Handy work: Why you need a Virtual Assistant

Hands up, who needs some help? 

We all do, let’s face it.

Sometimes it’s hard to #standapart in your career while balancing the everyday demands life brings our way. At both home and work, the “to-do’s” pile up, Evernote accounts are overwhelmed and, all the while, the less important tasks (by which we mean not urgent) are pushed to the back burner (your hair, your teeth, your vacation, that catch-up lunch, finding a school for your kids, etc.).

When you do try and tackle those essential (but not urgent) tasks, you get weighed down in the process. Think hours of Internet research, lengthy phone calls and epic ‘on-hold’ sessions. It’s stuff anyone can do, but as of lately, no one’s been volunteering. Frankly, what you need is an assistant.

Recently I was surprised to learn that you can have an assistant, starting immediately, for about $1/day.

Fancy Hands offers a virtual assistant service that has been praised as “the most helpful startup in the world” and “the definition of heaven.” Here’s how lifehacker sums up their service:

For a flat monthly fee, Fancy Hands is your do-it-all (as long as it can be done via web or phone) virtual assistant. Assistants are located all over the US, and delegating tasks to them is as easy as sending an email.

Even better, Fancy Hands bills by the bundle not by the hour, meaning you can even try it out for just one month (that’s what hooked us).

Ask yourself: what tasks are you spending time on that could be easily delegated? Booking lunch dates? Researching service providers? Shopping online? If the task doesn’t require specialized knowledge and can be completed in about 20-minutes, than you might consider hiring your very own virtual assistant from Fancy Hands to do the dirty work.

Here’s how it works:

  • The service starts at $25/month. This includes 5 task requests totaling about 20-minutes of dedicated assistant time per task. Note: we said dedicated time, not the distracted time you might put in.
  • You can assign tasks via email, phone or dashboard. They clearly follow the K.I.S.S. acronym. It couldn’t be easier.
  • They have an “army” of US-based virtual assistants. So, while you can’t form that ‘special’ relationship with just one reliable assistant (a la Carrie Bradshaw and Jennifer Hudson in Sex in the City), you can count on reliable, consistent service. The very nature of their accepted task list (ever-growing) makes it easy for one assistant to pick up where another left off.
  • Fancy Hands integrates with Google Calendar and various project management tools like Trello, Evernote and Basecamp so that you can simply authorize access rather than share private passwords.

 

And here are 3 Smavvy Tips on how to get the most out of your virtual assistant:

Think beyond dinner and flowers

Some of the best ideas for how to use Fancy Hands that we’ve seen include: editing articles, transcribing audio or video, researching case studies, pricing out travel plans, booking appointments and even making purchases (up to $100).

It takes two

This post at The Founder says it all: “The biggest challenge to effectively outsource is being able to clearly write out instructions.  This is what I think leaves people who do dabble with outsourcing disgruntled.” We agree; it’s all about the details. The more precise your request, the more pleased you’ll be with the results. For example, if you’re looking for daycares, you could request a list of all the daycares in your area or, you could take it to this level: call all the daycares and interview them with a list of provided questions. Send me the results in an excel sheet.

Identify your dark areas

If you secretly love those marathon Google sessions researching your spouse’s next birthday bash, then don’t give away the fun. Let your Fancy Hands assistant take care of your most dreaded tasks. Sorting out billing issues with your phone company. Booking special event tickets. Or, even organizing conference calls. Not impressed yet? How about these impressive stats4 out of 5 people lose patience and hang up while waiting on hold. 0 out of 5 assistants lose patience and hang up while waiting on hold.

If it’s all sounding a little too-good-to-be-true, that’s what we thought. But the reviews are in and people are sold. Not just sold, but supported.

 

What do you think? Have you ever used a Virtual Assistant? Would you consider trying out a service like Fancy Hands? What kind of tasks would you love to pass their way?