Virtual Assistants don’t have to be the Jack/Jill of all trades.

I posted this some time ago but it is still very much relevant today as it was back then. I can’t say enough how important it is to drill down on what works best for you to focus on, but finding your niche is critical for any know ND of longevity in this administrative industry. Enjoy.

Sometimes Virtual Assistants go into things with all the best intentions but there are times when more is needed than just an intention. As virtual assistants we have been proud to say that we can do pretty much anything but what we should also remember is that we have limitations. These limitations are not just our skill set but also the physical aspect of time. There are not enough hours in the day to do everything at our best.

It is the sign of a good virtual assistant to know what they can do and what they do well. There are many VA’s that out of necessity have become the Jack or Jill of all tasks and skills and are very competent . But then there are those also who are not so competent but refuse to admit it. As VA’s it is our responsibility to portray ourselves in the very best light and always give our 100% best.

Virtual assistants should look at their skill sets and master those that they excel in. In other words they should specialise in areas that they do their best work. Don’t just be a virtual assistant that does everything but say exactly what you specialise in. In the long run you will see the benefits and it will make you more focused on the direction that your marketing, ads and networking will take.

So take the time to focus on your skill sets and pinpoint those skills that you are exceptional at and make that the focus of the service that you will be offering to your clients. Once you have that down you will definitely see the difference in your schedule, time and client satisfaction.

Althea – Virtually Yours P.A.

Robots on the rise – Is your job at risk?


There has always been some worry that robots will take over the jobs that many flesh and blood workers do, and in some instances this has been the case. In the automotive industry and practically any industry that deals with assembly of products this has been the case but there are some industries that need the human touch to get things done.

Robots have long been a worry for the workforce that they would loose their jobs to robots. The hard labor intensive jobs in many factories, food processing plants and large industrial fields have been automated to some extent, but for the administrative industry this is very unlikely to happen. In the administrative industry the human aspect is something that cannot be replaced. While you can program a computer to type as you speak they can only be programmed for one speaker at a time and in some cases are virtually useless if that speaker has a very heavy accent of any origin.

Transcription is one of these jobs that is unlikely to be taken over by an automated system. While a computer would be able to transcribe known words, when it comes to slang, people who mumble, and accents the human ear is still the best. That human aspect is important in transcription as we don’t always speak in perfect sentences, we use slang, and change mid-sentence or mid-thought quite often.

Administration is an industry that will always be humanized and robots if necessary will only be used in limited ways. So when it comes to the administrative industry Administrators, Virtual Assistants, Transcribers, Translators,  the human touch will always be in demand.

Have an awesome day.

Time Management for the Self-Employed

Reposted written by: Anthony Caruana @
I came across this post and thought it would be a good one to share. Personally I don’t use a whiteboard as suggested but with the various smart phone apps and google calender, the result is the same.

If you’re self-employed and work from home, staying productive can be a huge challenge. When you’re home, it’s easy to stretch out a cup of coffee with a snack. And then that turns into a quick bite in front of the TV and next thing you know, the morning has disappeared.

When I started freelancing, this was a huge challenge for me so I had to come up with a system that kept me on track.

I’ve settled on a multi-pronged approach that fits into my work habits and personal preferences that gives me flexibility but the motivation to stay on task.

My main planning tool is my whiteboard. It’s low tech but it works. The board is ruled up with a column for each day of the work week. I don’t schedule work for weekends unless it’s completely unavoidable. Each day is divided in half.

At the end of each week I plan my time in half day blocks for the following week and put them on the board. I tried to doing this with an online calendar but too often it was buried under other windows on my screen. I need to have something I can look up to regularly. And, because it’s on a whiteboard, it’s easy to add stuff that spans days, I can use different colours and moving things is quick.

The second planning tool I have is my to-do list system. This uses both high and low tech parts.

One the high tech side, I use an electronic to-do app called Producteev [Producteev]. There are so many apps of this type that it doesn’t really matter which one you pick as long as it works for you. I like Producteev because it has a multi-platform app, has browser access and lets me email tasks to myself. The key thing is that when a new piece of work comes in or I have something to do I add it to Producteev with a deadline.

That to-do list also holds recurring tasks like monthly bills that can’t be automatically paid, upcoming deadlines and things that need to followed up.

Each morning, I look at Producteev and transpose today’s tasks to a paper list that sits by my right hand all day. I know that this is double-handling but it solves two problems for me.

It puts today’s work within easy reach rather than on an application window that might be hidden behind other work and it gives me the physical sensation of putting a line through a task. It does mean that I have to update my online list as well, but that’s a pretty quick and easy task that only takes a few moments.

So, how do you manage you day’s work? How do you stay on task when there are a thousand things you’d rather be doing?

Maintaining Workplace Motivation when Working from Home –

Motivation working at home

Working from home can mean working alone for some WAHMs, and workplace motivation can be difficult to come by when your work place is the kitchen and there’s no boss to pat you on the back or to give you that push when you need it. While working from home is not for everyone, a need to stay motivated in the workplace is common to us all. These tips for maintaining the harmony between motivation and productivity will help you push through those tough days, and reach your goals:

Create a Workable Workspace

When you work from a company’s office, everything you require to be productive is provided for you. Be sure to create a home office that allows you to get as much done as possible in a day. You’ll lose time and stamina if you are constantly running to the local printing shop to fax this and copy that. Additionally, try to work with the space you have to create an atmosphere you enjoy being in. Make sure to include a comfortable chair, office accessories, a favorite plant, framed pictures of or drawings from the kids, and of course, a spot to sit your must-have warm beverage. When you like your surroundings, you won’t mind working in them for hours. Just be sure you are away from distractions like the television. You may also want to be out of ear shot of the door, in case someone wants to drop in because you are “always home”.

Have a Personal Cheer Leading Squad

Despite the abundance of individuals working from home, some people still don’t get the idea. You’ll find plenty of these types of people and they can be huge motivation killers. That is why having a support system, a personal cheer leading squad, is so important. No matter how determined you are, the day will come when you’ll need someone to cheer you on. Your family is the ideal squad. Including them in your work life will help them gain a better understanding of how real your job is, and they’ll be better equipped to offer you support in meeting your goals.

If you are working for a company that allows for more social interaction, whether it be on the phone or through email, take advantage of that and get to know your virtual colleagues. They will undoubtedly understand what you experience on a daily basis as you attempt to work from home successfully. A last resort, but an absolutely wonderful one, is connecting with those from all different work from home aspects through forums. When it comes to workplace motivation, this is as good as it gets for those working from a home office.

Don’t Overwork Yourself

When you first start working from home, it’s all too easy to overwork yourself. If you’re the type that likes to push yourself, be careful. You can easily go from loving what you do to dreading the start of your day. Create a schedule and stick to it. Avoid checking your email “one last time” and finish up when you said you would. You’ll feel better and your family will appreciate the time they get to spend with you.

Workplace motivation is a necessity. Few individuals can be truly productive without it, and you should know that just because you work from home, it doesn’t mean you’re alone.


Maintaining Workplace Motivation when Working from Home –

FREE advice for marketing a small business.

If like me you like to be in the know about how things work or what’s out there to help you succeed, then here is an opportunity for you. Smart Simple Marketing will be offering free 10 minute coffee break advice to everyone simply by listening to their podcasts.

For more information please follow the link to their post Marketing a Small Business in 2012: Free Coffee Break Advice

Althea – Virtually Yours PA

Keeping your profiles current

As I write today I’m taking a break from doing a task that I have been putting off for a few weeks, updating my profiles on various sites.

When starting out I created profiles on so many sites and now as I go back to some of them it just proves how much I have developed and expanded in the last three years. I have been providing virtual services for a while but in 2006 decided to dedicate most of my time to making is more of a career rather than a hobby. In doing so I have educated myself with various courses and read so much that sometimes it took over my working schedule, however that is all behind me and now I have been on a path that has been leading to continued growth, it is small but consistent.

So in keeping with my continued growth it is time to clean up those profiles on sites that I wish to keep informed about what is happening, and those that I don’t visit or find useful I will just get rid of. It is time for change, unification and above all streamlining my online presence into a more coherent one.

This is something that I think we should all do as online professionals, keep our presence coherent because eventually that becomes our brand online. So take a look at all those profiles and delete the ones you don’t find valuable and update the ones that are. This will take time but in the end it will be worth while.

Have a great week.

Virtually Yours PA

Communication is key.

Communication is key when working with clients.

The last few weeks have been very busy managing work with the activities of two sons 7 and 9. Because of this it has been hard managing some of the aspects of my Virtual Assistant business, and my blog. It’s times like this when I truly appreciate scheduling my time and having understanding clients when I have to re-arrange a deadline.

As I’ve said before communication is a very powerful tool, telling your clients the state of play with the projects that they entrust to you is one of the main reasons why your clients will always consider you first before going somewhere else. When you take the time to communicate and update clients you show that you are honest, committed and above all taking responsibility for your actions and your work load. There are many times when VAs just let deadlines pass and not inform clients why or when their project will be ready. This can be very frustrating and as someone who has personally experienced this, it is maddening not knowing if your work has been started, and if you need to rearrange your time to do the job yourself.

Communication is key and for any VA out there who would like to even be remotely successful and keep clients then they should make communication their focus second to completing the job and staying on target with their deadlines.

Have a great weekend.