All in a day’s work for a Virtual Assistant
Starting your day as a Virtual Assistant can be pretty interesting, especially when you have a few clients with different expectations. The easiest way that I seem to handle this, is by:
Having a mourning routine is imperative to any individuals, like they say, how you start your day, is how you end your day. So starting with a little gratitude while having your morning tea (I hate coffee, hehehe), can take you a long way 😃. I have started on a new journey of having tiny goals for myself daily, yes I have tried this before without any luck, but I have found an amazing program called the Daily Life Planner by Robyn Louise (https://robyn-louise.com/ ) an inspirational lady / boss women all the way in Australia. I have been following her for a while and absolutely love the program 😃
This is followed by a little Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) tapping to let go of unwanted blocks and centers me for the rest of the day, which allows me to connect with who I truly am and the purpose of my life / service I offer to the world.
Prioritize & Check emails
This is usually done before hand on this amazing program call Asana (mini project management tool), where it allows me to keep track of the all the activities, which I schedule with due dates as I am researching or following up on emails. I am an avid fan of Asana, as it allows me the freedom (& my scatter brain) to organize, so I don’t have tons of books or papers around all over the place (also helps with anxiety), knowing when is due at what time…. Blessing in disguise lol
Splitting time between clients and allocated work
This is where the juggling act comes into play, because on some days it can be smooth sailing and things go as planned, others, not so much. For instance, having to juggle between reconciliations (accounting) in the morning and creating content or doing market research in the afternoon, can take a tall on your brain.
Knowing when to separate numbers from design can be a tricky subject. So how can you do this? Simple, I create content when I am inspired, by something that I have watched or by taking a walk outside my “office” space. This usually does the trick and can be really helpful in the long run, strengthens my brain for my future success 😃
Exposure & Upskilling
A teacher once said this to our class, they can take away everything you have, but they cannot take away what you have learnt.
This has stuck with me since then, as whatever I learn or upskill at with working with different clients exposes me to a future skill that I can offer to the world. Allowing me to align my goals with the world.
For instance, after having run my own photography business for 7 years, I have learnt how to market to the right client, how to do the books for an SME and how to communicate with clients, all while project managing the tasks at hand. Fun, I know 😃
With my most recent clients, I have learnt about the coaching field, landscaping, information technology business and website design services, all which I have helped gain knowledge that can never be taken from me.
So from the wise words of Richard Branson, If someone offers you an amazing opportunity and you’re not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it…
My life as a Virtual Assistant, one day at a time!
The concept of becoming a “virtual assistant” or “VA” was pretty new to me in 2016/17. After much research and debate, I thought what better way to do what I love, when I want to, for whomever I wanted to and still have the freedom to be a mother to my two beautiful daughters (which I had been neglecting while working in the corporate environment). So, this is a typical timeline for what I’d like to say is the best job I’ve ever had!
Wake up, fight with my daughters to get out of bed, get them dressed, breakfast for my youngest, nothing for my oldest! In the car by 6am for the commute to school. This is done in silence while they continue sleeping and I enjoy some quiet time so early in the morning!
Arrive at school, sit there with them and their gaggle of friends till 7:45am (during this time I go through emails and quick peek at slack to see if anything has come through for me)
Back at home, 2nd coffee in hand and time for the long commute to my desk. I get settled at my desk, open about a cluster of computer windows, and start my work day.
I usually have a few little jobs I like to do before I start the bigger jobs I need to focus on for longer:
- Log into Client A’s emails as I monitor these each hour and answer or file for action later for her (sending WhatsApp’s during the day for her to action)
- Post Client B’s Facebook posts for the day, maybe scheduling some to appear later in the day or week.
- Prepare and send off invoices for projects completed the previous day/week for Client A
Start working on client C’s calling campaign
Drive to school – pick up my daughters!!
Get home, girls off to catch up with friends (very busy social lives!)
Final calls and report for Client C’s calling campaign
Aprons on! Spoons at the ready! And we’re prepared to concoct dinner! One oversees ingredients, one in charge of putting dinner together, all responsible for cleaning up!
Help with homework and projects!
Sit down and eat dinner together! An overall success! (as usual! They obviously have their mother’s genes!). Talk about the day and what we all learnt!
Clean up, prepare next day’s school uniforms, lunches, get school bags & sports bags ready!
Tidy up the house, bath time with bubbles pouring over the edge of the bath!! Never tire of this!
Help my daughters practice their 3 dance routines (in preparation for exams in April)
Bedtime!! Good night stories, kisses & prayers!
Plan for next day in diary and call it a day! (in reality my day continues for another 2-3 hours and then when I’m sleeping for much longer (my brain isn’t geared for downtime and continuously works tirelessly!!)
I consider myself an all-rounder, I’m deadline-driven while being proactive. I’m great at communicating and keeping my clients updated on my progress.
As you can see, I need to be very organised with my time. Prioritising and organization are my strengths. I absolutely love my job and have a wide administrative skill set and love the variety it gives me.
Since I’ve given up ice-cream, Nestle Cappuccino’s is now my vice! (not quite sure which is worse).
How to Manage Your Time Efficiently and Effectively
Looking back at my working career, I must say that Time Management is one of the key fundamentals to running an efficient and effective office or merely just getting that “task” done.
Being a Virtual Assistant for VA Connect demands good Time Management as one juggles many tasks and more than one Client. When starting out as a Virtual Assistant with only a single client on your hands, you probably didn’t anticipate that there would be a time when you’ll get to be so busy.
Getting more work as a Virtual Assistant is a blessing, but it also brings with it several challenges. The biggest challenge of all is managing your time properly when you’ve become inundated with work.
The definition of Time Management is the process of planning and exercising conscious control over the amount of time spent on specific activities, especially to increase effectiveness, efficiency or productivity. Time Management is essentially the ability to organize and plan the time spent on activities in a day. The result of good Time Management is increased effectiveness and productivity. It is a key aspect of project management and involves skills such as planning, setting goals and prioritizing for a better performance
Good Time Management enables you to work smarter not harder so that you get more done in less time, even when time is tight and pressures are high.
Tips for efficient Time Management: –
- Complete the most important tasks first
- Learn to say no
- Sleep for at least 7 – 8 hours per day
- Devote your entire focus to the task at hand
- Get an early start
- Don’t allow unimportant details to drag you down
- Turn key tasks into habits
- Delineate a time limit in which to complete task
- Leave a buffer-time between tasks
- Don’t think in the totality of your to-do list
- Exercise and eat health
- Create organizing systems
- Do something during “waiting time”
- Commit to your plan to do something
- Batch related tasks together
- Find time for stillness
- Eliminate the non-essential
One of the biggest stumbling blocks to getting things done is motivation, or, more accurately, the lack of it.
So how do you get motivated to do things, particularly things you must do but don’t want to do?
There are three key areas where time management and motivation relate closely to each other:
- Getting things done that you believe you must do
- Getting things done that you want to
- Motivation to improve your time management itself
If one thing is for certain, we are all given the same amount of time in a day, 24 hours, 1440 minutes and 86400 seconds, how we utilize this time is important to how effectively and efficiently we manage our time, so plan your life wisely.
In the words of the inspirational Karen Wessels, our CEO: –
“I’m sure we all know the term ‘multi-task’ – well, let’s chuck it out the window, let’s be savvy and make use of the resources around us.”
Thank you again to Karen Wessels for putting forward this challenge to her Team and for continually challenging us to be better individuals and to think outside of the box.
VA CONNECT has a team of Virtual Assistants just waiting to be of service to you, to lighten your load! To FREE up some of your time!
Spend a day in my life as an efficient Virtual Assistant
When I became a VA, the thought of working from home seemed idyllic. I mean, who wouldn’t enjoy being able to get up, go for a run and have coffee before firing up the computer? Not to mention being able to catch up with friends or wear comfy clothes all while tending to your family and work.
It didn’t take me long to realise that I needed to set myself boundaries and a routine if I were to be a top notch VA. I know that I crave structure and social interaction in order to be productive. As race walking has always been my go to “happy place”, I start my day with a 8km walk, breathing in fresh air and starting my day off on a positive note.
After a long walk I fire up the computer, whilst I have a well-deserved cup of coffee. For me the need to dress for success is vital, one cannot be productive if you do not dress for success, I don’t have to don a jacket and high heels, but being clean and presentable does wonders for one’s self esteem and allows me to feel motivated throughout the day.
As I sit down at my desk strategically placed in front of the window, first thing I do is check my emails, as this will determine the type of day I will have. Normally, whilst the emails are loading, I look out of my window at my goose splashing in his pond and that is when I feel truly blessed to be able to work from home. I have found that setting specific work hours has helped me to establish my own unique work style.
I have learnt that I cannot be in front of the computer all day and I need to take regular breaks. Going out during the day, goes a long way to keeping me connected with the world, a trip to the grocery store or a chat to friends at lunch time always lifts my spirits and allows me to come back to my desk after lunch refreshed and ready for what the afternoon might bring.
Every day I have a “to-do” list that I strive to get complete, this ensures that I don’t procrastinate and I maintain a steady pace throughout the day instead of a mad rush at the end of the day. There is nothing as satisfying as crossing off a task on your list (“tick”). Working from home allows me be able to have dinners cooked and the house cleaned as this is all part of my daily routine. There is no greater pleasure than having the kettle boiled for when my daughter comes home in the evening.
It takes dedication to stick to a routine when there is no one there to hold you accountable, however, if you are committed and have support, a day in the life of a VA can be a wonderful experience.
For more information on Annie please visit our team page.
Improving My Time Management and Organisation In 2018 – By T. Barkus
As a Virtual Assistant juggling several clients across 3 continents, 4 time zones and differing industries, it is vital to be organised. In fact, the organisation is absolutely paramount if I don’t want to end up in a daily panic under my desk!
So when the VA Connect team was instructed to get to know a colleague in order to identify and set them a suitable challenge during the month of December; the challenge set for me by my colleague was well selected!
My challenge – to improve my Administration and Organisational skills by taking an online course.
With a wealth of courses to choose from, I took a while to choose one (I went on to learn that procrastination must be resisted!) and eventually decided on an Introduction to Time Management and Organisation course.
Here is a summary of the main points I learned from the course that are most applicable to Virtual Assistants.
Create a daily plan: Plan each day in the morning with an overview of how the day should pan out. This forms a guideline and will help keep you focused.
Prioritize tasks wisely: For me, choosing a list of daily tasks and the order to complete them is dictated by deadlines and also by time zones. If possible I like to work on my US client’s work in the evenings when they are around (during their late morning) for me to interact with and ask questions if required.
Time box your tasks: For each task, it is advised that you allocate a set amount of time to work on it. This results in better productivity.
Use a calendar: Using a calendar is fundamental to staying on top of daily activities and looming deadlines. I use Google Calendar mainly and it is synced to my mobile phone so I get alerts and reminders wherever I am.
Aim to be early: If you target to be on time, you may well achieve your target but often will be late! It was suggested that if you schedule to be early, you’ll most likely be on time. A tip I am going to use for sure.
It’s ok to say no! Learn to say no sometimes (politely of course) rather than agreeing to do something that you will then not being able to fulfill or complete to your best ability. In my experience, this is very wise advice and clients appreciate honesty.
Don’t procrastinate: A habit we are all guilty of I am sure but when you have a busy schedule of clients, procrastination can cause havoc! As a Virtual Assistant, the best way to avoid too much procrastination is to focus on one key task at a time and to check yourself when you realise your concentration is wandering. Time is too valuable!
Thanks to my colleague Chantel for the challenge. I am looking forward to a more organised and productive 2018.
21 Days Walking Challenge With My Weak Ankle – By Lynda Wessels
As a close knit VA team we were all challenged to do something somewhat out of our comfort zones.
I was challenged by Karen Wessels to do a 1km walk every day for 21 days. I accepted the challenge but alas was unable to complete it as my ankle decided to put a spoke in the wheel so to speak.
I have ankle instability or as some would call it ‘weak ankles’ due to an injury suffered quite a while back and it has never really healed completely. The swelling and uncomfortableness unfortunately returned.
I do love brisk walking though as opposed to just strolling. Walking on the beach is also awesome and therapeutic!
While on holiday on a beautiful farm I really did not want to miss out on walking with the family on various outings so I donned my ankle support which does allow one to walk without too much discomfort. By the way there is a video to show one exactly how to strap it round your ankle. I do however still need to work on ankle healing completely.
What exactly is the use of an ankle support you may ask? It can help speed up recovery time when used in conjunction with other rehabilitation methods. It allows one to stay mobile longer with the brace offering compression to the affected area. It can reduce pain and inflammation. The type of ankle brace you require depends on the severity of the injury. Moderate supports can also be used as a preventative brace to help avoid injuries.
Back to walking on the farm : the first day I managed to walk 1km and felt quite proud of myself. The next walk I attempted was all in all 3kms. It was a bit heavy going but I managed to do it even thought at times I had to use my toes or my heel to walk on rather than putting pressure on the foot. Strangely enough it did help somewhat. On our last day on the farm I did a 1.5km walk. So all in all I walked 5.5kms while on holiday. Yes a far cry from the 1km 21 day challenge but at least better than nothing as I did try.
The benefits of walking are great. If one does just 30mins a day for 5 days in the week to move your body, it will certainly improve your mood, you will sleep better, reduce saggy skin and burn extra calories!
Walking daily is no easy feat. It sounds easy but to keep up with it is actually quite harder.
A good idea is to log your minutes walked. This will help with accountability.
Something as simple as a daily brisk walk can help you live a healthier life. It has tremendous physical and mental benefits.
Walking in one’s neighbourhood is great too as you notice a lot more than when you are travelling in a vehicle. And to walk early morning or evening one gets to notice that beautiful sunrise or sunset!
Something else to take note of is that daily walking has more health benefits than sporadic heavy exercising. It not only helps you feel good, it will also help you look good as well. Exercise does not have to be harsh and difficult. A simple brisk walk each day can greatly improve your health and if done during the working week it will also help to clear your mind and prevent one from sitting in a fixed position most of the day in front of the computer and at your desk.
So here is to me hopefully shortly being able to do that brisk walk daily, or even just 5 days a week!