The benefit to having no New Year’s Resolution this year…
It’s that time of year again…seems to come every year about this time…the New Year
Social media is full of that wonderful and terrible question…
What’s your New Year’s resolution?
I don’t remember if there was a time in which I made any type of resolution at the beginning of the new year but I’m fairly certain that I never kept one.
Why do we make New Year’s Resolutions? What’s the benefit of NOT making them? And what can we do instead?
Why do we do the New Year’s resolution anyway?
New Year’s resolutions are probably beneficial to someone out there. But over 90% of people do not keep their resolutions. That’s right, only 10% of people who make them, actually keep them.
And I can see some benefits to saying,
“I’m going to do x by y to get to z”
It’s awesome to have goals, right? What could possibly go wrong with setting a goal and sticking to it? Especially at the start of a squeaky clean new year?
The Benefits of Ditching the New Year Resolution
Any moms out there know what their state of mind is currently. We are exhausted, burnt out, and pretty much ready to sign off for the weekend…on any given day of the week.
These past two years we have guided our children through isolation, virtual learning, virus eliminating protocols, and, even worse, the loss of loved ones.
Seems like the perfect time to set some big-ass goal, right?
Nope. Not here. I’ve taken an almost two-month break from posting consistently on social media, spent time with my girls, and have tried to find a good balance in this new normal of life. I can honestly say that any resolution I spit out right now will be half-hearted and completely meaningless.
And let’s talk about the pressure!
When you announce on some friends post that you are ditching negative thoughts – will you really feel open about also talking about when you feel down because you’ve failed?
Or claiming that this is your year to travel! But all the travel restrictions make the world look less than shiny and you feel like you’ve let yourself and your family down because you couldn’t do the amazing trips you’d anticipated.
Maybe you’re a business owner and throw the resolution of meeting some huge goal, earning a large amount of money, some awesome new course out there…and when it doesn’t materialize feel imposter syndrome to the max.
You feel like the whole world is watching, holding their breath to see all of the amazingness that is coming your way during the year and any hint of failure will make you feel even more depleted and frustrated than before. News flash, I’m pretty sure the only person that remembers your resolution will be yourself, but that’s bad enough sometimes.
But things happen. Life happens. Random endless pandemics tend to derail even the most well-thought-out plans.
What we can do instead of making new years resolutions
I mean, it is a sparkling new, amazing year, right? We want to mark it with SOMETHING! So I’m offering you a new way to honor the New Year.
This year, I’m not setting up resolutions. I am…
- Creating a vision board of things I’d like to happen this year.
- Thinking of all the things I am going to leave behind from last year
- Remembering the positive things I’ve learned from last year and making it a priority to carry those lessons into next year.
- Focusing on building Business From Home Mom’s audience
- Help other moms learn virtual assisting, and freelancing in general, to change their lives
I’m reframing resolutions into ideas that are pleasing to me, that I can conquer in little bits and those that won’t make me feel completely disappointed if I can’t complete something. And, this is very important, these are all things that I can control no matter what is going on in the world or in my house.
So this year, tackle the New Year with joy, no-pressure ideas that make you feel good about life, the world, and in general.
And most importantly, keep dreamin’
If you’d like to become more involved in the Business From Home Mom Community of moms who are learning new ways to parent, become successful virtual assistants, and mix business and parenthood with graceful chaos, follow me on Instagram, Facebook, or check out this to learn more about virtual assisting.
Creating and maintaining boundaries can really make or break your relationships with clients as well as your mental health as a virtual assistant.
When you are fantasizing about working from home, I’ll bet you are not dreaming of interrupting family time, late or unpaid invoices, or demands for quick turn-around projects that will impact you getting any sleep. This is why it’s important to set and maintain boundaries with clients.
Why boundaries are essential as a virtual assistant
When you first start out as a virtual assistant, and sometimes even as a very experienced virtual assistant, it can be a struggle to create and maintain boundaries because of the fear of upsetting clients.
I’ve found that the opposite is actually true. By setting clear expectations, you’ll be able to help support your clients even more.
Setting simple, clear, and easy limits on your work sets both you and your client up for a more comfortable relationship for you. (No more 12 pm texts with urgent work)
Let’s say that you set a clear expectation that you answer emails between 9 am – 5 pm EST and will respond within 48 hours. Your client then knows that they don’t have to check in with you four or five times when you don’t answer in 10 minutes.
Your responsibility as a virtual assistant is to save time and mental energy and setting a boundary such as clearly stating when you answer emails, saves a client time and mental energy. It also comforts them because they know you are finishing up other tasks before responding (because you’re amazing!)
Setting these limits on your work also protects you from overbearing or very demanding clients. Once you start getting those additional emails from a client checking in on a task that’s still within your provided response time, that can be a red flag to watch out for other deal-breakers.
Virtual Assistant Boundaries to Set with Clients
Office hours are the simplest and easiest boundary to set and communicate when working on client projects.
Working hours will look different for everyone based on where you are and what you want your workday to look like. For example, your working hours might be 10 am – 12 pm and then 4 pm – 8 pm if you have young children and need to work based on their schedules. You can state your hours to be whatever you need them to be when working as a virtual assistant.
Communicating these times will let clients know when you can be reached in an emergency and when you can schedule meetings.
Uniform contact procedures
You’ll want to clarify the one way that all tasks will be communicated to you. Whether it is email, a task management app (I love Trello and Asana), or even text messaging.
This will help you to avoid missing tasks, misunderstandings about due dates, and keep communications streamlined.
Response time is the amount of time from the time a client sends you a message to when they can expect you to respond.
Your response time will tell your client when they can expect to hear from you, which is important when working remotely. You can’t just walk down the hall to ask a question as you could in an office, so making sure that clients know how long a response might take is essential.
When to communicate your boundaries
I recommend sending your boundaries as a virtual assistant in a welcome packet.
This welcome packet can either go out to your client with the proposal or with your contract. By sharing your boundaries right away, your client has the opportunity to ask questions before the tasks even begin.
If your client has questions about your work process or client boundaries, you are giving them an excellent opportunity to communicate, immediately.
When to consider flexibility with your boundaries as a virtual assistant
There are certain times and situations when being flexible with your boundaries can really show your dedication to your clients as a virtual assistant.
As you work with more clients, you will build strong, long-lasting relationships and retain long-term clients.
When one of your long-term clients has a busy travel schedule and can’t make a meeting on your usually scheduled meeting days, you might find yourself easing some of your boundaries.
That’s a good business practice. Here are some other examples of situations where you might want to make exceptions for:
- When a meeting is canceled super last minute due to a health emergency
- If a client is learning a new platform – such as Trello – allowing them to communicate via email or text until they feel comfortable on the new platform
- Answering an email or working on the weekend when your client is experiencing a true business emergency or launch. This means a real emergency – not a broken link on an Instagram post.
You will always want to communicate with your client that this is an exception and not a typical response. It both reminds clients of your boundaries and makes them super appreciative that you Have taken the time to help them.
If a high-paying client reaches out to me and needs to meet asap, you can bet that I will be on that phone trying to make a meeting work. Within reason, of course.
Non-negotiable boundaries as a virtual assistant
While we’ve talked about flexibility, we also need to talk about the boundaries that are non-negotiable.
These are the things that you will not budge on under any circumstances regardless of the situation to protect your family and your lifestyle.
For example, if your kids are usually off of school on Mondays, you may want to be clear about not taking client calls, ever, on Mondays. That way you don’t have to double-check that you have no meetings on days that the kids are home with you.
It is okay to set a couple of firm boundaries for clients.
The entire subject of boundaries comes down to what you are personally comfortable with. There is no right or wrong. The biggest takeaway to remember is that by creating boundaries you create long-lasting, strong client relationships.
If you are starting your virtual assistant business on a budget, like I did, you’ll be looking for the least expensive tools to help you.
The following are some of the tools that I’ve used since I “opened” the doors to my own virtual assistant business. This is not written in stone. You’ll find your own way and your own tools, these are just the ones I recommend if you are starting on a budget.
Least expensive tools for a virtual assistant business
A CRM is a customer relationship manager tool and you would use this type of program to track and follow clients as they move from leads to relationships. CRM’s are wonderful for tracking everything from inquiries to quotes, proposals to contracts, and emails to invoices. They are incredibly valuable and I recommend getting one set up as soon as you decide you want to take your virtual assistant business full-time.
Dubsado is my ultimate favorite of those I’ve used. This CRM allows you to do everything from sending proposals to invoices, communicate via email, keep track of workflows, tasks, and deliverables, along with collecting leads and sending out questionnaires. Dubsado does take a minute to set up.
You won’t need to use all of the tools that Dubsado offers right away. You can use it just for the basics until you get things up and running. Then expand as your business does. Dubsado is free for your first three clients and then $45/month after that which is great because you don’t get charged until you have enough clients to pay for it!
Task Management tools
Task management tools help you visualize the tasks that need to be completed and allow you to put a date, time, deliverables, and communicate with the client on task-specific questions.
Asana is one of the original task management tools and is perfect for those of us who think in lists. You will be able to hop right into this task management tool without much training. If you do need some training you’ll be able to find help in the hundreds of YouTube videos or even their own training within the program. Asana is free unless you want fancier bells and whistles
Trello is best for those who need to visualize tasks moving through a system. This task management tool uses a Kaban style layout (Google it) and allows you to create cards that you can move from the start of the task to finish.
Graphic creation tools
Canva is my total go-to when it comes to creating great graphics for clients or myself. They have tons of templates to choose from for social media, flyers, business cards, and basically everything you can imagine. You’ll be able to start out with a free account on Canva.
These tools will help you while also being free as you get started out!
What other tools have you run into that have made your life easier?
I’ve had questions about how to homeschool while running a business from home and I’m hopeful this answers some of them. The information specific to homeschooling is dependent on your state…most of the information I’m including is for the state of Ohio…so please check with your local homeschooling group if you decide to go this route.
How do I get started with homeschooling?
First, the state of Ohio is an excusal state…not an approval state. This means that I only need to notify the superintendent of my school district that I intend to homeschool and they excuse my child or children from attendance at their school.
You’ll want to check the local ordinances for your specific state so that you can follow the letter of the law.
Every year I send in my NOI or Notification of Intent to Homeschool for whichever children are homeschooling that year. The superintendent then sends back an Excused from Compulsory Attendance Letter. You will also need to decide if you are going to test your kids at the end of the year or have a certified teacher look over a portfolio of their work.
What the heck do I teach my kids?
The beauty of homeschooling is that you literally get to teach them whatever you want. If you have a kid interested in science, they can do a heavy science schedule with just a little bit of writing. If you have a writer, you can do more writing projects than science projects.
There are a lot of homeschool resources out there these days. I always recommend getting involved in a local or virtual homeschool group. A lot of the information I get on homeschooling in Ohio has come from Ohio Homeschooling Parents. You may have to dig around for your state’s best information resource but it will be worth it.
Picking homeschool curriculum
It is super tempting to buy all the things that claim to make your child smarter, more successful, learn a skill quicker, or are accredited. Don’t. Do Not.
Take a month off. Figure out your kid. Are they visual or kinetic learners? Do they do better with workbooks or video? What are their absolute favorite subjects? It won’t matter what curriculum you buy if your child learns in the opposite way of what that curriculum teaches.
Homeschooling and running a business tips
The most important part of homeschooling and running a business is to stay flexible. You want neither the business nor the child to fail but you need to remember that flexibility is key.
This is why being a virtual assistant and focusing on writing and social media has been a great niche for me to fill. These types of business tasks can be completed at odd hours mostly, or mobile from my phone if needed.
Find a schedule that works for you and your child
It took me a long time to realize that my kids did not need to be engaged in specific learning activities for eight hours per day to be educated. We developed a schedule that worked for us where I would help with school work for an hour, work on the business for an hour, then switch all day.
Be firm about times that you absolutely need to not be disturbed. If you have meetings scheduled or a huge project deadline, give them work that they can do independently or reinforce work that is just practice.
Hang a sign up, or if your kids can read yet, a red sticky note, so that they know to hold the questions and work on something else until you are finished.
Consider block scheduling your homeschool
Block scheduling allows for a student to learn one or two subjects per day several times per week. For example, you’d do language arts and history on a Monday for however many lessons and then the next day maybe math and science.
This schedule sometimes makes it easier because you know which days your child will need the most assistance. A strong writer may not interrupt at all on language arts days but you’ll know you need to be fully present on science days.
You’re going to need a planner
I have a teacher planner for my homeschool kiddos and a regular planner for my business. THEN a whiteboard that holds all of the daily things – meetings, sports, important things like that. This makes it a sure thing that everyone will be aware of when free time is and when we need to hoof it.
Overall, homeschooling while running a business CAN be done – but it’s best to be prepared, know your boundaries, and have a lot of patience as you all learn your way!
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We’ve concluded RockingMama Journeys together but we have not ended the story. Taking what you have learned about yourself and your kids will keep you focused on a strong relationship for years to come.
This week we tackled having pride and celebrating who our kids are.
Use the time in your car for a good conversation.
Summer activities are in full swing. We’ve got swimming, ball games, vacations, and family time planned. That means a lot of time in the car.
I love chatting with my kids when I’m driving. When we aren’t staring at each other so many things come out and real quality conversations happen.
So today, chat with your kids while you are driving them to one of their millions of activities, to the store, or on the way to church.
📝 Don’t try to get too serious on short car rides
📝 Keep it casual and loose; ask open-ended questions
📝 Save serious questions for longer car rides or if there are tears…
Give time, money, or attention to something that your child is passionate about.
What is your kiddo enthralled with? What makes their eyes shine and their souls sparkle?
Today, take some time to think about how you can invest something in that thing that your kiddo loves.
Sometimes, and we all do this, we hear so much about their favorite Minion, sport, or animal so much that it’s nauseating. But that thing that they are so passionate about might change and we’ll all miss the conversations about unicorns and rainbows or the pitching in the game.
📝 Something as simple as a conversation and you listening to them talks about their passion counts
📝 Ask your child what they need to feel supported in their passion.
📝 Be creative. Surprise them with something they need for their favorite thing.
Go outside together!
It’s a beautiful day so make it a priority to go outside together, as a family. Enjoy the sunshine, play a game, and connect in the fresh air.
📝Take a walk so that you can all chat while walking
📝 Play an outside game that everyone enjoys
📝 Even sitting on the porch before bedtime counts
Pick up their favorite treat and celebrate!
Do you ever celebrate with your kiddos on a random day of the week? If not, make today the first of an amazing tradition.
If you’ve been following along all these weeks – this is it! The end of the road! The last #rockingmamajourney …for now…
So grab that special treat and celebrate even if no one else knows why you are celebrating 🥰
📝 Pick a treat that you rarely treat your kids to – make it special!
📝 Make a big deal out of the kids for this treat – they may not understand but you all deserve a treat!