The work-from-home workforce is growing year after year. And considering that 91% of employees say they feel more productive when they work remotely, there’s good reason to believe that trend will continue.
As businesses adjust to investing in remote employees, they’ll create more opportunities for virtual assistants. Of course, working from home does not come naturally for everybody. If you’re new to this space, you may have trouble getting into the work-from-home flow.
In order to demonstrate to your clients that virtual assistants are truly a cost-effective, time- and money-saving measure, these five productivity hacks can help you reach your full potential:
Learn when you’re most productive
They say the early bird gets the worm. Well, if the early bird is also a night owl, the early bird may not be well-equipped to get the worm.
Some people do their best work in the wee hours of the morning, and some thrive in the middle of the night. The truth is that everyone operates differently. One of the most important steps you can take to work better from home is to listen to your body. Take note of when you’re most energized and when you feel you’re doing your best work. That way, you can schedule when to do your most brain-intensive, sensitive work.
If you aren’t sure how to identify your most productive time of day, try these strategies:
- Ask yourself when do you have the most trouble concentrating. (Process of elimination can help!)
- Figure out when there are the fewest interruptions and distractions to your workflow.
- Carve out three 90-minute periods throughout a workday and focus solely on work for those three periods. Take note of your productivity in each of these periods.
You may work a 9-to-5 workday, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still manage your schedule to prioritize your toughest work for when you’re most focused.
Find the right workspace
You don’t have as much choice or control over your workspace when you work in an office. That’s part of the magic of working from home! However, setting up a positive, productive workspace is vital to productivity.
Yes, unfortunately, that means you should get out of bed. When you repeatedly use something for a certain purpose, your brain tends to associate an object — like bed or your desk — with that purpose. If you work from bed all the time, you may find it difficult to fall asleep later, and nobody wants that.
Research shows that the ideal workspace is one that has limited noise and lots of sunlight. That said, if your living room is sunny and you’re there alone all day, the couch might be a productive workspace. (Unless you love napping on it.) Otherwise, a desk by a window works great as well.
Another good tip? Get a desk plant. Strangely enough, research shows that plants in your office space can improve productivity by up to 15%.
As a virtual assistant, you’re likely flying from one task to the next at a moment’s notice. Dropping one thing when you have to jump on an important phone call makes it very easy for tasks to fall through the cracks.
One way to avoid memory malfunctions is to go beyond the to-do list by categorizing all of your tasks. Whether you prefer handwritten lists, using a digital Notepad, Stickies, or Google Docs, that’s your prerogative, but you should have a system to separate the things you must do urgently, the ones you can come back to later in the week, and your day-to-day responsibilities.
When you organize your tasks by when you must complete them, you’ll avoid the pitfalls of the inevitable distractions throughout your day. Plus, you can create another list asmx a dumping ground for all of your brilliant ideas that you want to share with your boss or team down the road.
Use the right tools
Productivity tools exist for virtually every specific need, brain type, or industry. For instance, apps like Trello or Asana are great utilities to help you create task lists and stay organized. From tracking your workflow to streamlining client communication or just blocking out distractions, finding the right tools that work for you is essential.
Ask yourself: What do you need help with? Do you have a hard time keeping track of passwords? Do you often forget to follow up on emails? Do you have trouble remembering to invoice right away? Identifying your weaknesses is a crucial key to success, especially in an age where there are so many tools designed to mitigate specific weaknesses.
Take some time to think about what you need help with. Then, research some of the solutions that already exist. Your boss should pay for the apps you need so don’t be shy.
“Stay hydrated” may sound like the kind of platitudinal advice your mom shouted from the car when you ran to the soccer field but, as usual, mom was right.
Believe it or not, hydration and productivity are linked. One study showed that a 1% drop in hydration can cause a 12% loss in productivity, while a 3-4% drop can lead to a 50% loss! Virtual assistants juggle dozens of tasks at a time — you can’t afford to lose that much productivity.
Water helps to keep you energized and focused throughout the day, so don’t forget to drink up! Fill a water bottle and keep it with you when you work.
The bottom line on working from home
The work from home workforce is growing year after year. For virtual assistants, that means greater opportunity as more businesses invest in remote help. However, it’s crucial to remain productive to keep your relationships strong. These hacks should help you maintain optimal productivity every day.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Eric Goldschein is an editor and writer at Fundera, a marketplace for small business financial solutions such as business loans. He has nearly a decade of experience in digital media and writes extensively on marketing, entrepreneurship, financing, and small business trends.