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Guest Post Series

My guest blogger today is Christine Southam of CS Virtual Assistant.  Following on from an excellent post introducing herself. Today Christine is talking about the top six tools she finds invaluable. You can find Christine here: www.csvirtualassistant.co.uk

Are you entering the Virtual world from a place where licences, software, technology and training were all arranged for you? Are you overwhelmed by the number of choices available to you?

From time tracking to password sharing I recommend, in this blog, my top 6 essential programmes / apps that I could not now function without.

1.       Lastpass is for password storage and the safe sharing of login details. But, do ensure that you purchase the EU rather than the US version as converting at a later date is possible but, not problem free. Lastpass’s autofill function is incredibly time efficient and as your business starts to grow you will have more passwords than you can possibly remember. The benefits of Lastpass are that you can be granted access and grant access to others without having to reveal a password. With the app on my phone and my laptop I always have my passwords with me rather than a piece of paper manually locked in a fireproof safe or filing cabinet at home.   

2.       Toggl is for time keeping, tracking time, and generating reports. You have a choice between setting a timer or going back in after the event and manually adding your time if for example you forgot to hit start on the timer. These reports form the basis and supporting evidence behind every client invoice that send. On Toggl you can create a workspace for each Client, Team or each Project.  You can invite your Team to a workspace, and they can record their time there too because in the report it will be clear who did what.  

3.       The Microsoft Suite consists of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook for calendar and emails. MS Office software is a very popular choice for both PC and Mac users and I personally, use it every single day. When investing in this necessity make sure that you purchase the Business version and not the home and student version. Your documents will be accessible from the cloud so that you can access documents from wherever you happen to be.

A bonus tip: I found this article about why using a keyboard is beneficial and some keyboard shortcut tips particularly helpful since time saving and being efficient is top of all of our agendas. I love Ctrl 1 and Ctrl 2 especially. Which are your favourites? Please pop your answer 1,2,3 or 4 in the comment box below.

4.       FreeAgent is the programme that I use for invoicing, expenses and self-assessment tax returns. FreeAgent came free with my NatWest business bank account and the automatic importation of transactions saves me a great deal of time. You can even invite your accountant to work from the same set of books and you can bank and manage FreeAgent from the mobile app.

5.       Canva is great for creating infographics for social media posts. It has a wealth of templates: posters, flyers, LinkedIn, Facebook, photo collages, and presentations with the additional ability of changing one format from one to another easily. The templates are all pre-designed to the correct dimensions or you can choose to custom make your own. Some of the images are free and others can be purchased. You can upload your own logo, pictures, colours, font and style. Your creations can be downloaded onto your computer or phone or posted straight into social media.

6.       Asana is a project management tool which can be used effectively for both work and personal life such as: planning projects, meals, sharing reminders and tasks with your team or your other half. It’s a great visual tool for mapping out each step of the process along a timeline and you can follow a task through from initiation to completion. In addition, Asana integrates with 100 or more other software.

These programmes / apps are free for basic functionality and are accessible on both mobile devices and desktop computers.

Please do catch up with me in my next blog where I help a client with a big project that could have gone pear shaped but luckily, the project all goes well, and I exceed their expectations. In the meantime have a look at the variety of services that I offer here on my website.

Thank you Christine – that looks like a fabulous list and very helpful for any VA just starting out.

I am now wondering if any VAs have further recommendations or apps to add to the list? Please leave a comment with your suggestions 🙂

I am really looking forward to your next post Christine!