Getting an assistant is a big business expense. But with deadlines and a need to be active in my kids' lives, having one can be a God-send.

Love my assistant

Ever wish there were more hours in the day? Or that you could clone yourself so you could get more done? Yeah. Been there.

Why an assistant?

Over the summer, I was researching for a Chasing the Dream column on assistants. Everyone I talked to praised the work of their assistants, talking about what a positive change they brought. Less than a week later, I hired Jen. She's everything I was looking for — smart, articulate, fast, dedicated. But what I love is her attitude — she's so easy-going and encouraging, which means so much on stressful days.

As a busy mom, I felt like that, and felt guilty about it since it was taking me away from my kids so much. So I got an assistant. It may sound a little nutty coming from a writer and recipe developer without the star power of Ree Drummond or the savvy business sense of Jaden Hair, but after talking with many successful women I've learned that to thrive you need to get help when you need it.

Now, I start every Monday with a to-do list for my assistant, Jen. In just two hours a week, she handles research, booking interviews, outreach and even a little social media for me, freeing me up substantially for writing, recipe developing and building my business. Those tasks would inevitably sidetrack me, taking me way more time than she spends on them. It also has given me more time with my kids, which is a huge bonus for all of us.

Assistants rock

It's amazing how much smoother things run now that I have Jen. She's helped me propel forward in a way I never expected.

Since hiring my assistant, I have talked to other writers and media professionals and discovered that many have assistants — and love them. "My assistant now handles all the non-personal elements of my online presence and communication for 'The Healthy Lifestylist' website/blog, which has freed up hours of my time every day," says Tina Pruitt. "I love my assistant for all the freedom she has given me to G-R-O-W! I am also now able to have much more downtime and can take that 'new found' time with my 9-year-old son who is still loving his one-on-one time with his mommy!"

You can afford an assistant?!?

Perhaps the hardest part of hiring an assistant was figuring out where the cost would fit into my already stretched budget. But it's totally worth it. Jen takes stress off me, in turn allowing me to pitch more stories, get more assignments and earn more — while still having time for soccer practice and library runs.

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Becoming a sommelier

Why you need a mentor and how to find one


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Comments on "Chasing the Dream: How getting an assistant helped me"

Maureen Wallace February 09, 2013 | 10:37 AM

Sarah, I am so thankful I read this article. Your suggestions are exactly what my life needs right now. As I transition from part-time corporate employee to full-time mom and full-time freelance writer, I realize I need some help. I'm sorry I didn't come across this article when it first posted, but today's timing... PERFECT! Thanks for some great advice.

Sarah Caron September 12, 2012 | 5:05 PM

Thank you all for the wonderful comments. It's fantastic to read through all the perspectives. Mika, sorry to hear that you took something not-as-positive away from this. I am a mom, just like you, and I am also a freelance writer, editor and recipe developer. That part of my life (the business part) is as important as the motherhood one to me, and being able to free up time to both grow my business and spend more time with my children is essential to me. But it's not for everyone -- and budgeting for it is hard, but worth it (again, for me). I definitely understand where you are coming from, but can assure you that I am not upper class (I wish!).

Julie September 12, 2012 | 1:39 PM

I've had an assistant for a year now, and it's the best business decision I've ever made. It's freed up my time and allowed me to really focus when I'm working, versus trying to work but constantly being interrupted by my kids which leads to me giving them half my attention and my work half my attention.

Katie September 12, 2012 | 1:38 PM

I was just this morning talking to my husband about needing some extra help. I'm trying to develop a business from home, and with little kids running around, it's hard, and I think I'm to the point where I need some help. This was a very encouraging read knowing that other's are in my situation too.

Laura September 12, 2012 | 11:58 AM

I could most definitely use an assistant - or ten. I can see the value in having one. If you can budget for it, I think it's great!

Mika September 12, 2012 | 10:53 AM

Hmmm. I don't know--this really makes me feel totally disconnected from the author, who I thought was sort of a mom "just like me." I can't even afford a housekeeper to come every other week to deep clean my bathrooms, let alone an assistant for work. It seems very upper class, something that I am decidedly not.

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