Tag Archives: Productivity

Four sanity restoring strategies for the over-committed | Unclutterer

Four sanity restoring strategies for the over-committed

If you’re constantly pressed for time, it could be because you think you have more time in your day than actually exists or you can’t stop saying, “yes,” to every commitment that comes your way. If you’re being pulled in more directions than you want to be, now is a great time to start putting the breaks on the constant agreements and start being more selective with your time commitments.

None of the following ideas is revolutionary, and you have likely heard them before today. However, they’re good reminders for all of us, especially those who fall into the realm of the over-committed.

  1. “Let me get back to you,” should be the first thing you say in response to any request that comes your way. A little time between you and the request can give you some perspective.
  2. Make rules for your agreements — If the request is from someone very dear to you and the request is for her well-being, you will very likely accept the request. If the request is from an organization you find morally questionable, and you don’t want to do the work, you’ll say, “no.” Length of commitment, obligations outside of meetings, and the person or organization making the request should all be considered when creating your rules.
  3. Keep your attention focused on what matters most to you. (If you aren’t clear about what matters most to you, check out “Make a list, check it twice.”) Keep your eye on the big prize.
  4. Reframe your perspective. Saying, “no,” to a less-important action gives you the opportunity to say, “yes,” when a request you really want to accept comes your way.

Posted by Erin on Aug 15, 2011 |

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Maybe a little social-media fatigue isn’t such a bad idea

Interesting piece, saying what I’ve what I’ve pointed out a number of times to people who go off the rails about too much time online. Frankly, we, as a species, have always been time-wasters. You can use a Franklin Planner or a journal of some sort to track how you spend you time, whether you’re wired or not. Let’s not blame the technology – it’s out use of it that matters.

As Google tries to boost its social market share with its new Google+ network — which just got some Facebook-style games designed to increase engagement — and Twitter adding new activity streams to pull users in, and Facebook trying to become the one network that rules them all, social-media fatigue seems to be an increasingly likely outcome. Some are already complaining about the number of directions they are being pulled in when it comes to social content-sharing, and cartoonist Scott Adams recently argued that all this constant stimulation is actually getting in the way of true creativity. Are we amusing ourselves to death online, and if so, what is the cure?

Read the rest here: gigaom.com

Calendar Wars Pit Electronics Against Paper

I like a having a paper calendar, at least as an insert to a Circa notebook but you can’t manage a collaborative calendar without an electronic tool. Note that further into this article there is reference to a study of “personal calendar use”. In the corporate world we have long used Outlook or IBM’s Lotus version, whose name escapes me. One cannot expect a global team to keep their calendars and meetings synced without it.

Feel free to use only paper to manage your own time but don’t expect me to know what you did or guarantee that I’ll make the same change accurately in my copy.

 

LAST month, I did something that not once in my 20 years as an overscheduled, neurotically punctual, paper-bound calendar keeper had I done before: I left my personal organizer (as Filofaxes, Day Runners and such are known to the trade) at the office.

Ed Alcock for The New York Times

Dany Levy of the Web site Daily Candy has used a Filofax since high school.

Ed Alcock for The New York Times

Dany Levy with her computer and Filofax.

Not only that, I forgot it there on a Friday, leaving me clueless and unmoored for an entire weekend. What was I supposed to do on Saturday? What were my children supposed to do? Were birthday parties left unattended, errands unrun? On Sunday night, deprived of my ritual week-ahead review, I had nothing to worry about except what I didn’t know I should be worrying about.

This sorry situation had, of course, a solution, one embraced by many: convert to iCal, Google Calendar, Outlook or any number of other electronic personal-information management systems (as they are known to the trade). You can instantly update. You can sync. You can seamlessly integrate personal and professional into a harmoniously unified oneness.

I would rather live a life of 1,000 missed appointments.

So much of our social and professional lives are determined by the systems we use to keep track of them. With more people converting to electronic calendars or hovering between paper and PDA, how we construct and coordinate our schedules is in flux. And no matter how synchronized our intertwined lives have become, a certain amount of calendar clashing is inevitable.

Continues here: nytimes.com

 

 

Thirteen tips for giving a well-organized and informative speech

Being organized can make a positive impact when giving a speech. If you’re disorganized and ill-prepared, your audience is likely to not pay attention and get very little from the information you provide. Conversely, a well-practiced and orderly speech will keep your audience interested and leave your audience members glad they took the time to hear your insights.

If you have a fear of speaking in front of people, I highly recommend taking a speech class or joining your local Toastmasters. If you’re simply looking for some pointers for creating a more organized presentation, try these 13 tips:

 

Thirteen tips for giving a well-organized and informative speech

Being organized can make a positive impact when giving a speech. If you’re disorganized and ill-prepared, your audience is likely to not pay attention and get very little from the information you provide. Conversely, a well-practiced and orderly speech will keep your audience interested and leave your audience members glad they took the time to hear your insights.

If you have a fear of speaking in front of people, I highly recommend taking a speech class or joining your local Toastmasters. If you’re simply looking for some pointers for creating a more organized presentation, try these 13 tips:

 

“There’s a Web App for That” Suggests Chrome Apps Based on Your Browsing History

"There's a Web App for That" Suggests Chrome Apps Based on Your Browsing HistoryChrome: Many of your favorite sites have their own Chrome extensions that offer offline browsing, powerful searches, or other features. There’s a Web App for That is a Chrome extension that, once downloaded, gives suggestions for future extensions based on the sites you visit most often.

Developer Mihai Parparita found himself intrigued by the concept of discovery, how a user finds apps to install. Generally one finds new apps through recommendations, advertisements, or browsing through the Chrome web store. A bit of brainstorming led to an idea for an auto-discovery mechanism.

Along these lines, I thought I would play around with the Chrome Web Store set of apps. Ideally, if one is browsing a web site that has a corresponding app in the store, a page action icon would appear to indicate this, similarly to feed auto-discovery notification. Conveniently, hosted apps have a urls section in their manifest which indicates which URLs they want to include within the app. This seemed like a pretty good proxy for which URLs the app was “about”. I extracted the URL patterns for a bunch of apps, cleaned them up a bit, and used that to implement a Chrome extension (source) which shows the aforementioned page action when visiting pages that match a Chrome Web Store entry.

Once I had that working, it seemed like a straightforward extrapolation to use the history API to also match browser history URLs against app data. When launched the extension shows apps that match history entries, sorted by recency (this is also available via the extension’s options page). The fact that the app data lives locally means that all this matching can be done without uploading the history to a server, which is preferable from a privacy perspective.

From my use the app works simply and efficiently, but be on guard for extensions that are nothing more than a link to web site in question.

There’s a Web App for That is a free extension for the Chrome browser.

"There's a Web App for That" Suggests Chrome Apps Based on Your Browsing HistoryThere’s a (web) app for that site | persistent.info

 

“There’s a Web App for That” Suggests Chrome Apps Based on Your Browsing History

"There's a Web App for That" Suggests Chrome Apps Based on Your Browsing HistoryChrome: Many of your favorite sites have their own Chrome extensions that offer offline browsing, powerful searches, or other features. There’s a Web App for That is a Chrome extension that, once downloaded, gives suggestions for future extensions based on the sites you visit most often.

Developer Mihai Parparita found himself intrigued by the concept of discovery, how a user finds apps to install. Generally one finds new apps through recommendations, advertisements, or browsing through the Chrome web store. A bit of brainstorming led to an idea for an auto-discovery mechanism.

Along these lines, I thought I would play around with the Chrome Web Store set of apps. Ideally, if one is browsing a web site that has a corresponding app in the store, a page action icon would appear to indicate this, similarly to feed auto-discovery notification. Conveniently, hosted apps have a urls section in their manifest which indicates which URLs they want to include within the app. This seemed like a pretty good proxy for which URLs the app was “about”. I extracted the URL patterns for a bunch of apps, cleaned them up a bit, and used that to implement a Chrome extension (source) which shows the aforementioned page action when visiting pages that match a Chrome Web Store entry.

Once I had that working, it seemed like a straightforward extrapolation to use the history API to also match browser history URLs against app data. When launched the extension shows apps that match history entries, sorted by recency (this is also available via the extension’s options page). The fact that the app data lives locally means that all this matching can be done without uploading the history to a server, which is preferable from a privacy perspective.

From my use the app works simply and efficiently, but be on guard for extensions that are nothing more than a link to web site in question.

There’s a Web App for That is a free extension for the Chrome browser.

"There's a Web App for That" Suggests Chrome Apps Based on Your Browsing HistoryThere’s a (web) app for that site | persistent.info

 

One-Third of Us Feel ‘Overwhelmed’ by Technology – Techland

If you were one of those people who greeted the launch of Google’s new Google+ social network with the words: “Oh no, not another one,” then you may be interested to know that you’re not the only one.

A study conducted by academics at the University of Cambridge and U.K.-based telco giant BT says that one in three people feel “overwhelmed” by technology. Surprisingly, the study claims that a third of adults, and an amazing 43% of 10- to 18-year-olds, are already trying to cut down or control their use of social technology.

(MORE: There Are Now 200 Million Tweets Being Sent Per Day)

A digression: Let’s pause for a moment and consider the nature of “survey” stories. They’re a classic ploy for publicity by public relations companies engaged to get column inches for their clients. Usually, their conclusions are little more than “Most people love widgets, according to a survey by Widgets, Inc.,” which is never very interesting to write, let alone read.

This survey has better credentials than most, though. It was undertaken by a team from the University’s Engineering Design Centre, lead by Anna Mieczakowski – whose job title is “BT Research Fellow”. There’s the connection. Digression over.

The survey studied the communications habits of families in the U.S., U.K., Australia and China. Each person was asked to keep a diary of all their communications activities for a week. Did they talk face to face, or use technology – if so, which one? After that, a follow-up survey was sent out to 1000 individuals in each country.

Some of the stats that emerge are interesting. One third of parents said technology can disrupt family life. Nearly 20% said they used tech for more than seven hours a day, and 37% expected this figure to rise in future. You can download the full report as three fat PDF files from this BT blog post.

No matter what BT’s ulterior motives were for publishing this study, there’s an underlying point to consider: Do you need to be online as much as you are? Do you need to sit in front of screens as much as you do? Could you keep in touch with some people in different ways? Do you really, truly, honestly, need a Google+ account?

MORE: Impressions: Google+ Is Everything Facebook Should Be

One-Third of Us Feel ‘Overwhelmed’ by Technology – Techland

If you were one of those people who greeted the launch of Google’s new Google+ social network with the words: “Oh no, not another one,” then you may be interested to know that you’re not the only one.

A study conducted by academics at the University of Cambridge and U.K.-based telco giant BT says that one in three people feel “overwhelmed” by technology. Surprisingly, the study claims that a third of adults, and an amazing 43% of 10- to 18-year-olds, are already trying to cut down or control their use of social technology.

(MORE: There Are Now 200 Million Tweets Being Sent Per Day)

A digression: Let’s pause for a moment and consider the nature of “survey” stories. They’re a classic ploy for publicity by public relations companies engaged to get column inches for their clients. Usually, their conclusions are little more than “Most people love widgets, according to a survey by Widgets, Inc.,” which is never very interesting to write, let alone read.

This survey has better credentials than most, though. It was undertaken by a team from the University’s Engineering Design Centre, lead by Anna Mieczakowski – whose job title is “BT Research Fellow”. There’s the connection. Digression over.

The survey studied the communications habits of families in the U.S., U.K., Australia and China. Each person was asked to keep a diary of all their communications activities for a week. Did they talk face to face, or use technology – if so, which one? After that, a follow-up survey was sent out to 1000 individuals in each country.

Some of the stats that emerge are interesting. One third of parents said technology can disrupt family life. Nearly 20% said they used tech for more than seven hours a day, and 37% expected this figure to rise in future. You can download the full report as three fat PDF files from this BT blog post.

No matter what BT’s ulterior motives were for publishing this study, there’s an underlying point to consider: Do you need to be online as much as you are? Do you need to sit in front of screens as much as you do? Could you keep in touch with some people in different ways? Do you really, truly, honestly, need a Google+ account?

MORE: Impressions: Google+ Is Everything Facebook Should Be

Five Best Group To-Do Management Tools



Five Best Group To-Do Management Tools Keeping track of your own to-dos is hard, but keeping track of shared to-dos and tasks with dependencies can be even more difficult. Earlier in the week, we asked you to nominate the tools you use to manage shared to-do lists. You responded, and now we’re back to highlight the five most popular ones.

The nominations this week were all over the map. A number of you use a wide variety of utilities and tools to manage group to-dos, whether the tool was built for that purpose or you’ve re-purposed a tool for the job. Here are the most popular. Photo by Jay and Melissa Malouin.

Basecamp

Five Best Group To-Do Management Tools Basecamp has grown to be one of the web’s most prominent tools for online collaboration. Depending on what you’re looking for, you can get shared to-do lists with assignable items, a shared calendar of events complete with milestones and major deadlines on the calendar, private chat, document sharing, and more. Many of the world’s biggest companies use Basecamp for group projects and collaboration. Basecamp can be pricey though, with plans that range from $49/month to $99/month and topping off at $149/month, it might be too much if you just want to organize a family reunion, but perfect for a startup company’s new software rollout.

Remember the Milk

Five Best Group To-Do Management Tools Remember the Milk is one of our favorite to-do managers for personal use, but a number of you use it to keep groups on the same page as well. It really needs no introduction, but Remember the Milk offers mobile apps, the ability to tag to-dos with location, and organize sequential tasks with dependancies. The app also allows you to share your to-dos with others who have work assigned to them. Accounts are free, but mobile apps, email support, Outlook Sync, and the latest features will set you back $25/year.

Cozi

Five Best Group To-Do Management Tools Cozi is specifically designed for small groups to manage shared to-dos. The dev lead stopped by the nominations thread to share the app, pointed out that Cozi offers multiple users in the same space, multiple to-do lists with individual owners, shared due-dates, and mobile apps to keep track of work. Cozi even offers shared calendars for tracking milestones or deadlines, and even shopping lists and journals for families or households using the service. Plus, it’s completely free.

Producteev

Five Best Group To-Do Management Tools Another service we’ve mentioned before, Producteev allows you to add to-dos easily, manage them via the Web or iOS app, assign items to team members, share documents, workspaces, and whiteboards, get email alerts to new tasks and deadlines, and the whole thing syncs with Google Calendar. The suite’s features scale whether you’re a small team, a family looking to organize a trip, or a business. Producteev has a free basic account, but $5/month gives you SSL encryption, more storage, and a customizable workspace for 2 users. For groups of 3 or more, you’ll want the $20/month group plan, or the $30/month “platinum” plan that gives you phone support, more storage, and reporting.

Spreadsheets

Five Best Group To-Do Management Tools Whether they’re spreadsheets in Google Docs, Microsoft Excel, or Zoho Docs, many of you said you just enter to-dos into spreadsheets and send them around to others if you need to get updates from multiple people or assign them work. As someone who used to do project management, I’ve seen enough spreadsheets disguised as project plans and task lists to agree that sometimes the best tool is the one you already have.

Now that you’ve seen the top five, it’s time to vote for an all-out winner.

What’s the Best Group To-Do Management Tool?
Basecamp
Remember the Milk
Cozi
Producteev
Spreadsheets

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What’s the Best Group To-Do Management Tool?<span style=”font-size:9px;”>online survey</span><br>

There were a lot of nominations this week, so it’s no surprise some of your favorites weren’t included. Share them in the comments below and let us know why you use the app you like the most!

You can reach Alan Henry, the author of this post, at alan@lifehacker.com, or better yet, follow him on Twitter.