THE

FANCY HANDS BLOG

Birthday!

It's our birthday!

We're 4!

We've done an insane amount of things in the past four years.

Take a look!

Rollover: some big changes!

When we launched Fancy Hands almost 4 years ago, things were a bit different. There was only one person on the staff back then, now we've got considerably more. We had dozens of assistants when we launched, now we have thousands. Users could only submit tasks through email, now we have all kinds of apps and interesting ways to keep in touch. But for the most part, our subscription plans have stayed the same. But we're not done, we're super excited to announce a few big changes.

Rollover Tasks

The biggest change is that from now on, your tasks rollover from month to month! So if you're on the 5 task per month plan and only use three, you'll have seven when the next months starts. As long as you have an active subscription, your tasks will continue to roll over. (Once you cancel your plan, the tasks go away). 

Suggested Tasks, Reborn

We've also spent a ton of time working to help you anticipate what you need to do next. In fact, we've totally redone how we identify what you need to do next. Our algorithms have looked at your past tasks, and if you opted in, our system looked at your calendar to help figure out what you should be doing next. We're introducing a totally optional new integration that allows us to help you stay on top of your life. You can hook up your email with us and we'll automatically suggest what needs to happen next. So if someone says, "Hey, let's get drinks later" or "we're heading to Mary and Steve's anniversary next week" we'll take the lead and help you schedule, coordinate, research, and communicate with the right parties... all with just a click of a button. 

Shiny in Chrome

Users have seen these suggested tasks on their dashboard and in the iPhone/Android apps already. But today we're also rolling out a new Chrome browser extension that makes these suggestions available whenever you need them. On top of that, you can interact with your tasks without going to the site, and even get notified immediately when we're done.

Other Changes

With our integration with Google Calendar, we're still the absolute best way to schedule your appointments. However, scheduling is no longer free. Scheduling appointments will now require a task credit just like any other task you send in. However, since tasks rollover, you should have some to use!

Also, and it pains me to say it, because making purchases for our users has always been a popular feature. But we're putting a temporary pause on our ability to buy things for our users for the time being. However, we've had some issues with our partners and haven't been able to keep this feature running 100% of the time. So I made the decision to take it down until we know it will be available for everyone, at everytime, for larger purchases. I apologize about this, but we'll get it back! 

The Fancy Hands API

I'm excited today to announce we're launching the Fancy Hands API!

What is it? The Fancy Hands API enables people to make apps, add features to existing applications, and build businesses using our army of assistants. For a single developer, this means she can build insanely complicated apps in a weekend (since we have real humans do the heavy lifting).

What can you do with it? Well, lots. For example, one of our developers built a mobile app that allows you to book a car anywhere in the country. It's listed with source code, along with a bunch of other application ideas, on our developer examples page.

But it's not just the indie developers. A large sales organization could build an app to handle lead generation: when a new contact hits their Salesforce it could automatically have fancy hands reach out and look into it. Perhaps a third party company could spring up and automatically connect to these sales platforms and with Fancy Hands. They could easily charge on a per lead basis.

Currently, agencies are looking at the API to power promotions for brands. They're reaching out via social media to surprise and delight customers by helping them with shopping, travel, etc during the holiday season.  So if someone tweets about being overwhelmed with Thanksgiving planning, a brand steps in and says "We'll help!" and that's powered by Fancy Hands.

So head over to our developer page, the api explorer, our github account, and we'd love to hear your feedback.

For developers, we had some pretty specific goals:

  • People should be able to build businesses on the API (not just toys)
  • It needed to be super friendly for developers (RESTish)
  • We wanted the best interactive API docs around

What's next? Expect more endpoints and more examples. Want to get your app featured or chat about the API? Email us at api@fancyhands.com

Lessons from the Top.

(By Thorin Klosowski via Lifehacker

Many of us tend to look at certain types of financial or life advice—especially the kind that requires a little money—and disregard it because it doesn't feel like it applies to us. That's not always the case. We can all take a lesson or two from a wealthy CEO's playbook, whether it's about delegation, negotiation, or proper use of money. Let's take a look at a few of those tips.

Spend Money on Experiences, Not Goods

A lot of us equate wealth with material objects, and subsequently we try to save our money to buy things. That's usually not the best idea. In fact, according to The Washington Post, a number of America's wealthiest recommend spending money on experiences first:

You may be surprised to learn that among the monied set, expensive cars, yachts, houses, jewelry and watches come at the end of the list....

The rule of diminishing returns is a harsh mistress with luxury goods. Do you really think $100,000 audio speakers sound 20 times better than a pair of $5,000 speakers? (They don’t). Is a $250,000 sports car five times faster than a $50,000? (It is not). These days, you can buy quite a lovely home for $1,000,000 (and much less in the country’s interior). Those $10,000,000 manses are not 10 times roomier. Anyone who has owned a $10,000 Rolex will tell you that a $39 Casio keeps better time.

When discussing the benefits of wealth, I have heard again and again about amazing experiences, family get-togethers, vacations, shows, sporting events, weddings and other events as these people’s most important life experiences. While these things cost money, nearly every family can afford reasonable versions of them.

This certainly isn't the first time we've heard this. Researchers have known that experiences provide more of a psychological boost than material things, and new experiences completely change how we perceive time for the better. The good news for the rest of us is that shorter vacations are actually more memorable, so even if you can't afford to take a lot of time away from work, you'll still get a lot of out of the experience. Of course, taking a cheap vacation is easy too.

Delegate to Save Time and Avoid Frustrations

As the old saying goes, time is money. If you're running low on time, you'll benefit from a classic CEO trick: delegation.


Delegating tasks to others, or paying people to do things for you seems like a luxury that most of us can't afford. In reality, it's far less expensive than you think. We've talked before about how small expenses, like hiring a house cleaner, can make your life easier, and it applies in all sorts of ways.

For most of us, delegation means outsourcing your most annoying errands. You can outsource your chores and work to all kinds of places, like the team of assistants at Fancy Hands. Doing so doesn't cost you much money, and it saves you a ton of time. Likewise, you can get rid of most of your annoying errands with online tools like Amazon Subscribe and Save or Alice. Most of these options don't cost that much money, and while they're certainly a luxury, they're a luxury most of us can afford. I've used Amazon's Subscribe and Save for the last couple years to automate the bulk of my groceries, and while it make me feel like a king, it saves me money as well.

Plan and Track Your Spending

(Photo by CashCats

It's the simplest advice out there, but it rings true no matter how much money you make: the better you understand how you spend money, the better you are at saving it. Time is certainly money, but spending a little bit of time each week with your finances is worth it. Finance blog Get Rich Slowly explains why:

All this budgeting and goaling takes time, but millionaires are willing to spend it. Prodigious accumulators of wealth spend nearly twice as many hours per month planning their investments as under accumulators of wealth...

You don’t have to earn a big six-figure salary for planning to pay off. In a survey of 854 middle-income workers, [the authors] found “a strong positive correlation” between investment planning and wealth accumulation. This extra planning doesn’t just happen... “Most PAWs have a regimented planning schedule. Each week, each month, each year, they plan their investments.”

The key takeaway: everyone benefits from a little financial planning. We've shown you how easy it is to create a simple budget with a tool like Mint, and once you settle into your budget you can start planning better. In fact, you can create a personal financial plan without spending that much money, and doing so gives you a much better understanding of your money. If you're serious about learning financial planning, we like Learnvest because it combines a cheaper DIY alternative with access to experts so you don't mess things up. Set aside an hour each week to look everything over, see where you money is going, and try to spend it better. Once everything is set up, you can automate the whole process so you don't spend as much time thinking about it.

Negotiate Your Salary

We've mentioned before that not negotiating your salary costs you upwards of $500,000 in the long term, but salary negotiations aren't in everyone's skillset. Negotiations are hard and they're a little scary. That said, we all need to know how to do it.

We've walked you through salary negotiations in the past, and they're not nearly as terrifying as you might think. A salary negotiation is all about preparation, and after a little practice, you're ready to go. Even if more money isn't an option, negotiating for perks can make your job better. You can also take an old CEO trick and negotiate for a severance package instead of cash.

Give Yourself a Quest

We all know that goals are important, but it's hard to really wrap our minds around what we want from work or life in the long term. Speaking with Bloomberg, Evernote CEO Phil Libin describes his goals as quests, and it makes a lot of sense:

For Libin, "Lord of the Rings," the book by J. R. R. Tolkien and blockbuster movie directed by Peter Jackson, represents "the importance of having a quest," he said. He likens his mission of creating a tool to supplement people's memories to the journey Frodo and Sam embarked on to destroy the evil ring.

"Everything I needed to know in life, I learned from 'Lord of the Rings,'" Libin said. "If you're not on a quest, you're wasting your time."

It's a little silly, but Libin's point certainly rings true for all of us. If we don't have a quest that likely means we have no idea what we're doing. Figuring out what you want to do with yourself is no easy task, but we all have to do it at some point. What's nice about Libin's strategy is that the quest provides you with the long term goal you want to achieve, and it's up to you to figure out how you'll do it. We've heard this from plenty of other CEOs over the years, including Amazon's Jeff Bezos. It seems goofy, but take the time to actually sit down and think about your quest and how you'll get there. If you need a little help achieving that, we've certainly got you covered.

The fact is that whether you have $30 in your bank account or $3 million, managing your life and finances is tough. But we can all learn from each other, and when it really boils down to it, being a CEO or wealthy investor doesn't really change the game all that much.

Positive change.

How to Change the Song in Your Head

You've been singing the theme to The Love Boat for hours now, and it's making you nuts.

4 Productivity Lies.

It’s easy to spot when people are lying to themselves—like when a co-worker confidently starts a huge project at 4:30, but has a 5 PM deadline. “Who’s he kidding?” you might chuckle. But when you’re telling lies to yourself, that’s another story.

Quality improvements.

Improve Your Life In 100 Days

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to make drastic changes in order to notice an improvement in the quality of your life. At the same time, you don’t need to wait a long time in order to see the measurable results that come from taking positive action. All you have to do is take small steps, and take them consistently, for a period of 100 days.

Below, you’ll find small ways to improve all areas of your life in the next 100 days.

Efficiency.

I'm a huge fan of Casey Neistat. If you don't know who that is, give yourself an hour or so to watch some of the short films he makes here. If you can only watch one, this is probably the one to go for. It always inspires me. 

Truth.

Former FBI profiler Noah Boyd (not his real name), author of The Bricklayer, shares how to spot a liar:

Create Yourself.

Creativity is not a gift bestowed to a select few before birth. Everyone is creative. But, for some of us, that creative spark may be buried under piles of bills, boring tasks, routines and responsibilities.

Creativity needs to be nursed, cultivated and practiced. And there are many simple - and fun - ways to let your creativity loose, whether you’re interested in nurturing your hobbies or your business. You can apply creativity to any endeavor.

Here, the people who live and breathe creativity share their best strategies for cultivating inspiration.

Get Over It.

We've all a bad day here and there, where everything just seems to go down the drain. Bad moods happen for a reason, and it's often due to "ego depletion"—the idea that you've used up too much willpower to avoid something. The other thing that can make it worse? Thinking about the fact that you're having a bad day. In fact, believing in the concept of a "bad day" is likely to make your day worse. If you're having a short bout of stress, though, luckily there's a lot you can do to crush it right then and there. 

Do what you love.

You've probably read our philosophy on our site before: "Do what you love. We'll do the rest." 

We encourage everyone to do what they love - not just our clients. In fact, our founder, Ted Roden, created Fancy Hands by doing what he loves - building a website and company.  

Control your time.

Can you remember a period in your life when, if you look back on it now, time seemed to stretch on forever? When a week seemed like four, or an hour seemed like it went on for days? What were you doing during that period?

Stay cool.

Surprise, surprise, it's summer, and that means it's hot. Here are 7 ways to keep a cool head: 

Don't take it for granite.

"I could care less" and "I could literally eat a horse" are two of the most commonly misused phrases in the English language. While you may or may not be using them correctly, chances are you hear phrases being misused all the time — and it's probably one of your biggest pet peeves! Let's look at 17 of the most commonly misused phrases and learn the proper way to say them. We won't tell anyone if you forward it to a few people you may know.

Sleepyhead.

Have you ever woken up in the morning and felt more tired than when you went to sleep? You’re not alone: It's estimated that 41 million American workers don't get enough sleep. Sleep is vital to help your brain function clearly and productively. Try these four things tonight to be your best tomorrow. 

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.

Botox, Kittens, and Santa.

Let's check in on our Fancy Hands assistants and see what interesting facts their research has led them to!

I learned that when bringing a new cat into your home, they should be provided with a "sanctuary room". Oh, if only we could all have one! - Denise Q.

You can be happy at work!

Working at a start-up can be stressful. Just ask Chade-Meng Tan, who, as Google's 107th employee, experienced the company back when it was a start-up instead of the behemoth it is today.

Penny pincher.

Summer is the season when I'm the most strapped for cash. Every week brings more invitations for beach trips, rooftop barbeques, rafting adventures, and outdoor concerts. As fun as all of these things are, they require more than I've got in my piggy bank. 

I've been taking a look at how to save money at every turn, and here's what I've come up with: 

No Hourly Fees

Basic

Less than $1 a day

5

Requests

per month

-25%

Professional

Most Popular

15

Requests

per month

-25%

Premier

Best Value

25

Requests

per month

-25%

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