Meh. I’ve heard of virtual assistants before, and even looked into setting one up. But despite recommendations from people I trust, I had big questions as to the utility:
But I could never figure out what I would be employing them for?
Would I even have 5-10 hours of tasks to give them a month?
For 5-10 dollars an hour (if they are abroad), what would they have to do to justify $100+ a month?
What about security?
If they are in a different time zone, how would they answer my request in a timely fashion?
Well, Fancy Hands was only $25/month for 5 tasks, and it was 50% off for the first month, so for $12.50, I figured I could spare it to find out. I signed up.
It. is. Awesome.
First. charging by the task instead of by the hour is WAY better. Not only is it likely overall cheaper, but you don’t have to do the mental calculation of how long the task will take (which is hard to judge because you don’t know how the assistant will do it) and therefore how much it will cost you.
Second. They don’t charge for setting up appointments. You can give them access to your Google Calendar, and say “Call my dentist and setup time next week for me to go in to see him.” and they will do it, and set up the appointment. For FREE!
Third. Outsourcing crappy admin-work to someone else is *thrilling*. I have never been so excited to get stuff done. It’s so much fun to think up things for Fancy Hands to do. I thought I had nothing to give them, but the more stuff they do, the more I think up for them to do. There are tons of things I procrastinate on that I’m happy to have someone else do.
Here is a list of tasks I’ve had them complete:
- Find a heater shield for my gas heater in my house so that the heat is deflected away from my TV (which is mounted on the wall above).
- Find me cheap options for a flight from SFO to NYC on these dates.
- Setup an appointment with my accountant in 3 weeks at 10 in the morning.
- Call my lawyer and ask why I received this bill, and what it’s for.
- I’m going to Barcelona, give me restaurant and night life recommendations.
- I have an iPad to sell, please post on Craigslist and deal with the responses.
- Please de-duplicate my Google Contacts.
For those last two, I temporarily gave them access to my Craigslist account (can’t see how they could really cause harm there) and my gmail account. The last one caused me some reflection. I had to change my password temporarily, and if the assistant was malicious, she could definitely have caused me some pain, but I decided to try it. My thought process was the following:
- Fancy Hands is a business, and they have an incentive to hire trustworthy employees, and keep information confidential.
- It’s temporary access (took a couple hours)
- If something happened, I’d know who did it.
- The assistants change per task, so the person working on it didn’t have all the other information about me.
- I was willing to take the risk.
You may have also noticed that I have completed more than 5 tasks. That’s because yesterday I upgraded to the Premium plan (25 tasks/month) for an entire year. That’s how much I like Fancy Hands. It comes out to $1.90 per task, which is *insanely* awesome. Also, when you buy the annual plan, you get your entire stock of tasks at one time, so you don’t have to budget them out per month, just use them up within a year or less. I found this freed me completely from the whole question of “should I use a task on this?”.
- You can connect it to Evernote and it auto logs all your requests as notes.
- Connect to Asana or Basecamp if you want to assign stuff straight from there.
- Connect to your Google Calendar, as mentioned above.
- Connect to Facebook and let them try to anticipate your needs (haven’t used this yet).
- They have a good iPhone app , and you can request stuff with a voice recording. Or by phone, or by email, or online.
Here’s a link for the 50% discount if you want to try it out for a month (works out to 5 tasks for $12.50). I get $10 for the referral (full disclosure) but honestly, I have 300 tasks to work through before I pay again, so whatever.
Highly recommended (that you try it for a month), your mileage may vary, but I think the first month is worth it for nearly everyone.