How I Work with my Virtual Assistant: Systems & Strategy

For those of you considering hiring a virtual assistant in 2014, I cannot recommend it highly enough — this is easily one of the best things I did for my life and business last year. And yet, control freak that I am, I did not go down without a fight!

For YEARS I had read all the books (4-hour Work Week chief among them), and knew the importance of delegating and not being a bottleneck. But each time I tried to move forward with hiring someone, I got overwhelmed, discouraged and gave up. Who to hire? US or overseas? What should I delegate? How do I do it efficiently? Can I trust them? 

Thankfully I gave it another go by hiring someone in October, and I’ve been hooked ever since. After just four days of working together, she became indispensable to my daily workflow.

As many of you know, I love simplifying complexity through tools, templates and systems. Today I’m sharing how I was able to successfully transition to working with a VA through specific templates and detailed pointers, in the hopes that it will help those of you who are tip-toeing around it to move past a state of stuck and into the zone of ninja level systems and efficiency.

If you’re still not sure what the fuss is about, check out The New York Times article on how “normal” people (i.e. not just Tim Ferris types) are Outsourcing [Their] Way to Success.

35-Minute Call: How I Work With My VA

In December I recorded a 30-minute call on exactly how I work with my VA: who to hire, five categories of tasks that I delegate (scheduling, purchases, travel, research, one-offs), what systems and technology we use (email, Evernote and Google Docs), and a few important pitfalls to avoid.

Click here to listen (or play the embedded clip below):

Detailed Show Notes

Make sure to also check-out the 4 pages of detailed show notes (via Google Doc) to save yourself the trouble of taking notes:

JB - Va Show Notes

Resources mentioned on the call

If you found the call helpful, I’d be grateful for you to share the love!

[Tweet this] Interested in working with a VA? @jenny_blake breaks down a detailed overview (who to hire, what to delegate & how):

Ninja Systems Strategy Session

Last week I offered a special one-off 60-minute Coaching Strategy Session, and I still have spots open. If you’re interested in learning more about how to set-up more effective ninja-level systems in your life and work, let’s jam!

At the end of the call you will walk away with:

  • Vision: what you want to create this year and specifically in Q1
  • Strategy: key milestones to implement your vision
  • Systems: how to we best set-up your habits and workflow for success
  • Action Plan: concrete set of next steps and resources
  • I’m also happy to answer any specific questions about my business, and share templates and resources I use with my 1:1 clients

One of my superpowers is taking detailed notes while listening — you’ll walk away with 2-3 organized pages of your thoughts and next steps, so that you’re free to walk or look out a window (or otherwise free up your brain) while we’re on the phone.

Normally one month of coaching with me costs $1,500 for four calls with email in-between, but for those of you who want to get some iron-clad systems, vision and strategy in place for the New Year, I’m extending this offer to anyone who signs up in the month of January.

Click here to purchase if you’re interested (the confirmation page will take you to a questionnaire and schedule).

I’d love to hear from you in the comments:

What did you find most helpful, and what did I miss?
Any pointers you have for delegating well and setting up effective systems?
Any particular pitfalls to avoid?

  • Hey Jenny, thanks for the article. I’ve pocketed it to read for later but wanted to point out that an image seems to be broken below the subheadline: “detailed show notes”! Just wanted to let you know in case you didn’t notice it!

    • Ah, good catch! Thanks so much for reading and for taking the time to let me know — all fixed now 🙂

  • Yeahhhh gurl. I couldn’t get Zirtual to pan out, but they were early beta a while back and rough around the edges. I love what they’re doing. I’ve been hiring my own on oDesk, and even testing product ideas by “hacking with humans”.

    My Dad, who’s in his sixties, is now considering a VA. It’s a no brainer for almost everyone if you can get the cost benefit worked out right.

    • D Shan!!! I was thinking about you YESTERDAY thinking it’s been far too long, that we should catch up, and that your comments on my posts always make me smile. Then? You left this one a few hours later 🙂

      I hear you on having these things be hit or miss — I can imagine Zirtual has taken years to smooth out the edges, but overall it’s been the stickiest service I’ve tried. Going on three months is a big deal for me, haha. Awesome that your dad is considering working with one!

      Would love to catch up sometime soon 🙂 #heartfives

  • One of the top things I took from reading Daily Rituals was that even the broke, penniless, struggling artists and writers in the book still had assistants that did the most mundane of tasks for them (incl IRL assistants who cooked, cleaned, etc) so that they could focus on their body of work. Something all of us building something should consider!

    • FASCINATING!! That book is high on my wish list, and now just moved even higher. At first I felt a little indulgent paying for this above other things, but VERY quickly came to realize it was absolutely one of the best investments I could make: getting my own time and brain space back has been priceless!! Thanks for the very insightful comment SPIRL!

  • Andrea

    Hi Jenny, Great Article and 30 minute audio, It was so helpful and at the right time for me. Can you tell me how you utilize the Email Categories w/ your VA.

    • Hi Andrea! Thanks for reading — apologies for my delayed response. The email categories were more for me to track where I spend my time inbox-wise and figure out what canned responses to write as well as what could potentially be delegated. i’ve found the most helpful thing has been creating an Evernote notebook called “canned responses” then adding one every time I respond to an email that might one day be repeated.

  • This was SO helpful, thank you!! I am at the point of starting to think about hiring help, but hadn’t the first clue where to start and nothing else I’ve read was making it easier to work out.

    Thank you SO much for laying it out so clearly! Extremely informative!

  • These are really helpful strategies! Thanks for sharing these to everyone! Do you have other articles for reference. Thank you!

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  • virtualstaff

    Thanks for the information, this post is very helpful

  • Mark

    Amazing, thanks alot for the tips! Many people wonder how to find the RIGHT Virtual Assistant for their business and there is this great website with objective reviews of ALL virtual administrative assistant companies, which many find very helpful!

  • Thanks Jenny for such an informational article! I’m a VA and through research came across this article. I would like to link this article to my next blog post which will be posted by weeks end. I decided to work with coaches because I love the work that you do to help others on their journeys to bettering their lives. Keep up the good work!