Starting out as a new virtual assistant was a difficult thing. It is most definitely a learning experience, but that isn’t always a bad thing. I learned so much throughout my first two years as a virtual assistant. These things have not only helped me do my job better, but the things I have learned have also helped me pass some wisdom onto virtual assistants who are just starting out. The first and most important thing I learned as a new virtual assistant was the significance of communication. In addition to learning how important communication can be, I quickly learned that I needed to be organized and on top of things. Though both communication and organization are important for virtual assistants, community might be the most important thing for new virtual assistants to have. Something I did not know would matter as a new virtual assistant and entrepreneur is something that should have been incredibly obvious but wasn’t…self-care.
One of the first and most important things you learn as a virtual assistant: communication. Communication can make or break a client relationship, it is always important to have clear open communication with clients. Communicating with clients can mean many different things, what I cannot stress enough is that you need to find what works best for both you and the client. Whether this means using Facebook messenger instead of email or doing a Skype call or phone call once a week, find what is most effective for you both.
Once you have found out what works best for both you and your client (this may vary from one client to another) try to hone in on a schedule. I try to check in with my clients often, and then do phone calls when it works for them, whether this is weekly, or bi-monthly I try to touch base and make sure that we are communicating effectively and on the same page when it comes to projects both large and small. This will help streamline the process and make the relationship between you and your clients much healthier than it otherwise would be. This also ensures that you’re doing the best job possible for your clients.
Something that isn’t always thought of when communication and client relationships come up is time. Time is a huge thing, how much time you spend working on client projects, how much time you have in a day and a big one: time zones. When I started my business, I had no clue how important time zones would become to me, but with having clients globally, time zones are huge for me. I need to keep track of the time difference between me and each client to make sure I properly schedule or weekly meetings along with making sure their social media content goes out at proper times.
Another incredibly important thing I learned in my couple of years as a virtual assistant is how important organization can be. I make a point to color code what I do, and make sure I have space in my daily planner and dry erase calendar for each of my clients, so I know that I am tracking the work I do for them, and that I do not miss time when scheduling their social media accounts. Though this may not be a system that works for everyone (it drives my fiancé up the wall) it works for me and that is what is important. As an entrepreneur you have the room to try out what works for you so don’t be afraid to try a few different things until you find what feels right. To some, it may look like chaos but if it keeps you organized and on track it doesn’t matter one bit what it looks like to anyone else.
Staying organized helps me ensure that I’m doing my best work possible, it also fulfills me. Maybe I’m strange, but there’s something fulfilling about making my to-do list in the morning and checking off those boxes (color coded by client of course!).
Communication and Organization are important for new virtual assistants, but not as important as community. Though I don’t know if it is like this for everyone, it happens often that I go hours without seeing someone face to face. While I do still see my fiancé and roommates often, there are days that they are the only people I see. This causes me to go a little stir crazy occasionally and demand that I get out of the house. On the days that I only see the people I live with, I’m more thankful than not that I have the amazing Own It Crush It community to engage with and keep me sane. I recently
joined the VIP paid group, and it has been amazing, I knew I had found my happy place just a few days in. I love having a group of people to lean on when I’m stressed or confused about something. The entire group, along with the amazing ladies in my accountability pod help me stay on track and give me a little boost when I need it, just like I do for them. It is important to have a community not only to have somewhere to go when you’re stumped on a client project, but to have somewhere to vent as well. It often happens as an entrepreneur that I have complaints that while my fiancé will gladly listen to me through, he doesn’t understand them. This is where the amazing OICI group comes in. This is a group of people who understand and offer feedback when others can’t necessarily help me.
Self-care is something that I should have realized early on that I needed but unfortunately it took me a very long time to see this. I have never been great at self-care, as a former farmer I never had time off, and if I did it wasn’t very long. This instilled an amazing work ethic in me, but it also instilled it me the mindset that I needed to come last. If my cows weren’t comfortable and happy they weren’t making as much milk and no milk means no money. This work ethic, and unfortunately mindset both carried over into my days as an entrepreneur. I put my clients and their needs long before my own, while this means I have some happy clients it also means that I am often tired and teetering on the edge. I know that I have felt the effects of burn out before, and I know that I will again. It is simply how things go for me.
In late 2018 I was diagnosed with migraines, to me it seemed that they had come out of left field and been a complete shock. Once I sat down and thought about it though, my body had been trying to tell me for weeks that it was burning out and I needed to slow down. Before I really noticed the migraines, I noticed the hair loss. Good grief, the hair loss. I figured my hypothyroidism was the cause, but all was normal there, it was stress causing my hair to fall out at an alarming rate. Then came the migraines and the madness that comes with them. These headaches knocked me out, sometimes I can’t handle it and decide to take a break. I think to myself “I’ll just lay down for 20 minutes” and wake up 2 hours later. At first, I was appalled, and tried to stop, now I’m starting to realize that if I can sleep uninterrupted in the middle of the day my body desperately needs that rest.
For me, self-care now looks like taking naps, and breaks before I get completely burned out. It helps me accomplish more in a day, because I’m not completely exhausted for hours. Self-care includes taking honest time off, not just working less on the weekends and calling it a break. I mean taking time away from work. One great thing I have picked up to help with my self-care is Start Where You Are by Meera Lee Patel. The journal helps me take a step back and really look at my life and what fulfills me. As a new virtual assistant, you might be stressed, and think that you need to pour your heart, soul and every minute of your day into your work. Don’t do it. I know it sounds appealing, but self-care is such an important thing. Find out what helps you relax, I enjoy reading, taking baths or just watching a comedy TV show with my fiancé. Once you find out what helps you relax, stick with it. Even when you’re watching TV and thinking about how you should be writing next week’s blog post, leave your laptop in your office and enjoy your time off.
Each of these things is important for a new virtual assistant to figure out, just make sure you figure it out your own way. When I started out, it seemed like I spent just as much time figuring out how other virtual assistants did things, as I did looking for clients. It is a scary thing to do, but just dive in and see what works for you, find your community, get organized your own way, go through a hundred different forms of communication with that first client until you find out what works best for you both. Just don’t forget about yourself. Take breaks and let your body and mind rest, make sure you’re enjoying both your business and your personal life.