Do You Have a Plan B?

Nothing is constant like that of change. Last week there were numerous counts of hacking, DDoS attacks and random internet naughtiness.  TweetDeck was hacked; Feedly and Evernote suffered DDoS attacks because they wouldn’t pay a ransom amount, leaving me without my proper tools in my Virtual Assistant toolkit that I utilize to do my job in a timely and efficient manner.

It made me realize that it’s really important to have a Plan B. Just like in life, you should have a back up plan for when things go awry. Plan B for the tools in your Virtual Assistant toolkit are a must. Here are 5 Plan B’s for your general everyday tools.

-1- Notes

On the occasion that Evernote goes down, there are a few options that are still free, are cross platform (desktop, phone, tablet), and can do the job when that one tool goes dark. Microsoft OneNote would be my first suggestion. In my pre-Evernote days, OneNote was my favorite note taking tool. I loved the look and the functionality! At the time however, it did not seamlessly sync with my phone and my desktop and was clunky at best, so I moved on to Evernote and haven’t really looked back since. Another option for note taking is Google Keep. Again very similar to Evernote, Google Keep stores your notes on your Google Drive making access with your Google account very easy, however its tools are somewhat limited.

-2- Cloud Storage

Do you get concerned when you hear that Dropbox is down?  Don’t worry there are alternatives to Dropbox. Google Drive is an easy way to think and store your files on the cloud and allows you to share files or entire folders with others for collaboration and access. A second option would be Microsoft’s OneDrive (fomerly called SkyDrive).

A third option would be Box. Box has a few handy features that are missing from Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive. The capability to tag files within your folders and subfolders is one such feature.

A paid tool that is very similar to DropBox but smoother, sleeker and more secure would be SugarSync.

-3- RSS Feeds

When Feedly was under denial of service attack last week, that made my life very difficult, as a healthy chunk of my daily task involves reading through RSS feeds for content for my clients. At the time I really just need it if feed reader that would work on my desktop. I didn’t need a cell phone app or a special widget .. I just needed a desktop app. FeedReader is a simple basic RSS feed reader that met my needs. Luckily as part of my monthly backup plan I export out all of my RSS feeds into an OPML file and store that on Google Drive. When it became clearly evident that Feedly was not going to be up anytime soon I quickly downloaded my OPML file and an imported it in to FeedReader and was able to continue on with my daily workload.

-4- Spreadsheets, Documents and Presentations

Well many people still use Microsoft Office, others have migrated to Google Docs. Unless you are delving deep into the functionality of either Word, Excel, or PowerPoint, usually Google Docs will suffice for general documents spreadsheets and presentations. As another alternative productivity suite is Apache OpenOffice. It is a traditional download-and-install to your desktop software package and it is free.

-5- Social Media Scheduling and Monitoring

When TweetDeck was down last week, many folks simply switched over to HootSuite – probably one of the most common social media scheduling and monitoring platforms out there. In addition, you can use Buffer, DoShare, Klout (yes, they have a scheduling module), and many many others.

If you are looking for a more robust social media scheduling and monitoring system, Sprout Social is a great option, however there is a cost for Sprout Social. All the other social media tools offer free packages and most offer a pro/premium upgrade.

In conclusion think about all the tools that you use on a daily basis – the ones that make and drive your business. If one of them were to disappear or become irrevocably unusable, do you have a Plan B? Do you have a backup for your main tools in your VA toolkit? If you don’t, sit down and really think about your tools and your productivity and the impact of not having a backup system. Without a Plan B, if something goes awry (and things will go awry), you need to have a plan, a process, and a procedure, to keep moving and keep your productivity levels high.

About Out of the Office Virtual Assistance:

At Out of the Office, we offer ideas and ways to increase your productivity, decrease your workload, and work more efficiently. We nurture a successful business relationship, while continuing to grow as your business partner. We are focused on streamlining your administration, social media planning and execution, and offering creative solutions for your business success.

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