- Follow up with everything
Working remote can sometimes feel like nobody is going to notice if you get any work done or not. Your apprentice is no different. When you give them a task, follow up with them. A day before, confirm that they are ready to perform the task on the set day. When they're working on the task, check that they have everything they need. When the deadline comes, check if they've completed their work. If you let this slip even once or twice, they will feel that nobody cares whether they get their work done or not.
2. Establish Parkinson's Law
The law states that "work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion". Use Parkinson's Law and assign tasks in short chunks instead of long goals. Using a short deadline does not mean avoiding larger tasks, but rather breaking them into shorter milestones that can be completed faster.
Here's an email example that Tim Ferriss uses to task his VA.
Thank you. I would like to start with the following task.
TASK: I need to find the names and e-mails of editors of men’s magazines in the US (for example: maxim, stuff, GQ, esquire, blender, etc.) who also have written books. An example of such a person would be AJ Jacobs who is Editor-at-Large of Esquire (www.ajjacobs.com). I already have his information and need more like him.
Can you do this? If not, please advise. Please reply and confirm what you will plan to do to complete this task.
DEADLINE: Since I’m in a rush, get started after your next e-mail and stop at 3 hours and tell me what results you have. Please begin this now if possible. The deadline for these 3 hours and reported results is end-of-day ET Monday.
Thank you for your fastest reply,
3. Always try for "one and done" emails
No one wants more email. Try for “one and done” emails, meaning when you send an email, it should get done the first time.
Here's an example of a bad email from Tim Ferriss:
Please make reservations for dinner on Friday, 11/12, in midtown NYC. Time: 7 or 7:30pm. I like Indian and Thai food."
This email is doomed to failure. What is midtown NYC? What is your budget? What if there are no reservations at 7pm or 7:30pm? Do you have any food allergies? Most importantly, what is the single deliverable you expect from your email?
Here's an example of a good email from Tim Ferriss:
Please set up these appointments on Monday morning (12/17), when the doctors’ offices open.
Please set up the following medical appointments for me:
1. A dental appointment (annual checkup)
2. An eye checkup (annual checkup)
WHERE TO LOOK
* Please look up doctors on http://www.bluecrossca.com — my doctor must accept my medical insurance (Blue Cross PPO — Lumenos)
* Then cross-reference the doctors’ names on yelp.com to find doctors with positive reviews
* Call the doctors to see which doctors are available for checkups on the below dates
* Please confirm with the doctors that, as a member of Blue Cross Lumenos PPO, I will have 100% exam coverage (dental exam) and a $15 co-pay (vision exam)
WHEN I’M AVAILABLE
* December 17, 18, 19, 21, 27, 28
* 8am – 11am PST and 4pm-7pm PST
* Located near the ZIP code of XXXXX