Reaching the Peak: When Delegation Shines

Posted by Heather Villa, CMA, MBA, MSM on July 23, 2009 in: Delegation for Success, Just Blogging


If you follow me on twitter you have seen a ton of recent tweets about @emailcenterpro, about ‘click – click – move – move’, and about Inbox 0!

Some of you may be wondering: How I am doing that? Others may already know because you subscribe to my Tips in 10 email newsletter. I won’t write it out in detail (but if you want to get the step by step instructions, just subscribe to my Tips in 10 newsletter using the sign-up form on the right hand side of this blog post).

In summary:

  1. I use
  2. I have a virtual assistant
  3. I have spent lots of time and energy making sure my assistant is well-versed with the important information:  Who every client is, what every email is, where my documents are stored, what things mean, projects I am working on, who does what within my organizations, etc.

I realized this week that I have reached a “peak”; the top of the mountain, so to speak. We (my assistant and I) have spent 4 months with email traffic of approximately 200 incoming daily and 100 outgoing daily.

It started out slowly the first two weeks. She was able to handle about 10% of my email (which were copies etc. that she was able to appropriately categorize and file). Then, by the end of the first month she started handling about 25% of my email – the copies plus the stuff that really should not go to me but should go to someone else.


The second month we stepped up training and started having her save documents people sent me to my filing system and retrieving documents people were requesting. By the end of month 2 she was handling about 40% of my emails (copies, delegation, documents and attachments).

In the third month I started delegating mini-tasks. In other words, not necessarily a project but usually an internal issue within the organization – like maybe a bug in one of our systems. By this time she knew who it needed to be delegated to, she knew who was reporting it and needed it fixed, and was acting as the middleman (which I normally do) to make sure that it is fixed, tested, and all parties advised. By the end of month 3 she was handling about 60% of my email.

We are almost done with the 4th month and she now handles about 90% of my email.

The 60% mentioned earlier – and now the additional 30% to bring it  up to 90% –  includes appointments, resolving issues, transmitting reports to clients by due dates (i.e. I do the work, turn the reports over to her when done, she proofs, makes sure she understands content, turns it over to the client and answers any of their questions), makes sure all invoices or receipts are forwarded to the accounting department and then follows up to assure they are entered and / or paid.

At the end of my day I am only handling about 10% of my email load (20 incoming/10 outgoing daily). This is a huge relief for me. Running half a dozen companies and performing billable work as well as working on non billable entrepreneurial endeavors can fill a day. Now, I am doing things I was never able to do before:

  1. I get off work at 5-6pm. No exceptions (unless for some reason I want to stay on and work – which sometimes I do).
  2. I am getting in at minimum 6 hours of billable work a day, which before I was pushing my luck to get 2-3 hours in.
  3. My clients (for the most part) are a lot happier. Don’t get me wrong, there are downfalls; I know some clients are thinking “she is too busy to respond to me anymore”, but at the end of the day they are getting a faster response time and more efficient work.
  4. Yesterday I took a lunch break for the first time in over 4 months. (I mean, I actually went out to lunch vs. eating at my computer).
  5. Today I decided “I am going to blog” – completely unplanned.
  6. When I am done writing this I am going to send it over to her to proof, put the graphics in and post on my website.

What I am trying to say is: so many people hire us for virtual assistant work and never fully take advantage of what we can offer. Sometimes they think they just don’t have the time to teach, either. I took the time with Joan (my assistant). I created many video tutorials and used the features in Email Center Pro to give her tips, tricks and explanations.

She is not cheap, she works for me almost 40 hours per week, but she has made me achieve efficiency, improved my quality of life, and given me more time for billable work, which is offsetting her salary. Day by day she is getting quicker and doing more as well.

I feel today that I have finally reached my peak and have proven that, with time and effort, delegation is no longer outsourcing a task or two because it is more cost effective, rather, delegation is partnering with someone (or multiple people) who can learn who you are, how you work, and what needs to be done in order to make sure that the time you do spend you are 1) getting paid for, 2) creating something that will generate more revenue down the line or 3) improving your quality of life.

Thanks Joan!

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