Staying Focused on Your Virtual Assistant Job

Everyone has distractions to deal with at work, but when you work from home, the distractions are an issue that you have to deal with at the outset. When you start working from a home office, it’s important to develop a specific schedule and make sure your family and friends understand that when you are in your office, that is your time to work. A lot of people think that because they have a friend or family member that works from home, it’s alright to call or drop in whenever they want to. You’ll run into problems when you miss client’s deadlines because you were chatting on the phone or taking time from your project to visit with friends or family. Even if you have to be firm about it, set boundaries right away and make people realize that at certain hours you are working. If they continue to interrupt your work day, gently remind them you are working and give them a time you will be able to talk/visit after you are done.

A lot of people go online and the first thing they do is check their email. It’s hard to keep from reading email from friends or family, but here’s what happens: Someone sends an email that you feel you have to respond to right away, especially if it’s from a relative or close friend. So you take the time to email. There are also the people who forward everything they are sent by other people. You read a forward that you think
you have to pass on, and spend 10 or 15 minutes forwarding to everyone in your address book. Each distraction you face cuts into your work time. If you use your email for business and personal messages, set up a second email address for business emails. Use this one for all business related emails. Make a schedule during work hours to only check your business email, this can be twice a day, or more, depending on your business needs. For your personal emails, limit this to after work hours only.

A lot of people use instant messaging or Skype to stay in contact while they’re online. Some clients want their virtual assistant to have Skype available whenever they’re online. You can have issues by keeping messenger open while you’re working. Friends or family can see that you’re online and want to chat while you’re working. Sometimes you may even get messages from people you don’t know trying to get you involved in a network marketing business. If you have any type of messaging for work, have one account that you use strictly to stay in contact with clients, and another for personal conversations. If you only have IM turned on for friends and family, turn it off during your working hours.

Another distraction can be responding to job offers. Here’s a good example. You have a deadline for a client’s project, but get an email from a potential client who is interested in hiring you for a project. When you take the time to respond and attach files including your resume, you’re taking time off from the current project. This can result in too much work and not enough time. Respond after you finish working for the day.

A major shiny object is social media. We all want to stay in contact with friends on Facebook or Twitter. However, this can be a major distraction when you’re working. If you get a message that someone has commented on your status or something on your page, it’s natural curiosity to want to know who it is. When you check the page, you decide to respond. Another way many of us get distracted on social media sites is from the ads in the sidebar. Ads are placed on social media and other pages according to your preferences or interests, and it’s hard to keep from checking out the offers, especially since many of the ads are so compelling. Get into the habit of only checking out your social media pages after you have finished working.

Although unexpected things can happen when you’re working from home that you must attend to, the most effective way to keep from getting distracted by the shiny objects, is to keep to a set schedule as much as possible, and confine your social time online for your downtime.