SMART START

intelligent business. simplified.

PRODUCTIVITY
Boost Camp

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Resource Guide

SMARTSTART | Business Success

PRODUCTIVITY Boost Camp

RECOMMENDED RESOURCES:
Energy Management
1. The Strangest Secret in the World (audio)
http://www.markvictorhansen.com/strangest_secret.php

Productivity (or lack thereof) is always a reflection of your state of mind. We become what we think about. This motivational audio recording, the classic by Earl Nightingale, explains the importance of being in control of your mind at all times. If you’ve never heard it before, it’s well worth a listen and Mark Victor Hansen has made it available to you online. 2. VARK – A Guide to Learning Styles (quiz)
http://vark-learn.com/english/page.asp?p=questionnaire

In the PRODUCTIVITY Masterclass, I recommended you take this quiz to better understand how you best learn. It’s also important for you to understand the different learning styles because it impacts how you reach your target customers and helps you work more effectively with your staff, outsourced teams and suppliers. If you do not know your own best learning style, take the VARK quiz and find out. (And if you have staff already, get them to take it as well. You can make it part of your hiring process too.) 3. The Online CEO (free)
http://www.roughunderbelly.com

Once you’ve created your own value-rated activity chart, you can use this tool to record your daily planned activities and track performance. This site was created by Geoffrey Grosenbach, a technical guy who had a special interest in the productivity tools, using an original concept created by David Seah. He hasn’t developed it further for commercial resale (and I rather doubt he will) but it functions perfectly well for your activity tracking purposes.

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PRODUCTIVITY Boost Camp

Action Management
4. Rescue Time (free tool)
http://rescuetime.com

Most people lose a lot of prime work time fooling around on the web. This nifty monitoring tool runs in the background and keeps track of where your time is really going. We can’t change what we don’t acknowledge. Sometimes you need to see the hard facts to do that. They’re not exaggerating when they say it’s ridiculously easy time management and analytics. Without having to do any data entry, you’ll know exactly what software and web sites you’re using regularly, how much time you’re spending on email and so on. Then you’ll know exactly where you need to make change. This tool also helps you beat procrastination by tracking your work goals and issuing alerts when you’re heading into overtime. It’s an effortless way to improve your efficiency based on the facts. And, if you’re the competitive type, and work with a team, you can also compare your productivity to others for added incentive. 5. Online Stopwatch (free tool)
http://online-stopwatch.com

I use a beautiful hand blown antique hourglass to raise my awareness of passing time when I need to keep an eye on it but you may prefer using this handy tool that serves as either a stopwatch or a countdown timer and sits right on your computer’s desktop. Never miss an opportunity to add a little more fun to your work day. You’ll be surprised at how quickly and easily playing regular games of “beat the clock” sharpens your focus, increases satisfaction and immediately improves your productivity. 6. The Printable CEO (free goal tracking form (PDF))
http://davidseah.com/pub/downloads/pceo/cgt/PCEO-CGT01-Standard.pdf

If you prefer pencil and paper to online tracking tools, you can print this handy form and use it to record your daily planned activities and track performance against your valuerated tasks. Filling in the bubbles by hand and tallying your score every day provides regular hits of emotional satisfaction which is good for boosting self-esteem and helps you monitor your progress and see your self-directed improvement.

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PRODUCTIVITY Boost Camp

Workflow Management
7. Emergent Task Timer (free task tracking tool)
http://davidseah.com/tools/ett/alpha/

The Emergent Task Timer, a diagnostic timesheet, is one of the incredible tools created by David Seah for tracking how long it takes you to complete specific tasks so you can analyze the patterns of productivity that naturally emerge in your workday. Since most people don't actually plan out their tasks at the detailed level, the emergent task methodology may be the gateway to using The Printable CEO™ (the tool he created that I recommended for capturing your value-rated activities) when the important high-level tasks aren't known ahead of time. The ETT helps you in two ways: 1) in finding structure after the fact and 2) as a way of keeping yourself focused having incorporated a 15-minute timer into the process. Here’s how you use it. You’re about to start work, but are feeling a little vague and unfocused. You want to work on something, so you start the 15-minute timer. Knowing the timer is counting down, you feel motivated to get moving, so you just start and 15 minutes later, you get beeped. You then write down what you were doing, reset the timer and keep going. If you start a new task, or if it's a significant sub-task, you make a new entry on the sheet and fill in the appropriate bubbles every time the timer goes off. Continue this throughout your day (the sheet has 8 hours, broken into 15-minute chunks). By the end of your work session, you have a record of what you did, broken down by task. You’ll see where your time was spent, captured in a way that is intuitively readable. Where you see the most black, that's where the most time you spent was. You might also be able to see patterns of where you ended up getting caught in email hell, or took an extra long lunch, or where you were getting nothing done because you were ping-ponging between multiple tasks. Pure genius! The time paces and reminds you to be mindful of what you are doing with your day.

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PRODUCTIVITY Boost Camp

Here’s what a complete sheet looks like:

Here’s how to evaluate your form results: There's nothing particularly special about the form, other than it's designed to be used with an egg timer. If you're conscientious about using the timer to track what you're doing, the following happens with little effort on your part: • You'll develop a better awareness of where time is going, which is an essential step in improving your own productivity. You'll see what kinds of tasks you're doing every day, and approximately how much time is getting swallowed up by it. You'd be surprised at how much is not essential; you can then consult your Concrete Goals Tracker to see how you're doing. You'll get an idea of how long it takes to do something, and this is invaluable information when it comes to giving estimates. You may develop better pacing, because your 15-minute timer starts to build anticipation in having something to record. If 15 minutes is too short, just use 30 minutes or an hour.

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PRODUCTIVITY Boost Camp

8. The Compact Calendar (free planning tool (Excel))
http://davidseah.com/page/compact-calendar#downloads

If you’re planning any projects or want to map out your time zones easily as you set yourself up for a super productive year, you’ll love David Seah’s other genius invention, The Compact Calendar. He created it to simplify estimating for proposals and production but I think you’ll find many other uses for it too. His design lets you see the entire year at a glance, candy bar style down the left side of the page leaving plenty of space for notes, scenario doodling and calculations. He set it up this way to make it easy to see and map out:
• • • •

How many days are available, including weekends When critical deliverables are scheduled How much calendar time is needed to finish a task What are the specific days (e.g., holidays) you need to work around

Project managers usually use a long timeline, like a Gantt chart, to capture this detail but it’s not very compact. This tool is so much better in my view. How to Use the Compact Calendar: Download the Microsoft Excel templates (they are .XLT files) from the web site link provided and double-click them to open. (If you're using a Mac, you may have to open them manually from Excel.) Select the "Calendar" worksheet and print it out. If you don't need the entire date range, you may also select just a few rows; just make sure you choose "print selection" from Excel's print dialog box. For impromptu planning, just circle dates and underline ranges, writing notes in the empty space on the right. It is basically a form of doodling your schedule. A great planning tool to use in meetings too; just whip out a few of these sheets out at a client meeting to do a quick thumbnail schedule on-the-spot and you’ll make a great impression, I promise. Advantages of the Compact Calendar: • The days are all packed together visually, so "distance" corresponds directly to time. This makes visually estimating how much time you need much easier, a visual advantage shared with the Gantt chart.

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PRODUCTIVITY Boost Camp

The calendar for an entire year can fit on a single piece of paper, with plenty of room for notes. You can also just print out a section of it, for short projects, by using the "print selection" feature of Excel and it should retain the headers. It still largely retains the monthly calendar format, with days of the week in columns, so it's a bit easier to use than a Gantt chart. Saturdays and Sundays are shaded differently, so we are not as tempted to plan our work schedule on them. It's easy to count weeks too. "Unit weeks" tend to be the building blocks of longerterm projects. You're forced to break up project tasks to fit into each 5-day work period. Gantt charts, by comparison, tend to draw long lines through the weekend because that's what lines want to do. Even if you don't work on the weekend, visually it seems to imply that you should be working. Because days of the week are retained in the same column, it's easy to mark recurring events tied to them (e.g., Friday Micro-Fundraising calls for SMARTSTART Giving)

The main drawback of the Compact Calendar is you can't easily show dependencies or overlapping tasks. It's also not so good for really detailed project planning. (For those cases, use David’s Excel spreadsheet version of the Gantt chart, which is much prettier than the ones that come out of Microsoft Project and doesn’t require an additional software license.) Printing the Compact Calendar: Complete instructions are available at the web link provided. David’s thought of everything for you! Compact Calendar Workflow: Like David, in general, I use the printouts as a thinking calendar, doodling in estimated times and circling dates, dependencies, and deliverables. You can see how he uses lines to connect with the notes on the right side of the paper in the example he provides on his web site. At client meetings you can use the calendar to note other dependencies, deliverables, and ask about company meetings and other potential conflicts like vacations. It's a lot easier to pass the sheet around than a laptop; people can contemplate paper more easily and mark off their commitments that you need to plan around.

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PRODUCTIVITY Boost Camp

David also uses this tool to note team deliverables and dates; everyone gets copies. Most people on a project team know what work they have to do and can plan appropriately if they can handily see their due dates. To date I have not found better productivity tools than David has created and, since in my business, time is money, I’m constantly on the lookout for the best tools to use in my work. Whether you’re building a web site, creating new products or sketching out your next marketing campaign, I think you’ll agree this one’s a keeper and this guy is a role model for professional excellence -- someone whose work you definitely want to follow. 9. Blue Flavor Timesheets (free PDF downloads)
http://blueflavor.com/blog/2006/jan/25/paper-timesheets/

Many have tried to invent a better timesheet using technology but really and truly, a paper timesheet is simpler and meets all your tracking and billing needs with virtually no technical training or special tools required. Plus they’re easy to store, ultra-portable, and fit right between the screen and keyboard of your laptop if you’re off to work on a client’s site. The Blue Flavor team is also a big fan of David’s tools so they turned his concept into a Timesheet and offer two versions: daily and hourly. Project tracking and billing as simple as it gets. You can even drop in your own logo to make it totally yours. (Just open up the PDF with Illustrator, add your signature image and you’re good to go.)
• • Hourly Timesheet Daily Timesheet

Stress Management
10. DIY Planner (free planning templates)
http://diyplanner.com

DIYPlanner.com is a community site whose focus is on paper-based productivity, planning, journalling and creative techniques. Here you will find the official D*I*Y Planner kits, as well as daily articles, scores of useful templates, handbooks and how-to information, forums for discussing productivity in its many forms, images to clad your planners or inspire you, and so much more. DIYPlanner.com is a non-profit venture. All the writers and editors are volunteers and the graphic designers submit their work under a Creative Commons License which permits you to use it at no charge but not to resell it for your own financial gain. The opportunities for continuing to use paper for productivity and creative possibilities are endless. This site provides opportunities for making the most out of your life, your work, and your ideas all from the convenience of your desktop.

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PRODUCTIVITY Boost Camp

11. Don’t Break the Chain (free motivational tool)
http://dontbreakthechain.com

This tool is Jerry Seinfeld’s productivity secret and it’s really easy to use. You can have multiple chains on the go whether you are working toward a goal, trying to break a habit or just marking time. Essentially, you write out what you’re working toward and mark off the days on which you did something (anything) that moved you forward. The point is not to break the chain. It doesn’t matter how small your action is; only that you took action. The chain is your visible proof of commitment. The longer your chain, the more disciplined you’ve been about taking action. Just seeing the unbroken chain is a psychological motivator. When you feel like procrastinating, just remind yourself of Seinfeld’s rule: “don’t break the chain”. 12. Remember the Milk (free online task management tool)
http://rememberthemilk.com

Remember the Milk is one of the best ways to manage your tasks online. Managing tasks is generally not a fun way to spend your time. If you use this tool, you no longer have to write your to-do lists on sticky notes, whiteboards, random scraps of paper, or the back of your hand. And I think you’ll find it makes managing tasks an enjoyable experience too. With Remember the Milk you can create special lists called Smart Lists based on specific criteria that you define which are automatically updated as your tasks change.

For example, you can create Smart Lists that only show:
• • • • •

Tasks due in the upcoming month Tasks with no due date Tasks that are more than one week overdue Tasks that have been completed in the past week Tasks with high priority
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• • • • • •

Tasks with time estimates less than 1 hour Tasks that have been postponed 3 times already Tasks that are shared with anyone Tasks that are shared with a specific person Tasks that are tagged with 'mall' Tasks that contain the word 'phone'

Smart Lists can also be based on multiple criteria, for example:
• • • • •

Tasks in your 'Work' list with high priority Tasks that are high priority and due in the upcoming week Tasks that are high priority or medium priority Tasks that are shared with anyone due in the upcoming week Tasks that are tagged with both 'mall' and 'gift'

There are many features offered in this tool that help you reduce your stress. For example, setting reminders (which you can set up based on when and how you want to be reminded) as shown below: Frequency and timing of reminders

Amount of advance notice given

Method of receiving your reminder

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You can also search your tasks and Smart Lists Remember the Milk has your own personal tasks search engine. The basic search allows you to enter words that appear in the name of the task you want to locate. Click in the search box, type in the word (or multiple words) that you're looking for, and then press enter. The powerful advanced search feature allows you to find tasks matching other criteria. For example, you can find tasks that you've shared with your joint venture partner that are high priority and due in the upcoming week and tagged with 'teleseminar'. You can also use advanced search operators for more complex searches.

There are many other nifty features available in the “Pro” edition which is affordably priced at just $25 for an entire year. These additional functions include having mobile access, being able to add tasks or import task lists via email or the web, and being able to use Atom/RSS and iCalendar feeds for even greater flexibility in managing your productivity. Even if you only use Remember the Milk to capture and hold your “to dos” just the fact that you have one place, accessible from anywhere, where everything you have to remember is stored safely and securely, it’s sure to be a load off your mind – that alone will help you to be better able to clear your mind, get into the zone and experience working “in a state of flow”. 13. Google Alerts (free topic monitoring service)
http://google.com/alerts

Google Alerts are email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your choice of query or topic. Some handy uses of Google Alerts include:

monitoring a developing news story

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PRODUCTIVITY Boost Camp

• • • • •

keeping current on a competitor or industry getting the latest on a celebrity or event keeping tabs on your favorite sports teams monitoring your own web presence finding out where your articles and media releases are being posted

This free service is the fastest, easiest way to stay on top of things without having to spend hours every day looking for the latest on subjects of interest to you in building your business or researching new projects and markets. You can stop feeling stressed and anxious about finding what you need to know and can relax knowing Google is checking everywhere for you and will let you know what it finds. 14. Carbonite (fee-based remote backup service)
http://carbonite.com

Carbonite is a simple, safe online backup service for casual home PC users, students, home office users, business travelers, etc. For <$70 per year Carbonite will back up all the irreplaceable data on your PC (digital photos, music, office documents, and other valuable files) whenever your PC is connected to the Internet. Carbonite is very easy to set up and use, requiring little or no ongoing user involvement. The service is always on and continually backing up files on your PC whenever it is connected to the Internet. Should you have a disaster that results in the loss of your data files or if you accidentally delete a critical file, this remote backup service makes it possible for you to recover the information quickly and easily. What is the likelihood of catastrophic data loss? If you haven't already had a disk crash or some other catastrophic data loss, consider yourself in the lucky minority! Surveys show that nearly 2/3 of PC users have experienced some form of catastrophic data loss. Statistically, you have about a 1 in 12 chance of having your hard drive crash in any given year, about a 1 in 10 chance of having your laptop stolen, and about a 1 in 3 chance of serious data loss through your own errors. This means in a single year your chance of needing to restore a file is nearly 60%. Imagine the interruption in your work day! The going price for recovering data from a crashed hard disk is $750 to $1000 – often much more. Is it really worth risking your irreplaceable digital photos, important documents and other data such as your entire intellectual property portfolio or business records when you can buy protection for just a few dollars a month? In our business, the computer is our life! Knowing the data files on it are protected by a backup is a great stress reducer and, should you ever have to restore your work, having that backup available on demand is an enormous stress reliever.

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