty all the time either. But, what I will say is that you will feel confident to never miss another important email again, you will never have to spend time sorting through your inbox to find those missing emails, and you will always be aware what is coming in and what is being sent out. As long you follow these steps:

  • Prioritize: This is the first thing I ask my clients to do. I like to have at least 2 priority levels, highest (most urgent) and lowest. However, this is not static and can change depending on the number of emails you receive. I’ve had clients with priority levels 1, 2, 3 and 4. It’s all up to you!
  • Action items (optional): This is an optional step that I like to include for special circumstances. If you consistently receive a lot of calendar invitations or certain messages that are highly urgent. Having an action category with a bright colored labeled will be very beneficial. I like to leave these emails in the inbox so they won’t be missed.
  • Color code: I feel that this is such a simple, yet valuable way to organize not only emails but calendars as well. When your eye is drawn to a specific color, you’ll automatically see the importance. I like to have my clients create color-coded labels (or folders) to help identify the priority levels. For example: Green= lowest priority, orange= highest priority, red= action item.
  • Think- Read, Categorize, Respond, Archive or Delete: Try to get yourself into the habit of going through your inbox at the beginning of your work day. This entails sorting through your emails and categorizing each email with its priority level, then respond (if needed, depending on priority and time). Once finished, delete or archive. By doing this you will get rid of any junk emails that may be filtering through, and you will be able to respond to your most urgent messages in a timely manner.

Trust me, these steps may seem like a lot at first but once you get used to the process it’s extremely simple. In no time you will have successfully managed your inbox, you’ll find everything in its place, nice and organized.

Do you have anything you would like to add that may have helped you get organized?

Travel Plans? Where to start

 

travel-plans-where-to-start

Ahh, travel. To some people, this can be an exciting journey and to others, it can be a plain hassle. There are many factors to consider when travel is in your near future such as flights, transportation, scheduling, lodging, member benefits and more. Are you traveling for personal reasons or business? Do you need to keep track of your travel expenses? It’s no wonder receipts can get lost, points are missed or you end up spending much more than you anticipated. There is a lot to think about!

I don’t know about you, but something that I’ve noticed consistently that seems to determine a good travel experience for most of my clients is COMFORT. So here are some things I like to consider when planning a trip. This should help you stay organized, comfortable and on track for your next trip.

Flights- Get to the airport early! Delays, layovers, baggage (carry-on or checked), preferred airline, type of aircraft, seating, flex tickets (the ability to cancel) and cost. If you work for a company that has a specific travel protocol, make sure you’re booking within those guidelines.

Transportation-  To and from the airport, hotel pickup shuttles within the airport, rental cars, Uber, Lyft, cabs, and cost. There are many choices when it comes to transportation, knowing when and where you need to be will help to narrow down these choices. Convenience can factor in as well if you’re willing to pay a bit more.

Scheduling: Be on time! Departing and arriving according to your schedule (or event), traffic, weather, cancellations and rescheduling flights are all things to think about when you need to be somewhere at a specific time/day. Look at your dates closely, make sure you’re not traveling during a major event or holiday because this may hinder your travel plans.

Are you a rewards member? Do you want to redeem points or miles? Setting up member accounts to gain miles, points, and freebies is always a plus. You can sign up to join various airlines, hotels, rental car agencies, etc. You’ll end up using them more than you might think, just remember to include your member number every time you book!

Lodging: With all the choices these days such as Airbnb, HomeAway, mainstream hotels, and boutique hotels, how do you know which is best? I would consider cost, the length of stay and preference before making a decision.

Expenses: Use apps to help streamline your expenses! Apps are very helpful and make keeping track of these items much easier. You can take photos of your receipts with your phone instead of keeping paper copies. Email receipts and other confirmations to yourself, you’re likely receiving some of these through email anyway. Keeping them all in one folder may help the organization process.

Just a few extras:

  • When traveling internationally make sure your passport has not exceeded the expiration date. Also, check with the country you’re traveling too for any other documentation you may need.
  • Before a flight, I like to keep a water bottle and a small snack on me. Especially if I’m flying economy, you never know when you’ll get your next meal.
  • Carry a light jacket, airplanes can get chilly.
  • Keep a book or phone handy to help occupy your time. I keep one in my carry-on bag, so it’s accessible during my flight.
  • Always keep an eye out for checked baggage fees when necessary.
  • Weather! Check the weather at your destination prior to packing.

 

Can you think of anything to add to this list? What are some of your go-to travel tips?

how-to-handle-mistakes

We all make mistakes, so how should we handle them? 

Does the circumstance matter? Should our clients be privy to every mistake that is made? In my experience, it’s best to take these 4 steps when you find yourself in such an unfortunate situation.

  1. Acknowledge it
  2. Learn from it
  3. Fix it
  4. Move on!

Acknowledging the mistake means taking responsibility for the error that was caused, plus this will prove your credibility. Depending on the size of the mistake, you should consider disclosing it to your client as well. I’m not talking about a little mistake you can easily fix. No client wants to be bothered with every little thing. I’m talking about something that can be detrimental to the workplace. It is essential that you bite the bullet and spill the beans no matter how hard it may be. You don’t want to be caught in a lie down the road if you never disclosed the mistake in the first place.

Learning from your mistake. Now, this is important because you don’t want to be repeating the same mistakes over again. Write it down, set reminders, practice, etc. Do what you have to so the mistake is not made again.  Remind yourself to double and triple check everything prior to moving forward. This will make it less likely for another error to occur.

Fixing the mistake. Since you were the one who made the mistake, it is now your responsibility to correct it. Sometimes the timing alone can be essential, so make sure to correct the error as soon as possible and go out of your way to ensure it has been fixed correctly. 

Now you can breathe easily and move on! Take it easy on yourself, don’t spend time focusing on the mistake you made and the reasons why. That will just cause you to worry, and worrying can cause more mistakes. If you follow these 4 steps I guarantee the likelihood of making another mistake will decrease dramatically.

Remember we all make mistakes every now and then, but how you handle them is what makes all the difference. 

Finding the right tool for the job

tools_172_8fcf3e103490bf535bd5e07e721b786dc0cee0cc

Are you equipped with the right tools to complete your daily duties? Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you have several unfinished tasks?
  • Is your calendar overwhelmed?
  • Are you always racing against the clock?
  • Do you have several unanswered emails on a daily basis?

If you have answered yes to any of these questions, your toolbox may be lacking. Let me explain, we all know that every task needs a proper tool in order to complete it correctly. After all, that is what we’re aiming for right? Not just finishing the job, but completing it the best way we can, consistently. These tools will help to do just that, they will allow you to finish these tasks while staying on track, and they’re more accessible than you might think.

Delegating is one important tool that will help get your tasks finished throughout the day. If you delegate your least important tasks, you will likely get more accomplished in the long run. You can delegate things like scheduling, inbox management, transcription, research, and so much more. Finding a good team member is fundamental to the delegation process in order to be successful. If you are working with someone like me, getting you started with an outline of tasks for the week will save you much needed time.

Project Management Apps are so helpful when you’re working with a team, or several projects at once. They keep everyone on track by providing updates, allowing team members to ask questions, move due dates, add new projects, check off completed projects, etc. Some apps allow you to leave notes, or messages for the rest of the team and provide calendars to include upcoming projects.

Social Media and Content Management tools These tools help you streamline your social media posts and content. You can post to several sites at once, and even set specific dates for posting all in one place. You can create your content in advance, so there is no more worrying about posting on a daily basis, or to several individual sites.

Team messaging Apps like Slack, HipChat, Same page, or Google hangouts are great for real-time messaging. You can provide updates on existing projects, ask questions, or give team announcements. You can even private message a member of your team or group. No more waiting for an email response. You can use these apps straight from your computer, your phone, tablet or other mobile devices.

Browser Extensions This tool is my personal favorite. Depending on the browser you use, there are many options that can make simple tasks go by much faster. Like researching content: you can install an extension that will pull similar pages for you. You can use these to integrate with other services, or use them to modify, and add features to your browser. I would suggest limiting your use with these, and only install what you know will be beneficial to you. You don’t want to weigh down your browser with unused extensions.

 

 

 

 

Are you facing the dreaded Expense report again this month? Check out my 6 tips

new-piktochart

I’ve done several expense reports for a variety of my clients. Things that are typically included are: flights, checked bag fees, dinner/lunch meetings, hotels, rental cars, Uber, taxi’s, concert tickets, misc purchases, credit card transactions, and much more. So, with all of the receipts that are acquired during a single trip, or on a daily basis, how can one keep up with the loot?

My solution, use mobile apps! There are so many available these days it’s hard not to take advantage of their services.  These apps allow you to take a photo of your current receipt and it will automatically log that information into a single spreadsheet. Some will even match your credit card transactions, categorize receipts, track company policies & procedures, etc, etc. Saving you, or your Administrative Consultant valuable time. If you’re consistent, utilizing these apps is a great solution! However, there are some companies that do not offer these easy solutions or busy entrepreneurs that do not want to deal with using apps. That’s okay too! You know how it goes, there is a prefabricated spreadsheet that you must fill out manually, entering every receipt, category, or reason. Then you have to submit it to the correct department, attach receipts blah, blah, blah.

As a virtual Administrative Consultant, my goal is to make things easier for all of my clients. So I’ve come up with 6 simple tips to help this process go smoothly, regardless if you choose to go the app route or not.

6 tips for Managing Expense Reports with ease:

  1. Take a photo of each paper receipt you receive: Even though the apps work great for this I would still take one extra step, and email those photos to yourself, or your Administrative Consultant. (Pssst- you can even text the photo to your Admin Consultant) Just so you don’t have to worry about losing the paper receipts. It’s better to be safe than sorry, and you won’t need a scanner.
  2. Use your email to your advantage: You can easily set rules or filters to manage specific incoming emails. For example: If you receive Uber, or Google Apps receipts through email, then you can create a filter to put those emails in a specific folder. That way it keeps your newly received receipts organized, and separate from your inbox.
  3. Create a folder for each month to house all of your emailed receipts and statements: This is important. You need a place to house all of your receipts, and credit card statements. Even if you’re using an app, you need a point of reference in case of a mistake. I would keep this folder in your preferred cloud storage system, or in a secured area on your computer. Your Administrative Consultant can also do this and share the folder with you, or vice versa.
  4. Make time to compile the data: Now that you have a folder with all of your receipts and statements in one place, what’s next? Fill out the report as you go! I highly suggest this, because it will save you time in the long run. No one wants to go through a month of receipts all at once.
  5. Submit your receipts: Companies usually like receipts in one nice PDF document. But, if your photos are in a JPEG format, how does this work? Well, you have some options: you can use a program to convert these for you (sometimes for a small fee), or delegate this task to your Administrative Consultant. I usually have the task of converting these for my clients, it also allows me to double check the entered data as I go.
  6. Double, and triple check!: Before submitting your monthly expense report, just go through and check everything once again. If you’re using a spreadsheet make sure all of your formulas are correct, showing the right amounts. If using an app, check to make sure all receipts are included in the correct amounts. There is less error when using apps, but sometimes a mistake can be made.

Hope this list helps you to become more efficient and productive when managing expense reports. If you need some additional help, contact me at info@crowned.us