Plan Your Time More Effectively With Shared Calendars
We’ve all been there—stretched too thin, with more work than we have time, and suddenly an important deadline is missed. And if you’re a busy VA with lots of clients, that might happen more than you like, unless you have a trusted system for tracking due dates.
Google has the answer for you: Shared calendars.
All Your Important Appointments in One Place
Few things are a bigger time-suck than having to check and reconcile multiple calendars and apps just to see what’s on task for the day. When clients use different project management systems to record their deadlines, it can be challenging to remember to log in and check on your due dates.
But Google calendars synchs with any app that creates an iCal feed, so you can easily “subscribe” to your task lists and have them appear all in one place.
Not only that, but by sharing a calendar with clients, you can see what projects and appointments they have in the works as well, so you can plan accordingly. If your client is presenting at a telesummit, for example, you’ll know ahead of time and can keep that in mind when scheduling her social media or creating blog posts.
Time Blocking Ensures Critical Work is Completed On Time
Aside from knowing what’s on everyone’s schedule for the coming days and weeks, a calendar is a fantastic tool to help ensure all your important work is done. By setting aside time in your day to actually complete projects using a system known as time blocking, you’ll know exactly when you can get to that next project. No more guesswork or late nights trying to catch up when you overbook yourself.
Time blocking works by actually setting appointments with yourself. If you have a project to complete, and you know it will take you two hours to do, you make an appointment. The key though, is that these appointments are sacred. You cannot use time blocking as a suggestion, you have to treat it as an unbreakable appointment, otherwise it becomes just background noise that you’ll ignore.
Set your “appointments” with a reminder (either a pop-up or an email) and you will never have to ask yourself “What’s next?” You will always know, and you’ll find that you’re much more productive and efficient, too.
Access Anywhere for On-the-Go Productivity
Not in your office? No problem. Google calendars are available at any time from any of your devices, so you’ll always know what’s happening. Unlike printed planners, you won’t have to remember to take it with you, you can’t lose it, and you can check appointments and tasks not only for yourself but your clients as well, no matter where you are.
A calendar is a basic tool that every productive virtual assistant should master. Sharing calendars with your clients will make your job easier (and make you a superstar in their eyes), but you have to make use of it. Getting in the habit of using a calendar can be a challenge. If you’re not accustomed to it, then make it a point to check your calendar first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Set reminders for yourself if necessary, until it becomes a habit. You’ll soon find that you truly cannot live (or work) without your calendar.
Who knows what could be the next revenue stream in your life. There are innumerable hobbies and activities that can earn you income. I have literally dozens! Not all are constantly generating income, but as we all know, every little bit helps.
My most recent passion involves my love of makeup. Yes, I’m a girly girl… I have always loved makeup, nail polish, and so on. When I lived in California, I even completed manicurist training in a cosmetology school and opened a mobile manicurist business that thrived until I sold it and returned to my home state of Colorado. I still do nails but these days, only for myself. But I have always loved the entire process of beautification.
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Currently, I turned my love of all things beauty into a new venture and became an Avon Representative. I’m thrilled to say that I’m loving the entire process. I’m realizing its not that much different than my Virtual Assistant business in that I have clients, and I try to be sure they have the exact thing they need and I try to provide the best customer service I can to them.
Avon is amazingly empowering. It is truly THE Company for Women. I have seen positive changes in my ability to interact with ‘real live’ people instead of only via the internet. I’ve even been able to use some of the techniques I’ve learned while selling Avon in my other businesses and have seen very positive results. To me, my business Hilltop Secretarial and being an Avon Representative are a perfect combination! I can work both during the day. During off moments from virtual assisting I’m working my Avon business. Win-win for me and my day speeds by!
Why Avon? It costs $15 to start, people love the products as much as I do, and they have a solid record of supporting cause that are close to my heart. You get a suite of tools and an estore – Where else can you get all that for one $15 startup fee? Right now it doesn’t take too much time but I’m hoping it will grow much larger and will someday take over in the income I will lose I and when I retire from virtual assisting. I highly recommend Avon as a revenue stream – It is very rewarding and I love helping people feel beautiful and empowered.
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I’ve also turned my love of photography into a business and sell my images when we show our products at craft shows and festivals. I am a graduate of the New York Institute of Photography, which has enabled me to turn my hobby into a viable revenue stream. Mostly my images sell online so there is some passivity to it.
I became obsessed with herbalism after the medication I took when a migraine hit was pulled from the market – for no real reason other than corporate greed – and I had to begin anew the oddysse to find a new effective medication. It only took ten years to find it in the first place! Two medication changes later, both included horrible side effects, I turned to researching herbal remedies. I created a very effective blend I call Migraine Buster Tea. It’s so amazing I can get rid of a migraine generally within an hour with NO SIDE EFFECTS! That was absolutely HUGE for me since I’m entirely too sensitive to medications.
This obsession with herbs has resulted in a lucrative revenue stream called Hilltop Herbals. I’ve added to my original Migraine Buster Tea and created a number of other remedies to help you in your daily life. I’m proud to have completed study in Herbalism and am constantly continuing my education with research in off moments. I give consultations, and we sell the remedies with we show at craft fairs and festivals, and on our online store, Hilltop-Arts.
Another passion that’s become a revenue generator is my woodworking. While it’s not as steady as my herbal remedies, it’s still income. I love the smell of the wood, the creation process, and the sense of satisfaction I get when I’ve created something I never thought I could build.
Other passions that have turned into services I offer include research, graphic design, website and blog design, talking on the phone (I think I’m a born receptionist!!) turned into my Virtual Receptionist service, and when it comes down to it, my love of office work (but hating to go to traditional offices!) turned into the career of over 19 years!
Take an inventory of your passions, do some quick research about how to turn them into money makers. You never know when you might discover hidden income potential.
During the last year and a half I’ve been battling two different chronic illnesses. One which is painful and migraine with aura and Meniere’s Disease symptoms. Those who know are well aware of my struggles to stay active and productive while being ill. I’m not better yet, but I am learning how to manage. Here are some tips I’ve learned:
Keep Your Mind Active
Even when I feel my worst, I find it is helpful to keep my mind active. If I’m not up to being physically active I will research my hobbies for new information, or research new herbal remedies (and no, I haven’t found one to help me yet but I’m researching that too!), or study techniques for photography.
Learn New Things
In an effort to keep my mind off my illnesses I’ve been learning how to work with wood. I’m not great yet but I’m loving it. I’ve created a beautiful entryway cabinet, boxes and cutting boards. I don’t care if its wood burning or constructing something – its been so beneficial in helping to keep my mind active and off my pain and it helps me to feel more productive.
Exercise When You’re Able
I mean, use common sense… if you’re dizzy, don’t get on the treadmill and go hog wild – you could injure yourself! However, if you’re able, mild exercise is an excellent way to help your mind – and your pain. Exercise releases endorphin’s which are a natural pain reliever, and it helps your heart too.
When you’re living with chronic illnesses it can be very isolating because getting out can be difficult. I am a huge letter writer with pen pals around the world so I spend hours each month corresponding – actual ink to paper – with friends. I joined Facebook support groups which have been very beneficial because I know I’m not alone. Reaching out- whichever way you choose – decreases feelings of being alone and improves your outlook.
Ask for Help
If you find that you can’t shake your depression – which is very common in chronic illness patients – ask for help! Depression is an illness and can be treated. Don’t feel you need to be strong every moment.
Thanks, and be well, Kathy