In a year that has been thrown into the air, tossed around repeatedly, and crashed landed, there have been many, MANY permanent changes that have also come about. How can anyone possibly work from home, take care of the family, keep up with the cooking and cleaning, and stay sane?
I’ll admit, I’m guilty of losing my mind every once in a while, becoming a little...scatter-brained. So I figured, why not take some of my most entertaining failures and turn them into a learning tool for others to use!
Adjust your expectations
Probably one of the hardest concepts to wrap your head around when working from home, whether you have been doing it for years or because this pandemic has made it a necessity: adjusting your expectations. NOTHING is going to be the same as working in a brick and mortar setting and you need to accept that fact if you want to be successful.
How your day starts is going to be different.
When you eat lunch is going to vary.
How meetings are conducted will change.
The very manner that you conduct business is going to be a new experience.
It’s important to understand the things you are willing to adjust and the things that must stay a constant for you. It helps if you do a “self-assessment”, write down, and communicate the results to those you are working with/for. Not only does this set the terms of your expectations, it gives you a guide that you can adjust more, if needed.
Create a space
One of the most important aspects of working from home is creating a space of your own. It is a space that is yours where you can conduct your business. It doesn’t have to be some big fancy room in your house….it doesn’t even have to be a room at all. You can use a corner of your living room, for example. The key is to make it your own and set it up in a way that works for you.
Transforming a portion of your house into a workspace can seem like a selfish act, but in reality, you and your family will be thankful for it in the long run. It is important for your family to know that while you are in your workspace, it’s money-making time, and they need to leave you distraction free.
Just like creating boundaries with your family when you are in your workspace, it is important that you set boundaries for yourself and your clients regarding your time and your duties. Just because you work from home, doesn’t not mean that you have to become a work-a-holic and have time for yourself. Having a contract in place with your clients is a great starting point. This will lay out the terms of your working hours and the duties required of you.
In the digital world, you can work from anywhere, but that also means you can work for someone anywhere in the world. It is especially important to create boundaries with these clients regarding working hours, completion dates, and response times. The last thing you want to happen is a phone call at 3:00AM regarding a project or task.
Start your day right
Since you will be spending so much time at home (something you may not be used to), starting your day off correctly is extremely important. Waking up, grabbing coffee, and sitting down to work isn’t quite going to cut it. It sounds all well and good to work on the couch or in your bed with your PJ’s on, but it doesn’t really condone a healthy working environment, hence creating your own space.
Take a moment and visualise your perfect morning. What time do you wake up? How do you prepare yourself for the day? Do you have breakfast and coffee or do you have an exercise routine? Do you have kids or other family that you need to tend to before focusing on work? Create a routine that works the best for you and your lifestyle, make tweaks where you need to, and get ready to be productive.
Make a plan
Starting your day out right is important to mentally and physically prepare yourself, but so is making a plan. You may be someone that relies on post-it notes, or you might find yourself taking advantage of a project management system. No matter your unique situation, making a plan is crucial to making your business a success. Whether you have 1 client or 5, keeping yourself organised and planning out your day will help keep you on task and able to prioritise your projects.
Many Virtual Assistants will be working with one or more clients that are in different time zones, possibly countries. Making a plan is especially important in these situations. You don’t want any miscommunication or assume a project is due by 1:00 PM where you are, when actually, it is due by 11:00 AM where your client is located……..a day ahead of you! Plan your day by project importance and deadlines, it’s the only way you will be able to keep yourself on task.
Keep going…..even if it’s a bad day
Bad days are going to happen, it’s just a fact of life. No matter how much we try to avoid them, bad things are going to happen and you are going to have to find a way to cope. Ideally, these days will be few and very far between but having a method to re-centre and re-focus will keep you from losing your mind during these difficult moments.
Maybe you just need to take a couple deep breathes and you are able to get back at it again, maybe you need a little more. For example, you just worked through the night finishing up a presentation for your client to present later in the day. After the client reviews, you have another 2 hours of editing that you need to complete, another client sends you a priority project that needs to be done within 3 hours, you have to get your kids to school still and do the laundry…..how are you going to get it all done? How are you going to cope?
Keep your head up, and keep pushing through. Communication is of course key when these situations arise and keeping a level-head will help you come out on top! Take a step back, gain your composure, and, you guessed it………...make a plan.
Unfortunately, not everyday is going to go swimmingly while working from home. Just like any other job, it comes with pros and cons. Accept the fact that there will be good days and bad days, figure out what works for YOU, and you will succeed!