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!
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. 🙂
I found FileCenter Professional and I love it! Once I started using it I immediately recognized how perfect it was for my situation and have never looked back. I uninstalled that ‘other software’ and waved bye-bye. Its easy to scan, file, rename, append, prepend, scan to OCR, edit pdf’s, email files, and so much more! Plus you can scan your entire system and replace the File Explorer with FileCenter. LOVE IT! Organizing your computer files is now a dream! [caption id="attachment_927" align="alignnone" width="300"] FileCenter Pro screenshot[/caption] Its so helpful to be able to edit PDF files right in FileCenter – and open Microsoft files in their native programs. Its an amazing system and I’m still finding out more things I like about it. https://www.youtube.com/embed/PuPuhDLlDNE?autoplay=1&rel=0&showinfo=0
Effortless Collaboration with Shared Folders Managing a project that requires a lot of back and forth of files is a harrowing experience. Email works for the first round or maybe two, but after that, it quickly gets out of control. You’re working on version “c” while your client is already on version “e” and soon important revisions and notes are lost. A better way to work from a single document is to simply add files to a shared folder. This way, as you or your client make changes, they’ll appear in real-time, leaving no doubt about which version anyone has, or what changes were made when. There are several players in the folder sharing market, making it easy to find one that will work not only for you but for your clients as well. Dropbox A favorite in the shared folder race is Dropbox. The simple setup and generous amount of free storage space (2GB) make this a top choice for many people even if sharing files isn’t on their minds. If you work from multiple computers, need access to files on your mobile phone or iPad, or just want the extra security of knowing your important documents are backed up in “the cloud” then Dropbox is a good option. The free version includes 2GB of storage space, which is plenty to get you started, but you can earn more space by Tweeting about Dropbox, referring friends, and connecting other applications. You can also upgrade to 100GB for around $10 per month. Google Drive Not surprisingly, Google has its own document sharing system. Formerly Google Docs, Drive now operates similar to Dropbox in that you can view your files in a folder on your computer. However, opening a file requires a web browser and the use of Google Apps. If you want to edit a spreadsheet in Excel, you’ll have to download it first. Google Drive offers more free space than Dropbox does, starting out with 5GB. Upgrades are less expensive as well, with 100GB available for just $5 per month, compared to Dropbox’s $10 fee. One noteworthy difference between Dropbox and Google Drive is how files are stored. With Dropbox, files exist both on your computer and in the cloud, meaning you can work on them without an internet connection. As soon as Dropbox detects a change to a document, it syncs the new version with that on the Dropbox server. If you and your client are both working on a file at the same time, this can result in a “conflicted copy” showing up in your Dropbox. Google Drive is different in that only one copy of each file exists. When you’re working on a file, you’re actually editing that file on Google’s server. You can see this in action if you have a file open that your client is working on – you’ll be able to watch as she makes changes. There are a variety of other file sharing services available as well, and chances are your clients will have their own preferences, so you’ll likely use several in your business. But to start out, Dropbox and Google Drive offer a simple solution for collaborating with others, or just sharing files between computers.]]>
Plan Your Time More Effectively With Shared Calendars We’ve all been there—stretched too thin, with more work than we have time, and suddenly an important deadline is missed. And if you’re a busy VA with lots of clients, that might happen more than you like, unless you have a trusted system for tracking due dates. Google has the answer for you: Shared calendars. All Your Important Appointments in One Place Few things are a bigger time-suck than having to check and reconcile multiple calendars and apps just to see what’s on task for the day. When clients use different project management systems to record their deadlines, it can be challenging to remember to log in and check on your due dates. But Google calendars synchs with any app that creates an iCal feed, so you can easily “subscribe” to your task lists and have them appear all in one place. Not only that, but by sharing a calendar with clients, you can see what projects and appointments they have in the works as well, so you can plan accordingly. If your client is presenting at a telesummit, for example, you’ll know ahead of time and can keep that in mind when scheduling her social media or creating blog posts. Time Blocking Ensures Critical Work is Completed On Time Aside from knowing what’s on everyone’s schedule for the coming days and weeks, a calendar is a fantastic tool to help ensure all your important work is done. By setting aside time in your day to actually complete projects using a system known as time blocking, you’ll know exactly when you can get to that next project. No more guesswork or late nights trying to catch up when you overbook yourself. Time blocking works by actually setting appointments with yourself. If you have a project to complete, and you know it will take you two hours to do, you make an appointment. The key though, is that these appointments are sacred. You cannot use time blocking as a suggestion, you have to treat it as an unbreakable appointment, otherwise it becomes just background noise that you’ll ignore. Set your “appointments” with a reminder (either a pop-up or an email) and you will never have to ask yourself “What’s next?” You will always know, and you’ll find that you’re much more productive and efficient, too. Access Anywhere for On-the-Go Productivity Not in your office? No problem. Google calendars are available at any time from any of your devices, so you’ll always know what’s happening. Unlike printed planners, you won’t have to remember to take it with you, you can’t lose it, and you can check appointments and tasks not only for yourself but your clients as well, no matter where you are. A calendar is a basic tool that every productive virtual assistant should master. Sharing calendars with your clients will make your job easier (and make you a superstar in their eyes), but you have to make use of it. Getting in the habit of using a calendar can be a challenge. If you’re not accustomed to it, then make it a point to check your calendar first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Set reminders for yourself if necessary, until it becomes a habit. You’ll soon find that you truly cannot live (or work) without your calendar.]]>
Keep Your Mind Active Even when I feel my worst, I find it is helpful to keep my mind active. If I’m not up to being physically active I will research my hobbies for new information, or research new herbal remedies (and no, I haven’t found one to help me yet but I’m researching that too!), or study techniques for photography. Learn New Things In an effort to keep my mind off my illnesses I’ve been learning how to work with wood. I’m not great yet but I’m loving it. I’ve created a beautiful entryway cabinet, boxes and cutting boards. I don’t care if its wood burning or constructing something – its been so beneficial in helping to keep my mind active and off my pain and it helps me to feel more productive. Exercise When You’re Able I mean, use common sense… if you’re dizzy, don’t get on the treadmill and go hog wild – you could injure yourself! However, if you’re able, mild exercise is an excellent way to help your mind – and your pain. Exercise releases endorphin’s which are a natural pain reliever, and it helps your heart too. Reach Out When you’re living with chronic illnesses it can be very isolating because getting out can be difficult. I am a huge letter writer with pen pals around the world so I spend hours each month corresponding – actual ink to paper – with friends. I joined Facebook support groups which have been very beneficial because I know I’m not alone. Reaching out- whichever way you choose – decreases feelings of being alone and improves your outlook. Ask for Help If you find that you can’t shake your depression – which is very common in chronic illness patients – ask for help! Depression is an illness and can be treated. Don’t feel you need to be strong every moment. Thanks, and be well, Kathy ]]>