Working as a virtual assistant comes with many advantages. You have greater control over your time, you no longer have to endure long work hours, you can wear clothes that you want, and you can work from just about anywhere. If you are a parent, you also have the privilege to look after your little children when you work as a VA.
However, these advantages can work against you if you don’t have the right combination of commitment and discipline to combat the challenges that come with working in a virtual office or from your home. As mentioned in an article published on Forbes, Debra Benton’s The Virtual Executive book reveals that with 20 to 30 million professionals working from home at least one day per week, bad work habits are becoming more common.
So what are the most common mistakes that VAs can make and how can you avoid these? Read on.
1. Not dressing up for work.
Working from home gives you the freedom to wear clothes based on your mood and preference, but this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t dress up for work. Research shows that what you wear affects your performance. Wearing your pajamas or sloppy shirts while working may make you feel lethargic and send you signals that you can relax during work time.
2. Saying yes to every work that comes your way.
When working as a freelancer or a VA, you might get too excited by income opportunities that you can become tempted to accept more than what you can handle. Be realistic and manage your time wisely. Plan your work schedule monthly, weekly, and daily. A well-planned calendar can help you better assess how much work you can accept from clients. Saying yes to every account or task assigned to you will not only stress you out, but will also cause you to fail and lose clients due to unmet expectations.
3. Not setting up a proper workplace.
Setting up a home office is important for VAs. Having your own office at home takes you away from the many distractions that can kill productivity—TV, food in the kitchen, playing kids, chores and more. Designate a special place for work and put work-related supplies in this area so you don’t have to leave your office space when you are working. Also, avoid opening websites that aren’t needed for work while you are in your home office. Browsing websites and social media pages wastes too much of your work time.
4. Working excessively long hours.
While you are not bound by a 9-5 job, this doesn’t mean that you should work 12 hours per day or even more. This is a bad work habit that not only reduces productivity and creativity, but also ruins personal relationships. Don’t let your work overtake your life. Set a specific time for working and limit it to the standard 8 hours per day.
5. Not taking the time to expand your knowledge and develop your skills.
You do not have a manager to evaluate you or an HR team to look after your career growth. As a VA, it is your responsibility to carve your own path to success by not just settling for what you already know, but by also finding ways to continuously further your knowledge and develop skills that will help you serve your clients better. Attend seminars, workshops or pursue higher learning that are relevant to your career goals.
To be a successful virtual assistant, you have to exhibit professionalism at all times. Build good work habits from the very beginning. This will help you build lasting work relationships with your clients as well as earn a positive reputation online, a great factor that directly impacts how much work will come your way in the future.