Jessica set up an appointment with me for some on-the-spot coaching  to discuss how she manages her time.

Among other things, we found that Jessica runs her practice on adrenaline (a post for another time). That need for the rush she gets when she allows herself to be pushed past her limits by deadlines, client emergencies, and her own poor planning, has her overcommitting to requests from client, and her desire for a good reputation and to be known for delivering quality work has her working an insane number of hours to get it all done.

How insane? On a regular basis, she can count on working 15+ hour days, and even longer ones on Saturday and Sunday.

Like I said, insane.

But it goes beyond the crazed work hours. Issues that have crept up are things like, not getting it all done—no matter how hard or long she works, extreme fatigue, a persistent cough, inability to spend time with friends and family because she has to work, inability to sleep at night, and having clients who aren’t happy with her, even after all that. Today, one of them stopped working with her because of things that hadn’t happened as agreed.

What we discovered together in our session has led to our creating an ongoing coaching relationship. For you, it’s a grand example of how hard not to work. You simply can’t do it all, and have any of it be any good.

If you work 20 hours a day, your product will be crap (1)

My motto is this: if you work 20 hours a day, your product will be crap. If you’re a VA, your service is your product. Take it to the bank that you cannot overwork yourself, and adjust your business so that you’re only committing to what you can easily get done in the time you’ve decided that you want to work.

In reality, “full time” for a Virtual Assistant should absolutely, positively, be no more than 30 billable hours/week (you’ll need ten more to work on your business); that’s actually likely pushing it, and you may need to work considerably less, depending on the particulars of your own life.But if part of the desire to have your own biz is to have a better life with time for the things that matter to you more than sitting at your desk and working, there have to be limits.

Can you make what you need to make to reach your financial goals while working a sane number of hours? Maybe. Maybe not. What I know for sure is that you’ll never get where you need to be by ruining your health or your relationships trying to make it happen.