"Gadgets are small tools that have a particular function which is powered by electronic principles (a circuit board). In the software industry, "gadget" refers to computer programs that provide services without needing an independent application to be launched for each one, but instead run in an environment that manages multiple gadgets.” That’s according to Wikipedia. Some of the gadgets that we need in our virtual assisting business are as follows:
A desktop computer or personal computer is a gadget, which we usually put on a desk or underneath it. It composes of a mouse, keyboard, monitor, and a CPU. While a laptop a.k.a. notebook or notebook computer is a portable computer device suitable for travelling. Both have advantages and disadvantages, which I will discuss below.
A desktop computer on the lighter side basically is cheaper than a laptop or tablet. Depending on the monitor, it has a larger screen. It doesn’t require any battery. On the other hand, it is not portable, you can’t operate this machine without a keyboard, monitor and mouse. It requires a separate monitor. It is quite heavy and can cause a little noise sometimes. It has no wireless connectivity.
A laptop computer is very portable, lightweight, easy to carry, and powered by battery. But, it’s very expensive, less ergonomic, can overheat easily because of its compact system, and can easily be stolen.
A desktop computer or laptop is the most important thing you will need and you need to invest in it. If you get on a tight budget get a dependable desktop computer, but ensure it’s up-to-date on its RAM, CPU processors on the current standard requirements nowadays. Make sure it connects fast to the internet.
Dependable computer brands, to-date are Apple, HP, Lenovo, Dell, and a lot more. Honestly, I use a mini laptop eMachines on my workstation. It’s quite old but still, it’s durable and dependable. I have a “new” 14-inch laptop. This one was given to me as a gift from a client. I’m lucky enough to have a brand new up-to-date laptop for free. My new laptop is Acer Aspire R3-131T which has build-in Windows 10, Intel Pentium CPU N3700 1.6 GHz, 4GB RAM, and a system type of 64-bit OS x64-based processor. It is also pen and touch or full Windows touch support touch point capabilities. I love this Acer laptop because it is a transformer, which I can either use it as a tablet or a regular laptop. If you have a budget I recommend buying an Apple aka Mac computer. I know it is quite a bit expensive, but it is built for its quality, security, iOS integration, user experience and satisfaction, it has the best screens, good component optimization and the best customer support.
• Know What Its Components Are
When buying a computer device you must know what component it has such as RAM, HDD, processor, peripherals, or brand. Knowing what these are is very crucial. They are the main components on how reliable or dependable your computer will be. A RAM is an acronym for random access memory which is the memory of your computer. It is the short-term memory of your computer. RAM doesn’t run out of memory. It keeps on operating but slowly. An HDD a.k.a. HD, hard disk drive or hard drive is the long-term memory of your computer. Nowadays, SSD also known as Slowly State Drive is replacing HDD. SSD can be seen in most up-to-date computers. The data is stored in a microchip instead of a disk platter. The processor of your computer is called CPU a.k.a. Central Processing Unit. It is the brain of your computer. Computer peripherals are auxiliary devices of your computer, such as mouse or keyboard.
• Know Its Peripherals
Any device that receives output from a computer or do provide input to a computer is known as peripheral. A computer has an input and output peripheral devices or can be used as both. Input peripherals are keyboard, mouse, headset with microphone, touch screen, video/digital camera, pen tablet, printer with scanner, joystick, MIDI keyboard. Output peripherals are speakers, printer, projector, plotter, TV screen. Peripherals that can either function as input or output are MIDI equipment, digital camcorder, digital mixers, media card reader, and external hard drives.
• Know How to Build It
Why? Building your own computer components by choosing the right components that suites your needs will help you easily upgrade it. You’ll have a better computer that is more efficient than the usual. The speed will be much faster. But first, consider your budget or how much you’re willing to spend when you choose the components of your computer. Since computers are upgrading and components as well, I suggest for you to have a budget of at least $1,000 more or less. Needed parts of your computer are motherboard, processor, memory, hard drive or video card. Optional parts are DVD/CD drive, LCD monitor, keyboard, mouse or speaker. AMD and Intel processors at the moment are the best processors or brains of a computer. Most people prefer Intel rather than AMD. Why? Because of its quality. Most high-end computers nowadays uses Intel processor rather than other brands. But, if you’re on a tight budget, cheap alternative that most people recommend is AMD processor. If you’re into games or online gaming, you’ll need a graphic card. Recommended brand is NVIDIA 8800 GTS card.
• Know When To Buy
Computer components and accessories are constantly upgrading. A brand new computer now can be just an old device in the coming months. So, when buying a computer, consider your budget and the condition of your current computer. A budget of more or less than $1000 is already sufficient for you to have the latest components you’ll need for your new computer.
1. Check how old is your current computer. If it’s more than 4 years, it’s probably outdated or obsolete now. - They both are similar in the type of work. Both are highly efficient in the creative as well as cultural industry type of jobs in pursuit of boosting the client’s business marketing efforts.
2. Does your current computer become slow? Does browsing the internet or opening computer programs are quite slow? A slow processing computer can waste much of ‘our time to do some stuffs on the computer.
3. Do you want to upgrade to a recent operating system?
4. Do you need better hardware?
5. Does the new software decreases performance of your current computer.
6. Does your computer system requirements didn’t meet the software/game requirements?
If all of the above-noted questionnaire, meet most of your current computer issues, then definitely it’s time to upgrade to a new computer. All of these issues can affect your work performance to do client’s tasks. Poor computer performance results in poor productivity that leads to loss of earnings and clients.
Online retail stores, local computer stores, or a computer agent are some of the places you can buy a computer. You can buy a computer directly through popular retail stores online like Amazon and Zalora or direct dealer stores like Apple, Dell, HP, Lenova, etc. Local computer shops like malls or computer retailer shops near you also sell products from these popular brands of computer but expect a little bit higher than usual.
Personally, I don't recommend buying a second-hand computer, but to some it’s okay. Why you shouldn't buy a second-hand or used computer? Sometimes buying a used computer can be okay as long as it doesn’t meet all the issues as I’ve stated above. Sometimes used computer has expired warranty, it might be infected with viruses, has bad battery life, bad software and hardware, and no guarantee that it will last for months or years. Better yet, get a brand new computer rather than wasting your money and time into something that is not dependable.
The net or Internet is a system of computer networks worldwide that links billions of devices globally using the TCP/IP Internet Protocol suite. It is an interconnection of networks of local to global such as business, private, government, public and academic linked by various tech devices (optical, wireless and electronic). This is according to Wikipedia. It carries a huge range of information, services and resources such as file sharing, email, telephony and the world wide web WWW. There are various types of internet connection which are cellular, wireless, satellite, DSL and Dial-Up.
You will need an Internet to connect your devices (computer, phone, etc.) and relay or interchange information to your clients worldwide. Take note, technology upgrades or changes fast, so faster internet connection is what you will need to meet these changes. Check business establishment locally in your area about what Internet Service Providers or ISPs are available.
List of Internet Service Providers in the United States are ComCass, AT&T, TimeWarner Cable, Century Link, Charter Communications, Verizon, Cox, Optimum, Frontier, Suddenlink, EarthLink, Windstream, CableOne, NetZero, Juno, AOL, MSN, Mediacom, BasicISP, ISP.com. If you’re looking for specific ISPs in certain areas around the globe, there is a complete list of ISPs worldwide on Wikipedia. Top ISPs here in the Philippines are PLDT, Globe Telecom, Smart Communications, etc.
These are optional devices that might be essential for your type of work as a virtual assistant. You don’t need to have it ALL. But, I recommend choosing a few that you’ll need. So here are the lists:
a. Computer accessories - This includes printer with a scanner, computer mouse (cable or wireless), laptop cooler, docking station, wireless keyboard, etc. If you need to print a document from your computer you’ll need a printer. To easily click on items on your computer screen you’ll need a mouse. There are two types of computer mouse; one is cable mouse and the other a wireless mouse. In order to minimize overheating of your laptop, you’ll need to use a cooler or docking station.
b. Home Office Accessories - This includes papers, sticky notes, computer desk with drawers, computer desk, pen, whiteboard, and a lot more which is somewhat useful to be included in your workstation.
c. Tablet PC - Think about Apple’s iPad, that’s an example of a wireless portable personal computer. This device is larger than a smartphone but smaller than a notebook computer. A tablet can be beneficial to your VA business in various ways. In fact, when I wrote this article, I was using the Notes app from my iPad. You can also sync all your data from your phone, laptop or PC with this device or browse the Internet and a lot more.
d. Phone - Mobile phone like Apple iPhone, Microsoft Lumia, Samsung Galaxy are some of the many devices out in the market. These are called smartphones. Smartphones like are minicomputers that have touchscreen interface, internet access, and operating system OS capable of downloading applications or app. Through iCloud, Google Drive, and a lot of more you can easily sync all data from your smartphone to your other devices like laptop, PC, etc.
e. Chargers & Cables - All the battery enabled devices like phones, iPad, laptop, etc. comes up with a charger. This charger uses to charge energy to the battery of your device from the main power supply. Nowadays, to quickly charge your gadgets without using the power supply you’ll need a power bank, which is a portable device that stores power energy. In order to recharge your device, you’ll need it’s USB connector to connect your device to the power bank to do the process of transferring this energy from your powerbank to your device. Internet cable connects your computer to the Internet in order for you to surf the internet quickly.
A workstation a.k.a. workspace or work station compose of a desk and a computer and some accessories. This can be as simple as a small table with a laptop on top, expensive piece of furniture, or metallic design with high-tech accessories. A workstation is very important to any professional individual. Why? Without it, every job can be easily messed up. Every working individual has his own workspace. This is where all jobs get done easily or effortlessly.
As a virtual assistant, it is very important to have your own workstation. Without it, you won’t be able to complete a job assigned to you. You can easily lose a client because of this. You won’t be hired again, as a result. This will also projects unprofessionalism and lack of initiative. It will also reflect poor productive output on your part as a VA. Poor productivity or production means poor quality work resulting in low income or profit.
A workstation is a place of comfort and convenience every time you perform a job. Emotionally and physically, having a simple workstation will lessen stress or health issues. Without it, you’ll feel agitated and irritated, resulting into emotional instability. Some examples of which are anxiety, depression and anger. Physically, you will feel the signs and symptoms of body aches and pains. These are severe stress, fatigue, headache, dizziness, muscle cramps and aches, muscle and joint pain, hypertension.
Having a comfortable workstation reflects that you are professional. You are doing your profession with pride and dignity. Even though you’re only working at home, you value your work as a VA.
There are various types of workstation that you can choose. Choosing the perfect workstation depends on the size of your workspace. These are network, armories, modular, ergonomic and portable.
a. Network - This is only advisable in an office setting. It comprises of a desktop with LAN connection. It is not advisable at home since you are working alone. If you have 5 or more associates working inside your home, then you need to have a network workstation.
b. Armories - This armory workstation is preferred for home use. Why? Your computer is hidden inside a well-crafted shelf. Other computer gadgets are placed inside a decorative drawer.
c. Modular - This comprises of interchangeable units. It has shelves, drawers, space for a computer, writing and meeting. Since you’re working alone in your home, a modular workstation isn’t highly recommended.
d. Ergonomic - It is highly desirable to have an ergonomic work station. Why? As the word ‘ergonomic’ implies, it highly prioritizes your body’s comfort zone. The desk and the seating are designed per body’s comfort. These are adjustable in terms of height or position.
e. Portable - One of the major issues for most VA’s is space. Some of us live in bungalow, condo or apartment where space is a major issue. A small and lightweight portable workstation is what you need. It is highly mobilized and can easily adapt according to your workspace.
Do you have your own workstation? If not, now is the time to have one. How? Basically, you need a desk and a computer. By definition, you already knew what a workstation is as stated above. It comprises of a simple desk and a computer. A simple desk should be suitable enough to place your computer. The size must be appropriate enough to fit into a room. This must be exact as to what you really need. It must be sturdy enough to hold other things. It must have compartments to place important documents, pen or paper. There are varieties of ready-made desks from home depots. Take note of this advice before buying one. As I’ve said, “It must be the right size with compartments and sturdy.” If you don’t want a pre-made desk, hire a carpenter or foreman to make it.
Lastly, you need a very reliable computer with a dependable internet connection. A computer can be a desktop or a laptop. It is recommended to have the latest computer model, but not necessary. You can always rely upon your old computer. As long as the internet connection is fast, devices, tools and software are working properly it is okay.
Other things to include are useful accessories such as computer and office accessories. Computer accessories are keyboard, modem, and headset with mouthpiece, speaker, printer, mouse, mouse pad, cables, CDs, wiring and extension cord. Office accessories are pens, coupon bonds and paper. You can always include a clock, books, and your mobile phone or tablet. Always keep a tissue, hand sanitizer solution or alcohol inside your drawer or compartment.
Discipline is the key to a successful virtual assistant career. In conjunction with having discipline is that you are able to implement and follow certain rules. Some of which are as follows:
a. Cleanliness - Always keep your desk, chair, computer, accessories and other things on your workstation clean. It is good for your health and well-being.
b. Organize - Do organize where to place your computer and other stuffs especially the wiring. Through this, you can easily have access to it. It will lessen the occurrence of accidents like fire caused by faulty wires or possible injuries.
c. Keep it simple - Only keep things on your workstation that you truly needed.
a. Clutter - Do not damp so many things on your workstation. It must be kept simple, well organized, and away from destructive things.
b. Food - It is not advisable to place food on your workstation. It can distract your concentration or thoughts while doing your job.
In conjunction to a workstation, you need a workplace. A workplace is a dedicated space inside your home. It can be a room or a corner in your house. This must be spacious enough to place your workstation. There must be no destruction to alter your concentration while working. As a virtual assistant, you will be working at home. So, you need to find a suitable workplace in your home. The kitchen, dining and living rooms are not recommended. Why? Because of so many possible destructions that might affect your work. The destruction can be as simple as opening and closing of the refrigerator. And to an extreme extent, loud noise coming from your entertainment set.
Having a reliable workstation and workplace is very important. Through these, any VA can easily do the job. It can also leverage your professionalism despite working at home. With this, you’re able to boost productivity for yourself and your clients.
My own personal workstation is a cheap, sturdy ready-made desk with a drawer and upper and lower compartments. On top of it are my laptops and other stuffs above. Underneath is another compartment where I put my books and printer. It is located at a corner in my room. Please look at my Twitter page on the media section for the photo of my workstation.
Hi, I'm Paul. If you enjoyed reading this article you might like to read also:
Or check Notes from a VA - The Ultimate Guide to a Successful Virtual Assistant Career for more helpful tips.
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