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Virtual Assistants – If I Had One, What Would They Do?!? – Takeaways from the Made Simple Summit

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You’ve likely had the topic of Virtual Assistants (VA’s) come up recently, as their use has grown dramatically since the start of the pandemic, and you may have the same question as many others, “What would a VA do for me?”

At the recent Made Simple Summit, we had the opportunity to hear from Tricia Sciortino, the CEO of Belay Solutions.  Belay is one of the pre-eminent US providers of VA’s, and as Tricia made the case for their use, she talked about a process you can utilize to start using one.  I’m a VA believer, so it isn’t hard for me to echo her ideas because I’ve followed a similar path with my VA’s and even in-person assistants for years.  The choice is yours, but here’s a proven process from Tricia’s presentation that works to delegate tasks to a VA and improve your personal work productivity:

1. Identify Your Typical Tasks

You have plenty of tasks to complete each day, so use the following categories to separate them for review:

    • Tiny – Easy stuff that doesn’t take much time but adds up.
    • Tedious – Repetitive and relatively simple tasks that are hard to justify doing yourself.
    • Time-Consuming – Could be important and complex but consume way more of your time than they’re worth.  Spend 10% of the time you’d spend doing this task to outline what needs to be done.  Then delegating 80% of the main portion of the task to your VA.  Finally spend another 10% of the time reviewing their work to finalize the completion of the task.  Limiting your contribution to reviewing, adjusting, and approving the completion of the task, you will save your time while still getting these jobs done.
    • Teachable – These jobs might be difficult, but teaching someone else can allow you to have that person do 80% of them after some training time.  That training is an investment in saving time for you again and again.
    • Terrible At – These are tasks you shouldn’t be doing at all, since they are your weaknesses.  Finding someone who is good at them (and preferably likes them!) will get them completed better than you making a mess of them.

2. Identify Your Primary Tasks

These are the reasons you get paid the big bucks.  The items on this list are the ones that only you can do.  Hopefully, most of these items leave you energized, not drained.  Ultimately, you want this list to have only the stuff that takes advantage of your unique skills and gifts and advances the business.

Even though there may be tasks that you love to do, if they can be done by others, you should delegate them.

3. Identify the Tasks You Hate Doing, But Think You Need to Do Anyway

Items that you hate doing will either drain you of energy or you’ll postpone or procrastinate their completion.  You may believe that only you can do them, but these items are some of the first you should delegate. When you do, you’ll feel the lift of an unpleasant task being taken off your shoulders.

4. Identify All the Tasks that You Know Someone Else Can Do

This list will contain more of the early opportunities for your VA.  If you already know they can be done by someone else, having your VA handle them will feel natural for you.  Even if it feels weird at first, as the VA takes on these items, you’ll definitely start to see available time coming back into your schedule.

5. Pick Your First Five Tasks to Delegate and Start the Process

Once you’ve categorized your tasks, start with a small group of tasks that come from the list of those you hate, or from those you know could be delegated.  Training your VA how to do the task and then giving them the opportunity to try it will tell you a lot.  There are several ways to monitor the results in order to gain confidence in the ability of your VA.  To gain confidence, you can have them do the task in parallel with you and compare the work.  That way, they can see the differences and make the needed adjustments.  You’ll start to see that if they get 90% the same results as you, the other 10% isn’t worth worrying about and you don’t need to deal with it anymore.

As you follow the process above to categorize your tasks and get your VA involved, you’ll learn just how much of your work can be removed from your schedule.  Every relationship with a VA takes on a life of its own and hopefully you’ll grow in confidence as you see positive results, allowing you to focus your time on only the most important tasks on your plate.

The key to getting a VA involved in helping you is your willingness to review your daily tasks and give up on many of them, allowing you to stay focused on the highest-level opportunities.  It’s not easy to get started, but taking the five steps above will get things moving in a positive direction and help you delegate many of your tasks. Doing so can streamline your day and keep you on a good path of maximizing your effectiveness.  Once you’re doing just the business building items that only you can do, your company will be able to grow more quickly, and you won’t be so overwhelmed.