Tools and Tips to Explode Productivity

One room in my home had over time, become so cluttered with junk I could no longer bear to go in it. I would walk into the room, look at the disaster and retreat.  One day, my son, not known for his domestic abilities, offered to spend some time with me so we could tackle it.  As he is not known for his domestic abilities, I wasn’t sure that would help. But within 30 minutes, the room was cleaned, presentable and I still did most of the work!  Now I have a clean and practically empty room!  So why was it so overwhelming?  It wasn’t hard.  It wasn’t complicated.   I just couldn’t make the first move alone.

 Get productive

Are you struggling with making the first move in a project whether in your business or personally? Ask for help.  If you are feeling a great deal of resistance regarding the first step, scale back the size of it.

Where Can you Find Help?

  • Join the Facebook group Unlock Your Maximum Potential.  There you will a group of professionals with many talents who can give you an idea, suggest a specific step to complete, or just hold you accountable for that first or next move.
  • If it is something in your personal life, ask a friend, a family member or children, young or old, or hire someone!  Seriously, someone will help but you have to let them know you could use their help.

After you make that first move, here are some tools and tricks that are fun, easy, and helpful to get you to the second (or third) step in your business or personal life:

Tools

Spritzlet

An incredibly useful bookmarklet to speed read any website. Spritzlet lets you zip through blog posts, news articles, etc.  You will retain more of what you read and it is fun to use.   I use it for fun just to see how fast I can read.  (Kinda like the old fashion typing tests.) It forces you to concentrate on the task at hand.

Jing

This is sheer magic.  A free tool to take screenshots or videos of your screen to share or receive.  This is invaluable in training, whether you are doing the training or the learning.  A picture is worth a page of instructions! Fast track your productivity.

Evernote

If you are not using Evernote to boost productivity, how are you functioning? Whether you’re looking to simply create articles, compile research or create shopping lists, you need Evernote.  You can organize clips, web pages, and articles into notebooks and even stack them in the order you need.  It is easy to scan for keywords even in handwriting.  Currently, they are collaborating with Google Drive so that Evernote customers can add any file in Drive to their notes without leaving Evernote.  Any changes to files in Google Drive will update in Evernote. Awesome.

Tricks

Pomodoro Technique

When my son was little we used timers for playtime, bath time, basically anytime we didn’t want to engage in a debate with a two-year-old.  Children seem less likely to argue with a timer!  As an adult, I love using a timer and usually just use the kitchen timer.  The Pomodoro Technique is using a timer in proven effective manner to increase productivity for adults.  You use a timer to break your work into 25 minutes of time blocks (called a “Pomodoro”) with timed breaks which help your mind stay fresh. Since you know the time is fixed, you will be encouraged to focus and work until the time is up. At home or at the office you could use a basic timer.  Since most of us love apps, there are many Pomodoro apps to choose from.  Focus Booster is designed for Iphones and Ipads.  You can use it for free up to 20 sessions and after that the cost is minimal.  For Android users, try Clear Focus on Google Play.

Password retrieval

While most of our passwords automatically log in on our own computers, sometimes you need to know that hidden password that you can’t rememberRight-click the password box and select “Inspect Element.” This brings up the developer console. On the line that starts with “input type=password” change the word “password” to “text.” This will reveal your password.  Brilliant.

Just for Fun

Audible

Have fun and be productive.  Whether you want to stop procrastinating, listen to meditation music, master the art of communicating, or just slip away a while in a novel, Audible.com offers the best selection of audible books.  Don’t like a book? Return it and get your credit refunded.  You can search for the perfect title and save titles in a wish list for later.  Yes, I love Audible.com.

Humor

That’s right, get more humor in your daily routine.  Humor can increase productivity and creativity, as well as promote physical and emotional good health. Laughter can lower your heart rate, reduce your blood pressure and even improve the function of your blood vessels.  Life is too short to be serious all the time.  Humor can put things into perspective, inspire hope, and give encouragement.  Take a look at Weekly Humor.

While I can’t help you with an overstuffed room, I can help if you are staring at a blank page which should be filled with engaging blog content or if you need persuasive copy for your landing or sale page.  Or maybe you just have current content that needs editing or tweaking.  Looking for a killer headline? You don’t need to do it alone.   Reach out to annette@visionaryvirtualassistant.com for more information.  You have nothing to lose but a blank page!  In a hurry?  Call (256) 571-6228.

 

Blogging Block?

 

SOCIAL MEDIA 2016 – 6 INSIGHTS TO EMBRACE

2016 Social Media

Give Them Something To Talk About

Humans want to share and be acknowledged in order to belong, to connect, to know that we’re important, that we matter. – Mari Smith, Author

While pouring over the experts’ predictions for social media 2016, the numbers are not in dispute:

  • Facebook – 1.3 billion active users
  • Twitter – 270 million active users sending 500 million tweets per day
  • You Tube – 4 billion videos viewed (46,296 per second)
  • Instagram – 60 million photos uploaded

Now catch your breath.  This is all good news.  Whether you are business or personal coach, virtual assistant, solo entrepreneur, or anything in between, you can rock social media.  Whether you are outgoing or a complete introvert, 2016 is the year to optimize your social media networks.  If you need help, get it.  If you need training, take it.  Here are six insights for you to embrace for 2016.

Ten Simple Punctuation Tweaks and Tips To Instantly Add Rhythm, Elegance, And Drama to Your Writing

Through social media we can now share information on a global scale. With this marvelous development however, we have lost the advantage of our physical body language. So using punctuation in the form of dots and squiggles and other funny marks is more crucial than ever to help your audience visualize your body language. Using the right punctuation at the right time allows your audience to feel tempo of your voice, lets them know when to slow down, that you are about to change directions, or that you find something exciting. Even causal communication is not an excuse to forego proper punctuation.

If you need more convincing, consider:

  1.  Proper punctuation conveys that you are confident, strong, and decisive. The lack of it can convey that you are sloppy and careless – even if you are not.
  2.  Your written communication will possibly be the only opportunity you will get to present yourself.
  3.  It shows respect for your audience making it easier for them to align and connect with you.

While we can find humor in the misuse of punctuation (when it is someone’s mistake), sometimes the results are costly and embarrassing on global scale:

An omitted comma and misplaced period cost Alitalia Airlines $7.2 million. In 2006, it offered business-class flights from Toronto to Cyprus for $39.00 instead of the usual $3,900.00. Approximately 2,000 travelers took advantage of the rates before the mistake was corrected. While it attempted to cancel the ticket purchases, that prompted a breakdown in public relations. Alitalia Airlines eventually cut its losses and agreed to the price rate reduction as a goodwill gesture to protect its reputation at a cost exceeding $7.2 million. All because of an omitted comma and a misplaced period.

A missing punctuation mark in a guidance equation led to a great national embarrassment when the rocket carrying the Mariner 1 space probe exploded shortly after lift-off on July 22, 1962, in what is widely believed to the most expensive typographical mistake of all time. NASA investigators traced the cause of the accident to the omission of a single hyphen (or superscripted over-bar) in the guidance control software, which transmitted a series of incorrect course correction signals that threw the vehicle off its flight trajectory.

So that you avoid causing a NASA explosion, on with punctuation tweaks and tips:

  1. Periods.
    Use them. They are for mildly exclamatory sentences and to prevent run-one sentences.
  2. Commas.
    Use commas for one beat to create rhythm and to add a subtle elegance to your sentence. Use them to join two clauses. If you don’t want your reader to pause, don’t use them. Use commas instead of periods to prevent breaking up a sentence.
  3.  Semi-colon.
    Use to separate items on a list or to connect a logical thought not joined by a word, phrase, or clause to hold it together (conjunction). Example: “Give without remembering; take without forgetting.”  You should be able to replace the semi-colon with a period.
  4. Colon.
    Consider it the social punctuation mark. It is used to introduce bulleted or numbered lists or separate blocks of information. Use it to let your reader know that what follows it is related to preceding sentence. Also used to set the rhythm of the sentence and creates a little drama.
  5. Exclamation Mark.
    Use it to express a high degree of surprise, incredulity, or other strong emotion. Since it is one of the most exploited, abused, and overused punctuation marks in the English language, avoid overusing it. The excessive use of it diminishes its impact. Try substituting active verbs and adverbs.
  6.  Apostrophe.
    Use an apostrophe to indicate that a letter or letters have been omitted. Do not use an ‘s to signify a plural. Never write shoe’s if you mean two shoes.
  7.  Italics.
    Italics can be used for emphasis. It is not necessary to use them for words that would be emphasized naturally in normal reading. Never use italics and underlining together.
  8.  Quotation Marks.
    Use to enclose direct quotes. The quotations are placed after the final punctuation of the sentence you are quoting. Can also be used to introduce a new term for the first time: “H2H”   (Human to Human) is soon to be the number one business code phrase. Do not use the quotes after the first introduction of a new term. Do not use for indirect quotes or as a cute way of expressing a feeling.
  9.  Ellipsis.
    The ellipsis is a convenient mark of three evenly spaced dots (…) to show omitted words from a quote. Each period should have a single space on either side, except when next to a quotation mark, in which case there should be no space.
  10.  When Proper Punctuation Doesn’t Help.
    While proper punctuation is crucial, it will not help if the writing is lacking. If changing the punctuation doesn’t seem to help, you may need to change your sentence structure and revise
    your content.

So you know what you want to say, but can’t find your rhythm? Does your mind freeze when you think about writing? Do you have more urgent business to accomplish than worrying about your punctuation skills?

Not to worry. I can help.
Annette Cantu
http://www.visionaryvirtualassistant.com
annette@visionaryvirtualassistant.com