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5 Top Remote Working Tools

by Tracey Lawton, Online Business Development Strategist

One of the many requests I get from business owners is asking me for my advice on how they can work productively when they’re not in their office, i.e. work remotely. With so many technology choices available today it becomes overwhelming knowing which one(s) are the most effective.

I have the traditional solo service professional office set up – I have a dedicated office space in my home with a desktop PC and wireless all-in-one printer.  But there are times when I don’t want to, or can’t be, in my office and still need to be able to work.  Lately I have been doing a lot of travelling in my business but still want to stay connected to my clients and business.  And sometimes I just need a change of scene, especially when the weather is starting to get so nice it’s lovely to be able to sit outdoors and work off my laptop.

So today I’d like to share with you my top five remote working tools that allow me to get out of my office but still have access to all my “stuff” as though I’m sat in my office.

1.  Gmail – I’m a die-hard Outlook fan and really don’t like the Gmail setup; however for when I can’t be in my office but still need access to my emails and calendar, Gmail is a great way for me to access that information.  When I go away I forward all my emails on to my Gmail account; and I have found this neat tool that syncs my Outlook calendar with my Gmail calendar so that I always have up-to-date access to my schedule.  And I’m also able to access my Gmail email and calendar from my Droid smartphone too, which is another great way for me to stay connected and on top of my schedule.

2. Dropbox – in case you haven’t come across this yet, this is a great service for sharing files between say your desktop PC and your laptop without having to copy from your PC to a flashdrive, and then from the flashdrive to your laptop.  The Dropbox software adds an additional folder to your PC/laptop that you simply drop your files into and you can access from any PC that has the Dropbox software installed.  You can also log in to your account online and access your files from there too.

I also use this service with my clients so that they have access to all of their files too.

3. TeamViewer – I have my husband to thank for this neat piece of software!  This allows me to access my desktop PC from any other PC exactly as if I were sat at it. For example, if I decide I want to go and sit on the deck to work, I simply take my laptop with me and connect it to my desktop using TeamViewer – and I can access EVERYTHING as though I were sat at my desktop.

4. Skype – for years my ‘office’ number has been a SkypeIn number.  This means that I can forward this number on to my cell phone, or install Skype’s software on my laptop, and I’m able to make/receive calls exactly as if I were sat in my office.

5. MiFi – if you’re travelling and you’re in an area that doesn’t have Internet access a MiFi is a mobile wireless router, provided through your cell phone carrier, which allows you to connect to the Internet from anywhere that has a cell phone signal.

So, with all of these tools available to you to enable efficient and productive remote working, these days you can run your business from just about anywhere!

Online Business Development Strategist, Tracey Lawton, teaches online solo service professionals how to create the essential online marketing and office organization systems needed so that they can create a more streamlined, systemized, and automated online business. Check out http://www.officeorganizationsuccess.com for fr.ee how-to articles, resources, tips, and tools, and sign up for your fr.ee “Office Organization Success Toolkit”.

Are We Fooling Ourselves?

 

Do you ask for advice when you already know the answer?  We all do at times. Instead, we should focus on taking the first step in doing what we already know. One step in the right direction is better than having one more conversation about why we aren’t doing what we know to do.

Most of us have become people who value the knack of “fooling ourselves.” 

We believe our own excuses that we continue to tell ourselves about “why” we haven’t done many of the things we hold dear to our life.

We have all fooled ourselves into believing that we are missing another piece of essential information to make us more money, more time, more resources, more information, more support and the list goes on and on.  

Do we find it?  Generally NO.  We find a ton of information but not just the right piece…so, we continue searching.

We already know the information but have not moved into action.

What do you already know? What first step can you take today?

Stop fooling yourself!  The answers are within you.  Now take the steps to get into action!

Small Business Can Have BIG Headaches

 After Tax Season, I wanted to lighten it up a bit!  I need a laugh…hope you do to.

Entrepreneurs put in some “crazy” hours, don’t we?  Somehow, those 1440 beautiful moments we have in a day weren’t supposed to be like this.  Some days, we can’t even remember our own name.  The other morning, I went to make my coffee and I’m not kidding you…opened the refrigerator door expecting a hand to offer me my already made hot cup of coffee.  Ok, I was really tired but it was so real, I actually stood there and waited.  When nothing showed up, I finally shut the door and made my own.  I am sure you have had days that start off like that too. 

Having your own company is like having a newborn child.  There is never enough time to sleep.  Just like a newborn’s stomach is always hungry; entrepreneur’s brains are always thinking of something that has to be done.  We have to focus on: a new product launch; an article that needs a new slant, a tough client that took out their bad day on you (that one lingers way too long in our mind.)

If you are a write for a living, you understand how little time there is in a day.  Good writing takes time.  Blogs take time.  Quality takes time.  Communication takes time.  Social media takes time.  Information gathering takes time.  Research takes time.  Surveys take time.  Reading takes time.  Scheduling takes time.  Ok, you understand.  It is a time-consuming process.  A process we writers generally enjoy… as crazy as that sounds.  It is our contribution to the world, whether the world is ready for it or not.

Writers need an audience.  It doesn’t have to be large, although that is nice, we just need one person every once in a while that appreciates what we write.  We are not ego maniacs; quite the opposite, in fact.  We work for morsels of compliments and continue to write even when we receive none.  We forge through writers block…eventually.  We are like small children with abusive parents (except the abuse can come from our audience) throwing out a compliment now and then…We are insecure and shy, trying to write for an audience that may or may not be there tomorrow, awaiting for that  glimmer of “niceness” to come our way.

There must be some form of masochism in our core.

Mentors: The One Person You Need for Small Business

 

We all know we can’t go it alone in business.  We need the ability of others to help us through the ups and downs of our business.  We need help with a variety of things.  We need someone to tell us, “it will be okay” when things are not going well.  We all have drama moments.  We also need them to tell us if something sucks so we don’t go down that road, or at least help us see that it sucks and show us another path.

Here are five things a mentor can do for you and your business

1.)     A mentor can help you through your “drama moments” when your business day seems too heavy to carry alone.  This doesn’t happen often but when it does, you may need to hear a real voice instead of the one in your head.

2.)    If you have been lucky enough to have found a mentor that lives in your area, the mentor is invaluable when you are doing something new.  They remind you of all your successes and give you the perspective that you need. 

3.)    If something you are doing sucks for your business, they tell you.  They are your accountability partner in your business.  If you are doing something that goes against your core values, they have the tough conversation with you instead of allowing you to self-sabotage your business or yourself.

4.)    A mentor can save you time.   Time is one thing we could all use more of in small business.  Mentors are business people to and their experience is invaluable when it comes to saving yourself some time.

5.)    A mentor can also be your cheerleader and help when it comes to marketing your company; helping you grow into the leader you want you are.

Mentors want you to succeed; they help you be better than you think you are.  They can help you balance your life better.  We all need help with that now and then.  One of the biggest joys of having a mentor is that they can help you find the best medicine; laughter.  We all need more of that in our lives and it is the glue that holds relationships together.

Nurturing the Inner Critic for Your Writer’s Block

Many writers have suffered needlessly from writer’s block.  If you are a writer and have cleverly avoided “the block”, chances are at some point, the block will find a way in.  Most of us have experienced the block many times, and have dug ourselves deeper in the fear cave than we ever thought possible.

Insecurity

We all have the inner voice that tells us that we are not good enough, smart enough, or capable enough to writing something for publication.  The truth is; we are all capable of doing anything.  We can write well when we put our minds to it.  Think about this for a second.  In our past, when we have put our minds to doing something, doesn’t it get done?  Of course it does!  Writing is no different than any other accomplishment in your life.

Problem solved

Our brain is wired so that we give it a problem and the brain solves it.  Sometimes, it takes a while and we get impatient but the brain works on solving the problem day and night until it is resolved. The brain wasn’t always as good at solving issues. With anything we do, the more we do it the better we get.  Practice, practice, practice.  We have the power to get better therefore making it easier to talk with our inner critic.

Need for the inner critic

Squelching the inner critic is not the goal.  We all need the inner critic to help us with our writing but only after we put the words down on paper and need to edit the writing.  Without the critic, we would not be able to edit our writing and make it clear to our audience.  Our goal is to be heard and understood by the reader.  Our audience is important to us as writers. 

Summary Exercise

One exercise that might help you is to learn to write a quick outline of an idea with a few main points you want to cover in the article, while you are thinking of it.  You may never have to stare needlessly for hours at a white screen, waiting for inspiration.  Most ideas come when you are writing something else; something unrelated or when you are not writing.  A voice recorder might also help.  They are portable and you never know when an idea may creep into your thoughts.  It may become more valuable than your cell phone and it is just as easy to carry.

If you try this exercise of doing an outline for your article, I would love to hear how well it worked for you.  Please leave a comment.  If you have “tricks” you use, please share them in the comment section.

Time Management: 3 Things a Freelance Writer Can Do for You Right Now

“The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.”
-Elbert Hubbard (1856 – 1915)

We wear all kinds of hats when we are in Business for ourselves, don’t we?  Do you find some things are time consumers?  You know the things that are energy drainers and you just can’t get started?  Is the task something that can be “delegated” to someone who makes the task seem easy?  Is that worth your investment in time to find them? There are people in the world that love to do what you hate to do.   We all have things that take us more time than we feel they should, when running a business.  Instead of putting them off, tackling them yourself and spending countless hours trying to figure it out yourself, find someone who has the knowledge and loves to do the task. Perhaps your business will work like a well oiled machine once again. 

Here are three time – consuming things that a freelance writer can do for you today:

1.)     Update your website – Websites can be a large part of your business.  Updates are continually being made to make websites more “user friendly” for your customers.  Freelance Writers are less expensive than web designers and can save you thousands of dollars a month; not to mention time and headaches

2.)    Web content – For a majority of the websites, the content can changed hourly, daily, monthly.  It is a huge time investment.  Many freelance writers can give you updated content specific to your field in a matter of days; sometimes hours.  Many times, freelance writers can provide you with content so you can change website content yourself every few months.

3.)    Proofreading – If all you need is another set of eyes to proofread, a freelancer can be that person.  They can also provide white papers (informational papers on your business), press releases, blog information, tweets promoting your business on twitter, or email auto responder’s to help grow your business. 

 

Delegate in Business

In business, we must be able to delegate things that are time-consuming for us.  If you hate writing, perhaps a freelance writer is right for you.  It is a time-consuming process that some people enjoy. There are many things that must be done daily when running a business; why do the parts you don’t enjoy if you know someone who enjoys them and you can move on to the tasks you do enjoy?

It could be that you feel you have to do all the work or it won’t get done.  Who else is going to do it if you don’t? You have a solo business.  The funny part of such thinking is that you are spending so much time on tasks that are actually wasting your time.  If you do not enjoy a particular task or the task takes more time than infinity, it is a waste of your valuable time.  There are virtual assistants out there, virtual bookkeepers and freelance writers that you can hire once you are comfortable with delegating the task.

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