Living

Is having a personal assistant helpful or stressful?

How is it that someone who is supposed to help me fix my life is ADDING stress to it? I now finally have an assistant. Whoo-hoo! You’d think it has made my life easier, but, as I’ve said, it’s stressing me out!

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How is it that someone who is supposed to help me fix my life is ADDING stress to it?

I now finally have an assistant. Whoo-hoo! You’d think it has made my life easier, but, as I’ve said, it’s stressing me out!

For years family and friends, who have seen me stressed beyond belief, have asked why I haven’t hired an assistant. I’m stressed, mostly, not only because of the workload, which is manageable, but mostly because I am so super disorganized.

I thought by hiring an assistant, who I share with another writer, my life would become less stressful, maybe even stress-free!

Only I could possibly become MORE stressed now that I have an assistant. This is because I’m not good at asking people to do things. I’m the hardest worker, but I’m a bad boss. (I always think I can do a better job! Not one of my best qualities, and it’s not true!) It’s hard for me to trust someone else too.

I met “my assistant” (love saying that!) to discuss my needs. She seemed on top of things and told me numerous times, “I’m here to organize your life.” She seemed trustworthy, although I did think of asking her to sign a confidentiality agreement. I worried she’d start telling people what I asked her to do, or tell people how I live/eat/what shampoo I use.

But when I actually found myself face-to-face with her, and had to ASK what I needed done, I felt GUILTY. I know she’s “my assistant” (love saying that!) but I couldn’t help but think, “Why am I asking her to call people, when I just could pick up the phone?” And, “Why am I asking her to RSVP for me, when I can easily do that?” And, “Why am I asking her to do research, when I can easily Google search?”

Right! I had to remind myself that well, yes, I CAN do those things, the reason I need an assistant is because I don’t have time to DO all those things. (read my previous post on my Inbox overload!)

There are so many who now work at home, starting businesses, and have to work hard, because they are their own bosses. Many DO need an assistant, because they end up working 18 hours a day. When you are relying on yourself for an income, you have to work it baby, work it.

But my new assistant was adding stress too, because after I hired her, I didn’t know whether the next day I should call her to add on a few more things to the list, because I didn’t want to BOTHER her, even though I’m paying her. Argh.

For all those thinking of getting an assistant (and remember, some will work for cheap if you work in a business they want to learn about) here are some tips, thanks to the awesome Sari Friedman, a Human Resources Consultant and Career Coach in Toronto. If you are in need of Sari’s help you can reach her here.

 

1. Sari reminds me that I have a nanny and how awkward that was at the beginning. It’s true. I felt guilty asking my nanny to do things, but now, two years later, my nanny has my car keys in her hands, before I can scream out, “Where are my keys?” She knows me better than I know myself. She also knows how to read my daughter’s moods. Remember, it takes time to get comfortable with someone new.

2. She suggests starting slowly. Ask your assistant to do things that you know aren’t super important at first and then add more responsibility once you see they are capable. Again, baby steps.

3. She reminds me assistants actually DO want to work. They don’t want to sit on their behinds all day, because that is boring. Remind yourself of that!

4. It’s best to let them know exactly what you expect at the beginning. Because in six months, you don’t want to have to say, “You haven’t been doing…” Then it becomes an issue.

5. You can’t feel guilty. You are paying them to do a job. So STOP FEELING GUILTY!

6. I shouldn’t worry that she’s going to talk about me. Most assistants do understand that they’ll know things about clients that are privileged.

7. Remind yourself that they are there to make your life easier and that they WANT to make your life easier. They, too, take pride in their jobs.

(Just now, I got an e-mail from my assistant saying, “Oh, no! You shouldn’t be so flustered! I’ll come tomorrow!” So she really does want to help! Sigh of relief!)

 

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