Work at Home Life

Virtual Assistants, Joining Forces, and Reinventing Work At Home

Create Friend Lists in Facebook March 15, 2010

This weekend, I just started putting my friends in friend lists on Facebook. (You may need to be logged into Facebook for some of these links to work.)

Why should you take advantage of Facebook friend lists?

Business 2.0 Fan Page on Facebook

Click Image to Enlarge

You have a lot of friends from a lot of places. The next time you want to share a link or a video, you can share with one specific group of your friends and not bother the others with info that doesn’t interest them. This especially helps for those of us who get a lot of our business on Facebook.

Once you get your lists in place, you can:

Send out an email to all of your friends in a list

Invite your list of friends to an event, group, or Facebook fan page. For a Facebook fan page, click on suggest to friends, then choose the filter to find the list you’d like to suggest to. See Picture. ->

And be assured that more targeted sharing technology will be utilized in the future.

Familiarize yourself with this technology now!

How to Add Friends to a Facebook Friend List

  1. Login to
  2. Go to “Accounts” in the top right corner
  3. Go down to “Edit Friends
  4. Click on “Friends” under Lists
    facebook friends
  5. Then you should see an alphabetical list of all of your friends in the middle section. It should look similar to the following:

  6. Click on the “Add to List” button and put them in a list!
  7. I just added Jen and Kena to my “Virtual Assistants” and “Virtual Business Owners” lists.

What to Name Your Facebook Friend Lists

You can have up to 100 lists and up to 1000 people in a list. These are some examples of list names you may want to consider:

  • Just Facebook Friends (Perhaps you’ve never met them IRL…yet.)
  • Church Friends (If you’ve ever made friends with someone at church.)
  • High School
  • College
  • Geeks not all of my friends are as excited about the new techie geeky stuff that I am. 🙂 So it’s good to filter that stuff out for them.
  • Virtual Assistants (If you have a lot of VA friends.)
  • Farmville Friends (Yeah, on the weekends I am seriously a Farmville junkie and I am working it out so that not all my friends have to deal with my Farmville pop ups about how I found a lost cow and it needs to be adopted. LOL – only Farmville people will understand or appreciate that! It’s still a work in progress.)

If you are part of a club, list your friends who are part of it too. If you have had lots of different summer jobs, and kept in touch with friends you’ve made, remember where you met them, etc.

*Note: Don’t create a list called “annoying people” or “party animals” unless your friends are ok with being known as that. Your friends can see your lists and who is in them. You can hide your lists, but why risk losing friends because you created a Facebook friend list called: “losers”?

When to Start Grouping Friends

Even if you only have 10 friends so far, you can and should start creating lists right away. Start putting new friends in lists when you accept their friend request.

If you want to start your own virtual assistant list on Facebook, you can add the writers of this blog: Amber Whitener, Jennifer Gallaher, and Kena Roth.


Helpful Microsoft Outlook Tips February 24, 2010

Filed under: Organization Tips,Virtual Office Tools,Work at Home — Jennifer Gallaher - VAbyJen @ 5:32 pm
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So, I am loving Microsoft Outlook again.  Since things are getting pretty booked up around my house, I thought it best to start utilizing this wonderful program again.  Only this time, I am determined to use more of the features Outlook has to offer.  This way, I can coordinate both my home life appointments along with my professional appointments.  And….I can add all the love to-do tasks that need accomplishing.  😉

For now, I thought I would share a few tips I found, and have actually used, on how to make life easier when using Outlook.

Creating/Using Email Template in Outlook

  • To save an email message as a template in Outlook:
    • Create a new message and enter the subject and content as usual.
    • In Outlook 2007, click the Office button and select Save As.
    • In Outlook 2003, select File | Save As from the menu.
    • Select Outlook Template under Save as type, in the Save As dialog.
    • Type the desired template name under File name.
    • Click Save.
  • To compose a message using the new template:
    • In the Outlook Inbox, select Tools | Forms | Choose Form from the menu.
    • Select User Templates in the File System under Look In.
    • Double-click the desired message template.
    • Address, edit or change verbiage if needed, then send.

Importing Contacts from Excel or a CSV File into Outlook

  • To import contacts from a CSV file or from Excel into Outlook:
    • Select File | Import and Export from the menu in Outlook.
    • Make sure Import from another program or file is highlighted.
    • Click Next.
    • Now make sure Comma Separated Values (.CSV) is selected.
    • Click Next.
    • Use the Browse button then select the desired file.
    • Choose Do not import duplicate items.
    • Click Next.
    • Select the Outlook folder you want to import the contacts to. Normally, this will be your Contacts folder.
    • Click Next.
    • Click Map Custom Field.
    • Make sure all columns from the .CSV file are mapped to the desired Outlook address book fields.
    • You can also create new mappings by dragging the column title to the desired field.
    • Click OK.
    • Then, Finish.

Creating an Email Signature in Outlook

  • Create an Email Signature in Outlook:
    • Select Tools | Options from the menu in Outlook.
    • Go to the Mail Format tab.
    • Click Signatures under Signatures.
    • Click New.
    • Create a name for this signature.
    • You can also set up different signatures for different purposes, like a specific one for work emails and one for personal emails.  Just make sure you name them accordingly so you can choose the correct signature when creating the email.
    • Click Next.
    • Then type the text you would like to see for your email signature.
    • This is also where you would format the font itself, the font size and color of text.
    • You can also select your business card to add under vCard options.
    • Click Finish.
    • Then, OK.

As I continue to re-learn Outlook and find more useful tips, I will share them with all of you.  I encourage you to try these tips for yourself and share any new ones that you may have found.  Let’s help each other become more organized!

Helpful Microsoft Outlook Tips

8 Organizational Tips For Your Home Office February 3, 2010

Filed under: Organization Tips,Work at Home — Jennifer Gallaher - VAbyJen @ 5:24 pm
Tags: ,

I am always on the quest for finding ways, whether they be new ways or old standby ways, of working smarter, not harder for my home business.  In doing some research, I came across a goldmine of information that not only seemed simple enough to put into motion for myself, but also worth sharing.  I have outlined ten (10) organizational tips below that I think are not only important, but easy enough to incorporate into your daily routine. 

  1. Don’t mix business and pleasure.  Don’t keep household paperwork other personal items where they can distract you. Blending business and personal work at your desk is usually distracting rather than efficient.  This is one that I personally have to contend with on a daily basis because my office is on the main floor of my house.  I have to constantly remind not only my husband, but myself, that to-do’s for work do not go in the same area as to-do’s for the household.
  2. Determine your goals.  Before you start anything, determine your goal or goals for the day and remember to set mini-goals and reward yourself for your successes.  This is a tough one for me, however, the more I get into the habit of opening up my calendar each morning to see what appointments have already been set, the easier it gets for me to plan out my day or set goals for the day.
  3. Determine your best time for tasks.  Use your most productive time to do your most productive work. Tackle your most difficult, important work during the time of day when you’re at your best and you’re most likely to complete it.  I tackle any large or in-depth projects after my son goes down for a nap.  This way it’s quiet and there are no distractions.
  4. Open your planner or turn on your PDA and place it on your desk. Use it to keep track of to-dos, follow-ups and ideas.  I utilize Gmail for both my calendar as well as any tasks.  It’s always open for me to reference back to throughout the day and I put keep both personal as well as professional all on one (1) calendar.  This helps eliminate double-booking.
  5. Keep a spiral notebook by the phone for messages and notes. Write your voicemail messages in it as well as any reference notes for your upcoming call.  I have at least one on my desk at all times and a spare close by if needed.  I also make sure to have a notebook handy if I know I will be working away from my desk for a period of time.
  6. Create forms for everyday tasks.  For example, type up your own Fax Transmittal Form that includes your name, company name and other pertinent information. Make copies and leave them by your fax machine for efficient and effective communication.  Better yet, create a template instead and print out only when needed.  Why waste paper and additional space?
  7. Develop false deadlines.  Record your deadline (due-date) at least four days earlier. This should give you enough of a window to avoid last-minute completions as well as any unexpected happenings that may occur.  This is where planning and task management come into play.  Get out your planners, calendars, or PDA’s and start scheduling those due dates pronto!
  8. Take ten minutes at the end of each day to keep your desk organized. Place tomorrow’s top priority project in the center of your desk. You’re ready for anything!  Since I work primarily off of a laptop, I place my most important “must-do” projects on top of it, once I am done for the day.  It’s a constant reminder for me of what is due the next day.

If you would like to further your own research on organizing your home office, check these sites out.  They were most helpful!


Wonderful Book Review-Part 2 January 20, 2010

I have currently been reading a book called, “Making Work at Home Work” by Mary M. Byers.  Last week I wrote about Part 1-Saving Your Sanity.  This week I will be discussing Part 2-Preserving Your Profit. 

There is a ton of information within Part 2.  This particular section focuses on accepting the “At-Home CEO” title, taxes, equipment, subcontracting, boosting revenue and all things planning-yearly, reinvesting and retirement planning.  Since there are so many important sections within this second part, I am only going to focus on a few of them.  I encourage all of you to pick up a copy of this book for yourselves so that you can do a more in depth analysis of your business.

In Chapter 13-Accepting the At-Home CEO Mantle, Mary explores what it takes to be a CEO and where you are mentally.  She shares an experience of her own about being paralyzed with fear about having to make some heavy duty decisions about her business.  Couple that with feelings of inadequacy about her skills as a professional running a successful enterprise and the stress of not being the mom she wanted to be and you’ve got the makings for a disaster!  What saved her? A bit of advice she had heard: “Ace like the person you want to be.”  It’s pretty simple advice, right?  It’s so simple in fact that most either forget about it or figure there has to be more to it than that.  What we come to find out is that it’s the simple advice that seems to be the most helpful and direct, but the hardest to hear and follow.  She goes on to suggest creating a list of characteristics you feel a successful at-home entrepreneur should possess, then start “acting” like those characteristics.  Basically, how you think about yourself will inevitably determine your level of success.  There is additional advice throughout this chapter to help create a successful business.

With regards to your taxes, Mary offers quite a bit of suggestions.  I have listed some of the biggies below, however, for a more in-depth description; you’ll need to read her book

  1. Do not mix your business and personal finances.  (the most important suggestion)
  2. Know what’s deductible.
  3. If in doubt, ask.
  4. Realize that small deductions add up.
  5. Keep your receipts.

The last chapter in the book, Chapter 22-Giving Yourself Permission to Make Your Business a Reflection of You, was great!  Learning that it’s okay to give yourself permission to live life, to be a mother, to be work-at-home CEO, etc was empowering.  To be able to embrace those permissions while learning to be flexible and knowing that things will invariably change with or without warning can be a challenge.  But then again, we all knew that when we made the conscious decision to work from home, right?  Riding the waves of success is never an easy thing and allowing ourselves permission to change the rules as we see fit (becoming more of a flexible individual) for not only our business lives, but our personal lives as well will, enable us all to achieve the goals and dreams we set out to achieve. 

I would love to hear what all of you think of this book….so grab a copy and send me a comment.  Happy reading!


The Balancing Act December 30, 2009

Filed under: Organization Tips,Work at Home — Jennifer Gallaher - VAbyJen @ 9:25 pm

Working from home is a choice that many of us in this day and age are considering.  However, it’s not an easy choice to make nor is it the “right” choice for everyone.  Here are a few suggestions to remember when considering this option like:

  • What are my most productive times of the day?
  • Do I have ample space to set-up an office…away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the house/family?
  • Are my time management skills ready for this challenge?
  • Am I flexible enough?
  • Can I deal with not having coworkers physically around me every day…am I OK to work alone?

   For some, being able to stay home and help raise your children is ideal.  However, when you start to factor in time to work or start your own business along with ample family time, it can get overwhelming. 

   That’s where the balancing act comes in and to be completely honest, it could take a bit of time to get all the kinks worked out.  Best thing you can do, is don’t get discouraged.  Things will start to run more smoothly once you get into a rhythm.  This is where your time management skills come in handy, whether you use an online calendar through Outlook, Hotmail, Yahoo or some other sort of time management system.  Knowing what’s on your calendar on a daily basis will also help you to stay flexible in case something last minute comes up.

   Another adjustment to consider is going from having physical interaction with others on a daily basis to not much, unless it’s your children.  If you thrive in an environment where you can interact with others, like a brainstorming session, than this may be a bigger adjustment for you to make.  In order to help compensate for this, make sure you keep lunch appointments or coffee appointments on your schedule for former coworkers or other friends/family.  This will help keep you connected to the “outside” world.

   Most importantly, you are choosing this new direction for a reason. Whether it’s a yearning to strike out on your own doing exactly what you love or whether it’s the desire to help raise your family, make sure to take personal time.  Many times we forget about ourselves and our families when we start a new endeavor, however, that’s the glue to this whole thing!  YOU are now in control of what happens next!  If you don’t take time out for your personal enrichment and for time with your family, ultimately they along with you and your new business will suffer.

   Balancing all these new expectations is not easy and there is no one right way.  With anything worth having, perseverance, patience and time will see you through.

   Good luck and I wish you all nothing but great success!


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