10 Time Management Tips for Virtual Assistants
Working from home in the “Virtual Service” Industry, at times, can be a blessing and a curse. There are sooo many awesome things. But there are some downsides as well. For instance, have you ever heard yourself saying these things?
EEEEEK I am out of time!
I am past the deadline
How am I going to get it all done?
OR maybe you’re saying “ feel like all I do is work”…”I am working 16-18 hours a day plus and on the weekends, and I have turned into a hermit living at my desk. I never leave my house.
As a mom and entrepreneur, I totally get where you are at!
I have experienced both scenarios over the years of my career as a Virtual Assistant.
That is why I have found it very important to implement some time management into my day.
10 Time Management Tips for Virtual Assistants
1. Have a Dedicated Work Space
Some of you might be saying, but that is why I work from home, so I can work out by the pool or out on the deck. I am not saying to walk away from those things at all.
But your brain needs to switch between work mode and personal time. When you work from home, that line can get pretty blurry at times. By having a dedicated space to work, this will allow that transition to happen naturally. One of the best things I have done for my business is setting up an office that I love going in to, gets lots of sunlight and fresh air (well in the summer time at least…I do live in Michigan).
I still will work out on the deck. I might take a client call and walk around when I don’t need to be on the computer. But when I am project focused, I am in my office.
2. SET Dedicated Hours.
Sad to say, this is where most entrepreneurs fail! It is easy to get distracted. It is easy to put off work as well. It is very easy to start slacking because you have no supervision. It is easy to say, oh I will do this later, and I will sleep in today…
But later eventually becomes never and tasks start to pile up.
Your client is no longer happy with you because you have missed too many deadlines.
That is why it is uber important that you set designated work hours. It is going to help you be more profitable in the long run. For some of you, these hours might be while your baby is sleeping. For others, it might be when your kids are in school. And then there is a handful of you night owls that will set the time at night. Find what works for you. Work during the hours you have the most energy and FOCUS!!!
3. Do One thing at Time….Devote Your Focus to That ONE Thing!
Facebook Chatting, Skyping, and endless Google research do not count (well I guess that kinda depends on what your tasks entail)
Focus on closing down all distractions. Turn your phones to silent mode and focus on the task at hand.
Do not focus on everything on your todo list, instead focus on the one thing you are working on.
When you shut everything down, and you concentrate on your work in an efficient manner, you will get it done faster! Even though sometimes it doesn’t seem like it, you will actually accomplish more when you are not multitasking. You will be amazed at how many things you can get done when you focus on one thing at a time.
4. Block Your Time
Schedule Your day in blocks of time, and plan for breaks. How long are you most productive for? For some of you, that might be an hour, for others that will be 4 hours. But schedule your breaks.
I have a bad habit of sitting at the computer until something is complete. For me, this bad habit started to cost me my health; my blood pressure got to dangerously high levels. Our bodies are not made to sit for 8 to 10 hours at a time.
So get up and MOVE! Even if it is only for 10 minutes…get up and move!
I block time on my calendar and set alarms, to remind me to get up and take a break.
If that does not work for you, try an oven timer =)
My break might be a shower, or it might be a walk to the mailbox or 10 minutes on the treadmill…But it is so important to get up and move.
5. Set up Priorities
It used to be that I would not leave my desk until all tasks were done for the day…even if that meant 3 am in the morning.
But with years of experience, I have come to the realization that I need to set priorities for the day for the task. As much heart and soul, I pour into my client’s work, I am the one who ultimately determines my schedule and design the life I want.
Each morning I review my task at hand. In my project management software, I set deadlines and priorities. Every morning I review the task at hand along with my team’s to evaluate how we are doing with deadlines,
I than take that list and complete or assign out the most important task. Which tasks are most crucial to complete.
With that said, I also know my health and family are a priority
Sooo client work does not get in the way of my gym time. Client work does not get in the way of my family time. Even if that means, I need to extend a deadline.
6. Set Boundaries
This was a tough one for me, personally. But as a business owner and growing into your power it is sooo important
You need to set boundaries with family and friends. For instance, you’re not going to watch your neighbors kids during your work hours. Or those long conversations with your mom, they need to be set for when your not suppose to be working.
AND professionally set boundaries with your clients. Set times that you take phone calls, set times that you take emails. You do not have to answer them every time they call or email, and doing so really puts you in a bad situation and at their mercy when you don’t respond and they get used to the 60 second response time.
Along with that, it is ok to say no to clients. If you do not have the time for a project, and can not honestly fit it in your schedule than say so. They will respect you more for your honesty and up-frontness than if you turn the project out late!
7. Set Up Regular Tasks into Habits
Do you have some of the same tasks each week? Maybe it is a newsletter and blog post that you do weekly…or maybe some social media post
Whatever those regular tasks are it should be a habit to do them at a certain time each week
8. Create Organizational Systems
You are going to save yourself much time and frustration if you slow down at the beginning of your business and set up organizational systems that work for you and your business. Set up a system for documents, so you can easily find what you need, set up a project management system. These systems do not need to be overly complicated, but putting them in place now, rather than later, will make it easier for your business to grow!
9. EMAIL MADNESS
I really, really could spend all day just working out of my email box. I LOVE to study marketing….so yes i do have things not sooo work related
But I took control of my email box by a couple of different things.
- I apply filters and ALL those marketing emails I love to study go into a folder and never see my inbox.
- I only check my email box twice a day, unless I am expecting something important for a project I am working on and I need it to complete the project.
- If an email can be deleted, I delete the stinking thing.
- If an email needs a quick response, I respond immediately.
- If I need a response back from an email I use Boomerang.
- If an email can be handled by someone else on the team, I forward it to them.
- If it is something, I need to research or do….I tag the Email TODO and come back to when it is on my task list.
10. Don’t be afraid to work on the weekend
I know to some of you this sounds terrible. But to be honest, weekends and holidays are some of my favorite times to work, because there are no distractions. If I get up early, I can bang out a task rather quickly and concentrate. I don’t work the whole day away, but I usually try to focus on 2 hours on Saturday morning before the family is awake, and 2 hours on Sunday night to plan and setup for the week.
Now I would love to hear from you! What has to help you with your time management in your virtual assistant business?