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Tips and Tricks for October
Every month I will be doing a posting on timely tips and tricks. For the most part, these will be guided by the questions I run across from clients or while networking. In other words, if I have to dig out information, I’ll pass it along instead of having others need to look up the same information.
Scheduling multiple people. Okay — first I have to admit that I didn’t find this on my own. I found it on the blog at barrymoltz.com. Doodle is an easy scheduler. You create a poll, invite participants, and then confirm the date and time that the most people are available. Instead of having multiple emails flying back and forth, you can get all of the information in one place. And it’s free. The only question I have is, “Where was this when I was trying to arrange meetings for multiple professors when I worked at the University of Illinois?”
Emailing multiple people. Every now and then you’ll want to send the same email to more than one person. Some email programs allow you to do this automagically, but Google doesn’t have a “mail merge” button (like Microsoft Access does). However, if you know where to look, Google does have a way to do mail merge. This 8-minute video gives a clear step-by-step how to. (Thank you Anson Alexander).
Limit your reading time. There are quite a few blogs that I follow. I get resourceful and timely productivity tips from Evie Burke at One Insight Closer. As mentioned above, I find useful information at Barry Moltz’s blog. It would be nearly impossible to keep up with the social media industry without reading Social Media Examiner. There are others. But I do not have time to visit all the blogs I read every day. I do spend a few hours a week checking all the postings by using Feedly. It took a bit of organizing to group the information I read into different categories, but now I can take a few minutes to an hour with a cup of coffee and read all of my news or short bits of it.
Comparing email Services. There are many email service providers out there. I have used MailChimp and AWeber, but those are the only ones I have first hand experience with. I found this article from April 2013 (before the MailChimp change) that describes some of the providers.
“E-troducing” people. One way to be known as a person that is a valuable resource is to help connect people. You may often meet someone that you think would be a great client, provider, or power partner for another person (for instance, a realtor and a mortgage broker). I spent some time struggling with the right “formula” for doing email introductions. One day I decided that I was going to write a template for doing introductions, but (as I often do when trying to figure something out) I wondered if someone had already done this. I did a search and found a great article on the Forbes site about email introductions.
Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Doodle Saves Time (barrymoltz.com)
Create a Mail Merge with Gmail and Google Drive / Docs (YouTube.com)
Comparing email services: Aweber, iContact, ConstantContact, MailChimp, and MadMimi (changetheworldmarketing.com)
How to make the perfect email introduction (forbes.com)
Tips and Tricks for September
Every month I will be doing a posting on timely tips and tricks. For the most part these, will be guided by the questions I run across from clients or while networking. In other words, if I have to dig out information, I’ll pass it along instead of having others need to look up the same information.
Moving Outlook contacts to your phone. This simple YouTube video shows how to transfer Microsoft Outlook contacts from your computer to your Android phone using a free app called Wondershare MobileGo. There’s another YouTube video showing the same transfer with music. There is also an article in PCMag titled How to Sync Android with Microsoft Outlook. The article itself is over 18 months old; however, there are many great tips (some recent) in the comments. As I don’t use Outlook, I’ve never had to transfer contacts so I do not have first hand experience with these.
“Write” it down. As many productivity experts can tell you, having written lists is wonderful for keeping track of things. I discovered something else in the past month. Twice, when I was “writing” (well, once writing in pen on paper and once typing a question to one of my Google+ groups) something down, in the process of writing I discovered the answer to my question.
Multitasking. According to an article (must move laundry to the dryer) in MailOnline, women might not be (was that the door) better than men at multitasking. It seems our brain copes well with well-practiced routines (driving a car and listening to the radio) but some things need our entire focus.
Once I took my car in for repair and decided to take a walk in the neighborhood adjoining the repair shop. During this time I was texting my husband with reports on the car. I found I am not capable of walking and texting at the same time. I’m fairly proficient at either, but I cannot mix the two. (However, I’m perfectly capable of typing a blog post and drinking my coffee.)Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
It’s not just men who can’t multi-task: New research says women are just as bad at juggling tasks. (dailymail.co.uk)
What IS a “Virtual Assistant” anyway?
A virtual assistant is an independent contractor that provides administrative, creative, or technical services remotely.
There are many types of assistants, but for a moment let’s look to the dictionary:
a person employed to aid an executive, as in a corporate department, by coordinating such office services and procedures as the supervision, maintenance, and control of the flow of work and programs, personnel, budgeting, records, etc., for the entire department. (1)
a secretary or administrative to an individual (2)
As of this date, neither merriam-webster.com nor Dictionary.Reference.com has an “official” definition for a virtual assistant. One major difference between a virtual assistant and an administrative (or executive) assistant is that a virtual assistant does not work “in-house.” An entrepreneur (or solopreneur) does not need to have workspace available for this person and they do not need to pay a person for “down time,” or benefits. A virtual assistant does not work exclusively for one company or person, and thus might not be available at a moment’s notice. (However, most VAs know their schedule and can give a realistic time frame for any tasks.
For ideas, there is an informative article from Entrepreneur.com titled 10 Things to Outsource to a Virtual Assistant.
Some questions to ask yourself are:
- What tasks do I find overwhelming?
- What tasks do I find boring?
- Are there areas in my business on which I should focus? (As an entrepreneur, if you need to focus more in one area, perhaps you can hire someone to work on other areas).
- Are there areas in my business needing more attention that I need to outsource? (Admit it, that shoe box full of business cards would be more useful in an Access database or on an Excel spreadsheet).
- Do I have administrative tasks that I would like to delegate but don’t have the infrastructure to do so?
After all, we all need some help sometimes.
Image Courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
(1) administrative assistant. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc.
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/administrative+assistant?s=t (accessed: May 17, 2013)
(2) personal assistant. Dictionary.com Dictionary.com’s 21st Century Lexicon. Dictionary.com, LLC. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/personal+assistant?s=t (accessed: May 17, 2013)