June 2008  
All of your business needs. One easy solution.
Volume 5 Issue 6   www.offassist.com
Take the Time to Take Time Off

I'm writing this in mid-May and my first grader has the countdown to the end of the school year going. Summer is always a fun time for us, and a thoughtful one.

Client business slows down enough that I am able to sit back and think about my own business a little. The first few months of the year are always so crazy! I sometimes have to remind myself that I have to think about what my own business needs, too.

We also make an effort to go away on vacation each Summer and get away from the office. This is a LOT harder to do when your office is next to your kitchen. It's nice to have a little respite from phones, email, and deadlines.

I like to use this break to reflect on where Tom and I have taken the business and where we want it to go. Right now I'm not sure where we're going from here, but I am pleased with the path OffAssist has taken. I'm proud of what we've built and the example we are setting for our kids.

Remember - Take the time to take time off!

In this issue...

Couples Working At Home: How To Get Along and Make It Work
by Jeff Casmer

Couples begin working from home for many different reasons. Sometimes it's by choice, sometimes it isn't. Sometimes it's an opportunity, sometimes it's a necessity. Whatever the situation, you'll get off to a better start if you both agree that the best course of action is to work at home.

It's virtually impossible to work happily at home without the cooperation and support of your spouse, so a joint decision will most certainly work better than issuing an edict or even simply making an announcement that you've decided to work at home. Even if you already have an office at home, it's not too late to sit down and talk about whether it's working out. Be honest about how you feel about using your home as an office and encourage your spouse to be honest too. Discuss your concerns openly. If you're worried that your spouse will never leave the office, say so. If you're concerned that the children will be neglected, say so. The potential problems you identify can help you develop a practical plan to guard against them.

Specific Steps You Can Take:
  • Make the decision to work at home a joint one.
  • Express your reasons for wanting to work at home.
  • Discuss your concerns openly and encourage your spouse to do so as well.
  • Thank your spouse for each concern he or she brings up.
  • Respond honestly to each other's concerns.
  • Take each concern seriously and get the facts about it.
  • Think of possible solutions and develop a plan for how to avoid potential problems.
  • Test out your solutions. See if they work. Revise them when they don't work to your or your mate's satisfaction.
The inevitable changes that take place when you start working from home can strain your relationship. The situation doesn't have to become painful, however. The initial stress can be a sign of new and better things to come. But you must be alert and responsive to difficulties that arise while they are still manageable.

Here are some of the healthy reactions a couple can expect. They don't always feel good, but they are a normal part of the process of changing your lifestyle.

Conflicts with New Identities: The decision to work at home is almost always part of a larger decision to change your life, which changes your identity. People who begin working at home are at turning points in their lives. Assuming a new identity is a major adjustment in itself. Add working from home and the many accompanying changes in daily routine and you can see why people going through so many adjustments may not be easy to live with. You can understand why they may be unsure of themselves, edgy, worried, or struggling to put up a good front. Even when spouses want to be supportive, and actually think they are helping, they may not welcome all aspects of their mate's new identity.

Disputes over Duties and Responsibilities: Working from home usually means changes in household routines. Many arguments and conflicts can arise over day-to-day arrangements about:

1. Cleaning. Living and working at home twenty-four hours a day means more mess and more wear and tear. Who does the extra work to keep the house in order? When does it have to be cleaned up or repaired? Do children now have to be neater because customers are coming to the house? If so, who gets the children to clean up? If the packaging department of your business is on the dining room table, how long can it stay like that, and who puts everything away - the person who made the mess or the person who wants it cleaned up?

2. Meals. Working at home usually means at least one extra meal there. So you need to discuss who plans it, who buys it, who fixes it, who cleans it up. If you have been fixing the meals, for example, will you still have time to fix them all, or to fix the same kinds of meals, now that you're working at home?

3. Space. Working at home can place certain limitations on what your family can do there or even on other things you want to do. If your family room is now your office, where does everyone go to relax? Can they have company while you are working? Can your spouse walk around the house in a bathing suit during business hours? You'll need to consider issues like whether your family can play the stereo or talk on the phone whenever they want, or if such activity infringes on your office space.

4. Children. Children need a lot of attention. They can be a distraction and an interruption that makes work next to impossible. A decision has to be made about who handles this. Does the one working at home take on more of these responsibilities than before? Who keeps the children quiet or out of your office?

5. Time. Once your office is at home, you need to determine who gets to spend time with you and when. If you're away at the office all day, you clearly can't take the kids to the park after school.

Jeff Casmer is an internet marketing consultant and work at home business owner. His "Top Ranked" Earn Money at Home Directory gives you all the information you need to start, maintain, and prosper with your very own Work at Home Business in the 21st century.

Article courtesy of IdeaMarketers.com

Tax Deadlines
June 15 - IRS Monthly payroll tax deposits due for May issued payroll

June 15 - 1040ES Estimated Taxes due for 2nd Quarter 2007

June 20 - Texas Sales & Use Tax Return due for monthly filers

July 15 - IRS Monthly payroll tax deposits due for June issued payroll

July 20 - Texas Sales & Use Tax Return due for monthly and quarterly filers

July 31 - Employer's Quarterly Payroll Tax Report(s) Form 941

July 31 - Employer's Quarterly TWC (Texas Workforce Commission)

Due to the extreme storms in the last four to six weeks, state and federal tax deadlines have been extended in some storm-affected areas. Check with your local tax office and at www.irs.gov to find out if you are among those affected by these localized deadline changes.
Tech Talk With Tom...
What's Your HD File System?

A close friend of mine recently brought me his computer and asked me to take a look at it. He was having several issues with the machine, but the worst problem was that it was getting slower and slower.

He said that he defragmented the hard drive regularly and a quick inspection proved that to be true. He also kept the inside of the machine spotless, cleaning it physically at least once a month.

A quick test proved that even though his drives were old, they were still running fine. That same test also found something I wasn't expecting. I asked him when the last time he did a clean start on his computer was. Turns out he had not started fresh since sometime in early 2002.

The problem turned out to be FAT32.

FAT32 is the file system for Windows 98 and prior. Since that time, Microsoft has gone to the more flexible and secure NT file system (NTFS). If you think you might still be running FAT32 on your hard drives, here's how to find out if you are, and how to bring your hard drives up to speed. As always, make sure you back up prior to doing any major maintenance to your hard drive.

Right-Click "My Computer"

Select Manage > Storage > Disk Management

In the "File System" column check what file systems your drives are using.

Press Start > Run

Type cmd (this will open a command prompt)

At the command prompt use the following command:

convert (driveletter): /fs:ntfs

Example: "convert g: /fs:ntfs". This would convert g: to the NTFS file system

And there you have it. My friend's computer is now chugging along very well. And with the added functionality and security of the NTFS file system, it should keep doing it for a few more years. Now if only he would tell me the secret to keeping a hard drive running for 7 years.

Tom Beauchamp is the marketing and tech expert behind OffAssist. He can be reached at tom@offassist.com.
Spotlight On...
Leslee Beldotti

As long as we're pulling back the curtain this Spring, let's re-introduce Leslee Beldotti of VA-Lab Designs. When Candy gave Dy the newsletter template and Dy promptly broke it, web designer Leslee was brought on board. Now, thanks to VA-Lab Designs, the OffAssist newsletter goes out looking consistently professional every month.

VA-Lab Designs started as a virtual assistance firm, but these days Leslee has transitioned her business to web design and maintenance. VA-Lab Designs specializes in clean, professional design for web sites, logos, business cards, e-newsletters, and more.

To see more of Leslee's work or to learn about this talented designer's roots, check out her website at www.va-lab.com. She's ex-military, so I'd click the link if I were you.
Have you nursed a secret longing to be in the spotlight, center-stage, all eyes on you?

If you would like to be featured in the OffAssist spotlight column, and have not been featured in the past twelve months, contact Candy@OffAssist.com and we'll see if we can put you in the limelight.

QuickBooks Tip
Q: I recently bought a new PDA phone as a business expense, and expensed the full value. The phone had a $100 rebate. When the rebate comes in, how do I enter it?

A: A rebate would normally reduce the value of the product purchased. When you receive the check, start by selecting Record Deposits in QuickBooks, and enter the vendor in the Received From column. Note the account you originally expensed the PDA phone to in the "From Account" column. Finally, enter the amount of your rebate, $100 per your example, and save the transaction.
Humor: Guided Tour
The devil was leading a guided tour through the halls of Hades. After leading the group through the fire and brimstone exhibit, he led them to a room with billions of clocks on the walls. The devil explained that every person on earth is represented by a clock. Every time a person does something nasty, their clock ticks backwards one minute.

One of the tour participants raised his hand and said "I know an IRS agent, Jimmy Smith. Where is his clock?"

The devil grinned. "Oh. His clock is in the back room. We use it for a fan."

Have an article you'd like to write for our monthly newsletter or want to be spotlighted? Have a QuickBooks question or something you'd like to see in the Tech Tip?

Email candy@offassist.com.

The OffAssist newsletter is made possible by the copywriting/editing skills of Ink Think VA, and the coding talents of VA Lab Designs.