This post is a shout out to my fully committed virtual assistant colleagues. It's no joke to have a full client load, and still be running your own business. (For a while in 2015, I joined a team so that I could take a break from the hot seat and running everything myself.) It’s hard… but it’s incredibly rewarding when you do it right.
When you're working with your clients, it can be hard to keep your own business running. Your brain spins with tasks late at night, and while you're drinking your morning coffee. Perforating your breakfast, emails, text messages, and voicemails fly in to check on tasks.
Instead of letting business run the show, you've got to work for yourself the same way you do for clients. Make it a point to schedule time to work in your business. Get your admin systems straight so that you can better serve clients. Automate everything. Delegate what you can't automate.
Take the advice you give to clients. You cannot do it all, all the time.
Here are my favorite ways to keep things running for my own business while rocking a full client load:
Automate invoicing. I use Harvest to track time, invoice clients, and manage projects from the time side of things. It frees me up to forget about due dates and manually sending invoices. It sends itself, the client pays (or I pay it for them) and we continue working.
Get your own assistant. If you're working full time with clients, you can afford it -- and it'll make a huge difference in your life. Get them to take over the things you do for others. Find someone who is incredible at scheduling, and have them take over your appointments. You can do this.
Get out of your email. One of the favorite things I have my team do is to check my email twice a day. They file things I have to see into a special folder, and everything else gets archived in its place. It's so nice to login and know what needs me, without wading through messages. Just this morning, my assistant knew I hadn't checked in to my email because I was at an appointment. She sent me a digest via text message with what was going on and was able to pick up the slack. Amazing efficiency.
Use communication to your advantage. Have calls booked back to back if possible. Schedule them one morning a week, knock them out, and get them all done together. That way you're not bouncing around with tasks. You also won't be interrupting yourself with a schedule that's hard to keep.
Take breaks. You will be SO much more productive if you break up your workday even for a few minutes. Be open to taking five or ten minute breaks to chill out in between jumping from client work to your own work. Keep it light and agile.
Work in blocks. I call this batching. If you have a bunch of accounting you need to do, and emails, don't flip between them. Do one, and then the other. All the accounting, then all the emails. Jumping back and forth between task types wastes time and ruins your focus.
Set boundaries. They're important for your clients -- but also for your business. You need to know when to start and stop working. You need to know how many systems are too many. And when it comes to time invested, a work-life balance is why you started in the first place. What good is working if it keeps you from the things you love? Set boundaries and stick to them. (P.S. Delegating the stuff others can do helps you do this a lot better.)
I want to hear what your struggles have been when working for yourself with a huge client load. Have you struggled to keep the peace between your client work and your business? Tell me in the comments below.