Manage Expectations in the New Year

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As we stride into the new year, it’s the perfect time to embrace a fresh perspective on productivity, especially for those of us navigating the world of virtual offices. You know the drill: endless to-do lists that feel more like a fantasy than a plan. But here’s a simple yet profound two-word mantra that can change the game: “Manage Expectations.”

Manage Expectations: Your New Go-To Phrase

Whether you’re juggling tasks as a small-business owner, parent, or both, we’ve all been there – staring down a list that looks like this:

  1. Draft an article
  2. Clear emails
  3. Chase deadlines
  4. Research for project
  5. Run errands
  6. Family responsibilities
  7. …and the list goes on

It’s ambitious, but let’s face it, unrealistic. And in the virtual office space, where the lines between work and home blur, this becomes even more challenging. The solution? Embracing the art of managing expectations.

A Realistic Approach

Being ambitious is great, but in the virtual office world, we need to blend ambition with realism. By reminding ourselves to manage expectations, we recognize the gap between our aspirations and what’s realistically achievable. This mindset is crucial as we navigate both personal and professional realms from the same space.

Master the Art of Managing Expectations

Here are a few ways you can start to manage expectations and avoid the stress and overwhelm that typically accompany entrepreneurs across the globe.

Assess the scope

When managing expectations, especially in a virtual office setting, it’s crucial to understand what a task entails. This means breaking down each project or task into smaller, manageable parts. Ask yourself: What are the specific steps required? What resources will you need? Understanding the full scope helps prevent underestimating the time and effort needed, which is a common pitfall in ambitious to-do lists.

Identify Potential Hurdles

Every task comes with its own set of challenges, and in a virtual office, these can range from technological issues to communication barriers. Take time to consider what might impede your progress. Are there dependencies on other team members? Do you have all the necessary information and tools? Anticipating these hurdles allows you to plan proactively, reducing the risk of unexpected delays and stress.

Estimate Realistically

This step is all about time management – a critical skill in virtual office environments. For each task, estimate how long it will take, keeping in mind both the best-case and worst-case scenarios. Be realistic about your productivity levels and consider external factors like potential interruptions or technical issues. It’s better to overestimate and finish early than to underestimate and end up rushing or missing deadlines.


In a virtual office, where you might not have the physical presence of a team around you, prioritizing becomes even more important. Determine which tasks are the most critical and time-sensitive and which can wait. This could mean focusing on deadline-driven work before moving on to more flexible tasks or tackling the tasks that require deep concentration when you’re at your most alert. Remember, not everything can be a top priority, so it’s essential to differentiate between what’s urgent and what’s important.

Using these four steps will not only help in planning out your workload but will allow you to focus on what you’ve accomplished rather than what you haven’t.

A Practical Approach to Task Management

Gretchen Rubin, a bestselling author known for her insights into habits and happiness, offers a simple yet effective strategy for tackling your to-do list: assigning a specific time to each task. This method isn’t just about noting down what you need to do; it’s about allocating a definite start and end time for each item on your list.

Why is this approach so transformative, especially in a virtual office setting? Firstly, it brings a level of discipline and structure that’s often missing when your workspace is at home. By setting a time frame, you’re less likely to procrastinate or let tasks drag on indefinitely.

This technique also forces you to be realistic about how much you can accomplish in a day. When you physically map out your time, it becomes clear that you can’t fit an eight-hour workload into a three-hour window. It helps you to prioritize more effectively and to be more intentional about how you spend each hour of your workday.

In addition, when you assign time to tasks, it creates a mental separation between work and personal life, which can be particularly challenging in a home office environment. When you know that you have from 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM to work on a project, you can fully focus during that period and then allow yourself to step away once the time is up. This approach not only boosts productivity but also helps maintain a healthier work-life balance.

Lastly, this method provides a sense of accomplishment as you complete tasks within their allotted time. It’s satisfying to check them off items on your to-do list, knowing you’ve managed your time efficiently. This positive reinforcement encourages a more productive and balanced approach to work each day.

As we walk into this new year, let’s recalibrate our approach to work in our virtual offices. By managing our expectations, we’re not just dreaming about reaching the stars – we’re planning a realistic journey to get there.

Opus VO

Opus Virtual Offices is a virtual office provider for small to medium-sized businesses looking to create a professional presence in their desired market. With our standard service package, you get a full-time receptionist answering business calls in a professional manner. Real-time call transfer, parcel and post management, your own business number, toll-free number option, and meeting rooms on demand. All that for our low monthly fee of $99.