Mobile tech and productivity go hand in hand since I firmly believe that the right technology can provide untold boosts to personal productivity.  The best way for someone to improve their habits and boost their personal productivity is to follow tips and suggestions from others who […]

Mobile tech and productivity go hand in hand since I firmly believe that the right technology can provide untold boosts to personal productivity.  The best way for someone to improve their habits and boost their personal productivity is to follow tips and suggestions from others who have implemented certain practices with positive results.  So here’s the deal for our jkOnTheRun Productivity Boosting contest.  Add a comment to this thread detailing what you feel is your best tip or practice that has made a big difference in how productive you are on a daily basis.  As an example, here’s my own tip (no, I’m not eligible to win):

One of the worst time wasters that I see most people fall victim to is the “chasing the email” syndrome.  You know the type (maybe you are one) that has their email client (Outlook for instance) that polls for new email on a ridiculously short cycle.  The default I believe is 5 minutes but I know some people have their program check for new mail every minute!  So every minute or two Outlook grabs the new email, plays that oh too familiar ding sound, and the person stops whatever they are doing and looks to see what it is and who it’s from.  This is what I call chasing your email.  If you get a lot of email each day there is nothing more distracting than to do this.  Here’s my tip– I turn off automatic polling for email in Outlook.  That way, I only grab the email when I have time to deal with it and more importantly, it is not distracting me every few minutes.  Just turning off that distinctive “you have new mail” sound is not good enough if you leave Outlook up on the display, because you’ll keep glancing at it as you go through withdrawal of hearing that ding sound all day.  I guarantee you that your work will flow much more cleanly as you will devote your attention and energy to whatever task you are working on because you won’t get distracted in the middle.

That’s the kind of tip we are looking for as entries to the contest, and no, you can’t just submit this one ,reworded or no.    I believe that after we run this contest for a week we should generate so many good tips that everyone will benefit and that’s the purpose of the contest.  At the end of a week (June 15th in the US) Kevin and I will pick the best entries we feel are most useful and the six best will win a prize worth several hundred dollars.

Mindjet_MindManager_6_win   MindManager_6_Mac_box

In celebration of releasing a Mac version of the outstanding program MindManager 6, the good folks at Mindjet are putting up 6 full licenses to MindManager Pro.  There will be 3 winners of a Windows version of the program and 3 winners of the Mac version so tell all your Mac friends too.  These licenses are worth a bunch of money so the prizes are worth making a good entry to the contest.  Get cracking on those entries and spread the word through other web sites and let’s get a lot of tips to share!  Be sure and tell us if you use a Windows or a Mac in your entry so we know what you are playing for.

By James Kendrick

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  2. I use this java-based free mind mapping software on my mac: http://freemind.sourceforge.net/wiki/index.php/Main_Page
    Honestly, it is exellent! Most probably less complete than a proprietary software, but for the comon man (and the little researcher I am) it is more than good enough.

  3. Despite the fact that I’m neither eligible (I think doing a podcast wirh JK disqualifies me, non?) nor in need of a MindManager license (got mine already), I’ll get the ball rolling wih the following tip.

    Next time you schedule a meeting, attach an agenda that includes the following items:

    1. Sequence of events and time blocks
    2. Any prep work or reading required to participate
    3. Assign these roles: Leader, Timekeeper, Scribe

    The first item allows people to understand what you hope to accomplish and sets time constraints that help keep the discussion focused and on task.

    The second item allows attendees time to read and think about any background material that will be discussed or referenced in the meeting (attach the documents or provide links).

    The third item defines three critical roles. Someone has to “own” the meeting and take responsibility for achievin gthe agenda. Someone has to watch the clock and make sure the meeting doesn’t get off track. Someone needs to focus on capturing what is discussed and agreed to so everyone else can concentrate on the discussion.

    Your meetings will be more productive and people might actually look forward to them if you follow these “advanced common sense” suggestions. Oh and by the way, a MindManager map is a great way to accomplish all of the above in a single document you can send to all attendees and stakeholders in the meeting.

  4. Hi,

    I have a couple of productivity tips for your contest. Although my second tip is pretty harsh in one sense or another. Having recently completed my MBA studies and drastic measures had to be taken to ensure there were no distractions when completing assignments etc. So 1st tip: Workspace tidyness/order is often overlooked when setting out to cover your daily tasks or routines in order to get the jobs done. This means being prepared to think about what you are going to need near to you in order to complete your tasks. Whether it will entail electronic or good old fashioned paper data, if it is not needed there and then get it off your workspace. Cluttered desk equals cluttered mind. My 2nd tip, which sounds completely wacky to say the least is something I found worked perfectly for me. Basically when you need to get things done, reduce the distractions. For me it was tempting to look at the web every so often when trying to get assignments completed. Firstly, I know it is impossible to get all the info initially for your tasks as your roadmap for an assignment might change but I did my best to have the core info to start with. So I hooked up a timer switch to my wireless router to be turned off for 53 minutes in the hour(s) I was working. So having 7 minutes each hour to browse for materials and check emails. I am telling you it gets you focused!! If i did not get the necessary info in the alloted time then I moved to the next part that I had info for. This was great for going back and forth through my work and keeping me focused. I don’t know if anyone will find this useful but hey it worked for me. Good luck. PS: JK & KCT: I am using a windows tablet pc.

  5. I’d like to advocate the application Sciral Consistency. For me it’s a unique and perfect solution for keeping track of your reoccurring tasks. It fills a niche between the calendar (for things that have set times) and the to-do list (things you need to do once) and gives great graphical feedback.
    The types of tasks you’d want to use it for are those you’d want to perform on a regular basis over a period of time. Eg I use it for:
    – Tracking exercise to take(daily)
    – Healthy food I want to remind myself to eat on a regular basis (eg fish, twice weekly)
    – Medicine I need to take
    – Keeping in touch with family and friends (at least once a week)
    – Watering my plants and other household chores I’ll otherwise forget to do
    Sciral has a matrix similar to a spreadsheet where each row is a task you want to do consistently, and each column is a calendar day. At the intersection of each row and column is a cell that is color coded depending on whether:
    -Amber/Yellow – You should complete the task that day
    -Red – The task was done late or still is overdue
    -Green – Done on the right day
    ie Lots of Reds means you are falling behind on that task. Over time you’ll find you can get a sense of how consistently you’re doing your tasks according to the target ranges you set just by observing the color patterns – its such a simple idea.
    It’s inexpensive, pleasant to use and available for both Mac and Windows. Check it out.

    I use Windows XP and Tablet. I have no connection to this program. This whole Productivity idea is a great idea by the way!

  6. Marc Orchant’s meeting tips made me remember meeting tech productivity tips I use.
    First, if you’re new to a job or a project it can be difficult to follow fast paced meetings and get up to speed with the project if its complex or there’s lots of jargon. When I started my current job I joined after most other people so I had to get up to speed quick. So I used a small, discrete minidisc player to record the first few meetings, so I could play them back to myself later to recap the difficult points.

    Second – I always take a small digital camera with me so I can capture and quickly distribute drawings on whiteboards and flipchart notes. It saves you time writing up actions, its quicker to distribute and easier to file and retrieve!

    Finally, a good principle to follow is meetings should be decision-focused and you should always write up and distribute actions afterwards. How many meetings do you go to that people don’t do this and later you’re thinking, “hey, didn’t we agree to do something?”

  7. As a consultant and business owner with several partners and several machines, my tip is application related. As many know, with the Beta of OneNote 2007, you can automatically sync notebooks between machines and even different users. This is invaluable to me. I have all of my notes and research synced between my two computers. At the same time, I have different business notebooks synced with my several business partners. Due to the fact that each of my partners are owners in several different businesses and are located at different offices, we are able to meet in our “Virtual Office” in our shared notebook to collaborate on business decisions. We also use the Shared notebook as a task manager where tasks are assigned to partners that htey can check off once they are completed. I know that this does not apply to everyone, however, if your time is as divided as mine with several ventures and partners, this is one of the best ways to collaborate when everyone is in different locations and online at different times.

  8. Steve French Thursday, June 8, 2006

    Hi guys,

    Pretty simple for me, self-deprecating but simple:

    The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Managing Your Time, 3rd Edition, by Jeff Davidson.

    Great book – the best one that I’ve read on time management!

    Here’s what has really revolutionized my life:

    * very well written in a non-assuming, conversational style
    * definite focus on work-life balance – it knows that to be successful at work, you have to be happy at home as well
    * it’s realistic and recognizes that not everything is going to stick
    * there are no real “ah-hahs” but just a number of real, common-sense discussions that can help you get your life under control

    I’ve read this book maybe 5 times, the last four times in a chapter-a-week book club format with my teams and it has seen me go from:
    * staff role
    * manager
    * director
    * VP
    * CIO
    * to now owning my own business

    Can’t recommend it highly enough – I think I’ve given away 15 copies so far this year!

    One quick bite which has been the most powerful for me is a concept called the Dynamic Bargain. All too many of us have 1,000 item to-do lists and when we knock off 8 at the end of the day, we beat ourselves up for having 992 left!

    Instead, you ask yourself a simple question:

    “What would it take for me to feel good about ending work on time today?”

    A number of things happen when you start a process like that:
    * you’re prioritizing the most important items in your to-do list
    * you’re prepared when people come and barge in and drop new things on your desk to either deal with them today, delegate them or revisit at a future time – it’s called a Dynamic Bargain for a reason
    * you revisit your list first thing every morning, late morning, early afternoon and before you leave to prepare for tomorrow
    * you can also apply it to the week as well
    * you’re not procrastinating – you’re focused on leaving work, on time, and happy to boot!

    Anyway, I’ll step down from my soapbox now but I really would encourage you to pick up a copy – best $15 you’ll ever spend at Amazon!

    Cheers and happy time management!


  9. Travis Carnahan Thursday, June 8, 2006

    I get tons of email in my inbox at work. Some of it I have to take care of immediately and some of it is for later. At the end of each day, I forward the pending items to my tablet email address (which no one else in my organization has) and I schedule and prioritize for those items. This gives me a good idea of how my week is looking and allows me much better scheduling. I also use EO and GTD on my tablet to keep things straight (anyone heard anything about GTD support for office 12?)

  10. Turn off auto notification of email. When you check your email, answer the ones that need it, flag the other ones for followup by using Outlook 2007’s next week, tomorrow, etc. Move all email into a Processed folder.

    Work with the emails needing followup by working in your task list which includes all email needing followup.

    – don’t spread you task syncing out to far. If possible, keep it to just one application.


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