Blog

Man with paint roller painting the word "Why" in the sky

Contemplating the “Why”

I have made a regular practice of setting goals and planning my time very deliberately. As a result, I usually feel more mindful, productive and calm. Seeing my goals scheduled gives me peace of mind that I won’t forget about something I was scheduled or intended to do. Having a “To Do” list every day can be helpful in avoiding distractions and focusing on what needs to be done. The Negative Space With a strategic planning mentality, I can also be very critical of myself for becoming distracted, not meeting goals, losing focus, and working too much. For example, I continually set a goal for myself to take breaks during the work day. Studies show that taking breaks improves productivity. There are numerous apps and alarms to help enforce these breaks. And yet. I have never met this goal for even one full day. And I beat myself up about it all the time. Why? I recently saw this Ted Talk called “What Is Your Why?” When I thought about its message, I applied it to my “break” goal. While my take away is different than the message of the Ted Talk, I asked myself, WHY do I set this…

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Open 24 Hours Sign Photo by Fancycrave on Unsplash

Creating Productive Habits and Avoiding Procrastination

Developing and maintaining good habits to be productive can be a challenge. On the other hand, it’s easy to develop a procrastination habit. For me, I suddenly feel hungry when I am about to start working on a project I am not excited about. Since I work from home, I wander into the kitchen, roam through the pantry, stuff something in my mouth that I shouldn’t eat (chocolate chips from the giant Nestles Toll House bag has been a recent source). Then, I say to myself, I am ready to tackle the project … until I suddenly notice a new email in my inbox. Two hours later, I still haven’t started that “priority” project. Hello, procrastination, my old friend. Habits For Productivity I recently finished the book, Atomic Habits, by James Clear. I am inspired by books about productivity and habits. It helps to be reminded that other people struggle with maintaining productive behavior, and to learn techniques to be more productive. The psychology behind our actions is fascinating to me. Ultimately, productivity results from good habits. When I employ good habits that result in productivity, I feel great. I feel in control and am happy and proud of myself….

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Favorite Podcasts for Life, Work and WordPress

I was at a gathering recently where the topic of Podcasts came up. Like many people, I am a podcast junkie and have some favorites I listen to daily, weekly or frequently. It’s always fun to share favorites so I put together a list. I also started using Stitcher to listen to and manage podcasts. Previously, I was using Overdrive, as the Apple Podcasts app used to freeze up on me and I had to delete it and re-add it to get it to pull down episodes sometimes. This year I am trying to use my Amazon Alexa Echo Dot more. It integrates with Stitcher and I really like the interface and ability to create lists by topic to make it easier to find what I am looking for or in the mood for (Overdrive has this list making ability as well, but I never took the time to use it). I discovered a few new WordPress Podcasts while adding podcasts to my list in Stitcher. There is no way there is enough time to keep up with this list! It’s worth sharing, and below I list my favorites. My Favorite Podcasts The DailyThis podcast from The New York Times…

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Tool box

Annual Cost For Business Tools and Subscriptions

I love finding and using tools and apps that help me run my business and my life more productively. It helps to be insightful and looking for ways to improve my processes. I recently reviewed my budget from 2018 to ensure everything was categorized properly. As part of that process, I made a list of all the tools I use which require an annual license/subscription. I was really surprised to see the total was over $8000! Since I work from home and don’t really need much in the way of “office supplies,” it often feels like I have almost no overhead cost other than the cost of my computers and internet. All the little things add up, though. I was hoping I would find some tools that I pay for and don’t use so I could cut some costs, but in reviewing this list, I really do use all of these things and in many cases, can’t imagine functioning without them (thank you, Alfred!) Digital Tools Cost Breakdown I have written about many of these tools before, but here is my complete list of my favorite tools and how much they cost. The items in yellow are business tools that are…

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Work smarter not harder

Year In Review and Looking to 2019

Year In Review posts are popular right now. I love reading about how others sum up their year and give serious consideration to the year ahead. I have been using The 12 Week Year for much of 2018, so I have a few “years” within 2018, each with its own successes and shortcomings. It is helpful, too, to have an overarching review of the entire 2018 year and think about how I can be better in the next year. Overall, 2018 was a mental and emotional transition year for me. Turning 50 was harder emotionally than I expected it to be. I travelled a lot this year, including a few WordCamps, visits to help my extended family in South Carolina, a trip to Japan to visit my BFF from high school, a trip to Iceland with my family at the end of the summer, and most recently a weekend in Montreal with a dear friend and Christmas in the Dominican Republic with my extended family. Lucky me! And I got a tattoo! Our whole family participated, and while it has taken some adjustment to the idea of this old lady having “ink,” I embrace it and am glad we all…

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Friends

Working with Friends: Maintain Your Friendship By Being Businesslike

You have probably read about the dangers of working for friends as clients. Yet, despite warnings, many of us have, at one time or another, discounted or donated work to friends because we are nice and we like to help our friends. In the end, this often turns out to be a bad idea and can damage a good friendship. If you decide to help your friends for free or a big discount, here are 4 suggestions on how to make this work better for both of you. Have a written contract and set limits on what is included in your offer. You may complete the work you offered to do for free or next to nothing, and your friend may come back for more work later with the expectation that you will work for free. You might think your offer was limited to one time, but they may think it is lifetime offer. It can feel awkward to get all business-like with your friend, but having a formal is important to maintain the value of your friendship and your business. Have contract that specifies what you are doing, and a limit on how much time you will spend, the…

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google drive app

Don’t Be Afraid of Google Drive. It’s Awesome.

Google Drive can make your workflow very efficient and effective. Sometimes it can be confusing working with Google, so following is a quick overview of how to use Google Drive and make it work for you. Watch a video overview First, download the Google Drive backup and sync app for your computer. That will put a little cloud icon at the top of your screen (on a Mac), which will allow you to sync selected folders and files to your hard drive of your computer. Now, files will show in your Google Drive folder automatically on your computer, making it quick and easy for you to access documents offline, to access photographs, etc. When you open a Google Documents from your the Google Drive folder on your computer, it will open as a Google Doc live on the web, not downloaded as a new version on the local computer. If it’s an Excel sheet or a Word document, the file will open on your computer, and then when you save it, the new file will overwrite the former version. This is why I recommend using the Google apps, like Google Sheets and Google Docs, because then you’ll be working with…

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Toggl Timer

I Hate Tracking Time For Work. Do You?

I’ve said it a million times. I suck at tracking time! I have tried most every time tracker there is and written numerous posts about my struggle with time tracking. No matter what I try, I still resist starting a timer, forget to turn it off, or to assign it to the correct project. My favorite time tracker, when I am tracking successfully, is Toggl. I have written about why I like this the best. I think subconsciously, I don’t start the timer because: I think I will only be doing something for a few minutes I multi-task, so jump between things every few minutes I don’t want to know how much time I am spending/wasting on something I am “playing” or learning and don’t think I will be billing or accountable for that time Whatever the reason, not tracking time is an excuse to WASTE time. I have recently been trying to lose a few pounds I gained over the summer. I spent a month doing the Total Wellness Challenge, where I was accountable to eat healthy foods and avoid processed and unhealthy foods. While I felt better, I didn’t lose weight doing this, and it was really frustrating….

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Using iPhone Notes App to Scan Documents

Mind Blown! How to Scan Documents With Your Phone

Gone are the days when we rely on fax machines, but scanners are still necessary for making a digital copy of paper documents. When my scanner broke, I resorted to photos of paper documents, which were hard to read, had shadows and a background of the surface they were taken on. Then I discovered ho to scan documents with my phone! It’s true! Your iPhone has a built-in scanner! (Android phones work too. Here is how) This makes it is so easy to make digital copies of documents, convert them to PDF format – and even mark them up or sign them! – and send them via email or text, or save them to my files on my phone, Dropbox, iCloud or Google Drive. How to Scan Documents with iPhone Here’s how it works: Launch the Notes app on your iPhone or iPad. Create a New Note. Tap the More button just above the keyboard. … Tap Scan Document from the list of options. Line up the document you want to scan. If the scanner doesn’t automatically scan, tap the shutter button to manually scan the document. Repeat the step above for each page you want to scan for a single document. Tap Save when you’ve scanned all of the pages…

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Boomerang App

Keep Your Inbox Sane With The Amazing Boomerang

I have tried MANY Email clients for desktop and my iPhone. On my desktop, I prefer to use Gmail in the browser. I like keeping my email accounts separate, and I think not having an email client makes my computer run faster. I have written about the ways I use Gmail and how I keep my thousands of messages organized and under control using labels and filters. I have also been using the Gmail app on my phone, as I like how it separates out “Social,” “Updates,” and “Promotional” messages from the main inbox. My favorite Gmail trick is Boomerang for Gmail. I have been using this extension within Gmail on my desktop and laptop for a while and love it. I discovered an app for my phone last year, but when I tried it, there were not enough features, such as the intuitive inbox category separation mentioned above. Since I last checked, the app has been updated and has now become my default phone app for mail. What I Love About Boomerang for Gmail Note: Boomerang also has an extension for Outlook. I am a fan of Inbox Zero. My “Type A” personality favors a neat and clean inbox…

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