Block off time so you don’t have anything due right before or right after your vacation. #vatip Gotta Tweet!
When you work during your vacation, you’ll feel like you cheated yourself out of the time away. #vatipGotta Tweet!
Just because you are able to work anywhere you want doesn’t mean you should. #vatip Gotta Tweet!
Hello virtual assistants! I am freshly back from a mini vacation, taking some time away. I tell you, when I left town the intent was to get some things done while I was away. I had my computer, my Kindle, some paperwork, all these different things that I had planned to do during our time away. My husband and I went to the beach, and my mom, and we went for about five days and had a wonderful time.
I had my MiFi with me and if you’ve seen me, I’ve posted that several times before on Facebook. The MiFi is the little Verizon card that let’s you access WiFi while you’re away. I can’t remember if I’ve said this before. If it’s a repeat, just fast-forward. But what we have at home is a super high-speed Internet through our cable company, and when we got that, I lowered the data plan with Verizon. I just feel like, you know, some kind of way they’re just cheating us on that whole data thing. But I took it all the way down to like three gigabytes because we were mostly using WiFi and not the phone data plan. So anyway, that transfers over to the MiFi card.
So we get to the beach, and normally when we’re out of town I have that as my back up, but usually the hotel has free WiFi where we usually go. Well, they said they had WiFi, gave us the password. But of course, guess what? WiFi wasn’t working. Didn’t even pick up the signal for the WiFi at the location we were at, and so all I had was the Verizon access and it was really low because I had used it up earlier in the week doing a vending event for my direct sales jewelry business. So we were in bad shape, like at 75% for data. But it was the perfect setup for me to take time completely off.
What I’m going to talk about in today’s episode is how to take time completely off.
Working in your virtual assistant business, when you are responsible for projects getting completed, it’s easy to be like, oh, I can take my work on the road. It’s not a big deal. If over time you make this your normal policy, it will become a big a big deal because you won’t ever take a break. What I mean by taking a break is really taking a day off, unplugging, get away from your computer, and get away from your phone. Get away from all the devices that keep us connected to the world at large, so we can allow our minds to rest.
Now granted, on this vacation I had a forced time off, but I loved it. After the first day I was like, okay, cool. I had set it up perfectly. I’ve set it up to the point where I don’t have any projects where I’m reporting to a client every single day. If you’re doing something like email support or client care, you’re reporting to a client every day because you have to respond to the emails, or if you’re doing social media support you’re having to respond to social media support. Those are examples of having to check in every day versus working off of deadlines.
I like to work off of deadlines. Even if I’m scheduling social media, I’ll schedule it for a certain chunk of time and then come back and schedule for more chunks of time. So none of that was in place. Everything was all set. Either projects were completed or being worked on by the team, so there was nothing major that had to happen for these past five days. It was perfect that there was no WiFi because what was I going to do on the WiFi? Look on Facebook, write down notes, and be in email doing all these other things that could wait because I needed time off.
Probably the last time we went away was earlier in the year, and I worked a little, but the majority of the time I did take off. But I was still working a little so my mind was at work. So this time my mind was able to be at rest. I slept. I watched television. We went on the beach. We went to eat. We went shopping. I mean, and every place that we went, I didn’t have my phone sitting on the table.
At night when it’s time to go to bed, time to unwind, my phone was in the kitchen and I’m in the bedroom. So me and the phone, we’re not together, and that’s the total opposite of what happens at home because at home my phone is the alarm clock. It’s also the phone. I want to keep is close in case there’s an emergency with my mom or something like that, and so I have the phone close by. But since the people that I love the most in this whole wide world were with me, there was no need for the phone. No need for it to be connected to me in any way, shape, or form, and it was wonderful. I needed the mental break.
I was going to record an episode earlier and get it to Shannon, my virtual assistant, but I could not think. I couldn’t think. I was having a brain freeze on what to talk about and usually that doesn’t happen. Usually I take notes on a topic for you and then I’m able to fall right into it. But I just had that mental block, and so it was perfect timing to get away and refresh.
How can you do that in your VA business? How can you get away and refresh?
Number one, with your projects, you know dates when they are due. You know your regular schedule if you are working on projects every single day, and you know when your vacation is planned, or if it’s not necessarily away, maybe you’re doing a staycation and you just need time away while you’re at home.
Planning ahead is so important, letting your client know in advance if you’re away.
This isn’t a situation where you report in every day. Whether it’s via email or call, however it works for you, let your client know as soon as you know what dates that is so they can plan. If it doesn’t involve daily touching of clients, but it’s strictly based on deadline, what you want to do is block off the time in advance so that you don’t have anything due before you go away, whether you’re staying at home or physically going away, and after. You don’t want anything due right before or right after.
I have made the mistake of going on vacation and treating that time away as just a change of environment instead of totally taking vacation, and actually working. I can remember having articles due, website updates, all these different things due during the time that I was away. You feel like when you get back like you kind of cheated yourself of the time, and it’s not your client’s fault. It’s not your customer’s fault. It’s your fault because of the planning. Just because you are able to work anywhere you want doesn’t necessarily mean you should.
You should give yourself time off. If you haven’t taken any time off, it’s time to plan that.
Let’s say you are planning to be away for a week. You know you. If you’re a last-minute packer or a last-minute shopper, picking up things that you need, then you need that week to plan to get ready for your trip, to get your house situated, to pack your clothes, and all that stuff. So I would say the week before, start closing up deadlines. Actually, not the week before the vacation, but two weeks before the vacation start wrapping up, tying up all the loose ends with your projects.
The reason why you want it two weeks before is because if there are any unexpected revisions or updates or adds, anything unexpected that happens, whether it’s part of the project scope or not, you want to have time to respond. If it’s outside of the scope, you want to be able to have a clear thought as to what to do about that, you know, either you can do it at that point or you can’t, and if you can’t, let them know when. Okay. If it’s a situation where it’s a modification to something, it’s part of the project scope, then that gives you time to get it done and get that reviewed and get it all tied up.
When you come back from vacation, depending on what day you come back, give yourself a day or two to come down from the high of your vacation. You don’t want to slide in from vacation and right away have something due, or right away start a new client. You want to have a couple of days to ease back into your home routine, back into checking your email, you know, just to give yourself time to rev back up because now you’re refreshed and ready to go. This will make you a happier person to work with. This will make it so that you look forward to getting back to your work.
See, we literally just got back today and I am going to take a couple of days to come down from my high and excitement and get unpacked and all of that good stuff, and then be ready and excited. I’m looking forward to what’s ahead. I’m excited for the next thing, and so I’m looking forward to that because I did have that time off and forced myself, well, WiFi forced me not to be in work mode.
You can be in work mode mentally. It might not be that you have something due during that time. But if you’re at work in your mind, you might as well be at work if you can’t relax and unwind it, you know. You want to be able to enjoy your time, enjoy your family, and enjoy your friends while you’re on vacation so that you can get back into it. This applies when the holidays come and I’ll probably talk about it again as we get closer to the holidays. But it’s best to start thinking about it ahead of time so you know how you want it to all pan out.
We can easily decide how the money’s going to work because if we’re doing the projects and it’s based on a flat rate or based on hourly, and we’re not available for a week or two, we know that puts the money on hold, but you plan for that. It’s easy to plan for that because we see that right away.
But as far as when projects end and when they restart, we don’t always plan ahead for that, and I’m saying we because I know that I haven’t always done it in midst of a vacation wishing, oh, you know, the next time I’m not going to do it this way. Next time I’ll make sure there are no projects to be due during this time.
So two weeks ahead of your vacation, start wrapping things up.
If a new client comes along and you schedule time and you meet with them and they’re ready to go, give them a date as to when you’re available to start that’s after your vacation, that’s after your wind down time. You don’t have to tell the new client, oh, I’m going on vacation. I’m going to be away. You don’t have to tell all your business like that. You know, it doesn’t matter. You just let them know when you’re available.
Okay. Great. I’m excited. Looking forward to it. We can get started on your project. Looking at your calendar, whatever the date is after your two wind down days, or it may be just one day for you. I like to do two days and not have anything set in stone. No meetings, no appointments, no start times because I just never know. I may be on such a high that I just need more time. Okay.
It doesn’t change the fact that you can still do your blogs. You can still do your marketing during that wind down time. But I mean actually specifically touching a customer either on a phone call or with a project or getting started with something new, because you want to be in a position to be totally unwound from your vacation. You don’t want to be dreading a call because, oh man, we just got back from vacation. I’ve got a call at 5:00, you know, whatever.
It’s easy to overschedule yourself when you love what you do, but this is protecting yourself so that you’re getting the rest you need both physically and mentally so that you’re ready to dive right in to your work.
Like I can’t wait to dive back in because I’ve been away for five days and I don’t think I’ve been away that long actually not doing any client work in a while, on purpose, enjoying myself, relaxing, you know, it’s been a while. I’m not talking about days where it’s just there’s no work. It’s done, or you’re in the marketing phase. But I mean where you’re actually in relaxed vacation mode.
So take a day completely off, whether it’s one day a week, whatever it is. It is so important. It’s vital to your business. Now, having said all that, if for some reason you can’t do it for the entire time that you’re away, plan according. Try not to take calls during that time.
I have done work on vacation. I think that last time, earlier this year I went, I was doing client care. But it was an hour and a half a day, not a big deal in that case. I was like, okay, not a big deal, an hour and a half. I did have my WiFi, made sure everything was loaded up, everything was all in place, and it worked out that where we were staying they had great WiFi, better than my MiFi card.
But this time around, because I knew I didn’t have any deadlines, it wasn’t anything major, although, I was somewhat ready for it. But anyway, I thank God that I had that forced time. Now, I won’t be working on vacation ever. I’ll be using this same plan that I’m mapping out for you.
Going forward, and by the time this recording goes live, I will have already done I’m thinking one or two scopes I will have done on Periscope, maybe just one. Anyway, I’m on Periscope and would love to have you come over and join me. You can look up Tiffany Parson and you will find me. There is no ‘s’ on my last name, so you can find me that way. I’m using the same handle as Twitter, which is tiffanydparson on Periscope and right now I’m just kind of scoping around to see how it all works. I’m looking forward to it.
I can tell you one thing that I like already about it is that the background is really small so I don’t have to be all worried about, okay, what’s showing in the background? It’s not a whole lot. Most people are just sitting at their desk. I love that it’s not super flashy video. It’s just somebody on their phone or tablet recording. I like that. That is more real to me versus the flashier videos with the nice transitions and all that stuff. That has its place.
But when I’m talking to you guys, I always want it to be like we’re in the same room together, or if you’re listening to me, we’re having a phone conversation, and I want you interacting with me. I want you nodding and laughing and agreeing and saying, oh yeah. You know, I just imagine that happening on the other end, and of course if you have questions that come up, please don’t hesitate to let me know about your questions, and at the end of the show I’ll tell you where you can find me so that you can send your questions.
I’m on Periscope, so look me up, Tiffany Parson, and we’re going to start hanging out on Fridays at 1:00 Eastern Time. What it’s going to be is a live recording of the podcast. I’ll still do the regular podcast, but the one on Periscope will be live. So if you like post questions during the scope, I’ll be answering them. But the replays on scope last 24 hours, so to see me you’ll have that 24 hours. But then I’ll actually have the recording as part of our podcast and it will be a live cast of the podcast, The Business of Being a Virtual Assistant.
I’m excited about that, looking forward to jumping into that. I was going to do a webinar and then this whole thing with Periscope came up, so I thought it would be cool for us to do it that way. We’ll see how it goes. I’m flexible and always learning and trying out new things, so come help me play with it. Again, come find me on Periscope.
Thanks so much for tuning in. If you like what you heard, stay tuned. We’ll be back. Tell me what’s going on with you. Come on over the Facebook page: facebook.com/tiffanyparsonbiz, or if you prefer a little shorter message, come on over to Twitter: @tiffanydparson.
See you next time.