March 31, 2009

Bulk view

More thoughts on calendar management

I have three days left on my free trial of Timebridge, so I need to make a decision. Do I upgrade to the USD 8.95 subscription, which includes web conferences using Dimdim and phone conferences (toll numbers), or do I ask Timesvr or my other virtual assistants to handle it and let them worry about the back-and-forth email, or do I simply publish my free/busy calendar information somewhere and let people schedule themselves?

In the last month, I used Timebridge to schedule five meetings, one of which was with multiple people. I rarely need to schedule things outside work, and I rarely schedule meetings with multiple people. So I probably won’t renew until I feel a compelling need to do so–when I or my assistant find multiple meetings difficult to keep track of, and when my calendar isn’t being kept up to date.

On the flip side, what would life look like if I got to the point where a service like this would be really, really helpful? Timebridge and other calendar management systems would rock if:

  • I make an effort to reach out to lots of people for phone conversations and in-person chats
  • I spend most of my time interacting with people outside our Lotus Notes environment
  • Lots of people want to talk to me about something

I think I’ll take that USD 8.95 per month and invest it in getting to that point. =) Every little bit counts.

Planning projects for April: making remote presentations that rock, managing virtual assistants

There are two interesting projects I’d like to get going for April. One will be a guide on making remote presentations that rock, and another will be a guide on managing virtual assistants. I would like to put together blog posts and perhaps a nicely-formatted e-book. For the presentation project, I’m also planning to run a couple of seminars at work, and maybe even offer one-on-one coaching too.

What do those projects look like?

Making remote presentations that rock

Possible topics:

  • Technology tips and screencasts
    • Sametime Unyte
    • Audacity
    • Camtasia Studio or some other video/screencast software
  • Challenges and opportunities of remote presentations
  • Tips on information organization
  • Tips on visual presentation design
  • Delivery techniques
  • Preparation and follow-up
  • Virtual conferences – when you’re part of a bigger event

Coaching opportunities:

  • Give feedback on title, abstract, and bio
  • Give feedback on outline, navigational structures
  • Give feedback on design and organization
  • Evaluate delivery (in person or with recordings) – maybe swap with people? =) – to help people learn more about how to do presentations even more effectively

Possible tasks to delegate:

  • Transcribe my presentations and audio recordings on the topic
  • Edit audio to remove ums, ahs, and repeated words
  • Compile presentation tips from the Internet
  • Find illustrations for slides
  • Create draft slides
  • Format the blog posts into an e-book
  • Follow up after coaching

Managing virtual assistants

I’d like to focus on documenting lots of processes so that we can come up with something like a manual. =) Possible topics:

  • Web research
  • Product search
  • Calendar management (meetings, phone calls, and get-togethers)
  • Writing and content development
  • Everyday tasks (wake-up calls, concierge services, etc.)

Each post will have the following structure:

  • Why outsource to a virtual assistant
  • Sample requests and time saved (Examples for 15 minutes, 1 hour, 4 hours)
  • What information should be included?
  • What milestones are useful?
  • Example step-by-step process, similar to the ones I’ve shared
  • Sample output template so that both the client and virtual assistant know what results are expected

Possible tasks to delegate:

  • Compile sample requests and templates
  • Find me other bloggers interested in collaborating on an e-book
  • Draft the text
  • Document step-by-step processes, including screenshots
  • Find client testimonials
  • Format the blog posts into an e-book

Monthly review: March 2009

<stretch> What a great month! I learned so much. =)

From last month:

  • Sort out my paperwork: Almost there. I just need an updated reference letter from my manager. Hooray!
  • Finish this phase of Transition2: About to release today!
  • Further integrate virtual assistance into my processes: See below!

We’ve made a lot of progress at work on a new release of our website, which will be deployed today. Along the way, I learned a lot about Drupal, and I shared our lessons learned at DrupalCon 2009 in DC.

I shared some tips and thoughts on public speaking and virtual conferences, which are becoming more popular at work:

Other geeky things: I shared my library reminder script. Gabriel Mansour’s ported it to Ruby, which is probably much more readable. I learned how to make directed graphs with Graphviz, too.

I also started delegating lots of tasks to virtual assistants, and that’s been interesting too. Here are some of my thoughts:

and I’ve documented some of my processes:

I’ve also shared two of the posts I asked my virtual assistants to put together for me:

(… and my blog has the #1 spot for the search “managing virtual assistants” on Google! Nifty.)

These experiments in delegation have prompted me to think about my own goals and see what else I can ask people to work on.

I’ve also been able to turn that energy to other people’s goals. I brainstormed ways I could help my parents’ business, even over a distance. I helped my parents learn more about ebooks and market research on the Net. I also created a Google Adwords campaign for my parents’ company. I like how I can do split testing on the ads, and Google will optimize the delivery over time. So far, 20 people have clicked through.

Thanks to the wake-up calls and to some schedule shuffling, I’ve been waking up early to write. It’s a great time to share what I’m thinking about or what I’m learning about life.

I finally got the next LifeCampTO sorted out: LifeCampTO: April 5 (Sun), 10:30am – 1:00pm, LinuxCaffe, too!

Weekly reviews:

Week ending March 29, 2009
Week ending March 22, 2009
Week ending March 15, 2009
Week ending March 8, 2009

March had Ada Lovelace Day and Pi Day. =) Whee!

Plans for April 2009

  • Virtual conferences and public speaking: I will put together two webinars and at least four blog posts about tips for public speaking, particularly for remote presentations. I think that would help make a difference at work.
  • Bicycling: I will get more comfortable on my new bicycle so that I can easily run errands or ride my bike for fitness and enjoyment.
  • Delegation: I will delegate more tasks and develop more processes.