Correspondence: How to Safeguard Your Valuable Time

Stuck in Time

How many times have I sat down to reply to a client’s or a future client’s email and ended up spending an hour carefully crafting a response, off the clock? Lots of times. So many times. Somehow, because of my own indiscretion, I’ve just spent a boatload of unbillable time giving my talent for free. There are strategies to safeguard that time though. Here are a few I’ve come to put into action.

The BIG GOAL: reduce the amount of “touches” (times you have to email someone) and the length of those compositions while increasing the amount of satisfaction or support your customer needs/wants.

Set autoresponders on your business email account, even when you’re not on vacation.

An automated response that clearly defines when someone should hear back from you and what you hope to see when you come back to your inbox is sometimes a breath of relief for your client. It also sets boundaries for your working relationship with them. Win win. Something like this:

“Hi there, thanks so much for reaching out. I get a lot of correspondence and always try to promptly answer emails within 24 hours. Please be sure to let me know what you need and how I can help.” Something like that. Maybe giving a couple of suggestions of how they can solve their own problems would be good, especially if you tend to get similar requests sometimes. (Canceled appointments, I can’t find this or that resource on your website, how can I pay you, that kind of thing.)

This is a fantastic option for people whose jobs aren’t to sit in front of a computer. If you’re an instructor, trainer, sea captain, landscaper, restauranteur… this will work wonders for you.

Want me to help you write and brand one? Email me.

Always relay terms of turnaround time first when responding to a request.

Perfect to avoid, “How’s it going?” type emails that can crowd your inbox in between committing to some work and the time when you’re going to finish a deliverable. Give yourself plenty of time. This is that grand old “under promise, over deliver” paradigm I really like to employ. Give yourself some time to get things done and explicitly relay what you plan to deliver and when you plan to deliver it.

Use gmail? Have “canned responses” ready for frequently asked questions.

Canned Responses is found under "Labs" in "Settings" on gmail.

Canned Responses is found under “Labs” in “Settings” on gmail.

Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 9.59.13 AM

Enable “Canned Responses” in “Labs.”

What are your rates? What is your philosophy of teaching? What services do you offer? I need to cancel our appointment, how do I reschedule? If you find you’re writing the same thing over and over again, or want a template for something (student evaluation, rate quote, thank you note), create a canned response for it.

You can always drop the canned response in, add their name and an opening sentence that sounds more personal, but there’s no need for you to be lovingly composing your shop’s hours or your billing policies over and over again.

Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 10.20.10 AM

Now when you compose an email, “Canned Responses” is an option in the menu on the lower right corner.

In gmail, go to “Settings” and click on “Labs.” Enable Canned Responses and be sure to click “Save Changes” up above the list of Labs. Now when you go to compose an email, click the down arrow menu button next to the delete button in the compose screen, and you’ve got the ability to set new Canned Responses.

There are lots of other great tools in the labs too. Check them out.

 

 

Use filters or segregate emails into different email accounts for work and pleasure. 

You know the scenario: you’re out for cocktails, waiting for a bus, or making some dinner and casually look at your phone, finding a work email that takes your attention from what you’re doing. That’s your time! Thus opens a slow leak of unbilled time accumulating in a few minutes here and a few minutes there. I know it feels like you’re being helpful and productive, especially when you’re first starting out as a business, but this has far-reaching, negative ripples. Normally, whatever you were doing doesn’t get done and the email you write is hurried. Then, there you are emailing during your vacation, your evening, or your fun times and the expectation of your clients and customers is going to shift to a dark place where you appear to be available any old time. See two suggestions down. We deal with this.

Set a 200 word limit on responses.

Brevity is the soul of wit, and it’s also the savior of time and sanity. You can say pretty much everything you need to say with fewer words. Give it a try. Compose your responses in a word processing program away from the browser that counts words for you.

Set an amount of time each day for dealing with correspondence.

One hour, two hours- some reasonably-set amount of time at whichever time of day is convenient for writing back to people via all your channels (email, facebook, etc). Resolve to check your email during that time and then maybe one other time later in the day to be sure everything is buttoned. Also, outside of that time, close your email when you’re not using it, especially if you’re job isn’t primarily to correspond with people.

 

Have some tips and tools you’ve tried that I don’t mention here? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

Keeping your Head in the Game with Low Level Noise

Photo credit: George Eastman House, Creative Commons

Photo credit: George Eastman House, Creative Commons

Some people get their best work done in libraries, cafes, and other bustling places. It turns out that there’s been lots of research done about this, and in kind, some websites are out there with convenient, appropriate noisemakers for telecommuting or muting out your office mates.

Here are a few good ones for you to try out!

Rainy Cafe – Play the rain, play the cafe, play a custom mix of the two.

Noisli – Even has a distraction-free text editor, the ability to mix/match sounds, and a great palette of changing colors.

Rainy Mood  – Click on “Today’s Music” to hear the rain and a musical selection (entire album) at the same time.

Ambient Mixer – Tons and tons of sounds to choose from.

Search Up #vatip for Some Good Suggestions

A few tweets from the end of February, examples of #vatip posts.

A few tweets from the end of February, examples of #vatip posts.

Whether you’re swamped with your work and could use some administrative help or if you’ve ever just wondered what in the heck virtual administrative assistants even DO, Twitter has some answers for you.

Search for the hashtag #vatip, and virtual assistants all over the place are sharing what their skills are, what they’re doing for their current clients, ideas that have popped up while working on various projects, or things they wish they were doing more of.

When looking for a VA, you might want to consider a few important things.

Not all VAs are equal.

Sometimes the work that needs doing is something that also requires a bit of savvy or previous experience, something that needs some decision-making or creative problem solving. Maybe it’s a regular task you’d like streamlined while it’s done, and at the end you’d like a document that outlines a new standard operating procedure that any person could pick up and use to duplicate the process. Other tasks involve handling sensitive information, like company passwords, email addresses, or customer information. For these, of course you can get references and have your VA sign a non-disclosure agreement- but you should work with someone you really enjoy working with. Someone you can trust. I don’t totally want to dis cheap international VA firms, but having one person on some of these tasks is best for all those reasons you can imagine.

If you’re one of these people, you probably need a VA.

Creatives, sole proprietors, non-computer savvy people who work with their hands, artists… I’ve worked for all these sorts of people. In every case, they were amazing at what they were doing, but really needed someone to nail down systems or to help with their growth.

For example: an artist is great at painting. Then there are all these paintings. Assembling a statement with examples of recent works and sending that document along with a well-made press packet to a wishlist of galleries in other cities, thus landing new gallery shows and beefing up their resume, would be a great thing. The artist continues to paint, the VA takes on that press packet task. No struggling to find the time or to learn how to make a pretty press packet. Come up with a budget, hire a VA with previous experience who understands a bit about how galleries work. Done.

Know what you want, but be ready for advice, too.

Most times I’m working WITH rather than FOR my clients. As a person augmenting your passionate pursuits, virtual assistants have a unique perspective. I often have ideas for ways to expand, things to cut, and ways to streamline. I’ll have edits I want to make to documents or websites or I have things I think they don’t need to spend energy on anymore. I often find myself gently offering advice to my clients that saves them time, money, and hassle. In fact, beyond the tasks themselves, I see this as my chief mission as a consultant. I’m not here to be obedient. I’m here to make a positive impact.

Hiring a coach? Maybe you need a virtual admin.

This one is pretty self-explanatory, considering that last paragraph. If you’re feeling chaotic or like you’re running in circles, maybe you just need someone to take a look at HOW you’re working and actually do some of the legwork to make it better. Having a coach tell you what you maybe might need to do is all well and good. If you’re in the weeds or trying to get bigger, you need more hands. More brains would be awesome too, right?

How about you?

I have more thoughts about how admins could help you. Costs nothing to chat with me and discuss some ideas. An email back and forth with me could change how you think about your work and about the value another brain, another set of eyes, and another attitude along with you in your endeavors.

Taking Care of Your Electronics: Planned Obsolescence Be Damned

Oldschool mac buttons

“If you take care of your stuff, it will last a long time,” my dad has always said.

He’s right, because he still has his mac, just like the iconic one in the picture there, and he does a little part of his work on it. He also has a big iMac, too, but that little guy is still going strong.

There are some technical software things that you can do to lengthen the life of your technical gadgetry, but what about cleaning, handling, and protecting them so they physically last a long time? Having those things last for years is good for the bottom line and good for the environment.

Here are a couple of tips I’ve scrounged up and I’ve learned from experience. I hope you find them helpful!

1. Phone cases aren’t just jive turkey accessories.

Protect your investment with something that keeps gunk out of the crevices, buttons, microphone, and charging port. I suggest something that’s also, at least somewhat, waterproof and that would cushion a drop. It protects from much more than just accidents, but everyday that device is in your linty pocket, your dusty handbag, or your trusty-but-rarely-cleaned backpack. On that front, I’d suggest a lifeproof case. Treat that phone or tablet like what it is: an expensive little computer, deserving of your respect.

2. Cases for computers work pretty darn well.

I’ve had my incase sleeve for my macbook (13″, celebrating our 7th anniversary together) and it’s helped protect it from my linty backpack and even played a role, I’m sure, in protecting it from a near-catastrophic fall early on in my ownership.

3. Cords need love too.

Cords have all sorts of crevices that can get crap stuck in them, and then subsequently, get crap stuck in your computer ports. Also, bending or crushing them will land you in a spot where you need a new $30 cord. Now there aren’t any particular things you need for this, maybe just a little, clean, drawstring bag with all your charging cords in it, which is what I’ve done. I did that mostly to keep my little usb bricks and phone charger, headphones, and handsfree all in one place, neatly in my handbag. As it turns out, mine is just a re-purposed, soft bag meant for a pair of sunglasses, to give you an idea of size. You can make your own, too. Here are a bunch of tutorials.

4. Develop a cleaning regimen.

Depending on the device*, there are good resources all over the web that can help you develop a good practice of cleaning your devices. No need to buy weird little towelettes, either. There are many tutorials and simple materials that make it possible for you to affordably keep up with this sort of mundane task that will make a big difference to your little glowing rectangles. Don’t forget that little can of air to shoot dust out of ports and keyboards! And set a little monthly reminder on your computer to take a moment to tidy up your devices.

I hope you find this helpful. Did I forget something, do you have a good idea? Pay it forward! Pass this on to a coworker or client who you think it would help.

*Refer to the user manuals or do a search about your particular device and what the best materials are to clean it with.

 

Pick a Name and Stick With It

My PMQG Name Tag!

This post is about a tool called NameChk, a tool that helps you search across multiple platforms to see if a username is available. I really wanted to share that with you, and the rest of this is an anecdotal case where I wish I had known about it earlier.

I recently had the opportunity to provide coaching to a marine consignment shop in Oriental, NC. We did a little crash course in how they could use social media tools to stay in touch with people who visit their shop and to introduce themselves to people who would probably be coming by boat to Oriental in the coming season.

I sketched out some goals, prioritized the order of those goals, and made sure they knew that they could use these tools anyway they like. I gave them some ideas of posts to get them started- but I had the feeling they also needed some pieces of the bigger picture.

They’ve just bought the shop, and they’re new to branding. I started with a google search, and realized that even though I had been to the shop earlier that day, I didn’t know the name of the place. So I asked.

“It’s either Oriental Marine Consignment or Marine Consignment of Oriental,” she said. Oh poop.

No blame, no shame. Here’s where a good friend and good consultant steps in and advises. On a google search, both are going to come up, but you definitely don’t want to have this on your business card, that on your twitter account, this other logo over here that has it one way, and then your sign on the door says it another.

So I backed it way up. Instead of rushing into setting them up with a page, which feels really good to do at a consult like this, I made sure to drive home my points about having a logo, sticking with a voice, and definitely, deciding what your business name is so people remember it and know it’s you talking.

That’s kind of odd, and we don’t think about it a lot of times, but if someone were to freely and subtly move from one business name to another in the course of a conversation, it’d seem kind of sly and you wouldn’t be sure that you were talking about the same company. That uneasiness betrays the trust part of having a relationship with a brand.

So enter NameChk. Let’s say you’ve got everything else together. You know what your business is called, you have your logo and your branding- now you’re going to go out and set up some accounts with social media outlets. How sweet would it be to have the same username everywhere? This makes it easy for people to find you everywhere.

I don’t have the same name everywhere. My business used to be called Wicked Neat, and people know me as that on twitter. I could change my username on there, but I’m still not sure about it. What do you think? Should I be righthandanne on twitter? Does it matter?

Altruism in Your Everyday

When I need to procure anything for business- supplies, postage, travel, etc- I look to fill that need and do some good with the money at the same time. Here are a few things you should consider doing around the office, small changes that have big impacts.

1. Buy Postage Stamps from Island Post Offices

Here in Maine, our small post offices are endangered. Sure, they don’t have a terribly huge amount of mail running through them, but they’re important to the communities on these islands. The Island Institute has this great form you can fill out for your next order of stamps. I’ve visited some of these small outposts, and I have to say, they’re really great and deserving of your support.

2. Develop a Relationship with Your Local Office Supply Dealer

In Portland, ME there’s Wigon Office Supply. In Portsmouth, NH there’s Hoyt’s Office Products. In your town, I bet you’ve got one of these creaky-floored, lovingly-maintained office supply joints. They order from the same exact catalogs that the bigwigs order from, and you can get everything you’d ever need in about 24 hours lead time. Furniture takes a little longer, but that’s no big deal. Stay with them for a little while and most likely they’ll extend you a 20% or more discount on your office supplies.

I used to call my gal up at a small place in Dover, NH back when they were an independent. Every time I moved to a new office, they’d extend me the discount at that new spot, too. The best part? I could call her for anything I needed, saying something like, “I need 300 envelopes that fit something with x, y, z dimensions but I can’t find it in the catalog.” She’d do the research, often pulling up some sale-priced thing that fit the bill and saved us tons. Relationships rule. The sale means the world to them, the service will mean the world to you.

3. Join the National Association of Railroad Passengers

NARP gets you cheaper tickets and gives you the opportunity to help rail. Amtrak provides convenient service between east coast cities in my experience. The service will only get better if we patronize Amtrak. No checked bags, no crazy fees everywhere, no weight limit to your bags, no creepy screening. GO RAIL!

4. Stop Buying Pink Crap

Please pardon this one negative item. Don’t buy that silly pink line of office products that says they’re helping to raise money for researching a cure to one of the plagues of our times. They’re not, here’s a little bit about why. A donation cup as you enter your office or perhaps a coworker team for the next interesting walk/run/bike event is better.

5. Consider Used, Rather than New, Office Furniture

So sweet on the bottom line and recycling in action. There are lots of showrooms that sell used office furniture, and sometimes you can snag a previously loved Herman Miller chair or a whole suite of matching pieces. You’ll save money and avoid throwing out more packaging into a landfill somewhere. Search it up- “used office furniture” plus your town’s name. Maybe try searching under chapter 11 clearing houses, too.

 

 

Well I hope these were helpful. I’d love to hear your tips, too!

Time to Change Your FB Tactics: Your Fans Aren’t Seeing Your Posts

Thanks to collegehumor.com for the image.I’ve always talked about Facebook like fan pages were the ultimate way you could reach people for free, as though it was going to be an equalizer small businesses, a guaranteed way to have your customers or potential customers opt in to your news feed and maybe have them sign up for your newsletters, which is where the REAL magic happens.

Well poop. Maybe I’m late to the party on this one, but those numbers you’re seeing in your admin page (___ people reached, ___%) are new and they forebode a necessary change of tactics on your part if you’re using Facebook pages to promote your business, non profit, club, or if you’re like me, your adventures. I thought they were click-through numbers, so I was excited. Nope.

According to Cinda Baxter, who felt the way I did, those numbers you’re seeing on your fan pages are being candid about your new Facebook-administered abysmal results. Even though your fans opted in and want to hear from you, Facebook’s new tactic is that they decide who gets to see your posts, basically showing your posts only to people who actively look at your page on a regular basis.

This means that some of your fans might be clicking ‘like’ and then never hearing from you again. You can PAY to have them see you, even though they opted in and want to hear from you anyhow. This seems grossly unfair (especially for pages like mine which have an audience made up mostly of our friends or for pages of nonprofits), but instead of kvetching about it, I suppose we should all come up with a strategy to make sure our hard work is seen.

If you ask me, this will take the wind out of the sails for Facebook. The less effective it is for the users, the less magic it has for everyone, and the less intrinsic value it has. Maybe the new investors won’t be able to see that, and maybe this trend toward making Facebook more profitable will leave people in the cold. The very people who made it worth anything in the first place.

Have any suggestions? I’d love to hear them. Spread the word and have a look at the article below.

Here’s her helpful post on the subject. I was having trouble visiting the site, so here’s the text:

Isn’t Facebook supposed to be the magical tool that levels the playing field for small business, non-profits, and grass roots movements? Once upon a time, maybe…but not so much now.

Last week, an interesting (and by “interesting” I mean “stunning“) tidbit began appearing at the bottom of status updates posted by page admins, visible only to them—the number of people each post reached, accompanied by the percentage of their total fan base it represented.

The number shown doesn’t represent the number of your fans online at the moment; it’s the abysmally small number Facebook bothered to publish in newsfeeds.

Yeah. You read that correctly. Most of your fans don’t receive your posts. At all. In any way, shape, or form. Facebook is only sharing them with fans who repeatedly return to your page, post on your page, comment on your page, or otherwise engage on your page.

In other words, the minority.

The following day, another tidbit appeared, just to the right of the scary percentage—a “Promote” button. Tap that, and you’re asked to pay for the rest of your fans to see the post.

Uh huh. Read that one correctly too. Pay to post.

Not to advertise—to reach the fans you already have. The ones who thought clicking “like” added you to their newsfeeds.

Out of sheer curiosity, I clicked Promote, then began crunching numbers. If I want a post to reach all 90,600 fans of The 3/50 Project, I need to pony up more than $500.

Per post.

Which simply isn’t going to happen.

So how do we work around the roadblock? There’s a back door solution, but we can’t make it easily visible, since we’re barred from putting “calls to action” in the Cover photo or a pinned post.

Which is why I’m pinning this blog post, once it posts to the Project’s FB page (legit, by Facebook standards).

Click image to view larger version

For Fans: How to keep receiving posts from FB pages you’ve “Liked”

1. Find a page you’ve “liked.”

2. Hover you mouse over the “Liked” button. Which may or may not work.

3. Try clicking the “Liked” button. That also may or may not work.

4. After clicking “Liked,” try hovering over it again. This may or may not work.

(Sensing a theme? Access isn’t consistent…nor intended to be easy, I have a feeling. Please keep trying.)

5. Once you (finally) get a drop down menu, confirm “Show in News Feed” is selected.

In theory, this should put all more posts from the page back in your newsfeed.

Or not.

Hard to know, since the only way to test it is to keep visiting every page you’ve “liked” to compare their posts to your newsfeed.

(Which no one has time to do. We understand.)

Facebook’s new pay-to-post format is obviously intended to increase revenue, now that shareholders are involved. Sadly, it’s also a killer for their most fervent users—non-profits and grass roots movements who have built a significant following. Pages with deep pockets and corporate backing will be able to buy their way into newsfeeds, but those of us without endless cash reserves are already invisible, thanks to this new twist.

And by “new” I mean [fill in your favorite expletive].

Fonts Matter

While I was at South Station in Boston the other day, I couldn’t help but swoon a bit over a surprising object of affection. A Dunkin’ Donuts sign. Holy crap, right?A pretty font in an unlikely location.

I didn’t start drooling over over-sugared and over-creamed coffee, so don’t pick on me. But really, there’s something about the absence of their ubiquitous and undeniably well-recognized, overstuffed orange and pink letters. Something about the retro, jet-set letters in this bustling environment with rushing travelers calls out to me a little more than their normal modus operandi.

The lean of the letters, the boldness of them, the kerning of a beautifully set bunch of luscious three dimensional characters… and they’re throwbacks. From what I’ve seen of their anniversary fodder they were selling, it does harken back to an older logo, so it’s a bit consistent. Old school donut shop, it beckons.

Now flash over to a comic sans newsletter with neon green lettering or, Gaia forbid it, shadow effect. Then go over to (insert company here) where they paid a designer to make them a one-of-a-kind logo and maybe even a website… but then when they go to send out company material or have some logo apparel made, they don’t bother matching or complimenting those fonts.

Hard truth for you here if you’ve been doing this: You appear to be higgledy piggledy.

YES, PEOPLE NOTICE. LIKE WHEN THEY NOTICE YOU’RE YELLING IF YOU’RE TYPING IN ALL CAPS. or that you’re laid back in the company of friends when you don’t use any caps at all. i do have a fondness for the e.e. cummings approach, but it’s not necessarily professional, unless it’s your branding. And it can be.

Don’t just say you’re aware of all of this, really think about it and look at your materials. I mean, they’re doing research about the emotions elicited by font size for Pete’s sake, you might as well take stock of your font fortune.

Define what fonts are acceptable for company documents, and limit them severely. Honestly, your company (no matter how small) should settle on one font. Go ahead and also set what font sizes you’d like in different situations (headers, the body of documents). Have seniors in the office? Maybe everything should be in 12 or 14 point. Have a sans serif font that appears in your logo? Stay consistent- choose a sans serif font for that flyer or announcement that compliments it if you can’t use the exact font.

Remember this- you work hard. Whether you write a newsletter or put a cup of coffee into the world with some writing on it or if you make widgets, you’re proud of that work. You want people to know it’s your work and come looking for you to get some of that thing you make. This is one way to make sure people know you like a neighbor, feel comfortable with you and recognize your work right away.

And, if you’re like me and consult people in the ways of these things, you need to steer them right even if it’s uncomfortable. It’s what they’ve paid you to do.

I’d love to hear where you’re at with your font-health and your branding. Think you don’t have time for it? Do tell.

 

What do you want your days to look like?

I have lots of aids to help me remember what I need to do any given day. I’m sure you do too. I’m interested in hearing about other people’s methods, because seriously, you people have your stuff together. Woo!

I’ve tried Evernote, glanced at Springpad, made a good college try at Batchbook. I’ve attempted to use my calendar as the Center of Everything… but still at the end of the day, it’s my little brown Moleskine with the graph paper pages and my trusty gel pen that really get it done. Little pocket for slips of paper or things to mail. Stamps if I need them (I write a lot of letters these days). It’s an object that I enjoy holding and using.

Flexible. The pages are unformatted and my note-taking is allowed to evolve. Right now I’m doing this great thing where I account for all of my time during the day. Above it is my to do list I wrote first thing in the morning, below I just bang out a ticker tape of blocks of time and what I did during them. If I screw off, I write it down. It’s ok to screw off a bit, but if I see an hour chunk where I didn’t do anything but sit at my desk and enjoy the internet, maybe I need to change that.

Meditative. Writing is doing, and for me writing is also memorizing and meditating. When I write down a to do list, I’m able to feel that word come out of the pen. The time it takes to complete that task becomes real for me in that moment. I might realize that it’s more important than something else, or that I can get it done quickly and first so it’s out of the way. I might also realize that it’s completely unimportant and I can let it slide to the next day. No big deal.

A client of mine writes herself notes, and her notes have made me change the way I write my notes. They’re here and there on post its, but they’re not to-do necessarily, and they’re not your run-of-the-mill reminders causing clutter. She writes work down in other places, like dry erase boards and an ever-open paper calendar, but those other notes are really something. They’re more like big ideas. “I want fun profitable work,” one says. Another reminds her to get outside and play, and even says how much time she should spend doing that every day.

And so I’ve adapted my lists too, because she’s on to something big. I don’t just write my work stuff down because I’m not two people. I’m one person who needs to play and pay bills and do fun work and maybe pick up a few groceries. So I have one notebook for everything. Dinner parties? In there. Reminders for me to invoice stuff? In there. Big thoughts like “Get Awesome?” In there.

If you’re writing two or three lists in a bunch of different places for all those people you think you are, maybe consolidating your goals and things to do into one list is better. You’re one person with 24 brilliant hours in which you need to garden, play, run to the bank, find new customers, walk the dog, write a blog post, research something… and for me, I’d like everyday to be fun, productive, full, manageable, and profitable. I want to waste less time and get to gettin’, whether that’s gettin’ more yoga in or gettin’ projects done for clients.

You know what doesn’t make the list? TV. Angry Birds. Thumb twiddlin’. No wait, I do have some time blocked out tomorrow for thumb twiddlin’. I also have something down here for whistling and looking innocent. It’s slated to happen right after I eat some cake. Ha!

I’d love to hear what you think of this. What do you think of keeping one list for personal and business stuff? What do you want your days to look like?

Your Library: An Asset for Home and Business

I received an email this morning from the Portland Public Library (Porltand, Maine) announcing a very helpful, informative series of talks and workshops about financial literacy, something for which many of us could use some coaching and support.

It got me thinking about my own participation, and how I’ve been lax in taking advantage of these incredible resources. I was also thinking I should share it with you, in case you’re in the Portland, Maine area, but especially if you’re from anywhere and you haven’t checked in with your library lately.

If you haven’t already, and even if you’ve got just a tiny library in your town, there are incredible events, talks, and resources available to you. I’ve seen small business seminars, talks about organizing homes and offices, and other surprising educational forums… for free. For you. Because you own the library. Because it’s there to serve your needs and somehow, creepily, they’ve got you figured out.

Not to mention, of course, the Library is a great place to work if you’re a telecommuter.

Here’s the info for that seminar in Portland. Spread the word, and if you’ve heard of some great event at your local library, do share it with your neighbors, too.

Week April 24th-27th, 2012 Join the Library in their effort to increase financial literacy and create a money smart community. The library will host the following events, sponsored by CA$H Greater Portland at United Way of Greater Portland, Women, Work and Community, and KeyBank as part of Money Smart Week. Workshops will be held April 24th through the 27th at the Main Library.

Set Your Financial Goals – Tuesday, April 24, 12-1 p.m.
Looking to set financial goals? Join us to find out how to prioritize your current finances and achieve your goals.

Keep It Safe – Wednesday, April 25, 12-1 p.m.
Join us to learn how to protect your bank account from scams. Keep your money and identity safe.

Count Every Dollar – Thursday, April 26, 12-1 p.m.
How do your spending habits impact your financial goals? Join us to look at how the money you spend today will impact your financial goals.

Credit Report Day – Friday, April 27,10 a.m.-2 p.m.
When was the last time you looked at your credit report? Your credit history (bill payments, credit card and loan debt) can impact your ability to make future purchases, qualify for employment, utilities and housing. Join us to review your free credit report and discover strategies to build good credit. Once you have your credit report, learn how you can multiply your savings with a Maine Family Development Account. Call 207-871-1700, ext. 725 to make your appointment. Walk-ins welcome upon availability.

Please call 207-871-1700, ext. 725 for further information.