When you outsource to a Virtual Assistant (VA), it’s tempting to just dump tasks onto them, and expect them to handle all your background tasks, to free you up to focus on the things that create high value in your business.
There are a few potential problems with this approach:
1. Your VA may work more hours than you expect, resulting in their invoice at the end of the month being much higher than you budgeted for.
2. They will not be familiar with your business and will be asking you loads of questions, meaning you are continually being interrupted, which kind of defeats the object of hiring a VA in the first place.
3. Because you don’t know how they work, you’ll have no idea of when the tasks will be completed, or how they will be completed. They may go about things in a very different way to you, with different outcomes.
What Tasks Should You Outsource to a Virtual Assistant First?
It’s always interesting when we first talk to people who are thinking about hiring a Virtual Assistant, as they often fall into one of two scenarios:
1. Some will immediately know what they need help with. Perhaps it’s to look after their emails; keep their diary up to date; organise meetings, events, or travel.
2. For others, they may feel they are drowning in admin and have no idea how to get this routine work done, but still focus on their clients and the actions that will grow their business.
Our recommendation when starting with a new Virtual Assistant is to simply hand one or two tasks over at first. Once you’re comfortable with how things are working, then look to hand over further tasks.
Developing Your VA Task List
A general guideline for delegating tasks to a Virtual Assistant is to start off by creating three lists:
- Things you hate doing.
- Things you can’t do yourself.
- Things you shouldn’t be doing.
And Chris Drucker, who coaches entrepreneurs and is an authority on building virtual teams describes these as your ‘3 Lists to Freedom’.
But, if you can relate more to the second scenario mentioned above than the first, we take that a step further with a simple 5-step exercise to identify where to start:
1. List out all your routine admin and business tasks.
2. Re-arrange these tasks into 3 lists, with slightly different headings to those above:
- The ‘Only You Can Do’ list.
- The ‘Like To Do’ list.
- The ‘Everything Else’ list.
3. The first list is, as the name suggests, for tasks that only you can do. And these can include:
- Developing or delivering products or services.
- Reviewing business stratgy
4. The second list is for tasks you like to do but could delegate later, such as:
- Researching new markets.
- Compiling weekly / monthly financial reports.
5. And finally, everything that’s left goes onto the third list, the ‘Everything Else’ list.
These kinds of exercises always sound easy to do but sometimes take a little more time to work through than expected.
Here are some questions that will help focus the mind a little more:
- What things do you know you need to do, but never quite get around to?
- What is the one thing you would do if you had more time?
- Do you have sufficient time to support your existing clients to the highest standards?
Do your answers to these three questions encourage you to put more tasks into the ‘Everything Else’ list, or at the very least, the ‘Like To Do’ list, rather than keep hanging onto too much in the ‘Only You Can Do’ list?
Getting Started with Your Virtual Assistant - The Most Important Step
Now, this is where you start making decisions that ease you into working effectively with your Virtual Assistant.
From your ‘Everything Else’ list, pick just one or two tasks that take up the most time or energy and can be outsourced easily.
Hand these one or two tasks over to your VA first!
Get comfortable with the process of working with your VA before considering handing over any further tasks.
Enjoy the benefits of working with your Virtual Assistant, such as having more quality time to focus on your clients and key activities, or more time in the evenings and weekends with your family.
Once you are completely comfortable with how things are working, then look through your ‘Everything Else’ list, and look for the next tasks to outsource, the ones that now take up the most time or energy.
The way to success is to repeat this process until you’ve emptied your ‘Everything Else’ list and are now at the ‘Like To Do’ list.
Then…. Simply keep going!
As an Added Bonus…
In our experience, when you outsource to a Virtual Assistant, this approach is far more efficient in the long run.
Starting this way allows you to get to know your Virtual Assistant better, how quickly they work and how much initiative they take. And instead of having to work out the priorities, your VA can immediately get on with your first few tasks.
What it also does is help build the trust between you and your Virtual Assistant much quicker. And building trust with your Virtual Assistant is key to a successful working relationship between a client and their VA.
If you’re thinking about hiring a Virtual Assistant, but don’t know where to start, please get in touch. We’re always happy to answer your questions.