Are you at the point where you might need some help, but you’re not sure yet who you need?
Executive assistants are an invaluable resource for taking critical tasks off your plate and freeing your time for other things. You can expect an executive assistant will get to know you very well and anticipate what you need, often before you’ve thought of it yourself.
A common question people ask is, am I ready for an executive assistant right now? We’ve compiled the signs that an assistant should be your next hire:
#1. Your emails and calendar are out of control
We’ve all got busy inboxes these days, but if yours is piling up beyond what you can manage, it’s a good sign you need an assistant in your life! We’ve seen busy executives with backlogs for weeks, but a good executive assistant can sort through, help to prioritize and take care of anything that doesn’t absolutely require your input.
Executive assistants can answer basic queries and redirect any emails that shouldn’t really be going to you. They’ll also make sure you know about the “FYIs” you were supposed to see and anything that needs your prompt attention.
As for your calendar, do you find that you have so many things going on that you’re never too sure what is happening when? An executive assistant becomes a gatekeeper for your calendar and ensures that it has some logical order. For example, perhaps you prefer to group “like” appointments or tasks together so that your brain doesn’t have to switch tracks. Your assistant can help you to work out the most efficient schedule for you.
#2. You can’t take breaks (or time off)
Speaking of calendars, one thing that EVERYONE needs is scheduled time to take breaks, including time off or vacation time. Psychology Today compiled some excellent research into why breaks are so necessary, including;
- Preventing “decision fatigue.” This happens when you have to make such frequent decisions throughout your day that it wears down your willpower and reasoning ability. If you’ve ever answered a question with something like “just pick whatever,” then you probably know what this means!
- Breaks help to restore your motivation for long-term goals. Research shows that when you’ve been working strenuously toward something, briefly taking your mind off it for a break helps to renew your energy toward it.
- “Waking rest” helps to consolidate learning and memories. Have you ever been so busy your mind “blanks” on things?
- Breaks increase your productivity and creativity.
- Breaks for movement are essential for both your physical and emotional health. Spending all day at a desk is simply not good for you.
An executive assistant can help you to take control of your calendar so that you do get essential breaks. They can also take a lot off your plate so that you feel better about taking real time off.
#3. You spend a lot of time on the “doing”
Sometimes you feel like you’re juggling a lot of balls and all of them are tasks that “must” be done. The chances are they do need doing, it’s just you’re not necessarily the best person to be doing it.
Your time could be spent on the things that define working “on” rather than “in” your business. For example, strategy measures for growth or for retention of customers. When you get caught in the weeds of “doing”, you have much less time for key strategy initiatives, often to the point where things just tick along as they have been.
#4. You’ve dropped the ball
Something’s happened. Maybe you got so busy that you forgot about your kid’s game or your spouse’s birthday. Maybe you dropped the ball with a client and you’re now having to work even harder to make it up to them.
When important things start to slip, it’s a sure sign you need help. An executive assistant who looks after your calendar knows when to remind you about kid’s activities or important birthdays. They also help to take important tasks off your plate so you can focus on the things you really need to - like making sure you follow up with that client!
#5. You can’t get through your “should do” list
Every entrepreneur has a list of “SHOULD dos” but it’s usually a long list. Like you should compile a list of potential partners for a new initiative you’re planning, or you should have the air conditioning serviced in the office.
Sometimes those “should dos” can lead to important growth in your company and career. An executive assistant is an expert at assessing your “should dos,” prioritizing, and taking on any that they can manage themselves.
#6. You’re always the first line of contact
You’ve become the first point of contact for every issue, no matter how small. You also find that you’re the one doing follow-up, chasing for invoices or reports, while work is often turned in to you late.
It’s a real time-suck when you’re in this situation. Perhaps you feel like you have to be doing these things because you can’t trust anyone else to make the right choices. You probably find yourself feeling frustrated, wishing you had more time for the things you really need to be doing.
The point is you shouldn’t be the first line of contact - you should be the escalation point and only when necessary. The minutiae shouldn’t be yours to worry about and that’s exactly what an executive assistant can do for you.
#7. You lack time to innovate
“If only I had time, I’d finally be able to launch that new product.” “I seriously need to re-look at what we offer there, but I don’t have time.”
These are the sorts of scenarios that busy executives and entrepreneurs find themselves in when there is too much resting on their shoulders. Lack of design or innovation time is a good sign you’re ready for an executive assistant.
One of the big benefits of an assistant is that they help you to take back your time. Imagine what you can do with more of that finite resource!
#8. Business growth is stagnant
There can be many reasons that a business stagnates or can’t grow beyond a certain point, but sometimes, that’s due to its human resources being too stretched. The business is unable to grow because you can’t physically take on anything else.
This can be a sign that you’re ready to have an executive assistant take over those tasks you don’t need to do. It gives you the opportunity to focus on growth activities and move to the next level.
#9. You don’t have systems and processes
When tasks happen in an ad-hoc manner, it often creates inefficiencies in your business. This can also be the reason why you’re always the first line of contact - no one else has a process for what to do in the situation.
Executive assistants are experts at process design and management. They can identify where you have repeatable tasks that are ripe for having a process in place, and make it happen. It all adds up to more productivity and more efficient use of time, often for more than just yourself.
#10. You are the bottleneck…
Are people always asking you for that paperwork or that step they need done before they can move onto the next thing? Do you find that those things start to pile up because you’re already so busy with other tasks?
Yep, you are the bottleneck and that’s no good for your efficiency or team members’ efficiency. An executive assistant can often take over some of the tasks people were relying on you for, or if they can’t, they’ll help to prioritize so everyone gets what they need in a timely fashion.
We’ve just been over 10 signs that you may be ready for a virtual executive assistant, but there’s one last positive: you’re comfortable delegating!
You can’t be hanging onto tasks, either in reluctance or difficulty trusting others. Being comfortable handing tasks over is a key turning point for hiring a virtual assistant and finding a new level of efficiency.
If a highly qualified, pre-vetted virtual assistant is what you’re looking for, we at Worxbee have found them! We take the hassle out of finding a good virtual assistant by screening them ourselves and matching them with clients who will be well-suited. Check us out here.