** Get A Virtual Assistant **
Zirtual is an amazing startup that helps you outsource your life (at least the tedious, time-consuming parts that doesn’t enrich life). A Zirtual Assistant (ZA) can do just about any task that can be completed online or over the phone. If you’re sick of sitting on hold with Verizon or your credit card company, you can simply have your ZA do it for you. If you’re looking for hotels and day trips to book in Galapagos (where I’m going to travel to in July), you can get your ZA Googling for you.
At CityPockets and Reclip.It, we did quite a bit of outsourcing through odesk and elance but they were mostly for rudimentary and low touch work like data cleansing, data entry, etc. This on the other hand is a lot more high touch since my ZA should be able to intelligently interpret my requests, respond or call on my behalf, recommend me solutions, help me make travel plans, etc. It really helps me free up my time to do stuff that matters more.
All ZAs are vetted and have a criminal background check, so you can trust them with your personal info. For $197/month, you can delegate unlimited tasks to your dedicated Zirtual virtual assistant, up to 10 hours a month.
Tim Ferriss, author of The Four Hour Workweek, has been a long time advocate of outsourcing. I finally had the opportunity to experiment with using a virtual assistant about 5 months ago. I was assigned ALice who lives in Dallas, TX and is wonderful.
According to Zirtual, specific task examples from users is one of their most frequent requests. Here are some of the tasks Alice has helped me with:
- Make reservations at Tomales Bay Oyster Company for 20, coordinated ride shares & BBQ potluck (who brings what)
- Make and confirm all my dinner reservations to French Laundry, Cotogna, Canteen & Kokkari
- Research redemption of free flight to Galapagos Island using credit card or airline miles and check to see if it’s worth the points to upgrade to first class
- Research day trips, make bookings, secure shuttle and restaurant reservations for my vacation
- Research redemption of my Delta companion pass to NYC over thanksgiving so my partner can travel free with me
- Pay my startup corporation taxes and call when there are oddities (when we moved the company from NYC to CA, there was some confusion with the company’s location so Alice had to call the Corporation Service Bill to clear it up)
- Call and chase down people who still owe me money from previous rental and event-hosting situations
- Cancel my Banana Republic and Bloomingdales credit cards that I never use
- Send me a weekly report of all my expenses so I get a snapshot of where I’m spending my money and how I’m doing on my budget. I give Alice access to my Hello Wallet account to categorize all my expenses and handle anything that doesn’t seem right (e.g. call my credit card company to try to waive a bank fee)
Purchases and Sales
- Researched which wifi scale I should purchase: Aria vs Withings (the latter won)
- Researched and bought the best priced Nespresso capsules for me online
- Scoured craigslist to find me a cheap bicycle to buy for burningman
- Help me manage my listings on eBay/craigslist and see through transaction details in PayPal
- Make moving arrangements and manage my Airbnb listings
- Change my address with USPS and everywhere else (all my accounts) when I move
- Bought a new mattress for me and arranged for home delivery in coordination with my landlord
- Cancelled utilities at my old apartment and arranged transfer to my new apartment
- Find a sublessor for my vacant tandem parking spot on Craigslist
- Hired a TaskRabbit to help me move from Soma to my new Mission apartment
- Call AT&T to upgrade our wifi to the fastest level
Research and Side Projects
- Write drafts of blog posts for me to review and publish (like this one – I know, it feels really meta)
- Do extensive research on a side project that I’m working on for my freelance client
- Access all my travel photos and help me manage them (I’m planning to start a travel website to showcase the Top 5 Photos from all my travels – Alice is helping me pick those 5 photos)
Tedious Healthcare, DMV & Utilities Tasks
- Research a good dentist near my office that’s covered by my insurance network
- Help me figure out if a particular specialist I was referred to by my Primary Care doctor was in-network and eligible for my insurance
- Call up DMV to dispute a notice (apparently my insurance submitted the wrong license plate # to DMV) and submit my insurance documents (we had to call up Geico to get this ironed out too)
- Pay my annual vehicle registration fee online
- Apply for Fast Track to avoid cash-less toll penalty
- Remind me to do certain things on a cadence (i.e. pay a bill or check on a good friend)
- Reschedule a massage appointment I couldn’t get to that day
- and many many more…
I’m looking to establish a long-term relationship with my ZA and hope that this is someone who will get to know me intimately and work with me for a number of years. I want her to understand how I work and react or respond to things so that she can help me be more efficient and productive. Sure, there’ll be some investment to train her to do things the way I usually do them at the beginning but I’m willing to put in the time now to reap the benefits later. So far, I’m really liking the relationship and hope to report more in coming months once I get more used to it.
Lastly, Zirtual is an invitation-only service where clients help curate the community by spreading the word to people within their network. If you would like an invite, please email Zirtual by clicking here, for immediate access to your own ZA.