One of the hardest parts of working from home is simply staying focus and organized! When you become a creative virtual assistant, you no longer have a structured work environment, with a boss telling you what to do next. Instead, you are in charge of your workday. And while this sounds exciting, it can also be overwhelming!
After spending the last few years working from home full time with my business, Ava And The Bee, I have learned a thing or two about working from home, while staying productive. My biggest tip: have a schedule and a routine. Just because you are working from home doesn’t mean you can’t have a schedule!
You might not have a designated office, and that is okay! Even converting part of a room into an office can be a big help. It’s important to have a quiet space where you can work, such as a desk with your computer. Chose a location that can be permanent, and not one you will have to move around frequently. This could be a guest bedroom or a corner of your living room. If you do have a private office space, make sure it is well-lit with plenty of outlets and a good cell phone signal for calls.
No matter where you chose to work, make sure you keep it clutter-free! At the end of every day, I clean off my desk and put away any papers I got out. I even clean out my desktop screen so it is clutter-free for the next day.
Even if you are working evening hours, you need to set office hours! This is when your client can expect to hear from you and when you will be answering questions. Even if you are working 6 – 9 PM, make sure that is clear with your client.
Another option is to set office hours outside of your normal working hours. For example, when I still had a full-time job, I had my office hours set from 2 PM – 6 PM. So when I got home at 4, I was answering emails. If I was working after 6 PM, I would have my email set to go out at 2 PM the next day. If you are working outside of your normal hours, schedule emails to send during your normal working hours. I use the Gmail App Boomerang! It is free and lets you send emails at your chosen date and time. This also helps you set boundaries with your clients.
Just like your office hours during which you are emailing clients or taking calls, you also need to have working hours. While you are working from home, you still need some structure to stay motivated! This can ensure that you get things done on time while maintaining that balance. I personally like to work from 9 AM – 3 PM. Some days I get into the office around 8 AM, other days closer to 9. And some days I work a little later or stop a little early if I finish. But the boundaries of 9-3 stay the same!
When setting your hours, find what your peak productive hours are. For some people, this might be early in the morning when they first enter the office. For others, this might be in the afternoon after lunch. Figure out when you have the most energy, and give yourself the most important tasks at that time. For example, I do my best from 9 AM – 1 PM, before I go to lunch. This is when I do the biggest tasks due that day – so writing blogs, doing emails, etc. This way I get that done when I am the most productive and awake and save the other non-detailed tasks for later in the day when I am slower.
I know, working in pajamas is tempting! But it can help you feel more ready for the day if you change into something else. It can still be comfy! I personally wear cotton v-necks every single day, with shorts or pants. Now, I do sometimes wear PJ bottoms, but changing into a different top and putting my hair into a bun makes me feel ready to take on the day!
This is the hardest one for me! Just because you work from home doesn’t mean that you need to do housework. It can be so easy to run the dishwasher or start a load of laundry, and next thing you know, you are 30 minutes behind work. Organize your house activities for after your office hours, and your productivity will thank you.
This is one I am the most guilty of breaking – but am working on! Set a designated lunchtime every single day to keep your schedule consistent. I know I talk about this a lot – but keeping a consistent schedule every single day is the single most important way to stay productive when working from home. This includes taking a 30-minute lunch. This will help reset your mind and get you out of your chair for a few minutes. I also suggest making sure you don’t eat your lunch at your desk (my biggest rule-breaking thing!). Working through lunch does not mean you took a lunch break!
The big advantage to working from home is that you get to set your own schedule and make your own rules. But that means you need to actually set that schedule and make those rules. Trust me. You’ll be so thankful when you’re able to be more productive and calmer because you have everything set up for your workday.
If you’re looking for an amazing community that can help support you and answer any questions you might have, you can join The Creative VA Lounge, a free Facebook group!