Labor Day for Virtual Assistants

The big question for me last week was whether or not to take Labor Day off from work. Sounds like a crazy question, but life as a virtual assistant is different from life as an administrative professional. As an administrative professional, I used to plan outings for myself and friends/family on those long 3-day week-ends. I knew I would have the time off from work.

Since I became a virtual assistant, I’ve had to re-think my priorities and frankly, I’m always in a quandary, when these 3-day week-ends occur.  One the one hand, I really need a break. My mind is focused on my work and clients 7 days a week. I may not be sitting at my computer or working with my phone, but my mind is still on my clients’ and their needs. I’m always thinking of ways to eliminate waste, while maintaining/growing their client base. I’m replaying in my head the conversations I’ve had with them, trying to glean more meaning from them, so I can provide better service, but I also need some “me” time.

All of my clients support the major holidays, so if I don’t work on those days, there’s no worry that I will miss something important, but, I still feel I have to connect with them.

As an administrative professional, in my former working life, my days were planned for me in advance. I started my days at a certain time and ended at a certain time. My holidays were pre-defined and my sick days were available to me as long as they did not occur on the day before or after a holiday. Life was very straightforward back then.

I don’t miss that life. I look back on it and realize that I allowed myself to be put into an invisible box and I was expected to perform in a certain way. Period!

Now, I am my own boss and I can expand my knowledge and experience and really reach out to struggling businesses and help them in the areas they need assistance or guidance.

I am still struggling with the holiday issue. When faced with an issue or problem without an immediate solution, I usually experiment and see what gives me the best results. I decided to take Labor Day off completely – meaning no checking business emails and no checking business phone messages.

 I felt guilty at first about not “working”, but then, I started to relax and plan a day for myself. Of course, every time the phone rang, I checked to see who was calling, but sure enough, no business calls for the entire day. My phone only rang 4 times that day and it was friends, no clients. Before going to bed, I did check my emails and again, there were no business emails, so in future, I need to gauge which holidays I can take off ”completely”.

Of course, the client’s type of business dictates which holidays you can and cannot take off. If you have a 24/7 client, you would have to check in frequently, but with the clients I have at this time, I can ease up a bit and enjoy myself.

At first, I didn’t know what to do with my day off, but I decided to go shopping and just get out of the house. The weather was rainy and humid, so I figured I would spend my time in several air-conditioned stores.  I didn’t buy much, but the freedom to just have a day off was great.

There are some lessons to learn. First of all, if my client took the day off, so should I. Secondly, I need to set parameters for my business, as well. I need to find that life/work balance for myself. I started my business in January this year, so I’m still defining myself and my business.

This Labor Day week-end was a reminder that Labor Day is a day “not to work”. It is a day to rest and refresh and look back and realize all that I have accomplished so far this year.

Sitting in a café, munching on a salad and iced tea, I realized that summer is over. I needed a break and my business is doing well. I have accomplished most of my goals for my first year in business and by only taking one day for myself, I now feel energized to continue working for my clients and helping them to reach their goals, too. 

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