Your to do list is dragging you down. Why do tasks that do not inherently enhance the quality of your life when you could pay someone $10 and hour to do them? I learned this when my boss and I had our new computers set up at our homes. I stayed at home all day waiting for the technical person to arrive and then worked the weekend to catch up. My boss had his assistant wait at home and he got more done than I did without even having to work the weekend. Day after day I watched my boss get twice as much done as I did until I hired my own personal assistant — and after that, I looked at the tasks of daily life in a different light.

We each have big goals in our life and all big goals take time: Growing a successful career, being a good spouse, and climbing Mt. McKinley. None of these grand goals requires you to pick up the dry cleaning yourself.

Each time you do a mindless task yourself you make a statement about the value of your time. If you had an extra hour with your kids, would it be worth $10? If you had an extra hour at the office could you increase the value of your output to make up for the $10 (think: raise down the line). If you're spending a significant part of your day doing tasks that are not integral to your life goals, then you're wasting your time.

Your first thought should always be, “Do I need to do this myself?” How does a CEO create value that's bigger than herself? She has other people doing the work so she can think about big picture issues. (And in fact, you are probably a person doing this CEOs work. More incentive for you to act like the CEO of your life and pass off the slough.) If you want to create something big you need to hire people to help you.

So why doesn't everyone have a personal assistant that they hired from the local university? Heck, a fourteen year old could do half the tasks on most lists. (In fact, the first university student I hired used to sub-contract my tasks to his fraternity brothers, which I accepted as evidence of how little training it took to do my tasks.)

Some people overestimate the difficulty of tasks and underestimate the frustration impact. They say, “Training the person would take longer than doing it myself.” HEL-LO!?!?! Did anyone train you to call the insurance company to complain about a bill? No. It's trial and error. So your assistant can learn himself. Even five calls would only cost you less than $10. But if you did the five calls to the insurance company yourself you'd be angry and frustrated for the next two hours.

Some people overestimate the importance of a task. They say, “The person would never do it how I want.” But so what? You're not giving the core of your life to the assistant. You're not saying, for example, “Can you climb Mt. McKinely for me?” You're asking for something like food shopping. So let's say the assistant buys the wrong bread and forgets pasta. Is having the right food in the house integral to your life goals? The answer is probably No. You can eat pancakes instead of pasta. It's a small price to pay to have enough time to meet your life goals.

A time optimist does not use an assistant because she says, “It'll take me more time to ask the assistant to do the task than to do the task myself.” This person misunderstands time. Buying movie tickets, for example takes ten minutes on the phone, but it takes only one minute to ask an assistant to do it. If you make the choice to spend the 10 minutes doing it yourself seven times a day, you've wasted an hour of your time.

If you are currently employed don't tell me you don't have enough money. Think of yourself as a small business, and follow the basic rules of running a business: You have to reinvest profits (your salary) back into the business (your career) if you want to see growth (your promotion). No matter how much you earn, as long as you can cover basic life necessities (food, clothes, housing — not sailing lessons) a portion of your profits should go back into your business.

Learning to use an assistant effectively is not easy — it takes practice. But using an assistant now, for your personal tasks, your will train yourself to effectively leverage the personal assistant you get from your employer when you get promotion after promotion from being so intently focused on your goals.

21 replies
  1. Mary Ann Westendorf
    Mary Ann Westendorf says:

    Concierge Services are giving busy people some a new breath!
    A wave of relief is faintly heard as an army of small concierge businesses circulate within the global community. Small companies are handling the endless and eclectic mix of requests for help. A call from Tokyo to have a small dinner party arranged in the home of an elderly friend in New Westminster, a geologist from Alberta needs to have a visa to enter China in a 24 hour time crunch, a zealous mother calls for help the week before their daughter’s wedding or helping a frantic Realtor spruce up a home for Open House. …..They just can’t do it all. Who do they call? Concierge services have diversified backgrounds, offer a plethora of expertise and they get the job done. It's not all urgent or unusual i.e. Shopping at Costco for the monthly groceries or running a few errands around town. Concierge services are the fastest growing segment of the service industry in North America. Personal Assistants are now opening businesses in every community. They permeate the internet with advice on how to prioritize your valuable time and encourage you to enjoy those extra hours with family and friends.True success is getting the things you want and finding the time to enjoy it.

  2. Nansi Alexander
    Nansi Alexander says:

    Gee, thanks for telling me the PA I’ve been doing for the past ten years, which I mistakenly thought takes a lot of thought and organization skills, is really a bunch of mindless crap a trained monkey could do blind-folded.

    I feel very empowered now.

  3. Paula Weidner
    Paula Weidner says:

    I’ve had a busy and stressful time at work this year, but never so bad that I would want to divorce myself from my community. Grocery shopping, picking up drycleaning, and doing errands are a part of my social life. I live in this community, which comprises the people that work where I shop. They shop where I work. I don’t have many dinner parties, I meet my neighbors at the grocery store and we converse. Sometimes we have block parties and potlatch.

    • Albert
      Albert says:

      Paula, I think your comment brings back the idea of your priorities and larger life goals. If you want to be connected to your community, then of course you’ll want to do some of those things yourself – maybe all. I would argue though, that you could pick and choose some for someone else to do.

      I also think that one could outsource cleaning the home, mowing the lawn, etc in the same way. It doesn’t have to create a full time job for someone, maybe the kid on your block that just got a car will submit and pick up your dry-cleaning every week (and that’s all he does for you). Maybe you’re like me and eat a list of staples and could have someone go every week and buy them for you? I think this is a great idea overall, but I must admit, I’ve been thinking about it myself for a while – especially since I live alone and cannot share chores with anyone.

  4. how to be a good personal assistant
    how to be a good personal assistant says:

    Hey,

    It’s a good article about importance of personal assistant and why busy professional need to hire personal assistant. Whenever, we need to hire personal assistant we need take care of possible qualities to look for a personal assistant like: Flexibility, Ability to Multi-Task, Ability to Learn Quickly and Effectively and Knowledge of Office Procedures. He should be complete office material.

  5. Ross
    Ross says:

    A good article. What readers need to be aware of is how they pick and choose the tasks and how or who should do them.

    I watched a comedy sketch recently on TV where a guy took it too far by getting someone to pass him the salt at the dinner table. So it’s important to know, as mentioned above, what delegated tasks end up being more of a hindrance over just doing it yourself.

  6. Brady Bagwan
    Brady Bagwan says:

    Great article. I completely agree. It’s still in the early days with many professionals not even considering the use of a personal assistant service. Part of it is the American way of doing things yourself. I just started a company called Delegate Source based in Denver. While there are quite a few concierge services out there, there are very few who approach lifestyle and household management broadly. It really is simple math. If a professional’s hourly cost is more than the cost of outsourcing personal services, why not achieve a better work/life balance by delegating errands and tasks?

  7. Chris Russell
    Chris Russell says:

    I have no experience, willing to learn it all n go the extra mile. Do pretty much anything as being your personal assistant. Call or txt 18157687909 anyywhere in the country.

  8. Overseas Assistant
    Overseas Assistant says:

    I can understand people who don’t want to delegate a task.

    But there are times when there is no other solution, especially when the task has to be done in a country different from yours.

  9. Liza
    Liza says:

    I totally agree! People often think a PA is something for the higher segment, but if you are a busy person you just NEED one!

    Have a nice day!

    Best wishes,

    Liza @ Concierge Service

  10. Vayantram90
    Vayantram90 says:

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  11. Virtualold01
    Virtualold01 says:

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    Virtualold01 says:

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  13. On The Go Joe
    On The Go Joe says:

    How about carrying your personal assistant around in your pocket? I use a service called Maestro. It is a card with a dedicated phone number for me to call anytime 24/7. My personal assistant will answer any question I have about anything I need any time I want. They’ll also give me directions, make reservations, arrange meetings, purchase movie or concert tickets, and much more. Everything I don’t have time to do. Check it out at http://www.maestros.com

  14. Kenjie
    Kenjie says:

    As a busy entrepreneur myself, I also use personal assistant services. I don’t mind training people at least they will help me grow my business and saves my time in the long run.

Comments are closed.