Get Online or In-Person Help With Your To-Do List

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Can't fit in a trip to the grocery store this week? Completely boneheaded when it comes to assembling Ikea furniture? Falling behind on the real work you need to complete because you're busy answering email? TaskRabbit offers help with the minutiae of daily life, without your having to hire long-term employees or take a risk on a complete stranger. The website in­­vites you to post a task such as "deliver groceries" or "help me with heavy lifting," and TaskRabbits--task runners who've been screened for hire by the site--will bid on your task by specifying the lowest price they'll accept as payment.

Online or In-Person Assistance

TaskRabbit requires all of its runners to write an essay, undergo multiple interviews, and submit to a background check before they can bid on your tasks; as a result, hiring through TaskRabbit is safer than hiring people off Craigslist. Local runners are available for in-person tasks in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles/Orange County, New York City, Portland (Oregon), the San Francisco Bay Area, and Seattle; but runners are also available to perform virtual tasks (such as research or scouring Craigslist) nationwide. Employers rate their runners at the completion of their assigned tasks, so you can get a feeling for other peoples' experiences.

Once the task is done, TaskRabbit processes the runner's fee online, adding a 15 percent service charge to whatever you've agreed to pay the person you hired.

Since jobs are so scarce, TaskRabbit runners may bid so low for a task that they end up working for less than the minimum hourly wage. You're obliged to pay only what your runner has agreed to work for. But if you post that you're willing to pay $40 for a delivery task and the runner bids $20, consider tipping the $20 difference. Even the most skeptical shopper has to be generous sometimes.

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