Real Life Experiences with Virtual Assistants
(Sep 06, 2013)
Would You Like To Live In A Big Garden Instead Of Working In An Office?
Most of the content on this site is about outsourcing your life and freeing up your time by hiring virtual assistants.
This is all well and good, but did you actually plan on what you will do when you successfully outsourced most of your tasks? Do you have a plan on what to do with all your freed time?
Recently, we posted a big interview with Stefan who lives the 4-hour work week in Thailand. When you are ready to move to a Caribbean island or leave the office work behind, do you actually know what to do with all your free time?
A Luxurious Problem
Having too much free time can be a problem in itself. Now that you are busy with your everyday’s work, you might laugh at this comment. But if you actually have lots of free time at your hand while all your friends are working, then you need to seriously think about what to do with all those free time.
Do you have;
- Skills to learn
- People to meet
- Locations to visit
If you haven’t thought of this, do so, even before you start outsourcing seriously. When you are at the point that you consider hiring someone full time, then you should also think about what to do with your newly gained free time.
Double Your Productivity by Working in Your Free Time
If your virtual assistant is working for you and giving you great results, then a great way to double your productivity is to not slack off with the freed up time your assistant worked hard to give you. When you take the freed up time and put in some more additional work for your own projects then you can double your efficiency.
A great project to start on that you can do even while you are travelling is to start your own website or online business. This online business can result in additional income, which can free up your time even more, if you reinvest it into outsourcing.
Don’t Go Overboard Hiring Virtual Assistants Is Hard Work Too
If you start working with virtual assistants, you will see that managing them, coming up with new work for them and giving them constant feedback, which is really recommended for efficient use of a virtual assistant, will take a lot of your time. You can speed this up, of course, by using video instructions and all the other tips I share on my website.
But in the end, managing a full time assistant team will take you probably about half an hour a day if you’re serious about it and if you have many projects at once to manage. That’s the time it takes me.
But what to do with the other 7 and half hours that are saved from your day job not to count the time you must need to commute normally.
Share Your Dreams And Projects You Would Do If You Had Only 4 Hours To Work Each Week.
Now is your turn. Think about your future when you freed yourself of the shackles of daily work forever. What would you love to do?
What projects would you love to start?
What hobbies would you like to learn?
Send them to us in the comments.
Comments for Do You Have A Plan “What To Do” If You Are Successful With Living the 4-Hour Work Week?
|My Own Ideas for Filling the Time in the 4-Hour Work Week
by: FrancisLet me share with you what my own ideas are if I wouldn’t have to do a day job which I still am doing and enjoyed doing. I would seriously take up a martial art and invest lots of time in it. I would meditate regularly.
I would learn lots of skills in the area of social interactions, management and team leading skills. I would love to play more Ping-Pong or, perhaps Tennis.
If I had so much time on my hands, I would probably take up drawing or creative writing. Perhaps, even write a book which is not related to online businesses.
And of course, I still have my at least a thousand ideas all the time about what online business to start in the future.
I hope my lifetime and the lifetime of my assistant will be enough to finish all the ideas I have in my head 🙂
(May 31, 2013)
Where is the difference between a personal assistant and a virtual assistant?
In my opinion, those two terms are pretty similar. But I’ll explain to you how I think we should make a difference between those two terms.
Where a Personal and Virtual Assistant Overlap?
In both cases, these assistants are real human beings. We are not talking an iphone application here. These are real persons working on real computers and working for you as your assistant.
In general, these assistants are both types of freelancers but sometimes they work together as a team. Be sure to check out my favorite service on how to find both sorts of assistants.
Where’s the Difference between a Personal and Virtual Assistant?
A virtual assistant can do everything virtually especially working on your online presence or websites. My main assistant with whom I have been working most of the time is, in the sense of the word, a virtual assistant.
A personal assistant on the other hand helps you with personal matters. He helps you organize your calendar. He helps you organize meetings. He can also help you to plan a travel.
Of course, you can ask your personal assistant to research a picture for your website. Or, you can ask your virtual assistant to do some research on a vacation location. But in general, it makes sense to separate those two jobs.
What Was My Experience of Having A Personal Assistant?
I’ve had two main personal assistants which are worth mentioning with whom I’ve worked together for at least one year.
One was from India and the other was from the Philippines. Both were very nice, understanding, extremely fast to respond to my requests and we interacted on a more personal level.
After I have trained them enough, they had access to many of personal information and could help me organize that.
Does someone who’s Not a Big CEO or Very Rich Would Need a Personal Assistant?
In my opinion, there’s always room for improvement in your life. You can improve your efficiency. You can get more organized especially if you are chaotic like me. You can get more done simply by knowing that your personal assistant is supporting you.
Must you pay a hundreds of dollars per hour for a personal assistant?
Not necessarily. I have found that hiring assistants from overseas can be much more affordable.
Your Thoughts about the Difference on Personal and Virtual Assistants.
Please let me know if this differentiation between personal and virtual assistants makes sense to you.
Are those definitions you can understand and relate to?
Do you think those two terms are simply similar and interchangeable?
And do you have made any experience with one or the other?
Be sure to share this in the comments.
I read an interesting article that claimed to predict that China would be the No.1 outsourcing country in a few years of time.
From my personal experience I do not think this is necessarily the case. Nowadays, countries like the Philippines, India or Pakistan are strongly involved in outsourcing.
That’s not only because the work labor is cheaper there than for example in the USA, but especially since the culture of the people doing outsourcing work there allows for great cooperation between western and eastern cultures.
China is not the cheapest alternative – not anymore
Personally, I have only worked once with a Virtual Assistant from China. I cannot give you a representative overview of how it is working together with Chinese providers. From my research and also professional experience with Chinese companies, I know that China is not necessarily far lower in prices as western countries (any more). Of course, many things cost less in China. Hourly rates might be lower, and you may be able to get some (mostly physical work) done faster.
But from what I experienced in business and from the discussion with colleagues, I have the feeling that working together with Chinese providers leads more often to misunderstandings than working together with Philippine providers.
Disadvantage of China – language barrier for English
Actually, as of 2016 and after my first stay in China, I know for sure that the language barrier is a big problem in China.
Of course, I can’t speak for all of China when I was only in one “smaller” city, Shenyang, in the north of this huge country. Things are completely different in Shanghai or Beijing.
(Just like the language skill levels in the Philippines are completely different comparing Manila vs smaller islands)
Also I feel that the overall knowledge of English is more compatible with western cultures in other countries than China.
Disadvantage with working online with China – limited access to Google tools and websites
During my stay in China, I was painfully reminded that Google is partially blocked there. If you own a website, or even for your emails, it is very probable that you are using a great deal of google services. Same for Dropbox, which also was not accessible.
It’s not that there are not alternatives (Bing). Just that the best and proven tools for working with Virtual Assistants need some exceptional workarounds when working with Chinese VAs (or when outsourcing from China).
To me, it was annoying to say the least.
More Chinese VA candidates don’t mean they are the best fit
So even if there might be many more Chinese freelancers in the future, this still does not automatically mean that china will be the outsourcing country of the future.
There are many other factors which we will have to keep in mind.
- communication skills
- compatibility between the employer and the virtual assistant
- pay rates
The sum of all those factors let me question from my personal experience, if China is indeed the outsourcing country of the future.
As for now, I would focus on providers from the Philippines, India and Pakistan if you want to be successful with outsourcing today.
You will be able to flexibly expand your team to include more providers from China. If that indeed is the way of the future.
What is your experience with working with Chinese VAs?
Do you know how it is to work with Chinese freelancers?
Do you have your own opinion on this?
Always feel free to leave us a comment.
Comments for Is China The Outsourcing Country Of The Future?
by: Kittycat Hm, I’m not sure what you mean by “transparency”… How does the “transparency” in China not make it a advised country for outsourcing?How can a virtual assistant be transparent?
by: Francis The best way for a virtual assistant to be transparent is to use a system that truthfully shows what work he does.One possibility is to use oDesk’s implemented team application. Another possibility is to use a productivity tracking software that shares when you have been working and when you haven’t.
|A follow up post about transparency and integrity of a VA
by: Francis Your comment has inspired us to post a page about the integrity of a VA and how this is important for doing business.Go check it out in the link above 🙂
by: John Personally, I doubt that China is going to be the next outsourcing capital in the future. For one reason—language barrier. I do not doubt their skills and intelligence with computers and other technologies. But, one player for outsourcing is communication. But I do not dismiss the topic that probably they will be one of many outsourcing capitals around the globe.
(June 29, 2012.)
How my virtual assistant turns my rough ideas into action steps. Take a look at this photo. It’s really how I do take notes.
Looks a “little bit” messy. Doesn’t it?
Don’t worry. I’ll spare you the rest of the details of my desk. 😉
Seriously, I should take the time I freed up by outsourcing my tasks and really clean up my desk once in a while.
This is how an average day working on my website starts: I wake up full of ideas floating around my head. On a good and well organized day, I jot down some notes before I grab my cell phone and record a voicemail for my virtual assistant.
Then he is in for a very long monologue. I think the longest voicemail I recorded and sent to him was about one hour long. I don’t even know how all this time passes so quickly. It’s just that I talk all my ideas off my chest and then I rely on my virtual assistant to work through that mess.
- Sometimes he transcribes parts of it.
- Sometimes he transforms my jibber jabber into doable action steps.
- Sometimes I am just asking about his feedback from his point of view and we work out a solution together.
If I would have to name one biggest weakness of mine, it would be this: I am too excited about too many thinks at once, but sometimes I don’t get anything done.
Working together with my VA has helped with that a lot and my productivity has increased. This only works of course if your virtual assistant knows you really well and knows your business really well.
Fortunately, this is the case for me. And that is why I prefer to hire one excellent person for long time rather than switching workers several times a month. By the way, I have found my virtual assistant on oDesk, if you are looking for someone to help with your work too.
Anyways, with this blog post action item # 1 from my very organized list has been done. So I will put a tick to it. 🙂
To give my virtual assistant some work to do, transcription or research, I just continue to record the same voice message until I am done with all my items.
Yep! You guessed it right.
This very blog post was also dictated via voicemail and transcribed by my virtual assistant!
It didn’t take longer than five minutes. I guess it’s shorter than most bloggers take to right one long blog post.
Sorry if I am bragging but today I am really feeling proud to have a virtual assistant at my side whom I can trust with all these tasks.
And as always I think he and myself will really be happy to read about whatever you want to add to this discussion.
Comments for From Messy Notes to Well Organized Results
|turning my chaotic ideas into well-ordered content
by: Francis I’m so to speak creative chaotic when it comes to creating a website. Thousands of ideas, new concepts and goodies for the webpages run through my head daily.
My virtual assistant helps me to order them and actually implement them, one by one.
It’s quite a good synergy.
Do you ever find yourself unorganized and are not getting anything done? Perhaps it’s time to team up with an ideal helper 🙂
by: Kittycat Sounds to me, like this website-working is a very creative thing. I’d love to do that, too!
This blog is a nice personal insight as well. =)
|Voice recordings are really great!
For a few weeks now, I’ve been on the receiving end of these voice recordings. And so far, they’re really great — especially when they come with screen capture videos! I can really understand what is expected of me. Also, I have realized now how emails are misunderstood most of the time while voice recordings just clear things up.They’re quite easy to work with because all I have to do is open them and Notepad and jot down what I hear. It’s like an instant to-do list! And the best part? I can listen to them repeatedly if there’s something I do not understand quite well. 😀
Voice recordings are really a must for employers who are working with virtual assistants. They really make things easier!
You will always see the better picture after all the chaos. Good thing you can rely on someone who will organize your thoughts into one. 😉
This is just of the small little details that makes working together with a virtual assistant long term much more fun than with many and different assistants in the short term.
She is nice to look at! Isn’t She?
Since I work together with my VA for so long, he knows me pretty well. Not too long ago he illustrated one of my webpages for me.
I do not even need to put pictures in to my posts myself. My virtual assistant does it for me.
Don’t the pictures look great?
Come on! Be honest. They look great.
In any case they look at least as good as if do it myself if not better. And that all I ask as a result from outsourcing.
What was the good deed my virtual assistant did for me?
When I wrote one feedback email back to him in reply to one of his daily work updates, I casually mentioned how I noticed a specific stock photo on a specific website more than others.
Because I simply liked it. It has a cute girl, it was appropriate for the site and what the heck; I am also just a guy.
I did not give any more instructions about it.
What happened one day later?
In the screenshots taken by the oDesk software, I saw that he was researching more stock photos of the same photo model. I wasn’t even thinking about putting up more photos of this specific person, but now when I think about it I don’t dislike the idea.
So thanks to this constant monitoring of Odesk of the work of my VA, I knew in real time what he was up to and could give him further instructions.
So, I am off to writing an email – or even faster, recording a voicemail – to him to let him know that I approve of researching and downloading two or three more of those pictures.
That just one of the great little details that happens to me on daily basis when working on my web business together with my VA that makes working feel more like playing.
What do you think about this?
Comments for I love it when my virtual assistant goes out of his way to anticipate my wishes.
Wish beyond command
It’s a cool idea—giving out varieties so that you can have a lot of options which one you will like and which ones you don’t like. This way, there’s not so much time wasted.