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Scheduling Client Work around Your Home Life

One of the hardest parts of being a virtual assistant and a mom is scheduling client work around your home life. You want to balance both your client work and your time with your kids. The best way to achieve this balance is to work in small chunks. There are probably many moments in your day that you could use to get a bit of client work done. Be on the lookout for these times and use them to your advantage.

Immediately After Naptime

Yes, you can use naptime to be productive. But you can also use the first moments after naptime to work, too. While your child is still sleepy, give them a quiet activity to do like coloring or reading. This works especially well for children that are slow to wake up and need a few minutes to get going. While you wait for them to wake up, go ahead and take some extra time to work on a client project.

During a Movie

Thanks to devices like Apple TV and streaming services like Netflix, there are now hundreds of kids’ movies at your fingertips. If you need a large block of quiet time, try putting on a movie for your child. But it’s best to pick a movie they haven’t seen yet as that’s more likely to capture their attention.

Waiting Rooms

Whether it’s getting a cavity filled at the dentist or waiting in the car pool lane to pick up your child from school, you probably spend at least fifteen minutes waiting. That’s valuable time you could use to get a jumpstart on a project or send an invoice to one of your clients. Many places including doctor’s offices now have free Wi-Fi. Make a habit of storing your current projects in cloud-based software like DropBox. Then when you’re at a location that offers free Wi-Fi, you can open the app and get to work from your phone or tablet.

Track Your Time

If you just feel like there isn’t enough time in your day, spend a week writing down every activity you do. Then analyze your week and look for areas where you might be missing the opportunity to squeeze more work in. For example, if you take time to prepare meals every day, maybe you could delegate this responsibility to another family member or prepare meals in advance. By looking for little blocks of time that you can work in, you’ll find that you can balance your work with your lifestyle so that you get the best of both worlds.

Many parents find that they have to schedule client work around their home lives. While it may not always be easy, it can be done. That’s why it’s important that you prioritize at the beginning of each day and work on the most important tasks first.

6 Ways to Work from Home around Toddlers

Child cryingBalancing work and life is a challenge for most parents. That challenge is even bigger when you’re a virtual assistant working from home. Now, you have to find a way to keep your clients happy, entertain your toddler, clean the house, do the laundry, and market your VA business. Fortunately, there are ways to work from home around toddlers that don’t involve losing your sanity. Here are six tips to help you do just that.

Write down your child’s schedule.

While your child’s schedule may fluctuate a little day from day, it can be helpful to write it down. You don’t have to be super detailed or break down your child’s schedule into fifteen minute blocks. But if you have a list of the activities your child does every day, then you may begin to see short chunks of time where you can sneak some extra work in. For example, if your child always watches an educational TV show at 2 pm, then you know that you can schedule a small amount of work during this time.

Do your most important work at nap time.

Toddlers need frequent supervision and can easily get themselves into trouble. That’s why it’s best to schedule your most important work during nap time. Many virtual assistants that have toddlers use nap-time to their advantage. You can use this time for conference calls, client projects, and other important work-related tasks.

Have a play area near your office.

Even if you’re just working at the kitchen table, pick a spot nearby and turn it into a play area. Keep your area close by so you can look up from your work and see your toddler. Childproof this area and put plenty of age appropriate games and toys in it. Depending on your child’s age, you can use a playpen or safety gates to create this space.

Keep an activity kit ready.

Some days, work emergencies come up and you need a way to entertain your toddler for a few minutes while you deal with it. That’s why you should keep several activity kits ready. You can create an activity kit yourself with items that are likely to excite your child. For example, you could put together a box of ‘dress-up’ clothes, art supplies, or pots and pans. Then bring out one of the activity kits when you have an emergency and need a few extra minutes of work.

Take a break to play, too.

One of the best things about working at home is getting to spend time with your toddler. Be sure to take frequent breaks to play with your child. Your child will be quieter and happier after some mommy playtime and you’ll be able to go back to your desk with renewed energy.

Build in some me time.

Mommies need breaks. Don’t be afraid to take a long lunch or pause to watch the latest episode of your favorite TV show or do some relaxed networking. If you don’t relax, you’ll feel frazzled and both your child and your clients will sense your stress. That’s why it’s important that you take time for yourself.

Toddlers can be a handful and working with them under tow can be difficult. With a little preparation and organization, you can manage to balance both your clients and your kids so you can create the lifestyle you’ve always wanted.

Are you running your business or is your business running you?

Work-life Balance: Decide What You Are Willing To Exchange For What You Want…….

Work-Life Balance

Life is about choices.  It is often when you solicit the opinions of others to make decisions that you already know the choice you need to make.  When the choice involves your family and your career, in most cases it is easy to choose, and others difficult.

Work-life balance.  Does it even exist?  Have you achieved it?  If it were so easy to achieve, everyone would have it.  As an employee, you cannot achieve work-life balance alone.  As a business owner, you are accountable for how you invest your time.  However, it does not mean that there are no resources available to enable you to achieve work-life balance.

As the saying goes, “Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.”  We live in a time where being busy is glorified and often used to avoid important obligations.  Busy leads to burnout and other problems that often go unnoticed until someone else points them out.

Here are a few:

  1. Busy disconnects us from the ones we love.
  2. Busy becomes a response to “How are you?”
  3. Busy is a form of numbing.
  4. Busy becomes an excuse not to take care of yourself.
  5. Busy is addicting creating an appetite pushing you to do more things.
  6. Busy is distracting.
  7. Busy leaves you exhausted.

If you identified with any of the items in the list, you may be doing things that prevent you from achieving work-life balance.  It is never too late to try something new to achieve a different result.

Here are some things you can do to position you closer to achieving work-life balance:

  1. Learn to say no without an explanation or guilt.  (It is okay to turn down a project or task if you are overwhelmed.)
  2. Delegate tasks as needed.  (See the article “How well do you delegate?”…. http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTMM_60.htm)
  3. Create a stopping point and do not work past it.
  4. Make personal rules and stick to them.
  5. Make time for yourself and your family.
  6. Meditate.

As you start each day, set your intentions and stick to the plan.  This is a simple way to get you closer to achieving work-life balance.  Either way you tip the scale, there will be the need to make adjustments.  Be sure that each adjustment you make balances out your equation.  Choose balance instead of being weighed down.

Work-life balance

Please feel free to comment with your tips to maintain work-life balance or your areas of struggle in obtaining work-life balance.

Screening clients for a good fit

golden interviewAn Interview is For You to Determine Fit

When you get an inquiry about working with you, it’s really important to ensure that they are a good fit for your process. Instead of trying to fit into their process, your clients should fit into yours as much as possible. I’m not saying you shouldn’t try something new if it’s truly organized well, but many clients won’t be organized well and it’s up to you to ensure that the way work gets done is appropriate for you.

You’re Not an Employee

So many times when a VA is interviewing for a new client they shrink down into “employee” mode and try to please the person who is interviewing them. Instead, you need to turn that around to ensure THEY are a good fit for you. Sure, you want to be a good fit for them too, but if you don’t tell them what you need, and how you work, they can never fit into your way of doing business. In other words, if you seek to please too much you can end up being just another employee who can easily be replaced.

Be More Proactive

But, if you are proactive, and take charge, you become a partner in their business, someone they can’t work without. You become the person with the answers to their problems. Being a problem solver is your job. Not a people pleaser. Most VAs are naturally people pleasers so this transition to problem solver can sometimes be scary and difficult. But, if you can do it, you’ll become someone whom your clients can’t live without.

The first step to getting out of employee mindset is to change how you interview new clients so that you can make sure they are a good fit for your business. For example, if you’ve set up a specific system of how you get work done, but your client wants something different it’s important to be honest with them and yourself about your ability or willingness to do something different.

For example, the way I work is only on Friday, Saturday, Sundays and Mondays. I try really hard not to work for others on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. This can be a shock to a new client, and certainly I “lose” some clients due to this fact. That’s okay though because I’ve managed to find great clients who can work with my schedule. I require all work for the week to be sent to me via their project management system, or a document in drop box (my system) by midnight Thursday night (or before I get up Friday Morning. I ask that they put things in priory order.

I also only take on up to 30 hours a week of work. This means that if I have three clients who each want 10 hours a week, then I only have room for three clients. I work on one client’s work at a time, and get it all done by Monday night at midnight. If there is an emergency or problem, they do have my cell phone and I will deal with those if they are a real emergency or something is wrong (such as a website going down). I charge extra for emergencies that aren’t my fault. I rarely get called.

To some this may sound like an impossible system. But, I am always full of clients and often have to turn people away due to the amount of work that I have.

If you want to fill your roster and your time limit, fill it with people who match your personality, your work hours, and your system and you’ll end up much happier with your business.

 

Willingness, deliberateness, momentum

Every year at Solo Masterminds Kelly McCausey picks one to three words and asks that we all try to pick one to three words to be our theme or motivation for the year. This is instead of a new year’s resolution. You can ready Kelly’s post here where she explains her own word for 2014 as well as how this all started.

It really does work and it will help you in your life and your business. I highly recommend choosing one to three words to move you forward in the coming year. It’s better than a new years resolution because the words mean more than promising to do something. Here are my words, and why I chose them.

Here are my words for 2014.

Willingness

 

I chose this word because I want to be open to new things in 2014. I have a tendency to like my comfort zone. It’s not that I feel incapable of doing something else, it’s more like I’m not often willing to change or willing to move past where I am. So this year, I want to be willing to try new things, experiment with new products and services, and move my business to the next level.

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Deliberateness

 

I believe that anytime you have an intention to do something, you also have to act. I want to be very deliberate in my actions and not rush to the end. The steps do matter when it comes to what I do. I’m already pretty deliberate in terms of my client schedules and client work, but I want to be more deliberate when doing work for myself. I want to be fully awake and be very intentional with my actions to move my business forward.

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Momentum

 

In physics they define momentum as “mass in motion”. A way to describe this is much like making a snowball, the more you roll it the bigger it gets, if you roll it down a hill it will get bigger and bigger and as it gets more massive it’ll move even faster toward its goal.  For me, momentum means that my willingness and deliberateness will result in a “snowball effect” within my business in terms of growth and results.

 

 

Let me know what your three words are down below. If you want to have more fun discovering more about yourself and making your business successful please consider joining me at Solo Masterminds. This is a wonderful group of business owners who help each other selflessly in their business endeavors.

I know I would not be where I am, if not for this group. If you join, drop me a note. I offer discounts to all Solo Mastermind Members that aren’t published, whether you join due to my recommendation or not. Plus, the truth is, what you get from the group is truly priceless and I know that it will help you as much as it has me over the years.