March 12, 2010 23 Comments
Predicting the future with bold certainty is not for the faint of heart. It’s a hard job. A few get it right; most just get egg on their face.
Want some examples?
- In 1948, the Chicago Daily Tribune gambled that Dewey would beat Truman in the US Presidential election and ran the presses before the final result was certain, a mistake that literally made front page news.
- In 1936, the New York Times asserted that “A rocket will never leave the earth’s atmosphere.” Wrong.
- Tradition attributes “There is a world market for maybe 5 computers.” to Thomas Watson of IBM in 1943. Wrong again.
Finding More Time
In a similar vein, pundits and marketing folks predicted that the personal computer would revolutionize the way we work, that we would get more done in less time, and that the work week may actually shrink to 25 or 30 hours as a result of our increased productivity.
Ha! I wish that was the case! Most people that I know are working longer and harder than ever. There just seems to be much more to do in our professional and personal lives just to keep up, not to mention trying to get ahead.
With so many activities and only a finite amount of time to devote to them, something has to give. You can either stop doing some of the activities. Or, you can somehow find more time. Since most people either really enjoy their activities (leisure) or feel compelled to keep at them (work), finding more time is the more appealing option.
But how to find more time? Unless you get into Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, time is a fixed asset. Everyone has exactly the same amount of time during the course of a week: 168 hours.
The answer: offload some of your activities to someone else, also known as delegation. But what if you don’t have anyone that reports to you? What if you don’t have an assistant to whom to delegate?
Enter: the Virtual Assistant.
Using a Virtual Assistant
With this in mind, I recently decided to try a Virtual Assistant. This is an industry that has really gained in popularity over recent years. If you’re not familiar with the term, essentially it’s like having a personal assistant that’s on call when you need him. A Virtual Assistant can pretty much do anything that doesn’t require their physcial presence.
There are varying levels of experience and skills available from Virtual Assistant companies. Some are highly skilled and can help you with such activities as keeping your financial books, updating your web page, and even drumming up new leads for your business. Other Virtual Assistants focus on doing the more mundane tasks for you like making travel arrangements and doing internet research.
Since this was my first experience with a Virtual Assistant, I decided to go with the a company that specializes in taking care of the many short duration but very distracting tasks that come up throughout the day.
After a fair amount of research on the internet (a task I would have loved to have delegated to a Virtual Assistant), I discovered a relatively new comer to the business, TimeSvr that repeatedly received great reviews from their clients. I decided to give them a try. I won’t fully restate their service offerings here; you can visit their web site for that. Sufficed to say that for 69 USD, you receive up to 8 tasks daily that require 15 to 20 each to complete.
My Trial Period with TimeSvr
I signed up with free three-day trial period with the company on Monday morning. It took just a few minutes and was relatively painless. Shortly thereafter, I received a welcome email describing the many ways I can submit tasks: the dashboard, Skype, email, and a telephone call are all available.
My First Task: A Clarification
I decided to test out the timeliness of their responses so my first request was very easy. I asked for some clarification on their services. Within an hour, I received a very polite email explaining exactly how they can help me to save time during the day. I was impressed since I know that the company is based on the other side of the world and it was night time there.
My Second Task: Location Information
For my second request, I asked my Virtual Assistant to find the closest UPS drop-off location that would accept a box of a certain size. Within 20 minutes, I received another email providing me with the location address. The email even included the name of the person that my Virtual Assistant spoke with confirming that they’d accept packages of the size I’d indicated.
My Third Request: Internet Research
The third task I asked of my Virtual Assistant was a bit more difficult. I asked him to find some possible course materials for a technical class that I may deliver to a client. I gave him a basic outline with a list of topics that I’d like to cover. I also explained some other preferences I have.
This request took much longer to complete; in fact it took nine hours to for me to receive a reply. I can’t say if the research took that long or if there may have been some kind of technical glitch in their system that prevented my Virtual Assistant from becoming aware of my new task.
I did however submit a fourth task before this one was complete and within one-half hour of delegating that task, this one was also completed.
My Forth Request: Internet Searching
My fourth request was very straightforward. I asked for a recipe for cooking pizza in a Dutch Oven. I made it easy for them by providing some potential locations for the information.
In half an hour, I received links to several recipes, along with a link to some instructions for cooking with Dutch Ovens. A nice touch, I thought.
Overall, I was very impressed with the timeliness and quality of services that I’ve received from TimsSvr. Every person I’ve communicated with has been very professional and pleasant.
I’ve only used the Dashboard to submit tasks so I cannot comment on the other means. However the Dashboard has proven very convenient. It even has a good mobile front end page too.
70 USD isn’t cheap, but for what you get from TimeSvr, it’s worth it. The way I see it, if it saves me one hour a month the service has more than paid for itself.
As an aside, I didn’t receive any free compensation for this review. However my Virtual Assistant did have a hand it helping me to put it together. I asked him to find the pictures for me and to find me a list of predictive quotes that later proved to be false. Not bad, eh?
Oh, and one more thing. I’ve referred through this post to my Virtual Assistant. In actuality, it’s a team of people that field my requests. You can, if you prefer, actually contract with a specific individual within TimeSvr. I may consider that one day but for now this arrangement meets my needs.
Now some questions for you:
- Have you used a Virtual Assistant?
- Would you be comfortable using a Virtual Assistant for more complex tasks?
- What are some tasks that you’d like to outsource?