Work at Home Life

Virtual Assistants, Joining Forces, and Reinventing Work At Home

What Does the Last Quarter of 2010 Look Like for YOU? October 4, 2010

Filed under: Learning By Example,Work at Home — Amber Whitener - Virtual IT Assistant @ 9:08 am
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Not to short change you or anything, but we only have three more months left in 2010. Some people might see that as a bad thing, but you know what? The end of the year is here. It’s not time to be shocked about how fast this year has flown by; it’s time start making sure that your 2010 goals are to be met or even exceeded!
Quarters Add Up
My goals for year 2010 were/are to:

  1. Finish college: This is my very last week. I am 90% finished with my final project! (YES!!!)
  2. Send my son to a good preschool: He loves it, but he doesn’t have to be there 45+ hours every week thanks to my virtual job.
  3. Take care of business while juggling work, school, and family: Now that goals one and two are being met, from now on I am going to be able to focus on Virtual IT Assistants! Before the new year, I am definitely going to overhaul a lot of my web presence and get to accept new clients. I am SO excited about my plans!! It’s going to be awesome!!
  4. Post on Work at Home Life every Monday: I have done this, and some of the posts have turned out to be some of my favorites. Your responses let me and the girls know that we are helping you and our message is coming across well. We have loved all the feedback. So, thank you. 🙂

Well, that’s enough about me. What about you? There are lots of holidays and school functions coming up soon, but what are you going to do to grow your business? Three months doesn’t seem like much time, but all of those quarters add up.

“If time be of all things the most precious, wasting time must be the greatest prodigality.”

– Benjamin Franklin

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Time… Our Most Valuable Asset August 12, 2010

Filed under: Work at Home — Kairos Business Solutions @ 2:56 pm
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Maureen FlorisIn the spotlight today is Maureen Floris, Virtual Assistant at Kairos Business Solutions.

Time is the most valuable asset we have. We cannot make it go faster, make it slow down or go back and do it over again.

How do we spend this valuable asset? Do we really understand it? If you’ve watched the movie ‘The Bucket List’ you’ll have an idea of what I’m talking about. It seems like people who are dealing with an illness are the ones who really ‘get it’. They know how precious our time is here on earth so they make each moment last, taking slow breaths to make it last longer.

We may catch glimpses of what it would be like to enjoy each moment when we are on vacation (unless you’re like my sister and her husband who hike for hours, but even they stop at the top of the mountain to catch their breath – literally!) or visiting another country that understands life is not just about getting things done. I experienced this while in Mexico. For them, life is about relationships – family and friends. Everything else is secondary. While this may seem to our North American culture as lazy, I found it refreshing. They had less things but they were less stressed and much happier. So how can we, living here in a culture that demands our constant attention, immediate replies to emails, twitter and phone calls, remember to slow down, breathe and enjoy the moment?

Start Quote MeWhile living in a culture that demands our constant attention, immediate replies to emails, twitter and phone calls; how can we remember to slow down, breathe and enjoy the moment?Quote Me End

I’m not the first person to ask this, nor will I be the last, but hopefully this will evoke some thought in you to take action – or perhaps inaction, as it were. Also, I won’t pretend I came up with the following suggestion, but I thought it was brilliant and wanted to share it with you.

  • Delete it: Is there something you’re doing over and over again that really is a time waster and not moving you forward in your business (or your life)?
  • Delegate: You may be at that point where you really can’t do all the work. It’s time to think about hiring someone. Hiring a Virtual Assistant is a great option, as she provides expertise in many administrative duties and really does care about your success.
  • Date it: If it needs to get done, schedule it! Give yourself lots of lead time, especially if it’s for a client. In case you are sick or an emergency arises, you don’t want to leave yourself short of time.
  • Do it: What needs to be done now? Stop procrastinating and just do it! Begin your day with your least favorite task. This will allow the rest of the day to be free to do what you love to do. It’s amazing how much better you’ll feel and how much harder you’ll work!

Once you get in the habit of doing this, you will create for yourself time to do what you really want to do. And maybe for you that just means breathing…

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Wishing you the best,
Maureen

www.kairosbusiness.com
twitter: @KairosBusiness

 

Do You Know What Time It Is? Yes, It’s Time to Get a New Watch! June 1, 2010

Filed under: Virtual Office Tools,Work at Home — Amber Whitener - Virtual IT Assistant @ 3:23 pm
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Remember this little “joke” from elementary school? 😀 It fit well with my post today because I am sharing some different ways to help you keep track of your time. (Especially if your current ways aren’t working for you.) It is so important to make sure you are keeping track of your time. The first step to efficiently planning any sort of activity (including work) is to know how you are spending your time.

Get a Timer

Go down to your local Radio Shack or electronic store and buy a digital timer that you use only for your office.
timerTrack time spent on:

  • client calls,
  • tasks,
  • research,
  • email, and anything else you can think of.
 

Find a Browser Plug-in to Track Productivity

This will help you keep track of how long you are spending on certain websites. (Take note WordPress & Joomla developers!)

Chrome Plugin:
Stay Focusd

 

Firefox add-on:
Rescue Time

 

I couldn’t find one for Internet Explorer, however, the next timer is the next best option if you prefer IE.

Download-able Desktop Timers

Cool Timer is a free download for your PC to clock your time. * If you do download this product, I recommend that you uncheck the installation for the browser toolbar.

 

Online Project Management Tools


Zoho’s CRM online service is free for up to 3 users, and offer very affordable month subscriptions for larger teams. You can create contacts and log calls, tasks, etc.

 


You can also check out Google Sites if you would like to try another robust project management system. All you have to do is create a new site and choose the project management template.

 

Conclusion

Last week I posted a poll to find out how many years of experience our readers have in virtual business. We were pleasantly surprised to find out that we have a very good mix of fresh newcomers and seasoned veterans who read our blog. As any experienced virtual assistant will tell you, in the beginning, time will be your greatest asset. So remember that your time is very valuable, and you must learn early to keep track of it. Many of the tools I have shared with you today are free or offer free trials. Remember that free is only a place to start. As your business grows and your time becomes more scarce, invest in quality products and services that save you time so you can focus on your customers.

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Staying Focused While Working From Home May 26, 2010

Filed under: Learning By Example,Work at Home — Jennifer Gallaher - VAbyJen @ 4:14 pm
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Working from home is a decision made more out of necessity these days than a luxury or convenience.  However, the same rules still apply when it comes to professionalism.  Just because you are working from home doesn’t mean you can be lackadaisical about your work, nor does it mean you should hole yourself off completely from the rest of the world in order to get client projects done. 

So let’s be honest with ourselves.  We all wear additional hats during the day along with our wonderful VA one.  The conflict comes in when other distractions in our lives interrupt our workflow.  So how on earth can we ever get focused, much less, stay focused?  Well, I’ve found some wonderfully simple tips that I would like to share with you.

  • Start working at the same time – Treat your work-at-home business as if you were still in a traditional office environment.  Establishing a set start and stop time for work will not only inform your clients of your availability, but help keep you on task for the day.  There will be those days, however, when you may have to start at a later time because of a child’s doctor appointment, or what have you, but consistency is still key, here.
  • Establish a schedule – Whether you are only available pn certain days of the week or certain hours of each day, your schedule should be established.  This not only lets your clients know when you are available, but it will help you distinguish between work time and family/play time, thereby establishing a more balanced life.
  • Limit distractions – Yes, this does include neighbors, friends and your adorable kids.  In order to have a successful work-at-home business, you do need to set boundaries and that should include when your children/significant other can interrupt you during your set work hours.
  • Plan ahead – Not only do you have to take into account your work schedule, but since you work from home, you need to account from your personal/family’s schedule, as well.  This may seem like a daunting task, but I promise you, with a bit of planning, things will start running smoother.
  • Take breaks – Get up from your desk and walk away!  Focus on something else for at least 15 minutes to get your eyes and mind readjusted.  Take a short walk outside and get some fresh air, it’ll do wonders for your creativity.
  • Focus on objectives – Get clear instructions and timelines from your clients before beginning a project so you know which direction you need to be going and how long a project should take.
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What tips have you found that work for keeping you focused?  We would love to hear them!

 

Policies for Time Management-UPDATE April 21, 2010

Filed under: Learning By Example,Work at Home — Jennifer Gallaher - VAbyJen @ 3:54 pm
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A month ago, I was inspired by an article I read in a Real Simple magazine called “How do you say no to people who want too much of your time?” written by Julie Rottenberg. So, I wrote a piece on time management policies. I also started an experiment and came up with three policies that I wanted to implement into my Work at Home Life. To recap they were:

• I have a standing play date for my son every Thursday. I am going to create a recurring appointment in my Outlook calendar for the next month for this and come rain or shine, I will keep that appointment (that is of course, if my son stays healthy).
• My hours of operation are supposed to end by 5:00 pm PST. However, I tend to put certain small tasks off until later in the evening, like sending out daily reports to clients. I am going to create a daily reminder in my calendar that will alert me at 4:30 pm PST each day to start wrapping up all work related tasks and projects. This will not only force me get those reports out on time, but will show my family that I mean business when it comes family time.
• When I run my errands throughout the week, I inevitably run into other moms that I know. I say “hello” to be polite, but keep going. I know that if I stop, I’ll get caught up in a conversation that I won’t be able to get out of. My goal here is to not only wave hello, but to acknowledge the person in a way that lets them know that I do want to get together, but not at that particular time. Then call or email them later in the day with some dates/times I do have available for that long overdue chat.

I encouraged all of you to come up with, and implement, some of your own policies as well. Now, it’s time to share our results!!! How did you do?

I was able to implement 2 out of 3 of the policies I started out with, with no problem. My husband on the other hand, needed a few reminders when it came to the end of my work day. Clients would periodically call after my working hours and I refused to answer the calls, which would force them to leave me a message. My husband thought, “It could be important, you should answer that.” Well, he was partly right. All of my clients and their needs are important. But, so is my time with my family.

The one policy that I was not able to fully keep up with was the standing play date for my son. I did put the recurring appointment in my Outlook calendar and like clockwork, the reminder popped up each week. However, the first Thursday of my experiment, my son came down with a really bad cold, so I kept him home. The following Thursday, my son’s play date partner was not able to make it due to prior commitments on her mother’s part. I did however, keep the blocked time on my schedule and my son and I painted pictures together. The third week was a winner! I was able to keep the appointment and met my son’s friend and her mother. The kids had a great time and I was able to catch up with a wonderful girlfriend over some much-needed coffee. The last week, however, was a bust. I ended up scheduling a training session for a client because that was the only time that was available.

What I learned from this experiment is that our time is important, not only for business, but for our home life, as well. The days that I was able to keep all my appointments and still follow my policies were the most productive. Not only that, but I was more at ease and didn’t feel pressured for time. So, I am going to keep working on the three policies that I implemented and slowly add more as I go. I also realized that it will take some time before the policies become second nature to me and I will have days that I slip, but that’s okay. It’s the end result that I’m after!

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Policies for Time Management??? March 24, 2010

Filed under: Learning By Example,Organization Tips,Work at Home — Jennifer Gallaher - VAbyJen @ 4:32 pm
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Many of you may not know this about me, but I am an avid Real Simple magazine reader. The magazine contains tons of tips to help simplify your life, whether it is for work or home life. Then I came across an article, “How do you say no to people who want too much of your time?” answered by Julie Rottenberg, who is Real Simple’s etiquette expert and it really got me thinking. Julie talks about having policies in place to help manage our time.

Hmmm….Policies for time management? The concept sounds pretty silly to me. But, the more I thought about it, the more I really liked the concept. In our daily lives we are constantly bombarded by things or people who require more time and attention than we may have to give at any given moment. Julie Rottenberg calls them “Time Suckers.” Some examples may be: 1) Running into an old friend while on your way to meet a client, 2) Constant requests to join various groups or clubs for which you either have no desire or time for or 3) Television on “for noise” while working at home. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been caught up in all three of these examples at one time or another, as well as many others. It’s called life. But that doesn’t mean things can’t change.

So, I have decided to do an experiment.  I am going to create and implement a few policies and for the next 30 days I will try my best to follow them.  Here is what I’ve come up with as starters:

  • I have a standing play date for my son every Thursday.  I am going to create a recurring appointment in my Outlook calendar for the next month for this and come rain or shine, I will keep that appointment (that is of course, if my son stays healthy).
  • My hours of operation are supposed to end by 5:00 pm PST.  However, I tend to put certain small tasks off until later in the evening, like sending out daily reports to clients.  I am going to create a daily reminder in my calendar that will alert me at 4:30 pm PST each day to start wrapping up all work related tasks and projects.  This will not only force me get those reports out on time, but will show my family that I mean business when it comes family time.
  • When I run my errands throughout the week, I inevitably run into other moms that I know.  I say “hello” to be polite, but keep going.  I know that if I stop, I’ll get caught up in a conversation that I won’t be able to get out of.  My goal here is to not only wave hello, but to acknowledge the person in a way that lets them know that I do want to get together, but not at that particular time.  Then call or email them later in the day with some dates/times I do have available for that long overdue chat.

What policies can you enact today to help get your time management under control?  Let’s do this together and see what our results are in 30 days.  Good luck!

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