Day #27: How to Give a Task to My Virtual Assistant?

This question came to me from Paul Tran, and is fantastic!  We already looked at project management from a high level perspective, but how do you actually give tasks to your virtual assistant, and what do you say?

Lay out the expectations first

Aside from the initial email that I send, I also make it clear to my virtual assistants that they need to think and that I don't have time for lots of questions.  Here's what I tell my crew:

  • I tell you what I want, you find a way to make it happen.
  • If you can't figure something out, it's okay to ask me for guidance, but don't ask me before trying to figure it out yourself.
  • Don't worry about being wrong, if I don't like it I'll tell you.  Don't take it personally.
  • You ability to think on your own and take the initiative is more important to me than anything else.

Let you VA know that IT'S OKAY TO THINK AND TRY NEW THINGS.  Don't let them feel as though they will be fired if they mess up.

Be specific, but not too specific

Hopefully you've already made training for your guys on your important tasks.  If not, if you give a task that requires a special skill it'll be tough to just tell them to figure it out.

If it's a simple task, I'd do something like the following example:

Hi Sam,

Today I need you to do some research for me.  It's going to be for an article that I'm writing that's due at the end of the week.  Here's what needs to be done:

  1. Go to and place an advertisement for entrepreneurs that have successfully used virtual assistants to market their business.  Subscribe to HARO to see how typical ads are submitted.
  2. Gather as many interviewees as possible and the ones that sound interesting, ask them to submit a full story to you.
  3. Do some Internet research and get some case studies that match the HARO ad.
  4. Look for some VA gurus, and email them asking if they'd be willing to answer some questions (I'll send you them in another email).
  5. When you are done, compile everything you have in an article format and submit to me within the next 3 days.



After sending that, save it because you'll probably use it again in some form or another.  If you have a project management tool like Manymoon, you can put the tasks in there with deadlines.

If you need to spell it out, find another VA

The point of hiring a VA is to leverage their skills to save time and to make money.  If you constantly have to spell out tasks for your VA, find another one.  There are VAs out there that need little guidance , that's what you need as a business owner.  My though on this is, what would you do if you hired someone locally and all they did was ask you how to get things done?