Productivity blog postings

Productivity Postings

Earliest: July 14, 2003Latest: December 3, 2017Total: 44

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..

June 28, 2017

Evernote Helper

Have you ever worked on a document and then an idea came up for something completely unrelated to what your working on?

Ya, it happens to everyone.

The problem is if you completely stop what you're doing - you'll loose focus on the task at hand.

EverNote Helper (Menu Item) can be a real life saver. When you encounter a distraction thought, such as "I should really check out that Tom Cruise - Tom Gun Music Video" you can just make a quick note without closing the program you're in. This is possible because EverNote Helper is a Macintosh/Windows system-wide utility.

Evernote Helper Graphic

I have found that EverNote helper is good way to remember things when you don't want to interupt your current task.

Screen Capture

As an added bonus, you can take a quick screenshot with your quick note. You don't need to take a full-screen shot - you can just take a picture of a selected area of the screen or any window.

Audio Recordings

Macintosh users can add a voice recording but I don't see any use for that. At my office it's pretty quiet - I don't think I would ever use this.

Some real world examples

Don't think it's something you need to use? Check out some real world tasks that have happen to me:

  • Thought of a cool gift idea while browsing Amazon? Take a screen shot and make a note.
  • See a cool graphic design on social media that you would like to duplicate? Take a screenshot of it and comment on why you like it.
  • Need to bring some supplies to work tomorrow? Take a note.
  • Found a bug but don't have time to file a report? Take a screenshot and jot down some notes.
  • Wouldn't it be great if.. Take a quick note.
  • On a call, need to jot a phone number or address?
  • Discovered a cool Alexa saying? Take a note.

At first I thought having another menu item didn't make any sense. However, I discovered that it makes perfect sense for just a quick note.

Once you remember the keyboard commands you'll be using this feature all the time.

Evernote Menu Help
Quick Cheat Sheet Guide.

One last Thought

Think about it - when was the last time your desktop sticky note had a screenshot?

June 21, 2017

Trello

Do you have a list of tasks?

Do you have a hard time managing it?

Consider using Trello to help you accomplish more with a lot less effort. It works because you can easily see the status and set deadlines when things need to get done.

Trello is free and I think it's worth checking out.

What is Trello?

As described by Trello, on their website:

A Trello board is a list of lists, filled with cards, used by you and your team. It?s a lot more than that, though. Trello has everything you need to organize projects of any size.

Open a card and you can add comments, upload file attachments, create checklists, add labels and due dates, and more.

There are plenty of examples of how people are using Trello. Trello customers are creating boards to plan their weekly meals to managing a large company all with ease.

Trello Designs

Trello is free for the basics including one power-up. Power-ups are add-ons to enhance your Trillo experience. You can connect a calendar, DropBox, Google Drive

Want more than the single add-on? Simply purchase a subscription. Rates start at xxx

Got a Blog? Get Trello!

Prior to Trello, I manage my blog content idealist as a single note in Evernote. It was a bit difficult to manage as it was just a bullet point list.

Now Powered by Trello

For the past couple of weeks, I have been managing the content on the blog via Trello. I have found that It makes content management so much easier.

Today, I have a ?Blog Content? board setup in Trello. Each Blog topic is a list, so I have Disney, Gluten, Productivity, Boston, and Macintosh. I then add cards as a blog topic that I want to cover in that list.

Then I can schedule things out. I can decide what topics that I want to cover over the next few weeks. I never really planned content that far out before.

Each card I can add comments and attachments about the topic. There is a 10 MB file limit on file uploads. I couldn't find any comment limit.

This will help me produce better content because I can plan the blog content well ahead of time.

Once the blog content is completed and ready, I then archive the card and move on to the next topic.

Try it Out

Check out this YouTube video on how Embolden uses Trello to be more productive.

Best way to learn Trello is to check it out. Visit the website and sign up today.

June 14, 2017

VisiBone

Having a handy reference guide at your desktop can make you more productive. You can quickly look up information and after awhile it becomes committed to memory. You are more likely to remember the information if it's next to you than if you constantly search for the information.

The author of VisiBone explains very well what they do:

I make stuff to help you remember and use what you've learned about making websites. Or if you're just a little adventurous, clues to what to try just beyond what you've learned. Memory joggers. Facts you keep looking up. The most common word for them is cheatsheets.

There are 12 different cheat sheet available in very well printed cards:

  • XHTML
  • CSS
  • JavaScript
  • Colors
  • Fonts
  • PHP
  • MySQL

VisiBone

Browser Book

In 2006, I purchased the laminated Browser Book. This is still something that i use today - more than 10 year later!

The color page is pretty handy to have as a desktop reference. Some of the tags and the JavaScript information is a bit out of date. When I first got it I found it to be a handy desktop reference.

Sure you could Google the information, or have a PDF Cheat Sheet on your desktop. But I have found a printed copy is a good way to remember something. So that when I am on the phone or waiting for some computer process to happen, I can just glance at a page and be remember of a function or style format.

Getting the VisiBone

You can only get the VisiBone guides from their website. I would highly recommend spending the extra to get the laminated version. I am pretty sure that mine has lasted 10+ years because of the lamination.

Oh and if you want to mark up the guide, use a wax pen. It works well!

June 7, 2017

Emoji in Evernote

EverNote is a great tool to organize everyday notes. You can put notes in Notebooks and tag them so you can easily find them later.

Did you know that EverNote Supports Emoji icons? It's a cool way to highlight notes or notebooks. Check out this example of the Done and Food Notebooks.

Notebook Emoji

As you can see it's pretty easy to identify the use of those particular notebooks.

What are Emoji icons?

Emoji are a small digital image or icon used to express an idea, emotion, etc., in electronic communication.

Emoji in Evernote

You can use emoji within your documents. But did you know that you can use them in headers and in Notebook names?

This can make it easier for certain notes or notebooks to stand out. As in the above example, my 'Done' notebook is where I store completed Blog notes.

All Emoji are Not the Same

Androd Emoji and Apple Emoji are different, this is important to know if your using EverNote on different devices types.

Emoji

Also keep in mind that Apple and Android don't have the same Emoji library. When Android encounter an Emoji that is not in their library, you'll get a box to indicate an incomplete emoji, If you keep a single OS platform, then this isn't a problem.

Emoji Technique

Using Emoji is a good way to make ordinary notes stand out. This is a great idea for those reference notes that you may need to use all the time.

Just remember to not throw an Emoji on synced Notebooks. (i.e. Notebooks that are being used by IFTTT, such as Twitter and IOS Photos.) If you add an Emoji, you're essentially changing the name and that may cause the sync to fail.

May 31, 2017

Everyday is Saturday Podcast

It's well-known fact that listening to music is a quick way to change your mood. Did you know that Podcast has the same effect? Listening to the right podcast can help inspire you to focus on doing things.

Everyday is Saturday

If you're looking for great Podcast, Everyday is Saturday is an awesome place to get inspired. I highly recommend it! Sam Crowley has been podcasting off and on since 2009.

Brief Description from iTunes

Sam Crowley delivers million dollar motivation, inspiration and success strategies for the entrepreneur, manager, business owner and sales person. Learn to overcome fear, failure, and adversity by developing a new mindset.

EDIS Group

Fired Up Everyday

What makes Sam Crowley Podcast great is that he relates his struggle to spend time with his family. At the same time, he wants to be a successful motivational speaker.

His podcast are basically a journal of his entrepreneur. He explains how he still manages to stays focus on his goals despite the daily obstacles called life.

Sam can really help you stay in the game even though things may look bleak. As Sam would say, "Stop listening to the negative know it alls and start doing."

Other Famous Sayings

  • It's time to leave Average-ville and head on over to Champion Estates.
  • Saturday is a mindset, not a circumstance.
  • No more Mondays For You...Learn how to make Every Day Saturday!
  • You are a Champion!

Listening to a few minutes of his podcast can help clear your mind and stay focus on your goals.

Listen to the Podcasts

You can listen to his podcast on iTunes or on Podamatic. I usually listen to his podcasts when I am mowing the lawn.

I have been listening to Sam Crowley's Podcast for so long that on my iPod Touch, I have podcasts from 6/22/07!

If you're interested in starting your own podcast, Sam Crowley can help you there. With millions of listeners every month, he is certainly someone that can help launch your podcast in the right direction.

Visit everydayisSaturday.com

May 24, 2017

Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo

Amazon Alexa is a great audible assistance tool that can be used as an entertainment device as well as a productivity tool.

How Echo Works

You simply ask Alexa for information and she will perform that task. For example, You can have Alexa turn on your Wemo devices.

You can have multiple Alexa devices in your house with different names. However, only one device can interact with Alexa at a time. This means you can't be in the Living Room asking for the weather and someone else wants to use the other Alexa to check the time.

Some Basic Commands

  • Alexa, What time is it?
  • Alexa, What's the weather today?
  • Alexa, How many days until Christmas?
  • Alexa, Tell me a Joke.

Some Productivity Commands

  • Alexa, remind me in 5 minutes to leave for work
  • Alexa, ask Rain Sounds to loop (Other noises are available)
  • Alexa, what's the traffic like today?
  • Alexa, inspire me

Fun for Kindergarten Kids

Alexa can be a great educational tool. Here are some ways that kids can have fun learning with Alexa:

  • Alexa, what time is it?
  • Alexa, how do you spell CAT?
  • Alexa, play a game
  • Alexa, Roll two dice
  • Alexa, Play Rock, Paper, Scissors
  • Alexa, what is a dollar?
  • Alexa, How many days until New Years Eve?
  • Alexa, Good Morning. (Learn something new about today.)

Alexa Always Listening?

There are some people that think having Alexa means that someone is always listening in on private conversations. This was the same issue that some security people had when Apple Siri first came out.

Police investigating a murder in Bentonville, Arkansas has issued a warrant to Amazon.com to have them turn over any audio and other recordings that were done with the Echo. Amazon has refused to comply with the warrant.

The police want to know if the Echo recorded the suspect voice, which would prove that he was there at the time of the crime.

The issue was resolved as the suspect, Jason Bates has voluntarily handed over the recording. (Which are available in the Amazon Alexa App)

Lots of Fun!

There's a lot of practical things to do with Alexa. It certainly would make a great Father's Day gift. You can get the Echo on Amazon, Target, Staples or Best Buy.

May 17, 2017

Emergent Task Planner

If you would like to get more things done in a day, most productivity experts will tell you to plan out your day. If you don't plan out your day, you'll never get the things done that will help your career.

A really good planing tool/strategy is the Emergent Task Planner by Dave Seah. He has several different tools, but I found that the Emergent Task Planner is a good way to track your day.

Task Planner Image

The idea of the tool is to focus on three main tasks for the day. Having it written down forces you to focus on the task. Throughout the day you update the planner so at the end of the day you have a better idea on what work actually got accomplished.

Who is David Seah?

David Seah is in the pursuit of designing the most practical tools to increase personal productivity.

On his website you can watch a YouTube video of him putting together one of his Productivity tools. It's a very cool video to watch how he goes about the design process.

Dave Seah is also on stomperk list of "Time management & productivity blogs and experts!"

Tested and Verified

I have been using the Emergent Task Planner off and on for about 5 years now. I find it very useful to plan out my day. I don't use it all the time, but I find it very useful when I find that I can't get my work done.

Over the past ten years, David has come out with several different versions of the Emergent Task Planner. He makes changes based on feedback from loyal users and for his personal use.

Getting the Emergent Task Planner

You can download the documents from his website. There is instructions on how to use the document.

I would suggest ordering printed copies of the Emergent Task Planner from Amazon. The are high-quality paper printouts that will save you lots of money on printer ink and it's only $12 for 50 sheets

May 10, 2017

Momentum Dashboard

If you use Chrome as your default browser, you should know about the Momentum extension. Typically when you open a new tab in chrome you get a search bar. Not very exciting.

What if instead, you got an inspiration scene and a motivational quote? Something like this:

Momentum Screen

Momentum Dashboard

Momentum is a personal dashboard designed to eliminate distraction and provide inspiration, focus, and productivity.

With Momentum, you get a reminder of what?s important. It?s supposed to make you think, "Do you really need to check Facebook or Reddit now?"

Momentum only works for Google Chrome.

Momentum Plus

If you find the basic Momentum functionality to be useful, you can supercharge the dashboard with Momentum Plus.

Features:

  • Ability to Sync External Todo Apps: Trello, Todoist, Wunderlist, Google Tasks and more
  • Customize the Background that inspire you. Rather see Cats or Flowers, you now have a choice.
  • Custom Fonts and colors
  • More flexibility with the quotes that are displayed
  • Better control over your daily todo lists. You can have multiple todo (Home and Work)
  • Take notes with the Notes widget

Momentum Plus cost $2.50 a month (Billed at $30 for the year) or $4.95 a month.

How I use Momentum

Momentum helps me to stay on track. When I open a new tab and see a cool picture, I think to myself that would be a cool place to go someday.

In the task widget, I jot down the most important accomplishment towards my goal that needs to get done today. Every morning, no matter what crazy thing goes on at work, I can stay on track towards my goal.

I haven't signed up for the Plus feature yet. The ability to have multiple ToDos list sounds good. However, I find using Apple's calendar and Google calendar to be a good way to set reoccurring reminders such as checking the latest TPS reports.

Download Momentum

To install Momentum, visit the Chrome Extension App store and click on the install link.

Momentum has 2.5 million users, so it has very strong followings.

May 3, 2017

Rocketbook Wave Notebook

Rocket Wave

Rocketbook Wave is truly an unlimited notebook that you can reuse it over and over again. The Rocketbook Wave cloud notebook instantly connects and stores your notes, doodles, and lists in the cloud with the free smart notebook app.

When you jot down a note or drawing, you can send that to your email, EverNote or Dropbox. Simply take a picture of the page using the Rocketbook App (available for iOS and Android.)

Where do the pages go?

On the bottom of each page are seven unique icons. You simply fill in the icon and the Rocketbook service will send it your predefined settings. The destination locations are configured in the RocketBook App.

Wave Note Book Cloud Service2
Cloud Services Support: Box, Evernote, Google Drive, Email, Box, Apple Cloud, Slack and One Note.

If you confused about which icon is for what, on the back of the cover is a place where you can write in where each content will go when you scan a page. Handy Reference page. Highly recommend using this page! Because you will forget what you assigned each symbol for.

Erase and Reuse

When you use Pilot FriXion pens with the Wave notebook, you can erase your notes using your microwave oven and reuse your notebook. How cool is that!

The Pocketbook Wave notebook comes with 80 pages and one black Pilot FriXion pen. Once you fill up the pages, you simply stick the notebook in the microwave with some water in a coffee cup and in a few minutes all the content is gone. Ready to get used again.

One bit of Caveat

According to the instructions, in the fine print, you can only microwave the notebook five times. I suspect after that the microwave does break down the paper in the notebook.

Getting the Notebook

You can get the Notebook on Amazon.com or directly from Rocketbook's website. The Notebook cost $25 and makes a great gift. Just make sure to pick up an extra pack of Pilot FriXion pens. The pens are available in all sorts of colors.