February 7, 2014
I am always looking for ways to make my life simpler.
I’ve found two that really seem to keep my inbox clean.
Both work with any email client or operating system (as far as I know).
Sanebox scans incoming mail and decides if it is important or not. If it looks like spam, a newsletter, an autoresponder, a mass mailing, an order receipt from Amazon.com or anything like that, it quickly removes it from your Inbox and puts it to a separate @SaneLater folder. Of course you can train it. If something is spam, you can move it into @SaneBlackHole and it will never show up again. If something is incorrectly categorized as less important, you simply move it to your inbox and next time all emails from that person will arrive in your inbox (and vice versa). This keeps my inbox VERY clean. I can stay on top of the important messages while reviewing the less critical ones less frequently. This runs “in the cloud” so there is nothing to install on your computer, tablet or phone.
FollowUpThen is an awesome service. Once you set up your account, you simply forward (or bcc/cc) an email to email@example.com and you will get the email back at that date/time. For example, if I get an email that I don’t want to work on now, but want to deal with in a week, I forward it to “firstname.lastname@example.org.” And I delete the original email. A week later that email shows up again in my inbox. If a prospect wants me to follow up with them in a month, I respond to them and in the same email I bcc “email@example.com.” And again I delete the original email. My inbox is no longer a list of items I need to deal with in the future. I forward the email and delete it, knowing it will arrive back in my inbox at the requested date (and yes, you can set specific dates and times). My inbox has never been cleaner. And, the customer service support is EXCEPTIONAL!
In addition, I use Spamarrest. I’ve been using this for MANY years. If an email is received from someone that is not on my “whitelist,” they get an email back indicating they need to confirm their identity. Although they only need to do this once, it is an inconvenience for people, so I don’t love this approach. I only use it on 2 older email addresses that are overflowing with spam. I don’t use this for my main email address because I want it to be easy for prospects, clients, or friends to reach me.
It is easy for email to suck up a large portion of your day. These tools have made my life so much simpler.
What do you use? Please share your best email productivity tools.
P.S. I know some people set up an autoresponder on their email saying “I only check mail once a day so call if you need to reach me.” This is an ok solution, but given how much business is conducted over email, this is not one I like. I want to be “easy to do business with.”
April 2, 2013
Today’s Tuesday Travel Tip…
Have you ever stayed in a hotel room and could not get the shades to stay closed? When the sun rises, the light blasting into your room wakes you up?
Well, here is my simple yet handy solution: use a chip clip.
Bring one of these with you on your next trip and you can keep your shades tightly closed so that your room stays pitch black all day long.
P.S. I used the “Path on” iPhone app to write the text on the image. It is a very cool app that let’s your draw text on a photo in any shape you want.
March 21, 2013
Today’s Thursday Technology Tip…
You will notice that whenever I post a video or audio file, the next day (or so) I post a written transcription. I do this for two reasons: 1) some people prefer to read, and 2) it helps with my SEO.
Although I have used a variety of services for transcriptions, I have found that the easiest, fastest, and most accurate way is to use speechpad.com.
You upload your video or audio file. You can even trim the recording so that you only pay for the parts you want.Then you choose how quickly you need the transcription. Costs start at $1 for one recorded minute. I typically choose the $1.50 per minute option which gives me a 48 hour turnaround.
Yes, there are less expensive options.
For longer recording, I pay someone $0.50 per recorded minute. The quality is great, but the turnaround is sometimes a bit slow and unpredictable. When I am writing a book and I have dictations I want to transcribe, I use this service.
And I have also used no cost options like Dragon. However I find that the amount of time I invest in correcting errors and adding punctuation makes it impractical for anything I want to publish.
What have you found to be useful for transcription?
P.S. I have no financial or other interest in speechpad. I don’t even know the people associated with the service. I just like it and use it.
February 26, 2013
I travel a lot. And I travel with a lot of technology. In front of me now is my MacBook Pro, my iPad and my iPhone.
But when I am in hotels, they often charge for each internet connection. So I have to choose. Do I want to connect my computer, my tablet or my phone?
Well fortunately, there is an easy way to share a connection with all of your devices.
If you are using a MacBook, go to System Preferences > Sharing
You will see something like this…
To share your internet connection, just click the internet sharing box. Then you must select something in the “To computers using” area. Since I typically connect via wifi, sharing my computer’s wifi is not an option. So I share via bluetooth. Then all I do is turn on the bluetooth on my iPad and voila, I have internet everywhere.
If your Mac is connected to the internet via an ethernet cable, you have the option of sharing your connection via wifi. This is extremely useful on international travel when wifi is sometimes more difficult to get or is more expensive. In fact, in some overseas hotels, the only option is to connect via ethernet cable. If I only brought my iPad, I would be without data. But if I have my Mac, I can have a connection on both devices, as well as my iPhone to save on data roaming charge.
Let me know if you have any questions.
January 21, 2013
I am now just returning from a month sabbatical. This allowed me to reflect and spend time with friends and family.
As part of that month off, I did a two week intensive retreat where they sequestered my phone. No email, phone, books, music, or videos for a fortnight!
Let me tell you, it wasn’t easy at first. In the beginning I was jonesing for my iPhone. But after about 4 or 5 days, I forgot about it completely.
In fact, I liked being disconnected so much, I am attempting to stay less connected all of the time.
Try this for yourself. Can you go two weeks without ANY electronic communications? None. Nada. Zippo. No FaceBook. No text messages. No email. No twitter. No phone calls. No TV, radio, videos, or even newspapers. Basically cut off from the outside world, unless you can see someone in person.
How would you have to design your life in order to do this? Maybe going cold turkey would be too difficult. How could you reduce your dependence on your phone and computer?
Trust me, there is a freedom in disconnecting. It allowed me to really be connected to those around me. More importantly, it allowed me to reconnect with me. It is truly an awesome experience.
To keep the general idea alive, I am having critical emails and phone calls forwarded to someone who is connected all of the time. I am only checking my emails 2 or 3 times a day (morning, midday, and later afternoon).
I am trying to be present to my surroundings rather than having my head buried in my phone. In doing so I feel lighter, more aware, more creative, and freer. It quiets the mind, after you get over the initial withdrawal symptoms.
Give it a try. Try disconnecting and enjoy being truly connected.
December 5, 2012
I have now spoken in 43 countries (#44 coming soon). As you can imagine, I spend a lot of time in airports and going through security. TSA Pre is amazing, and has sped up how quickly I get through the lines.
One of the (many) nice things about TSA Pre is that you don’t have to take off your shoes. For many, disrobing at the airport is a tedious experience.
But sometimes, something that seems like an inconvenience can be made into a pleasant experience.
I remember a few years ago I traveled to Korea. Like everywhere else we needed to take off our shoes.
But unlike other airports, in Seoul, there was an attentive woman who, after I took off my shoes, put slippers on my feet. I then walked through the scanner to be greeted by another woman who, after I retrieved my shoes, removed the slippers .
It was like a ritual. I actually liked taking off my shoes. It made the whole experience of security lines so much more peaceful and relaxing. I even recall soothing music playing in the background.
In every business, there are unpleasant things that customers, employees or vendors need to do. And sometimes eliminating those activities is not possible.
In those situations, how can you “reframe” the experience? How can you turn it into something enjoyable?
Disney World does a brilliant job of making a boring task – waiting in line for a ride – a pleasurable and educational experience.
Look at how you can do this for the less exciting aspects of your business.
Now, if they could combine the speed of TSA Pre with the slipper ritual, I might actually look forward to airport security.
April 10, 2012
Over the years, I have traveled over 1 million miles to nearly 50 countries. Given that I fly so frequently, I am often asked for my suggestions for traveling more comfortably, efficiently, and cheaply. Here is a VERY short list:
- Subscribe to TripIt Pro - TripIt is an awesome website/app that makes life easier for all travelers. When you book a flight, hotel or car, you simply forward your confirmation email to TripIt and it populates your travel plans in one place. The pro version monitors flights and tells you of delays (typically before you hear from the airline). And it notifies you when prices drop. I have saved hundreds of dollars just on this one feature. In fact, I just saved another $150 today.
- Travel with an iPad – Although this is a minor tip, if you bring your iPad instead of a computer, you save time in the security line. You don’t need to remove iPads from your briefcase (except in some countries outside of the United States). I use Carbonite to back up all of my files from my computer in the cloud, so I can access them on my iPad anywhere/any time.
- Use SeatGuru.com – If you fly often and have not used SeatGuru, you are missing out. This website has the configuration of every aircraft on every airline. It tells you which are the best seats and which ones to avoid. If you augment this with my strategy for always getting a good seat on a plane, you will be more comfortable.
- Buy Premium Seating – First class seats are typically overpriced, especially for shorter trips when you can suck it up and be uncomfortable for a couple of hours. But getting extra legroom AND getting priority access through security lines and boarding is worth the money for any flight. Several airlines offer this. United has Economy Plus with Premier Access. JetBlue has Even More Space seating which also gets you through a special line at security and early boarding.
- Use Hotwire and Priceline – I have been using these sites for ages and can get incredible deals on hotels. A few years back (2006) I wrote an article on how to use these sites most effectively to get the best rate. Things have not changed much since then, although there are sites where people share their deals with others helping you find the best rates.
- Take Advantage of Credit Card Offerings – Most people are not aware of the deals you can get with your credit card. Some offer car rental insurance (I pay extra to use AMEX’s $25 flat fee for complete coverage). Other offer freebies like Global Entry (speed through US Customs), airline companion tickets, or airline lounge access (e.g., Priority Pass). And don’t forget to use your AAA card for discounts (Hilton offers great rates with the card).
There are SO many more ways to travel comfortably, efficiently, and cheaply. What other suggestions do you have?
April 7, 2012
When I give speeches, there is always an interactive component, regardless of whether the audience is 10 or 10,000 people.
I like being able to draw, but flip charts do not work well for large groups.
Therefore, I use a pretty cool technological set-up to run my presentations:
- I run my Keynote presentation off of my iPad2. I also use Penultimate app as the drawing application. This combination allows me to show slides but also use my iPad as an electronic whiteboard. I like the elago Stylus for writing. You need either the VGA or HDMI dongle from the Apple store. (NOTE: this set-up will not work properly with the iPad1 because it lacks VGA mirroring)
- Using a bluetooth connection, I control the slides from my iPhone using the “Keynote Remote” app. In addition to letting me walk around the stage, it also let’s me see the next slide on my iPhone before I advance. This allows me to mentally queue up what I will say next.
- If there is a WiFi network, I can use Apple TV (3rd generation) to connect my iPad wirelessly to an HDMI projector. This not only allows me to be cable-free. It allows me to walk into the audience with my iPad and draw while off the stage.
- For smaller venues that don’t have an HDMI connection, I have an HDMI to VGA converter that allows me to hook wirelessly to old school projectors.
I find that with this set-up, I can create an engaging and interactive experience instead of a boring speech.
What other technologies do you use to make your speeches more engaging?
December 21, 2010
2010 was one of the busiest travel years for me. In just the last 4 months I was in an airport 30 times. Some of my trips included two weeks on the road, traveling from Boston to San Diego to Miami to Niagara Falls to San Antonio, TX to Boston. If you map it out, it makes nearly a perfect star. Another two-week trip was from Boston to Paris to Venice, Italy to Chicago to Dayton, OH back to Boston. International business travel in the last two months also included Dublin, Ireland and Oslo, Norway. As I write this I am on a trip back from Amsterdam, my last plane ride for the year.
During these travels I have observed a quite a few interesting things. In this article I have an innovation idea, a question, and an observation.
So let’s start with something humorous. Or at least I found it to be funny…
The picture above is a sign that in my shower in Amsterdam. The sign says, “we kindly request you take your shower in the bathtub.” I felt cheated, because that morning I had planned to shower in the bedroom. Oh well.
But seriously, showers in Europe share something in common: doors that cover less than half of the shower. People in Europe must be more talented than I am, because I have yet to leave a bathroom unflooded.
There is something very innovative in most bathrooms in Europe: dual flush toilets. These are now just coming to the United States. The concept is simple. There are two flush buttons: one button is for for liquid waste that uses very little water while flushing, and a second button uses the usual amount of water for solid waste . This is a great water saving technology.
Speaking of innovation…
Air Travel & Security
The week of Thanksgiving, there was a concern that a group of individuals would disrupt the security lines by refusing to go through the scanners, opting for me more time consuming hand pat down.
There is a simple solution to this problem. It is a concept I wrote about in my first book, “24/7 Innovation,” called “process pipelining.”
In a nutshell, process pipelining involves segmenting tasks based on complexity. This wildly simple and efficient concept reduced average queuing times by 90% at an insurance company. The same could be done at airports. If you want to be patted down, you go into a separate line. This way you don’t hold up the masses that are happy to go the more efficient route.
I always say, “Design to handle the exception, not or for the exception.”
And now for the question…
To save my clients money, I always fly economy. When no one is sitting in the next seat, it can be quite comfortable.
But when you have someone next to you, what is the armrest protocol?
Maybe I am too nice, but I find that 90% of the time, the person next to me hogs the entire armrest, often spilling into my space, bumping me throughout the flight.
I often thought it would be cool for there to be a thin “wall” that could be pulled up from the armrest that would clearly delineate boundaries. But if you want to see a solution that someone designed, check out the picture to the left and read the WSJ article.
But given that new airplane armrest don’t yet exist, Wired magazine had a funny solution to this problem, which involves a strategy for claiming the armrest.
What is your armrest strategy? What are some of the innovative, humorous or frustrating things you have observed during your travels?
Happy Holidays and happy travels.
June 15, 2009
I’ve been using a BlackBerry for many years now. It has always annoyed me that it takes 15 minutes for emails to arrive when using a pop3 email account. Today I figured out a way to get all emails on my BB instantaneously, even when using a pop3 account and not using a BlackBerry Enterprise Server. And it was so simple.
All T-Mobile BlackBerrys come with one dedicated BB email address (firstname.lastname@example.org). Emails sent to this address arrive immediately on the phone. I assume other carriers have a similar email account.
Instead of having my BlackBerry retrieve emails from my pop3 accounts, I now have my pop3 accounts send a copy of every email to my tmo.blackberry.net account. As far as I can tell, everything functions exactly the same as before…except now the emails arrive instantaneously.
Although I believe there are more sophisticated ways of doing this (e.g., using IMAP instead of pop3), I found this to be a very simple solution.
I thought I kicked the CrackBerry addiction, but I guess some habits are hard to break.
If you have other BlackBerry tips, please share them.