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The Value of a Virtual Assistant

You have your own small business, and it’s wonderful. Sure, there’s a lot to keep track of, but you’re totally on top of it all. You have a planner, and a digital calendar, a second digital calendar, and of course there’s the notepad. 3 of them. Plus whatever notes you take on your phone. You’ve got a home office, and you’ve got a small space that you rent in a building with a shared kitchen that feels like a regular professional office. Today is a ‘go into the professional office’ day. But before you even head out the door – the phone rings.

You chat as you jot down some notes in the notebook in your home office as you don’t have your computer up and running yet. There’s some updated information for a project, and the meeting has been postponed.

You hang up the phone, head out, and arrive at the building. Before going to your desk, you detour to the kitchen to get your preferred caffeinated beverage of choice (I prefer tea, but there’s a rumor that some people actually like coffee). You set everything up to brew, and…

Phone rings.

Chat as you head to your desk, get your laptop started and take some notes, agree to meet again next Tuesday. You’re about to mark it down on the calendar, but….

Email inbox dings.

Respond, agree to give a presentation. About to mark it down on calendar, but…

Phone rings.

Chat, why yes, you would be delighted to collaborate on this project! Briefly discuss details, and agree to check your schedule to set up a time to discuss it further.

You reach for your mug, only to discover it’s empty. But you remembered brewing your favorite caffeinated beverage? Oh right, it’s back in the kitchen. You take your empty mug to the kitchen, wash it out, set it out to dry, and head back to your desk to check your schedule to set up that last meeting. And the one before it. You get to your desk, and…

Email inbox dings.

It’s a follow up regarding the project you’re currently working on. You give the update, hit send, and that reminds you that you wanted to finish up that one section you’d been working on yesterday. 45 minutes later something feels off and you realize you still have not had your morning caffeine. Back to the kitchen to discover that the water has gone cold or someone else has used it all. Restart the process, remember that you need to schedule the meeting for next Tuesday still, and dash off to your desk to mark it on the calendar and send out the invite. And there was another thing you needed to mark on the calendar, wasn’t there? Oh right, yes, the collaboration. You check your schedule and your colleague’s schedule and set up a meeting time.

You’re forgetting something else. A calendar alert pops up reminding you that you have a meeting in 10 minutes. Not a problem! It’s remote and you just need to log in and wait for everyone else, and your caffeine! It’s still in the kitchen and you KNOW you will need it for this meeting. You dash off to the kitchen, retrieve your mug of caffeinated goodness, get back to your desk and log in and … wait, what? Why isn’t it working? There’s an update to the software that is happening automatically and you can’t stop it and now you’re going to be late to your own meeting?!

You send off a quick email to inform the meeting attendees as to what is happening while staring helplessly at your screen, waiting for the update to finalize. 10 minutes later, you breath a sigh of relief as you are finally able to log in. And reset your password. And verify your password. That alert you just heard was one of your colleagues texting about the meeting. You take a deep breath, paste on a fake smile, and cheerfully greet everyone and thank them for being so patient and isn’t technology a wonderful thing? Fortunately everyone is very accommodating. Except for Bob. Bob is a smug, impatient jerk who promptly bragged that his assistant had taken care of that update for him so he didn’t need to worry about it. The way this morning has been going, it’s probably for the best that Bob is on the other side of a computer screen so that you aren’t tempted to ‘accidentally’ trip and spill the contents of your mug on him. Speaking of, time to drink that wonderful caffeinated heated water. Where did you set your mug down?

Meeting ends, and you get started on finishing up that project you’d been working on earlier. And then you start to dig through the 15 additional emails that have cropped up. Time for more caffeine. This time you carefully keep track of it. Set pot up to brew, rinse out your mug, pour a cup of the precious liquid, and start to head back to your desk. Halfway there you get called over by a colleague to chat about a presentation the two of you will be giving at a conference in a month. Something about the date of the conference is bothering you. You check your phone, and the calendar on there shows the conference. But when you get back to your desk, you realize it’s not showing on your other calendar. The other calendar is showing a different event. Crap. OK, that was a professional growth seminar, so you cancel your attendance at that one (it will be offered again in a few months anyway) and schedule in the conference. Phew. Disaster averted. … what does your planner show for that day? The planner that is currently sitting on your desk in your home office?

Now you’re feeling slightly obsessive and going through both of your digital calendars to make sure they line up with each other. They do not, and you spend the remainder of your day checking through them, and checking your inbox, to make sure that all meetings and events and conferences are scheduled and updated. Which is when you remember those notebooks. Probably should check in there as well, because you might have maybe possibly noted meetings that needed to happen or things you had agreed to that haven’t made it onto the calendar yet? Sure enough, you find several more. What about those other two notebooks, sitting next to the planner at home? Deep breaths. This is fine. You’re still on top of everything. Maybe you should take a day to go through everything and make sure it’s all in order.

Somewhere, sitting alone and forgotten in the shared workspace, is your now very cold cup of caffeine.

72 hours, 3 cups of lost caffeine, 5 more that you succeeded in drinking, and 12 ignored phone calls later (it’s the weekend, so it was safe to ignore those calls, right?), and after going through and double checking everything twice, you think you caught everything. You hope you caught everything. You recall Bob and his smugness. His comment about having an assistant. An assistant to help keep track of your scheduling would be wonderful, wouldn’t it? But you can’t justify hiring someone full time for that, so maybe part time? You take another look at your calendar(s). You definitely do not have the time to go through the entire process of interviewing and hiring someone. If only there was another option. Like, maybe, a small company that specializes in virtual assistants. People who could help set up and coordinate meetings for you. Who could be your part time executive assistant when you need one. Someone who could organize your inbox for you and synch up your two calendars because you know there’s a way to do it but you haven’t had the time to sit down and figure it out yet. Someone who could maybe remind you about that cup of caffeine that is still sitting on the counter, patiently waiting for you.

Conveniently, SML does all of these things. And if you like tea, we’ll even provide recommendations as to the best kind to get.


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