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The Ready-Reckoner for Tasks

The Ready-Reckoner for Tasks

As a professional VA, you can get asked to do many things.  

But you may find you are given – and enjoy – specific tasks within the spectrum. 

You may use some features and elements of Microsoft Office more than others. 

You mostly likely know how to do some tasks ‘with your eyes shut’ whilst some tasks have you searching online for the ‘how to’. The Ready-Reckoner for Tasks

It’s good practice to review the type of work you are doing and assess for any skills gaps. 

How many of the following tasks do you do for clients or growing your VA business? 

  • Reports 
  • Proposals 
  • eBooks 
  • Letters 
  • Invoices
  • Mail merge – one letter to many people, customised for each individual
  • Mail merge Email – sending the same email to many people in a customised way
  • Writing books
  • Drafting documents
  • Brainstorming and thinking creatively
  • Signing documents – using a digital pen and writing directly on the screen
  • Drawing and Mind Mapping with a digital pen 

If you ticked half or more (or can see tasks you might be asked to do in future) you are in Microsoft Word territory.  

You can get more done in less time with Word with my online courses.  

There’s no fluff or ‘padding’. Just the bits that you really need to know to tackle the most popular tasks. 

That’s Word covered so let me ask you something else. 

Does your client work involve calculations or storing and organising information? 

If yes, these are some of the things you can use Excel for: 

  •  Profit and Loss worksheet 
  • Tracking payments 
  • Cashflow projection 
  • Invoice list 
  • Social Media Calendar
  • Social Media Planner
  • Keeping track of Income and Expenditure
  • Making Lists
  • Contact List
  • Any data you need to sort or filter
  • Making things add up
  • Time tracking 

If you want to excel with Excel, my online courses can help you. Grasp the essentials and pick up some advanced tips along the way. 

Learn at your leisure. Where you want, when you want. 

Spend less time worrying about the ‘how-to’ and more time on serving your clients like a VIP. 

And one of the things you’ll almost certainly end up using is PowerPoint. 

Despite what some people may think, this application is not just for presentations. 

Here’s some of what this Microsoft Office visual creativity powerhouse can do: 

  • Presentations 
  • Proposals 
  • Explaining with Clarity – the slides force you to reduce the amount of text 
  • Infographics 
  • Instagram posts
  • Create anything visual
  • Design blog post cover images to retain your branding
  • Photo album
  • eBook
  • Planner
  • Prepare and rehearse a big presentation 

If you want to power up your PowerPoint skills, I can help with that. 

My online courses give you lifetime access. 

This means you can learn when you want – and come back to a specific task training whenever you need a refresher. 

Creativity is one aspect of a VA’s role. Organisation is another. 

Outlook is the control centre for your emails, communications, calendar appointments and tasks. 

How many of the following do you use in your weekly work? 

  • Communicate by email 
  • Book appointments 
  • Book meetings 
  • Schedule meetings with others 
  • Keep a task list
  • Keep a to-do list by flagging your email
  • Colour code appointments to make them easier to see
  • Manage your client/boss calendar
  • Manage your client/boss inbox
  • Reply to things on someone else’s behalf 

If an online Outlook course could help you get more done in less time, why wouldn’t you take a look? 

The smarter you work the more space there is for your VA business to grow. 

Audit. Learn. Review. 


The Ready-Reckoner for Tasks

7 Tips for a Strong Lead Magnet

7 Tips for a Strong Lead Magnet

One of the tasks you may get asked to do as a VA is create a lead magnet.

7 Tips for a Strong Lead Magnet

This is part of a list-building strategy suitable for most businesses.

You ask people to share their name and email address – and give permission to hear more from you – in return for a piece of valuable content, or ‘lead magnet’.

This allows your business to build a relationship with prospects – and nurture them towards a first sale.

The lead magnet could be a video series, checklist, webinar or other resource. It is, however, more often than not a short eBook or PDF guide.

If you are able to put together good lead magnets you will find businesses keen to put work your way.

They may even ask you to suggest ideas for titles, content and how best to present the information.

Here are seven tips to help you create a strong lead magnet:

Tip #1 – Come Up With an Attention-Grabbing Title

Your lead magnet needs a strong title as much as a sales page requires a powerful headline.

This is a big part of what will tempt people to download it – and provide their email in return.7 Tips for a Strong Lead Magnet

The reader wants to know ‘What’s In It For Me?’ – so a lead magnet should provide relevant tips, advice and knowledge. And this can help you create the wording for the guide’s title.

This really is a topic for a training all on its own but here are some examples to give you some inspiration.

“How to Create a Dazzling PowerPoint Presentation Your Bosses Will Love”

“The Secret to Successful Sales on a Shoestring”

“How To Get Your Business in the Press – Without Paying a Penny for Advertising”

“How To Double Your Income Without Doubling Your Work Hours”

“Seven Things Your Website Designer Will HATE You for Knowing (because it means they’ll have to work harder for your money)”

“OUCH! – The 5 Most Painful Ways to Lose Money to the Taxman (And How to Avoid Them)”

You get the picture.

The title is a hook to draw people in. Then all you have to do is make sure the content inside lives up to the headline act.

Tip #2 – Include a List of Contents

There are five good reasons for including a list of contents. It:

  • Helps people find the information they want
  • Provides a fast-track to precise pages, especially if there’s a ton of content
  • Adds a professional touch – and gives a good impression
  • Gives the reader an at-a-glance summary of the key content
  • Looks good on a page, with enhanced visual appeal to the eye

You can create a template for this and fill in the details (like page numbers) when you have the complete content done.

Tip #3 – Make Sure The Content is of Value To The Reader

It’s one thing to grab people’s attention with a great lead magnet title. It’s another to get people to read it once they have done the download.

Get used to the idea that some people will sign up for a freebie – and NEVER get around to checking out the content.

But others will read the resource, so you want to ensure the content is up to the mark.

Include a short introduction. Set out your points in a clear, logical order. Match the tips, advice or information to the target audience and their current experience – their problems, their challenges, their issues.

Most importantly, show how the content you are providing can help them with these matters, even if only in part.

Tip #4 – Use Simple Words and Short Sentences

Even if the lead magnet is aimed at a corporate or business audience, keep your content easy to read.

Use simple words instead of long ones, where you can. Only use technical terms or jargon if it is relevant to the reader. And explain what they mean if it helps people to understand. Don’t assume people will know.

Use short sentences. It makes it easier for people to read.

A simple way to know if a sentence is too long is to read it out LOUD. Notice your breath, where the pauses are and how the words flow. Adjust and edit if necessary.

Use short paragraphs. Ideally, no paragraph should be longer than five lines on the page. A reader faced with a big block of text may not be encouraged to read it.

Tip #5 – Use Images

You don’t just want great content for your lead magnet. You want it to look good, look professional.

Using relevant and good quality images can help. You might want something for the front cover, or a picture of the author(s), or a visual to tie in with information being shared in the copy.

Also consider whether charts, tables, graphs, illustrations or a cartoon might help to present the information or make a point.

Tip #6 – Have an About Page

It’s a good idea to include a section about the author or organisation who is putting out the lead magnet.

This helps with credibility, trust and connection with the reader.

It gives people an answer to the question “Why should I listen to you?”

Keep the copy short and to the point. The reader doesn’t want ‘War and Peace’.

If you’re not sure what to write, just go to a book store and see how authors are presented to you. Take a few tips from the crisp and catchy bios on the shelves.

Tip #7 – Include a Call to ActionLead magnet

The primary aim of the lead magnet is to get new people on the mailing list – so you can carry on the conversation with them.

So the resource you give away for free is largely about providing the content you promised in return for the reader’s details.

But it doesn’t harm to make an invitation or offer inside the lead magnet. As long as it is relevant to the audience and appropriate for the type of document. For example, you might not include it in a research-focused White Paper report (though you could if you wanted to).

Your call to action should be clear and simple.

One offer. One or more ways to take that offer up (e.g. via phone, email, website).

You could invite people to have a free consultation with you. You choose the amount of time… 60 minutes, 40 minutes, 20 or 15… that you want to give.

You could ask them to book a paid session or a review (e.g. Social Media audit, website review, IT audit, copy review or training skills assessment).

If you’re creating a lead magnet for a client, remember to ask them if they have an action they would like the reader to take.

And there you have it.

Seven quick tips for creating a solid lead magnet – for clients or for your own business.

Do tell me how you get on.

7 Tips for a Strong Lead Magnet

P.S. Have you heard? I have an online course called Creating E-books and Lead Magnets in Word. It’s where I guide you step-by-step so you can start doing this kind of task with your eyes shut. (Well, you know what I mean).

Help! Word ate my document? Did it Autosave?

Help! Word ate my document? Did it Autosave?

Recently I have been asked about getting back lost documents a few times. It is all to do with AutoSave, OneDrive and Office 365. Autosave

Let me set the scene.

You are working on a project and have a series of documents to create. You create the first one, save it and then go on to use that as the starting point for document number 2. All is well until you realise that you have inadvertently over typed everything in document 1 and it seems to be lost for ever. Oh no! All that work!

What is a girl to do?

Let me unpick this for you and show you how you can avoid this happening in the future.

Enter AutoSave

AutoSave is a feature of Office 365 that applies when you save your documents to OneDrive (I will use the term OneDrive, and in this case, I mean both the personal and the business versions).

You will notice a small icon on the top left of the Title Bar. It looks like this:

  1. Autosave Icon is showing here as On.
  2. The save icon now has a refresh circle on it.
  3. The title of the document now says Saving….


What does AutoSave do?

It makes your document behave like a web-based document. Whenever you work online your changes are saved as you type.

So, if you are working in a Word document online you never press the save button and there is no save icon at all. Word simply saves your changes as you go.

With the advent of Office 365 and OneDrive you can now save your documents in the cloud (or online if you prefer) right from inside Word, when you save to a OneDrive or SharePoint location.

As soon as you save your document to a OneDrive location, the Autosave icon switches on. Now as you type Word saves your changes automatically.

So Shelley, if my document is being saved all the time, how do I get back to previous versions?

Good question and of course I have the answer!

As Word saves your documents it also saves a version history and you can get back to any of the save points that Word creates.

How do I see Version History?

On the title bar, click the drop-down arrow next to the document name and choose Version History,


You will see all the versions displayed in a task pane on the right-hand side of the document.

I have chosen to open the version in the middle of the list above and this is what I see:

In the title bar it tells me the version number the date and time and that this version is Read Only. I can Restore this version or I can save as and create a copy of it with another name. I could also Compare which will open the current version and this version in a special window – a subject for another post entirely.

When does Word create these restore points?

As long as you are typing, Word will be saving. When you stop it has time to synchronise your document online and then a version is saved. Notice that as you type it says saving for a few seconds once you stop typing. Then it turns to Saved.

Shelley – does this work on Mac ?

Yes! So long as you are using Office 365 and saving to OneDrive then it works the same way.

I saved this document to my blogging folder in OneDrive for Business and AutoSave is automatically switched on. A tip pops up about Version History too.

Autosave Mac

I get the same options as Word on the Windows platform.

Version History and the task pane.

Autosave Mac

Atuosave Mac

What if I don’t want to AutoSave my document?

A few things to note.

Turn AutoSave off for this document only – toggle the AutoSave icon to Off and the current document will stop AutoSaving. Whenever you open THIS document it will not be AutoSaved.

Always save a copy of a document with a new name before you make any changes and close the original just to make sure. Otherwise you run the risk of overwriting the current document. To do this:

Click File then Save a Copy and give the document a new name.

How has this post helped you? What will you do differently? Leave me a comment and let me know.

Help! Word ate my document? Did it Autosave?

P.S Why not visit the CourseDirectory and see which of my courses tickles your fancy!

Virtual Assistants – Do you get asked to research things?

Virtual Assistants – Do you get asked to research things?


So your client has asked you to research a topic. Maybe it is to find out about a particular item or perhaps they need you to research freight or Excel You can use Researcher in Word to get started.

Using Researcher in Word

If you have an Office 365 Subscription, then you will have access to Researcher. Before you ask, it is also available on Mac and although I have not put screenshots in here, it works the same way.

Here goes:

Start to research your topic by going to the References Ribbon and clicking on Researcher. Next type in the term you are looking for. I chose to use desert for this example.

Researcher in Word

You will see a task pane open on the right of the screen with a list in it. Click on the Plus sign next to a topic to add it as a heading – this can help you build the structure of your document. If you don’t see enough topics click More Topics and you will be offered more.

The topic is added along with a comment. The Comment links to the articles so that you can explore them later once you have built the structure.

Researcher in Word

When you go and explore an article, you can copy and paste text and add it directly to your document along with a Citation! It even builds a Bibliography for you – magic!

To add text, select text and then choose Add to just add the text or Add and Cite to add a Citation as well.

When you choose to Add and Cite you will see the Bibliography build before your eyes.

I hope that you can see the benefit of this tool. Next time you are asked to research a topic for a client give it a try.

Just don’t end up down too many rabbit holes as you start to investigate the topics

To learn more fun things that you can do with Microsoft Word, hop over and pick up the How to Create eBooks and Lead Magnets with Ease course where you will learn all kinds of cool things about Microsoft Word, that will enable you to create awesome Lead Magnets for you or your clients.

Virtual Assistants - Do you get asked to research things?

P.S. Why not join my Facebook group where you can ask questions, get answers and interact with me and other Virtual Assistants like you. Click Here and request to join.

Virtual Assistants – Do you get asked to research things?

How to use Smart Lookup

Why use Smart Lookup?Smart Lookup in Word

When you are working on a document and want to get a definition or some more information about something, use Smart Lookup to add that extra dimension.

In Word you will find Smart Lookup on the References Ribbon in the Research group (I will talk about Researcher in another blog post ) and in the other Office programs you will find it on the References Ribbon.

Note for Mac Users – if you are using Office 365 – then you will also have Smart Lookup just like the Windows users .

Using Smart Lookup

To use it, select the word or phrase you want to look up and then click the Smart Lookup icon.

A task pane will open on the right of the screen with a list of suggestions for you. It is powered by Bing – it will look something like this:

How to use Smart Lookup

You will see that there are more items in the task pane that are not showing – you can simply scroll down to see more. If you want even more suggestions, there is a show more button at the very bottom.

You will see that you can open the site or copy and paste the text into your document.

A short tip this week I know, however quite useful.

Leave a comment and let me know how useful this is!

How to use Smart Lookup





Take a look at the new tomorrow’s VA Course Academy you can find it here Course Directory

Microsoft Word Courses :

Work Smarter with Style – how to use Styles in Microsoft Word – I have a version for Windows and a version for Mac

Create eBooks and Lead Magnets with Ease – everything you need to know to create a stunning Lead Magnet or eBook


Virtual Assistants – Do you get asked to research things?

How to control spacing after paragraphs

Today’s Tip– Space after Paragraphs

Before I dig in, this tip is the same for both Windows and Mac versions of Word. Let me set the scene. You are doing some work in Word, and you need to have more line spaces between each paragraph. What we tend to do, is to press the Enter Key more than once. What then happens is we end up with extra line breaks in the document which affect the automatic spacing on the page.

Far better to allow Word to control the spacing after a paragraph.How to control spacing after paragraphs

This is done via Styles. Now you may have different preferences, more space after a heading style and before the following paragraph or more space between paragraphs of the same style.

I am making a stretch here that you know what Styles are and how to use them! If not, I have a course for that…

Back to adding space after.

Here is how you do it.

In the Style Gallery right click the style to change (I will update the Normal Style but you can do this to any style you want to) choose Modify.

How to control spacing after paragraphs

Next you will need to click the Format button at the bottom of the dialogue box that opens and choose Paragraph.

How to control spacing after paragraphs

You will see in the image that I have added 6 points after – this means that when I press the Enter Key, Word will automatically place 6 points of space between the paragraphs. You may want to experiment with how many points you need

This will mean less keyboard presses, as you won’t need to press the Enter Key so often! It also means that Word now controls exactly where the typing goes on the page and that is a good thing.

Work Smarter with Style – course

I did mention that I have a course about Styles, and there is one for Windows users and one for Mac users

Here is a link to the course directory, there you can pick the one that works for you be it the Windows or Mac Version.

Course Directory


How to control spacing after paragraphs





Love this tip? Want to learn more ways to work with Microsoft Word? – then I have a very special offer for you. My  Creating eBooks and Lead Magnets Course is available at HALF PRICE until September 1st 2019 – so hurry up and start learning all the cool features you need. You get lifetime access and can log in and take any lesson at a time to suit you.

Included in the course:

  • Setting your documents up
  • Styles
  • Cover Pages
  • Sections
  • Table of Contents and Indexing
  • Images and Captions
  • And a whole host more

Grab your seat at this price as it goes away on September 1st. Creating eBooks and Lead Magnets with Ease