It was two years ago. Something past 2 AM, I stayed up hoping to finish the text for the website in order to launch our new project. After that, I was to open my to-do list that yelled at me from the very morning with its reminders and expired Due dates. That day I had to write a text for the website, write one more for email newsletters, draw a design for the presentation, find illustrations and a background video for the website.
It is worth to note that I'm not a kind of cool writer. There was simply no one else to do it at that time, so I thought that I should take on this task like no other. But since I didn't write often and did not have an exceptional talent, the muse was a rare guest in my region. I would spend long evenings sitting and trying to describe my products in small details but so as not to scare people away.
At the same time, I would spend months drawing every presentation, texts and hundreds of little things that I had to do to start the project. I was losing the global vision of the situation. My to-do list, I'd once done, ruled over months of my time. The tasks I'd set two months before were sitting all the time at the back of my mind, and my brain digested them every day, getting annoyed by the fact that I had not done them yet.
I had no time to notice how days flew by in endless routine of affairs. At the same time, I had long ago stopped thinking where the business was going and how to make it earn those millions I and my friends dreamt about when starting the business.
This is the moment many entrepreneurs reach to. Numerous books tell us that if you work hard, your business will definitely take off. The impressed on us current egocentric model tells you to do everything yourself. You should become a self-made man, you should create yourself. If not you do it, then who?
A chain of uncompleted tasks haunted me even when buying food in the store or chatting with friends on Friday. My mind was in an anxious mode, constantly thinking about unfinished tasks, issues to be solved. To find a front-end programmer, to put new legal documents on the site, to correct the text, to add new products to the site.
It seemed to me that if I didn’t do it myself, others would do it badly, or they would not do it at all. Do you relate to this feeling? Then it's time to fix your thinking.
We often forget that the goal of any business is to make money. It is an indisputable objective we every day wake up with, it's the one we continue doing business for. In other words, the goal of your business is not to run a facebook page, not to write articles for a company blog, not to search out leads on LinkedIn, not drink beer with clients, and not even correct designer's or programmer's mistakes to make the project look better.
The ultimate goal of your business is to make money. Otherwise, it will drown, just as your whole team. As a businessman, your aim is to lead your offspring to money as soon as possible, at the same time being able to analyze and adjust the way on a daily basis. For this, you need free time.
Two years ago, Boris Goncharov and I came across a book "4 Hour Work Week" in which Tim Ferris shared his experience of working with a virtual assistant. In the book, he talked about tasks he delegates to his assistant, saving hours of his time. This time then, he could spend on his hobbies, communication with the family, and travel.
All that sounded like a fairy tale. How did he find an assistant? How did he teach him to do the work right? And what if he destroyed your website, killed your family, stole all your passwords, and turned your life into hell? And finally, how to choose the right assistant, one that would do the job well?
So we decided to try, cause we realized that we wanted to accomplish much more without slipping into routine and marmot day. We wanted to be in control of our day and our tasks, which meant that we needed to change our approach.
We started looking for an assistant on one of the find-work websites. We typed into "virtual assistant" and started selecting candidacies. As a result, after half an hour we had at hand a list of 20 candidates who needed to be tested first. To select the best people you need to create a competition. We reduced the list to 5 assistants and sent them 5 identical test assignments. Based on the results of the competition, we could choose the best.
The test assignments included 5 question-tasks that required a candidate to be witty and able to find information quickly, to search for freelancers on Upwork, to use planner, to write letters etc. We decided that we should check the person's basic skills, and then we would be able to train him for what we needed.
The main features of any assistant are his ability to find needed information quickly, to analyze it, and to report results to you in an easy to understand way as soon as possible.
As a result, we selected two assistants who had perfectly coped with the tasks and showed excellent results. We were eager to start working with them and delegating first assignments.
All the following experience of delegating is a system developed by us, based on dozens of mistakes and being constantly optimized regarding the way we set tasks for the assistant. Every well/bad done task have two people to blame - you and your assistant. Therefore, every failure is your opportunity to improve the system of working and setting tasks.
In a blueprint, we have described in detail, from A to Z, the process of working with a remote assistant. This is a step-by-step instruction that will teach you how to work effectively with your assistant and increase the efficiency of your daily activities by 300%.
"What if the assistant didn't do the task the way I wanted?" Tasks that were done badly, or not the way you wanted, always have two sides of the coin:
One side - the task was set incorrectly or not fully; in this case, the assistant should ask questions to clarify and through this come to understand the problem well. But sometimes, the tasks are so complex that you have to describe them with miles of text, explaining every detail. In the beginning, you will have no desire to waste time explaining, you'd rather do everything yourself. But we have already found out what this approach leads to. Therefore, the best way to set complex tasks for your assistant is screencast.
We install Monosnap and in two clicks get the screencast recorded, which shows how to perform the task. In explaining tasks, without fail works the following formula: screenshot is more clear than text, a video is clearer than a screenshot. It must always be remembered that the clearly set task will save you time in the long run, especially if this task will need to be repeated in the future for several times.
Ideally, it's better to upload all these screencasts with the explanations of the tasks on Youtube, make a private playlist, and share it with the assistant. By doing so, you will save all the videos and build your Knowledge Base. At the same time, the assistant will always be able to refresh in his memory any information by reviewing the videos. The second advantage is that if you split apart with the assistant, you can easily convey all the teaching materials to the new employee, and he will quickly catch up with new tasks.
The other side of a badly accomplished task is - unmotivated or not smart assistant, who reluctantly accepts new knowledge and does not want to work his best. If after a week of working with an assistant, you won't be happy with the results - start looking for a new one.
With properly set goals, you will certainly be rewarded with a morning report of this kind: "I've done everything, what else for today? I made an appointment at the barbershop for tomorrow at 6 pm. I found 100 leads on Linkedin, as you asked, found their e-mails. I wrote them personal proposals for the site redesign. All results are attached to Google Sheets; I will wait for the reply from them and add them to the list." This message is the result of your efforts in delegating. While you are sleeping, someone does work for you, implements your ideas, gives life to your projects, and contacts people. You analyze the results, figure out what could be done better and make your comments. In time, you will notice that the tasks are getting better, and the assistant picks them from a half-word. That's how your assistant gradually becomes "personal."
An assistant can be delegated any frequently run tasks, ones that you can show and explain how to do. Then, you will be unloading yourself as many times as this work is repeated.
Types of assignable tasks are endless and limited only by your imagination and ability to formulate them.
When you trust to your assistant gradually grows, the question arises how to pass passwords for services? Quite sure, you do not want to lose your Instagram or LinkedIn accounts. The best way is to ask the assistant to create a free account in the password manager LastPass and invite you to this account. Thus, you'll be able to pass passwords in a safer form.
In addition, you should always use double authorization on your phone, on the services, wherever possible. This is another tick in the security list of your account. As an option, you can use free of charge Google Voice as a phone number, then all confirmation passwords will come directly to your computer.
Sometimes, it is necessary that the assistant book tickets or subscribe to a paid service. Not to share your credit card data with the assistant, you can create a virtual credit card on Privacy.com. Thus, the assistant will only have access to what you put there. Many banks provide virtual credit cards too.
It is interesting that, although we remember that "time is money", most of us do not evaluate their time spent on daily tasks in dollar terms. Though, it is quite easy to calculate. Every hour of our time can be measured by the value of activities we spent the hour for. If you are a programmer and your hour costs $140, then the work of creating a website for a client will bring you $140 per hour. But it is worth keeping in mind that routine tasks are likely to bring you $0 since no one will pay for it. The possibility of getting this time back or being paid for it is quite low. So it means that every hour of routine work takes $140 out of your pocket. Thus, if every day you are engaged in 4 hours of routine and 4 hours of actual work, in a month you say goodbye to quite a big amount of money - $11,760.
So we need to value the time we spend handling numerous daily tasks. By hiring an assistant, we save this time and money. If you work with an assistant 4 hours a day, then in a month you will save 4 * 21 = 84 hours. Saving 8 hours a day, you get 168 hours a month! For this, it's worth changing your habit of doing everything yourself, isn't it?
To begin with, briefly describe the work, the tasks that the assistant will have to do and place it on Upwork. Also, you need to prepare a small test task and post it as a separate question in Cover Letter. Soon, you'll be getting first messages from the assistants and you will be able to choose the best ones.
If you don't find the right person at ones, you can post a job again and continue the search.
In our blueprint, we have described in details the process of choosing and working with an assistant. There, we have compiled all our experience of working with assistants and presented it as a simple step-by-step instruction. Step by step you will learn how to find the right assistant, how to communicate with him in the beginning, how to set tasks and monitor their fulfillment. Also, how to teach your assistant basic skills and the software you need.
Time is one of the precious things in your life you can never get back. Delegation helps us to accomplish the work without doing it ourselves, but at the same time getting worthwhile results. We need to spend time on what is really important for us at the moment - family, friends, developing business we have invested to so much.
Keep in mind this: if you do work that can be delegated - always delegate. See how in no time you'll be able to feel all the benefits of this approach and realize that you no longer want to be a workaholic.
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