Housekeeping before Hiring a VA
I've written about how to hire a VA. If you don't already work with someone who manages parts of your life, it can be a bit chaotic. There's a high chance that I have ADHD based on my family history, and my personal processes reflect that. Passing this off to someone else is a challenge. If the process only exists in your head, it'll be hard for someone else to do it.
If you're an individual (as opposed to a business with employees) onboarding is probably not something you are used to. The process is simple. Make a checklist of the things your VA needs access to. For example:
- Email account
- Password manager
- Stripe account
- WordPress account
- Bank accounts
I highly recommend using a managed email system like Protonmail or Google Workspaces. If your VA moves on, you can discontinue their email (or forward it to a new VA). All their subsequent accounts should be linked to that email address. I recommend storing this list in a tool like Notion which can serve as an internal documentation tool for your personal processes.
Spreadsheets can feel like busywork. But they come in handy at certain times. For example, let's say you have to collect rent on a home. You might look in your bank account occasionally and make sure things look right, but that process can be error-prone. A better process is to make a spreadsheet with columns:
- Date Due
- Date received
- Rent due
- Rent received
- Rent discounted
For some people this is a lot of work (me), for others, it's not too bad. For a virtual assistant, it might be their job. These types of spreadsheets can be useful later, so keep them around. There are hidden benefits:
- You can keep track of things when don't add up and take care of them ASAP
- You can do year-end accounting fairly easily.
- You can work with someone else
The last point is the most important. At any time, someone else can check up on your work and make sure things are working fine. Spreadsheets don't need to be just for rent. They can also can be used for scheduled blog posts, medical claims, or anything that needs to be collaborated on.
I prefer Google spreadsheets for this task, as it's easy to share and can do a lot of spreadsheet math.
Think about the things you do that you might want a VA to do:
- Research companies
- Submit medical claims
- Make appointments
Whatever your repeated task is, break that down into a playbook. A list of instructions that can be passed to someone else with a clear outcome.
For example, if you want your assistant to submit medical claims, list clearly what they need to do. Here's a detailed example:
- Check my calendar to find all the doctors appointments for the last 3 months.
- Add them to a spreadsheet (see above).
- Mark a field if the provider is out of network
- Find the invoices in Dropbox, or forwarded via email.
- Submit them to UnitedHealthcare's website using the password in Lastpass
- Check on claims in the UnitedHealthcare, and update the spreadsheet
- Notify me of anything that's missing.
This is a repeatable task, and having it written down and in a spreadsheet can make it a little more organized for yourself, and makes it possible to hand it to someone else. Do this for anything that you might do on a regular basis.
I keep these types of playbooks in Notion.
Passwords and Account access
I don't like sharing accounts. So if possible I set mail forwarding rules, and have a few passwords in a shared password manager.
This allows me to share passwords with my VA, but it also lets me rotate passwords when they leave.
Use a password manager. It is good for you, and it'll keep you safe.
Better if the tools let you add separate accounts. For example, if I can add my VA's email to my accounting software, that's much better than them getting my password.
Better housekeeping will make your life a little more organized and let your virtual assistant more able to assist you. Spreadsheets, playbooks, and password managers are great ways to share your workload safely with someone who can help you.