March 31, 2017 Technology

A Little Help With Getting Things Done

Jeffrey Allen and Ashley Hallene

No matter your age, there is always an urge to get more done with the limited time you have. What started off as a simple To-Do List has gotten cluttered and endlessly complicated. This month's Tips column will focus on getting things done, and getting some help along the way.

A Little Magic helps

Not too long ago, having a personal concierge was a luxury reserved for the wealthier elite. Fast-forward to today and you will find there is an Uber for everything. Imagine the time you could free up if someone else could do the calling and waiting on hold, or comparison shopping or even grocery shopping for you.

Here is where Virtual Assistants enter the arena, and it is not as scary as it might sound. For starters, get to know the virtual assistant Magic.

With Magic, you send text messages to a team of human assistants who work on your requests. It can help with lots of things, like:

  • Booking, changing, and cancelling reservations for you
  • Dealing with customer service on your behalf
  • Hotel and flight bookings
  • Spa and massage appointments
  • Recommendations for gifts, restaurants and nightlife
  • Online research

Magic remembers your preferences. You can tell it what foods you are allergic to, your favorite wine, the kind of flowers your loved one prefers, etc. If you do not like communicating by text, or it is not available to you, then you may also communicate with Magic by email.

Use auto confirm to let Magic order for you

If you want the virtual assistant to go ahead and order something, you can just text auto confirm to Magic. When you auto confirm, you agree to the order without first looking at the price or details of the order.

Send an iPhone 6 phone charger to my hotel. Auto confirm.

This can be particularly handy if your phone is dying, or if you just want to get an order placed without a bunch of texting back and forth.

Cap the Time your Magic Assistants spend

Magic users pay no monthly or start-up fees, you only pay for the time you use. The rate is $35 per hour, and it is pro-rated, so if it takes 30 minutes you will be charged $17.50 plus a processing fee (2.4% + $0.30). You can also cap your requests in 1-hour increments to control the cost of the task further. You might text Magic with this request:

Find the best 3 landscapers in Bangor, Maine, that specialize in water features. Spend no more than 2 hours on this request.

One of the great things about pay-as-you-use pricing is it allows you to start small, so you do not need to make a huge commitment just to try out virtual assistants.

Utilize Recurring requests

If you need something done repeatedly, you do not have to keep texting Magic each time to get it done. Recurring requests are more efficient for Magic over time. For example you can request:

Send lunch to my office every Monday – Friday. Make sure I have a main course, side, and drink, and do not order the exact same thing twice.

Integrate with Google Calendar

Magic can fully integrate with Google calendar if you use that for your calendar. All you have to do is text Magic that you would like to link your calendar with Magic. Magic can then create appointments for you, schedule meetings with multiple people involved, keep your calendar up to date, and can always reference your calendar to make sure you have no scheduling conflicts.

Some tasks are not suitable for virtual concierge, such as seeking expert legal or medical advice. However, a virtual concierge can book you an appointment with the expert. If you have limited situations where a virtual assistant would come in handy, this may be the ideal arrangement for you.

Authors

Jeffrey Allen is the principal in the Graves & Allen law firm in Oakland, California, where he has practiced since 1973. He is active in the ABA, the California State Bar Association, and the Alameda County Bar Association. He is a co-author of the ABA book Technology Tips for Seniors.

Ashley Hallene is a petroleum landman at Alta Mesa Holdings, LP, and practices Oil and Gas Law, Title Examination, Due Diligence, Acquisitions and Oil and Gas Leasing in Houston, Texas. She frequently speaks in technology CLEs and is Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the Technology Reviews Department of the GPSolo eReport.