What I’ve Learned After 23 Years in Business
Or should I say what I haven’t learned?!?
I’ve learned that time management doesn’t mean juggling multiple things at once. I’ve discovered that with few exceptions, multi-tasking doesn’t work. When I’m working on a project for a client and have the timer going, I can’t just keep it going when I’m interrupted with another task, or call. It all stops one timer and starts another.
The ONLY exception I know of is to be on hold for a client and working on a task for another client. In that case, that’s a quick multitask since you’re listening for the person on the other end of the phone to come back. The illusion of multitasking drives me crazy. I might sometimes give off the impression I’m multi-tasking but I’m really just moving from one project to another in quick succession.
I’ve learned I have swiss cheese memory and if I don’t write it down, or set a task (and REMINDER) in Todoist, I will completely forget it. I like that set-it-and-forget-it method. I like running through my to do list completeted items and realize how much got done. (Or not!)
I’ve learned to take breaks. Quick trips out of the office for a couple of days at a time are wonderful for a fast recharge. I’ve learned to not deny myself time away from the office. I’ve also learned to pack the laptop in case of client emergencies – which makes them and I feel better about being away. I cherish my time away now as much as I cherish this business I built and nurtured from the infancy of the virtual assisting industry I helped forge, to where it is today.
I’ve learned to cherish my clients as well. I have clients I’ve been working with for nearly twenty years and some that are relative newcomers with only a couple years of time in. My clients are loyal and my client turnover is low. We work together seamlessly and I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for them. When its time to retire – IF I ever decide to! – I will hand them off to trusted professionals I’ve personally trained to do my clients’ work.
But honestly, I can’t see myself retiring for some time. In this business, I can literally be anywhere there is a connection and work. My husband and I can be on vacation and if I schedule in a couple work days here and there I can do both vacation and handle my client needs. For the most part, I still have some who have in person needs (bank deposits, or mail handling) and for those I’ll enlist the help of someone local.
I’ve learned to relish the workday because it gives me purpose. I am a person with chronic illnesses for which working remotely is ideal. Because of this, I’ve learned to tolerate my illnesses, and work through them, and with them. I no longer feel inadequate or that I’m a burden.
I’ve learned to appreciate my little ‘helpers’ Mac & Ginger. Their need for little ‘walkies’ has assured me that I have a break – or several – during the day. Rain or shine, Winter or summer, I get to get outside and breath the fresh air.
I’ve learned that freedom is everything. Freedom to work the way I want, and where I want. I can be in the office, at the dining table, sick in bed, or my favorite place in the spring, summer and fall, in the Treehouse Office. Where I live I am surrounded by beauty and tranquility. Yes I can hear my neighbors doing lawn work, but most often its the sounds of nature and breezes through the trees. Its magical.
And one of the last things that I’ve learned, is who I am. It’s only taken a lifetime but now I know I’d never change a thing.