I Tried a VA Service—Here’s What Happened

I Tried a VA Service—Here’s What Happened

Ever wonder what the virtual assistant experience is like? How does it feel to have all your to-dos being taken care of? Does it really make a difference to overall feelings of well-being? 

To better explain the experience, a member of our team hired an independent virtual assistant for research purposes and to help describe what it was like to outsource her to-do list. Here’s what happened... 

Hi! I’m Amy. I work for TokyoMate, a bilingual virtual assistant service based in Tokyo.

A little about me: I manage several web projects with my small international team (5 to 10 people). I base my work style on the motto, “Focus on being productive instead of busy,” by Tim Ferriss, a well-known productivity expert.  

I have pretty clear goals of what I want to achieve when delegating my work: (1) To bring out the best in my team and provide quality contributions as a manager. (2) To be a good friend, family member, and partner by following through on things properly.

This experiment's goal was to give you insight into the experience of hiring a virtual assistant—what the perks are, what you stand to gain, etc. 

Note: This VA service I hired was an independent virtual assistant service, not affiliated to TokyoMate in any way. VA service X provides assistant service with a team of fifteen people working in shifts, 24/7.

Tasks that I delegated: 

Task #1: Create a FedEx account to send a package from Japan to overseas

I was asked to arrange a shipment as soon as possible for a colleague who lives overseas and find out the cost, etc. 

I asked VA to work on this, and VA created a FedEx account for me, got a quote, created a shipment request, scheduled a pickup, and created an invoice. To share my new FedEx account information with me, VA used a secure password-sharing tool built into their interface. That tech integration was cool.

[Time VA spent: 1 hour 10 minutes]

Task #2: Research and find the best place to do a health check-up and get vaccinated 

VA did thorough research and provided a Google spreadsheet of five hospital options. The spreadsheet included contact information, website links, locations, opening hours, and cost.

Note: It would have been more helpful if VA provided insight and reviews of the clinics chosen and how they narrowed their selection. Did they select hospitals based on Google Place ratings? Or did they use some other review site? That would have provided a better understanding of the hospitals they chose. 

When I do any vendor research for TokyoMate, it requires time to ensure that the services or products I recommend have good reviews and are trustworthy. I could have asked VA to look into more reviews, but I checked the reviews on my own in the end. If I had known the assistant for longer and had established more trust, this wouldn’t have been an issue. In the end, I decided to go with one of the options VA provided.

[Time VA spent: 3 hours 5 minutes]

Task #3: Research and find the best dog sitter near my location 

I had just gotten a puppy who requires constant attention and care, making it challenging to get anything done. After a morning where it took me 40 minutes to make coffee due to multiple puppy interruptions, I decided to find a dog sitter. The VA team sent me a website link for a matching platform between dog owners and dog sitters, plus three dog sitters’ profiles.

Again, it would have been more helpful if I had insight into why the VA team recommended those dog sitters in particular. In the end, I took a look at the website and found my first dog sitter!

[Time VA spent: 1 hour 40 minutes]

How I felt during the week I used the VA service…

  • Calm—with more mental space to focus on high-impact tasks 

  • Efficient—with a larger capacity to get more things done in one day 

  • Competent in my personal life—not postponing getting the small things done 

Would have been happier if…

  • I got a dedicated assistant so I could build trust 

  • I knew how much time and cost that the VA was spending on each task 

  • I understood how they narrowed the selections they offered

Note: These are points that we make a concerted effort to meet at TokyoMate, which is perhaps why they stood out to me as needing improvement.


My experience with this independent VA service was positive overall. VA provided a fast response of 5 minutes on average—with little waiting around on my part. 

From this experience, I gave more practical feedback to my TokyoMate team and further improved our virtual assistant service.

Bottom line: It felt great to have someone work on the tasks that had been on the outskirts of my awareness and had been reducing my mental capacity, leaving me able to focus on high impact and creative tasks that only I can do. 

The TokyoMate Difference

After trying out an independent virtual assistant service, I’m even more confident in what the TokyoMate virtual assistant service offers to Japan's busy executives. 

There are many virtual assistant alternatives online—both Japanese and international from which you can choose. 

But as we covered before, the TokyoMate Assistant experience is different because of its deep understanding of the challenges foreigners face in living and working in Japan—where even simple tasks come with language and cultural hurdles to clear. It is also the only bilingual virtual assistant service that is specifically tailored to business owners in Japan.  

TokyoMate Assistant provides:

  • Experienced, vetted assistants who understand your needs beyond the initial request.

  • Proven record of 5-star work for top foreign executives and CEOs in Japan.

  • An experienced team with extensive knowledge of business culture in Japan.

  • Bilingual assistance that is tailored to business owners and executives. 

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