Perssist Blog

Strategies & Tools for More Productivity & Free Time

Looking for a Last Minute Valentine’s Day Gift?

Buying a gift for a significant other is another way to show them how much you care. However, here at Perssist we know some days you can’t find the time to shop for and purchase the perfect Valentine’s gift.

Shopping for the significant man in your life can be quite simple, as you already know what he likes and needs. He can only own so many colognes, after all. Shirts and socks are necessities, and not necessarily the most romantic way to say “I Love You.”

So, as Valentine’s Day comes around the corner, allow our proficient assistants to help you make it a perfect day for your perfect man. Our assistants need just a bit of information on his interests, likes and dislikes and we’ll spend the time searching out the perfect gift.

Below is a sample gift request we recently received.

Client’s Request: Please find a unique gift for my 35 year old partner. He can be described as a bit “macho” but he also likes to be very suave and stylish and he is also very sentimental, especially about our relationship. He enjoys sports, drinking out with his buds and TV crime dramas. I’m thinking of a budget of $120. It can be one grand gift or a few small items. Thanks.

 

With that information our assistant was given a lot to work with. These are some of the gift ideas that were approved by the client.

  1. To appeal to his macho but beauty conscious side we selected this very masculine gift set – The Working Man’s Hygiene Set – $50.00Working Man's Hygiene KitCrafted by a man for men, this makes male beauty practical, sexy and masculine. http://www.uncommongoods.com/product/working-mans-hygiene-kit
  2. Since the client also expressed their partner’s sentimentality we thought this would be a sweet reminder just between them. A personalised bracelet with a sweet message inside for his eyes only $21.62Personalized mens recycled silver
    https://www.etsy.com/listing/166287449/personalised-mens-recycled-silver
  3. And finally to round things off, something he can show off with the boys a MONOGRAMMED Glass Whiskey Decanter set – $34.00whiskey decanter sethttps://www.etsy.com/listing/214225148/monogrammed-glass-whiskey-decanter-set?ref=br_feed_28&br_feed_tlp=valentines-day

 

All of these gifts were purchased and shipped directly to the client for added convenience. So lighten your load a little and allow us at Perssist to do the hard work as you shop for a special gift for a special someone.

Hiring a Virtual Assistant – Is It Worth It?

We’ve talked to a lot of people about their thoughts on hiring an assistant to outsource small tasks and projects, and two of the major points of friction for people are whether it’s worth the trouble to outsource tasks form a to-do list, and also whether the results achieved will be high enough quality and easy to check.

Problem 1: Is it worth the time and trouble to outsource my tasks?

Delegation is a skill that improves with practice. There are some tasks that make more sense to delegate than others. We’ve made our service flexible enough for a 10 minute phone call, or hours of event-planning or research, and we’ve seen users get value from both ends of that spectrum. But some things just take too long to explain to make it worth delegating – it’s a very case-by-case sort of thing that takes getting used to.

A lot of Perssist’s first-time users, especially people that have never used an assistant before, send in tasks that aren’t really the right thing to ask an assistant to do. For example, “find me an apartment, this is what I’m willing to spend.” There are too many taste-based variables involved in that process to come away with a good result. However, “find me all the apartment buildings with an in-house leasing office in these neighborhoods, then make sure they fit my budget and allow dogs” is something that would make a lot more sense to ask an assistant to handle.

Problem 2: Checking and coordinating the results of another person’s work is yet another distraction

We hear you loud and clear that you don’t always trust someone else’s work, and the process of checking it can take as as doing it yourself. We train our Perssist Assistants to present information in a way that tries to answer any initial doubts/questions a user may have when they see the result. For example, providing sources and (briefly) explaining their process to get to the answer. Secondly, it’s important to understand that no one can do a task the exact way you would do it yourself, and figuring out what types of tasks that’s ok for, and what types it’s not, is part of learning to delegate.

Get started learning to delegate with a free trial from Perssist, and remember if you’re new that you should try request a few different things rather than one big thing so you can get a better feel for outsourcing the mundane tasks from your life.

Productivity Tools for Entrepreneurs in 2015

Ask any entrepreneur what he/she wants to have more of and the answer would be “Time”. In the fast paced world of today where things change by every minute, operating a business can become very challenging.  If you are not organized, and do not have proper systems and processes in place you may become a victim of “startup burnout” and stress. But now you can change all this with a little help from technology. There are a lot of tools and apps available today that can help you manage your time better and become more productive.

Here is a list of some must have apps that can make every entrepreneur’s life easy:

Evernote – Workspace Its is a free app that stores everything from notes, pictures, to-do list and everything you can imagine. It works brilliantly on smartphones and computers, keeping everything in sync between all your devices. Use this app to stay organized.
Dropbox – File Management This is one of the simplest file-synchronization tools available in the app market today. It is free to download for upto 2GB of storage space. Dropox can be installed on any computer or mobile device to access your files on the go. You can also store files in public folders and share them with anyone you want.
Asana – Project Management Entrepreneurs have a lot of tasks on their plate which can sometimes become overwhelming for them. Asana is a project management app that can helps you manage all your tasks at one place. It allows you to create tasks, associate them with different projects and departments and assign them to different people.  It also eliminates the need of email between team members.
Mailchimp – Newsletter Marketing In order to run a successful email marketing campaign you need a tool that lets you implement your marketing strategy properly. MailChimp is currently the best email marketing app that enables you to send elegantly designed newsletters and offers advanced email list segmentation features. It helps in making email marketing less time consuming and more effective.
Hootsuite – Social Media Management As an entrepreneur you might need to manage your business’s social media presence. Hootsuite is a social media management tool that allows you to manage all your social profiles at one place. You can implement and analyze all your marketing campaigns for all your social profiles without logging into each profile separately. Their premium account also offers advanced features like audience engagement, social analytics, team collaboration and security.

So if you are an entrepreneur and need to manage your time more efficiently start using these tools and app today so that you can achieve more in lesser time and reduce the chances of burnout & work stress.

How to Select a Moving Company

Moving houses or apartments is a challenging thing to do. With all that needs to be packed and transported, it can get rather expensive too. Especially if the movers are not careful and damage goods along the way. This is where hiring the right movers becomes particularly important.

We approach selecting the right mover through online services such as Unpakt.com and Yelp.com. Unpakt is a website that gets you quotes from multiple movers serving your area. The first step is to enter the address you need the items picked up from and the address you need it delivered to, along with the size of the house and date for moving.

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The next step on Unpakt is to list out the number of items and boxes required to be picked up by the mover on the day of the move. We often request this information from our clients if they haven’t provided it to us. This is important because it allows for a more accurate quote.

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The third step is to enter specifics, like a preferable time the client would like the movers to arrive and begin work. Once you’ve confirmed the ‘From’ and ‘To’ addresses, Unpakt will show the results.

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We make note of a few movers, their quotes, and if they include insurance coverage or not. In addition to that, we will also check the reviews for each mover from both Unpakt and Yelp. This will help us decide if the mover has a history of good deliverance or not. Lower quotes but with poor reviews or multiple complaints are rejected since our goal is to satisfy our clients with a ‘job well done’.

Perssist is also able to call up a few select movers and ask about more specific costs and moving requirements. One of the most common complaints about movers are the additional costs placed above the initial quote for things they only seem to encounter on the day of the move. Quotes can vary if packing services are extra. Some movers will occasionally ask for the exact furniture dimensions or may request a site visit to look for any particular requirements before giving a quote. (For some difficult moves, such as up narrow stairways or extraordinarily large items, specialists may be called in to help) Movers will also like to know if the apartment has an elevator or not — because rates can be higher if they are forced to climb up several stories.

These are all examples of pieces of information that Perssist provides our clients to help them decide on the right mover for the job.

Want assistance with the hassle of finding an affordable, trustworthy moving service?  Sign up for a Perssist free trial and get started immediately!

 

Online Wedding Planning Tools

Modern weddings are more complicated than they used to be. Serious planning is needed to accomplish all tasks and convert expectations to reality, especially when planning a DIY wedding. Planning a wedding on your own can be hectic managing all the bookings, suppliers, guest lists, to-do lists and budgets on a daily basis. Fortunately there are online wedding planning tools that are designed to make your life easier. Most of these tools include a budget tracker, guest list and check list, and more tools are available with premium plans.

Today’s weddings rely heavily on online planning, but having the right kind of online planning tools is an advantageous time saver. Often, choosing the correct planning tool is dependent on the needs of the bride and the groom.

Not all online planning tools are optimized to work across all digital platforms, such as Android and Apple iPhone (iOS), which is why finding the right planning solution is important. It is important to remember that although planning through a mobile-only app can be handy, some things are still easier on a bigger screen. Choosing a tool to customize your notifications that can sync your plans and connect them to a personal calendar or email (such as Outlook, Google Calendar, or even Asana) will help you to stay updated, informed and on track of all critical information.

Many online wedding planning tools offer free services but it is important to be mindful that there can be tradeoffs. Some free tools may not be as comprehensive as those that charge a nominal fee. A great online wedding planning tool is definitely going to enable you to do more by providing the necessary tools to assist you in planning your big day.

Here are some wedding planning tools that can assist everyone and simplify your life:

wedding planning-pinterest

Pinterest – This is a great tool discovering DIY decor ideas. You can easily surf the web for images of your choice and keep it pinned for later use.

wedding planning-style me pretty

Style Me Pretty – Ideal for savvy brides who are looking for wedding ideas and inspiration that goes beyond expectations. Many professional wedding service providers are associated with them.

wedding planning tools - wedding wire

Wedding Wire – Includes a personal planner to help you plan with ease and confidence.

wedding planning tools - the knot

The Knot – Offers comprehensive wedding planning content and interactive tools to help you keep on track

wedding planning tools - brides

Brides – Provides virtual wedding planning tools such as the Brides Dressing Room and offers wedding planning, ideas and inspiration.

wedding planning tools - offbeat brides

Offbeat Bride – If you are planning a wedding that aims to be out of the ordinary then you should be looking here.

wedding planning tools - onewed

Onewed – You can plan, book as well as shop for your wedding with inspiration as your guide. They offer tools and support to make wedding planning smarter and easier.

Wedding Planning

Saying “I Do” is one of the most unforgettable days of our lives and having the perfect wedding day makes it incredibly more pleasant and memorable. However, we often forget about the amount of commitment needed to make it as magnificent as we want. From the wedding gowns to the flowers, decorations, invitees, reception, and photographs it can be an overwhelming task. All the glamour and glitter of the occasion can be shattered with a simple mistake. Using the assistance of an expert in the industry can be helpful. Let’s focus on some of the nitty gritty of planning a wedding.

 

Selecting a Coordinator

Who is a coordinator?

A wedding coordinator holds the role of organizing all aspects of the wedding, from wedding vendors to everyday wedding tasks. A coordinator is expected to serve as a liaison between you and the many unseen wedding participants, maintaining constant contact with each vendor. They also offer consultative advice, such as budget plans, furnishing vendor referrals and setting up appointments. They may not always be physically present with the couple at all vendor meetings. A wedding consultant typically schedules the wedding day activities and will be on site to manage the wedding.

Why you need a coordinator

The wedding coordinator is responsible for replying to appropriate parties in a timely fashion, remembering logistical details, preparing for meetings, and ensuring that everything runs smoothly — allowing the bride and the groom to enjoy their time with family and friends with peace of mind.

Preparing for your wedding can be an exciting time to share as a couple, but the many details of wedding planning can be stressful and overwhelming. Most couples who choose to plan their own wedding inevitably end up with some hitches. Instead of being unhappy, this is the day you need to be the happiest! It seems that a wedding coordinator would cause additional expenses on the wedding but if a wedding planner is able to give the busy bride some breathing room to enjoy the big day, wouldn’t it be worth the cost?

The main advantage of hiring a wedding planner is that they take care of the all the mundane aspects of event planning, such as phone calls, filling out paperwork, coordination, and double-checking requests. Secondly, the experience and the knowledge of a professional wedding coordinator cannot be emphasized enough. An experienced planner is in the unique position being aware of the different costs and qualities of vendors across a broad range of price points, and is more likely to have seen unique, customized requests.

 

How to select a wedding coordinator

It goes without saying that it is beneficial to select a professional, experienced wedding coordinator. They can be members of professional associations such as the Wedding Industry Professionals Association or the International Special Events Society. It is important that you schedule a meeting as a couple to get to know your coordinator. You can make a note about:

  • Their business license and business insurance
  • Time they have been in business
  • Educational background
  • Pursued education in Event Management or Design? If so, where?
  • How they find and establish relationships with other vendors
  • The steps followed to plan a wedding?
  • How many weddings do they typically plan a year? Express the services typically provided for these weddings.
  • The possibility of accepting your budget and create your required vision?
  • Reviewing their portfolio
  • How they charge? What does their fee include?
  • Availability at the wedding rehearsal and wedding day
  • Provide any additional staff on the wedding day? If so, what are the costs?

If you’re overwhelmed by planning your wedding, try out Perssist’s remote wedding planning service today!

 

 

Sample Request: International Document Shipping Costs

This post is by Mithun, one of our great Perssist Assistants ready to help you today!

 

Shipping documents quickly — How to find the best mailing rates online

Suppose you would like to mail some office documents from Shanghai, China, to New York City — given the importance of the documents, you want it to reach New York in less than a week.

Well, if speed is of the essence, then the way we would find the best rates for mailing a 2kg (4.4 pounds) pack of documents would be to use a reliable courier service that has a presence in the country of origin and at the destination. Fedex, DHL and TNT are world renowned brands with significant global reach, and all three courier companies offer pick up services in Shanghai. You can find the rates for mailing a package by simply visiting each of their websites. After filling up a form with the date (Dec 12, 2014 in our example), weight, from and to destinations, here are the results we obtained.

*NOTE: We went to the China websites of each provider and chose English as language. For accuracy, the rates shown are in Chinese Renminbi (CNY).

 

Fedex

Fedex

As you can see, the lowest rate for mailing a 2kg pack of documents is CNY 537.01 ($86.73 USD). Unfortunately, Fedex notified us at the time of search that the ‘date of arrival’ could not be displayed due to an internal issue.


DHL

DHL

DHL’s lowest rate is CNY660 ($106 USD) for sending the same package and delivery takes 3 days, no matter which service you opt for apparently. The higher priced service, which is normally the quickest, shows the same delivery day as the lowest priced service. We found that odd, but it is what it is.

 

TNT

TNT

TNT’s lowest rate is CNY 690.85 ($111 USD). If you opt for Priority, the cost increases to CNY740 ($119). Using this link to find Transit Times shows the package normally takes 3 working days to arrive in NY.

 

Once you select the desired rate and delivery type, you next fill out an online form with the sender’s and receiver’s details. Upon confirmation of the package being shipped, Fedex, DHL and TNT, all provide the sender (and sometimes also the recipient) with a tracking code. To use the tracking code, go to the provider’s website and enter the code at the designated tracking section. The tracking code will show the status of the package during the days of delivery. Each time the package reaches a collection center or transit point, the package barcode is scanned and that triggers the status to get updated on the website, showing you where exactly the package has reached.

Rates also vary with destinations. For example, if we were to ship the same 2kg package of documents from Shanghai to Singapore, the lowest rates are:

  • Fedex – CNY 395.03 ($63.80 USD)
  • DHL – CNY 406.46  ($65.64 USD)
  • TNT – CNY 425.42  ($68.70 USD)

Oddly enough, despite Singapore being much closer to Shanghai than New York, the estimated delivery date for the package was still 3 days after the package had been dispatched (on DHL and TNT). It seems that three working days is a minimum requirement for international documents to be processed and to clear customs.

Whichever provider you opt for, make sure you try to be as specific and detailed about the products you are shipping. Rates and delivery times can vary significantly depending on the nature of the goods — be it documents, boxed objects, large cargo, etc.

 

To submit a request like this and get started delegating to your personal assistant right away, sign up for Perssist at www.perssist.com.

How To Get a Wakeup Reminder with Perssist

Are you a fan of hotel wake up calls when you’re traveling? Get the same special treatment whenevery you want with a personal wake up call from Perssist! This is not one of these services where you have an automated robot voice. Instead, you will hear the lovely, human voice of one of our super friendly and helpful team members. That’s right – a real person will be calling you!

All you have to do is submit a request with your preferred time and any notes/ reminders for the day. This way you will never forget someone’s birthday anymore or that important meeting you have to go to. You can schedule the wake up reminder online, or through email/voice/SMS. Best of all, Perssist assistants can call you no matter where in the world you are.

If you want, we can keeping calling you after the original wake up call to ensure that you’re effectively awake. Since you’re speaking to a real person you could even submit some requests for the day directly to the assistant calling you.

Perssist wake up calls can also be used in other ways. Let’s say you have something going on, but you rather would be somewhere else. No problem, we can also help you with this. All you have to do is send us a request with a note and your details, and we could give you the perfect emergency call. This way you will never have to stay in one of those boring business meetings or bad dates again!

Perssist Assistant Profile: Arnella

arnella-assistantArnella is from Jamaica and has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Northern Caribbean University and is pursuing a Master’s in Clinical Psychology. She has worked as an assistant manager in a bakery, as an administrative assistant, and also works as a graduate research assistant.  She enjoys discovering new food joints with friends and family, reading, and watching TV crime and supernatural dramas.

Arnella is one of the many smart, friendly, and helpful virtual assistants that will be supporting you when you sign up for Perssist at www.perssist.com.

How to Hire a Virtual Assistant

If you’re looking to hire a virtual assistant you have some considerations to make across a few categories:

Scope of the Work

What types of tasks do you plan on asking your new VA to do? Perhaps you’ll ask your new assistant to do research, set up appointments, do administrative work, figure out travel arrangements and accommodations, work with WordPress, and maybe do some basic Photoshop? While each of these tasks could be done by a single dedicated assistant, some categories benefit from specialized knowledge. Some assistants are especially good at finding the best flight deals and creating great travel itineraries, while others are WordPress experts.

Perssist has experts in many categories, and is a single point of contact for all the potential requests you would want to send to your assistant. Each request that comes in gets routed to the assistant most capable of doing it well, so you never have to worry about whether your assistant has a certain skill set.

Dedicated vs. Non-Dedicated

There are trade-offs between choosing a single dedicated assistant vs. a service that provides access to a group of assistants. With a single dedicated assistant, you form a relationship over time, the assistant learns your preferences, and you may decide to share sensitive information with that assistant, such as passwords. However, a dedicated assistant is not always available when you need him, he takes vacations and personal days, and he may not have the full range of skills you need.

Perssist offers 24/7 availability and will always be there for you with short response times and the person with the right skills for the request. If you like, you can submit requests to the same assistant from any prior request which is helpful when a new request benefits from prior experience. Perssist learns your preferences over time so any assistant completing your task won’t have to ask you unnecessary questions.

Price & Quality

Another trade-off to consider is price versus quality. You can find cheap assistants willing to work for $3 per hour, but you’ll quickly realize that they are more trouble than they’re worth unless you have the most basic of requests. You can also spend $25 per hour or more if you only want to work with an American assistant with a college degree (and for that price you should expect no mistakes and total efficiency).

Perssist offers affordable assistance and high quality by focusing our hiring on well-educated overseas assistants (some even have master’s degrees) and training them ourselves. You can get an idea of the types of people we hire by taking a look at some Perssist Profiles. Perssist hires less than 3% of applicants, and puts those few that do make the cut through an intensive training process to ensure quality and efficiency is where it needs to be.

Pay per Hour vs. Pay per Task

Some services charge by the hour, and some by the task. A task is usually defined by anything that takes up to 15 minutes, so if you have tasks that take more time, you will have to break them up into separate tasks and submit them separately. Also, the assistant has an incentive to do the request as quickly as possible since they get paid the same whether they spend 5 minutes or 15 minutes, which can cause quality issues. Alternatively, you can choose a service that charges by the hour. However, hourly assistants have an incentive to answer the question with as much detail as possible and drag out a task as long as possible.

Perssist offers a pay per hour service (charged in 5 minute increments), but all tasks have a default 20-minute check-in time (which can be adjusted) so that the user can see how things are coming and decide whether time is being wasted or not. The check-in time forces the assistant to work efficiently. Furthermore, Perssist’s satisfaction guarantee refunds you for the first check-in if you’re not happy with it.

Effort to Hire and Manage

If you want to hire your own virtual assistant from a freelancer website, you’ll have to write a job post, wait for applications, interview them and figure out whether they’ll be good assistants or not, hire them and potentially train them. This can take several hours of your time and span a few days. A placement service will match you with an assistant they believe will be good for you based on a series of questions they ask you, but this can also take up to a couple days to make a match.

Perssist assistants offers good quality assistance as soon as you sign up from friendly, helpful, and intelligent people. We’ve already done the interviewing and hiring and put our assistants through rigorous recruiting and training processes. We also manage them while they’re working for you to ensure that they have the support they need to fulfill your requests and that all your requests are handled in a timely manner.

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