My Shingle

Help, My Virtual Assistant Is Turning Me Into A Moron!

by Carolyn Elefant on February 21, 2010 · 15 comments

in Growing Your Practice, Law Practice Management, Outsourcing & Hiring

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I’ve always considered myself a “practical technology user,” adept at mastering the latest and greatest on a strictly need to know basis.  For example, I still can’t program a Tivo or download a movie on my ipod or operate the family Wii because I have no interest in the activities enabled by those technologies.   But I can code HTML, create a mini online video, create a Google group or post on virtually any blog platform because mastering these skills lets me indulge my passion for engaging in discourse online, communicating my ideas to a broader audience and educating lawyers about solo and small firm practice.

Yet even while I’m facile with technology when I want to be, it’s still time consuming.  So lately, I’ve delegated much of my behind the scenes tech administration to my virtual assistant.  Whether it’s creating a form or updating a social media profile or even figuring out a feature of new online data base, I no longer take the time to figure out how to do it myself but instead, let my VA handle it (and no, I don’t outsource content creation, ever, in case you wondered).  Many times the answers to my questions are fairly obvious and I feel lazy for not having taken the time to figure it out myself or idiotic for having asked about something so basic.  In addition, I’ve noticed that my own tech skills are growing stale because I don’t get as much hands on practice using many of these applications since I have someone else to do the work for me.

As technologies become more user friendly, most lawyers feel that they ought to be able to figure them out on their own.  And certainly, when you start a firm and have more time than money on your hands, the user-friendly characteristics of today’s Web 2.0 technologies are a godsend.  However, as your firm grows and becomes more financially secure, even the few minutes here and there that you spend  creating a database or setting up a new list or updating a social media profile or formatting a newsletter collectively amount to time that you could devote to other activities – whether generating more revenue or doing pro bono or spending more time with family or friends.

The first rule of technology is that it should liberate, not enslave.  Relying on an assistant, even to the detriment of improving my own skills, is a small price to pay to harness technology and leverage my time so that I’m free to do far more than I otherwise could if I had to master it all on my onw.  Maybe that makes me a technology moron, but at least I’m a happy one.

Update:  I see that my virtual assistant has submitted a comment below.  Thanks, Tina!

  • http://clericaladvantage.com Tina Marie Hilton

    Far from being a moron, you’re ahead of the curve when it comes to utilizing a virtual assistant. As you state here, many people mistakenly think that they can only outsource those items they don’t know how to do themselves.
    As someone once said, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”
    The type of tasks you’re talking about can be hidden time eaters,taking up large amounts of valuable time. As a virtual assistant myself, I can say that those clients who actually know the technology can make it an even smoother VA/client experience because they understand what needs to be done enough to give comprehensive instructions. And this allows a virtual assistant to complete the tasks quicker and with the end result you’re looking for.

  • http://clericaladvantage.com Tina Marie Hilton

    Far from being a moron, you’re ahead of the curve when it comes to utilizing a virtual assistant. As you state here, many people mistakenly think that they can only outsource those items they don’t know how to do themselves.
    As someone once said, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”
    The type of tasks you’re talking about can be hidden time eaters,taking up large amounts of valuable time. As a virtual assistant myself, I can say that those clients who actually know the technology can make it an even smoother VA/client experience because they understand what needs to be done enough to give comprehensive instructions. And this allows a virtual assistant to complete the tasks quicker and with the end result you’re looking for.

  • http://www.dotcommothers.com/how-to-become-a-virtual-assistant.html Sandy Naidu

    I have also started out tasking a few of my tasks – and it has made a huge impact on my business. I can now concentrate on growing my business.
    I like Tina’s (your VA’s) reply…

  • http://www.dotcommothers.com/how-to-become-a-virtual-assistant.html Sandy Naidu

    I have also started out tasking a few of my tasks – and it has made a huge impact on my business. I can now concentrate on growing my business.
    I like Tina’s (your VA’s) reply…

  • http://tabletlegal.com Josh Barrett

    Must be something in the air, I was blogging about some of the same things today. These are just tradeoffs to get the things you want. Sure, you could be an inch deep in everything, but by making some tradeoffs, you are rich with depth in the areas you care about or that you need to be for your work. I like to think I’m good about reexamining my tradeoffs from time to time, to make sure they are still relevant to what I want or need to do, which lets me keep feeling good (most of the time) about the choices I make.

  • http://tabletlegal.com Josh Barrett

    Must be something in the air, I was blogging about some of the same things today. These are just tradeoffs to get the things you want. Sure, you could be an inch deep in everything, but by making some tradeoffs, you are rich with depth in the areas you care about or that you need to be for your work. I like to think I’m good about reexamining my tradeoffs from time to time, to make sure they are still relevant to what I want or need to do, which lets me keep feeling good (most of the time) about the choices I make.

  • Todd Leon

    Good post and no worries, since you didn’t outsource content creation, there would be a long distance between you and a moron. I have been accustomed to sharing ideas with my virtual assistant instead of pouring all tasks to them, although he will take care of the implementation as yours did, what I really appreciate is the high-quality feedbacks, some of which really throw light upon my previous ideas, BPOVIA does pretty well in cooperating with her clients, and I think this is one of the key elements which help establish BPOVIA ‘s leadership from her date of birth.

  • Todd Leon

    Good post and no worries, since you didn’t outsource content creation, there would be a long distance between you and a moron. I have been accustomed to sharing ideas with my virtual assistant instead of pouring all tasks to them, although he will take care of the implementation as yours did, what I really appreciate is the high-quality feedbacks, some of which really throw light upon my previous ideas, BPOVIA does pretty well in cooperating with her clients, and I think this is one of the key elements which help establish BPOVIA ‘s leadership from her date of birth.

  • http://www.ptconciergeservice.com Nickey Hollenbach

    You are far from a moron! It takes a secure, intelligent individual to enlist the help of anyone to do anything for them – but when you enlist the help of a Virtual Assistant (VA) to help you with your business – and even personal life – it merely shows how confident and secure you are, as well as cutting edge! Looking for a VA can be as easy as visiting a site such as VANetworking.com to get some idea of what type of VA you are looking for and how to go about finding just the right one for you. Again – congratulations on your fabulous insight into the word of Virtual Assistance!

  • http://www.ptconciergeservice.com Nickey Hollenbach

    You are far from a moron! It takes a secure, intelligent individual to enlist the help of anyone to do anything for them – but when you enlist the help of a Virtual Assistant (VA) to help you with your business – and even personal life – it merely shows how confident and secure you are, as well as cutting edge! Looking for a VA can be as easy as visiting a site such as VANetworking.com to get some idea of what type of VA you are looking for and how to go about finding just the right one for you. Again – congratulations on your fabulous insight into the word of Virtual Assistance!

  • http://www.intechgration.com Debbie Westwood

    I agree with the others who have commented here: knowing that you can’t do everything is not the hallmark of a moron, but rather an intelligent business decision.
    I offer virtual litigation support (eDiscovery) services and my clients use me, not because they couldn’t figure it out for themselves, but because I can do it faster, and more cost-effectively, than they can.
    Being a small business owner myself, I know that although I could do all the administrative things myself, it takes away time from things that only *I* can do for my business. So which is smarter: taking three days to figure out my taxes, or taking three days to build new client relationships?

  • http://www.intechgration.com Debbie Westwood

    I agree with the others who have commented here: knowing that you can’t do everything is not the hallmark of a moron, but rather an intelligent business decision.
    I offer virtual litigation support (eDiscovery) services and my clients use me, not because they couldn’t figure it out for themselves, but because I can do it faster, and more cost-effectively, than they can.
    Being a small business owner myself, I know that although I could do all the administrative things myself, it takes away time from things that only *I* can do for my business. So which is smarter: taking three days to figure out my taxes, or taking three days to build new client relationships?

  • http://www.catchfriday.com bob

    A Virtual Assistant can do many of the administrative and time-consuming tasks in the company and the company can simply enjoy the outputs.

  • http://www.catchfriday.com bob

    A Virtual Assistant can do many of the administrative and time-consuming tasks in the company and the company can simply enjoy the outputs.

  • http://www.live-hire.com Grainne Foley

    You’ve really hit the nail on the head and I have to say in
    agreement with previous posts that I’m getting a strong “far from moron” vibe
    from your article. As a virtual “matchmaker,” I find myself very often
    explaining to people that VA’s are not just for those things that you can’t do,
    but for those things that you don’t have time to do – even if they are
    enjoyable. One of the most difficult decisions we have to make to be successful
    in business is how to best spend our time. The wonderful thing about this
    industry is that we all have access to incredible talent in any area of our
    business that we need, so we can afford to be very precise in how we choose to
    spend our time. Instead of struggling through tasks that we are only adequate
    at- we can partner with someone who is a pro and can handle those tasks with
    ease. That leaves us time to focus on the things that we really do NEED to be
    working on. If I read your meaning correctly, your passion is the discourse and
    the teaching, not necessarily the creation so let your VA do the leg work and
    you enjoy the ride!
     

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