You Can’t Afford Not to Have a Personal Assistant

And How You Can Hire a Top-Rated Virtual Assistant for $5 per Hour

Have you ever wished there were another “you” to help you get everything done? If so, you need a personal assistant. “Personal assistant!?,” you scoff. “Aren’t personal assistants for millionaires and CEOs?” Yes, they are. But not only for them. Not anymore. Nowadays, you and I can afford an assistant as well.

A generation ago my suggestion may have been preposterous. But times have changed. Consider these three differences:

  1. Contracted Work: You no longer need to hire someone as an employee for 40 or 20 hours/week. You can contract them for only the hours you need.
  2. Working Remotely: You no longer need to provide them with an office. Thanks to the power of the internet, your assistant can work remotely—a “virtual assistant.”
  3. Global Workforce: You can hire a virtual assistant whose cost of living and required pay is significantly lower than might be the case were you to hire someone from your city/state/country.

My Experience Hiring a Virtual Assistant

This past summer I took on more responsibility at work. Meanwhile, at home, time was squeezed by my growing family. I needed to get more efficient.

I finally read Tim Ferris’ 2007 best seller The 4-Hour Workweek. For the record, I wouldn’t want to work only 4 hours/week if I could, because I believe work provides a significant opportunity to pursue what matters most in life. But I was looking for efficiency tips.

The book opened my eyes to the feasibility of hiring a virtual assistant to help save me time. Before I even finished reading, I had hired one.

In the past six months I have worked with one virtual assistant (VA). I have also hired a handful of other virtual workers for specific one-time projects such as the design of the logo for this blog.

In the past 200 days, my VA and other virtual workers have done 115 hours of work for me. That is almost exactly 4 hours/week. The VA alone has provided a little over 1 hour/week of help to me.

Think what a pressure release 4 hours/week could be for you. Even just 1 hour/week of help, over the course of 52 weeks, would save you more than a full work week of time each year.

But can you afford such assistance?

The Cost of Hiring a Virtual Assistant

For the 115 hours of work, I paid an average of $4.73 per hour. At that rate, most people with fulltime jobs in the first world can afford to hire a virtual assistant.

I’d argue, in fact, that they can’t afford not to hire one. If you are a busy person making significantly more than $4.73/ hour (about $9,800/year), hiring someone at $4.73/hour to help save you time is a very leveraged opportunity.

Doing so could free you up to earn money at a higher rate. Or it could enable you to spend more time with those you love or in meaningful pursuits.

Tasks a Virtual Assistant Can Help You With

But what, exactly, would a virtual assistant do for you? Given the leveraged opportunity, it merits your consideration.

Here are examples of things my VA has done for me over the past 200 days. All of these I would have done myself (or struggled to find the time to do myself) had I not hired someone to help me:

  • Digitize contact cards
  • Find and email me the full text of articles I want to read when I forward her just the article’s headline
  • Research products that I need to purchase
  • Research travel arrangements
  • Find a maintenance schedule for my car when a quick Google search failed me
  • Calculate the average post length of successful blogs to help shape my own target post length range
  • Find working application links for the credit cards on my Best Credit Card Signup Offers page

How to Hire a Top-Rated Virtual Assistant for $5/hour

There are many services for finding a virtual assistant. The one I chose is UpWork.

Finding a VA on UpWork is easy. First, log in to UpWork. Then, at the top of the page, type “virtual assistant” into the “Find Freelancers” box.

You can then specify the criteria you are looking for in a VA, including additional criteria by clicking “Advanced filters.” Once you select your criteria, click “Update Filters.”

Even the following, rather rigorous criteria, still yield hundreds of potential candidates:

You can scan the candidates for those that receive top ratings. Next, choose a candidate you’d like to hire and click to view their page. Lastly, from within their page, click “Hire Now.” From there the process is self-explanatory.

I’ve enjoyed getting to know and working alongside my VA, and I’m grateful for her help. I hope you find collaborating with your assistant equally rewarding, both in itself and on account of the time it will save you.

Question: What would you do with the extra time that a virtual assistant could save you? You can leave a comment by clicking here. And if you liked this post, sign up here so that you never miss a future post.

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6 thoughts on “You Can’t Afford Not to Have a Personal Assistant

  1. At this point the single biggest time sink in my life is commuting, since I have to drive almost an hour one way with virtually no public transportation options. Wish I had a self driving car instead.

    • I look forward to self-driving cars as well! 🙂

      You probably already use your commute efficiently (if you aren’t using it to recharge), but in the near future I’ll definitely do a post on how I try to get the most out of my commute.

  2. How did you average less than $5 an hour? I checked the site and I couldn’t find any rates lower than $10 an hour. I have a couple one time research projects every now and then that I would think would take 2-3 hours. I am worried about hiring somebody and them stretching it out to 5+ hours. Its not worth the money if that’s the case. How does the site keep track of timing in/out?

    • Hi Ken,

      I just did a quick search and am finding lots of options under $5/hour. I’m guessing that for the hourly rate field you accidentally have “$10/hr – $30/hr” checked? If you specify “$10/hr and below,” you should see lots of options.

      You can have the person you hire substantiate their progress with screenshots. That said, for a situation like the one you describe, I’d recommend a different approach.

      Rather than hiring by the hour, UpWork also allows you to hire by the project. So, for instance, you could post a job (that you think will take 3 hours) for which you agree to pay $15. Candidates will submit their cover letters for the job. You can then choose one. Whether they complete the job in 2 hours or in 4 hours, they will receive $15 from you.

  3. Interesting! Thanks for sharing your experience!

    How much time A) did it take you to choose a VA, B) do you spend coordinating and communicating with the VA to get your desired results?

    Are the results what you were expecting and how do they compare if you’d have done the task(s) yourself?

    • A) I’d guess I took a couple of hours to choose my VA. That’s because I built a spreadsheet to help me choose which one to hire. In retrospect, I think it might be faster to quickly select a few who appear good at first blush and hire all of them for your first project. You could then evaluate their responsiveness, quality of work, etc. before choosing one to move forward with on a longer-term basis.

      B, C, & D) I mostly have my VA assist with pretty straightforward tasks. As a result, the communication is fairly minimal, and the quality is comparable to what it would be if I did those tasks myself, which is to say I do get my desired results. More complicated tasks would require more communication and, certainly in the absence of such increased communication, would produce less perfect results. But that cost/benefit analysis is well worth performing, as my intuition is that I and others would benefit by making that greater investment.