Tips for Video Conferencing

Smartphone_world connection_001

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...]

Gifts for Highly Productive People

Blue elegant gift box

Are you having a difficult time coming up with a gift for that highly productive person on your list? Here are some suggestions: Extra Power Adapters Taking your power adapter out of the bag, crawling around under the desk to plug it in, then reversing the process at the end of the day just isn't fun or efficient. You can eliminate those problems from someone's life by getting them an extra laptop power adapter so they can leave one at their desk and one at home or in their computer bag. Related gift ideas include an extra wall adapter or car adapter for cell phones, an extra iPad charger, etc. More Computer Memory My mom has an older laptop and at one point, it was becoming so … [Read more...]

Fujitsu ScanSnap iX100 Review

ix100

When I was offered a Fujitsu ScanSnap iX100 to review I was skeptical. I'm pretty happy with my Evernote Edition ScanSnap and didn't really see the need for another scanner in my workflow. I have a pocket on my Broadmore computer bag that I use to hold any papers I accumulate on the road. If I needed something scanned before I got back to my desk, I'd just use my phone's camera to put it in Evernote. I didn't really see why I'd need or want to use another scanner that could only scan one side of a paper at and required feeding in a single sheet at a time. When I opened the package the first thing I noticed was how small it was. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but the pictures I had … [Read more...]

Integration vs. Features

Incomplete puzzle with missing piece on human hand

There are hundreds and thousands of devices, apps and systems that promise to make you more productive. If you spend all your time looking for the perfect set of tools, you'll never get anything done. In this article, I want to look at one useful way to quickly evaluate tools to help avoid ones that promise to make you more efficient, but don't in actual practice. I used to work as the network administrator for two hospitals and a bunch of clinics. When I started, there were very few actual computers in use. All of the medical systems were accessed with dumb terminals and pretty much everything was done from text screens using the keyboard and arrow keys to navigate. Even when … [Read more...]

Productivity and Self-Employment

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I think it is interesting that many of the people most focused on productivity work for someone else. Why? Because even if you are well paid, you are always going to make less than the value you create. For one thing, salary ranges are very rarely tied to pure performance. If you work with 10 people who all do the same thing, it wouldn't be surprising if the top performer is 10 times more productive than the worst. However, it would be very surprising if the top performer were paid 10 times the salary of the lowest. The other reason that wide variance in performance doesn't translate into wide variance in pay is because jobs are designed in order to make a position replaceable. That … [Read more...]

Tips for Productive Reading

Young student in a library

Most people will agree that it is good to read, but not all reading is equal. Some people get a tremendous amount out of their reading and others get very little. Here are some tips for making your time spent reading as productive as possible. 1. Take notes. Even if you never refer to your notes again, the process of taking notes helps you sort out what you feel is important and will help you remember it. You'll have to choose between pixels or paper for your notes. Using something like Evernote or DevonTHINK will make it easy to find your notes later by subject or search. On the other hand, many people feel they recall information better when they had to write it by hand the "old … [Read more...]

Powerful Routines

Extreme close-up of male fingers holding fuel cap

I used to drive an old white Jeep Cherokee and I kept forgetting to put the gas cap back on and close the gas door. (Fortunately, I always remembered to take the nozzle out of the truck and put it back on the pump.) I'd drive away from the gas station with the gas door hanging open and wouldn't notice until I parked and headed into my office. Finally I made a very simple change to my gas getting routine. Instead of putting the gas cap on the little slot on the gas door, I started putting it on the pump where the gas nozzle rests. When I finished and put the nozzle back on the gas pump, I'd have to pick up the cap. Once it was in my hand, it was hard to forget to replace it and shut the gas … [Read more...]

Single Biggest Productivity Tip

drawing checkbox

My biggest productivity tip is very simple. It isn't a fancy application for your computer. It isn't a complicated process. It is very basic and very easy. Here it is: At the beginning of the day, take out a blank piece of paper and place it in the center of your desk. At the top write the three most important things you want to accomplish for the day. These are the three tasks that are important enough that their completion will allow you to declare the day a success--regardless of what else gets done. That is it. It is simple and easy to do, but if you follow that advice you'll find your productivity will skyrocket. Your day is like a jar that you are trying to fill with three large … [Read more...]