6 Ways to Manage Your Time Better Every Day as a VA

If you are a Virtual Assistant who is working early mornings, late nights, or both trying to get it all done, it’s time to look at how you manage your time every day.

As a VA, we preach to our clients the importance of not working all hours of the day. But are we taking our own advice?

How is your VA business running? Are you finding you have enough time in your day to do your client work and your business admin?

Or are you struggling every day to get it all done?

If you constantly run to keep up, or get to the end of your day and your task list is not complete, it’s time to look at a few ways you can better manage your time.

Being in business doesn’t mean you have to work all hours – we tell our clients all the time that they shouldn’t, and yet we sometimes don’t take that advice to our own hearts.

Here are 6 tips to help you become more productive (or figure out where your time is going!):

Assess your To Do List

When you start your work day, look at what it is you need to get done. How does it look? Do you immediately know that this will be a very busy day – that you might not get it all done? That’s okay if that happens occasionally, but if it’s happening every day, you need to assess what you are putting into your calendar and how you can adjust it.  What you plan for the day needs to be manageable.

Work During Business Hours

When you are running a business, you have to pick and choose what to do – and your billable work should come before everything else. With no client revenue, your business will not survive. Working during business hours instead of doing the groceries or going to Johnny’s school is important. You don’t have to work 9-5 every day, but you do need to set business hours that work for you and work during them as much as possible.  Trying to work around family needs will lead to burnout faster than if you just hold certain periods of time for you to be working on business.

Block Out Your Schedule

Blocking out your schedule helps you to identify what you should be doing at what time. That doesn’t mean rigid and boring routines – but it does help you stay focused and let others know when you will get to things. Put start times and stop times in your calendar, so you know when it’s time to move on to the next task. Advise you clients what your turnaround time is for their projects. Block out personal time like meals and breaks – no eating at your desk! You will get more done, and still be able to do everything you want – business and personal.

Limit Distractions

One of the biggest issues with working from home is distractions. Sometimes it’s because there are others home with us during the day, and sometimes it’s just that no one else is watching us. We can do whatever we want! If you are not being as productive as you need to be, try switching off all distractions – notifications, social media, Netflix (!) – and see just how much you can get done in a short period of time. It’s really effective – trust me!

Get Support When You Need It

If you are working all hours of every day, look at why that is. What is taking up your time? If it is billable work, it may be time to hire a sub or two to lighten your load. It’s a great to build your business and bring in even more clients, when you get a couple of people to help you with the client work. When you are working alone, you will eventually max out the amount of work you can produce for clients. If you are underwater with bookkeeping or marketing tasks, consider getting help with those. Support is something we tell our clients is essential to grow their business, and the same is true for our own.

Use Checklists

Even if you think you know what you need to do, a checklist is an indispensable tool in our businesses. When you have a a repeatable task, set up a checklist for it so you don’t have to think about what to do next. You will free up very valuable brain space when you just need to consult a checklist to complete your tasks. And you can use a checklist when you bring in other support to help you.

When you work alone, no one is there to make sure you get everything done and don’t fall off track. You need to do it yourself.

By implementing simple things like scheduling, focus and checklists, you can help yourself get more done in a shorter period of time.

When you are starting your VA business, time management seems less important because you don’t have a full client load. As you get busier, you will need to manage many more tasks every day.

I always find myself dropping balls when I have less to do, not more. When I have lots of things to get done,  I manage my time much better.

Setting up good practices now is a good habit to get into, so when you get really busy you already have great habits!

If you want more lessons on time management, check out my Productivity videos on my YouTube channel. There are more than 50 free training videos for Virtual Assistants there! 

How to Build a Virtual Assistant Service Package

Do you get stuck trying to create service packages for your Virtual Assistant business? You are not alone.

This is one of the questions I get asked most often – how to package your services.

Virtual assistants know that when we charge clients for a package of services, we all benefit.

Trading hours for dollars is not a bad business model, but there are downfalls to it.

One of those downfalls is that you max out how much money you can actually earn. Because it is based solely on your time, and you only have so much time, you hit an earnings ceiling, and sometimes that happens very quickly.

Or, if you choose to work 60 to 80 hour weeks to earn more money (which some VAs do!), you will soon suffer from burnout. And then you will lose clients, and your income will go to ZERO!

Sounds dramatic, I know, but it really is true.

Any VA who has charged by the hour before knows that this is exactly what happens.

So. We talk about packages.

But there seems to be a lot of mystery around how to do it. Or at least how to do it properly.

I moved my clients to packages so long ago that I sometimes forget that someone taught me how to do it!

So now I’ll teach you!

Here is how you start to build a service package:

1. Write down all of the things you do for your clients. 

All of them. Go back as far as you need to in your records to figure out what services you offer. The list should be comprehensive.

2. Write down all of the services you offer on your website.

These are the services that you tell people you offer. Why the extra step? Because sometimes there are things on your website that you are not doing for clients. It's a double-check!

3. Go through both lists and start to categorize the tasks that are on them. 

Think of categories like organization, business correspondence, marketing, networking, list building, client communication, payment processing, wherever you find a common thread – that’s a category. Some services offerings/tasks can be in multiple categories.

4. Next, go through your client list.

Write down their business info: what they do, who their clients are, and what types of things they need support with (whether you are doing those things for them presently or not).

5. Categorize your clients as well. 

Who do you really love to work with? What do you love about them? Who do you prefer not to work with? Why not?

6. Finally, have a look at the lists of things that you created that your clients need support with.

Are there other things you could be doing for them that you are not currently doing? (Keep in mind this is not a wish list, but an actual ‘I have experience doing this and I could offer it to them right away’ list).


Now you have your pieces!

Take your categorized service listings and apply them to your favourite clients.

Build Your Packages

To build the packages, start with basic items (ie a regular newsletter) and then add on other complementary services (services that build on one another – ie social media posting of the newsletter, article marketing, blog post, etc.)

Voila! You have basically created a service package for a client that you love to work with.

Don’t worry if those examples aren’t on your lists.

Types of Packages

You can build a client care package, a list building package, a social media package, a graphics and web package, a bookkeeping package, a general admin package, a calendar management/follow up package … any service you provide can be packaged if you just think about what you can put with it to enhance it.

Set Your Prices

Now, from there, you need to decide what your prices look like. I suggest starting with a basic package price and then adding on additional services to come up with premium package prices as well.

For now, start with building some packages and in another blog post we will talk about how to price them.

I have a system that will help you understand what your billable rate should be, and how to build great pricing structure from that.

And certainly if you need help to get yours on paper (or post its!), have a look at my self study program How to Package Your Virtual Assistant Services  which will walk you through the steps to do it for yourself.

What Counts as Billable Time For Your VA Clients?

What do you charge your Virtual Assistant clients for? Just time on task? Or more?

Quite often, I see posts in the VA forums talking about time tracking and billing.

One of the topics that is discussed a lot is around what is billable time to your clients and what isn’t?

And the answers you see posted would probably surprise you. They definitely surprise me!

The short answer is that anything you are doing for a client should be billed to them.

Here’s a quick example.

When you go to McDonalds (I use McDonalds as an example often!), you don’t leave with anything that you haven’t paid for. You get your sandwich, your drink, and you get your condiments and napkins on the counter adjacent to the cash. Maybe you didn’t see the napkins and condiments itemized on your bill, but everything you are leaving with is factored into the price you paid – including the staff that served, the machines they used to process your order, and the lights over your head.

It’s the same thing with your clients.

You provide a VA service to them. The service includes what you do for them (ie managing their scheduling), and everything else that you need to use to provide that service for them. These things are what make up your billable rate. You need to make a certain amount of money in your business to cover your expertise and your expenses.

I’m not talking about your internet and your other overhead expenses – I’m talking about all of the time you spend looking after their client work.

If you can not earn a profit in your business, then you won’t be in business long.

Now let’s talk about the itemized stuff.

Aside from doing the client’s scheduling, what else do you need to do to manage their work? With VA work it’s mainly communication and administration. Do you bill for these things? If you do not, then you are giving away your time.

What specifically? Phone calls, meetings, updating the project management system, reading and responding to emails.

It is important to factor all of things like communication into your billable rate – and find a way to do all of it efficiently.

Some Virtual Assistants do not charge their clients for this time. They call it ‘included’ but what if one client sends you one email a day and one sends you 20?

The assumption would be that the one who is sending you 20 emails is a larger client, who is probably paying you for more time. But it’s not always the case.

I once had a client who LOVED her email. She was a writer, so words were her craft but I used to dread seeing her name in my inbox because it was there so often. One Monday morning I logged in to see more than 80 emails from her, that she had sent over the weekend. Eighty (I counted them). And she was a client who was billing only 5 hours a month with me.

I had another client who LOVED phone meetings. She didn’t like to write or type, so she wanted to speak on the phone every time she needed to tell me something. A phone call every day adds up quickly – even if it’s just 5 or 10 minutes, never mind the fact that you have to stop everything you are doing to take the call.

As a service business, your time is your money. You need to get paid for it.

That means everything you do for a client should be getting billed to them. If you were not there helping them in their business, they would be doing things themselves.

And yes, we all want to be giving and generous – there is never a problem with that. As a VA, that is one of the best things you can be – provided that you are not giving your time or energy away for free.

Clients are paying you to work with them. So charge them accordingly to get their work done. Your time is as valuable as theirs (actually it’s even more valuable, in my opinion!)

Charge for your phone time, your email time, your project management system time. If you don’t like the idea of itemizing that kind of thing, fix a monthly rate to it, something like 15 minutes a day for communication with a client is only 5 hours a month. But then be sure to track it so you are sure you are billing them the right amount.

Nobody should be working for free. Your clients don’t, and you shouldn’t either.

What’s billable? Anything you do for a client (honestly - except sending them their invoice each month!).

Factor in everything you do and you will be happier in your business, and your clients will be happier too!

For more tips and resources on making your VA business more profitable, sign up for a free CAVA membership today! Connect with VAs like yourself, and have a look around at our resources, while you consider full membership in our association!

5 Tips for Better Follow Up in Your VA Business

Where are your clients coming from?

Are you getting great clients easily from the people you come into contact with on a regular basis?

Or are you struggling to find clients - and maybe even taking on clients that you don't really want to work with, just so you don't turn down the money?

If you aren't meeting enough business people, that should be your first step in trying to get new clients.

But if you are meeting business people and still not getting clients, your follow up procedure probably needs work.

How many sales conversations have you had this week? this month? this year?

The more people you talk to about your business, the more clients you will get. It's just a numbers game. Honest!

A recent Hubspot survey (and many others!) says that it takes 5 to 7 marketing touches to bring someone from a new prospect to a client.

Are you following up with people 5 to 7 times? Are you following up with some of them at all? For me, it's the statistic more than that 'marketing' piece that is important. You have to connect with most people more than once to get them to advance their relationship with you in order for them to start working with you.

Here are 5 steps to set up a follow up system that works to get you clients:

1. Create a master list, database or CRM.

Keeping everything in one place is the most important part of managing your follow up (other than doing that actual follow up, of course!) Set up something that works for you. For some people that's a notebook, for others (like me!) it's a Google Sheet, and even others use a database, CRM or app on their phone. The key is to work within your habits. A beautiful database that you never use is useless. Keep things simple to start with and find a way to use it every single day so that it becomes a simple habit.

2. Record every interaction.

When you connect with someone, you need to find that master list and update it. That's part of why it needs to be so accessible for you. If you don't keep things up to date, it will not be effective for you. I use a Google Sheet because I can access it from my PC and my phone and anywhere else online. So when I speak with someone I can update it with my most recent notes and it is always current. With the many ways we can connect with people these days, having a central place to record it all is essential.

3. Communicate with intent.

When you are looking for those 'touches', be sure that you have a reason to connect with someone. Creating the intent - the topic of conversation, if you will - is essential when you reach out to connect with them. Maybe you know of an event that is coming up that you want to tell them about, or an industry trend that you are reading about that you want to share, or maybe it's just a check in to ask how their business is going. But be sure you know what the intent of the communication is before you send it.

4. Schedule time to do it daily.

Daily follow up is really important. When you are talking to people every day about your business, you will end up with a lot of conversations going on at once. Of course that doesn't mean that you have to email or message or call everyone every day! But you should reach out to at least a couple a day. It makes the routine regular and helps you stay on top of all of the relationships you are building.

5. Ask for a sales conversation only when the time is right.

When you are prospecting and doing follow up, patience is a virtue. Don't connect with someone and right away ask them to talk to you about working together. You want to nurture the relationship with anyone you connect with. When the time is right, you can ask the prospect if they want to chat about you helping them. Or, if they aren't your ideal client, you might ask them for a referral. But always make sure it's time for that and not jump into it.

Following a few rules when you are doing your follow up helps you to keep organized, on top of things, and authentic in your relationship building.

Remember you are going to be in business for the long-term. Connecting with potential clients is about the long game. Treat your prospects well, keep in touch with them, and you will find that you will get clients more easily. And you'll probably even find the networking part FUN!

For some tips on how to manage your sales conversations once you get there, check out this free training video: The Sales Conversation. There are over 40 free training videos for VAs on my Youtube channel!