How to Use Technology as Your Personal Assistant

Career consultant Diana Henderson shares six game-changing tools to help in business and life.

From Diana: Some say that starting the New Year is like operating with a clean slate. Goals from the prior year were achieved (or will be recycled), closets were purged of outdated fashion, new vision-casting is complete and the focus is forward-facing.

For others, it can feel like shoveling in a blizzard. Hope is the only seemingly reasonable approach to getting organized. Yet, that alone won’t produce results. By adding in a few strategic tools, you’ll have a recipe for success.

Whether you spend your time in a boardroom, remote office or “hoffice” (a.k.a. home office), these apps work wonders for organization, delegation, time efficiency and plain old sanity preservation.     

Take notes wherever you are

If you’re famous for to-do lists like I am, you’ll never miss a beat in your memory game with Evernote. It’s a central hub for everything you’d normally jot down by hand—book titles to add to your “must-read” list, neighborhood party-planning (complete with guest lists and uploaded pictures of décor ideas), fresh ideas for your company—you name it. The notes are shareable, too, so you’re in sync with those around you.

Go virtual grocery shopping

On Sundays, I meal plan and open the local grocery store’s app on my phone, select from a pre-suggested list of our favorites (milk, eggs, bread, etc.), and then search for other ingredients to go along with my recipes. The service offers substitutions if my items are out of stock and a personal shopper learns my preferences over time. Check to see if your local store has a similar app or consider a nationwide option like Instacart.

Track your emails

If you're involved in any form of professional sales, you know the feeling when you've sent an email and the recipient has yet to acknowledge your correspondence. Did they read it? Did it hit their spam folder? I started using Yesware to put an end to the unknown. It tells me the moment (with date and time stamp metrics) that the recipient opened my email and clicked on the attachment. That helps me plan timely follow-up to keep me and my business services top of mind for my prospect. If Tuesday marks my recipient’s engagement with the content I sent, I'm calling on Wednesday to capitalize on the timing.

Schedule meetings burden-free

Ever need to coordinate schedules with groups of people that don’t share a common calendar platform? It can be a nightmare without Doodle. Pick options of dates, times and locations for an event that you’re planning, create a poll and send a link for your participants to vote on all of their preferred options. Your results are displayed in a matrix for easy consumption. While still at the helm of organizing, you gracefully delegate the task of collecting availability from your targeted audience.

Coordinate a sign-up with ease

Hosting a potluck dinner and want to ensure there aren’t six veggie trays and only one main dish? Were you nominated to organize parent-provided team snacks for tee-ball? Are you coordinating volunteer shifts for a local charity or non-profit? SignUpGenius organizes it all and sends reminders to participants about their commitments via its calendar integration. Ditch your spreadsheet or spiral-bound notebook—you won’t need it anymore.

Send an invite via text

While I absolutely think traditional paper invitations still have their place, they can over-serve your informal Friday night get-together with friends. Try Hobnob for initiating text message invitations with an event-appropriate graphic, customized message and built-in response process.

For more from Diana, read her recent columns on our site or visit her online at DianaHendersonConsult.com.

Image courtesy of Ivanka Trump Illustration by Jonny Ruzzo.