Don’t Skimp On Your Work Space

I’ve been friends with Lisa for years. Decades, actually. She’s a rock star real estate agent in Boston and wow, she sure can sell houses.

The funny things is, despite how long we’ve been friends, I’ve hardly ever been to her house. We almost always meet at a local restaurant for dinner.

The other night, though, and since I don’t live locally anymore, I stopped by her house before we went out. I was immediately surprised by what I saw in her kitchen: Her computer, files, stapler, pens, and lots of paper were strewn across the kitchen table.

I knew she worked out of her house, but I guess I never gave any thought before to where exactly it all happened!

So I asked if she liked working in the kitchen. She said no. She explained that she’s constantly moving her stuff around to make space for meals and she gets distracted all the time by her family. Plus, she wastes a ton of time and energy getting newly settled whenever it’s time to work.

For anyone who works at home, not having a dedicated space is simply a bad idea. You don’t need to an entire room for your office, but you do need to have a dedicated place where everything you need is at your fingertips and where you can leave work in progress.

I’ve had my desk in lots of different rooms over the years – a bay window in my dining room, an alcove in my living room, and now, a partitioned section off my bedroom. You don’t need a lot of space (my set up is only as wide as the Ikea dining room table I work on), but it needs to be your own!

Here are some tips for setting up your ideal VA workplace:

          1. Find a quiet, permanent spot. Yes, the family room may be empty during the day. But often, as a VA, you’ll need to do things when others are around. The guest room is tempting. Unless, of course, you have guests, which will throw you off your game completely.
          2. Make sure your desk can handle your work. I use a dining room table as my desk for a couple of reasons. One is that it’s really deep, so I can have my monitors at the back and still have room for my keyboard without feeling cramped. The dining room table I chose is wider than a standard desk, giving me lots of room on either side for spreading out my notes, my perpetual cup of tea, and a few photos of my family that make me happy.
          3. Keep supplies at your fingertips. This means you don’t keep the tape in your daughter’s room, the stapler in the kitchen, and the index cards in the basement. Whatever you use for work needs to stay handy, even if it means duplicating what’s already in the house. Then let your family know that these things are off limits. (I jokingly call my desk my “money-making cockpit” and I guarantee no one would ever imagine taking anything from my desk.)
          4. Plan for paper. Even though my office is about 98% paper free (yay!) I do have some files I need to keep.You don’t need a big filling cabinet – but you will need a system for storing these. I have a dresser in my office with three drawers.The top drawer stores my supplies and the 2nd and 3rd my paper.

There you go. Easy, but efficient. And, maybe most important, it’s all yours! You’re in business now, so make sure you set up yourself – and your space – for success.

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Tips and Tricks: Padding and Margins

Ever wonder why some images you see in email newsletters have text right next to the image and others have a nice space around them?

In Constant Contact it’s called padding and in MailChimp it’s called margins.



To add more space around an image In Constant Contact, click on the image after it’s inserted in the text and then click the settings wheel. You’ll see Padding -> increase. Repeat until you have your desired padding.



MailChimp provides more control over the space around an image allowing you to use pixels to choose how much space to create on each side.

To add margins, double click on the image after it’s inserted, click “show image style options” and then assign a margin to each side of the image.
Small thing – big impact. And it can make the difference in the professionalism of your client’s e-newsletters and e-blasts.