How to Spot an Overwhelmed Virtual Assistant


How to Spot an Overwhelmed Virtual Assistant
How to Spot an Overwhelmed Virtual Assistant

Productivity is an indicator of good performance among virtual 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 virtual assistant

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

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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 virtual 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 virtual assistant is overwhelmed. 

1. The VA often confuses or leaves out important details

Have you ever asked your virtual assistant about a project but received a totally different answer? Or, has your virtual 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 virtual assistant to finish an assignment? What is your virtual 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 virtual assistant already has a heavy workload and is simply “hanging on”. 

It is important to ask the virtual 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 virtual assistant is already down in the blues.

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3. The VA often calls in sick or late

How many absences has your virtual assistant filed in the past few months? How many were unfiled? Does your virtual 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 virtual 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 virtual 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 virtual assistant’s physical, mental and spiritual energy. Consequently, it drags assignments, affects morale, and lowers productivity.     

Helping the virtual assistant to get back on track becomes crucial. There are different ways to cope. Sometimes the virtual 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 virtual assistant? Let us know what you think in the comments below! Free consultations are also available.

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About Bottleneck Distant Assistants

Bottleneck Distant Assistants identifies, cultivates, and hires Dedicated Distant Assistants from the Philippines. We appreciate the unique Filipino culture that is in line with our core beliefs and integrated into our own company culture. Our Distant Assistants also share the same love for supporting business growth worldwide. Our Value Proposition: Helping our clients stop doing so many daily tasks to they are able to do their best work! There is not a better feeling than to have one of our clients let us know how much they appreciate the service we provide because of the impact it has made in their business and more important, in their personal lives.