Welcome to Making it Happen with Amanda Kaufman! This week, we’re talking about a delegation strategy that has worked wonders for me. One way to free your time of tasks is to delegate them. A few years ago I lamented that I wanted some help, I just wanted some kind of personal assistant. Although it’s certainly a fantasy of mine to have a full time personal assistant to follow me around and keep my life together, I’m a long way off from that… Then I found out about virtual assistants. I avoided getting one for years, and this is one of those ideas that I wish I had given into a lot sooner. I avoided it because I couldn’t give an assistant a lot of the tasks that I felt were burdensome to me because they were tasks within my corporate job (booking travel, managing calendars, etc…) After reading the 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris, I strongly reconsidered. He suggested that you could us a virtual assistant for practically ANYTHING. This was just the push I needed to get creative and think harder about how I could use a VA to free some of my capacity in my personal life. Turns out that where I’m standing, capacity is capacity. I eventually got access to an assistant’s service through work, but I was already well on my way with delegation personally. Before I get into some ideas on how a VA might help you, I want to address an early skepticism: VAs are a lot more affordable than you might think. I use a service that charges by the second, and while the hourly rate did admittedly make me balk at first, the value of being able to ask someone for a little virtual help can go a really long way! My advice is to shop around though, go with a service that’s the right size and style for you. And remember, your time IS VALUABLE, if it’s just relieving the stress of having to make a phone call, or some peace of mind knowing your calendar is working for you, that can be worth quite a lot to someone who is interested in “having it all”. Remember, having it all does not mean “do it all, perfectly, by yourself, with no help.”. The latter definition is a recipe for burnout and dissatisfaction. Secondarily, do not hire a VA until you’ve done a little pre-work to consider how a VA could best support you. I recommend doing your own brainstorm of the tasks and activities that you spend even a few minutes on regularly, and that could be done remotely. Alrighty, so if you’re considering hiring a virtual assistant, here are 10 ways that a VA could help you accomplish more without doing it all yourself: Add reminders and appointments to your calendar, and generally keep your calendar straight – this is especially helpful if you have multiple calendars to juggle between home, personal, work, and any side-business you have going. Call places on your behalf to arrange appointments (hair, beauty appointments, doctor’s appointments, massages, etc.) Do research for you! Looking for summer camp options? Want to know the hot toys this year for Christmas? Ask your VA to compile a list of options. Help you with your blog / social media postings – they can post, they can add graphics, they can format… just be clear what you need, and ensure your VA has the skills to support that Transcribe handwritten notes into digital formats – for this blog I brainstormed 52 weeks of headlines by hand, and my VA transcribed them into a handy Excel tracker for me. Plan a date day! I have had my VA on more than one occasion do a draft itinerary for a full day-long date for me and my husband. I gave feedback and tweaks, and they incorporated that feedback and made a nice little “date day packet” that I impressed my husband with. 🙂 Coordinate an appointment or meeting with someone live: sometimes it can be really challenging to get a date on calendar… especially with endless emails and texts back and forth. I have been known to have my assistant call a friend to figure out our next brunch date! Send someone flowers / gifts – I set up a pre-paid credit card with a small balance on it that I have had my VAs use to send flowers and gifts on my behalf before. Yes, I can do that online, but it takes a fraction of the time to send the request to my VA, especially once she has done it once before. Order supplies to be delivered to you – I have used a VA to shop for clothing for my kids! I gave her sizes, style preferences, and a budget, and she did an incredible job selecting outfits online for me that I could just check out and have it delivered. Create templates – many VAs can now use Canva, and easily make digital designs for you. Have a custom birthday party invitation you want? How about that Christmas letter? So, a VA can help you with quite a lot without ever needing access to your work life. Sold on trying one out? Be sure you’re taking the time to communicate what you want, especially in the beginning, clearly. Consider writing instructions in Evernote for future reference, and also consider using an application like LastPass to securely share access to information without giving your password out. Finally, be smart about what you give access to, and create separation from your main accounts wherever you can. For example, have a Simple account you deposit smaller amounts of money in, rather than granting access to your main checking account. Finally, get creative! Ask yourself before you take on another task, 1) do I need to do it, 2) is there a way I can automate this?, and 3) if I can’t automate it, can I delegate it to my VA? Good luck! Reflections: What in your life could be delegated to a virtual assistant? What might that extra capacity feel like for you?