4 Lessons Learned From Using a Virtual Assistant
Today I’m honored to have Jeff Brodie providing a guest post. Jeff is a leader that you need to get to know. He is the Executive Director at Connexus Community Church, a multi-campus church north of Toronto, and a strategic partner of North Point Ministries. He has been working with families and students for over a decade and is passionate about family and church coming together to reach this generation.
I currently have a great assistant, whose time I share with our lead pastor. She does a fantastic job. However, 4 months ago I ran into a problem.
I had recently shifted to the position of Executive Director of our church, and the administrative demands were growing for myself, the lead pastor, and our shared assistant.
I could have hired a personal assistant part time, but hiring great people takes a lot of time and resources that I didn’t want to spend. On top of that, I wasn’t really sure how many hours of extra help I needed. I realized I wanted someone who had scalable time flexibility.
We’d kicked around the idea of hiring a Virtual Assistant in the past, and I decided it was time to give it a shot. I asked around, and started with EAHelp. I was up and running with my assistant within weeks. She works 5 hours a week and is flexible with her time. Two months in, here’s what I’ve learned.
Office assistants deal with a lot of interruptions, Virtual Assistants don’t.
An assistant who is present in the office is helpful, but they deal with a lot of interruptions that happen in office culture. They also end up helping others with things that may not be in their regular workflow. When it comes to moving projects along, a virtual assistant can often get something done in much less time. A 5 hour assistant can make more of an impact then you think. I think a virtual assistant can do many tasks in half the time.
2) Working Virtually Is Easier Than You Think
You are likely already doing this.
Initially you might wonder how you could keep in regular contact with a virtual assistant? How does she meet with others? How would this even work?
What became apparent very quickly is that you are likely already using most of the tools they do. You basically need 4 tools: Skype, Dropbox, an online calendar, and an online “to do” list. Most leaders are using some, maybe even all, of these tools. If you aren’t they can also match you with an assistant who can get you rolling. My VA moved me to Asana and it’s helped me work more efficiently.
3) Paying For Time = Paying Attention To Time
When you focus on time efficiency you focus on preparation.
Having a 5 hour a week assistant can make you a better prepared leader. Knowing I only have 5 hours focuses me to use my time with my assistant well. I think through my projects and meetings with her with more intentionality. We have two 10min meetings a week (Mon and Wed) and I come well prepared knowing that I don’t want to waste her time. This has made me a better leader.
4) A Virtual Assistant Can Do More Than You think
The list of what they can’t do is very short.
The #1 question I get about having a virtual EA is, what do they do for you? Given the training, they can do almost everything. Writing, research, leading staff, running your calendar, taking notes in meetings, writing reports, screening email, updating your online presence, getting food delivered for a meeting, setting up a survey, the list goes on.
So far the only thing they can’t do is “onsite” filing and trouble shooting live challenges I have in church on a Sunday morning.
The list of what they can do is much, much longer than the list of what they can’t do.
What are your thoughts on using a virtual assistant? What are some areas you can or can’t see this solution working for you?