Managing virtual assistants: My process for managing talk deadlines and information

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  1. Log on to and open my Talk planning spreadsheet.
  2. Click on the last tab near the bottom of the page. (Talk planning)
  3. Select the F and G columns, right-click on the column header, and choose Insert 2 Left.
  4. Select the D and E columns, copy them, and paste them into F and G columns. Delete the TEMPLATE header.
  5. Replace the date and title from the text.
  6. Fill in the other information about the talk.
  7. Log on to in a separate window, and arrange your windows so that you can see the spreadsheet and create tasks at the same time.
  8. Scroll down to see the tasks on the spreadsheet. The dates should be automatically calculated based on the due date of the talk. Manually set the dates if any were specified.
  9. In Toodledo, click on Folders, and then add a folder with the title of the talk. Then go to the To-Do List and add the tasks (shortcut key: n). Specify the folder, due date, and length based on the spreadsheet and/or talk information. Set the context to “home” (unless I indicate otherwise) and the tag as “presentation”. For the tasks before “Call or e-mail organizer to confirm details”, set the start date to be one week before the due date.
  10. Create a Timesvr reminder for two hours before the presentation with the following text:
    Please call me on my cellphone to remind me about the upcoming talk on (talk title). Remind me of the title, the time, the organizer’s name, and other information.
  11. Create a calendar entry for the presentation on my Sacha – Main calendar, including the talk title and organizer contact information. Add location, transit instructions, and driving instructions if specified. E-mail me when you’re finished.

For reference, this is what the left side of my spreadsheet looks like:

Title of talk
Organizer contact info
Length Task Days
30 Send organizer title, abstract, bio, and picture -21
15 Get talk details -21
30 Outline talk -18
120 Do background research -14
60 Assemble detailed outline -7
150 Write pre-talk blog post -5
60 Storyboard presentation -4
120 Make presentation and send it to organizer -3
10 Call or e-mail organizer to confirm details -2
60 Give presentation 0
60 Post recordings 1
30 Update ROI spreadsheet 2
Talk information
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