Outsourcing tasks to a virtual assistant can boost your efficiency, focus and productivity so you can spend your workdays helping your small business grow and prosper.

It also may mean you don’t have to hire a full time new employee.

If you’re a small shop, a virtual assistant can improve your productivity by allowing you to focus mainly on high-level tasks only you can do, activities that directly produce profit for your business.

In order to maximize your productivity, however, it’s crucial to dole out the correct tasks and take advantage of a V.A.’s specialized skills. “The misconception is that a V.A. is just a secretary,” Goughenhour says.

The reality is that you can outsource almost any activities that are important to your business but not directly profit producing. Here are five tasks a V.A. can take off your plate to help streamline your busy days:

  1. Blog post writing. Unless your small business is a blog in which each blog post directly makes you money, you should consider outsourcing this task. In fact, Goughenhour says using a V.A. for her business blogging saves her hours every week. “She knows the deadline and I no longer even look at the copy — she just sends me a link,” she says of her V.A. “It’s off my plate and getting done.”
  2. Social media management. Many business owners who tackle social media themselves spend upwards of eight hours a week dealing with Twitter, Facebook or other accounts, according to Goughenhour. “That’s an outrageous amount of time,” she says. Once your assistant gets the hang of managing your posts on schedule, you no longer have to worry about this time-consuming chore.
  3. Work that uses rapidly changing technology. In many cases, it’s not worth your time to learn every nuance and update of the array of tech tools you use in your business. For example, a V.A. who understands how to use your electronic newsletter tool, and keeps abreast of updates, may be able to manage your e-newsletter more efficiently than you could. Or, a V.A. who knows the ins and outs of Kajabi, a platform for building online courses, membership sites and training portals, could come to you and say, “There’s a new thing in Kajabi, and here’s how you could use it to grow your business,” Goughenhour points out.
  4. Tasks you dislike. Is there an activity you know you should do but you’ve been procrastinating? That’s a sign you should consider assigning that work to an assistant, Goughenhour points out. All that procrastination takes up time and mental energy and distracts you from business building activities.
  5. Projects. Ongoing projects can be good candidates for outsourcing. For example, entrepreneur Matt Harney, who is building an environmental award for corporations, uses a V.A. to build and maintain a database of corporate sustainability contacts. This allows him to focus on higher-level activities, like spearheading a research grant initiative, he says.

Taking these items, and more, off your calendar can free your mind to concentrate on the bigger tasks that build your business. For example, consultant Camille Jamerson, who runs CJD & Associates consulting, says her virtual assistant acts as a sort of clearinghouse of tasks and follow-ups, which removes them from her own mind.

“When I get an email to request a meeting, I can forward it to her to find a slot on my calendar, confirm a location and send a meeting notice,” Jamerson says. “Once I give it to her, I can release it and focus on tasks that only I can do.”

Hiring a V.A. can be a big time saver, but it’s is just one way to delegate, and delegation is just one way to streamline your approach to running a small business.

In order to maximize your results, follow the easy efficiency program outlined in our guide, 21 Days to Be a More Productive Small Business Owner, a step-by-step plan that shows you how to harness techniques like outsourcing, automating and batching tasks to work smarter, not harder.