Many Virtual Assistants go through phases of overwhelm in their business.

Anyone who owns a small business realizes that there are ebbs and flows of business, and there are also ebbs and flows of overwhelm as a result of that.

If you have ever had a client call you with a project and they ask you 'how quickly can you get this done?', you know what I'm talking about.

If you are like me, you set up your schedule and you know how your work day will look from one day to the next. It's the only way I can make sure that I have time to complete everything I need to get done, for my clients and for my own business.

So, how do you handle it? Well, the first thing to consider is how your schedule looks. We are going to presume that you don't have 'help' available ... this is my advice for you if you are on your own and trying to work with the client request, while maintaining your sanity and schedule.

Relax! Breathe! It's a great situation to be in!

First things first. Set deadlines to complete the work, and be sure your clients are aware of when you will deliver the finished work.

Add the project(s) to your schedule, ... schedule time for them and be sure that your deadlines are solid ... and then meet the deadlines, whatever the cost.

If you agree to do the work, you must complete it on time. So be sure to set the deadlines correctly by giving yourself enough time to complete the work properly.

Set up checklists to go through the steps to complete the client work. Check off each task as you complete it, so you are aware of what is finished and what still needs to be done.

This is especially important if you are 'fitting in' some work to an existing schedule - if you can carve out sections of time to work on it, a checklist will be invaluable for you.

Deliver the work when you say you will. This helps you respect the client, as well as yourself.

It's easy to squeeze things in when necessary, but it's even more important to assess whether squeezing something in is even possible ... sometimes it's not if you are already busy.

Recently, I had several 'old' clients call during the same week with some new projects. They all needed them done as soon as possible. I let them know that I would squeeze them in, as my schedule was quite busy with current client work. I gave them workable deadlines that fit into my existing schedule, and they were pleased to know that I would fit them in, and that they knew when they would receive their completed work.

I set up my checklists and I worked on their projects when I had planned to, and I managed to deliver all of them on time without creating too much overwhelm in my life.

It was great to be able to help them out when they needed it, and it was a bonus for me to get some extra work when I hadn't expected it.

So what do you do if they say they need something done urgently? That's a judgement call.

If any of my clients had said that my deadlines were not acceptable I would have had to turn them down. I never suggest that you let anyone rush you into taking or completing work, but of course it's your call, because it's your business.

For me, it doesn't make sense to do that. People need to be organized themselves, and when they are coming to me to have work done, they need to respect my schedule in order for me to provide them with the best service and the best result possible.

It can be a difficult choice to make - but a necessary one to keep your business running smoothly, and to keep the clients valuing your time and schedule.

So, the answer to 'how quickly can you get this done?' should always be ... 'Let me check my schedule.' :-)

Author's Bio: 

Tracey D'Aviero is a successful Virtual Assistant as well as a VA coach and mentor. She helps new and aspiring Virtual Assistants build solid foundations for their businesses by teaching them how to put procedures and plans in place for success and growth. Pick up a copy of Tracey's free ebook "How to Get Started as a Virtual Assistant" at http://www.yourvamentor.com.