One of the more difficult things to learn when you’re working with a virtual assistant is how to assign her work. I want to share three tips with you that can help keep things sailing smoothly in your work relationship together.
Last Minute Work Doesn’t Work
It’s 4:59pm on a lovely Friday afternoon. Your virtual assistant is shutting down the office for the weekend. “Ding” She gets an email from you, asking her to do a laundry list of tasks. And they all need to be done before Monday morning.
Don’t do that. That’s just cruel.
Virtual assistants are working on time tables and schedules and have developed excellent routines to fit in all of their work daily. If you send an email at the end of the day, or right before a weekend, or a holiday, or vacation (you get the point), you’re putting your virtual assistant in a corner. She wants to help you, but she has a life outside of work. A family. Friends. Laundry to do!
Plan your schedule and tasks so that she can get things done at your deadline, but while not infringing on her off hours time.
Know What You Want
You fire off an email to your virtual assistant. Maybe it says “look up some flights to New York for me.” No. Take that email back immediately!
It’s so important to give your virtual assistant all the details she needs in order to do her best job for you. Looking up flights to New York is generic. From just that one task I can ask:
Details are key. We know you’re in a rush and you’re doing a million things. But if you can take an extra minute to think about what it is you actually need, your virtual assistant can get right to work for you with little to no questions.
Change is Bad
You’ve got your task. You tell your virtual assistant to create a landing page for you and she gets to work on it. Twenty minutes later, you tell her that instead of the images you gave her, you decided to use different ones. She removes the old images and adds the new ones.
Then you change the text. Then the images again. Then the coloring and call to action. Then the images again. And more text.
And your virtual assistant is now pulling out her hair.
If you’re changing things that much, you’re not ready to assign the task. And this goes back up to tip #2 - you have to know what you want before you can assign a task to your virtual assistant.
Keep these three tips in mind and your virtual assistant will greet each task you assign with a much happier attitude!
It was around 10:30 on a Saturday night and I was looking for some new software. Yes, that is my excitement for a Saturday night!
I came across a website that sold software that fit what I needed. I was browsing, did a slight scroll down, and read the big sale statement. And right there, in an exceptionally large font size - a spelling error. A very glaring error.
Some people would not have noticed. Those that would see it would just ignore it.
But not me.
I can’t move beyond it. So I do the only thing that I can do. I send them an email and point out the error.
And it strikes me as a bit funny. Because this is something I’ve done my whole life. And honestly, it usually isn’t met with much gladness by others. No one likes to have their mistakes pointed out.
Last month I emailed another website. They were selling a course, but the expiration date had already passed. Again, I emailed and let them know they needed to update it.
I’m not trying to be mean or critical. It’s just what I do. If there’s a mistake, I want to see it fixed. And I realize that people are busy and rushed, and those two things are a combination for making errors. We all get to that point.
And for these websites I come across, they’re going to get emails from me, and they are not going to like me.
But, if you’re one of my clients, you’re going to love that I do this. Because I’m going to do everything I can to make sure you look your best.
One morning I was doing my walk on the track around the football field at school. It was a particularly damp and foggy morning. The day before we had buckets and vats and barrels of rain. It rained hard. Of course, you know that inevitably, a morning after a huge rain, there are worms.
This morning on the track there were definitely worms. Lots and lots of worms. At one point, I found myself goose-stepping around the fourth turn of the track so as not to squish the several hundred that were wiggling about.
As I started lap two, I noticed seagulls beginning to gather on the track. Halfway through my second lap, I counted around three dozen seagulls mulling about. As I rounded the fourth turn again, I noticed there were more seagulls and fewer worms. By the time I had gone completely through lap three, the worms were completely gone, and the seagulls had moved on to the center field. A few minutes later they had flown away.
So, why am I telling you this glorious story of worms and gulls?
I want to show you how can you be more productive in your day and how you can make things happen faster. Be like the seagulls. They went for the worms that were on the track first because they were right there, out in the open. Easy to see. Easy to catch. Easy to eat. Once the easy worms were gone, the moved onto the field where worms were still plentiful, but just took a little more time to find.
We should all work in the same fashion. Start the day with easy tasks. Check those simple little things off the list and you’ll feel more successful. When you feel more successful, you feel more energized to move on to more difficult tasks.
Don’t overwhelm yourself when you’re first starting your day. Be like the seagulls and ease into the workday!
Are you ready to be more productivity but need some help? Contact us today!
Fresh out of college I moved to a new town and stumbled into the underwriting department of an insurance company. I was nervously excited to attend my first “official” meeting in corporate America. The entire team of underwriters and assistants (me) met with our boss, the VP of Underwriting.
Here’s the scene. Windowless room, long table, cushy high back chairs. We sit down. Idle chatter amid the underwriters. The Veep comes in, sits down and looks around. “Well?” he says. The underwriters look blindly back at him. “What are we here to talk about?” Again, blank stares and stumbling of words. This is when it got interesting. Now, this isn’t going to be an exact quote, but I think I remember it pretty well:
The Veep yells, “You all wanted this expletive meeting! YOU called for it. If you don’t know what the expletive you need to talk about, and you can’t put together a simple expletive list of things you need to talk about, why the expletive am I here? I am not coming to another expletive meeting unless there is a expletive agenda!!!!”
That was the end of the meeting. 45 seconds by my recollection. (And just for personal clarification, this was truly one of the best groups of people I ever worked with, Veep included. You were a great boss, Craig!)
People get into ruts with meetings and become slaves to Outlook and its calendaring and reminders. “It’s on my calendar, I have to have a meeting!” I also tend to think people have meetings either to get away from their desks for a while, or because they have nothing better to do. That is not right.
And without a solid agenda, your meeting will become 20% moderately important information and 80% wasted time. If you can’t write out a list of topics that you need team input on, don’t have a meeting. Also, if you have fluff topics that can be solved with a phone call or email to one person, don’t have a meeting. There is nothing worse than calling a meeting and only needing to speak with one person. (This is especially annoying when you walked across a street and through three buildings to get to the meeting, only to leave five minutes later.)
Let’s recap: #1 – If you want a meeting, have an agenda. #2 – If you can’t add anything of value to build an agenda, don’t have a meeting. #3 – Don’t let recurring calendar announcements dictate your productivity!
Recently, and quite unfortunately, we discovered a mouse problem in our house. You know – you see the “signs” of a mouse. So, we set out a trap, and the next day, Mr. Mouse was on his way to mouse heaven.
Then we saw more signs, and set out more traps. One morning I walked into the kitchen to see a little brown fluff peering out from beneath my stove. At this point I started to get angry. Not only because I had a nasty rodent in my house, but because, no more than 15 feet away, my two cats were sitting. Hello, cats? Isn’t this your job? Of course it was, but they didn’t know because they really hadn’t been introduced to Mouse #2 yet.
I picked up Othello (who is our best hope for mousing issues because he loves to catch and eat bugs!) and pointed him in the proper direction. As soon as he caught one glimpse of the mouse, he ran, pounced, and had a plump little mouse in his mouth. Hooray!
Since finding that mouse, Othello has changed. He patrols the kitchen like clockwork, scanning the floor, smelling all the corners – he’s looking for signs of a problem. In the meantime, I work on the bigger picture – looking for holes, scanning the basement and foaming/caulking as necessary, cleaning and organizing.
A tiny mouse showed up by the fireplace. Othello was on it. And now he patrols the fireplace and living room with as much vigor as the kitchen.
So, why am I telling you the sordid details of mousing in my household? Because this mouse problem isn’t any different from any other problem that comes up in your life. And when it comes up, you have to know how to handle it. And when you have a series of problems, sometimes you just can’t handle all of it at the same time. That’s when you need help. And that’s what having a virtual assistant is all about.
Little problems pop up, little inconveniences that you need to take care of but can’t get to, because you’re working on the big picture. Hiring a virtual assistant for the small tasks is a great way to keep you forward-focused because you don’t have to worry about missing an issue that pops up. Your VA is there to back you up and take care of things.
Everyone needs a virtual assistant. Even me. And here he is.
25+ years of business experience. 12+ years of virtual experience.