Easily identify tasks to hand off to a Virtual Assistant TODAY — so you can spend more time doing what you love

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“Your time should be spent doing the things you love to do and do best.”

Seems basic, right?

I first learned about Dan Sullivan’s concept of “Unique Ability” after a leader I admire raved about how impactful Dan’s process was for him. The process helped him define what his best work looked like—the work that he was world-class at and enjoyed doing.

The problem is — like many entrepreneurs I know— I spent most of my career devoted to tasks that I was great at, but couldn’t say I enjoyed. As a “startup janitor”, a founder doesn’t always get to hone in on the tasks they enjoy day-in and day-out. Someone has to meet with the attorney, answer the customer service calls, and fumble through being a sales person in order to keep revenue coming in. At the end of the day, if you are a founder of a small startup, those tasks often fall to you.

That’s where Unique Ability comes into play. To identify my Unique Ability, I took the steps below using help from as agency we started working with. (Note: This is simply a take on Dan Sullivan’s full process in his book. I took liberties to modify the process for my own needs.)

  1. Create a running list of all work tasks for the next 48 hours.
  2. Begin sorting the list of tasks into buckets. You will start to see patterns emerge about how you are spending your time.
  3. Now, put each task bucket into 4 quadrants:

High passion, high talent (or “Unique Ability”): You have superior skill when it comes to these tasks. People often tell you that you are good at them. You feel passion, a buzz of energy, and you are in-flow. There is never-ending improvement ahead and you want to learn more.

Low passion, high talent: You are good at getting these tasks done. In fact, sometimes you think you might be the only one out there who will “get it right.” The biggest difference between Unique Ability and Excellent activities is your lack of passion. You can do these tasks — and do them well — but they don’t excite you in the least.

High passion, low talent: Don’t forget about this work! These are the areas you are interested in growing over time. You’re not awesome at this work — yet — but you are passionate about improving.

Low passion, low talent: Stop. Doing. These. Things. Today.

If you are anything like me, a lot of your 48 hours worth of tasks fall into the “low passion, high talent” quadrant. For me, a shocking 60% of my work was passion-less during those 48 hours. It was time to bring on help to see if I could clear the deck for more Unique Ability work!

Working with a Virtual Assistant

The best part of this exercise was walking away with a list of tasks that I was doing well each day, but didn’t enjoy. I knew exactly the kinds of things I needed a hand with.

My “low passion, high talent” list included things like:

  • Social media posting
  • Cleaning up our team’s cloud file systems (Dropbox and Google Drive)
  • Email customer service

Here’s how I tackled handing off these tasks to a Virtual Assistant:

  1. Our remote team is a huge fan of using Loom to record screenshares of processes. If you are not a video person, you must know I did not used to be one either. It only took me a week of using Loom to have it become my preferred way to communicate. Handing off online processes is infinitely easier when you record a screenshare of the step-by-step processes for your Virtual Assistant.
  2. While documenting processes for a project hand-off is a wonderful idea, so is letting your Virtual Assistant navigate waters for himself/herself. Leave room for the possibility that he/she may have a new idea that ends up being a hit, or sees a way to do it differently that is more efficient. Provide guidance rather than a rulebook.
  3. Like many people I know, I read a lot each week in amazing email newsletters curated by people I admire. Some of my favorites are Launch Ticker, Granted, Coffee Table Typography, and In Better News. In the past, I would share the coolest bits straight away as I read them live on social media. However, two problems popped up: (1) using newsletter text to create a tweet or LinkedIn post takes extra time and (2) I was often consuming the newsletters at the same time during a break from work, so my posts were one right after the next and spamming people. Now, I forward a newsletter I love to my Virtual Assistant, highlight what I want to share on social media, and she drops it into my Buffer queue to be scheduled. I get to share content I enjoy without spending the time it takes to actually post. If you are not using Buffer to manage your social media yet, come check out what their team has built here. [referral link]
  4. I got honest with myself about how I wanted to spend my time. It’s hard to turn over tasks we’re good at. However, I could see how continuing to spend 60% of my time on tasks I am talented at but don’t enjoy would lead to burnout. I kept an eye out for tasks in my “low passion, high talent” quadrant that may be in my Virtual Assistant’s “high passion, high talent” (or Unique Ability) quadrant. As we grow our teams, we want projects to be owned by those who are most excited about them. It’s only right that I shift tasks I don’t enjoy off my plate to someone to enjoys them! Win-win.

I am new to working with Virtual Assistants. So far, I am enjoying the process of learning how to delegate, grow a team, and do my most fulfilling work. Do you work with Virtual Assistants? How did you determine which tasks and projects to send their way, and which ones to keep hacking away on yourself?

Jacqueline Jensen is a COO, former venture-backed startup founder, TEDx speaker, author, and Royal Society of Arts Fellow.