I’m a mom. I’m a wife. I’m a virtual assistant. I’m a designer. I’m a social media manager. I’m a copywriter. I wear whatever hat I need to whenever I need to do it and I love it.
I love my life.
However, working from home has drawbacks. I’m going to talk about them (as well as some benefits) and give you some tips and tricks to help you along the journey!
1. It’s not all fun and games.
Working from home is hard. I noticed that my time management went down the drain, my efficiency took a turn for the worst, and I basically never wanted to get dressed. There’s a point almost all of us reach, when we’re eating ice cream for breakfast, our hair a mess and the TV blaring, that a wake-up call happens. It might be a friend randomly popping in to see how you’re doing - knowing that you work from home now and wanting to get a look at what that’s like. It might be a client needing to hop on a call RIGHT NOW - crazy hair and all. It might be - like it was for me - your parents-in-law calling to say they’re on their way to pick up your daughter.
For heaven’s sakes, they can’t see me like this, you think, dashing around, swooping your hair up into a frizzy ponytail and shoving the ice cream back into the fridge.
You stop suddenly in your tracks on the way to the bathroom to brush your teeth.
What if my prospective and current clients were a fly on my wall?
Would they hire me? Would they fire me? Would they lose some respect for me because I’m crazy messy and clearly not living the lifestyle I’m promoting across social media?
Time to step it up, girl, you tell yourself as you snag a piece of paper and write a note to yourself. The in-laws show up, pick up the baby, and as you settle back into your chair at the table, you see your note.
“Get your act together.”
Working from home isn’t all fun and games. It’s hard work. It means developing a routine (I have help for that further down in the article!), taking care of yourself even when you don’t HAVE to (because a boss isn’t making you look decent for the day), and working out when you have the opportunity.
2. You will not always want to get out of bed.
Sleep is so, so appealing when you have a thousand deadlines to meet and not enough time to do it all. When you have to clock in and the penalty is getting FIRED, you tend to show up. However, it’s easier to hide behind an email of apology while you rush to catch up (because you’re REALLY good at your job and you know it’ll be easy to catch up).
That being said, sleep when you need to, but get up if all that’s keeping you in bed is laziness. Developing an effective morning routine means you actually have to be UP in the MORNING to execute it. An added bonus to getting up and getting out of bed is that you hit your deadlines sooner and have more time to work on your own side income. (As a VA, you should definitely have a passive side hustle.)
3. You will occasionally wish you worked in an office still.
As previously mentioned, working from home is difficult. It has it’s amazing moments and it’s downward spirals.
I struggle with seasonal affective disorder, and a lot of the reason my disorder has been manageable this year is because I haven’t had the blinds open, so I couldn’t tell what the weather was like. However, I began to develop new problems that I didn’t know would BE issues when I started working at home. I’m an INTROVERT, for goodness gracious - I never thought this would happen to me… but…
You will get lonely. You will wish you worked in an office because there, you have coworkers and a boss and you likely come in contact with people on the phone and on your lunch break, there are hustling, bustling people surrounding you.
Tip: Go to a cafe at LEAST once a week to reset your dedication and feel more productive. Feeling like a contributing member of society is important for a virtual assistant or online business owner (hereafter referred to as an OBO).
4. Exercise becomes 20x more important.
I was chatting with a friend at one of our monthly Rising Tide Society meetings and she said something that really stuck in my mind: I do not know of a SINGLE online business owner who successfully makes 7 figure years who DOES NOT work out. For some reason, that really struck a chord with me.
As someone who has always struggled with dedication to my body and my self care, I hate going to the gym. I’m a runner - I LOVE running and jogging - but stick me in a gym and I have no idea what to do with my hands. Give me a trail, give me a road, give me a mountain - I’ll run it. But in a gym, I struggle. This is Alaska, so we have tough winters and I’m a Texan. Going to the gym isn’t always appealing.
But hey - we’ll always have an excuse to not go, right? The important thing is to think of the reasons you DO have to go. That will incentivize you.
5. You’ll probably need these three apps, specifically.
The first is called Calm. It’s a meditation app and will help pull you out of that self-deprecation spiral you’re currently swirling around in, plus it’ll teach you to just be freaking still. Lemme tell you - there are a million things I SHOULD be doing as an entrepreneur - and doesn’t my supposedly-meditating-mind know it!
The second app you’ll probably need is called 30/30. This assists you in time-blocking your days so that you’re only working on one project for 15 minutes at a time (or whatever set block of time you choose). It’s built around the Pomodoro method, and it’s incredibly successful when used correctly.
The THIRD and final app you’ll want to download is called Forest. Each time you turn it on and start the timer, your app plants a tree for you. Depending on how much time you’ve spent NOT TOUCHING your phone, you can grow a tree. Every time you pick up your phone and use it before the tree is grown and your time is up, it kills a tree in your forest. You’ll have to see it to believe it. I have it and I’m obsessed. (Shout out to Raewyn for suggesting this app to me!)
6. People will ask you how you do it/did it.
This is one of my favorite things about working from home: the question. The “How do you DO it?!” question. I get all fired up and excited when I get to tell them my processes. A lot of people ask me detailed questions, like “how much do you make?”, but most stay within the realm of, “I don’t get it. How does it even work?”
You’ll love the mind-bending effect the sentence “I work from home” has on your friends and family… but… there is a downside. The “How do you do it?” question can be phrased in a less appealing format… such as, “Oh, so you just lay around in your pajamas and game all day, right?” -elbow, elbow-
You’ll have the urge to give them what-for and to one-up them with an income report or something. My advice? Tell them this: Being self-employed is the same as going into an office. I hold the same hours, I complete similar tasks. Only… I work for myself. I can take a lunch whenever I want; I can break whenever I want, and I can game whenever I want. However, most of the time, I work HARDER simply BECAUSE of the fact that I work at home.” You’re welcome to take that exact answer or paraphrase it. Just remember to be kind - lots of people are simply upset that you get to work from home and they think that it’s impossible for them. Just show them it’s not and maybe someday, they’ll come to you for help.