Tools, Tips, and Treats for Living the VA Life [May 2019]

VA Tips, Tricks May 2019 (1)

Whew! A lot went down this month – let’s get up to speed on all the latest tools, tips, and treats to keep you living your best VA life.

Also, y’all, my garden! It’s so garden-y. Hooray spring! (Summer heat, you can wait.) (And allergens? You can stay away.)

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Productivity Pick-Me-Ups

Is the Conference Room Air Making You Dumber? (New York Times)

File under duh and why do you think we choose to be VAs?

We can work in our backyard, bounce from place-to-place, and work in our homes with our 200+ houseplants (DON’T YOU JUDGE ME).

All joking aside, regurgitated air, multiple bodies in a small room, and higher CO2 levels are pretty common in Conference Rooms… so this really shouldn’t be that much of a surprise to anyone.

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The productivity pit: how Slack is ruining work  (Vox)

This would be funny if it weren’t such a cluster. Earlier this year everyone was singing Slack’s praises, now they’re bent on tearing them down.

Pro tip: turn notifications off except when you’re tagged, and check in three times a day. Getting tagged all the time? Announce you’re going silent to do some deep project work and turn ALL those notifications off.

Make the tech work for you, not against you.

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Our 6 Must Reads for Honing Focus and Managing Your Time (First Round)

Practical information with tons of backed-up links to articles, this offers a great way to stay focused, GSD, and not lose yourself in the day-to-day distractions, i.e. the subheader, “… and embrace your inner laziness when it comes to email.”

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Remote Work Revolution

7 Effective Remote Work Tips and Best Practices (Dice)

If you’re new to working remotely, there’s a whole lotta “yep, yep, yep” coming from me when I read this article. Sensible? Yes. Often forgotten? Also yes.

Except for that whole yoga pants aren’t work attire business. YES, THEY ARE. #canigetanamen

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10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career (LifeHack)

Tons of great tips, with the main takeaway of assess your skills and communicate them clearly.

And it just so happens that every great virtual worker has these ten items in their toolbox.

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How to Get Your To-Do List Done When You’re Always in Meetings (Harvard Business Review)

You realize this is a must read, right?

Personally, I’m glad the days of back-to-back-to-back meetings are on the downfall. How can you expect to get the work done if all you’re doing is discussing the work that needs to be done?

Spoiler alert, HBR discusses something we’ve been big fans of here for a long time: making your calendar work for you.

Marketing Mischief

6 Key Ingredients of a Foolproof Interactive Website (The Next Scoop)

Want to keep that bounce rate low and make sure your audience is having an excellent experience on your website? Adopt some (or all) of these tips to website to drive up those analytics numbers.

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Grow Your Business and Brand Using the Power of Content (Concur)

The storytelling of your brand helps you sell content. This article includes four great tips for how to leverage your content and make sure your audience sees it.

Why Video SEO Marketing is The Next Content Medium Powerhouse (Influencive)

The statistics are startling—Gen Z members consume more than 68 videos per day, with roughly 71 percent of the entire generation watching at least 3 hours every day.

So, essentially, if you’re not doing video…

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Just For Fun

The hidden fish keeping coral reefs alive (Popular Science)

Read the full article for how these small, hiding fish are key to the microsystem and keeping coral reefs alive.

Also, did you know clove oil puts fish to sleep?

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Aretha Franklin’s Will Found Under Couch Cushions (Pitchfork)

File under WHUT and GIRL, NO.

I can’t believe these words are escaping my lips—don’t be like the Queen of Soul: please keep your ish organized.

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Phase transitions: The math behind the music (Phys.org)

Popularized in the ’90s with the “Mozart Effect,” studies of music and brain development and engagement goes back for decades.

Now Jesse Berezovsky, an associate professor of physics at Case Western Reserve University, published his research on how the physics of musical sound creates appeal to the human brain. In the journal Science Advances his goal is to, “explain why basic ordered patterns emerge in music, using the same statistical mechanics framework that describes emergent order across phase transitions in physical systems.”

Adding this to my long list of why I’m obsessed with the correlation between music and science.

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