Category Archives: Productivity

Apps for Business I Could Not Live Without

With thousands of apps at your fingertips it’s easy to become overwhelmed.  Most people quickly realize they have no use for 9 out of 10 apps available in the marketplace.  In this complex world of productivity tools, social media, reminders, and mobile access, each of us discovers a select group of apps that become a key component in our lives and life without them seems unbearable.

 

mobile business appWhen you’re not scrolling through pictures of your ex on Facebook or begging friends to help harvest your farm, there is a wide selection of apps for business, productivity, and organization.  It’s time to get down to business and there are different apps for different chaps, so my favorites won’t suit everyone but I encourage you to test them and share your own favorites below.

 

Organization:

  1. Dropbox – store pictures, phone/security backups, passwords, team files, you name it.  I have to rank Dropbox over Evernote because of all the bonus space I’ve earned. (50 Gigs – boom!)
  2. Evernote – keep notes organized, tag/label items you’ll need in the future, or bookmark articles to read later.  View/Edit/Save material to your Evernote account while logged-in using any browser or access the same material while you’re away from your desk using a phone or tablet. Evernote

Communication: 

  1. Skype – inexpensive international calling from anywhere you have an internet connection.
  2. Google VoiceGoogle Voice – can’t get messages while you’re out of the office?  Use Google Voice to have voicemails transcribed and delivered to your email inbox.  Similar to Skype, Google Voice also offers inexpensive international calls.
  3. Whats App Messenger – send text messages to any phone anywhere across the globe for free!

Travel:

  1. TripIt – email flight, hotel, car rental, or any other confirmation to TripIt and the information will be neatly organized into a trip itinerary.  Stop carrying copies of your confirmations everywhere you go.  Download the TripIt app and have your itinerary at your fingertips.
  2. Kayak – my favorite app and website for searching flights.  Easily select your criteria and within seconds you have a list of all flights from most major airlines.
  3. Uber – refuse to fight for a cab?  Limited budget but want to show up for your meeting in style?  Go Uber!  Uber will signal a cab, towncar, or van (set your own preferences) and using the magic of GPS your ride will pick you up at your current location for a small surcharge.  You’ll never hail a taxi again! Uber

 

There are several other apps that help me get through the work day, but the aforementioned list should be part of everyone’s bag of tricks.  Commit to using a couple of the apps on my list for the next week and let me know how it goes.  Is there an app I need in my life?  Let me know in the comments section below.

 

 

 

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Filed under Marketing, Productivity, Reviews

Eliminate These Distractions and Watch Your Productivity Skyrocket!

Procrastination DemotivationIf you consider the time spent harvesting your imaginary farm productive then I suggest you stop reading now.  Everyone knows that life is full of distractions.  How you handle distractions has a direct impact on your personal well-being, productivity, financial success, and the relationships you develop.  My goal is to encourage everyone to take a closer look at how you spend your time.  WARNING:  Be prepared for a harsh reality check!

There are 168 hours in a week.  Keep a detailed log of how you spend your time and within a few days you’ll be confused, concerned, and utterly disgusted.  Once you eliminate eating and sleeping, the massive grey area that remains is full of excuses and misconceptions that consume an unfathomable amount of time we can never get back.  When you consider the amount of time you’ve lost it will make you sick to your stomach.  Dwelling on the past is a waste of time, which is exactly what we’re trying to avoid!  The most difficult challenge to overcome is identifying the distractions in your life.

While it’s impossible to create a world that is free of distractions, you can identify key influences that hurt your productivity and find ways to minimize or eliminate their impact.  This list barely scratches the surface, but you may find a few surprises that have a dramatic impact on your productivity.  Grab a pen and paper so you can start building your own list.

 

Eliminate these distractions and your productivity will become unstoppable:
  • Facebook  — imagine how much free time you would have if you stopped creepin’?  It’s scarier than a random notification you were tagged in a picture.
  • Instant Messenger Services — where a 5-minute phone call becomes an IM convo that lasts your entire work day.  I can’t imagine how that would be distracting!
    • GChat – your away message isn’t fooling anyone.
    • Facebook Chat – when creepin’ just isn’t enough.
    • BBM – a slight improvement over sending messages on stone slabs.
    • AIM – does anyone still use it?
  • StumbleUpon — tons of great info but if you knew what you were looking for wouldn’t a quick Google search yield better results?
  • Instagram — your crappy photography appears less crappy when you make it look old.
  • Twitter  Justin Bieber won’t even notice you’re gone.
  • social icon assortment arrayPinterest — will the same people using Pinterest to plan their unrealistic wedding use the social network to plan their very real divorce?
  • Words With Friends — aka Procrastination101
  • Draw Something — Procrastination102
  • Reddit — similar to StumbleUpon and equally time-consuming
  • Texting conversations — because it makes perfect sense to send messages back and forth all day to make plans.  When did we become a socially awkward culture that is afraid to speak on the phone?
  • All Texts-From Website — is there anything less productive than reading texts from people you don’t know?  This includes random parents who don’t know how to text, texts from last night, or auto-correct mistakes all fall under this category.
  • Checking unimportant emails — there are few things more frustrating than stepping away from an important project when you receive a new email notification only to realize it’s another crappy promotion from cell service provider. #ProjectMomentumFail
  • Alert notifications on your cellphone — because hearing “BEEP BEEP” every 2-minutes when another email arrives can’t possibly be a distraction to you or anyone else in the office.
  • Reality television — if watching reality trainwrecks unfold on national television makes you feel better about yourself then you have other issues that need to be addressed.
  • Water Coolers or Coffee Machines — the most common times for unproductive conversations at these locations are — 9:30AM, Noon-2:00PM, and 4:30PM until 6:00PM.
  • All games that have “farm” or “ville” in their name — nobody cares about your potato harvest or the community you built.  Without government subsidies your farm would go out of business and everyone left in your depressed community would turn to crack and prostitution.
  • Entertainment Blogs — FailBlog, TMZ, Perez Hilton, Barstool Sports,
  • Fantasy Football, or any fantasy league for that matter — my wife joined a Real World/Road Rules Challenge fantasy league.  She needs to get a life!

Is your life over?  No!  You just need to be aware of the distractions that impact your productivity. There is a time and a place for each of these distractions. Looking for a mindless activity before you go to bed? Browse StumbleUpon or Reddit. Have time to kill while you wait for the train or a flight? Check your fantasy team or jump on Facebook.

 

How did you do? Remember to revisit your list every few weeks to check your progress. Please leave a comment with any distractions I overlooked so we can help build their list!

 

 

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Filed under Motivation & Inspiration, Productivity, Sarcasm

Top 10 Websites You Know You Should Be Using but You Don’t!

Internet toolsEveryone wants to offer advice, uncover little-known resources and introduce websites that require more of your valuable time.  Many professionals overlook important and productive activities because they are too busy trying testing the next tool or website that claims to save time, maintain organization or improve productivity.

 

These are the 10 sites you are overlooking because you are too busy wasting time elsewhere and don’t realize what you are missing.  My favorite thing about the list is that it is “time-neutral”.  I’ll explain afterwards, but if you follow and execute the list it should become obvious.  I even threw in some bonus tools for good measure.  Start with the first 10, then move on to the bonus resources:

  1. Evernote – it’s not just for project management!  Download the app to your phone and use it to quickly save reminders, links, or content you want to share.
  2. IFTTT – don’t waste time posting and re-posting your content to multiple social networks.  Set up recipes using IFTTT to share content across several platforms with a single click.
  3. Quora – it’s LinkedIn Discussions on steroids.
  4. Google Plus – your profiles syncs with a Google account.  Strengthen your brand and social influence.  90 million+ members is no joke!
  5. Academia.edu – an academic approach to developing your brand.Crazy clock
  6. Yelp – establish yourself as a trusted source of feedback.  You offer your opinion through conversation anyways so you may as well reap the benefits of social influence.
  7. Foursquare – the easiest way to get on the mobile marketing bandwagon.  It’s a growing trend you can’t ignore.
  8. Google Voice – create a free account and use your Google Voice number to track response rates from specific advertising campaigns.
  9. About.me – build a customized landing page for you or your business in less than 30-minutes.
  10. Cloud Storage Services – I wrote about how I use cloud storage services.  Whether you use Dropbox, Drive or Box, all of your files should be backed-up properly and accessible from anywhere with internet access.

Before you continue to the bonus resources, read through the first list again.  Evernote, IFTTT, Google Voice and cloud storage are all tools that should save you time.  These tools help offset the little extra time required to execute the rest of your list.  Now that you are on a path to success, check out some of the bonus resources:

Checklist accomplishedBonus Resources:

  • Hootsuite
  • Mailexpire.com – avoid inbox clutter with temporarily email addresses that expire when you want
  • GifSoup.com
  • Ted Talks
  • StumbleUpon

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Filed under Branding, Marketing, Productivity, Professional, Social Media & SEO

Respond to every email in half the time with better results

 email signatureEmails sent from a mobile device get a free pass.  You don’t face criticism for a brief, albeit effective, response.  Additionally, one can easily avoid a tedious back-and-forth email chain.  Each of these benefits is linked to a single common phrase that gets you off the hook:

“Sent from my mobile device”

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Filed under Productivity, Professional

Soft White Light Bulbs Are Hurting Your Productivity

natural bright white bulbs vs warm soft white bulbsI see the light! I see the light!  How did the routine chore of changing a light bulb completely change the feel of my home office?  Although I am constantly exploring ways to create the ideal work environment, I experienced a small change that we often overlook and it can have a dramatic emotional and physical affect. Continue reading

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Filed under Productivity

Add-ons make my Gmail better than yours

Dan Leavitt google profileI can’t magically claim YourName@gmail.com because you just came out from hiding under your rock.  Get over it.  Maybe you just realized that the world runs on Gmail.  Nice to have you on the bandwagon.  Pay attention so you can save time, know who sends you mail, who reads the mail you send,  and do all of this  for free through your Gmail account (is there any other option?).

Here are my tips for Gmail dominance:

  1. Use priority inbox and tags.  I tag important tasks and events so I can keep those items at the top of my inbox.  This is a great productivity tool that helps me stay focused and prioritize.  That email chain from your college friends can wait so it should remain at the bottom with your “other” email.
  2. Rapportive.  Absence makes the heart grow fonder.  A computer mishap deleted all of my Chrome extensions, including Rapportive.  It took exactly three new incoming emails for me to realize that I had no clue who was contacting me.  Rapportive searches for social links tied to an email address and build a short profile in the sidebar of Gmail.  Users may see a profile picture pulled from a public LinkedIn profile and a one-click option to connect with the sender on Facebook, Twitter, and other networking tools.
  3. Say “yes” to Yesware.  Email tracking is not only for marketers and salespeople.  Admit it, you want to know who opens the emails you send.  Yesware does that and more!  Track up to 100 emails for free or upgrade to unlimited for only $4.95/mo.  Initially I only used my free resources, and we know I’m a sucker for free tools online, but I’m seriously considering an upgrade because the information is very telling and valuable!
  4. Labs are like abs.  Fitness experts stress the importance of core strength, so utilizing Labs (under settings) is like showing off your 6-pack.  These are experimental features that Google is testing – some good, some bad, but that’s the point.  Some favorites I enable include:
    • Calendar widget – it’s nice to have your calendar open in the same window as your email, particularly if you’re scheduling a meeting or appointment.
    • Picasa and Flickr previews – view photo previews when an email contains a link to either image sharing website.
    • Undo send – we’ve all been there before, ‘reply all’ mistakes ring a bell?
    • Yelp previews – is the place any good?  Emails with Yelp listings will show a preview and avoid opening a new tab or window.

I don’t pay for any of these additional features.  Some services give you the option to pay for additional capabilities, but my FREE setup works just fine.  Leave me a comment once you implement these changes and they blow your mind.  Let me know your favorites that I’m missing!

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Filed under Marketing, Productivity, Social Media & SEO

How Do You Work?

home office dual monitor setupDo you do it at your desk?  Do you do it on your bed?  Do you do it standing?  How do you work? (Ok, get your head out of the gutter!)

My workspace is a more minimalist environment.  I am easily distracted by clutter so the only items on my desk are the ones I use often.  A dual monitor setup is fantastic.  The monitor on the right is for passive monitoring.  Meanwhile, I use the center monitor for the activity I’m working on.  The desk is from IKEA and forms an “L” in the corner (but that side of the desk is messy so I cut it out of the picture – out of site out of mind!).  It is a simple but effective space that is conducive to my work style and keeps me focused as much as possible.  I’m contemplating a bold move to a standing desk, but I need a creative solution to repurpose my desk to achieve that setup.  Any suggestions are welcome!

How do you work?  Do you have a setup at home where you can be productive and stay engaged with the office?  I’m a huge geek when it comes to work spaces and office supplies. (my family gets me Staples gift cards for the holidays – how pathetic!)  Ideas and suggestions are welcome, or you can just poke fun at my horrible photography skills!

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Filed under Personal, Productivity