Tag Archives: productivity

Email Management App: Boomerang for Gmail

Email Management App: Boomerang for Gmail

If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by your email, you’re not alone. While there are many email management apps, it’s hard to find an app which works the way you do. If you’re a Gmail user, and need a straightforward app that’s both a scheduler, and reminder, Boomerang for Gmail is worth checking out.

Boomerang for Gmail Works in Your Browser

The app’s easy to install. It works in Gmail in your browser (Firefox, Chrome and Safari), and Google Apps email. It’s unobtrusive, until you need it; you’ll see a small icon when you open Gmail.

Install

Click on the icon, and the menu opens.

When you’re writing a message, Boomerang for Gmail installs options under the Send button.

send

Click the Send Later button, and you can choose a time and date to send your message. If you want to follow up a message, click the dropdown boxes, to choose a date and time to follow up. You can customize the follow-up menu to suit your workflow.

It’s easy to review your scheduled messages and follow ups. Click the Boomerang for Gmail icon, and choose Manage Scheduled Messages.

review

You can even add notes to messages. Let’s say you’re looking through your archived messages, and realize that you need to ask one of your contacts a question, but don’t have time now. Open the message, click the Boomerang for Gmail icon, and write a note to yourself. (The Note icon is on the top right of the menu.) Write the note, and choose the time you want the message returned to your Inbox.

Save Time, and Clear the Clutter

Do you use your email Inbox as a To Do list? It’s tempting, but distracting. The biggest benefit I’ve found with the app is that it saves time, and clears my cluttered Inbox.

Instead of adding a reminder to follow up with someone to your time management app, just schedule a reminder in Boomerang for Gmail, and the message politely returns to your Inbox.

3 Boomerang for Gmail Time Management Tips

Boomerang for Gmail has helped me to feel more in control of my email, and has also helped to ensure that fewer things drop through the cracks. The app’s also helped me to save time.

Here’s what I’ve found useful.

1. Schedule Email, and Batch-Write Your Messages

You check your email several times a day, but you don’t have time to respond immediately. Have Boomerang for Gmail return messages to your Inbox at the time you’ve scheduled to respond.

Schedule time each day for email, and batch-write your responses. Then close your email program. If you know you’ll need to send out messages next week, write the messages on Friday, and let Boomerang for Gmail send them out on schedule.

2. Create a Follow Up Workflow

If you have clients with whom you need to follow up, create a workflow. For example, if you’re working on a project, and need to send reports, you can write the reports, and schedule them.

3. Remind Yourself

When you’re browsing your email archive, you can create notes and schedule follow ups, without opening your contacts, or your calendar. Open a message, write a note, and schedule a time for it to appear in your Inbox.

Boomerang for Gmail’s charm is its simplicity. You can customize the app to work the way you do.

, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Get coaching, and build your skills at Angela’s online store.

Time Management, Self-Management: Bullet Journaling

 Time Management, Self-Management: Bullet Journaling
Time Management, Self-Management: Bullet Journaling Resources

Time management is self-management. We all have the same amount of time; it’s what we do to manage ourselves that counts. I became interested in time management again a few months back when I discovered bullet journaling.

I’m a big fan of paper; working something out on paper is powerful. For a couple of decades I fell in love with tech, because I was writing for several computer magazines. That made me feel slightly guilty that I still used so much paper. I got over that very smartly, when I realized that using both paper and digital tools helped not only my productivity, but also my creativity. It just makes sense to keep doing what works.

Unfortunately, my diaries, journals, binders, and planners were a long way from being a real system. Not only did I have more paper notebooks than I could keep track of, I also had a blizzard of sticky notes on my bulletin board, my library shelves, and on just about any flat surface.

Although I’d been hearing about the bullet journal, I scoffed at it. Then in desperation, I decided to give the system a trial. Not only did I find it powerful and effective, I discovered something else. There’s a huge paper planner community. Who knew? My battered old Filofax is 25 years old, so I ordered a Hobonichi Techo, which is superb. Just right for bullet journaling in 2015.

Combining bullet journaling with digital tools like Evernote works for me, and I’ll write more about that in the coming months.

Bullet Journaling Resources

If you’re interested in trying bullet journaling, here are the resources I found valuable.

The Bullet Journal Website: Here’s What You Need to Know

Start by visiting the bullet journal website. Watch the video, grab a notebook, and get started. You’ll learn a lot about yourself. Here’s what I discovered immediately: I was more productive.

You can hide and ignore tasks you haven’t done with a digital task management tool. With a bullet journal, you can see that you’re migrating tasks over and over, and that fact alone irritates you enough that you DO that pain-in-the-rear task, or tasks. I hate administration, and while that won’t change, my bullet journal ensures that I DO those tasks.

The Bullet Journal Communities

I’m a member of two groups, the Bullet Journal Community on Google+, and the Bullet Journal Junkies Group on Facebook.

Lovely people on both those communities. If you have questions about notebooks, signifiers, methods, or anything else, ask.

Blog Post and Videos: Tips From Bullet Journalers

Here are some blog posts and videos which helped me to get started with bullet journaling.

33 Days Later: an Update on My Use of the Bullet Journal Method Task Tracking System: Jewel Ward offers this insight:

“What I like about the Bullet Journal method is that the act of manually transferring my tasks from day-to-day, week-to-week, and month-to-month forces me to be more aware of that I need to do, what I have done, and, what is feasible to do within the time frame I have available. It does take more time, but overall, it saves me time.”

How the Bullet Journal Cured Idea Overload Syndrome — Renee Shupe’s insight:

“I discovered that using pen & paper over a digital process actually has me reviewing the ideas and taking action by either crossing them out as they are no longer valid or hashing it out and building a plan for implementation.”

Video: How I set up my Bullet Journal – from Hailey Cairo, an excellent primer.

Video: My Bullet Journal from Miss VickyBee, another excellent primer on how to get started.

Will bullet journaling work for you? I’ve no idea. However, if you’re as desperate to develop a sane time management system as I was, you’ll love the system. Watch Ryder Carroll’s video, and start. You’ll know whether it helps within a day or two.

, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Get coaching, and build your skills at Angela’s online store.

Writing Journal 44: Creativity Tools for Writers

Writing Journal 44: Creativity Tools for Writers

My writing journal for Thursday, September 25, 2014. You can find all the writing journal entries here.

The first draft of the client’s novella is done; now for the editing. In preparation for that, I compiled it from Scrivener to MOBI, so that I can read it tonight without distractions.

That just took a couple of minutes, so I’ve got time to write a quick draft of a short story for my Christmas collection of 25 stories; I managed 1,500 words. It will grow to around 3,000 words at a guess. I’ve just sketched in a couple of the big scenes. I created a graphic of how many scenes you need for various types of fiction projects. Students have found it useful.

Next, onward to the company history I’m ghostwriting. This went slowly this morning, only 800 words. I need to get more information, and I need to backtrack too. Whenever I feel uncertain about a project, it’s always wise to go back. As I tell my students: you can’t have a strong book without a strong beginning, and it may take you a while to get there.

I fix Honey’s breakfast, then have my own, while reading email. I caught up on some email last night, but there’s still a backlog. I need to deal with some of it before it gets out of hand.

Then it’s time to get to work on the company history, and check my draft blog posts until lunch.

Readers have asked about productivity, and how to stay creative.

Creativity tools: clustering, free writing and doodling

You can’t push creativity. However you can use tools which will help you to be creative. My favorite creativity tools are clustering, free writing, and doodling.

Vital: give yourself space. If you’re working with clients, you’ll be tempted to push yourself hard, so that you can meet deadlines. When you do that, you risk burning out. Years ago, I went through a burned out period, and once was enough. I always pull myself back if I feel that I’m pushing.

A tip: have fun. I can’t emphasize that enough. That’s not a frivolous statement. New writers tend to think “having fun” is the last thing they should be doing, but as Carl Jung said:

“the creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect, but by play.”

If you haven’t discovered this for yourself, you’ll soon learn from experience.

When you stop having fun with something, take it as a warning that you’re pushing yourself too hard. Step back.

Another tip: take BREAKS. I use timers, and after every 30 to 40 minutes (depending on the project), I take a five minute break. I’ll do a crossword, or listen to some music. I might make a coffee, or take Honey outside. I might send a couple of texts. Whatever — I get up, move around, and clear my mind.

Yes, sometimes I get so involved that I don’t do this, but I know that I’ll be more productive when I take regular breaks. I use various timers, my current favorites are Repeat Timer Pro, and Tomatoes.

Lunch at my computer today, while browsing social media. I didn’t get a chance to walk this morning. It’s raining.

A full afternoon

I start off the afternoon with the company history, and do 2,800 words. I’m pleased. However, it’s taken over three hours. I didn’t want to stop. I knew I’d have trouble getting into the right frame of mind for this section again.

Next, the Kindle ebook for my coaching client. I made notes and did some research an managed 1,000 words on that.

I had to break off to return some calls, and respond to an urgent email message.

With that done, it’s time for the daily review, and totaling my word counts. Tonight, I’ll need to catch up with email, and read the MOBI of the novella.

Team Up: yes, it’s the final one for the year

We’ve received some questions about Team Up.

Yes, this is the final program for the year. Once we hit October, we’re coming into the very busy holiday sales period. It usually means a rush of copywriting projects, so look for the next Team Up to be scheduled for March or April 2015.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Writing Journal 38: More On Bullet Journal

Writing Journal 38: More On Bullet Journal

My writing journal for Friday, September 19, 2014. You can find all the writing journal entries here.

A complicated morning. I managed to complete the nonfiction book edits; that’s now ready to go off to the client. I need to complete the rush copywriting job; that will take a while. I make a good start on it.

Time for Honey’s breakfast, and my own. I read email while I eat my toast, and have a couple of extra-strong coffees. All the student feedback will need to wait until tomorrow. I have a meeting late this afternoon. It will take several hours, so I won’t be able to write tonight. Julia can handle the general email enquiries.

A quick walk, and then it’s back to copywriting. I’ve promised the client that he’ll get it today, and he will. :-)

iOS 8 seems to have downloaded itself to my devices, so there’s short diversion while I get them updated. I’ve been so busy the past week that I haven’t had a chance to check what’s new in this iOS. I’ve heard that you can now copy straight into Evernote, which is good.

Love the bullet journal system

As you may know, I procrastinate, if I allow it. After just a day of using the bullet journal system, I’ve managed to complete two tasks which have been hanging fire for a couple of weeks. There’s something about seeing something written on paper which inspires a “must do this NOW” feeling. No idea why that is, but it’s working for me.

Ryder Carroll, the creator of bullet journal, is currently running a Kickstarter campaign. The campaign was fully funded within eight hours. And yes, I’m a backer. Not only do I like the bullet journal, I’m also a big fan of Leuchtturm1917. So Ryan’s new “unlimited” funding tier appealed to me.

More writing on the copywriting project. It’s moving right along, so I’ll get it done after lunch.

Ghostwriting: the company history

I manage 2,200 words on that; I’ll need to do more over the weekend. Julia’s scheduled more chats with the client for next week. Let’s hope we can keep up the momentum. That’s always a challenge when you’re ghostwriting — you need the information to keep flowing, so you can keep writing.

And it’s time for lunch. Today, we’re having our usual Friday lunch out. Hummingbird cake, here I come. :-)

Back again, and on with the client’s copywriting project. Finally, it’s done. Julia will proof it, and send it off to the client.

Back to the novella

I feel odd writing fiction in the afternoon. To me, it’s an early-morning activity. I get into it, and a manage 1,800 words, which is good. I need to outline the next couple of scenes, so that I can start work on them tomorrow morning.

That’s it for today. I’ve done my daily review, and totted up my word counts. A meeting tonight, and the week is done too.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.