A month or two went by after my conversation with Vanessa.. (or so it felt)
I kept thinking about this wonderful magical unicorn like person called a “Virtual Assistant”, which I had read in books existed, but, since I had never really seen one, could not believe existed.
As I thought about the VA, I also slowly realized why I had panicked: I was simply scared that no one could do the tasks as well as I could – even though I dreaded doing them (and at the same time I was actually blind to the fact that I could be quite terrible at them).
I got back to Vanessa to have her introduce me to GetFriday, which she so fondly recommended.
Some of my initial concerns was among these:
- How about privacy of sensitive information (credit cards, logins, etc.)
- Are they any good?
- What happens if something goes wrong?
- What if they don’t know how to do the tasks?
- Will they overcharge?
- How much will it cost?
- And a lot of other concerns
Getting to Friday
The initial meeting was done over Skype with Mahesh who was to become my teamlead/manager at GetFriday. The Skype meeting was an absolute pleasure. The level at which Mahesh asked questions to my business was nothing short of excellent. He went the extra mile in understanding what I needed help within the business.
I had been recommended a particular VA at GetFriday, which was the one Vanessa used and I asked if it was possible to get the same assistant as her. Mahesh then, after understanding the tasks I need help with, went on to explain me that this VA actually wouldn’t be the right fit as the tasks I needed help with, didn’t match the specialties of this VA.
This alone made me trust GetFriday even more as they didn’t just comply with my wishes but made an effort in getting me the right VA. After the Skype call Mahesh got back to and I was assigned with a VA as well as instructions on how to best introduce GetFriday to my tasks.
The challenges of putting my mind to writing
You may very well be more aware of what you do on a daily basis than I was at the time, but it came as a surprise to me how many steps of the tasks I did, involved what I would call internalized knowledge and automated behavior.
Let me give a concrete example of this: One of the monthly tasks that GetFriday now handles is structuring the invoices for my accountant. I would look at an invoice and immediately know how to choose the filename for it so the accountant would know where it belonged in the accounting. Also, I’d convert it to a PDF and know in which folder to put it.
This may sound quite simple, but when I had to describe it, I discovered a lot of small steps were involved. Steps that involved information which was in my head like:
- How does another person know what to name the file?
- How would anyone know the right folder to put it in?
- Also, any exceptions to the rules where I’d add extra information
And this was just a simple task. I quickly realised I had a huge responsibility in describing the tasks and making sure the information was available – or I’d just make someone else’s workday nightmare. And that I didn’t want to happen.
It took more hours than I thought, because I had quite a few tasks and processes. But, it was huge relief getting all this information out of my head and into workflows.
My super-awesome assistant
My assistant at GetFriday is Jaya. I’m not afraid to name-drop as she’s awesome. Really super awesome.
In the back of my mind I had a voice still worried about all the “exceptions” and “processes I might not have described well enough,” and the first time I sent a task description to Jaya I received an email back.
She had found a question to the task and just wanted to know if she’d understood it correctly and how to move on with it – and was totally my fault! Here I thought I had described it thoroughly and still there was information in my head. She’d “caught” me and wasn’t afraid to ask. Amazing! So I had to redo part of the process to get it right.
And this still continues to happen – I map out a process and Jaya is on-the-spot and let’s me know if something is missing. That is such a valuable thing to have happen! This is what really amazed me about GetFriday; the level of service they provide!