yohana personal assistant lifehack app review

Life Hack Experiment: My Review Of Yohana Personal Assistant App

I hesitantly approached the hotel concierge with this question, never having started a sentence with these words before…

Oprah with her team of personal assistants, Midjourney AI image by Mandy Steinhardt

My assistant said that there would be an itinerary to be waiting for me when I checked in – do you have it there?

For a split second I felt like a celebrity, someone who has the resources to have personal assistants calling places and making my plans. That is, until she looked at me in confusion and said “No, I don’t see anything here.” We proceeded to have an awkward conversation. I tried to assure her that most likely the fail was on the part of my virtual assistant app that promised me they would do things.

???? Crushing that To-Do List

It had all started innocently enough – just a little ad in my feed promising a personal assistant app, Yohana, that could cross things off my to-do list faster than I could add to it. Finally, I had the potential to become that woman who has it all – like Oprah. Oprah’s secrets to success – charm, hard work, a supportive man and a team of assistants. I am only short the assistants.

Speaking of hardworking women, the Yohana app was founded by a woman, Yoky Matsuoka, and launched and spun off from Panasonic. She worked at Google and Apple and Twitter and was CTO at Nest. She literally received an award for being a genius.

Surely, SHE understood the hornet’s swarm of intrusive thoughts we call mental load! An app designed by a corporate mom of four for busy moms? Win-Win.

yohana assistant app founder yoky matsuoka

???? First household chores… next planning and arranging

fair play book logo

I previously had been successfully in implementing the Fair Play plan, asking my family to take ownership of a few household tasks. And they have been DOING THEM! (More to come on this feat of mom-ness, I will share my master spreadsheet with you – just ask!)

Obviously, the next step in this month of productivity a.k.a. the getting-major-shit-done-and-my-entire-life-together month is to get a personal assistant. If I could relieve some of this mental load I would be free to unlock another level of total bliss and productivity. Or so I thought.

✏️ Getting Started

I started out by brainstorming a note of all the things I would have this team do for me, from vacation and date planning, to online shopping, to meal planning. Yes, I enjoy these things, but also they tend to lure me down an Internet rabbit hole and give me decision fatigue.

Yohana app review assistant app interface

I started doling out the tasks, and even had a video call with my new Guide, a real human being who is supposedly my main point of contact for the team of assistants. But little did I know that I just paid $149 $50 to start personally managing a globally located team of assistants who were not accountable to me and never would be. Not only did they not have to concern themselves with whether they were completing my tasks right, but they also didn’t need to share with me, their boss, important details like last name, working hours, or any sort of accurate ETA.

There was also a character limit on entering the tasks and descriptions, so I found I would have to go in and add information in the chat discussion rather than putting in the required details all at once or attaching a file.

While I waited the minimum 3 days to run through for my first tasks to be completed, I experimented with some AI assistants. I asked Trivago’s AI to plan an itinerary for me, and also asked Bing and ChatGPT. I was planning a trip to DC on Friday and was in a hurry to create an itinerary that’s teen-friendly.

???? Comparing to AI Assistants

Given the appropriate details, the Bing AI was the most helpful with a specific itinerary. It could go deeper as I asked for restaurants around the hotel suitable for foodies that are kid-friendly. It accounted for travel time and generally spaced out the recommended activities well. I needed to double check it’s suggestions, though.

Trip Advisor’s AI assistant was also very capable, planning a specific itinerary using my dates and a couple of details about priorities. However, it didn’t let me modify the plan, or give more specifics, for example age of my kid. This article covers some other AI-powered tools specific for travel planning.

My Yohana personal assistant, however, provided a lackluster selection of three options of things to do, one of which was in another town on Friday night. My Guide intervened when I rated the task completion poorly. She said she called the hotel and personally asked the concierge to provide us some recommendations that our son would like – I should ask when we checked in and an itinerary would be waiting. She also gave me a free month of service for my troubles.

???? Shut it down

review lifehack todo app notifications overwhelming

By the time I came to said hotel feeling completely abandoned by my “team” of assistants, I was ready to shut the whole thing down. It’s not that the task completion was useless, in fact many of the things I asked the assistants to do were completed well. It’s just that the app itself is so annoying that the whole experience gave me a lot of stress.

The lesson? To be more satisfied with my life I need to single-task and do LESS things rather than multi-task and do more. Chasing after those checkmarks drove me nuts.

Also: I am uncomfortable giving constant negative feedback to humans but I don’t mind with AI because I won’t hurt it’s feelings.

Conclusion: 2 out of 5 ⭐️

What’s my review? For me, the cons outweigh the pros. The intro price of $50 for the first month is fine but for $129 a month I would prefer more personal service, help with in-person tasks (for a fee) and task completion for my business. The assistants should be more specialized (as I was told they would be), managed, and informed. Most importantly, the UI of the app and notifications would need to be improved and pruned. While I have been writing this article I have been notified that my Yohana Guide is “changing” and that I will be introduced to my new guide “shortly.”

My subsequent research into Yohana shows a lot of comments with the same concerns. Even more scary are the Glassdoor reviews. It’s confusing to me how this company has managed to take a wonderful idea and make it substantially worse by not understanding how to optimize the user experience. Surely UX should be a primary consideration, no? Perhaps the team from Asana, my favorite B2B project management software, should design a competing experience.

Yohana Personal Assistant App Pros

Specific types of tasks are made easier and repeatable

Depending on how picky you are, you may save time on certain tasks like meal planning or party planning. If you like how a task is handled, you can make it a weekly one and be assigned the same assistant.

More details upfront gives better output

The more details and information you provide up front, the better the context your assistant has for the task. I completed a very detailed questionnaire when signing up for the service but I am not sure whether the assistants referenced that info at all. When I did provide details for specific tasks, they were considered.

Spend less time on the phone with customer service

One of the most infuriating things is to have to call somewhere to ask a question or schedule an appointment. Yohana seems to excel at some of the most time-wastey activities in your day. Is it sad that we would consider hiring someone to battle with the insurance company on the phone? If you have calendars you are able to share (I don’t, at least for our work calendars) then you can save time dealing with doctor’s offices and anyone who requires a phone call.

Unlimited to-do’s

According to the plan, you can have an unlimited number of to-dos that you assign to your assistants. Assuming that you can keep track of all the necessary amount of responses and the time required for all the back and forth.

Yohana Personal Assistant App Cons

Slow task turnaround

You aren’t allowed to put a task due sooner than 3 days out, and even the timelines you are given often change and get pushed out. You also can’t mark something “urgent”, but your Guide has the ability to help set priorities with your team.

Out of control notifications

The app itself is clean and simple, but doesn’t allow me to control which notifications I want to receive. So even the assistant’s “Thank you for the update.” response gave me a notification which looks like a red dot on my task indicating it is waiting on something from me to proceed. An app that is supposed to reduce mental load was adding to my stress. I ended up disabling notifications.

Random “team” of assistants of varying quality

The assistants, who I am to know by first name, would sometimes not update a task for at least a few days after accepting it. Then they would update status to let me know they received the task but would not update it for another day or two. Then I may get a question here or there. I was impressed by some of the tasks completed, but generally I felt like I was way too hands-on for most of the tasks. Ideally they would get to know me after a few months, this is what my Guide told me.

I can’t share approval or responsibility for tasks

I would like to be able to assign tasks to my husband too! I asked the assistant to help select some patio chairs that my husband would like, but he needed to be more involved in the selection process since he didn’t like the options the assistant found. I decided I didn’t want to be the middleman in this scenario. The app also doesn’t have the ability for you to have your partner in there as another identity or approver.

Security concerns

Supposedly the team uses a particular method to keep your personal information like calendars, passwords and credit cards secure. But I didn’t really get any explanation of how that is kept secure. So I didn’t trust the service enough to provide any of that information, which would have made the service more useful to me.

More app UI issues

The app put a character limit on my initial task description so that the only way to add more details is to wait until the task is submitted and add more comments and details. I wasn’t able to directly set the due date of tasks or update it. The webapp was more of an afterthought than the app itself, but I prefer to do more detailed work on my pc. Having a more functional webapp would help rather than forcing me to type a lot of things into the phone application.

Tasks Completed by Yohana Personal Assistant App

  • Find a charging plug holder and cargo net for my car
  • Suggest local locations for a date night
  • Suggest time of year and flight costs for Amsterdam and Germany (never asked any details about the trip to help narrow down best time of year)
  • Find a coworking space within 5-10 miles where I can work 5 days a month and host meetings
  • Find floor lamp and light fixture for our living room (he photoshopped them into room photo!)
  • Find a reclining outdoor chair for husband’s space in the yard (he didn’t like any of the suggestions)
  • Meal plan for one week of Noom diet, catering to family’s needs
  • Call a stadium to see if we can bring in stadium chairs (the stadium changed their policy on this overnight, incurring us $20 in locker fees)

Tasks Completed by AI Better

Note: The AI doesn’t do as well providing up-to-date links, often due to the lag between training dates and current date. Some info is not accurate.

  • Suggest itinerary for family in DC – Trip Advisor’s AI tool did a pretty good job at this, although you can’t refine your results
  • Provide a list of restaurants within walking distance
  • Summarize a webpage or an article, research a topic and provide links to sources
  • Create an outline for a blog post
  • Rewrite a headline
  • Compose an email
  • Most things that require immediate feedback or a feedback loop

Tasks Completed by Me Better

  • Bike Tour of DC Monuments
  • Hotel Selection, creation of Google Map and Itinerary with saved attractions and destinations
  • Learning from friends that Electric Scooters are the fun way to get around the city
  • Speak with concierge for suggestions on DC activities
  • Subsequent weeks of meal planning, more realistic
  • Be adorable and funny (wow, caught you reading till the end!)
author avatar
Mandy Career Coach
Mandy Steinhardt, a Raleigh career and life coach, empowers women to break free from "good girl" syndrome and reclaim their power. Through one-on-one coaching and supportive women's circles, she helps them heal from past hurts, rediscover their strength and beauty, and create a life filled with purpose and balance. Whether you're feeling lost or uninspired, she's here to guide you to the career, pay and lifestyle that is perfect for you.

3 Comments

  1. Ha! You did catch me reading to the end! What an interesting experience…I’m bummed it didn’t work out as well but at least AI was helpful!

    1. I am obsessed with experimentation so it was a learning experience. ? Thanks for commenting!

  2. As I read to the end, I realized your brain works exactly like mine does. We could be related. Unfortunately it didn’t work out for you, but fortunately for me, I now realize this service will probably not work for me either. Thank you for that.

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