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Basket of Accomplishment

In my early 20s, I worked as a legal secretary for a short time. It definitely wasn’t my all-time favorite job. The work was incredibly tedious and I moved on after a year. There was one part of the job I loved, though. At the end of the day, I had to bring all the mail I’d created to the Pitney Bowes machine. It wasn’t that I liked running the mail through the sometimes contrary machine, but that I felt so accomplished when I reviewed the stack of correspondence and pleadings for the day. Sometimes reaching over two feet high, it was proof that I’d gotten a lot done.

Basket of accomplishment.

As someone who now works virtually, it is hard to come by that physical evidence of accomplishment. In days gone by, most freelance writing work would involve the creation of hard copies. Crisp envelops and bright-white typed pages would add up over the course of the day, proving that you did something.

Today, everything I handle is electronic. As a freelance writer and virtual assistant, I spend hours Skyping with clients, answering emails, crafting articles, completing presentations, and more. Even though my tasks add up and money comes in, I sometimes feel like I have little to show for my efforts.

To help motivate myself, I’ve come up with a few tricks to get around this feeling. Here are some of the ways I create that “basket of accomplishment” when it comes to virtual work.

  • I have a white board on the wall in my home office. Every morning, I write out my planned tasks, breaking each item down in to something that can be completed in 30 minutes or less. I cross out tasks I complete and at the end of the day, I usually have a colorful whiteboard that proves I accomplished something.
  • Non-work tasks can fulfill the need for tangible accomplishment. When I’m feeling particularly demotivated, I schedule extra time in my day to tackle a heavy-duty home project. Organizing a closet, scrubbing a bathroom spotless, cooking a fancy meal, or surprising my son with a newly cleaned room are great reminders that my accomplishments are not all about work.
  • Occasionally, I’m able to take on jobs that provide a tangible aspect. This month, I’ve been helping my husband with his company’s eBay store. It might stem from my early office years, but nothing says work was done like a basket full of mail or packages.

What about you? Do you sometimes feel like you don’t have anything to show for your hard work? How do you motivate yourself in a virtual working space?

Sarah Stasik is a former revenue cycle manager who made the move from corporate ladder to attic office. By day, she is a busy freelance writer and virtual assistant, tackling tasks that vary from article writing to eCommerce management. By night, she helps her son with homework, attempts to keep the house in order, and tries to squeeze in quality family time with her husband and son. 

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