VA tips: how to juggle family responsibilities and commitments to clients

by
Nikki Macaraeg
Published:
September 28, 2021

Working from home is a dream job for some; pick your hours, a perceived better work-life balance. Findstack makes it even more appealing when they share that "77% of remote workers say they're more productive when working from home." 

But how good are you at juggling family and clients (and 'me time')? Life changes, and sometimes you can be caught off-guard. Have you ever found yourself falling behind in one area or the other, or both? And before you knew it, you were drowning in a sea of responsibility, missed commitments and unfinished tasks? 

To help you stay on top of things, we've compiled a list of tips to help keep you above water. The lifejacket is optional. 

Identify what you and your family need

If you're accustomed to working from home, you probably already have a workspace set up with everything you need. But is your partner also working from home temporarily? Are the kids doing online school? Make sure everyone has their own dedicated space to keep their work or school day in one place. Try to avoid spreading out in shared areas like the living room or kitchen - literally and physically separating the workday from home time can help end the day's grind, decompress and allow you to enjoy quality time with your family. 

Make a plan and try your best to stick to it

"(Insert your hero here) take the wheel!" Or what about, "just take it day by day." While well-intentioned, approaching your days, client tasks, and family responsibilities without a plan can leave you playing catch-up for what feels like forever. 

Ask yourself - 

  • What meetings do you need to accommodate with quiet time? Is quiet time attainable? 
  • Are there any appointments you need to make this week? 
  • Is multitasking possible? 
  • Are your kids older? Can they entertain themselves when you need to work? If younger, do you have the option of bringing in a caregiver to assist you? Or can you bring them to family or friends for a few hours? 

Reality may hit hard initially, but having a clearer idea of what you're up against will give you a better chance of staying on top of your responsibilities and commitments to your family and your clients. 

Set boundaries for work and your family

While VAs are lucky to have the ability to work from home, it's not a perfect science. You have to be practical and honest with yourself and your clients; too many balls in the air may be impressive to onlookers, but they are beyond stressful for the juggler (aka you). 

Remember to - 

  • State (and stick to) a start and end time to your workday;
  • Advise your clients if you are unavailable during the day; 
  • Let your family know when you need quiet time to get work done (a visual calendar or pictures are helpful for children); 
  • Check your daily plan and make sure you're sticking to it. Make adjustments as needed; and
  • Stand up, stretch, breathe, eat and drink water (or coffee; same-same). 

Communicate! 

Never be afraid to share where you're at - any thoughts, issues, questions you may have, share them. Things change regularly, sometimes unexpectedly, so you may need more support from your partner and your family; it's never a bad thing to ask for help. And don't forget to let your clients know if you need more time or if you've fallen behind. There is nothing worse than being left in the dark, and most than not, clients understand that "life happens." 

If you don't communicate your needs, you'll become frustrated and take it out on those around you. So be sure to share any wants, needs and expectations, as often as you need to. 

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Like any other job, working from home has its pros and cons. But if you're prepared and supported, you can make it work to your benefit. 


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Nikki Macaraeg
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