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Five Free Tools that improve my Productivity and Performance Everyday – Happy in the Now

Five Free Tools that improve my Productivity and Performance Everyday – Happy in the Now

One of the greatest and simplest tools for learning more and growing is doing more – said Washington Irving.  And doing more with less of everything (time and resources) just makes this journey more interesting. Delve into the online world for any area – be it collaboration, time management, social media – and there are so amazing tools available that can help improve your business productivity as an organization or as an individual. After a few trial and error cycles, there are a few tools/apps that I have come to depend on extensively over the last year, after I went solo, which go a long way in helping me save time and organize my work-life better. I have meant to write this post for some time now as a “thank you” to all the smart creators who not only build great products but also give access and support for basic versions in the “freemium” model. I would also love to get your inputs on the tools that you have found useful and cannot do without on a day-to-day basis.

Here are my five favorite desk-top tools that increase my productivity, reduce stress and are fun and easy to use:

Productivity Tool #1: Evernote – this is my virtual notebook, I carry it with me across the four or five devices that I do my work on every day.  I use it just like I would a notebook – to-do lists, meeting minutes, blog ideas, thoughts that need further thought…. I use the web clipper extension to save articles, pdfs, audio while browsing to come back to later. I have created different notebooks in Evernote to organize my data into research, to-dos, posts from my favorite writers (have one for Seth Godin for example). Using Ifttt, I have also created a menu that allows my tweets to be archived into my Evernote through Buffer – sounds complicated but took me 3-4 clicks to get that in place. As Evernote team proclaims, it really does help me remember everything, capture anything, access anywhere and find things fast!

Need more reasons why you need Evernote? Read http://lifehacker.com/5964285/whats-all-the-fuss-about-evernote-why-do-people-use-it?

Productivity Tool #2: Buffer – I am fairly active on Twitter and people ask me where I find the time to tweet all the time there. My secret is Buffer – it allows me to store my tweets and schedule them to be tweeted at different times of the day. So for one hour daily, I browse, read and then buffer my “finds” and thoughts of the day through their Chrome extension and voila – I am all set for the day. I have used buffer over the past year and they have made the product better and better and now offer some nifty analytical stats to help grow my online brand and influence. I remember I had some questions in the beginning (October 2011) and wrote them a mail – and Leo Widrich, the co-founder responded with a detailed explanation within an hour. And they still do that even now – they wowed me through their support and I remain a loyal user and benefit from buffer every day.  They also allow buffering for Facebook, LinkedIn etc and for multiple accounts.

Think Buffer is not for you? Here are some nifty secret hacks and lesser known ways to use Buffer from the team: http://blog.bufferapp.com/top-hidden-buffer-hacks-features-social-sharing?

Productivity Tool #3: Dropbox – I remember the days when you needed ftp to upload and download files to share –  sheer torture. Compare that to what Dropbox offers – it truly is Sharing simplified. Multiple clients, multiple devices, multiple locations, multiple file types – no problem, everything in sync. My files are always available for me (and secure). I have created different folders for clients where I am not on their enterprise network and given them access. A boon for remote workers like me, it helps me to share my work with my customers in a secure way (Dropbox has a great security system). I also use this for my business outsourcing and cloud backup for all my documents in one place – a legal folder, a finance folder, a travel folder and a collaterals folder.

There is a lot that you can do with Dropbox – http://lifehacker.com/5933884/top-10-clever-uses-for-dropbox

Productivity Tool #4: Skype  – At CeBIT, Microsoft COO Kevin Turner revealed that 33% of the world’s voice calls happen on Skype now. Skype is a favorite not just for the money I save for international client calls but for its free screen sharing feature. It allows me to walk through proposals and presentations for my clients, collaborate and work on documents together or hold team review sessions. Group sharing is not free but it is total value for money if you need to work with teams across multiple locations. I can always be available for my clients and team through Skype messaging on all my devices. I also use Microsoft OCS/Lync for screen sharing but have found Skype voice and video quality superior.

More tips on getting the best out of Skype here: http://www.businessproductivity.com/how-to-save-money-using-skype/

Productivity Tool #5: Google Chrome – I am still undecided whether Google is a productivity saver or killer for me. Every time I get into Google, I lose track of time – and sink into the Google ocean. But I don’t dare provoke the Google gods (after all, I owe the growing popularity of this blog to them) so I got to list them here. Google Chrome has changed the way I browse – I find it far more superior to Internet Explorer. The reason I list this as a tool that improves my productivity (apart from the simplicity and speed) is because of its easy sync-ability (I can carry my browser with my customizations across devices), extensions (like Buffer and Evernote) and apps (go search google chrome productivity apps – there are tons and you could fall in love with a couple).

There are lots more that you can do with Google:  10 great Google tools you need in your business workflow – http://www.continu-it.com/google-productivity-tools-small-business/

Bonus Productivity Tool:  Wordpress.com of course – it is that simple and easy that even I could become a blogger.

Anything you can do needs to be done, so pick up the tool of your choice and get started ~ Ben Linder

Have you used these tools? Have you used them any differently? Which desktop tools do you use every day to improve your productivity? I would love to hear back and learn from you

Pic Courtesy : http://www.flickr.com/photos/markop/1441643371/

Why LinkedIn? Because it’s LinkedIn and You Must!

Why LinkedIn? Because it’s LinkedIn and You Must!

Why LinkedIn? Let us begin with some statistics.

  • There are 332 million people on LinkedIn.
  • Two new members join every second.
  • There are 187 million monthly unique visitors.
  • LinkedIn is currently used in over 200 countries and territories. It’s available in 20 languages.
  • There are one billion total endorsements on LinkedIn at the moment.
  • 59% of LinkedIn members have never worked at a company with more than 200 employees.
  • There are over 39 million students and recent graduates on LinkedIn.
  • LinkedIn has 17 million users in the UK users, 10 million users in the Middle East, 61 million users in Asia, 28 million users in India, 6 million users in Australia and 6 million users in China.
  • 41% of millionaires use LinkedIn.
  • 13% of LinkedIn users do not have a Facebook account. Likewise, 83% of users do not have a Pinterest account. 59% are not active on Twitter.

What these number sum up for us is the overwhelming outreach of LinkedIn across the professional global network. Today, having an updated LinkedIn profile is just as important as having a resume. Whether you are an entry level professional or a CEO, you are expected to have a LinkedIn profile. But why LinkedIn ? Why all the noise over it? We offer you four reasons which we hope will compel you to create your LinkedIn profile right now, if you already haven’t!

Why LinkedIn – You make yourself visible:

Imagine being one of the best musicians, or authors or doctors, but not knowing how to reach out and market yourself? On LinkedIn, you will be connected to 332 billion other people, some of who may be looking for someone with the skills you possess! Alternatively, you will be easy to find on the World Wide Web, if someone has your name. Google will list your LinkedIn profile as the first or the second search result.

Why LinkedIn – It provides you with invaluable resources:

With the hundred odd features that LinkedIn comes packed with, it is quite a resourceful tool to have at one’s disposal. It provides you with a host of features like – “Get Introduced” (a current contact introduces you to someone you want to establish a connection with), Recommendations (all of us need them and it authenticates our identity and establishes a reputation in the required field of profession), millions of interest groups to choose from, to stay updated with what’s happening in those spheres, and the brilliant LinkedIn Pulse. These are only few of the resources you can avail of!

Why LinkedIn – You stay connected:

You can update your profile every so often and let the world know what’s happening with you (not like we do on Facebook). You can get endorsed for the skills you list out for yourself. LinkedIn also enables you to follow various topics you may be interested in, in the form of groups. A quick ten minute glance on your LinkedIn profile every day, will ensure you are connected with the latest news about everything you are interested in – from stocks to best Ted talks.

Why LinkedIn – It is your own personal brand!

You can market yourself as uniquely as you wish to through having a LinkedIn profile. It vests you with opportunities to make yourself visible to members in the communities you wish to be recognized in. It enables you to add videos, images and recommendations to showcase yourself. It is next only to you being present in person! So how good a brand ambassador are you for yourself?

Now that we’ve given you enough reasons to have a LinkedIn profile, you better sit down and start working on one right away! And read our blog post to help you create the perfect LinkedIn profile! And if you have one, we hope that you are harnessing all the power of LinkedIn for your career.

If you need more reasons to convince you about LinkedIn and how to make it work for you, we recommend you take a look at all the posts on LinkedIn  by the LinkedIn Maestro, David Graham – Coach | LinkedIn | Content | Engagement | Influence | Leads| Business Opportunities. You can start with his latest post on how to spend quality time on LinkedIn. You will thank us for it 🙂

How to Improve your LinkedIn Profile and Impress the World

In the World of Work today, your LinkedIn profile is just as important as (and perhaps, even more than) your resume. Consider this – where else can you potentially reach out to more than 400 million members in over 200 countries and territories? Your LinkedIn profile is your online business card, your personal marketing pitch and your online record of your career story and achievements. Whether you are in business or are employed, the first and easiest way to create a powerful personal brand for yourself is to have an all-star LinkedIn profile. Do you need more reasons to improve your LinkedIn profile? No, right? So pay attention to these tips and get started on building a kickass LinkedIn profile!

Pay attention to the details

Spend time in crafting out your profile, and pay attention to the details. Add a catchy headline, add an industry name – that way you will show up in all the potential opportunity searches which may be of interest to you. Use active keywords in your summary to help yourself be found in searches. It is also preferable to speak in the first person, while writing about yourself. Spend time in choosing the perfect profile picture, and remember that this is not Facebook. “A photo can go a long way to convey passion, energy, charisma, empathy, and other soft skills that are hard to write about.” [The Muse]. And make sure you customize your default LinkedIn public profile URL to one that has your name i.e. “http://linkedin.com/in/yourfullname”.

Personalize your Profile

“How do you want the world to see you professionally? What kinds of work do you enjoy doing? Why are you on LinkedIn? Those are the questions you should think about when creating your LinkedIn profile, so it’s aligned with your personal brand. While marketing-speak like ‘personal brand’ feels fake to many of us, we’re really just talking about setting the right tone for your profile and positioning yourself for the kinds of opportunities you’re interested in.”  ― Melanie Pinola, Author – LinkedIn In 30 Minutes. LinkedIn features allow you to add rich media like photographs, presentations and videos to your profile. Use these visual tools to enhance your profile. Add photographs of you in action, add relevant presentations and videos. Use these features to your advantage, to create your own personal brand, which sells!

Request Recommendations

Aim for at least one recommendation in a month (depends completely on your work exposure). If you’ve done great work for someone and want to showcase it on your LinkedIn profile, don’t hesitate to reach out and request for a recommendation. While requesting for a recommendation, be specific on what you would like your recommender to focus on, it makes things easier for him/her as well. A specific recommendation is much more useful than a generic one. However, if the recommendation you receive, isn’t the kind you had in mind (if it is far too generic or poorly written, and you don’t think it will serve you any purpose), you can always “hide” it, select Profile > Edit Profile and go to the position with which the recommendation is associated. Click Manage. Uncheck the box next to the recommendation that you want to hide, and click Save Changes.”

Be Active and Stay Engaged

Your efforts shouldn’t end simply after creating a profile. You need to establish your own identity in a world of 400 million (and counting as you read this) users. Create your own microcosm by joining groups and being active in them. Update your status regularly, not about how crazy last night was, but about your work projects and professional ideas. Publish/share/repost your own articles and those of your connections. You should review and refresh your profile at least once a quarter. You are more likely to show up in the LinkedIn updates if you regularly update your status and general profile.

Be Human, Be Generous

This beautiful Zulu proverb says it all: “Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu”- A human is only a human because of other humans. We’re all interconnected! Your Success on LinkedIn is assured and becomes more meaningful when you help others succeed. Don’t hesitate to reach out on LinkedIn – be of help and ASK for help. Personal relationships are the fertile soil from which all advancement, all success, all achievement in real life grows. The more you give of yourself in anything, the more you get in return – especially when you give with no expectation of return. Too often, we build islands of ourselves cutting ourselves off from people who we can learn from, grow with and share life’s experiences. Do what you can for other people in your LinkedIn network – give recommendations and endorsements, hit like when you see someone post something you liked (it doesn’t cost you money), celebrate successes and milestones with your connections, encourage and go out of your way to help people looking for support. As Seth says – We long to connect, all of us. We long to be noticed, to be cared for, to matter. Generosity is the invisible salve on our wound of loneliness, one that benefits both sides, over and over again.

Note that if you are in the process of editing your profile, spare your connections every little detail of what you update. Turn off your activity broadcast temporarily, so that you can keep editing your profile silently. Once you are satisfied with your profile and will be editing it only occasionally in the future, you can turn on your activity broadcast, so that your connections are notified when there is a significant update on your profile.

In this highly competitive world that we live in, we have to ensure that we stay visible, leave a positive impression on as many people as we interact with and keep growing and improving the quality of our network. LinkedIn gives us the opportunity to do all this at one place but like anything else, LinkedIn is only as useful as you make it! So take the time to improve your LinkedIn profile every chance you get and impress the world!

Bonus Video: Check out these series of videos from Capella University on how to improve your LinkedIn profile in every section. There are some great tips, presented in a concise way, in here that you will thank us for.

Happy Viewing!