Zsa Zsa Gabor may not have been able to remember anyone’s names, but a great monicker can make a big difference to a startup. But how you do make sure you pick the right one? And how do you stop yourself wasting time choosing? Read more »
Siri isn’t on the Mac (yet), but that doesn’t mean you can’t use it there, and in a way that should prove a considerable time saver. In combination with Mac launcher software Alfred and iOS app TouchPad, you can easily issue voice commands to your Mac. Read more »
It happens to the best of us; we think we’re typing one thing, and instead type another. The autocorrect feature in iOS (and now in OS X Lion, too) doesn’t help matters, and can actually be quite annoying. But there are ways to get around it. Read more »
Since the release of the first developer preview of Windows 8, Mac users have been downloading it to run in virtualization software such as Parallels and VMware Fusion. You can do it using Boot Camp, too, and experience Windows 8 at full speed. Read more »
Macs are fairly dependable, but there will still be occasions when you have to take them in for service at an Apple Authorized Service Provider. This can take some doing, so here are three tips about things you might not think about when moving your Mac. Read more »
Launchpad, the new app launcher in Mac OS X Lion, can be useful for hunting down apps you don’t use very often. However, sometimes it can feel bloated and difficult to navigate. Here are a few tips to make Launchpad a bit easier to work with. Read more »
Sometimes, photos in your iPhoto Events can be completely out of order. Taking the time to sync the internal clocks on each camera you own is always good, but there’s a way to adjust the time of all of your photos in your library itself, too. Read more »
You know what I love about iPhoto? It’s a great central storage place for my media that just about any OS X app can pull photos from. You know what I hate about it? Everything else. Here’s a few tips to help alleviate some iPhoto frustrations. Read more »
Giving iPhone and iPad apps is a good way to buy for someone who generally doesn’t wander far from the free sections of the App Store, but there’s nothing really to put in a box under the tree. Not unless you get a little creative. Read more »
You probably find it hard to motivate yourself when you’re feeling under the weather. But even if you’re not sick, low levels of motivation may still be related to health. It turns out that how fit you are can have an effect on your productivity levels. Read more »
Whether you just got a new Mac or you’re installing (or updating) your version of OS X, this TechUniversity screencast will cover 10 things you should setup before you do anything else on your Mac. Read more »
I’ve found that some people can very easily get their back up when attempts are made to point out their grammar weaknesses. Maybe it feels like being reprimanded in school. A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, and the same sentiment applies with grammar, too. Read more »
I saw Mel Gibson on a talk show last night. The host asked him about his “Three E” approach to movie making. He responded that there are three things he tries to achieve with his movies: first entertain, then educate, and then, if possible, elevate. Read more »
Here I go again, writing about organization. This time, though, it’s not because I’ve found a great new app to help me. That’s my inbox, aka my “to-be-dealt-with” pile. And there are two more like it. If only there were an app that could help me! Read more »
Dedicated gym-goers use some tried and tested methods to make their workouts more efficient and effective. As usual, what’s good for the goose is also good for the gander, and a lot of these same strategies can apply quite well to professional workflows, too. Read more »
Web work can be an unstable ride. Since we are all independent, we have varying ways of dealing with challenges and opportunities that arise in our work. I don’t think there’s one strategy that fits us all, but there are four aspects of our careers —I […] Read more »
Before anyone says anything, I fully realize the irony in this being my first post here at WWD in quite a while. And that’s part of this story. If you’re reading this from southern Australia, you may not appreciate how mind-numbing the depths of a true […] Read more »
Growl notifications, alert add-ons for Firefox and for the desktop, and other tools can all help you keep on top of goings-on in your digital world by displaying visual cues whenever new activity appears on your social networks, email, or other web apps. A new study, […] Read more »
It’s a little early yet to be thinking about the new year (there’s still at least 75 percent of the holiday party season ahead of us, after all), but one of my New Year’s resolutions last year was to try and be more prepared, so here […] Read more »
As I sit down each day to do my work, the vast majority of which involves writing (articles, web site content, tweets and blog posts), I can’t help but think about the writing rules drilled into me by past English teachers. In most cases, their advice […] Read more »
Web apps, computers and smartphones are all key tools in my web working arsenal, but using only those things alone, I doubt I’d ever get anything done at all. Instead, to help boost my productivity, I supplement the obvious utilities and devices with some perhaps unexpected […] Read more »
According to one poll conducted by About.com , over a third of respondents avoid going home because of the overwhelming mess Read more »
I confess: I’m a terrible scatterbrain. It takes a lot for me to force my thoughts into a nice, orderly line and to keep them there — particularly in those busy times when I have a lot of competing priorities. In those times, I’ll often find […] Read more »
How do you know you’re, in fact, succeeding in your business? It may seem like you’ve had a steady flow of new customers, but are you tracking the numbers to be sure? It’s easy to lose track of time and get confused about when you signed […] Read more »
I recently came across a video by Jon Larkowski entitled, “The Way I Get Things Done,” in which he outlines his personal productivity system. He offered several useful tips for increasing productivity, but the two phrases that really stuck out to me were that you need […] Read more »
Yesterday, I read the Unconventional Guide to the Social Web, and although I found a lot of useful information in it, one thing has stuck with me since reading it. Your blog is your mothership. Don’t neglect it for lesser tools.
This is an important thing to keep in mind when marketing your business online. There are tons of ways to build a web presence, including a variety of social media and networking sites, but nothing is as important as your blog.
Maintained correctly, your blog is the one tool that will get you the most traffic, and it’s the tool over which you have the most control. If you set out with the intention of posting three to five times per week, within a year, you will begin seeing significant activity around your site. Within two to three years, you could easily be an authority in your particular niche.
But, how can you make sure that you don’t neglect your blog (or mothership)?
#1 Spend time there.
Visit your site or blog frequently (ideally, several times per day). This helps you stay connected with your vision for your business, and it also helps you stay in tune with the usability of your site, as well as find ways to improve it.
#2 Keep it updated.
It’s very easy to allow a month to go by without posting a single blog entry. Naturally, the frequency of your posts will depend on a number of factors, most important being your own goals for your site, but you should post on a regular and consistent schedule so that your site content remains fresh.
#3 Engage your audience.
Ask questions, make thought-provoking posts, and most importantly, monitor the comments on your blog. If someone replies to one of your posts, take the time to respond, and if you really want to impress the person, email him or her with a thoughtful “thank you for following” message. Read more »
In an earlier post, I mentioned using a virtual assistant (VA) to help with my work so that I could free myself to focus on more important tasks, including taking much-needed time off. Many readers asked who I used for virtual assistant services, and one reader […] Read more »
Recently, I’ve been doing major cutbacks in my work day. It started with my lead generation. I’d been putting myself through the ringer for six or seven months in an attempt at kicking my results up a notch, only to have the opposite effect. I finally had to draw a line in the sand or run the risk of burning out.
I pulled the plug completely and took a couple of weeks off the lead generation hamster wheel. The result? My incoming leads and my revenue actually increased. Was it that my energy had improved? Maybe. Was it that I was focusing more on the right things? Possibly. Either way, I wasn’t going to stop a good thing. I started cutting back in every way imaginable, and my work schedule was the next to take a hit.
I’m currently in the middle of a “staycation” (you know, when you take a vacation without really going anywhere), and I’m limiting my work time to 2–4 hours per day. Amazingly, I’m still getting roughly the same amount accomplished. Oh, except I’m not checking the news feeds several times per day, only once for five minutes by quickly scanning the highlights, so essentially, I’m having to cut the fat from my day.
Before I started my week, I went through my planned schedule and jotted down the most important 4–5 tasks that should be completed by Friday. I also solicited the help of a virtual assistant to help with a lot of my regular (and necessary) tasks. Everything else got the boot. Read more »
Sometimes I wonder if it’s just me, but I think it’s fair to say that a widely-experienced byproduct of social media engagement is social media disengagement. I’ve encountered it in BBS’s, forums, message boards, with IM clients, on MySpace, Facebook, and now, most recently, on Twitter. […] Read more »
I came across an idea about keeping a one-sentence journal to improve happiness, and thought they could be helpful for improving my business, too. I’m very intimidated by the thought of keeping a personal journal. I’ve tried to do it many times, but I can never […] Read more »
How many times do we allow the sideshows to run our lives? What do I mean by “sideshows?” Well, sideshows can be many things: Read more »
Okay, I don’t really like that phrase, “mental health day,” but the idea behind it is very important and relevant to every web worker. We all need time away from our work and businesses, time to collect our thoughts, get some breathing room, and get away from the computer screen and the sometimes very close walls of our offices.
It may not seem important, but taking time away from our work has just as big an impact on our productivity as putting in a full day. It’s not just about the quantity of hours we devote to the job, but the quality. How much of the time that we’re spending on our work is effective and productive, if we never take time to get away from it?
We need time off, and it’s important to make a conscious choice to include it in our to-do lists and schedules. But, what do you do on “mental health days” anyway? The main thing to remember is that your time away from your business needs to be restorative. It needs to help energize you and inspire you. It shouldn’t be filled with tasks that are as taxing and monotonous as work.
Here are a few other ideas to help you improve your use of time off. Read more »
We try to work 100% virtually – no pens, no paper, a laptop, and web-based tools and applications, but even for the web worker, clutter seems inevitable. I’ll admit, I haven’t gotten completely away from paper (is that possible?), and while my clutter in no way compares to that of previous (and not web-based) jobs, it still gets in the way at times and needs to be tamed. Here are a few tricks I use to keep it in check.
#1 Keep flat surfaces clear as much as possible.
Desk tops, table tops, filing cabinet tops, and every other flat surface in your workspace should be kept completely clear – no stacks of paper, no files, nothing. Once daily, clear every flat surface in your office. Not only will keep you from getting frustrated by not having a single surface to sit something, it will also help you stay on top of your work (you know, all those buried to-dos and sticky notes).
#2 Do “quick sweeps” regularly.
Give yourself ten minutes (set a timer, if necessary) and do a quick sweep a few times per day. Put away stray pens, notes, supplies, empty cups, trash, and anything else that has managed to get out of place.
#3 Empty your inboxes.
Email, feed readers, to-do lists – they’re like breeding grounds for clutter; they pile up quickly. At least once a day, clear the decks. Work to completely empty your inboxes so that you don’t get behind and start feeling overwhelmed. Read more »
Being a web worker can mean learning to handle many facets of running a small business, including dealing with difficult clients, which can often be one of the biggest frustrations that come with the territory.
But how do you know if your clients are abusing you? Here are a few telltale signs and tips for how to fix and avoid these situations.
The work keeps creeping in. You start with one description of what is to be done and end up doing something entirely different or something that’s way more involved than the original task.
How to Fix/Avoid It: Have a contract and a clear and agreed-upon scope and schedule for each and every phase or project. Outline exactly what is to be done and when it’s due.
The client expects immediate responses or complete availability. Occasionally, you’ll come across clients who want 100% of your undivided attention. They expect emails to be responded to within an hour and work to be completed at an unrealistic pace.
How to Fix/Avoid It: Set expectations from the start. Explain when you’re available to clients, how quickly you tend to reply to communications, and how you prefer to communicate. You may also wish to explain how you work. For example, do you generally devote a set amount of time to each project or client per day? If so, explain this to clients on the front side so that they know what to expect. Read more »
How do you sell yourself and your services online, when you work in two or more fields? Won’t a potential client’s first impression be that you lack focus, and perhaps don’t excel at any of the things you do? Freelancers don’t always have the luxury of […] Read more »
It’s a strange thing, but in times like these, when prospective clients have fewer dollars to spend and when there’s more competition in the marketplace due to higher unemployment rates, instinctive responses have a tendency to take over our business decisions.
It’s easy to get trapped in a cycle of instinctive “fight or flight” response, so how do we break that cycle? Read more »
I like Twitter, and I embrace it for both personal and private use. Until recently, though, I’ve been hesitant to take the next logical step and attend a tweetup, despite their popularity here in Toronto. (A tweetup is a gathering of Twitter users, and is something […] Read more »
YouTube caught a break yesterday, as a federal judge dismissed some claims for damages in a copyright infringement lawsuit brought against the video giant. This decision wasn’t about Viacom versus YouTube. Rather, U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton ruled that plaintiffs in a separate class-action lawsuit, including […] Read more »
I use a lot of Google’s applications to stay organized and productive, but I’m especially fond of Gmail. In its standard form, it’s a fine email client that makes it easy to stay on top of that mountain of email, but with a little customization you can use it to become even more efficient. Here are six super ways to send Gmail into productivity overdrive.
#1: Use super stars.
You know how Gmail has the standard Gmail star? Now you can make it a super star! Enable Superstars within Labs under Settings. Once enabled, you can select the super stars you’d like to use by dragging and dropping them within the General tab under Settings.
Here are a few examples of how I use super stars.
I use the red and yellow exclamation points to mark items that (a) are work-related and (b) require some action on my part (red indicates something more pressing than yellow). I use the purple question mark for pending payments, deposits, and other things I’m waiting for.
#2: Use search.
I don’t really use folders (or labels) in Gmail, only because the search functionality is so easy to use. If I need to find something related to a particular client, I just type the client’s name and find it that way.
The advanced search functionality allows you to search within a date range (say within a month of a particular date), so finding a particular email is generally pretty easy and requires a lot less upkeep than folders (unless you set up filters to maintain this for you).
The best tip for searching is to use very specific search terms. If you can remember a particular phrase, name, or keyword that was used and the approximate date it was emailed (say the month of June), you’ll reduce your search results tremendously, making it even faster to locate information. Read more »
Recently, I switched to a dual-monitor setup for working each day, and I’ll never go back. The productivity benefits were immediately apparent, and we’ve written before about how easy it is to switch to this type of setup. Both the Mac OS and Windows have support for dual monitors built-in, and you can get, say, two 20-inch monitors for less money than a much larger display costs. After working with two monitors for a couple months now, I’ve collected some efficiency tips that can help get the most out of them. Here are three tips that have worked for me. Read more »