A Day In The Life Of: The Procrastinator And Her Ineffective Virtual Assistant


By Nicole Bandes

Founder, CEO of Virtual A Team

Read more by Nicole

Are you a procrastinator? If so, it's ok. We're here to help you ensure that you have the tools you need to avoid hiring an ineffective virtual team.

Meet Jan, she’s a self-professed procrastinator. She’s well aware that it’s her biggest challenge. 

She’ll tell you herself that she ALWAYS waits until the last minute; always.

In her defense, it’s often because she’s working on other projects that she’s procrastinated completing. Her procrastination is a vicious cycle. 

Jan’s procrastination makes sense when you hear her story. As a student in high school, she never felt the need to get anything done right away. She’s brilliant. 

She could slide by without studying, complete projects overnight, and still get A’s and B’s in all her classes.


It wasn’t until Jan went to college that she started to notice how her procrastination was beginning to affect her performance. But she still ‘got by’.

Once Jan started her coaching business, things did NOT get any better. She was still in the habit of just waiting, knowing that she could pull an all-nighter to get the things done.

Fortunately, her business didn’t suffer, at first. She brought in several new clients and was beginning to build some group programs. But then she got super busy. 

Jan quickly realized that her procrastinator style had little effect on outcomes when she wasn’t busy but things started snowballing on her when busy times hit.

Download our Ultimate Guide to Delegating for More Tips & Tools on How to Delegate as a Solopreneur

You may have guessed by now that our friend Jan isn’t a real person. 

She’s merely the personification of many of our dearly-loved procrastinator clients that we’ve worked with over the years; talented and well intended but perpetually in over their head.

The Great And Wonderful Idea

Back to client “Jan”. 

Jan started hearing about Virtual Assistants in some of her online groups. She decided hiring one could take a lot of the work off her plate. 

They could help her be less of a procrastinator and she could get back to focusing on the things she loved to do.

“This is going to be so great!”, Jan thought. 

She quickly hired a virtual assistant that had been recommended to her by one of her friends. 

The virtual assistant and Jan got on a Zoom call and outlined the tasks that Jan needed to have done. 

After the hour-long call, the VA had a long list of tasks to complete; once Jan got her all of the access to programs she’d need. 

However, since the call ran a little late, and Jan had another call immediately after, she didn’t get the VA her access right away. 

And then other things came up.

And then days went by. 

Little did Jan know, follow-up wasn’t her new VA’s strong suit. She was great at doing what you told her to do, but she wasn’t strong in managing her client’s disorganization.

So, more days went by. And deadlines were missed. 

And, that was just the beginning. 

How Procrastinators Sabotage Virtual Assistants

Before we move on, we want you to understand that being a procrastinator doesn’t mean you can’t be successful.

And it certainly doesn’t mean you can’t delegate. 

It simply means you need to be aware that ‘it’s a thing’ for you. 

Being aware of your procrastinator work style means you will change the things you look for in a candidate. 

And it means you will need to take a look at how being a procrastinator can make it harder for a VA to really help you. 

And you will closely watch your own behaviors and how they are affecting the overall team performance. Because having a team is what will take your business to the next level.

Here are some key ways you may be sabotaging what a virtual assistant can do for you.

Not Providing Enough Details

If you are a procrastinator who is working on a big project, you may be the kind of person who works out the details at the last minute. 

Not working out the details ahead of time doesn’t allow you to pass the baton on tasks. 

Virtual assistants are skilled but they aren’t mind readers. 

If all the VA has is a big picture overview of the project, the details will be missed and it isn’t going to help you complete your project.

  • Sketch out the timeline of what needs to be done, or at least the general project flow, before you present the project to your VA. 
  • Make sure you highlight for both of you, pertinent deadlines even if you haven’t thought all the way through the minor details.

Not Giving Keys to the Kingdom (or at Least the Guard Tower)

Odds are you have many different programs you use in your business. 

From appointment scheduling tools to email management systems and even website dashboards. 

The more tasks you want your VA to perform for you, the more passwords he or she will need to have to independently get the job done. 

Ensuring that your VA has access upfront ensures that they can make progress on their own. 

Don’t procrastinate making sure your VA has access to all the programs you will ask them to use. 

Tools like Lastpass can make sharing and revoking password details easy!

Pro Tip

Remember not to share access to EVERY program you have. That’s too much power and could cause you a lot of challenges down the road.

Not Leaving Room for Review

A second set of eyes to review something is invaluable. , especially when the first set isn’t you

Virtual assistants do their best for you but we’re all human. Even the most talented assistants still miss things. 

Let’s say your VA is tasked to write your social media posts or articles, create newsletter emails, or many other things that will be seen by clients and prospects. 

You will want to review that before it’s published. Remember, it’s still your brand. Everything that is published is a reflection of your brand.

For this reason, we highly recommend you review any public-facing project. 

You will sabotage yourself and your VA’s success if you wait until the last minute to check things over. 

  • Leave enough time between the due date you provide your VA to allow for revisions and final review. 
  • Let your VA know when you will get the review/revision back to her for changes. 
  • Give your VA permission to follow up with you if she has not received it by that date. 

There may come a time when you gain confidence that your VA and trust her outcomes. If so,  you can slack off a bit. 

But if you are still in the review stage and your VA gets something back to you by the due date, you may be tempted to wait till the last minute to check it over. This won’t leave any time for a second draft and you’ll end up having to make the changes yourself.

How Virtual Assistants Sabotage Procrastinators

Like we said, being a procrastinator doesn’t mean you are determined to be perpetually overwhelmed. 

And you certainly aren’t going to change your procrastinator ways overnight. 

For that reason, it’s also important to know what red flags to look for when hiring a VA. And if you already have a VA, learning how certain tendencies on their side can present problems when paired with your natural procrastinator style.

Virtual assistants are typically well trained in the tasks you have them do. But often, managing people, including you, is not typically their strong suit; or their desire. 

Since most VAs aren’t used to challenging their bosses, they are more likely to sit back and wait to hear from you. 

For procrastinator coaches this is a recipe for disaster. 

If you’re a natural procrastinator, you will need a little more personal management and accountability in addition to the tasks you want to have done. 

** At the very least, you'll need someone who can be aggressive enough to follow up on needed tasks and push you a little when they aren’t getting what they need to do an excellent job for you.

In addition, if a VA doesn’t recognize that you are a procrastinator, they may also wait till the last minute, a deadline you agreed to, in order to get a task done. 

Don’t Throw in the Towel

Being a procrastinator does not mean you can’t benefit from delegating. It just means you may need to look for someone that has a slightly different set of skills than you originally thought.

Sure, you still want someone who has the organization and marketing skills you are looking for but you will also need someone who isn’t just a SELF-starter but someone who can hold you accountable. You need someone who can press you for more information when necessary and not wait for a response. 

A great VA will recognize that you are a procrastinator and will help you identify realistic deadlines and set them.

These qualifications tend to be rare in virtual assistants though. It’s like hiring an administrative assistant when you need an executive assistant.

What can you do then? What’s above a VA? 

We are SOOO glad you asked! 

Introducing the Online Business Manager

The next step in virtual services after a virtual assistant is an Online Business Manager; sometimes also called a Virtual Business Manager. 

An Online Business Manager is someone who can do more for you and your business. 

This person is going to have more leadership and project management skills than a traditional VA. 

While he or she may still do some of the admin tasks, they may also outsource those on your behalf to other VAs. 

The best part, though, is that THEY manage the team for you. 

An Online Business Manager is going to be that person who holds you accountable. 

Online Business Manager

She’s going to push back when you need more accountability. 

She’s going to dig in to get the details rather than wait around for you to share them. They are going to find the answers rather than wait for you to provide them. 

If you want to read more about Online Business Managers, check out some of these great articles:

Virtual Assistant or Online Business Manager - What’s the Difference?

How to Choose the Right Online Business Manager for YOU 

Online Business Manager Interview Questions You Need to Ask

What You Can Do Right Now

An OBM sounds great but what if you have a virtual assistant right now and you need to get things moving in the right direction. Here are some tips that may help:

Plan Ahead

One of the number one things you can do to help your VAs is to plan WAY ahead. 

Solopreneurs tend to fly by the seat of their pants. But that doesn’t work well when you have others on the team trying to help you reach your goals. 

  • Create a plan at least 3 to 6 months in advance and work from that plan. 
  • Make sure you discuss changes with your VA as soon as you know about them.

Work Backward from Deadlines

Most procrastinators don’t think about deadlines. They work at the last minute. 

If you plan out your deadlines in advance, it can help you determine a better time frame for getting things done.

Build in a Cushion 

It's easy to anticipate how long it will take YOU to do something but working with others requires additional time. 

Unless you have a VA full time, 40 hours a week, she has other things she is doing. 

She’s not always going to be able to drop everything to work on your last-minute project. Sending her a revision at 7pm in the evening and asking her to send the email to your list at 10am the next morning isn’t realistic. 

Give your VA a longer turnaround time than you think is necessary. Negotiate realistic expectations in advance.


Encourage Accountability

Empower your VA to follow up with you as needed. Tell her it’s OK to email you or call if you haven’t gotten something to her by a certain date. 

For some VAs, this is a skill they can adapt to when they are encouraged to do so by their “boss”. 

For others, it’s just way outside of their comfort zone and they won’t do it no matter how much you encourage them.

Work with a Coach

Even coaches need coaches. 

If procrastination is preventing your business success, consider working with a coach that can help you overcome some of these traits. It may just be one of the best investments you make.

You Can Do It!

Being a procrastinator doesn’t mean you can’t be successful and it doesn’t mean you can’t delegate. 

It simply means you change the things you look for in a candidate and closely watch your own behaviors and how they are affecting the overall team performance. 

The Ultimate Guide to Delegating

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