Admin “minion”

I took on a new client this summer. In doing so, I took on a new type of work.

Gwen recently spent six months caring for her mother at her home in Houston. While she was gone (and enduring one heck of a commute to work each day), her home in central Texas fell into a little disrepair. A home starts to wither and fade into just a house when it is not lived in. Gwen had unfinished projects, mountains of mail, maintenance gone by the wayside, and several repairs topping a long To Do list.

Estate work is a different “genre” than any other I had done, but the skills are very transferrable from training and planning workshops and other events. It’s all about attention to detail and rolling up your sleeves. (This was also one sliver of the Estate side of things for Gwen. While I spent several days at her home, she also has her Mom’s home of several decades where some real Estate work will take place.)

I worked at Gwen’s house several days while she went to work. Each day, she came home to a “tour” of the things I had done, questions I had for her, and dinner made[2]. Here are some of the tasks I accomplished–and “job titles”[1] I “held”–for her in the two weeks I spent with her.

[1] I’ll be quite honest. I’m not a professional in these areas. But, I’m an honest person. I worked with Gwen on what I could do and what was outside my scope. For any task that was outside the skill set for either her or me, we consulted professionals.
[2] Gwen wasn’t just a client, she was a dear friend, too. She is sorely missed.
 

Maintenance/Repair

Landscaper

  • Took down a screen that was ruined by a fallen tree limb.
  • Trimmed trees in preparation for other work to be done.
  • Watered the ground near the foundation of her home

Contractor

  • Collected bids from several trades for projects around her home
    • arborist,
    • tile,
    • painters,
    • window replacement, and
    • handyman.

Housekeeper

  • Deep cleaned: dusted the vaulted ceiling, cleaned ceiling fans, baseboards.
  • Cleaned: dishes, laundry, floors, surfaces.

Organizer

  • Opened, sorted, filed six months of mail. Most of this was bills on auto-pay, so it only needed to be filed. Recycled all the junk mail that comes in bills.
  • Created a temporary filing setup to ease her sorting through papers. Sorted/filed several crates of papers from old projects. Organized urgent items to the front of the entire filing setup I created for her.
  • Emptied, organized, had her cull, and reloaded some cabinets.
  • Freecycled, Craigslisted, donated, consigned, and tossed:
    • clothes,
    • appliances,
    • electronics,
    • books, and
    • more.

Assistant

Virtual

  • Researched garage door openers and installation.
  • Researched combining several landline and cell phones so family can call old numbers and reach Gwen.
  • Reroute her mom’s mail to her.
  • Cancel her Mom’s oxygen.

Live In Person

  • Prep Oxygen boxes for return.
  • Return to sender some subscription books; cancel subscription.
  • Organize medical papers for quick access.
  • Organize other papers for an urgent project.
  • Errands: many, many errands.

Chef

  • Prepare a salad and snacks for her work’s potluck on a mandatory holiday workshift.
  • Prepare dinners so there was just one less thing for her to do when she got home from work each day.

The process was rewarding for me. I could see real progress in the work. The process was also rewarding for Gwen as there were several days she came home from work to some of her ToDo items “TaDone”! On the days that she and I worked together, we took note of how much this was kicking off a long list of stuff that needed to be done. We made a big dent and set things up (like files and trades) to be easier for her to complete on her own. We even found the “good” place for her to sell some clothes.

Minion for Hire

So, if you need a clone–or want a minion at your disposal–let me know. I’ll customize a bid for your needs.

 

The 6×6 rule of presentations

Presentations. They are necessary from time to time, but they need not be evil.

Here is a huge tip for keeping them from getting out of hand: the 6×6 rule.

  • No more than 6 bullets per slide.
  • No more than 6 words per bullet.

Since the grammar rules are loosened for presentations, it’s easy to keep phrases down to six words or less.

If you find yourself needing more than 6 words or 6 bullets, break the idea into smaller chunks of detail and spread it across more bullets/slides.

Excel Training

I have had several requests lately for Excel training, which is great since it’s my favorite software of all time! So, I thought I’d save some of you some emails and re-cap what I can offer.

Personal Training

  • We’ll meet at a library or coffee shop for a personalized learning experience
  • Two-hour lessons: $40. Half-day (4-hour) workshops: $75.

Group Training

  • Have your IT gal set up your conference room, and I’ll come train your staff.
  • While rates vary based on size and needs, ten staff members for a half day generally runs about $300.

Credentials

I have several years experience training adults in the classroom setting and in one-on-one private tutorials. I’m also the go-to gal among all my friends for many of their software questions and editing tasks.

Email me today for a free email consultation to see if I’m a good fit to your learning needs.

 

 

Website Woes

I have a new client. He runs a local business with a small staff. He hates his website. His story is one that I hear so very often…and it’s one that needs to be told.

He got taken. The “big” company that sold him the domain name and server space conned him into a hefty monthly fee in exchange for them “doing all the work”. If by “doing all the work” they meant copy/pasting his text into one of their templates/themes, then that’s true. He had to do all the writing. They provided some stock imagery and a theme.

So, I’m setting him up with a locally-owned company, setting his site up in WordPress, moving his content, and (once he’s ready) re-pointing his domain name to the new site. The hefty fee he’ll save means my work will pay for itself in about six months. Plus, he’ll have a site that he likes, that he can control, that he can update, and that he can change if needed.

So many people out there have ugly websites that they hate. I think they don’t make the change because they fear how daunting or expensive it will be. It should not be either of those things!

One more bonus: I also offer affordable writing service and maintenance plans. So, no matter the budget or desires to delegate, I can help.

Hate your site? Or worse, don’t have one? Then let’s chat. Shoot me an email!

 

Lori Luza presents to Austin Adobe User Group

Back by popular demand: InDesign Styles

In the spring of 2012, I presented InDesign Styles to the Austin Adobe User Group. It was a well-received program where the audience had many questions.

Alas, the recoding from that day mysteriously stopped half way through. Since the group leader, Donna, has had many requests to repeat that program, we’re going to do just that!

For those who were there, don’t despair. I’ve tweaked the program to benefit you, too. We’ll move a little more quickly through some of the more common information (paragraph & character styles), add in a bit on nested styles, and spend more time on creating Tables and Indicies.

Presentation: Friday, July 12th, 1:15pm, New Horizons Learning Center

Austin Adobe User Group meets on the second Friday of each month, 1:15 pm – 3:30 pm, at New Horizons Learning Center, 300 East Highland Mall Blvd, Suite 100, Austin, TX.

 

 

Site Blocking

As seen on Twitter this morning: “The gig is up! Company blocked gmail. I am officially job hunting…”

Why They Might

Now, why would a company block Gmail? If they have run thorough server stats and think staff are spending too much time with personal tasks instead of doing work, this might make sense. After all, none of us are paid–either via contract or hire–to work on our own stuff. The “big brother” method doesn’t give the complete picture, however.

What Else To Consider

There is probably a lot the bosses and IT staff have not considered. In order to use a lot of Google’s services (Documents, Calendar, Maps, Translation, and more) users usually log in. It’s the same login as Google’s email service. So, while Gmail may be open in the background, the reality is that employees are probably using many of the tools they need to do their jobs.

I haven’t used a physical calculator (Google search does math), a phone book (online yellow pages), a dictionary/thesaurus, or even a physical clock in over a decade. If my eyes never have to leave the screen and my fingers can keep hovering the keyboard and mouse for the tools I need, I’m working more efficiently and more ergonomically, too.

Why Not Block Personal Sites

Blocking any personal email just forces employees to use the phone or company email for personal correspondence that is sometimes necessary during the daytime. Yes, it’s true and valid, employees do need to take care of a few personal things during the day. (No, they can not take a day off from work to schedule a doctor’s appointment or chat for 15 minutes with their accountant during tax season.)

Employees, exempt or not, are legally allowed/required a 15-minute break for every four hours of work. If they need to use this time to check personal email beyond what a mobile device can do, isn’t it smarter to allow them this…rather than lose good workers to a company that doesn’t make blanket accusations about all because of the poor work quality of a few?

The Real Problem

It is like most things: companies need to deal with the real problems and the isolated cases of weak, incomplete work. Warn any employee who isn’t pulling his or her weight, but don’t punish the masses because of a few. Doing so creates distrust….which means you lose quality people. Do you want your best and brightest walking out due to this lack of trust?

Excel’s Weekday Function

Excel is quite handy for making schedules, but sometimes you need to know more than just the date; you need to know the day of the week.

Excel uses serial numbers for each date. For this reason, we can do math with dates (i.e. “yesterday” plus 2 equals “tomorrow”).

Sometimes, we need to know the day of the week from a given date. We can accomplish this task with a series of nested IF statements.

Since this function

=weekday([date cell reference])

yields a number 1-7, we can use that in combination with the IF statements to see the weekday in any form we like.

Lets assume that the weekday function runs in column C. Let’s also assume that row 1 is being used for the title of each column. Cell D2 could use this function to show the day of the week.

=IF(C2=1,”Sun”,IF(C2=2,”Mon”,IF(C2=3,”Tue”,IF(C2=4,”Wed”,IF(C2=5,”Thu”,IF(C2=6,”Fri”,”Sat”))))))

Next, we fill that formula down for the rest of the column. Since we are using relative cell addresses, the same formula will adjust for row 3, row 4, etc.

Then, if column C is in the way,  simply Hide it.

Lori Luza presenting to Austin Adobe User Group

I’m happy to present again to the Austin Adobe User Group. This time, Donna will join me, and we’ll focus on some tips and tricks with Photoshop.

This is a friendly reminder about the August 10 meeting of the Austin Adobe User Group, featuring Tips and Tricks for Photoshop CS6 and earlier versions. Lori Luza and Donna Blumberg will demonstrate both some of the new to CS6 Photoshop features as well as a number of other tips and tricks for older versions.

We meet at New Horizons Computer Learning Center, 300 E. Highland Mall Blvd, Suite 100 from 1: 15 – 3:30. To help New Horizons Computer Learning Center reserve a room that comfortably seats everyone, please RSVP to this free event.