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Thinking About Hiring a Virtual Assistant? Read This!

When your VA goes Gone Girl

CC Flickr/Corbis
Source: CC Flickr/Corbis

As I’ve been spending hour after hour doing office work, I’m reminded of comic Gary Muleteer’s great line: “Do you ever just feel like peeing on the incoming mail?”

Yes! If I had the right equipment, I just might.

All of us creative types know that when we get to perform, it’s a joy. But too much of our time is taken up with soul sucking hours in front of a computer—answering emails, trying to remove weird things from websites and even weirder things from credit reports, getting distracted by checking auctions on eBay, and reading blogs we either forget or wish we’d written ourselves. “Entrepreneur” is a French word that translates to “I work in my underwear.” I’m working at breakfast. I’m working all the freakin’ time.

Then, voila! A month ago a friend suggested I hire a Virtual Assistant. My very own VA!

“What a great idea,” I thought. I could hire someone in some far away time zone, so when I wake up, all my office work will be finished. It will be a dream come true. The hell with a prince, I found myself singing, “Someday my VA will come!”

The only problem was my friend refused to share her VA, so I had to find my own. Like everything else, that turned into a full time job. I posted on Elance, Skype interviewed people from everywhere with a variety of backgrounds, ran credit reports, and finally found someone who spoke English. Only then was I able to take a shower and get dressed.

Our first session was difficult; her baby wouldn’t stop crying. But, she was able to nurse and type all at the same time—that’s pretty impressive, if you ask me. (But perhaps we should have turned off the video feed, which would have meant I could have stayed in my underwear!)

The next step was training her. She had to catch onto my style, become familiar with my computer programs, and start answering emails. That too took a full month of training. While I was busy showing her the ropes, everything was piling up. That meant I had to get up at 5 AM to get work done before training my VA. I knew it would be worth it once she took over.

Alas, the day came where I could finally be free to focus on the fun, creative part. My VA would take care of the bills, write contracts, and all the other nonsensical busy work I found myself consumed by. This was the first day of the rest of my life and I rushed to my computer, excited to see my empty inbox, only to find there were tons of emails waiting for me. On our next Skype call, my VA told me that she had an anxiety attack and had to take off. This was the first I was hearing about the condition. I understood and suggested Xanax. Then I reviewed the tasks, told her to give it a go, and did something I hadn’t done in 6 months: I went to a movie.

The next morning, my inbox was overwhelmed with triple the usual content. Contracts had not been prepared, and my VA stood me up at what was to be our Skype meeting.

All she had to do was walk from her bedroom to her desk. How can you possibly be late for that? There was no conceivable excuse. She couldn’t say, “I tried to reach you.” After all I can be texted, faxed, Skyped, tweeted, voxed, facebooked, and emailed. It’s not as if we’d been communicating through the Psychic Network.

This was a mess…virtually. Two days later, I got an email saying she had had to help her mother with an estate sale and she would see me later that day. That didn’t happen. So, instead of getting my work done, I got a fully trained woman who’s out there in the world with all my passwords. Lucky me.

Now, where did I put that Xanax?

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About the Author
Judy Carter

Judy Carter, is the author of The Message of You and The Comedy Bible. She speaks and writes on finding happiness when you're stressed and broke.

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