What’s up all you Instacart shoppers out
there? Chad The Gig Economist back again with a long overdue entry into my Beginner’s
Guide Series. In fact, this probably should’ve been the first entry in the series because
this will show you how to actually schedule hours and get work with Instacart (I guess
we’ll call this Lesson #0). If you’ve already started working for Instacart, you’ll
probably know most of this information. However, you might want to watch it all the way to
the end because I will be revealing a secret I use to get hours, even if they’re already
taken. Scheduling hours with Instacart is something
of a paradox because you actually have to work hours in order to qualify to schedule
hours. It’s called “Early Access” (or “EA”). You qualify for EA by working a
minimum number of hours over the three previous weeks. You can either work 25 hours over three
weekends; or you can work 90 total hours over the entire three weeks. That’s why the EA
system is setup to benefit full-time shoppers like me. As you can see, my hours are well
beyond the bare minimum. Thankfully, Instacart gives new hires a three
week grace period to build up their hours towards the EA minimum. So as soon as you
get the green light to schedule hours, do so ASAP because that’s when the EA timer
starts. SIDE NOTE 1: Instacart defines “working”
as simply being on shift or online. You don’t have to perform 25 or 90 hours’ worth of
actual labor to meet your EA goals. In fact, you could go an entire shift without working
a single batch and all those hours will still count toward your early access status.
SIDE NOTE 2: You can put yourself “on vacation” whenever you want and that will pause the
EA timer. For example, you could work two weekends in a row, take a week or two (or
ten) off using the vacation setting, then work another weekend and only the last three
weekends that you worked would count towards your EA. If you don’t plan on working, or
you just can’t get any hours, put yourself on vacation so you don’t get penalized because
weeks with zero hours worked that aren’t set as vacation will be counted.
SIDE NOTE 3: There are three types of zones: traditional, on-demand, and hybrid. Traditional
zones require shoppers to schedule their hours in advance and batches are only available
to shoppers on shift. On-demand zones are just the opposite: nobody has to schedule
hours and all batches are dumped into a queue where anyone can take them whenever they want.
Then there are hybrid zones which are combination of the two. Shoppers on shift are (supposedly)
offered batches first and all the rejected batches get thrown into the on-demand queue
where only shoppers off shift can grab them. If you don’t know what kind of zone you’re
in, just go to the main menu, tap Profile, then tap update zones and you’ll see a list
of all the zones in your area as well as their type.
SIDE NOTE 4: If you work in an exclusively on-demand zone, none of this early access
and scheduling hours stuff applies to you. You can literally work whenever you want.
Just fire up the Shopper app and the dashboard should display a list of all the available
batches you can take (same thing in hybrid zones when you’re off shift). Just bear
in mind that at any given time you could be competing with dozens, if not hundreds of
other shoppers all trying to grab batches out of the on-demand queue simultaneously.
In my opinion it’s a terrible system, but I’ll make a separate video ranting about
that someday. Hours go up for grabs a week in advance on
Sunday morning at 9:30am. Although I should specify that only those shoppers who qualify
for early access can get their hours at this time. Those without EA will have to wait until
the following Wednesday at 9:30am to schedule their shift. The Wednesday window is also
used to waitlist hours, or rather I should say it’s used exclusively to waitlist hours.
All hours are taken literally within minutes on Sunday; there won’t be any leftovers
sitting around until Wednesday. This is why it’s absolutely vital to maintain your EA
status. If you’re so much as one hour short of the minimum, you’re going to have to
waitlist hours and hope for the best. I have reminders set for Sunday and Wednesday
at 9:25am to prompt me about scheduling hours. I also have alarm clocks set for 9:29am on
those days. Set as many reminders and alarms as you need so that you’re ready to go right
at 9:30am. Do whatever you have to do to free yourself from distractions like putting your
phone in “do not disturb” mode and maybe turn off the TV and music. If you’re in
church on Sunday morning or working your day job on Wednesday morning, make sure you’re
able to excuse yourself. If you’re driving at this time, find a safe place to pull over
for a few minutes. If you’re working a batch at the time, just exit out of the app and
then follow the instructions I’m about to give.
So wait until 9:29 and 45 to 50 seconds to launch the app. As soon as your dashboard
comes up, tap “Select Hours” towards the bottom. That will take you to the “Hours”
section, from here, tap the “Next Week” tab, then tap whatever day you want to get
hours for, then tap all the hours you want. When you’re done, tap “Save” and it’ll
bring you back to the Next Week menu. Repeat these steps for all the hours on all the days
you want to work. BUT YOU HAVE TO BE FAST! THIS IS NO TIME TO
DAWDLE OR BE INDECISIVE! You are literally racing against all the other shoppers in your
zone to get hours and there are only so many of them available. Make sure you select the
hours in order of preference; don’t just go from top to bottom because by the time
you get to Friday and Saturday, those days might be gone.
Right now we’re in a glut of seasonal summer shoppers, which means hours get gobbled up
much quicker than the rest of the year. I used to be able to get all the hours I wanted
as well as backup hours; but now I can only get three maybe four days of full-time hours.
Some days are completely exhausted by the time I get to them.
And what makes all this all the more frustrating (infuriating, really) is that the app will
lag from all the shoppers bum rushing it. It’s called bottlenecking and it’s a common
networking issue which Instacart could fix with the right engineers and technicians.
The fact that this has been happening for so long tells me Instacart either doesn’t
care to fix this issue, or they’re inept at doing it (probably the former). You can
close out all the other apps on your phone and the lag will still happen. It’s not
you, it’s them. The process for wait listing hours works essentially
the same as selecting hours on Sunday. Wait until Wednesday morning at 9:29am and 45 to
50 seconds, launch the Shopper app, tap “Select Hours”, tap “Next Week”, then tap the
day you want. In the top right corner you’ll see a button that says “Waitlist”, so
just tap that and then tap all the hours you wish you could work.
What’s interesting about the waitlist process is that each hour block will tell you how
many people have already waitlisted that particular hour. This is why it’s so important to prioritize
your hours and tap them as fast as you can. It’s certainly possible you can be #1 on
the waitlist for hours on the first day you choose, but by the time you get to the second
day you might be #4, and you might be #9 on the third day and so on.
Of course the question newbies tend to ask is: does wait listing hours actually do anything?
The answer is… sometimes. If you’re fast enough to get into the top three positions,
there’s a pretty good chance you’ll get those hours (but it’s not a guarantee).
There have definitely been times where I was #1 on the waitlist and hours never opened
up. Then again, there’s been times I was like #12 and hours did open up.
The thing about the waitlist is that it’s a very cryptic and kind of shady system. Supposedly,
waitlisted hours are offered in order, but a lot of shoppers are convinced that when
waitlisted hours become available, everyone on the waitlist is notified and whoever gets
there first gets the hours. I made a video about this a few months ago called “Is the
Waitlist a Sham?” so check that if you haven’t already seen it.
Alright, now we get to the secret I teased at the beginning of the video. Random blocks
of hours will just appear unannounced for anyone to claim rather than being offered
to people on the waitlist. You can take advantage of this anomaly and scoop up extra hours if
you’re willing to put in the effort. All you have to do is just keep checking the Shopper
app regularly. I check the app every two hours like clockwork. Most of the time there aren’t
any hours available, but when I do see hours I want it’s like winning a lottery or a
raffle or something. So just do what I do and check both the current week and next week
for hours – even on days you have waitlisted. In fact, here’s a screen recording of me
doing just that. It is 10:35pm on Sunday the 14th. I’m gonna
launch the Shopper app and just check for random hours. So it takes me to the dashboard.
I’m gonna tap select hours. Let’s check Monday. Nothing there. Let’s check Tuesday.
And what do you know two hours just popped up out of the blue. Let’s hit waitlist.
And you see that all the blocks for all the hours today have at least 20, if not 40 people
waiting. But those hours between 5 to 6 and 6 to 7 aren’t listed for some reason. So,
I don’t know how that works. But I feel bad for the people who waitlisted those particular
blocks of hours because they weren’t alerted to it. If they did, they would’ve taken
these hours. Why didn’t they? I hope this video was helpful in explaining
how to actually get hours and work with Instacart. It’s funny, if you go through all the documents
in the Shopper Help Center, you won’t find anything explaining how those Sunday and Wednesday
morning bum rushes actually work. That’s why I made this video. If I left anything
out or you found something confusing, just let me know in the comments section and I’ll
reply as soon as I can. Be sure to check out some of my other videos
about Instacart, especially the entire Beginner’s Guide Series. Plus I have videos about the
other gig economy platforms for those of you who do more than just Instacart. If you’re
not already a subscriber, make sure you become one so that you won’t miss any future installments.
As always, thanks for watching and I will see you next time. Bye.