Quit trying to do everything yourself

I’m guessing you have a long list of things to do at home that you never get round to. My wife and I certainly do. We finally worked out that we don’t have to do it all ourselves. We also worked out how to get it all done in pretty quick time.

How? We hired a PA (Personal Assistant). Just for a week. Just to take care of some stuff that we needed done.

But let’s go back to the beginning. Last Sunday, the wife and I were staring at each other across the coffee table, contemplating the bleakness of our to-do list (Quite a lot of that list really needed to happen by the middle of the week).

And we wondered aloud “Wouldn’t it be great if we could just pay someone else to do it all?”

A few seconds later, we clicked. “We CAN just pay someone else to do it all!”

So we Googled this idea, hoping to find some sort of agency or business that did exactly what we wanted. No luck. Then we started looking at Gumtree ads, where we found one promising candidate, who we emailed (without ever getting a response).

Not long after sending that email, we thought “What we really need is a student-type person who’s on holiday and therefore has the time.” We also thought it would help if we actually knew this person who would end up with access to our house and cars while we were not at home.

A quick phone-call to one of my sisters later, we had our target. An unemployed (funemployed in her terms) friend of my youngest sister who had just finished studying and was waiting to go overseas.

We called her up, met with her later in the afternoon and she agreed to work for us. In return, we promised her pay, petrol money, airtime and five lunches.

The result has been, in a word, magnificent.

In the space of a week our awesome PA has engaged the services of movers, an electrician, a handyman and a cleaner. The enormous pile of everything that has been sitting in our garage waiting to be sorted has been neatly divided into appropriately labeled sections.

We’ve acquired a ladder (we needed one), had a wardrobe and various other items sold and had some clothes dry-cleaned. Next week, my wife’s car is getting fixed and a handyman is coming to sort out some more issues that we’ve identified.

What we’ve learned from this experience

1. We don’t have the time to clear our to-do list. In fact, if we had to do everything that’s been done this week it would take weeks or even months to accomplish.

2. We can afford it. Many people I know would prefer to leave things undone or do them badly rather than pay someone else to do it, simply because of the perception that there’s no money available. That’s not true. Budget is just a factor. If money were tight, we would have made it a day or two instead of a full week.

3. Getting things done is satisfying. And that applies even if we’re getting them done by proxy. I’m very pleased by what’s been accomplished this week.

4. An organised life is more pleasant. Just walking into our garage is more pleasant than it was a few days ago. Where before there was a mess to be dealt with, now there are specific actions to be taken with specific things: A particular pile of books needs to be sold, tossed or shelved. Some items we need but don’t use often must be put into the ceiling. And so on.

5. We don’t need to make all of the decisions. We needed a ladder, but we didn’t choose it. It was chosen for us, and that’s just fine with me. We didn’t have to choose our electrician, handyman, movers or cleaner. And everything worked out just fine.

6. We don’t need to control all of our spending. Most of the tasks our PA dealt with this week involved money. We didn’t want to have to approve everything, so we gave her complete freedom to approve anything up to R500. We could have made it higher, and probably will next time. Because of that freedom, we only had to approve expenses on 2 or 3 occasions. The rest of the time, things just happened and we found out when we got the invoices for payment.

7. When we have time, we’re more productive. My wife and I both work full-time. We normally get home tired and a bit stressed, and then try to deal with our world in that compromised state. Now we don’t have to do that. So we end up happier and more relaxed when we go to work. In my case, the benefits have been noticeable.

In conclusion

Stop stressing about your personal to-do list. Really. Just stop. It’s not helping you or anyone else to be stressed about problems you don’t have the time to solve.

Just hire someone. Make it someone you trust and someone you expect to actually do the things you want done. And then forget about it.

And stop worrying about the money. Money is just a tool. Spend it to make your life better.


Published by Chris Cameron-Dow

I'm fanatical about racing. Driving, watching, following, analysing, everything.

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