Hiring a Virtual Assistant

January 19, 2011

Everyone I know is busy. Whether it's work or school or an overbooked social schedule, no one seems to have time to accomplish it all.

I spent the long weekend in NYC and got back to Chapel Hill last night. As I unpacked, I realized I had no idea what was going on this week. I hate not being organized, but I also hate wasting time leafing through class paperwork and email. Even if it only takes an hour to get organized, that's time I could have spent doing something I value more.

With that in mind, I hopped on oDesk and posted a job opening for a virtual assistant to aggregate my class assignments for the quarter into an Excel spreadsheet. It took 20 minutes to create an account and draft the job listing. The results were almost immediate; within 45 minutes, I had:

Sixteen hours later, the contractor sent me the completed spreadsheet in near-perfect condition. He had spent two hours working on it, meaning the final cost to me was $6.66, which will hit my credit card at the end of the week.

I'm amazed at how smoothly the engagement went and how quickly the contractor was able to turn the product around (I was asleep for part of the 16 hours). Granted, I spent extra time upfront—including a 15-minute Skype chat—making sure he understood the job clearly, but I did that out of a genuine interest in the process. I don't think I'll use virtual assistants very frequently (I can't think of any recurring projects that someone would be able to help me with), but I'll definitely pay up to use one when the opportunity presents itself again.