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My Experience Using a Virtual Assistant – 1 Week In

A number of folks have pinged me about my experiences with the whole remote virtual assistant arrangement. I’m about a week in and I’m very happy with the results. After a pretty thorough search, I narrowed my choices down to Solvate and YourRemoteAssistant. I ultimately went with Your Remote Assistant because I know the principals (I used to work with one of them at Google). That being said, Julie at Solvate gave me a great overview of their service and I’d encourage you to check them out, too.

To date, I’ve been taking baby steps with this whole process. I’ve had my virtual assistant do some web research on cost-effective travel to New York, a fairly complicated personal vacation I have planned for this summer, and some regular hygeine on my Highrise CRM installation. So far, she’s done a great job on all of the tasks. Two key takeaways a week in:

1. There are lots of tasks in my life that need to be done quickly but not right away. One of the best learnings I’ve had from my first week using a virtual assistant is that not every time-sensitive personal task I have is critical. There are lots of things that need to be done quickly but not ASAP. Having someone else who can research the task, complete it, and report back within 24 hours is great. It’s really helped me focus my energy on the intersection of personal tasks that only I feel comfortable doing and are very time sensitive. Having trusted help allows me to complete some tasks in parallel with minimal time loss. If you’re like me and sometimes have a hard time de-prioritizing those tasks that are important but not critical, you’ll benefit from some help.

2. Writing down my own process for dealing with tasks exposes how broken some of my own processes are. Having a remote virtual assistant is great. Part of what makes it great is that it forces me to write down processes / algorithms for how I want certain tasks done (travel plans, meetings, etc). The process of writing things down has really exposed how poor a job I do of adhering to my own idea of best practices. Take meetings for example. A good meeting request should include both people’s mobile phone numbers, a concrete address for the meeting place, and some basic context on the “why” of the meeting. Left to my own devices, I usually drop the ball on at least one of these 3 key elements. A secondary benefit of writing these tasks down is that it forces me to examine whether or not I’m doing some of these things in the most efficient manner. In some cases, travel booking in particular, I’ve realized that my general approach is very time wasteful.

Thoughts? Questions? Feel free to leave me a comment.

**Update** If you decide to sign up for YourRemoteAssistant, you can list me as a referrer. I just realized they have a referral / affiliate program.