It’s true that, as a virtual assistant, you have the freedom and flexibility to control your own schedule. This is great for us moms who want to be available to our children. What I enjoy most about this is being able to attend children’s events at school midday without worrying about asking a boss for time off. Every weekday I leave my home around 2:40 in the afternoon to pick up my kids from school. I make my own schedule and I enjoy doing so.
However, I must be truly in control of my time. As a virtual assistant with a full client load, I must make sure that I have the time it takes to get all the many tasks my clients entrust me with done on time and correctly.
I need to be certain that I am giving my clients the time and the quality of work that they deserve, so I have had to learn how to manage my time wisely.
Time management involves several different concepts. These include, but may not be limited to:
These two areas of time management are my pillars, if you will, for building a time-management system that works.
Many people frown upon the concept of scheduling and don’t like to be on a “schedule.” The concepts of routine and schedule can be strict or loose. I prefer to use these terms loosely. I also tend to sway toward the concept of a routine more so than a “schedule.”
When I taught school, we were on a strict schedule. I was to clock in at 7:30 a.m. The first bell for school to begin rang at 7:52 a.m., the tardy bell at 7:56 a.m., the bell for the first period was at 8:00 a.m. You get the idea. Our schedule was on a bell system and we followed it as closely as possible.
I am thrilled that I no longer follow a bell schedule in my life and business. I enjoy the ability to eat lunch any time I want, rather than when the late lunch bell rings at 12:50 p.m. That’s why I say I tend to refer to this area of business as more of a routine. Schedules are nice, but I like the flexibility of a routine instead. My daily routine as a business owner is the same during the children’s school year but can change slightly during the summer or around the holidays.
My basic daily routine looks like this: 6:15 – Rise, shower, and dress
6:00 Get up to cook breakfast and prepare children’s lunches
7:00 – Get children up to get dressed for school
8:00 – Read my Bible and prayer time
9:00 – Check email, check-in on social media, begin work Sometime during the day I grab snacks and lunch.
2:40 – Leave to pick up my children from school.
3:15 – After-school snacks
That’s a basic day. Supper follows and then family time with possibly some work for me squeezed in during the evenings. The most important part of my routine is that it is flexible.
This may look like a schedule to you and, broadly speaking, it is. However, built into each area of my day (or time slot, if you will) is a set of routines that I practice.
During our clean-up time each afternoon, I prep dinner. This means I decide which of the meals we will have from my menu plan, which is another one of my routines. I make a menu plan as well as a grocery list as a part of my weekly routine. My menu plan is a list of meals that we will have for the following week. I also have a specific day that I grocery shop so that I don’t need to run to town every day for errands. Instead, I do it on a weekly basis. The routines that I have in my life have become second nature, but sometimes they do change. One of my favorite benefits of working from home is the flexibility. If one of my children is sick, I can ignore my routines for at least part of the day.
I want to encourage you to create a routine that works for you and your family. When I had one or more of my children home for part of the day due to the fact that they only attended half a day of preschool, my routine looked very different. I was not able to work as much during the day. I chose to work around my children. This required careful planning on my part.
When running a virtual assistant business, careful planning is important in order to get all tasks completed and keep clients happy. This becomes more important the more clients you take on. Over the years, I have used different strategies in order to plan my tasks and days. Some of these strategies included:
- A paper planner
- Google calendar
- Simple paper and pen
- Online project management systems
If you’re not familiar with any or all of these strategies, do some research? Also, here’s an article I wrote on the most simple concept there is to use in planning—the “to-do” list.
When all else fails for planning, grab a sheet of paper and a pen or pencil and make a list!