Business Tips

We send out business tips with our free newsletter. This is a shortened list of the best ones. We have trimmed down our business tips list because it was getting too long. You can look for tips by looking in the archives of our newsletter or by searching our site.You can also see our readers top ten list HERE and Paul’s top tips HERE.

Getting things done

If you are snowed under with emails and meetings and cannot get anything done then we recommend you read David Allen's "Getting Things Done - The Art of Stress Free Productivity." It is full of great tips on how to organise yourself better and gives a simple system to make it all work.

The Fortune 500 4-Hour Workweek: Multiplying output in groups

This is from Tim Ferriss' Blog. He is the author of The Four Hour Working Week and we highly recommend you look at his stuff. Not all of it will apply to you but the principles are great, especially around email and interactions and its effect on productivity. 

Two screens

Research has shown that using two computer screens instead of one can improve productivity of some workers by up to 25%. We are big fans. It is great if you are writing and want reference material on one screen while you write on the other. You can get the same effect with a much larger screen but two smaller screens are much cheaper than a large one and many of us have a spare screen sitting around already. It is very easy to set up and use.


Xobni (Inbox backwards) is a plug in for Outlook that helps you search and organise your email. It is only in Beta form at the moment but it looks promising and Microsoft is trying to buy it. We have tried it and love it.

10 Firefox extensions you can't live without

Here are some great add ons for Firefox if you use that as a browser (and we recommend you do). Time Tracker is a great one for people who spend a lot of time browsing and Morning Coffee is a good one if there are a set of web pages you look at every morning (you can open them all with one click rather than opening all of them individually). On top of these we downloaded Read It Later and PDF Download from the comments list as well as No Squint which is great for those of us with less than perfect vision – you can set it so the text is larger while the images stay the same size.

Venture capitalist blog

If you are interested in new business models and comment then this blog by venture capitalist Fred Wilson is clever and a little offbeat. You can subscribe on the site and you will automatically receive emails of the new posts on a daily basis.

Google website optimizer case study: Daily burn, 20%+ improvement

We are big fans of Tim Ferriss and his four hour working week book. Here is a great post on optimising your website.

Idea Exchange provides tool for idea generation and support

It's basically a virtual suggestion box where users can publish their own suggestions, large or small, and browse ideas submitted by their colleagues. Besides better sharing, there's another big difference between Idea Exchange and a shoebox with a hole in the top—the software lets users support other's ideas by purchasing shares in them.

Essay: Dumb-dumb bullets

As a decision-making aid, PowerPoint is a poor tool according to this essay from the Armed Forces Journal.

The many faces of google for economic intelligence: Part 5 - Google news

The fifth in a series of posts on how to get better intelligence from various Google search methods.

Your future in 5 easy steps: Wired guide to personal scenario planning

We live in uncertain times. Swine flu rages. Nukes proliferate. Bailouts beget bailouts. Heaven forbid you should have to make a big decision amid such turbulence. Thinking about a career change? Moving to a new city? Paying for a child's education? Having a hard time deciding what to do? See this simple guide in Wired magazine.

The crowd is wise (when it’s focused)

Few concepts in business have been as popular and appealing in recent years as the emerging discipline of "open innovation." It is variously described as crowdsourcing, the wisdom of crowds, collective intelligence and peer production. This New York Times article looks at when it works and why.

Skype add-ins

We are big fans of Skype. We use it all the time to talk within the company for free and also to conduct teleconferences, including international ones.

Anti jetlag diet

The anti-jet lag diet was developed with research on military personnel changing time zones. It involves manipulation of the diet before you travel, manipulation of caffeine intake to shorten sleep cycles at the right time, and altering your diet when you arrive to suit the right time of the day.

Pogue's productivity secrets revealed

David Pogue is a columnist at the New York Times. "Dear David," wrote a reader recently. "When will you share your productivity tips with us? Not everyone can write five books a year, file two columns a week, churn out a daily blog, speak 40 times a year and film a video every Thursday. What are your secrets?" Here is his reply.

Double-click tricks in excel?

Most of us think of mastering formulas, learning macros and being super good with charts when we think of being productive with spreadsheets. But often learning simple stuff like keyboard shortcuts can be a huge productivity booster for us. This post shows 7 very cool and effective double click tricks in excel.

Lifehacker pack 2009: Our list of essential free Windows downloads

Lifehacker is bundling all the best free downloads for new computer owners, re-installers, would-be geeks, or anyone who wants to save time installing the best stuff out there. This is their 2009 Lifehacker Pack for Windows computers.

Sender's time zone for Microsoft® Outlook®

This handy little plug-in for Outlook will take just a few minutes of your time on installation. Once the Sender's Time Zone for Outlook plug-in is installed, no setting and no configuring is required. You just open an e-mail message and besides the standard Outlook timestamp you will see the sender's current time as well as your time zone difference.

Mastering Google desktop

Those of you that have followed our newsletter for a while will know that we are big fans of Google Desktop. It is free and can be downloaded from It indexes your computer in a similar way that Google indexes the web for its search function. Therefore searches for stuff take just seconds. For those of you that have been using it for a while LifeHacker has some tips on how to improve its power.

Free video cutter

Do you have many too large video files? Do you want cut these video files into small files? Do you want shrink your big video and trim blank content in the begin and end of video? Do you want to chop and convert one video clip from a large video file? Let this free video program help you.

Google releases similar images

Refine your image search with visual similarity.


Texter allows you to create small strings of letters that then expand out. For example if I type "ta" in an email and press enter it types "Thanks Paul". It is a great time saver. Unlike software-specific text replacement features, Texter runs in the Windows system tray and works in any application you're typing in. The link has tutorials on how to use it.

10 most popular iPhone business apps

The smartphone application battle will heat up this month when BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (RIM) launches a direct competitor to Apple's iPhone application Store. Apple clearly has a formidable lead on this front with more than 15,000 applications available for download. However, RIM, with its strong corporate customer base, may very well change the focus from games to business. What are the most popular iPhone business apps available for purchase?

The fourth quadrant: A map of the limits of statistics by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

A Turkey is fed for a 1000 days—every day confirms to its statistical department that the human race cares about its welfare "with increased statistical significance". On the 1001st day, the turkey has a surprise. A must read to understand some of the financial crisis.

Best cartoon on correlation versus causation

We are always talking to people about the difference between causation and correlation. Just because something is correlated with (i.e. moves in concert with) something does not mean that it causes the effect. I saw this cartoon on the Freakonomics blog at the New York Times and just loved it although it took me a few seconds to get it but maybe I am just slow. Thought it was a useful business tip because sometimes that ‘aha’ moment is more important than huge amounts of information.

Microsoft office suite excel tips newsletter

Tech Republic has an excellent Excel Tips newsletter/web page.

Focusing attention is the new work ethic

A person who works with complete focus has a major advantage over a workaholic who multi-tasks all day and responds to every interruption, according to a story by tech writer Mike Elgan on

Personal productivity

Netscape founder, Marc Andreessen, has an alternative view and tips for improving personal productivity including not keeping a schedule, anti-to-do-lists and structured procrastination.

Do you change printer ink when you're told? If so, it's costing you

A superb bit of gadgetry investigative work done by PC World reveals that if you listen when your printer tells you you're out of ink, you may be wasting up to 40 percent of the cartridge.

10 ways to convince your boss to let you work from home

This is a little IT focused but it gives some great evidence for telecommuting. Its free but does require you to register.

Mobile phones 'road death devices' - police

MOBILE phone records of drivers involved in fatal accidents are being routinely checked to see if they were talking or texting at the time. As a result of looking at the literature on the risks I no longer use a mobile phone when driving, with or without a hands free kit. You can see a good summary report HERE with the key statement being “Many studies have found that using a hands-free phone while driving is no safer than using a hand-held phone. Using a mobile phone while driving can increase the risk of being involved in a collision by up to four times.”

Fuel Saving Suggestion

Most people run their cars on too low a tyre pressure. Car club people talk generally about an increase of tyre pressure by 5psi or 15% compared to the car handbook. Apart from getting better fuel economy you will also have better braking and longer tyre life for no extra cost. This tip is from one of our newsletter subscribers – thanks Philip!

Eight pitfalls of predictive markets

Prediction markets are one of the new buzz processes around at the moment. They can be useful but there are pitfalls and these are very similar to the traps that people fall into when thinking about the future in general. This link goes to a blog which describes the pitfalls. If you want even more information then Brian Solis has an e-book guide to Social Media you can read or download HERE.

Wi-Fi security tips

There are some great tips here for securing your wireless laptop or computer. It is titled for road warriors but with more and more wireless networking at home it is more and more important for general users. Warning: will require you to have a free registration.

10 things you should do to a new PC before connecting it to the internet

A Microsoft Windows PC that has not been updated for security vulnerabilities will be compromised by some form of malware within minutes of connecting to the Internet. Take steps to protect yourself before you start Web surfing.

7 deadly sins of email

This article by Andrew May, author of Flip the Switch, offers a range of tips to cut down on email traffic and manage it more efficiently – quite important really when you consider that the average email user in business spends 2 hours plus a day dealing with email and research shows it costs $25,000 annually on paying senior managers to read and write emails – and to make matters worse, worldwide email traffic will triple over the next few years with 331 billion emails predicted to be sent and received per day by 2009!

10 great windows programs

This blog from zdnet lists 10 useful windows programs that have stood the test of time - most of which we had never heard of before but we are now using. In particular we are regularly using Process Manager, RoboForm, and SnagIt.

Memory palace

If you have read the Hannibal Lecter books you will know that the good doctor is able to walk through a building in his mind and access patient records. Using a "memory palace" is one way to improve your memory. See the link for tips on how to do it.

How to erase a hard drive

If you really want to protect your data once you have finished with a computer or a hard drive then you need to erase it properly. This article shows you how to do it – requires some computer know how.

Tips for virtual teams

MIT Sloan Management Review has an online article with tips on improving the productivity and teamwork of virtual teams.

Performance measurement

An excellent review of performance measurement and tips for improvement by Michael Hammer.

Unclaimed money

Find out if you have any unclaimed money - phone ASIC unclaimed monies section on 1300 301 198 and they will do a search (free) or you can search their website. Another handy site is the ATO SuperSeeker which enables you to find superannuation you may have lost track of - SuperSeeker.

FastStone Photo Resizer

FastStone Photo Resizer is an image converter / resizer intended to enable users to convert, rename, resize, crop, rotate, change color depth, add text and watermarks to images in a quick and easy batch mode.