7 ways to get your VA to deliver to a deadline

Clock: is your VA missing deadlines

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

Cloud-based project management and to-do list services such as Trello or Asana (both free) keep everyone aware of what’s going on and what’s due when.

7. Be ruthless.

If you’ve done what you can and someone continually still misses deadlines, find a new assistant.


2 Responses to 7 ways to get your VA to deliver to a deadline

  1. Diana February 13, 2014 at 8:03 am #

    Great Post!
    For cloud based and to do list services, you can also use proofhub. It is a great project management software that helps to manage projects and coordinate with team members and clients at one central place. It offers some pretty nice features like time tracking, to-do’s, milestones, file sharing, proofing tool, inbuilt browser chat and casper mode. So check out http://www.proofhub.com

    • Joanna Pieters March 4, 2014 at 11:11 am #

      Thanks for the tip, Diana. It’s always good to hear about different services.

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