A common complaint about working with virtual assistants is that work isn’t done when you want it. You can’t make someone else manage their time well, but there are plenty of ways you can give yourself the best chance of getting work done when you need it.
1. Give as much notice as you can
This might sound obvious, but if you’re in the habit of doing things at the last minute, you’ll need to start changing your mind-set. Remember that a good virtual assistant is likely to have other clients and a home life. When you’re going through your to-do list for the week or month, try to delegate tasks as early as you can.
2. Always provide a deadline
This is good practice even if something isn’t particularly time-sensitive. Be as specific as you can: rather than ask for something ‘at the end of the week’, or even ‘tomorrow’: say ‘noon on Friday’, or ‘8pm tomorrow’. If you’re working with an overseas VA, remember to specify whose time-zone you mean. Make sure you agree a deadline in verbal instructions as well as written ones.
3. Check it’s possible
If you need something doing at short notice, check the deadline with your VA. If it’s going to be a problem, it’s much better for you to know in advance.
4. Be flexible if you’re being demanding
If something needs doing right now, be prepared to move the deadline for something else if necessary.
5. Discuss missed deadlines
Phone or video call is much better than email to avoid feedback or discussions becoming confrontational. Keep the discussion constructive, and try to to establish whether you could have done anything to help. Unlike with an employee, it’s not your position to expect a reason something was late, as the responsibility for managing their time remains with your VA. However, it’s perfectly reasonable to want to know whether this is likely to happen again, and what the two of you could do differently next time. If you’re working through a VA agency, let your account manager know the problem if it’s not resolved quickly.
6. Use online services to keep everyone in the loop
7. Be ruthless.
If you’ve done what you can and someone continually still misses deadlines, find a new assistant.