Joanne Manville founded Joanne Manville Virtual Assistance in October 2015 to provide local, national and international companies with a wide range of services, from diary and email management to lifestyle and event support. Working with a team of associates spread across the southern half of England, from Exeter to Essex and from Lincoln to Kent, Joanne has won numerous awards over the last five years, most recently UK Outstanding Virtual Assistant for 2019 at the UK VA Awards. Here, she picks the half dozen work tools she couldn’t do her job without
1 Plantronics Voyager Headset
You’ve seen the picture of a PA with eight arms, all doing a different task? Well, that’s me! And I could not do a lot of what I do without my headset. It makes it so much easier when talking to clients on the phone to have your hands free and to be able to type notes, scribble things down and navigate between screens. It makes me so much more efficient when one hand is not tied up holding a handset.
2 Second screen
A bit like the headset, this is essential to productivity. I like to get out of the home office once in a while and head to a co-working space to do business development, but I really feel like I’ve lost an arm without my second screen! Being able to have a document open on one screen and my emails on the other makes the world of difference. I have seen you can get portable second screens now, so that might well be on my Christmas List – or a third screen might be in order!
I use GSuite a LOT in my business, not only Gmail for corresponding with clients but also GDrive for document storage and sharing, Google Forms for lots of things like surveys, application forms and feedback forms, as well as Google Meet for live chat with clients. VAs learn to use a lot of different tools and all day long we’re toggling between applications; using GSuite keeps much of it all in one tidy place.
An essential bit of software for me to run my business. When I moved my accounting from a spreadsheet to cloud accounting it made such a difference. Being able to set invoices to go out automatically, reconciling expenses, running P&L reports and being able to see outstanding debts make it really easy to keep on top of things. A lot of business owners are scared to see the numbers, but to me this transparency every day of the month enables me to run my business much better. If you already know and love Xero, a new tool they launched in March called Hubdoc is worth checking out. Hubdoc manages your expenses so you can significantly reduce the time you spend inputting receipts and bills.
Not being a particularly creative person (at least not when it comes to design), I LOVE Canva design software. It’s really user friendly and enables even the most creatively challenged to produce beautiful designs. I use it for social media posts, booklets, flyers and much more. With thousands of templates to choose from, you just have to amend the text and images for a really professional result. If you’ve not tried it, I would really recommend you give it a go!
I was looking for a great task management system for ages, and Teamwork makes my life so much easier. We have 50+ clients and Teamwork enables me and the team to collaborate on all their projects, adding files, deadlines, tasks and messages – all within a single system. Again, this is cloud-based, which is really important to us. It also allows me to track time spent on each task, pull reports off and even invite clients in to work with us.