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Kathy

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Staying Productive Using Technology

Hello Everyone! I hope you’re all having a great day. Our weather is wreaking havoc on my chronic conditions and as such I’m forced to stay in bed. I’m grateful for all the wonderful technology that is available that allows you to work even if you’re not able to get to the office – or home office!

Kathy’s Bed Desk

First, I start with the fastest internet I can get. In my area, we really only have one choice, Xfinity. I don’t like how much they charge but I do like the reliability. I no longer have their TV or digital voice packages so that helps. (I use Hulu and some Prime channels to make up the difference).

Next, to get the fastest wifi possible throughout my house – or you can use it in an office environment – I have the Orbi Wifi Mesh system, with the router and two satellites. We really love it, and the range is amazing, I have no issues even in the Treehouse Office, or the studio, it is a great product by NetGear.

Next, for remote working from bed, I log into my desktop upstairs using SplashTop by LogMeIn.com I can easily manage not only my computers but my clients’ as well. They even have mobile apps for logging in from your phone or tablet. I have used their service for many years and it just keeps getting better.

For ambiance, and to provide a bit of background noise so my tinnitus doesn’t scream at me so much and make me dizzy, I keep a crackling fireplace video going on the TV. There are a number of videos that are included in Amazon Prime, and I’ve included the link. This is perfect for winter, but for summer I like the streams, rivers and so on. And I’m a huge fan of the Smithsonian Channel’s Ariel America – I’ve probably seen every episode multiple times.

Now, for the desk, I use a simple bed desk I got from Amazon – with adjustable legs – this is important because some days you might want to snuggle with a puppy and they need a bit more room 🙂 My kids are constantly wanting under the desk, and under the blankets – which cheers me up immensely. I got the basic one made of bamboo with a fan built in that I can plug into the power strip. But now I’m thinking I need to have a bit more oomph for it, so I’ve put this one in my cart to “think about”. It is much more than the one I have currently in that it has adjustable height and tilting top, but I’m not sure I really need that. I might just look for things I can clip to the one I have.

See? You CAN work and be somewhat immobile. Or in the middle of a pandemic and being forced to work from home (which I’ve been doing since 1996 by the way). and it can still be comfortable and productive. Having worked from home for so long, I’ll never go back to a traditional office.

Best wishes to everyone and I pray you stay healthy and safe!

In all transparency, if you click on one of my links (except the search results links) I’ll get a bit of a commission. 🙂

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Crazy World

Good morning. I was just reflecting on what a crazy world we live in now. We are in the middle of a pandemic, have corruption and chaos running rampant throughout our government, and people are losing their businesses, jobs, and homes. It’s a bleak time.

People are scared, angry, confused – I admit, I am too.

So, I’m doing something about my fears. I’m confronting those things I have control over. Yes, it’s a nuts world right now. But I don’t have to feel afraid of it. I’m turning off the news. I’m going to watch my local morning report which isn’t as politically motivated, nor as fear-mongering as national news. No, I wasn’t happy about the election results but since I can’t control it or change those results, I’m not going to listen to it anymore.

Yesterday, I was on Facebook and had their stupid “election results” alert popped on almost everything I read – which was maddening. So, we know that social media is manipulating what people see, censoring our thoughts, so… I won’t have anything to do with it other than business. If it’s personal, I’m keeping it off Facebook.

I choose to focus on the positive. I choose to be happy with my life. I choose to find joy in everyday things. I choose to be grateful.

You should too. Make a plan. Take a walk (where possible). Play with your kids, your pets. Talk over the fence (socially distancing of course!) with your neighbors. Read a good book. Watch a movie. Cook something new. Plant something. But turn off the negativity by turning off the news. If it’s relevant to you, you’ll probably get an alert on your phone. You don’t need to be glued to the news outlets. They have lied and spread fear for long enough.

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What I’ve Learned After 23 Years in Business

Peaceful Treehouse Office

Or should I say what I haven’t learned?!?

I’ve learned that time management doesn’t mean juggling multiple things at once. I’ve discovered that with few exceptions, multi-tasking doesn’t work. When I’m working on a project for a client and have the timer going, I can’t just keep it going when I’m interrupted with another task, or call. It all stops one timer and starts another.

The ONLY exception I know of is to be on hold for a client and working on a task for another client. In that case, that’s a quick multitask since you’re listening for the person on the other end of the phone to come back. The illusion of multitasking drives me crazy. I might sometimes give off the impression I’m multi-tasking but I’m really just moving from one project to another in quick succession.

I’ve learned I have swiss cheese memory and if I don’t write it down, or set a task (and REMINDER) in Todoist, I will completely forget it. I like that set-it-and-forget-it method. I like running through my to do list completeted items and realize how much got done. (Or not!)

I’ve learned to take breaks. Quick trips out of the office for a couple of days at a time are wonderful for a fast recharge. I’ve learned to not deny myself time away from the office. I’ve also learned to pack the laptop in case of client emergencies – which makes them and I feel better about being away. I cherish my time away now as much as I cherish this business I built and nurtured from the infancy of the virtual assisting industry I helped forge, to where it is today.

I’ve learned to cherish my clients as well. I have clients I’ve been working with for nearly twenty years and some that are relative newcomers with only a couple years of time in. My clients are loyal and my client turnover is low. We work together seamlessly and I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for them. When its time to retire – IF I ever decide to! – I will hand them off to trusted professionals I’ve personally trained to do my clients’ work.

But honestly, I can’t see myself retiring for some time. In this business, I can literally be anywhere there is a connection and work. My husband and I can be on vacation and if I schedule in a couple work days here and there I can do both vacation and handle my client needs. For the most part, I still have some who have in person needs (bank deposits, or mail handling) and for those I’ll enlist the help of someone local.

I’ve learned to relish the workday because it gives me purpose. I am a person with chronic illnesses for which working remotely is ideal. Because of this, I’ve learned to tolerate my illnesses, and work through them, and with them. I no longer feel inadequate or that I’m a burden.

Hilltop's Office Helpers
Office Helpers

I’ve learned to appreciate my little ‘helpers’ Mac & Ginger. Their need for little ‘walkies’ has assured me that I have a break – or several – during the day. Rain or shine, Winter or summer, I get to get outside and breath the fresh air.

I’ve learned that freedom is everything. Freedom to work the way I want, and where I want. I can be in the office, at the dining table, sick in bed, or my favorite place in the spring, summer and fall, in the Treehouse Office. Where I live I am surrounded by beauty and tranquility. Yes I can hear my neighbors doing lawn work, but most often its the sounds of nature and breezes through the trees. Its magical.

And one of the last things that I’ve learned, is who I am. It’s only taken a lifetime but now I know I’d never change a thing.

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Website Up-down-around…

How often do you check your website? How often should we be checking our websites? This was brought home to me with a bump recently and it made me realize I don’t check it nearly often enough!

I have a curated newsletter that runs every day and is fed to my website (Social & News Bytes). I’ve had this newsletter for years and have only had issues after major updates on WordPress or when I had to make my site https compatible (Thanks Google). So I don’t often check it…

Well, today, it published as usual and I was notified by a tweet that the site appeared to be broken, and the newsletter had no content. Major heart squeeze – what happened?!? It turned out to be an easy fix but it certainly brought to mind the need to check on the website much more frequently.

My plan, going forward is to set up alerts to let me know when my website is down and when it’s back up. I also plan to check weekly for relevant links, outdated content, spam comments (I get notices when there’s a comment but if I see its spam I just let it go until legit ones come in and take care of them then), bad links, updates, and especially after major updates I plan on checking everything right away!

So, thanks to the person who alerted me – I really appreciated it! And I’m on it!

Have a great rest of your day folks! ~Kathy

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The Password "Book"

The Password “Book” I have this book of passwords, logins and so on, I’ve actually gone through several, and this is my latest one. [caption id="attachment_915" align="alignnone" width="300"]Kathy's 'Book' Kathy’s ‘Book’[/caption] This is also my last book like this one.  I can’t believe its taken me over 20 years to get my logins and passwords all organized.  I mean, the other was ok, just put a rubber band on it and throw it in the safe and you’re good to go. But, ugh!, it was a beast to manage. Every new ‘key’ or login was stuffed in there wherever it would fit. Finding anything was a chore.  I would have to do a task and suddenly realize I don’t remember the password, or it wasn’t in the digital manager yet, so I’d have to wade through pages and pages of logins and passwords to find what I needed – hence all the stickie notes and flags!  It was very frustrating to page through the old book when you’re on the phone trying to get something done with a client. So, over the past few days I have revamped my ‘book’. Its still small enough to fit in the safe, but its now arranged by alphabet, and each client has their own sheet(s).  It works so much better now! Its still the 5.5 x 8.5 size, so it fits where I want it, it has a built in pocket for holding notes I haven’t categorized yet, and I used an old set of contacts tabs from my DayTimer , with notes pages.  I love it, I feel so organized now! For those of you who are yelling at me from afar and saying, “Digital password manager!!!” well, I have one of those too, but, its always a good idea to have a paper backup. wp_20160927_16_11_29_rich wp_20160927_16_12_15_rich I’m so proud of myself – it only took 20+ years!! :-)]]>

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