Productivity Blog Posts

April 28, 2020

xCode Training

This week I am dedicating time into learning all about iOS 13 & Swift 5 using Xcode. Currently, I am using the Storyboard Interface and at some point in the training it will move to the new SwiftUI interface.

Udemy Training

I am taking the iOS 13 & Swift 5 training on Udemy. Dr. Angela Yu does a great job of explaining how to use XCode and her teaching styles help you learn a lot in a short time.

The course is good because there's a lot of workshops and real-life examples where you can play around and learn a bit more.

There are 58.5 hours of videos with 573 lectures - I think it may take a bit longer than a week to go through it.

Training Goals

I don't have any specific goals with this training. I just want to learn about the capabilities of creating apps on the iPhone. I am taking a lot of notes and enjoying learning all the challenges creating an App on the iPhone.

Code Snippets

When I find a really useful code, I am storing them in Google Sheets and tagging them as Swift. This will make it easy to find code snippets in the future.

A to Z Blog Challenge Note

The letter "X" is a really hard blog topic to find. Honestly, there are not that many words that start with an X. Let alone words in the Productivity category.

April 21, 2020

Red Hot Timer

Having a timer is one way to keep the focus on what needs to be done. It's a way to stay on track and get things done.

You can buy a timer to put at your desk so that you can see how much time is left. The good thing is that the timer isn't using any computer resources. In addition, it's good if you want to track time away from the computer.

On the iPhone, Apple's Clock has a good timer. Otherwise, any good 50 Minute Visual Timer would be good to have next to your home desk.

Red Hot Timer

On the Mac, the Red Hot Timer app is a fast and easy way to set up a timer. You can set the timer from the system menu bar and it will show you the most active time.

Red Hot Timer Blog
Screenshots of the Red Hot Timer App

Five Things I like About the Timer

  • In the preferences panel you can set up a predefined time for whatever purposes, and that will appear in the drop-down menu in the menu bar. So you can set up how long it takes to do a computer build, and set the timer and then check it when the time expires.
  • You can run multiple timers. The timer that is about to expire first is the one that appears in the menu bar.
  • There is a count down and a count-up mode. The count up is useful when you're tracking the amount of time before the release.
  • You get 6 timers for "free" to try the application, in the purchase panel there's an offer to try it for a month. If you find it useful you can buy a yearly subscription for $2.99.
  • There are several options on what happens when the timer ends. If the computer is on mute, the Timer application will become the front most active application.
April 14, 2020

Lean PDCA

In Lean Methodology, the key point is the Plan, Do, Check, Act - or PDCA Chart. The methodology can be used continually to improve processes.

This will probably be the model that Governments will be using to decide on how to "open up the economy" in the CoronaVirus

PDCA Chart

What this all means

Plan

Figure out the objectives and steps to deliver the best results. Try to recognize an opportunity and plan a change to produce a positive result.

Do

Not only should you take action on the plan, but test a part of the change. Take small steps and add some tracking so the changes can be measured. You want to make sure that the change has a positive effect.

Check

Gather the data from the "Do" stage and evaluate the results. Check to see if it producing the expected results and by all means identify what you have learned.

Act

Take additional action based on what you lean in the Check stage. If necessary, make changes to the action to improve to make to match the desired results.

April 7, 2020

Focus on Productivity

The CoronaVirus has caused a lot of people to work from home to be safe and flatten the curve. They are now working with their families. The whole, "Working from Home" is a bit more complicated now.

It's hard to stay focus while there are so many distractions. In addition, you can't just escape to the local coffee shop to "getaway."

Bryann Andrea has the right idea:

Productivity Corona Virus

Tips and Tricks

Here are four ways to help focus on your productivity.

December 3, 2017

Success Principles Survey Results

Kim over at Self Development Secrets did it again, she put together a results of a survey of Success Principles. A few weeks ago they sent a survey to a bunch of Bloggers and Successful Entrepreneurs.

The information gather is truly valuable, its a collection of advice on how to be successful. Everything from the "Best Way to Learn" to the "Most Important Trait" to be successful. There's a great infographic to understand the path to success.

Success Principles
www.selfdevelopmentsecrets.com/success-principles-roundup

The results of the survey conclude with great advice from all the participants. Each contributor was asked to submit something piece of advice that has motivated them.

September 9, 2017

List of the Best Self-Help Books

What would happen if you ask 200+ productivity bloggers what their favorite self-book book is? How many different responses would you get?

The people over at selfdevelopmentsecrets.com took a survey of various Productivity Bloggers and asked them which Success book influenced their life. Check out the survey results and then check out the bloggers who responded with books that have influenced you.

selfdevelopmentimac
www.selfdevelopmentsecrets.com/best-self-help-books

The selfdevelopmentsecrets.com has a lot of other survey results. It's a good site to learn about the best books to read in the vast world of business books.

What's nice is that it's an unbias view of books and authors which adds to the credibility of the information.

August 30, 2017

Gravatar

gravatar Terminal2

There are lots of various web forums and blogs online. There's just about one for every nitch group. The problem is dealing with all the various profiles that need to be setup.

For users, they don't want to have to change their profile image on every site that they visit, and for webmasters, the last thing they want to do is build a user interface for avatars.

Gravatar Solves the Problem

Gravatar makes part of the process simple by having a universal Avatar. When you put in your email address in comment field, the website will display data you entered from the Gravatar server.

Here's a brief description from their website:

Your Gravatar is an image that follows you from site to site appearing beside your name when you do things like comment or post on a blog. Avatars help identify your posts on blogs and web forums, so why not on any site?

Millions of avatar images are being served over 8.6 billion times per day.

General Users

It's worth a few minutes of your time setting up your Gravatar. This way you'll have it all ready to go when you need it. It doesn't cost anything to setup or to use. It will make your comments stand out on various internet blogs.

Website Owners

I recently integrated Gravatar to the comment section on this blog. Here are some notes on the whole process.

  1. It doesn't cost anything to make calls to the Gravatar server.
  2. It was quick to set up. I spent a few minutes reading through the Developer instructions on their site. Took about 20 minutes total
  3. Basically you convert the email address to a md5 Hash and then append it to a specific URL.
  4. Once you have it set up, you can decide what data to pull from the Gravatar server.
  5. It takes some tweaking the HTML and CSS to format the image. Tip: Make sure have some fail-over plan should the image not return in time.
  6. Using Gravatar is so much better than having to build some fancy profile page.
August 23, 2017

Browser Bookmark Bar Icons

Does your Internet Bookmark Bar look like this:

Before Browser Bar

Did you know that you could make it less cluttered by just showing the website icons? How about transforming it to this:

Browser After

This is very easy to do and to me seems very practical. Having a small bookmark bar can make it a lot less distraction. Chances are you know the sites that the above icons go to.

Chrome Modification

  • Simply right click on any icon in the Bookmark Bar and select "Edit' from the menu.
  • Remove the text in the Name Field.
  • Click Save

Firefox Modification

  • Simply right click on any icon in the Bookmark Bar and select "Properties' from the menu.
  • Remove the text in the Name Field.
  • Click Save

Safari Modification

This won't work in Apple's Safari as Apple doesn't show the Favicon in the book

At the End of the Day...

This is a good way to have more websites visible in the bookmark bar. I have learned that while it make take time to familiarize yourself with the various icons, it does make the bookmark bar look cleaner.

August 16, 2017

AnyList (iOS App)

The best way to describe AnyList is: "AnyList is the best way to create and share a grocery shopping list.”

AnyList makes it easy to create a list and share it. This makes it easy for couples to add to the weekly shopping list at any time.

Out of Trash Bags? - Add it to the list.
Need more Dryer Sheets - Add it to the list.

You can add pictures and additional description to your shopping item. This way there’s no question about the type of item that you need at the store.

The nice thing about grocery shopping is that the App is smart enough to group similar things. So all your Produce items are together regardless of when you entered it on the list.

This is a real time saver over traditional paper lists where people jot things down. That use to make shopping way more complicated than it should be.

Any List

Multiple Shopping Lists

The neat thing about AnyList is that you can create multiple lists. Here's some example of lists types that I created in the past.

Christmas Shopping - What do you get that perfect someone? You can put ideas down so you know what to look for at the mall. Very useful for the last minute shopper. Very useful to start early and add things as you encounter clues that it would make a perfect gift.

Pool Supplies - Create a list of things to get at the local pool shop. You may not need an extra wire clamp right now, but it will be handy to have on the next trip.

Vacation Packing - Make a list of things to bring. You can easily sort things by what suitcase they should go in. Useful when you're running around doing last minute prep work. You don't want to forget that extra charger.

Vacation Shopping - Heading to Disney World? Need to buy shirts and souvenirs? Jot down what you need. You can reference the list while you're waiting in line to remember what you need to buy.

Note to Each Other - Great for couples who are trying to figure out all the things that need to get done this weekend. Great communication tool.

Letter Game - When my daughter was in preschool they has letter of the week. During the day we would jot down creative words around that letter.

Organizing Tasks - Running a school auction? Dance Night? 5k? Use AnyList to track down things that need to get done on the day of the event.

Remember that with AnyList you can share the list so others can add or remove things as needed.

Overall

Anylist is a great application to use anytime you need a list. It does take a few minutes to understand the fundamentals. You'll be up and running in no time.

Anylist also has recipes and meal planning. We haven't gotten to use those. I am sure that they are excellent functionality but we usually just plan for the week and make game day decisions.

August 9, 2017

Tagging in Google Photos

Google Photos

Google Photos is a great way to store photos. Google uses their search technology to help you find photos.

Finding By Date

The search query to find a photo by a certain day is YYYY-MM-DD (Standard date and time notation). Google Photos should support the MMMM/DD/YYYY format. As not everyone uses the standard date format.

Finding by Content

Looking for Photos taken at Sunset? Simply search for the object you're looking for in the pictures.

Some Creative Examples:

  • White Wall
  • Beach in November
  • Castle in Orlando
  • Boston Monuments
  • Swimming Pool
  • Fire in the Fireplace
  • Train Tracks in the Winter

Tagging Photos?

There's no way to tag certain photos. Google officially doesn't support this feature.

There's no way to tag a photo of significance, for example, if you want to use a particular photo for a future blog post. Perhaps the photo is something that you want to find again but want to scroll through similar looking photos.

Easy Work Around

A simple workaround is to put a similar text in the image description field. This field is visible when you click on an image. You can come up with a creative hash tag. Then when you want to find the photos you simply search for the hashtag.

Example Hash Tags

  • #awesome - great photos
  • #blogit - photos that you may want to blog
  • #winter - good winter pictures
  • #2017 - best photos of the year

You can put multiple hashtags in the description field. In addition, you may want to make a quick note on the photo so that you'll later remember why you tagged it.

Known Drawback

The only problem with doing this is remembering the hashtag text that you used. This is why using simple hashtags is a good idea.

You could always keep a running list in an Evernote or Google Doc.

Experiment with this and see if it helps you be more productive using Google Photos.

August 2, 2017

Do the Little Hole Drill

This week while golfing at Ocean Edge, I noticed a little sign at the putting green near some very small golf holes. Apparently, this is a special training area to help improve your golf game.

Do The Drill2

Do the Little Hole Drill

Exactly and Completely

Start from 1 foot and make two putts in a row at each position of 1ft, 2ft, 3ft, 4ft, and 5ft. Do not move back to the next position until (2) putts in a row have gone in the little hole.

Repeat this process at the regulation hole.

The holes were about 90% smaller than a standard golf hole. I don't know if this actually works, but it seems like a good practice to help you control your putts.

July 26, 2017

Post simultaneously to Facebook and Twitter.

Did you know that you can setup your Twitter Post to also post to Facebook? This is handy when you want to just post once and have it appear on both social networks.

Go to your Twitter account's settings, then the Profile tab (or go to the Twitter app on Facebook). There's a large "Connect to Facebook" button right at the top. Click it and everything you tweet will also go on your Facebook timeline and the News Feeds of all your friends.

Twitter Sync
It's quick and Easy to integrate the two social media services.

Your @Replies and direct messages will not be posted to Facebook.

July 19, 2017

Canva

The fastest way to create basic Social Media graphics is using Canva. The interface and design templates make it super easy to promote anything on any of the popular social media channels.

Canva is Productivity

The faster you get something done, the faster you can move on to the next task. Isn't that the definition of Productivity?

Canva is Fast and Easy

The thing that makes Canva great is that there isn't much thinking of getting the work done. In addition, the vast selection of template designs can help inspire you to create an awesome post. There's also a customer sharing section where people can show off their designs.

Basic Canvas use is Free, there are some images that you have to pay for. You don't have all the power as a full image editor, but for most projects, it should be enough to get you up and running.

Yes you can upload files to Canva, you're not limited to their library.

Promote Your Blog Posts

With Canva you can spend more time writing blog posts and less time promoting. Simply upload your image and then do some basic cleaning.

Sample Designs Created in Canva

Train Pictures

N E
SuperBowl Field Sign

I think it's worth checking out Canva and spending a few minutes playing around. It's not for every project, but if you need a quick graphic to highlight a point, you can't go wrong with creating it in Canva.

Once you start creating designs in Canva, you'll want to place the bookmark in your bookmark bar.

July 12, 2017

Darren Daily

You may have heard that to be successful in the personal development space you to get a good coach. That's because a good coach will get you to push you beyond your limits and hold you accountable for your actions.

If you can’t afford a coach, having a daily pep talk would certainly be the next best things. Getting new ideas from a successful business person will help you stay focus on your goals. In addition, the pep talk can help you overcome the daily negative messages that you may hear. They will convince you to continue to take positive actions towards your goals.

Darren Hardy’s Darren Daily is a good alternative to a personal coach. Every weekday you’ll get a short video to help inspire you move forward.

Darren Daily is about a success habit, a morning ritual to help you jumpstart your day. Its purpose is to give you one idea, insight or resource (in under 5 mins) you can use that day to level up your success.

Who is Darren Hardy?

From Wikipedia:

Darren Hardy is an American author, keynote speaker, advisor, and former publisher of SUCCESS magazine. Hardy is a New York Times best-selling author, who wrote The Entrepreneur Roller Coaster and The Compound Effect.

Darren Daily

Fundamentals of the Daily Emails

Here is how DarrenDaily works, according to the welcome email:

Each weekday I am going to deliver to you a specially created video, audio, success tip, tool or insight I have specially designed for you and this program.

The content is something you can read, watch or listen to in under 3 minutes and will be actionable in under 2.

In only 5 minutes a day, 5 days a week, 260 times a year I can help you level up your success and transform your life.

Also know this: You are not on this journey alone.

There are people from all over the world going through this process with you.

You are now a part of a global community of like-minded people dedicated to a common purpose: living a life of excellence.

Certainly Worth Watching

I highly recommend starting your day listening to Darren Daily. His messages are inspiring and can help you get the day off to a great start. When I watch the clip, I minimize the browser window and then just listen to his message.

The nice thing about the daily video messages is that you feel like Darren is talking directly to you. Each message arrived in your inbox after midnight pacific standard time.

Important Note

Darren Daily is delivered to you 100% no charge, but only for those who are benefiting from it. If you don’t open your Darren Daily email for 30 days your membership will be automatically deleted.

His daily video messages are only available for 72 hours. After that, the message is gone.

July 5, 2017

Extra Large Mousepad

Do you still use a mouse and a standard size mouse pad?

Stop struggling to try to keep the mouse on the pad. If you're constantly having to reposition the mouse to perform a task, then a bigger mousepad can make all the difference. If you spend a lot of time on the computer, this could be an annoying action.

Have you thought about a larger mouse pad? How about an extra large one?

Been thinking about it for a while

For years, I have been using a standard 9.25" by 7.68" mouse pad from Vistaprint. It looks very cool but just doesn't seem to be the right size.

I saw some promotions on Facebook about a gigantic size mouse pad and thought it would be interesting to check out. After a few weeks of sitting in my shopping cart, I gave in and ordered it.

The mousepad is great. It's a bit bigger than I thought: 35.4" by 15.7":

I like it since it gives my desk a new look. It also helps define a new boundary and keeps me from cluttering my desk.

Productive Tool?

How can having an extra large mousepad make you more productive?

Using an extra large mouse pad helps you keep going and not lose your train of thought because you have to look away from the screen to see where to reposition your mouse.

Why not try it?

Mouse Pad Amazon

If your looking for a creative gift for a tech guy, that's unique and probably something they don't have, consider getting a large mouse pad.

I haven't found a good place that sells customize versions, there are some color designs to pick from. After you get it you may want to spray the mat with Febreze since it has a strong chemical smell to it.

Check out your options on Amazon, or Google Shopping.

Both links are unaffiliated. Just go out and find a bigger mouse pad. Having a 9x7 mouse pad is so 1980s..