No, this isn’t a joke.
I should probably start at the beginning. A book I’ve picked up recently was The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. It was recommended by a consultant I met who said he swore by this book. I’m not done reading yet, but already it has caused me to rethink my life and work habits.
There is an entire chapter of his book devoted to the art of automating. Automating essentially means designing your work in such a way that it will run itself and no longer need decision-making input from you. One of the ways to do this is to outsource more mundane tasks that still need to be done at a rate lower than what you earn. Here’s a diagram from the book which details the thought process Ferriss wants you to follow (this is also currently taped to the front of my desk as a reminder):
But how does one outsource tasks? One of the techniques used by Ferriss and his clients is actually to send the tasks over to assistants in third-world countries, where labour is cheaper! I was intrigued and wanted to experiment – as a student I may not have as much to do as, say, a working mom, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to improve on the skill of delegating so that when life does ramp up I can become more efficient. As I went throughout my day, many things started to crop up where I’d think, “wow, I could definitely automate this.”
Ferriss had provided a bunch of assistant services in his book. I decided to choose among them mostly because of security reasons. My criteria were: 1) they had to be cheap (student budget yo), 2) flexible hours (I did not want to commit myself to outsourcing 10 hours of work when I wasn’t sure about the quality of the work or if I’d even have that much to assign), and 3) the ability to assign non-business tasks (some services only performed administrative duties related to work, but I work with confidential information so that would have been a no-go, and I didn’t think it would be effective or ethical for me to outsource my assignments to India). I ended up choosing AskSunday.
Some news outlets actually covered AskSunday a number of years ago. Some things have changed (for example, they now charge by the hour instead of by task), but for the most part the service is the same:
I signed up on AskSunday’s website over the weekend. Monday morning I got the following message from a Customer Service representative and then from my Personal Assistant. He actually tried to call me but I was in class and didn’t answer. Instead, we chatted over Skype to set some expectations. I sent him my first request – to research volunteer opportunities relating to women I could take part in.
I’m excited to see if this experiment will actually significantly improve my life in any way. Updates to come!