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How a Timer Can Help Your Productivity

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pomodoro-logo-1It is a very trying time of year for me. Between my haunted house, full-time job and Web site, not to mention the other sites I write for, it is very stressful and I can feel as if I’m pulled in dozens of directions at once.

This can make getting anything done very difficult, especially on larger projects. The problem is fairly simple, when there is so much that needs to be done, it is too tempting, for me at least, to try and do everything. As a result, I tend to float from project to project, not really making any progress on any of them.

That, in turn, makes it possible and even easy to work for an entire day and have almost nothing to actually show for it.

This Halloween season, however, I’ve begun an experiment. I’m using the Pomodoro Technique, or at least a variation of it, to help me focus and stay on target. Though I’m early in the experiment, the results have been fairly impressive and I can see how it might help other bloggers, especially those who are divided up among many different sites and projects.

Best of all, the only thing the technique requires is a (free) timer and a few minutes to set up and learn, making it no-risk for you to try.

How it Works

The idea of the Pomodoro Technique is pretty simple, you just need to focus on one task for a certain length of time and, by using a timer, you can help achieve that. Here’s all you have to do.

  1. Get a Timer: You can use a kitchen timer if you want, but I found it easier to get a free Mac-native Pomodoro app. There is also one available for Adobe Air that should run on multiple operating systems.
  2. Set the Timer: Give yourself a set amount of time to work. The default is 25 minutes but you’ll likely want to experiment with that. The idea is to have something that is bite-sized enough to tackle but big enough to get something accomplished.
  3. Start Working: Pull up a task or project and then work for those 25 minutes straight. Work without stopping as much as posisble and focus only on the task (or tasks) you’ve assigned yourself during that time.
  4. Take a Break: Once the work period, or Pomodoro, is up, it’s time to take a short break. Five minutes is the default. This is time for you so feel free to get up from your computer, stretch or, if you don’t want to get up from the computer, read Blogging Tips.
  5. Repeat: Once the break is over, set the timer and do another Pomodoro. Every four work cycles, take a longer break. It should be quitting time before you know it.

If you do this technique correctly, you should be spending a solid amount of time working on just one task. Though 25 minutes may not sound like a lot, and it isn’t, it is enough time to get a lot done with dedication and focus. That, in turn, is what the technique provides.

Some Caveats

To be fair, the Pomodoro Technique is a variation of similar techniques that came before it. The idea of timed work/break sessions is not particularly new, but that doesn’t make it any less valid. Still, it’s less important to follow the exact numbers in the method and more important to have a time period dedicated to working on a single project.

In fact, many, myself included, will find that the 25/5 system in the Pomodoro doesn’t work entirely well for them even if it is a nice average. I have been experimenting with increasing the Pomodoro time, using a 30/5 or a 35/8, as it fits the types of tasks I tend to do. This is something you will almost certainly want to tinker with as you learn how you work and the time you need to get various projects done.

It also doesn’t work well in environments where distractions and “fires” are not under your control. I shared the idea with my wife and she shot it down for her job because she is routinely handed “urgent” work while doing a longer-term project. She doesn’t have the ability to say that she needs to work on project X 20 more minutes and can’t do the new task, especially if it is due in an hour.

However, if you’re in a position where you can manage your own time, it can be a huge boon. I’ve noticed that I’ve been much more productive these past few days and am eager to keep trying and experimenting with it to see how much more I can get done.

Bottom Line

In the end though, the Pomodoro Technique or whatever time management technique you choose to use is just that, a time management technique. Though they are often billed as a means to end procrastination and stop goofing off, its no substitute for willpower or determination.

In short, this can help give you the tools you need to work better, not necessarily the tools to be a better worker. After all, no one can force you to start the clock or stick to it.

Don’t expect it to be a miracle cure, but it an help if you’re finding yourself pulled in 20 directions and don’t seem to be getting anything done, it can definitely help you sit down, focus and work without distractions.

That alone makes it worth at least trying.

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Productivity

3 Clever Tips for Finding the Best Internet Provider in Your Area

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More than 3 billion people use the Internet all around the world today. You’re definitely among that number (aren’t you reading this right now?), but how does that amount of volume affect your internet speed?

As a blogger or online business owner, it’s tough to find the best internet provider. Outside of the contract terms being too confusing, bandwidth speeds that have your head spinning, there are just too many providers and plans to make sense of.

At the end of the day, we all just want reliable internet, with fast delivery speeds. Good thing most of us aren’t hosting our sites and businesses from our home internet providers!

In any event, we’ve got you. Read on to learn more about your internet options and for three top tips on finding the best internet providers.

Do Your Research

There are four different types of internet services: satellite, DSL, cable, and fiber optic.

Satellite is often the only option in rural areas, so if you’re not near a city, it might be for you. The cons? It tends to be more expensive, and rather slow compared to cable and fiber optic.

DSL works over your phone line, like the old dial-up systems used to. It’s typically a lot less expensive than the others since its relatively outdated. If cost is a big factor for you, DSL might be your ticket.

Cable is a popular option in suburban areas since it’s a good medium between price and speed. The main downside is that everyone else in your neighborhood is on the same cable service, which can slow it down during peak times.

Fios is the newest, most cutting-edge option out there. It almost delivers your internet at the speed of light. The main drawback is that it’s not very widely available yet.

Now that you have a better idea of your broadband needs, you can refine your “internet service providers in my area” Google search to include your specific service type!

Figure Out Your Need for Speed

Bandwidth is measured in megabits per second, also referred to as Mbps.

Streaming HD video requires around 5 Mbps, streaming music only uses 2 Mbps, and downloading large files can use as much as 50 Mbps.

How much speed you need is entirely dependent upon what you use your internet for. If you mostly use it to browse the web and stream Netflix and Hulu, you won’t need as much speed as a professional gamer. If you’re a professional photographer who’s always sending large files to clients, for example, you’ll want more Mbps for your buck.

Most internet service providers have a wide variety of options for Mbps needs. The best ISPs, like Pac-Wave, for instance, won’t even offer speeds below 25 Mbps. In today’s digital world, you’ll find that’s pretty much the bare minimum you’ll need.

Check the Contract

Be sure to find out contract details during your search for the best internet service provider in your area. Some require you to pay monthly to use the modem or buy it outright.

Some will offer you a promotional rate and only write it in the fine print that it’ll go up in a year. Some have great add-on options for phone lines and cable that you might want to partake in.

Some won’t require you to sign a contract at all. The point is, read the fine print before you sign anything!

Entrepreneurs Need the Best Internet Provider

If you’re an entrepreneur, like 57 million others in the U.S. working the gig economy, there’s no doubt you need the best internet provider on the block. You also need a whole host of other resources to help you slay your business goals in 2019.

Check out our latest entrepreneurship article for all the best tips, tricks, and advice every entrepreneur needs to know!

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3 Reasons Why Bloggers Love Google Chromecast in their Home Office

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As bloggers and entrepreneurs, we are are usually working 80 to 100+ hours per week, so we don’t have to work 9-to-5 for someone else. While the concept of all of this is great and fine, we are living most of our lives in our own home offices. With so much time being spent in a specific location, it’s important to make sure our environment isn’t just a fun place to be, but also one that’s productive and efficient as well.

One of the best ways to accomplish this, is to maximize the amount of space we have, while also getting the most out of our favorite electronics, items, desk space and more. To help with this process, I recently got my hands on the latest Google Chromecast and started thinking about how great of a tool it is, not just for entertainment, but also for productivity and making my work space better in the process.

With all of this in mind, it also gave me the idea to write this list post on how every blogger can benefit from adding one to their home office or workspace. Here we go!

Stream from your Phone to TV

In addition to working from home, bloggers and entrepreneurs are usually working from their mobile devices when they are on the go. Not only will a Google Chromecast work with your TV through an HDMI port, it will also allow you to watch shows, listen to playlists and more right through your mobile device. This is perfect for when you are working in one room, then have to leave for another, but don’t want to miss what’s playing on TV or any audio or music you might have streaming.

Works with the Streaming Apps you Know and Love

Remember when there were only a couple hundreds apps to choose from? Those days are long gone, and now it seems like there are apps for everything — whether it be for business, productivity, gaming, or even personal use.

Again, Google Chromecast makes it easy for anyone to enjoy TV shows, movies, videos, songs, games, sports and more from over 2000 apps like Netflix, YouTube, YouTube TV, and HBO NOW.

When it comes to working out of the home or planning to build out a new home office, this also eliminates the need to worry about cable cords and wiring!

Start Streaming with Just Your Voice

Eliminating cords and additional wiring in the home or office is always great, but there are still times when you need to look around for the controller or have to plug something in. This can waste a lot of time if you are trying to get work done throughout the day.

Another benefit to adding Google Chromecast into your home office, is that you can control all settings and commands right through your voice. For anyone that might already haver Google Home in place, the two work seamlessly together and make the experience even better!

Not sure what channel your favorite show is on? No worries… just say “Google, play Game of Thrones” and you are ready to go!

Improve Productivity and Technology with Google Chromecast

No matter what type of business or brand you might be running, it’s always great to stay at the forefront when it comes to technology. Not only will this make your workspace more exciting, it will also make you more tech-savvy in the process.

As fun as this post was, and it might make you want to start watching TV, just think about the many different ways you can use Google Chromecast to start improving your productivity and getting more done throughout the day.

#ad  @BestBuy @madebygoogle *IMAGE

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Finding the Right Project Management Software for Your Content Marketing Team

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A project management software is a must-have resource for business. There are hundreds of options for your project management software — all promising to do what the others can do, but better. While this may be true, the fact is that some features may not be necessary for your content marketing team. What works for some may not work for others. So, how do you choose the right project management software to suit the specific needs of your content management team, while not paying extra for features your team is never going to use?

The key to a good project management software is in the essentials. You’ll want to make sure that your software has the foundational capabilities to navigate every stage of your content marketing project from beginning to end successfully. Read below for features to look for, as well as some tips for finding the right project management software for your content marketing team.

Features of A Good Project Management Software

Communication

Without a proper way of communication, your team won’t work as a cohesive unit. Especially for groups working remotely, constant communication with coworkers is among the most vital of components when working as a team. It is critical that your software has a way for effective communication and maintaining adaptability when problems arise.

Trying to run a content marketing campaign without talking about the crafting, writing, and publishing of your content will be virtually impossible. Furthermore, how are you supposed to know who is handling what project and how far along they are? In any aspect of business, communication is vital, and emails will only get you so far. In many cases, a second form of communication is necessary for instant messaging for the clarification of instructions and problems in real-time.

Another useful tool is Zoho, which can help with many different levels of communication and management in your business. To learn more about this tool, we recommending taking a look at this Zoho projects review from Time Doctor.

Collaboration

The foundation of a functional content marketing team is the ability to collaborate. Creating and publishing content involves the hands and eyes of everyone on your team. So, it is imperative that your project management software has collaborative functions.

Content creation and marketing relies on the sharing of ideas, and this includes file sharing. Email cannot provide the pace in which a content marketing team needs to work on files and pass them back and forth between members. Additionally, email can come with some drawbacks — some people don’t check their email often, files can get lost in inboxes, and other email disasters can happen. In recognition of these drawbacks, your project management software must have the file-sharing capabilities at speeds that can keep up with your team members’ ideas and processes.

No matter what advertising or marketing methods you are exploring, the important thing is that you have a PR and marketing platform that can measure your results. A good example of this would be GoodNoon, which is a PR agency that provides placements into world’s largest publications. This is something that can be approached manually, but without the right connections and moving parts in place, it can end up taking a lot more time than expected.

It is also recommended that you supplement your project management software with a collaborative tool such as Google Docs. Google Docs is an extremely cost-effective app that allows team members to work on the same document, in real-time. With these two tools combined, you can work on a document with a coworker on Google Docs, and send it to another employee through your project management software for them to work on or edit.

Project Management Duties

Other than the functions above, you’ll want to make sure that your project management software performs all of the duties that will keep your content marketing campaign running smoothly. Since there are different project management software, each one puts their flare on the user experience of the functions they provide. However, you’ll want to make sure that your software provides some crucial elements.

First and foremost, your project management software or tool needs to have a working calendar. In the process of content creation and marketing, there are deadlines to meet, and you don’t want projects to be constantly up in the air. The firm tracking of dates to remember is vital in any business operation, and your content marketing campaign is no different.

Marking the priority, and the ability to assign tasks to others is another part of a content marketing team’s processes. Facilitating effective time management, understanding the priority of upcoming tasks can keep your team members in the loop. During the creative process of content creation, it is good to know how much time you have to work on a project while acknowledging projects that you have to get started on shortly.

QuickBooks illustrates the importance and convenience of a project management software, saying that “with a project management tool, you won’t need to ask your employees for that one email or the status of that one project. All ongoing and completed work—along with all relevant information—will be instantly accessible.” So, make sure your software can let a team member work on a task, mark it as urgent, and notify the next team member that the project needs to be at the top of their list. This function will elevate time management and productivity levels while avoiding confusion.

Tips For Finding The Right Project Management Software

Calculating Cost

Deciding how much you want to spend on your project management software is tricky. Of course, you want to provide the best tools for your content management team, but you’d also like to be cost-efficient. Things to consider when calculating the cost of your software are how well it performs necessary duties, alternative software, and your team’s feedback on the software you’re considering to go with.

You don’t want to be paying for extra features that are going to be seldom used or little understood by your teammates. So, make sure you try out and  do your research on other project management software and listen to your team’s feedback.

Trying Alternatives

How else are you going to find out exactly what you need in a project management software than to try out all of your options? You wouldn’t blindly buy a car without doing your research first, would you? While a project management software is not as expensive as a car, it will save you time, money, and frustration to take the time to make sure you are going with the right one.

There are many options for a project management software, and all come with different ways to perform the same tasks or offer different functions entirely. Your object here is to see how well the user experience and services offered corresponds with your content marketing objectives and team member preferences.

Get Feedback From Your Team

Your team’s input on the project management software you are considering could ultimately make your decision for you. If your team doesn’t like or understand the software you are thinking of choosing, it is in everyone’s best interest to go with another software — rather than spending the time and money trying to learn and deal with software that no one likes or understands. User experience is subjective to the people using the software, as well as the tasks you will be performing. If the software you are considering doesn’t fit your content marketing team’s goals or preferences, don’t waste the money on buying it.

Additionally, listening to your team’s opinion will illuminate some function of a project management software that you will lean on heavily and some that you may not use at all. Why pay the extra money for things you won’t use, or waste the money on software that doesn’t carry out the functions you need it to? Your team’s feedback will be valuable during your decision to choose a project management software.  

Finding the right project management software is a decision that can make or break your content marketing campaign. Instead of wasting time and money, your team could be on its way to creating some very compelling content and marketing strategies. The information above will help you get started on your way to finding the perfect project management software for you and your team.

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