Top 10 Pro ed tips

Create your own Zoom background

Ditch the classic office or beach background by creating your own. Photoshop will work but a user-friendly version like Canva provides dozens of ready-made templates you can further customize—animated ones includes: Executives, freelancers, customer support and sales teams, and more can customize the background to match the company’s branding. Depending on the occasion, you can add your contact information, fun or helpful announcements, product features, calls-to-action, general tips for conduct or reminders, or fun easter eggs. Then, go to your desktop app’s Settings, choose Background & Filters, add your custom background from the plus sign on the right side of the screen, and uncheck the Mirror my video option. Another one of the best Zoom tricks is to disable this last feature even when you don’t use a background if you often show things with text or imagery on camera. Note that checking “Mirror my video” only mirrors the display for you, but not for others on the Zoom.

Get a Free Bike

You can save the world and yourself one frugal act at a time. Whenever possible, bike to work, the grocery store, the bank or anywhere else you might be going. There are bloggers who think you should live close to work to be frugal. I personally love living in the backwoods where I grew up. It is 15.1 miles from my driveway to my office. And I bike it many times every year. I had an old Huffy bike I rode forever. I decided to get myself a new flashy set of wheels and pulled out my pencil and paper to calculate exactly what it would take to get a free bike. You can read that story here. It is about halfway through the linked post.

Dispose of Disposables

How full is your recycling bin each week? How about the garbage bin? All the stuff in those bins is filled with stuff you paid for only to throw it away. Want to inject frugality into every purchase? It is simple. Buy stuff with the least packaging. Packaged foods are the worst. Processed food is a bad health choice, as well. All that packaging is paid for by you. But did you want the food inside or the box? The food, of course. Yet you paid for the box, too. (There is no free ride. The box has a cost and it is added to the price of the product.) When you purchase something, be aware of the packaging. It is costing you a fortune.

Watch Your Water Consumption

Water isn’t an expensive commodity in my part of the world. That isn’t true everywhere. Water can be an expensive purchase. Heating the water adds more to the cost. Shorter showers and a low-flow shower head is an excellent way to reduce water consumption. Turn off water when not in use. Turn off the water while brushing your teeth. So much of frugality is common sense. Examine all water use. It should be easy to see where you can reduce consumption in your household.

Set One Person, One Response Limit

Depending on the purpose and intent of the form you have created, you may wish to limit one person to one response only. Otherwise, anyone could come back and choose and submit multiple responses leading to a skewed dataset. Making your users having to sign in using their Google account before responding will help Google track the number of times they have responded. Create a Google Form and under Settings, select Limit to 1 response. Save.

Collect Respondents Email IDs

They say ‘money is in the list’ and for all the right reasons. Once you have email IDs of the respondents, you can send them more emails with backend offers. Now, you can do so for free using Google Forms. Create a form and click on Settings. Under the General tab, you will see an option to Collect email addresses. Check that option and you will be asked if you want the respondent to receive a receipt and whether it is sent by default or only when requested.

Raise a hand [two ways]

The worst part about virtual meetings is that it can be hard to signal when you want to say something. To aid Zoom meeting etiquette, hosts can enable non-verbal cues by going to their profile’s Settings, choosing the Meeting tab, scrolling to the In Meeting (Basic) section, and turning on the Non-verbal feedback capability. Now, when a user goes to their Reactions option, a Raise hand button will appear, making it extra easy for anyone to get their ideas across. A tiny hand icon will be displayed next to the participants who called it so hosts will be immediately notified. Alternatively, you can use the other emoji reactions to signal your thoughts or willingness to say something. For example, a Slow down reaction will tell the host to go through their explanation or demo at a slower pace while the No reaction implies disagreement so the host can get back to you to clarify a topic.

Try advanced screen sharing options for more accuracy

Ever seen these? You should check Zoom’s Advanced screen sharing capabilities if you often prefer sharing only a part of your screen, want to use a second camera, or want to share a video. The PowerPoint presentation option is also super handy as it works as a virtual background too: Recording for a video or just want the best quality for the meeting? Use the camera from your phone as a webcam in Zoom: If you want to later publish the video online, make sure the Optimize for video clip box is checked when choosing which screen to share.

Clean Filters

Filters make a difference. I have an open-loop geothermal heat pump in my home. The filter where the water comes in needs to be cleaned periodically. If it gets dirty the efficiency is reduced. If dirty enough, the heat pump trips off. The air filter also needs changing a few times per year. I have a reusable air filter I clean and then put back into the unit. Filters on your vehicle, lawn mower or any other item in the house, need to be charged or cleaned on a regular basis. Forgetting this reduces the life of the item and increases energy consumption. And clean the grill behind your refrigerator! And under the darn thing, too! Stressing the compressor on your refrigerator can cause the compressor to fail. Have you seen what refrigerators cost? Yes, it is very frugal to clean and replace filters often.

Always use a mouse spotlight when sharing your screen

Once you start screen sharing your screen or a whiteboard, this bar will pop up once you hover your mouse at the top: First, choose the Annotate button. From here, you can use a mouse spotlight, draw on top of the screen, add text or stamps, or more highlighting options to finally show your viewers what you’re referencing.