People ask us everyday about best practices. “What’s the very best way to use a ZA?”, they want to know.
We’ve seen clients work with a ZA by their (virtual) side from kitchen tables to coffee shops to office spaces… from California to England to Antarctica. We’ve watched as clients around the world live easier, happier lives with their ZAs to lean on.
What we’ve identified as the underlying factor in all of these successful partnerships is habit.
Hands down, those who make the most of Zirtual habitually rely on the help of their ZAs. These clients incorporate their ZAs into their lives, week-by-week, month-by-month. This is best practice numero uno when it comes to making the most of a Zirtual Assistant.
So, let’s talk about how you can put this best practice into action! Our goal is to help you make your use of Zirtual a habit—we promise it’ll be a good one.
Home Court Habits
In her blog post, “Home Court Habits: The Secret to Effortless Weight Control”, Darya Pino Rose presents an approach to weight control defined by establishing and tracking good habits. The premise is this: if you consciously make healthy choices most of the time, the times that you don’t won’t matter.
Essentially, “home court habits” are goals. They’re pre-determined targets that — one by one — ensure you’re outweighing the bad with the good. The assumption is that if you hit each of your ten (or, whatever) hand-selected diet and exercise goals each week, you won’t gain weight no matter what else you do.
One thing I love about the concept of home court habits is the terminology. It’s so good, and it’s so good because when you break down the words you understand their combined meanings more profoundly:
“Home court”: Your turf. These are the assumed “wins” (i.e., achieved goals) — the weekday nights you skip happy hour to spend at home, or travel-free weekends you lay low.
Your home court represents all the times you can (and will) administer full control over your choices.
“Habits”: Simply, your good habits. The good choices you’ll make — habitually — when you have the opportunity to make them. This is the grilled chicken you substitute for the slice of pizza.
So, your home court habits are the good choices you’ve decided to make anytime you’re able. They’re the goals you decide you’ll fulfill when you have the chance, so that you protect yourself for the times you might not have control. To bring our example full circle: you’ll make a salad for dinner all the nights you’re home, so that you prepare for the night out with your friends when tacos are the healthiest item on the menu.
What makes Darya’s approach so effective is the shift in mindset it ignites; the identification of your good habits and your commitment to achieving them. It takes the open-endedness out of “healthy living” and replaces it with definitive action.
Take one of Darya’s home court habits, which I’ve also adopted: taking 10,000 steps every day. It’s not a secret that the more you walk the healthier you’ll be. But the subway gets you to the meeting fastest and there’s a TV show calling your name every night, which comes with a comfortable seat on the couch. Without being cognizant of the amount you’re walking, you just don’t walk — despite your full understanding of the great benefits of a long stroll.
Enter home court habits. Once you’ve determined to put one foot in front of the other ten thousand times every day, you’ll adjust the way you do things to meet your goal. You’ll walk across town instead of taking the 7 train. You might even DVR your TV shows while you explore your neighborhood to get those last 1000 steps in. You don’t have to be entirely sure how you’ll get to 10k everyday, but that you absolutely will.
Habits and Lifestyle
It occurred to me on one of my “extra walks” that this idea should work just as well for delegation as it does for weight control.
If you’ve come to Zirtual, you’ve come for help. You’re seeking an improved life: more time to devote to the work you do best, more time with your kids, or even just a few more minutes everyday to sit back and relax.
Healthy living, after all, isn’t limited to the exercise and nutrition choices you make. Your mental and emotional wellbeing is as important as your body’s — the need to maintain your sanity is, in fact, stronger (you’d hope) than the need to maintain your weight. You know this, and you’ve wisely chosen delegation as one method to improve your life.
But just like you’d walk less without paying attention to it, it’s easy to miss out on your opportunities to delegate without establishing it as a habit and tracking it. You know you need the help and that you’ll live a happier and stress-reduced life with the help of your ZA. That’s why you signed up. Deadlines and days pass quickly, though, and your ZA (like your legs) may go underutilized.
So how do you turn a goal like 10,000 steps a day into something meant for delegation? Asking your ZA to rack up 10k for you would certainly defeat the purpose…
The first step is identical: changing your mindset. You no longer just need “help” (i.e. you’re no longer going to “walk more”), you need help with specific tasks (you’re going to take 10,000 steps every day). You want to establish what we’ll call “Delegation Definites”. You’ll develop habits for delegation just like you’d develop a walking habit for weight control.Darya touches on an important point in her post. For habits to last, you have to enjoy them. Why is this cool for delegation? Let’s take a backwards look at it. As the delegator, you’ll have to enjoy the outcome of having the work done for you. So, what are the best things to delegate? The things you like to do least!
This is a good place to start with the next step: identifying your Delegation Definites. Put together a list of the things you don’t like to do, and determine which you can establish as your Delegation Definites. Some common examples of these might be:
- Filling out expense reports
- Researching and booking travel
- Ordering office supplies
- Scheduling and managing your calendar
- Writing introduction emails
As home court habits differ from person to person, so too will Delegation Definites. Figure out the things that make you the happiest to hand off to your ZA, and make these your truest habits.
Now, Delegation Definites differ from home court habits in an important way. With home court habits for weight maintenance, you want to hit your targets all the time. This is not necessarily your intention with Delegation Definites. If you don’t need to travel this week, it’d be silly to hand off trip research to your ZA. That would be more work for everyone involved, decreasing efficiency and counteracting our objective.
Establishing your Delegation Definites means that you’ve made the commitment to delegate certain tasks whenever they come up. This may be twice a week or once a month, but you know that whenever you need to travel you’ll automatically delegate the research and booking to your ZA.
As you’re getting started, you’ll want to choose a small handful of Delegation Definites. The exact amount of time it takes to form a habit is disputed, but it’s clear that it does take significant time. Give yourself an appropriate amount of time with your first few Delegation Definites — a good measure is 4-6 weeks. Once you’re delegating these automatically to your ZA, then build upon your Delegation Definites.
The last step will be tracking your Delegation Definites and holding yourself accountable to them. As Darya describes with home court habits, they’re “so essential, you shouldn’t trust yourself or your best intentions to maintain them.”Now, here’s where the delegation aspect gets super sweet. When I’ve completed my 10,000 steps every day I have to go into my Lift app and check it off the list. Action is required on my part — which holds me accountable — but the effort is all mine. This takes some discipline.When you have a ZA this step becomes much easier. Your ZA can help to hold you accountable to your Delegation Definites. If both of you are aware of your Delegation Definites, you’ll be more inclined to implement them. You’ll know that someone is there waiting for you to live up to your goals. This is much more powerful and incentivizing than an automated email from your app!
Just do it!
Establishing and maintaining your Delegation Definites is the first, and surest, step to living a life made easier through delegation. (One day, I hope we’ll change the name of this post to “Delegation Definites: The Secret to Effortless Living”!)
Delegation requires commitment like any other lifestyle change. Just as home court habits help to ensure weight control, Delegation Definites help to make sure that you’re always getting the help you need — sanity control, some might call it. Commit to building Delegation Definites into your life and you’ll be on your way to experiencing the true benefits of delegation. It’s truly the best best practice!