Lots of gurus out there are telling you to outsource your life.  Get a virtual assistant (VA) and start maximizing your time.  Sounds great – sign me up!  Somewhere in the Philippines or India some hard working assistant is waiting to fulfill all your business needs for only a few hundred dollars a month full time.  Amazing – 160 hours of your life returned to you for less than $10 an hour.  But what is this person actually going to do?

If you are like me, you have looked at a variety of VA options and concluded that you weren’t ready for a full time person.  Ok – plan B.  Let’s look at a block of time – say 40 hours. It’s a lower barrier to entry but it costs a little more per hour.  You are still back to the basic problem of what is this person going to do.  Even if you know the answer to that question, there is the issue of instructions.  Outline every process, assemble all usernames and passwords, and make sure that someone other than you can follow it.  If you have a well orchestrated business with consistent processes you are probably in good shape.  This is where I got stuck.

My business processes were aperiodic and writing up documentation for the occasional times that tasks needed to be done was infinitely more than doing it myself.  So I began trying to break up the tasks into chunks thinking I could outsource specific activities. Now are you into a different set of temporary worker options.  Welcome to the bid on a project market.  I’ve tried this with mixed results.  The first time I wanted a custom piece of software developed.  The prototype showed great promise, and then something happened.  The developer got stuck on a problem and then promptly disappeared.  Thankfully the service I used had an arbitration area for disputes.  It was then that I learned since I hadn’t paid for any work to date, that in order to get the rights to the work completed, I had to make full payment.  The developer got paid but kicked off the service, and I got half a software package.  Not exactly the option I was hoping for.  A lot of people find this option works for them, but alas I don’t have a success story there yet.

The option that I have found works the best for me is micro-tasking.   I’m currently using 2 services.  One requires a longer discussion because of how I am using it, but the one I am using most is Fancy Hands (http://www.fancyhands.com) .  This is a subscription based services – small monthly fee equals x tasks.  The thing I like about it is it works well for the way I think/work.  The things that I needed to outsource were all of the ideas that might have otherwise gathered dust, or become distractions for more important things.  If I hear something on a podcast or have an idea about something, rather than add it to my to-do list, I just send Fancy Hands an email.   With 15 tasks per month it’s enough to address most of what is going on in my brain.  One problem I have had with other services is that most are order takers.  You ask for X you get X, even if you asked for the wrong X.  The staff at Fancy Hands clearly think about their tasks.  I’ve had several “did you mean” emails back where I wasn’t clear.  I actually want them to think because I’m curious where they will go with the task.  Usually it’s what I would have found if I’d taken the time.  Several have been things I never would have come up with.  It’s this level of intelligence that really adds value to what I am doing.  If you have looked at other VA options and haven’t’ found an option that works for you, give Fancy hands a try.  Feel free to use my affiliate link –http://bit.ly/cmcWlU it means more ways that I can find to use their great service.