Organisation, prioritisation and multitasking are key skills to succeed in this profession.

Prioritisation – one of the major challenges for virtual assistants is prioritisation. From handling scheduling conflicts, arranging meetings, tackling HR issues, managing PR appointments, letters and speeches, very often virtual assistants struggle to meet such increasing demand. So how do you manage your workload? It’s very important to categorise incoming tasks. These are the categories I use for every new incoming task:

• Urgent
• Important
• Not important

That way, I can immediately sort what needs to get done immediately, soon and later. This also ensures that new tasks don’t constantly interrupt or trump more important things that I am already working on.

Have a straightforward to-do list that you can work through each day. Anything that hasn’t been actioned (because it isn’t urgent, or you didn’t get around to it) gets added to the following day and done first thing in the morning. Track your progress on a daily/weekly/monthly basis so you know where you stand, and you don’t fall behind on your tasks.

Procrastination is an assistant’s worst enemy. An assistant’s profession is like being a juggler. You have to keep many balls. At first, it’ll seem too overwhelming but it gets better as you gain more experience. As an assistant, you’ll be expected to utilise good judgment when managing your workload. Your job can be packed with routine, but it’ll never be boring. You will be required to set priorities, using logic and reasoning, figuring out who needs what, and keeping a cool head in this process. You will need to possess common sense, empathy, and emotional intelligence.

Problem Solving: plan, strategise, and schedule change – it is your job to react quickly and be resilient, finding the best alternatives when these changes arise.

Detail Oriented: the little things really matter – typos, schedule changes, and even the minute info about how the executive needs to dress for an upcoming marketing meeting – so you must have an eye for even the tiniest details.

Use tools for your work. Don’t use paper! Focus on the future – let’s get digital. You can get more done at a faster rate and by going digital you’ll reduce negative impact on the environment. For example, you could use HelloSign for sending and signing different contracts and Trello or Asana to put all of your to do’s for different projects.

Visualise what you will accomplish – start your day with the end in mind. Take 5 minutes to think about what results you need to achieve today. Then, consider what tasks will help you get there.

The virtual assistant function has been transformed from a supporting role to more of a strategic one. Today’s executives lean on their assistants not just for admin help, but for strategic counsel, technical expertise, and critical analysis. Virtual assistants are expected to dabble in things as wide and varied as project management, event planning, and internal communications.