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Understanding the total cost of your actions has been an obsession of mine of late. Perhaps this want to understand the total cost was brought on by my MBA. Perhaps it was by Strategic Coach, or by being a mentor at Founder Institute. Whatever the case, a shift has occured.

Before, it was easy for me to spend hours responding to email, auditing invoices, or conducting research. In order to maximize the value I add to my business and maximize my joy in life, I needed to get an assistant. My search brought me to India at first, which was an abject failure–besides being a joke and dealing with some almost comical emails.  After feeling down about the idea, I spoke to a friend who put me in touch with a Secretary in Israel. While I was quick to initially say no, my friend explained that this was an organization of all native US speakers who had graduated college, and while they cost more than employees in India, they were more affordable than a full time assistant–only billing for hours actually worked.

After almost a year of working with my Secretary in Israel, I’ve worked with a few of their other assistants. This is mostly due to personality and specialization of tasks. Below is a list of tips I have found and use as my metrics:

Should I delegate a task to my assistant?

  • Does the task take more than 1 hour? If there is less than an hour required, the time to explain the task likely diminishes the value, especially if something is not as expected the first time.
  • Does the task repeat more than 3 times? When a task is recurring–happening more than 3 times–investing time to train someone is usually beneficial and forces you to think through the task and communicate clearly.

Overall Tips:

  • Start with one task and develop a relationship with your assistant.
  • Add additional tasks over time. I try not to add more than one new task per day. This has nothing to do with intelligence and has everything to do with the ability to ask questions and assure we are each on the same page. After adding a few tasks a week for a few weeks, 5 – 10 hours of my week had been saved. During one of my busiest weeks of the year, I accumulated 50 extra available hours this way.
  • Over-communicate and try to write a quick email with small steps to make sure a guide is created (bulleted lists work well for me).
  • Ask what the assistant enjoys doing. When I am working with multiple assistants, I try to assign work based on what each person enjoys. This seems to build loyalty and a better work product and end result for me.

Feel free to add your own tips below. I am interested to hear your thoughts and feedback.

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