Everyone needs help managing their time and maximizing their productivity. Whether you are a busy executive or a stay-at-home parent, your email, voice mail, and text inboxes are overflowing with demands for your time.
Remote executive assistant services have changed how busy business leaders work by taking on administrative tasks and allowing executives to spend more time on high-value initiatives like strategy and planning. But the work remote assistants can deliver doesn't have to stop with business tasks. Virtual assistants (VAs) can also serve as remote personal assistants, taking care of executives' personal tasks.
What is a Remote Personal Assistant?
A remote personal assistant is someone you hire to handle important but time-consuming, administrative tasks that distract you from higher priorities. For an executive, that can be scheduling business meetings, planning travel, and filing expense reports. Those same tasks apply to your personal life—scheduling appointments, planning vacations, and paying bills, for example.
With the work-from-anywhere revolution, the lines between personal and professional productivity have blurred. Letting someone else schedule a dentist's appointment and a meeting with a customer will both save you time!
What Tasks Can a Remote Personal Assistant Perform?
You might have a long list of office tasks to offload. Let's look at some of the personal tasks you could add to that list for a remote personal assistant.
1. Personal Travel
It takes 12 hours to plan a business trip. Family vacations might take longer. Finding flights, cars, hotels, transfers at the right times and that suit your budget can be agonizingly complicated. Tell your remote personal assistant where you want to go and when, and they can do the research, present you with options, and book the trip that works best.
You can give your assistant access to your preferences (and loyalty program info) for:
- Rental cars
Your assistant can take care of everything.
2. Personal Shopping
Executives use virtual assistants to shop for business supplies. They can also shop for personal items—especially hard-to-find products that can take a lot of time and research to find. Say you are looking for a specific type of mountain bike. A remote personal assistant can search online to find the best prices. Or maybe you want to research reviews on mountain bikes and their key features. Your assistant can compile the reviews for you.
A remote personal assistant can shop for anything orderable online or by phone—from gifts to groceries.
3. Personal Appointments
Most people have a lot of non-work appointments—especially if you have a partner or a family. Personal appointments include:
Meals with friends
Sports and entertainment
Not only do these meetings need to be scheduled, but they also often need to be rescheduled due to conflicts that arise. Your remote assistant can schedule the appointments, add them to your calendar, and shuffle them around for you when your schedule changes, whether for work or home conflicts.
4. Household Management
Keeping up with housework can be a full-time job. It's not just cooking and cleaning. Most homes need recurring maintenance and upkeep that needs scheduling, such as:
Pool and spa maintenance
Whether an appointment involves you visiting a vendor of some kind, or the vendor coming to you, they need to be scheduled and coordinated with the rest of your calendar.
5. Event Logistics
Planning a party? The coordination can be daunting, and the complexity grows with the size of the event. Need to get those invitations out? Don't know everyone's email or phone number? Remote personal assistant to the rescue. Your assistant can:
Build invitation lists
Find a venue
Track costs and budgets
Purchase decorations and gifts
Create seating charts
Send thank-you notes
Your life just got way easier.
6. Financial Management
Assuming you trust your remote assistant with your business credit card, you can trust them with personal finances too. A remote personal assistant can track your finances and make sure every bill gets paid on time. Financial tasks a VA can perform include:
- Bill payment
- Track account balances
- Monitor stock prices and interest rates
- Transfer funds between accounts
How many of these tasks you delegate will depend on the level of access you give your VA to your financial accounts.
How Do You Find a Remote Personal Assistant
You hire a remote personal assistant the same way you hire a remote executive assistant. The roles are very similar, and most virtual assistants assist with office and individual tasks. There are four ways to find and hire a remote personal assistant:
- Recruit and hire yourself through a job board or ad
- Use an online marketplace like Upwork or Fiverr
- Hire an independent contractor through an agency
- Use a managed service provider
These methods of hiring a remote personal assistant are ordered based on the level of risk and effort involved.
- Recruiting and hiring on your own VA will take the most time and, if it doesn't work out, you start over. It's also up to you to provide all HR paperwork and compliance.
- Using an online marketplace gives you some quality ratings to make the hire less risky. You can see samples of work, and you can exit the relationship quickly if needed. However, marketplace VAs often do many projects for many people, and their availability can be an issue if you want consistent, ongoing support. Marketplaces can be a good option for short-term projects like a wedding or family reunion.
- Agencies recruit and vet independent contractors to reduce the risk of a bad hire. However, it will still be up to you to train and manage the VAs performance. If it doesn't work out, you start over.
- With a managed virtual assistant service, you're not hiring an individual but a company. The service provider hires, trains, and manages the VA and provides backup VAs and managers to ensure service quality and continuity.
You Could Do It Yourself, but When?
Your personal and professional worlds overlap like never before. There's always too much to do and not nearly enough time to do it all. We all outsource mundane work that we either don't like to do or find that it's not worth our time to do it. Think car washes and dry cleaning. Yes, you can wash your car and press your shirts, but it's just not worth the time and effort for many of us.
Ubiquitous internet, cloud-based applications accessible anywhere, and the gig economy make it possible to hand over more tasks to a trusted remote assistant. As the working world gets more comfortable with remote support for office administration tasks, it's an easy transition to add personal projects to the list.
About the Author: Bill is Prialto's senior content marketing manager and writes about the future of work and how businesses can be more productive and successful. His work has appeared in the World Economic Forum Agenda blog and CIO magazine.