As a small business owner, the demands of life seem to get more and more complex each day. With so many things to do, keeping track of it all can be a challenge.
The last thing you need is to be bogged down with menial tasks that take precious minutes and hours out of your day that you'll never get back. This is why it’s vital to take advantage of every opportunity to make more time for yourself, your family, and your business.
That's where a virtual assistant (VA) comes in.
We all know that it's not just back-office admin that can drain your time and energy, but many people don't realize how many personal tasks on their to-do list can be tackled by virtual assistants.
From making restaurant reservations to organizing your digital space, here's how you can say goodbye to feeling overwhelmed by life admin and hello to more of what truly matters.
What is a virtual assistant?
A virtual assistant is an independent contractor who provides administrative, executive, or personal support from a remote location. They are usually hired to handle the less urgent, often repetitive, but still necessary tasks that would fill your day as a business owner. Common tasks a virtual assistant can help with include scheduling, email management, research, data entry, social media management, and more.
As small businesses increasingly look for ways to do more with less, many entrepreneurs are realizing that delegating tasks to a high-quality virtual assistant can be extremely beneficial—both for themselves and their company's growth.
While there are many advantages to working with virtual assistants for outsourcing your tasks, most business owners agree that these have the biggest impact on their lives:
Save time and money
While there is some truth to the old saying “Time is money”, there is a key difference that sets the two apart. There will always be opportunities to make more money, but once time has gone, you can never get it back. This is true for both our personal lives and growing our businesses.
It is thought that most entrepreneurs spend the majority of their time (around 68% of their working hours, on average) on routine tasks that often need to be repeated on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis. But the more time we spend on these recurring administrative tasks—both at work and at home—the less time we have to spend on what's most important.
If you were to hand over just one hour of administrative work every working day for a year, you would ultimately reclaim the equivalent of 29.5 eight-hour workdays, or just under six whole working weeks. Having the time to effectively plan how you’re going to achieve your goals, as well as having plenty of time and energy to put your ideas into action, is what makes it possible to make real progress.
And since a virtual assistant is not a full-time employee of your company, they provide great savings as compared to full-time personal assistants. This is because virtual assistants are paid an hourly rate for their productive time spent working on tasks for you—down to the minute—which is usually a much more cost-effective solution for small business owners.
Not only that, but because you don't have to worry about providing office space, equipment, health insurance, and so on, hiring a VA could save you up to 90% compared to hiring an in-person assistant.
Maintain a healthy work-life balance
It's estimated that 86% of business owners work on weekends, 53% work on major holidays, and 60% take just one vacation a year. And out of those who do take time off, 75% will spend that much-needed leisure time working.
Offloading tasks to a virtual assistant can go a long way in relieving the pressure so that you can breathe easier with fewer demands on your time and fewer tasks on your plate to worry about. This way, you can strike a healthier balance between your work and home life so that you can get the most out of both.
Greater access to talent
Working remotely means that virtual assistants can be located anywhere, giving you access to a much more diverse pool of talent compared to hiring locally for in-person roles.
And of course, more choice means you’ll be much more likely to find an assistant that’s a great fit for your needs.
How can a virtual assistant help organize your personal life?
Running a business while keeping up with other life commitments can be pretty overwhelming.
Fortunately, hiring a VA can help relieve most of the stress, allowing you to focus on what truly matters—growing your business and being there for your family.
Managing your family calendar
For most virtual assistants, calendar management is their bread and butter. They're an invaluable resource for helping business owners stay organized and keep on track with their schedules, but this doesn't have to end at your company's front door.
For those who have soccer practice, school recitals, field trips, play dates, and family functions to contend with on top of all their other responsibilities, a virtual assistant can be a real game-changer. They can add events to your personal calendar, coordinate with other family members, and send reminders to make sure nothing falls through the cracks and no one gets double-booked.
Sourcing gifts and cards for special occasions
And it's not sending reminders for birthdays and anniversaries that virtual assistants can handle. They can also help you find the best gifts and cards for your loved ones.
Simply provide them with clear criteria to follow—such as budget and preferences—and they can do the rest. No more last-minute panics!
Scheduling appointments and reservations
Contacting restaurants, salons, garages, and medical offices to make inquiries and book appointments can be tedious and time-consuming. Let's be honest, you can probably think of a million better ways you could spend this time more productively.
Fortunately, this is where a VA can be your best friend. A good virtual assistant can take care of all of your scheduling needs so that you don't have to waste your limited time and energy in long call queues, navigating through endless automated menus, or filling in repetitive online forms.
Researching products and services
Whether it's changing internet providers, upgrading your computer, or planning a trip, we all want to make sure we choose the best option for our needs—and at the best price.
According to recent surveys, 85% of us will conduct some form of research before buying online. And for major purchases, this time spent gathering information can span 79 days. Even just a few minutes of research each day adds up to two-and-a-half hours gone at the end of those days.
While finding the right product or service is certainly an important task, it's not a task that needs to be done by you.
With an experienced virtual assistant, you can rest assured that you'll always make solid purchasing decisions, with minimal hassle. They can look into all the solutions available and present you with a selection of suitable options based on the criteria you provide.
See: How A Virtual Assistant Can Help You With Research
Planning vacations and making travel arrangements
No matter how much you love to travel, it can be tough to manage a business and plan trips at the same time.
The good news is, however, an experienced virtual assistant can take some of the pressure off and help make sure your trip goes smoothly.
Once you've provided your assistant with clear criteria and guidelines, they're able to handle almost every stage of the process. Booking flights, accommodation, and rental cars, exchanging currency, arranging travel insurance, and more can be taken off your plate so you can focus on enjoying the experience instead of worrying about all the little details.
And whether you're traveling for business or pleasure, your virtual assistant can also help you organize your travel itinerary and schedule activities so that you can make the most of your journey. Visiting a new city and want to know the best places to eat? Have some free time in your schedule and want to know what the local area has to offer? Let your assistant find the answers for you.
See: How A Virtual Assistant Can Help With Your Travel Planning
Placing online orders for groceries or household supplies
How many times have you cursed yourself for forgetting to pick up milk on the way home from a frazzled day at work? How much time have you wasted waiting in long queues at the supermarket when all you want to do is be home with your family?
Many people assume that because virtual assistants work remotely, they'll be unable to assist with more personal errands. And while it may not be possible for them to collect your dry-cleaning or hand-deliver your favorite coffee each morning, there are plenty of mundane, time-consuming personal tasks they can pick up to make your life a little easier.
With the right instructions, your virtual assistant can place regular online orders for groceries, meal kits, pet supplies, and any other household items on your behalf. You can relax knowing these important tasks are being taken care of, and enjoy the valuable time and energy back in your day from not having to do them yourself.
Organizing digital files
Digital files, like family photos in Google Drive or important documents in Dropbox, can easily become disorganized. Not only can this be incredibly frustrating, but time-consuming, too.
As the above figures show, digital file management is an excellent task to offload to a virtual assistant, as you can save hours each week (and days each month!).
A skilled virtual assistant can sort through your cluttered files and create a well-organized system, making it easy for you to find any items you need quickly. They also make sure that all your digital files are regularly backed-up so you never have to worry about losing them in any unforeseen tech emergencies.
See: 5 Reasons Why You Need A Virtual Assistant For Data Entry
How to maximize the benefits of working with a virtual assistant
There's no doubt that hiring a VA to outsource some of your personal tasks is a great way to save time and energy, but if you want the best results from your VA experience, it's important to be aware of the potential pitfalls that can affect your success.
Sometimes when people start working with a virtual assistant, they fall into the trap of only using their service sporadically as and when they think they need a job done. This should be avoided as much as possible.
While there may be a million different reasons why you want to hire virtual assistants, chances are it all boils down to wanting to reclaim time. And of course, the more time you can reclaim, the better. But the truth is, you’ll struggle to maximize the return on your investment when you only use your assistant for personal tasks every now and then.
So it pays to be strategic about the type of tasks you outsource.
Focus on recurring tasks for your virtual assistant
Given the choice between a one-off task that might take two hours to complete and a daily admin task that takes 20 minutes, the first option seems like an obvious choice. You can do much more with two hours than 20 minutes, right?
Well, not exactly. There are two crucial things we need to bear in mind.
Firstly, regardless of who you delegate to, you need to factor in the time it takes to actually delegate the task. Let’s say, for example, it takes 30 minutes to describe the task, provide instructions, share access or log-in details if necessary, and so on.
Secondly, we always need to be looking at the bigger picture and focus on the benefits of time saved in the long term, rather than any short-term wins.
So if we combine these two factors together, the amount of time you’d save by delegating the one-off task would equal 1 hour 30 minutes. Your total time saved at the end of the month, and even the year, would stay the same. However, delegating the daily 20-minute task would ultimately save you around 6 hours per month, or the equivalent of three full working days per year!
Whether you want to grow your business or make more memories with your loved ones, just think about what you could achieve with that reclaimed time—and that’s just from offloading one task!
This is why you should prioritize delegating tasks you deal with on a frequent basis, both in your business and in your personal life. If it doesn’t require your specific knowledge or expertise, and it would be possible for someone else to do it with the right instructions, then it should be fine for virtual assistants to take care of.
If you’re unsure which of your regular responsibilities are better off handled by you and which ones can be taken off your hands, our free to-do list optimizer can give you quick and easy answers. Just enter your current workload to see exactly which duties you should keep and which ones you can outsource.
See: 3 Reasons Why Entrepreneurs Don't Succeed With A Virtual Assistant
What's the bottom line?
Working with a virtual assistant can be a game-changer, providing a valuable extra pair of hands to allow you to focus on what truly matters—both at work and at home.
If you're ready to take back control of your time with the help of a virtual assistant, Time etc is here for you.
With over 15 years of experience in helping over 22,000 business owners reclaim valuable time, a vast talent pool of virtual professionals, and a lifetime happiness guarantee for all our users, we're committed to helping you reach your goals and unlock your full potential.
Speak to our expert team to get started, and we'll match you with a skilled virtual assistant to help you achieve more, do more, and earn more in your business.
Or try us out for free today!