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How To Know What To Delegate To Your Virtual Assistant


Barnaby Lashbrooke

Founder and CEO of Time etc, author of The Hard Work Myth

7 minute read

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When business owners and entrepreneurs jump into hiring a virtual assistant headfirst, they often miss out on the full impact an assistant can have on their workflow.

We know we should be delegating tasks, but knowing where to begin can be a whole different story.

Not only that, but if you’re so used to juggling dozens of things at once, it's easy to feel like you and you alone can do them all.

But the good news is that's not the case. You don't have to tackle your entire to-do list alone—nor should you. Experts say an assistant should be every entrepreneur’s first hire.

So let’s see how you can identify tasks to delegate to your virtual assistant and create the perfect task list...

Why do you need to know what to delegate before hiring a VA?

If you need help with taxes, you’ll visit a tax adviser or your accountant.

If you need help with your diet, you’ll visit a nutritionist.

Similarly, if you want to hire a virtual assistant, you first need to identify the tasks you’d like them to complete for you. This will also inform your hiring decisions: if you need extra help with your social media presence, you’ll know that you need a virtual assistant who has experience with social media creation and management.

If you can start building your task delegation list before hiring, you'll get a clearer picture of the difference it'll make with fewer tasks to worry about each day or week.

Planning ahead sets both you and your virtual assistant up for success.

See: How To Successfully Hire A Virtual Assistant: Finding The Best Match


What happens if you "wing" it?

In our 16 years of experience supporting over 22,000 small business owners, high-level executives, and decision-makers, we have found that if you skip this step or decide to just assign random tasks here and there, two things are likely to happen.

1. You'll quickly run out of tasks

You might start your virtual assistant off with a couple of tasks, but if they’re not part of routine responsibilities, you might run out of tasks quickly.

Take this task list, for example:

  • Book plane tickets for the January business trip.
  • Compile an analytics report on website performance.
  • Proofread this draft blog post.

Once your virtual assistant has taken care of everything on the list, you'll find yourself right back at the beginning again where you need to find something new for them to do. This can be time-consuming in itself, and can overwhelm you all over again. If that happens, it’s going to be really hard to keep the momentum going.

2. You won't notice much time saved

Following on from the first point, constantly having to think about what you'll assign to your VA next can seriously eat into any time you'd otherwise save.

Sure, you might get an extra hour or two in your busy week, but they can save you so much more.

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 key things we need to bear in mind.

First off, no matter who you delegate tasks to, there's always the time it takes to hand over the task properly. Explaining the task, giving clear instructions, sharing any necessary access or login details—it all adds up. Let's say this takes around 30 minutes.

Secondly, it's crucial to always think of the bigger picture. Instead of focusing solely on short-term gains, we should weigh the long-term benefits of time saved.

Now, when we consider both these factors together, delegating the one-off task would save you 1 hour and 30 minutes in total. Your overall time saved each month, and even over the year, would stay the same. However, if you delegate the daily 20-minute task, you could save around six hours each month or three full working days per year!

Whether it's dedicating more energy to growing your business or making 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!

See: 5 Essential Steps For Achieving Long-Term Success With A Virtual Assistant


Choosing the right tasks to delegate to your virtual assistant

Whatever your reason for hiring VAs, the more time you can reclaim, the better. So to get the highest return on your delegation-investment, you’ll need to be strategic, as not all tasks are created equal.

Daily or weekly tasks

It may be tempting to prioritize offloading ad-hoc tasks to your virtual assistant, especially if they seem more time-consuming at first glance. But the truth is, regular, recurring tasks are where you'll see the greatest long-term benefits.

Think of those minor tasks that come up from time to time, like organizing your inbox, keeping documentation up to date, or managing your social media calendar.

While these tasks may seem harmless enough, and we may even enjoy doing them, their recurring nature means they will always take up your time unless you bring in someone to take care of them. Every minute and hour spent on these tasks could be stopping us from pushing our business forward.

Once you're used to the process and are comfortable delegating tasks to your virtual assistant, I recommend your list is made up of at least 70% recurring tasks.

See: 50 Tasks You Can Outsource To A Virtual Assistant To Save Time In Your Business

Your individual expertise isn't needed

If you’ve grown your business from the ground up and know it like the back of your hand, there will be certain tasks and responsibilities that only you can do.

These are often the critical decision-making processes, intricate problem-solving scenarios, and delicate interpersonal interactions that require your unique expertise, insight, and understanding as a business owner. A virtual assistant should clear other tasks off your plate so you can focus on those critical business activities that help your business grow.

However, when you're used to wearing so many different hats in your business, it can be tough to see the difference between tasks only you can do, and tasks that others can take over. Luckily, there's a simple method that can help:

  • Start by writing out every single task in your regular workload—or as many as you can!
  • Once you have a clear list, go through each task and ask yourself “Does this absolutely have to be done by me? Could someone else do this if they had the right instructions?”

Alternatively, our free to-do list optimizer tool can do this for you. Simply enter your task list to see which tasks should stay in your remit and which can be delegated to virtual assistants.


See: How To Prioritize As An Entrepreneur: What To Do When All Tasks Feel Important

Communicate with your virtual assistant

Every entrepreneur has their own way of doing things. If you’re still on the fence about some tasks because you’re not sure you could teach them, don’t worry!

Virtual assistants are very flexible and adaptable. They’ve worked with a variety of clients, and they’re lifelong learners.

You can always discuss the tasks you’d like to delegate to your virtual assistant with them before you hire them. This way, you’ll understand their experience. And just as they’ll get to learn more about your business, you’ll learn more about different ways to make your customer experience even better.

See: Five Essential Tech Tips For Getting Started With A Virtual Assistant

What's the bottom line?

In order to get the most out of your virtual assistant hire, you have to build a strong foundation. But don’t worry, you won’t need shovels and cement.

Successful delegation is about finding the right balance and leveraging your virtual assistant's skills to maximize your productivity, and it all starts with choosing the tasks you will delegate.

If you're ready to make your life easier and more productive with the support of a virtual assistant, Time etc is here for you.

Speak to our expert team to get started, and we'll handle the rest! We'll match you with a skilled virtual assistant based on your unique needs, so you can start doing more of what matters most.

Or try us out for free today!

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About the author

Barnaby Lashbrooke is the founder and CEO of Virtual Assistant service Time etc as well as the author of The Hard Work Myth, recently recommended by Sir Richard Branson. Barnaby is a Forbes Columnist on productivity and is also an accomplished entrepreneur, selling more than $35 million worth of services.

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