I’ve been infrequently dropping some bits and pieces into this little weblog for about 8 months now; I think it’s time for a feature. The most popular post (by a landslide) is 5 Tips for Outsourcing to a Personal Assistant. As we get ever-closer to launching Having Things Done (our new personal outsourcing service), the question of “but what would I outsource?” seems to continue to be a popular reaction.

In that spirit, each Wednesday* I’ll be posting actual task requests I’ve made to my assistant, including his response. In addition to sparking ideas for what to outsource, hopefully it’ll highlight aspects of what makes for effective (and less effective) task definition and communication.

So without further ado, here is one of the first requests I made of my current assistant. The visual formatting was his, so I’ve left it mostly as-is.

Find a Mechanic

“Mechanic” may be too strong of a word, but we have a tire with a
slow leak (it goes flat in a few days after pumping it up) and we’re
in need of an oil change.

1. Please check out http://yelp.com and search for things like “oil
change.” Hopefully you can find at least 2 with good ratings that are
within a mile or two of our home.

2. Call them and ask for their rates for an oil change and a tire
leak fix. If they ask, we have a ‘03 Honda Element.

3. Choose the one with the best rate (or that you generally feel like
is going to be nicer to deal with) and schedule an appointment for
anytime Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday. Just pretend that you’re me.
Give them my phone number if they need it. Also tell them that “your”
wife might be the one to stop by.




Here is the place:

Bridgestone Swift Car Care
4.5 star rating based on 3 reviews
Categories: Auto Repair
Neighborhood: Ukrainian Village
1710 W Chicago Ave (between Hermitage Ave & Paulina St)
Chicago, IL 60622
(312) 733-7003

The shop opens at 7:30am. No appointments. If you take it in by 8am or so your wait will be minimized. The cost is going to be about $37 plus tax. The cheapest place I found. Reviews are all great except the building is a bit dingy and run down. I talked to Charlie, a Latin sounding guy.

If you want an appointment see option 2.


2nd option

Car-x Auto Service
4.0 star rating based on 8 reviews
Categories: Auto Repair
Neighborhood: Near West Side, Noble Square
1314 W Grand Ave (at Ogden Ave)
Chicago, IL 60622
(312) 243-3111

  • Mon-Fri 7:30 a.m.-6:00 p.m.
  • Sat 8:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.

The charge will be about $50 for oil change and tire fix and they have only scheduled a couple appointments for Thursday and Friday thus far.

If you want this one let me know what steps to take.

Time: 25 minutes


### end task

25 minutes. Is there any wonder I was encouraged to keep working with this guy?

*Wednesday seemed appropriate given that it’s my day off.