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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.

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!

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

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. 

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.



Taking Some Pain Out of Tax Time: Part 1

Chris Remus is a Fancy Hands aficionado, so much so, that he has figured out a way to take the pain out of tax season with the help of Fancy Hands. Chris has written a two-part guest post on how you can also take the pain out of your own tax season. Enjoy Part One below, and stay tuned for Part Two tomorrow! 

Just over one-third of us like doing our taxes, yep, really...at least according to a Pew Research Center study conducted in 2013. This post isn’t for those people.  This post is for the over 56% of us that either dislike or even hate doing their taxes. I fall into this category of people and am guessing you do too, if you’re still reading :)

For people like us, tax season can be a source of pain, that manifests as a combination of stress, tension, and anxiety. Because of this pain, we may find ourselves trying to avoid it as long as possible, by putting-off doing our taxes to the very last minute. As a result, we haphazardly rush to collect all the information we need to file and either complete the required forms as best and quickly as we can or dump the information on our accountant to do it for us.

This approach leaves us with even more (and now lingering) stress, since we’re afraid that in our rush to get the taxes done and off of our plate, at least until next tax season, we may have made a costly mistake along the way.

A few years ago, I began to believe there had to be a better way to approach tax season and reduce the pain resulting from stress, tension, and anxiety that would build along the way. OK, I thought to myself, if tax season is going to be painful, maybe I can make it less painful by being better prepared when it rolls around each year, or in my case, as a small business owner, multiple times a year.

Daily Worth reinforces what most of us already know, yet still rarely carry-through with, by reminding us that getting a jump on taxes is - 

Worth the Effort

What if just a few hours — or even minutes — of effort could result in hundreds, maybe even thousands, more dollars in your bank account? You’d make the effort, right?

Well, maybe. At tax time each year, many of us take shortcuts or overlook important items that cost us big bucks, payable to Uncle Sam. Next year, don’t pay more than you owe. Rather than waiting until the last minute then rushing to file your taxes on time, start early and put in a little time. Do more research. Plan ahead. And you’ll be able to avoid these costly tax mistakes.

What I discovered was that, by setting up a system to collect tax information throughout the year, collecting tax information became so easy to do, I actually did it in advance of each tax season. As result, I became better prepared for each tax season. Being better prepared meant spending less time on taxes during tax season, which also meant less tax season pain. This past April, for example, the time I spent on collecting my tax information and getting it to my accountant dropped from what used to be hours to under 30 minutes! 

After experiencing the wave of relief that came along with this pretty drastic reduction, I decided to document the system I used, in the hope of sharing this tax pain relief with others. The result is an eBook called Tax Pain Relief that is based on three very simple principles.

Fancy Hands has been instrumental in keeping me on track, as I developed Tax Pain Relief, while balancing a number of other projects, as well as a my personal life. Looking at my account, it turns out that January 30, 2015 marks my two year anniversary as a very happy client and heavy user of Fancy Hands. The stats on the Fancy Hands dashboard tell me that over the past two years I’ve made 885 requests and that Fancy Hands has placed 777 calls, spent 2.1 days on the phone, sent 167 emails, and scheduled 2378 events for me.

Everything that Fancy Hands has done for me allows me to focus on the things that I actually need to do myself, essentially the places where my time is most valuable. To me this is one of the biggest value-adds that virtual assistants provide and the Fancy Hands assistants excel at providing this value.

Another really big value-add is that Fancy Hands can do things for us that we may have an aversion to doing, however that still need to get done, in essence helping us fight through our own mental barriers and keeping us out of trouble :) Taxes fall squarely into this category for me.

For example, as a small business owner, one of the reasons I subconsciously delay doing my taxes is to avoid coming face-to-face with the reality that a lot of the hard-earned money sitting in my bank really isn’t mine, since a good chunk of that cash needs to be paid in taxes. This sub-conscious avoidance mechanism also would also contribute to me putting-off my taxes to the 11th hour, only compounding the stress, tension and anxiety I would experience each tax season.

So since taxes are something I really hate doing, wouldn’t it be great if Fancy Hands could help me get them done, while making sure I don’t put things off until the last minute in the process? Putting a system like Tax Pain Relief in place also opens the door to allowing Fancy Hands help you take even more pain out of tax time.

As a matter of fact, even before you get started setting-up your own system to take some pain out of tax time, Fancy Hands can help you prepare to make each tax season less painful by: 

1. Adding key tax deadlines to your calendar. Ask Fancy Hands to either research a good calendar of key tax dates for you or contact your accountant for one.

2. Reminding you about key tax deadlines throughout the year, with sufficient advance notice to address them. Ask Fancy Hands to add recurring reminders to your calendar events, set up the reminders in a service like Resnooze, or if you need some extra help, schedule recurring Fancy Hands tasks to remind you when key tax activities need to get done. I like this last option a lot, since if you’re experienced with Fancy Hands, you know they won’t quit reminding until you get done what you need to do ;)

In the second part of this 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.

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.

Too Cool For School

I feel the first line of one of my favorite movies, You’ve Got Mail, says it best:  “Don't you love New York in the fall? It makes me want to buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.” (If you haven’t seen it, first of all: what? Second of all: get yourself to the nearest device with streaming Netflix, and get out the tissues!)

While Fall may not have officially graced us with its presence, the start of the school year certainly has! The beginning of the school year can be as stressful as it is exciting. Perhaps you’re a student embarking on that self-discovery journey we call “college”. Maybe you’re a parent sending your little cherub off to build a contraption that keeps an egg safe when it’s dropped off of a building in the name of science. You might be a teacher getting ready to mold the minds of the next generation. No matter who you are, your life is busy and there’s always going to be something you need to get done, but don’t have the time to do it.

That’s where Fancy Hands steps in and helps make the beginning of your school year slightly less stressful. Below you’ll find a few examples of what Fancy Hands can do to help you out now that school has started. Heck, these might even be things you need help with once you’ve gotten into the swing of things! Either way, we’re here to help make your life easier.

Parents:

  • Did your child go into the first day with an Anna backpack, only to find that everyone else had an Elsa backpack, and now they need an Elsa backpack too? We can find an Elsa backpack near you, and even purchase it for you. We unfortunately won’t be able to prevent you from hearing “Let It Go” for the millionth time this week.

  • Want to make healthy and creative lunches for your kids, but don’t have the time? We can plan out a menu for you, complete with shopping list, for the entire school week so all you have to do is assemble. Naturally, you’ll need to add in a bag of Cheetos for cafeteria trading purposes.

  • Extra-curricular activities can be overwhelming. We can help you add these and any other family events to your calendar so you never miss a beat.

Students:

  • Need to manage your extracurricular calendar, or maybe just your class schedule? You can connect your Google calendar and we’ll add events and classes so you don’t have to add them yourself. Now you can be social and on time for every class!

  • Are you having difficulty doing some research for an assignment? We can help find you resources that’ll help you ace that paper. We’ll pull the all-nighter for you.

  • Books for classes are expensive! We can help you find, purchase and ship you the right book for the right price.

Teachers:

  • We realize how exhausting lesson planning can be. Let us help you organize your lessons in a spreadsheet, so you can be sure you’re on top of your coursework.

  • School holidays are a time for you to relax! We’ll coordinate your school’s schedule with your calendar so you can look ahead and know when your next vacation day takes place.

  • As a teacher, you can take advantage of several discounts in your community. We can help you make a list of these discounts, so you know where you’re eligible and what the discount will be.

For more ideas on what we can do to help you, check out our Common Requests page. If you’re ready to take the plunge, you can do so here.

Here's to a great school year for everyone!





*In honor of the First Day of School and Throwback Thursday, here's a pic of me and my sister on our first day of school an undisclosed number of years ago. I mean, look at that color coordination. Seriously.*










Moving Tips from FlatRate Moving: Things Most Commonly Forgotten When Moving

If you are planning a move, you may hear this nagging voice in the back of your head telling you that you are forgetting something. Don't ignore it, because you probably are!

There are a lot of small details that go into a move, and there are a few that are constantly forgotten. Chances are good there is at least one thing on this list you are forgetting. Luckily for you, FlatRate Moving and Fancy Hands have teamed up to help make sure you don’t forget a thing. You can now get $25 off of your move with FlatRate Moving! Just use the code "FANCYHANDS" before requesting your quote to get $25 off.*

And, for after you've booked your move, here’s a helpful list of some of the most commonly forgotten things to keep in mind when planning a move.

Reserve Freight Elevator - You may not know it, but if you are moving into an apartment or condominium building with an elevator you may need to reserve the service elevator. In many cases, this needs to be done at least a week in advance. You definitely do not want your movers to arrive to the new building with all your belongings, if you can't use the elevator. No time to call? Don’t worry, Fancy Hands can reserve the elevator for you.

Trash and Recycling Bins - If you paid for your bins, don't leave them sitting behind the garage in their hiding spot. If you pay a fee to rent them through the waste company and will have a different provider in your new area, make sure the company picks them up before you move. Fancy Hands can call the waste company andschedule a pick up for these bins.

Memberships, Subscriptions, and More - When moving a considerable distance away, make sure you cancel your gym membership, and change your newspaper and magazine subscriptions. Use a Fancy Hands task to stop or switch your newspaper and magazine subscriptions. We’ll also take care of cancelling your gym membership!

Gathered Items - Everything from dry cleaning and shoe repairs to school transcripts and vet records fall in this category. If you have loaned out items to neighbors, make sure you get them back. It's a good idea to create a list of things you need to gather and check them off as you get them. Fancy Hands can help you organize this list, as well as help you schedule times to pick up the borrowed items.

Spare Key - You hid a key under a rock and in a tree somewhere. Now it's time to find them. These need to be left behind for the new owners or residents. While you're at it, take the garage door opener out of your car to leave, too.

Microwave - You are probably thinking it is pretty strange anyone would leave an entire small appliance behind. Well, in a lot of homes, these do stay behind intentionally, so movers will often assume they stay, especially if the fridge, stove, and dishwasher are remaining in the house. Schedule a reminder to have your Fancy Hands assistant call to remind you to take that microwave with you!

Mail - You know you need to change your mail. In fact, you have thought about it several times, but decide to do it later because there is plenty of time. Now it's moving day, and as the mail truck passes in front of your house, you realize you didn't take care of it. You can do this right online at the USPS site, or send Fancy Hands your

moving details to set up your mail forwarding.

Outdoor Items - Hoses, solar lights, wind chimes, and bird feeders are all commonly forgotten. Although, sometimes, some of these are nice to leave for the new occupant.

Odds and Ends Inside the Home - In addition to the microwave, household items commonly forgotten include floor lamps, shower lines, full length mirrors, plants, magnets, pet bowls, toilet bowl cleaner, plunger, and the coffee maker.





*The fine print: This Offer is valid only for moves booked through FlatRate Moving’s New York branch after the date of this Offer where both the ‘pick up’ and deliver take place between August 19, 2014 and September 30, 2014. This Offer is only valid if presented to FlatRate Moving prior to receiving a FlatRate moving quote. This Offer may not be combined with any other offers, discounts or promotions. Valid on moves valued at $1,000 or more.

Delegation Lessons

Phil Buckley is new to Fancy Hands and has graciously shared how he’s learning to delegate to his new personal assistants, one task at a time.

“Delegation has never come easy to me. It’s definitely not a strength. The first time I had access to an assistant, I didn’t know how to help this person help me.

My justifications for this poor time management cover the range of productivity misconceptions: it would take more time to explain what I want than to do it myself, I do this task really fast, I can do it the best, etc.

Starting a consulting business didn’t make delegation any easier. Often, there was only me to delegate things to and completing tasks myself gave me the satisfaction of keeping expenses low. I had no problem calling in experts to do work that I couldn’t do myself, but the small tasks remained areas of opportunity. My accountant offering to file my quarterly tax payments. I responded “No thanks, I like to do it.” Another productivity mistake.

I became interested in a virtual assistant when Michael Hyatt shared the benefits of and tips onusing this service. He made a compelling and pragmatic case, but I didn’t take action.

Last week, I was reading a blog post by Steve Scott about his Kindle book launch. He shared that Fancy Hands, a virtual assistant subscription service, had completed his research for a small fee. I clicked on the link and became intrigued by this service.

Fancy Hands offers most types of tasks including setting up appointments and conference calls on your calendar, booking services, admin tasks such as editing emails, making calls on your behalf, research, etc.

I decided to start with the basic 5 tasks per month for $25 package to test how much I would use the service. The set up process took minutes on their easy to navigate website. It was great to see a 50 percent discount for the first month adjustment to my invoice too. Every step of the process made me happier.

This year, I haven't had a lot of time to market 'Change With Confidence' or my consulting business. This seemed like a perfect area to get help with. I wanted to send copies of my book to professors to see if there was interest in including it on their course reading lists or to have me as a guest lecturer. I have had excellent experiences with a few profs, but have not had time to expand my connections.

My first Fancy Hands request was to compile a list of profs who teach organization development or change management courses in the US and Canada. In time, I will create another task for the rest of the world.

Once I hit send, a banner appeared saying "relax while we take care of that for you." I thought, this is also a de-stressing service.

I can't wait to review the results of my request. My guess is that once I get used to the service I will think of many other tasks that are better completed by Fancy Hands.  Delegation is easier than I thought.”

For more on Phil’s Fancy Hands journey, click here.




Defend Net Neutrality

Let Fancy Hands help you take a stand for Net Neutrality! We'll call your local representative on your behalf and ask them to vote NO on the amendment to H.R. 5016 that strips away FCC authority to enact meaningful net neutrality rules. (eff.org

Click here to take a stand against Net Neutrality. 

No susbcription necessary. Just fill out your name and address and we'll take care of the rest. We'll help you tell Congress that the future of the Internet matters to you! 

Young Architect

Here's Mike showing his love for Fancy Hands!  

Not only is Mike Riscica an architect, a writer and an avid yellow labrador fan, he's also having Fancy Hands take over so he can manage the rest of his busy schedule. He's taken time out of his busy schedule to show his love for Fancy Hands on his blog Young Architect

"An Imaginary Friend

For the past few months I have had a little imaginary friend that does all the annoying things that I don’t want to do. Ya know thinks like: make appointments, research things on the web, call this person or place for me to find an answer on something and even copy and paste something over and over and over again.

After they finish each one of my little tasks they send me a neat little email with the summarizing results from whatever task I gave them to do.

Sounds crazy, but I can’t tell you how much more productive I have been by getting all these silly little things off my plate.

What the hell am I talking about?

Over the winter (shortly after I built this Young Architect website) I started using a little service on the web called Fancy Hands.   Fancy Hands is a virtual assistance subscription service that does small tasks, which take about 15 minutes. It works like this.

I send Fancy Hands a task either by logging into their site, email or by leaving them a voicemail. Just for an example say my task is something like:

Subj: Find exterior Pictures of a building in Portland Oregon

Hey Fancy Hands,

I am working on an architecture project. Can you find me as many pictures of the building located at 2023 NW Hoyt St, Portland Oregon? The building is also called the William Temple House. Shots that show as much of the exterior of the building are gold.  Interior shots are of no use to me.

Please send me the JPGS. Include the screen shots from google earth and maps, but also look elsewhere on the web.

Feel free to ask any questions.

Thanks so much.

- Michael Riscica

This request then sits on the Fancy Hands server where it waits for someone to pick it up, do the work and email me the results.

After the task is completed they send me an email, which sends a notification to my phone and updates my account on their website with the results from that task.

20 minutes later, I got back a .zip file containing the files I requested above.

Why?

Heres why I am using Fancy Hands for as much as I can.

I am insanely busy
In an average week, I attend between 5-15 meetings, make routine site visits at various locations, and meet with many different people. I need help. Often, I call fancy hands while I’m running from one meeting to the next asking them to make a call or look something up that I just don’t have time for.

I get distracted
Looking for pictures of a building on the internet? Sure it sounds simple enough. But I guarantee you it will take me twice as long to accomplish this task than someone who isn’t invested in the process. I’m a sucker for  being derailed by something while I am in pursuit of an answer. I have learned that letting someone else vet the information as a first pass is more effective process. These small 15 minute minutia tasks are derailing me from getting larger, more important work done.

Sometimes I need a fresh point of view
A lesson I learned a long time ago early in my architecture career is that when you have been working on and looking at the same drawing for many hours at a time there could be a very blatant and obvious error on the drawing, but because you have been looking at the drawing for long time You just can’t see it.Are you a bad Drafter or Architect? No! definitely not. But I bet if you walked away and came back a few hours later you would immediately notice that error.

Fancy Hands has been a great place for me to run something past someone with a fresh point of view to make sure that something I wrote makes sense.  (PS – that was just an example, I doubt Fancy Hands can check your Architecture drawings. But you can try it and let me know how it works out.)

My Small Tasks

Here is a short list of some of the things I have Fancy Hands doing for me.

  • Research the purchase of a laptop that meets 10 different requirements.
  • Create a list of quotes on various topics.
  • Find the lowest price of a product I am looking to purchase.
  • Find the number for the building department in this town, call them to see if they have building permit records on this property.
  • Find a local store that has a certain product.
  • Help me narrow down when to take my vacation by looking at the cost of flights.
  • Find me the cheapest non-stop flight that works best for my schedule.
  • Make a dinner reservation for 7:30pm, if that doesn’t work then call these 2 other restaurants.
  • Call the print shop, send them this PDF and tell them I want 50% scale prints in black and  white. Print and bind 4 sets. I will pick up tomorrow at 11am , they can bill my account. Give them my cell to call if they have any questions or problems.
  • Proofreading professional emails that I have spent a great deal of time crafting.
  • Fancy Hands has proofread all blog posts written on this site. Yep, even this one.
  • Search the internet for the office number of Mr. Engineer and tell him that I need to cancel our afternoon meeting, but reschedule for next week.
  • Search the web and find out who designed the building at 2023 NW Hoyt.
  • Call my 5 local art supplies stores and find out which one has this specific glue.
  • Research which dog food I should be buying.
  • Help me find answers to my never ending cell phone problems. "

But wait...there's more! You can check out the rest of Mike's post here: http://www.youngarchitect.com/2014/07/05/fancy-hands-review/

Working Smarter

 

Meet Nick Loper: Fancy Hands subscriber since 2012, head of the #1 virtual assistant company directory and review platform, and published author. 

Nick’s new book, Work Smarter: 350+ Online Resources Today’s Top Entrepreneurs Use to Increase Productivity and Achieve Their Goals is now an Amazon Bestseller, and we’re proud to say Fancy Hands helped. We asked Nick to weigh in on how he used Fancy Hands to help him write his newest book.

In his own words:

“How Fancy Hands built an Amazon Bestseller, 15 minutes at a time.

Recently I undertook a big project to find out what online tools and resources today’s top entrepreneurs are using to run their businesses.

My original idea was that it would make a viral blog post, but as the post grew past 10,000 words (10x the length of a typical blog post), I knew I had something bigger on my hands.

The final project became a book called Work Smarter: 350+ Online Resources Today’s Top Entrepreneurs Use to Increase Productivity and Achieve Their Goals.

In total, over 500 entrepreneurs contributed their favorite tools – which included Fancy Hands.

The book went on to reach the top of the Amazon charts during launch week, generating more than 20,000 downloads and earning dozens of positive reviews and a position as the #1 free business book that week.

As you can imagine, there was a lot of research and preparation that went into this project, and I actually relied heavily on Fancy Hands to build the foundation of the book.

For this book project, Fancy Hands:

**Built a spreadsheet of all the contributors and resources named.

**Categorized the resources.

**Found/wrote descriptions for the tools I hadn't heard of, which was a lot!

**Found links and pricing information.

**Transferred the spreadsheet data into sentence format.

**Found contact information for the contributors and the companies named.

**Submitted the book to free kindle promotion sites.

**Found relevant questions on Quora related to the book’s content.

Most of the work was done in shared Google Docs spreadsheets and document files. We could collaborate and have multiple people working on one file at the same time.

All said and done, I used 79 requests over the course of 6 weeks to research, build, and support the launch of Work Smarter. (I had to upgrade to Super-Premium after running out of tasks!)

At 15-minutes a pop, Fancy Hands contributed nearly 20 hours of work to the project, and proved that a non-dedicated VA service can still be an asset for larger projects.”

You can check out Nick’s new book, as well as his other books, here

In the meantime, we'll be awaiting Nick's tasks for his next book! 

Rad Dad

Father’s day is right around the corner, and if you’re still looking for the perfect gift, look no further than Fancy Hands! We can help you find a gift that will show Dad how much you care. 

Is Dad's favorite place outside in front of the BBQ? We can help you find cookbooks, utensils, aprons, rubs, spices and sauces.

Does your Dad need to upgrade his bar? We’ll help him keep it classy with items like whiskey glasses and decanters, home brewing kits, beer and wine clubs and cocktail recipe books.  

Keep Dad hip with a new wardrobe. We can do all of the legwork and find you shirts and sweaters, ties, belts and hats, shoes and socks, and athletic, outdoor and swimming attire.

Need to update Dad’s entertainment system? We can get you the best deals on tablets and phones, stereos, speakers and Sonos, Set-top boxes and e-readers, and TVs and computers.

So, your Dad is a huge sports fan. We can scour the Web for gifts like golf gear, tickets to the game, autobiographies of sports legends and rare baseball cards.

Does your Dad love gear and gadgets? We can help you find popular new items like headphones, fitness tracking wristbands, watches and bags, backpacks and briefcases.

If you’re looking at this list and you’re thinking: “My Dad doesn’t want or need any of these things!” you can give him the gift of time with a gift subscription to Fancy Hands. You'll find gift subscriptions here.

In addition to helping you figure out a gift, we'll help you plan a special day for your Dad if you're going to be visiting.

No matter what you need this Father's Day, Fancy Hands has got you covered. 

Happy Father’s Day, from all of us here at Fancy Hands!

Always a Bridesmaid

Oh, May. The flowers, the warm weather (finally!) and... the beginning of wedding season.

While I'm still waiting for Prince Charming to swipe right on Tinder, I could not be happier for my many wonderful friends who have found someone equally as wonderful to spend the rest of their lives with.

What does all of this everlasting love mean for me? Let's just say that starting in May, I have (at least) one wedding to go to per month through December. It's just so difficult being wildly popular.

For one of these weddings, I'm not only an attendee, but I'm the MOH (for those of you not reading The Knot daily, that's code for 'Maid of Honor'). Being the MOH, I am responsible for planning the most incredible Bachelorette party the Bride-to-Be (let's call her 'B2B') has ever attended. No pressure, right?

Much to TLC's dismay, my real life thankfully involves a total of zero bridezillas. B2B let me know she wanted to go to Atlantic City for her party and she knew the exact hotel she wanted to stay in, as well as where she wanted to go for dinner. Being from New Jersey, I'm sort of ashamed to say I've only been to Atlantic City once in my life and I can't even remember the name of the hotel we stayed in when I went, so clearly I'm useless in this situation. So, when the B2B told me this, I was excited about planning but needed some help ironing out the details. That's where my Fancy Hands came through.

First things first. I had made the hotel reservation, but the website said check-in is at 4pm. I'm not sure if you've ever traveled with 15 girls, but 4pm is not nearly enough time for all of us to get ready for the big night. 

My request: 

"Call the hotel and make sure that a. we can check in early and, b. our rooms are next to/near each other."

Within minutes, my assistant had called the hotel I had booked, made sure that we could check in at 1pm instead of 4pm at no extra charge, and confirmed that our rooms were near each other, as it said they would be when I booked them.

One down, several to go.

Next request:

"Can you please call Margaritaville in Atlantic City and make a reservation for 15 people on the 16th at 7:00pm. (If this is not available, please make it for 6:30 or 7:30pm.) This is for a bachelorette party. They said on the website that they can't take reservations on Saturday evenings during the Summer, but if you can do this, it would be a big help.

Also, please get an email confirmation or have them call me to confirm the reservation after you've made it. Thanks!"

Response:

"Hello Lindsay,

I have called Margaritaville in Atlantic City and made the reservation on the 16 at 7:00pm for 15 people.

They can't send a confirmation e-mail and said to call back a week earlier to confirm the reservation. However, it is already in their system.

All the best,
Celine M."

It's a miracle! I can now rest easy knowing that lodging and food are taken care of, and that we don't have to try and squeeze a party of 15 into a restaurant without a reservation at dinner time.

Now, onto the fun part: drinking! Normally I know my way around bars, but as I said, I've been to AC once and my memories are fuzzy. Fancy Hands to the rescue.

Request:

"I know little to nothing about Atlantic City. Can you find some good, non-sleazy bars in Atlantic City (might want to look up reviews) preferably on the boardwalk near/around our hotel? If you can find 3-5 popular or well-liked bars, that would be delightful. Thanks!"

Christina really nailed this response. She came back to me with 5 bars that she had verified are popular with the local crowd, as well as visiting patrons. Not only are the bars well reviewed, but there is a diverse selection of bars to choose from that will make everyone in attendance happy. Christina also kept cheap drinks in mind, which is key. 

Lastly, the B2B has requested a jitney/rickshaw/bicycle taxi ride around the boardwalk. Sounds like fun! I know about as much about jitney-rickshaws, as I know about Atlantic City. Let me get my assistant on the case.

Request: 

"Hello! 
Can you please get as much info as possible on how much it is to rent a rickshaw/jitney (I'm not really sure what they call them) in Atlantic City? It would probably be for anywhere between 1-4 hours on a Saturday evening. Are there companies that own them, or are they just dudes on a bike with a wagon attached? Enlighten me. 
Thanks!"
Tiffany came back with a plethora of knowledge about these bicycle taxis and now I know more about rickshaw rentals in AC than I ever could have hoped. Just FYI, a one hour rickshaw ride down the boardwalk will set you back $40, but a 5 block ride will cost $5 (the same amount as a Fancy Hands task!). You don't have to reserve in advance, you can just hop on
I'm confident that I will enlist Fancy Hands to do more research for me in the coming months, but for now I'm feeling at ease knowing that most of the party has been planned and that Fancy Hands has my back if anything else comes up. 
I'll be sure to keep everyone posted on how that rickshaw ride goes. As for the rest of the party, well, you know what they say: what happens in Atlantic City, stays in Atlantic City. 
Wait, that's how that goes...right? 

Mother's Day Dilemma

Today my Dad called me in a panic. "I want to get your Mom tickets to a Broadway show for Mother's Day, but I don't know how long the star is going to be in it, and I don't know when we'll have time to go!"     

"Dad," I said. "First of all, when did you become so popular that you have such a packed schedule? Second of all, why don't you have Fancy Hands call the box office and figure out when the star is leaving the show? Also, you can have Fancy Hands suggest a good day to bring Mom to the show based on the calendar you integrated when you set up your account." 

"Oh," he said "That's a great idea! I'll go do that now. You're my favorite child."

OK, so he left out that last part. But, within about half an hour, Fancy Hands informed my father that the star was going to be in the show through August, and that he could take my mother to the show in July. As a bonus, they also found him a discount code for tickets. 

Operation Mother's Day Gift: complete.

Need help with your last minute Mother's Day gift? We can help

Happy camper.

Fancy Hands client Michelle, who works under the name Bombchelle (cute, right?) wrote a great article about how she's using our service.

I especially love one point that she makes about being specific with requests. The customers who click with us the most understand that Fancy Hands assistants, just like an employee that you would speak to in person, need details from you about exactly what you are hoping to achieve. They can then take that information and run with it to deliver exactly the results that you want!

The more general you are with your request, the more you're leaving it to individual interpretation - and we all know that each person has their own way of seeing things and doing things. You empower your assistant to do exactly what you want by being very specific! 

Here's Michelle's piece: 

You know how sometimes, you put off doing something that you know you need to do, or that you know is a really effing good idea? And you do that for ages, even though you know once you actually sit down and do it you’ll be kicking yourself for not doing it? 

That’s pretty much how I feel about Fancy Hands.

I started using them about 2-3 weeks ago and since then, I’ve heartily recommended them to other people at least three times…and I still get a thrill when I realize “OH WAIT, this is something Fancy Hands can handle for me!”

See, in my experience, there’s this weird niggly gray-area of tasks that are delegatable, but kind of a pain in the ass to delegate. Tasks that are so small that I feel weird handing them off to my assistant Tina, or that fall into more of a life-administrative area than a business-administrative area. Or sometimes, just questions I need a quick answer on.

Enter: Fancy Hands

The gist: they have a super-streamlined UI and a team of assistants working behind the scenes. It takes about 3-5 minutes, tops, to submit a task (which you can do by email, phone, from the website, or from their smartphone app). And then, they get to work and you go back to doing the important things in your day. The turnaround time is remarkably fast in most cases, to boot.

So far, for me, they’ve:

  • Called the IRS & sat on hold for me, patching me in when they actually got someone on the line
  • Rescheduled a doctor’s appointment and then called to verify it
  • Refilled prescriptions and called back to verify them until they were actually refilled (apparently, what happens is that my last name was misspelled in the pharmacy database – sigh)
  • Done apartment research for me (which I could have spent 3-4 hours on alone – with their help, I narrowed it down to two options with about 15 minutes worth of work)

That’s more of the life-type tasks I’ve sent them – here’s an example of a more business related one:

“Okay, I need some payment options researched. For each of these below, I’d like to know:

  • -what their fee structure is
  • -what their application fee is (if any)
  • -what the application process entails
  • -which 1-2 seem to come the most highly recommended for entrepreneurs delivering digital products

The payment options are:

  • Google Wallet
  • Stripe
  • Authorize.net
  • Paymill
  • SagePay

Thank you!”

I had an answer within an hour. I’ve had them do some other research-related tasks for me too and been fairly impressed with the results.

As of writing, they’ve spent 319 minutes on the phone for me – which is damn-sure a better deal than me spending those minutes on the phone. (I signed up for the $45/month plan, and I still have 6 tasks left this billing month.)

Other features they have that you might be interested in:

  • Integration with Basecamp so that you can assign tasks from directly within Basecamp
  • They can make purchases on your behalf (So, for example, you can say “Find me a digital camera with these specs in this price range, with the highest average customer reviews; once you’ve found it, purchase it and have it shipped to this address.”)
  • Appointment scheduling/calendar wrangling is free. And they integrate with Google calendar. When I had them reschedule my doctor’s appointment, they automatically put in the new appointment without me even having to ask. *fans self* 
  • And it’s not just me benefitting – my clients are winning from this arrangement, too. The other day I was on Skype with one of my clients who was talking about how she needs to find a free or low-cost WordPress theme for a side project she’s working on, but she’s really busy preparing for a market this weekend. I tasked it out to FancyHands; I had results for the client within an hour of sending in the task (for what breaks down to $3 for the task – which is better than either of us could have done).

(In the interest of full disclosure: I’ve had nothing but a fabulous experience using FancyHands so far & I plan on keeping using them, so all links to them in this post are my referral link – which gets you 50% off your first month and gives me account credit.)

Why FancyHands is a borderline must-have for busy biz-owners:

It trains you to be really specific.

This is something I consistently see people struggle with with they start outsourcing. Instead of saying “Yes, I need a list of 3-5 WordPress themes within this price range, with these features, that have average user reviews of four stars or higher”, you say “I need some WordPress themes that’ll work for this project”. Which, depending on how much you’ve explained the project to whoever you’re delegating to, can work – but is more likely than not to just create a mess as they spend more time than necessary researching a ton of different options, since they don’t have the details & constraints they need to do a great job.

It gets you in the outsourcing/delegating mindset.

You start to see all of the little time leaks in your day that distract you from what you’re actually meant to be doing. Once you start handing them off, it’s addictive – I know for me it’s made a huge difference in the way I feel day to day and removed a burden of stress/annoyance that I didn’t even know was there. (Plus, on the more woo-woo side of things, I think it’s excellent training for the rest of your life – learning to ask for what you need, specifically, and then getting it. It’s an experience than many of us often-overworked biz owners aren’t used to, and it can definitely shift things & open them up for you.)

It frees up both you & your team’s time + energy.

Aside from it freeing up your time, it can also free up your team’s time. Delegating the little niggly gray-area things to Fancy Hands lets your assistant, or your coder, or your project manager spend their time on projects & tasks that’ll have a much bigger impact on your business, and helps to keep everyone in their zone of genius – not just you. Which is something that your team will appreciate, trust me.

That’s been my experience with Fancy Hands – I’ve loved it so much I can’t stop gushing about it, and I really think it’s a valuable tool that I’d love to see more biz-owners using. Have you given it a whirl yet?

(Note: In the interest of attempting to be unbiased, even as a happy customer, I did some research on employee treatment/wages on FancyHands to see if there was anything negative that came up that was worth including in this article – I couldn’t find anything.)

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