“Try blowing the dust off the back of your computer again,” joked my husband. “Then maybe the inspiration will hit you.” He was poking fun at me for procrastinating under deadline yet again.
As an independent worker trying to scale a freelance business, I work from my home office most of the time. So when I hit a creative block, I get up and move around. But moving around means I see something that needs to be done around the house. That pile of laundry needs to be tackled. Dinner should be prepped. At the very least, I should check for dust on the back of my monitor. It’s part of my office equipment maintenance, right?
Wrong. When deadlines are looming, I know I should focus on the assignment at hand and nothing else. But the more pressure there is, the more distracted I am by my surroundings.
Can you relate? Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us. Fortunately, there are personal helpers available to eliminate the distractions.
Why to Hire Help
According to the experts at Psychology Today, there are a few primary root causes of procrastination. One is a lifelong mental condition, like ADHD. Other major causes include basic task overload and the all-too-common feeling of fear or dread. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, hiring household helpers may be just the ticket. Here’s everything you need to know to get started.
Learn the Difference
Before publishing an ad for a handyman, nanny or housekeeper, stop and think. When you need someone’s help, it’s crucial to first determine whether you’re looking for an employee or an independent contractor. As a freelancer yourself, you’re in a unique position here: You’ve been on the receiving end of the service provider arrangement. But now you’re the client or the employer, depending on what you decide. Here’s how the roles differ:
Onboarding a household employee lets you dictate exactly what that person does for you and how they do it. Most of the time, you provide the tools, supplies and instructions. You’re responsible for paying minimum wage or more, and you must familiarize yourself with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA). Make sure you’re aware of “nanny taxes” and all the associated pitfalls before you go this route.
When you hire an independent contractor, you’re enlisting another business to provide you with a specific service. You wouldn’t hire a landscaper to babysit or prepare your meals — your search is guided by the services you need, and who can do them.
If you haven’t learned already, contracts protect everyone involved. Whether you hire an employee or a contractor, you should write up a legally binding agreement. Verify your favorite candidate’s employment eligibility and identity. Finally, run a simple, inexpensive background check.
Since most homeowners insurance policies don’t cover independent contractors or employees, consider talking with your insurance provider about an umbrella policy that would cover any accidents or mishaps.
Find the Best People
If you had the choice, would you rather outsource tasks related to your business, or the ones you do at home after clocking out each day? As for me, I decided to recruit help for my in-home child care and housekeeping long before I considered hiring a virtual assistant, tax accountant or research analyst for my business. Sites and apps like Angie’s List, Care.com and TaskRabbit can all be very helpful for landing a working interview with eager, capable candidates. However, I found the most luck with closed, heavily moderated local community groups on social media. A quick “Who’s your favorite house-cleaning service?” post can land scores of well-qualified results from local peers.
Price It Out
Recently, I was under deadline and needed a railing repaired on the exterior of my house. The job required welding, so I researched what it should cost. An hour in, I realized I was wasting my time. Professional welders know exactly what to charge, and more importantly, why. My job, then, was to find the best craftsman at the most competitive rate.
The lesson here is to learn the market, not the craft. If it were up to me, I’d pay a painter the same rate I’d pay a welder — but I probably wouldn’t be happy with the final job. Instead, you’ll need to research the going rates in your local market, read reviews and recommendations and then determine how much you’re willing to pay for the quality you want.
Today, when I’m running dry on ideas for client work, I still pace the floor. But as I mull the project over, my eyes don’t rest on dust, clutter, bills, pending RSVPs or dirty dishes. And when I clock out, I’m not greeted with hungry, neglected family members. Instead, everything is done, and everyone has had a fun, fulfilling day. It’s an indy’s dream come true. I’ve been able to scale a freelance business without juggling everything that comes with household administration. Both my business and family are getting everything they need to thrive. And best of all, I don’t have to wear ear plugs and blinders to make it all happen.