A day in the life of Nigerian virtual assistants
We get asked this question a lot by prospective clients, friends, family, curious strangers: you’re fulltime virtual assistants in Nigeria? Yes, we are. Today, Ibukun and Foluke will be discussing what their typical day of work is like and what it really means to be an assistant.
Ibukun Akinnawo: I think there’s a need to demystify the work that we do as VAs. A lot of people I’ve spoken to don’t actually know what it means to be a VA and what our job looks like day-to-day
Foluke Adebayo: I get that a lot as well. I also get asked how it’s possible to really provide assistance without being physically present with the client.
Ibukun Akinnawo: So true! I think for me, to begin with, no two days are ever the same. I try to have some semblance of structure but that has changed a lot over the past few months.
Foluke Adebayo: I’d say the same. Speaking on structure, most days basically start the same
but switches as tasks come in. At the end of the day as well, they mostly look the same but when I evaluate each day separately, they’re unique in their own way
Ibukun Akinnawo: When I first started at IPA in January, I used to wake up at like 4:30am because I needed to be on the phone with a client at 6am. And at the time, I had another job working admin at a private school. I resumed at 7:30am and finished 5pm so a lot of my VA work was after hours. But after a while, my schedule changed and I didn’t have to wake up so early anymore. Now the world pretty much is fine without me till like 9am. I try not to start work earlier than that
Foluke Adebayo: One thing I’ve learnt how to do in the past couple of days too is to keep work between the hours of 9am and 5pm. Except for when there’s an urgent need. I’ve found I don’t know how to take my mind off work especially when I feel like there’s still something to be done. In recent times, I’ve woken up at dawn to work because I couldn’t take my mind of work!
Ibukun Akinnawo: Struggle! I typically begin my day at 9am, make a fresh cup of coffee, turn music on because it helps me focus and I work on internal affairs till about 11am. Internal affairs being checking my emails to see if there are any time-sensitive tasks to work on for clients, social media, IPA’s Trello board, writing my to-do list for the day, brainstorming marketing strategies or planning something. I’m always planning something. Then 11am to 12pm, I take a break to have breakfast and watch a new episode of Blindspot, Quantico or HTGAWM. 12pm to 4pm, I work on clients’ projects. 5pm I have a late lunch and start winding down for the day. I tell people I work average 5 hours a day because work for me truly starts at 12pm. The brainstorming and planning part is easy. What does your work day look like?
Foluke Adebayo: My day pretty much starts 9am with me checking social media for potential clients. If there are none, I wait for instructions on tasks while reading, or learning new things on the internet. During the day, I take calls from clients, manage their schedules and other other tasks assigned to me. When I’m not working, I’m reading. I mostly have breakfast at 9am and have late lunch or dinner at 5pm or 6pm.
Ibukun Akinnawo: What would you say is your favorite thing about being a VA?
Foluke Adebayo: I enjoy the randomness of it. One minute I can be lost in a book, the next I’m trying to get a book done.
Ibukun Akinnawo: I think my favorite thing about being a VA is I get to wake up when I want and I have more “control” over my day than most people do. I’m a homebody so being able to work from home most times and work out of a coworking space when Im bored is a blessing
Foluke Adebayo: You took that right out of my mouth. I also like the satisfaction I get knowing that every day is spent doing something meaningful. Not just sitting at a desk doing routine tasks day in day out. Being a VA has stretched me and it has reinforced the thought that I can do whatever I set my heart to do.
Ibukun Akinnawo: Yes! A lot of the time, you have to learn things quickly and on the job! It’s challenging work but also fulfilling when you get the job done well. What would you say you don’t quite like about being a VA?
Foluke Adebayo: To be honest, I haven’t found anything I particularly dislike about being a VA save for the fact that working from home now bores me to death – I might try coworking spaces soon.
Ibukun Akinnawo: For me, I don’t quite like not being able to go on dates and socialise. Many times, clients don’t realize you have a life outside of them and they call you at like 12am to help them with something.
Foluke Adebayo: Haha!
Ibukun Akinnawo: It can be problematic but I find ways to manage their expectations. Sometimes though, there are some things that can’t wait so you have to do them immediately. Date or not
Foluke Adebayo: Yes there are. I do have a bad habit of carrying work around with me. I’m trying to fix that.
I’m learning to leave work except for when there are urgent needs.
Ibukun Akinnawo: If you had to write your job description as a VA, what would be in it? I manage my client’s email accounts. Make sure they aren’t missing important things. Also manage their calendar/diary, plan their travel, order items for them online, write articles for them, do research, write proposals, manage social media
Foluke Adebayo: I manage emails and schedules, carry out research, make calls to clients and vendors, plan travel itineraries, manage social media, write articles, press releases and proposals, source online for products for clients
*Ibukun and Foluke are virtual assistants at IPA.