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6 Tips from a Virtual Assistant on How to Work Efficiently from Home

With the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, the likelihood that most of us will have to self-isolate and work from home at some stage is now looking pretty high.

I’m in a particular situation as for the last 5 years I’ve run my own virtual assistance business and so 80% of the time I work from my own office at home. Previously though I was a paid employee in a large corporate organisation with around 2,000 colleagues on site, a beautiful canteen to pop to wherever you were hungry and IT support at hand! Working from home can be a bit more challenging!
I did a Facebook live on this week so if you prefer to listen here is the link. Otherwise, I’ll recap 6 main points here on how to work efficiently.
Who knows your employer might be so impressed with your productivity levels and you happier with your work/life balance that remote working may become the norm in your workplace rather than part of emergency business continuity planning?

6 Ways to Work Efficiently from Home

1. Planning
As I work for different clients and have different deadlines, I have to plan my time very carefully. On the Friday before each working week, I will have plan out what work needs done for each client. I work out deadlines of each and then dedicate time slots to each piece of work I have to do. I also leave buffer zones because of course some things may take you for longer than you anticipate.
I also try to start the day by eating the Toad! i.e. I try to do the most unpleasant task or task I think will take me the longest first and often actually it doesn’t take as long or is not as unpleasant as I imagined!
I also work to the model of working in 45 minutes slots as supposedly your brain actually can only concentrate on one task for about 45 minutes. Then I may make a cup of tea, hang washing out or do some Pilates stretching to keep brain and body moving!

2. Structure your Day
Putting some structure into your day is also vitally importantly. I tend to get up early, get dressed, have a shower, have breakfast and then start work promptly at 8am as if I was going out to work. Obviously depending on your employer and nature of your job your core hours will differ but having a set starting time and end time is virtually important. Being disciplined and not starting your day looking at emails in your PJ’s with a bowl of cereal in your hand will also make your feel much more productive and in a better frame of mind to work!

3. Human Contact/Connectivity
Part of being human is our craving to be in contact with other humans and to be touching and hugging and talking to each other and for me this where the Coronavirus is going to really hit us all hard. We have all seen the funny videos about blowing kisses and winking instead of touching but feeling that you are still in contact with others during this very anxious time is paramount. Luckily, we have a whole host of virtual communication tools at our disposal now to be able to stay connected. I’m part of the VA heroes collaborative and we use Zoom, Slack, Trello, Asana to plan and keep in contact virtually . You can check out our blogs on useful tools to help you too.
This is us holding our last Committee meeting when I was in Sweden at the time

4. Mental Health/Exercise
Planning in time for exercise is also vital. I tend to exercise very early in the morning as I find once I put the computer on its very hard to leave it! I don’t know what the rules will be in coming months about using public spaces for exercise put even if you don’t have a garden to exercise in or a park nearby there are plenty of videos on YouTube to keep you healthy. I often do Studio 44Studio 44Studio 44 who also does Facebook lives. Start a watch part with your friends! Or switch on your favourite music and dance round that kitchen until your feet are sore!

5. Good diet

Never has there been a time when building our immune system and eating healthy has been so important! Be mindful not to let yourself be constantly nipping to the fridge if you are working from home or 14 days of self-isolation may result in 14 extra pounds! In the same way you plan and structure your day, plan your meals for the week ahead. Who knows being forced inside may make us a lot more creative in the kitchen? I made a video the other day for example on how to make kimchi which is excellent for gut health! As I lived in mainland Europe for 15 years I’m in the habit of eating my main meal at lunchtime and I will always try to have some protein at lunch time for added brain fuel!.‘Breakfast like a King, Lunch like a Prince and Dinner like a Pauper’.

6. Setting Boundaries
If you asked to work from home by your employer other members of your family or fiends who don’t work may take this as the opportunity to constantly call round or phone you! This was really hard for me at the start and you have to gently but firmly say I’m working 8-4/9-5pm whatever it happens to be, and I’ll call in with you at lunchtime or whenever suits. I had a virtual wine date with a friend recently and it was great fun!

Useful resources:
Tips from SpringClean on how to clean your office space effectively:

Video link on how to work efficiently form home if you have to self isolate

Top tools to take your business online if you are a business owner

Get Your Household Ready for Coronavirus Disease

Blog and video tutorial on how to use Zoom (for hosts and participants)
Never been a better time to be virtual

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