Displaying All Posts from March, 2011

RockMelt: A Surprisingly Productive Browser

rockmelt

RockMelt is a snazzy browser built on Chromium that’s made for social sharing. It’s also potentially the least productive thing ever. Well, at first glance at least. Turns out that you can use RockMelt to help boost your productivity.

Using RockMelt for Work

Have a job where you have to keep up on social media? Maybe you’re a freelancer and social media is an important part of your marketing strategy? Well, here’s RockMelt to the rescue.

RockMelt Easily Feeds and Follow Your Favorite Sites

Let’s say you’re a blogger and need to keep on top of news in your industry. You can easily add feeds and monitor industry related blogs in real-time, straight from your browser without opening another window.

Adding a feed involves 3 quick steps:

  1. Open a new tab and go to the site of the feed that you want to add.
  2. Open the “Add Feeds” Panel from the App Edge.
  3. Click on “Start” to add a feed.

From there, the feed shows up with an icon on the right-hand panel. You can click on it whenever you see that the site has updated and get a preview similar to what you would see in a feed reader. There’s also a handy “Share Icon” right next to the preview.
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Why You Should Keep a Mileage Log

Entering Hyperspace

Mileage logs are used in business to keep a track of distances travelled for work purposes. If your job involves a lot of driving, or if you have a company car, you will usually be asked to keep a detailed mileage log. Most companies pay a certain amount per mile or kilometre to cover fuel and wear and tear on your vehicle. If you are self-employed you will be able to claim deductions against your tax payments. While it will take some time to set up and even more time to be consistent in using it, it is crucial to keep a mileage log.

Keeping Track of Your Travel

Keep track of any travelling you do for work. Examples include:

  • travelling to and from client offices for meetings;
  • delivering goods and services;
  • using your vehicle for voluntary work.

It is important to keep track of miles or kilometres travelled. If you are self employed, you will be able to get tax relief on your travel costs. With rising fuel prices it is particularly useful to know how much you are spending on travel. You can then make informed choices about how you travel and even make alternative arrangements. Travel is not always necessary and you may look into alternative ways to meet or communicate with clients or colleagues, such as Skype or conference calls.
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Awesome Links #40: Tranquil Workspace, Digital Mindfulness, Opportunities

awesome_links

7 Ways to Create a More Tranquil Workspace
A pleasant and elegant workspace can go a long way in making you more productive at work. I really liked this Lifehack blog post on ways to create a calm workspace. I can relate to the “add some noise” suggestion. I myself sometimes find it very hard to work amidst pin-drop silence. A decent article overall.

What Running a Marathon Taught Me About Running a Business
This post by Sullen Hughes over at the FeelGooder blog talks about his experiences as a marathon runner and a business owner, and how the former occupation taught him to excel at the latter. He relates them pretty well; some valuable nuggets for those running a business.

A Simple Guide for a Mindful Digital Life
Bridging the gap between various online identities and focusing on the essential to get meaningful work done is what this post on the Zen Habits blog discusses. It’s a detailed article that also mentions some useful tools to streamline your digital presence and be more productive.
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The Netsetter: Are You Avoiding the Content Farm Stigma?

ns

Last month, Google rolled out a change in its ranking algorithm that has come to be known as the “Farmer Update” — a reference to the so-called “content farms” that Google has put in the crosshairs. Not surprisingly, the algorithm change was more than a little controversial. Many observers pointed out collateral damage supposedly done to more legitimate sites, while other critics charged Google with allegedly singling out individual domains.

While I think the latter is a conspiracy theory, I do have access to the analytics of a number of large sites (200K to 1.5M pageviews per month), and the rankings drop in the sites that were hit hardest did seem to drop unilaterally, while the sites with minimal damage seemed to lose rankings on a page-by-page basis. How can you protect your site from being flagged as a content farm, regardless of whether or not it is? I don’t pretend to know Google’s algorithm, but I can offer some educated guesses.
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WorkAwesome Podcast: Episode 16 – Jesse Jacobs

WorkAwesome Podcast: Episode 16 – Jesse Jacobs

This week’s guest on the WorkAwesome podcast is Jesse Jacobs, founder of the Samovar Tea Lounge. Jesse also blogs at RealRitual, a website that discusses the power and joy of maintaining rituals in life.

If you’re looking to hear more of Jesse’s backstory, I highly suggest you check out his interview with Dan Benjamin on The Pipeline — as always, Dan does a great job interviewing Jesse. We don’t go into his backstory too deep in our discussion, but focus more on the present. Specifically, how he stays productive, fosters his passions and his suggestions on how others can do the same.

Jesse was kind enough to provide our listeners (and readers) with a 15% discount on all products at samovarlife.com. Just use coupon code drinktea upon checkout. This coupon is good until April 1st, 2011.
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6 Ways to Maximize Your Carry-On Luggage Space

reads by the sea

I was packing more items than usual into my 32-liter backpack and a small bag for a 2-week trip while chatting with a friend. Eventually she asked,

“How in the world do you think you’re going to fit all of this into those two bags?”

I told her not to worry and twenty minutes later I had my two bags ready. I must point out that I’m a far more “practical packer” than just about every woman I’ve ever met. But as airlines charge more and more for more limiting luggage allowances, even high-maintenance ladies might need some helpful tricks in packing a carry-on only — while still having a decent choice of wardrobe.

Just remember: depending on where you’re going it’s a good idea to leave some extra space so you can bring back some goodies.

1. Roll, roll, roll your clothes.

The old rolling trick saves lots of space, though some garments might need a little time to flatten out at your destination. Take each one of your folded garments and roll it tightly just before putting it in your bag so that you use every inch of space available. There are certain garments (such as dress cotton shirts) that cannot handle too much rolling or you will never de-wrinkle them — so lay those flat at the bottom of your suitcase then put your rolled up clothes on top of them.

2. Stuff your shoes up.

Each shoe has valuable space that can be used for storage. Place rolled up socks (or even your favorite bar of soap) inside your shoes and pack them back to back inside a shoe bag or in separate shoe bags; leather shoes should go in separate bags for better protection and stuffing them with socks helps keep their shape. High-heeled shoes are best packed in separate shoe bags so that, in addition to stuffing them with socks, you may also use the back of the heels to secure rolled up garments or fragile items.
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Forget PowerPoint! How to Deliver Awesome Presentations

Temptation

There’s nothing worse than falling asleep during a presentation…

This time, I’m going to stay awake. So far, so good… I’m following what he’s saying… But I wonder why the text on the screen looks really black, when the area around the slide looks kind of grey? It’s just the colour of the screen so it should look the same. I mean you can’t project more black. Must be a contrast thing. Aren’t brains weird? Wait a minute, what was he saying? Now my eyelids are getting heavy…

If you’ve ever had that feeling of jerking awake as your head falls off your shoulders, you’ll know there’s nothing much worse than trying to stay awake during a dull presentation. Everyone behind you has noticed your head making small circles and slow-bouncing nods — but no matter how hard you try, you just can’t stay awake. You’re a bear hit with a tranquilizer dart — you can fight it, but after a few wobbly steps you’re going down. You just have to hope you don’t start drooling or let out any inadvertent snorts as you wake up.

Come to think of it, there is one thing that’s worse. It’s far worse to be the one delivering a bad presentation.

A half-hour talk given to an audience of 20 uses up 10 hours of other people’s time. There’s no reason in the world not to make it awesome. Here’s how you can stop draining people with your presentations and start delivering awesome ones.
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Review: ActiveInbox – Get a Handle on Your Email

Screen shot 2011-03-13 at 12.07.37 PM

Having a clean, organized email inbox is the Holy Grail for the 21st century. Talk to just about anyone and you’re likely to hear:

“Yeah, it’s a mess. Thank goodness Gmail has a great search function or I’d really have a problem.”

Wouldn’t it be great if you could reach finally achieve that eternal quest?

Thanks to ActiveInbox, you may finally have a tool that will help you achieve just that. ActiveInbox is a browser extension created by Andy Mitchell and Pete Lambert based on the premise that emails are just badly formatted tasks.

ActiveInbox has two parts:

  1. Turning your emails into tasks and then grouping them into projects.
  2. Streamlining writing replies.

Turning Your Emails into Tasks,Then Group Them into Projects

ActiveInbox lets you choose whether an email is:

  • an action;
  • to be dealt with someday;
  • or something you’re waiting for a response from someone on.

This has two main benefits. One is that it forces you to make a conscious decision about what to do with the email instead of just letting it sit there. The other is that it makes it easy to tell at a glance what needs to be done when — not to mention allowing you to keep track of when you need to prod someone about a follow-up email.
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Workspace Before + After Competition – Your Last Chance to Enter

Workspace Before + After Competition – Your Last Chance to Enter

Earlier in the week we let you know about the chance to win a set of 200 gorgeous MOO business cards as part of our Workspace Before + After Competition. To enter, all you need to do is give your workspace a bit of TLC, whether that’s by cleaning it from top to bottom, or making it beautiful. Entries close on the 17th of March so make sure to submit your photos as soon as possible.

Lastly, I’ll let you in on a little secret: if you enter, the odds of winning a set of business cards are very, very good!

9 Healthy Habits for the Workplace

HAPPY MAN

Whether you work for yourself or for an employer, looking after your health is vital. If you work without any consideration for your health, at some point things will catch up with you in one way or another. Your health is one of your most important assets. Here are 9 healthy habits that can help you stay on top of your well-being at work:

1. Exercise

Finding time for exercise is important for our health and is a great way to manage stress. Exercise is often further down on the to-do list compared to other tasks, but it is something that you need to find time for — particularly if you work at a sedentary job that has you sitting at a desk all day. If you don’t currently exercise, start small and build up. Go for a walk and start getting your body moving. Even taking the stairs instead of the elevator can make a huge difference. You can find other ways to exercise as you get more comfortable with the new routine. Make it easy for yourself and find exercise that you enjoy.

2. Eat Well

Eating well is another important cornerstone of good health. Our work habits can make it hard to eat well but with some small changes, we can take control of what we eat and stay healthy. Plan your meals in advance each week and shop accordingly. Planning your meals will help you to eat well at home and have ingredients to prepare food for work. By making your own food you will be able to ensure you are eating healthy foods that enhance your health. Bring healthy snacks to work with you (like fruit and nuts) to stop the temptation of unhealthy stop gaps. Doing this is also very good for your bank balance.
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Pen & Paper: Better Than All Things Digital

Keeping Secrets From You

Why am I using this paper notebook for notetaking? It may surprise those of you who have been following my work here, especially since I’m one of the biggest cheerleaders for digital publishing and blogging. Sure enough, my messenger bag carries three digital devices for reading, writing and entertainment. But mixed in with my iPod, Droid cellphone and MacBook Pro is a Moleskine notebook: black cover, ruled sheets, pocket in the back.

Why You Need a Notebook

It’s like collecting puzzle pieces. Use your notebook to store the pieces. Then put them together when you have time. And you’re going to need less time than you think if you keep a good notebook.

Also, the fact you’re taking notes will help you retain the information. You may not need to refer to your notebook as much as you think because your memory for the noted information is better.
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11 Savvy Social Media Strategies

the talk-lecture that almost didnt happen

Have you seen the mega-hit movie The Social Network, (loosely) based upon Facebook and its founder, Mark Zuckerberg? This film is a very vivid reminder of where this phenomenon has taken us in just a few years — and its far reaching impact. There’s no doubt about it: social media has revolutionized the way we work and play. It has enhanced our communications, improved our businesses, allowed us to “win friends and influence people” more easily and expanded our visibility exponentially. I mean, what’s not to love about it?

But before you bask in that warm, fuzzy feeling that social media seems to offer, you might want to take note of a few drawbacks as well.  Just like money, the love of it can be either good or evil, depending upon how it is used. For example, folks who are enamored with it and see it as a way to exercise freedom of speech — by spouting off about their “idiot” employers, their “Animal House” partying behavior, illegal acts, and other escapades, have lost jobs, faced criminal prosecution, and have ultimately realized that “all that glitters is not gold”. Remember these social media missteps?

  • The woman who shoplifted and posted pictures to Facebook of the stolen goods?
  • The teacher who was “schooled” the hard way when he vented about the “ghetto parents” of some of his students through his blog?
  • The flight attendant who got her wings clipped when she discussed some of the downsides of her job?
  • The politician who wasn’t prudent when he “bared all” online.

Be forewarned: if not approached wisely, the next casualty could be you. With this in mind, here are a few ways to increase your social media savvy, be more productive, and face fewer professional and personal repercussions as a result of a social media misstep.
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