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Why do I need a Virtual Assistant?
Short answer is I don’t. But, I am in a position now that I often do not get things done because I am time poor and I do not have any direct reports at work, so this will be a good opportunity to learn how to manage people while becoming more efficient and effective.
According to Tim Ferris, motivational coach, tech entrepreneur and author of the best selling Four Hour Work Week , getting a VA is the first step in getting rid of the menial, minutia tasks by delegating or ignoring them is the best way to start focusing on what matters. I have tried deleting tasks, but there is always a backlog of ideas that creep back up your spine as a tingle and you are never really satisfied that you made the right choice by not doing it.
Enter the VA.
The VA does two great things for you: Allows you to delegate the tasks that you would otherwise spend a lot of time on sitting in front of a screen when you could be doing something more useful (and lets face it, our time = $$$); plus, and more importantly, having a VA forces you to define an idea into an actionable task.
By defining the task, I am forced to take that annoying periodic spine tingle and turn it into something that someone else can actually understand. Now when I have that tinge, I can take action to define it as something that I might give to a VA. Even if I never give it to the VA, I know that I have taken the step to remove it from my spinal cord and I all of a sudden stand a little straighter.
And now begins my journey to find a VA.
What can I get them to do?
  • Random tasks online
  • Research topics I am interested in
  • Finding me the best deals for personal purchases and gift ideas
  • Find me cool clothes that fit
  • Mix of personal and business idea development
  • Find out trip details and book
  • Create and keep me to an exercise plan
  • Help me define a project plan to goals and then keep me on track (personal project manager)
How often do I need it?
  • At the moment, not that much, but I think that is in part because I have not been using a service yet. Instead, I am estimating things in the below that I repeatedly do, so I can roughly know how much I would need a VA
Repetitious tasks that I could outsource :
Task
How often does it (or could it) occur?
How long does it take me each time?
Buying gifts for friends
2-3 times per month
2 hours
organizing periodical things to be booked – Car repairs, tax return appointment, dentist appointments
Once per week
30 minutes
Be the keeper of my to-do list (and force me to prioritise it)
Once per day
10 minutes
Researching stuff for work
– business plan
– operational plan
– research for new initiatives
3 times per week
2 hours
Research content ideas for blogs
1 time per week
3 hours
Research on business ideas
1 time per month
20 hours
Research on property investment
1 time per year
60 hours
Finding clothes on-line
1 time per month
3 hours
Research holidays and trips
2 times per year
10 hours
Research exercise plans and keep me on task
1 per week
1 hour
Total
~18.5 hours per week
Things I can outsource right now:
  • Research baby friendly holiday in Thailand
  • Research Dentists in Thailand
  • Competitor research for work
  • Research on best practice for strategy development in product management teams
  • Research other businesses in Australia using same CRM systems and find contact details (for knowledge share)
  • Research types of SLAs that would work in the situation we are in with RP
  • Research and present pros and cons of living overseas with a baby
  • Market research for business ideas
  • Find an exercise & diet plan and keep me to it
  • Clean up my email & manage
  • Sell all of the unwanted items around the house
For my first task, I am going to try a few different services with our Thailand holiday and finding my a good Dentist while I am there.
VA Options
There are a lot of VA options out there. The best aggregate site that I have found is Virtual Assistant Assistant. Spearheaded by Nick Loper of Side Hustle Nation, it is a very comprehensive list of VA services and reviews.
The handiest feature I found were the video interviews with CEOs and co-founders of VA companies, which give you a little personal insight into the type of business you will be dealing with.
The list so far:
 Service
Cost
Where
Focused on
Ask Sunday
$29/mth – 2 hours – $15 hour after that
$119/mth – 10 hours – $13 hour after that
3 hours free-trial
General personal assistant work
Tasks everyday
$6.9/hour
general purpose
Access to lots of business resource as well
virtual coworker
from $6 per hour
getting you a PA matched to your specific business problems
myvirtualworkforce
$518 per month
teams of VAs that are housed in an office with backup teams
VA talks
$120/mth – 10 hours
India
Tech startups & random business tasks
task virtual
$39/20 tasks – 15 minutes per task
(approx $8/hour)
Entreprenuers and small businesses
task bullet
$200 / 10 hours – you can use them for three months
Philippines
less creative or technical, more admin stuff
 The first trial: VA Talks 2 day trial
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Educating yourself is a great way to pass time. It is the greatest way to pass time for you are not wasting time. Next time you think to sit and watch TV think instead of a way to educate yourself or even watch something educational.

“The educated are free” Epictetus

I get distracted a lot actually. I normally get distracted with things that I actually have to do eventually so it’s hard for me rule out such distractions, but in learning about myself I have realised this fact. I need to remove the screen and write down the list of things I will do instead then switch off to everything else. Good thing I am self aware and have self knowledge.

It is important to spend your life differentiating between what we can change and what we cannot. Things such as a where you were born, the colour of your skin or the outcomes of a past event are all unchangeable.

More importantly, know that you cannot change others. Their opinions, if they like you or not or such are technically not things you can change. This is an important reminder for myself, as I like to think that I can get most people to like me and I take great offence when people do not, this is naive of me and a little pretentious.

In my own life right now there is a work situation that I can relate to. I have difficult clients that are making thing very hard regarding our current technical solution. We are all trying to embark on a replatforming journey, but they keep bringing it back to pointing the finger at the current solution. I need to gently remind them that we should not be trying to change the current platform, instead we should be focusing on what we can change – the future solution.

What else I cannot change is the way they work – they are grounded in a business and in detail – a dangerous combo. They wish to see a lot of detail on almost evey aspect of any solution provided to them, but they are a busy business with many different departments holding a stake in the solution, so they (the team I interface with) need a lot of time to provide sign-offs. I cannot change this, but what I can do is get to know more about their other departments and how they be involved, or even include the other teams from around that business in my RACI. I cannot change they way they work, but I can change the way I work to suit them.

It is also important to identify and separate as you go. If we take note of the things that we are able to control and ignore the things that we cannot then we are instantly happier than most. We wont be beating our heads against an unmovable object, instead conserving and using our energy where it is most useful, in doing the things we like most.

I would say that in the past decade or so I have improved myself quite dramatically. I have stepped up to the plate and learnt a lot of things that I just didn’t want to learn while at school, nor did I learn while at home. It’s not to say that the people around me didn’t try to help me learn, I just didn’t listen for the most part. So now, 10 years after turning 18 and becoming that quasi adult form and about 15 self help books later, I feel like I have got some pretty remarkable adult-personality features.

For the most part, over the past 10 years, I have been extremely motivated. Something pinged in me when I was 18, asn I was I could recall what it was, that gave me this motivation. I have been through a lot of hardships including deaths in the family, losing friends and having to re-educate myself in order to change careers. However, I never let go of this unwavering motivation to improve – things come up and I just sometime forget what I am doing!

New years is coming within the next week and this next year is set to be an exciting one with travelling for 6 months on the cards and my career likely to get a boost between now and the trip. I want to make this year the year I really step up and become an adult and stop talking about doing things and put my ideas into action. The first step to this is working on improving my memory and my functional brain power.

The way I see it, I could be a lot further along in my career and my personal endeavours had I remembered all of the things that come to mind, all of the ideas that I plot and devise and then disappear just as quickly. For the past 5 years, I have tried to turn to technology to help me with  my memory, but it has finally occurred to me that the problem with technology is that it isn’t always there when you need it and it is hard to try to make sure it is. For example, if you are thinking over an idea while riding your bike (which I often do) you will need to keep that idea in your mind until after you get off the bike, out of the shower and back to your desk. I often try to remember, but it doesn’t just happen. The other example I have of my memory having let me down is remembering events that have occurred. I can get very flustered when in my workplace, with a lot of technical work at my fingertips topped off with lots of talking and meetings. It is lot to keep in mind and I find I get headaches trying to recall a lot of the information in the time I need, or just straight up forget. The same happens when socialising, I can forget stories between myself and old friends and that frustrates me.

So, my new years resolution is this:

  • research about the different ways to improve my brain functionality
  • pick the top 3 areas of improvement and devise a training regime
  • record my current capabilities and record the changes that occur

I think my third point of action here is the most important. I need to be sure not to get to wound up in the ‘how’ I will record, but more in just taking action and writing it down – make it as simple as recording it at the bottom of this post.

EDIT:

I have found that most of the brain training applications ask for money. I am not sure I want to pay money, so will have to do my research first. I Will however start on juggling as I know this has the a positive affect on the functionality of the brain.

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Started to plan our round the world trip last month, starting with the dreaded conversation with the boss. See, I want to be able to come back and still have a job, but I was pleasantly surprised when he announced “wow, awesome, when are you thinking of going?”. It’s no all confirmed yet with HR, but according to the HR intranet page, as long as your manager approves, its very simple, I just have to put in the application within the next few days.

 

There are six months until we go away or to be more precise, only 176 days. On the 1st of May, we (my wife and I) will meet in Iran. A lot to do in the next 176 days – Things like, organising to rent out our home, packing everything into storage, finding another temporary place to live, continuing to work on our small business on the side (so we have some kind of income), continuing to work in a high stress marketing role – my wife working in a very demanding project management role – and not to mention, planning our trip. I want to mention some of the

 

My wife is going over first by about 2 weeks to spend time with family over in Iran. When I join, it will be just before my brother in-laws wedding on the 5th May. So naturally, first stop Iran.

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I’m hoping to get some of our other Aussie friends to join and go hiking Mount Damavand –Iran’s largest mountain and something that should be on everyone’s bucket list. It’s 5,610m high on overlooks the Caspian Sea.

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Once we descend, I really want to go down south or Iran and hang out with the nomadic  Qashqai people. When I was in Iran last, I discovered the stories of these people and was fascinated. They are the last frontier of a Persian tradition passed down for generations, hand making Persian carpets to sell for trade. They herd there sheep and spin the wool all from scratch.  For more info see the Wiki Post: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qashqai_people

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So there’s a taste of our trip planned so far. My next post I will start to talk about the rest of my trip plan, going from Iran through Turkey and into Europe and also start talking about some of the challenges of leaving it all behind.

 

 

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I was once a chef working in hot fast kitchens, totally in control of things and in my domain. I made a decision to move out of the kitchens and seek a better life in the corporate race of things for a few reasons and now I guess I kind of regret it, mainly because now I dont get to cook as much.

Why I left
When in the kitchens, I was on top of the hill and in total control. Every meal I would serve was the best quality,  I was always full of energy even thought I was working many hours and I was the ruler of my domain…..well that’s jot all entirely true. It was hard work, long hours and working while friends meant that overall I felt pretty miserable.  But the work was something that

Why im stressed now

What I am challenging myself to do.

Hi,

How are you? I’m good, thanks.

Thats it, that easy. Now your done with the first step to becoming a great thinker, leader and proffesional.

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