Keeping Organized

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Desk

Organized Desk

Yeah, you’ve probably already read a couple of books (or articles for the ones with heavy eyelids) on the subject: In fact, there are probably thousands of other subjects related to this: work, desks, computers, closets, home, relationships, notes, you name it.

We come into contact with so many things in a single day, consciously it’s impossible for you to keep track of every single thing and action you are involved with for 24 hours. So, yes, it is true that keeping organized saves a lot of time and headaches. But really, most of us, suck at it.

I’m no expert on the subject, and I’m certainly no elite example of it either, but I do know this: procrastination, lack of organization, and not being able to reach your goals are three sides of the same vicious triangle. And I am sick of it. Under the risk of sounding like this is a page from a personal journal, one too many things and being-on-the-edge moments have slipped me by because of this very triangle. Perhaps you can relate.

However, although you might put your mind and back into it, visible improvement will NOT happen over night, just like all “good” things in life. You certainly have to start somewhere though, and for me, it has been “starting” for a while now, with several articles and videos on the subject. But the definite moment when I truly saw tangible improvement was the moment I started reading Unstuff Your Life by Andrew Mellan.

I literally cleaned out my closet, threw away (not kidding) 6 bags of old paperwork, trash, and things that were just lying around but presented no true functional or sentimental value in my life. I decided that if I was going to start having an organized life, I would start by creating an adequate environment in which an organized life could thrive in success.

So far, so good. Deadlines have been met, procrastination lapses have gone down (though there’s a lot yet to go), goals have been achieved, and proactivity has been enhanced. Sure, it all sounds like a 2 minute movie lapse in which you see a definite difference between the before and after circumstances. However, it has been mostly about (sheer) will power. That literally means to start ignoring that little voice from inside telling you to do that tomorrow, or to not go out for a run because you’re enjoying those 5 extra minutes of sleep. It also means that you need to keep your blood sugar levels to an optimum level, meaning you should eat right. Not just because of your figure or even your health. People tend to make the right decisions with enough will power on a full stomach.

How unbelievably annoying this must be to so many people, thinking that these insignificant details can actually make a change in their routine, or even making them earn more money. It is, it sounds border-stupid. That’s what your inner voice is telling you. What have you got to lose though?

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Not Making a Dime, for Startups, is No Big Deal

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Profit ≠ Revenue

Profit ≠ Revenue

If we take a trip back in time, and presented a tech startup or similar business model and outcome to investors and business owners in say… the 1960s, they would probably laugh in our faces. They wouldn’t worry about analyzing whatever wonders the app or business can achieve. Their attention would immediately go after the millions of dollars in seed or other series investments and how years after, these companies are not profitable.

Things have fortunately changed. Not that this example wouldn’t happen in the past, but if that indeed happen, then the company would sell off everything and close off, or if it continued, then it would certainly not rely upon virtual infrastructure to keep on going.

Today, is definitely a different story. Software is a billion dollar industry that creates thousands of jobs, and brings value to millions of users across the planet. That’s the primary goal for a tech startup. In order to do that, startups need significant investment that will later create exponential growth. Profits? Well, that’s a plus. As long as there is growth and sustainability, profits come later.

Take Twitter for instance. Their recent IPO filing brought focus to their finances of course. This year alone they have lost $67 million. The main reasons the press and Twitter themselves are giving, is that Twitter has made expansion plans and has bought several small startups. This in turn has rendered their finances a bit fragile. However, the main goal here is far from it, what other platform (except of course, Facebook) has been able to be the epitome of free information and rights throughout the world?

Take Foursquare as another example. Although they were founded a few years ago, they are still not turning a profit. This is the example of many other startups. Some of them don’t find value in other things like Twitter, and so finally close their doors. It’s entrepreneurship risk as always, but this time around, it also comes with other benefits. What do you think?

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Is the PC Over?

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Tablet Sales Soaring - Photo from pcsupportgroup.com

Tablet Sales Soaring – Photo from pcsupportgroup.com

To be fair, the debate between what’s best? A tablet or a PC is sort of like comparing coffee with tea. Sure, they’re both hot beverages, but they have two very different contexts, and may even coincide in a few things. I would argue the same for tablets and PCs (or smartphones for that matter). Nevertheless, numbers are not liars, and the UK recently just saw a vast difference between tablet, smartphone and PC sales this year.

Online sales are of course still soaring in the UK but not so thanks to PCs. In fact, according to e-marketer, online sales grew 15% thanks to tablet and smartphone sales alone. What’s more, computer sales have been stagnant for a while now. This phenomenon is not local to the UK. In the US, back-to-school season has also seen the same situation. Students aren’t filling up with new computers, instead, they are staying with their “old” equipment and are buying tablets instead.

What is it exactly that’s causing this phenomenon? It’s not like PCs (Macs, desktops, etc) are now obsolete. I’m still writing this post from my Mac, and there are still millions of people around the world using a PC. To be honest, we’re not at a point in which a tablet or a smartphone can completely replace a PC. There are so many capabilities unique to a PC that no other gadget can fully replace.

That said, the truth is that tablets and smartphones offer a much lighter and pragmatic way of doing basic things, like playing games, staying connected to social networks and IM, and other capabilities. After all, it’s much easier to be carrying around a, say, iPad mini than your Macbook air, if you’re just looking to have a quick look into your Facebook feed or your e-reader.

Is it maybe then that mainstream needs are covered by a tablet and/or a smartphone alone? Perhaps using a PC or Mac is now considered to be mainly for business (productivity, development, creativity, etc). This is the potential trend that we are witnessing, what is your take on this? Feel free to comment below!

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Using Instagram for Your Business

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Instagram, pic from socialmediatoday.com

Instagram, pic from socialmediatoday.com

More than just a selfie picture, Instagram – when used properly- can enrich your online community. When you are a brand or a business, there’s plenty Instagram can do for you. If you’re like me, then you’ve been wondering how a business can do that. Especially since Instagram can only be used from your phone to take pictures. The web version only works for you to see your feed (your friends’ images), edit and view your profile and download Instagram badges to be uploaded and embedded on your sites.

So how then, can a Business handle Instagram for its benefit? The truth is, you should have an internal social media team – yes, that would be ideal-, but just in case you’re outsourcing your social media efforts, then communication efforts between your business and the firm responsible for your community strategy need to be VERY strong.

As opposed to other social media networks, Instagram is pretty active around the clock. You can post and follow your followers at any time of day, and you’ll still have very active response. Video is something relatively new to Instagram, but it is indeed growing, and marketing-wise, it’s helping several Fortune 500 companies.

By all means, use and exploit hashtags, but DON’T overdo it. Hashtagging word by word makes no sense at all, and you are just abusing hashtags at any rate. Be specific, clear and gentle with hashtags (that goes for individuals too). If you’re posting a picture from an event your company is holding, then you could type in #ExpoEvent #MyCompany #SpecialOffers and the like.

Although Instagram is not compatible with social media management platforms like Sprout Social, Hootsuite, Buffer and more, you can still do a manual effort and get great results.

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Evernote’s 2 Cents on Organization

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Evernote, picture from cnn.com

Evernote, picture from cnn.com

So there are several changes to Evernote lately, and not just its flat design upgrade for iOS7. In case you were too busy looking at what Apple and Google were doing, here’s the list of the things Evernote is doing in this quarter alone:

  • iOS7 Flat Design

To go accordingly to the new iOS7, Evernote not only redesigned its icon, but also the whole look and feel of the app across all iOS7 carrying devices. In my personal opinion, it looks cleaner, and the design is very appealing. Functionality is still there, and although it’s not much of an improvement utility-wise, it holds the Evernote organizational principle. You get all your ideas synced and well organized. 

iOS7 Evernote Look & Feel - Picture from blog.evernote.com

iOS7 Evernote Look & Feel – Picture from blog.evernote.com

  • Evernote Physical Goods

Evernote has partnered up with 3M, Côte&Ciel, Adonit and others in order to market physical goods. It sounds strange for a software company to be doing so, but if you think about it, it isn’t very far off from what other companies have done in terms of memorabilia, like Apple (coffee mugs, and the like). However, in Evernote’s case, it’s not just about a geeky souvenir, their physical goods will serve a purpose. They are truly trying to integrate the physical world with the digital world. They have done so in the past with Moleskine. The notebook allows you to still feel comfortable with hand writing and sketching, while maintaining a digital order.

  • Evernote Business 2.0

Talk about smart solutions. More than 7,000 companies have signed up for Evernote’s business edition. They will now be able to take advantage of smart recommendations for collaborative work. For example, if you have trouble or need help with a certain project or topic, Evernote automatically recommends 5 people in your organization that might be able to help you out, everything based on the content they have input in their shared notebooks. Private notebooks are off limits to this feature. 

  • Salesforce Integration 

You will now be able to integrate Evernote with Salesforce. Whenever you are using either one of the apps, so you can see relevant data from one app into the other. 

Today, Evernote has over 75 million users. They are all using a basic, premium or business edition. Evernote is not planning to introduce advertising as their business model in the future like so many would think. They are keeping a direct revenue business model, meaning that they charge for the premium and business edition, and now of course they’ll be cashing in their retail revenues. It won’t be long now before they decide to go IPO, but first things first, will their retail goods be successful?

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New Google Search Algorithm: Hummingbird

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Happy 15th Birthday, Google! Photo from NYDailynews.com

Happy 15th Birthday, Google! Photo from NYDailynews.com

“You should not spend your time searching, your should be spending your time living” says Amit Singhal, Senior Vice President at Google. Today on Google’s 15th birthday, the company has announced a major change on its core product, Google Search Engine. After 3 years of not altering Caffeine, Google’s previous search algorithm, today the new Hummingbird algorithm has been announced.

There are a few things that need to be considered in this new algorithm, especially since it affects the way people search on the internet, and ultimately also affects SEO marketers. First off, it’s not about just the keywords anymore. In a way, very similar to the new Siri launched by Apple, Google can now answer to colloquial conversations and phrases like “show me how coffee is properly brewed” or phrases like that. This means that Google Search is friendlier and smarter since it will relate to you just like a friend would by answering such a query.

Moreover, you will be able to make voice commands to which Google will answer to in order to get more context, or also in order to give you a list of results that will include comparisons, venues, options and the like. This is especially great when handling a mobile device, double especially if you’re driving or doing something else that requires your full attention.

It would be worthwhile to try these features out as SEO specialists, masters and marketers. Perhaps a new way to take on this new algorithm is to include these colloquial phrases within their content and SEO strategies. It will take some time to adapt and take advantage of these novelties, but as SEO savvy people know, SEO is very much about experimenting with new techniques.

In the next few days Google will also update it Google search app for iOS, giving it the same features and the ability to smartly relate to you while you’re making an inquiry. Since today is indeed Google’s 15th birthday (Happy Birthday, Google!) type in “Google in 1998″ for a neat retro look of how the search engine used to look like back in the day.

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The Freemium & In-App Business Models

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Images from: Businessinsider.com

Images from: Businessinsider.com

In this day and age, there are several business models that if well designed and implemented, can take your startup or company to the top of mount Everest. To think that once upon a time, people believed that if you didn’t charge for everything, you couldn’t make money out of it. But then technology and innovation stepped in, and perhaps faith in humanity has been somewhat restored for many business models and companies.

It’s not just about finding any excuse in order to charge your customers for whatever reason you think you can earn a few more bucks. It’s about gaining their trust and providing true and lasting satisfaction to their needs. In the long run, this enchantment will be so much more appreciated and remunerated than the regular ol’ charging for everything theory.

First off, we have the Freemium Business Model: everything is free, until it’s not. This is quite popular among several startups and even established companies who are beginning to see the benefits of this new philosophy. Typically, you can use the basic version of a service or product for free for however long you need it. Then, if you’d like special and premium features, or more capacity, or more of whatever the company is offering you, then you pay a premium fee for it. The vast majority of times, users start out with the basic version or a trial version to check out just what the company is offering exactly and how that offering can satisfy the customer’s needs. It is then when they are hooked, that they are left wanting more, and so they pay the premium.

For example: Spotify. You can listen and stream all the music you like from your PC or Mac, however you will intermittently listen to sponsors’ commercials. However, if you want to stop listening to those advertisements and if you also want to listen to music from your mobile device, then you have to pay a small $9 montly fee. You can also have the privilege of accessing your music from whatever part of the world, regardless if Spotify has presence in that country or not. All you need is your monthly subscription and a connection to the internet.

How about In-App purchases? Have you heard of them? May be not by name, but surely by consumption. This business model is a little bit like the Freemium Business Model. You get to play a game for free, or use a service for free, however, if you want specific upgrades or articles (for example, clothing for your puppets in a game), then you need to pay as little as .50¢ for each item, or even less! They key here is to have a big pool of users, that even if a small percentage do make these In-App purchases, you end up with a gold mine.

An example would be (my favorite iPad game) Pocket Planes. The game is free to download and play. You can even wait for the natural course of the game to go on for you to upgrade your planes and levels. But if you are in a hurry or want to make your planes much more efficient (among other things), then you can purchase them.

If you’re a startup founder or are planning on founding your own, which Business Model having you been thinking about? Feel free to comment below!

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The Health Trend & Your Smartphone

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Jogging + Technology

Jogging + Technology

Do you work out? Do you use your smartphone or any other piece of technology that will aid you in this endeavor? This is definitely no news, especially with Nike having a preinstalled work out app on pretty much every iPhone, iPod nano, or iPod touch in the latter days. Personally, I use this app myself with a 6th generation iPod nano I won at a bank contest (yes, they still do that in my bank). Even though I have an iPhone and other gadgets that will do the job with a more modern touch to it, I particularly like the iPod Nano 6th generation for its ability to clip onto your clothing without needing all that extra gear.

Despite Nike +’ success with being the preinstalled app, there are definitely other means to the same end. Nike itself has a long standing chip enabled shoe with other gadgets that allow you to monitor your progress, like the Nike + bracelet or watch. However, Nike + only works for runners and for basketball players. What about the rest of stuff you can do in order to work out? Here’s a top 5 list on these apps:

  1. Fitocracy: With Fitocracy you can track any type of work out you like; from lifting weights, to going out for a run, or simply having a gym routine. You can track it individually, or you can start a group that will encourage you to stick to the routine and achieving your goals.
  2. Runtastic: You can walk, run or go for a bike ride and this app will track your route, calories, speed, and heart rate. It’s pretty simple, but you can always be on top of your numbers.
  3. Runkeeper: Runkeeper offers something a bit different from the others. You can take pictures of your work out and share it with your friends. Like they say, if there are no pictures, it didn’t happen. Encourage your friends and yourself to keep on going.
  4. Pocket Yoga: The name pretty much says it all. The app is a virtual yoga instructor that will coach you through different yoga difficulty stages. You can track and share your results.
  5. MapMyRun: You can have a BMI calculator and all the other regular work out tracking features. However, you can also go biking and track your diet with this one. Remember, it’s 80% what you eat & 20% your work out routine.

Which one do you use? Perhaps another work out method that requires a whole different app or technology?

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Samsung Galaxy Mega and Other Giants

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Samsung Galaxy Mega: Photo by Techradar.com

Samsung Galaxy Mega: Photo by Techradar.com

One of the biggest debates between the iPhone and Android powered Smartphones is that the iPhone’s screen is not as comfortably large as that of Samsung’s multiple models. The debate got turned into more of a joke by Android/Samsung fans when the iPhone 5 was announced to be taller, but not wider.

Samsung however, has dedicated itself to grow its cellphones both on software and hardware. The latest Samsung release is now more of a practical joke for iPhone fans or even other Android powered smartphone fans: the new Samsung Galaxy Mega. For hard core tech connoisseurs, here are its specs:

  • 6.3 inch screen (almost like the iPad Mini)
  • 1,280 x 720 screen
  • Dual-Core 1.7 GHz processor
  • 8 megapixel camera
  • 7 ounces
  • Powered by Android Jelly Bean

This almost-tablet smartphone is starting to blur the lines between one device and the other. And it is certainly going the extra mile to do so. Remember Zoolander and the tiny phones? Well, it looks like Huge is the new Tiny, according to Samsung.

Zoolander Tiny Phone

Zoolander Tiny Phone

No doubt it has all the mighty power the Samsung-Android duo can offer, including the ability to run two apps at the same time on different sections of the screen. However, how much is too much? Do you think Samsung might have just overdone it with this phone? To be honest, it would be weird for me to grab this 7 oz phone and press against my ear to make a phone call. I would feel like an 80s rapper walking down the street with a tape recorder on her shoulder. I guess it’s only a matter of time before the market gives us a thumbs up or a thumbs down on this one. In the meantime here’s an interesting review from Mashable’s team to chew on:

Feel free to comment below!

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Habits & Procrastination

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Taken from thefeelgoodlifestyle.com

Taken from thefeelgoodlifestyle.com

It might sound cliché, corny even, but habits do have a way of breaking or making our lives. But, whatever your habits may be, even if you are or not aware of them, one thing is for sure: procrastination is holding us all back, and that dear reader, is a habit.

In this day and age, we have so many forms of communication with anyone in the world, that it has become a double-edged sword. There’s only so much information we can interpret and make sense of; what’s more, there’s only so much our brain and body can do. The truth is multi-tasking is a big pink lie we tell ourselves. We trick ourselves into thinking we’re accomplishing more tasks in a shorter amount of time.

Don’t get me wrong, I honestly belief that giving yourself a break after every hour or hour and half of work is necessary. Scientific research has confirmed it, in fact. Our brain can only do so much for an hour or so of work, after that, if you haven’t given yourself a break, then your productivity starts crashing. However, going back and forth from Facebook to your work, and then from 9gag to your work so constantly, ends up damaging your productivity as well. So what to do?

Here is exactly where good habits kick in. We all need to start developing them sooner rather than later if you want to accomplish your goals anytime soon. Personally, I’ve been “trapped” in procrastination mode for some time now. It’s awful, really. You know you have this task list for the day you need to accomplish. You also know that in the long run, those daily tasks lists will make up for all the steps that need to be taken in order to achieve your ultimate goals. What’s even better is, the earlier in the day you finish that task list, the more time you have to dedicate to other things in life you care about.

It’s tough, and breaking out of procrastinating is probably worse than keeping to a weight loss diet. However, we all have to push ourselves to not only start, but to keep it up as well. So, I decided to be proactive about it (it’s really the only way you can achieve something). For starters, I’ve been reading a lot about the matter. What is procrastinating exactly? What causes it? How do you break out of it?

After several readings from 99u, Tiny Buddha, and Andrew Mellen’s Unstuff Your Life, I decided to break out of procrastination once and for all. Thanks to Mellen’s book, I started creating a proper environment for me to be able to develop good habits. That means getting rid of clutter on both home and office (your car also makes it to the list). When everything is clean and orderly, then you waste less time trying to find something, or distracting yourself. It also builds the habit of you keeping up with that order so you don’t have to reorganize everything so often.

After that, I’ve been taking other steps. Starting small guarantees that you don’t get overwhelmed by so many things to accomplish overnight. For example, I have now committed myself to writing once a day, every day on this blog. That means one fresh article every single day. For how long? For a very long time. I really don’t have a deadline, it’s just like when I wake up every day and take a shower. Another habit I’ve had for a very long while now (for two years now to be exact), is to go out for a morning run at least 3 times a week.

I know this will build on my stamina and focus overtime. It will also encourage me to pursue other habits and commitments. Procrastinating is a great, sweet temptation just waiting for us to take a peak every 30 seconds on something else that is not our task list or goals. All it takes really is that will of yours, yeah, the one hiding behind your inner voice telling you that 5 more minutes in the morning are bliss. They are, but in the end, it¡s a bigger joy to have accomplished so much.

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