Tag Archives: productivity

Productivity Tricks: Time Yourself

Productivity Tricks: Time Yourself

How often do you find yourself working hard, and achieving little? Usually this happens when you take your eye off the ball, so to speak.

An example. I’m ghostwriting a series of Regency romance novellas for a client, and I’m endlessly distracted by research — this morning I read about bag wigs for example. This took me on a journey of further reading, and before I knew it, I’d wasted 15 minutes on pointless research, since bag wigs were long out of fashion in the Regency period.

Obviously I have a problem with focus, so let’s look at some productivity tricks this week.

The first one: use a timer.

I’ve been using Repeat Timer Pro which is excellent. However, it doesn’t allow you to track your productivity, so I was looking for an app which would help me to do that. I’ve been hearing good things about Tomatoes (Mac), and since the app looks easy to use, I’ve just installed it.

Tomatoes app

Jens-Petter Berget said of the Tomatoes app:

I have full control over each day and how I’ll be working. Every completed pomodoro is archived. This way, at the end of the week, I can evaluate the week and how productive I’ve been. I’m also tracking all interruptions, to see what I can do to have more focus when I’m working.

We’ll see how it works for me. I’ve never followed the Pomodoro Technique in any meaningful way, but I do find that it suits me to work in 25 minute sessions for some tasks. You can work on anything if you know that a distasteful task will be over in less than half an hour.

When I first installed the Tomatoes app, I freaked a little, because I couldn’t see a clear way to edit the timers. In Repeat Timer Pro, you can set timers of various durations. I have a five-minute timer, for example, for free writes, which I do as warm ups for most projects, to clear my mind and help me to focus before I get started on a task.

In Tomatoes, you set one duration. I decided on 40 minutes, because 25 minutes isn’t long enough for most of my projects.

We’ll see how it goes by the end of this week; I’m hoping that using Repeat Timer Pro, and Tomatoes in combination, will help me to limit distractions, and increase my productivity.

If you’ve got a favorite productivity trick, please share. Leave a comment here, or on Google+.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, too.

60 Minute Blogger Fast-Start

Clients tell me: “I don’t have time to blog!” But what if you spent just ten minutes a day on your blog? 50 to 60 minutes a week is doable for most of us.

60 Minute Blogger Fast-Start

I wrote a series of blog posts on business blogging in 60 minutes a week a year ago. Let’s review ways in which you can become a blogger — even if you have no time to blog.

This process takes just ten minutes a day.

1. Ten minutes: how will you promote your blog?

Start by working out how you’ll promote your blog. You’ll go through this preparation each week, as you work out how to promote your blog post once you’ve written it.

Flip through the slide deck. Although it’s for people creating a new business blog, it gives you a quick overview of how to make a blog work harder for you.

2. Ten minutes: how many blog posts will you create this week?

Consider formats. In the original “60 minutes” article, I said:

Usually when I mention blog posts to a client, he thinks in terms of articles. That’s fine. However, if you’ve only got 60 minutes a week, you don’t need to spend that time writing just one article — or half an article, if you’re a slow writer.

Consider: photos, other images, short videos, MP3 interviews… If you’re posting MP3s, post transcriptions too. You can get transcriptions from providers at fiverr.com at a reasonable rate.

3. Twenty Minutes: outline and collect — batch-create

Here’s the original article: Schedule 20 minutes each week, to outline your blog posts, and collect resources for them.

Your resources might include:

* Images;

* Facts and figures;

* Quotes from customers;

* Marketing materials for inspiration.

Once you’ve collected your resources, make a list of topics you want to cover on the blog. Keep the list somewhere you’ll find it easy, so you can add to it when you get an idea. I keep my blogs’ topics lists in Simplenote.

Next, explore keywords.

Keyword Eye is still my favorite  free keyword tool.

free keyword tool

Keyword Eye is ideal for brainstorming quick blog post titles.

Create the posts after you’ve decided on the titles, and save the posts as drafts.  Add some quick notes to each blog post so that you won’t be staring at a blank editing screen when it’s time to write.

 4. Twenty minutes: write!

You’ve done your preparation, so the writing should go quickly.

Tip: focus on images. Images give you many ways in which to promote a blog post. If you have two images in a blog post, you can post at least twice on Pinterest (space out your postings.) You can also post a blog’s images to Twitter, Facebook, and Google+, with a short commentary, and a link to the post.  

Over the past 12 months, I’ve discovered that images rule. I started posting about “image marketing” way back in 2012. In 2014, images are vital to draw attention.

So, there you have it. Your 60 minute blogger fast-start. Still think that you don’t have time to blog? :-)

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, too.


3 Simple Content Creation Tricks You Can Use Right Now

3 Simple Content Creation Tricks You Can Use Right Now

Desperate for some content creation ideas? Try these three simple tricks. I’ve found them helpful, and so have my students. Big bonus: they’re easy, and they help you to get more ideas.

1. Focus on Problems: No One’s Alone With a Problem.

Life is just one problem after another. Instead of cursing your challenges, try turning them into content. Don’t stop there. What challenges do your clients have? Your team?

Here’s a list of five challenges I’ve been thinking about this morning, and the solutions they inspire. These are content ideas, so make the most of them:

  • Evernote – my primary Evernote account has over 5,000 notes. It’s time to weed the notes out again. With over 50 million users, there’s a big audience for Evernote tips and tricks;
  • Images – I need more images! If you want to get your slice of the attention economy, images are essential. Time I learned to create infographics…;
  • My WordPress.com blog needs attention. I’ll brainstorm some ideas for it, and then will use Trick 2, below;
  • Catching up with my reading, specifically news feeds. Google Reader is long gone; I’ve just purchased ReadKit to help me to manage my feeds. I’m sure some of the 50 million ex-Google Reader subscribers are way behind on their reading too.

No one’s alone with a problem – if you’ve got a problem, turn it into content.

2. Get an Idea, and Implement It.

You’ve written down some problems, and solutions. Implement a solution. Here’s why: once you start implementing, you’ll discover what works, and what doesn’t work. Your readers will enjoy reading about your experiences.

You don’t need to create a case study, although you could. My first problem I mentioned in Trick 1 was too many notes in Evernote. (You can have up to 100,000 notes in Evernote, so my 5,000 notes aren’t necessarily a big deal. I just like to weed out outdated material reguarly.)

I manage goals, clients, and products in Evernote; it helps me to manage my writing, and my business.

Off the top of my head, I can think of two pieces of content I can create right away. As I weed out Evernote, I’m sure I’l think of more:

  • Evernote helper apps. I’ve been meaning to investigate a couple of apps which will help me to manage Evernote. I can create content about my experiences with these apps;
  • Managing your goals in Evernote. I want to try something new. I’ll try it, and then write about it.

3. Pitch Three or More Content Ideas at the Same Time.

If you create content for others, as I do, you need to pitch your content ideas. Try to pitch several ideas, rather then just one. How many of your ideas are accepted isn’t important. You pitch more, because you’ll find that this gives you more ideas; once you’re in a creative mindset, your ideas will flower.

For example, this morning I pitched a content creation schedule for one of my clients. I scheduled six pieces of content right within WordPress, adding several points for each post. I also chose the keywords I was targeting, and located some images. While I was doing that, I got ideas for content I can create for another client.

Once you get into a “content” mindset, you’ll come up with more ideas than you need.

Try these simple content creation tricks. They’re very simple, powerful. Make a note of them too, for the next time you get stuck, and can’t come up with ideas.

, and on Twitter: @angee

photo credit: zetson via photopin cc

Productivity Tips For 2014: 1. Create a Quick List

Productivity Tips For 2014: 1. Create a Quick List

Over the years, I’ve become fond of productivity tips which are small improvements. For me, life-changing productivity systems like Getting Things Done tend to waste more time than they save. Your mileage many vary of course.

Setting up new, more productive workflows takes time, without any real guarantee that they’re worth it. For example: you spend an hour figuring out how to use IFTTT to automate tasks. Another half an hour setting up five recipes. You forget all about your recipes a couple of days later. A year later, you delete them. (I’m a fan of IFTTT, by the way, I’m just using it as an example.)

So this year, let’s look at some productivity tips which may just save you five minutes here and there. With luck, you’ll save four or five hours over a month.

Our first tip is…

Create a Quick List for tasks you can do in under ten minutes

What’s a Quick List? It’s a list of tasks which take no longer than ten minutes. These tasks can be for home, or for work.

My “home” Quick List includes: water plants in sunroom, change lightbulb in hall, and the names of people I need to call.

My “work” Quick List primarily consists of email messages to which I need to respond, as well as articles to read in Pocket.

Your Quick Lists prevent tasks from cluttering up your calendar. They’re simple, easy tasks which you need to do, but no one will die if you don’t get them done today or tomorrow.

I keep my Quick Lists in Evernote, one note per list. Each item gets a checkmark, so I can check them off as I do them.

Quick Lists may work for you. Try them.
write a book book coaching

, and on Twitter: @angee

Wish You Could Use Haiku Deck for Presentations? You Can


If you’ve been wishing you could use the glitzy iPad presentation app, Haiku Deck, but don’t have an iPad, you’ll be pleased that Haiku Deck is now available on the Web.

You can create Haiku Deck presentations in your Web browser, on any computer. I’ve just tried out the Web app, and it’s excellent. But…

Oddly enough, I prefer Haiku Deck on the iPad. I think it’s because I’m more used to it (and I prefer lounging on the sofa to sitting at my desk):

How I create presentations fast

With Haiku Deck, anyone can create a fantastic presentation in less than an hour.

I use sticky notes stuck onto an Oasis pad to create the presentation outline. One sticky per slide.

Then, sitting on my sofa, with the outline on a coffee table, I relax and create the presentation on my iPad. Best job ever. :-)

Sign up (or log in), and create your first presentation.

In the spirit of cookery shows, here’s a slide deck I created just for you, to show you how easy it is to use Haiku Deck’s new Web app.

This deck took me around ten minutes to create; I was dithering around with images, otherwise I would have finished more quickly.

Once you’ve signed up, or have logged in, you can go to your gallery. Make sure that you sign in with your Haiku Deck ID, if you’ve been creating decks on your iPad, so that your decks are available in your gallery.

Haiku Deck

From your gallery, you can share your decks, or create a new deck, as you can see in the image above.

Prototype your ideas, then export to PowerPoint.

Of course, Haiku Deck doesn’t have all the bells and whistles you’ll find in PowerPoint. That’s OK. You can export your decks to PowerPoint, as you can see from the Export to PowerPoint option in the image below.

Haiku Deck export

Next, just open your deck in PowerPoint.



The deck in PowerPoint

Your slide deck opens, ready for you to get on with your work.

Haiku Deck’s perfect for prototyping presentations, or for noodling with ideas. Just create a slide deck in Haiku Deck, either on your iPad, or on the Web, and explore your ideas. When you’re ready, export your desk to PowerPoint, without publishing it. You can now delete the “starter” deck, because it has served its purpose.

If you haven’t tried Haiku Deck, try it out. It’s a perfect tool if you need to create a presentation FAST. By the way, if you’re a Slideshare user, you can export your decks directly to Slideshare if you wish.


, and on Twitter: @angee

Dropbox Tricks: Super-Easy Tricks for Productivity and Peace of Mind

Dropbox Tricks

I’m a HUGE Dropbox fan; don’t know where I’d be without it. Dropbox is a free file hosting service, if you’re not familiar with it.

Last year the hard drive died on my main work machine, and without Dropbox and Evernote, I wouldn’t have been able to run my business. Those two apps alone enabled me to continue working straight through, until the machine came back with a new drive.

Tip 1: Access anything, anywhere.

In my recent 11 Dropbox Tricks You Didn’t Know About piece for Lifehack, I mentioned turning Dropbox into your default Documents folder:

What if you want access to all your files, everywhere? You can do that if you wish. Create a documents folder in Dropbox, and make that your default documents folder across all your computers. Of course, if you have a huge documents folder, you’ll want to get extra storage from Dropbox to make sure that you have sufficient space for all your files.

Dropbox is the perfect solution if you’re constantly shuttling between computers, and your tablet. If you decide to do that, remember to turn on Selective Sync on any computer with a small hard drive.

Tip 2. Add your business reference library to Dropbox.

Create a “Reference” folder in Dropbox,and add all your business reference materials to it. Consider materials such as:

  • Price lists;
  • Work manuals;
  • Your digital portfolio (if you’re a writer, developer or designer);
  • Presentations (you never know when you’ll need one);
  • Contracts and sales receipts;
  • Invoice templates in PDF form.

If you use your iPad for business, as I do, you can use iAnnotate PDF to fill in contracts and invoices as you need them. (Type on PDF is free, if you don’t have iAnnotate PDF.)

Tip 3: Create a vault.

We’ve all got materials we’d hate to lose. You may have old documents and photos you’ve scanned, a project you’re working on, legal documents, copies of your passport and cards if you’re traveling…

Store them in a “vault” folder in Dropbox. I’m sure you’re wondering about security and yes, it’s a concern when you’re keeping secure documents in the cloud.

You can password-protect anything that’s super-confidential at the document level. Most apps, including MS Office let you password-protect documents. (Just don’t lose the password.)

On the other hand, for super, super confidential material, forgo Dropbox, and use 1Password, which will attach documents to Vault items.

Dropbox makes your life easier, every day. New to Dropbox? 11 Dropbox Tricks You Didn’t Know About will get you up to speed.


, and on Twitter: @angee

Bunkr: Increase Your Productivity and Enjoy Creating Presentations

Bunkr: Create HTML5 Presentations

If you feel that your productivity goes down whenever you need to create a presentation, you’re not alone. I love creating presentations in Haiku Deck on my iPad for that reason; it makes creating most presentations fast, elegant and easy.

However, some presentations require more.  What if you want to use a couple of slides from another presentation? Or a video? Or an article? Collecting your material, and then using it in your presentation is a hassle.

Enter Bunkr.

This article calls the Bunkr Web app Evernote for Presentations, and it’s an apt description. You collect all the material you want to use in the app’s library, so that that the material is always available when you need it.

The library is amazing. Rather than collecting material in folders on your computer (and then forgetting which folder, and which computer), you can collect material, and find it easily.

Once your presentation is done, it’s viewable on any device.

Export is great too; you can export to PDF, or to PowerPoint if you want to apply finishing touches, or add audio.

Here’s a short video which shows you how Bunkr works.



, and on Twitter: @angee

Productivity Secret: Get Inspired, Regularly

Productivity Secret: Get Inspired, Regularly

If you’re feeling desperate because you’re procrastinating, and would love a “magic” productivity secret, read on. You’ll love this.

For true productivity, you need a state of flow. In flow, you’re totally engrossed in what you’re doing. You’re unaware of time, and your environment. You work smoothly and efficiently, without stress and pressure. Sadly, most of us can’t switch on a flow state at will.

Although you can’t turn on flow anytime you feel like it, you can do something even better. You can turn the task over to your subconscious mind. When you return to the project, you’ll often find yourself working in flow, because your subconscious mind is in charge.

Let your subconscious mind deal with it

As I said in Enhance Productivity and Stop Over-Thinking:

When you get stuck on a project or task, allow your subconscious mind to help.

Albert Einstein said that: “no problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”

Let your subconscious mind do the work if you’re stuck. A flash of insight for a solution which allows you to move forward will dawn on you. I get my best inspirations when I’m walking my dog; some people get them in the bath or shower.

Do a little spadework first

You can’t twitch your nose like Samantha in Bewitched, and magic your task completed.

Your subconscious mind is magical

You can however kickstart your subconscious to get it working on the project, so that you’re mentally prepared, and will work on the project in flow, when it’s time to get it done.

You kickstart your subconscious processing by doing some preparatory work now.

For example, let’s say you need to create a presentation for a client. Write out a description of the project (don’t omit this, you’re telling your subconscious what you want it to do). Then create graphics for the project, or get started on an outline. Spend 20 minutes on any kind of prep for the project, and you’ve done the spadework.

Your subconscious mind is now in charge, and working on the project while you carry on with your life. (Yes, you’ve got your very own cobbler’s elves working for you. :-))

Alternatively, do a little sleep thinking. Think about the project tonight, as you’re falling asleep. Imagine yourself completing the project quickly, and efficiently. This is another way of alerting your subconscious about the importance of this project.

Your subconscious mind is your own personal supercomputer. Put it to work. It’s a wonderful productivity secret. You’ll find yourself developing your own shortcuts to working with your subconscious. You’ll become inspired, more or less at will.

We spend a lot of time working with your subconscious mind in the 3O Days to Writing Success coaching program. You’ll be amazed at how efficiently your subconscious will work for you.

, and on Twitter: @angee