The idea behind personal outsourcing is to free up more of your time by delegating tasks that don’t require your personal touch to complete. I’ve heard of people outsourcing reading to their kids and even arguing with their spouse, but the whole point of personal outsourcing is to free up time from unimportant tasks to focus on family and other things of high importance.
In this list we are going to look at 100 different ways you can use an assistant to save you time. Some will work with a virtual as well as an on site assistant, some will only work with on site help. Obviously you need to match the job with the skills of your assistant, but this can provide a valuable starting point of ideas if you are interested in outsourcing some tasks and saving time.
One word of warning. Don’t expect an assistant to save you time on every task at first. Unless your needs are very mundane, you will probably want to invest some time in letting them learn your preferences and the style in which you like things done. As they learn what you need, they can start to make decisions based on how you are likely to make them and this can be one of the greatest time savings of all.
1. Grocery store trip – It may or may not be efficient to send someone to do your detailed shopping, trips to pickup milk, bread and other staples can be handled by someone else.
2. Meal planning – This can be nicely coupled with grocery shopping. You could even set certain targets you want to hit regarding nutrition.
3. Meal preparation – If your assistant can cook, this might be a good time saver for you. Obviously this doesn’t work very well with a virtual assistant.
4. Deposits – With a rubber stamp, you can give someone else the ability to make bank deposits for you. Obviously it needs to be someone you trust.
5. Scanning – If you are trying to implement a paperless office, having someone else do your scanning can save you a lot of time.
6. Filing – If you haven’t gone paperless.
7. Proof reading – A second pair of eyes can often spot issues much faster than you can yourself.
8. Contacts cleanup – If you have a setup that syncs contacts from your computer, phone and other devices, it is likely that you have a bunch of duplicates or incomplete contacts. Let someone else clean them up and make sure your information is up to date and accurate.
9. Send handwritten letters – Using a font like vLetter, you can give someone else the ability to print and send handwritten letters for you.
10. Pay bills – You may or may not want to give someone else access to your online bill payment service. If you still use checks, someone can save you time by getting everything ready so you just have to sign the checks.
11. Get your oil changed – The 30 to 60 minutes it takes to get your oil changed can easily be handed off to someone else.
12. Transcribe voicemail – Depending on your workflow, it might be much more efficient to have your voicemails transcribed and sent as email.
13. Shred sensitive documents – This can be particularly important if you are scanning in a lot of documents that can’t be thrown away due to the information they contain.
14. Buy airline tickets – This can be tricky because there is a lot that usually goes into picking out tickets that requires your personal attention. However, if your needs are simple, this can be a small task that you can delegate.
15. Wait on hold – It is easy to waste a lot of time just waiting for someone else to answer the phone. While you can’t hand off every phone call to an assistant, the ones that you can will save you time.
16. Tech support – If you deal with a lot of electronics you probably spend at least some time fixing problems, working with tech support and getting parts replaced. In some cases these are activities that could be delegated.
17. Mailing letters and packages – It isn’t hard to mail a package, but it can be time consuming and that makes it a great canidate to delegate.
18. Send birthday cards – Sending birthday cards is a great networking tool. An assistant can help by getting the cards ready, addressed, stamped and even signing them using a signature font.
19. Birthday shopping – With a little organization an assistant can help you keep up with your birthday gift giving. If you give them a list of people, birthdays and a list of possible gifts they can make sure you never miss a gift giving opportunity.
20. Finding deals – An assistant can help find the best deal (including shipping and tax charges) on a particular item you need to purchase. American Express’ concierge generally does a good job of this.
21. Answer phone calls – Using something like Google Voice or Ring Central you can forward your phone calls to an assistant so callers get a real person during the times you would normally send them to voice mail.
22. Library run – It is easy to order books off Amazon simply to avoid the inconvenience of going to the library. Sending an assistant to the library is particularly useful if you have a small library where a lot of specific books will need to come through library loan.
23. Proof reading – A second set of eyes to look over things before you send them out can drastically reduce little errors. This can be a bit challenging if you are trying to use someone in India where they speak a slightly different version of English.
24. Phone calls – Sometimes you need to get a message to someone and simply leaving a message won’t do. An assistant can keep calling until the person answers and give the message.
25. Bill collection – If someone owes you money, having an assistant call and inquire about when to expect payment can help keep you out of the bill collector role but still get the payment in the mail.
26. Researching lists – For example, if I want a list of the top 100 peer blogs to Productivity501 along with various stats about them, an assistant can gather that information easily into an document where it can be sorted and analyzed.
27. Interviews – Virtual assistants are great for querying a large number of people and compiling their answers.
28. Organizing personal library – Have you ever wanted to have your home library organized according to the Dewey Decimal system?
29. Book index – If the Dewey Decimal system is to much, you still might like a master index of your library.
30. Listing books on Amazon – If you have a bunch of books you want to get rid of, an assistant can get them listed for you on Amazon.
31. Update phone – If you can’t sync your phone with your computer, consider having an assistant update the contacts.
32. Locate photos and illustrations – A virtual assistant can save you a lot of time by locating pictures to illustrate blog posts and presentations.
33. Transcription – Sometimes you want to have a text copy of an audio file. It could be the recording of a conference call, meeting or even radio broadcast. This time consuming process is a great candidate for outsourcing to an assistant. If you have a tremendous amount of audio to transcribe, you may want to look into using services that specialize in audio transcription.
34. Categorize pictures – An assistant can help you categorize, rate and organize your pictures by adding tags or putting them in different folders.
35. Mail merge – A good assistant should be able to take a spreadsheet and a letter and do a mailing with minimal intervention on your part. This could be anything from sending out your Christmas letter to 50 family members or a huge newsletter mailing for your company.
36. Watering plants – This may seem trivial, but it is one other place that an assistant can save you a few minutes.
37. Setting up appointments – If you need to meet with a large number of people an assistant can setup your meetings and update your schedule.
38. Watching for news – An assistant can monitor various news sources and notify you when something comes up that you need to know about.
39. Garage sale shopping – Garage sales are one of those things that you don’t know what you are looking for until you find it. However if you do know what you are looking for, an assistant can scour the garage sales looking for used books or whatever it is you need.
40. Fill the car with gas – It isn’t a hard task, but it takes up your time. If you can send someone to fill the car up for you it will probably save you 15 to 30 minutes of time.
41. Driving – Letting someone else drive you can free up your time to work on the computer, read, make phone calls safely, etc.
42. Qualify leads – If your business generates leads that then need to be qualified, a virtual assistant can follow up by phone, ask a few questions and schedule a meeting with you. This helps you keep your time focused on the qualified customers.
43. Twitter – Most of our famous quotes on Twitter were researched and scheduled by my assistant.
44. Printing – It doesn’t always make sense, but sometimes it makes more sense to send your assistant a file and let them handle the printing, getting the right paper, printer options, etc.
45. Summarizing data – This can be a great way to use a virtual assistant. Let them send you summaries of news or financial information that you would wade through otherwise.
46. Article clipping – Instead of going through magazines and newspapers yourself, an assistant can clip the parts that are relevant to you.
47. Setting up appointments – If you need to meet with a large number of people an assistant can setup your meetings and update your schedule.
48. Watching for news – An assistant can monitor various news sources and notify you when something comes up that you need to know about.
49. Office supply stocking – An assistant can help make sure that you don’t run out of paper, pens or toner.
50. Reconcile accounts – Trying to find the missing transaction that is keeping your accounts from balancing is a great thing to delegate.
51. Preparing expense reports – You give them your receipts with a note on the back and they handle filling out whatever forms you need.
52. Sending out “good to meet you letters” – A great networking tool is to follow up with a physical letter. An assistant can handle doing this for you.
53. Letter sequence – Similar to the above, but you may want to send people out a sequence of letters. Once again, a great thing to delegate.
54. Wait for cable repair – Most cable companies give you a window of when they will come that is huge and keeps you sitting at home all day wondering when they will show up. Let someone else do the waiting.
55. Wait for important packages – If you have a package coming that needs a signature, you don’t have to be stuck waiting for it.
56. Locate and schedule carpet cleaners – You an give criteria such as: locate 3 carpet cleaners, get and follow up with references, choose the one that sounds like they will do the best job at a reasonable price.
57. Answer emails – I’m not crazy about giving someone else direct access to my email, but there are some situations where it may make sense. In particular it may be good if you are away from email for an extended period of time.
58. Transcribe written notes – Turn your written notes into searchable text.
59. Negotiate – Sometimes having a third party negotiate for you can give you an upper hand. Give them the parameters you are willing to accept and let them try to negotiate for you.
60. Accountability – Asking a virtual assistant to make sure you exercise, or make sure you leave work on time can help give you some accountability to do the things you know are important.
61. Worry – I’ve heard of people delegating their worrying to someone else. The virtual assistant promised to worry about a big contract so he wouldn’t have to. Sounds silly but this person said it was very effective.
62. Walk the dog – Of course this doesn’t help you get any exercise.
63. Pickup medicine from the vet – Simple time saving errand.
64. Mow the yard – Another timesaver.
65. Write letters to politicians – If you want to let your voice be heard on a topic, let your assistant track down everyone who has any political pull in that area and mail them your opinion.
66. Send out resumes – They can handle the printing and mailing part of things.
67. Writing cover letters – Let them help customize your cover letters for each specific company.
68. Customize resume – They can research each company where you want to apply and help tweak and reorder your resume to best appeal to that company.
69. Mail newspaper clippings – A great way to network with people in your town is to clip out anything about them from the local paper and send it to them with a handwritten note of congratulations. An assistant can help identify and clip these for you. (It is best to only do this with positive news. You don’t need to send someone a note saying that you read about their DUI.)
70. Confirm reservations – Let your assistant confirm you car rental, hotel reservation, etc.
71. Send holiday cards – You can get cards for pretty much any time of year. Let your assistant help keep your name in front of clients by sending St. Patrick’s day, Easter, and Groundhogs day cards for you.
72. Sell stuff on eBay – You will probably make a lot more selling old items on eBay than with a garage sale. Your assistant can handle the listing and shipping for you so it doesn’t eat up all of your time.
73. Search craigslist.org – If you need something, have your assistant look for any new listings for that item on craigslist each day.
74. Gather menus – Want to have better information in choosing a restaurant. Ask your assistant to get a copy of the menu from several different places ahead of time for you.
75. Parking and getting the car – This is particularly useful if you live in a place where you can’t park near your house or office.
76. Wait in line for tickets – If you want to get tickets to an event that will require a wait, send your assistant.
77. Wait in other lines – Your assistant probably can’t get a drivers license for you or register your car, but they can wait in line and call you to come when your turn is approaching.
78. Get quotes – Lets say you need to put a new roof on your house. Your assistant can locate a number of roofer and get quotes for you to look over.
79. Transfer your phone – If you need to switch cell phones it can be a time consuming process. Pass it off your your assistant, they can deal with the cellular company and make the changes.
80. Meeting minutes – This may be useful for things other than formal meetings. It might be beneficial to have written minutes of a conference call or other informal meeting.
81. Wakeup call – I’ve heard of some people having a virtual assistant give them a wake up call along with the weather report and reminders of any important things coming up for that day.
82. Keeping home items in stock – This could be your batteries, printer supplies, envelopes, trash bags, flour, light bulbs etc. Delegating responsibility to make sure you don’t run out of these things means you don’t have to think about it anymore.
83. Place Ads to Sell Stuff on Craigslist – They can also filter through the large amount of spam you are likely to get and help qualify people whoa re likely to actually buy.
84. Look for stuff to buy on Craigslist – Lets say you need a lawn mower. Once you determine the model, age and price you are looking for, an assistant can check for one that meets your criteria daily and do the initial contact to make sure that the ad isn’t a scam. (Hint: If they are trying to ship you a riding lawn mower from another country, it is a scam.)
85. Play devils advocate – An assistant can offer valuable feedback by letting you test ideas and taking a contrary point of view. This will help prepare you for likely objections to your ideas and proposals.
86. Get you off of mailing lists – Giving your assistant a stack of mail that you don’t want to get anymore, can save you a lot of time and reduce the amount of paper being used in the world.
87. Creating a Powerpoint presentation – If you can provide the general outline, an assistant can look up relevant statistics and add graphics.
88. Track loyalty program points – They can help you keep track of where you have existing points and how to make best use of them.
89. Identify potential jobs – People without a job probably aren’t the most likely to hire an assistant, but if you are looking for a job and wanting to play the numbers in your favor, getting some help might be useful.
90. Sending out resumes – An assistant can help you tweak your cover letter, mail out resumes and help you track where you’ve sent your information.
91. House sitting – If you are going to be gone for a few days, it may make sense to have someone stay in your house just to keep it occupied.
92. Online presence – Some people have an assistant do their updates to Facebook and Twitter. This might be useful for someone wanting to maintain a particular online image.
93. Personal metrics – An assistant can help you compile and graph personal metrics. This could be anything to how many miles you’ve walked each week, to your weight over time or the number of calories you’ve consumed.
94. Business metrics – Similar to above, they can keep track of how many sales calls you’ve made, how many deals you’ve closed, how many contacts you’ve followed up with, etc.
95. Plan your vacation – It might seem silly to have an assistant plan your vacation, but if they know you and your family well, they may be able to come up with a better schedule and locate more interesting things to do than you could for yourself.
96. Blog posts – If you need to maintain a certain style of online presence, an assistant can help you do that by writing about what you are doing in your voice. Not for everyone, but there are some people who might use this.
97. Conversions – I had an assistant move a bunch of my sites from Drupal to WordPress. It wasn’t particularly difficult, but it was very time consuming and I had been putting it off.
98. Suggest cultural events – An assistant can keep track of the events in your city and suggest things you might want to attend. If you say, yes, he/she can make the necessary arrangements for you.
99. Comment filtering – An assistant can help you manage comments on your blog and make sure you keep spam out while letting legitimate comments through quickly.
100. Fact checking – If you plan to use a piece of data for a publication or in a presentation and need to verify it, an assistant can do this for you.