Virtues of a Virtual Assistant

06/11/10 – As many of you know, I’m active in several online discussion groups on LinkedIn.  Well, a question was posted from a VA – virtual assistant – about dreaded tasks you perform during the workday.  Here’s our exchange:

Priscilla Walker

Priscilla Walker

Chief Client Task Manager @ Your Dependable VA, Inc.

What’s one task you dread doing throughout your work day?

My answer:

Going through my inbox – so much unnecessary garbage to wade through and delete. I even have a pretty good spam-filter, but I still get way too many requests to buy pharmaceuticals specifically for male enhancement and requests to view some girl’s profile for a hot date – neither of which particularly interests me (though it might interest others, and not for me to judge at all). I find a tidbit or two to read in the few newsletters to which I subscribe, but I wish some of them had a weekly option instead of daily – I don’t want to search through them every day. The only really important emails are the few a day I receive from clients, or colleagues referring clients (or responding to my referrals of potential clients to those colleagues) and the rest I could take or leave. It’s unfortunate that a VA can’t see into my brain and filter the correct information that I want to see from the newsletters and RSS feeds and blogs, and just give me the stuff I would choose for myself – it could be very business related, but sometimes it is very randomly not related to my business at all (nor to a client’s) – it could be related to roller skating and it might catch my attention for a particular reason. Who knows?

Laura Canales CPA

The rest of the email exchange we had privately:

On 06/09/10 6:01 AM, Priscilla Walker wrote:


Hi Laura, 

I deal with this problem everyday with my clients. I give my clients email mgmt. form so that they can make mention of what emails are VIP, junk, and other. Has your VA requested this information, so that he/she can better serve you?

On 06/09/10 9:56 PM, Laura Canales CPA wrote:


I don’t use a VA, but if I did, I could certainly tell the VIPs, but email from any other sender might sometimes be junk and sometimes treasure – just depends on the day. That’s why it is so difficult for me. For example, I receive updates and newsletters all the time from the IRS, and some days there are 10 of them in the inbox and none of the info in them pertains to any of my clients (delete delete delete…) – other days there may be 3 emails from the IRS, and 2 might have something relating to my clients interests. The problem is I have to keep them all and weed through every one of them. That’s the time waster.


What would you do in this case? I’m sure that you subscribe to industry information in the form of emailed newsletters, links, feeds, etc., because you want to keep current in your field so you can best serve your clients, as I do. Don’t you still have to look at each email and see if any of it is of interest?

On 06/10/10 5:31 AM, Priscilla Walker wrote:


My clients tell me what issues are important to them in each newsletter, links, feed, etc. This translates into me becoming their eyes and ears so that they can focus on more important things.

On 06/10/10 2:04 PM, Laura Canales CPA wrote:


I guess I’m more like you, as an assistant to my clients. Each one has specific issues that are particular to their industry, financial situation, stage of business or stage of life, and goals or concerns. This still requires me to take the time to read nearly everything that comes through my inbox to see if there’s anything that might be important to one specific client. There is no list of 5 or even 10 issues, but literally hundreds, and a crapshoot to say which email/newsletter/feed they’ll show up in on any given day – if at all. If I had only a few clients, or focused only on taxes, or focused only on an industry or two, this may not be so much of an issue. However, being my clients’ business and personal financial eyes and ears requires me to be involved in much more than a few issues.


How would you, as a VA to someone like me, handle this type of situation?

On 06/11/10 11:06 AM, Priscilla Walker wrote:


As a Client Task Manager/VA, I would request certain keywords so that I can pinpoint which email are relevant and delete those that aren’t so that you can focus on your business and not emails.

We ended with my email back to her:  Thanks for the input. I appreciate your time and the information. I’m sure this conversation would be of help to others – would you agree to reposting it on the LinkedIn group? I can put it on my website and link a discussion back to it if you agree to make our private conversation public.

 So now you know a tiny snippet of what fills the day of a VA.  If you have tons of tasks you just don’t like to do – scheduling resources, sending form letters, making or returning calls, processing orders, or handling email, a VA is a good way to free up your time.  Make your day worth the effort by concentrating on building more business instead of dreading the “office work.”