Do I need a personal assistant?
The idea of having a personal assistant might seem like a luxury for the ultra-high-flying businessmen among us, who don’t have the time to deal with the common folk – perhaps because they’re buying a yacht or firing Janine from finance as a warning to the others. But here’s the truth:
Personal assistants aren’t for the richest and most successful among us, they’re for you. Behind every Elon Musk or Bill Gates is one, or perhaps even several personal assistants that keep track of meetings, take notes from important discussions, highlight things they need to be directly aware of, and take care of the things that don’t need to clutter the boss’s desk
. That way, people like Elon can focus on big-picture issues like insulting people on Twitter, and Bill can focus on his divorce.
There is, however, no getting around the fact that hiring a PA when you don’t need one is simply wasteful. So how do you know? What questions should you be asking yourself to figure out whether the expense is a waste or an invaluable investment in your business?
How are things at home?
No, really. Have you got time for home? You have the same 24 hours a day that everybody else does, and if you can’t get 8 hours of quality sleep, time to relax, time to socialise and maybe get some exercise in as well as run a successful business, you should.
Busy days or weeks happen to all of us, but when it’s your life rather than a particularly crazy week, then things need to change. A personal assistant can help lighten the load by helping take care of minor tasks. They can schedule meetings and make sure you aren’t double-booked as well as keep track of tasks that you have delegated to employees and follow up when necessary. A good PA that you trust and who knows how you roll can even be relied upon to respond to minor emails or sit in on a meeting and tell you how it went.
All these tasks and a dozen others can be taken on by your PA and help save you time so that you have time to be a human being, not a human doing.
Are tasks running away from you?
A to-do list is a simple and proven way to help you keep track of what’s going on and what needs doing. Ticking tasks off that list shows that things are getting done, but what happens when the list is growing faster than you can tick things off?
That’s a problem and a warning sign that you have too much on your plate. PA’s help here too. They can keep track of that list for you. Adding things as necessary and removing them when completed. And as we’ve mentioned before, your PA can take on some of the tasks from that list, sharing the load and helping you focus on the more important issues that require your insight, while your PA handles tasks like organising the end of year party.
How’s that schedule looking?
If the first word out of your mouth is ‘um…’ then a PA might be a good idea. Even if your to-do list is under control, you may find yourself double-booking yourself or even plain forgetting about a meeting or call. It can get worse if you wear some different hats. Running one business is hard enough, being involved in several projects at once, all with their project management software and communications methods and you’ll quickly find yourself overwhelmed. That’s not ideal and can hurt working relationships as well as lead to you losing out on valuable opportunities.
A PA can manage that for you. They can schedule meetings when they know you’re free, make sure you have some gaps in between meetings so that you have a chance to grab lunch or even just take a breather after sitting at your desk for a few hours. They can also make sure that your day is organised neatly. For example, you could ask that all meetings for business A are scheduled in the morning, and all meetings regarding business B for the afternoon, allowing you to simplify your day and make things less confusing.
They can also help you keep that schedule. It’s virtually a given that at least one of your meetings or calls every day will run overtime. A PA can knock on your door to let you know you have other things to get to. Sometimes calls go overtime for a reason, and things can’t be cut short. In that case, your PA can reshuffle calendars for you and keep you organised even when things don’t go according to plan.
In short, a PA helps take some of the work off your back so that you don’t become overburdened with small tasks that could easily be done by someone else. They’re an extra set of hands that help steer the ship no matter how stormy the waters.
So perhaps you’ve read this and decided you do need a PA. What now? You can’t ask your PA to deal with it because you haven’t got one yet, you may hire one conventionally, but in the age of Covid and the renaissance of remote working, there are many virtual personal assistants available. Not Siri, but actual people working remotely to support your business.
There are many of these services to consider with varying price points and varying levels of assistance. Both SmartPA and Virtalent are worth considering. Check carefully, make your decision, and watch your work life ease up!