How to Customize the Zoom Waiting Room

One of my favorite features in Zoom is the Zoom Waiting Room.  It's like a virtual tailgate party before your actual Zoom session.  I like it because you can customize the waiting room to make it fun, engaging, + informative.  Of course, using the waiting room is also helpful for security; you can see who is in the waiting room and admit them accordingly.  I'm going to show you how to customize the waiting room K?

Jen Zoom

Steps to customize the Zoom Waiting Room:

1.  Log onto your free or paid Zoom account at zoom.us

2.  Click on Settings in the toolbar (my toolbar appears on the left hand side of my screen if that is helpful).

3.  Scroll down in the settings just a touch to Waiting Room.  When you are there, make sure to toggle the switch on to activate the Waiting Room.  

4.  Then, go to the next setting which is Waiting Room Options and choose Edit. This allows you to edit who actually goes to the waiting room before your Zoom begins. I personally send everyone to the waiting room, because to me, the waiting room is the pre-party/tailgate to the Zoom.  Ha!

5.  Next, click on Customize Waiting Room.  This is where all the fun lives! You can add a very small graphic, change the title, meeting focus and blurb.  Make sure when you edit each block of text, you click on the little checkmark to save your edits.  I like to make my main blurb playful, like this:

"Hey there!  Are you ready to Zoom together?  Right now, I'm getting our Zoom space clean and sanitized for you.  I'm also adding bouquets of flowers because it's spring!  In just a few moments, our virtual Zoom doors will open.  In meantime, enjoy the (faux) waiting room music! See you virtually very soon - Jen"

Zoom Customize Waiting Room

6. Exit out of settings.  

7. Next time you host a Zoom, your guests will arrive to the waiting room.  To admit them, click on Participants and either admit guests one-by-one or click on admit all (which is generally what I do for large groups).  If a participant arrives late to your Zoom, you will see a waiting room announcement come up and remind you to let them into the Zoom.

The waiting room is pure joy.  So fun, functional and helpful.  

You can update the customized settings as much or as little as you like.  I try to update my Zoom Waiting Room settings to keep it fresh about 5-6 times a year and/or for special Zoom events.

Happy Waiting Room-ing,
Jen




Gifts for Coaches

I was sharing with a group of coaches last night how ever since I started teaching coaching classes, I have received all sorts of thank you gifts, cards, and tokens of appreciation because very simply - coaching rules.  It does. Plain and simple. Before the pandemic, I probably received something in my mailbox (at work) at least once a week; now the thank yous come by email.  I've been collecting those emails in my "You Suck Jen" email folder.  That's the folder that I go to when I think I am not making a difference in the world and I should quit my job + move overseas.  Those emails remind me I am making a positive difference and that more coaching in the world makes for a better world.  

Because I've received so many lovely gifts over the last five years since I began teaching more coaching classes, I wanted to share some of my favorites - that I didn't eat.  Some of the gifts were chocolate, cupcakes and candy!  

I rarely journal and yet, I completely filled out this one Coach Heather L. gifted to me.  I dig the prompts and high quality "feel."

I'm not quite advocating drinking and if you do, this lager's name makes me smile.

I am advocating for this mug.  It was given to me by Coach Kellie and I love it.  Drinking from it brings me joy.

This charm from Coach Yolanda is so sparkly and here's a pandemic tip: It shows up well on Zoom!

I was given one teal colored Le Pen from Coach Allison and you would think I won the lottery. I heart that pen!

Joy is one of my core values.  I love that the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu agree in this book gifted to me by Coach Dan.

Coach Dan, does it again!  Every soap from Whiskey River is hilarious.  This Life Coach soap one is the best.  

And, if you are like me and need the reminder....You are doing a freaking great job!  Thanks, Coach, Heather W, for the reminder and this book.

With coachy love,

Jen


Text Blaze for Tech Tuesday

Remember when I used to blog every Tuesday and share a favorite tech tool?  Well, I'm back!  Or at least, I am back today with a tech tool I am l-o-v-i-n-g!  Plus, here's a sneak peak of my new home office.  We call my office space the Jen Den.  It's a mix of color (to inspire me) and natural tones (to calm me down).

Jen Den photo

Today's tech sensation is a Chrome extension which means you have to use the Chrome browser to enjoy it. If you are new to extensions, Chrome extensions are like mini-apps built into Chrome. I appreciate all the extensions I've downloaded so far via Chrome (eg: Text Blaze, Pinterest, and Rakuten - to name a few).  

Today's tool, Text Blaze, is a Chrome extension tool that you can use to quickly insert a snippet of text when you are using any web-based program (like email, Facebook, grading within an online course, etc.).  It's for those times where you find yourself repeating your typing over and over again and you want a snippet of pre-written text to insert instead.

Teachers, you will love this tool for giving feedback to students.  Everyone else, you will appreciate this tool, too. Here's how I use it....

I have a lot of people contact me at work about my college's coach training program.  I now have a snippet I use to answer them back.  I simply type /cto (which for me stands for "Coach Training Offerings" and with just those four keystrokes the following snippet/message appears in the email I am composing: 

Thank you for reaching out. Right now, our spring 2021 coaching courses are full; they filled up in under a week. We do plan to begin our coaching course series again this summer 2021 and fall 2021. If you mark your calendar and email me (say in mid-March), I can share the upcoming dates/times with you.


If you have more questions, please let me know.

Best,

Jen

See how easy that is!  Four keystrokes and I get that entire snippet of text above.  Since I write this standard email reply many times a week, Text Blaze is saving me time and brain power.

Here's another example.  With coaching clients, I often follow-up by email after a coaching session.  Here's the snippet I use for that.  I simply type /csfu (which for me stands for Coaching Session Follow-up) and the following snippet appears:

Hello - As promised, I wanted to follow-up with you after our coaching session. Based on our session....


What updates can you share?

What are you noticing?

What are you learning?


Curious,

Jen


See how easy that is!  Four keystrokes and my message is composed!


Go check out Text Blaze and see what you think.  A lovely colleague shared this tool with me.  The free version gives you up to 20 snippets that you can change as you need them.


Happy Tech Tuesday!


With love from the Jen Den,

Jen



Going to College Overseas

What is your opinion of earning an entire college degree overseas?  

Since one of my core values is growth, I am already enjoying learning about all the college/university options in the world since Miss O will be going to college in a few short years.  

Amsterdam canal photo

Delft, Netherlands photo

Riding bikes in Delft, Netherlands

When I was in high school, going to school for a degree overseas seemed like a bad idea - mostly because US degrees felt more credible.  Because the world is more globally-focused now, I'm learning that degrees from overseas are valued and the cost?!  Y'all, college/university overseas is so much more affordable from I am learning than attending a college/uni in the US including masters degrees!  Some degrees cost nothing for US students and others cost $4K-$12K for the year.  My mind is blown.  One year of studying in many US-based universities cost $25-50K.  Imagine getting your entire college degree for the price of one year of US study?!

First, I think you all know my family and I enjoy traveling overseas.  We haven't been to too many places, but we loved our weeks in Portugal, England and the Netherlands (photos in this post) over the past few years.  When the pandemic is over, we hope to explore more countries specifically Spain and Germany.

In the meantime, here are a few international college resources I am learning the most from about....

Beyond the States - This blog, consulting service and podcast are all very helpful.  Jenn (who started Beyond the States)'s son is studying in Rotterdam, Netherlands right now and she has literally made herself an expert on studying overseas.  Jenn is also living in Lisbon, Portugal, so her real-life experience is interesting, too. Check out Jenn's blog here, website here and podcast here.  I also follow Beyond the States on Instagram, too.

Private Facebook Groups - A fellow mom recommended I join a private FB group (or two) related to attending college overseas.  Y'all, I am learning so much from the posts I am reading.  Right now, I feel a bit like a voyeur because I have nothing to offer.  Learning-wise, it's so interesting to read about all the places US-teens are going to college overseas even during the pandemic.

Ulysses Facebook Page - This is another consulting service (like Beyond the States offers).  A fellow FB parent recommended it to me.  I have not explored them deeply yet, but I just started following their Facebook page to see what I can learn.

International University Admission Guide - This free guide is packed full of information.  I highly advise it as a read.

I'm curious....what are your thoughts about completing a college degree entirely overseas?  What other resources should I explore?

Excited to learn more,

Jen



Favorite Home Finds During the Pandemic

As most of you already know, we moved during the pandemic.  Here are some of my favorite pandemic home finds that are bringing immense efficiency and joy to my life....

Jen Home Finds Favorites

Ready for them?

Tip trays for the bathroom and kitchen. You install these yourself following the package instructions.  We have tip trays now in our kitchen and main bathroom to hold things like kitchen sponges, our toothpaste and floss, etc.  It also makes your countertops less cluttered feeling.

So, I don't have to use so many cleaning liquids around our house, I just wet these and use them.  They are reusable, so you can wash/dry them with ease.  

I am such a fan of "S" hooks in every closet.  I use them for hanging belts, my purse, backpacks, masks, hats, you name it!  This pack includes six hooks.

Be honest....how often do you bring your cell phone into the restroom?  If you do, you will appreciate the clever design of this TP holder.  We have it in the bathroom right by my home office.  Ha! 

We do not have cable at our house because we have Amazon Prime Video, Netflix and Apply TV.  So, that we can still clearly receive the local HD broadcast signals for ABC, NBC and CBS (plus other local signals), this very thin antennae does an amazing job!  Gone are the days of bulky antennas. This one is almost paper thin and super easy to install.

The real MVP of our household, our Eufy robotvac!  I cannot believe how much Eufy picks up.  I think she is the hardest cleaner in our household.  You can also communicate with her by the Eufy app.  Look for her to go on sale!

After Eufy does her job, this steam mop is easy to use and super-cleans the floors!  I am always disgusted by how dirty the steam mop head gets after cleaning.  The good news:  You wash the mop heads in your washing machine.  Hurrah!  I love reusable cleaning stuff.

We've become kind of lazy (or efficient) over here.  Mr. UpCyclist has installed motion sensor lights in our walk-in pantry, storage room and main bedroom walk-in closets.  At first, I was like, "We don't need those."  But, now, I am a true motion sensor light believer for small spaces.

Speaking of lights, our new place has a ton of light switches (that we do not want to be motion sensor-abled).  We use this old-school labeling tool (remember this gadget from the 70s and 80s?) to label which light switch works which light.  This gadget is fun to use, looks totally retro and comes with two tape rolls in red and black. What a bargain!

Not everyone is an Alexa product fan; we are.  We have several of these smart plugs throughout our house.  During Christmas time, we put all of our indoor and outdoor holiday lights on smart plugs and would just tell our Echo to "turn on the outdoor lights" or "turn on the Christmas lights."  Specifically for outdoor use, you need this smart plug as it is weather friendly. 

What's your most appreciated home find?  Message me in Facebook or Instagram to let me know.  Because of the crazy spam this blog has been receiving, I've turned off the commenting feature indefinitely.

With efficiency and joy,

Jen