Working with a VA: How to Schedule Your Projects and Tasks

WomanPlanning2-275One of the keys to successfully working with a virtual professional is communication. Part of that communication is deciding the timing of when your projects and tasks will be completed and getting them on the calendar. Here are my thoughts about this process, which are based on the way I work with my clients.

From the client perspective:

1. Be clear about what you need and want done. Be sure to keep a clear and handy list of projects and tasks that can be easily and regularly updated and shared with your VA.

2. Based on your goals for those projects and tasks, be clear about when they need to be completed, or when you’d like them to be completed. This information should be stored on the same worksheet as the items from #1 above.

3. Ask your VA for help fleshing out certain projects. If you are not sure what all goes into, say, a program launch, or you want to make sure you are not missing anything, getting your VA involved from the beginning is a best practice to ensure that nothing is missed and that they are aware of what is coming up for you.

4. Be prepared to be a little bit flexible. Understand that your VA has other clients as well and is scheduling everyone’s work in the best way possible, taking everyone’s goals and schedules into account, with an eye on success for everyone.

From the VA perspective:

1. VAs do their best to accommodate all their clients’ projects and schedules. Understand that there may (albeit rarely) be an emergency that arises that may shift your project or task off schedule a little bit. These situations are never ideal, and are always managed as best as possible. Again, communication is key in making sure that all parties are getting what they need in the best way possible. And know that should you have an emergency, you will receive the same consideration that another may have received.

2. Regular tasks, long-term projects, scheduled projects, occasional projects. Regular tasks include items like a weekly ezine, or anything that is scheduled to be completed on a regular basis. These are easy to insert into a calendar. Depending on the task and the process set up with your VA, the data for these regular tasks should be provided to your VA a least 3 days ahead of time. This allows time to get everything done, reviewed, and set-up  in time for distribution (i.e., a weekly ezine). (Note that these regularly scheduled tasks are never shuffled aside in the case of an emergency – they get done, on time, regardless.)

Long-term projects are projects that are larger in scope, they need to be done, and while there is no rush, per se, there is a targeted completion date. These are placed in the schedule and worked on along with the other tasks and projects in the VA’s schedule. Regular status updates are provided so that both parties know where the project stands at all times.

Scheduled projects include things such as product and program launches, where the end dates are defined and there is a list of tasks that need to be completed along the way. There may be more than one or two important dates as social media postings need to be done, emails advertising the upcoming launch or teleseminar need to go out, etc. Choose your end dates, identify the tasks that need to happen along the way, and work backwards to apply due dates for each piece. Work with your VA to help establish the best schedule for success.

Occasional projects: If you don’t use your VA on a regular basis, know that your occasional project may need to be fit in with the rest of the schedule. Occasional projects are no less important than the others, but do need to have a good timeline established.

3. Understand when your VA’s schedule fills up. For example, by Friday, my schedule for the following week is set (as much as it can be). That doesn’t mean that other items cannot be accommodated; in fact, additional requests and tasks come in and are accommodated quite often. Sometimes it requires a little bit of shuffling and creative management. Because of this, by Wednesday evening, it is often not possible to add in additional tasks for Thursday or Friday, and anything new will have to wait until the next week. You should consider this type of thing as well when working with a VA and if you are not sure of how your VA works in this regard, be sure to ask.

A successful VA/client relationship is a great thing. If you’re just starting with a VA, be sure to give it enough time to work out the communication and scheduling kinks. Once the working relationship and rhythm is established, it’s a wonderful thing.

Do you have a comment, question, or experience you’d like to share? Please leave your comment below!

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