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Category: productivity

There are 5 posts published under productivity.

Switching from iOS to Android

Thinking of switching from iOS to Android? This post will help by addressing some of the areas of hesitation or concern, particularly as it relates to the new iOS continuity announcements.  more


Productivity CliffsNotes: What I Learned From Tim Ferriss

When you’re starting up a new venture, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Sometimes, it seems as though your startup is running you, not the other way around.

For me, this meant spending too many hours a week working where I wasn’t needed. Tim Ferriss’s book, “The 4-Hour Workweek,” hit me in the right place at the right time and helped me become an efficient leader (instead of an exhausted one).

If this is the first time you’re hearing the name Tim Ferriss, chances are it won’t be the last. A successful startup founder in his own right and a prolific angel investor, Tim’s biggest success comes from his skill at lifestyle design: managing your life to be your most productive without losing sight of your priorities.

After he founded his nutritional supplement company, BrainQUICKEN, Tim Ferriss went on to write “The 4-Hour Workweek,” which became an enormous success in the Silicon Valley tech scene. Like many startup founders, Tim had been running himself ragged, devoting nearly all his time to running his company.

It was only when he reevaluated where he was actually needed that he began to realize that more did not necessarily equal better. I took the lessons in this book to heart and still use many of the techniques he evangelizes today.

What I Learned From Tim Ferriss (and How It Can Help You)

The law of the “vital few and trivial many” is a recurring theme in “The 4-Hour Workweek,” and it’s the jumping-off point to changing how you do business.

Ferriss uses what is known as the Pareto Principle, or the 80/20 rule. As used in Ferriss’s book, the 80/20 principle means that 80 percent of your output is a result of only 20 percent of your input. In other words, 80 percent of your efforts are misguided or wasted; it’s the vital 20 percent you should be focusing your energy on.

The 80/20 principle isn’t about cutting corners or working less, but working smarter. It taught me to analyze where I was most useful and concentrate my efforts there, freeing up the rest of my time to recharge or work on other things.

There are a few practical ways to discard your wasted “80 percent” activities so you can achieve real productivity.

1. Manage by Absence

This might be the hardest thing for a startup founder to do, but it’s also the most important. Step away from managing things for a while, and see what starts to fall apart. It sounds dramatic, but the fact is that once you’ve set the wheels in motion, many aspects of the business can run on a daily basis without your oversight. When you can see what those things are, you can put your efforts to better use.

2. Interrupt Interruption  

Another thing that prevents you from achieving 80/20 is the sheer amount of distraction in everyday life. The habit of constantly checking the news or social media, refreshing your inbox multiple times per hour, and trying to keep up with the flow of information online can trick you into feeling productive without actually getting anything done.

In the “The 4-Hour Workweek,” Tim discusses going on a low-information diet where you essentially tune out news and time-sucking distractions altogether. To keep yourself off social media and other time-wasters online, try StayFocusd for Chrome or LeechBlock for Firefox.

Stop answering the phone, and direct calls to your email. To avoid becoming a slave to your inbox, use a tool like SaneBox or Mailbox to categorize your emails and have them reappear automatically if you need a reminder.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Outsource

Outsourcing can be a dirty word, and, in some situations, it’s warranted. But outsourcing doesn’t just refer to manufacturing and customer support. In this context, it’s more about delegating. It’s easy to find skilled freelancers and virtual assistants online who can do basic tasks at a lower cost. (Tim even outsourced his online dating.)

While this is an extreme example, eliminating the busywork from your life — and from your key employees’ lives — means you can increase your efficiency and allow everyone to focus on the most important things.

4. Get Analytical

Part of what makes Tim brilliant is that he’s all about experimentation. He’s a scientist of business, writing, cooking, and exercise to find the most efficient way to do things. Think of it as A/B testing your life and making small changes that have a big cumulative effect on the way you manage your time.

The underlying lesson I took from “The 4-Hour Workweek” is the notion that you can define your own reality. It’s not just about having goals; it’s about going back to the beginning and figuring out the steps that will take you where you want to go.

For me, utilizing the 80/20 principle allowed me to go from working on one startup 40-50 hours per week to working 12 hours a week. Not only did I work more efficiently, but I used the extra time to start another company with profits that were 10 times that of the business I’d been spending the whole week on.

Spending time where you’re most needed and cutting out everything else can open up a world of possibilities for you. You just have to be willing to step back and unabashedly change your daily reality.


Stephan Aarstol is the CEO and founder of Tower Paddle Boards, an online, manufacturer-direct brand in stand up paddle boarding. Tower Paddle Boards was invested in by Mark Cuban on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” was named one of the show’s “Top 10 Success Stories” by Entrepreneur Magazine, and was featured by People Magazine as one of “Shark Tank’s Biggest Winners.” Stephan is an entrepreneurial thought leader and online marketing expert, and he welcomes anyone to reach out to him on Google+.


10 Ways Digital Currency Could Survive and Succeed

With all the recent news around Bitcoin and Mt. Gox, what do you think the future really holds for digital currency and why?

The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.


1. Bitcoin Will Continue the Cycle

You’re going to see a pattern in any new technology. Invention, early adoption, media misinformation, speculation, bubble, deflation, then traction. Bitcoin is like the Internet in the mid-’90s: misunderstood by most. Heavy speculation of the Internet resulted in the dot-com bust, and it wasn’t until after the bust that it became what it is today. Bitcoin is going through the same cycle.


2. Setbacks Won’t Last

As is true at the front end of every technological curve, there are significant segments of the community that foretell doom for the new technology. Whether it’s because naysayers do not see the big picture or because they’re financially tied to the existing system, time, and technology are not on their side. The current safety setbacks are just that — setbacks. They won’t last.
Brennan White Watchtower


3. People Should Let It Run Its Course

Right now, Bitcoin is in a sensationalist phase. People are either hyping it up or hoping it will fail. People should let it run its course. The media has influenced its adoption by mainstream companies and countries. Now there are conventional investors and large corporations behind Bitcoin, so it’s doubtful it will be made illegal. Exchangers will probably face forced regulation compliance.
Gideon KimbrellInList Inc


4. Bitcoin May Fade Entirely

Unless security features can be greatly improved and the suspension of transactions can be ceased, you may eventually see virtual currencies fade entirely.
Andrew SchrageMoney Crashers Personal Finance




5. There Will Be More Trial and Error

With Bitcoin heists reaching into the hundreds of millions, it’s going to take continuous evolution for this type of currency to gain true stability.
Sam SaxtonSalter Spiral Stair and Mylen Stairs




6. Digital Currency Will Move Global Commerce Forward

Every time I hear about Bitcoin’s troubles, I’m tempted to point back to the first experiments with paper currency hundreds of years ago in China. They went horribly; it took several tries to create a paper currency people could actually use. Digital currencies will require the same trial and error to become established, but they are a necessary technology for moving global commerce forward.
Thursday Bram Hyper Modern Consulting


7. Bitcoin Will Allow Mobile Payments

We have a lot to figure out before digital currency replaces traditional currency, but it’s definitely inevitable. I think the first things to nail down are mobile payments and security. Progress is already underway, and a full digital currency is what will come from that progress.
Chuck Reynolds Levers


8. Bitcoin Will Pave the Way for Cryptocurrencies

The issues with Mt. Gox are only a bump in the road for Bitcoin. The future might be rocky, but I feel that it will keep growing rapidly and pave the way for other cryptocurrencies. While they may not prove to be the absolute future of currency in the world, I do believe that within a lifetime, we’ll see it become widely used and a staple in conversations about finance and economy.
Daniel Wesley,


9. Digital Payments Will Continue to Grow

Digital payments have been around for the past decade. Companies, such as PayPal and Square, make it easy to incorporate a digital payment solution into your business, but these services come with transaction processing fees. In contrast, there is no business or central authority that controls Bitcoin. There are no fees for large transactions or negligible fees for small transactions.
Björn Stansvik MentorMate


10. Bitcoin Is Experiencing Growing Pains

Things like this tend to happen in the early days of technology, as people are just starting to understand how to manage it effectively. Didn’t you feel any sort of growing pains when you started your first company before eventually taking off? Most likely you did, and that’s the exact same thing going on with Bitcoin.
Andy KaruzaBrandbuddee


Keslow Camera Always Ready for “Action” with a Tablet Solution

Keslow Camera may not be a household name, but if you watch TV or go to the movies, you’ve seen our work. As one of the largest camera rental companies in the Los Angeles/Hollywood area, we have a long list of credits ranging from Lone Suvivor to Disney’s upcoming Tomorrowland, to popular television shows like Sleepy Hollow, Chicago Fire, Shameless, and many more.

Our success comes largely from a culture that always puts the customer first. This requires commitment, talent and very efficient business processes. That’s why Keslow Camera abandoned its old paper-based system for a custom FileMaker solution for iPad, iPhone, and Mac computers that we affectionately call Flawless. Today, the solution touches every aspect of our business, from managing contracts and bids to fulfilling orders, tracking equipment worldwide, invoicing, and forecasting sales.

After implementing Flawless, I’ve learned several ways to succeed with tablets.

  • Don’t get bogged down in paper: Instead of spending several minutes trying to locate an order or determine what’s in stock and what is already rented out, our team can now respond instantly to customers. This flexibility enables us to land important contracts with major media and entertainment companies.
  • Involve the entire staff: We now have over 50 employees across various offices around the U.S., all using Flawless running on Macs, iPads, iPod touches, and iPhones. The equipment puller, shipping & receiving team, and prep technicians all use iOS devices to accomplish their work.  Any time barcodes are being scanned in or out to build contracts; an iOS device comes into play.
  • Engage management: We’re using iPhones running Flawless remotely, either from home after hours or anytime we are out of the office to check availability of gear. This capability is especially handy throughout weekends when we get emergency calls.
  • Keep speed in mind: Production teams need to know in advance what equipment is available if they need additional gear shipped out. Flawless helps us submit bids faster than the competition so we are the first to respond to the customer.
  • Think paperless: We need to manage a large number of PDFs – purchase orders, contracts and invoices. With our custom solution, the company can maintain these documents externally to the solution in managed storage, while still being able to have instant access. 

Developer Scott Rose of ScottWorld developed Flawless. The database is hosted on a Mac Pro for easy access across Keslow Camera’s offices in Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Santa Fe, and New Orleans. Managers and staff can tap into the information they need anytime, from anywhere, including via iPads and iPhones. The FileMaker Go app brings the full, rich application to Keslow’s iPad and iPhone users – it’s not just a slimmed-down version of the database.

Plus, unlike typical off-the-shelf software, it’s really easy to make updates and improvements to our solution, as our business grows – no waiting for months or years for new features. With our new solution, ScottWorld can constantly and quickly make improvements any time an employee has a good suggestion.

Keslow Camera is growing roughly 30 percent year over year, so having this kind of power and flexibility is essential. This blazing-fast solution, accessible to our staff nationwide, is really helping set us apart from our competition.



Why Humor at Work Can Boost Productivity, Sales & Morale

Laughter with work colleagues can be not only enjoyable, but healthy as well. So why don’t we have more laughter in the workplace?


Chalk it up to current events. If the recent US government shutdown and near debt default didn’t get you LOLing, then, likely, nor did the continual pressures of your workplace to do more work with less (fill in the blank). But studies have proven that laughter can be supremely beneficial to humans.


Smithsonian Magazine looked at laughter and why we have it in our lives. First, it’s a pleasure trove: laughter brings happiness. But we also laugh when we’re nervous. We laugh to mock. We also laugh to show acceptance and pleasure, two traits that are important in group settings. And that’s where the workplace comes into play.


Health Benefits


Polling company Gallup released results this past summer from a survey that looked at workplace engagement of the 100 million or so Americans in full-time positions. It showed that about half of all American workers (or 50 million of those workers) are simply not engaged at their workplace. They are in the office and present, but not inspired by their managers or by their work. Another 20 million wrote on their survey forms of being ‘actively disengaged’ at work. The remaining 30 million workers showed that they were engaged during their work day.


Laughter can help this disengagement to a certain degree. We can’t all be that lucky to laugh all day at work, but planned experiences around humor, fun and other morale-increasing exercises can do wonders for a workforce. Laughter is a signal that endorphins are in play. When we laugh, our body alerts us to a chain reaction that connects with physical and psychological benefits. Our body’s stress-induced levels fall when we laugh more. And that’s good. The lower the cortisol levels in our body mean the lower risk of high blood pressure, excess belly weight and heart disease.


Workplace Laughter


If you work with a group of introverts on computers in a quiet office, the opportunities for laughter in the workplace may be few. But in a less technologically dependent workplace, where human personalities and social skills are important to the job, laughter can be a large part of the work. Here are a few ways to bring laughter into the workplace:


Brainstorming: If you work in a creative environment, no-holds-barred brainstorming is often a link to group laughter. In group brainstorms, sometimes the imagination goes off the rails and ideas become sillier and sillier, leading workers to fits of laughter. But that’s incidental laughter. What about scheduled, planned humor practices and methods to bring your team into a new paradigm of thinking to boost sales, productivity and overall results?


Humor Contest: Get funny. To some workers who aren’t naturally gifted with humor, being funny is a challenge. So use the coming holidays to start up a humor contest. Use an office creative craft for a charity or organization to bring people together for fun. Pick a few people to lead teams in designing photo Christmas cards by Minted for your holiday parties. Using hilarious card options with company photos on the site will ignite the laughter around your office holidays.


Timing and context: Individually, workers can share humor in meetings and group activities. But make sure the context is right, the timing is good and the attitude is right, as the Wall Street Journal notes.


Culture shift: Some companies hire extroverts to come in and create change within companies. This planned change can show immediate benefits to workers. At first, these change agent antics may seems strange, but if the top management gives blessings to their work, then others can follow suit and lighten up more often.