I just got a personal assistant, but they aren’t saving me any time. What am I doing wrong?
Several people have asked me about this. There are many different issues that could be involved, but I see a lot of people who hire an assistant and then can’t think of what they wanted them to do. Either that, or it turns out their original ideas are all things that really can’t be handed off to someone else.
- Make appointments and reservations. This includes travel plans, car appointments, finding and meeting an architect, etc. This really starts becoming efficient when you start asking for things like, “Reserve me a hotel in X for conference X and find the nearest car dealership that can do a tune up sometime during the week while I’m at the conference. Make sure they can drop me off and pick me up at the conference center.”
- Research for blog posts. Many of the recent “links” style posts were researched and written by my assistant.
- Find and crop photos. When we post a new article on Productivity501, it requires finding a photograph and cropping it several different ways. I’ve been having assistants do this for a while. It saves me a lot of time and they usually enjoy it.
- Proof reading. When I finish up a post, it helps to have someone else read over it and make sure I didn’t make any silly mistakes or leave out words.
- Order stuff. Things like tracking down a newspaper subscription or locating someone who can print letterhead on a particular type of paper can eat up a lot of my time very quickly. These are the types of things an assistant can really help save you time on.
- Conduct interviews. We have done a number group interviews with people on Productivity501. While these are fun to do, they can be extremely time consuming to collate all the answers. My assistants have helped locate people to interview and then gathered and formated the responses.
- Household tasks. Having someone who can sweep the floor, replace a light bulb or empty the dishwasher can really free up a lot of your time–especially when you are busy and traveling.
- House sitting. When we travel, my assistant sometimes stays at our place. This helps make sure we don’t miss any important packages and that the dog gets let out.
- Clipping newspapers and magazines. If you need particular articles clipped from a newspaper or magazine, this can be a great task for an assistant as long as you can clearly explain what you need them to look for. For example, I needed an average cost for house rentals in a particular area. My assistant clipped and scanned all the classified ads matching my criteria for a period of time.
- Car stuff. Filling the car with gas, vacuuming the interior and washing the car are all things that can eat up your time. If we are getting ready to go on a trip, I’ll have my assistant get the car ready so I can concentrate on other things.
- Running errands. Being able to send someone out to do stuff like get batteries, a usb cable and make copies of some keys is very handy–especially if you are dealing with traffic or long lines.
- Writing letters. There is something powerful about sending your words on paper. With an assistant, I can simply email her a few thoughts and who I want to send them to. She will edit it, look up the addresses and names (for example the CEO of Sprint) and leave it on my desk ready to sign, seal and drop in the mail.
- Shipping. My assistant is well known at the post office and UPS store. I can give her an item and say, give this to John Doe and she takes care of packaging, locating addresses, and shipping off the package.
- Scanning. My assistant takes care of scanning everything in that I want to convert to paperless. She went through my file cabinets and scanned everything in. I have some more papers in storage that I hope to have her convert in the near future.
- Making deposits. When a check comes in, my assistant handles all of the physical part of the deposit. She endorses the check, makes out a deposit slip, addresses and stamps the envelope, and scans all the papers in before sending it to the bank.
- Convert Podcasts to CDs. I promised a very non-technical person I’d make some CDs from a podcast. My assistant took care of creating the necessary CDs from the MP3 files.