As virtual assistants, we’re always walking that fine line between “yes, I’m an expert”, and “wait, I need time to learn this.”
Our clients rely on us for speed and quality. But the real value we bring to the table goes beyond our production ability.
Our clients rely on us because of our learning agility.
Learning agility is a concept that’s becoming more popular among HR professionals. It’s a complex set of skills that help us adapt to new situations quickly, and it’s the key to becoming an effective virtual assistant.
Agile Learners are Effective Workers
What exactly is learning agility? Let’s approach this by describing what it means to be an agile learner.
An agile learner is someone who is open to challenges. They’re comfortable in new situations and readily seek out other people’s help. They ask questions, learn strategies, and apply them to navigate future, unfamiliar situations. They deliver results — even if they knew nothing about the task when they first started out.
In other words, learning agility is your virtual assistant superpower.
Because if you can teach yourself almost anything, or solve almost any problem, you’re in the best position to support your client’s business. Only about a third of VA work is truly repetitive or routine. A larger chunk of our time goes to creative work, learning new things and figuring out problems on our own, or with our colleagues.
An agile learner is an effective VA because he can take past learnings and apply them to current challenges.
Have you been assigned work you haven’t done before? Do you have a deadline and you’re afraid you don’t have all the skills to deliver the results?
Learn these 7 habits to improve learning agility, so you can produce exceptional work — no matter what tasks are assigned to you.
7 Habits That Will Transform You into an Effective Virtual Assistant
An email comes through asking, “Can you fix this?” but it’s your first time encountering the situation.
What do you do?
Reach out to others and ask for help. Chances are someone else has had a similar experience and can give you tips and best practices. In a hybrid working environment, it should be very easy to send a group message and get responses from other experts in your team.
Break down large tasks into smaller pieces.
Are you working on a large project involving many moving pieces? It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you’re not in control of the entire process. You can overcome this by learning essential project management skills.
Organize your project into stages, and break them down further into smaller steps. Use a project management tool like Asana, or Monday.com to help you see exactly what needs to be done, by when and by whom.
Give yourself time constraints.
Deadlines are your best friend. If you had one day to complete a task, it’s likely you’ll use up all of that time to get things done. Parkinson’s law happens and your work expands so as to fill the time you’ve set aside to complete it.
Set a time constraint for every task you’ll perform. Not only will you free up your time for other things – when you set a deadline, you also stop procrastination from rearing its ugly head.
Always be learning.
It’s intimidating to think about having to learn new skills all the time. As a virtual assistant, new situations are to be expected. Only a small part of your work is repetitive or routine. Most of the time, you’ll be expected to figure out problems, or create systems. So always be open to learning new things.
Make your tasks meaningful.
It’s hard to reach a goal when you don’t know why you’re trying to achieve it. As Marie Forleo said, “I can help you achieve anything, but you gotta tell me what it is and why you really want it.”
If you’re feeling stuck, step back and remember why you do what you do. Are you trying to hit sales goals? Why does it matter if you can achieve it?
To drive this point home, imagine you met 3 bricklayers and you asked each one of them: “What are you doing?”
The first one says, “I’m laying bricks!”. The second one says, “I’m laying bricks”.
But the third one says, “I’m building a cathedral.”
Make your tasks mean something, and you’ll find it’s easier to produce great results — no matter what it is you’re doing.
The most effective productivity tool you’ve never heard of is mindfulness. Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present in the moment. You don’t worry about the past or the future. Instead, you are focused on the task in front of you.
When you’re fully absorbed in what you’re doing, you also train yourself to more easily enter the flow state — that holy grail of productivity and creativity where time seems to slow down. You get things done. And when you look up, hours have gone by. Yet it seems like no time has passed at all.
Flow states also induce feel-good hormones like dopamine and endorphins. So, you’re not just finishing tasks — you’re also happier while you’re doing them.
Play to your strengths.
To maximize productivity, virtual assistants can leverage the Pareto Principle. It is also called the 80/20 rule. According to the Italian philosopher and economist Vilfredo Pareto, 80% of results come from 20% of the effort. You can achieve better results when you focus on your best capabilities.
Playing to your strengths means you can reach a higher level of skill – which will always be in demand. After all, specialists and experts are harder to find and replace. This is not to say that there is anything wrong with being a generalist. While it’s not wise to have all your eggs in one basket, being too “spread out” in terms of skills and responsibility can also be impractical.
Applying the 7 Habits of Effective Virtual Assistants
An effective virtual assistant is someone who can produce the desired results – even when the task seems unfamiliar at first. They are able to do this through learning agility, the ability to learn from and adapt to new situations, collaborate with others, and apply what they’ve learned to future situations.
Go ahead. Try applying these 7 habits in your work and see the results. Tell us how it goes. And if you have any suggestions or advice on how to be a more effective virtual assistant, let us know by leaving a comment!