Maintaining a work life balance is the ideal we all strive for, but another level of time management is required for working with a variety of business sectors within the role of a virtual assistant.
In the days as an onsite employee for an organization, my position was obviously contained within that one industry, which I got to know very well. Whatever the company, when employment was with one employer, that particular business sector was my domain.
But as a virtual assistant supporting several clients with completely different businesses in various time zones around the world, it takes another kind of mindset to support them.
The Juggle to Support Successfully
The challenge for service providers that support clients in different industries is to know enough about their respective businesses to successfully assist them, but also knowing when to leave the expert-level status to them; the business owner. Finding the sweet spot of knowing enough, but knowing what-you-don’t-need-to-know, is an interesting path to navigate.
My expertise as a VA is obviously all things administration, and other niche services such as writing / eagle eye proofreading / social media / etc. But as an outsourced assistant with my hands in several pies, I’ve come to learn what works best for me to support entrepreneurs making their mark in what they do.
Allotting the Day to Avoid ADD
Currently, I support clients with completely different businesses in corporate wellness, home improvement, and product labeling.
With 4+ email accounts to monitor, and different CRM’s, project management programs and communication platforms for each client, my VA role can only work with a one-at-a-time approach.
Attention Deficit is ready to pounce at any moment, waiting to scatter my focus with multiple email accounts and documents open, causing an overlapping of priorities in my mind. Just working with two different clients simultaneously can easily descent down a slippery slope of distraction and mistakes.
The focused head space that’s required to write an article on a topic with one industry, then jump into another task in a completely different industry, demands that I schedule my day into chunks that my attention span can manage.
Time and Industry Management
The best approach I’ve found in working with several clients is allotting time dedicated to each client, one at a time, with no other unnecessary program open on my computer to distract me. For me, earlier mornings are necessary to dedicate tasks for a client 3 hours ahead. Later mornings are best for writing for another client, while mid-day or afternoons are ideal for other tasks for another. Establishing a schedule of allotted times for each client throughout the week, with a bit of room for flex here and there, is my way to stay sane.
So obviously, it comes down to time management; a no-brainer. But I find that it also comes down to industry management, where it might require more of a breather between clients to clear my head and get reacquainted with what’s going on for them, and my role in making their day or week easier.
As I wrote in my previous blog, “Respecting Clients and Why It Matters,” juggling various industries and having enough mental agility to do that is another reason that choosing to work with a particular client or not is a decision to consider carefully. Another consideration is time zones, and if having multiple clients who are all hours ahead of you will cause deadline challenges.
What do you do to keep your focus and schedule from being scattered between clients?