Improving Workflow – GTD for me

I’m not so good at getting things done, I know, I know, I’ve even written about the book, GTD, but sometimes, it’s actually hard to transform the knowledge that something needs doing, to working out what to do.

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Forms and procedures don’t seem to do real well with me, they are useful for setting up a project, or as a final checklist before a set of drawings goes out the door, but for everything else, really I just need a framework that I can operate in. For me, I call this my workspace, whether this is at home, in the office, on my laptop, or in my car, there are tools that I need with me to get things done.

Aside from the physical tools required, (chair, pen computer, phone, etc) there are concepts too., (which may also be physical). The inbox, the next actions list, the tickler file, and archives.

My GTD solution for next actions is currently vitalist and index cards. Ticklers are vitalist and google calendar, archives are file folders, my computer and backups, as well as gmail.

Live Writer and FolderShare Make Blogging Easy

You do most of your writing at home, but the skeleton of blog posts commonly comes to you while you’re at work? You prefer the easy interface of Windows Live Writer over most other blog desktop software, and definitely over the idea of writing every article within the blog online interface.

So, how do you easily, and in the most GTD friendly way get the same data on both computers.

Live Writer has the option of writing a post to draft on your blog, but I’ve seen that go wrong too many times with blog desktop publishing software, somewhere in the ether, the API boots it front and centre to the homepage live for the world to see. In other words use with caution until you are satisfied.

But speaking of being satisfied, even doing this, the post still comes up in the Live Writer menu as being Recently Posted, rather than drafts, so here’s my solution…

If you’ve already succumbed to the evils of Microsoft, and if you are a windows user, reading this in Internet Explorer, reader mail in Outlook, you have no excuse!, Microsoft not so long ago bought up a company called FolderShare which fills the gap between normal sync software and online storage solutions.

FolderShareTM allows you to create a private peer-to-peer network that will help you to synchronize files across multiple devices and access or share files with colleagues and friends. You no longer need to send large files via email, burn them to CDs/DVDs and mail them, or upload them to a website. FolderShare allows you to share and sync important information instantly with anyone you invite, making it the perfect solution for personal or small business use.

FolderShare – File Transfer & Remote File Access – Product Overview

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Steps to take:

29-06-2007-9.01.19 PMDownload and Install Live Writer on both machines and set up the blogs you write to in the writer software. If you don’t know about this great piece of software, read a review of Live Writer from back in 2006, note that the version has been updated since this review.

FolderShare is a free product, all you need to do is doenload the software to each computer you want folders to be synchronized on. Download the windows version and follow the instructions for setting up a new account. Thankfully you don’t need a hotmail account to activate this.

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 Next you want to sync the blog posts folders. Hit the “Sync My Folders” button to set up a new sync.

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Both your computers need to be on for this process to take place, so set that up, the pick the option to specify folders to sync..

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Navigate through to the My Documents folder, then select the My Weblog Posts Folder by clicking on the radio button to the left of the folder names.

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Click the next button at the lower right of the page and pick your other computer from the list on the left hand side of the screen, (your already configured computer should be on the right with a green tick next to it.

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Navigate through to the same folder on the second computer and click next, straight away the contents of these folders will start synchronizing and depending on the size of the folder and the speed of your internet connections should be done in a couple of minutes.

Now you can enjoy writing on your blog via Windows Live Writer from any computer you set up this way. Just remember, for the sync to work both computers have to be on at the same time. This could work with an auto shutdown script or program such as this one to delay the shut down of your computers until 10pm or so.

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Outsourcing Employee Related Tasks

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Or, How To Make The 4-Hour Workweek Work For You.

I listened to a podcast the other day  by Timothy Ferris, the author of the book, The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich. In it he describes how he outsources anything that he can, allowing someone else to do the administrative, research, or follow-up work, frees him up for well, what ever he wants. This is a paid post that describes one way you can outsource some of the everyday tasks of your business.

Outsourcing is a critical component in the profitability, or degree of focus that a team can apply to a problem or task, and one of the hardest things I find to keep ticking along is all the paperwork associated with benefits, payroll, and just the task of hiring and managing the paperwork of the people that have been hired. Now I don’t have a good idea of the point where it becomes more efficient to outsource these tasks, but unless you’ve got yourself a pretty dedicated and efficient admin assistant, this resource management can eat up a lot of their time and energy. In some cases, particularly in smaller firms, privacy may be an issue as well, with admin staff holding all the information regarding pay and benefit rates for other members of staff.

The average annual cost of regulation, paperwork and tax compliance for small to medium-sized companies is about $5,000 per employee . For companies with more than 500 employees, the cost is about $3,500 per employee.
–Small Business Administration

Elite Business Solutions – Staff Leasing Company

Out of this situation, entrepreneurial firms have seen an opportunity for business as professional employer organizations, providing, the management of all aspects of payroll and employee data. It’s interesting that this mode of employee management is almost unheard of outside of the United States, as the concept of employee leasing has a unique method of creating benefit for the company.

Essentially, the staff leasing company becomes the employer of record, and the original company leases the employees back from them…

305362691_28d09b73d2_m Under a typical agreement, an employer contracts with a PEO and the employer and the PEO become the co-employers of the workers, with the PEO being the employer of record.

As the employer of record of the leased employees, the PEO company handles all of the employee-related tasks and expenses, such as:

  • Paying and filing federal payroll taxes and reports;
  • Paying and filing state payroll taxes and reports;
  • Paying and reporting on workers’ comp and workers’ comp injuries;
  • State unemployment tax assessment wage reporting;
  • Benefit claims handling; and
  • Other human resource issues.

Employees may gain access to benefits such as group health, 401(k) plans, cafeteria 125 plans, life and dental insurance options.

Professional employer organization – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

If you area  small company, assuming the fees were reasonable, would this be a good way to provide your employees excellent group benefits and insurance options, while saving you or your administrator the hassles of keeping all the employment and payroll files and documents in order? Maybe staff leasing is your first step towards achieving the The 4-Hour Workweek?

Productivity in a New Job

Starting a new job is a great time to be thinking about methods and procedures for personal and corporate productivity. Over the past week as I’ve been getting over jetlag and getting my head around new software, people, places, regulations, methods, techniques and all the other bits that make up a move from one country to another or even one city to another.

I’m starting in a role with lots of new things, really, just about everything is new to me all with the backbone of Civil Engineering, Subdivision Design and Project Management as core skills. So where did I start? More after the jump…

Coghead

Do you use web apps?  Applications that run entirely online? Timesheets, forms, data entry, change requests, calendars? One of the most promising and cost effective startups is Coghead.

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I’ve been proudly wearing my CogHead T-Shirt for a few months now and it looks like the beta program is opening up to a few more testers soon. The most awesome thing about this software is that you can easily create multi-user applications for business or personal use, within a highly customizable format, without writing any code. I’m not a computer code geek by any means, simple is good, particularly when it comes to making small usability changes to the forms or input fields that you create. Guy Kawaski wrote…

How to Change the World: Reality Check: Coghead

Working Hours

How many hours do you work a week? This question is buzzing around the blogosphere at the moment, following a post by Mike from Freshbooks about the hours he works as an entrepreneur.

FreshBooks

First up, cause it’s worth understanding who this guy is, what’s Freshbooks?

FreshBooks is an online invoicing and time tracking service that saves you time and makes you look professional – Fortune 500 professional. FreshBooks is easy to use and you can try it for free.

Online billing is a pretty simple way to keep track of hours done, invoices and payments, and Mike has done a great job with this tool that even has a free version.

Working Week

Now back to the hours Mike works (with a surprise at the end)…

Bend and Stretch

How many hours do you sit in front of a computer staring endlessly at a monitor? Do you make a regular habit of getting up and stretching?

Web Worker Daily has a post with some simple to follow diagrams of 16 stretches that can be completed in about 5-10 minutes.

Web Worker Daily » Blog Archive Web Worker stretches «

Yes, we sit at desks in front of our computers for the majority of time during our day. Some of us might not even take a trip to the cafe, or to the mail box because we are so into the work of the day. We might have good chair’s, desk’s, and even great posture, but even then, we still get all cramped up with muscle aches at the end of the day. How can you alleviate some of the aches and pains in your life? Taking five minutes out of your day to stretch!

What do you do to keep your body from falling apart at work?

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Project Management on a Stick

A few months ago I questioned the need for running the activeCollab software offline, either on a PC, or on a USB key. I’m still not sold on the whole concept, but I was able to get it all running on my USB using Portable Firefox, Uniform Server and of course, activeCollab. For those of you who are entirely new to the whole activeCollab software, think OpenSource Basecamp. Imagine software that forms an online meeting place, file storage, message center, task tracking tool that can be accessed from anywhere in the world with an Internet connection. It is separate from email, but can send you an email of any updates on the site, you can also access notification of any updates on your favorite feed reader.

Project collaboration, management, and task software: Basecamp

Basecamp takes a fresh, novel approach to project collaboration. Projects don’t fail from a lack of charts, graphs, stats, or reports, they fail from a lack of clear communication. Basecamp solves this problem by providing tools tailored to improve the communication between people working together on a project.

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This is the world of Basecamp and ActiveCollab, a world of collaborative project management, separate from your personal productivity solutions, with the express purpose of keeping a project’s information and progress in one unified location, smoothing the tracking and management of all the parts of the project that are common to the client and your company. More after the jump…