How To Manage your Workload As
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One of the reasons people are drawn to being a virtual assistant is the fact that they have autonomy over their work and schedule – having the freedom to manage your own day is fantastic!

It is, however, a bit of a double-edged sword. Working as a virtual assistant is nothing if not varied (especially in the beginning!) and you might find yourself suddenly overwhelmed with lots of work and very little time within which to do it.

Organising your workload is key to minimising your stress and improving your efficiency. It will allow you to get more done in the same amount of time during your working hours – and who wouldn’t want that?

As virtual assistants with over 40 years of experience, we have several tips on how to manage and organise your workload! 

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When you’re overwhelmed and stressed, sometimes you can just end up picking whichever task comes to you first and not really thinking about prioritising. It’s important, however, to make sure that you are focusing on the projects that have the tightest deadlines or the most importance first so that you are keeping your clients happy.

Write out a to-do list and then use a highlighter to pick out key tasks that you need to concentrate on first. Only when your highlighted tasks are finished should you move onto the lower priority jobs.

If you’re not sure which tasks to prioritise, ask yourself the following questions:
• Is there a deadline? Is this deadline flexible or definite?
• Do I need to leave time for someone else to get back to me or complete another task?
• Do I need to leave time to check and edit my work?
• Is this a new client (and therefore one I especially need to impress!)
• Is this project important or lower priority?

Image of a workbook with coloured tabs on various pages with the word compartmentalise written in large white text
Compartmentalising involves dividing your tasks mentally into different areas of your mind – picture a messy room filled with files and paperwork. Then, imagine yourself organising those papers by topic and/or priority into labelled boxes. Think of compartmentalising as a way to ‘tidy up’ your mind! 
In this context, compartmentalising could mean separating your higher priority tasks from your lower priority tasks to make sure that you aren’t becoming overwhelmed. When used correctly, compartmentalising will enable you to stay focused on the task in front of you without getting bogged down in the details of your other jobs. 
There are many ways you can do this, both figuratively and literally. If mentally compartmentalising your work in your mind isn’t working for you, try doing it physically. Write lower-priority jobs on a different to-do list and put it somewhere out of sight. Close any computer tabs that aren’t relevant to your current task. If you find your mind drifting and turning to projects that aren’t currently relevant, redirect your focus back to the task at hand. 
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Don’t make promises you can’t keep! It’s better to tell a client that you won’t be able to complete their job within 24 hours than agree to it and then miss a deadline. Be upfront and honest with your clients about a realistic timeframe that you’ll need to complete their work – they will respect your honesty!

It’s natural to want to impress your clients with speedy turnarounds, but it may not be possible. Make sure you let your clients know if you’re pushed for time. This doesn’t have to involve letting them down, but instead compromise on an agreed time frame that is realistic!

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This one is tricky, because if you’re self-employed there is nothing that feels scarier than turning down work! You do, however, only have so many hours in the day. Always remember that your workload is within your control – if you can’t take on another task, then don’t. Most clients will be understanding and may be able to give you longer to complete a job, but others may turn to someone else. Again, it’s better to turn down a job than accept it and potentially alienate your client by doing a rushed job.
Just be honest, polite and apologetic for not being able to take on another project at the moment. Let them know when you may be able to take on other tasks as they may keep you in mind for the future!

Working as a virtual assistant is always a balancing act between different clients and tasks – that’s what makes it so interesting! It’s important, however, to make sure that you’re managing your workload effectively and ticking things off of your to-do list as well as adding to it! Just do your best – no one can ask anything more of you than that!