Deserted Island Top 10 – A Professional Virtual Assistant Shares Her “Must Haves”

May 6 18:00 2005 Lori Davis Print This Article

Back in the day, when I was Lori “Computer Babe” Davis, I managed Microsoft and Novell LANs and WANs. I was constantly surrounded by high-level technologies and loved it! These days, my home office is on a much smaller scale and yet, I fully employ technology to make me happy and to make my life easier.

Submitted for your reading pleasure are Lori’s Top 10 I’m Trapped on a Deserted Island and I Do Have Electricity Must Haves. **

Microsoft Outlook

I L-O-V-E Outlook – one of the most important secrets of my success. I’m using the 2002 version while I contemplate the 2003 upgrade.

Outlook gives me all the tools I need and the three features I use most are e-mail,Guest Posting calendar and tasks. I manage e-mail accounts for numerous clients and Outlook makes it easy to setup and manage new accounts. In addition, Microsoft’s Signature facility is superb.

I use a third-party tool (see below) to help me manage calendars for my clients. Imagine having the ability to manage a client’s calendar who’s three time zones away. Trust me, it can be done!

Outlook’s Tasks folder helps me everyday, letting me know what’s due for that day and what I need to focus on in the future.

I use Outlook to manage my professional and personal lives, and the schedules for my clients.

Tools for the Home Team

Holy remote access, campers! 4Team has a great offering of products (http://shareoutlook.4team.biz/) that let you share Outlook with your clients.

I use Calendar4Outlook for a number of my clients and they’re amazed, and pleased, with the software’s functionality. Calendar updates are sent via e-mail and are applied automatically. No “click here to update” hassles. I see the client’s Calendar in real-time and book their appointments without having to call them to verify their schedule.

Invaluable tools which I encourage you to demo.

Believe the Skype Hype

Skype’s tagline says it all, “Skype is free Internet telephony that just works.” Checkout their site at http://www.skype.com. Skype is free (cool), easy to setup and even easier to use. Skype is internet telephony and an instant messaging package all in one.

I used Skype last year when I was recruiting Santas for the Desktop Santa project. I interviewed hundreds of Santas, some of whom were located in Canada and the United Kingdom. Could you imagine my phone bill if I had used a conventional telephone service to call the U.K. and Canada? I can and it’s a bill I’m not willing to pay! I used Skype to stay in touch with my Santas who were outside of CONUS (the continental United States).

If you’d like to test Skype, I’m more than happy to help! Feel free to contact me and we’ll test Skype together.

The Tank

I snub my nose at today’s keyboards -- they’re too small and they have no bounce-back. I’m sure there’s a technical term for “bounce-back,” I just don’t know what it is!

To the rescue comes my IBM keyboard, which I affectionately refer to as The Tank. The Tank is 20” wide, 8.5” in depth and jet black. The Tank is hefty -- I estimate it weighs approximately 10 pounds. The Tank’s claim to fame is that perfect bounce-back and tactile feel of the keys. I type very fast (120 WPM) and The Tank allows me maintain a fast typing speed.

I was lucky enough to find The Tank at a tag sale in San Francisco many years ago. The seller only wanted one buck for this beautiful piece of equipment. Can you believe it? An original IBM keyboard for $1.00. Score!

Hopefully The Tank will live forever so I don’t have to resort to using modern day keyboards!

No More Sliding at the PO

stamps.com is a fantastic tool and an incredible use of the Web. I login to my account, purchase and print postage for standard letters, postcards and special delivery packages.

The best part of using stamps.com is I no longer have to wait in line at my local Bronx post office, where my average wait time was nearly one hour. That’s a lost hour in my book – time which could be better spent working with my clients or snuffing out the competition.

Cool Timer (http://www.harmonyhollow.net/)

This little gem of a desktop timer is one of my fave freebies. I set the timer at the start of scheduled interviews, always setting the timer for 30 minutes. Cool Timer then bellows when time’s up. It’s free, it’s small and incredibly useful.

Just the Fax, Ma'am (All right ... I know it's an old joke!)

eFax gives me freedom – freedom from having yet another piece of equipment on my desk! In addition, the company’s monthly pricing is on par with what I would pay for a separate telephone line. You must scan hard copies of documents before faxing, but I do very little of that type of faxing, anyway. My outgoing faxes are either Word, PowerPoint or Excel documents.

Check them out at www.efax.com.

Funny Web Site Name; Great Little Tool

I love the “Memento” software from Guys with Towels (http://www.guyswithtowels.com/downloads.html). Little desktop sticky notes which I use to jot down fleeting thoughts and other ideas. Keep ‘em on your desktop or hide ‘em away when you’re done.

Must … Upload … Website

My FTP (file transfer protocol) software of choice is CuteFTP Professional by GlobalSCAPE. Easy to use and also loaded with enhanced capabilities. A girl’s gotta have a way to upload her site! See them on the web at http://www.globalscape.com.

Clip, Snip & Share

TechSmith’s (http://www.techsmith.com/) SnagIt is a fab-u-lous screen capture utility. SnagIt allows me to capture a wide variety of things, include text, images and web pages. The program is super easy to setup and use, as well.

I hope I’ll never be stranded on a deserted island – truth is, I’m afraid of deep water! In the unlikely event I’d ever have to run my business from an island, I’ll need to ensure I’ve got my top 10 tools handy and ready to go!

I’d love to hear from you. What are the tools you simply cannot live without?

All products and names are trademarks of their respective company.

Copyright 2005 Lori Davis. All rights reserved.

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About Article Author

Lori Davis
Lori Davis

Lori Davis is Director of the Future at Davis Virtual Assistants, a New York-based VA firm. To learn more about Lori and DavisVA, please visit http://www.davisva.com and http://davisva.blogspot.com. You may contact Lori at 917.319.8224 and via e-mail at lori@davisva.com.

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