Trend Spotted: Virtual Personal Assistants

Last week I was talking to IT journalist Danny Bradbury about a forthcoming story. He booked the call using a virtual personal assistant. Coincidentally, he wrote a blog post describing his search for and in praise of his newfound sidekick:

The cost? Less than the revenue from a feature article each month. The benefits? Time, which as both a writer and a parent, is the most precious commodity for me. If I wanted to fill the time I’m saving with more work, I could sell more articles and make more dough, but I don’t think I will. I’m hitting my financial targets, (with the cost of the service factored in), and for the first time in years, I’m relishing the ability to take some ‘me’ time and some more family time.

He sounds sold. Subsequently, I read about virtual PAs on Boing Boing, who referenced this Los Angeles Times article:

But I was surprised at how much they could do. Once I had registered at the website, I uploaded some personal data, such as my frequent-flier account numbers, and the names and phone numbers of my dentist, hairdresser and doctor. If I wanted an assistant to make purchases on my behalf, I could also load credit-card information in encrypted form.

That second article also discusses local assistants, should your demands be more of the ‘pick up my dry-cleaning’ variety.

For the average middle-class person living in this post-consumer age, time is increasingly replacing money as our scarcest asset. It’s funny (though not particularly surprising) how moving to Malta has freed up a ton of my time. If I were back in Vancouver, though, I can see how five or ten hours of somebody else doing mundane tasks would be quite useful.


  1. Ahhh I strive for a four hour work week! After reading the book I’m debating getting a VA myself… If I do I’ll let you know how it goes.

  2. I’ve heard that you can even get these guys to read stories to your kids via speakerphone. Talk about a time saver!

  3. The article itself is interesting, but did anyone else notice that buried midway is a denial by Rogers that the iPhone is on its way, but an assertion by Bell that it’s due in Q4 (which is…uh…now?)So either Bell has ignorant employees, or maybe a CDMA iPhone is in the works.

  4. Hey, if anyone’s in the San Diego area and wants a personal assistant, I’ve got one who’s been outstanding.

    I have one virtual assistant (VA), who is awesome, but I’ve found sometimes I need someone to be around physically to run errands, etc. The personal assistant (PA) I’ve had recently has been awesome, and she’s currently looking for more work.

    If you’re around San Diego, CA, let me know and I’ll be happy to refer you to her. Just go to my blog and click the “Contact” link at the very top of the page.


  5. I agree that having a VA to do the mundane tasks is great for the fact that it frees one up to complete other tasks that hopefully have a higher ROI (time).

    I’ve been documenting my foray into how I and have found that the really mundane stuff doesn’t get done because I hate to do it. Having someone who is willing to do the stuff I hate is FANTASTIC even if there isn’t an immediate financial or time saving ROI. The sheer joy of having someone complete something you’ve been putting off because you hate the thought of doing it yourself is wonderful!

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