I used to think there was something wrong with me.
I find shopping extremely exhausting, and I usually need rest and quiet time afterward. Chit chatting on the phone with a friend can zap my energy like crazy, and while on vacation, I need time to write and be alone.
I enjoy all these activities, so what gives? Why do I feel so drained and overstimulated?
One day I stumbled upon the reason. I don’t even remember where or how I figured it out, but I did and it has changed my life.
I am an introvert.
I also discovered that I’m not alone and that a lot of people are just like me.
WHAT’S AN INTROVERT?
Introversion is not the same as shyness. Yes, an introvert can be shy, but he or she may not be.
Basically, an introvert is energized by being alone and feels drained by certain activities like talking, multi-tasking, and doing anything that requires leaving the house. They wonder why anyone would ever call rather than text. They typically enjoy hanging out with one or two people rather than a group, and they’re normally better at writing rather than speaking (you know what a mean, introvert friend!).
They’re deep thinkers, great at observing people, and prefer to think before they speak or make a decision. They can easily become overstimulated by their surroundings, which is why shopping for a couple of hours is fatiguing. An introvert can feel wiped out after a party where an extrovert will normally feel energized.
YOU’RE NOT FLAWED
Being an introvert is not a flaw. It may feel like it is at times, especially when it seems like everyone around you is outgoing and social. The truth is, at least 50% of people in the world are introverts! And introverts have the ability to become extroverted for small amounts of time. So someone you think is extroverted may, in fact, be an introvert.
MANY celebrities, leaders, and speakers are introverts. In fact, they make wonderful entrepreneurs and virtual assistants! Running a home-based business gives you the freedom to use your energy levels wisely and the option of creating a business that works for you.
Below I’ve listed a few tips that I’ve learned over the years as an introverted VA, to help you navigate your own VA biz.
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TIPS FOR INTROVERTED VIRTUAL ASSISTANTS
1) Match your daily tasks with your energy levels. Keep a journal of your energy levels throughout the day and week. When do you feel most energized? Creative? Tired? Inspired? Take advantage of these different moods and match your work with your energy levels. Here are a few more productivity tips for working smarter (not harder).
2) Change your mindset about marketing. Introverts hate coming across “salesy” or pushy, so promoting your business can feel really scary and uncomfortable. I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be. Focusing on helping people instead of selling to them makes a big difference. Keep in mind that there are people out there looking for what you offer and make it your job to get out there as much as possible so they find you. Many VAs, including myself, have reached out and offered their services to people who were ECSTATIC that they contacted them. Business owners are out there thinking about hiring a VA and don’t know where to start! Here are some fun and unique ways to find clients (introvert approved!).
3) Create space in your day before and after your client calls. Take a few quiet minutes to prepare for your meeting with a client and make sure you have any points you want to talk about listed in front of you. After your meeting, take a few minutes to unwind.
4) Protect your time. Block out time to focus on what needs to be done and let people know you shouldn’t be disturbed unless it’s an emergency. That way you don’t get interrupted constantly (a total energy buster.)
5) Take lots of breaks to rest your mind and eyes. I tend to keep going a little further than I should. I know when I need to stop but for some reason, I think that doing a little more will be worth it. Instead, I feel completely drained and unhappy. I recommend getting up at least every hour to step away from the computer and walk around, pet your dog, or get a drink. And quit working when you just start to feel fatigued. Trust me, it makes a difference.
6) Take on fewer clients with more hours. Some VAs like to work with lots of clients for just a few hours each month. Others, myself included, prefer to have fewer clients who purchase more hours. That way, we deal with fewer people overall and we get to be really involved in just a few businesses, which can be really fun! It’s also easier to get to know your clients when you aren’t juggling 15 of them at once. Also, consider working with retainer clients (clients who work with you on an ongoing, monthly basis). That way, you just work with the same clients long term instead of constantly working with new people. Another advantage is steady work which means steady money, and you won’t have to constantly find new clients!
7) Get advice and support from other introverted VAs. Nobody knows how to run a VA business as an introvert better than an introverted VA! Come join us at Introvert VA Club where you can make friends, grow your business, and be yourself.
I feel blessed to have discovered that I’m an introvert because it has helped me make sense of my requirements for downtime and being alone. I now know how to manage my energy levels and what I need in order to feel happy and healthy (without feeling guilty.)
Not all introverts are alike. My best advice is to take note of when you feel the most drained and what activities cause fatigue. Then figure out ways to build quiet time around these activities in the future.
Don’t be afraid to inform people what it means to be introverted and what your needs are. The more we communicate to those around us the better we can all relate to each other.