My Dad had a secretary, but throughout my working life I have not. I have worked in teams with assistants, I know some great PAs and I have often wondered what it would be like to work with a person who knows as much about my life as I do.
Actually, it makes me feel a bit uncomfortable, my life is… messy. Not in a bad way, just in the way that works for me. There is a never ending list of "jobs to be done" and I prioritise them in a backlog that reflects both their importance (to me) and my (current) willingness to tacle them. How could I possibly explain this to someone else?
As a contractor, I flirted with managing multiple full time contracts similtaneously. It wasn't my best work and it was exhausting in a way that wasn't worth the money. So I stopped. But it did get me thinking about value (particularly mine) and the parts of what I do that create the most value for other people.
Obviously activities like booking travel and scheduling meetings suck useful, productive time out of my work day, but these wouldn't justify paying someone else to manage them (I don't travel that much). I have considered "outsourced" PA services but never found a suitable usecase - my need is not constant enough.
A few weeks ago, I started to experince a lot of friction associated with scheduling meetings. I don't work in traditional corporate environment and have a least 2 different work calenders using Office 365 & Google. When someone wanted me to suggest some available "times" it was a pain, navigating blended views with imperfect info and dynamic "soft" prioritisation… is this person's meeting more or less important than this other meeting…
Other people MUST be having this same issue.
I am a bit of a digital tool nerd… I evaluate a lot of software on my quest to reduce friction, both personally & professionally. Great software makes things easier and while free is a great price point for me, as a business person (and product owner) it isn't really a sustinable model. So I am happy to pay for software that solves my problems.
I looked at a lot of "scheduling" apps and and the winner is Calendr.it
Super clean, it lets you connect your celenders from a range of online services, you choose which ones have supremacy, and provides you with a page so anyone with the link can check your avilablility (and book a meeting). The platform then sends you both a meeting invite.
The key is whether your diary/availability drives the meeting. For this to work, people need to care when you are free. If a client calls you will probably move your schedule to accomodate their avilablility.
I have been trialing it - "when are you free"… I send them the link and ask them to talk to my secretary!
Check it out here: https://calendr.it/