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Pimp Your Work

October 20th, 2007

How to go through RSS feeds quickly (and not let it eat your day)

If you’re a blog addict, odds are you subscribe to hundreds of sites.  These sites often have multiple updates, so you thought you’d go through all of them more quickly if you used an RSS reader.  Now that you have the reader, you’re still viewing hundreds of site updates a day.  How do you go through all that without watching your life pass you by?

You don’t have to read everything.  That’s right - you really don’t.  Simply scan for headlines that contain keywords which interest you.  Read those and ignore the rest.  I use GreatNews as a feedreader, and like most readers it also lets me click on headlines and bookmark them.  If you can do this with your feed reader, you can postpone reading some entries until later.  If you read everything in one go, it’ll definitely eat up a lot of your time.

Categorize your feeds.  You can organize feeds into different categories such as “Friends’ Blogs”, “Business”, “Job Listings”, etc.  Arrange them according to importance.  If your feed reader insists on arranging the feed categories alphabetically, place a priority number before each category, with 1 being the most urgent.  By doing this, you can go through your priority feeds first without having to read all the things that don’t require immediate attention.

 Orient your feed display for better vertical scanning. GreatNews lets me select the type of format I want to view the feeds in.  I used to view it with a table-like format that had rows and columns.  The downside? It wasn’t optimal for quick scanning.  My eye movement had to go from left to right, trying to read headlines in each column.  Now, I changed to format so that all the feed headlines will be displayed like a long list.  This allows my eyes to simply scroll down and scan for updates that I really want to read.

Trim down your list.  Eventually, you’ll notice that you read some feeds more often than the others.  If you seem to skip reading feeds from a specific site, it’s best to remove it from your reader.  After all, skipping over those items regularly also eats up your time.

If you want more information on RSS reading productivity, Rober Scoble has an interesting video on Tim Ferriss’ blog with additional RSS reading tips. (It’s in video!)

By Celine -- 2 comments

April 26th, 2007

Diana always seems to have the tips you need-read them!

 Diana Huggins who contributes to Lockgnome’s Windows Fanatics blog always seems to have those tips and how tos that people need.  Whether it’s watermarks in Word or new lines in Excel cells, Diana has posted them.

Sure, you might think they are simple, if you’ve already spent time trying to figure out how to do it through trial and error and Office help, but lots of people haven’t.

Instead of just posting every day her latest tip, just save us both some time and subscribe to the blog and get them via RSS.


By Tris Hussey -- 0 comments

March 7th, 2007

Medical Technology - For the Patient

These last few months, I’ve spent a fair amount of time in medical facilities, mostly working preventive things (nothing scary here; not to worry). There’s been a big change in practice where I go and see my doctor: a whole lot of technology has been added to the workplace.

Instead of paper records, my medical history is not being entered directly into PC’s in the examination room. Upon visiting other areas outside of the doctors office such as the lab, my information is instantly available to the practitioners there.

When longer commentary needs to be done on my medical records, my doctor uses a Treo 650 smartphone to dial up a dictation number where she records what’s needed.

When I need a prescription, the prescription is loaded into the system and automatically faxed to my pharmacy before I ever leave the doctors office.

Yes, it helps the doctors office.

But the additional technology has also helped me.

By Scot Herrick -- 0 comments

February 21st, 2007

Let this be a reminder, check ALL the cables when something isn’t working

Got this from Chris Pirillo today:


Oh I have so been there.  I’ve done it myself, I’ve seen tons of other people do it.  Sometimes the cable looks like it’s in, but just isn’t seated all the way.  So, take it from Chris and I, check all the cables.  Then check them again.

By Tris Hussey -- 0 comments

February 15th, 2007

Stuck creating a document? Try using a template

So you need to create a new document.  It doesn’t matter if you’re using Microsoft Word, Excel, or PowerPoint (or even OpenOffice), looking at a blank screen is almost as daunting as getting the document done.

Now, when you make this a complex task, like a form letter or invoice, you can waste a lot of time making one from scratch.  My first stop whenever I need to do something like this is to look for the built-in templates that of come with Microsoft office.

Like today, I needed to make a new invoice, my old PDF invoice wasn’t going to work anymore, so I needed something new.  My first stop in Excel, because a knew Excel was the right application for me to make invoices, was to open help, and type invoice template.  I was given a choice of several different styles of templates, I picked one, downloaded it from Microsoft, filled it in, and I was done.

The same goes for Word or PowerPoint, browsing the built in templates can save you a ton of time when you need to make a new document, an especially a complex document.

For instance business cards.  When you buy one of the print yourself business card packs, using a template is critical to making sure the cards come out right.

For those of you who think all stock templates are boring and ugly, you’re wrong.  A lot of the templates are very nice, and all of them can be customized.

One of the best work tips I can give you is to use the resources your computer already has two save you time and effort.  Using templates is one of those tips that everyone should be using.


By Tris Hussey -- 0 comments

February 15th, 2007

How to get to your programs faster in Windows

How long does it take you to get to the programs you use everyday?  Should really be two clicks at most, and there are two easy ways to do this built into Windows without needing to install any extra software.

Sure there are programs like Launchy, but I’m on a path to keep my new Vista install as clean as I can (Omm fewer installs omm…) so I’m looking at tips and tricks that don’t require additional installs.

The first under-used tip is the Quick Launch toolbar on the Task Bar.  Can’t see it?  You might just be ignoring it.  It’s right next to the Start button.  To make sure you can see it, right-click on the Task Bar, go up to tool bars and select Quick Launch and make sure it’s checked.  The next thing I like to do is to unlock the tool bars if so that you can make the Quick Launch toolbar larger.  The idea here is that you can drag shortcuts to the applications you use most often too quick launch so you can access them with just one click.  So to get started with the Quick Launch toolbar the only thing you have to do is to run shortcuts down to it and you’re there.  Personally, I have my toolbar adjusted to show about five or six icons.  You can reorder them however you want by just dragging them around.  Now all these applications are available to you with just one click. 

Now let’s talk about pinning to the Start menu this is really in under-used feature that most people don’t really use.  Did you know that you can pin applications to the start menu that you use a lot?  It’s very simple to set up, all you have to do is navigate through your All Programs menu, right click on an application, and select Pin to Start menu.  This gives you a list of applications you use a lot, only two clicks away.  I’ve put all of the Microsoft Office applications on my start menu, in addition to email and web browser.

So I have two ways to quickly get to my applications, one is quick launch and the other is the Start menu.  I use Quick Launch for the applications I use a lot things I want to launch fast.  Things like Outlook, FTP, MindManager, text editor, web browsing.  These are apps that I use publish so often that I don’t want to have to navigate anywhere to get to them.

And again this is a simple tip, it’s built right into Windows, and doesn’t make your system run any slower, unlike adding an additional application.

Go ahead and try this now you’ll be surprised at how many times this is going to save you from having to go to the start menu.


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By Tris Hussey -- 2 comments

February 8th, 2007

Pimp your proposals with Ben’s advice

Our very own Ben Yoskovitz started a sensation yesterday with his post Top 10 Reasons Proposals Fail on his Instigator blog.  It made the front page of Digg (causing his servers to crash not once, but twice) and has now been featured on LifeHacker.

If you’re in a business where your proposals make or break your bottom line, this post offers a lot of common mistakes you should watch out for.
Source: Why your proposals fail - Lifehacker

I’m working on a proposal now with Ben on a project and keeping his tips in mind has made for a much stronger proposal.  This is a must-read post.


By Tris Hussey -- 0 comments

February 7th, 2007

Weekly versus Daily Tasks

There is the debate, in my mind, between scheduling the “big rocks” for the week into my calendar compared to having “next actions” about the big rocks scheduled into my calendar.

For those who follow time management disciplines, the Steven Covey approach to time management compared to David Allen’s Getting Things Done approach.

Personally, I loved the Franklin Covey approach to time management. Personally, I kept running into the reality of the workplace and could never fully implement a seven-day week where I could actually plan out what needed to be done and really do it on the plan.

How about you? What time management discipline do you use? Getting Things Done is hot…but that’s because there are a lot of bloggers blogging about it. I’d rather hear about it from you.

By Scot Herrick -- 0 comments

February 5th, 2007

Desktop search in Vista-files meet tags

While I’m still waiting for my copy of Vista to arrive (looks like Friday-ish), I’ve been reading up on it to see how it’s going to help me do “stuff” better.  Besides gathering up tons of install tips (no I’m not doing a clean install), I’ve been looking at the built-in improvements to search.  LifeHacker has a super tutorial on something I didn’t know Vista was going to handle, letting you assign tags to files

Tagging has taken off on the web, but what about on your hard drive? On the heels of Mac OS X’s file tagging and Smart Folders features, Windows Vista users can now tag their files and use those keywords to organize and search documents on their desktop.
Back in April, guest author Nick Santilli described how he uses metadata as a filing system on his Mac. Today, with Windows Vista, this method works on a PC as well. Let’s take a look at the not-perfect-but-a-good-start file tagging and saved search features of Vista.

I played with a desktop search app couple years ago that had something like smart folders, but this is much better.  Since it’s only going to really work well with Office files, I’ll focus on that.

So you write proposals for your job.  Great.  How do you file them?  All proposals together?  By client?  By product?  What about all the other files?  Yeah, it can be a mess.  So this is what I’m going to do.  As a part of One By One Media, I write a lot of proposals and file the others people write.  And then are are metrics, and plugins, and notes.  So I’ll be tagging stuff like this.  A proposal will be [proposals,OBO,client,] at least.  Over time this will let me put all proposals together, all client documents together (like NDAs and contracts), all OBO stuff together.

In the end I think the concept of folders might become less important, it’s going to be the oft-heralded metadata that will be important.  Folders out the window?  No way.  Until computers are blazing fast and search nearly infallible you’re still going to want to have some level of organization to keep things straight.

Don’t worry, I’ll tell you all the Vista goodies as I learn them.

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By Tris Hussey -- 0 comments

October 23rd, 2006

Managing e-mail on your Blackberry … block it all

Huh?  Isn’t the whole point of having a Blackberry getting e-mail on the go?  Yes.  The problem is that if you let all the e-mail through, your Berry might be pinging (or whatever your alert sound is) all the time.  At first I just tried routing everything through GMail and that worked pretty well.  Then I realized that I didn’t really need to receive some e-mails on my Berry.  Mailing lists, other notices (like comments), things that I didn’t need to know immediately or I couldn’t do anything about until I got to a computer.  So I started filtering out those e-mails.  The Blackberry website that Telus provides makes it really easy.  The thing was though, I was still getting too much e-mail (IMHO).  Spam, and other stuff … hey I’m paying for this!  So I turned off all my e-mail to my Berry.  Yep, set the default on the filters to be send nothing.  Then came the fun part.  I just created filters to allow people I wanted to get e-mail on my Berry.

It might seem like a lot of work, but it really isn’t.  Checking the rest of my e-mail is as easy as going to GMail mobile (which works pretty well on my Berry).  Look I love my Berry.  I love the data access and that it’s an EVDO modem when I need it.  I don’t want to max out my data allotment on e-mail I don’t care about.  Simple as that.

I know that Scot has a Treo (I think) … does the same thing apply to you Scot?

Update: Be very careful when editing your filters.  I goofed yesterday and somehow wound up over-riding my block all filter so my Berry was getting all e-mail and I couldn’t figure out why.  I think one of the filters had something stupid in it so I deleted them all, had it sit with none for a bit (to make sure no e-mail got through) then re-added slowly.

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By Tris Hussey -- 3 comments

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