Productivity Blog Posts

February 22, 2021

Google Story

Someone on my social media network posted the following fun fact.

Google Buys You Tube

How Does this Apply to Productivity?

So how does this apply to everyday personal productivity? Well, it should make you think about Goals. What is your goal of being productive? Are you focus more on the short term productive or the long-term?

What can you do today that will make a big difference to being more productive in the long term?

Some ideas:

  • How about watching an online course to learn more about tools at work? For example, 50 Ultimate Tricks with Excel and 40 Ultimate Word Tips and Tricks for 2020.
  • Take some time to learn more about equipment that you use every day. For example, how to take better photos using the iPhone.
  • Invest in Fiverr resources and get help launch your Podcast that you have been thinking of doing. Pretty soon every car in America will have Internet and PodCast will be more popular than regular radio.
  • Audit your home Desk layout. Many of us have been working from home for a year now. How is your home office layout? Should you invest in some changes to help make it a more productive place?

Ask Yourself

What do you think will be huge in 15-years and what can you do to get a head-on that.

February 15, 2021

Coffitivity

Some people need the background sound of a cafe to stay productive. The pandemic has made it difficult to capture the noise of the cafe.

Coffitivity tries to fix that. They manage to create the background sounds of a cafe which can help you stay focus and get the job done.

Website Description

Coffitivity recreates the ambient sounds of a cafe to boost your creativity and help you work better. Proven and peer reviewed, see the research to learn more.

Coffitivity
https://coffitivity.com/

Coffitivity is a good substitute for having the radio or TV on. You won't get distracted by the latest news or caught daydreaming when you first heard a song on the radio.

February 8, 2021

Music that helps you stay Focus

Studies show that having music on while working can help people stay focus. I have found that music with lyrics can be distracting.

A few years ago I found Arcangelos Chamber Ensemble's collection of music. One of their albums is appropriately titled “Music for Productivity.”

Album Description

Increase productivity with music that generates the energy needed to set goals and bring tasks to completion. Expert arrangements of classical and original masterpieces use upbeat tempos to enhance alertness, creativity, and focus at home, work, or school.

Arcangelos Chamber Ensemble

This is a collection of various classic songs that helps you stay mentally focused. I have found that it's a pretty good collection and it's good to use as part of the Pomodoro Technique.

This was one of the first albums that I purchased on iTunes about 8-years ago.

You can sample the music collection on allmusic.com.

February 1, 2021

Personal PDF reference folder

I have about 5 cameras, one printer, and various household devices. Each device has its own manuals in PDF format. This is great because the manuals are searchable and they don't take up any room in the junk drawer.

The PDF documents are also useful in troubleshooting issues to learning more about the device.

Since I reference these a lot, I decided to create a folder so that they would be easy to find. I decided to break up the various products into individual folders - as some devices had multiple PDF folders.

This is what the folder looks like:

PDF Personal Library

How this Makes me Productive

These folders are stored in my Dropbox as they don’t take up much space.

I put the PDF Reference folder in the Finder sidebar. This makes it easy to access my library whenever I want.

Previously I would use Spotlight search to find the documents. This wasn’t an effective method because I would have to scroll to find the right document.

Along with PDF documents, I have product images in the folder so if I want to use photos of the devices, I know where to find them. No more scrolling through Google Photos to find them.

I put the most common items in the root of the PDF Reference folder. Devices/Equipment that I don't need access to are put in the Misc folder.

The Folder icons were created using Image2Icon. It makes it so much easier when there's a picture on the folder.

January 25, 2021

Notion Page Shortcut

I use Notion alot to create content for this blogs. It’s so easy to start writing on my iPhone and then do finishing touches on my iMac.

One of my weekly tasks is to create a list of the weekly blog ideas. I then like to take this list and convert the ideas to pages. So I can start writing the blog post.

Notion Page Short Cut2021a

Quickly Convert Line item To Page

Notion makes converting any line text into a page. Simply type Command Option 9 - whatever line your on is now a link to a page.

This makes planning so much easier. Simply make the list, then once you're done convert the items to pages.

Obviously this shortcut only works on a Mac. But I can still use my iPhone to brainstorm my ideas and then use my Mac to drill down the topics.

Lots of Cool Productive Shortcuts

Checkout the Notion's Learn the shortcuts page.

January 18, 2021

Self Tag Google Photos

A picture may be worth 1,000 words, but what good is it if you can't find the photo?

Google Photos is a great tool, you can use their algorithm to find pictures easy. Google analyzes photos for objects and tag photos with those objects.

So it easy to find photos that contain objects such as:

  • White Car
  • Swimming Pool
  • Christmas Lights
  • Waterfall

All Fun and Games...

The problem is what if your description of a photo doesn’t really match the A.I. algorithm.

For example look at this photo:

Samsung TV Back Side

This is the back of my Samsung TV. For me, this photo is useful because I know what ports are available on the back of the TV.

Google Photos doesn’t know much about this photo. Searching for Samsung TV won’t show this photo. That’s because there’s nothing to indicate that it’s a Samsung TV.

Adding a description to this photo in Google Photos will help me find this photo. So in this example, I added, "Samsung TV Backside" to the description.

Google includes the description field as part of the photo search. So if I just search for Samsung, the above photo would be included in the search results.

Productivity Tip

Every once in a while you should add a description to recent photos that were uploaded to Google Photos.

A simple description of why you took that photo can make a huge difference. You don’t need to write a long story, just a few words that might make you find this photo easier.

This 5 to 10 mins now can save you a ton of time later.

Sample Ideas

Here are some description ideas for you to think about:

  • Coldest Day of the year
  • First snow storm
  • Last Car seat ride
  • Yard Sale Books
  • Clothes Donation (Helpful around Tax time!)
  • First Apartment

How to Add a Description

Open Google Photos and look for a photo that you want to add a description. Click on the photo, then click on the "i" icon in the top left. Then add a description.

January 11, 2021

Flash Storage Stand

On Etsy.com you can get all sorts of cool things. One thing that I purchased recently is the Flash Storage Stand ( SD x8, USB x8, microSD x15).

This is a great organizer for anyone that has a coffee mug on their desk that is filled with USB drives and SD cards.

U S B Stand Desktop
U S B Stand Mobile

There are a lot of people making and selling these, the one that I happen to purchase it from was PontiacPrintingPress. The stand goes for about $5.99.

You can find others by searching for USB Card Holder.

Some Thoughts

I don't think I'll ever have 15 Micro SD cards. I got this one because I think having 15 holes for the microSD card makes the stand look neat. Some shops have only five slots, but I think having more is good.

I don't have a lot of SD cards, so the empty slots are great for storing USB tips.

Highly Recommend!

So how doesn't this help with Productivity? Well, this is a simple design that looks good and doesn't clutter the desktop.

An unclutter desktop can help you stay focus on your important tasks.

Also, having your cards neatly organized can make it easy to find the storage device that you want.

January 4, 2021

Upload/Download files using iTerm2

iTerm2 comes with a suite of UNIX tools that makes things a lot easier to navigate files between networks. You need to manually install these tools via the "Install Shell Integration" command in the iTerm2 menu.

Here's a list of all the command line tools in iTerm2:

imgcat filename Displays the image inline.
imgls Shows a directory listing with image thumbnails.
it2api Command-line utility to manipulate iTerm2.
it2attention start|stop|fireworks Gets your attention.
it2check Checks if the terminal is iTerm2.
it2copy [filename] Copies to the pasteboard.
it2dl filename Downloads the specified file, saving it in your Downloads folder.
it2setcolor ... Changes individual color settings or loads a color preset.
it2setkeylabel ... Changes Touch Bar function key labels.
it2ul Uploads a file.
it2universion Sets the current unicode version.

it2dl

One of the tools that I thought was very cool is the it2dl (iTerm2 Download) tool. With this tool you simply type in it2dl and the file you want to download to your computer.

So when you SSH to a location and find a file that you want to move, simply type in:

it2dl filename

it2ul

It's easy to upload a file to a remote server using the it2u; utility. Simply go to the remote server that you want the file to appear, and then type in it2ul. An upload dialog box will appear asking which file on your local computer that you wish to send to the remote server

it2ul

Doing More With the Command Line

Using the it2dl and it2up commands can help move files between remote and local servers. You shouldn't have to switch applications to move files around.

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.