Monday Jan 17, 2022

Time management tips for working in a virtual world

I’ve always been good at time management. But when I left Corporate America and started my virtual assistant business, I discovered pretty quickly that time management in a virtual world is different than in an office environment. It meant that I needed to learn how to restructure my day to be more productive.

Of course, in the early days, time management meant using shorthand to take notes and carbon paper to create duplicates. The advent of the computer changed all that. It’s only been getting better and better from there. Today’s clerical professional has a wide range of tools on hand to help organize your work day. When I was working in an office environment, some of the time management techniques I used included sorting mail into stacks before opening or distributing it; making sure that when I got up from my desk, I ran all the errands I needed while I was already awake; convert as many paper systems to electronic systems as possible. I always enjoyed finding ways to streamline a process. I came up with some pretty crazy ideas; But I was usually lucky enough to have bosses who allowed me to test my ideas, and they always worked.

Once I started working from home, where literally all of my work was done on the computer, many of my time management tactics stopped being applied. At first it was a bit frustrating as I had always prided myself on my organizational and time management skills. It seemed like he couldn’t handle it. It was out of place for me. I finally decided that I needed to take a couple of days over a long weekend to organize things and develop a routine.

  • I started with my computer. Up to this point, it had only been for personal use. Now, it was my main work tool. I set out to organize my desk, my documents, my files, etc., to allow me to work more efficiently; help me find things easier; have a filing system that makes sense. I deleted files and uninstalled programs that I didn’t even remember saving or installing, freeing up space I didn’t even know I had. I ran my computer maintenance regimen. Wow, that was a lot, but it was worth it! My computer now runs faster and smoother than ever.
  • Next, I got to work on my calendar, to-do list, and email. He had things here, there and everywhere. I consolidated everything into my Microsoft Outlook program and organized daily folders, lists, and schedules.
  • After that, I took an inventory of the software applications I was using and what I would need to add to my collection to be productive in my new work environment. After all, he was responsible for all of that now, rather than the company he worked for, as he had always been in the past. I researched what I could use for free and added the highest quality apps since I could afford them.
  • Backup – The last thing I had to do was change a backup system for my computer. I never cared much about it before. But I couldn’t risk losing a valuable job, as it was now my livelihood. That’s now one less thing I have to worry about.

Now that I had things in order, I really wanted to go to work. Even though my work day went smoothly after doing these things, I found that I still had work to do. I was still not making the most of my time; I had to find ways to improve even more. After a period of experimenting with different things, I have finally narrowed it down to a few things that work really well for me.

  • Email: I found out how to tame the email gremlin; organizing my mail, just like I used to do when I was working in an office, only now it’s on the computer. I mark high priority mail for follow-up (if I don’t handle it at the time), file it in a folder, print it, forward it (delegate), or delete it. If you need to add something to my calendar, I do it right then, and I’m sure I won’t forget to schedule it later. Well, that’s out of the way. I schedule this first thing in the morning and then check it a few times during the day.
  • Schedule: Having a schedule for my day first thing in the morning is crucial for me. I know what I need to do and I have a pretty good idea of ​​how long it will take, so it’s not that difficult to schedule my day. I use my calendar in Outlook and set a reminder to appear. This is the best method I can think of to make sure I don’t miss or forget anything really important.
  • Family – It took me some time to get my family used to the idea that just because I’m home doesn’t necessarily mean I’m available to meet their needs. I still have a job to do and a deadline to complete certain tasks. On top of that, I charge a lot of my clients by the hour; therefore, it is important that the time I spend working on your projects is devoted entirely to that project. Once I made it clear that my work time is “do not disturb” time, they fully understood it, and my work day now has a lot less interruptions …
  • Speaking of interruptions, that’s another thing I learned to control. Although it was difficult to do, I had to learn how to turn off my cell phone, close my email, put my desk phone on ‘do not disturb’, stop doing laundry, etc. An important part of time management for me is being able to fully focus on what I am working on.

It is a work in progress. By nature, I always look for better and more efficient ways of doing things. I hope I never stop modifying it. But it is much better now than before. Now I have time to accept new clients!

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