Ridiculously Efficient Gift Guide: Photo Lighting to Illuminate Your Brand

Ridiculously Efficient Gift Guide: Photo Lighting to Illuminate Your Brand

The quality of the cameras on cell phones are good enough to capture high resolution imagery for the size of a billboard. Apple's ad campaign proves just that. Apple also launched their own Instagram account featuring photos taken with iPhones. However, the lighting in your photos and video can be the difference between of someone clicking buy and someone clicking away. With our amazing smartphones, it's simple to take great pictures but the perfect lighting can be rather tricky. Improve your brand and public's image with these lighting products that will make your photos merry, bright and likable.

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Using Kids' Natural Curiosity & Creativity to Enhance Learning

Using Kids' Natural Curiosity & Creativity to Enhance Learning

Today, virtually every kid has a smart phone. That smart phone is full of apps and gadgets that do the job of what used to be 30+ separate machines. That is a lot of power in the hand of a child. What if we could use those apps to trigger creativity and enhance learning instead of being used to play hours of mindless games

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Lumosity Settles $2M Lawsuit for 'Unfounded Claims'

Lumosity is the online brain game that claims to help with memory loss, make you better at work and school, and can even help with brain injuries. The Federal Trade Commission filed a lawsuit, saying the company made "unfounded claims" with no science to back them. Lumosity has agreed to settle the charges by paying $2 million

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Amy is the Scheduling Tool You've Been Waiting For

Scheduling a meeting involves a lot more than inputting a time and date in your calendar. It often includes a lot of back and forth between attendees to try and find the best time and day to hold said meeting. That's a lot of clutter in your inbox and not necessarily the most efficient use of your time.

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The ZCAN Scanner Mouse Helps You Digitize Your Life [REVIEW]

 zcann scanner mouse

zcann scanner mouse

Many of the entrepreneurs and team members I work with want to fully digitize their paperwork, but don't have hours to sit next to a scanner bed with reams of paper. The ZCAN scanner mouse by Systech Electronics Ltd. is a powerful gadget that removes these barriers of time, complexity and space.

[contextly_auto_sidebar id="bMvrlMrhNhjo4eK5Zy4E7bzBWN7jT0Mx"]By day, the ZCAN is an unassuming USB mouse (there's also a wireless version, but I have the wired one), complete with scroll wheel and two-button functionality. Press the center ZCAN button, though, and it becomes a mini handheld scanner that creates real-time scans as you swipe in a Z shape.

Digitizing paperwork with ZCAN is easy, but what's really exciting is all the stuff you can do with your scanned items:

  • Save them to online tools like Evernote and Dropbox.
  • Scan just the relevant part of a page or image, if desired -- versus the whole thing.
  • Share them to Facebook, Twitter, or email.
  • Translate them (ZCAN's OCR recognizes 199 languages and opens Google Translate immediately after scanning)
  • Export the scan to .jpg, .doc, .pdf, .txt, .png and -- get this -- .xls. Yes -- printed tables become digitally editable Excel spreadsheets!

Read more about the ZCAN wired and wireless versions here: Wired, Wireless

Disclosure: I received the ZCAN scanner mouse in this review for free. That said, I'm genuinely impressed with its functionality and am looking forward to digitizing more documents. I think you'll find it a valuable item to add to your tech arsenal as well.

Marissa Brassfield

Marissa Brassfield is a productivity expert, branding consultant and communication efficiency specialist who helps entrepreneurs and high-performance teams become ridiculously efficient.

Marissa has worked with some of the most visionary entrepreneurs on the planet. She’s dialed in to the frustrations these results-oriented, interrupt-driven individuals have with bureaucracy and suboptimal team performance. Her coaching helps entrepreneurs counteract growth-killing practices and unlock unparalleled performance from their support staff.

TaskRabbit Research Reveals the Secret Way We Get More Done During the Workday

 taskrabbit heat map

taskrabbit heat map

Recent TaskRabbit research uncovered a surprising secret behind how some of us get more done during the workday than others: we outsource. 

The outsourcing company found that 50% of tasks on its service are booked in the middle of the workday: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. local time.

These findings make sense: the middle of the day is often that point in the workday when we reflect on our day and start to think about what we still have to do later.

If you work a traditional 9-to-5 job, you have to be at work day in and day out at 9 a.m. and cannot leave until 5 p.m. For most people, relaxation mode does not begin at 5 p.m. when the workday ends, and we will inevitably have a checklist to take care of at home.

Instead of creating a checklist and stressing about it until 5 p.m., consider taking 10 to 15 minutes and identifying tasks you can outsource, and do so on the spot.

Good TaskRabbit to-dos to outsource include cleaning, grocery shopping or delivery, moving or handyman work, or even picking up the dry cleaning

The time that you spend at the end of the workday completing chores or running errands is valuable time that you could spend re-energizing and relaxing, spending time with your family, or doing any other activity that is important to you.

The next time you begin to procrastinate and your brain wanders to after-hour to-do's, think about how valuable your time is and use it productively.

Centrallo is a List-Lover's Haven [Interview]

A lot of times, us list makers find ourselves much more disorganized than we intended. Our process usually involves notebooks and sticky notes, lost lists and the overwhelming inability to identify where to start. Centrallo is an app that not only centralizes all your lists in one place, but it also helps you identify your priorities.

Centrallo is available on all your devices, so you can access it from anywhere. It's basically a list-lover's dream, giving you the ability to make lists within lists, and import photos, videos, links, voice notes, and contacts.

We spoke to Centrallo's founder Michael Sher about the app and why it's the only list-making app you'll need.

1. What sets Centrallo apart from other productivity apps? 

The user experience across platforms; iOS, Android, and web are all simple, intuitive and highly addictive. And the synchronization is automatic and fast.

Also, unlike the majority of productivity tools in the market today, Centrallo provides third-party content hooks into Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive so that any content can be accessed and shared. In addition, we support video, photos, voice notes, location-based reminders and much more.

Lastly, any list can be published via a private web link so any content can be shared with anyone – and there is no need to be a registered Centrallo user to view content.  Lists can be password protected as well.

2. Lists are a central theme in Centrallo (which I love!). What inspired this and how does Centrallo help in keeping a person's many lists organized? 

Lists within lists within lists is a key theme in Centrallo and I specifically wanted to build this capability since no one offered it. I also needed the feature to organize myself personally. Not only is it a competitive differentiator, but this is how most people would prefer to organize themselves.

We provide best practices and examples for how a Centrallo user could organize their lists, but we don’t physically help keep users lists organized.

3. The 'priorities' tab is another interesting feature. Why is it so important for people to have a specialized place to list their biggest priorities? 

A few reasons we built this feature. 1) People want/need a view of their most important priorities – so we created a special tab specifically for this capability.  2) Centrallo users can prioritize any list or item inside a list from any list hierarchy, meaning that if I have 3 lists in a hierarchy (Trips > San Francisco > Hotel), I can highlight any piece(s) of content as a priority, and that content shows up in my Priority tab.  VERY COOL feature that we don’t publicize too much – yet.

4. How does the Centrallo team consistently stay efficient? What tactics and methods are used?

The team shares lists in Centrallo and any content added gets distributed and pushed down to their devices in real time. We also have added push notifications so in-app notifications can be sent when shared content is added, edited, deleted, etc.

5. What is the one thing you do every day that keeps you productive? 

I try to swim or exercise at least once a day. It keeps my mind fresh, allows me to plan my day’s priorities and feel refreshed throughout the entire day.

Is The Grid the Most Efficient Site Builder Yet?

the grid I've been reading a ton about The Grid, an artificial intelligence-powered website design engine that promises to be easy, fast and dynamic. Naturally, this piqued my curiosity, and I'm now Founding Member #11253. Here's why.

1. The Site is Gorgeous

[contextly_auto_sidebar id="WaquDAfgpfmlYtD0esMktw9YyKkej60X"]Currently, Ridiculously Efficient runs on Studiopress by Genesis. I've been a happy customer for several years, and this site has seen five or six theme changes with little downtime, thanks to Genesis' parent-child theme setup.

I've gotten tons of compliments on the child themes I've chosen over the years. But I recognize when someone else is running the same child theme, or one I've used in the past. And as someone who craves distinction in all I do, my ideal design scenario is a bit more customized.

2. Dynamic Site Design

Screen Shot 2014-11-29 at 9.48.50 AMThe trouble with a custom site design is mainly cost. You'll pay (and rightly so) for a good designer... and once that site's complete, it isn't easy to start from scratch and create a new one.

What excites me about The Grid is that the layout automatically changes based on the content I upload. Its artificial intelligence system is packed with a decision algorithm that takes into account hundreds of minor tweaks that are time-consuming at best and costly at worst.

So as web design trends and my own tastes change, I won't have to tinker. The Grid even automates A/B testing in a super-simple way.

3. It Uses Exponential Technologies

Artificial intelligence isn't going anywhere. In fact, its growth has just begun. Have you seen IBM's Watson own Jeopardy?

What's more, you own your data. No "walled gardens" -- it's all open. The Grid puts it up on GitHub -- here's the site's own code.

Watch and Join

Check out the video for The Grid below... and if you want to take the plunge like me, head to the site and join as a founding member to lock in a lifetime promotional rate of $8/month.

Disclosure: The links to The Grid above are affiliate links, which means that if three people sign up for The Grid, I get my service free. That said, I only endorse products I personally use, have personally vetted, and have purchased with my own hard-earned money. I genuinely think this service is awesome, want to share it with you, and will use it for Ridiculously Efficient when it launches in Spring 2015.

Marissa Brassfield

Marissa Brassfield is a productivity expert, branding consultant and communication efficiency specialist who helps entrepreneurs and high-performance teams become ridiculously efficient.

Marissa has worked with some of the most visionary entrepreneurs on the planet. She’s dialed in to the frustrations these results-oriented, interrupt-driven individuals have with bureaucracy and suboptimal team performance. Her coaching helps entrepreneurs counteract growth-killing practices and unlock unparalleled performance from their support staff.

Tempo: The Smart Calendar for App Hoarders [Review]

tempo app review Are you an app hoarder (an individual who has a million different apps on their phone, but can never figure out which one has the information you are looking for)? If so, Tempo might help to solve your problem.

[contextly_sidebar id="2SBCcMLv8v1hCTSyPe21a5aIzviQ2qdy"]

What is it?

Tempo is a smart calendar that finds everything you need to be prepared for your day.

How it works:

  • Tempo links directly to:
    • iCal/Google calendar to import events that you already have scheduled
    • reminders to give you direct access within the app
    • weather to give you the high and low temperatures for each day
    • address book and social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn so that you never miss a beat
  • Calendar Views:
    • monthly
    • 2 weeks
    • weekly
    • daily
  • Cool Features:
    • You can join a phone call with one swipe or click directly within the app.
    • You can send a message directly from the app to notify event attendees if you are running late.

Best Features for Rebels:

If you do not like searching for anything, Tempo has all of your information in one place so you don’t have to look through multiple apps to find things. It also thinks how you think. When you run a search, the first thing it brings up are agenda items you need to complete next or people that you will see within the next week.

Considerations:

Do you like separating out your tasks, events, etc.? If you do not think in terms of a daily agenda, but you prefer to separate information by context, Tempo might not be the right app for you. Tempo does not categorize items, but tells you everything that falls on your plate for that day. Combining that many apps into one central location can cause the app to appear cluttered, making it more difficult to stay organized for some.

Final Word:

If organization is not your strong suite, Tempo might be the tool that can help you stay prepared for what’s next.

How I Use TextExpander to Simplify Outbound Email

ss1_TextExpander We Rebels write volumes of email every day, and in this video I'll share how I use TextExpander to simplify outbound email. [rebel]

When to Use TextExpander

I ask myself one question every time I send an email: am I going to have to send any part of this again in the future?

[contextly_sidebar id="XXaCeCO3cYEKu0hykDGFYkXX0IAuQ4ov"]If so, I create a TextExpander snippet. Every single time.

As you'll see in the video below, I've created snippets (the abbreviated shortcuts that, when typed, expand into a longer bit of text) for a variety of scenarios, including:

  • FAQ responses to inbound email
  • URLs, phone numbers and addresses I use frequently
  • HTML blocks for blog posts
  • Hard-to-remember information (Facebook Group URLs, Google+ URLs, shopping cart URLs)
  • Portions of emails (signatures and sign-offs)

Here's a 4.5-minute walkthrough on how I personally use TextExpander and what the window looks like:

[Download a transcript of this walkthrough here.][/rebel]

The Work-Life Inventory

power bar temporary tattoo wrist Being a Rebel is more than just working effectively -- it's about maximizing all areas of your life. After all, what's the point of being ridiculously efficient if you can't enjoy the extra free time?

We often read stories about work-life balance, but this verbiage implies that we spend equal time on work and non-work activities. Not so here at RE. You'll see me use the phrase "work-life alignment" in place of "work-life balance" on the site for this reason, even though the latter has a higher search volume.

I agree with the maxim that you cannot improve what you cannot measure. The following tool will help you record your satisfaction with various areas of your life over a 30-day period.[rebel]

The Work-Life Inventory Tool

The Work-Life Inventory tool will ask you about six key categories:

  • Money and finances
  • Creativity, fun and hobbies
  • Philosophy and spirituality
  • Career and learning
  • Family and relationships
  • Physical and emotional health

I was inspired to create this tool by the self-assessment Steve Mundahl, the CEO of Goodwill Industries and author of The Alchemy of Authentic Leadership, does to gauge his own work-life alignment.

You'll quantify these on a scale from 1 to 5 (5 being best) on Day 1, Day 14 and Day 30. As you enter more data, you'll begin to see the charts populate and visualize your progress.

Tool Download

Right-click your preferred file format below.

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Marissa Brassfield

Marissa Brassfield is a productivity expert, branding consultant and communication efficiency specialist who helps entrepreneurs and high-performance teams become ridiculously efficient.

Marissa has worked with some of the most visionary entrepreneurs on the planet. She’s dialed in to the frustrations these results-oriented, interrupt-driven individuals have with bureaucracy and suboptimal team performance. Her coaching helps entrepreneurs counteract growth-killing practices and unlock unparalleled performance from their support staff.

The 3 P's Worksheet

smartphones make you more productive This is the worksheet-only page for the 3 P's. For context on how to use this tool, check out this skill development video.[rebel]

Right-click here to download the 3 P's Worksheet

[/rebel]

Marissa Brassfield

Marissa Brassfield is a productivity expert, branding consultant and communication efficiency specialist who helps entrepreneurs and high-performance teams become ridiculously efficient.

Marissa has worked with some of the most visionary entrepreneurs on the planet. She’s dialed in to the frustrations these results-oriented, interrupt-driven individuals have with bureaucracy and suboptimal team performance. Her coaching helps entrepreneurs counteract growth-killing practices and unlock unparalleled performance from their support staff.

Inside My Editing Flow

working from home desk

I've copy edited hundreds of thousands of articles in the last decade, and since many of our readers have to edit written work as part of their responsibilities, I thought I'd share my editing flow.

Editing-Flow

Here's how each step shakes out:

1. Formatting

Scan the document, evaluate the intended format and double-check for consistency.

  • Line Breaks: Should there be full line breaks between paragraphs, or just indents?
  • Spacing: Is the spacing after punctuation consistent? (I do a Find-and-Replace to ensure there's just one space after a sentence rather than two.)
  • Lists: If the document has a list, is the list comprised of clauses (no ending punctuation) or sentences (each ends with a punctuation mark)?
  • Curly Quotes: Much of my work is blog posts that go online, so I replace "smart" quotes (curly quotation marks) with straight quotes using a text editor so that they don't yield funky formatting on the Web. (I'll have a separate tutorial on this.)

2. Context

Determine the audience and purpose for the piece. I combine this step with #1 in my actual workflow, but it's important enough to call out in a separate step here.

Use the intended audience and purpose to help guide the voice, tone and language used. For example, a press release will have far more formal language than a blog post, which will have far more precise language than a personal email to a buddy.

3. Spelling

Correct obvious spelling mistakes by reading from the bottom up. Since in the last step, I scanned the piece from top to bottom, for this step, I'll read the piece backward, from bottom to top.

Forcing your eyes to travel backwards -- from right to left and from the end to the beginning -- minimizes your chances of missing a spelling error. Humans are excellent pattern recognizers, and when we're rereading a post, it's easy to skip over a spelling error by confusing the writer's intent with what the writer actually wrote.

4. Grammar

Read the piece aloud to yourself, listening for stumbles or awkward phrasing. You don't need to be a grammarian to know when something just sounds funny. Reading the piece out loud makes grammar errors simple to spot. It also helps you identify run-on sentences and awkward phrasing. Which brings me to...

5. Concision

Use only as many words as you need. Delete repetitive phrasing. Check out these steps to shorten your emails for an in-depth guide, but here are a few easy edits to make:

Remove redundancy.

"End result" becomes "result." "Free gift" becomes "gift." "Personally, I would..." becomes "I would..."

Remove unnecessary intensifiers:

Really Truly Severely Very Exceptionally

Rephrase "There is/There are" sentences. Expletive constructions, the official name for these sentences, are lame at best.

Note the energy difference when you eliminate the "There is/There are" and add in a stronger verb:

Original: There are six days until my vacation. Edited: Six days until I embark on my vacation.

You can also use this editing trick to add subtle nuance by picking effective verbs:

Original: There is a spider in my room. Edited: A spider looms in my room. A spider lurks in my room. A spider sleeps in my room. A spider hides in my room.

6. Messaging

Ensure every sentence contributes to the overall goal for the piece. Once you've pared down the prose, you can focus specifically on the messaging.

How should the reader feel while reading this piece? How about after reading the piece?

Are you hoping to trigger a specific emotion? If so, does the language in the piece evoke that emotion?

What is the reader supposed to do after reading the piece? Do you have a clear call to action?

7. Order and Flow

Does it make sense for the piece to flow in this order? Sometimes the most effective parts of a piece are buried in the middle. Or perhaps the last line of the first paragraph would actually be more powerful if it appeared at the end.

If it's an important piece that I have some time to work with, I open up a blank document and start rearranging the existing text. Then I'll read it aloud and see if it flows better my way.

If I don't have time for that, I'll sketch out the gist of each paragraph on a whiteboard or a piece of paper to create an informal skeleton. It could look something like this:

  • Framing questions
  • Introduce blog post topic
  • Why it matters
  • Next steps and actions for reader
  • Summarize benefits
  • Open-ended question

8. Transitions

Do the paragraphs relate to each other? A good written piece flows. Using the framework above, I make sure the last line of each paragraph flows smoothly into the first line of the next one.

If it's hard for me to make transitions between concepts, I know that my order and flow are out of whack, or I need to add some headers and/or subheaders instead of a smooth segue.

9. Storyline

Reread the full piece from start to finish. Does the overall piece tell a story? Does it have a beginning, middle and end?

If I have the luxury of time, I perform the previous steps, take a break, and then return to perform this final step so that I can replicate "fresh eyes."

Conclusion

At first glance, this may look intense and time-consuming. Once you get the hang of it, though, you'll get faster and better at editing, which in turn helps you produce higher-quality work.

Marissa Brassfield

Marissa Brassfield is a productivity expert, branding consultant and communication efficiency specialist who helps entrepreneurs and high-performance teams become ridiculously efficient.

Marissa has worked with some of the most visionary entrepreneurs on the planet. She’s dialed in to the frustrations these results-oriented, interrupt-driven individuals have with bureaucracy and suboptimal team performance. Her coaching helps entrepreneurs counteract growth-killing practices and unlock unparalleled performance from their support staff.

The SURE Method to Prioritize New Tasks, Projects and To-Dos

prioritization in progress I get a ton of questions about how I prioritize new tasks, projects and to-dos against an ever-increasing workload. In our work for entrepreneurs, a steady flow of inbound ideas and new initiatives is inevitable. How do you evaluate these new distractions and compare them to last week's urgent projects? I go through the following process. Just remember the acronym SURE.[rebel] SURE-Prioritization (Want a PDF version of this image? Right-click here.)

How Soon?

For me, the first step to prioritization is getting a timeline. Something that I have to turn around in the next 10 minutes shoots straight to the top of the list, whereas something that takes place next week can wait. Sometimes your entrepreneur will specifically mention a due date. Other times, you'll have to tease one out:

  • "No problem. When do you need this?"
  • "Okay. When's the best time for me to follow up with you on this?"

How Urgent?

A timeline isn't always enough to help me prioritize. We live in a world where we're juggling multiple projects and the due date for them all is "immediately, if not sooner." Accordingly, it's essential that we manage expectations and ensure nothing falls through the cracks. In these cases, I'll reflect, using current "urgent" projects to rank and classify this new project:

  • "No problem. I'm currently updating the budget for Friday's meeting. Do you need this before then, or should I start as soon as the budget's finished?"
  • "Okay. I've got meetings this afternoon for our event. Should I reschedule them so I can do this for you now?"

Resources

Will you incur any expenses in doing this task? If so, what's the budget? Will you need support from additional personnel, like team members or contractors? If so, who are the best individuals to help you? You don't necessarily need to think through this step with your entrepreneur, but as I'm listening to the vision for potentially big projects, I'm usually making lists in my head of on-demand manpower.

Expectations

What are your deliverables? This step is crucial to understand, so that you can avoid having to repeat work. Sometimes the deliverables are clear: a PowerPoint deck, a report, an email, a meeting. Sometimes they're obscured, and I have to do a little digging. I'll usually try and give a couple options and let the entrepreneur pick the best one, rather than have them micromanage my logistics:

  • "OK. I can set up a 99Designs contest. How would you like me to share the top designs with you for feedback? In attachments, or in a PowerPoint deck?"
  • "Sure, I can create a budget forecast for our next live event. What assumptions should I make for attendees on the income side?"

Conclusion

Every project, to-do and task has its nuances. By understanding the timeline, urgency, available resources and expectations for everything we're working on, we have the tools to reverse-engineer our day, crank out projects, and feel less stressed while doing so.

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[/rebel]

Marissa Brassfield

Marissa Brassfield is a productivity expert, branding consultant and communication efficiency specialist who helps entrepreneurs and high-performance teams become ridiculously efficient.

Marissa has worked with some of the most visionary entrepreneurs on the planet. She’s dialed in to the frustrations these results-oriented, interrupt-driven individuals have with bureaucracy and suboptimal team performance. Her coaching helps entrepreneurs counteract growth-killing practices and unlock unparalleled performance from their support staff.

10 Ways to Boost Productivity in 10 Minutes

We can all find a spare 10 minutes in our day if we look. Perhaps it's the "dead" time between meetings. Or maybe you're waiting for a response or call from someone. How can you make the most of this time? In this article, you'll find my favorite 10 ways to pass 10 minutes in a productive fashion. [rebel] 10-min-practices

(Want a PDF version of this image? Right-click here.)

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Simple Tips to Shorten Your Emails

Who wants to write 100 words when 17 will do? Not we Rebels, that's for sure. Here are five simple steps to shorten your emails, along with some real-world examples.[rebel] Shorten-Your-Emails

(Want a PDF version of this image? Right-click here.)

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[/rebel]

Marissa Brassfield

Marissa Brassfield is a productivity expert, branding consultant and communication efficiency specialist who helps entrepreneurs and high-performance teams become ridiculously efficient.

Marissa has worked with some of the most visionary entrepreneurs on the planet. She’s dialed in to the frustrations these results-oriented, interrupt-driven individuals have with bureaucracy and suboptimal team performance. Her coaching helps entrepreneurs counteract growth-killing practices and unlock unparalleled performance from their support staff.

Personal Communication Checklist

The sheer volume of communication we handle on a daily basis at work requires discipline and organization. Let's face it, Rebels -- our role entails being an example of effectiveness, personally and professionally. I've created a checklist that will help reinforce some of the practices you're mastering here in the Big Efficiency Library. In this downloadable PDF checklist (and Numbers spreadsheet for you Mac users), you'll see the top eight to 10 best practices for email, meetings and calls. [rebel]

Download the PDF

1. Right-click the version you'd like to use. 2. Select "Save Target As..." or "Save Link As..." to download the checklist.

Numbers file

PDF Checklist (print only)

PDF Checklist (print or fillable)

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[/rebel]

Marissa Brassfield

Marissa Brassfield is a productivity expert, branding consultant and communication efficiency specialist who helps entrepreneurs and high-performance teams become ridiculously efficient.

Marissa has worked with some of the most visionary entrepreneurs on the planet. She’s dialed in to the frustrations these results-oriented, interrupt-driven individuals have with bureaucracy and suboptimal team performance. Her coaching helps entrepreneurs counteract growth-killing practices and unlock unparalleled performance from their support staff.

Supercharged Subject Lines

Supercharged subject lines can make all the difference in how quickly an entrepreneur replies to you. Unfortunately, many of the subject lines I see blend in with the firehose of email and don't command attention. In this downloadable PDF article, you'll learn seven subject line prefixes to use in your emails to catalyze action and decrease others' response times to you. [rebel]

Download the PDF

Right-click here and select "Save Target As..." or "Save Link As..." to download this content.

More From Rebel:

[/rebel]

Marissa Brassfield

Marissa Brassfield is a productivity expert, branding consultant and communication efficiency specialist who helps entrepreneurs and high-performance teams become ridiculously efficient.

Marissa has worked with some of the most visionary entrepreneurs on the planet. She’s dialed in to the frustrations these results-oriented, interrupt-driven individuals have with bureaucracy and suboptimal team performance. Her coaching helps entrepreneurs counteract growth-killing practices and unlock unparalleled performance from their support staff.

Effective Solutions That Kill Inefficiency and Poor Productivity

Running This is a guest post from Kevin McCourt.

We're human, not robots. We're susceptible to work-efficiency weaknesses and vulnerable to productivity pitfalls. But we can also improve. Use the following resources to stay on track and enhance work performance:

Systems Over Goals

A life without goals is a life not worth living. Well, of course, life is worth living no matter what, but goals help people reach their true potential, follow dreams and make the world a better place. Yet, sometimes setting goals is only a reminder about our shortcomings and failures.

Entrepreneur James Clear told Inc.com that he advocates achieving systems over goals. Focus on a system that yields positive results, and these end up being your goals. Commit to a process to make progress. If you're a pen-and-paper person, create a system and stick to it by using the Bullet Journal—an analog system using a Moleskine notebook that's based on a "rapid logging" method. Rapid logging, which includes entries and bullets, is the difference between being busy and being productive, the company's website claims.

Note Taking & Accounting Solutions

Entrepreneurs and self-employed consultants can't always rely on a team to collect valuable information and manage accounting tasks. When you are your business, your team becomes digital devices, organizational apps and accounting software.

  • Evernote takes notes, captures ideas and connects all your lists and files across devices.
  • QuickBooks accounting software meets your financial needs by sending invoices, accepting payments, tracking sales and expenses and more.
  • Use Zapier to custom integrate Evernote with Quickbooks and maximize productivity—you'll keep bookkeeping tasks organized, save receipts and never overlook a payment or invoice.

Self-Management

When it comes to productivity, we can be our own worst enemy. Pitfalls like engaging in nonsense on your phone, not following through and neglecting priorities can destroy any chance of efficient production. Track how your time is spent and see where focus suffers with the time-tracking tool Yast. Its interface is easy to understand, and it prioritizes time tracking as a fundamental business task. Yast's click timers, color-coded timeline and dashboard features will help you dominate projects and declutter your process.

Health & Wellness

Healthier employees are more productive—it's just a fact. A healthy lifestyle creates a better mental state, boosts energy levels and increases happiness, all of which promote better work performance. Fitbit, a wellness tracker on a wrist band, keeps you accountable for getting active, eating nutritiously, managing weight and sleeping better. The Fitbit Flex motivates your health efforts and tracks your behaviors, from daily steps numbers to calories burned and quality of sleep. Improve your health, and you'll feel more resourceful.

Communication & Collaboration

Aristotle said, "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts." That's true as long as the whole communicates effectively for the greater good of productivity. Team members depend on one another for a cumulative desired result. Yet, stress caused by poor and ineffective communication breaks down employees and blocks progress, especially for employees who don't share a physical work space.

Google Hangouts and Hipchat can help remote team members engage more. With Google Hangouts, up to 10 people can participate in a live face-to-face video call to exchange ideas and brainstorm. Chat on your desktop at home with another employee who's out and about on their iPhone. The Internet chat tool HipChat also connects colleagues and fosters collaboration. Teams can even share files and join private group chats pertaining to a certain subject matter or issue.

Kevin McCourt is an entrepreneur, writer and app junkie. You can find similar posts by following @SocialRAWR

Take a Social Media Vacation With Relaxed Auto-Replies

Relaxed auto reply The auto-reply email has helped many professionals vacation without having to worry about the state of their inboxes. These auto-replies are an easy and simple way to let people know that you aren't available. Now you can do the same with your social media accounts with the help of Relaxed.

With so many of us using social media as communication tools between friends and coworkers, it's wise to set vacation auto-replies for more than just your email. Relaxed currently works for Twitter and Facebook. The auto-replies will be sent to people who write on your Facebook wall or mentions you on Twitter. You can even have the replies sent to anyone who sends you a private message on Facebook.

Additionally, Relaxed is super easy to use. You input the dates you will be away, type your message in 125 characters or less, and you can completely disconnect on your vacation. The only part of Relaxed that is a little less than attractive is the "autorelaxed.com #relaxed" tag attached to the end of your message.

Vacations aren't the only time you can set-up social media auto-replies with Relaxed. Use these auto-replies over the holidays, or even while working on a big project. It can help rid you of annoying notifications that will distract you from your work.