Friday, May 29, 2009


It’s a cold, grey and rainy Cape Town day but it’s a Friday and that’s what counts. Working from home, Fridays are not the highlight of the week they were back in the good old days before the recession and retrenchment, but there’s still a good feel to the day.
The last thing I can face today is my computer and the weekend’s worth of transcription that awaits me (and for which I thank heaven fasting) so I cast around for excuses to delay work which would be better off done immediately. It’s the last working day of May, so I pay my bills (two, credit card and bond). Paying the bond, or at least a teeny-weeny part of the payment due makes me feel great, because it’s the first payment I have made from my earnings in six months. The tenant takes care of about two-thirds of the payment and there’s a little bit of credit there so, while it hasn’t led to sleepless nights, it’s been bothering me a lot that I haven’t been able to keep up with the payments.
The credit card is what I use for everything: rates payments, electricity, air time, insurance payment, AA membership (when your car looks like mine, it’s a jolly good idea), groceries, thermal underwear - you name it, if it can go the card, it does. The trick to using a credit card is to pay the entire amount due, down to the last cent, each and every month.
Inspiration strikes – my car licence is due for renewal –in fact it expires within 3 days and I haven’t sussed out how I can sort it out on-line. I never use the car for one errand only, so I pack in my library books and plan to buy cat food while I’m going in that direction.
First stop, the charity shop. This is a fairly miserable little one in a poor neighbourhood so the pickings are usually slim. I find a really pretty metal waste paper bin in turquoise for R8. This is a future plant container.
Next stop, the charity shop. This one is a little more up-market and I’ve bought a couple of useful books here. Fiction I borrow from the library. Here I find a little wire egg basket for R5. With a bit of wire from the roll I purchased for about R30 three or four years ago and which I hope will last me for my lifetime, it’ll make a container for a hanging plant, preferably a vegetable or herb of sorts.
Traffic department – longish queue – very boring – find out how to do this on-line in future. One more tedious errand banished forever; this may be misplaced optimism - the system doesn’t seem to work too well in our rainbow nation.
I have to buy potting soil because of the cheap bin. This is a major expenditure in my life because I garden entirely in pots. Actually, the pots are the major expenditure because this particular garden was started only about a year ago. Fortunately, I bought most of these while I was working because these days it’s more about making something from nothing. My local nursery has a loyalty card system which means I get back money (to be truthful, a minuscule amount) on every purchase I make. I also get a free gift each month. This month it was a small packet of fertiliser which I gave to a friend. Last month, it was a pack of bulbs (Spraxis, which are doing quite nicely, thank you). I think the previous month it was a succulent, and so on. Obviously, this is a great marketing ploy because, as any gardener knows, you cannot go to the nursery without coming away with boot-loads of stuff.
Bulbs are on special – R10 a packet. I shall plant scented freesias in the turquoise waste paper bin. I buy three packets instead of one (see above) and, anyway, it works out at about 28c per bulb. Far less than a teabag – I shall go without tea, if necessary.
Next stop, the herb garden. They have a lot of herbs on special, but I already have all these. I get chatting with a very knowledgeable employee on the subject of tomatoes and notice a trolley of herbs which are obviously destined for the compost heap. Clearly the staff can’t hand out freebies – they’re there to sell the stuff but, by agreement, once his back is turned, I remove one of two dying dill plants from a container. This is theft. There’s no two ways about it- it’s theft. I console myself with the thought that I shall bring this sad little dill plant back to health. It’s not Dill’s time to die.
Woolworths’ butter is no more expensive than anyone else’s and I don’t do margarine. It’s also practically next to the pet shop where I buy supplies for Sweet Baby Jane (a spoilt and rather tubby cat). As I enter, there are several trays of promotional products, including crisp bread surrounded by cheese and baby tomatoes. Baby Roma tomatoes – I don’t have those in my budding vegetable garden and I’m still seething at the price of vegetable seeds at the nurseries.

More and more people are turning to growing at least some of their food and the seed companies are cashing in on the trend. This, regrettably, seems to be the South African way.
Two little tomatoes find their way into my bag. This is theft. I justify this to myself, thinking Woolworths was prepared to give me a couple of tomatoes to eat – why should they care if I eat them later in the year, when they will hopefully have grown fruitful and multiplied?
“Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive” – Sir Walter Scott.
I don’t quite know if I’ve untangled it yet, but the dill plant looks happier already and the tomatoes are in a saucer where they will dry out in time to be planted come spring. They, too, look quite cheerful..
In the meantime, the sun has come out and I still don’t have the urge to do that darned typing.

Michele Johanson
Fax: 086 6021 791
Ph: 084 6944 307

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tavasa (Transcriptionists and Virtual Assistants of South Africa)

Authors: Alison Fourie and Gayner Paynter


Announcing TAVASA: The Transcriptionists and Virtual Assistants of South Africa.

Our aim is the promote the Transcriptionists and Virtual Assistants industry within South Africa
· To guide new Transcriptionists and Virtual Assistants to set up their businesses within the industry.
· We provide transcriptions services and office administration services to clients in South Africa and Abroad.
· Tavasa Forum: This forum offers job leads, contractor positions and interesting information, advice, discussions, tips etc . Subscribe to our forum:
· Tavasa Chat Room, whereby we hold daily chat session, questions and answer discussions.
· Messenger and Skype online communication as required.
· We provide to new Transcriptionists and Virtual Assistants, EBooks on both services to help them start and grow their own businesses.
· We are a place whereby people can meet and give each other support, answer questions and queries relating to the industry.
· We welcome overseas members.
· Membership is free.

Our group was founded in October 2008 by Gaynor Paynter from Typewrite Transcription and Typing Services cc, Web: and Alison Fourie from AMF Typing Services cc, Cell: +270828713452, Web: Tavasa was formed as there was a need for a support group within South Africa.

Contact us further to learn more about Tavasa.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Arms and Muscle Strain

Arm Injury – Typist Elbow:

This is a stress related injury which affects your arm from shoulder to your tips of your fingers and is very painful. It is muscle strain. Suggestions have been heat treatment, this I find works and is soothing, use the various gel’s on the market, I am currently using Voltaren Gel and its is affective to me.
Ive also been typing left handed when I am right handed, this is not easy, but I get there slowly and have been able to do the work.
Rest, works the best I find, ive been taking pailkillers which also help a lot, the muscles more ache then pains and is awkward more than anything. Getting dressed is difficult, it helps to have someone assist you. Eating is also difficult, I found I did not have the strength in my arm to even lift a knife, spoon, cooking even became difficult, (a few crockery breaks later). Lifting was a nightmare as I could not lift me arm far.

But ive got over this now and I hope it does not happen to me again too soon.

Burnout, Fatique, overworked

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Burnout is a psychological term for the experience of long-term exhaustion and diminished interest. Many theories of burnout include negative outcomes related to burnout, including job function (performance, output, etc.); health related outcomes (increases in stress hormones, coronary heart disease, circulatory issues), and mental health problems (depression, etc.). Although burnout is work-related, most responsibility for burnout currently rests on the individual worker in the United States, as well as the individual company, as it is in a company's best interest to ensure burnout doesn't occur. Other countries, especially in Europe, have included work stress and burnout in occupational health and safety standards, and hold organizations (at least partly) responsible for preventing and treating burnout.

How do you handle burnout! Purely my opinion. (Alison Fourie)

Monitor the amount of work you take in daily. Only take in the work that you can handle. You should know what your coping mechanisms can deal with daily. I know with straight copy typing I can complete roughly 20 to 30 pages per day that is also taking into account telephone calls and interruptions, so with that in mind as my job comprises of mostly typing I know my capabilities daily. I know I can work for 2 to 3 clients on a weekly basis depending on what they give me to do and how I schedule that work and meet deadlines. Do not do too much to the point that you have no idea who you are working for and why.

If a VA ends up with too much work, then you can look towards contractors to assist you. Rather than turn work away a good thing to do is to contract that work out to newbie Vas, which will give them a chance to see they types of work a VA can get in and give them experience at doing that work and meeting your deadline.

What can assist is take a break and get someone you trust to come and sit in for you for a few days to see if that break will assist you. Make sure that if you do this that your stand-in fills in a confidentiality client clause to guard against anyone taking your clients.

Keep a log of all work that comes in on a daily basis that way you will be organized.
It is when your organisation falls behind that you end up feeling trapped and with too much work to do. Once you reach this stage, you would be better off completely stopping what you are doing and reorganise the work you have until you feel comfortable that you know you can start up again.

When things completely get on top of you, stop, move away from your desk and the work, go for a walk, take a break, have some tea, then go back and start again. A good way to do this is to schedule your day as if you were working in a corporate world, take breaks and lunch breaks.

Burnout happens when you feel you have reached the point whereby you feel you cannot do this anymore. Then you need to rethink what you are doing and why you are doing it. Look at the positive aspects of what you are doing, then look at the negative aspects, see what you can put right with the negative aspects to make them buildable to continue and to make them positive. Organise a break from the work and your job, maybe time away will help you decide on what you want to do. Talk to a friend, don’t keep your feelings bottled up, this will make things worse. Talking always helps. Other people and their perspectives can sometimes help you in a difficult time by looking at things objectively. If you really feel nothing is helping you then this is the time to visit your doctor as other reasons maybe behind what is troubling you.

Burnout is brought on by stress so the ideal thing would be to take the stress out of your life and job but how can we do this, that is not the easy thing. Everyone lives with stress, stress is part of our life but if we can find a way to deal with it, work around it, half the battle could be won with regards to Burnout.

Written by Alison Fourie of AMF Typing Services cc

Friday, May 15, 2009

Tavasa Chat Room

Tavasa Chat Room (this is another Tavasa First in South Africa).

I (Ali) will be in the Tavasa Chat Room daily from Monday onwards 10am to 11am and from 3pm to 4pm, you are welcome to come and ask any industry related questions you need to know, I will try and answer and if not I will come back to you with an answer. All questions and discussions are welcome in there. Find the Chat Room link right at the bottom of the blog, scroll right to the bottom and click on the link.
Its up to you to use the Chat Room, you dont have to wait for me and Gaynor to use it, you can contact a few friends from Tavasa and ask them to join you there for a chat. The Chat Room is set up for you to use as the Tavasa Forum Group.

Friday, May 8, 2009

New: SA Networking Site

SA Networking site for wah people, website:

Belonging to Forums

A great way to learn about being a VA/Transcriptionist and what we do is to join the forums available in South Africa.

TAVASA: (Transcriptionists and Virtual Assistants of South Africa), Subscribe: Blog:

VA for Hire Forum:
Email: Website:

You will feel by belonging to both forums you have now joined the South Africa family of VAs and Transcriptionists within South Africa. All questions are welcome and we would love you to participate and meet everyone. No questions are to stupid to ask as there will always be someone wanting to ask that question. Join us. Send us an introduction email telling everyone what you do, if you are married or single, have children, what services you offer, how you feel about working from home, you will get lots of response saying welcome, our team is very friendly.

Friday, May 1, 2009

South African Medical Transcriptionists wanted

Medical Transcriptionists Wanted by Tavasa
If you are a South African medical transcriptionist wanting to a) contribute to upholding standards and procedures in the industry, and b) have the potential of new medical work from us, then Alison and I invite you to sign up at our forum TAVASA.

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