There are two kinds of virtual assistants (VA) to help make life that bit easier: digital and human.
Digital assistants are those like Siri, Cortana, Alexa, and Google Assistant. They’re software programs that can interpret and carry out basic requests. We’re talking things like finding restaurant and vacation recommendations, booking an Uber, setting reminders, and controlling your smart home. Pretty simple, but still pretty useful.
But what about those tasks you hate doing, can’t do, or just don’t have the time to do, which are just too complex for a digital VA? Answer: hire a human virtual assistant.
These are people (so make sure you treat them as such) you can hire from sites like UpWork or People Per Hour. By outsourcing the right tasks to these human VAs, you can become super-productive, carving out more time to concentrate on important work, or simply to relax.
Not sure what you could possibly outsource to these human VAs? Here are some ideas.
1. Make Reservations and Appointments
If there’s a restaurant you’ve been meaning to try out, ask your VA to “book a table for 4 people at [restaurant] for around 8pm this Friday.” They’ll then find the phone number, make the call, let you know the precise details, and add the reservation to a shared calendar.
If they have access to your contacts, they can even let everyone else know when to turn up, too. The same goes for any other reservations and appointments you want to make.
2. Online Purchases
When you find a VA you can trust, assigning them a small allowance, or giving them access to a “company” credit card (with a small limit) means they can make online purchases on your behalf. See something you want? Send them a link, or a picture, and they can deal with setting up accounts and inputting payment details, so you don’t have to.
3. Find (and Buy) the Perfect Gift
If you have a list of people you like to buy gifts for (your spouse, parents, best friend), create a short profile of each person including their interests, and have your VA scour the net for gifts they’ll love. They can then routinely add to these ideas in a shared document on Google Drive or Evernote, so you always have a list of awesome gift ideas at your disposal.
4. Plan a Vacation
When you have some vacation time approaching, ask your VA to create a concise document of awesome vacation ideas based on your budget and preferences. Done properly, you’ll be able to review this in minutes rather than spending hours doing the research yourself.
They’ll need to research possible flights, accommodation, activities, attractions, weather forecasts, etc. so you can make the best decision.
Sending your VA photos of receipts that need inputting to a spreadsheet, or regularly emailing a list of your expenses, is an incredibly simple way of bookkeeping. This allows you to delegate the minutiae of bookkeeping, rather than leaving all those expenses to pile up and stress you out.
6. Find Interesting Events
It’s all-too-easy to find out about interesting events after the fact. To stop this from happening, let your VA compile a list of all the top venues in your vicinity, keep an eye on Facebook Events, and regularly send you a list of events you might be interested in attending.
7. Dealing With Customer Support
When you need to get in touch with customer support or tech support for whatever reason, you could end up wasting a ton of time stuck on hold. To guarantee you won’t waste this time, have your VA get in touch with customer service on your behalf.
8. Manage Your Data and Files
Each of us has so many files, folders, data, contacts, and photos, that it’s nearly a full-time job just keeping everything organized. So, find a system that works, explain it to your VA, and give them the needed permissions to do this for you. Every couple of weeks, they could move your new files to the right folders in Dropbox and Google Drive. Rename and organize your new photos. Tag your Evernote notes. Tidy up your contacts lists. This way, you’ll always be able to find what you need.
9. Online Research
If you need to find the best app for a certain task, the lowest-cost utility provider, or the top-rated product for a certain use, get your VA to do the heavy lifting for you. The same goes for if you need to do some basic research to solve a problem at work. A good VA will have superb online research skills, so you can have confidence they’re gathering the right information for you.
10. Filter Your Emails
In the past, we’ve covered plenty of ways to cure your inbox anxiety and spend less time on email. But if you’re still struggling, consider outsourcing your email to a VA. How you train your VA to filter emails will be personal to you. They could archive messages you don’t need. Move those that need a reply to a “Reply” folder. Unsubscribe from unwanted email lists. They could even reply to some messages on your behalf.
11. Create Presentations
Preparing a presentation for work? How about just sharing with your VA all the information that needs to be included, and let them put the whole thing together and send you the finished document?
12. Data Entry
Data entry may be one of the most time consuming, but least productive ways to spend your time. If any of your week is spent on data entry, palm it off to a VA as soon as possible so you can put that time to better use.
13. Confirm Your Reservations
A day or so before an appointment or reservation, let your VA check that everything’s booked correctly. This is useful for medical appointments, and especially hotel and restaurant reservations, where having an assistant call on your behalf can easily land you an upgrade.
Whether you’re writing emails, blog posts, reports, articles, or anything else, mistakes are sure to slip through the cracks. For anything important, send your words to your VA to check over (if their language skills are up to scratch). They’ll check the grammar and structure of your writing, and can even add formatting to your documents to make them look ship-shape.
15. Your Own Personal Reminder
With a shared calendar, a VA can, of course, help you manage your schedule so you always know where you need to be at each point in the day. But you can also have them be your own personal reminder, sending you messages or even calling you to jog your memory about appointments, birthdays, meetings, conferences, workouts. Whatever you like.
16. Typing Up Notes
If you have a bunch of handwritten notes lying around, or pages laden with highlights, snap photos of these and email them to your VA to type up for you. Having a digital copy of these notes makes them not only more secure but also entirely searchable.
17. Create a Meal Plan
If you want to try out a new kind of diet (i.e. low protein, vegetarian, low carb, high in nutrients, suitable for the Atkins Diet, etc.), let your VA know the requirements, and have them put together a meal plan and grocery list to make following the diet a breeze.
18. Monitor, Summarize, and Clip the News
Provided your VA has a good idea of what you’re interested in, have them keep an eye on industry news and alert you of anything important that you need to know about to stay ahead of the game.
They could either send you a link to an original article or, to save even more time, have them summarize the news and any associated data, so you can grasp the story in a fraction of the time.
19. Find Promising Job Opportunities
Each month your VA could send you small list of job opportunities you might find interesting. If you’re already employed but hoping for a change, this is a task that’s too easy to let slip. Delegate it to a VA to make sure it happens!
20. Tweak Your Resume
If you’re applying for a bunch of jobs, let your VA tweak your resume (and cover letter) so they’re customized to each role you’re applying for.
This will require researching the company you’re hoping to work for and including specific buzz-words that are mentioned in the job description.
Squeeze More Hours out of Each Day
There are a ton of ways you can squeeze more time out of each day, but hiring a VA is by far the best option.
Of course, it’ll cost money, and when it comes to assistants, you tend to get what you pay for. In essence then, this really boils down to, how much is your time worth?
Tempted to hire your own virtual assistant? Check out our article on how (and why) to outsource your day-to-day tasks, for a more in-depth look at what it takes.
Given this list, would you be tempted to hire a human virtual assistant to help you get more done each day?
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