Why I Hired a Personal Assistant

I multitask almost everything.

Last week, I spent my mornings on the elliptical at the gym, reading The 4-Hour Workweek. One of my friends had recommended it to me after I mentioned how quickly my business was growing — and how rapidly my personal time had been shrinking. Reading while working out is a prime example of my attempt to multitask to take advantage of my little free time.

The rest of my “free” time is typically split between organizing my business and organizing my life, both of which I’ve been failing at lately.

Feeling like I’m failing at organizing my life was a wake up call.

It’s like I’ve been working a lot rather than working smartly. The 4-Hour Workweek really highlighted that for me.

But I also don’t want to turn my business into an automated machine I’m not part of. I love helping people, I love developing, I love being involved.

I can’t do it all.

My friend Jasmine, a very talented and busy photographer, mentioned on a call last week that she had hired someone to clean her home. Like me, her business has grown quickly, and she and I were discussing the nuts and bolts of hiring help. People had suggested she hire someone to do her editing, but she enjoyed that part of the process. Instead, she hired someone to do something she didn’t enjoy: clean.

I realized I too could outsource the tasks I didn’t want to do.

I started off by making a list of all the smaller tasks I needed to do but have been putting off.

Finding an accountant. Getting quotes from moving companies. Selling my sofa set on Craigslist. Organizing smaller business files.

So I took Jasmine’s advice, advice that was echoed again in a chapter of The 4-Hour Workweek.

I hired a personal assistant.

And she’s awesome. While the book suggested I look for help overseas, I decided that I wanted to try and find someone state-side first. A few hours after positing the position on Facebook, I had multiple inquiries and decided to give one young lady from the DC-area a try.

All has been going really well so far. I already feel more free. It’s like clearing things off my to-do list has also cleared my mind.

I’ll definitely be seeking more help eventually — it’s time to get smarter about how I do my life.

I’d love to hear from you — Have you ever hired someone to handle tasks you were avoiding? How did that affect you? If you haven’t, what would be at the top of your list to find someone to do?

(Note: I did hire an actual person and not my cat. Hugo just likes to keep me company while I work.)

How I Lost (and Found) Myself

I love taking chances.

It’s been nearly a year since I moved to Roanoke, Virginia after meeting my boyfriend at an archery tournament last summer. I knew the only way for us to really explore our relationship was to shorten the distance between us. The high rent on my apartment in DC wasn’t quite suiting me anymore, as I struggled to build my business anyways, so it seemed like a good time to move to a less expensive area. I had high hopes that this new life I was embarking on would fit me.

Life doesn’t always turn out the way you expect.

Instead, I found myself in a really dark depressing place. I’m not speaking of Roanoke itself, but of my mental landscape in my new home. I wasn’t writing, I wasn’t relaxing or taking time for myself. I was just working. I discovered how difficult it was to see friends when I lived four hours away, and so I rarely saw or spoke with anyone. I let myself work, more and more and more, just so I had something to occupy my time. My boyfriend saw how much I worked, but I don’t think he ever understood how unhappy I was.

I was completely disconnected from myself, from my tribe, from the divine.

The darkness took hold.

This summer, the weigh of everything became too much. My health became a real issue that needed attention. Archery competitions made me anxious. My self-talk was incredibly negative and abusive. My relationship with my boyfriend was unraveling.

I felt completely lost.

But the darkness was an unexpected blessing.

One day, I realized the dark isn’t as dark as it seems. It’s not a bad place to be. The dark place I was in was actually illuminating areas of my life I needed to pay attention to; it was telling me that the state of things needed to change.

Slowly, I’m making those changes. I’ve been dealing with my health problems and reminding myself every day of how important it is that I’m mindful. With archery, I’ve gone back to the basics, ignoring targets and scoring and focusing on form and feeling. I decided to move away from Roanoke, closer to my friends in the DC/Northern Virginia area. I found a charming home to rent in Charlottesville with a nice yard in a quiet neighborhood. I decided that if I wasn’t happy right now, my life would never come together again, I would never connect in the way I wanted with others and with the World.

The future will be shades of light and dark.

There are still shadows on the path, but I see a horizon now. And while the land before me is vast and mysterious and I’m somewhat unsure of where I’ll go and what I’ll discover along the way, the path feels good.

Begin Again - Seedling

Begin Again

Workaholic mode has been destroying me

Last week, I took a sabbatical from work to reorganize, reimagine, reinvigorate myself and my work. I started my website development business in April 2013. The first few months were slow; in July I didn’t even make enough money to pay my rent. But by the autumn, I was picking up more projects and had a steady income that allowed me to breathe much easier than I did in those summer months. Since then, it feels like the business has grown exponentially and I found myself in full-fledged workaholic mode, working 12 to 14 hour days for 6 days every week. Living in that mode is unsustainable. It’s been destroying me.

It was time for a change

So on my sabbatical week, I asked myself what I wanted to change, what I wanted to do better, what help I needed. I redesigned my websites so they work better for me and reflected who I am now as a developer. I carved out a chunk of work to pass to a friend who will be helping me regularly. And most importantly, I decided what I need to bring (back) into my life.

And the beginning needed to be different

I’ve done this before: said I was going to start blogging regularly, but failed horribly, abandoning my blog just a few weeks later. I’ve done it with so many projects I wanted to work on, skills I wanted to learn, adventures I was trying to plan.

But sometimes you arrive at a point and you recognize that everything will be different. Because it has to be. Because if it isn’t, you won’t survive. Because it’s finally time to begin again. It’s a moment of rebirth.

Ditching lofty resolutions

I knew I couldn’t tackle change like I had in the past: by deciding I would change everything when I woke up the next morning. I had crazy goals: exercise every day, learn a new language, blog and use social media regularly, eat healthy… It was too overwhelming, and changing everything is hard to remember to do. Honestly, by trying to make drastic changes, I was setting myself up for failure. I knew it.

It’s like every New Year’s Resolution I broke in the past. New Year’s never had enough magic in it.

I attempted a lofty resolution again this summer: I wanted to reclaim my mornings (which were often taken over by emails and clients). My friend Erin and I discussed this at length, since she was in the same spot. I even made a list: at least 30 minutes of exercise followed by stretching, some journaling, meditation, and a leisurely breakfast. How often did I manage a morning like this? Only once. It was too much.

Hello, little changes that stick around

This time, change will be gradual. I’ve set small goals for myself, little actions I can take that will have big effects on my happiness. Write on my blog once a week. Pull my bow back 10 times every day. Walk for at least a half hour four times during the week, whether it’s at the gym or in nature. Meditate for 10 minutes. There’s a little list of joy that’s growing, a collection of changes that will be integrated slowly, with new ones added as others take hold. I’ve started with three changes this week, and this blog is one. (Note: A friend recommended irunurun, an app that helps keep you accountable.)

I’m sticking around, and I hope you will too.

Tell me yours

What three little changes will you start with?



What Makes You Unique

One of my dearest friends (whom I lived with in San Diego) started Marie Forleo’s B-School last week. She texted me one night to ask me what I thought her three best qualities were. She has many, so I thought for a moment about which qualities I felt weren’t the obvious ones, things like the way she can effortlessly put someone at ease.

Your best qualities are what make you uniquely you, and there’s no better way to find your path in this world than to know what you add to the big cosmic equation.

So I asked myself, what are my three best qualities that make me who I am? (I asked my friends too, just to see if they perhaps see something in me that I’m missing.) Here’s what I came up with:

1. I am totally devoted to helping others achieve their dreams. You’ve got an idea? Maybe want to start your own business, devote all your time to your art, share that with the world? I’m in your corner.

2. I am so willing to adventure solo. I do love having a good mate along for the ride, but there’s nothing stopping me from venturing out on my own to explore.

3. I can pour my heart into my writing. I’m so at home when I’m dreaming up things to write or typing away. I’m more of myself when I’m sharing myself with others, and the written word is often the best way I express.

I’ve been thinking about possible career paths to travel, and one in particular is beginning to take shape in my mind, one that utilizes these strengths of mine. But I’m not officially ready to say exactly what that is yet.

Tell me, what are your three best qualities? And how do you use them? How might you use them in a career?

(I’m certainly happy to offer suggestions for those of you whom I know well.)

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