Hiring an Assistant. The No-Regrets Guide to Being More Effective.

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Want to maximize the awesomeness out of life? Easy! Get rid of all the stuff you hate, and focus on the stuff you like and love, or at least what moves the needle towards your goals. 

Today we’ll talk about why hiring an assistant is like distilling your day to what matters most and taking a shot of pure awesomeness. 

Yes. Hiring an assistant. 

Wait, Mr.FIREescape, I thought you were all about frugal living and not throwing your money around! Were you just selling me lies?

Let me explain. 

I’m super frugal. Saving money is in my bones. But I’m frugal for two reasons:

  1. It’s so I have enough money to maximize life’s awesomeness in my free time.
  2. So I’m not bogged down by having to work to pay for things that aren’t even awesome.

So even though it costs me money, hiring an assistant is worth it for me. Okay. I’ll stop saying awesome now. 

Read more:
FIRE is not about money. It’s about TIME. (The 4 stages of FIRE mentality.) 

How do you even hire an assistant? 

People think this is complicated or you have to be a rich person to do it. An assistant doesn’t have to be someone who follows you around night and day, taking notes and fulfilling your every request. If you want something like that, you need a genie (or yes, pay them lots of money.) Really, an assistant is someone who can take care of the tasks you don’t have time to do. 

The Three Questions to Ask Yourself

For the next week, before you start anything – any tasks, any activity, ask yourself these three questions:

  1. Do I enjoy doing this?
  2. Does it move the needle in what I want out of life?
  3. Could someone else do this for me?

There’s one question that comes after, but we’ll get to that in a second. For now, let’s go through the exercise with a few tasks. 

Examples of tasks you can outsource

Gardening in my front yard. 

Do I enjoy doing this? Actually, yes I do. So even though hiring someone might make sense, gardening kind of brings awesomeness to my life. 

Getting my kids ready in the morning. 

Do I enjoy doing this? If I’m being honest – not always. They’re cute and awesome and all… but not in the mornings. 

Does it move the needle in what I want out of life? Yes it does. Being there for my family is exactly what I want out of life, so… no assistant for that! 

Proofreading my blog. 

Do I enjoy this? It’s okay. Once my thoughts are on the page, I mentally move on. 

Does it move the needle? Actually, it does the opposite! Once I start proofreading, I start obsessing over how to make a slightly better point. So I spend 100% more time to make it 1% better. 

Could someone else do it for me? For the longest time, I thought no! I mean, what if they make my blog sound like an economics textbook from 1952! But after flexing my assistant-hiring muscle – I’ve become more open-minded. 

Deep-cleaning my home. 

Do I enjoy doing this? Nope. 

Does it move the needle in what I want out of life? Not at all! It wouldn’t even bother me if my walls were covered in alphagettis, except I’m pretty sure my wife would leave me if I kept letting them slide…down the wall.

Could someone else do this for me? Yeah, I’m pretty sure someone else could figure it out. 

Sidenote: You all know I have a Roomba, so really I don’t need a cleaner, but it doesn’t clean alphaghettis off the walls, and that’s really a deal-breaker for my wife. 

Doing my taxes. 

Do I enjoy doing this? I can think of nothing I dislike more. 

Does it move the needle in what I want out of life? Barely. 

Could someone else do this for me? Yes. An accountant. 

Other ideas:

  • Mowing, raking, snow shoveling
  • Making presentations for work
  • Research for reports
  • Social media presence
  • Video editing
  • Babysitting

Go through your day asking those questions, and only after you’ve identified a few tasks you’d rather pawn on someone else – ask yourself the fourth question: 

  1. What’s their hourly rate, and how does it compare to mine? 

Then get creative with your research! For example, if I search “house cleaners” on google, I’ll get some fancy-schmancy maid that charges $60 per hour. That’s a lot. 

If I look on facebook marketplace, I’ll find someone for $25/hr. Now we’re talking!

But wait! They can do my whole house in 4 hours, where it would probably take me 2 full days. So for $100 I get a sparkly house AND can hang out with my family all weekend. Totally worth it. 

Is hiring an assistant worth it? 

Now let’s look at another example. The accountant. 

I have multiple properties and multiple sources of income and I pay taxes in multiple countries. My taxes are an annoying headache and it takes me at least a whole weekend. 

BUT, paying an accountant to take on this headache would cost at least $3K, and I’d still have to do some of the work. So, unlike the cleaner example – not worth it! 

That’s why it’s so important to figure out what is your hourly rate. It could be what you actually get paid at work or it could be made up based on other factors. Really, it’s what you’d be willing to spend to save yourself an hour of grueling work without feeling like it’s too much. I see mine as around $50/hr. 

If it’s anything technical or online, I actually prefer hiring a virtual assistant or VA. There are services that help you do this (more on that later) and you get access to really hard-working people who want to make your life easier. 

So you know what you want to hire for. What’s next? 

How to hire an assistant

1 – Start with what’s easy to build your muscles. 

The most important thing is to get someone good. Paying someone who sucks only adds stress. First, they’re giving you garbage, and second, you’re paying for that garbage. 

That’s when most people start thinking “I should have just done this myself.” 

But it’s true, you might have to kiss a few frogs to find the right assistant. That’s why it helps to start with hiring for the smaller, simpler tasks (like the house cleaner or the editor) and then flex your hiring muscles. 

Don’t hire bad people, and if you do – fire them quickly. 

Sidenote, avoid agencies if you can. Yes, they’ll probably go through the vetting process for you, and deal with any problems, but they charge way more and will make you commit to a schedule (i.e. weekly lawn-mowings you can’t opt out of even if your grass stopped growing.) Lame. 

2 – Do your research. 

If it’s something I want done in-person, I start with facebook marketplace, craigslist, and kijiji. For more personal things, like babysitting, I might rely on word of mouth. 

Yep, if you’re a parent, you know what I’m talking about! Kids are cute but they can be exhausting, and summers off school can be VERY long. Hire a sitter, have date night (or clean out your garage… whatever) to bring back your sanity. 

If you can’t get a good recommendation, try something like the sittly app and have them watch your kids while you’re just in another part of the house until you establish a relationship. 

3 – What about a virtual assistant? 

There are so many people out there that really know what they’re doing and really want to help you for less than your hourly rate. The catch? You’ll only talk to them online. 

What does a virtual assistant even do? 

If the bulk of your work is on your computer, virtual assistants can take care of the annoying stuff. 

  • Formatting
  • Proofreading
  • Uploading
  • Checking emails and bringing your attention to the important ones
  • Responding to social media
  • Doing online research
  • Booking travel, appointments, 
  • Finding good deals and price comparisons

I never thought I’d care for a VA until I started this blog. The thing that moves the needle for me is the writing and responding to my readers. But there are so many other nitty-gritty details I’ve grown to loathe. No worries! My VAs are happy to do it. 

The 3 tricks to hiring a virtual assistant 

1 – Don’t hire a jack of all trades. 

Figure out what you want, and hire them for that. I have a proofreader, a tech person, and a social media person. All different people. 

They can’t suck, but they can’t be too high level either. If they know how to do everything they might just be on their way to starting their own company – using you as a stepping stone. It’s not a bad thing, but then you’re back to square one. 

2 – Treat them as part of your team. 

When hiring a virtual assistant, I go with two rules. Trust your gut, and don’t settle. Start treating them like part of your team and you’ll start reaching higher levels with your VAs. They’ll start to understand your deeper goals and make better decisions. 

That’s how I got to a point of trusting a proofreader to get what I’m trying to say and how I’m trying to say it. 

3 – Hire someone who knows how to be a VA. 

You don’t want to go through the growing pains of teaching a virtual assistant how to assist you. There are plenty of people in the world who already do that and do it well. That’s why it makes more sense to hire from VA-specific platforms like Fiverr

Actually, the one I really like is Virtual Staffing Finder. They have a finders fee of $200, but they really make up for it by finding you 3 perfect matches at really good rates. 

(Given that on other platforms you might have to kiss some frogs before finding the right match, or that rates are all over the place, the finder’s fee is a drop in the bucket.) 

If you plan on being with a virtual assistant for the long haul, don’t be afraid to look for quality. Again, that’s where starting small and flexing your hiring muscles will really help! 

Now what about you?

What work would you like to offload and why haven’t you done it yet? Leave me a comment!

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