Blog

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…

Read More...
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…

Read More...
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…

Read More...
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…

Read More...
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…

Read More...
shiny stars Photo-by-rawpixel-on-Unsplash

How to Avoid Shiny Object Syndrome: Easy Steps To Productivity

This week I am happy to share a guest post from Rene Morozowich. Rene is a Pittsburgh-based WordPress developer who loves a good plan, a cup of tea and an afternoon nap. Read more about Rene here. You’re scrolling through Twitter, catching up on Slack or browsing through your emails when you see it. Something new. Something promising. Something that will revolutionize your business, your process, your life. You have to investigate it. Right. Now. Before you know it, your entire afternoon is gone and you don’t have anything to show for it. You’ve succumbed to shiny object syndrome again. Instead of falling down the rabbit hole checking out the newest and shiniest object, try this: Quickly add the shiny object to your “to investigate” list. Your list could live in a Google doc, a Trello card or as a note on your phone, but it should be easy to access. Once the shiny object is on the list, return to your previously scheduled programming. Schedule time to look through the list later in the day or week, namely during a time when you’re not usually very productive anyway (the 2:00 slump or Friday afternoon). When the time comes, peruse the…

Read More...
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….

Read More...
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…

Read More...
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…

Read More...
alarm clock

The Early Bird Gets It Done: Does When You Wake Up Affect Your Productivity?

I have noticed that I am more productive on days when I wake up early (5am) than I am on days when I “sleep in,” which for me means 7-8am. It’s decadent to lie in bed and pull out a book – or to be honest my cell phone – and aimlessly scroll through my Twitter feed, then bounce to Instagram, then to email. Before I know it an hour has gone by, and I am still in bed, and I feel like a slug most of the rest of the day. I justify this by telling myself, “Everyone needs unstructured time” and “I don’t have any place I have to be – I need  sleep!” Yet, I notice on the days that start off without a wake up plan I am almost always regretfully unproductive. The Best Part of Waking Up On the days when I wake up at 5am, I head out to exercise with my running or biking group. There is a deadline – a meeting time – so I have to be on time. This means I pop out of bed and get going without distraction. Usually, when I get home, I shower, eat breakfast, walk…

Read More...