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Client Post: 'If You Don't Have An Assistant, You Are One'

Wilko van de Kamp is a best-selling author, award-winning photographic artist and long-time Fancy Hands client. He also runs a weekly magazine called Living By Experience where he shares helpful tips for making the most of your time. Keep reading to find out how Fancy Hands has prevented Wilko from becoming his own assistant. 

Time is the one currency we all cannot get more of. We’re all on borrowed time, which sooner or later will run out. Yet we fill our time with being “busy”, claiming we “don’t have time”. It’s time to get your priorities in order, and starting making time for the things you love. Get your time back, before it runs out!

If you don’t have an assistant, you are one (quote by Raymond Aaron)

I’ve had a few assistants in the past that have helped me with building certain parts of my companies, and there have been several situations where I would just delegate anything I didn’t want to do myself. Not because I didn’t have the time for it, but simply because I didn’t feel like doing it. The fact I didn’t feel like doing it was a form of feedback I was ignoring. Some things I didn’t feel like doing shouldn’t be done in the first place as they didn’t serve any purpose. When I started focusing more on my core business, my assistants got more productive too. I don’t just delegate for the sake of delegating, I delegate for the sake of saving time. True efficiency meanseveryone gets to focus on the important things.

When was the last time you scheduled a difficult meeting? How many times did you have to email back and forth to select a date, time, and location that worked for everyone? How many travel websites do you visit to research your next vacation, trying to make sense of it all? How much time do you spend waiting on the phone listening to annoying music and (even worse) on-hold messages? Did you know this can end today? Don’t worry about the back and forth of scheduling meetings anymore. Spend more time enjoying your vacations instead of planning them. Stop making phone calls you don’t want to make. And much more.

Having a personal assistant used to be something reserved for the rich and famous, but not anymore. Thanks to the internet you can enjoy the benefits of having a “virtual assistant”, saving you time every day. Your time and money are worth more when you are able to concentrate on what you do best and leave the rest to an assistant. Virtual office assistants work from their own home-based offices and are highly trained in their skill areas as well as a variety of technologies. Many of them have advanced degrees as well as years of professional experience. Not only can a virtual assistant relieve you of mundane, everyday tasks, but also in many cases, s/he can even help you grow your business.

One of the biggest benefits to hiring a virtual assistant is the ability to delegate work to people who have better skills, and can do work you don’t know how to do, don’t have time to do, or just don’t want to do. The next big draw (when considering virtual assistants over bricks-and-mortar assistants) is that virtual assistants only clock-in and work when you need them and use their own resources. In other words, they’re not charging you to sit there and play solitaire on a computer you purchased for them.

Is it time to hire your own Virtual Assistant?

 

Top 10 Ways Solo-preneurs Use Virtual Assistants

1. Your VA receives calls routed to his/her home office phone so a call from your prospective customer does not go to voice mail.

2. You need to confirm appointments for the week. Your VA calls the appointments and notes who is confirmed and who must be rescheduled. Your VA even updates your calendar online, if you’re using a mutually accessible calendar program.

3. By using online invoicing software, billing can be done off-site by your VA. You email information to the VA, who then does daily electronic billing or accounting services to get your billing done.

4. You are preparing a marketing plan and need further information. Your VA can contact possible advertising outlets on the Internet, magazines, periodicals, newspapers, etc. and acquire information on pricing, publishing dates, publishing deadlines, payment policies, etc. All information is compiled into a report for you to review.

5. You are preparing a direct mailing and need to verify your database. The database is sent to your VA via email attachment. Your VA telephones each name and verifies name, spelling, title and address. All corrections are made, old names are deleted, and new names are added. The corrected database is “zipped” and returned to you via email attachment.

6. You need a brochure, business card or flyer for your business. Your VA can design, type and print your advertising material using your own artwork or stock art. Your VA can also make the materials ready to print by a professional print shop and simply email the file to the shop for printing.

7. You have a blog or website, but do not have time to update entries regularly. Brief ideas and thoughts or links can be emailed to your VA, who then helps with research or even updates your site for you.

8. You dictate letters, reports, notes or memos and e-mail it to your VA the MP3 file of your recording. S/he transcribes the audio and emails the completed transcript back to you.

9. You cannot keep up with the volume of email and are missing important messages. You or your webmaster set up a general email account (info@). Your VA retrieves all email, sorts, responds to routine requests, and forwards items of importance to you at your personal email account (myname@).

10. You would like to write a book, but can’t get organized. Your VA can compile rough drafts, notes, fragments, letters or memoirs and get them into an editable form to begin the process of formatting the book, research publishers, and send out queries.

Virtual assistants are here to stay. The above shows that virtual assistants can and do work well for most small and home-based businesses and especially solo-preneurs. Over the next couple of years you can expect your conversations with regards to virtual assistants to go from “What is a virtual assistant and what does a virtual assistant do?” to that of “Who provides your virtual assistant services?”

Implementing the use of a virtual assistant, especially through a virtual staffing agency, is a low-cost, low-risk undertaking. If the virtual assistant doesn’t work out, you simply request another, perhaps for a better fit. What’s more, coupling the use of a virtual assistant (or several virtual assistants) with your already up-and-coming business can catapult your income and success to the next level and beyond.

To see the full post, click here

Client Post: 'How Delegating to Fancy Hands Personal Assistants Has Made My Life Easier'

Lawyer, entrepreneur and all around leader, Cynthia Conlin knows how to make the most of her time. Cynthia has been using Fancy Hands for around a year and she's written about her experience using Fancy Hands on her blog, Facing The Sun. Keep reading to see how Cynthia delegates to her assistants! 

I read about Fancy Hands in a blog a while back and figured I’d give it a whirl.  Since then, my life has changed for the better.  Fancy Hands is a team of personal assistants to whom you can assign specific tasks.  Now, they won’t come over and do the dishes (but please sign me up if someone launches that service), but they can accomplish anything that can be done remotely with a phone or computer.  They also do it in a friendly manner, and they are accessible via web browser, iPhone app, or email.

While I don’t use Fancy Hands for things that involve client confidentiality, I still have plenty of other uses for a virtual personal assistant, and I have truly put them to work!

Fancy Hands has four monthly plans, starting with the “basic” at $29 a month for 5 tasks per month.  If you do not use all the tasks, they roll over.  Plus they give you free extra tasks for things like connecting your social networks.  I have not yet reached a point where I need to upgrade but so far have gotten great value from the service.  Since I enrolled last October, Fancy Hands has, for me, processed a total of 46 requests, placed 262 telephone calls, sent 11 emails, and spent more than 17 hours on the phone.  This is a huge value for me, and I’ve been hooked.

Another thing that I love is the convenience of the iPhone app.  If I wake at 2 a.m., which I’m akin to do on occasion, suddenly remembering something that needs to get done, I can pick up my phone and delegate the task right then.  This ability has put me at ease on more than one occasion as I am able to fall back to slumber knowing that a particular task is sufficiently delegated.

Here are a few things my personal assistants at Fancy Hands have helped me out with:

Scheduled Appointments

I received a promotional postcard showing that if I test-drove a new Fiat 500X I could get a free tote bag, but it required me to call and schedule an appointment when the dealership was open.  In the late evening, I told Fancy Hands to take care if it for me.  The next morning, my personal assistant booked an appointment on my calendar, and I never had to pick up a phone.  (Fancy Hands has access to my calendar through Google Apps, so my personal assistants can review and book appointments directly onto my calendar. Awesome.)

Had a Ceiling Fan Replaced

I have a house I rent out, and the ceiling fan needed to be replaced.  I asked Fancy Hands to locate a competent and honest handyman in the area and coordinate a time for him to meet with the tenants and replace the fan.  They did this entire job seamlessly, and it saved me a lot of time searching the web and making phone calls.

Researched Transport Services

I had a client who needed to transport a car from Orlando to Georgia.  Now I know that this is not a legal issue, but sometimes when you are a lawyer, your long-time clients tend to come to you with all kinds of issues.  Practicing law is part legal analyzer, part counselor, part problem-solver.  So, when I can, I try to help my clients as much as I can.  For this issue, I asked Fancy Hands to search for transportation services, and, within a day my virtual assistant responded with a whole list of contacts and exact price quotes that I was able to relay to my client, which, in the end, makes me a better problem-solver.

Compared Prices

After buying a new color laser printer, I asked Fancy Hands to determine what company sells the most inexpensive toner cartridges and compare them with my existing vendors.  My Fancy Hands assistant researched prices and gave me a full report including my usual vendors and a few more, with direct links to the exact toner I needed.  I was able to click on the links and buy toner in about two minutes, and the new vendor’s rate was about $15/cartridge lower than my usual vendor, saving me a total of $60!

Tracked Down Garbage Men

One week, the city waste management service skipped our address and failed to pick up our overflowing recycle bin.  Normally, I would just have to suffer and be buried in recyclable garbage for another two weeks.  However, Fancy Hands took care of it for me by calling up the waste management company and asking them to send a truck over.  Within 24 hours, a truck came by, and the recycle bin was emptied.  Success!

* * *

If you’d like to try Fancy Hands yourself, please use this special referral link because you can get 50% off your first month, and they will credit my subscription with referral credits.  Super awesome deal.   They are not paying me to write this blog, but because the service has been so helpful to me, I am giving it a glowing review.  I cannot recommend this service enough.

See the full post here

To-Do List: Check

If you haven’t noticed (which we hope you have) we’ve added a slick To-Do List to your Dashboard! Now you can store your to-do list on your Dashboard, and you can turn your “to-dos” into Fancy Hands requests with the click of a button. Literally. 

But how does it all work?

Click the text box to enter your action item. To save it, hit the ‘Enter’ key on your keyboard and you’re all set. You can double-click an item to make changes. Once you’ve completed that item, you can have the satisfaction of clicking the circle to the left of the action item, and you’ll see it checked off your list. 

If you want to convert your action item into a request, click the link that says ‘Convert to request’ and you’ll see a request pop-up. Hit ‘Submit’ and you’re on your way to productivity. 

 

Need to prioritize your To-Do List? Just click and drag your action items to order them in the way that works for you. 

And that's it! Who knew it could be this easy to be so organized?

Well, you did, because you're smart. 

Get started prioritizing now

Tips for Moving in the Summer Months

Planning a summer move? Check out these very helpful moving tips from our friends at FlatRate Moving!

Everyone dreads moving in the winter because the thought of dealing with ice and snow on moving day is a nightmare. 

However, summer has its own challenges that often get overlooked. You don't want to wait until your big day to be aware of some of these obstacles that could put a speed bump in your plans.

  • Schedule Movers Early - Lots of people just like you have purposely scheduled their move in the summer. This is a busy season, which means moving companies have full schedules. So, you may have a hard time finding a company with an opening. If possible, aim to move Monday through Thursday. Movers generally have a little more flexibility in their schedule on these days. If you’re short on time, you can enlist the help of Fancy Hands to research and book your move, making your experience as stress free as possible. 

  • Pack Heat Sensitive Items Separately - If you are planning a summer move pack DVDs, video games, candles, photos, and other items that are super heat sensitive together in a few boxes to be transported in your car. If they can't go in your car, at least have the movers load them on the truck last, so they are the first to get moved into the home at the new location.

  • Move Early or Late in the Day - When possible plan your move early in the morning or late in the afternoon. The heat of the day is usually most intense starting around noon and lasting till about 3 pm.

  • Dress Appropriately - If you are standing around watching the movers then your wardrobe may not be such a big deal. If you are doing a self-move, you should wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. Dark fabrics attract the sun. Ideally, you will avoid cotton, as it stays soaked when you sweat, and can make you feel uncomfortable. Moisture-wicking athletic wear is ideal. A wide-brimmed hat will protect your face and ears, but if you just wear a ball cap or visor apply sunblock to your ears. It is also a good idea for everyone to wear gardening gloves. Sweaty hands make it hard to hold onto smooth surfaced furniture. The gloves will provide a bit of traction.

  • Take Breaks - You may want to hurry and get everything done, but your body needs a break to cool off, so it can lower your core temperature. Encourage your movers to stop and rest for a few minutes periodically, as well.

  •  Stay Hydrated - It is easy to become dehydrated quite quickly when you are sweating in the heat. Have plenty of bottled water handy for everyone. Avoid caffeinated and alcoholic beverages, as they dehydrate you faster.

  • Cooling Cloths - You can buy cooling cloths online and in stores. You just pour cold water on one, and put it around the back of your neck. There are cooling bandanas available, too. Frogg Toggs is a popular brand with a full line of cooling products.

  • Be Prepared for Bad Weather - High winds can be very dangerous and torrential downpours and hail can really make things soggy. Have a few rain tarps handy. If you hire movers they should have some, but if you move yourself pick a couple up wherever camping supplies are sold.

  • Protect Kids and Pets - Ideally, kids will be with a sitter all day. Otherwise, they will need a place to stay cool in the shade. Pets will also need to be kept somewhere cool, and they will need water bowls available at all times. Never leave a pet in a parked car. Even if it is only in the 70s, the temperature inside a closed car can raise to over 100 degrees in less than 15 minutes. If you need a pet to stay in the car while movers are going in and out, park in the shade and leave it running with the air-conditioning on. Check on them frequently, just to make sure they haven't managed to turn the air off.

Text Request Update: Pricing Information

We hope you've been enjoying the new text request feature we rolled out a few weeks ago. If you haven't tried it yet, you can read more about how to get started here

Today, we've rolled out a pricing plan for text requests, so text requests will no longer be free.  

How does it work? 

You’ll get 20 minutes of “text time” per request, so when you send us your first text request, your 20 minutes will start. We’ll update you to let you know how many minutes you have left after each text request is closed (see above).

What happens if I go over the 20 minutes allotted in my first task? 

We’ll automatically deduct another request from your account and you’ll get another 20 minutes of text time. We’ll continue to let you know how many minutes you have left after each request is closed. For example, if you have 1 minute left on your first request, and you send in a text request that ultimately takes 3 minutes, we’ll deduct another request from your account and you’ll have 18 minutes of available text time left from that second request. 

Is there a difference between text requests and my regular subscription requests?

Nope! They’re all the same. As long as you have requests left in your account, you can text us a request.  

I don’t have a subscription. Can I purchase one task and use that for 20 minutes of Fancy Hands texting? 

Right now, the texting feature is only available to users with a recurring subscription. If you’re interested in texting your requests, we’d encourage you to consider becoming a full-time Fancy Hands subscriber. You’ll be able to text in your requests, not to mention you’ll get a ton of other great benefits! 

That's it- quick and painless. If you have any questions, let us know at support@fancyhands.com. 

What Did We Learn This Month? April Edition

Did you know you can rent goats to mow your lawn? This was one of the very cool things our assistants learned from working on tasks in April. Keep reading to learn some more interesting facts and skills learned this month!

“I learned how to do canned responses in Gmail. Never had a need, so never knew!”- Ashley L. 

“I learned that Harvard has a debate camp for high schools students. That's good to know for the 2 little geniuses I'm raising (LOL). I also learned why WiFi sometimes gets sketchy in hot and humid weather.”-Kelli P.

“I learned the pricing of billboards in LA. It was one of my favorite tasks!”- Phylecia T.

“I just learned you can rent goats to mow your lawn!”- Rebekah R. 

“These past couple of weeks I've gotten quite the education in 'Boozy Brunches.'”- Delores B. 

Text Me, Maybe

We are thrilled to announce that you can now text your requests to Fancy Hands

Yes, you read that right. 

Basic, Pro and Premier subscribers can text requests on-the-go and will be instantly connected to an assistant for real-time responses. 

How does it work?

Text your request to (646) 755-9298 and you’ll be connected to an assistant. Then you can text as you normally would with a friend. It’s that easy! Your assistant will be able to see your entire text request thread, as you would be able to with any text conversation. 

But wait...there’s more. Learn more about how texting is priced here.

Here’s an example of what a text request looks like:

A few things to know before getting started: 

You’ll want to make sure you’re texting from the number that’s connected to your Fancy Hands account. If you’re not sure which number is connected, you can view or change this here

We’d suggest saving (646) 755-9298 as ‘Fancy Hands’ or ‘Fancy Hands Text’ in your phone for easy access. It’s the same number you’d use to call in your requests. 

While we can access your calendar to schedule appointments, we can’t yet make payments on your behalf through text. Don’t worry -- we’re working on it! 

A good rule-of-thumb for sending in text requests: Anything that wouldn’t work in a text to a friend probably won’t work well in a text request to Fancy Hands. We’d suggest sticking to sending larger tasks through email, the mobile apps, or your web dashboard.

Here are some examples:

Any other questions? As always, feel free to email support@fancyhands.com for assistance with this or anything else Fancy Hands related. 

Happy texting!

Meet Dawn: Assistant

Meet Dawn: a proud wife and mother of six, count ‘em, six boys, hailing from Norway (a town in Maine, not the country). She’s been a Fancy Hands assistant for over two years and has done everything from finding a live camel for an office party to finding the perfect dance class. There are very few tasks she hasn’t tackled. Keep reading to find out more about Dawn!

What has been the most memorable task you've handled? Oh.... There have been a few... I guess the most memorable would have to be to find a live camel to parade around the office (IN the office).

What is one interesting fact you've learned from a task? Being a Fancy Hands assistant, I have learned so many things. I learn something new practically daily. 

What do you want to say to the Fancy Hands community? Keep being Fancy!

If you were marooned on an island, what are the three things you would take with you? A fire starter, My husband, and a tent

What charity is the closest to your heart? I am very passionate about homelessness and poverty in America.

What is the nicest thing anyone has ever done for you? My family and I were in a tough spot and our landlords were selling our house. We didn't have the money to move. They bought a house for us, and then let us finance the house through them. They are truly a blessing!

What is the silliest thing you have ever said or done? I am a joker and I am always saying or doing something to make people laugh. I once put my son's room contents on the porch. I told him that we had to sell all his things to pay for feeding him. (It didn't go over well)

What is the strangest food you ever ate? Squid

What’s your favorite flavor Jelly Belly? YUCK!!

What super power would you like to have? To go back in time.

What would be the title of your autobiography? Where Do I Begin? 

What’s your favorite myth, legend or fairy tale? Cinderella

Do you have a favorite board or card game? Skip-Bo


*Some* of Dawn's boys having fun with pumpkins. 

Meet Joslyn: Assistant

Meet Joslyn: a mother of two hailing from what she calls a “small town” in Lawton, Oklahoma and a Fancy Hands assistant for over two and a half years. When asked what the title of her autobiography would be, she replied “Making It Through Each Day Still In My Pajamas”…that’s a book we don’t want to miss! Keep reading to learn more about Joslyn. 

What has been the most memorable task you've handled? 

One of the ones that sticks out to me the most was when I helped a client surprise his wife by planning her a day full of pampering. It was last minute, but we were able to pull it off. 

What is one interesting fact you've learned from a task? 

I learn something new everyday! I have become so knowledgeable about a variety of topics since I started working here. 

What do you want to say to the Fancy Hands community?

I am so happy to have the opportunity to work from home with such a great group of assistants and clients! Everyone does their part to make things run smoothly. 

If you were marooned on an island, what are the three things you would take with you?

I would have to say my two boys, chocolate candy and an electronic device to keep up with all my reality shows! 

What charity is the closest to your heart? 

The Humane Society. I have such a soft spot for those poor animals and wish I could bring them all home! 

What is the nicest thing anyone has ever done for you?

I appreciate the little things more than a grand gesture. My husband taking out the trash, watching the kids so I can get a few minutes of quiet, those sorts of things mean the most. 

What is the silliest thing you have ever said or done?

Lately it would probably have to be that I have to sing the ABC song with my toddler all the time, no matter whether we are at home, or standing in line of the grocery store with strangers around us. 

What is the strangest food you ever ate?

I'm not the most adventurous foodies, so probably eel. 

What’s your favorite flavor Jelly Belly?

Buttered popcorn- yum!

What super power would you like to have?

I would love to be able to travel at lightening speed so that I could get anywhere in the blink of an eye. 

What would be the title of your autobiography?

Making it through each day still in my pajamas.

What’s your favorite myth, legend or fairy tale?

Snow White has always been one of my favorites since I was a child. 

Do you have a favorite board or card game?

Scrabble!

Joslyn & Family

Meet Kristen: Assistant

Everyone meet Kristen: a Fancy Hands assistant for two years, she hails from the home of Fancy Hands HQ: New York City. She has graciously volunteered to share some fun facts about herself, so keep reading to learn more about Kristen. 

What has been the most memorable task you've handled? I scheduled interviews with members of the Furry Community. Look it up.

What is one interesting fact you've learned from a task? The secret to the sawing-a-person-in-half trick.

If you were marooned on an island, what are the three things you would take with you? 

Hmm..Things, or people? I'll assume things. Bill Bryson's "A Short History of Nearly Everything". Some small musical instrument. A desalinator.

What charity is the closest to your heart? National Endowment for the Arts.

What is the nicest thing anyone has ever done for you? There's not enough room here to list all the things.

What is the silliest thing you have ever said or done? See above.

What is the strangest food you ever ate? Jelly Bellies. 

What’s your favorite flavor Jelly Belly? I think buttery popcorn. That's right, I said it.

What super power would you like to have? Transmutation.

What would be the title of your autobiography? I.

What’s your favorite myth, legend or fairy tale? Well, I love to hear true ghost stories. Does that count?

Do you have a favorite board or card game? Balderdash.

What do you want to say to the Fancy Hands community? You rock!

Chowin' Down! 

What Did We Learn This Month?

As we begin a new month (welcome, April!), we've decided to look back on some interesting facts that have been learned from tasks submitted over the past month. Keep reading to find out what a few of your assistants have learned- you might learn a few things too! 

We are a transplant society. We can transplant hearts, skin, eyes, faces. I recently discovered, via a task, that we also transplant feces. Look it up: Fecal transplantation. Fascinating breakfast conversation piece.” - Allen L. 

“I learned that Osmium, an element, sells for up to $13,000 per kilo.” - Jade W.

“I learned how to get tickets to go see Jimmy Fallon! I just went on Friday...so much fun!”- Nicole C. 

“I've learned how to get through to Verizon support and get my internet working even though the bill is in my absentee housemate's name. Now waiting for the arrival of a new modem. Oh, and I've learned how to speed up getting through the annoying voice active phone menus for airlines.”- Wayne R. 

"I didn't know there were companies that puck up your laundry and wash it for you and then deliver it back to your home or office. That was kind of cool. After finding a company like that for a client I found one for myself. So convenient!"- Abigail M. 

We'll report back at the end of April with some more interesting facts, so stay tuned! Remember, knowledge is power

Meet Helen: Assistant

For two years, Helen has been happily assisting Fancy Hands clients near and far. Originally from Pennsylvania, Helen enjoys spending time with her family and loves spicy food. Want to learn more? Take a look at what else Helen has to say! 

What has been the most memorable task you've handled? All the Disney Vacation tasks are memorable to me because I love all things Disney!

What is one interesting fact you've learned from a task? Not everything is how it seems.

What are your hobbies?  Ummm...Does being Fancy count? 

What is your favorite karaoke song? "Your Nobody Called Today" by Sylvia 

What is your spirit animal? I think I might be part squirrel

What is your favorite kind of ice cream/froyo? Strawberry Cheesecake.

Where would you go if you could go anywhere in the world? Egypt.

Who is your biggest inspiration?  My family!

What are some of your favorite apps (technology)? Yelp, Google and Skype!

What are some of your favorite apps (food)? Hot wings, jalapeno poppers and cream cheese wong tongs.

What do you want to say to the Fancy Hands community? I am truly grateful to have the wide variety of tasks to choose from! Everyday is a learning experience. 

If you see Helen working on your task, say hello! 

Meet Anne: Assistant

Everyone say hi to Anne! She's been a Fancy Hands assistant since October 2014 and lives minutes away from NYC in the Garden State: New Jersey. Anne has answered a few questions for us to help get to know her better. Check 'em out below! 

What has been the most memorable task you've handled?  I had to call a client's 18 year old brother during the holidays and tell him that he missed him, and then proceed to tell him three funny jokes.

What is one interesting fact you've learned from a task? Perseverance always pays off!

What are your hobbies? Camping, softball, and unfortunately, shopping! Since I have no children of my own, I love spending time with all of my 19 nieces and nephews.

What is your favorite karaoke song? "Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad"- Meatloaf

What is your spirit animal? A Swan. Swans are idealistic, open-minded, and passionate. My good nature often leads people to think they can take advantage of me, but they should be careful—beneath that serenity lies a fighting spirit. I love fiercely and unconditionally.

What is your favorite kind of ice cream/froyo? Edy's French Silk

Where would you go if you could go anywhere in the world? That's a toss up of Ireland and Italy; I'm half Italian and half Irish 

What is your go-to dance move? A very strong chocolate martini

Who is your biggest inspiration? I know this sounds cliche, but my mother. She raised 8 wonderful children, and is a very involved grandmother of 19, and ALWAYS had a smile on her face no matter how hard things got, we never knew it. She's also been an amazing wife of 44 years of marriage to my father, who is also wonderful.

What are some of your favorite apps (technology)? EBay, Amazon, (anything shopping related), Fox News, One Note, and Microsoft Office Mobile (I go to school online, so this is always open!)

What are some of your favorite apps (food)? Fried calamari, mozzarella sticks, buffalo wings, hot spinach dip, stop me now.......

What do you want to say to the Fancy Hands community? It's always a pleasure assisting you! The kind words and feedback are more appreciated than you know! There's nothing more gratifying and rewarding in my work than knowing I have left the client happy! Because of you, I love my job and the challenges it presents! 

Meet Emily: Assistant

Emily is the daughter of Peace Corps volunteers, so she was born and spent the first 17 years of her life in the Philipines. She currently resides in Omaha, NE and has been a Fancy Hands assistant since May of 2014. Keep reading to learn more about Emily! 

What has been the most memorable task you've handled? I love the proofreading tasks, and I love transcription.   Those really stick with me because I enjoy seeing what people have written and I like helping with it!

What is one interesting fact you've learned from a task? How to find email addresses at various companies - I had to find 150 recently.  I had no idea that this was even possible, but I got some great advice from other assistants!  

What are your hobbies? I love to travel. I was stationed in Germany when I was in the Army, and I'm planning on going back this summer. I also love to read and cook!  

What is your favorite karaoke song?  I don't do Karaoke, but I love singing along to the radio.  Much to the chagrin of my 19-year old daughter, right now, I really like "All About the Bass" .

What is your spirit animal? A butterfly, because I'm always flitting from one thing to another.

What is your favorite kind of ice cream/froyo? Ben and Jerry's Peanut Butter Jam Session.

Where would you go if you could go anywhere in the world? Back to the Philippines.  I spent my childhood in a mountain town called Baguio and I would love to go back!

What is your go-to dance move? I'm taking the fifth on that one.  Emily has no rhythm!

Who is your biggest inspiration? My husband, Andy. He went back to school to become a teacher in his 40s, and I admire the courage that took!

What are some of your favorite apps (technology)? Aviary is an awesome photo editing app from Adobe.  Mint helps me keep my finances in order, and Skype helps me keep up with family and friends around the world.

What are some of your favorite apps (food)? Oh, I love food.  I can't pick just one!

What do you want to say to the Fancy Hands community? Our clients are great - supportive and friendly and great to work with.  I've learned so much about so many different topics since I've been doing this.   Most importantly, I've learned that "I can't do that" is a phrase that has no place in my life!

Volunteer Day

Today, Fancy Hands HQ volunteered at the Bed-Stuy Campaign Against Hunger (BSCAH) food pantry in Brooklyn, NY. BSCAH was founded in 1998 as a traditional food pantry, and they’re currently the largest pantry in Brooklyn. They provide food to over 12,000 New Yorkers in need of food a month. This past year, they provided over 1.8 million meals to Brooklyn residents in need. Straying from the standard food pantry protocol, BSCAH allows their clients to select their own fresh produce and non-perishables through a supermarket-style pantry setup. BSCAH gets their food donations from several organizations around New York, including the Food Bank for NYC. They also own and operate two urban farms, which is where a lot of their fresh produce comes from. They are always looking for volunteers and accepting donations. If you’d like more information about volunteering or if you'd like to donate, you can find that here. A very special thanks to the staff and clients for allowing us to spend a few hours helping out today! 

FH HQ outside of the BSCAH food pantry. 

Meet Allen: Assistant

Meet Allen! Allen hails from Portland, Oregon ("a weird place") and he has been an assistant at Fancy Hands for longer than most: since April 2012. Keep reading to see what else Allen has to say about polyphasic sleeping, dance moves...and more!

What has been the most memorable task you've handled? Helping one of our clients find their lost dog. We created digital flyers and emailed/faxed them to hotels, restaurants, pet stores, humane societies.  We called dozens of proprietors along the beach. It took a few days but we found that little dog.

What is one interesting fact you've learned from a task? Let's see...polyphasic sleeping...Quantified Self...Cold Shower Therapy...I love the fact that I learn something new every day. Whether it's something about myself, serving the client, or subject matter the client needs an assist with, my horizons are constantly being expanded.

What are your hobbies? I work for Fancy Hands.

What is your favorite karaoke song? Yeah, right.  If I am singing something must be wrong with the universe. But I love a round of Boston's Rock and Roll Band.

What is your spirit animal? The Beagle,  loyal, playful, and keenly led by the nose.

What is your favorite kind of ice cream/froyo? Vanilla- there are literally 100's of ways to dress up a nice big scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Where would you go if you could go anywhere in the world? Someplace where it rains less than nine months of the year.  But more to the point, 

What is your go-to dance move? Scientists have found that women rated male dancers higher when they performed large, variable movements of their head, neck, and torso. Male dancers were also considered "good" dancers if they displayed fast bending and twisting of the right knee.  I would say if you need a go to move thats the one to do.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2x7bMzDPDbs

Who is your biggest inspiration? My wife. She accomplishes so much in such little time. She has an infinite amount of time for a husband and children and still figures out how to impact literally 100's of families over the last 15 years. She is amazing.

What are some of your favorite apps (technology)? Reminder is a great app-keeps me on task; Square Up  lets me accept credit card payments like the big dogs; and of course I love Dropbox.

What do you want to say to the Fancy Hands community? Thank you, for allowing me the opportunity to assist.  You make my life better.

Eleventh Hour Valentines

It’s here again: The time when you can’t walk into your local Walgreens without being tempted to buy all of the candy (two 64-oz chocolate hearts for a $2.99? I NEED THAT) or being bombarded by oversized teddy bears that seemingly stare at you as you walk through the door. Yes, I’m talking about Valentine’s Day, and it’s only a few days away. For those of us who are procrastinators (hand raised) you might be thinking to yourself “I need to get a gift, but I don't know what to get!" Luckily for you, I’ve compiled a few ideas for great last-minute gifts that’ll show you care, and that you totally had this planned a while ago. You’re welcome. 

Oh, and for those of you who are more into Anna Howard Shaw Day or Galentine’s Day (ovaries before brovaries!) I’ve got some ideas for you as well. 

Singing Telegram: 

What better way to show your loved one you care than sending a talented stranger to lovingly embarrass them through the gift of song? Singing telegrams are a fun and unique way to sing “I care for you.” If you're not into the idea of a telegram, why not hire someone to write and perform a song for your main squeeze? Either way, it’s sure to be a gift that will be remembered for years to come. 

Personal Chef: 

Since you’re likely not going to get a dinner reservation for Valentine’s Day at this point, you might as well have the restaurant come to you. A personal chef will be able to cook a meal designed by you and you’ll be able to have a romantic dinner without having to leave the house. Fancy, fresh and delicious food without having to put on pants? Sign me up. 

Customized Jewelry: 

Contrary to popular belief, it’s OK if you don’t go to Jared. Why not work with someone to have a special piece of jewelry made for your loved one? It could be a customized watch or a necklace that symbolizes an inside joke. Whatever it is, it will be one-of-a-kind and will be sure to bring a smile to their face. 

Scrapbook: 

It’s like a Facebook album, but tangible. This will be an enjoyable gift for you as well as you decide which pictures to add to your scrapbook. You’ll have a fun trip down memory lane together, and a thoughtful and fun book to look through in the future!

Spa Day: 

This can work for Valentine’s Day, Anna Howard Shaw Day or Galentine’s Day. You can treat yo’self (and maybe your loved one) to a spa day that will get you pampered and looking and feeling fresh. 

Recipe In A Jar: 

This is geared towards you, Galentines, but could work for any of the above holidays. Get a mason jar, fill it with the dry ingredients to your favorite waffle (or other baked good) mix, decorate the jar and voila! You have a memorable and edible gift. There’s no better way to show you care than giving someone food, IMHO. 

Anna Howard Shaw: The Work of Woman Suffrage: 

Ok, I guess this could be a useful gift for anyone, in general. Read up on “the most outstanding woman suffrage orator of her time” and prepare to drop knowledge on all those who haven’t read this book. Knowledge is power, y’all. 

Flowers & Chocolate: 

This is a classic and is sure to be a hit. *Please note that this is always a great gift and should be given in excess year-round. 

Well, there you go Valentines. Get out there and have the best February 13th and/or 14th ever! In the meantime, I’ll be anxiously awaiting one/all of the above from you. 

PS: If you need help finding any of the above, feel free to use Fancy Hands to get the job done. 

Meet Michael: Assistant


Meet your assistant Michael, originally from what he calls "a small town in New Jersey known as Barrington". He has been an assistant at Fancy Hands since January 2014. Check out some cool facts about Michael below! 

What has been the most memorable task you've handled? 

I had to create an road trip itinerary for a client going from San Francisco to New York City. That was really fun looking up all the places they should stop and see across the country. 

What is one interesting fact you've learned from a task? 

There was an article about "the 10,000 hour rule" which it means anybody can be a master at something if they put in that time. 

What are your hobbies? 

I'm a big history buff so I am always seeing what new exhibits museums are displaying. The artifacts from the past really help me keep things in perspective.

What is your favorite karaoke song?

"Sweet Home Alabama" Lynyrd Skynyrd

What is your spirit animal?  

A crow, it is a problem solver and enjoys a great meal.

What is your favorite kind of ice cream/froyo?

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, no more feeling guilty of eating the dough beforehand.

Where would you go if you could go anywhere in the world?

Italy, it's such a beautiful place and where my ancestors emigrated from.

What is your go-to dance move?

Don't sign me up for any dance competitions but I'm known to do the Twist.

Who is your biggest inspiration? 

My father, he's always willing to help someone without expecting anything in return.

What are some of your favorite apps (technology)?

Google Maps, it's my go to app for going two miles away or two hundred.

What do you want to say to the Fancy Hands community?

Thank you all for helping to grow this incredible service.

Meet Athanasia: Assistant

Meet Athanasia, a Fancy Hands assistant who has worked with us for over a year and a half. She was originally born in Greece and made her way across the pond to Chicago. She later moved to California for college but has gone back to her US roots and currently resides in Chicago. She's the proud mother of two and has so much more to share below! 

What has been the most memorable task you've handled? 

They are all pretty memorable.  My best was this poor woman who wanted to get a wig for her granddaughter because she has leukemia.

What is one interesting fact you've learned from a task? 

I have learned so much from the tasks that I have done.  It is very hard to answer this question because everyday I learn something new.

What are your hobbies?

I love the outdoors and anything to do with water.

What is your favorite karaoke song?

"Like a Virgin" by Madonna

What is your spirit animal? 

According to the quiz I took, my spirit animal is the butterfly.

What is your favorite kind of ice cream/froyo?

I am a caramel swirl ice cream kind of girl!

Where would you go if you could go anywhere in the world?

Egypt.  I would like to see the Pyramids in my lifetime. 

Who is your biggest inspiration? 

My children, they inspire me to be a better person every day. 

What are some of your favorite apps (food)?

Of course, Greek food, and Sushi!

What do you want to say to the Fancy Hands community? 

I have learned so much working here and I really enjoy helping others.  I also work with some very sweet and smart people.

Athanasia and her daughter Michaela.

Taking Some Pain Out Of Tax Time: Part 2

We proudly bring you Part 2 of 'Taking Some Pain Out Of Task Time' by Chris Remus. 

In Part 1 of this two-part series I talked about why we experience pain at tax time, how we can relieve that pain by making the tax information collection process easier, and how Fancy Hands can help with that process. In Part 2 of the series, I’ll introduce you to how the three principles of Tax Pain Relief and Fancy Hands can help you take the pain out of tax time.

Principle 1 - Establish a Single Digital Repository for your Tax Information

This is a single digital storage location that you send all of your tax documents to throughout the year. By establishing this digital repository, when tax season approaches, all the information you need is already in one place.

Having all the information in a single place saves you the trouble of scrambling around at the last minute, trying to collect all of the information you need, while hoping you’re not forgetting anything. If you setup the Digital Repository the right way, getting the required information into it should be simple, seamless and self-organizing. Certain information collection tasks can even be automated, if you integrate your Digital Repository with other online services. For these reasons, my Digital Repository of choice is Evernote.

Here are some ideas on how Fancy Hands can help you with Principle 1 -

1 - Setup your digital repository, e.g. an Evernote notebook if you only file personal taxes or multiple notebooks if you file personal and business taxes.

2 - Research and develop a checklist of the information you need to collect for each deadline. If you use an accountant to file your taxes, Fancy Hands can also contact your accountant for a list that they may have available for clients to use. This also makes your accountant’s life easier, since he/she will be getting the information he/she needs, without having to follow-up with you to fill in the gaps.

3 - Add the checklists to the reminders of key tax dates that Fancy Hands set up for you in Part 1 of this series. (Link to Part 1, preferably #2 “Reminding you…” of Part 1.)

4 - Integrate additional systems with your digital repository to automate certain tasks like expense receipt and financial statement collection.

Principle 2 - Use the Single Digital Repository throughout the year

How you setup the Digital Repository is important. However, if you don’t use it throughout the year, it’s not going to be too helpful to you at tax time. Make sure your Digital Repository:

1. Is available to you on whatever device you may have handy when you come across a relevant piece of tax information.

2. Has extensions to make it easy for you to get the document, whether digital or paper, into the Digital Repository.

Again, I’ve found that Evernote excels in each of these two areas. There are also tools that allow you to automate the collection of some aspects of expense receipts and financial statements. You can link those to Evernote too and have them feed the relevant information into your Digital Repository for you throughout the year.

Here are some ideas on how Fancy Hands can help you with Principle 2 -

  1. Check to see that your automated systems are correctly sending the right information to your Digital Repository on a Quarterly Basis and help you fix them if they’re not.

2. Run digital expense reports, using a system like Expensify, on a monthly or quarterly basis, to generate digital expense receipts for you. Add the reports to your digital repository.

3. Send your financial statements, that have been automatically added to your Digital Repository by a service like FileThis, to your accountant or bookkeeper for reconciliation on a monthly or quarterly basis.

Principle 3 - Use the Single Digital Repository at tax time

This is where you feel the Tax Pain Relief. As tax season approaches, everything you need is now in one place, in your Digital Repository. If you do your own taxes, everything is in one place for you and you can focus on completing the forms, reducing your chance of making costly mistakes, since you won’t be distracted by having to collect tax information while simultaneously concentrating on getting your calculations correct.

If you work with an accountant, you simply need to share the Digital Repository with your accountant, if your accountant is tech-savvy, or export and send the contents of the Digital Repository to them, if they’re not so tech-savvy :) Either way, everything’s where it needs to be and once you get the information over to them, you can focus on the more value-added activities like making key tax-planning decisions for your household and/or business.

Here are some ideas on how Fancy Hands can help you with Principle 3 -

1 - Review the information in your Digital Repository against the checklist developed in Principle 1 and let you know what’s missing.

2 - Share the Digital Repository with or export and send the information from your Digital Repository to your accountant, for a truly hands-off experience.

3 - Pat you on the back for a job well done :)

In conclusion, while these principles may seem simple at first, the real challenge is addressing and following them throughout the year. The fact that your Tax Pain Relief system is very easy to use should help you actually use it throughout the year, be better prepared and feel less pain at tax time as a result.  Using Fancy Hands to do some of the work and/or remind you of the things you need to do makes it even more likely you’ll follow these three principles and experience your Tax Pain Relief during this tax season and those to come for many years.

P.S. - If you decide to give Tax Pain Relief a shot, use code “FANCYHANDS” at check-out to receive 10% off the purchase price and access to a lifetime of free updates to the eBook.

About the Author: Chris used to really dread collecting all the information needed to file taxes. Since He was spending way too much time collecting various tax forms, bank statements, receipts, etc., this would lead to him being super-stressed and behind on a lot of other important things during tax season.

Over the past few years, Chris developed Tax Pain Relief to make the tax information collection process a lot easier and better for himself and is now excited to share that relief with others.



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