It was a week of many distractions competing for my time. Those distractions include: the news that 2 extended family members are dying of cancer, inclement weather, preventing any outside activity, deadlines for client work and a transcription pedal that simply would not work. Compounding these distractions was the arrival of Woody and Wanda Woodchuck. I have nothing against animals and would never intentionally harm them, but…this is MY yard. We have other wild animals in the area, but they keep their distance.
The weather was so hot and it sapped my energy, so every step counted. I needed some breaks due to the heat and wanted to go outside for my walks or grill instead of running the oven. Last week this became impossible to do. Woody and Wanda were in my yard for the duration of 5 days. I tried to shoo them away, but they wouldn’t move. They were not afraid of people and this concerned me. Were they rabid?
This distraction became a competition between me and my time and these 2 adventurous creatures.
So what does this have to do with being a virtual assistant?
As a virtual assistant, I had to discipline myself to 1) get my client’s work completed on time, 2) be available to my relatives, if needed, 3) find alternative meals, so I wouldn’t have to run the oven and heat up the house, and 4) sit on the floor and figure out why this transcription pedal, that came with no installation instructions, does not work and then make it work.
Clearly, Woody and Wanda were my biggest competitors for the week. They were on my mind constantly. I was trying to find a way to move them on without any pain and suffering. I researched, something I love to do, on how to eliminate them from my yard. Apparently, nothing works except going lethal and I didn’t really want to make that choice.
As a virtual assistant, you not only have to discern and evaluate your clients, you also have to know and evaluate your competition. So who are the competitors of a virtual assistant?
• Staffing agencies that persuade employers to use temporary help instead of a virtual assistant
• Time can be a distraction, if you think you have more time than you need to complete something or it can be part of the competition to force you to squeeze more work into less time.
• Distractions by family, friends, relatives, even though they’re in need of assistance of one form or another. These distractions eat up chunks of VA work time, so they need to be used wisely.
• Weather extremes, where you’d rather be at the beach or lake or mountainside instead of in your “office” working diligently.
These are just some of the distractions and competitors for your time.
A successful VA is a person, who knows how:
• To remain calm and disciplined under pressure,
• To concentrate on priorities and get those priorities completed on schedule,
• To be flexible with pre-planned activities and be ready to change plans, if necessary,
• To evaluate a problem, look at all possible solutions and then confidently choose the solution that best eliminates the problem.
In my case, I was starting to stress over all the demands of my time, but I prioritized my tasks, created a list and time limit on each. Then I applied discipline and got them done on time. I worked more efficiently and accomplished more, because I had several deadlines to meet and I was out of my comfort zone with all of the distractions. It’s good to change your routine once in a while.
As far as Woody and Wanda Woodchuck, they disappeared from my yard and haven’t been seen since.
What I learned last week about myself was inspiring. I did complete as much work as I do in a normal week, in spite of having so many interruptions, coupled with running some errands for other people. I got my transcription pedal to work after taking a moment to realize that hot, humid weather affects computers, but most importantly, I realized that problem-solving involves doing some well-rounded research AND getting to know who (people who demand your attention or unwanted visitors) or what (malfunctioning equipment) is your competition.
Woody and Wanda stopped me from grilling outdoors and chewed some of my plants down to their roots, but after I did some research to learn more about them, I waited and they did as most animals do and moved on. The competition was over and one of several problems were solved. My clients’ work is completed and have no idea how many hoops I had to jump through to get their tasks completed, but I did it.
Distraction and/or Competition are good for the mind and made me a better VA.