Redesign Productivity: 50 Ways to Create a Motivational Workspace

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 7:02pm by Site Administrator

The environment in which you work can have a profound effect on your level of motivation. Everything from the color of your walls to the way you position your desk can make an impact. Follow these 50 tips to improve your workspace, and you’ll be taking steps toward more productivity and motivation.

Feng Shui

Follow this ancient Chinese practice of arranging objects to create harmony.

  1. Sit in a commanding position: In feng shui, the commanding position is one where you’re supported from behind and open from the front, so this means you’ll work facing the entrance to your work area.
  2. Incorporate water into your office: Water features will keep you in tune with your desires and help you better become motivated to meet your goals.
  3. Keep your doorway clear: Make sure you don’t obstruct your doorway, or you’ll block the flow of positive energy.
  4. Look to inspiration: Don’t arrange your workspace so that you’re looking at clutter or unnecessary objects.
  5. Define your personal area: Use a door or alert bell to make a clear definition of where your workspace begins and ends.
  6. Rearrange your office frequently: Frequent changes in your work environment will keep you alert and on the ball.
  7. Draw attention to your achievements: Place your diplomas and awards in a prominent area to remind yourself of what you’ve accomplished.
  8. Create a balance: Follow a balance of yin and yang, with light and dark colors, hard and soft surfaces, and more.
  9. Place symbols of goals in your area: Create something that is symbolic of your goal, and place it at a high level.

Decluttering

One sure-fire way to feel better in your work environment is to clear out junk. Follow these tips to de-clutter your way to a better workspace.

  1. Corral your gear: Make sure that all of your cords, devices, and tools all have a specific place.
  2. Create a calendar: Instead of using sticky notes and scribbled papers, keep all of your important dates together in a calendar.
  3. Adopt a to-do list notebook: Just like the calendar, a notebook can make it easy to cut down on having lots of different papers around.
  4. File: When you do have extraneous papers, make sure that there’s a home for them in your file cabinet.
  5. Create a system for paper: Decide what the process is for dealing with bills, letters, and more.
  6. Bulletin board: Use a bulletin board to corral important notices and keep them off of your desk.
  7. Create zones: If your work requires a few different tasks, create a station just for that task filled with all of the supplies you need. Good examples of work zones would be for shipping or reading.
  8. Throw away old magazines: Stop letting old magazines accumulate after you’ve read them. Instead, clip important pieces out, and scan or file them.

Comfort

A comfortable workplace is a productive one. Take these steps to make sure you feel good in your work area.

  1. Listen to music: Use music to create a relaxing atmosphere.
  2. Eliminate loud noises: Avoid interruptions by choosing a workspace that’s far away from neighbors, TVs, and other sources of noise.
  3. Add family photos: Add a touch of home and remind yourself what you’re working for with family photos.
  4. Make it smell good: Use aromatherapy to add a nice ambiance as well as motivate.
  5. Choose an area with good ventilation: Keep yourself from feeling stagnant by choosing an area that provides lots of air flow.
  6. Add a few pillows and blankets: In your reading area, keep a few pillows and blankets to make it cozy.

Equipment

Make these changes in your equipment to turn your workspace into the ultimate motivation zone.

  1. Get a nice chair: These days, a good chair is vitally important, especially if you spend a lot of time on the computer.
  2. Task lighting: Take it easy on your eyes by using lamps and other lighting to focus specifically on the task at hand.
  3. Ambient lighting: Use indirect ambient lighting to reduce glare on your eyes.
  4. Keep important items close: Make sure that you keep any frequently-used items, like a phone, close to your workspace.
  5. Reading chair: Use a separate, comfortable chair to create a zone made just for reading.
  6. Bookshelf with helpful references: Keep your knowledge close to you with a bookshelf filled with all of the references you need.
  7. Use a fan: Keep your temperature right where it needs to be so you don’t stagnate.

Environment

Take these tips into consideration when planning your work environment.

  1. Create a personal style: Your workspace needs to follow your own style, or you’ll feel like you’re working in someone else’s office.
  2. Use natural light: Stay in sync with day and night with a window for natural light.
  3. Add art: Introduce paintings or other pieces of art that make you feel great for added motivation.
  4. Choose a color: Adopt an inspiring color for your space. A popular color is green because it’s the color of money.
  5. Use a separate room: Get privacy and your own space to let your mind go into a work zone by choosing a room to be used solely as a workspace.
  6. Plants: Foster the growth of living, oxygen-generating plants so that you can grow with them.
  7. Give every object a home: Things won’t pile up if there’s a specific place for each type of item.

Ergonomics

Carefully follow ergonomic guidelines to avoid injuring yourself.

  1. Ensure that you have adequate lumbar support: Reduce stress on your lower back with a good chair, and you’ll be more productive and healthy.
  2. Place your feet on the floor: Ensure that your feet rest on the floor, using a footrest if necessary.
  3. Protect your upper body: Ensure that your arms, elbows, neck, and shoulders are all in a comfortable position.
  4. Reduce glare: Make it easy on your eyes by eliminating or reducing glare.

House Rules

Set a few rules about your workspace to carefully preserve your motivation and productivity.

  1. Establish "Do Not Disturb" times: During specific times of the day, turn off everything and focus only on the task at hand.
  2. Avoid letting things pile up on the floor: Don’t let clutter take over your office, or you’ll find it to be a drain on your energy.
  3. Never use your workspace for storage: It’s tempting to use a secondary room for junk, but it will be distracting, especially if it’s not related to your work.
  4. Always turn off your computer: Symbolically turn off your day by turning off your computer when you’re done every evening.
  5. Make your office a sacred space: Make sure that friends, family and neighbors know that your workspace is for work only.
  6. Never eat at your desk: Avoid eating at your desk both for cleanliness and productivity.
  7. Never use your workspace for play: Train your mind to get into work mode whenever you sit at your desk by avoiding recreational activities while in your workspace.
  8. Always clear your desk: Never leave a messy desk, or you’ll leave the troubles of today piled up for tomorrow.
  9. If it doesn’t have a function, you don’t need it: Make sure that everything in your workspace serves a purpose, or you don’t need it.

CRM for Freelancers: 26 Tips a One-Man-shop Can Use to Make More Money

Tuesday, October 12, 2010 at 6:06pm by Site Administrator

As a freelancer, you’re probably used to managing several projects at once. You’ve gotten the hang of prioritizing, scheduling, and making deadlines. While the overall outcome of your work is vital to your business, maintaining strong relationships with your clients is just as important. To help you out, we’ve put together a crash course in arming yourself with the practical tools you’ll need to stay connected.

Tools

 

  1. Freshbooks: Manage your invoices quickly and efficiently with Freshbooks, an online program that helps you notify your clients of new payments and project updates.
  2. Highrise: With Highrise, you’ll avoid scrolling through massive e-mail lists to find records of all your communication history. Keep track of your client chats with this handy tool.
  3. Salesforce.com: Salesforce.com is a comprehensive toolkit for client relationship management, but it costs much less than traditional CRM packages.
  4. Backpack: Keep track of to-do lists, deadlines, and contact information with Backpack. Activate the alerts option to notify of important dates or appointments.
  5. Essential PIM: This inclusive program offers a free version, so don’t worry about shelling out extra cash just to stay organized
  6. Core FTP: This free download allows you and your clients to take advantage of file sharing, editing, and transfer capabilities.
  7. ProjectStat.us: Sign up for a free account, and start updating clients on each project’s progress.
  8. Box: Allow your clients to access files so you won’t have to keep from faxing and e-mailing all day long.
  9. Jewelboxing: Burn your assignments onto CDs and DVDs with the help of Jewelboxing and send them to your clients. Trust us, they’ll be impressed.
  10. 8apps: 8apps takes online social networking to the next level. Make your clients feel loved by checking in on them frequently, updating them with project information and collaborating on assignments with 8apps’ easy-to-use features.
  11. Goplan: Use Goplan to chat with clients and vendors, share your calendar and to-do list, and more.
  12. eFax: Continue to connect with your clients in a paper-free format. eFax allows you to "fax by e-mail."
  13. Relenta CRM: Forget about all those pricey CRM software tools. Relenta CRM simplifies client management software so that you can afford to connect with your clients.

Resources

 

  1. Free CRM: Gain access to software programs that assist you with managing databases, contact lists, and more.
  2. Up Close and Personal: This resource will guide you through the basics of client relationship management with its training, video tour, reference guide, and support section.
  3. BoldChat: BoldChat offers a fantastic way to keep in touch with customers. More advanced than a generic instant messaging system, Boldchat also offers a live support solution for your customers.
  4. SalesPro CRM: Signing on as a single user will grant you affordable access to SalesPro, one of the best CRM hosting services out there.
  5. The CRM Toolkit 3.1: Follow this link to a free download of The CRM Toolkit 3.1.
  6. Stay Connected SOC: Send out cards to your clients for all kinds of occasions.
  7. Zoho Meeting: Set up Web conferencing solutions with Zoho.
  8. Xing: Search for new customers with Xing, an innovative approach to making online connections.
  9. MindMeister: Let your customers feel like they’re contributing to the creative process with the help of MindMeister. Add as many users as you want and start brainstorming. The basic subscription is totally free.
  10. Biz-Plan: Your customers will appreciate your organization when you use Biz-Plan. Create a separate business plan for each project, or develop an ongoing strategy for your overall freelance career.
  11. Comodo: Give your clients peace of mind with Comodo. This secure e-mail service will assure them that all their creative and financial information is safe from hackers.
  12. Spongecell Calendar: Spongecell features an attractive way to share your calendar with clients and contacts. Invite your business associates to leave comments, RSVP, and more!
  13. Moo: Use Moo to custom-designed postcards, business cards, and other print items for your clients.

Client relationship management can be tough to maintain if you’re juggling several different projects by yourself. Use these tools and resources to help you create solid connections with each of your clients.

17 Ways to Stop Being a Perfectionist and Get More Done

Wednesday, October 29, 2008 at 5:47pm by Site Administrator

Although sometimes it may seem like it, no one is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes and has at least a few faults. And while it may seem like a noble goal, striving to be a perfectionist in your work or personal life can actually be more of a hindrance than a help in making you successful. Focusing on making every detail perfect can end up making you get less done, not to mention leave you in a constant state of anxiety. These are a few ways you can stop worrying so much about being perfect, enjoy your work, and still get plenty done in a day.

  1. Set realistic expectations. While it might be wonderful to finish your current project, start another, get new clients and keep up with all your household chores, the reality is that expectations like that aren’t always realistic. There’s no sense in making yourself feel bad by setting yourself up to fail. You don’t have to be perfect to be productive, so give yourself expectations that are something you can actual accomplish, you can always add on more later if you get ahead of schedule.
  2. Give yourself credit. When you set goals for yourself, it’s easy to let yourself concentrate on the things that you haven’t accomplished instead of those you have gotten done. Give yourself some credit for the milestones and small parts of projects that you get done along the way.
  3. Accept that you will make mistakes. While it might be hard for the true perfectionists out there, you can get a lot more done if you recognize that no matter what it is you’re doing, there are going to be some mistakes that you’ll make along the way. Accept this, and use these as valuable learning experiences to be better in the future instead of beating yourself up over them.
  4. Ask for help. Though you might feel it’s a blow to your pride, asking for help doesn’t make you weak or incompetent. Sometimes having an outside perspective or a little extra help can make all the difference.
  5. Focus on the present. It can be easy to get caught up in worrying about past mistakes or things that are looming in the future that may never even happen. Instead of trying to perfect your past and future, concentrate on doing what you need to do now to make yourself happy or get more work done.
  6. Just get it done. Getting things done perfectly is great, but just getting them done period isn’t too bad either. Focus more on the action of getting things done instead of putting so much effort into worrying about doing each thing perfectly.
  7. Relax. When you tense up because you’re worried or nervous about being less than perfect, you can make work a completely miserable and stressful experience. Just relax instead. Even if things don’t turn out perfectly, chances are good that things won’t be nearly as bad as you imagine.
  8. Focus on the big picture. Perfectionists tend to focus on the little details, nitpicking every tiny aspect of a project, making it take much longer than it should. Let go of the small things so you can focus on the bigger aspects of your projects.
  9. Give yourself permission. It can be hard to stop looking at things through the eyes of a perfectionist. You can start by giving yourself permission to be less than perfect and stop thinking of yourself as a failure when you don’t meet your own expectations.
  10. Silence your inner critic. That nagging voice inside your head that tells you your work isn’t good enough can drive you to work harder, but it can also drive you crazy trying to achieve impossible perfection. Replace those negative comments with with positive encouragement instead.
  11. Realize that someone can always find fault. You could spend hours tweaking a design, website or paper and no matter how much you do to it, someone can still come along and find fault. Everyone’s idea of perfection is different, so understand that no matter how perfect you make something it will never be safe from criticism. Realize this and you’ll be more willing to give yourself a bit of a break.
  12. Use it as a motivational tool. Perfectionism doesn’t have to be totally bad. Sometimes it can be a great motivational tool in pushing you forward. The trick is knowing where to draw the line between productive thinking and destructive thinking. If you find your work making you more miserable than happy, then chances are you’ve crossed the line and need to take a step back.
  13. Stop comparing yourself to others. It’s fine to have someone to look up to, but constantly comparing yourself to others can ultimately be self destructive behavior. Do the best you can do, not the best someone else can do.
  14. Don’t overanalyze. Planning, preparation, and going over your work can be good things, but when you start overanalyzing things to the point that you don’t get started or finished with anything is counterproductive. Remember that it doesn’t matter how great something is if it’s only half done.
  15. Lighten up. Your work may not be a joke but that doesn’t mean you have to treat it as a humorless endeavor. Lighten up and you will be less willing to get bogged down in making everything perfect.
  16. Learn to take criticism. No matter how perfect your work may seem, you’ll likely get some amount of criticism from users or clients. Learn to take these kind of comments as ways to make your work better, not as attacks on you personally.
  17. Stop procrastinating. Though it might seem odd, perfectionism can often lead to procrastination. If you find yourself reluctant to start projects until you can do them just right or until you have the perfect idea you’re likely letting your perfectionism get in the way of getting things accomplished. Just get started, you can always go back and revise later if you don’t like what you’ve gotten done.

Taming your inner perfectionist can be a long and hard fought battle, but it can be worth it in the end if you feel better both about your work and yourself. You’ll avoid loads of frustration, self imposed guilt trips, and maybe even get more done.

102 Ways to Slow Down Aging

Friday, January 18, 2008 at 4:21pm by Site Administrator

Even the young at heart can’t escape the slow progression into old age. This inevitability doesn’t have to be an entirely bad thing, however, as with each one of those wrinkles and gray hairs comes a little bit of wisdom. While you can’t stop your body and mind from aging, you can help to slow down the process and keep yourself in the best health possible. Here are a few tips to help keep you healthy as you age.

Skincare

Your skin is your body’s largest organ, and the one that frequently is hit hardest by your lifestyle. Here are some tips on helping your skin to age gracefully.

  1. Drink plenty of water. Find a real fountain of youth in a glass of water. Drinking water moisturizes your skin from the inside out. Water is also essential to maintaining elasticity and suppleness and helps prevent dryness, making your skin look young and fresh longer.
  2. Always use sunscreen. Few things age your skin more quickly than overexposure to sunlight. Any time you’re going outside, make sure to apply sunscreen to your face and arms and try to avoid extended exposure during the hottest parts of the day in the afternoon.
  3. Reduce your exposure to pollution. The air is full of harmful toxins and chemicals that can damage your skin, especially if you live in a big city or sit through traffic jams every day. Try to reduce the amount of time you expose yourself to pollutants.
  4. Use an anti-aging moisturizer. Moisture is important to maintaining young skin, so make sure to keep yours looking as good as it can by using a moisturizer daily. Get one with an added bonus of anti-aging ingredients.
  5. Exfoliate. Get rid of the surface layer of dead skin on your face by exfoliating. As you get older, it will become increasing important to slough off these dead cells. It will help reduce the appearance of fine lines and help your skin to look younger and more glowing.
  6. Stop all that frowning. Stress affects all parts of your body, your skin included. Continued frowning, furrowing of brows, and just general unhappiness can cause you to age prematurely.
  7. Choose a good cleanser. Keeping your face clean is an integral part of keeping it looking young. Use a gentle cleanser to wash dirt, pollutants, and other impurities away.
  8. Wear sunglasses. Squinting into the sunlight won’t do your eyes or your skin any favors. When you go out in the sun, toss on a pair of your favorite shades to save your eyesight and avoid worsening crow’s feet and fine lines.
  9. Don’t use straws. Believe it or not, the pursing of the facial muscles used to drink from a straw can cause wrinkles, just like smoking. So drink your beverages straight from a glass.
  10. Avoid harsh chemicals. The harsh chemicals in many cleansers and facial products can dry out skin and make you look older than you are. Keep your skin looking young by avoiding chemical laden products. Go organic or use products with a more gentle recipe.
  11. Take some lecithin. Lecithin is substance that is found in the cells of all living organisms. When taken as a supplement, it can help soften skin and help other skin preserving elements better penetrate the surface.
  12. Use products with natural oils. Unless you have oily skin naturally, using products with natural oils added can help your skin look more moisturized and supple. They can also help hold in moisture and keep your skin from drying out.
  13. Pay special attention to skin around the eyes. The skin around your eyes is more delicate and sensitive than that on the rest of your body, so you should treat it with more care than the rest of your face. Use products that contain gentle, non-irritating compounds that are oil free and that will plump and add vitamins to your skin.
  14. Try a moisturizer containing retinol. Retinol is a form of vitamin A and it’s used in a variety of anti-aging products. Applied topically, retinol should increase the rate of skin turnover and collagen production, giving skin a more youthful appearance

Lifestyle

How you choose to live your life day-to-day can have a big impact in your health in years to come. Here are some ways you can change your lifestyle to keep feeling young.

  1. Get plenty of sleep. Not getting enough sleep may be doing more harm than just making you groggy at your morning meetings. It can also accelerate aging by hindering your metabolism and hormone production, which can put you at higher risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and even memory loss. While everyone’s sleep needs are different, average people need about eight hours to feel fully rested.
  2. Reduce stress. Everyone experiences a little stress now and again, but chronic, long-term stress can age you prematurely and even make you sick. Recent studies have shown that stress shortens the life span of cells, thereby shortening your life span as well. Cut back on the stressors in your life to stay healthier and happier.
  3. Have sex. Most people don’t need much additional motivation to engage in sexual activity, but an added bonus is that it could be helping you stay young as well. Sex boosts endorphins, triggers the release of growth hormones that improve bone strength, and has even been shown to slow aging and reduce wrinkles.
  4. Keep laughing. The ability to find humor even when things are getting you down could be a key factor in helping you look and feel younger. Find ways to put a smile on your face every day.
  5. Quit smoking. You’ve heard it time and time again, but it bears repeating: stop smoking. The sooner the better. Smoking accelerates aging, causes wrinkling, and makes you look and feel older.
  6. Treat your body like a temple. You only get one body to work with, so treat yours with respect. Eat well, exercise, and avoid putting harmful substances into your body. It may not give you eternal youth, but it sure won’t hurt.
  7. Be an optimist. Research has shown that those with a positive outlook on life actually live longer and feel like they have more productive lives than those with more negative outlooks. Those with optimistic dispositions are less prone to illness, too. So the next time you feel yourself slipping into a foul mood, count your blessings and take a look at the bright side.
  8. Turn off the TV. Sitting in front of the TV might by entertaining, but it’s not challenging your body or your mind. Instead of spending your evenings watching the latest reality shows, take a walk, get some exercise, or just talk to your friends and family.
  9. Keep a daily schedule. Getting into a routine of when you go to bed, get up, eat, and exercise can help you feel happier and healthier. It can help you stick to healthy habits and help your body get into a reliable rhythm.
  10. Be flexible. You’ll save yourself loads of stress and maybe even a few gray hairs if you adopt a more flexible attitude about day-to-day events. Things may not always turn out how you planned, but being able to work with these changes instead of against them can help take a great weight off your shoulders.
  11. Nurture positive relationships. Human beings are inherently social animals, and part of our well-being depends on having others we can rely on and relate to in our lives. Cultivate relationships with those who share similar outlooks, hobbies, and a love of life as you do.
  12. Go to the doctor. If you are having unexplained pains, unusual symptoms or just don’t feel right, getting yourself to a doctor promptly could help you out in the long run. Even if you don’t have any symptoms, you should get yearly physicals and exams as well. Getting early medical treatment is key to curing many diseases.
  13. Don’t be a worrywart. Meditating on things that are wrong or that are troubling you can stress you out, making you get less sleep, feel bad and generally aging you more quickly. Do what you can to better situations that worry you, then let them go. Worrying about things you can’t change won’t help, and the stress will show in your face.
  14. Brush your teeth. Keeping your teeth healthy not only makes you look younger but can help you more easily eat nutritious foods. Brushing and flossing and seeing a dentist regularly can help keep your teeth in good chomping condition.
  15. Check your cholesterol. While all cholesterol isn’t bad, having an excess amount of it in the body can injure your blood vessels and make you more prone to heart attacks and strokes. Have your levels checked by your doctor regularly so you can take measures to correct this problem
  16. Slow down. You might feel like you need to rush around to get everything done, but the constant stress of an overly busy lifestyle can take its toll on your body and mind. Take a moment to slow down, stop, and appreciate the smaller things in life every once in awhile.
  17. Enjoy the ride. Getting older is a fact of life, more inevitable than even those pesky taxes. So, do what you can to make your journey comfortable and enjoy the new experiences that come along with every stage of your life.
  18. Stay young at heart. You might be getting older, but you hold off on feeling older by keeping in touch with your inner child. Don’t lose your sense of wonder or enjoyment at the world around you.
  19. Take a vacation. There isn’t much point in getting that raise or putting in those extra hours of work if you don’t get to enjoy the benefits. Give yourself a break now and then to rest and rejuvenate. Your body and mind will appreciate it.
  20. Find someone to love. Whether it’s your spouse, a child, your parents, a friend or even a pet, having a person you love and that loves you back can have an incredibly positive impact on your health and well being.
  21. Don’t let misfortunes take over. Bad things happen in everyone’s life, but don’t dwell on the negative. Give yourself a chance to grieve, be sad, or mourn things you’ve lost, but don’t let that become your entire life. Deal with them and move on to happier experiences.
  22. Start now. The best time to start working on keeping yourself feeling younger is right now. No matter how old you are it’s never too late to make positive changes in your life that will affect your well being and overall health.
  23. Lose some weight. Obesity has been found to greatly accelerate the aging process and make you look much older than you actually are. Not everyone can be supermodel thin, but everyone can reach a weight that is healthy for them.
  24. Get a pet. Pets do more than just keep you company. Pet owners tend to visit the doctor less, recover from heart attacks more quickly, and have fewer problems with depression and high blood pressure.
  25. Be careful. Conscientious people have been shown to live longer than those that are more careless and impulsive. They’re also less prone to Alzheimer’s. It may not be in your nature, but it could be to your benefit to put more thought and consideration into your decisions.
  26. Get checked for diabetes. Many people, especially those with a family history of the disease, can become at risk for diabetes as they get older. If you feel that you might be exhibiting some of the symptoms, make a trip to your doctor to find out so you can begin working to reverse some of the effects of the disease.
  27. Learn your family history. Family history plays a big role in whether or not you’ll develop a wide variety of illnesses. Find out what your parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents had if anything so you can get tested and plan accordingly to reduce your chances of getting ill yourself.
  28. Be proactive. As you grow older, it’s very important to get checked for colon, breast, testicular and cervical cancers, among others. Make annual trips to your doctor to undergo screening. Finding out early on can help you more effectively fight the disease.

Diet

Traditional wisdom states that we are what we eat, so make sure what you take in will make you healthy. Here are some foods and diet tips to help you look and feel healthier.

  1. Limit drinking. A glass of wine now and then won’t do you much harm, but drinking to excess can catch up with you. Limit your alcohol intake to one or two drinks a day to keep your liver and heart healthy.
  2. Have an apple a day. An apple a day really might keep the doctor away. New research has shown that the anti-oxidants and flavinoids in apple can help prevent Alzheimer’s and other degenerative brain diseases as well as help prevent cancer and diabetes.
  3. Cut out excess fat. Cutting out bad fats in your diet can help reduce your risk of heart disease, obesity, and many other diseases. If you’re going to eat fats, try to get more of the good, unsaturated kind.
  4. Up your fiber intake. Complex carbohydrates like fibers found in fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, and bran can have more than a positive affect on your digestive system. They can also help you feel more full, improve control of diabetes, and even lower cholesterol.
  5. Have a little vitamin A. Vitamin A is an integral part of cell restoration and growth of new skin cells, but it is a vitamin that needs to be taken in moderation as too much can actually cause damage to internal organs. Foods high in vitamin A are milk, egg yolks, carrots and dark leafy-green vegetables.
  6. Eat your veggies. Studies have shown that eating vegetables can help slow the rate of cognitive decline. Eating about 3 servings of veggies a day can help reduce your rate of decline by up to 40%. So make sure to include vegetables as part of your daily diet.
  7. Get your organosulfurs. Foods high in organosulfurs include garlic, onions, leeks, chives, broccoli, and cauliflower. It is believed that these foods, and the organosulfurs they contain help the body to fight off cancer, heart disease and stroke.
  8. Eat breakfast. Start your day the right way with a healthy breakfast. Eating more calories in the morning and during the middle of the day leaves less unburned calories when you go to bed, leading to less weight gain, and a healthier life for you.
  9. Enjoy tea time. Green tea is rich in antioxidants which can help fight the damaging and aging effect of free radical oxygen in your body. Have a cup a day to relax and get your vitamins in liquid form.
  10. Eat foods rich in antioxidants. While you may not be consciously aware of it, your body is under constant attack from free radicals, molecules that are generated during the process of oxidation. Studies have shown that substances that fight these molecules, known as antioxidants, can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, improve arthritis, reduce wrinkles, and even improve brain function.
  11. Make sure you have enough calcium. Calcium is a key component to strong bones and teeth, two things that you definitely don’t want deteriorating. Keep them strong by taking calcium supplements or by getting your calcium through foods rich in it.
  12. Try organics. Don’t take in any chemicals you don’t need to. Pesticides, hormones, and herbicides can have unpredictable effects on your body, even in small quantities. When possible, buy organic produce to reduce your exposure to these.
  13. Make eating enjoyable. Just because you aren’t loading up on fast food and cookies at each meal doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be able to enjoy eating. Eating healthy should be an experience that’s not just good for you but delicious as well, as good food is one of the great pleasures in life. Even the most adamant of veggie haters can find a way to eat them, so try out new things and see what works for you.
  14. Get some phytochemicals. Phytochemicals, like those found in broccoli, other green veggies and fish are powerful anti-inflammatory agents. Inflammation, when it’s chronic, can damage arteries, nerve cells, and ultimately your immune system as a whole, so battle it by eating healthy.
  15. Take a vitamin E supplement. Vitamin E is a powerful age-fighting antioxidant, but one that isn’t easy to get from diet alone. Try taking a supplement containing the valuable vitamin to help you fight off the early signs of aging, especially when taken in conjunction with an exercise program.
  16. Consume more fish. Fish are full of omega-3s, which are great for helping keep your heart healthy. Societies with high levels of fish consumption have much lower levels of heart disease and lower blood pressure. Health organizations recommend 2 servings a week.
  17. Have some red wine. Red wine contains resveratrol, a substance that has been linked to reduction in the risk of cancer, atherosclerosis, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. While you’d have to drink quite a bit of wine to get the full benefits of this substance, having a glass or two at dinner has still been shown to reduce the risk of several heart related illnesses by thinning the blood and reducing the risk of dangerous clots.
  18. Cut back on the caffeine. A little bit of caffeine here and there won’t hurt you, but finishing off a whole pot of it by yourself on a daily basis just might. Caffeine might give you a pick-me-up in the morning, but consuming too much can put you at risk of heart problems, kidney stones, and can decrease your mineral absorption. You don’t have to cut it out of your diet altogether, but limiting yourself can help prevent many age related illnesses.
  19. Have some dark chocolate. Research at Tufts University has shown that dark chocolate may help lower your blood pressure, not to mention that it contains beneficial antioxidants that can help slow down the aging process. So the next time you’re craving a sweet treat, grab a bit of dark chocolate and indulge guilt free.
  20. Take vitamin C. It’s not only an apple a day that can help keep you young, but an orange might just do the job as well. New research has shown that people who ate foods rich in vitamin C had fewer wrinkles than those that didn’t. While many factors influence wrinkling, it can’t hurt to add that glass of orange juice to your morning meal.
  21. Eat whole foods. Eating foods that are rich in vitamins, minerals, and complex carbohydrates is good for you. These kinds of foods, loaded with phytochemicals, nutrients, and other beneficial substances, can help you make the most of the nutrients you’re taking in and keep those wrinkles at bay.
  22. Eat smart fats. Not all fats are bad. In fact, some are essential to the absorption of certain vitamins and minerals. Try to avoid the artery clogging kinds of fats, and instead get more omega-3s and unsaturated fats.
  23. Reduce your caloric intake. Studies have shown that restricting your caloric intake can have a big impact on your longevity. Eating less fatty, high calorie food will keep you healthier, improve your heart, and possibly add years to your life.
  24. Eat a superfruit. Superfruits include cranberries, pomegranates, blueberries and acai. They’re loaded with antioxidants and preliminary studies have shown that drinking pomegranate juice might reduce the risk or prostate cancer and improve blood flow. And as a bonus, it’s delicious too.
  25. Avoid heavily processed foods. Processed foods are often high in salts, fats and other substances that aren’t great for a nutritious diet. They can raise blood pressure and cause you to put on weight, both things you want to avoid if your goal is feeling young.
  26. Limit sugar intake. Sugar can leech valuable minerals needed to keep your metabolism running smoothly, and can even suppress your immune system. Avoid foods high in processed sugars and you’ll reduce your risk of metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and heart disease.
  27. Embrace the food pyramid. Eating a wide variety of foods is essential to maintaining a healthy body and mind. You don’t have to be a slave to the food pyramid, but do try to use it as a guideline to what you should take in each day. Hate dairy? Get your calcium from a vegetable instead.
  28. Indulge in moderation. There isn’t much point in living out those extra years if you’re not going to enjoy them. Let yourself indulge now and again in things you love but know aren’t the best for you. Having one slice of cheesecake or the occasional fast food dinner isn’t going to ruin your health, so let loose on occasion.
  29. Get your vitamins from food when possible. You might think taking that multivitamin every morning is giving you all the nutrition you need, but you’d be wrong. Often, vitamins and minerals taken in pill form have little impact. You’ll get a much bigger effect from the same substances if you get them from foods instead. You’ll not only be getting the nutrients you need, but also eating healthier.

Exercise

Sitting on the couch isn’t going to help you keep your youthful look or feel, no matter how much you might enjoy it. These are some ways you can break your couch potato ways.

  1. Get in some cardio. Get your heart pumping with a daily cardio workout. Getting your heart rate up through exercise has been shown to slow aging through reducing cholesterol and helping you maintain heart capacity. It can also help you build muscle, burn fat, and generally feel better and more energetic.
  2. Lift weights. Cardio may get the most attention, but weight lifting is just as important to keeping your body from aging prematurely. From 40 onward your body can lose up to a quarter pound of muscle mass per year which can often be replaced with fat instead. You can help prevent this by lifting weights a few times a week which will boost your muscle mass and fight fat at the same time.
  3. Get outside. When you can, get your exercise outdoors. The fresh air will feel great, and the suns ray’s will help your body produce vitamin D, which is essential to good health.
  4. Do yoga. Yoga isn’t just good exercise, it can also help you to reduce stress. Engaging in yoga a few times a week can help reduce wrinkles, slow weight gain, ease pain, and even help you sleep better at night.
  5. Work on your balance. Many people find that as they age, good balance is one of the things that they begin to lose. Work on yours by increasing your strength and taking classes like yoga and pilates that can help you build it up.
  6. Bring a friend. Working out alone can be tedious, so bring a friend along to motivate you and keep you company. You’ll not only get in better shape, but you’ll get valuable and enjoyable social interaction at the same time.
  7. Monitor your lung volume. By the time most people reach 60 they’ve lost over 40 percent of their lung volume. You can get yours tested at your primary physician to see if it needs some improvement. An exercise program that raises your heart rate and gets you breathing hard can help improve lung function and get you some of your lung capacity back.
  8. Keep your body fat low. While you might be focused on lowering your overall weight, what is more important to watch is your percentage of body fat. Extra fat can have negative effects on your overall health, like increasing your risk of arterial clogging and diabetes.
  9. Play sports. Sports aren’t for everyone, but if you have a hard time getting motivated to work out, joining a team can be a great way to make exercising fun and social. Whether you’re playing a quick pick-up game of soccer or shooting hoops in your driveway, every little bit of activity helps you look and feel healthier.
  10. Take a walk. If you don’t feel fit enough to start exercising hardcore right off of the bat, try getting in a quick walk when you can. Even light exercise reduces you chances of getting diabetes, cancer, depression, dementia and wrinkles.
  11. Do some chores. Don’t have time to make it to the gym every day? You can still get in some physical activity by doing some chores around the house. Whether you’re sweeping, scrubbing out the tub or mowing the lawn, you’ll be burning a lot more calories than you would be sitting on the couch.
  12. Dance. Getting exercise doesn’t have to be all work and no play. You can also dance your way to feeling young and fit. Grab your significant other or your best friends and dance away. It is good exercise, can reduce stress, and can even be romantic.
  13. Stretch. Loss of flexibility is big reason many people experience so many aches and pains as they get older. Hold on to your youthful range of motion a little bit longer by stretching regularly or engaging in exercises that include it.

Mental Health

Aging can have a big impact on your cognitive abilities, so keep your brain in tip-top shape by trying out a few of these tips.

  1. Do crossword puzzles. Keep your brain in tip-top shape by engaging it daily in puzzle solving activities like a crossword puzzle or sudoku. Using these mental muscles can help improve your recall rate of all kinds of information.
  2. Read a book. Reading not only engages the brain, but it also can be a great way to learn and expand your horizons.
  3. Stay curious. Even the oldest people in the world don’t know everything there is to know about it. Always keep your curiosity about the world around you, as there is always something new to experience and learn.
  4. Never stop learning. One sure way to age your brain is to stop feeding it new information. Whether you learn from books, those around you, or even the Internet, stay engaged with things going on in the world and keep your brain on the top of its game.
  5. Keep things interesting. Don’t let yourself fall into a mental rut. If you feel like you’re living the same day over and over again, then do something to shake things up. Otherwise, you’ll start losing your mental sharpness.
  6. Challenge yourself. One way to make your day to day life more interesting is to constantly give yourself new challenges. Dare your brain to complete a puzzle or finish a short story, anything to keep it from getting dull and bored.
  7. Stay social. People with large social circles and those that feel they have others they can depend on generally enjoy longer lives and better health than those who are more solitary. Even if you only have a few close friends, spending time with them and those that you love can make you feel and think young.
  8. Listen to music. Music isn’t just entertaining, it also helps to engage your brain and improve your mood. The next time you’re sitting around in silence, try turning on your favorite tunes instead.
  9. Don’t live alone. Humans are highly social animals, and as you age, being around others, especially those who stimulate you, can do wonders for your health and well-being.
  10. Take control. Those that feel in control of their lives and their goals are generally more happy and have better mental and physical health than those who feel the opposite. Take control of your life and reap the benefits.
  11. Have a hobby. It’s important to brain health not to become bored or unchallenged by the things in your life, so pick up a hobby if you don’t already have one. Play tennis, build ships in a bottle, or anything else that stimulates your interest and gets you out of your recliner.
  12. Join a club or group. Becoming part of a group, whether it’s with a church, a community center, or just a small book club, can give you valuable social interaction as well as help you learn something new and keep your brain active and engaged.
  13. Increase oxygen flow. Increasing the flow of oxygen to the brain, like what happens during aerobic exercise, has been shown to slow the death and deterioration of brain tissue and in some cases actually causes an increase in brain volume.
  14. Stimulate your senses. Give your five senses a whirl while you still can. Aging naturally causes a decline in the senses, especially those of hearing and sight.
  15. Play a video game. Video games can act like a mental gym for aging minds. Many are full of challenging puzzles, games, and levels that will keep your brain guessing and working hard to find solutions.
  16. Engage in thoughtful conversations. While yelling matches are hardly good for you, a healthy debate is. It challenges your brain to work quickly and keeps you on your toes.
  17. Learn a language. One way to keep your brain busy is to start learning a new language. It will improve your language abilities, let you communicate with new people, make new friends, and give you a sense of accomplishment for having learned something new.
  18. Meditate. The stress hormone cortisol ages the brain, shrinking the hippocampus, the part of the brain essential to memory. Take a few minutes to calm yourself each day, focus on relaxing, and reducing your stress through meditation.

50 Tools and Resources for Freelancers During Tax Season

Thursday, January 17, 2008 at 1:01am by Site Administrator

Freelancers have a lot to worry about when it comes to taxes. Just thinking about estimated payments, deductions, and extra forms is enough to make your head spin. Oh, and did we mention that freelancers are some of the most often audited taxpayers? Let this collection of advice, tools, and resources ease your stress and get you on the right track for this year’s tax season.

Tips

There’s a wealth of tax advice out there for freelancers, and these articles represent some of the best.

  1. Tax Tips for Freelancers: This article from About.com discusses Schedule C and some of the expenses you need to track.
  2. Freelancer Tax Insights: Learn about depreciation and expenses in this helpful dialogue.
  3. Tax Tips for Freelance Writers: This discussion covers self employment taxes, deductions, and more.
  4. Freelance Tax FAQ: The Anti 9-to-5 Guide discusses deductions and more in this simple question-and-answer session.
  5. Working at Home: Kiplinger offers tax advice for freelancers and independent contractors that work at home.
  6. Freelance Tax Tips: This former CPA goes over the basics of income, deductions, and how to pay taxes.
  7. Is it Time to Upgrade Your Accounting Software?: Find out if you need to step up your software to meet your needs.
  8. 7 Things That Every Blogger Should Know About Tax: TaxGirl discusses important tax issues for bloggers that apply to nearly every freelancer.
  9. Tax Tips for Freelancers, Contractors, and Consultants: Find great ways to save on your taxes in this article.
  10. Business or Hobby? Answer Has Tax Implications: Learn about the difference between a business and a hobby, and how it affects your taxes.
  11. Planning for e-business: Don’t Forget the Financials!: This article discusses things freelancers need to know when working online.
  12. Tax Rules for Your Side Business: This article covers issues that freelancing moonlighters face.
  13. 9 Ways to Get Your Tax Return Noticed by the IRS (and that’s not a good thing): TaxGirl discusses the many ways you can get red-flagged by the IRS, and why you should avoid doing so.
  14. The Self-Employment Tax: Learn about self employment tax and estimated taxes in this article.

Accountant Advice

If you’re going to bring in a professional, check out this advice first.

  1. What’s a Reasonable Price to Pay for Having My Taxes Prepared?: This article offers a good accountant pricing guide to get started with.
  2. How to Find a Good Accountant: Get tips for finding an accountant that works for you in this article.
  3. Five Steps to Hiring a Tax Pro: Here’s what to do when it’s time to call in a professional.
  4. Building Your Small Business Accounting Team: Understand whether or not it’s necessary to hire a financial professional with this article.
  5. Tax Pros Give Bad Advice: June Walker advises self-employed taxpayers to be wary of advice from inept CPAs.

Documentation Details

Get details about keeping your papers and forms in order from these articles.

  1. What Kind of Records Should I Keep?: The IRS goes over guidelines for saving documents.
  2. Use one debit card: Lifeclever offers a useful tip to keep track of expenses.
  3. Schedule C-Reporting Business Income and Deductions: Learn about filling out the Schedule C form in this article.
  4. 8 Reasons to Ditch Your Shoebox Accounting System: The shoebox method of accounting is bad for business, and this article explains why.
  5. Freelancers, Meet Schedule C: Kipliner offers a guide to Schedule C, Schedule SE, and some ideas for lowering what you owe.
  6. Keeping Good Tax Records: Follow this guide to record-keeping, and tax time will be much easier.

Deductions

The silver lining to every freelancer’s taxes is a great opportunity for deductions. Make the most out of this opportunity by taking advice from these people.

  1. 46 Tax Deductions that Bloggers Often Overlook: Tax Girl goes over a number of deductions that bloggers and other freelancers have an opportunity to make, but often don’t think about.
  2. Can You Take a Home Office Deduction?: Freelancers who work out of their homes should pay special attention to this piece of advice.
  3. 20 Tax Deductions for Freelancers: This list goes over a number of deductions freelancers can make, including magazine subscriptions, health care, and bank fees.
  4. Convert equipment and supplies from personal to business use: June Walker discusses how you can calculate equiment deductions for materials that used to be personal.
  5. Tax Deductions A to Z for Freelance and Contract Workers: This CPA-authored book goes over relevant tax deductions for freelancers.
  6. IRS Business Expenses: Check out this guide from the IRS to better understand deductible business expenses.

Support

Get help understanding your taxes from these professionals and tax support communities.

  1. Tax Forum: Check out Tax Forum for advice from tax professionals and other freelancers.
  2. TaxGirl: This blogger offers general tax advice and answers specific questions from readers.
  3. Don’t Mess With Taxes: Texas journalist Kay Bell discusses ways to make taxes less troublesome, and even offers a handy tax calendar.
  4. IRS Small Business: Believe it or not, the IRS wants to make it easy for you to pay your taxes. Check out their small business section for guidance.
  5. June Walker: June Walker has been a tax advisor to the self employed for almost 30 years, and she’s got a wealth of information in her blog. You can also ask her a specific question.
  6. TaxHelpOnline: Get help from a tax expert on TaxHelpOnline.
  7. Fun With Taxes: Gail Perry’s Fun With Taxes offers loads of support and tools for freelance taxpayers.
  8. IRS: Free Tax Help Available: The IRS offers a number of ways to get free tax assistance, and the methods of contact are listed here.

Tools

These items come in handy during tax time and beyond.

  1. Turbo Tax: A perennial favorite, TurboTax prepares tax documents for you as you answer easy questions.
  2. H&R Block Deduction Finder: This tool from H&R Block makes it easy to find deductions related to your occupation.
  3. TaxACT: With TaxACT, you can prepare a free simple tax return, and if you want more help, their upgrade options are affordable.
  4. H&R Block TaxCut: Follow the interview in this software, and you’ll find deductions that help you get the maximum refund you deserve.
  5. TaxACT Tax Calendar: TaxACT’s calendar breaks down important dates by both month and taxpayer type.
  6. Valuation Table: This table offers low and high end valuations for commonly donated and deducted items.
  7. H&R Block Tax Tools and Calculators: Check out this calculator from H&R Block to estimate your taxes for the year.
  8. EFTPS: Enroll in this system, and you can pay your tax bill electronically.
  9. TaxBrain: TaxBrain offers web-based tax returns.
  10. Guide to Tax Tools and Calculators for Small Business: This guide offers advice and tools for freelance and small business tax payers.
  11. Tax Terms Glossary: If you’re confused by tax vocabulary, this glossary will help you understand.

75+ Tips on Becoming a Better Networker

Wednesday, January 16, 2008 at 12:26am by Site Administrator

Networking can open you up to new opportunities, relationships, and more. But you have to know what you’re doing, or your attempts may quickly become an exercise in futility. Follow these tips to sharpen your skills and make networking work for you.

The Basics

Before you can become a better networker, you’ve got to master these essentials.

  1. Always introduce yourself: Don’t get caught up in a conversation and forget to tell someone who you are. Be sure to say your name clearly and offer a business card when appropriate.
  2. Shake hands: Create a physical connection and open yourself up with a handshake.
  3. Bring lots of business cards: Never network empty-handed. Always have something to give to others for them to remember you by.
  4. Outline your goals: Have a clear plan in sight for every event or contact, and you’ll be better prepared to reap success through networking.
  5. Be genuine: No one wants to talk to someone who presents themselves awkwardly. Be authentic, and people will trust you.
  6. Stay positive: Be an energizing force to those around you, and others will be attracted.
  7. Keep a generous mindset: Don’t go to a meeting thinking about what you want. Rather, think about how you can help others, and you’ll earn what you’re looking for.

Your Body Language

When you’re meeting with others, it’s important that you convey yourself in a friendly, but professional manner. Make sure you’re communicating the right message with these body language tips.

  1. Maintain good eye contact: This should go without saying, but be sure to look a person in the eye when you’re talking to them.
  2. Smile: You should always convey that you’re a positive person, so smile and be happy.
  3. Learn forward: You don’t need to get in someone’s face, but leaning slightly foward to get closer will show then you’re interested in what they have to say.
  4. Stand confidently: No one wants to network with a person who lacks confidence. Present yourself proudly by throwing your shoulders back and standing up tall.
  5. Walk like you know where you’re going: Walking around aimlessly will just make you look silly. Even if it’s just to the bar, make sure you look like you’re going somewhere.

Choosing Groups and Contacts

You can’t, and shouldn’t, attempt to join every group possible to talk to every person you possibly can. Rather, focus on the ones that matter using these tips.

  1. Define what you’re looking for: Do you want to attend meetings for pure networking, or would you like to learn and volunteer at the same time?
  2. Visit a variety of groups: When you’re just starting out or even if you’re shaking up your networking routine, try out a number of different groups until you find a handful that work for you.
  3. Be strategic: Consider the value that each group brings, and only participate in those that offer something useful.
  4. Join a news group: Seek out a group that will keep you updated on the latest news and developments in your industry.
  5. Get targeted: Look for trade groups and meetings that have a narrow reach so you’ll be more likely to meet the right people.

Conversational Skills

Keep others engaged and interested by developing your conversational skills with these tips.

  1. Ask open-ended questions: Don’t ask questions that can be answered with yes or no-keep the conversation going with questions that beg more information.
  2. Have a concise description of yourself: Even if you’ve got your hands in a number of different industries and projects, make it easy for others to understand you in a nutshell. This will make it easier for them to refer you to others.
  3. Ask lots of questions: By asking questions, you’ll actively engage the person you’re talking to, and you just might learn something new.
  4. Be clear: Don’t make people read your mind. Ensure that the person you’re talking to knows exactly what you do and what you want from a relationship with them. Otherwise, they aren’t likely to help you.
  5. Start small: Discuss the event’s turnout or current events, and move on to more interesting topics once you’ve broken the ice.

Relationship Building

Once you’ve made inital contact, use these tips to forge strong relationships with your new networking partners.

  1. Make good: If you say you’re going to do something, do it. Whether it’s a referral, phone call, or favor, your actions reflect your strength as a networking contact.
  2. Always follow up: When you meet someone that can be a valuable networking resource, give them a call and express how much you enjoyed meeting them. This will give you an opportunity to further develop your relationship and discuss ideas that you may not have thought of in your initial meeting.
  3. Find common ground: Forge a relationship through something you have in common, whether it’s personal or professional, to stay visible.
  4. Offer something: Give people something they want, whether it’s an idea, contact, or other resource, to stay visible and helpful.
  5. Share your contacts: Become a networking node by introducing two people who can benefit from each other, and you’ll be able to both reconnect with them and deepen your relationship at the same time.
  6. Focus on quality over quantity: Don’t worry about talking to everyone in the room. Rather, seek to build relationships with the people who have something of value to offer.
  7. Go slowly: Don’t force your relationship to move too quickly. Get to know your contacts before asking them for huge favors.
  8. Offer introductions: Flatter your networking friends by taking the time to introduce them to a group of people.
  9. Form an inner circle: Once you’ve found a number of contacts, determine your inner circle and work to cultivate relationships and ask for referrals from these people more than anyone else.
  10. Find the right person: Your intial contact isn’t always the right person for what you want. Don’t be shy about asking them to introduce you to someone more appropriate.

Looking Inward

Much of networking takes place with people you don’t know too well, but strong relationships can be built upon with people you already know. Use these tips to help build your network through those that are already close by.

  1. Go to company events: You may not be crazy about golfing, but participating in your organization’s annual tournament can give you time to socialize one on one with people you may not have considered networking with.
  2. Seek out a mentor: Find an experienced friend within your company to help you build relationships and meet new people.
  3. Start a happy hour group: By organizing social events like happy hour outings, you’ll have a chance to connect with others in a relaxed setting.
  4. Organize a company picnic: Create an internal networking event with your coworkers and encourage everyone to invite their favorite clients and other contacts.

Shaking Nerves

Networking is a little daunting for introverts, but these tips are designed to make you feel a bit more relaxed at networking events.

  1. Be a volunteer: Give yourself an official reason to be at an event as well as something to do by signing up to help out.
  2. Dress comfortably: Wear something that makes you feel good about yourself to boost your confidence.
  3. Call when your energy is highest: Save conversations for when you’re more upbeat.
  4. Show up early: Networking is often intimidating because there are just so many people, but if you get there earlier, you’ll be able to chat with just a few people in a more intimate setting.
  5. Remind yourself of your worth: Think of the people who aren’t as capable and talented as you are that are mingling and making connections with the contacts you should be working with, and use this competitive ammunition to motivate yourself.
  6. Bring a friend: If you can’t face the crowd by yourself, bring a friend from your industry and work the room together.
  7. Go to events with a purpose: Events that are purely based around conversation can be intimidating, so go to gatherings like seminars, interactive classes, and workshops.
  8. Know what to say: Create conversations in your mind and think of key points to bring up to help train your brain and calm your nerves.
  9. Take a break: If you’re attending a long networking event or have plans for both the day and evening, make sure you take some time to yourself so that you can recharge.
  10. Go one step at a time: You’re not going to become a master networker overnight, so don’t try to be. Focus on baby steps to ramp up your networking experience.

Getting Connected

Use these methods to find new people to network with.

  1. Stand close to the entrance: Make small talk with new arrivals while they’re alone and looking for someone to talk to.
  2. Pick a nametag: Stop by the registration table to see who will be attending, and if you see someone you’d really like to speak with, ask if you can put a note on their name tag to ask them to find you.
  3. Seek out loners: Open up the shy and nervous types to get quality one-on-one networking.
  4. Hang out near the grub: People are generally accessible around food and often linger near the food table, so seek out new contacts in this area. You can even use food conversation as an opener.
  5. Diversify: Investors do it and so should you. Speak to a variety of different people to improve the quality of your contacts.
  6. Don’t sell at meetings: Selling your services at a meeting is generally inappropriate and usually a turnoff. Instead, focus on developing relationships and schedule a time to get together later, at which point it will be appropriate to sell.
  7. Differentiate yourself: Stand out from the crowd so the people you connect with will remember you after the event.
  8. Stay active: Don’t stay too long in one place. Keep moving to meet lots of people.

Online Networking

Take your networking efforts online with these tips.

  1. Keep an updated profile: Make sureyou’re offering the right impression about yourself by keeping information current.
  2. Avoid inappropriate material: Don’t post photos of you and your drinking buddies in a place where networking and business contacts can see them.
  3. Keep a moderate number of contacts: Be aware of the number of contacts on your profile. Too many will make prospective associates wonder how they’ll fit in, while too few will make you seem like you’re not connected enough.
  4. Be connected to appropriate people: Make sure you’ve got your bases covered where contacts are concerned. For example, if you’re a wedding photographer, you should be connected with venues, florists, dress makers, and others in the wedding industry.
  5. Check in with school: Check out your alumni organization’s website to see if they have an online community.
  6. Find an industry-specific community: Build higher quality contacts by joining a group specifically made for people like you.

Following Up

Keep things going with these follow-up tips.

  1. Say something interesting: Don’t just send a generic email to everyone you meet. Bring up something you discussed or share an anectode instead.
  2. Make future plans: Following up is useless unless you have a clear plan for how you’ll help each other or build your relationship in the future.
  3. Follow up quickly: Don’t let too much time lapse between your meeting and follow up, or your contact just might forget about you.
  4. Call just to say hi: If someone pops into your head for some reason, call and say hello, even if you don’t have an agenda.

Cashing In

Once you’ve got strong networking relationships in place, take advantage of them using these tips.

  1. Don’t wait until the last minute: Make sure you’ve built relationships before you actually need them. People will be turned off if you’re desperate and have nothing to offer.
  2. Reciprocate: If you’ve helped someone in the past, don’t be shy about asking for their help in return.
  3. Don’t be selfish: You shouldn’t always be the one looking for a favor in the relationship. Offer to do something for your contacts once in a while.
  4. Ask for advice, not favors: Go for the soft sell. If you’re looking for a job, ask for their opinion on how to get the job you want instead of asking them who they know that would like to hire you.

Business Cards

These are just a few ways you can use business cards more effectively when networking.

  1. Make notes: When you receive a person’s business card, make notes on it about follow up items, or just items you’d like to remember.
  2. Never deal out cards impersonally: Always wait until it’s appropriate to hand a business card to a contact and avoid giving them out before you’ve even started making conversation.
  3. Get creative: Business cards are generally boring and don’t spark a second thought. Make your business card interesting with an engaging design, and contacts may be more receptive to remembering you and giving you a call.
  4. Carry them everywhere: You never know when a networking opportunity will pop up, so always be prepared.
  5. Be generous: Give out two cards at a time-one for your new associate to keep, and one to pass along to someone you should get to know.

Going Further

Take networking to the next level with these tips.

  1. Be a leader: Hold a visible position within a group so you’ll be more noticed and respected.
  2. Become a resource: Make yourself knowledgeable in your industry, and other people will come to you for advice, ideas, and connections, which will strengthen your relationships and make you more visible.
  3. Go low tech: Email isn’t always the best way to communicate. Pick up the phone, send a handwritten note, or arrange for a face to face meeting, and your message will come across stronger.
  4. Create a newsletter: Keep your contacts updated on new developments in your professional and personal life with a newsletter on a yearly or quarterly basis.

How to Be Productively Lazy

Friday, January 11, 2008 at 12:33am by Site Administrator

We’ve all had good days and bad days at the office: days when we’re feeling particularly

ambitious

and can work our way down a to-do list before lunchtime, but also days when we can’t stop looking out the window (if we have one) and dreaming about life on the outside. On the bad days, it’s not just a challenge to make ourselves do some actual work. We’re also stuck trying to come up with ways that make us look busy so we won’t get caught wasting time. If we can get by with as little effort as possible, but still have something to show for the eight hours we’ve been at the office, we know we’ve made it. Below is a little guide that includes some of our favorite tips for being productively lazy at work.

Make to-do lists: Just because you don’t feel like doing any of your work doesn’t mean you aren’t well aware of your responsibilities. To give your productivity a valid but painless boost, make to-do lists to get yourself organized. If you really want to waste time, make several lists that are extremely detailed. Consider using a Web-based system like Remember The Milk or Ta-da List to avoid cluttering up your desk with more paperwork. When you come into the office the next day on a hopefully brighter note, you’ll be able to get more work done than if you hadn’t made any lists.

Conduct research: Block out a chunk of time and devote it to doing research on your biggest project. You’ll look extremely busy shuffling around papers, going through your files and browsing websites for information. The best part is that all you really have to do is bookmark pages that look interesting and tab a few key file folders to come back to later and you’re all set. Whenever a coworker or supervisor walks by to ask what you’re doing, just mumble something about really getting into your research. With any luck, you’ll be left alone.

Answer e-mails: Go through your e-mail inbox and respond to messages that have been staring out at you for the past week. Pass up e-mails that require you to do any real thinking and go straight to the ones that have to do with scheduling meetings, need only a yes or no answer or simply want your opinion. All that typing will make you look busy, but you won’t be wasting your energy on any actual work.

Organize your file cabinets: Organizing your file cabinets shows others that you care about your work and are willing to sacrifice precious work time to sort through your documents and refresh your memory on older projects. Or, in some cases, your coworkers will catch on to your lazy procrastination, but only because they’ve probably used the same tactic to avoid doing their work. If you really want to impress your boss, order colored file folders and make new labels to give your cabinet a professional, coordinated look.

Organize computer files: Once you’ve organized the hard copies of your files, jump back onto the computer and set up an online filing system. You can scan documents onto your computer, rename folders, send files to clients or coworkers and other organizational tasks. Transferring your files onto the computer will also help you save time in the future. Instead of having to fax, make copies or mail a particular document, you can just e-mail files to colleagues with only a few clicks.

Outline a proposal or project: Outlines are easy and they really give the impression that you’ve been busy all day. Plus, once you do get around to doing the real work, you’ll be glad you have some sort of organization in place. All you have to do is develop a basic outline that includes the project’s title, a tentative timeline for each stage of the assignment, contact information for coworkers and vendors with whom you need to collaborate and set up meetings and plenty of brainstorming ideas. You can turn it into your boss at the end of the day to prove that you actually got something done during the day — even if it only took you half an hour.

Check over your work: Proofread every e-mail, memo and outline you send out to look productive. You’ll appear conscientious and detail-oriented, characteristics that supervisors treasure in their employees.

Go ahead, read the list again. You’ll look busy and focused and can buy yourself an extra twenty minutes or so of procrastination.

The Planet Express Guide to Management – 33 HR Lessons from Futurama

Tuesday, January 8, 2008 at 1:37am by Site Administrator

While you might not actually work with a rag-tag group of aliens, robots and incompetent but well meaning former pizza delivery boys, sometimes you feel like you might as well be. Turns out that in the future, managing employees hasn’t really gotten any easier, but you can take away a few lessons on what works-and what doesn’t-from Futurama. While this isn’t a replacement for real management training, it can help to give you a little insight into employee relations and, if nothing else, a few laughs. Here are a few lessons, in no particular order, that you can bring to your next HR meeting.

  1. Always have a disaster plan. While the Planet Express crew usually sets out with the best intentions, things more often than not quickly degrade to the worst possible scenario. Whether it’s fighting off giant Amazonian women or a planet full of human-hating robots, the team always comes up with a plan to get out of harm’s way unscathed. Your worst case scenario for a new product launch or a corporate reorganization may not be quite as dramatic but you should always have a "Plan B" just in case something should go wrong so you won’t be left high and dry.
  2. Diversity is important. You would think that it would be difficult for a robot, a cyclops, a human from 1000 years prior, a doctor from Decapod 10, and scores of others to work well together, but Futurama proves that it is possible. While there are few cases where the team remains entirely conflict free, their individual talents, from sewing hands back on to bending just about anything, each help the crew to ultimately be successful on their mission. Your own crew can benefit from this kind of diversity, something you should consider when you’re hiring your next batch of employees.
  3. Support good communication. One thing that remains virtually unchanged in the future is the importance of communication when working with employees. Make sure employees have all the details about how to do their jobs, what you expect, and how they are doing so they won’t accidentally open a box that leads to another dimension, forcing you and your team to close all portals to other universes. That’s just good common sense!
  4. Plan fun company sponsored events. The Planet Express crew took their company outing to a remote campground, but you could plan company picnics, trips to theme parks and much more that could be just as fun and may not result in the alien abduction and mutilation that the Planet Express trip did. Employees appreciate being rewarded and motivated for their work, so do your best as management to get them moving and working as a team.
  5. Develop strong work relationships. Bender and Fry are the best of friends even though they are as different as they could be. This relationship carries over positively into work where each has saved the other from a variety of perils numerous times. While your workers don’t need to be willing to lay down their lives for each other, they’ll likely be happier if they can be friends with coworkers and more willing to help each other out if need be if there is a friendship behind it. Don’t discourage employees from chatting with each other and even taking their friendships outside of work.
  6. Encourage teamwork. The members of the Planet Express crew would likely never complete a mission if it wasn’t for their dedication to teamwork. Instead of ending up like previous Planet Express crews who perished trying to retrieve space honey, this team worked together to successfully steal the sticky, golden goodness from the bees. Get your worker bees to work in harmony by promoting teamwork, even between areas with different specializations. You’ll get better and more cohesive results when everyone is on the same page.
  7. Be willing to give to get. Employees aren’t going to work for nothing, nor are you going to find great new hires by offering half-baked benefits and paltry salaries. What it takes to keep or get new employees will vary. Like Bender, some might be satisfied with a broom closet and a steady supply of energy providing alcohol while others may want recognition and compensation for their work like Leela.
  8. Support continued education. Whether your employees are returning to college after a thousand year hiatus like Fry, or just want some additional training, you should support their decision to improve themselves. After all, they’re not only helping themselves out-your business will benefit from having more qualified and better trained employees. And if it doesn’t work out, you can always hire a super intelligent monkey instead, providing those get invented in the next few years of course.
  9. Check references when hiring. While someone like Zapp Brannigan might look good on paper, a quick background check would reveal his destruction of a $400 billion dollar headquarters, lack of respect for the lives of subordinates, dislike of wearing pants, and propensity for sexual harassment. It’s unlikely that you’ll encounter someone so grossly incompetent in your search for new staff, but don’t just go by what appears on a resume. Make sure to check around to see if your potential employee really is what he or she professes.
  10. Make clear rules about office romance. One of the key elements of Futurama from the beginning is Fry’s constant and often unrequited love for Leela, which makes for some awkward moments at work and also some reckless decision making. So whether it’s human to cyclops, robot to robot or any other combination, make sure the rules about employees dating one another are clear so you won’t end up with a pickle of a situation on your hands if things turn sour.
  11. Give employees personal time. All work and no play makes for some bored and seriously stressed out employees. Whether it’s taking time out for a space cruise or a trip back to their home planet, make sure employees have a little balance in their lives. It will make them happier and healthier when they are at work.
  12. Establish retirement plans. As Fry learns when he checks his bank account from a thousand years prior, even the tiniest bank accounts and investments can add up if left alone for long enough. Help your employees secure their financial future by setting them up with 401K or other IRA plans. They may not end up billionaires, but they will get to spend their retirement years relaxing instead of taking on part time jobs.
  13. Make sure you and your employees know the product. Don’t have a "poppler" disaster on your hands. Before you release any new products or services make sure you know them forwards and backwards and that your employees do too. You wouldn’t want to be caught later, realizing that your new snack was made of baby aliens from Omicron Persei 8, and that they have very, very angry parents. Do your research ahead of time, no matter how great the product seems.
  14. Don’t abuse your power. If Futurama can teach us anything it’s that the universe is full of opportunities to go mad with power, whether by drinking the liquid ruler of a planet or becoming a robot celebrity. You might have the ultimate say over who stays and who goes at your work, but you don’t have to act like it. It’s good to have employee respect but you don’t want them to be terrified you’ll fire them for the slightest infraction.
  15. Emphasize employees’ strengths. At first glance, delivery personnel Fry and Bender would appear to be entirely inept and overall pretty poor at doing their jobs. True, they are lazy, abusive, and sometimes not the brightest. But both have qualities that make them great employees as well, including loyalty, determination, and the ability to bend large metal objects. You likely have employees that are weaker in some areas than others. While you should definitely try to help them improve, make sure you play up their strengths as well when assigning them to projects.
  16. Hire good management. When it comes to leading a team, good or bad management can make all the difference. Half-witted managers like Zapp Brannigan tend to lead their missions into disaster through incompetence and treat their underlings with a complete lack of respect. Other managers like Leela, while not perfect, bring their teams together to succeed and work well under stress to get out of a jam. Make sure you’ve got managers on your staff that are more like the latter than the former or you may find your business headed for a black hole.
  17. Encourage curiosity. While curiosity has gotten the Planet Express crew into many a jam, it has also helped them to learn more and discover things about the universe, themselves, and human (and robot) nature that they wouldn’t have otherwise. While you don’t want employees who sacrifice getting work done to their creative nature, it’s better to have those who are curious about new business ventures, ideas, and applications than to have those who simply drone on through their day-to-day actions without questioning anything.
  18. Promote innovation and streamlining. Whether it’s coming up with new inventions like the Smell-o-scope and the Finglonger or just finding a faster e-mail client, encourage your employees to help you find a better and more efficient way of doing business. After all, who better to come up with ideas than those who use your existing processes and program on a daily basis?
  19. Trust your staff. In one episode of Futurama, new employee and Bender look-alike Flexo is blamed for the theft of an atom of a valuable substance, which in actuality was stolen by Bender. You most likely won’t face any robot espionage in your line of work, but you might have to face cases where an employee adamantly denies wrongdoing in a situation where it looks clear that they’re lying. Before laying blame, make sure you have all the evidence and that your own biases aren’t clouding your judgment.
  20. Develop a conflict resolution program. Like any business with such a diverse staff, disagreements are likely to occur eventually. Your employees will likely be lucky enough never to have their head grafted onto the body of another employee they were trying to avoid due to the skills of a lobster-esque alien doctor, but you can help them find much less painful ways to resolve their differences. Enlist the help of a mediator and set up places where employees can feel safe talking about disagreements.
  21. Respect the environment. While your business likely won’t face environmental issues like giant honey bees, oil spills in a penguin sanctuary on Pluto, or a planet full of delicious but adorable "popplers", you can still have a bigger impact on the environment than you think. Encourage paper recycling and the use of electronic documents. While you won’t have to face the wrath of the aliens of Omicron Persei 8 for eating their young, you will make your office greener and also save some money in the process.
  22. Know your competition. In one episode of Futurama, a recently suspended clone of Professor Farnsworth and the son of Hermes decide to create their own delivery service that ends up being so good it overtakes Planet Express. While in the end the boys’ success is the key to their ruin, you might not be so lucky with your competitors. Make sure you know what the other guy is up to in selling, hiring and advertising so your business won’t fall behind and be overtaken.
  23. Make sure the punishment fits the crime. To an alien, the flag might look like a delicious treat. After all, freedom is quite tasty. That was the case for Dr. Zoidberg who unwittingly ate an Earth flag and was sentenced to death as a result. Many mistakes employees make will be just as unwitting and just as stupid as Dr. Zoidberg. Just make sure the reprimand for these mistakes fits the magnitude of the mistake. Do you really need to fire an employee for not catching a typo in your monthly newsletter?
  24. Train employees on new technology. Even in the future, new technology can be overwhelming. With spaceships, robots, and constant new inventions from the Professor, the staff of the Planet Express has a lot to keep up with, especially Fry, who has a thousand year disadvantage. Don’t just expect employees to know how to use the latest software or gadgets. Give them a little training instead, it will save you time later and multiple calls to IT when they can’t figure it out on their own.
  25. Cultivate loyalty. Whether it’s between coworkers or for the business as a whole, you’ll be better off if you make employees actually want to be loyal to your business. The employees of Planet Express aren’t without their faults, but at the end of the day their loyalty is always to the company and to each other. Give employees benefits and incentives to keep them happy and loyal to your company.
  26. Keep good records of personal data. The owner of Planet Express, Professor Farnsworth, keeps impeccable records of the identity and doings of his employees with samples of every bodily fluid, their identification cards, personal records and even their DNA on file. While you can’t legally go this far, and probably shouldn’t anyway, you should keep track of what is going on with your employees inside and outside of work. Learn their work history, special needs, and a little about their family lives to make work a little friendlier and also to make sure you’ve got them in the right job for their skills.
  27. Respect generational differences. You may not have to deal with the complications of being a 160 year-old company owner with everything from 12 year olds to people from the last millennium running around, but you more than likely will have to deal with older and younger workers within your company. Generational gaps can sometimes be hard to bridge, as older and younger employees struggle to understand one another. Realize that each age has its own wisdom to offer and incorporate both into your plans for your company.
  28. Help improve leadership skills. Whether it’s taking the initiative to save another employee from giant bees, seducing the evil leader of a competing corporation, or saving the world from giant bouncing brain invaders, the Planet Express crew have all exhibited their leadership abilities. If you have employees that exhibit good leadership skills, don’t take it for granted. Help them to develop these abilities.
  29. Realize that even your lowliest employee can make a big difference. Leela’s pet Nibbler might seem too tiny to do much besides sit around and look adorable, but as viewers of the show learn, he’s actually part of a super intelligent race, the Niblonians, determined to protect Earth from a scourge of evil-knowledge hungry brains. While your corporate underlings may not mastermind a plan to save your company, that doesn’t mean you should ignore what they have to say. Take stock of what every employee has to say.
  30. Bring in fresh blood with interns. Planet Express has Amy Wong as its resident intern, and while she is partially kept around because she shares the Professor’s blood type, she also has successfully piloted the Planet Express spaceship a few times and helped out around the office. You can get some low-cost work done, and help a young mind get some work experience by bringing in interns to your office through a program or on an invitational basis.
  31. Always motivate your workers. There are many ways to motivate your staff. From fear of annihilation or takeover by hostile aliens, to a free trip on a luxury space-liner, the Futurama crew is familiar with a wide variety. Don’t forget to give your employees a little motivation now and then too. Offer incentives to those who work hardest or reward a job well done with outings, free lunch, or even just a pat on the back.
  32. Help prevent sexual harassment. Zapp Brannigan just can’t seem to get it through his head that Leela isn’t interested in his advances. But that doesn’t stop him from coming on to her, even when the two end up being coworkers. Make sure your staff have the ability to fight back if they are caught in this situation whether they are a man or a woman. No one should have to feel uncomfortable coming to work, and it’s your job as HR to make sure they don’t have to.
  33. Make sure employees leave on good terms. When Fry and Bender take a joyride in the Planet Express spaceship, it leads to them as well as Leela losing their jobs. If you do have to fire employees or employees decide to leave of their own accord, make sure everything is done in a highly professional manner. You don’t want angry former employees bad mouthing your business and you don’t want to lose out on getting a great employee back if he or she decides to return.

Futurama may take place in the future, but little has changed when it comes to managing a staff and taking care of a business. While many of the examples set by the show shouldn’t be followed, you can use it to learn a little bit about what it takes to be a good leader and a good boss.

Against the Grain: 50 Unconventional Ways to Increase Productivity

Friday, January 4, 2008 at 1:36am by Site Administrator

With the huge number of programs, books and websites claiming to help you boost your productivity, there really isn’t any dearth of information out there when it comes to finding ways to get more done in a day. Yet for some, these tips simply don’t fit the way they work. While these tips may not work for everyone, for those who have tried just about everything else, there’s no harm in trying a few more things. Here are a few less conventional ways you can help boost your productivity.

  1. Work in sync with your body. Many people think that in order to be productive that they need to work set hours, from 9-5 usually, or that they need to get up at the crack of dawn to get started. Unless you’re a serious lover of mornings, this may not be the best route for you. Work at times you’ll know you’ll be able to get the most things done, when you’re the most alert, happiest, and at your energy peak.
  2. Eat better. Studies have shown that certain foods can actually help you be more productive. So for a boost of energy and just to keep yourself in good health in general fill up on whole grains and fruits like blueberries.
  3. Have layered to-do lists. Most productivity sites advocate making to-do lists, but you can take it to another level by layering them. Have a master project list and within that list several smaller to-do lists so you keep track of the smaller things without losing sight of the big picture.
  4. Take a break. It seems odd that you can aid your productivity by not actually doing anything but so long as your day doesn’t turn into one long break you can actually give yourself a boost by taking a few minutes for yourself every few hours so you don’t get bogged down.
  5. Decorate your office. There is nothing less motivational than working in a plain white room or a dingy gray cubicle. Spice up your work area with organizational products, photos of family, and if you can, even a new coat of paint in a color that makes you happy.
  6. Crank up the tunes. Many people find music distracting when they are working, but for some it provides the mood lift and energy that they need to get more done. Choose your tunes carefully as some will work better than others at getting you in gear.
  7. Listen to motivational tapes. When you’re not working, use a little of your free time when you’re preparing dinner, driving around, or running errands to listen to books or speeches by people who inspire you. They can give you the motivation you need to find your own success and see a little more of where your work fits in with your life.
  8. Go on an information diet. The Internet is full of information and resources, much more than you could ever possibly use. For this reason, it can also be a huge source of distraction. Pare down your daily reading so you have more time to concentrate on what you should be getting done instead of distracting your mind with thoughts of other things.
  9. Take a nap. Feeling sluggish and like you just can’t concentrate on your work? A nap may be just what you need. Most people experience a mid-day slump, so if you’re feeling pooped, don’t try to force yourself to work. Take a cue from the Spanish and give yourself a little siesta.
  10. Have fun. Chances are pretty good that if your find your work to be a horrible drudgery that makes your life a living hell, you aren’t going to be too motivated to do much of anything on the job. Try to make your job as fun as it is possible to make it. Listen to music, make finishing tasks a game, and tell yourself little jokes throughout the day to keep your mood on the light side.
  11. Go slow. Slowing down to get more done may sound completely silly, but it can work. You may be going more slowly, but the slackened pace will help you to concentrate on what you’re doing more fully and keep you from making mistakes. Plus, you’ll feel less stressed out as you’re completing your tasks.
  12. Challenge yourself. If you find your work boring and lack motivation, try making your work a little harder than it needs to be. It will keep it interesting and allow you to improve your skills and learn new things you wouldn’t otherwise.
  13. Decaffeinate. Drinking a cup of coffee (or ten) may be a quick fix to your productivity issues, but in the long run it can actually make you get less done as you get jittery or experience the post-caffeine drop. Avoid using coffee or other caffeinated beverages as a crutch. Instead, try waking up by eating a hearty breakfast.
  14. Procrastinate. Procrastination isn’t always your enemy. It just depends on how you do it. Some kinds of procrastination can actually be helpful. For instance, if you put off one kind of work for another you’re still getting things done, even if they’re not the ones you planned on. Plus, sometimes your mind just needs a break. So long as it’s not a habit, it won’t be your undoing, and can help improve your concentration when you do get back to the job.
  15. Get lovey dovey. Bringing a little romance into your life can be a great way to nudge yourself into productivity mode. Chances are that if you have a sweetie you’ll want to knock out those pesky assignments and projects quicker than ever so you’ll have more time to spend cuddling.
  16. Use minimal programs. Sometimes the most feature laden programs aren’t always the best for those looking to get more done. Fancy animations and add-ons looks neat, but can be very visually distracting. Try using programs like jdarkroom, a basic text editor, that are pared down to the bare essentials to eliminate all those pesky features.
  17. Pick up the phone. Emails sometimes give the illusion of taking less time but depending on what you need to say it can actually be easier, and more time efficient to simply pick up the phone and give your clients or boss a ring. This will prevent numerous emails going back and forth for a simple conversation on the phone.
  18. Randomize. Spice up your task list by doing tasks randomly off the list. This way, you won’t know if you’re getting something big or little or something that you like doing or don’t so you won’t be able to avoid any particular task.
  19. Start out by being terrible. If you’re having some trouble getting started on a big report or even writing an article for your blog, start out by just putting down everything that comes to mind no matter how terrible. Once you get that out, you’ll have nowhere to go but up, and at least you’ll have something to work with.
  20. Cut corners. There are some parts of projects that may just not really be necessary. It may sound more lazy than productive, but if you don’t really need to be doing something you shouldn’t be wasting your time on it. Eliminate things that aren’t as important to concentrate on things that are.
  21. Have a snack. Having a snack can help give you a bit of a boost and keep your blood sugar from getting low and you from getting sluggish. Healthy foods are the best snacks, of course, but if you’re feeling like you need it, let yourself have a bit of chocolate or another treat you really enjoy.
  22. Pet your pet. For those working at home, spending time with a pet can be a big productivity booster, and it will give you and your pet some much needed time together. Stroking the fur of your puppy, kitty, rabbit or other furry friend can lighten your mood and make you feel better when you sit back down to work.
  23. Take a vacation. If you feel you could be headed for total burnout don’t hesitate to take a vacation. If it’s not possible to get much time off, just spend a couple of days at home where you do no work and just let yourself relax and do things you enjoy. When you return you’ll be better able to focus and won’t resent your job for stealing so much of your personal time.
  24. Upgrade. Using old equipment may be saving you money, but it isn’t likely saving you any time. Old computers, printers, and programs that don’t work well can be a serious drain on your time not to mention your patience while you wait for them to load and complete tasks. If it’s at all financially possible, upgrade your systems. It’ll save you some headaches and even some time on the phone with IT professionals.
  25. Lower your standards. Realizing that not everything you do has to be completely and totally perfect can help you stop focusing on the small details and get more of the big tasks done. This doesn’t mean you should churn out shoddy work, just that you should accept that sometimes good enough really is good enough.
  26. Imitate someone else. Know someone that’s a productivity master? If you don’t have the skills yourself, just try imitating someone else. At first it might feel a bit awkward, but eventually you’ll learn to adapt it to your own needs and hopefully it will work for you. If not, pick a new mentor and try again
  27. Hang out at the water cooler. Maybe not literally, but drinking more water can help give your motivation a lift. Being dehydrated can cause you to experience a slump in energy not to mention give you headaches and make you prone to distraction. Best of all, you’ll not only increase your productivity but also make your body happier and healthier at the same time.
  28. Learn to speed read. If you have trouble getting through long reports or information you need to condense, perhaps you could benefit from some classes on speed reading. Sign up for classes or get some quick tips from the Web on how to get through more material more quickly.
  29. Eat some meat (or peanut butter). Studies have shown that proteins like those found in meats and peanuts can help aid in concentration and energy levels. Make sure to include some sort of protein in each of your meals throughout the day to help you out. If nothing else, it will help you have a more balanced diet.
  30. Get comfortable. Sitting in an old lumpy office chair or slouching over a desk that is too low isn’t going to do much to help you concentrate on your work. Invest in comfortable and ergonomic set up, or if you are really in the mood to get comfy, try working from your bed. Just don’t fall asleep!
  31. Do some pushups. A little bit of exercise can go a long way. If you’re feeling the strain of work, take a break to do a few push-ups or jog around the blog. It’ll give you a much-needed boost of energy, wake you up, and help you focus once you get back on task.
  32. Find something funny. Laughter really is the best medicine, even when the sickness is low productivity. Try to find a few things each day that make you laugh. They will improve your mood and in turn improve your job performance.
  33. Go to the beach. If you don’t live by a beach, don’t worry, you don’t have to miss out. All you need to do is to get out in the sun. The sun’s rays help you to produce vitamin D and raise levels of serotonin making you feel happier and ready to get to work.
  34. Interact with others. Sometimes all you need to get motivated is to spend some time talking with coworkers, clients, friends and neighbors. Interacting positively with others plays a big role in overall happiness, and the happier you are, the more willing you will be to face your workload with a good outlook.
  35. Get an ionizer. Most of us feel invigorated when we breathe in cool, ocean air full of negatively charged ions. You can get a similar effect at home by purchasing an ionizer. More negative ions in the air can help with problems like stress, depression, and even irritability– all productivity killers. Even if you aren’t sold on the productivity angle, there can be no argument that improving the air quality of your workspace will have a positive effect.
  36. Adjust your thermostat. Research has shown that room temperature has a big impact on worker productivity. When rooms are too hot, workers become sluggish and underperform. When they are too cold workers slow down, as hands and fingers are often the first parts to feel the chill. Make sure your workspace stays a comfortable temperature year round for optimal productivity.
  37. Light a candle. Studies have shown that aromas can have a big impact on how we’re feeling. Whether you need to reduce stress, increase energy or raise your productivity levels try putting accompanying scents in or around your work environment. If nothing else, your desk will smell good.
  38. Splash your face with water. If you’re feeling a bit sleepy and not quite on your game but don’t have time for a nap, try giving yourself a brisk splash of water on your face. It should wake you up enough to improve your alertness.
  39. Embrace tea time. Think tea and biscuits are only for the Queen? Think again. Having a break as well as some antioxidant-rich green tea can help improve your mood, benefit your health, and make you happier at work.
  40. Don’t multitask. Getting more things done at once is the key to being super productive, right? Well, not really. While some people are good at it, most of us find it incredibly distracting and overwhelming. It’s much better to take your to-do list one thing at a time and get it right the first time around.
  41. Suck it up. Everyone has things to do for their job that aren’t fun or that they just don’t want to get to. One way to get productive is just to quit whining about how you don’t get anything done and just do it already. Give yourself a little tough love the next time you start feeling sorry for yourself and see if it doesn’t help you turn your attitude around.
  42. Get off the computer. Computers are great tools for productivity but they are also great tools for procrastinating in a very bad way. If you need to get things done, try taking a computer break for awhile and do everything you need to do without the help of the Internet.
  43. Outsource. If you’re working at home or if you own your own business, realize that you don’t have to do everything yourself. You can save yourself some stress by outsourcing some of your smaller projects or more menial work to someone else. Try online sites like GetFriday, eLance, Guru and ScriptLance to find some help. You’ll have less stress and more time to concentrate on important tasks.
  44. Take shorter showers. It might sound silly, but if you shave 10 minutes off your shower each day that adds up to over an hour of extra time each week that you could be spending doing something else, even something else that’s fun.
  45. Make work more exciting. Even if you have the dullest job in the world, try giving it a little spice. It will make it more interesting for you, and as a result you’ll be more willing to focus on it and the things to you need to accomplish.
  46. Shop online. While this can easily become more of a productivity leech than a help, used correctly it can save you time. You won’t have to drive to the store, wait in line, or hunt around for what you’re looking for, and you can even have gifts sent to you pre-wrapped, allowing you to use this time to attend to more pressing issues.
  47. Learn to type faster. Make everything from typing emails to writing reports go faster by improving your typing skills. There are many free programs online that you can try to help you speed up your fingers and not have to look at the keys when you type.
  48. Spend less time cooking. There is a way that you can eat better without having to cook every night or every afternoon. Try spending one day a week cooking your meals for the week ahead and freezing them so all you have to do is heat them up when you’re ready to eat. You’ll save time and be less tempted to eat fast food and frozen pizzas.
  49. Try a polyphasic sleep schedule. Just got too much to do that you can’t waste time sleeping a solid eight hours at night? You might want to try out a polyphasic sleep schedule instead. Polyphasic sleep involves sleeping for several short periods throughout the day instead of getting all your sleep in one big chunk. It can take some getting used to, but some productivity gurus have used it effectively to give them more hours to work, relax and get things done in a day.
  50. Do a crossword puzzle. Keep your mind engaged even when you’re not doing work. Do crossword puzzles, sudoku or any other games that are fun but require use of your brain. You’ll gain valuable memory and recall skills that can be a great productivity boost when you’re on the job.

The GTD Resource Motherload: 100+ Links

Wednesday, January 2, 2008 at 6:12pm by Site Administrator

The popular "Getting Things Done" principle is a valuable tool for organizing, prioritizing and actively completing all of the tasks and responsibilities that weigh us down each day. Invented by David Allen, this "groundbreaking work-life management system" relies on four methods of clearing the brain of endless to-do lists so that it can focus more effectively on the job at hand. These methods are: "capturing anything and everything that has your attention, defining actionable things discretely into outcomes and concrete next steps, organizing reminders and information in the most streamlined way" and "keeping current and "on your game" with appropriately frequent reviews…of your commitments," according to the David Allen website. In order to implement the GTD system in your life, we’re helping you out by listing over 100 links to articles, guides, information about special events and other resources related to "Getting Things Done." Read below to find out more. Resources from David Allen Refer to this list for links connecting you with the official GTD resources, company background information and more from inventor David Allen. 1. The Definition of David Allen’s Getting Things Done: Read this extended definition of the GTD system to understand all of its principles and methods. 2. The David Allen Company: This link will bring you to the homepage for The David Allen Company, the organization that teaches individuals and businesses "a smarter way to work and live." Learn more about the history of the company and GTD, shop for helpful tools and other GTD-related products and find out what other special services the company offers. 3. Productivity and the Bottom Line: The David Allen Company offers businesses special training seminars and coaching sessions to teach the principles of GTD in professional settings. Find out more by visiting this link. 4. Your Life is an Investment: This site shares GTD information "for individuals at work and home." Learn about how you can make simple, personal improvements in your life each day. 5. GTD Connect: This members-only networking group is made up of GTD enthusiasts who want to stay "on track and at peak motivation with daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly features." Receive special access to unique tools, articles and other resources when you sign up. 6. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity: Purchase David Allen’s popular book at Amazon.com by visiting this link. 7. Between the Lines: David Allen no longer updates his personal blog, but readers can visit the archives to find helpful tips for organizing and prioritizing. 8. Interview with GTD’s David Allen on Procrastination: Watch this podcast for an interview with David Allen and the 43 Folders team to learn what he has to say about procrastination. 9. Roundup: 17 Interviews with GTD Master, David Allen: Visit this great index of David Allen interviews to get some insight into how you can make GTD work for you. 10. The Oracle of Organization: This Time Magazine article chronicles the history and success of GTD inventor David Allen. 11. Getting Things Done Guru David Allen and His Cult of Hyperefficiency: This article from Wired Magazine explores David Allen’s intense popularity and how his "work has become the touchstone of the life-hacking movement." 12. Lecture by David Allen: View this YouTube video for a broadcast of one of David Allen’s lectures. Organization Follow these links for tips on organizing your life the GTD way. 13. Projects and GTD: This forum post from 43 Folders has great ideas for tweaking David Allen’s official principles for small, medium and large time management projects. 14. Minimize Your Inboxes: Lifehacker has several great solutions for minimizing stacks of papers and at-capacity e-mail inboxes. 15. GTD Cheatsheet: The Workflow: According to LifeDev.net, the workflow method of GTD is "the hardest one to put into practice." Use this cheatsheet to help you make sense of the workflow so that you can more effectively organize your to-do lists. 16. GTD Desktop Image Keeps Me on Track: Once you’ve mastered the workflow, add a diagram like this one to your desktop for optimum organization. 17. How to Fail at Getting Things Done: This post urges GTD followers not to forget about doing weekly check-ins and reviews, or else their entire GTD system could come crashing down. 18. DIY Planner: This website is "a community of people who see the value of paper as a medium for planning, productivity, creative expression, and exploring ideas." Read articles on GTD, journaling, time management and more, and reviews and learn about products that help productivity. 19. The 5 Reasons Why the Weekly Review is Difficult: If you’re feeling frustrated about doing your weekly reviews, read this article to help you get back on track. 20. Kinkless: Learn more about organization, GTD software, shortcuts and more great topics that will make your life easier by visiting this website, which promotes "productive creativity." 21. Don’t Manage Time, Manage Yourself: The key to getting things done is knowing how to manage your unique lifestyle. Read this article for tips on how to do just that. 22. Getting Things Done!: This post from the MarkTAW blog outlines the dos and don’ts of productivity and organization as they are related to the GTD philosophy. 23. Getting Things Done with Google Notebook: This link takes readers to a review of the Google Notebook application which helps GTD users stay organized. 24. Getting Things Done in 60 Seconds: Writer Mike Elgan gives readers a quick and easy crash course in mastering the GTD principles in this informative article. At the Office Read below for links to articles and resources that will help you get things done in a professional environment. 25. 10 Tips to Help Keep Your Desk Clean: Tips like sort your mail, schedule filing time and "keep nothing on your desk unless you absolutely need [it] fall neatly into the Getting Things Done philosophy. 26. Getting Things Done on Office Zealot: Check out the Office Zealot website for articles, reviews and other resources about GTD. Recent posts include "How to end a productivity conference unproductively: and "iMac 24, or the world through another prism." 27. How to: Fix Leaks in Your GTD System: How can you possibly manage your task lists, weekly reviews and other GTD tools during a hectic day at work? This guide helps readers make sense of their productivity plan and patch it up when necessary. 28. Getting Back to Work: A Personal Productivity Toolkit: If you’re having some trouble staying motivated at work, read this post for tips on staying focused and inspired. 29. Keep Getting Things Done – Slow Down the Queuing!: The staff at FreelanceSwitch urges readers to stop putting off simple tasks "that take up time and cause worry but don’t actually create value down the line." Follow the link for advice on how to eliminate this unnecessary stress and remain productive. 30. Getting Things Done with iGTD: Find out how this simple tool can help "capture pop-up thoughts without disrupting [your] flow" at work. 31. Getting Things Done: This blog promotes various GTD tips, tools and systems to help you get more things done at work each day. 32. My Office: The Art of Getting Things Done: Watch this video of a GTD user’s office space to inspire you to get organized. 33. Actually Getting Things Done with Getting Things Done!: This post from Matt’s Idea Blog chronicles several "surprises and learnings from [his] implementation" of the GTD system, including the discovery of valuable productivity tools. 34. Getting Things Done with Palm Desktop: Bring your GTD system to the office by setting up this tool on your computer. 35. Getting Things Done Using Outlook 2007: If your office e-mail account is set up with Outlook, check out this guide to find out how to use it in accordance with the GTD principles. 36. Laura Stack, the Productivity Pro: Let the Productivity Pro help you "leave the office earlier" by reading her GTD and time management tips here. Getting Things Done at Home These tips will give your day-to-day responsibilities a boost by helping you increase your productivity. 37. Productivity @ Home: This blog is all about "personal productivity and getting things done at home." Blogger Lisa M. Hendey discusses organizing, scheduling, running a household and other GTD-related topics. 38. Are Your Lists Really Complete?: This guest blogger writes about tweaking to-do lists in order to give your GTD system a boost. 39. Use Completed Task Lists as Motivators or Artwork: This article suggests tacking up completed task lists to give you added motivation. 40. 18 Tricks to Instantly Improve Your GTD System: Every individual GTD system can benefit from these 18 tricks, like "create your own shorthand or notational system" and "track down the bottlenecks in your setup." 41. Top 10 Benefits of GTD: Follow this link to discover the many ways GTD can benefit every aspect of your life. 42. 15 Tips to Cope with a Demanding Life: GTD principles like taking charge of your own personal development and simplifying tasks are found in this valuable list of 15 "tips to cope with a demanding life." 43. Getting Things Done in Apple Mail: Rework your personal e-mail account with the tips provided in this handy how-to. 44. Productivity Tips for the Home Office: Tips including "write goals down," turn off your phone and instant messaging service, and maintaining a tidy office will help you be more productive even when you work from home. 45. Getting Things Done With Tracks: The Linux website posts this review of the smart GTD tool Tracks. 46. More Than a Chore: Getting Things Done the Right Way: This article demonstrates how parents can teach their children how to be productive and organized at a young age by implementing GTD principles into daily chores. 47. Challenges for Single Parents: Balancing Nurturing and Getting Things Done: Single parents have a unique set of responsibilities. Find out how to get things done on time so that you have more time for your kids. 48. The Difference Between GTD at Home and at Work: This post outlines why creating separate GTD systems for your professional and home life is important. Prioritizing and Productivity Get your priorities in order with these helpful links so that you can get more done each day. 49. Five Simple Hacks to Get Your Email Inbox to Empty: Be more productive at work and at home by emptying out your inbox. This post has five simple ideas that will do the trick. 50. Dumb Little Man: The Dumb Little Man site publishes all kinds of useful "tips for life." Readers will find lots of articles about GTD and productivity. 51. Are Your Action Steps to Complex? Or Too Simple?: Give your GTD method a review after reading this article, which helps break down action steps. 52. Time Management, Simplified: This post teaches readers "how to be productive with no worries" by simplifying the GTD system so that it works for your life. 53. The GTD Mastery 100: Checklist for Greatness: Grade yourself on your GTD skills and successes to find out just how organized you really are. 54. GTD Palm-Oriented: Discuss your prioritizing and productivity ideas and success stories with other GTD enthusiasts on the GTD Palm-Oriented page at Yahoo! 55. You Can Do Anything, but Not Everything: Fast Company gets together with David Allen for this article, which "offers…unique advice on how to keep up the pace– without wearing yourself down." 56. Don’t Take a Break Unless You Need One: You’ll never get through your task lists if you keep breaking for a snack, a nap or a walk around the block. Read this article for help on determining whether or not you actually need your next break. 57. How to Prioritize: If you’re having a hard time prioritizing all of your daily duties, use this guide to help you make sense of endless to-do lists and responsibilities. 58. How David Allen Mastered Getting Things Done: This article from CNN Money explores how David Allen has managed to transform the way individuals and companies organize, prioritize and of course, get things done. 59. 10 Steps to Better Meetings: Use this guide to plan more productive meetings at work. 60. 6 Types of Email and How to Deal With It: Don’t let your inbox run your life. Learn how to identify different types of e-mails so that you can more efficiently respond to the ones that matter and delete the ones that don’t. GTD Blogs Visit these blogs for more organizational and productivity tips related to the Getting Things Done philosophy. 61. Simple GTD: Organize Your Stuff Online: This blog offers members access to GTD tools and other Web-based resources that increase productivity. 62. Getting Things Done: My experiences with GTD: Visit this blog for a wealth of guides, reviews, products and other GTD-related items. Recent posts include "Results of 1 Year of GTD" and "My Weekly Review Checklist." 63. The Getting Things Done: Check out this blog for advice on implementing GTD principles and methods. Visitors will get tips on software, time management, time tracking, workflow and more. 64. Palm Based GTD: Palm Based GTD shares links and ideas for maximizing GTD principles. 65. Productivity 501: If you want to be more productive, read the posts on this blog, which address everything from cleaning your desk to organizing your e-mails. 66. What’s the Next Action: Totally devoted to David Allen and his GTD principles, this blog discusses the perks and challenges of staying true to the methods, reviews and tools of the productivity system. 67. GTD-Tools.com: GTD-Tools.com publishes articles and reviews of the "best GTD tools and productivity software tips." Readers can also catch up on the latest GTD-related news. 68. Ririan Project: This blog is great for checking out posts that help readers create "a brand new life that represents maximum achievement and inner peace" through personal development and task management. 69. Did I Get Things Done?: This blogger tracks his progress in mastering GTD by posting articles that review technology, share tips and provide other resources for upping your productivity. 70. David Seah: This popular blogger and inventor of The Printable CEO productivity series is all about making your life easier with simple hacks and organization tips. 71. Trizoko: Trizoko is "your business journal." Read innovative, informative posts for tips and inspiration on organizing your life. 72. Matt’s Idea Blog: Check out this blog for a professional viewpoint on integrating smart productivity practices into your own life. Tools and Resources Utilize these clever tools to enhance your GTD system. 73. GTD Basic Bundle: This link connects readers to the official GTD toolbox, where you can find software, learning tools, books and other GTD resources that will enhance your productivity. 74. Getting Things Done on a Macintosh: This tutorial explains how Mac users can adapt their operating systems to GTD principles so that they are more user-friendly and productive. 75. Leopard GTD Icons: This 43 Folders user shares productivity-oriented icons for Leopard. 76. Best Gmail Applications, plugins and extensions for GTD and Productivity: Transform your Gmail set up with these GTD hacks, including the GTDInbox and the Sent to Gmail application. 77. Behance Action Series: Lifedev.net reviews the Behance Action Series, which pitches a productive creativity for another way to get things done. 78. TaskToy: An Online GTD Tool: This Lifehack.org post reviews TaskToy, "a new task management web system" that will make your life much easier. 79. The Getting Things Done Phenomenon: An Update Primer: Follow this link to connect to a list full of great GTD tools, like the GTD Tiddly Wiki and the Nozbe. 80. List of GTD Tools: The Download Squad publishes this collection of links to GTD tools so that everyone can start their own productivity system. 81. Comparison of GTD Software: Use this guide from Wikipedia to learn more about different tools and software that enhance the practice of GTD. 82. TiddlyWiki: This link displays an example of the My Monkey GTD TiddlyWiki tool and provides another link to download it. 83. Productivity Toolbox: 37+ Tools for Taking Action and Getting Things Done: Smallfuel.com publishes this fantastic list of tools and resources that will help you get things done more quickly. 84. Top 5 GTD Computer Tools: Nozbe, Tracks, Thinking Rock and Stikkit are all on this list of the best computer apps for maximizing GTD. Helpful Guides For more ideas on how to develop your own GTD system, turn to these how-to guides. 85. The Ultimate Getting Things Done Index: Find all kinds of GTD articles and guides with the help of this inclusive index. 86. Getting Started with Getting Things Done: Allow this post from 43 Folders to ease you into the GTD system by sharing helpful tips and ideas. 87. Sylvia’s Getting Things Done (GTD) Resource List: Check out this collection of links to GTD resources if you need support or just want to learn more about the principles. 88. Four Tricks That Save You Time: This article from Fast Company reviews four of David Allen’s "tricks that save you time," including make lists, remember the two-minute rule and always do a weekly review. 89. Managing Your Life with GTD, Online Tools and a File Cabinet: Whip yourself into shape by getting organized the GTD way. This article will show you how to utilize the right tools and software programs to transform your life. 90. CrankingWidgets.com: Find all kinds of "GTD, productivity lifehacks" posts on this great resource. 91. Getting Things Done on Wikipedia: For a comprehensive tutorial on the GTD history and principles, check out its Wikipedia page. 92. Time Boxing is an Effective Getting Things Done Strategy: This post outlines the ways in which time boxing can help increase productivity by "fixing the time we have available to work on a given task and then doing the best we can within that time frame." 93. 5 Steps to Accomplishing Your Goals: Dave Cheong’s useful guide reveals the way to apply GTD principles to organizing and setting personal goals. 94. The Basics of Getting Things Done: GTD newbies can check out this simplified post to better understand the Getting Things Done movement. 95. How to Create a Personal Productivity Scaffold: The blogger Steve Pavlina documents the best way to create a simple set up that will support all of your productivity tools and resources "to redirect your time and energy back onto the “straight” course and away from the crooked one." Miscellaneous Students, academics and environmentalists will find unique GTD solutions here. 96. Zen to Done: Addressing the Shortcomings of GTD: No system is completely fail proof. This post proposes a more Zen-like approach to productivity by keeping your organization system simple. 97. Tips for Environmentally Friendly GTD: Use this list how you can go green with your GTD system but using recycled paper, using both sides of each sheet of paper and more. 98. Getting Things Done in Academia: This blog helps graduate students understand and activate their own GTD systems that complement an academic lifestyle. 99. A Roadmap to Spectacular GTD Failure: This article tells readers what NOT to do if you want to implement a successful GTD system. 100. Getting Things Done for College Students: The Full System: Study Hacks provides this article to help college students stay productive, avoid procrastination and make better grades. 101. Microtasks: Steve Pavlina’s advice for procrastinators rests on the idea of microtasking, based on David Allen’s system for writing down simple action items and next items. 102. Profile of Getting Things Done Author: This BoingBoing article profiles David Allen, going into his background as a "junkie, mental patient, trainer, consultant," and of course, "bestselling author." 103. Getting Things Done with Automater and Spotlight: Check out this post for two more tools that will help your computer-based GTD system.

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