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Following some comments on another question (http://productivity.stackexchange.com/a/2797/2382) - I'll split this out as a separate question.

There are many recommendations to outsource tasks to vitual assitants. Personally I've never quite got my head round that because I think by the time that I've written out specific instructions for the thing I want to do I could have done it. Would people like to give me the advantages/disadvantages to using virtual assistants?

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2 Answers 2

As daCoda pointed out, you leverage your instructions by picking things that are repeated.

Not all hours of the day are created equal. Some tasks have to be done at a certain time. Writing instructions doesn't require you to be in a certain place at a certain time. Maybe you could write instructions on drop shipping a package while waiting for an appointment, but it's not convenient to bring all the packing materials and drive to the post office. Writing the instructions may not take as much concentration. I could sit in a noisy area and explain what to do, but may not be able to focus enough to do the actual work.

Some people do things better Even if they don't, learn how to delegate. The old saying, "If you want something done right, do it yourself." does not fit all people and tasks. And what is "right"? There is a point when you have to accept good enough. Too often people confuse "my way" with absolute correctness. Select tasks you don't do as well and probably shouldn't be giving specific instructions. This saves time and improves the quality.

Eventually, you'll get better at hiring and working with other people, so you don't have to always give lengthy instructions. Everyone will start to understand what is expected along with the level of quality you want. Using a virtual assistant should be part of a larger evolution into delegating and leveraging your time.

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Advantages:

Re-use of instructions, and save time! You mentioned that by the time you've written out specific instructions, you could have done it yourself. Well, next time you need to do the same thing, you don't need to spend time writing the instructions, so voila - you're done!

Disadvantage:

You can't talk to a machine. It won't care about your weekend. Nor will it tell you to get back to work if you slack off. You may die from loneliness.

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