After running this blog for about 18 months, I came to the realization that things had to change. Between my family life with my full-time (and amazingly gifted) wife and our three kids, my main job as a full-time anesthesiologist, and all of my non-clinical responsibilities – it was starting to become a bit overwhelming. That’s about the time that Peter at Passive Income MD mentioned a virtual assistant to me. I’d recently received an email from someone I knew and trusted who had a family member who was looking for VA work. After considering it for a while, I took the dive into the VA world – and I cannot imagine going back. So, if you are curious what virtual assistant services exist, this post can help you out.
Having a VA has personally saved me hours each week. Precious hours that I now get to spend with my kids and wife. A time that I used to feel that I should be spending on other things that needed to get done. Working with a VA has been worth every penny.
This post, which was originally written and published on Passive Income MD, is in full-support of help from VA’s. If you decide to use one, I bet you will be in full support of them, too.
Top 5 Ways a Virtual Assistant Improves My Life
As I’ve really started to focus on maximizing my net time (which is the free time left over after working, obligations/chores, commuting, necessary sleep, and things I don’t enjoy), I’ve found myself using more and more virtual assistants in my life.
Why? Because time is the most valuable thing out there.
Time is something that we are unable to produce more of, so we need to be actively making sure we are getting the most out of what we have.
Physicians actually have quite a bit of professional experience with outsourcing help. For example, imagine running a private practice. Would you be able to see patients, while you take phone calls to schedule patients, then do the billing and call insurance companies, and also handle all the patient’s paperwork?
The business would suffer because you’re only one person, and with so many tasks, you’d ultimately become the limiting factor.
The same goes for anyone who runs a business. I’ve actively sought out what kind of systems entrepreneurs have in place to leverage their time and also make sure they maintain a good life balance. They all outsource help. So I decided to do the same.
Now at first, it was weird to me to hire an assistant. It’s still kind of strange to tell people that I have an assistant. Like, how important do I think I am that I need that kind of help?
However, now that I have become accustomed to life with one, I’ve realized that we all have opportunities to optimize what little time we have. We just have to figure out what works best.
So, let’s move ahead with the biggest question I get asked about virtual assistants (VAs); which is not where I find them, but really, what do I have them do? Are there enough ‘things’ in my life or yours to justify having one?
Well, here are 5 things that that I use virtual assistants for that definitely do improve my life:
1) Managing My Schedule
My schedule used to be a lot simpler before businesses and children, but now my schedule is full of different work obligations, calls/meetings, and family events.
At first, it seemed kinda silly that I couldn’t manage my own calendar. However, in trying to manage my career as a physician, run Curbside Real Estate, operate Passive Income MD, and involving myself in various other ventures, coordinating it all has become a huge operation.
On average, I’m involved in 10-15 meetings a week, some shorter, some longer. I know, this doesn’t sound very passive, but they pay dividends for years to follow.
I try to have as many lunch dates with my wife as possible and take my daughter to school/classes/lessons. Also, I try to find some time to do things I enjoy like getting together with friends and playing golf.
It’s nice to have someone to help me coordinate it all. They have access to my schedule and when things come up, they make sure everything I want to do can fit into my schedule and most importantly, doesn’t conflict.
It’s just one less thing I have to worry about.
2) Making Calls and Appointments
Well, not only do they help me coordinate my schedule, but they also help me add important activities into the schedule as well.
One of the biggest “time sucks” in life is making appointments, especially if you hate sitting on hold. Sure, you can do other things, but your attention is always slightly diverted. I love those services where you can leave your number and they’ll call you back, but there aren’t always those opportunities.
So the simple act of calling to set doctor’s appointments, vet visits, scheduling the plumber or handyman, painters, etc. is something that I now outsource as much as possible.
I also like to plan events on occasion, like meetups for Passive Income Docs. It takes a decent amount of legwork to figure out where there’s availability, what they can accommodate, and how much it costs.
Having someone take care of these things is a big help. I have them organize it on spreadsheets as well for future reference.
Although some of these tasks aren’t huge time consumers, the time will quickly start to add up.
3) Planning Trips
I actually used to enjoy planning trip logistics, but that was mainly for vacations. This year I’ve dedicated myself to learning and networking as much as I can, so every month it seems that I’m off to a conference or event somewhere. That’s a lot of flights and hotel reservations.
So now I have someone arrange these trips for me. I give my assistant my criteria, times, etc. and they come back to me with a couple of great options. I choose the one I want and they book it for me.
Sure you can do that on certain websites like Kayak and Expedia, but you still have to coordinate times and hunt a bit for a specific itinerary or bargain price. The time all adds up. Not to mention, if it’s international, it gets even more complicated.
Some people love planning their own trips especially if they’re very particular about how they spend their time on those trips.
My wife and I love to plan our vacations around where we’re going to eat, so for that part we’ll take some time to research. We’ll use an assistant to help us book reservations. In terms of the rest of the trip, we’re happy to let someone plan it for us around our basic preferences and use that time to be more productive.
4) Data Entry, Managing Spreadsheets, and Bookkeeping
For Curbside, I’m dealing with hundreds of physicians at a time and trying to make sure all of them are getting the support they need. We also need to make sure all of their contact info is current so we can reach out to them appropriately.
We use something called a CRM or Customer Relationship Management system to keep it all together. I rely heavily on VAs to keep that organized and manage it.
We also use a ton of spreadsheets for everything. Just keeping those organized in the right folders and making sure they’re up to date is a huge task.
If you run your own business, you also know how tedious bookkeeping can be. Sure there are some great options online that automatically connect your credit cards or bank accounts. But, unfortunately, the software isn’t smart enough yet, and you will need someone to reconcile all the spending and expenses.
I would rather that be my VA and keep track of it all so I can save time.
As you know, businesses are all about profit and reconciling losses, so it’s important to have someone who’s able to put it all together for you and present it for analysis.
5) Help With My Blog
I use a virtual assistant to do some of the more non-essential portions of the blog. I create the content but then I hand it off to someone for them to put it into WordPress, format it, do a last minute proofread for mistakes, place/link in-content ads, make sure keywords are put in for SEO, schedule social media announcements of my blog, etc.
As the blog grew, I found myself spending less and less time on the things I enjoy the most which are making sure valuable content gets created and spending time interacting with the community. So I decided to get help for it, and it’s totally changed my workflow.
In fact, if you’re reading this, someone did their job well. Thanks, VAs!
Can’t I Just Do It Myself?
I often get asked, wouldn’t I save money by just doing everything myself? Sure, getting help costs money, but the tradeoff is the time that they save me. And I value my time most of all.
It’s the same reason I get property managers my rental properties. I didn’t buy them to spend time managing them. I invested in them to free up my time and the only way to make that happen is to outsource the management.
So having virtual assistants allows me to spend the time on things I believe are more important in terms of my businesses. This includes making sure they’re operating smoothly and figuring out ways to make it better and more valuable for our readers and clients.
I also use that freed up time to spend with my wife and kids. Sure, that’s not doing anything to improve my businesses, but this is the ultimate reason for it all. So it’s actually quite hard to put a value on it.
I believe life is all about learning to leverage your time as best as possible. We all have the same amount of time in a day, so my goal is to utilize each hour as best as possible to enhance my life and the lives of those around me.
Virtual assistants help me to do that. Although at times it’s been hard to give up control and delegate, forcing myself to do so is actually one of the best life decisions I’ve made.