My Experience Using a Virtual Assistant – Part 2 (Scheduling Meetings)

A number of people have asked me how things are going with my virtual assistant, specifically what tasks I have her doing and how it all works. I thought I’d do a short follow-up blog post on how I work with my virtual assistant (who is really great, by the way), to schedule meetings. For those who don’t know, my VA is based in the Philippines. For more background, you can read my previous post on the topic. If you’re looking for a virtual assistant, I’d suggest you check out YourRemoteAssistant.com. I’ve been happy with them and it’s made my life much more sane. In the spirit of openness, I also get a small credit if you sign up and list me as a referrer.

1. Share your calendar on Google Calendar
The first thing I did was create a Google Calendar that had all of my work and personal appointments in one place. Then I gave my VA read / write access to that calendar so she could create, edit, and delete meetings as they arise.

2. Create a Google Spreadsheet of places you like to meet
The next thing I did was create a Google Spreadsheet with a list of places I like to meet and the times I like to go to those places. This makes it way easier for my VA to schedule meetings without having to come back to me to get input on meeting locations every time. Also, because it’s shared online, I can add or remove places from the list as I burn out on them or find new places I like more. Below is a screenshot of what that spreadsheet looks like – it’s not very complex:

Gdocs

3. Create a simple human algorithm for how meetings should be scheduled
The last step to making meeting scheduling work is to figure out how things should happen. This is really a matter of personal choice. I like to have my assistant offer up a few meeting times, block all of those times on my calendar (making it clear which are tentative and which are confirmed), and eventually confirm the meeting once the other person gets back and confirms. Once the meeting and location are confirmed, I make sure I have a mobile phone number for the person and some other context in the body of the meeting request. Just for added comfort, I also get a daily summary of all of the meeting requests that were processed during the day.

4. Get up on Salesforce or some other CRM system
The one last thing worth doing is to get up on a CRM system of some sort so that you can keep track of contact info for all of the people you meet. It’s pretty easy to adjust the scheduling process described above to include a step where your assistant checks to make sure the person has a record with correct information.

5. Relax!
I’m terrible at scheduling meetings. I drop the ball all the time. This has been one of the best decisions I’ve made all year – I no longer have meeting anxiety and I know that meetings are getting handled and arranged in a much better way than I could do left to my own devices.

There are some other things that I do that I haven’t included in this post. Do you have a virtual assistant? How’s it going for you? Any tips to share?