Brought To You By Emily Parks
Productivity Consultant at Organize For Success, LLC...
Helping You Make Every Minute Matter!



Monday, December 29, 2014

Get Clear For The New Year Week #5: Clean Out And Organize Your Workspace

Now that we are just a few days away from 2015, by following the assignments in this series, you’ve laid an excellent foundation for success in the new year; however, in order to achieve your optimum success, it is important to establish a work environment that’s yet another tool in your productivity toolbox. If your paper and electronic files are unorganized and filled with unnecessary contents, they can be overwhelming and unhelpful. This week is an ideal time to “get clear for the new year” by proactively addressing your filing as well as where items are kept in your workspace.

First, take time to edit the contents of your workspace. When files are overstuffed with outdated information, it is difficult to locate what you need when you need it; therefore, it is vital to address your files before the new year, clearing out what no longer needs to be there.
  • Will the documents be relevant to work in the coming year? If you’ve completed the related project or the file contains last year’s receipts, move the content into storage with your archived files, rather than keeping it with your active files.
  • Do you need this piece of paper? What’s the worst that can happen if you throw it away?
  • Is the info on file somewhere else or easily accessible online?
If any file's contents are no longer (1) accurate, (2) applicable, (3) useful or (4) bringing you joy, consider getting rid of those contents. Can the discarded papers be recycled or do they need to be shredded? Further, if you are keeping something that would be easy to find again online, is it something you will reference frequently enough to justify the space it is taking to retain? Consider keeping only items that would be difficult to relocate or recreate.

Likewise, as you are purging the accumulated excess from your paper and electronic files, evaluate whether you can resell or recycle any technology that is no longer being used. Those devices, cords and accessories are taking up valuable real estate in your workspace, which could be devoted to items actually being used instead. Still, if you do utilize all the technological tools in your space, are there any that can be consolidated so you retain functionality while lowering the number of devices maintained? Keep in mind efficient use of what space you have.

Then, address the onslaught of emails received daily. Unsubscribe from eNewsletters you are not reading, consider bundling subscriptions that you do read via The Swizzle or Unroll.me and create a system for diligently keeping up on reading.

Take time to verify everything in your workspace has a home as well as that each item is in its assigned home. When folks are looking to buy real estate, you often hear “location, location, location”, and I challenge you to consider your workspace in the same light as buying real estate where location really does matter. The space closest to where you will be working is considered the most valuable real estate location; therefore, that area should be filled with what items you use most frequently. Then, the placement of items moving out from there should be based on how often the item is needed, placing items used least frequently the farthest away.
  • Make certain there is a 2014 tax folder to hold incoming documentation for the year ending; then, create a 2015 tax folder to be prepared for the upcoming new year’s tax records. 
  • Get accounting records up to snuff by writing off uncollectable accounts receivable; while accounts receivable write-offs are tax deductions this year, they become a bonus if collected in the new year.
  • Make sure your tech tools are housed near where they will be used, that all accessories are still easily accessible and that any upgrades needed are completed before the new year starts.
  • Simplify your office supplies and plan space for what new supplies will be needed in the new year.

By focusing on editing out what is no longer needed and, then, strategically assigning homes to what you will be keeping, your workspace will be a useful tool in your productivity toolbox, driving your optimum success.

ASSIGNMENT: Visit here to see a video related to this blog post; then, this week, take time to edit the contents of your workspace, removing contents that are no longer accurate, applicable, useful or bringing you joy, and verify everything to remain has a home as well as that each item is in its assigned home. What needs to be added or removed in order to simplify your work for better achieving your desired results? Be strategic, aligning the set-up in your workspace with the goals you’ve set, making sure the workspace is another tool in your productivity toolbox.

Leave a comment below about your ongoing system for editing the contents of your workspace. What tends to build up most quickly? How will you maintain the productive workspace that you’ll be creating this week?

Monday, December 22, 2014

Get Clear For The New Year Week #4: Organize Your Morning Routine and "Drop Zone"

 As we talk about steps you can take now to make the new year your best thus far, empowering you with the optimal tools to drive your desired workflow results, it is important to address how your days start and end. Whether you are a morning person or night owl, your productivity depends on a proper foundation, which comes from your morning and evening routines. Take these steps to minimize the madness so you are ready on time and your exit each day is much less stressful:


- End today with tomorrow in mind… Each night, check the next day’s schedule to plan what you’ll need for all activities. Verify the weather forecast and lay out your clothes for the day as well as any accessories you’ll be wearing. Think through what you will eat for breakfast so you aren’t scrambling for something to eat. Go ahead and prepare the next day’s lunch; likewise, if you often forget to grab your pre-made lunch from the fridge, leave yourself a “remember lunch” note on the door or by your keys. Have a set place near the door for any items you’ll need to grab as you’re headed out the door, like your keys, work files and purse / wallet / backpack; plus, keep a morning checklist by the door to verify you have all that you need. Make sure you have gas in your vehicle. Finally, finish your evening with a tablespoon of unsweetened almond butter, which will ensure you don’t awake groggy from low blood sugar.

- Remove unnecessary actions from your morning routine… When the goal is getting out the door, it is important to stay focused, but it is easy to get distracted. Can unloading the dishwasher wait until after work? Can you absorb the morning’s news on your commute to the office instead of in the morning news on TV? For some, these actions are necessary to start the day off on the right foot; however, for others, they are simply distractions that lead to tardiness in getting out the door. Determine in with of those groups you fall and act accordingly.

- Streamline your processes for getting ready each day… Choose a hairstyle that is easy to maintain. Choose a breakfast that is easy to prepare and can be replicated each morning. Choose wrinkle-free clothing. Look at each element of your morning routine, and determine what can be simplified. Doing more without thinking makes the whole process better.

- Make the most of every available minute… Set your alarm clock to go off 15 minutes earlier than necessary to give yourself a buffer in your morning preparations. Get up and moving soon after you awake to open your lungs for more oxygen, which helps our brains and bodies function properly; I use the 7 Minute Workout app, and you might want to give it a try, too. Start your day by drinking a tall, cold glass of water with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, which boosts energy, promotes good digestion, encourages your immune system’s functioning, detoxifies the liver, helps you lose weight, encourages better skin and kicks off your day hydrated. Break each element of your morning routine into a “zone” so supplies for each action are grouped together and located in the area where they will be needed, like tools for getting dressed, tools for prepping your face or applying your make-up, tools for preparing your coffee and tools for making your breakfast. Further, use music to motivate your desired behaviors.

With a little planning, preparation and routine-building, it can be easier and less stressful to get out of your home. quickly moving on to your day’s activities. Still, one of the most powerful tools for organizing your morning routine might be the aforementioned place near the door set aside for any items you’ll need to grab as you’re headed back out the door. This is known as your “drop zone” and is where you drop off those items when you arrive home so you can quickly locate them when you are ready to leave. Normally, this includes your keys, work files and purse, wallet or backpack; however, anything you bring home that will be needed when you leave should be left in this “drop zone” so you aren’t frantically searching in the morning.

ASSIGNMENT: Visit http://youtu.be/NzQAsfEk9Vc?list=UUEoZpJ_B6A1dWLzzsSVTwbg to see a video related to this blog post; then, this week, review your evening routine to make sure you are properly preparing for the next day, establish your “drop zone”, starting to develop a habit for using it, remove unnecessary actions from your morning routine, streamline your processes for getting ready each day and see how you can make even more out of every available minute in your morning routine. Do you need to awake earlier? Are you moving around soon after awaking? Could you add the cold glass of water with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to your morning routine? Are you utilizing music?!?



Leave a comment below with what’s working best for you. What is your nightly routine? What is your morning routine? How have you simplified either to make it more helpful?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Get Clear For The New Year Week #3: Organize Your Calendar and Contact Systems

As we talk about steps you can take now to make the new year your best thus far, we are empowering you with the optimal tools to drive your desired workflow results, which must include your calendar and contacts’ list. While many might contend that “one is a lonely number”, when it comes to your productivity, I say that one is a very powerful number. With that in mind, I highly recommend you address your productivity toolbox like you are one human-being, not a personal you versus a professional you, which means...

One Calendar: A single planner enables tracking all commitments in one place, making it less likely to forget anything. Having business and personal showing at once will allow scheduling for you as one full entity and better ensure that nothing falls through the cracks while you avoid any double-booking.

One Place for All Your To-Do Items: Keeping all action items that need your attention in one running list allows you to easily pull 3 - 5 items for each day’s must-do list, making it more likely all will get done, aiding in prioritizing and empowering you to assign each “what” a “when” so time is scheduled for its completion.

One “Data Dump”: Our brains are designed to think, not remember, but we fill them with more and more each day; keeping all that we’d like to remember in one place (such as in your Evernote database) ensures meeting notes, ideas, phone messages, inspirations and the like are easily accessible from anywhere.

One Address Book / Contact Relationship Management (CRM) Tool: For contacts’ names, phone numbers, emails and snail mail addresses as well as any related notes, keeping everyone’s information centralized better ensures contacts’ data is kept up-to-date and accessible. When updates must be made in numerous places, they’re less likely to get done.

One “Weekly Strategy Session”: As we discussed last week, dedicating time each week to creating a game plan for the upcoming week means more gets done and keeps you on the right track, especially pared with a morning jumpstart and end-of-day wrap-up. With this trio of tools, you stay in control of your actions.
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To elaborate on steps you can take right now to prepare for your greatest successes in the new year, here are a few calendar-related items to consider and incorporate in your actions:

- Whether paper or electronic, make sure your one calendar solution for 2015 is equipped with the holidays, birthdays, important events and reminders that are most important for you. If any are missing, add them now; plus, if your solution is electronic, add alerts as appropriate to keep you on track.

- Get in the habit of documenting all activities; rather than depending on your brain or a running list of events, let your calendar do the heavy-lifting for all date-specific commitments.

- As you become more comfortable with your weekly strategy session, morning jumpstart and end-of-day wrap-up, you’ll view your calendar solution as a bigger and bigger part of your productivity toolbox; with all the options available, there is guaranteed to be a good fit for your specific needs. Test out what options exist until you find a good fit for your needs, whether paper or electronic, daily or weekly or monthly view.
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Likewise, to further elaborate on steps you can take right now to prepare for your greatest successes in the new year, here are a few contacts-related items to consider and incorporate in your actions:

- Whether paper or electronic, make sure your one address book or CRM tool is filled with all your contacts, whether personal or professional, including clients, team members, vendor partners, friends, family members, neighbors, industry contacts, networking connections or referrals. 

- Double-check that each person’s record includes the most up-to-date information for contacting that particular individual, including that person’s current phone number, email address, job title, place of employment and pertinent notes. If you are looking for a technological tool to shortcut this process, consider apps like EasilyDo, Humin, Sync.ME, Brewster, EverContact and FullContact.

- Determine what will be your system for continually inputting updated or additional information as it is brought to your attention. While this may be resolved via one of the aforementioned apps, if someone mentions her new job to you when you’re meeting face-to-face, you’ll need a specific process to document the associated updates and, then, add them to your contacts’ solution. You might want to document them in your “data dump” and schedule one block of time weekly to transfer the updates.

- If you would like a solution that does more than any address book can complete, consider a Contact Relationship Management (or CRM) Tool. With a CRM tool, you remember everything about each individual with whom you’ve connected and you make sure no opportunities fall through the cracks. As you are searching for your best option for a CRM solution, determine whether its ease of use, accessibility, customization and integration with other tools all meet your specific needs; then, make sure you test drive the product before making any short- or long-term commitment. Options that deserve some consideration are ACT!, Infusionsoft, Insightly, Nimble, OntraPort and Zoho CRM.

Speaking of CRMs, as these provide structure for walking prospects through a sales process, they empower leaders to hold team members accountable, measuring each team member’s success rate as they move prospects from step to step of the sales process. Be sure that each team member is aware of what consequences exist for not utilizing the designated sales process, provide resources for improving conversion rates and hold each team member accountable for trying to improve. Via structure, customer relationship management boosts success.
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ASSIGNMENT: Visit here to see a video related to this blog post; then, this week, clarify what you’ll use as your one calendar solution, one place for all your to-do items, one “data dump”, one contact management solution and one weekly strategy session. Then, make sure your calendar solution includes alerts for any applicable holidays, birthdays and important events, starting to develop the habit of documenting all activities in this one calendar solution. Finally, verify you have the most up-to-date contact information for everyone in your database and choose a tool and / or process for ongoing maintenance of contacts’ data.

Where has “the power of one” proven most helpful for your productivity? Do you prefer a paper or an electronic solution for your calendaring tool? Alternatively, do you utilize any apps to help maintain your contacts’ information? Further, are you using a paper or electronic address book or do you prefer a CRM tool instead? What do you find as strengths and weaknesses of paper versus electronic for any of your current productivity tools?

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Utilize Automation to Do More With What Time You Have

While each day offers us only 1,440 minutes, beyond sheer strategy and proactivity, there are plenty of ways to make the most of what limited time we have. According to Dictionary.com, automation is "the technique, method or system of operating or controlling a process by... electronic devices, reducing human intervention to a minimum", which conveys the value of automation in that less of your direct human intervention opens up your time for addressing other functionality that cannot be done otherwise. Here are a few ways automation allows you to do more with your limited resource of time:

- Use cloud-based back-up for saving your files that matter. Computers crash. Fires can destroy all your devices. Emergencies happen, but you can be prepared with automated remote storage, saving you the time it takes to plug in a back-up device and safeguarding you from accidentally forgetting to do the back-up yourself. Simply "set it and forget it" with one of these options: Carbonite, Crash Plan or Mozy.

- Use a social media manager to share the right info at the right time. Whether you depend on Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter, you must post the best message for your audience at the best time for that audience to receive it. While timing and messaging varies by platform, you still have other things to be doing; you can't stay planted by your computer all the time. Although there is controversy about their SEO impact, there are tools to help with the aforementioned issue as well as monitoring your business' social media results. Schedule messages to be posted on each social media outlet when you want via one of these options: Buffer, Hootsuite, Postling, SocialOomph or Sprout Social.

- Use a password manager for safekeeping your many different logins. As more of our work and play is conducted online, it becomes increasingly important to use a diverse set of strong passwords; however, as the list of passwords grows, the harder it is to remember them all. Further, the dangers associated with a printed list are frightening, whether it is losing that list, damaging that list or having that list fall into the wrong person's hands. Allow your brain to focus on thinking, rather than remembering, and rest assured that your passwords are safely secured in the cloud, instead of just a piece of paper. Employ one of these options for your password management: 1Password, Dashlane, LastPass, Roboform or SplashID.

- Use tools to manage your email, rather than letting email manage you. The average busy professional receives over 150 email messages each day. While "processing" emails is much more efficient than repeatedly "checking" emails, it still takes a good chunk of time to go through that many messages daily, let alone should you get behind at all. While there are plenty of technological tools designed to help, there are a few that rise above the competition. If you use Gmail, Boomerang allows you to send an email later, take messages out of your inbox until you actually need them, be nudged into following up at a specified time when there's no reply to a message you've sent and utilize email to remind yourself of what you think about needing to do while on-the-go. Alternatively, Mailbox lets you quickly swipe messages to your archive or trash, scan entire conversations in a chat-like view to more rapidly work through what messages have been received and bring messages back to your inbox when more appropriate for you to focus on what's important now. Finally, Mailstrom identifies which of your emails are related, groups them together for you to more easily process them quickly and empowers you to more succinctly unsubscribe from mailing lists you no longer desire.

- Put the Internet to work for you. It is very valuable to use all available options for helping business processes occur without your involvement, and there are several shining stars operating in this space. If This Then That integrates 152 different channels (or applications), each of which has its own options, allowing you to create "recipes" for a trigger action to lead to a resulting action. For example, you could use the trigger of "when I receive an email that has an attachment to my Gmail account" for the resulting action of "that attachment is added to my Evernote database" as a recipe. Plus, If This Then That is currently totally free... Happiness! Browse all the recipes currently being utilized by clicking here. Likewise, Podbox and Zapier expand the options for various channels or applications that can be integrated, but they can have fees.

How do you currently utilize automation? What benefits do you perceive could come from greater automation? Are there tools mentioned here that you will start to use?

Monday, December 8, 2014

Get Clear For The New Year Week #2: Weekly Strategy Session, Morning Jumpstart and End-of-Day Wrap-up

Last week, we discussed determining and, then, focusing your actions on your personal and professional priorities, goals and objectives. To do this successfully, it is imperative to be proactive. 

If you wait until your week unfolds, you are often at the whim of others’ priorities; if you take time to plan your approach beforehand, checking your progress throughout, you are more likely to build a structure for focusing on what’s most important to you. Here are tools I recommend building into your regular habits for ensuring the greatest success in marrying your actions to your priorities:

I. Weekly Strategy Session: Whether you accomplish this at the end of your Friday, sometime over the weekend or first-thing on Monday morning, it is imperative to create a game plan for the upcoming week. Just like football teams wouldn’t go into a game with out a plan, you need a game for accomplishing all you intend for your week. In each weekly strategy session, focus on these items…

- Evaluate which of the prior week’s tasks were completed, determining what’s left undone and must be carried into the new week; then, reschedule each undone “what” to a new “when” so you have a clear timeline for winning.

- Clarify any changes to your priorities so those people and activities most important to you get scheduled accordingly; start your weekly game plan by allocating time for what’s most important before anything else.

- Review the upcoming week’s commitments to ensure you’ve prepared for the related tasks and appointments; as appropriate, include when you’ll sleep, when you’ll workout and what you’ll eat.

- Determine additional opportunities for personal and professional growth; what actions or connections will move you towards accomplishing more of your goals?

- Map out a game plan for the upcoming week’s activities, remembering that every “what” assigned a specific “when” is more likely to get done but that you have only so many minutes allocated to your week.

II. Morning Jumpstart: While we all believe we are superheroes who can accomplish a never-ending list of tasks and appointments, each of us is only one human-being; therefore, it is important to start the day on the right foot to accomplish all that is realistically possible. Jumpstart your morning in these ways...

- Enter each day of your life with 3 - 5 items that are “must do” for that day, whether those are appointments or tasks, as that is a realistic goal. If you complete more, that is a bonus.

- Follow the philosophy of “swallow the frog” such that you complete the most difficult and vital task or item you’ve been avoiding before moving to others.

- Keep in mind the saying that an elephant is eaten one bite at a time, and break projects into smaller, more manageable action items, starting each of these on your list with a specific verb.

III. End-of-Day Wrap-Up: I like to think of the last 15 minutes or so of each workday as my “check-up from the neck up”, and I always aim to accomplish the following activities…

- Review the day’s tasks, preparing the next day’s “must do” list based off what was left undone from today as well as what must be done for tomorrow.

- Evaluate your schedule for the next day and verify that you are prepared for everything coming up.

- Get end-of-day updates from each of your team members.

- Tidy up your workspace, filing newly arrived items while putting the day’s work back into each item’s assigned home.

- Reflect on your greatest success from that day, and make note of that for which you are grateful.

If you’re having trouble completing any one of these processes or think they are taking too long, you can use a timer to move things along… Here are a few benefits from using this productivity tool:
- Once you get rolling, you might not stop as activity breeds activity, ending procrastination.
- You can do anything for 15 minutes or so, better keeping yourself focused over a shorter duration.
- Shorter times allowed for specific activities lead to an extra burst of energy, driving greater output.

ASSIGNMENT: Visit http://youtu.be/Kt0UAyzyvpQ to see a video related to this blog post; then, this week, start developing the habits of a weekly strategy session, morning jumpstart and end-of-day wrap-up. Find an existing habit with which you can connect each of these new processes so you are more likely to get them all completed; then, set a timer to see how quickly you can accomplish each one. Reward yourself for successfully doing each of the three, celebrating every step towards developing them into habits.


Do you currently complete a weekly strategy session, morning jumpstart and / or end-of-day wrap-up? If you do, how have these boosted your productivity? If you don’t do them already, how can you incorporate these into your existing workflows to better boost your output?

Saturday, December 6, 2014

6 Ways to Stay on Track Amidst the Holiday Hustle

As of today, we are just 10 days from the start of Hanukkah, 19 days from Christmas and 26 days from New Year’s Day, which can mean exceedingly long to-do lists over and above the normal, day-to-day workload: decorating, cooking and baking, shopping, wrapping, sending cards, television specials, parties, traveling, out-of-town visitors and much, much more… Whew! It can be extremely overwhelming, but there are steps you can take to help:

1. Be proactive and strategic about handling all your job requires. While team huddles can be good for some, all individuals can benefit from a weekly strategy session done alone for appropriately scheduling time for necessary tasks, meetings, professional growth and current priorities. By assigning a specific “when” for every “what”, more gets done and you have more wins. Then, keep that weekly game plan on track with a daily wrap-in in the last 15 minutes of each workday, where you complete a “check-up from the neck up” for tasks and appointments, get updates from each of your team members, tidy up your workspace, acknowledge the day's successes and show gratitude.

2. Take a look at your ongoing tasks and activities; see what can be deferred until after the holidays. During this time of year, we add so many activities to our already full calendars, but there are only so many hours in any day… Each time we say "yes" to something, we are saying "no" to something else; when each opportunity arises, make a conscious effort to consider, "If I say yes to this, to what am I saying no?" What can be set aside to make room for your priorities this season?

3. Make time for self-healing and keep self care a priority. Whether it is a massage, a coffee break with friends, reading the latest and greatest novel, a quick nap, time to reflect in nature, exercise or just a bit of silence in front of the fireplace, it is vital to fuel yourself in order to have any energy for giving to others.

4. Take vacation time off to handle holiday obligations. While you can’t add hours to the day, you can manage your actions for optimizing the time you have by taking some time off to finish shopping, cooking or decorating. This approach empowers you to be fully focused when you are at work, knowing you have adequate time set aside for those holiday commitments. Likewise, if you are the team lead, be aware of everyone’s desires for vacation time, and be careful to balance employee vacation requests with business needs; consider having a policy for no vacations on especially busy days or limiting the number of days off during the holidays, focusing on giving folks the time off they need to be fully engaged while at work at the same time as getting all work done.

5. Know when to ask for help. While successful collaboration, communication and scheduling can enhance your team’s ability to diffuse the company’s workload, utilizing all available bandwidth, don’t forget that there are plenty of options for outsourcing and delegating outside your organization. There are many resources, including Elance, Fiverr, SweepsTask Rabbit and Thumbtack, that are excellent solutions for helping with holiday overload. Utilize all available resources to optimize results.

6. Make lists for all that must be done, bought, wrapped, decorated, cleaned, etc. When faced with holiday-season projects, break each into bite-sized, action steps that can be more easily tackled; checking individual steps off will keep you motivated to continue. Then, whether paper or electronic, be sure to keep your list with you throughout the season, referencing it often.

What tactics do you utilize for maintaining productivity during the holidays? How do you incorporate seasonal commitments amidst your day-to-day routines? Have you noticed any hiccups thus far this year?

Thursday, December 4, 2014

This Evernote Business Certified Consultant Can Help

Recently, I completed a comprehensive and rigorous training program to be selected as an Evernote Business Certified Consultant. This is a new certification that Evernote created so companies and teams can find experts in their own backyards to help them best implement Evernote Business. Using my certification, I can assist you and your team in increasing your productivity, passing along the latest updates as well as what's happening with Evernote and what best practices might best aid your specific workflows.

Technology can be overwhelming, but, with a tool like Evernote, one can easily increase their productivity and create a clutter-free environment. Since 2009, I've offered Evernote workshops, adding Evernote courses in North Carolina State University's Technology Training Solutions unit just this past fall. By becoming an Evernote Business Certified Consultant, I've exhibited expertise in helping professionals implement this suite of tools across their businesses, expanding on the training I provide as to how Evernote can help individuals as well as teams increase their productivity.

What is Evernote?
Evernote is a secure suite of apps that allows users to capture typed text, video and audio files, checklists, web clippings as well as photos, including photos of handwritten notes. In this database, content can be created by the user or culled in from other sources. Plus, all elements of the database are easy to sort, edit, search and share. Even writing within imagery, whether handwritten or typed, can be searched! Evernote's ubiquity allows for accessing the same information everywhere at the same time as all data syncs "real time" across linked devices; plus, its sharing boosts collaboration.

Beyond the Free, Premium and Business options, Evernote offers plenty of complementary options to enhance the functionality of this suite of apps, including Skitch, Scannable, Web Clipper, Penultimate and Evernote Food, not to mention the various market offerings, like Triangle Commuter Bag, Jot Script Stylus, ScanSnap Scanner, Pfeiffer platforms and Moleskin notebooks.

How Can Evernote Benefit You?
The ways in which you can use Evernote are limitless. In my Evernote Advanced course, I go beyond the basics to cover all the following ways in which you can use Evernote to boost productivity while aiding your peace of mind as well as helping your collaboration and communication abilities:
- task and project management options
- documenting and sharing workflow processes
- writing more proficiently, especially as a word processor
- hold better meetings
- options to enhance contact management
- be better prepared for emergencies
- go paperLESS and create an online file cabinet
- streamline and better enjoy traveling
- assist gift-giving and recognition programs
- track invoices and compile reimbursements to manage money
- enhance work with clients, especially record-keeping and sharing information
- photo storage and sharing options
- and much, much more...

For everything you'll do, Evernote is the workspace in which you can best get it done... Write, collect, find and present on every device you use everyday.

What is Unique About Evernote Business?
If you compare the Premium option to the basic, Free option, you'll see the additions of four times larger note capacity, the ability to annotate PDFs instead of just photos, presentation mode, context provided for your current work via related notes in your database as well as related news in the News Corp family, ability to search text in uploaded documents and being able to work with notes offline; still, there are specific benefits offered in Evernote Business that can't be found anywhere else.

In addition to being the central hub for your employees to work together, communicating and collaborating for better results, it's also the one main spot to keep, share and find companywide documents alongside your personal contents. Within Evernote Business, all team members can find their own information as well as the business' information quickly and easily whenever needed.

- Secure, flexible sharing so new hires can easily be given access to company information while that access can be quickly cut off should said team member depart. The business owner can rest assured that information is secure while those collaborating never fear anything being lost.

- There is plenty of room for projects to grow as the monthly upload for Evernote Business is greater than that for the Free and Premium versions. Each user receives 2GB of monthly uploads for their personal notebooks and 2GB of monthly uploads for their business notebooks, totaling 4GB a month.

- Access to everyone's knowledge boosts team collaboration, communication and output. Team members can speak with one another and share details real time via Work Chat. Plus, as team members create, edit or view content, Evernote Business highlights related content in the companywide database as well as in News Corp content or on LinkedIn; the team becomes smarter!

How Can This Evernote Business Certified Consultant Help You?
I can help you and your team determine which Evernote option is best for your unique needs; then, together, we create workflows and systems within the Evernote suite of apps that empower you to take advantage of all the features and benefits provided within this robust productivity tool. Via this partnership, you are able to successfully deploy implementation of Evernote, learning best practices to make your adoption of this tool as seamless as possible. Plus, with ongoing training, support and maintenance systems, you are able to make adjustments before every getting too far off course.

With your own consultant to help get Evernote Business up and running quickly, you achieve improved productivity more quickly while establishing habits to make that success last longer.

Do you and your business currently use Evernote Business? Why or why not? How could you envision this tool better enhancing your productivity so you reach even loftier goals?

Monday, December 1, 2014

Get Clear For The New Year Week #1: Priorities, Goals, Objectives and Saying No To What Doesn't Fit

Today, successful small businesses must make changes quickly when needed. Technology is evolving rapidly, dramatically altering the way in which businesses find, interact with and meet the needs of clients. The number of employees continues to be cut while resources become more limited, continually asking small businesses to do more with less. We're often reminded how important collaboration, communication and scheduling are when looking at our own successes as well as our teams' successes.

Chances are good that your expectations for the new year are even higher than what you had in mind and have accomplished in the year that’s ending. If so, take action now to make changes for improving your business moving forward. In my “Get Clear For The New Year” series, I’ll post each week of this month about steps you can take now to make the new year your best thus far, empowering you with the optimal tools to drive your desired workflow results.

Let's start by discussing the foundation for your upcoming success: your priorities, goals and objectives. Each of us has 1,440 minutes in each day or 10,080 minutes in each week, which means we have only 525,600 minutes in all of 2015 to achieve everything we desire. Time is a limited resource, and we cannot add to that allocation. Instead, we can only manage our actions within that allocated time to do all we possibly can. With such a limited allocation of time, it is extremely important to be focused on how we want to use it.

As Stephen Covey encourages, think of each week in your year as if it were a jar. In front of you, you’ve been given a pile of rocks, a pile of pebbles and a pile of sand. Those rocks represent actions to support the most important commitments in your life, whether your career, your health, your loved ones, your education, volunteering for a cause that’s important to you or something of equal priority to you; there are serious consequences if these tasks are left undone. The sand represents actions that are neither important nor urgent but can be good releases throughout your day, week or month, like watching funny videos on YouTube, playing video games and catching up on personal social media. Then, the pebbles represent what actions fall in between the importance levels of your rocks and sand; often, what are currently considered pebbles would become rocks if they are postponed for too long, but you currently have a little wiggle room on them. The pebbles represent tasks with slight but manageable consequences if left undone. Each week in your year can hold only so many of your rocks, pebbles and sand; be strategic and proactive about which items you choose to give your limited time. As indicated in the video at http://youtu.be/6_N_uvq41Pg, if we each allocate time for what’s most important first, we’re more likely to have more time to accomplish much more of the rock, pebble and sand items that we desire.

In these last few weeks of 2014, it’s important to clarify your rocks, pebbles and sand, creating the habit of scheduling each week with time allocated for rocks before pebbles before sand. To determine your business’ rocks, it is imperative to be clear about what are your company’s priorities and goals. Jumpstart this analysis and move towards clarity on your priorities with these strategic-planning questions:

1. What is the one thing your organization did best this year, and what is needed to repeat that success?

2. What is the one thing your organization most needs to improve, and what must happen to fix it?

3. Which groups or individuals have prevented your organization from reaching its greatest possible success, and what can be done to remove that hurdle?

4. Which groups or individuals were most responsible for your organization’s successes this year, and how can those folks be shown appreciation while encouraging that success to be repeated in the new year?

5. What performance metric has been falling below expectations, and what can be done to correct that?

6. What performance metric most closely reflects whether your organization is operating successfully?

7. Which products or services offered by your organization are most profitable? Least profitable? How can business operations be more aware of the profitability aspect for what products and services are offered?

8. What resources can help team members better achieve the organization’s goals, like networking, administrative support, technological tools or more streamlined processes?

9. About what results are you most passionate, excited and motivated? How can you focus more intently on that specific facet of your organization?

10. What areas of your business can be outsourced or automated to achieve better results in other areas?

From your answers to these questions, you can deduce which areas of your business rank as your highest priorities headed into the new year. Create a goal for each of the determined priorities; then, make sure that each goal is supported by SMART objectives, meaning they are Specific (targeting an exact area that is to be improved), Measurable (able to quantify progress), Assignable (have specified who will complete), Realistic (associated with results that can realistically be achieved with available resources) and Time-related (to be achieved by a specified deadline). 

Heading into a new year means a blank slate, and focusing your actions on your personal and professional priorities can lead to outstanding outcomes; however, it can also mean changes to your existing behaviors or habits, which is challenging. As opportunities come your way that are not aligned with your priorities, it will be important that you are armed with ways to say “no”… Here are a few examples:

- Let go of the kind of work you do not want to be spending your time on by saying “Unfortunately, I simply don’t have time for that right now”, which opens space for doing the work that really deserves your time.

- If someone approaches you with an idea, venture or suggestion in which you are interested but you just don’t have the bandwidth to consider it at this particularly busy time, say that this is a busy time for you, and ask that they contact you again after whatever date you specify as being a less busy time; this approach avoids your overwhelm by putting the ask back on the asker’s to-do list.

- Although you never owe the other person more explanation than you feel comfortable giving, if you choose to elaborate a bit more, you can always say “I’d love to, but I’ve got other commitments right now”, and feel free to explain to whatever degree you prefer what those other commitments might be.

- You can always choose the more direct approach, saying “It’s a no, I’m afraid, but thanks for asking me."

- Whenever you are overwhelmed by your current commitments and turning down a new alternative, I find it very successful to be upfront and clear about your state of overwhelm; examples of this approach include “I’ve got too much on my plate right now” or “Bandwidth is low so I won’t be able to make it work."

Whenever you are offering a “no" response, it should always be truthful, firm and not overly apologetic or explanatory; once you’ve made the decision to say “no”, try to not overthink it and always take action.

ASSIGNMENT: Visit http://youtu.be/tls8uNfeBao to see a video related to this blog post; then, this week, take time to answer the aforementioned strategic-planning questions, deducing what your priorities might be. Practice scheduling your week to focus more intently on your priorities, and brainstorm goals as well as SMART objectives associated with those priorities. Make time in your schedule for what matters most.

What are your priorities, goals and objectives? How do you make time for what’s most important? How do you move away from opportunities that do not fit your priorities?

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Making A Difference Against the #1 Cancer-Killer

As we come to the end of Lung Cancer Awareness Month, I am reminded of the impact this dreadful disease has on so many friends, families and loved ones. Like my father, many have Americans have their lives cut much too short by lung cancer, the #1 cancer-killer of all Americans, men and women alike... As you can see below, the statistics regarding lung cancer are troubling, and we must act to change these:

- Every 2 minutes an American is diagnosed with lung cancer.

- Every 3 minutes an American dies from lung cancer.

- Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States of America as well as in North Carolina, taking more lives than breast, prostate and colorectal cancers COMBINED; only heart disease takes more lives than lung cancer.

- Lung cancer takes the lives of almost twice as many women when compared with breast cancer and three times as many men when compared with prostate cancer.

- 1 in every 3 Americans have been touched by lung cancer, whether diagnosed themselves or by knowing someone who has had lung cancer.

- 1 in every 14 Americans will be diagnosed with lung cancer.

- If you have lungs, you can get lung cancer: 18% of those diagnosed with lung cancer have never smoked, and 61% of those diagnosed with lung cancer are former smokers that have quit smoking, many of whom quit decades ago. Only 21% of lung cancer patients were smoking when diagnosed.

- Although lung cancer can be caused by smoking, there are many other causes, too, like exposure to radon, second-hand smoke, genetic susceptibility, radiation therapy, asbestos, cadmium, arsenic and diesel fumes.

- It is important for folks to be in tune with their bodies to know when something is wrong; use the acronym of BREATHE to explain symptoms associated with having lung cancer...
--- Blood in cough
--- Recurring respiratory infections
--- Enduring cough that is new or different
--- Ache or pain in shoulder, back or chest
--- Trouble breathing
--- Hoarseness or wheezing
--- Exhaustion or weakness

- While 99% of prostate patients survive 5 years or longer after diagnosis and 89% of breast cancer patients survive 5 years or longer after diagnosis, only 16% of lung cancer patients survive 5 years or longer after diagnosis, and this has been stagnant for years. We must work to keep more lung cancer patients alive longer so we have more survivors living longer, better lives.

I am very excited to report that this year's Greensboro LUNGe Forward Run, Walk and Rally had over 700 participants who have raised over $135,000 thus far, although fundraising continues through Wednesday, December 31st. Together, we truly are making a difference. There is power in numbers, and the involvement of each individual who attended or donated towards this cause is very important in decreasing deaths as well as providing support to those affected by lung cancer through research, awareness, education and access programs across North Carolina.

On behalf of myself and everyone that worked to plan this year's Greensboro LUNGe Forward Run, Walk and Rally, I send out a HUGE thank you... This event has the most wonderful planning team, filled with non-paid volunteers who work tirelessly all year long to create an event that is both enjoyable and successfully supports our mission, raising awareness and funding to make a difference against the #1 cancer-killer. This event is truly a labor of love for everyone involved!

If you, too, want to help with #LUNGeForward5K, feel free to make a tax-deductible donation at http://bit.ly/FightLC or learn more at http://www.LungCancerInitiativeNC.org/, reviewing the "lung cancer facts", "lung cancer screening info" and "resources" under "lung cancer info" from the page's header. Remember, if you have lungs, you can get lung cancer so it's vital to know the symptoms, be aware of what's happening with your body and seek assistance if you feel like something is out of whack. Early detection makes treatment so much more effective!

Before reading this blog post, if someone had asked you about which cancer takes the lives of more women than any other, would you have guessed lung cancer? Likewise, before reading this blog post, if someone had asked you about which cancer takes the lives of more men than any other, would you have guessed lung cancer? There is so much power in knowledge so please pass this information along to anyone and everyone you know.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Counting My Blessings This Thanksgiving Holiday

In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest that is now recognized as the first Thanksgiving celebration of Americans. The event was proclaimed by Governor William Bradford in honor of the harvest reaped in the colony following a brutal winter. In 1789, President George Washington proclaimed November 26, 1789 as the first nationwide day of Thanksgiving, marking the event as a time of public prayer. Then, in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued a presidential proclamation setting aside the final Thursday in November as a day to be commemorated by all the states. On December 26, 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt signed a joint resolution of Congress to change the official day of Thanksgiving from the last Thursday to the fourth Thursday in November.

For more than two centuries, this Thanksgiving day has been honored as a time to acknowledge and express gratitude for the many benefits we have experienced.

As Oprah Winfrey said, "Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough." Just as I do each year, I reflect on all the wonderful things in my own life: fantastically supportive friends, wonderful clients who flourish as we partner for their improved productivity, a solid roof over my head with a beautiful home to surround me and an amazingly warm fireplace amidst these chilly autumn nights, opportunities to see exciting sporting events by teams for which I'm a fanatic and much more.

This year, I am even more blessed... My business is growing solidly, including national speaking engagements, expanding my services offered and adding products. I completed a comprehensive and rigorous training program to be selected as an Evernote Business Certified Consultant, and I was carefully chosen by North Carolina State University's Technology Training Solutions unit as an instructor to provide continuing education for people on how to efficiently and effectively use technology in increasing productivity while sharpening business organization skills. Plus, the 2014 Greensboro LUNGe Forward Run, Walk and Rally for which I served as Event Chairperson raised over $135,000 to decrease deaths and provide support to those affected by lung cancer through research, awareness, education and access programs across North Carolina. What amazing blessings this year!

Whether you'll be joining a large group of loved ones or celebrating in solitude, no matter if you are on the East or West Coast, whether you are up North or down South, all across the United States of America, please take time to reflect on what blessings you have.

This Thanksgiving holiday, for what are you most thankful?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Top 10 Sources for Information on Productivity, Technology and Running Your Business

While my site + my blog are obviously excellent sources of information to use in boosting your productivity, staying up to date on technology, running your business for optimal profitability and aiding your peace of mind, I spend a good bit of time culling others' information into my Evernote database as well as re-sharing via social media content from other reputable sources which I find most helpful and valuable. 

To further assist you, here are some of my favorite such resources:

- Engadget --- As described at http://www.engadget.com/about/, “Engadget is the definitive guide to this connected life.” I utilize Engadget content to stay abreast of cutting edge technological tools, focusing on how these new or evolving gadgets can most greatly benefit my life or my clients’ lives. Engadget’s claim is that “Our primary focus is on breaking news — the latest in gadgets, technology and consumer electronics. However, we’re also interested in related developments in science, the cultural impact of technological progress, geeky things that make us laugh and, yes, even stories that are old news to some but are simply too cool or interesting for us to skip”. This is a great source for the latest and greatest regarding technology.

- Entrepreneur --- This magazine and website provide advice, insight and news for established as well as aspiring entrepreneurs about entrepreneurialism, small business management and related opportunities. Per http://www.entrepreneur.com/page/225367, Entrepreneur works to inspire, inform and celebrate entrepreneurs. This source offers practical advice on starting and growing a business.

- Fast Company --- Per http://www.fastcompany.com/about-us, Fast Company offers “a unique editorial focus on innovation in technology, ethical economics, leadership and design” and works to inspire "innovative and creative thought leaders who are actively inventing the future of business". Fast Company sets out “to chronicle how changing companies create and compete, to highlight new business practices and to showcase the teams and individuals who are inventing the future and reinventing business.” This is a great source for content regarding technology, business and design.

- Huffington Post --- Founded and led by conservative-turned-liberal Arianna Huffington, this online news aggregator is a destination for content regarding world news, US politics, business, technology, entertainment, style, television, arts, books, recipes / food and comedy information. This site provides both reliable, breaking news as well as commentary and can catch you up on expansive breadth and depth of what is happening across a wide array of topics. Learn more about the community’s code of conduct and how to comment on conversations at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/p/frequently-asked-question.html.

- Inc Magazine --- For tips, advice, tools and services to help you start, run and grow your small business, the printed publication, website and social media feeds connected to the Inc brand are exceptional. As it describes itself, this is the only major publication designed exclusively to “guide CEOs and owners of small-to-midsize companies to success”. While plenty of useful information is available on its homepage, I like to visit http://www.inc.com/technology and http://www.inc.com/grow. This is a great source for information about starting up, growing your company, leading, innovations, technology and money. 

- Lifehacker --- With daily updates on its site and social media as well as annual lists to be downloaded, this source “curates tips, tricks and technology for living better in the digital age”. Lifehacker offers plenty of personal productivity and software recommendations to help you work smarter and save time. Always looking for additional content from worldwide experts, Lifehacker offers its pertinent details at http://lifehacker.com/5732066/about-lifehacker, and follow its applicable blogs for ways to get more done.

- Make Use Of --- Whether you sort the content by topics like Android, Gaming, Hardware, the Internet, iOS, Mac OS X and Windows or you reference its "top lists" of apps, software, tools and websites, there is a wealth of technology-focused information on the websites and social feeds of Make Use Of’s brand. At http://www.makeuseof.com/about/, you can learn more about this “leading destination for digital productivity tips and your guide to cool stuff on the Internet.” This source helps in using technology to boost work and play.

- Mashable --- As described at http://mashable.com/about/, “Mashable is a leading source for news, information and resources for the Connected Generation. Mashable reports on the importance of digital innovation and how it empowers and inspires people around the world.” Whether you are seeking better understanding on apps, being your most productive, gadgets, mobile devices, running a business, social media or software, Mashable offers helpful and insightful content. 

- Real Simple --- This company’s magazine, website and related products offer practical information and useful tidbits related to money, family, life strategies, technology, travel, etiquette, organizing, food and recipes, beauty, fashion, holidays, entertaining, weddings and health. I find their checklists particularly helpful, and you can subscribe to receive a daily quote that can be inspiring and amusing. Check out the Daily Finds at http://www.realsimple.com/magazine-and-more/inside-website/daily-finds for a sampling.

- Technology in Business --- This corporate brand is dedicated to promoting greater use of technology in businesses via asset management systems, technology systems, sales, marketing and business training. Per http://www.technology-in-business.net/about-us/, “technological advanced in the past few decades have greatly increased the competitive nature of business… (the site’s) aim is to continue this trend by providing… the latest information and best technologies available today.” This is a great source for information about using technology to increase productivity and to grow your business.

On a related note, I encourage you to check out Alltop as a solution for culling many of these resources together. It's an excellent tool to sort content by source, topic or how recently the information was posted.

What are your go-to blogs, social feeds, websites or publications? Do you have any go-to sources of information, particularly related to productivity, technology and running your business?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Top 10 Tips for Getting from "To-Do" to "Done"

Tips To Mark Tasks Off Your List
Whether for our occupations, running our homes, volunteer work or helping take care of those we love most in our lives, most of us have an endless list of tasks that must be completed… Yet, how can we best move those actions from “to-to” to “done” status? Here are a few useful tools and tactics to make that process a little easier.

1. When faced with a task, decide if you should "discard", "delegate", "delay" or "do" the action... Not everything must be done, and those that truly must be done don't always have to be completed by you.

2. Consider options like eLance, Fancy HandsFiverr, Task Rabbit and Thumbtack to outsource what others can complete more quickly than you can or to open time in your schedule for attacking other to-do items.

3. Strategize on what tasks can be automated via If This Then ThatPodbox or Zapier; program them into the selected solution so you can move on to something else that needs your attention.

4. Be realistic about what can be accomplished on any given day... Narrow your running to-do list into three to five tasks per day of your week; then, start each of those priorities with a verb to drive action.

5. Remember that every “what” assigned a “when” is more likely to get done. Since I've yet to find a calendar that includes “someday”, be specific about when each action will be completed and schedule enough time to make progress.

6. Complete a weekly strategy session before each week to create a game plan for (a) what carries over from the prior week, (b) what upcoming appointments require preparation and (c) what tasks must be done when. Keep in mind the importance of scheduling what’s important but not urgent related to your goals.

7. Consider an electronic task manager app because it will offer reminders, allows undone tasks to more easily carry over to later dates and can have recurrences scheduled, like Any.Do, Carrot, Remember The Milk, Pocket Informant or Wunderlist; however, know that paper lists can work if that is more in line with your personality and your workflow, particularly for those that are not mobile workers. While the options are endless, the priority is that you get things done.

8. Break larger projects into smaller, more manageable tasks to be done individually, eliminating procrastination from overwhelm or not knowing where to start. When handling many large projects, try adopting a project management tool, like Asana, Azendoo or Mavenlink.

9. If you’re having trouble getting tasks done, utilize a timer… Once you get rolling, you might not stop, you can do anything for 15 minutes or so, and shorter times can lead to an extra burst of energy.

10. Always keep in mind that your overall well-being is very instrumental for your productivity: be sure to exercise, eat well (starting with a good breakfast), get enough sleep for your needs, take time for massages and incorporate positive music in your workspace.

What have you found most helpful in your attempts to mark things off your to-do list? What tactics do you utilize for finishing tasks?

Friday, October 10, 2014

6 Powerful Takeaways from Carley Knobloch

Carley and I at Evernote Conference
One of the highlights from my trip to the Evernote conference was attending Carley Knobloch’s presentation, “Secrets of a Sometimes-Organized Working Parent”. I do not have children; however, many of the same techniques that help working parents to balance parenthood with a full-time job are applicable for balancing the many different hats that I wear and can be transferred to my clients in one-on-one consultation sessions. Plus, Carley Knobloch’s ability to convey her digital expertise in an engaging manner is just amazing. I first learned about Carley back in 2011 when her Digitwirl YouTube channel was growing attention and folks were learning how her weekly web show could make tech work for anyone. Following her path to The Today Show and beyond via her email list, I have found that Carley is a relatable individual who truly cares about helping others, which was obvious in her concurrent session that I attended.

Evernote is an excellent tool for helping anyone get more done while maintaining sanity and peace of mind, tips for which were exuding from Carley’s presentation. Here are a few of the takeaways I gathered:

“Accumulate nothing. Keep everything.” - As Carley explained, physical items pose a burden for where they will be kept and how they can be accessed whenever needed. Alternatively, when you photograph your physical items or scan your paper, uploading it all to Evernote, you alter the situation. As all you need can be accessed from anywhere at any moment via the Evernote app on any of your devices, you retain control of where you do business and when you focus on friends, family, hobbies or volunteering. In other words, you are in control of of your world instead of your world controlling you.

“Achieve work / life efficiency, not balance.” - For years, I’ve emphasized that work / life balance isn’t applicable to everyone; instead, I believe in work / life integration, but I really do like the terminology Carley introduced of work / life efficiency. As Carley explained, it’s the in-between moments that allow for getting your best work accomplished. These days, individuals are called upon to access important information and complete business transactions at any time and from any location. With Evernote, people can have any and all contacts, content and context needed from wherever at whatever time.

“Run your home like a workplace.” - In living life and working with my clients, I have found that our brains are made for thinking, not remembering, and tools like Evernote make it possible for me to remember all that I must, which is just as important for a household or non-profit committee as it is for one’s company, whether it’s repairs, cleaning supplies, insurance details, maintenance completed, paint colors, the plumber's phone number or more. As Carley reminded those in her concurrent session, systems and procedures are necessary for making any entity a well-oiled machine; further, having what information is needed at your fingertips is invaluable. Evernote is hugely helpful for sharing process documents, chore documents, key contact lists, health insurance filing rules and more so you can continue to move forward while the world swirls around you.

“Keep everyone at ease when the CEO is extracted.” - As Carley explained, “time waits for no traveling parent” so it’s important to empower those left to keep the household running with whatever answers will be needed, documenting what must happen when while you are gone and how to keep things rolling during your physical absence. Well, the same philosophy applies to any scenario where the leader will be stepping away, and Evernote is an excellent tool for sharing what answers others need. Just like you as the traveler should get an itinerary that includes travel details, confirmation numbers and appointment locations, Evernote empowers you to leave an itinerary for those staying behind, including things like what’s for dinner or who needs to be where at what time.

“Evernote is the new scrapbook.” - How many photos, keepsakes and memorabilia items do you have stored in a box in your garage or in a notebook on a shelf in your closet? As Carley explained, keeping those physical items in a manner that makes their content non-accessible is really quite nonsensical. Most of us don’t have a need for the physical item itself, but we want to enjoy its content, which is how Evernote becomes helpful. By uploading a photo or a scan of the keepsake, we can access and enjoy that content from anywhere at any time, maybe even in Evernote’s presentation mode. Further, when uploading her kids’ artwork, Carley has them add an audio explanation, which will prove especially valuable as the family looks back on their projects down the road or as a pick-me-up for Carley’s bad days.

Above all else, though, my greatest takeaway might’ve been “breathe a little and laugh a lot”, where Carley reminded all of us to “give yourself permission to make mistakes, keep chipping away at it and test things to see what works”. Life is an adventure, and living is about the process of experiencing that adventure. None of us has all the answers, and, with how rapidly technology is evolving, it can be quite the task to simply keep up with all the options available. As I tell my clients frequently, most tech tools have a free option or a trial offer, and it’s important to test them out before committing; however, the testing things out philosophy applies to so much more than just technology, and I think it’s important to never stop trying options to see what’s available to best meet your needs.

Which of Carley’s best practices resonates most with you? Are there any which are new to you that you plan to implement? 
I’d love to hear your success stories so please share below!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Evernote Announces New Ways to Boost Productivity

Evernote is a secure suite of apps that allow users to capture all sorts of content. Plus, all elements of the database are easy to sort, edit, search, share, present and fuel collaboration. Evernote’s ubiquity allows me to access the same information everywhere at the same time as it syncs all uploaded content “real time” between devices. Evernote’s mind-boggling search capabilities allow me to quickly access whatever content I’m seeking, and its sharing allows me to provide others access to various elements of my database as well as collaborate with committees, teams, clients, vendors and partners alike. Yet, what Evernote offers is getting better as I type.

CEO Phil Libin with EBCCs
On October 2-3, 2014, Evernote held its 4th annual conference in San Francisco, CA, entitled “From Inspiration to Achievement”, and CEO Phil Libin (wearing the black t-shirt and gray sports coat in the photo to the left with all of us Evernote Business Certified Consultants in attendance) demonstrated how Microsoft’s tools are outdated while Evernote is revitalizing the world of business tools, providing collaborative, productivity tools so everyone can complete “your life’s work” in this one workspace. As Libin explained, with the four key elements of work being write, collect, find and present, “we’ve gotten past typewriters, filing cabinets and desktops”. Now, Libin is positioning Evernote as each individual’s and each team’s workspace, in which folks will be able to more easily write, collect, find and present with the additions of the Scannable app, enhanced Presentation mode, Context and Work Chat as well as an amazingly advanced Web Client version that allows for incredibly enhanced focus as one is working in Evernote online. Here’s what’s out now or coming next month:

The Scannable App is a companion to the Fujitsu ScanSnap Evernote Edition Desktop Scanner, which will allow for feeding data into various folks’ mobile devices and will greatly assist in “moving paper forward”.

The enhanced Presentation mode is adding headers and footers in the layout editor, allows the presenter to make edits simultaneously as sharing the content, will make it easier to create a table of contents, automatically sets page breaks that can be changed by the presenter and makes meetings less terrible by boosting collaboration, enhancing information sharing and driving discussions.

Context understands that people don’t write, collect, find or present in a vacuum so Evernote will use augmented intelligence to provide Premium and Business users what’s needed for being more productive, showing as needed other notes, people’s LinkedIn profiles and relevant new articles from CrunchBase, Factiva, Fast Company, Inc, LinkedIn, Pando, TechCrunch and the Wall Street Journal.

Work Chat aims to refine the connection between working and communicating, allowing you to see who’s viewing the same note at the same time and empowering you to start a chat with team members, sharing notes within that particular chat; users will have real-time collaboration and rely less on email for doing today's work.

The overhauled Web Client addresses what issues have always plagued accessing Evernote online, offering a simple, elegant and powerful platform to eliminate distractions while working; users will get formatting only as needed and includes beautiful search functionality.

With concurrent sessions focused on “Using Evernote to Reduce Overhead, Build a Smarter Team and Get More Done”, “Creating a More Productive Workday with Evernote”, “Effortless Teamwork: Using Evernote for Seamless Workflows”, “Merging Your Paper and Digital Worlds” and “Building the Success Habit with Evernote”, this conference was clearly focused on empowering Evernote users with a tool to be their new workspace, better enabling everyone worldwide to more easily complete their life’s work.

About which of the new offerings are you most excited? 
Further, how do YOU use Evernote now?