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  • 3 ways technology assists your personal productivity

    • By dj miller
    • |
    • Friday, March 7, 2014

    3 ways tech help you be more productiveTechnology is great for a number of things. Streaming video, sharing photos,  connecting to social media, and free-to-play games are all excellent time wasters.

    When it comes to actually getting the job done, though, most people would argue the contrary. It's often blamed for crushing productivity levels. Of course, these arguments are valid. Social media and mobile gaming apps are notorious for gobbling up hours upon hours of time. But really, technology can actually help you boost your personal productivity. You just have to channel the technological potential of your devices and your personal aspirations toward your goal. Read on to find several ways it can help.

    It Keeps You Organized

    Too often, one of the biggest concerns for those who have trouble reaching their goals and getting the job done simply need to organize their lives. Smartphones and tablets all come with integrated calendar and email apps that you can sync together to help you keep appointments, due dates, and general reminders in place.

    Tracky, of course, is a personal productivity solution since it's hosted in the cloud and allows you to manage your life and your work in one digital home. Plus, its mobile-friendly design makes it accessible from any internet-ready device. You can even email reminders, documents and tasks into Tracky with your own Tracky email that will post directly to your personal account.

    Evernote is another resource through which you can combine everything that's important to you and organize it in a way that makes sense to you. 

    It Helps You Sleep

    There have been a lot of studies about the importance of sleep to overall health. Being sleep deprived — even if it's just by an hour — can greatly reduce your productivity and emotional well-being. Even so, 60 percent of adults report that they have problems sleeping a few nights each week. Using certain forms of technology before going to bed can have a significant impact on quality of sleep. Other technological developments are designed to do the opposite.

    Philips Wake-Up Light

    This innovative alarm clock mimics the effect of the sunrise each morning, gently easing you out of your slumber, and making you better equipped to take on the day. Some models even come with an iPod/iPhone dock, which allows you to use music from your iTunes library as your wake up tone. It comes with an app that tracks your sleep routines too.

    Sound Oasis Sleep Therapy Pillow

    This pillow has two ultra-thin speakers built into it that help drown out distracting sounds that keep many people awake. Simply connect the included audio cord to your device, and play your favorite tunes or meditation music as you drift off into dreamland.

    Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock App

    This ingenious app uses the accelerometer in your iPhone to track your sleep patterns and wake you up while you're in the lightest portion of your cycle. The result? Less morning grogginess. Simply place your T-Mobile phone face down on your bed when it's time to go to sleep. It will record your movements and compile easy-to-follow graphs that show the effectiveness of your sleep routines. This app makes it easier to pinpoint your problem areas and improve them.

    It Gets You Where You Need to Go

    The world of technology has come a long way when it comes to personal navigation devices. Gone are the days when you'd have to print out turn-by-turn directions from Google or Yahoo Maps to get where you need to go. There's nothing worse than getting lost on your way to an interview, or spending half your afternoon looking for your destination when you could be running errands.

    But the advent of the navigational and GPS tracking systems we know and love today don't just come in handy for picking up the dry cleaning. It's used by all kinds of industries, some of which include airlines, shipping, government, cable companies, and more.

    It's most certainly true that technology can swallow up hours of your time that could be better spent doing other things. Realistically though, it can only do so if you let it. With a little will power, the right technology can help point you toward a higher productivity level, and a much more fulfilling life.

    DJ Miller is a gadget geek, writer, infographic-maker and lover of Mystery Science Theater. He is also a novice comedic who spins humor into advice columns on his personal site.

  • 5 Quick Ways to Stay Healthy In Spite of a Busy Schedule

    • By dj miller
    • |
    • Thursday, February 13, 2014

    Don’t think you have time to stay in shape? Take a look at our tips on how get healthier without turning your busy life upside down.

    Exercise over Lunch

     

    Image via Flickr by familymwr

    It only takes ten minutes to do a few exercises in your office. And if that works for you, that’s great and you should do them. The same goes for taking walks over lunch, especially if you can get a coworker or two to join you. However, don’t dismiss taking your lunch break to do some more serious exercising. Check the mile or two around your workplace to see if there is a gym you could walk or drive to in just a few minutes. Then, look to see if there is a workout class during your lunch hour, or get a coworker to join you in daily trips to the gym. Worried about fitting in a good workout and getting a good lunch? There are plenty of great guides on how to use your lunch break to exercise.

    Quit Drinking Soda

     

    Image via Flickr by Vox Efx

    You know you’ve heard this one before. And you should really, really do it. Why? Studies are finding that soda really is absolutely terrible for you. For example, even if you eat healthfully in every other way, you will still gain more than fourteen pounds per year simply due to the excess calories in sugary soda. But you aren’t off the hook with diet soda either. In fact, people who drink diet soda tend to be heavier than those who drink regular soda. And just on its own—diet or not—the caffeine and sodium mixture of soda has a dehydrating effect, which wears down on all parts of your body’s systems and can be especially hard on the heart.

    Drink Water Instead of Snacking

     

    Image via Flickr by dodongflores

    Did you know that drinking water can help you limit how much snacking you do? In fact, you may discover that what you used to think was hunger is actually disguised thirst. Water makes up 60 percent of the human body and 93 percent of your blood. And when you don’t drink enough water, your body is forced to pull water from your body’s tissue and skin. Not only does this make you look older, it also stresses your body out. By rehydrating your cells, you give them back their natural ability to repair and duplicate. Drinking enough water also dilutes the presence of any toxins in your system and allows your body to flush out any other contaminates or waste.

    Don’t Just Drink Water. Purify It

     

    Image via Flickr by Snap

    For the best results, however, don’t just drink water. Drink purified water. The water from your tap can still contain chlorine, chemicals, heavy metals, potential allergens, and other toxins. So start drinking bottled water, or better yet install salt free water softeners in your home. By drinking pure water, you can lower the toxic load on your body. A whole-house filtration system will keep those toxins for seeping into your system through your skin, too.

    Switch Chips for Veggies

     

    Image via Flickr by Loz Flowers

    You need a snack, and you really don’t want something that requires washing, cutting, or preparing. In fact, the greasy crunch of a potato chip couldn’t possibly sound more appealing than it does right now. But you don’t have to give in! Companies are packaging and marketing vegetables in new ways that make them as convenient and easy to eat as junk food. So switch out whatever salt-covered carbohydrates you were planning on eating for some baby carrots, or get a bag of pre-cut pre-washed celery that you can eat straight out of the bag. Oh, and also? Eating veggies is cheaper than chips.

    Half the battle of living a healthy life is substituting better foods and habits for other ones. So if you’ve got a lunch break, a water bottle, and a grocery store that sells prepared veggies, you can start the transformation to an even healthier life.

    What quick tips or habits have helped you stay healthy?

    DJ Miller is a gadget geek, writer, infographic-maker and lover of Mystery Science Theater. He is also a novice comedic who spins humor into advice columns on his personal site.

  • Why an adjustable height desk is our #1 health-related workhack for 2014

    • By jennifer
    • |
    • Wednesday, January 15, 2014

    As the calendar turns to a new year, about 45% of us are resolving to make positive life changes. Sadly, only 8% of us will achieve our lofty goals and weight loss and organization are the top two motivations that will likely be quickly dashed as reality sets in.

    When it comes to change, I’m all about quick wins and incorporating changes that require as little willpower as possible. If you agree, then I think this little workhack + lifehack will win you over because it’s a doozy: it can help you lose weight (no, seriously), be more productive (hello, organizing and career advancement!), reduce your cholesterol (hello, longer life), improve your energy (helping you gain resolve for other goals), and much more.

    new year's resolutions

    We can’t solve all our problems with a resolution, but one simple change in the way we work can make us have more resolve. Thus, I offer to you my #1 health-related workhack for 2014:

    Standing up at work for 3 hours+ per day with a sit-stand desk.

    Here's why.

    20 minutes after you sit down, your body wrecks itself

    2013 was particularly tough on us computer workers. It seems that everywhere we looked, the news that “sitting is killing us” was staring us in the face. It was kind of alarming and annoying at the same time. Thoughts like: “I KNEW that my job was hazardous to my health! Disability checks, here I come!,” coupled with “But don’t these ivory tower researchers know that some of us have to have jobby-jobs and we don’t have much choice?!” might have marred our thoughts.

    Traumatizing statements abounded, such as: 

    • Sitting increases risk of death up to 40% (even if you exercise regularly).
    • Our bodies weren’t built for sitting down an average of 9.3 hours per day and it’s making us fat.
    • Calorie burning drops by 1/3 to 1 calorie per minute.
    • Enzymes that break down fat drop 90%.
    • Insulin effectiveness drops and the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes rises.
    • People with sitting jobs have two times the rate of cardiovascular disease as people with standing jobs.
    • For each hour of TV watching per day, your risk of dying increases by 11%.

    I get a fair amount of exercise, eat very well and tend to be a fidgeter which are all considered healthy behaviors. But apparently, it’s not enough.  Exercise isn’t a direct antidote to sitting. Standing and moving are.

    kissThus, I resolved to figure out how to incorporate more standing into my long startup work days. A new productivity and vitality motto emerged:

    KISS – Keep it simple. Stand.
    (For a few hours each work  day at least).

    I did my research and I’m ready to share my findings and resources with you in hopes that it helps improve your work-health balance in 2014, too.  

    What standing up at work can do for your life

    • 10-50% increase in productivity. Some companies, like ReadWriteWeb, have measured their before and after output and can affirm a 10% increase in productivity. If you take an 8-hour workday and estimate that you’re truly working 6 hours of that day, you’ll get at minimum an extra 46 minutes of real work done every single day. That could be career-changing when you think about it. Another reason for the productivity punch? Potentially the psychology of body language. You’re standing in a power pose, thereby decreasing cortisol (which makes us stressed, anxious and fat) and increases testosterone (which reduces stress, builds confidence, burns fat and builds lean muscle).
    • Improved focus. There’s an inherent sense of urgency when you’re standing. As a result, you’re less likely to allow distractions that will just prolong the task at hand. Sitting becomes a reward, not a park-it-perpetually proposition.
    • Better concentration. Again, our built-in psychology prompts us to get the job done so we can rest. Plus, with increased blood flow and electrical connections, our brains are more attentive to the analytical and creative work we’re doing.
    • Less hunchback. Sitting lends itself to a wide array of unhealthy postures. Standing reduces your options and creates a more ergonomically safe state for your back, neck and shoulders. Better posture also leads to more positivity and less depression.
    • More energy and less fatigue. When standing, you’re burning more calories because your entire body and mind are engaged and so, you’ll likely avoid the typical 3 o’clock crash.
    • Weight loss. By standing for an extra three hours per day, the average adult can burn off about 9 pounds of fat per year. No gym membership required.
    • Other niceties include: less headaches (better posture and more blood flow are likely causes), improved creativity, more confidence and even assistance when quitting smoking (shifting weight from foot to foot and fidgeting while standing distract from the anxiety of detox).

    (Excessive) sitting might be deadly, but sitting isn't off-limits

    With all that research scarred into my brain, I concluded to stand more. One caveat remained: I’m not a great full-time stander. I was born with my dad’s tender feet and my mom’s imperfect arches. I knew that a DIY tabletop solution could save me dollars but wouldn't be the ideal solution (your risk of carotid atherosclerosis and varicose veins increases with standing all the time). After perusing my options, I found my solution to the new-age quandary: to sit or to stand? Both.

    My choice: the manual adjustable height desk.

    There are plenty of options out there and I’ll list some at the end of this post, but I settled on a manual adjustable height option from MultiTable. A rotating lever moves like butter and I can easily crank up the height to ideal standing ergonomics within seconds. You can invest in electric if you have the dollars, but I just don’t see the point, personally. Part of the goal is to move more, so turning the crank 24 times up and down several times a day is a non-issue for me.

    I tested my newfound habit at home first and since I love it so much, have made the case to upgrade our office desks early in 2014.

    my adjustable height desk

    I realize that not everyone can change their workplace setup, but don’t rule out a standing desk option for your home. Even if you only use it for a couple hours a day while you check email, peruse social networks, read, work on projects or help your kids with homework, you’ll gain some health and mental benefits.

    For the truly fitness-motivated, walking while working is the ultimate work-health solution. However, the jury's still out as to whether it leads to more productivity. As Mat Honan of Wired of points out, walking whilst working doesn't necessarily lead to more productivity. Danny Sullivan reports that it's work-as-usual while walking. While I like the notion for walking while reading or strategizing, standing seems like the best all-around choice when productivity and focus are the primary goals.

    For those that want to trial-run your standing resolution, I list some options below. You can get started for as little as $20, but you’ll have to commit to either standing full-time or assembling and disassembling your make-shift stand desk as the urge to sit calls.

    Why a sit-stand desk is better than a gym membership

    I'm all for working out, really. But if we're talking about investing in resolutions, I think a sit-stand desk is better than a gym membership. Creating the new habit of gym-going is going to require dozens of behavioral changes that will make reaching and maintaining that goal exponentially more difficult. If you work at a desk, and you have an adjustable height option, intermittent standing is a no-brainer because you're going spend 6-12 hours at your desk 5+ days per week. Yes, an adjustable desk is an investment, but it's something that you'll use almost every day and its proven to help your mind and body. I rather win at standing a few hours five to six days a week than potentially lose at an hour of running + pilates class + weight lifting three times a week.

    Even if you stood for just one extra hour per day, you would improve your health, productivity and outlook with one simple, no-sweat change. Then, you'll likely have more resolve for other challenging resolutions like hitting the gym regularly.

    For optimal benefits, invest in ergonomic-loving accessories

    From what I’ve read, ergonomics and posture are just as important when standing as they are when sitting. As such, I highly recommend the following (all field-tested and approved):

    • An anti-fatigue mat. This is a must have item for standing any length of time. You will be able to stand longer and feel so much better when you do. I love my GelPro New Life professional eco mat
    • A keyboard. Better yet, an ergonomic one like this Kinesis Maxim. It can be difficult to stand and use your laptop keyboard for hours on end. It can cause neck and back problems. Boo.
    • An adjustable keyboard tray. This is an optional item but if you’re big on ergonomics, your carpal won’t tunnel anymore. Get it? The experts say keeping the elbows bent at a 90 degree angle is best. (This handy workspace planner is customizable and helps you find your best-case work setup).
    • A mouse. I know. We’re backtracking in design aesthetics here. We had these lovely little self-contained laptops and tablets sans-accessories and now we’re cluttering our workspace with more stuff. But do you want your workspace to look good or do you want to be more productive and feel great? The mouse is also an ergonomic solution to the pretty but terribly dysfunctional design of the laptop track pad. My fave is the handshake mouse. It’s a carpal tunnel ballistic missile in an ostrich-egg-looking package.
    • Good shoes. When I’m standing for long periods, I opt for a flat shoe with a supportive insole. The experts agree: heels and long-term standing do not a healthy body make. My work solution will be to store a standing shoe at the office and to wear my pretty shoes the rest of the day.

    IMHO: the benefits of intermittent standing are real

    I find that when I stand, I’m more motivated, more productive, happier, more confident and willing to take (healthy) risks because I tend to think more outside the box.

    I was a reluctant stander, but I’ve made peace with the concept. I’ve found my balance. I allow myself to sit most of the day but I strive to stand 3-5 hours (sometimes during my evening work / catch-up time). I found a desk I love and a setup that keeps my body ergonomically in shape.

    (For the record, I stood while researching and writing this post. And now that it’s done, I’m ready to reward myself with some sit time).

    If you have questions about my experience, feel free to message me on Twitter. Cheers to a healthy, happy and productive 2014 to you and yours!

    Adjustable Height & Standing Desk Resources

    Calculate your daily sitting time, calorie burn and plan your workspace.

    DIY options

    Manual Adjustable Height

    • MultiTable was my choice for options, price and an amazingly well engineered base. The crank action is so smooth and easy to adjust. Plus, you can buy just the base and customize your own desk top, which is what I wanted. Bases start at $479, manual + top start at $549 for a small top. Note: I personalized my desk by buying just the base, then having a skilled carpenter in Arizona make the custom wood top to my specifications. I love it. If you're interested in getting a custom-made table top, message me on Twitter for his contact information.
    • CrankUp desk start at $649. They have electric versions as well.
    • The NextDesk is one desk with 267 possible positions for $1,500 (they also have a fixed height desk). You can try it for free for 30 days.

    Electric Adjustable Height

    • GeekDesks offers affordable options starting at $749.
    • ErgoDepot features clean Scandinavian desk starting at $709.

    Treadmill Desks

    Desktop Options

    • Kangaroo Junior lets you adjust your work surface and monitor heights separately for $399.
    • The Stand-Up Desk Kit is an inexpensive, simple solution for adding just the right amount of height to your existing desk and is priced right at $200.
  • How the Tracky logo and colors came to be and why philosophy trumps clichés

    • By jennifer
    • |
    • Friday, August 23, 2013

    Color. It's all around us, but its psychological impact isn't clear to most people. A post about color's impact on our decisions by Sarah Evans at FAVES + CO. reminded me of how much color influenced our brand identity decisions two years ago when creating the Tracky logo. We thought a lot about color then and rightly so: research by The Printing House Ltd. reports that consumers are influenced more by color than any other visual cue.

    Tracky's logo is a rainbow of color, almost literally and quite intentionally. In August 2011 when we worked with Swiss designer David Pache of Helvetic Brands on our logo, we contemplated the energy of color, logo trends and the psychological impact we hoped our mark would achieve. As most brands experience, it took several comps and multiple iterations before we reached the final product. While you will notice a very apparent smile in the mark now, the concept started out very different.

    Designer David Pache was inspired by the concept of "tracks" and our metaphor of encouragement to: "Get your life on Tracky." He wanted to convey the three areas of life that our product can help with: personal, professional and social. Those three areas are the "tracks" that our lives run on. Thus, in the beginning concept phase, the mark was based on those three lines in various forms.

    Tracky - lines rough concept

    Rough concept - 3 "tracks" of life

    However, the positive philosophy that Tracky's mission to "simplify your life" nagged at my conscience. Tracky isn't just technology, it's an evolution of how we manage our work and life. It holds the promise that "work" can be both productive AND fun while acknowledging that work and life aren't two separate matters. They can work in tandem, each given their respective seclusion and importance, but with the well-being of the whole person in mind.

    So we took the leap. Pache agreed to place two little dots above the lines. Those dots changed everything. The newly emerged smile conveyed the optimistic theme that we built the software on. Sure, it's a little cliché to have a smiley face as your logo. We debated that hotly for a week but in the end, we couldn't deny that there's something about the unmistakable energy of a smile, expressed in a spectrum of primary colors that communicates a philosophy, not just a logo.

    Tracky mark - official

    Official Tracky logo

    Now that you know the Tracky logo story, let's head back to the statistics about color. If we look at this study's outcome, we learn that:

    • Yellow denotes fun, inexpensive (hey, Tracky is free).
    • Blue conveys trust, security, dependability, technology.
    • Red eludes to speed and bravery. 

    (I'm ignoring fear. Other research shows red associated with energy, power, determination and love).

    To sum up the color definition game as it relates to Tracky:

    • Tracky is trusted technology that is dependable, secure and fast but just as important, it helps you take the leap to a more productive and fun life.

    That definition resonated in theory two years ago, as it does now. With that in mind I say, sign me up! :)

    target with colour

  • Can your daily habits affect your wealth?

    • By jennifer
    • |
    • Monday, July 22, 2013

    Rich HabitsWe love talking about productivity and how it impacts our work, health and relationships, so when we came across this Yahoo video about “Daily Habits of the Wealthy,”we couldn’t help take notice. In it, personal finance expert Farnoosh Torabi asks the question: is there any correlation between our daily activities and our financial fitness? The answer is a resounding yes, according to Tom Corley, author of the book, “Rich Habits – the Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals.” Corley spent five years studying 350 rich and poor people, delving into their habits for life and work. He discovered that the income divide had more to do with daily habits than any other factor.

    This might seem a little cliché at first glance. However, a look at Corley’s findings from his five-year study revealed that the wealthy tend to have consistent daily routines that promote mental and physical well-being, longevity, productivity, advantageous business and community relationships and even, interpersonal communication. In his book, Corley hopes to encourage everyone seeking prosperity with daily principles that can dramatically improve their lives.

    Rather than “write it off” (get it?), we thought we’d observe some of his findings and see if there were any lessons to be learned.

    • to dos for a good lifeRise early. 44% of wealthy people rise three hours before work. during that time, they focus on: self-improvement, like 30 minutes of reading industry information (88% wealthy vs 2% poor) and exercise (76% wealthy vs 26% of poor).
    • Create a daily to do list. 81% of the affluent complete 70% of their daily to do items compared to 19% of low income people.
    • Set long-term goals. 70% of wealthy reportedly do so in contrast to 3% of the poor.
    • Network during lunch. 55% of the well-off optimize lunch hour, while only 2% of low income individuals do so. 
    • Keep tabs on their daily caloric intake. The majority - 57% - of wealthy track daily calories in comparison to 5% of the poor. 70% of the well heeled tend to limit junk food intake to 300 calories per day compared to just 3% of poor people. Alcohol consumption is monitored as well, with well heeled generally limiting themselves to no more than 2 drinks per day. The takeaway? The wealthy have a stronger drive to stay healthy for income generation, both in the short-term (better health and less weight = more energy and fewer sick days) and for the long-term (a longer career equates into more lifetime earnings).
    • Don't gossip. It’s a common pastime for the poor, with 79% admitting to talking about others, while just 6% of wealthy say they do (or admit to, anyway).
    • Focus on after work activities that lead to advantageous business relationships and community service. Wealthy people say they often spend time networking, assisting nonprofit organizations, coaching, teaching, attending school or acting as board members. But the majority of those struggling with finances (77%) spend more than an hour per day watching TV, especially reality shows, whereas only 33% of wealthy say they spend more than one hour a day at the tube.

    Still think its bunk? The numbers are hard to argue with, but we believe that there’s much more to a person’s income level or happiness than one study reveals. What we can glean is that anyone can improve their life by being consistent with a daily routine that promotes mental and physical well-being.

    There are many things in life that we can’t control, but we can choose whether we set and pursue goals, how we spend our downtime, what we think and how we treat others. It’s a good reminder that our habits affect our lives, so plan to excel, no matter your financial status.

  • Recap: Video Conferencing Inside Your Task Lists

    • By jennifer
    • |
    • Friday, July 19, 2013

    Tech CocktailIn the past, the process of "work" and online meetings didn't coexist. Disparity no more. Tracky has melded the worlds of work + virtual collaboration by embedding video conferencing within tracks! A big thanks to Kira M. Newman at Tech Cocktail for reporting on our official integration announcement with Watchitoo Playground's free video conferencing software. 

    Now, you can host web conferences with up to 11 concurrent participants from within the same virtual space that your tasks and collaborators inhabit. It's a productivity junky's dream. In fact, in a large survey conducted by Wainhouse Research and Polycom, 94% of respondents said that video conferencing improves productivity and efficiency, something that we're very keen on here at Tracky.

    To add to the discussion, the Downtown Podcast kindly invited me onto their productivity episode last week. This episode also features an interview with Julia Roy, founder of WorkHacks and productivity trainer, brain hacker and digital marketer. Her interview follows my segment so keep watching to learn some great tips and debunk some commonly held beliefs about how our brains work.

    Downtown Podcast productivity episode

    Do you use video conferencing to be more productive? Share your thoughts with us and we'll include you in a future blog post.

  • Review of our top productivity posts for a summer of getting thing done

    • By jennifer
    • |
    • Friday, June 21, 2013

    Today marks the start of summer. The long sunny days and too-short weekends often leave us wanting to get more done - outside the office.  Yet, we also realize that the more productive we are, the more potential we'll have to reward ourselves and optimize summer.

    To help you out, we're recapping salient, summer-appropriate points from five of our top productivity posts. Our hope is that with the right productivity strategy, you'll be able to more readily step away from the keyboard and literally "spend" your summer time most enjoyably.

    lifehacks1. Eight #lifehacks that will allow you to spend more time doing the things you love.

    • Keep a laundry basket in the back of your car to use whenever you go shopping. Makes bringing things in the house much easier.
    • Wish you could shut down your PC by sending a text message? This hack lets you do just that and it saves you time from having to walk over to your computer.

    2. Top 5 winning CommHacks featuring workflow updates for the communications industry.

    • Ramsey Mohsen's "time quilting" strategy. Identify the small blocks of time you do have: a five minute break mid-day, 10 minutes waiting in line somewhere, 20 minutes at the doctor's office, etc. These are your time quilts. Use those little scraps of time to tackle the un-done things on your work or personal to do list: research for a blog post, learn a new skill, reply to a tough email or move a side project along.

    2. Nine social media #workhacks to make your company more likeable online.

    • Quell the power of distraction and instead, schedule short bursts of work for your social media strategy (or any other regular task). Instead of tweeting, liking, posting and sharing throughout the day, schedule a 5 - 15 minute swath of time a few times a day to engage your audience, build relationships and share great content. 
    • Put the internet to work for you with IFTTT. Create recipes that automate, or at least reduce, time spent on tasks. For example, you can create a trigger like email, text message or phone call to take place when your favorite website shares a new post.

    get more done in less time3. How to get more done in less time for PR and marketing pros.

    Learn how to run your social editorial calendar without a spreadsheet, monitor online news stories faster than 99% of your peers and more.

    • Get out of email and into a productivity platform (see slides 31 - 45). Tip: group everything. Figure out what email works for and what it doesn't. Get the non-working tasks into a platform.
    • Optimize your content marketing strategy. Stop emailing and using spreadsheets and instead, use an online, sharable editoriable calendar (like Tracky's editorial calendar module that you can copy and make your own) to store great content ideas, create and share documents, assign tasks to team members and guest contributors and more.  (See slide 28 for where to find content ideas).
    • Bonus: allow your research to double as social media content, in real-time

    share with your boss4.  Selectively share your awesome productivity skills with your boss.

    This is for the "doers" out there who want to showcase just how much they get done. Hey, it might even help your chances of getting a raise. (Not guaranteed, but it's worth a shot).

      • As Sarah Evans shares, his first mentor taught her, "Nothing is done until the people who needed it done know it’s done.” 
      • Don't fear your performance review, make it rock! When you implement a process to regularly share what you're getting done (like this free module), you'll amp up your authority and give your boss even more reasons to give you a raise.
      • Plus, it's a great way to boost your own self-confidence and career building initiatives.

    5. How checklists can make you smarter

    • Use checklists to help motivate you to get repetitive stuff done.
      Create a master Daily To Do List to add more structure to your day and help you keep track of all that you're getting done.
    • Define what's most important for you to accomplish in life. Make checklists for personal, work and future projects. Outsource some to do's to facilitiate teamwork and discipline.
    • Tracky's new checklist view optimizes the intent of quick tasking while giving you the ability to assign tasks, set due dates, create and share files within a simple to do heading.

    Since it's the first day of the summer and the weekend is upon us, maybe the first step you should take for a productive and enjoyable summer is to sign up for Tracky (if you're not already a user) and create a "Productivity Tips" track. Link to this post in the Disucssions area and "pin it." Set a due date for it to remind yourself of these and other great workhacks.

    productivity track

    Now, go sip something cold and enjoy your weekend!

  • Why checklists can make you smarter

    • By jennifer
    • |
    • Wednesday, June 19, 2013

    What if you could take one simple action today that would relinquish your fear of neglecting the most important things while liberating your brain to create and improve where you need it most? Sounds pretty revolutionary, right? Well, it’s not. It’s just the simple checklist.

    Checklists might be the most basic form of task management, but they’re also one of the most powerful. In his best-selling book “The Checklist Manifesto: How To get Things Right,” Atul Gawande reveals how the humble checklist can transform our increasingly complex lives.

    It turns out that almost every industry is suffering from the same “oops, I did it again” syndrome. People with great ability and motivation are repeatedly dropping the ball over and again in seemingly basic tasks. Gawande consoles us that this dropped ball behavior is a result of how much we have to juggle these days, but sternly warns us that unless addressed, it won’t get better. He postures that checklists can give our brains the clear-cut structure they crave and can assist us in other ways, such as:

    1.    Make us smarter and more disciplined decision makers
    2.    Facilitate a culture of discipline and teamwork
    3.    Ensure that the repetitive stuff gets done and out of the way

    I would add to this the feeling of satisfcation that checking something off a list creates. It’s somehow comforting and motivating at the same time.

    So, here at Tracky, we’ve heeded this sage advice and more importantly, our user’s feedback, to reimagine how subtracks are displayed in Tracky. We created a checklist view of your subtracks.

    Hello, Checklist View!

    Tracky checklistsThis new format offers a few visual cues about your subtracks:

    • Calendar icon: Red means it's overdue, orange means that it's coming due and grey is due in more than seven days.
    • Chats and files: Icons will appear to the left of the subtrack if there are any discussions or files included.
    • Checkbox: You can quickly check off an item in the checkbox area.
    • On hover: Mouse over the subtrack title to bring up the edit and delete icons.

    Also, even though there isn't a visual cue, you can easily re-order your subtracks. Just click and hold the subtrack you want to move and drag it before or after other subtracks.

    As you complete tasks, you can check them off from this "list" view or within each subtrack ("Mark Complete").

    Subtracks still function the same, but now you get that quick-win feeling of "checking things off" as you progress through your to do list or project.

    Make Each Day Better with Today's To Do List

    jen daily to do listQuick tip? At the end of each day, make a list of tomorrow’s tasks. Get those pesky to do's out of your head so you can sleep better and quickly get into a productivity zone the next morning.

    My advice is to create a master “Daily To Do List” track, and then a subtrack for each day. Use Tracky's “Add a subtrack” feature to quickly add in your tasks for the day. Then, enjoy the feeling as you check off those items throughout the day.

    Hey, it can be as simple as reminding yourself to take a break, say a nice word to someone or do some personal affirmations.

    The point is: define what’s most important in your life and make a checklist out of it. Your brain will be freer, smarter and you’re bound to become a more productive person.

    How about you - do checklists motivate you to get more done?

  • Announcing: #CommHacks winners with the most popular workhacks

    • By jennifer
    • |
    • Friday, May 31, 2013

    @Tracky CommHacks winners

    During #CommHacks, the first-ever virtual hackathon that Sarah Evans initiated for the communications industry, we uncovered an important lesson:  PR and marketing pros are an industrious bunch. We loved hearing your stories about how you turn repetitive and time-consuming tasks into opportunities for efficiency. Hence, your varied PR and marketing #workhacks. Many had to do with social media, while others were focused on productivity strategies. All of them were worthwhile lessons in how to get more done in less time.

    You hacked. We voted.

    And the Grand Prize Winner is...

    Natalie WardelNatalie Wardel

    #Workhack: Custom program that monitors multiple Facebook pages at once 




    Natalie monitors 75+ Facebook pages for work, so she devised a custom program in Google Drive. In 3 clicks, it taps Facebook's API, then updates the entire spreadsheet with the  updated like counts. Even though you still need to log in to look at insights, this program provides a great snapshot of what's going on with your Facebook pages.

    She also thanked her awesome programmer Randall B. for helping her complete this #workhack masterpiece. 

    Way to go, Natalie! With your digital savviness, we're sure that you can use an(other) iPad Mini! 

    Natalie is the Social Media Director for KSL News TV and Radio in Salt Lake City.

    Congratulate Natalie on Twitter


    Our second place winner is...

    Ian GrantIan Grant

    #Workhack: Keyword monitoring

    Ian has developed a custom RSS feed with a daily email that lets you keep track of all new Google search results for your brand.

    Ian is a Marketing Associate, Web Developer and Program Assistant for the Florida Economic Gardening Institute.

    Congratulate Ian on Twitter


    Our third place winner is...

    Jeff ElderJeff Elder

    #Workhack: Team social posting strategy

    social posting

    Jeff keeps his team in the loop with this free strategy of scheduling posts on each social network. This allows you to park the posts for teammates to see and tweak. Here's how: Pre-date a post on Facebook and it goes to the Activity Log. Schedule a tweet and it goes to Tweetdeck scheduled tweets column. And on Google+, you can create a circle of just your team. All those posts can be edited by your team on the platform, where they can improve and tweak before it goes out - with no outside platform needed (TweetDeck being acquired by Twitter).

    Jeff leads social media for the San Francisco Chronicle and SFGate.com.

    Congratulate Jeff on Twitter


    Our fourth place winner is...

    Ramsay MohsenRamsey Mohsen

    #Workhack: Time quilting

    time quilting

    Ramsey shares a seret that he's learned from the highly productive and successful set: "time quilting." First, it takes an attitude change which is to come to grips wtih the fact that you will rarely get long periods or blocks of time to sit down and do what you need to do. Then, you need to identify the small blocks of time you do have: a five minute break mid-day, 10 minutes waiting in line somewhere, 20 minutes at the doctor's office, etc. These are your time quilts. Use those little scraps of time to tackle the un-done things on your work or personal to do list: research for a blog post, learn a new skill, reply to a tough email or move a side project along. 

    Ramsay is the Director of Social at DEG Digital.

    Congratulate Ramsey on Twitter

    And finally, our fifth place winner is...

    Adam TorkildsonAdam Torkildson

    #Workhack: Custom-built tool to analyze PR score

    pr scorecard

    Adam's #workhack analyzes 6 areas of online PR in 60 seconds and gives a cursory report about the effectiveness of a client's public relations. The tool provides simple suggestions on how to improve your current PR activities and your PR score.  PR Scorecard is a free tool that Ian built at Snapp Conner.

    Adam is a Senior Associate at Snapp Conner PR.

    Congratulate Adam on Twitter

    Congratulations, CommHacks winners! We're excited to get your prizes to you and use your workhacks in our daily work lives. A big thank you to all who participated, shared and learned from this fun experiment. Keep workhacking and loving what you do!

    Please share these great workhacks and join us in congratulating the winners!

    • Congrats to the #CommHacks PR hackathon winners, via @Tracky! (click to tweet)
    • Get winning #workhacks from 5 productive communicators and marketers (click to tweet)
    • Winning! These 5 #workhacks won our votes in the first-ever #PR #CommHacks (click to tweet)

    Thank you to our sponsors: Postagram and Sarah's Faves! We'll be assembling the e-book of these workhacks soon, so stay tuned!

  • Vote for your favorite #CommHacks workhack

    • By jennifer
    • |
    • Thursday, May 23, 2013

    Thanks to all who submitted their workhacks to #CommHacks! Our first-ever hackathon for communications pros is over but that means that the voting is ready to begin.

    We were impressed by the lengths that some professionals go to in order to improve their efficiency and reduce the number of repetitive daily tasks. That's the kind of 1% doer effort we look for! We were inspired by our entrant's custom programs, IFTTT recipes and productivity methods. We hope that you will be too. Maybe you'll glean an idea or two on how to improve your own workflow, no matter what industry you work in.

    So, we've selected our favorites from an array of different techniques, from the very simple to the complex. We're giving away an iPad Mini to the grand prize winner plus other great prizes to four additional winners, courtesy of sponsors Postagram, Sarah's Faves and Pitch Engine

    It's time for you to vote for your favorite! And the semi-finalists are...

      1. PR score: This workhack is a free tool custom-built to analyze six areas of online PR in 60 seconds and calculate a cursory report about a client's PR.
      2. Monitor multiple Facebook pages at once (75+ in this case!) with a custom program in Google Drive. In 3 clicks, it taps Facebook's API, then updates a spreadsheet with "like" counts.
      3. When #Facebook profile picture changes, update #Twitter profile picture.
      4. Tomatoes Chrome extension for the Pomodoro technique. Install it, set it and go! You'll gain 25 minutes of uninterrupted PR work if you use it right.
      5. Automatically save Facebook photos where you are tagged in to your Dropbox folder (local computer).
      6. Keyboard shortcut: change case command for non-mouse hand.
      7. Customer interviews: set up a standard list of questions at the ready for customers who express their love for your brand. Post right away to your blog. 
      8. Productivity technique: Do what gets left undone with time quilting - short blocks of time dedicated to write more, learn a new skill or work on a passion project.
      9. Upload Instagram images to Twitter as though it's any other picture on your phone. Set it to tweet all company photos, or only those with a certain hashtag.
      10. Social posting: pre-date posts directly on the platforms for free (Facebook, TweetDeck, Google+) and then let your team review and edit before they auto-post.
      11. Keyword monitoring: a custom RSS feed with daily email that lets you keep track of all new Google search results for your brand.


      What's your favorite workhack?
      Cast your vote here!


      Voting open through Wednesday, May 29, 2013.
      Winners will be announced on May 30, 2013.

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