Personal Productivity for Lawyers
This quick-start guide to Getting Things Done and Inbox Zero also includes two shortcuts for those who want the benefits of GTD without having to learn the system.
When it comes to outsourcing work in your law practice to a virtual assistant, proper delegation is all in how you ask and the tools that you use.
Recognizing and dealing with issues that may arise on your side or the side of your virtual assistant, as well as utilizing delegation tools with some know-how, can help you fully optimize your VA’s time and expertise.
What Are Some Primary Delegation Frustrations?
Primary delegation frustrations on your end can include lack of communication, deadlines not met, issues around trust and release of tasks, being unsure about when things will come back, feeling overwhelmed by the process, and not being sure about what to let go and what to keep.
Primary delegation frustrations on the virtual assistant end of things can involve no details being given on a project – left to guess, not receiving positive feedback but only hearing the negative / what’s wrong, no clear deadlines or timelines provided, client not understanding how long tasks take and assuming 24-hours is enough leeway for tasks, and everything being “urgent.”
How Do You Overcome These Frustrations? It’s All in the “Ask”!
Asking for what you want clearly provides you with increased responsiveness, clarity on the project (reducing edits and longer turnaround), calmness in the work, and improved relationships.
But, It’s Tough… Entrepreneurs hesitate spending the time to properly “ask” for a number of reasons. Perhaps they feel like that is why they are delegating – to avoid the time spent. Or maybe they just want to offload instead of actively participating in the process. Perhaps there is a feeling that things are clear in their mind so they think it will translate easily.
Excellent Delegation Includes… Precise, focused direction and vision; examples, screenshots and supporting URLs; short, concise wording with bullet points; utilizing the tools and the systems; clarity on deadlines; giving enough lead time on projects; and being okay with the back and forth.
Poor Delegation Includes… Total lack of direction / vision; contradicting language; lengthy paragraphs; avoiding the systems the VA has setup; sending multiple messages in different places; not giving clear deadlines; and becoming quickly frustrated.
Delegation tools can make your life (your VA’s life) a lot easier and more successful!
The Good, the Bad & the Ugly in Delegation Tools
Sometimes, the tools and methods that we are using in our practice can actually slow down the delegating process by a considerable amount. I’m going to show you some of the best ways to delegate your workload to a VA and some of the ineffective ways.
- Basecamp allows you to create workflow.
- Most virtual assistants already use Basecamp for their clients.
- Organized, concise and has only the features needed to support delegation.
- Delegating tasks through e-mail is not advised as there is no tracking and very little task management.
- If you do wish to delegate via e-mail, continue to have a system where the to-dos and deadlines are tracked.
- Telephone only works well if the notes taken on the call and the items discussed are put directly into Basecamp or whatever system you use.
- Quick, targeted phone calls can be great for clarification on a project or task however.
- Skype / Instant Messenger
- Avoid delegating items through instant messenger altogether as there is not a good way to delegate tasks and record them.
Step-By-Step Action Plan for Effective Delegation
For a quick, easy-to-follow system for delegating in your law practice, follow the steps below.
- Setup Basecamp or have your virtual assistant add a new project to their account for you.
- Add in relevant and needed to-do items for your virtual assistant.
- Use supporting materials to help aid the VA in achieving your vision – color swatches, screenshots, samples or examples of previous work.
- Provide clear deadline expectations and make sure it works for your virtual assistant.
- Make yourself available for questions, especially on a new project.
- Submit to the process and allow your VA to use their expertise to create the finished product.
Remember, good delegation isn’t about delegating out the process but rather the end result. Understanding the frustrations on both sides of the table can lead to a much more effective VA / client relationship and will help you to achieve better results.