I’m always looking for ways to save time and money. Getting stuff done is what it’s all about, and I’ve amassed a decent set of tools that I use on a regular basis. Here are my tools, tips and links for boosting your productivity in 2006 and beyond.
Online “Web 2.0” Software (yeah, I said “Web 2.0”)
Basecamp by 37 Signals
Simple, effective project management software. It works, and works well. I use it for all my projects, internal and with clients.
Writeboard also by 37 Signals
Online document collaboration software – lets you write (or paste) a document and keep track of revisions by you or multiple authors.
I have this customized to show my favorite blogs, Gmail account, local weather and even a few frequently visited website URL’s. Very customizeable; very cool. Quite possibly the best thing that’s come out of Google since, well, Google.
Blogging software that is beautifully simple yet has all the features I need. I’ve tried just about every blog software, including the hosted solutions. WordPress is the easiest and nicest I’ve seen. And it’s free.
Blogs & Websites I read
I have an RSS feed coming to my customized Google home page for every one of these sites. There’s some good insight here.
- Signal vs. Noise by 37 Signals
- SitePoint Blogs (yes, all of ’em)
- Authentic Boredom
- A List Apart
Not all of them are “blogs” but they are all worth visiting daily… or at least subscribe to the RSS feed so you know when a new post is made.
Productivity Tips and Tricks
Okay, here are a few bits of insight from my short time on this Earth. Take them for what they are – I’m constantly reading new books and trying a new approach. But over the years a few things have remained consistent no matter what.
Base Everything on Solid Principles
Read Steven Covey’s ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ and ‘The 8th Habit – From Effectiveness to Greatness.’ They aren’t just good – they’re great. I’ve had ‘The 7 Habits’ since around 1998 and have read it cover to cover more times than I have fingers (and maybe toes). Its basic message is that there are certain fundamental principles (like trustworthiness, honesty and integrity) that are self evident, and that living life by those principles is a great step toward effectiveness and greatness. Great business and life advice.
Franklin Covey Planning System
I’ve been using a Franklin Covey planner since I was 18 years old. My first employer sent me to a seminar and gave me my first planner. I’ve had the same binder for almost 7 years now, and it’s old leather look is aging nicely. But it’s not the soft leather binder that I want to draw attention to – it’s the methods of planning. Instead of just making a “to-do list,” Franklin Covey has a system of determining what is really important and urgent – and prioritizing our life around those things that matter the most. Goes hand in hand with the books above.
Put Family First
Building a business is hard; so is climing the corporate ladder. No matter what your profession, it’s easy to put family on the back burner with an eye on “success.” Take a step back and think about what you really want – and what’s really important. You might find that ladder is up against the wrong building. Family is the most important thing in my life – and spending time with my wife and children trumps everything else. I could put in 80 hour weeks growing my company to a “success” but at what cost? You can’t “put off” time with family… once it’s gone it’s gone.
Take Care of Yourself
Somewhat in line with the tip above – take care of yourself. Life is short, and we don’t need to make it shorter. Eat well, exercise and get outside once and a while! Treat your body right and it will reward you with clearer thought, more energy and more effectiveness. Don’t and not only will your health suffer – but you’ll be sluggish, you won’t think clearly, and you’ll likely cause long term health problems.
Read business magazines, industry publications, blogs, books, manuals, and anything else that can give you an edge. Read when you’re on the plane, instead of watching TV, taking a break from work, or anytime you have 5 minutes. In our fast paced society knowledge is everything, and keeping up with it is almost impossible. Pick a few publications to read regularly, subscribe to a few blog feeds, and try to read a book at least every few weeks (every month minimum). Not only will you be smarter, but studies show that the more you use your brain now, the longer it keeps working.
Set Goals, and Deadlines
I’ve heard people suggest to set unrealistic “dream” goals. That’s just silly. Set attainable goals and then determine the best coarse of action to acheive them. Make deadlines and work to accomplish them, one at a time. By the time you know it, you will have acheived your goal. Repeat.
Backup Everything, All the Time
Backup your family photos, your business documents and files, your email. Backup everything because it’s not a matter of if, its a matter of
Well, I could probably find a few more points, software, or l inks to share. But that’ll do for now – my small piece of advice and insight into productivity for the next year. All the best for 2006; may you acheive true success.