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How many of us have wished at times that we could clone ourselves? Delegating to a personal assistant is a simple way to reclaim hours of your time and free you up to do what you are best at doing. Think this is not for you? Think again and read on! We’re going to cover how to afford it, how to find one, how to pay them, and ideas for what they can do.

“Isn’t a personal assistant just for rich people and celebrities?”
I am talking about a responsible high school or college student with a car who would love to make a little extra cash helping you out, kind of like a babysitter. You can utilize this person as little as 1-2 hours per week, so almost anyone who can afford a babysitter can probably afford a personal assistant. You can reclaim 2 hours of your time for about $16-20 per week, depending on the going pay rate in your area. This is like foregoing one or two lunches out, a few lattes, or a night at the movies. Of course, you could also hire a professional personal assistant or household manager, but that is definitely a full- or part-time job and a whole other article.

Don’t forget about the value of your time! You can do the math with your salary to find out how much you make per hour. Does it make sense for you to be sitting and waiting in a Jiffy Lube when you could be getting more productive things done?

“What about the ‘nanny tax’ issue? I don’t want to be an employer.”
You can pay someone as much as $1500 in one year (in 2007 in the US) and not have to worry about being an employer and paying taxes. That amount means that you could pay someone about $28 each week for 52 weeks without worrying about it, which if you pay the person $8 per hour, that is 3.5 hours of your time reclaimed! (Readers in the US should check the IRS Publication 926 “Household Employer’s Tax Guide” for questions.) If you plan on exceeding $1500 in one year, you can hire a service to handle all of the details for you. Breedlove & Associates, for example, is a leading provider of payroll and tax services for household employers that can take all of the headaches away.

“How will I find this person?”
If you’ve ever hired a babysitter, it’s just as easy to hire a personal assistant. Your friends and co-workers probably all know some really sharp young person who does babysitting who may not have considered this type of work. Most universities have a job bank or other means for connecting students with work. If you attend a place of worship, they sometimes have babysitter directories and classified ads for members that can help. And you can even post your job on Craigslist.org. Do be careful and check references on anyone you are considering, and get a copy of his or her driver’s license and car insurance information. Do whatever is necessary to make you comfortable with this person.

“What can this person do for me?”

  • Groceries and other household purchasing
  • Car washes, oil changes and other car maintenance
  • Watch and jewelry repairs
  • Dry cleaning and alterations pickups
  • Shopping returns and exchanges
  • Prescription pickups
  • Video store and library returns
  • Bank deposits
  • Pet-sitting, pet care, taking animals to the vet
  • House-sitting while you travel
  • Business card entry, spreadsheet maintenance, or other simple data entry
  • Calling for reservations or making other arrangements on your behalf
  • Scanning, filing, shredding
  • Transporting items to and from home, office, or school
  • Transporting children
  • Dishes, laundry, straightening up the house

One way to do this is to save up your errands and have this person come over once a week. Think about how wonderful it would be to reclaim even just 2 hours of your week for other things that are more important! Make it happen!

Lorie Marrero is a Professional Organizer and creator of The Clutter Diet, an innovative, affordable online program for home organization. Lorie’s site helps members lose “Clutter-Pounds” from their home by providing online access to her team of organizers. Lorie writes something useful, funny, interesting, and/or insanely practical every few days or so in the Clutter Diet Blog. She lives in Austin, TX, where her company has provided hands-on organizing services to clients since 2000.

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