Is productivity important to you? Do your major tasks first each day, when you have maximum creative energy. It works brilliantly. Tip: forget email, until you’ve completed those high-energy tasks.
Is productivity important to you? Do your major tasks first each day, when you have maximum creative energy. It works brilliantly. Tip: forget email, until you’ve completed those high-energy tasks.
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. :-)
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.
From your gallery, you can share your decks, or create a new deck, as you can see in the image above.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Create a “Reference” folder in Dropbox,and add all your business reference materials to it. Consider materials such as:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
You can’t twitch your nose like Samantha in Bewitched, and magic your task completed.
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.
No one survives. As the Anne Lammott says: “100 years from now? All new people”. Whatever we’re obsessing about today is trivial when you take the long view. And stress is not only pointless, it may shave a few years off the time you have.
So – relax.
You can be both productive, and lazy. If you’ve got a cat, you’ve got the ultimate role model for laziness and productivity. Think of big cats – lions. They lie around, until they need to move. Then they move.
Back in January, I wrote this blog post:
Here’s something which helped me to bolster my determination to keep my resolutions. I spent half an hour looking through my 2012 notes in my Evernote account.
I love Evernote for many reasons, but that’s a big one. The longer you use it, the more you get out of it. I’ve been a Premium user since 2009, so I can watch my obsessions change over time. As the years go by, you can see how trivial some of your obsessions are in retrospect. Your current biggest worry won’t matter after you’re dead – it won’t even matter next year.
Try these tips to be both lazy and productive.
Got a problem? Write it down. Then forget it for now. The “write it down” part is the magic. When you write something down, it lodges in your brain, and triggers your subconscious mind. Allow your subconscious to come up with the answer for you. It will.
The funny thing about your brain, as researchers from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) recently discovered, is that it’ll keep solving a problem for you while you do something else. In fact, giving your subconscious time to work makes for better decisions.
Your subconscious has huge processing power. Let go of the problem so it can work on it.
Everything moves in cycles. So does your body and brain. Try quick sprints of activity, during which you focus, interspersed with periods in which you relax.
The Pomodoro Technique helps you to work in sprints. You don’t have to work in 25 minute blocks of time. Use ten-minute sprints for some tasks, 45-minute sprints for others. The total cycle of focus/ relaxation is key.
You’ll NEVER get everything done. Fact. Accept it. If you’re worn out at the end of the day, and commit to pulling an all-nighter to meet a deadline, consider that that strong burst of productivity can lower your over-all productivity for at least a week.
Since you’ll never get everything done, trim your task list to a Post-it.
Grab a stack of Post-its. Use one for each day and write a maximum of three items on your daily note. Perhaps you’ll have just a single item – but no more than three. After you cross off your three items you can be as lazy as you like.
My favorite app, Evernote, has just made it easy for you to snap your Post-its into your Evernote notes. (I snapped the above image of a Post-it into Evernote.)
You CAN be productive, and lazy. Try it.
I’m a huge Evernote fan.
Tip: if you are too, join the Evernote Community on Google+ – see you there. :-)
Basically, most of what I do with clients and students lives in Evernote. This means that not only can I collaborate with others, I can work anywhere, anytime.
The challenge with Evernote, as with any freeform database, is finding your stuff. With thousands of notes, finding exactly what you want instantly can be a challenge.
Evernote makes it easy. You can:
You can also create your own tables of contents, to access notebooks and notes quickly. A table of contents might include the projects you’re working on this week, a list of reference material, or several checklists.
You can create links to notes very easily. These note links (right-click on a note, and choose Copy Note Link to create one) work not only within Evernote, but also outside Evernote. I copy note links to Trello cards, for example, as well as to items in The Brain.
To create a table of contents for anything, you just the copy note links you want to a new note, and it’s done.
While it’s easy, and essential when you have lots of notes, it also takes time.
With the latest version of Evernote however, it takes no time at all – Evernote will create tables of contents for you automatically.
My thanks to Jason Frasca for the tip. As Jason points out, you just need to select the notes you want, and click Create Table of Contents Note.
As you can see in the image above, it couldn’t be easier.
Give your table of contents note a relevant name, and drag it to the shortcuts bar, or click the Reminder icon so you can access it easily.
Overwhelmed? That’s a normal state of existence for some these days, but that state of everything piling on top of you isn’t good for your health, let alone your productivity.
Eventually, feeling overwhelmed can lead to panic attacks. I suffered from them from the birth of my son, right through my twenties. These days, if I sense that I’m taking on too much, the reminder of those attacks helps me to pull back.
Let’s look at three ways to get out from under everything that’s weighing you down.
Fear’s at the bottom of feeling overwhelmed. You feel as if you can’t cope with all your responsibilities. Since fear’s uncomfortable, we look for a way out, or for something to blame. That’s not helpful. Your brain’s operating system, brilliant as it is, becomes your enemy. You imagine the worst.
Pay attention to your surroundings. Focus on them. What can you see, feel, and touch? Catalog what you can see. If you’re in a coffee shop, pay attention to the servers, the clientele, and your surroundings. What can you smell? Exactly?
Sip your coffee: taste it. Feel the taste of it on your tongue.
If I could feel a panic attack coming on, I focused on my feet. I felt the floor, or if I was driving, the feel of the accelerator pedal. The more you can use your senses to be right where you are, the less overwhelmed you’ll feel.
You’re pulling back from your imaginings, right into the present, and what’s happening now. When you’re in the present, it’s easier to accept everything. Consider that you might as well accept what you can’t change.
Acceptance is powerful. It stops you from trying to run away in your mind. Once you accept, you can work on changing what needs changing, one thing at a time.
Forget reading your email while you have lunch. Focus on the food. Just do ONE thing, and focus on it completely.
Multi-tasking is a medical and mental hazard, as this article on Harvard Health Publications points out:
Instead of trying to do several things at once—and often none of them well—Hammerness and Moore suggest what they call set shifting. This means consciously and completely shifting your attention from one task to the next, and focusing on the task at hand. Giving your full attention to what you are doing will help you do it better, with more creativity and fewer mistakes or missed connections. Set shifting is a sign of brain fitness and agility, say the authors.
When you focus, you accept where you are, and what you’re doing. That focus will relax you. Life will become more interesting, rather than a struggle.
W. Timothy Gallwey’s written bestselling books about effectiveness:
The “inner game” is based upon certain principles in which an individual uses non-judgmental observations of critical variables, with the purpose of being accurate about these observations. If the observations are accurate, the person’s body will adjust and correct automatically to achieve best performance.
Playing your own inner game: being right where you are, and paying attention, eliminates feelings of being overwhelmed.
Act, but do just one thing at a time. Focus on what you’re doing completely, and breathe. Breathe from your belly, rather than your chest. As you inhale, your belly should expand slightly.
Yoga Journal has an excellent article on breathing:
Move the Belly With the Breath: When we are at ease, the diaphragm is the primary engine of the breath. As we inhale, this domelike muscle descends toward the abdomen, displacing the abdominal muscles and gently swelling the belly. As we exhale, the diaphragm releases back toward the heart, enabling the belly to release toward the spine.
Acceptance, doing one thing at a time and breathing sound like simple ways to get out from overwhelm-stress. Here’s the thing. They work. Breathe… :-)
Evernote can save your business. Seriously. I’ve had two experiences of things going badly wrong, and both times Evernote allowed me to keep working. Firstly when a hard drive and multiple backups on my primary work machine failed, and then when my cable modem died.
In both instances, everything important was in Evernote. I didn’t miss a single deadline.
I’ve written about being an Evernote fangirl before, when Evernote added Reminders. Hint to Evernote – a Dashboard, please:
There’s one other thing I’m hoping Evernote will add: a Dashboard. Ideally, notes with certain user-created criteria would be added to the Dashboard, so they’d be easy to find.
Fingers crossed. :-)
I use Evernote every day, all day, on all of my devices. It just works, so I love it. There’s another thing to love too – the Evernote company. They work with other companies which makes their product better, and they give you things you didn’t even know you wanted.
I’m grateful that Evernote works with companies like LiveScribe and Zengobi, for example. I record interviews and chats with students via Livescribe, and everything goes into the relevant Evernote notebook. Zengobi produces Curio, my all-time favorite creativity tool, and Evernote/ Curio integration means that I can drag notes right into Curio idea spaces.
And re stuff you didn’t even know you wanted, Evernote has just updated its Web Clipper for Chrome. The Clipper now does much more.
You can save articles in different formats. From the Evernote blog:
- Article: Clips the body content of the page, including images, links and styles
- Selection: Clips the text and images that you highlight
- Bookmark (NEW): Creates a note containing a snippet of the page and the URL
- Simplified (NEW): We brought in features from our Clearly extension to strip the page of all distractions for easy reading and clean clipping
The Simplified format is stunning.
Evernote’s brought Skitch into the Chrome Web Clipper, so you can mark up your documents before you save them. That’s a huge time saver. No need to go into Evernote to mark up docs in the app.
Safari’s been my default browser for years. I keep Chrome open, so I can open Trello boards in tabs, to refer to them throughout the day, but Safari is my workhorse. I’ll need to switch that around.
If you’ve never used Chrome, give it a try. You’ll find it has some great add-ons, including add-ons for SEO. If you’re a Gmail user, Chrome also allows you to use Streak, which calls itself “CRM in your Inbox”, and that’s exactly what it is. If you have customers and sell, you’ll love Streak. (I’ll need to do a write up about Streak at some stage; it’s a gem.)
Evernote just got even better. Who knew that was even possible? Try the new Chrome Web Clipper. You’ll love it.
Want to get more done? Here’s a simple method which works. Use your brain’s brilliant operating system. You’re using that operating system constantly, but unfortunately, we use it to block ourselves, rather than using it to get more stuff done.
Your imagination is your brain’s operating system. You use it by visualizing.
I used to find it hard to fall asleep until I began visualizing how I wanted the next day to go. Instead of my mind wandering from topic to topic, focusing on what “might” go wrong, I started focusing on what “would” go right.
It’s impossible NOT to visualize. It’s the way your brain works. If you imagine you’ll get more done, you will.
Let’s say you need to create a presentation. You’ve been putting it off. But you’ll be meeting with a client later today, and you have an hour to get it done. Procrastination’s no longer an option.
Close your eyes for a moment, and imagine you’ve completed the presentation. You’re in the meeting. You’re confident as you go through the material for the client. Not only are you confident, but the client’s smiling, totally engaged. Now the presentation’s over. The client signs on the bottom line.
Open your eyes. You’re eager to get started on the presentation. You’re amazed at how quickly everything comes together. The meeting goes almost exactly as you envisioned that it would.
When you think, you’re visualizing. If someone says to you: “don’t think about it…” You imagine it, whatever it is. You can’t help it. That’s the way we’re made.
Unfortunately, when we visualize the stuff we need to get done, we usually stab ourselves in the back. You visualize yourself NOT completing the presentation. Or mangling it. You see the client unimpressed. Not only don’t you get the deal, you see your boss telling you that they’re letting you go… You’re jobless. Your partner hates you…
A lot of nonsense is talked about “visualization”. It’s developed a “woo woo” reputation. That’s silly. There’s nothing magical about it, it’s what we do naturally.
Use your brain’s operating system the way it’s meant to be used. See yourself getting things done – brilliantly.
Imagine a big beautiful bunch of grapes. They’re seedless grapes, just picked and are still warm from the sun on the vines. They’re dark purple; the bunch is big and heavy. You pluck a grape from the bunch, and put it in your mouth.
How did you visualize? I saw the grapes. They were on a large white platter, next to several slices of cheese.
You may visualize in a different way; you may not form clear mental images. Perhaps you get a feeling; a sense of the grapes. That’s fine — you can imagine the grapes in any way which works for you. We all visualize; whichever way you usually do it is fine.
Check your task list. What’s the next task? Close your eyes for a moment, and yourself doing it, then see it done.
Use your imagination. It’s your brain’s operating system.
Imagination is power
Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.