Christmas/New Year, in Australia at least, is generally a time for taking a break. Many companies close down for 10 days, 2 weeks or more or they have a skeleton staff operating during that period. It is a time to just relax, let go, recover from the previous year and start to plan or look ahead to the following year.
Sometimes it’s just really hard getting going again. Depends on where you’ve been at on a mental level and a physical level. It is traditionally a time to set new year resolutions and try to start afresh.
If you are a Virtual Assistant I encourage you to look at your systems – on and off the computer and how you operate your business and maintain your client contact. It is important to have good systems in place and start the year off right.
Just immediately prior to Christmas I had a hard disk failure. I had been toying with the idea of reformatting my hard drive over this holiday period but before I could do any preparation towards it (checking that I had all the relevant software and drivers, passwords backed up, etc, etc) my computer decided it was going to have its own break. On the evening of 22nd December.
Not good timing in my books. I knew there had been emails sent to me by clients for last minute things before I went on ‘leave’ but I hadn’t printed them off or responded to them and was intending to do so the following day.
Fortunately for me Dell hadn’t closed down and their response to my problem was immediate and well ordered. I had contact with them 3 times during the following day and eventually we had to take the hard road and take my hard drive back to original factory settings, i.e. it was reformatted. I was unable to save, backup or do anything else with it – it was totally stuffed. I spent the next couple of days reinstalling software and as soon as I was able shot off a couple of emails to people who needed to be advised what had taken place.
It was during this time I discovered that the backup system I was using had also faltered – probably a sign that my hard disk was on its way out, but I hadn’t picked up the signs. Because I had regularly checked in the past that the backups were happening, I hadn’t checked during December. I lost some crucial emails and the backup pst file I had was corrupted. I also lost about a week’s worth of bookkeeping. To make matters worse the CD for my bookkeeping program had become faulty (I have no idea how or why) and the company who can supply a replacement disk can’t send out a new one till their mailing house re-opens on 6th January. While this isn’t permanently damaging it is an inconvenience. I can’t invoice anyone for December till I have my program up and running again.
There were some good things to come out of this problem though. I’d set up an account with gmail in April 2009 in preparation for my forthcoming overseas trip – I just wanted one place only to log in to check emails and this had proven useful. I didn’t know till after my crash that I could actually redownload all emails received and sent from the time I opened up an account with gmail. It was several hundred megabytes worth but was I pleased to see that I could get back all my emails – I’ve now got a new pst file that is fully backed up. I learnt also that you can filter the emails you want to download and create a saved group for them at gmail but to download them you need to use imap and this freezes my Outlook. Not sure why but fortunately it hasn’t mattered as the other option worked best.
And wouldn’t you know it? A client of mine just this week has had a mail server crash and she lost all of her email – even the backed up stuff online. I told her to open an account with gmail in case of future problems and shared how it helped me. So anything I experience or learn is often used to help others – I just didn’t expect it to be so soon.
Have a great 2010 everyone!