When you’re a virtual assistant, many of your days will be non-stop. The addition of a smartphone where it is very tempting to always check in on work no matter whether you're involved in work or play, can really make it hard to find a work-life balance. Where does either begin, and where do they end? If it is sounding familiar, it is worth checking out some applications that actually help you to find a balance amongst the cross-over of the two.
If obtaining a work-life balance is being prevented by the distractions in your day to day life, RescueTime can help you understand your habits every day, allowing you to be more productive and focus. Running in the background of your computer and mobile device very securely, it tracks the time you spend on websites, blogs and apps, presenting you with an accurate picture of your day by the end of the day, including detailed reports based on what you've been doing.
Are you spending too much time on email? More than 3 hours a day in meetings? Checking in on your personal Facebook more than you realize? RescueTime will tell you all of this, which can certainly be an eye opener to the time spent where, allowing you to readjust your day to enable less distractions and more focus where it is needed. In theory, it can enable you to ensure your day is finished at the end of the work day, head home and shut off.
Want more control? The app can be paused or shut off at any time. If you're concerned that you overrun on certain tasks (ideal if you're on timed projects), RescueTime can alert you when you have spent a certain amount of time on a particular task, as well as blocking distracting websites if you want to avoid them.
RescueTime Lite is free, providing you with an accurate breakdown of your day. You can upgrade to RescueTime Premium, allowing you to track time offline, block websites and receive alerts, as well as several other features. This offers a 14 day trial, and then it is either $9 a month or $72 for a year.
Emails do take up a lot of your day as a virtual assistant. It's highly advisable to set aside a certain time to check and write emails every day, but an added bonus tool to throw into the mix is Boomerang.
It's very easy to push back emails until they're urgent or actually require a reply closer to a particular date (a meeting reminder, for example), but this tool allows you to write emails and schedule them in advance. You simple write the message as you usually would, and select 'Send Later' and then pick from a calendar. In doing so, you can obtain a smarter and more organized inbox. If emails come in that you really don't have time for, use Boomerang to archive your message and choose a time for it to appear again at the top; this can be done as soon as an email appears, saving you the hassle of having to sort and prioritize emails when you’ve left the office.
Want to be notified if someone hasn't replied to an important email? Boomerang can remind you to chase the email up, ensuring no messages ever slip through the cracks. Boomerang is only available for Gmail accounts, and accounts start at free for basic features, up to $49.99 for features such as premium support and insights.
If you have a very busy family life outside of your career as a VA, the last thing you want is for work to really get in the way of your home life. That's where Cozi can help. A shared calendar for the whole family, it helps to manage activities for everyone with a centralized calendar that the whole family can access at any time. You can check in and see everyone’s schedules, activities and who is where at what time.
At the same time, you can organize major work events while ensuring that they don't interfere with family events. Don't want to miss the soccer game your son is playing at? Check in to see when it is, and ensure no meetings are scheduled that evening. The app also has features such as to-do's, a family journal and shopping lists that help everything across the family to run seamlessly and stay organized.
A feature that really gives Cozi bonus points for busy VAs is its ability to sync with calendars like Outlook and Google which help you to stay on track with everything wherever you are and with whatever you're using. Cozi syncs across all platforms so everyone is always kept updated.
Free to use, this is a really valuable tool for managing your work life balance.