I totally agree with Erin Philpot’s advice – always set up healthy boundaries. Being a Virtual Assistant is challenging, as this could tremendously affect your personal life and before you know it, you could be spending an entire day working! It’s great that Erin is able to point that out – thanks to her superb organising skills.
Erin Philpot is a Virtual Assistant in the suburbs of Chicago. Besides a pleasant speaking voice and a great sense of humor, Erin loves to organize clients’ calendars and create order out of chaos. She enjoys research and will do the legwork behind important decisions–from booking a luxurious vacation to finding the perfect Mother’s Day gift. She loves the variety of work and the flexibility that Virtual Assistant services offer and the healthy work-life balance she’s been able to create. When she’s not working, you can find Erin watching home rehab shows on Netflix, chatting with her grandmother, or in the clearance section at Target.
Can you walk us through the duties and responsibilities that you conduct remotely? What are your key strengths?
I do a variety of tasks, both personal and business–everything from expense reports, market research, and data entry to scheduling haircuts, organizing childcare, ordering gifts, etc.
What is a typical day like for you?
I try to wake up an hour or so before my kids and my family get some work in. Checking emails and making sure each of my many inboxes are under control is the first priority. Then I usually try to have one task to knock out first thing. I take a break and get my daughter off to preschool and then come home and do more work. I usually field at least 3-4 calls per day and check my inboxes (6+) at least every two hours. I use ToDoist to manage my daily tasks and stay on top of ongoing projects.
How do you keep things organised? Do you have any methods to follow?
I really like ToDoist. It’s simple and clean, and just like a paper list, satisfying to cross off completed work!
What do you enjoy doing outside of work? Can you tell us more about it?
I enjoy spending time with my family. I have a six month old and a three year old who keep myself and my husband pretty busy. We like keeping up with several TV shows, going for walks, and reading.
As someone who has worked for a Virtual Staffing agency before, what do you think are the benefits and drawbacks that clients get when hiring someone from an agency, rather than hiring someone independently?
Yes! Hiring independently allows for so much freedom and flexibility in my work. I feel like I really know my clients now and they know me–not just as their VA, but as a real person. It’s a good feeling. However, I do have to manage my own billing, find coverage for time off, and set up my own contracts and legal paperwork and such. I wish those parts could be handled by someone else, but the flexibility I have now working for myself outweighs the additional paperwork. 🙂
What are the most difficult challenges you have encountered as a VA, and how did you overcome them?
Finding new clients can be challenging, but I’ve found that two things help–do excellent work, and let your other clients know you have capacity to take on more work. If you are a great VA for them, they’re usually happy to recommend you to their friends and business contacts. And chances are, if they’re a client you enjoy, their referrals will be promising as well.
What key lesson have you learned from a client that you would like to impart to your fellow VAs?
Stand your ground. You may work for yourself, but set up healthy boundaries. Clients don’t need to contact you at all hours of the night. You do not have to work 12-hour days. Take some time off. Heck, take a coffee break! Do good work and create reasonable expectations for your clients–that way you can still enjoy your work and not be totally fried at the end of each workday.