Paul's Top Business Tips
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.
Paul: “Don’t follow this all the time but much more productive when I focus on the techniques”
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.
Paul: “Would find it very hard to do without Skype now. Planning a 10 week writing and skiing sabbatical in Canada and one of my essential tools for keeping in touch with friends and family and 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.
Paul: “Don’t follow this all the time but much more productive when I focus on the email technique of only doing and checking email at set times of the day”
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.
Paul: “This works really well for me though there is a significant amount of discipline involved in it, especially the no alcohol part for some people”
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.
Paul: “I like this so much I feel deprived when I am on the road and only have my laptop screen. This is one of my “cold dead finger technologies” (in that you would have to pry it form my cold dead fingers for me to give it up)”
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.
Paul: “I use this all the time to go back over email conversations and look for files I have transferred”
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.
Paul: “This blog and comments from his readers and essential reading for anyone involved in the internet an/or venture capitalism”
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.
Paul: “David Pogue gets an amazing amount done and this is well worth a read. ”
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.
Paul: “This program has some file size limitations but otherwise is fantastic – really easy to use ”
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.
Paul: “I use this all the time”
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.
Paul: “A great reminder for me ”
A tip from Michael Short of The Age in Melbourne
Michael told me a long time ago that when he is away he puts this in his auto email responder “ I will be away until X date. When I return I will be deleting all of the email in my inbox so if what you have sent me is important send it again after that date.”
Paul: “I have used this several times since and it works really well in cutting down on unwanted email. Of course you should also add alternative contacts for people who can deal with urgent things in your absence”
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.
Paul: “I also use, Xmarks to synchronise my website book marks on the web(which was very useful in a recent computer failure, Download Helper, Colorful Tabs and StumbleUpon”.
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.
Paul: “This is very useful if you are corresponding internationally or even in Australia across time zones”
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.
Paul: “This is very useful for changing the physical size and file size of pictures for presentations”