How to Spot an Overwhelmed Distant Assistant

How to Spot an Overwhelmed Distant Assistant

Productivity is an indicator of good performance among distant assistants. It tells where and how they worked, and whether or not they have been worth the investment. What happens when you have an overwhelmed distant assistant

The effects may become more alarming than the signs. Projects are pushed back, responsibilities are neglected, and in the worse cases, the distant assistant quits.

Related Post: How to Deal with a Distant Assistant Who Doesn’t Show Up

What Causes Workplace Stress

Overwhelm is a breaking point of stress. It comes either as a result of having too much to handle so soon or having to “hang on” for a long time. It elicits anxiety, fatigue, and helplessness at work.

According to The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), job stress is not the same as job challenges. 

Challenge plays an important role in the workplace. It drives us to do better and to become more productive. It brings pleasant rewards of relaxation and satisfaction as opposed to popular opinion.

Stress enters when we find ourselves constrained. We think that the skills we have, the resources that are available to us, and/or our needs seem insufficient in fulfilling the requirements of the job.

That is why we may feel as if we are facing a wall despite the convenience of working from home. Overwhelmed distant assistants see no easy way of accomplishing their goals. There is a myriad of choices from which they must make a good decision instead.

Here are three signs that your distant assistant is overwhelmed. 

1. The VA often confuses or leaves out important details

Have you ever asked your distant assistant about a project but received a totally different answer? Or, has your distant assistant submitted an assignment that is way different than instructed? If yes, how many times did it happen?

Overwhelm leaves the brain exhausted. According to Dr. Aimie, it clouds the mind and makes people panic even about the smallest things. 

2. The VA takes too long to finish an assignment

Does it take hours, days or weeks for your distant assistant to finish an assignment? What is your distant assistant’s usual turnaround? Are the current number of hours longer than expected?

Assignments that have been dragged for a long time may mean that the distant assistant already has a heavy workload and is simply “hanging on”. 

It is important to ask the distant assistant about any difficulty encountered. Establish a way to communicate effectively and stay updated on tasks. An assignment may either require more time to complete or your distant assistant is already down in the blues.

Related Post: How to Communicate Effectively in a Virtual Workplace

3. The VA often calls in sick or late

How many absences has your distant assistant filed in the past few months? How many were unfiled? Does your distant assistant come to work on time or able to fill the required number of hours in a day?

Overwhelm unlocks a survival response from the brain. The coping mechanism varies from person to person. It depends on the usual patterns that both the brain and the body have been used to.

Some people tend to hype up and fight. Some try to avoid and run away from the pressure. Others isolate themselves from the world.

The more time it takes to respond, the heavier the burden that one carries. This eventually leads to wear and tear of the body’s systems, enabling fatigue and health problems—both of which are common causes of absenteeism and tardiness. 


Everyone is susceptible to overwhelm. A distant assistant may experience overwhelm when caught unprepared by the delegation of a new assignment. The assignment could be something that is yet unfamiliar or something that requires a lot of work—even more work than the distant assistant’s current workload could handle.

Overwhelm may also come into play when there has been so much effort or work done already. Exhaustion overpowers the distant assistant’s physical, mental and spiritual energy. Consequently, it drags assignments, affects morale, and lowers productivity.     

Helping the distant assistant to get back on track becomes crucial. There are different ways to cope. Sometimes the distant assistant may need to refocus the energy lost and, in some cases, the work setting could use some adjustments. 

Have you seen any of the signs displayed by a distant assistant? Let us know what you think in the comments below! Free consultations are also available.

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Jaime Jay

About Jaime Jay

Meet Jaime Jay – a man who wears many hats, and wears them all admirably. He's a master connector, an entrepreneur extraordinaire, and a published author who knows how to get things done.

Before he found his way to the business world, Jaime served his country as a brave paratrooper in the U.S. Army. But that's just the beginning of his many accomplishments.

He's the founder of the renowned Bottleneck Distant Assistant Services firm, and his book "Quit Repeating Yourself" has become a must-read for entrepreneurs everywhere.

When he's not busy building his empire, you can find him on his beloved Harley Davidson, cruising through the countryside and taking in the invigorating effects of Uitwaaien – a Dutch practice that involves facing the wind to boost health and relieve stress.

He enjoys spending his free time outside building stuff with his wife, Nikita the dog and their two kittens (for now at least) Tommy and Tater.

He is ‘over-the-moon’ happily married to his wonderful wife Sara, his amazing daughter, Jessica, who is serving our country as a United States Army soldier. Jaime and Sara are the proud grand parents of two beautiful little girls.


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