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In looking through my posting history, it does seem that some of my short tip posts are in praise of certain apps. I don’t mind being the person that tries things out so my readers can find out what works.
Longtime readers might have noticed that I tend to have a pretty high rate of use of Google apps (and — HELLO — FREE!!) I use Google calendar and Google Docs and Gmail, and often I’m one of the first people to adopt anything new coming out of Google.
But one frustration I’ve had with Gmail, (not enough of a frustration to CHANGE my email but a frustration nonetheless), is the inability to schedule mail.
Boomerang for Gmail was developed by Baydin and it gives you the ability to:
- Schedule an email
- “Boomerang” a message for later
(for example, “resend” you a message the day before a meeting)
- Track Responses
- Schedule recurring emails.
- Request read receipts and track clicks.
- Manage scheduled messages
This is also available for phones, but after reading the reviews (and that it slowed down mail loading), I’ve decided that I’m going to keep it on my desktop, where I do the majority of my email.
I’ve heard this complaint many times (and I’ve made this complaint a few times). Our
phones* devices are constantly chirping at us. I realize that sometimes things happen and we need immediate notification. The school nurse might be calling you about a problem a child is having, or you could get a call from a parent or an in-law with an urgent situation at hand, or you could be waiting for a call from a health care professional with test results. Sometimes we NEED to get found.
But then, sometimes we don’t need and don’t WANT to be found. What if you could turn OFF the notifications for those silly Facebook games.
I ran across this article by Ryan Neal in International Business Times. ‘Candy Crush Saga’: How to Turn Off Facebook Notifications for the Popular Social Media Game, Forever
(*Yes, I still call the device I carry in my pocket a “phone” even though I use it for so much more. Some habits are hard to break.)
In the U.S., July 4 is the celebration of our nation’s birthday. We often spend the weekend with parties or picnics or family reunions or weddings. The weekend often ends with tired, but happy, people. When you look at a calendar though, July 1 is sort of like “hump day” for the year. The year is now half over (or half begun) and it’s a time to take stock, assess what is or is not working, and plan for the rest of the year.
This might also be a good time to realize that it’s only 6 months until the end of the year and I’m willing to bet that there are a few people that haven’t even begun to think about taxes yet. (WHAT??? You want me to think about taxes in JULY.)
YES, I actually want you to think about taxes in July. Actually, it’s something you should be thinking about every week, or at least every month, and you should be doing some record keeping so that when you do your taxes (or go to see your tax preparer) in 2015, you are somewhat prepared. I realize that sometimes it’s easy to procrastinate, and I want to encourage you to not fall too far behind.
I’m a big fan of various Google Apps (HELLO — FREE!!), so I’m going to point out a few ways that Google Apps can be used in keeping track of your expenses.
Google Calendar https://www.google.com/calendar
Besides allowing you to keep track of your schedule, share your schedule, and syncing with a number of other applications, Google Calendar keeps track of where you’ve been. If you use Google Calendar thoroughly and faithfully, at the end of a week (or month, or 6 months) you can go back through your calendar and check what you’ve done. You can look at each event and see if there’s anything you’ve done that needs to be documented.
Google Maps https://maps.google.com
After you’ve checked your Google Calendar, you’ll realize that you’ve had some travels (meetings or lunches you’ve attended) that you forgot to write down mileage for. This is where Google Maps comes in handy. Just enter your starting location and your destination and you know your mileage (double it for a round trip).
Google Docs https://docs.google.com
Specifically Google spreadsheets. You can use a Google spreadsheet to enter your costs (mileage, advertising, office expenses, deductible meals and entertainment, etc. etc. etc).
Anytime you’re using any type of spreadsheet (Excel, Google Drive, Numbers), I highly recommend beginning with the end in mind. If you’re looking to do your own bookkeeping so that you can either do your taxes or send them to a tax professional, figure out what you’ll need at the end of the year and input the proper categories. (For myself, and many solopreneurs, look at Schedule C).
Next week we’ll look at a few other Google Apps that can make your life easier.
- Five Cloud Apps To Manage Your Business Remotely (woman.com.au)
- 5 Reasons Why You Should be Using Google Apps for Business (mysocialagency.com)
*Disclaimer, I’m not a tax professional.
Every month I will be doing a posting on timely tips and tricks. For the most part, these will be guided by the questions I run across from clients or while networking. In other words, if I have to dig out information, I’ll pass it along instead of having others need to look up the same information.
Scheduling multiple people. Okay — first I have to admit that I didn’t find this on my own. I found it on the blog at barrymoltz.com. Doodle is an easy scheduler. You create a poll, invite participants, and then confirm the date and time that the most people are available. Instead of having multiple emails flying back and forth, you can get all of the information in one place. And it’s free. The only question I have is, “Where was this when I was trying to arrange meetings for multiple professors when I worked at the University of Illinois?”
Emailing multiple people. Every now and then you’ll want to send the same email to more than one person. Some email programs allow you to do this automagically, but Google doesn’t have a “mail merge” button (like Microsoft Access does). However, if you know where to look, Google does have a way to do mail merge. This 8-minute video gives a clear step-by-step how to. (Thank you Anson Alexander).
Limit your reading time. There are quite a few blogs that I follow. I get resourceful and timely productivity tips from Evie Burke at One Insight Closer. As mentioned above, I find useful information at Barry Moltz’s blog. It would be nearly impossible to keep up with the social media industry without reading Social Media Examiner. There are others. But I do not have time to visit all the blogs I read every day. I do spend a few hours a week checking all the postings by using Feedly. It took a bit of organizing to group the information I read into different categories, but now I can take a few minutes to an hour with a cup of coffee and read all of my news or short bits of it.
Comparing email Services. There are many email service providers out there. I have used MailChimp and AWeber, but those are the only ones I have first hand experience with. I found this article from April 2013 (before the MailChimp change) that describes some of the providers.
“E-troducing” people. One way to be known as a person that is a valuable resource is to help connect people. You may often meet someone that you think would be a great client, provider, or power partner for another person (for instance, a realtor and a mortgage broker). I spent some time struggling with the right “formula” for doing email introductions. One day I decided that I was going to write a template for doing introductions, but (as I often do when trying to figure something out) I wondered if someone had already done this. I did a search and found a great article on the Forbes site about email introductions.
Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Doodle Saves Time (barrymoltz.com)
Create a Mail Merge with Gmail and Google Drive / Docs (YouTube.com)
Comparing email services: Aweber, iContact, ConstantContact, MailChimp, and MadMimi (changetheworldmarketing.com)
How to make the perfect email introduction (forbes.com)
Last week we talked about online backups. I’d like to continue that discussion this week with on-site backups.
Type the phrase “how to backup your computer” in Google and you will receive “about 235,000,000” results. I’m going to assume that you don’t want to go and read them all. I listed a few of the more interesting ones in the “Related Articles” section.
Backups are like exercise. There are many articles about how to exercise and when to exercise and why to exercise, but the best exercise for you is the one that you’ll do. It’s the same with backups. We all should be doing them, we all need to be doing them, but unless you find something that you’re going to keep up with, it’s rather useless.
On my current computer I use the Carbonite Mirror Image to backup to a hard drive. This is kept safely off-site (bank safe deposit box). On my former computer (Windows XP), I used a program called Rapid Backup. When I was looking for a backup program for my Windows XP machine, I did my usual method for finding software. I went to Tucows Downloads, typed the appropriate search term in the box, and found a program that was shareware with a high popularity and a high “cow” rating. I love free software, but I also like to know if it’s tested virus and spyware free (as it is on Tucows — but be wary of the ads).
In addition to that, just to make sure I always have (almost) instant access to customer files, I have my “Documents” directory and my “Downloads” directory copied to a thumb drive, which is also held in my bank safe deposit box. (Luckily my bank is 1/4 mile away, and an easy walk or drive).
One thing every person needs to assess is what their most important files are, and make sure that those files are accessible in an emergency.
- The Beginner’s Guide to PC Backup (PC Magazine)
(for those that know that they SHOULD be doing backups, but need a basic walk through)
- How to Backup Your PC and Laptop (PC Advisor)
(very detailed backup guide)
- How to Backup Your Files (dummies.com)
(a very simple video)
- For Seniors, How to Backup Computer Files (dummies.com)
(note, I’m very amused that “dummies” needed to have a separate article for seniors)
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
(Oh, and if you think all that I do seems to be too much, I’m sure some of my IT friends would be telling me some steps that even I am missing).