gettingthingsdoneSomeone I met the other day was astounded when I explained what I do. “You provide support to someone you have never met? How does that even work?”

One way I can explain the ease and success with which being a Virtual Executive Assistant works is by telling people that it’s exactly like supporting an executive while he or she is away on a business trip. The executive calls and checks in between her meetings, during which time I’m holding down the fort by taking care of her To Do’s, communicating with her clients on her behalf, taking messages and scheduling her meetings for when she returns. When you think about it like that, coupled with the technology available (Google Hangout, DropBox, Boomerang) it doesn’t seem all that far fetched, and it works for us!

With one of my clients, a cardiologist in California, I help him stay on top of his work for his (yes!) four separate and distinct businesses. To do so, I utilize David Allen’s Getting Things Done organizational methodology along with a master project list shared via Google Drive which my client and I review once weekly. Part of the success I have fostered with him has to do with “managing up” and holding him accountable (nicely, I promise) to his goals and timeframes, but the most important thing I do for him is make sure nothing gets lost, forgotten, misfiled or ignored.

For each project, my client determines (and I document) the next associated action item. This helps my client quantify each project and break it down into a list of steps. If the first step (such as call someone, send an email, pay a bill, identify a vendor, etc.) will take less than two minutes, the immediate decision is to DO IT. If the next actionable step will take longer than two minutes, there are two choices: DELEGATE IT (often to me!) or DEFER IT and put it on a list (on our master project spreadsheet) to complete at a later date.

By “emptying his head” of all the projects and “to do” items while on the phone with me each day, he is placing his trust in David Allen’s GTD system, and in me to organize and maintain it. As a result of our system, my client’s thoughts are therefore no longer preoccupied with maintaining and categorizing the ever-growing “to do list.” Instead, when he is relaxing with his family or playing a round of golf, he can actually relax without worrying that things are slipping through the cracks. Or, he can focus on attracting more clients, which helps him to bring in additional revenue.

Both of us have up to the minute access to the ever changing master projects document, and this way, there is never a communication breakdown on the progress of our projects.

As a result of using David Allen’s system, my client is able to spend more time in his businesses with clients, which leads to higher revenue for him and more satisfaction for me.