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How to effectively balance a virtual assistant with your side hustle

Barnaby

Barnaby Lashbrooke

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

7 minute read

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You have responsibilities for your full-time job and a side hustle that’s starting to take off—or that you know could take off if only there were more hours in the day. Where does a virtual assistant fit into the madness that has become your daily life?

It may seem like just another responsibility to manage, but a virtual assistant can help you not only keep on top of essential tasks but reclaim much-needed time to focus on how to take your side hustle to the next level. The question isn’t whether you need an assistant in the mix. It’s how you maximize the benefits.

Knowing what to delegate

Working well with a virtual assistant begins before you even start looking at available candidates. You have to know exactly what you need before an assistant can commit to the job.

Your first job is simple but not always so easy to complete: Create a clear list of tasks that you can delegate.

Only you can determine what tasks are right for delegation, but we can offer some guidance. If a task has any of the following qualities, at least consider handing it off:

  • Expertise isn’t required for completion. Anyone can do it with the right instructions.
  • It’s repetitive and/or completed on a routine basis. Think daily, weekly, or monthly tasks here.
  • It sucks away your time without an adequate return on investment. It needs to get done but sometimes feels like a waste of time.
  • You don’t enjoy doing it, so you often put it off until it becomes critical.
  • You do enjoy doing it, but it’s not essential and is often neglected.

Once you have a list of all the tasks you can delegate, take a moment to imagine your daily life without those tasks on your plate. Imagine a well-trained, capable assistant handling those tasks so well that you don’t even have to think about them. If it brings you a sense of relief or excitement, you know this is the right choice for you at this time.

Select your virtual assistant with care

Once you have your list of delegate-worthy tasks, it’s time to consider the right virtual assistant for the job. Start by making another list. This time, it’s all about the essential skills that they will need to have right from the start.

Here, we’re talking about skills like scheduling experience, good written communication, or familiarity with specific computer programs.

You now have a great guide that will help select someone who’ll be the right fit for you and your business. You don’t need to worry about taking more time out of your busy schedule to go through the process of finding and interviewing potential candidates, as our dedicated team at Time etc will do all this for you.

Consistent planning

Once you have your virtual assistant on board, that initial list of tasks you can delegate isn’t enough.

Planning exactly what you need your assistant to do, and when they will need to do it, ahead of time means they’ll be able to begin each task with minimum input from yourself.

You can use the following process to get started:

  • Create a table with four columns or draw out four lists. Use that to split everything on your “to delegate” list into daily tasks, weekly tasks, monthly tasks, and one-off tasks.
  • Write a checklist that your assistant can work through to ensure the daily tasks are completed consistently. Do the same for weekly and monthly tasks. Once proper instructions are received, your assistant can work through those lists independently to make sure they’re meeting expectations without constant reminders.
  • Determine how you will assign the less frequent tasks, depending on the nature of the work.

You should review these task lists on Sunday or another designated day of the week. Update each list as needed, and make sure your assistant is made aware of any changes. This is the time to assign any of those less frequent, one-off tasks for the week ahead as well.

Instructions

This may take some time, but the long-term payoff is well worth the effort. Use the task lists you made to guide your assistant and create detailed instructions on how to complete every task on each list.

Think of it as creating a user’s manual. This is your chance to tell them everything they need to know about your personal processes for your side hustle. If you can provide some examples to show the final result, all the better.

If you put all this in writing rather than explaining over the phone, there is less likelihood of needing to repeat your instructions over and over as your assistant can quickly consult your task guide as needed.

Communication

Even when you provide those super detailed task guides, your virtual assistant is bound to have questions as they get used to your tasks and processes. The best way to handle this is to establish times that you are available and the appropriate lines of communication.

Your schedule will be unique to you, especially when you are busy with your full-time job and working on your side-hustle. But here are some times that you may wish to make yourself available to questions:

  • Lunch break
  • Commute times
  • A designated hour at the start or end of each day

You may also want to assign methods of communication according to urgency. For example, your assistant may email or Slack you for regular communication but Whatsapp you if it is extremely urgent.

Weekly reviews

Once a week, in addition to your regular communication times, schedule some time to provide feedback on how your virtual assistant is doing and how the relationship is working in general. Honesty is vital, but any negative feedback should also include clear steps on how to improve.

The following list will guide you on what to cover during these scheduled routine meetings:

  • What has your assistant done extremely well?
  • What could they have done better?
  • What guidance or feedback can you provide to help them get better at those tasks?
  • Are there any changes in workflow or assigned tasks?

Always give your assistant a chance to respond to your feedback and ask questions as needed.

Explore technology that allows you to stay on the same page without constant updates

It’s important to provide all the information your virtual assistant needs to complete every assigned task. You don’t want to receive urgent messages that your assistant needs an account number or password to complete a critical task for the day. Make sure they have everything they need in advance by taking advantage of file-sharing technology.

SecureShare, Dropbox, Trello, Evernote, and Google Calendars are great resources for sharing information. Going through the task lists you created will help remind you of any account details, passwords, or other necessary details your assistant will need to complete those tasks.

If your assistant sets up new accounts, changes passwords, or makes other adjustments, they can add that information to the shared file or location. You will have it when needed and they can continue working rather than sending you messages about password updates and other details that you may not remember down the line.

Be honest

Let your virtual assistant know that you have a full-time job and they are helping you with your side hustle, they will understand!

Work-life balance is critical for a satisfying life. It’s part of the reason you need a virtual assistant to begin with, right? You want to push harder and get ahead, but you also need a bit more time to nurture personal relationships and take care of your health. Being honest about what you’re both dealing with could establish a winning relationship that lasts for years.

Get to know your assistant

Are you wondering how you’re going to follow some of the tips on this list from day one? For instance, how do you just put all your passwords and account numbers in a file then share it with someone who is basically a stranger?

There are two answers to that. First of all, you should spend plenty of time talking with and getting to know your assistant. When your full-time job is keeping you busy, you will be depending on your assistant to keep your side project ticking over. Secondly, trust is essential and you should give it freely unless any red flags arise that tell you to pull back.


You can give that initial trust freely when you allow experts to select your virtual assistant. Time etc is committed to finding the best assistants in the US and the UK so that you don’t have to spend weeks or months doing that yourself. If you know now is the time to give your side hustle some more focus and attention without getting stuck on repetitive tasks, get started with Time etc today.

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About the author

Barnaby
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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