Two Important Experiments

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Let me start this post by telling you about two experiments. The first experiment involved rats. Scientists were given two sets of rats. One set had been "genetically modified" to increase their intelligence. The scientists were asked to test the rats to determine how much smarter the "super rats" actually were. In the second experiment, elementary school teachers were given two lists of their students. One list had all the students that were "gifted." The other list had the name of all the students that were just average. In both of these experiments, the thing that was being tested was not rats nor the children, but the perception of the scientists/teachers. In both cases, the … [Read more...]

Interview: Productive Mental Zone

Reminder Note to Get More Done!

Regardless of what you call it, everyone knows what it is like to work in the "zone." It is the place in which everything comes together easily. You are focused, and sometimes it is easy to spend several hours without realizing the time is passing. Being in the "zone" is what you experience when you see that it is 3pm, you've been working since 9am and didn't even realize you missed lunch. So how do you create that mental zone? We asked a number of highly productive people: What method do you use to keep yourself in your most productive mental zone? One of the interesting things that stood out from everyone's answers was that "the zone" means different things to different people. I … [Read more...]

Interview: Increasing Productivity

People in a Meeting and Single Word Productivity

I asked a number of productive people the question: How do you use planning to increase your productivity? One thing that stuck out to me after reading all the answers is that planning is really the act of making decisions together, in a batch, ahead of time. Instead of making a bunch of little decisions as to what you are going to do throughout the day, you make decisions at least about the important things all at once when you are viewing your day, week, etc. as a whole. This lets you decide what you want to accomplish while looking at the 50,000 foot level instead of having your perspective influenced by the small stresses of your daily work. At least that is what I took away … [Read more...]

Interview: Avoiding Distractions

2014 brasil Work Cup

For this post I sent out a questionnaire to a number of people asking about their single best tip for avoiding distractions. Most everything suggested falls into two categories: Controlling your mind Controlling your environment Obviously, controlling your environment is just another way of controlling your mind. What I liked best about reading all these suggestions is the number of different ways people have for creating a distraction-free work experience. Read on. I'm sure you'll find a number of tips that will help you be more productive. Make it difficult to be distracted. Turn off notification sounds and indicators on email, social media, etc. If your corporate culture … [Read more...]

Bill Payment Features

Write some checks to make payments for household expenses

Most people are familiar with the basic idea behind bill payment systems, but if you've never used one, you may not be familiar with the ways it can save you time. Even if you've used the bill payment system from your bank for years, you might not be familiar with all the features that are available from other institutions. The goal of this post is to look at some features and capabilities of bill payment systems and how these things can help make you more productive. For people that aren't familiar with bill payment systems, here is how they work. When you need to pay someone, you log in to your bank or bill payment system website, tell it who you want to pay, and send the payment. If … [Read more...]

Paperless Document Formats

Highway Signpost "Paperless Office"

Moving from paper-based documents to paperless documents can offer a number of benefits. In addition to saving physical space, paperless documents are easier to search and to share. Paperless documents also don't have the same type of physical limitations of paper and enable workflow solutions that simply aren't possible with physical copies. For example, multiple people can view a paperless document simultaneously, while a single paper copy can only be viewed by a handful of people at the same time and everyone must be in the same room together. There are all kinds of different ways to create and manage paperless documents. It can be as simple as scanning in a sheet of paper and putting … [Read more...]

The Art of Pinging

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In this article we are going to talk about networking. Specifically, we want to look at how to "ping" people. I believe the term "ping" comes from the excellent book Never Eat Alone. A ping is defined as a small action that keeps the relationship with someone in your network alive. First let's talk about the benefits of pinging your network of contacts, then we'll look at how to actually do it. Benefits of Pinging Our brains organize information in a very efficient way. Imagine that our memories are a bunch of envelopes in a pile. The size of the envelope corresponds to the emotion associated with that memory. So you can easily retrieve the memory of your first kiss no matter how long … [Read more...]

Tips for Video Conferencing

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As video conferencing becomes more and more common, I thought it might be useful to talk about how to best configure your computer for doing video chats. Audio Is King The most important part of a video conference is not the video...it is the audio. This may seem unintuitive, but there have been some experiments done where people were asked to rate the quality of short videos. The videos that had good audio were consistently rated better than the ones with poor audio--regardless of the quality of the visuals. We are programmed to skip over blips and problems with video, but audio issues stand out. Make sure you have a good headset microphone and that your connection is fast enough … [Read more...]

Productive Apps for Managing Money

Banking and Savings

5 to 10 years ago, managing your finances meant buying Quicken or Microsoft Money and dedicating a great deal of time to entering in all of your expenses. If you ran a small business, you probably looked at purchasing Quickbooks to track everything. While those are all great products, there are a number of free options that do a great job of integrating with your banks to reduce the amount of time you have to spend manually entering things. I know I'd much rather spend my time looking at my finances instead of putting all my effort into just entering in data. These four web applications are all designed to save you time and increase your productivity when it comes to financial … [Read more...]

Productive Smart Phone

Smartphone

Chances are you have a smart phone, but does it actually make you more productive? In other words, do you have more free time and less stress because you have a smart phone than you'd have with a standard "dumb" phone? If not, you should probably rethink how you use it. Just because you can use a smart phone for something doesn't mean it is productive. In fact, smart phones will give you the capability of doing things that are extremely unproductive. If you aren't careful, you can end up worse off. So what are smart phones good for? Handheld mobile devices are great for filling in small gaps of time. If you have a 3 minute wait at the post office, you probably aren't going to drag your … [Read more...]