Do you work as a Virtual Assistant? If so, how does your VA business enable your life?

I’m sure you’re all familiar with the old adage: “Work to Live, don’t Live to Work”. For me, it was far easier to apply this idea to employed, corporate life when my role – although at times both challenging and enjoyable – could often be left in the office at 5.30pm as I headed home to my family. Weekend and evening working was rare, and in the event of an issue occurring (such as a technological issue or minor ailment), there was usually a large support network of colleagues to fall back on.

When you work as a Virtual Assistant or self-employed business owner, it’s all too easy for work to permeate every aspect of your life. Working from home, although great for reducing commute costs, brings with it a unique set of challenges; for a start, it’s not so easy to walk away from the office at the end of the day. If your office is in your house, it’s incredibly easy to think ‘I’ll just clear a few emails now’ at 8pm at night, and accidentally lose 3 hours of your all important downtime by trying to be efficient.

It’s also much easier to be distracted by household chores that need to be completed, particularly when you’ve got a challenging or mundane task that needs to be completed! All too frequently I’ve found myself hoovering or washing clothes when I really should have been focusing on billable work. Another issue relates to the noise created by your family and/or pets when you work from home; corporate office environments aren’t exactly exam hall quiet – there’s always someone talking on the phone, people having a chat, someone swearing at the photocopier…

Working at home alongside your family is a totally different ball-game, whether it is your partner asking you where something is every two minutes (when they clearly haven’t actually looked for it), the dog going crackers about a squirrel in the garden, or your tranquillity being disturbed by the pervasive catchiness of children’s television theme songs (I’m recommending that you all look up the Hey Duggee ‘Stick’ song of you haven’t had the pleasure), the ability to tune out the noise and find your inner Zen can be a challenging skill to master!

Though we all know that working from home can be incredibly positive and beneficial, it is very easy to lose sight of this fact if you are snowed under with work and feeling as though your work-life balance is non-existent. So here are my top tips for re-establishing your work-life balance and recognising the flexibility that a virtual role can provide – if you let it!

1.) Step away from your inbox – consider switching off your emails in the evenings and weekends. The majority of business owners won’t expect you to respond to their late night emails UNLESS you have made a habit of always getting back to them, regardless of the time. Even if you do like to check your emails in the evening, consider holding back on sending responses until working hours so that recipients don’t start to assume that you are on hand to deal with every enquiry (urgent or not) outside of traditional working hours.

2.) Consider a mini ‘Digital Detox’ at evenings and weekends – scientific evidence suggests that the blue light emitted by our computers, laptops, tablets and phones can interfere with our natural sleeping patterns. Why not consider setting aside an hour or two before bed each night as ‘digital free’ time? It could help you get a better night’s sleep and, in turn, help you feel more rested and positive in the morning all ready for a day of productive and efficient work.

3.) Get out and about – you know how everyone assumes that if you work from home that you’re always swanning about in the sunshine and going out for coffee? Why not actually try to live that stereotype, at least a little! If the weather is gorgeous, take an hour out and get out for a walk in the fresh air. If you’re lacking productivity, why not consider popping out for a coffee to give your mind a well-deserved break? It’s easy to get stir-crazy sitting in the same four walls all day every day, so mix it up every now and then and embrace your ability to work flexibly!

4.) Get dressed – it’s SO easy to work in your PJs when you haven’t got to leave the house, but although this does happen occasionally, I find that I work more efficiently and positively when I am dressed and ready for work. I saw an article recently that said ‘if you are dressed for sport, you are more likely to go out for a jog/do some exercise’ and the same really can be said for working, too. Comfy clothes to me say ‘time to switch off and relax’ – not the best mind-set if I’ve got a day of challenging work to complete.

5.) Network – even if you aren’t looking for new clients at the moment, networking can be a beneficial experience! It’s really easy to accidentally go for days without actually speaking to someone face-to-face – apart from your family and close friends/neighbours. But building positive working relationships at physical or virtual networking events can help to both reduce potential feelings of loneliness and isolation, and help you to establish a circle of moral and technical support, should you ever require it. Even if you’re not really a people person, humans are social creatures, so why not consider booking networking events into your working schedule if you don’t already? You might not get any new ‘super hot leads’ from the events, but I’m sure you’ll still benefit from the positive social aspects of the activity.

Do you have any top tips to share about finding a positive work-life balance when you work from home? We’d love to hear them – please feel free to share them on our Social Media channels!