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Posts Tagged ‘productivity’

Why you should be using Instapaper

October 31st, 2011 No comments

Who knew I spent so much time staring at walls… I now use that time to read articles, papers, reports, and more! Instapaper helped me find HOURS per week in my already jam-packed that I can spend reading.

Instapaper is a “read later” service that has changed my life. It allows you to easily capture content from multiple sources and store it in the cloud so you can consume it at your leisure.

Simply click, “read later” across Instapaper’s many incarnations and the service comes through the internet to capture text and images from an article. That content is now available to read whenever and wherever you have some free-time.

It’s a ubiquitous and beautiful reading experience that I never knew I needed.

  • You’ll find new time in your day
  • It goes where you go

Read on to find out more, and check it out at instapaper.com.
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3 hints for Excel excellence

July 20th, 2011 No comments

Excel is the go-to tool for business calculations. Simple or complex, weeks of work or merely minutes, you’ll use Excel eventually. As with any tool, knowing a few tricks can transform the output from a clunky mess to a useful, beautiful creation.

  • Learn before you hack
  • Make it pretty
  • Document everything

These three hints apply to lots of life’s endeavors,
but let’s talk about how they apply to Excel.

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Convert images to data with Plot Digitizer

May 30th, 2011 2 comments

You’re scouring the internet for data to prove your point…
After hours of searching, you finally found it!
One problem – it’s a chart in a pdf…

Charts are better than nothing, but you really want to have the numbers in Excel or Matlab so you can do analysis and get big insights (or at least make a nicer-looking chart).

The answer is Plot Digitizer

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6 must-know shortcuts for faster PowerPoint

March 21st, 2011 6 comments

I spend lots of time making PowerPoint slides. To get my life back, I learned to make them very quickly.

Shortcuts, macros, and toolbars all speed up the brainless parts of slide-making. Here’s the 5 that everyone should know and use… They’ll get you 80% of the way there with minimal effort. If you want more, just ask. I’ve got a million of these!

The Tao of keyboard shortucts

Before I tell you my secrets, I want to to appreciate them! Here is the basic philosophy for getting the most out of shortcuts:

They don’t work if you don’t use them – learning them without using them is a waste!
Learning them is an investment – and it pays huge dividends in time saved later on.
Don’t touch your mouse – think as it of a game, practice makes you faster.

Bonus: on-lookers will be impressed and terrified by your skills, and you’ll and save your wrists by becoming a key-ninja (mixed metaphor with the whole Tao thing, I know)

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Question-Data-Action: Structure your work-plan

February 13th, 2011 1 comment

As I’ve transformed into a consultant over the last year I’ve started structuring everything… The trick always finding the right structure. Here’s a great one!

I recently worked with a colleague who uses a work-planning structure that breaks big, wide-open questions into actionable next-steps. The Question-Data-Action framework is thorough, thought provoking, and easy to communicate with 4 simple steps:

  1. Define key questions
  2. Refine to sub-questions
  3. Determine what data is needed
  4. Identify actions to get the data

Each step gets you closer to an actionable workplan that will make your life easier and help you communicate timing and deliverables with clients and colleagues.

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RSS Feeds for Scientific Journals

July 14th, 2009 1 comment

Knowing about new research in my field helps keep my work informed and relevant. However, I rarely remember to log into IEEE Xplore, Springer, or Science Direct to see what’s new in top computer vision journals. Recently, I saw mention of using RSS to keep up with research on Productive Scholar.

It took a bit of searching, but eventually I found RSS feeds for many of the journals I’m interested in and loaded them into google reader. It is now quick to scroll through new abstracts as papers appear on-line prior to publication. Below are links to RSS feeds for some computer vision journals I’m keeping up with.

RSS Feeds for Computer Vision Journals

Finding RSS Feeds for Other Journals

It takes a bit of hunting sometimes, but I can’t imagine that a journal would not have RSS these days. IEEE Journals are easy to find, and I found that inezha.com was a good resource for finding some of the other ones I have listed.

Any good feeds I missed?
Other good ideas for keeping current?

Leave them in the comments.

Using White Noise for Concentration

July 9th, 2009 8 comments

noiseWhen I really need to concentrate I listen to brown noise. I find that it boosts my productivity and keeps me from getting distracted by sounds around me. This is most useful in coffee shops or noisy offices, but I even do this when it’s quiet.

Brown noise is similar to white noise; it sounds like random static. However, brown noise is at a slightly lower pitch so it’s easier to listen to. That means that I can work for hours without hurting my ears!

You can download some free random noise MP3s to play on your computer or iPod, or listen to some right from your browser. Both work great.

This works better than my previous method (using ear plugs) because the sounds aren’t just blocked, they’re all scrambled up by the static. I get so much input from my ears that my brain ignores sound all together and focuses on work!

Anybody else tried this? How else do you keep focused?

Categories: Tips Tags: , ,

4-Hour Work Week Review

December 8th, 2007 1 comment

I finished Tim Ferris’s book, The 4-Hour Work Week. This book is very inspiring, and takes a very different take on entrepreneurship than most books you’ll find on the subject. Tim suggests increasing efficiency in everything you do (both personal and professional) by applying the 80/20 rule and setting deadlines. (The 80/20 rule says that 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts) When you only do 20% of the things you were doing before, and you set deadlines so you complete them faster than you normally would… efficiency ensues.

4-Hour Work Week

So in addition to this efficiency point, Tim also suggests setting up little-to-no effort income streams in the form of small niche-market internet-based businesses. He recommends outsourcing everything to a handful of companies so that your only “job” is making sure everybody plays nice together.

Once you have your life efficiently outsourced and funded with a work-free business… you take unlimited vacations and party like a rock-star! That sounds like a pretty sweet deal. I think this review came off making his book seem overly simplistic and not realistic. That wasn’t my experience at all. I really felt like he gave good information on how to make his reality come true! In fact it got me very excited about the prospect of having a “muse” (his word for a hands-free income stream). I’ve been making some moves in that direction since then. This book is definitely worth a read, and will end up in the stockings of some of my friends this Christmas.

Also, check out Tim Ferris’s Blog. It has lots of interesting stories and ideas regarding his “lifestyle design.”

Categories: Books Tags: , ,

Mantras for Motivation

November 7th, 2007 No comments

In my struggle to do more, be better, and kick ass I try a menagerie of techniques, experiments, etc. Most recently, I’ve developed a set of mantra that seem to give me that extra push to get things done, and done well. I keep these three phrases in mind all day and let them spur me to action.

DELIVER

The idea that you should always deliver on what you say you will is a strong one. I want to be known as “someone who delivers.” This keeps my head in the game long-term thinking about not just actions right now, but how they will translate to tangibles later on. Deliver at work, Deliver in relationships, Deliver financially. DELIVER.

More Action!

This one comes from my friend Naomi. In this crazy world, it’s all too common to work or play to the exclusion of sleeping. When things start to drag, when my pen slumps and my eyelids get heavy, I think to myself, “More Action!” Its a great way to get going, and keep moving fast. “More Action!” at the gym. “More Action!” when programming. “More Action!” when you want just 5 more minutes before you get out of bed… “More Action!!”

Push It.

Here’s one from my buddy Jon. We tease Jon because, “he pushes it.” However, pushing it is a valuable quality. Whenever I want to quit, take a break, slow down for just a sec’ because its more comfortable… I think “push it.” This means working for 10 extra minutes when I’m stuck on a problem, or running for one extra mile when my lungs and legs burn, or knocking one more thing off of my to-do list before going to bed. I hope working just outside my comfort zone will make me stronger. Push it.

These three are short and simple enough to keep with me mentally all day long. If it were just about that though, I’m sure I’d forget eventually. Hence, I put up sticky-notes with these mantra. I put them on my monitor at work, my microwave at home, my dashboard, my laptop, you name it. Seeing them all the time reminds me to do More Action so I can continue to Push It and eventually DELIVER.

Categories: Tips Tags: ,

Steve Pavlina

June 6th, 2007 No comments

Recently, I’ve been reading motivational articles by Steve Pavlina. This guy is pretty remarkable (he finished two undergrad degrees in just three semesters!). Now he spouts wisdom about getting what you want out of life. I epically like some of his concepts outlined in these articles:

Overwhelming Force
Cultivating Burning Desire
The Power of Clarity

He makes some very good points about how setting goals and then making very strong and directed actions to accomplish those goals. From reading his stuff I’m getting a big surge of can-do attitude and am eager to try to tackle some goals I’ve been putting off for a while!

Categories: Books Tags: ,