EP 010: How Virtual Assistant Work Enables a Creative Life

panic proof radio blog Lee

Lee LeBreton is a multi-talented creator. As a playwright, actor, and producer in the New York theater scene, finding a flexible job that allows him to pay the bills is paramount. After moving to the city following grad school, he considered the prototypical day-job gig waiting tables, but fortunately, a number of Lee’s friends were already doing some virtual assistant work with a young Don’t Panic Management.

This was 2014, so Lee wasn’t super familiar with remote work (very few were!) but his friends had great things to say about it, and the work seemed interesting, so he applied and became a part of the Don’t Panic team in October of that year.

Lee notes that one of the things he was immediately struck by was how each of his clients was interested in him as a person. And the feeling was mutual; Lee formed meaningful connections with his clients early on, and it made it easy for him to invest in the work, despite a busy schedule.

Lee found that his work with Don’t Panic allowed him to flex some of his creative muscles, too. Lee writes, produces podcasts, manages social media, and does graphic design for clients—all work that plays directly into his talents as a playwright and theater producer. Plus, Lee is able to apply what he’s learned about marketing writing to his work as a theater producer, promoting performances online. This overlap makes the theater work and virtual assistant work feel symbiotic.

One of the things Lee learned early on was the importance of finding a way to be productive from home. Lee remembers the winter of 2015, his first winter in New York and as a VA, as particularly challenging. Snowstorms galore and the short days locked at home meant Lee needed to find a way to stay on track, fast.

He ended up writing about winter WFH productivity hacks for the Don’t Panic blog. The advice remains as relevant as ever, and the post still gets great traffic to this day. But the other point Lee makes about WFH life is that finding productivity is often personal. It’s about getting to know your own energetic peaks and valleys and structuring your day accordingly. This is the kind of thing you discover for yourself through trial and error.

What you should never leave to trial and error, though, is clarity around your work processes with your VA. Lee says that the most important piece of advice he can share with entrepreneurs or business owners thinking about hiring a VA is to invest in creating process documentation.

Many harried business owners turn to a VA when things are already on fire. Slowing down to create clear documentation seems counterintuitive. But when you lay solid groundwork for your relationship, outlining how you prefer things to be done from the start, you set yourself and your VA up for a long, happy, honest relationship.

Key Takeaways

  • VA work can feed your other interests and vice versa. Lee’s skills as a voiceover artist help him edit podcasts for clients. Social media marketing tips from clients empower Lee to promote his artistic work.
  • Finding your remote work groove is part life hack and part knowing thyself. Yes, learn about the Pomodoro Technique. But also let your own body and energy levels guide you.
  • Make the effort to connect on a deeper level with your colleague. Whether you’re the VA or the boss, you’ll feel more invested in the work when you have a stronger understanding of what makes your professional other half tick.

Top Quotes

“There is a part of [remote work] that’s so personal you can’t really have it handed to you. And that personal bit is around when are my energetic peaks in the day?” – @unusualgemstone Lee LeBreton on finding your #WFH rhythm. Click To Tweet “Being an artist, being a performer in this time is a lot of being your own manager/branding expert.” – @unusualgemstone Lee LeBreton on how #VA skills feed into his #artistic life. Click To Tweet “Having that control over my work environment has also helped me prioritize things like wellness when I’ve needed it.” – @unusualgemstone Lee LeBreton on the greater value of flexible work. Click To Tweet

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