A Little Help, Please? Five Arguments for Getting a Personal Assistant

“No one is more cherished in this world than someone who lightens the burden of another.” – Joseph Addison, 18th century British author and politician.

If you’ve reached a high level in a corporation or own your business, then you may already have a personal assistant, and know what a relief they can be. If you haven’t reached that point, you may think you’re doomed to sharing an executive assistant with the whole department, or more likely, just doing without. That’s not necessarily true, so don’t despair.

Whether you’re overwhelmed or just need a little help balancing some aspects of your job or work/life balance, and for some reason can’t delegate within the organization, you may still be able to acquire a personal assistant (PA). Whether it’s official or not may depend on your situation or your persuasive ability; ultimately, you may have to pay for your own PA. Not surprisingly, many businesses won’t allow you to use a self-paid assistant in the office, since so many things are considered proprietary these days. But there’s no reason you can’t hire someone to help you with concierge services, work-related (but not work-specific) items like gassing up your car, delivering lunch, or collecting your dry-cleaning, and certain aspects of your personal life.

Whether you can pry the funds out of your company or not, consider these arguments for hiring some helping hands.

  1. Using a PA makes you more productive at work. A good workplace PA helps you with everyday, mundane tasks like paperwork, travel arrangements, organizing your schedule, screening your emails, bringing you coffee, and daily “housekeeping” so you can focus on more profitable work. They’re also great at maintaining your networks (say, by sending birthday and holiday cards), managing the little things you normally forget, and “managing up” to make your life easier. Some can even do basic research, compile reading lists, and guard you from unexpected visitors as necessary.

  2. They can be inexpensive, certainly less so than hiring additional employees at your level to take up the slack. Some may cost very little: Never overlook the value of a good intern, especially a go-getter determined to learn while doing. They’re often sharp as tacks, well aware that some of the most successful people started at the bottom. Often, you can use a paid PA’s services on a limited basis, or only as you need them. In an academic job, for example, student workers can work out well, even if they only help out a few hours a week; and most departments don’t mind if you hire them on your own.

  3. Some are exclusively virtual. With the always-connected nature of the millennial/post-millennial lifestyle, many PAs prefer to work from home or wherever they are at the time. If they’re handling mostly digital tasks, does their location really matter, as long as they get it done and make themselves available during business hours? Depending on their location in the world, they can also be surprisingly affordable. And here’s the kicker: most handle their own benefits, and if they never come into the office, you don’t have to pay for furniture and other facilities costs.

  4. You may be able to write them off on your taxes, at least partially — especially if you’re the owner or a founder of your business, and legitimately need the help. As an entrepreneur whose work/life boundaries often blur, expensing a PA’s assistance is one way to help you grow your business.

  5. They can allow you to free up non-work time. Even if you can’t get an in-house assistant at work, you can get one at home. It can be exhausting to have to push all day at work, and then come home to have to deal with laundry, housework, shopping for groceries, or organizing your pantry and cupboards instead of getting some rest. A housekeeper or concierge service may be the solution. Even a little help on the weekends can be a huge relief.

A Little Help from a Friend

PAs aren’t for everyone. Whether one will work for you may depend on the nature of your job, how organized you are, and whether you’re willing to let someone into the minutiae of your life. Needless to say, a PA must be trustworthy; but a good one can be a treasure to hold onto. Even a good part-time assistant can take a significant amount of your daily work/life burden off your shoulders. If you can’t get your job to pay for a PA, consider looking into whether you can afford one on your own. It might be the best business investment you’ll ever make.

About Laura Stack, your next keynote speaker:

© 2019 Laura Stack. Laura Stack, MBA, CSP, CPAE is an award-winning keynote speaker, bestselling author, and noted authority on employee and team productivity. She is the president of The Productivity Pro, Inc., a company dedicated to helping leaders increase workplace performance in high-stress environments. Stack has authored eight books, including FASTER TOGETHER: Accelerating Your Team’s Productivity (Berrett-Koehler 2018). She is a past president of the National Speakers Association, and a member of its exclusive Speaker Hall of Fame (with fewer than 175 members worldwide). Stack’s clients include Cisco Systems, Wal-Mart, and Bank of America, and she has been featured on the CBS Early Show and CNN, and in the New York Times. To have Laura Stack speak at an upcoming meeting or event, call 303-471-7401 or contact us online.

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