For most paralegals, the deciding factor for going virtual is flexibility and work-life balance. Anyone who has been successful in this business knows that operating a business does not have set hours even after the virtual doors have been closed.
Depending on how busy you are, you may be able to complete your paralegal assignments at the end of the day but your nights and weekends may be filled with the demands of running a business such as: billing, invoicing and marketing. If this sounds like you and you are asking yourself, where is the flexibility that I signed up for or if you are a new virtual paralegal trying to avoid this situation, fear not, I have a few ideas for you.
Firstly, there must be a distinction between home and work. You must create a dedicated space for your business. If you have a spare room, take the time to create a real but comfortable office space. If you do not have a spare room, go to your local library or coffee shop. Separating yourself from “home” can help you to switch into work mode and become more productive.
The next thing to do to create work-life balance is to determine your operating hours and stick with them. Depending on where your clients are; you must take the different time zones into consideration, except for emergencies for which you would charge an extra fee. You should not accept new projects or respond to emails after hours. However, you must have a system in place for your clients to submit their requests when your virtual office is closed.
In addition to setting strict operating hours, you must also have a dedicated phone just for your business. Turn it off at the end of the working day. Set up a voice message instructing clients on how to submit their questions and projects after hours. You must confirm receipt and respond to your clients’ requests within 24 hours.
Finally, use a time tracking software such as Hubbstaff or Toggl to help you achieve a better work/life balance. Time tracking software will highlight if you are working too much or too little. If you are taking 2 hours to complete an assignment that you could usually complete in an office within a half hour; it’s time to re-evaluate your time management.