Finding Time: A Primer on Tools for Delegation
Delegation / / Mar 14, 2016
I’ve said time and time again that not only does this hobby take money and strong cashflow, but it also requires a commitment of time that people often overlook when they see you traveling the globe for free. When you’re serious about the hobby you spend free hours scouring the latest blog posts, reading /r/churning, digesting the week’s Staples flyer, applying for new cards and scheming to hit your spend requirement. Plus, all of the spending takes some precise tracking to make sure you stay on target and on budget!
Assuming you have the cash to make this hobby work for you it’s probably also safe to assume that you’re a busy enough professional that the time commitment may seem daunting even if you have the capital to play with. (If you aren’t absolutely swamped with work and still have enough capital to be playing this game, you’re doing great, keep it up!)
Today’s post is going to talk about tools I use to spend less time on minutia that I don’t enjoy and more times doing the things I absolutely love like running my business, dining out, traveling, cooking, spending time at the gym and playing along with this hobby.
Amex SMS Concierge:
If you’ve hung out with me, odds are you’ve seen me solve at least one problem a night using the Amex SMS Concierge. My love for this service runs deep. Being a busy working professional, I take the time I spend socializing very seriously and I like to minimize my inconveniences along the way. For example, if I’m with friends heading to a restaurant, I’d like a table to be waiting. Heading to a pool hall late at night? I’d like my name to be on the list so I’m next for a table without having to wait. It’s these little conveniences that really add up and let me enjoy my time with my friends. Enter Amex! Most people know that if you’re a cardholder of an American Express Platinum card (or better) you can dial the number on the back of your card, press option 2, hold for ages and then speak to one of their concierge staff who can do all types of bidding on your behalf. Once you’re setup in their system you can also submit requests to them via email. While both of these options are cool perks and definitely appreciated, the turnaround and effort it takes to get things done through these solutions makes it often easier to just do what you need yourself.
However – what cardholders don’t know is you can apply to be included in their limited SMS concierge program. This program is incredible. If you need anything at all (as long as it doesn’t relate to travel) you can text Amex and within minutes, you’ll be connected with a concierge who will introduce themselves to you by name and get started on fulfilling your request. It’s as awesome as it sounds and it feels like magic. Just last night I wanted to order from a restaurant and their seamless page wasn’t cooperating. Instead of dropping everything to call the restaurant and scream my order to them over the background noise there, I simply text Amex saying what I wanted, where I wanted it from and that I wanted it delivered to my apartment. They made all the arrangements and painlessly charged my Platinum card. Another great example is I wanted a few pairs of the new Nike Air Jodans and all the sites were limited them to one per customer. Instead of doing research on what sites had them in stock and shopping around to maximize the number of pairs I could get, I sent a text to Amex asking them to buy me as many pairs as possible and they went to work.
The SMS concierge is perfect for reservations, buying event tickets (they waive the Ticket Master fee too!) as well as finding vendors to fix stuff and pretty much anything legal you need help with (other than travel.) Being one text away is amazing and you have to try it to believe it!
Some times I have requests that go outside of the scope of what the Amex SMS Concierge can handle and I need to delegate that elsewhere. This stuff is either travel related research or things like grunt work such as audio transcription. They can also call up vendors like your cable company to get a change in service, request a credit, etc on your behalf. Fancy Hands typically does a pretty good job but unlike the Amex Concierge they use a crowd of people who get paid on a per-task completed basis. Amex Concierge staff are full time employees. The difference is that with Fancy Hands, the quality of work can really vary from assistant to assistant. However, overall they’re very helpful. The plan I use on Fancy Hands is $50 a month for 15 requests and unused requests rollover. Each request can be up to 20 minutes worth of work. Essentially, if you have grunt work piling up that you don’t want to do you can use your team of Fancy Hands assistants to get it done for about $10 an hour – a great deal!
I think I saved the best for last and I’m super excited to say that I love this service so much I have a full blog post coming out on this VERY soon.
Imagine for a moment that you’re Batman. Hence, you’re a pretty busy person between directing Wayne Enterprises and trying to save Gotham City from all the crazy villains. Yikes, how are you going to get your dry cleaning done? What about your groceries?
OK, OK. You’re not Bruce Wayne and neither am I but we’re both pretty busy people. I started realizing that I spend most of my awake hours either working, at the gym, cooking, cleaning, playing along with this hobby or running errands. Social life? What’s that? Who has time? Being so busy isn’t fun and as you can tell from my willingness to spend ~$10 an hour on assistance from Fancy Hands, I’m often willing to spend money to get some of my time back. I can either use that time for my social life, spending more time at the gym, working on growing my business, writing this blog or racking up more credit card points to fund my lifestyle.
How Alfred works is incredible, you sign up with them and for a measly $32 a week, they’ll do all of your errands. Here’s what I used to spend my Saturday’s doing that is now completely handled by Alfred:
- Straighten up my apartment from the week (tidy up messes, empty the trash and recycling.)
- Go grocery shopping
- Put my groceries away
- Do laundry
- Drop off / pick up my dry cleaning shirts
- Do miscellaneous errands at places like Duane Reade, the hardware store, etc.
The whole routine took hours. Now, I open my Alfred app throughout the week and put in what I need done and my Client Manager, Brooks, makes it happen. It’s absolutely incredible.
I’m too excited to talk about how much I love this service, but I think you’re getting the gist of how awesome it is so we’ll just leave it at that and I’ll give you all the details in my full post!