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To-Do List Relief Comments

Is the time saved worth the money spent for a virtual assistant?

  • By Amanda Steinberg, Founder and CEO of DailyWorth
  • May 02, 2013

Image courtesy of Fancy Hands

When it comes to work-life balance, it’s not just about making time for each, but making sure that both to-do lists (for work and home) are getting done. Not only am I the CEO of DailyWorth, I'm a divorced, now single mom of two, and I spend at least 10 hours a week commuting between my home in Philadelphia and DailyWorth’s main office in New York City. So my mind is constantly racing with things I need to do at home.

In a recent week, those included:

  • Make a dentist appointment for my 6-year-old son to replace a tooth spacer.
  • Buy same child a raincoat. (The coats I saw in a local store were $40-$60! No way.)
  • Replace the t-ball hat he lost.
  • Plan my business trip to L.A.
  • Find a small, cheap beach rental on Jersey shore for August.
  • Find the most cost-effective way to frame my new Michael Yoder painting.

These thoughts ping-pong in my brain with no consistent repository or time to deal with them. So when I heard about Fancy Hands, a $25-per-month subscription service to help me research and do anything from a computer, I jumped on it.

Fancy Hands’ homepage explains the problem/solution so simply: “Do what you love. We’ll do the rest.” It’s a website and iPhone app that allows you to delegate any task that can be done over the phone or computer to a team of assistants on-call throughout the nation. They provide a simple dashboard where you can communicate with your virtual assistant (VA), and manage the tasks you assigned.

Between conference calls, I rapidly banged out the first request:

Call dentist Dr T****** in Philadelphia to find out how much my son’s tooth spacer costs to replace (it fell out again!) and book an appt any Friday morning after two weeks out.

The response, within the hour: Dear Ms. Steinberg: The doctor you mentioned doesn't exist (oops! I'd given them the wrong name!) and I need your son’s name, please, to make the appt.

So basically, I'd given her zero helpful information. But after a quick email reply with clarifications, they had what they needed and the appointment was booked. Done. I didn't have to wait on hold, leave a message, follow-up, or even add the event to my calendar. (They do that, too.)

It’s been a huge relief to be able to check this off my to-do list. And it didn’t stop there. My virtual assistant not only found me the most cost-appropriate raincoat for my son, she researched discount codes as well. And the list went on.

For me, having a virtual assistant was less about saving time than saving myself from feeling guilty. Truthfully, so much of this stuff doesn’t get done for weeks -- or at all -- and it weighs on me. (It also saved me money--nearly $40 on the discounted rain jacket alone, compared to the price tags I'd seen earlier in the store.)

I still plan on hiring an actual assistant, like a recent college grad, in our Philadelphia office in the near future (know anyone?). But for the small stuff that eats away at my conscience, I’m sticking with Fancy Hands.

I wonder if they’ll help me manage my entire to-do list. Maybe I’ll ask them to.

Have you ever worked with a virtual assistant? What did you think?

DailyWorth users who want to sign up for Fancy Hands can use the discount code: DWORTH. It's good for 30% off the first month and active until August 1, 2013.

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