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christianAs a virtual assistant, you need to quickly adapt to changes as you will meet several clients from different parts of the world. One of the top challenges of being in this job is time zone adjustments.

I can still remember when my shift was from 2AM – 11AM (Philippine Time). Back then I was working for 3 clients – a real estate agent from Washington, an entrepreneur from Dallas, and an Australian business broker from Manly, New South Wales.

It was quite a tedious work schedule. There were times when I got confused as to what greeting I should use on the phone and in my emails (good morning, good afternoon, or good evening) so I just resorted to “Good Day” to make things easier, not realizing it actually means goodbye in conversations. To save me from the burden of manually calculating the time in my clients’ locations, I check sites like TimeAndDate.com.

Work Schedule Breakdown

During my first few months with Xilium, the first 2 hours of my initial work schedule was spent for my real estate client from Washington, which involved both real-time and non-real time tasks as my client would periodically call me.

I would then take my lunch break at 4AM – 5AM (it’s weird at first to call it “lunch”). After that, from 5AM – 9AM, I would deal with my Australian client (who is still my client now), which also includes both real-time and non-real time tasks.

The remaining 2 hours of my shift was for my client from Dallas. His tasks don’t involve calls but include product order checking, sending of tracking numbers, tallying sales, updating and edting his websites, searching for links that can be shared to his social media accounts, website, and blogs, and Quickbooks management, all of which are non-real time tasks. I therefore had the luxury to do his tasks anytime of the day as long as I spend 2 hours a day.

When my client from Washington stopped getting virtual assistant services from Xilium, other clients came in and my work schedule was affected. Luckily, the change favored me. I am now working from 8AM – 5PM (Philippine time). I owe much of it to the freedom my Australian client gave me.

Australia and the Philippine Time Zones

Unlike American time zones, Australian time zones do not differ that much from Philippine time. The difference ranges up to 3 hours only depending on whether Daylight Saving Time is observed. I periodically check WorldTimeZone.com to know whether my client’s area observes DST.

When I asked my Australian client if it was okay to move my work schedule for him from 8AM – 12PM (Philippine time), which is 11AM – 3PM Australian time, he did not have any qualms. After all he has ample time in the morning to prepare tasks that he needs me to complete, send them to me with instructions via email, attend to his meetings, have his lunch and call or email me to follow up.

Communication and File Management

My Australian client initially used GoToMeeting to call me. However, we both decided that along with regular email exchanges, a Skype call is a much better way to communicate as we can share screens, making it easier for him to explain matters and relay instructions.

Now, I’ve gotten used to the work process, and the first thing I do when I arrive in the office is to check emails for tasks that my client might have sent during the time I was offline. I then proceed doing the tasks based on what I received first.

There are cases where I receive a note to prioritize a certain task from an email that I get a hold of much later than the rest. In such instances, I stop with what I am doing and jump to the task with high priority.

There are also times that the emails I receive from the client don’t contain specific instructions on how to go along with the attached files (word documents, spreadsheets, pdf reports, etc.) but rather contains a message saying “I’ll call you at a specified time.”

As I wait for my client’s call, I make sure to download all the email attachments, group them accordingly, rename them if needed and place them into related client folders I have saved for better file organization.

To be continued…

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Christian works as a real estate assistant at Xilium. He specializes in back office support, content writing, social media marketing, and administrative assistance. Follow him on Google+.