How to fit a side gig into your schedule

"How to fit a side gig into your schedule." A woman is adjusting a camera.

Have you heard of the gig economy?  The term “gig economy” generally refers to a workforce that includes short-term employment, contractual jobs, freelancing, and independent contractors. Essentially, it consists of opportunities to bring in additional wages. Did you know during the pandemic the number of people exploring side gigs more than doubled? Most people think they don’t have time for it. So we’re going to look at why to start a side gig, and how to fit a side gig into your schedule. 

Maybe you are a part of the number that jumped into the gig economy in the past few years. Perhaps you are considering a side gig. In this article, we will review why more and more people are starting side gigs. Then we will provide 5 suggestions shared by top performers on how they work their side gig while still working a full-time job.

Why start a side gig?

There are many reasons people may start a side gig. Here are the top 3 reasons we hear.

  1. The number one reason people start a side gig is to add income. They may want to save for something special (a dream trip, kids’ activities, a new car, etc). Or perhaps their regular job may not be covering all of their daily expenses. Whatever the motivator is, income is a top reason many start a side job.
  2. Besides additional income, diversifying income streams is another top reason someone may start a side gig. I am sure you have heard the saying “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” By having multiple streams of income, you lessen the risk of being in financial danger if something falls through with an income source. For instance, different industries and jobs will be affected differently by different market conditions. Having multiple streams of income is always a good safety net.
  3. Another reason people often turn to a side gig is to have a passion project outside of their regular job. I see this with a lot of people who work jobs that they are not passionate about. Oftentimes they are looking for more creativity and flexibility too. Frequently, people will turn to a side gig that allows them to use skill sets they do not get to use day to day.

What is your reason? Now let us explore how we work in a side gig.

How to work a side gig into an already busy schedule

Time is a resource. We all have the same amount of time in our days. The secret to success is filling it with what is important to us. If you have goals you want to hit, it is important to prioritize the tasks needed to hit those goals in your side gig. Here are some suggestions on how to work in activities for a side gig, while still maintaining a full-time job.

  1. Consistency is key. Do something for your business every day. And if you cannot designate pockets throughout the day to work your side gig, I suggest setting up a consistent time in your weekly calendar to work. For example, you may not be able to work on your business some days due to other obligations. Can you carve out a few hours at night or on weekends for your side gig?
  2. Get up 30 minutes early. I personally always hate this one, because I am not a morning person. But almost every successful person I talk to uses this strategy of carving out 30 minutes of productivity in the morning to work their business. So am I willing to try it? Absolutely!
  3. Use your downtime productively. Instead of scrolling social media after dinner or turning on a show, can you spend 30 minutes at night working your business? Keep laser-focused on your goals, and you will be more motivated to find time to reach them!
  4. The lunch hour is your friend. When I worked full-time, this was always my favorite tip. I would spend my lunch hour running errands so that I had more time at night to work. Or I would use my lunch hour to work my side gig while I ate. Either way, my lunch hour became one of my most productive hours to work my business.
  5. Make calls or do training during your commute. Speaking of downtime, how much time do you spend commuting? I know today more and more people work from home. If you still commute though, use that time to your advantage (safely of course)! Make calls, catch up on training you may have missed, or even listen to podcasts that help you grow or motivate you.

Which of our top 5 tips above are you most excited to try? Is there one you have not thought of yet? We hope this gave you greater insight into why side gigs can be so beneficial and how to work them into your calendar, even with a full-time job.

For some more ideas on how to add income or what side gig might be right for you, check out our blog post on How to Add Income.  

 

 

 

Business planning for the new year

small business planning for the new year

Writing this post is going to force me to do my business planning for the new year. And I’m sharing it all! What I mean by that is that it might not be pretty. You’ll see that I’m going to focus equally on home and family life goals because feelings of accomplishment come from everything that we do. I can make all the money in the world, but if I don’t teach my kids how to be good people (fill in the blank) then I won’t have accomplished my most important mission.

I had 2 pretty huge ah-ha moments when I read Danah’s last article about how to do a year-end review of your business.

  1. Happiness and passion are huge contributors to drive and motivation. It is also what makes those hard times worth it, so remember that while numbers talk, happiness helps you get out of bed in the morning and do it all again.
  2. This part is paraphrased: what do you need to leave behind? AKA don’t carry dead weight into the new year. (mind BLOWN! As if I needed someone else to paint me a picture!)

How I’m going to build my plan

I will start by breaking my day (and my life) into segments. After that, I will develop each segment into more details of wants and needs. I’ll come up with the amount of time needed for each task. And finally, I will make some family goals and see how I will fit those into the big picture.

Let’s get started.

I have my kids. And I have my business.

You want to be sure that you have time to follow through on your plans. For obvious reasons, because you want your business to succeed, so that you can make money. But also because you want to feel the success of following your business plan. So make sure you have enough time in your day, week, or month to accomplish your goals.

Kids

My kids are in grade school and preschool, so Monday through Friday I have specific tasks that involve getting them to and from school. They are also in Taekwondo, so I take them to that 4 nights a week.

The stuff I do for my kids is my obligation. So I can start by filling my daily schedule with those items. That will allow me to see where I have “free” time to work my business. In my case, working from home as a single mom, my available time will dictate a lot of what I can do.

I want my kids to start learning more about taking care of themselves and the house. Cleaning up after themselves is the main thing, but other things like dishes and laundry. One of the things I can do is save these tasks for the evenings when we are all home and I will have to get them involved. Additionally, that will also ensure that I’m not using my free time during the day for something that I can do at night when the kids are home.

Business

Next, we have my business. I have 2 businesses: my virtual assistant business and I also work for a solar company. My businesses are both independent contractor roles, and the money I make is more or less a result of the time I put in. I’m not punching a clock for either of them, and it’s up to me to work and make sure that I have money coming in.

Now that I’ve identified 2 different work segments, I need to break that down further.

Breaking my business down

I’m going to break down both businesses into different income-producing channels. After I’ve made the list, I’ll go back and qualify each with the time it takes to do it, and how much of an impact it has on my income.

Virtual assistant business

My VA business makes money in two ways: clients, and selling digital assets.

Val and I want new clients, so I will check job boards daily for new leads. I am using the lead finder for the Fully Booked VA. This used to be called Horkey Handbook. I highly recommend the Fully Booked VA if you’re serious about being a VA. BUT, I also have a free email course that you should run through first. 😉

Time needed: Checking for new leads takes mere minutes. However, if I need to send an email to someone, while I re-use my emails, I adjust them for each new lead and I want to have a good 30 minutes available for this task.

Having clients is how we make money, so all I really need to do is look for new leads! But what else can I do? I can continue to write new blog posts like this.

Time needed: Depending on the topic, my enthusiasm, and the amount of research I need to do, this can take as little as one hour. But usually more like 3-4 hours from start to finish. So for the sake of planning, we’ll say 4 hours.

What can I do to increase digital asset sales? Blog posts are the main way to draw attention to my digital assets. So when I’m thinking about what to write, I need to incorporate those items.

I think I make “publishing a blog post every week” my goal every year. 😂 If you’re following me, you know it doesn’t happen. The question is why? And the answer is simple: I haven’t made it a priority. It doesn’t feel like a money-maker. But I’ve paid Val for several years now to build my Pinterest following, and she’s done an amazing job! When she started, I had around 100 followers and now it’s over 500!

Measurable goals for VA business

I’m officially making it my goal again: 1 blog post per week! And new clients. Goals have to be measurable, though, so the new client goal is actually to check for new leads daily.

Will these goals give me the results that I want? If I check for new leads daily, I will eventually find new clients. I don’t know if publishing weekly will affect my digital sales, but it certainly can’t hurt.

And there you have my 2 goals for my virtual assistant business.

Solar business

This is a bit more complex because I am a manager and do other activities for the whole team. I will use those activities for my time planning. But for income-producing activities, I need to knock on doors. This is where I make the most money, and the time I put in does have an effect on my income.

How will I measure “door-knocking?” There are a few things I can track, but the main numbers I look at are the number of hours and the number of sets. (I’m setting appointments for solar evaluations.)

For each hour that I knock on doors, I set approximately one appointment. And approximately 1 out of every 5 appointments turns into a sale. The company that I work for gives a $500 M1 payment shortly after the contract is signed, and the balance of the commission comes after the solar system is installed.

If I work backward from my financial needs, I want to make sure that I’m bringing in a minimum of $3k per month. So just from my M1 payments, I need to make 6 sales per month. (That’s $500 x 6 sales). Keep in mind that if I make 6 sales, there will be larger commissions that come in down the road. But I’m just counting the money that comes in shortly after the sale.

Time needed: 7.5 hours per week. How I got that number… If 1 in 5 sets becomes a sale, and I want 6 sales, I need to set 5 appointments for every sale. So 5 x 6 is 30 appointments per month. If I set approximately 1 appointment per hour, I need to knock on doors for 30 hours per month, or 7.5 hours per week. Not all appointments are held, but I’m not going to get into that number.

I will admit that 7.5 hours per week doesn’t sound like much, but it will be hard for me. Not impossible, but hard. I have about 4 hours in the middle of the day when all of the kids are at school. I will need to knock on doors for 2 hours per day, 4 days of the week. What feels more doable is to work 3 days during the week and then a couple of hours on Saturday or Sunday. This is something that I will play with to see what works for me. I have to remember that I do independent contractor roles like this so that I have flexibility and control over my time.

Another way I can look at this is that I need to set 30 appointments per month. Are there other ways that I can set appointments that don’t require me to knock on doors? Absolutely! I can follow up with old leads. And I can ask for referrals. Both of these are things that I can do when the kids are home.

Measurable goal for Solar business

So my main goal is 30 sets per month. As noted above, I have at least 2 different ways to get sets that work for me.

If you’re interested in getting your home evaluated for solar, please reach out to me using this form. The form is set up for central Illinois, but just tell me where you’re at because we sell all over the country! The same goes for work: if you’re interested in hearing about how you can make money setting appointments, just reach out to me by email and we can chat.

My plan summarized

Most of my business plan for the new year has to do with how to maximize the projects that I’m already working on, and how to fit it into my day. REPEAT: HOW TO FIT IT INTO MY DAY.

How you can do it

List out what you do (your sources of income) as well as your daily obligations. Identify how much time you need for everything. What can you grow, or do without? Do you need to improve upon something?

It’s like you’re setting your priorities. I can’t stress enough that you need to have time in the day to finish the things you want to do, or you might feel like you failed when you never had a chance to begin with.

Here’s what mine looks like just written out on paper.

2024 GoalsList of goals
Rough plan of my goals for the new year

Probably the most important part is the bottom few lines where I segment my day into time slots. In the morning I have my little one with me, and I list out the things I can do when we’re together: blog writing, going to the gym, texting leads for appointments, team work, which is responding to emails and looking up projects on the computer. I can also do stuff like laundry during this time.

In the middle of the day is when I am free, and according to my goals, I need to use this time to knock on doors!

After school and through the evening, I have the kids and we have taekwondo. I can still hop on the computer to finish things, but it’s important to me to be flexible, and I want to avoid computer work at night so I can focus on the kids and our home needs.

I love that the weekends are completely open, again, for flexibility. If something doesn’t get done during the week, I still have the weekend to get caught up. Plus we have time to do family activities.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I do this line of work (independent contractor and work-at-home gigs) so that I can be there for my kids when they need me. FLEXIBILITY. As long as I’m taking care of the kids, taking them to their activities, and I’m there for them on sick days, and teaching them how to be good people, then I’m doing what I need to do.

 

How to Set Boundaries When Working From Home

You have to set boundaries when you work from home. Here's what we did.

Are you now a part of the remote work culture but struggling with how to set boundaries when working from home? As someone who has worked from home for the past 5 years, this is something I personally struggled with at the beginning. I was always being pulled in multiple directions. With this pressure, I struggled with focusing on the task at hand. 

I discovered that a lot of people in my circle had misconceptions about what it means to work from home. Once I realized this, I knew my first step was to communicate what it really entailed. Then, I had to set boundaries. Hopefully my experience can help you avoid these remote work challenges

Misconceptions about working from home

In our post-pandemic world, telecommuting is not as rare as it used to be. Prior to 2020, I experienced a lot of misunderstandings when it came to working from a remote office. While my bosses had trust issues, personal contacts thought I was “available” during the day. Looking back, it is no surprise I struggled with feelings of failure in almost all areas of my life at the time! 

Pressure from work

From the work side of things, I had one boss who refused to even entertain the idea, even when he was trying to woo me back to the company. He wanted face-to-face time to get things done in a traditional manner. At the level I was at, he also did not want to set that example for other employees in the company, fearing they would follow suit. (Funny thing is, now that company is hybrid!)  

I partnered with another company that was 100% work-from-home to start. Towards the end of our partnership, I was pressured to be in the office the majority of the time. This example felt like more of a control and accountability issue. They wanted to know what I was doing, where I was, and why I was not immediately responding to an email. While I was a 1099 contractor, they were treating me like a salaried employee. It probably comes as no surprise that this partnership did not last long. 

Overreacting clients

I also have had experiences where clients who knew I worked from home reached out to me at odd hours. Early in the morning and late at night I would get phone calls, emails, and texts with a sense of urgency to them. Now, in a true emergency, I understand the outreach, but it felt like my home office never closed.

Friends and family

On the personal side, friends and family knew I was home during the day.  I was being called upon for favors and social gatherings because of the flexibility in my schedule. As a people pleaser, I found it hard to say no! It was even more aggravating that my husband expected certain things to get done around the house! 🤯***Make sure you subscribe because we’ll have a full article about getting your spouse on board with your work-at-home gig!

Can you sense my frustrations as you read this? The work-life balance I hoped to achieve in freelancing, working from home, and setting my own schedule was coming back to bite me. I had to figure out some solutions ASAP!

In this post, I talked about the pros and cons of working at home. Achieving a work-life balance is a “pro”, but you might see this as a “con” since it does take some work on your part to create the balance that you are looking for!

Tips for setting boundaries

As you can see, I was struggling to keep everyone happy, including myself. Something had to be done. Here are the top 3 things that helped me. 

  1. Communication — As with most conflicts, proper communication is KEY! Make sure to set expectations with all involved parties. What is expected from each person? What is your standard turnaround time? And what is your availability?  Establish these parameters and communicate them. 
  2. Set Office Hours — This is my answer to availability. Set office hours, and communicate those with partners, clients, AND personal contacts. Even if you want to keep your schedule flexible, having consistent work (and play) hours will help everyone, and allow you to set some boundaries. It also helps you mentally leave things at work, and step into your personal zone. 
  3. Time block your calendar Blocking time on my calendar helps me organize my day, and devote time appropriately. Block out time in your day for work tasks, personal tasks, and family tasks. Set a timer if you need help sticking to your time blocks. Am I within work hours? Then I am working. Is it time for family? Then I am mentally and physically focused on them. The simple task of blocking time out on my calendar helps me mentally be where I am supposed to be. Carrie talks about time blocking in this post about time management!

After setting boundaries

Previously, I was worrying about work when I was playing with my kids. Then when I was on a work call, I was distracted by tasks or chores at home I knew needed to be done. By doing the tips above, you also help yourself separate work and play, and not feel guilty about doing or not doing something.

These simple tips help me be in the moment and focus on the task at hand, mentally and physically. I know that I already have a time block to complete those nagging chores. It takes some practice and a lot of communication, but it is possible and will help you be more efficient!

Has this helped you? What strategy will you try to help set boundaries and improve your work-at-home and life balance?

Pros and cons of working from home: Is it right for you?

mom with baby working at home

Have you considered working from home? At first glance, the idea of working from home sounds very attractive. While it has many advantages, there are also some challenges of working remotely

Let’s take a closer look at both the pros and cons of remote work. Then I will provide some tips that helped me adjust to telecommuting. By discussing this all, I hope it can help you decide what is right for you!

Benefits of Working From Home

When the thought of working from home goes through your head, do some immediate benefits come to mind? I think we can all agree that rushing out the door and sitting in rush hour traffic is not our idea of fun. Perhaps there are other benefits you have not even thought of yet though. Let’s explore some remote work benefits!

  • No commute –  Since I already mentioned this one above, I will start here. Not only is this a more relaxing way to start your day, but it is also a cost savings! Just think—no gas, less wear and tear on your car, no train or bus pass, and/or no parking pass, to name just a few.

  • Flexibility  – If you are working independently at home or have a company that allows for a flexible schedule, this can be a huge benefit. You can set your own hours, schedule personal appointments, and even attend activities throughout the day, such as meeting up with friends for lunch, your kids’ recitals/sports games, or whatever else you might be missing out on now!

  • Location-Independent  – When you work remotely, you have the option to work from anywhere and be a digital nomad! Is your family planning a vacation that falls on a day you have required meetings scheduled? When you work from home and meetings are online meetings anyway, you can still head out on vacation AND make those meetings. Work from the beach, work from a local coffee shop, or your favorite park!

  • Comfort of your own space  – When you have a digital workspace, you can pick what that space looks and feels like. You can decide if you want to listen to music that day or not, what music you want to listen to, and even how loud you want it playing. Your home office can be any color and any set-up YOU want, allowing you to pick colors and items that make you happy!

  • Work-life balance – Working from home often helps people establish a better work-life balance. You can eat better (and often healthier) meals, you can work on small, personal tasks throughout the day, and you do not waste time commuting, which for some adds hours back into their days they did not have before. 

What other benefits can you think of that working from home would bring you?

Cons of Working from Home

As I type this article from my home office, I can hear my neighbor outside using a metal grinder. Earlier this morning there was a truck outside my house flushing the fire hydrants. Unpredictable distractions are definitely a con to having a remote workspace and something you will need to learn to block out or work around if you decide working from home is right for you. 

What else might have you second-guessing telecommuting?

  • Isolation –  Isolation and loneliness are some of the top concerns I hear when people find out I work from home. “Do you get lonely,” they ask. “Oh, I could never do that. I would get so bored being alone at home all day!”

  • Technology dependence – When your day consists of video conferencing, online project management, apps or website services, and other online resources, you become dependent on technology. If your power or internet services go out, you may find yourself scrambling to get back online and stay on task. 
  • Separation of work and home  – One con that is often overlooked is the fact that your office resides in your home, often creating an overlap of your work and personal space. Some find it hard to turn it off or leave your work problems “at work.”
  • Friends and family respecting your work hours  – Since I do work from home and can have flexible hours, I find that some people think I am available on a whim. When they know I can create my own schedule, they believe I can make time for whatever it is they are asking me to do. As a people pleaser, I had a hard time saying no for a long time, and I found that all of my “yeses” added up to a lot of time being spent on things OTHER than the tasks that helped pay my bills.

  • Home office costs – I know not all of us have a separate room to designate as a home office, so the “cost” we are talking about can vary. No matter the size or location though, there are added costs to working from home that you may not have considered, such as office setup, connectivity, IT support, maintenance, and supplies. Make sure you take these into consideration when you are looking at your own pros and cons. 

Tips to Help the Adjustment

I found that I had a certain adjustment period I had to go through when I moved from working in an office to working from home. As someone who has been down this road before, I want to share some remote work best practices to help. I have narrowed this down to my top three tips.

    1. Set office hours (& stick to them) – By scheduling strict office hours for yourself, you are setting expectations with both your clients and family and friends as to when you are available. It will also help you stay on task and be productive. Setting a consistent schedule and holding yourself to it will also help you separate work and home. Work hours are work hours, and when that time is up you can leave your workspace (and leave work at work)!

    2. Stay productive and manage your time – Speaking of productivity, this is one I struggled with the most. I found Carrie’s article on Time Management Strategies for Virtual Assistants super helpful!

    3. Schedule social interaction – To avoid loneliness, make sure to work in social interaction throughout your day. Whether it is a video conference with co-workers or clients, a lunch meeting, a coffee meet-up, or a walk with your neighbor, block time in your day to be social with others!

Is working from home right for you?

To work from home or not to work from home…that is the question! As someone who has personally chosen to work from home, I may be a little skewed on this one! It truly is a personal choice. 

One thing I did not list in the pros and cons list is the topic of productivity and distractions. I touched on both above, but these factors can play a role on both sides of the pros and cons list. For some people, working from home is more productive. They have fewer distractions from co-workers, fewer meetings, and can focus better within their own space. For others though, working from home makes it harder to be productive with distractions at home, family interruptions, or chores such as the pile of laundry staring at you. 

You know yourself the best—which side do you fall on? Can you stay motivated without a boss or coworkers nearby? Do you crave flexibility and independence in your schedule? Hopefully our pros and cons list and tips for adjusting have given you better insight to help you decide if working from home is right for you! 

 

If you are leaning towards working from home, make sure to check out our free resources for some additional tips!

Time Management Strategies for Virtual Assistants

girl working at home office desk; desk is clean and free from distractions

Managing multiple projects and deadlines in a fast-paced digital environment can be challenging as a virtual assistant. Don’t worry – we’ve got some time-saving tips to help you make the most of your day!

First, we’ll break down the difference between urgent and essential tasks. Then we’ll show you how to use techniques like time blocking and the Pomodoro technique. Last we’ll talk about prioritizing tasks efficiently, and keeping distractions at bay!

Prioritizing Tasks

Knowing the difference between an urgent and essential task can be key to understanding how to manage your time effectively, and ultimately, it has a huge impact on the success of your day.

Understanding urgent vs. essential tasks

Urgent tasks require immediate attention and often have short-term consequences. This would be something that is due TODAY. Something with a specific deadline that is approaching quickly.

On the other hand, essential tasks contribute to long-term goals and objectives. This would be like checking emails or doing something on a weekly or monthly basis.

By recognizing which tasks are urgent and which are essential, you can better allocate your resources to ensure both types of tasks get the appropriate attention they need.

Creating daily and weekly to-do lists

Want to stay on top of your workload? To-do lists can be a great tool for staying organized and prioritizing tasks. Create daily or weekly to-do lists focusing on the most urgent and important items. Once you complete a task, cross it off the list – this will help you keep track of your progress and give you a sense of accomplishment.

Be sure to regularly review and update your list in case priorities need to change. I like to use a worksheet that I made. On the right-hand side, I make a list of all of the things I need to do for the week or month. On the left side, I make daily notes for things that are urgent, or that need to be done on or by a specific day. 

Making your to-do list isn’t enough. You need to have a plan of attack – how you’ll work your way through the list. But first, allocate time for each task.

Allocating Time and Setting Deadlines

Allocating time and setting deadlines for specific tasks will help to keep you on track throughout your day and throughout the course of a project.

Estimating the time required for each task

Knowing how long a task will take is essential for effective time management. Estimate each task’s time, considering any potential obstacles that could slow you down. Once you have an estimate, you can plan accordingly and set realistic expectations for yourself.

I know how much time I have between taking my big kids to school and getting my little one on his bus. For example, I have two and a half hours. So I figure I can spend one hour on something, 3o minutes on something, and then I can also do one or two other “quick” things. It’s nice to know how long something will take so that I don’t expect too much from myself. With practice, you’ll become better at more accurately estimating the time needed for tasks and better equipped to manage your workload efficiently.

Breaking tasks into manageable subtasks

Facing a large or complex task? Breaking it down into smaller, more manageable subtasks will help you stay organized and make steady progress.

Start by listing all of the elements of the task, then prioritize each subtask based on urgency or importance. As you work through the list, you’ll get closer to completing the larger goal while also achieving a sense of accomplishment. With this approach, tackling even the most daunting tasks becomes possible!

Time Management Techniques

The time management technique you choose is basically the means by which you’ll work through your to-do list. There are numerous time management techniques out there, and each technique can be modified to fit your needs. It’s a good idea to try different techniques to see what works best for you.

Time blocking

Time blocking is an effective technique that involves scheduling specific blocks of time for each task on your to-do list. By assigning a dedicated time slot to each task, you can maintain focus, minimize distractions, and ensure you’re giving sufficient attention to your priorities. Time blocking also helps you visualize your day or week and avoid overloading your schedule.

Regularly review and adjust your schedule to make sure you’re making the most efficient use of your time. When setting up your time blocks, think about your energy levels throughout the day, the urgency and importance of tasks, and any external deadlines you need to meet. Consider taking breaks and adding buffer time to provide flexibility for unexpected interruptions or tasks that may take longer than expected. 

Pomodoro technique for focused work sessions

The Pomodoro technique is a time management method that involves breaking your work into short, focused intervals (usually 25 minutes) called “Pomodoros,” followed by a brief break (typically 5 minutes). After completing four Pomodoros, take a longer break (15-30 minutes) to recharge. This technique helps maintain focus, reduce mental fatigue, and increase productivity by encouraging regular breaks and preventing burnout. 

To implement the Pomodoro technique, choose a task, set a timer for 25 minutes, and work steadily until the timer goes off. Then, take a 5-minute break before starting the next Pomodoro. Adjust the duration of your work intervals and breaks as needed to suit your preferences and energy levels.

Task batching for increased efficiency

Task batching involves grouping similar tasks and completing them in a dedicated block of time. This strategy can help streamline your workflow, minimize context-switching, and increase productivity.

For example, you could batch tasks like responding to emails, making phone calls, or processing invoices. You probably already do this for personal tasks such as paying bills and folding laundry. 

Balancing multiple tasks and projects

As a virtual assistant, you may manage multiple tasks and projects simultaneously. Consider the following strategies to effectively balance your responsibilities:

  1. Prioritize tasks based on their urgency and importance.
  2. Create a clear and organized workspace to help you stay focused and reduce distractions.
  3. Develop a daily and weekly plan that outlines your essential tasks and projects and allocate time for each using time blocking or another scheduling method.
  4. Stay adaptable and be prepared to adjust your schedule as priorities or deadlines change.
  5. Communicate regularly with clients and team members to manage expectations and ensure that you’re staying on track.

By implementing these techniques, you can effectively manage your time, juggle multiple tasks, and maintain your productivity as a virtual assistant.

Staying Focused and Avoiding Distractions

Being distracted while working from home is a common problem among virtual assistants. The ability to manage distractions will help you stay productive and provide the best service you can for your clients. 

Identify common distractions

Distractions like social media, emails, phone calls, text messages, and external noise can interrupt your focus and productivity. It’s important to identify which ones most affect your work and develop strategies to minimize their impact. 

Create a dedicated workspace

Setting up a dedicated workspace can help you stay focused during work hours. Find a quiet, comfortable space with minimal distractions and set up your work equipment, such as a computer, phone, and necessary supplies. Personalize the workspace with ergonomic furniture, good lighting, and any items that motivate or inspire you, like quotes or artwork.

Techniques for maintaining focus during work hours

Effective focus-enhancing techniques can help you stay on task and resist distractions. Consider the following strategies:

  1. Set specific goals for each work session and break them into smaller, manageable tasks.
  2. Use time management techniques like the Pomodoro technique or time blocking to allocate dedicated periods for focused work.
  3. Limit your access to distracting websites or apps during work hours, using tools like website blockers or app timers.
  4. Establish a routine that includes regular work hours, breaks, and designated times for checking email and social media.
  5. Practice mindfulness techniques like deep breathing or meditation to help you refocus when distractions arise.

By staying focused and minimizing distractions, you can make the most of your time, boost your productivity, and deliver high-quality work to your clients.

Balancing Work and Personal Life

It’s essential to establish clear boundaries between your work and personal life to maintain a healthy balance, especially if you work from home. Setting boundaries can help you avoid burnout, reduce stress, and ensure that you can fully engage in both your professional and personal responsibilities

Consider the following strategies:

  1. Set specific working hours and stick to them, taking regular breaks as needed. Make sure to communicate them to clients, colleagues, and family members.
  2. Refrain from responding to emails or other work-related messages outside designated work hours.
  3. Create a dedicated workspace that separates your work environment from your living space.
  4. Give yourself adequate time each day or night for leisure activities or hobbies.

Prioritizing self-care and personal well-being

It’s essential to prioritize self-care to sustain a reasonable work-life balance. Some strategies for caring for your physical, mental, and emotional health include:

  1. Eating nutritious meals and engaging in regular physical activity.
  2. Practicing mindful or meditative techniques for stress reduction.
  3. Setting aside time each week for leisure activities or hobbies that bring you joy.
  4. Connecting with family and friends frequently through phone calls, video chats, or messages.
  5. Taking regular breaks throughout the day and getting enough sleep at night.

Managing personal time effectively

Developing practical time management skills in your personal life will help you maintain a balanced lifestyle and improve your productivity and your overall well-being. Make sure to plan and schedule leisure activities like exercising, socializing with friends, or pursuing hobbies so you don’t overlook them due to work commitments.

When you understand and follow effective time-management techniques as we’ve discussed here, you will experience optimal productivity and success and you’ll be better prepared for long-term success in your business. With dedication and commitment to these strategies, you can make the most of your valuable time and be a first-rate virtual assistant for your clients.