We are going to take a break here at Productivity501 for a few days, but we'll be back on January 4th. Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas! … [Read more...] about Christmas Break
Archives for December 2009
What Do You Measure?
Managers are told that whatever they measure will get attention and improvement. If they measure the number of defects in cars coming off the manufacturing line, just giving it this attention will help lower the number of defects. So, how can you use this for your personal productivity? The same rule applies. Measure the things that you want to improve. For example, if you want to read more this year, keep a list of every book you read. If you want to write more for your blog, keep track of how many posts or words you produce each week. If you want to lose some weight, keep a chart in the bathroom next to your scale and record your weight every day. If you want to watch less … [Read more...] about What Do You Measure?
50 Ways to Winterize Your Home
As we enter the cold part of the year in the Northern hemisphere, here are 50 tips for how to winterize your home. If you have a suggestion that isn't in the list be sure to add it in the comments. Replace any old or inefficient windows. Windows are one of the major ways heat leaks out of your house. Seal off drafty windows and patio doors with clear plastic. If you have a lot of outside doors that leak air, you can seal a few off using plastic or caulk putty. If your furnace is more than 10 years old, there's a good chance that it wastes a lot of fuel. Consider upgrading to a newer one. Insulate the hot water lines around your hot water heater and turn down the temperature … [Read more...] about 50 Ways to Winterize Your Home
Treating Employees Right
I have seen some employers who figure that a down economy means they can treat employees poorly. I suppose the logic is "they should be happy to have any job at all". Since the employer figures their workers can't really leave, the employers make demands that they would never make in a normal economy. This approach is very short-sighted. First, the very top employees are always going to be in demand. I'm not talking about good, solid employees. I'm talking about the star performers--the top 5%. These types of people are always in demand, simply because they are rare. When an employer treats people poorly, the best people are the first to leave because they have other options. … [Read more...] about Treating Employees Right
TIP: Receipts Folder
If you spend any time buying stuff from the web, you are familiar with all the pages that say, "print this out for your records". So, how many people actually print out those pages? I know I don't (unless I'm buying something very expensive). Usually I'll try to keep the email receipt, but sometimes that gets blocked by spam filters. Here is how I've started saving those receipts without worrying about printing them out: I have a folder in my Documents folder called "receipts." When I buy something, I simply save the order confirmation page to the folder. In OS X, this is very simple because I can just print the page to a file as a PDF. Here is a screen shot showing you … [Read more...] about TIP: Receipts Folder
TIP: Synched Address Books
My wife and I both have cell phones and both have computers. This means there are four places where we could potentially have a phone number or address and invariably the phone number I need is on my wife's cell phone or computer. We set up each of our cell phones to sync with our laptop, but we still had two separate address books. However, after playing around a bit with the .mac synchronization, I was able to set up our address books on the computer to sync with each other. This has been a much bigger benefit than I had imagined because now we are both looking at the same version of the address book. As our mutual friends change numbers or addresses, the first one of us to … [Read more...] about TIP: Synched Address Books
Remote Control Software
Most people have a family member or a friend that they go to for technical advice. However, when someone asks a question that is difficult to answer without being present in the same room, it can become very difficult to get the problem resolved. However, there are several solutions for making this process easier. Remote Control software has made a huge difference in how technical support is conducted. Technicians can now do many of the same things that once would have required them to be in the same location as the client. In this list is a collection of remote control software that could make your life easier: Copilot Copilot is geared for both company and personal use. It's simple … [Read more...] about Remote Control Software
Much of the current writing about time management and productivity focuses on fitting more tasks into each day. The idea is that the more tasks we are able to complete, the more productive we are. To a certain extent, this makes sense. If we spend time procrastinating instead of working, we'll be more productive if we can cut out unproductive activities. However, taking an "assembly line" approach to productivity does have its limits. Today the biggest productivity gains come from what we'll call "leaps of imagination" rather than just doing more of the same faster. If we are so focused on doing more and more tasks, it can prevent us from really making the huge jumps in … [Read more...] about Doing Less
Tuesday’s Tip: Stop Communication You Don’t Need
Most everyone gets a barrage of emails, telephone calls, and physical mail that they don't really need. I'm not necessarily talking about spam. I'm talking about newsletters from organizations in which you are no longer active, donation requests from non-profits that you gave to years ago, etc. Most people just accept the interruption and toss these items into the trash, but a better option is to try to stop them altogether. Taking a few minutes to send a note asking to be taken off their mailing list can save you a tremendous amount of time in the future. If you get a monthly newsletter in the mail that you identify, consider opening and then toss in the trash, it can easily take … [Read more...] about Tuesday’s Tip: Stop Communication You Don’t Need
Tips for Continuing Education
You can't rely on your college education to suffice for the rest of your career. If you want to stay at the peak of your earning potential, you will need to continue your education throughout your career. This can be done in a formal or informal setting. Informal education is very important. It may never show up on your resume, but it helps you stay up-to-date. Formal education has the added benefit of letting you work toward some type of recognition (degree or certificate) that employers are likely to reward. In some jobs, you can move to a higher pay-scale by adding a degree. In this article we are going to look at some tips and methods for both formal and informal education. … [Read more...] about Tips for Continuing Education
The most important part of Mobile Email
Many people overlook the most important part of a mobile email solution. It is easy to get caught up in the idea that it is going to be so wonderful to have access to your email where every you are. The fact is, if you can't delete emails from your mobile device in a way that will delete them from your desktop computer, your mobile solution is probably going to cost you more time than it saves. If every email you read and then delete requires that you "touch" it again on your desktop, you are doing a lot of extra work. In the paper world, you get the most efficiency by minimizing the number of times you have to physically handle an item. The digital world is no different. Every … [Read more...] about The most important part of Mobile Email
10 Stages of Financial Freedom
0. You Earn Less than you Spend This is obviously a good place to avoid and represents the least amount of freedom. No one should be here, but I added it because I know many people (particularly in the US) operate regularly in this stage. 1. Your Job Covers Your Expenses This is where a lot of people are. You spend everything you make. At this stage, losing your job is a terrifying prospect because you are only a week or two away from being back in stage 0. A few more weeks, (depending on how long you can string out your credit cards) and you'd be looking at bankruptcy. At this stage, changing jobs is very risky because, if it doesn't work out, you have very little cushion to let … [Read more...] about 10 Stages of Financial Freedom
Tuesday’s Tip: Surrounded By What?
Take a few moments to look around your work area. What have you surrounded yourself with? Does your environment help you focus on your long term goals and celebrate past achievement? Does your environment make you want to stay organized and productive? Most people put too little emphasis on their surroundings. I'm not saying that you have to spend all your time trying to create the perfect office, but you shouldn't ignore the things around you. Your productivity can be greatly influenced by your outlook, and your outlook can be greatly influenced by your surroundings. For years, I never had a picture of my wife on my desk at work. It wasn't that I didn't love my wife, but it just … [Read more...] about Tuesday’s Tip: Surrounded By What?