My Journey into the World of On-Demand Work

(UPDATE: You can hear me talk for 5 minutes about my work adventure on PRI’s radio show “To The Best of Our Knowledge”:


As I’ve mentioned before, I’m an overeducated 40-something year old woman who spent years in research and management positions within healthcare and technology; years in many stressful, unsatisfying jobs because I thought they were where I was “supposed” to be.

But all through those years, I was always dreaming of doing other things – things that shocked people when they heard me speak of them. Things that made them chuckle and dissuade me and turn the conversation back to something that seemed more reasonable and rationale. Something SAFE.

See, I wanted to do things that “no one with a PhD does.” I wanted to be a personal assistant, to run around all day and do errands, to waitress, to build things, to organize people’s stuff, to help them on moving day, to…well, to basically trying anything new.

I wasn’t interested in the corporate ladder. I didn’t care about being promoted. I didn’t respond well to the usual incentives. And life, for me, was off kilter.

I wanted adventure. I wanted novelty. I wanted variety. I wanted freedom, and I wanted fun.

So I quit that “supposed to” life and found these things in the world of on-demand work.

I have, and I will, write in more detail about some of the more interesting tasks…but here is a somewhat comprehensive list (in no particular order) of the tasks I have done over the past year and a half…

Life has been busy. And finally on the right track.

  • Purchased and delivered 17 slurpees to company meeting, within a 15-minute time frame
  • Created a rhyming story book about someone’s three little dogs (given information from the person’s daughter) for a birthday gift
  • Handwrote 25 personal business letters
  • Spent a day as a parking lot attendant, directing traffic in a parking lot for a big arts/crafts festival
  • Conducted multiple grocery store audits
  • Helped coordinate discussions among national park leaders, stakeholders, and volunteers, identified key themes from review of these discussions, and wrote up results in final report for a project with the National Park Foundation
  • Developed comprehensive final reports providing synopses of reviews and strategic recommendations
  • Was a mystery shopper at a lighting store
  • Organized two full boxes of receipts
  • Raked a yard of leaves
  • Helped someone wrap dozens of their Xmas gifts
  • Created a surprise rhyming treasure hunt for an 11 year old girl and her friends for her bday party in New York
  • Spent a day chauffeuring around 3 women on a scavenger hunt around the major sites of Seattle, put together by one of the women’s boyfriends, who then ended the hunt by proposing to her
  • Designed the methods, developed and programmed surveys, supervised research assistants, managed and analyzed the data, and helped the final reports for two large studies focusing on assessment of 1) ~220 national/local parks’ volunteer groups and 2) ~600 non-profit organizations in California
  • Was a virtual production assistant for a documentary on childbirth that was being filmed in LA (coordinated locations, people, and all logistics for a number of shoots)
  • Purchased and delivered a tiny Xmas tree to a local business
  • Wrote articles for an entrepreneur in the UK
  • Picked up a key and had a duplicate made
  • Helped write/edit funding proposals for a co-op of local farms
  • Picked up a bag of business cards and entered contact information into Excel
  • Was given job descriptions and asked to find potential applicants via LinkedIn
  • Researched top ADD treatment centers for a graduate student who was newly diagnosed and about to drop out as a result
  • Got price quotes for a long distance taxi ride
  • Created an Excel list from a PDF of names/emails
  • Helped develop a resume for a man in his late 50s who had just been laid off from a bread delivery company – a job he’d held for over 30 years
  • Read novels and provided reviews on various sites
  • Delivered a package with unknown contents from downtown Seattle to near the University
  • Created a contact list of art galleries
  • Was one of the wait staff for a non-profit organization’s event at an art gallery in downtown Seattle
  • Conducted research on the topic of open government/open source
  • Updated a consultant’s contact information on various websites
  • Created a contact list of guitar stores within a particular region
  • Developed a survey with scoring and feedback to assess “entrepreneurial readiness” – to help market a book written by a successful entrepreneur
  • Created a contact list of car dealerships within a particular region
  • Summarized bulletin board complaints across various sites for a particular set of products and organized outreach/support
  • Created a Google calendar of a particular gym’s weekly classes
  • Wrote a series of investment-related blog posts for a marketing consultant
  • Wrote website content about how to become a clinical psychologist for a “how to” career website
  • Identified and formatted references for a series of articles on
  • Researched upcoming, relevant conferences for a startup utilizing drone technology for security purposes in parking lots
  • Wrote wedding photographers’ bios for their website
  • Edited legal documents
  • Researched case studies and helped write up final report to determine strategies/next steps for a major land transition in Northern California
  • Edited and formatted an apartment lease templateDeveloped website content and set-up for NY-based lawyer
  • Acted as a phone-based coach for a marketing manager’s sales pitches
  • Developed product descriptions and entered pricing data for a wine distributor
  • Helped develop educational programming and marketing materials for an outdoor program for students between high school and college
  • Researched and outlined references mentioned in a series of podcasts on childbirth
  • Created a list of wholesale pricing for board games for someone thinking of opening a board-game café
  • Compiled and edited a Tech Consultant/Start-Up Exec’s posts about product management
  • Researched various attributes related to green/sustainability issues as well as costs involved in developing pop-up stores within major U.S. malls for a marketing consulting group
  • Edited proposal for a new online education program for a University
  • Project managed/virtual assisted a group of developers and did QA to ensure the successful launch of an iOS and Android app (using systems like Slack, Trello, and GitHub) for a videogame company
  • Wrote and edited a report on a new assessment process developed for assessment of nonprofits’ organizational health
  • Developed technology-related survey questions for a website that is sort of like a Wikipedia for businesses
  • Organized expense reports
  • Developed social media content for a book about the SAT
  • Edited many LinkedIn profiles
  • Edited many resumes
  • Submitted a client’s documentary film to several film festivals
  • Booked multiple dinner reservations (often with very challenging specs)
  • Planned vacations/created road trip itineraries
  • Typed about 9000 company names from PDF into Excel
  • Was a virtual administrator for a tech startup
  • Proofread an illustrated children’s poetry book and book of fairytales
  • Found correct pronunciations for 80 non-English words and names
  • Transferred highlighted pronouns from screenplays/audiobook scripts into an organized list for a fairly well known actor/director
  • Found example websites of Project Managers who do mobile app development
  • Hired motion graphics staff and a film crew for a documentary on childbirth
  • Developed questions for use in an “advice” podcast
  • Created a scoring spreadsheet for questionnaires used by a mental healthcare non-profit
  • Developed a database of schools in upstate New York
  • Designed and developed many surveys and questionnaires (for graduate students, consultants, businesses, and non-profits)
  • Edited and formatted product descriptions for an online retailer of women’s athletic apparel
  • Formatted and compiled dozens of friends/family personal/congratulatory emails to a couple for their surprise anniversary party
  • Investigated and corrected lists of bounced email addresses for a product development consultant’s monthly newsletter
  • Created a “To Do” list based on Timothy Ferris’ blog on hacking Kickstarter
  • Identified mobile app development companies that were hiring
  • Developed all intake forms for a psychologist’s clinic
  • Identified small publishers for a self-help book
  • Researched a State of Kansas “water for cows” program and negotiated contract terms between all individuals who will receive funds from the program for an individual client who owns a farm in Kansas
  • Wrote/edited a wide variety of documents including books (fiction and non-fiction), proposals, business documents, website content, contracts, screenplays, blog posts, dissertations, etc.
  • Researched high school internships in Witchita, KS
  • Created a Google calendar of all summer outdoor movies times/locations within a particular region
  • Photographed and described a friend’s garden
  • Identified potential locations for office/event/etc space in Los Angeles for a sharing economy website
  • Researched and created a list of racially offensive comments made by prominent Republicans
  • Researched and data entered financial quarterly holdings reports for an investment banker
  • Conducted research and wrote/edited for a social entrepreneurship consulting group on many projects with national parks and non-profit organizations around the country
  • Formatted a 35 page healthcare document that was pasted together from many sources
  • Edited memos and manuscripts for a Transportation Dept staff member
  • Created a list of graduate schools (along with eligibility and application requirements, etc.) for a prospective applicant
  • Was a writing coach for teen girl bloggers
  • Decorated someone’s Xmas tree
  • Identified researchers to collaborate on clinical trials and developed materials to help secure investor funding for a start up pharmaceutical company working on drug compounds for stroke and Alzheimer’s
  • Managed a guy’s online dating account
  • Created a list of issues noted on bulletin boards and other websites regarding a particular type of Vanagon
  • Searched for job postings that aligned with clients’ backgrounds, skills, and desires
  • Conducted technology research to identify disruptive innovations in fields such as materials, chemistries, electronic devices, health care, and consumer goods
  • Researched and identified the best healthcare professionals to meet clients’ needs
  • Set up appointments with healthcare professionals for individual clients
  • Researched local gyms for individual clients
  • Managed, designed, developed, and launched Kickstarter campaigns
  • Edited business proposals/other documents and developed marketing/sales materials for a training consultant
  • Conducted research for a book on freelancing
  • Researched and booked hotel rooms
  • Picked up items and dropped them off at Goodwill
  • Wrote/edited many cover letters
  • Identified grant opportunities and wrote/submitted grant proposals for many organizations – including for a non-profit in the Bay Area that supports new/emerging photographers


Spent a day chauffeuring around 3 women on a scavenger hunt around the major sites of Seattle, put together by one of the women’s boyfriends, who then ended the hunt by proposing to her

IMG_1860 Raked a yard of leaves

IMG_1864Purchased and delivered a tiny Xmas tree to a local business


Handwrote 25 personal business letters


Organized two full boxes of receipts

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13 Responses to My Journey into the World of On-Demand Work

  1. thegreyeye says:

    awesome, I want to do the same

    Liked by 1 person

  2. For what it’s worth, your life sounds way more interesting than the corporate 9-5 any day of the week.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Pretty interesting experience!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Aileen says:

    I work with caregivers. Many are working 9-5. On top of working and trying to manage a career they are caring for a spouse or parent. Some have to end their career early. Although they still need an income.
    On demand work seems like it would be a great way to keep productive while caring for loved ones. I did check out the guru resource, are there others that would offer less technical jobs/tasks?
    Thank you so much for sharing your awesome experience!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You’ve pretty much done everything and that’s awesome lol and you look like you’re having a blast in that booth


  6. tunisiajolyn84 says:

    I love this idea of just doing various things just because. Anything that goes against the grain with the 9-5 is pretty cool to me! It sounds like you had your hands in many different pots! You must have one hell of a resume. lol

    Liked by 1 person

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