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Archive for March, 2013

My Calendar Tips For Keeping Organized

internationalWomensdayPoster_Final-page-0Earlier this week, I was privileged to be speaking on a panel for International Women’s Day hosted at Innovation Guelph. Each of the panel guests were asked to give a short talk about how they can help the rest of the group. My talk was focused on how technology can make our lives easier.

I presented three tips: using multiple online calendars, using Skype to enable us to work from home, and effectively using a smart phone. The calendar tips generated several comments later in the evening, and I was asked how to use multiple online calendars to keep family and business organized. Here are my tips and tricks for keeping my husband, kids, family, personal, and business schedules on track. My family uses Google’s Gmail, but this same method can be used with Microsoft’s SkyDrive. Both are free, cloud-based, and can sync to multiple devices.

Having too many appointments/events/tasks on one calendar can be too overwhelming, so I recommend a different calendar for each person and/or task. Using individual calendars allows me to focus on one person/task at a time. If I need a big -picture overview, I’ll turn on multiple calendars.

Here is the list of my family’s calendars:

(This list may seem overwhelming at first, but it’s not very complicated.)

Husband – 2 calendars

  • Personal (karate training schedule, dentist appointments, etc.)
  • Work (on-call schedule, travel, etc.)

He shares these two calendars with me, but I cannot modify either of them. He is responsible for keeping his schedules up-to-date. 

Children – 1 personal each. My daughter has an additional school one. They do as they wish and I don’t have access to them.

Myself – 6 calendars

  • Personal – my personal appointments
  • Work – my work schedule including physical addresses of clients. I do this because my phone can read the location and tell me when I should leave to be at an appointment on time, based on my current location; but also for safety. My work calendar is shared with my husband, so if something were to happen, he’d be aware of my location.
  • Family – my husband and I both have edit access to this calendar, and both children only have read access to it. We use this calendar to track family events, such as birthdays, trips, family functions, etc. We all know where we are supposed to be and when. No more “I didn’t know we were going to Grandma’s today”.
  • Banking – all bill due dates, amounts, and other financial reminders are in this calendar.
  • Babysitter/Childcare – although this calendar is no longer used for babysitting purposes, it was used to keep track of babysitting schedules. It was shared with the babysitter, so she always knew when she had to be here. This calendar is now used for Summer camp schedules, ans we can track which child is at which camp and co-ordinate drop-off and pick-up schedules.
  • My public business calendar – tracks all public presentations, seminars, classes, etc. This calendar is automatically updated on my website.

It sounds like a lot to setup, but using separate calendars allows me to focus on a specific task or person. As the kids grow older, and the family becomes busier, this method lets us find each other and schedule time together.

Nas vs Server – Part 2: The Server

Last month, I posted an article about how some small businesses I work with are opting not to replace their aging servers with a current piece of equipment. For details, read “Nas vs Server – Part 1”. As I sat and watched a Windows Server 2012 Essentials be installed, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to expand on the server side of “Nas vs Server”.

SBS Install

This post outlines some of the benefits of replacing an older server with a new one, or adding a server to your small business environment.

If your company uses Line of Business applications, or requires specific shares or configurations for your applications, a server may be the only option. However, if most of your workflow is cloud-based and minimal in-house file storage is required, a NAS may be the better solution. When I refer to a server, I am referring to a computer with server-rated hardware and a proper server operating system, such as Small Business Server, Server 2008, etc. I am not referring to a Windows XP/7 computer, that is being used to share files to other users.

Today’s small businesses servers are relatively inexpensive, easy to use, and provide many benefits to the small business. Here’s a list of just a few advantages of adding a server to your environment: (For a full list, please see the Microsoft Server 2012 Essentials website.)

  1. Security – Allows you to control who has access to what data, and how they access it from both outside and inside the organization.
  2. Line of Business Applications – Store shared application data in one central location, such as Sage, PC Law, or other 3rd party
    applications.
  3. Remote Web Access – Users can securely access their data and desktops from outside the office (there goes snow days).
  4. Automatic Desktop Backups – Users no longer have to think about backing up their desktops. The server takes care of this for them, ensuring that their data is always backed up.
  5. Patches and Other Security Actions – The server will push updates to the users, and from an easy to read Dashboard you can see what systems are lacking current security measures.

There are many options for small businesses. If your workflow is mostly cloud-based, a server may not be necessary, and your resources could be better utilized in other aspects of your business. But if you need more control, flexibility, and growth a server may be your best solution. Talk to your qualified IT professional to see if a small business server would be a good and necessary addition to your IT environment.

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