Virtual Assistant: Why Critical Thinking Matters
Online jobs are becoming more and more popular these days. With so many stories online and offline, about how a virtual assistant can earn three times, even four times more than his or her offline counterparts, who wouldn’t be interested? With such an income, who needs to work abroad? Who needs to leave his family just to earn some moolah?
Yes, there’s a surge of wannabes who’d like to try working online -stay-at-home mommies, laid-off dads, new graduates, working students, retirees – all wanting to augment the family income to beat the rising cost of expenses and save some cash in the process.
Unfortunately, some wannabes think that a VA’s job is easy. “Pa-Facebook-Facebook lang, kikita ka na!” (Just do Facebook and you’ll start earning). The truth is, it ain’t.
Virtual assistance requires more than just creating captivating FB posts. Neither does it urge you to do networking. Do you need to own a computer? Not necessarily, but you’ll have better chances of landing a job if you own one. Do you need skills? Definitely. Do you need to type fast? It actually depends on the job you’re applying to. What other skills are required? I can list down a multitude of skills, ranging from data entry to web design, but all of it will come to naught if you don’t use critical thinking.
What is Critical Thinking and Why Does a Virtual Assistant Need It?
Critical Thinking Web defines it best:
Critical thinking is not a matter of accumulating information. A person with a good memory and who knows a lot of facts is not necessarily good at critical thinking. A critical thinker is able to deduce consequences from what he knows, and he knows how to make use of information to solve problems, and to seek relevant sources of information to inform himself.
Why do you need it?
In most cases, a client gives the virtual assistant a list of tasks right after hiring. Some clients send tasks daily through email, Skype, Slack or similar apps. You’re lucky if your client gives you detailed instructions of what you’re supposed to do, suggests which apps to use and what he or she expects of the outcome. Otherwise, you are on your own.
If you find yourself in the latter situation, then, you have to do your own research. Knowing which keywords to use to facilitate your search requires critical thinking. So you thought of a good keyword? Great! Google gave you a million results? Not great. But if you think critically, you will try to find a way to make your search easier – like using Boolean Operators.
Now your results are down to 500. How would you know which of these sites provide reliable and valuable information? Sifting information requires critical thinking too. Remember the saying “Not everything that glitters is gold”? Similarly, not every website found in the first page of Google is the best source of information. Sometimes, it’s just the work of an SEO genius.
If you think critically, you’ll know that your best bet would be government websites or those that top in their niche, not sites that exist purely for profitability. READ: Those littered with ads or offer products or services (because chances are, the data they provide are biased). And don’t forget to install Web of Trust (WOT). It’s that add-on that changes colors depending on the trustworthiness of a website (Green for good reputation, RED for very poor).
You finally found the best results? Knowing what to do with the information that you found needs critical thinking too. What tool or application will best fit? Do you need to create tables? Excel. Do you need to crop photos? MS Office Picture Manager or online picture cropping tools. Documents? MS Word. Edit videos or audio? There are gazillions of tools out there – you just have to search for the right one that fits your needs.
Remember that as a virtual assistant, you’ll be working independently. Yes, you can join VA groups in different social media platforms to ask for suggestions, but you can’t always depend on their members to give you the solutions that you need when you need it. Understand that like you, they have to work too.
So before you ride the VA bandwagon, do some critical thinking. Your brain cells will thank you for it. 🙂