With many joining our industry daily, I thought I’d touch on this topic once again. Working at home can be wonderful and it certainly has been for me, and many other Virtual Assistants. However, it’s important to understand that you will be home alone, day after day, and you might not have much face-to-face interaction with others.
We do have online forums for VAs to chat with each other, learn how to do things, seek assurance in what they’re doing, perhaps even share ideas and resources. But it’s not the same as being in a corporate office where you see a number of people every day, five days a week. And when something goes wrong, your computer isn’t working, you lose a file, or something else, there won’t be someone around you can turn to for help, in most instances. The buck stops with you.
That’s not to say you can’t have service providers coming to sort a problem out for you, but you might not want to be doing that every few days, if you’re footing the bill for that service. So, it makes sense, to learn how to look after your computer, and to fix a few things, when it means you are responsible for your own equipment, software and other items in your home office.
There are some who find working at home quite isolating, and therefore, depressing. It takes time to get used to your own company and doing everything virtually. But, do you have to do everything virtually? Perhaps your work yes, research yes, and some self-education. But there are other things you can do where it means leaving your home office and going out to meet other people. And that can be a really good thing. Why? For these reasons:
- It is not good to be inside the same four walls seven days a week.
Make sure you get up and go out, get fresh air, and get some exercise. Taking regular breaks from your work will allow your mind and body to refresh and rejuvenate, and operate much better.
- It is not good to be alone all the time.
We’re social people and we need to mix and mingle with others. So, meeting other business owners for a cuppa at a cafe and a brainstorm, is a good thing to do. And finding out about local business networking groups, not only gives you the opportunity to share your business with others, but it also allows you to find resources for your own business, such as: computer tech support, printer, stationery supplier, accountant, solicitor, business coach, etc.
- Going out into the community allows you to see what’s happening locally and you may learn or find things that will support you in your business.
Other things you need to do when working from home:
- Get social.
Join some social networks where you get to mix and mingle, not only with your peers, but also with prospective clients, or community groups that may need your assistance. This can be done via email based forums, board based forums, LinkedIn groups, Facebook groups, Twitter, Google+ and so many other tools out there. Word of warning: These can become addictive. Make sure you discipline yourself not to be chatting all day long, otherwise you won’t get any work done.
- Do the type of work that you like.
You chose to be in business so that you can be home full-time, for whatever reason is important to you. But you will lose motivation and feel despondent if you’re not enjoying the work that you do. So make sure you don’t fall into the trap of accepting any job that comes along, simply because you need the money. Learn how to market your business and network accordingly to attract the right type of clients.
- Set boundaries for yourself.
This means knowing when to switch on and off. Not allowing others to infringe on your time if you should be working. Not working all hours of the day and night, day after day and night after night. Knowing when you’re in ‘the office’ versus knowing when you’re ‘at home’. For me, when my girls were young, taking them to school, and then picking up my mail at the post office before returning home, meant I was ‘coming to work’. I needed that mindset change to help me focus on being at work, versus being at home. Don’t get me wrong. I still got up to go and put the washing on, or something else. I needed to make sure I was taking regular breaks and looking after my body, but I needed also, to make sure I didn’t get distracted with housework, the TV or anything else when I had client work to get done.
- Make your office a place you enjoy being in.
This means, if at all possible, having a space you can shut the door on, or be away from, when doing other activities in your home. Combining your workspace with your kitchen, dining room, lounge room, or bedroom, for example, will mean you’ll find it difficult to switch off. And you’ll never really feel like your office, is an office. Having a separate office means you can set it up how you want it, to make you feel comfortable and happy in that environment. After all, it’s yours and you’re free to choose how to set it up, so you can enjoy being there for hours at a time.
I hope the above tips will assist you in your journey in developing as a Virtual Assistant. Enjoy!