I need assistance

I’ve been having a bad time scheduling myself – never having been terribly organized anyway – and this morning it culminated in the worst mistake: I had the wrong time for a radio interview in my calendar and missed it. I apologize again to Bill Lusby at WNAV Radio in Baltimore. I’m an idiot.

I need assistance. Of course, I don’t need nor could I possibly afford a full-time person. But I would kill for some outsourced assistance. Do you have any ideas? Anything that has worked for you? Have any of you tried to services in India? How do you share your calendars? I need the help but, naturally, I’m too busy to figure out how to get it. Suggestions, please.

  • http://fxxxbook.blogspot.com/ Dan

    I can’t claim to have your same busy schedule but Google Calendar certainly does the trick for me. For your busy travel itineraries I would definitely recommend tripit.com (no affiliation – just a happy user). You forward them the confirmation emails you get from airlines, orbitz, hotels, etc. and they organize them all into a single, easily-read itinerary. You can then email them from the road with simple commands to do things like get info on your next flight, etc.

  • http://www.totallyoptical.com Frank Giammanco

    Hi Jeff…I enjoyed your book on Google–the concept of Google redefining the entire business landscape is very intriguing and, in fact, I’m doing a column on it for my readership (optical practitioners); if you need a personal assistant, why not get yourself a BlackBerry and avail yourself of its scheduling/alarm system?…works for me…

    Or…You could get a telephone service to simply call you to remind you of appointments…don’t know the cost here, but could pay for itself in short order I’d imagine.

    Frank G.

  • http://hburgnews.com Brent Finnegan

    Google Calendar. I don’t even have a smartphone, but I use GC for everything. Every time I schedule a lunch or appointment, I text it straight to GC. I’m constantly getting text reminders from Google about that meeting I have to be at in 30 minutes.

  • Justin

    Hopefully one day – while I’m still alive, Lord willing – modern technology will produce some sort of device we can carry with us which will remind us of important upcoming events. Perhaps it could make a noise, or even vibrate, and then show a message to us detailing the appointment.

    I’m dreaming, I know. But a fella can dream.

  • http://wyman.us Bob Wyman

    Google Calendar. I use it on several computers (Mac, Windows, Linux) as well as on my iTouch and my G1. Everything is in sync and I can access the data virtually anywhere.

    bob wyman

  • http://www.principledinnovationblog.com Jeff De Cagna


    I work with a virtual assistant and I think that could be a good solution for you. I would check out the International Virtual Assistants Association (IVAA) website at http://www.ivaa.org/ where you can search the member database or submit an RFP. This is precisely the kind of thing a VA could do for you.

    Not to pile on to your scheduling difficulties, but I’m still hoping we can do a podcast interview. I’ve been reading WWGD, and it is great and I’d love to get your views in front of my community so they might think about hiring you as a speaker. Let me know what we can do. Thanks!

  • http://www.patthorntonfiles.com Patrick Thornton


    Try Getting Things Done first. Read the book and then try some software like Omnifocus or Things or Remember the Milk. All are great task and life managers.

    GTD will make your life a lost easier and should help you get more done. Combine a good GTD system with a good calendar system and you should be able to keep track of things better. I have an iPhone, which allows me to use iCal (this syncs will all my computers via MobileMe), and I also have a mobile version of Omnifocus (this also syncs with my computers).

    No matter where I am, I have a robust system with me, complete with alerts that bug me. If I somehow forget my phone and my laptop, I can still check my calendar via MobileMe’s Web interface. If you have a Mac, you should seriously give iCal, MobileMe and a GTD program a try.

    Now, if you have too much e-mail to read through, you might want to consider hiring a CUNY student to read through it and point you to the important ones. This student could even send some canned responses out for you.

  • http://www.marketing.fm Eric

    Hi Jeff,

    What about

  • http://www.lingospot.com Dino Joannides

    I also recommend Googe Calender apart from anything else it interworks very well with Outlook and iCal so you can send and recive invites to the MAC and Wintel contacts you have or will be meeting.

    Also I have it working well with my iPhone using SaiSuke.

    I belive you are a MAC user so you could use your iCal and use Mobileme which is ok now with an iPhone – i have tried this and is fine but we have standardised on GC as a business.

    Alternative 3 get on to http://www.getmeastundent.com and get yourself an intern to manage your diary for you

  • http://www.lingospot.com Dino Joannides

    sorry that should be http://www.givemeastudent.com

  • http://www.citrusbegin.com peter levitan

    Read the Four Hour Workweek. Outsource to Asia.

  • http://marketingbyjake.blogspot.com Jake Posey

    Advertise for an paid/unpaid internship slot. Interning for you would appeal to students wanting to work in the PR or Entertainment industry because they could get the scheduling experience and get an insider view of how things work.

    Interning for you would also appeal to marketing students. Assign them duties of both calendar management and other research activities. If a particular intern works out, you could hire them on part time. Then, leave the google calendar and other Web 2.0 apps to the intern to figure out.

  • http://www.thewealthenhancementforum.com Richard Bosworth

    A good VA and Google Calendar are all you need.

    I’ve worked with a VA for over five years and GC has been the icing on the cake.

    Still digesting WGWD and the masses of opportunities you touched on, thank you

  • http://www.360limo.com Mark Shrayber


    Just finished your book and loved it! For your schedule needs, I recently used a VA in India. Like everything else, you get back what you put in. Choose wisely and communicate your expectations. I used Brickwork India and had a very good experience. After a few months of getting caught up, we scaled down the number of hours to meet my needs. They were flexible and delivered great service. Obviously the easiest thing to do is to live by your Blackberry calendar for your schedule.

  • Tyler

    Loved the book, Jeff. Long time reader, first time commenter, to twist the radio catch phrase about. Great suggestions above about the use of a smart phone, google calendar, and resources domestically and abroad.

    Naive question – do you have an executive assistant? With all that you’re doing, having a good person who can book flights, queue up calls w/ radio stations, take care of minutiae, etc. – specifically somebody local who can even travel with when necessary for more involved trips with lots of appointments and things to handle – can be very valuable. The Devil Wears Prada may have demonized the role of a boss over their assistant as someone who expects a perfect latte and the dry cleaning to be picked up, but there’s a defined need for talented support staff to busy managers and individuals. At that, there’s an available, talented work force in the current economy, and taking advantage of that may help solve your issues – even if it’s just for a brief stint of busy publicity jags.

  • Andrew Rusk

    Seems like some poeople are overthinking this a bit – presumably you already use iCal on your iPhone or Google Cal and get it to sync with your phone.

    On top of that hire a CUNY intern that can handle all your scheduling. Forward your scheduling requests on through this person.

    Virtual assistants work, but you don’t need the cost considering you work at a university where lots of students are willing to work for nothing more then a letter of reference…

  • Michael S

    Get an intern–pay is minimal to none!

  • http://katherinepoythress.blogspot.com Katherine

    My solution is not unique, actually, but I want to add my voice to the chorus of happy Google Calendar users. When I was in school and had to plan my days down to 15-minute increments, it was fantastic. It is no less useful now, especially with its accessibility from anywhere with a Web connection. The sharing capabilities may also prove helpful for you, if others are trying to plan around your calendar.

    Good luck!

  • Cathy


    I am using BPOVIA virtual assistant service and very happy about their service. BPOVIA recently won “Top 100 global companies in 2008″ awards by Red Herring magazine. The hourly rate of their service is less than $10 per hour.

    Good luck,

  • http://www.getfriday.com Venky

    Check out http://www.getfriday.com. They’re one of the oldest companies out there. They were also talked about in Tim Ferriss’s Four Hour Work Week.

  • http://vincentstrader.com Vincent Strader

    I have to ring in with a Google Cal approach. We use Google apps and have our calendars all set to share with one another. One neat feature is you can put an email address in the description line when you set your event and it will automatically send a guest invite to the person you are meeting with. Had you done this the radio guy would have commented back that you had the wrong time and corrected your mistake before it happened.

    Just finished the Audio book version of WWGD thanks for taking the time to open my mind to WWGD has changed my outlook on many things and reaffirmed many things I already do.

    Vincent Strader

  • http://www.associatedenvironmental-bma.com/ Beran

    What would google do? Google Calendar is what they have done.
    I have a busy schedule, 4 kids, a wife that works and we all use the shared google calendar system with our Google Apps account. Even all the grandparents can get in on what our family’s busy schedule is.
    And it all syncs with our iPhones!
    BTW – great book – thank you,

  • http://TheNumerati.net steve baker

    Did you read David Pogue’s column yesterday on a service that you call, it has voice recognition, and it puts appointments on your calendar and/or sends emails and texts? Sounded a bit much for me, but might be right up your line.

  • J

    get yourself a filofax. or a diary. when something comes up, remember to write it in your diary. easy. and you won’t have to fiddle around with phones, computers, thingys, and IT blah blah blahs.

    diary/filo fax. job done


  • http://tomallinder.com Tom Allinder

    Jeff, I am a big fan of your book. I need the same sort of help. You thought of asking first though… Some good responses here.

  • http://justenoughtechnology.typepad.com Michael fitzGerald

    As Patrick Thornton points out it must be a robust system otherwise subconsciously you will never trust it. Choose one system and stick with it. Accept the fact that you can’t outsource your reputation which depends on turning up on time and get a system that you, yourself, can run from an hotel room in a foreign country in a power cut.

  • http://www.rosenblumtv.com Rosenblum

    your wife, man
    it works

  • http://www.christinakatz.com The Writer Mama

    Jeff, I saw you at TOC this year and I’m a fan. I am also in the same dang boat. Then I updated my one-pager today and realized that I’m spending too much time on the busy work and not enough time on the forging ahead. So I will keep coming back and reading these suggestions. Thanks for posing the question! I’m getting an iPhone and I’m going to look into both iCal and Google calendar.

    Thanks everyone! Keep the suggestions coming.