Projects have a lot of moving parts—objectives to achieve, tasks to complete, people to manage, and more. When those parts interact as smoothly as a Swiss watch, everyone involved with the project is happier: the customer, stakeholders, team members who do the work, and project manager. Here are five tips to help any project run more smoothly.
1. Start by identifying what the project is really about.
Like starting your day with a nutritious breakfast, figuring out the point of the project makes everything that follows work better. Focusing on the right goal from the beginning of the project makes it a lot easier to deliver what the customer wants at the project’s end. I can’t say it any better than Yogi Berra did: “You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going because you might not get there.”
Some project goals are obvious—for example, getting a raccoon out of your pantry. But for most projects, you need to chip away to uncover the goal and the other elements that define the project.
This week in Monday Productivity Pointers, I explain how to track your finances with Mint.com.
Mint.com is a secure, read-only site that inputs all your line-item transactions from your financial institutions (like auto loans, school loans, checking and savings accounts, investments, and mortgages) and outputs them in an easy-to-read format so you can see how your money is really doing.
In the first video I’ll show you some strategies I used when I migrated my accounts to Mint.com. It involves setting up online accounts for the financial institutions you want to view on Mint.com, and setting up rules for your recurring transactions so you don’t need to re-categorize them each time they occur.
Is it Monday already? Welcome to the latest edition of Monday Productivity Pointers. Last week I talked about Google Hangouts. This week I’m creating presentations on the iPad using Keynote, Apple’s presentation software. This week’s first video will cover the actual creation of a presentation on the iPad.
Not only can you create gorgeous presentations quickly on your Apple computer, you can also create them on the road with your iPad. I’ll show you how to create a presentation based on an existing template, and how to add content to it.
Welcome to our new series Monday Productivity Pointers. Each week I’ll take a look at a different productivity tool and release two videos on the topic. These pointers can be a great way to test-drive tools and see if they’re right for you. But even if you’ve used them before, you’re likely to discover at least one feature that you probably didn’t know about!
I’ll share tools that I personally use all the time. They’ve helped me become more organized, professional, and mobile, and my hope is that they’ll do the same for you. From managing your finances with Mint.com to monitoring your online influence with Klout to creating presentations directly on the iPad with Keynote, check weekly to see what topic I’m covering and how it can help make you a more productive version of yourself. Do you have a tool you’d like me to cover? What’s your favorite online productivity tool? Let me know in the comments section below.
This week’s Monday Productivity Pointers is all about Google+ Hangouts.
If you’ve been interested in learning Lotus Notes but haven’t been quite sure where to begin, Up and Running with Lotus Notes offers an introduction to the features of Lotus Notes and how to use them, including discussion of the integrated email, database, calendar, and address book features.
In this movie from chapter two of the course, author Jess Stratton digs into the integrated email feature and shows you how to customize your Lotus Notes email inbox to display and sort emails to coincide with your workflow preferences.
Feeling comfortable with email, but looking for a way to speed up your Lotus Notes productivity? Here’s a quick list of Jess’s favorite Lotus Notes keyboard shortcuts:
•Insert key allows you to toggle between read and unread marking for messages
•Ctrl+m creates a blank new e-mail
•Enter closes the open document you’re working on and opens the next document in your view
•F1 gives you targeted and context-relevant help
•F5 locks your Notes client so you can rest assured your data is safe when you step away from your desk
Whether you just started using Notes for a new job or have been using it for years but never knew how to harness its full potential, this course teaches you the basics you’ll need to use the Sidebar, keep track of calendars and to do’s, and take advantage of Sametime instant messaging and other Notes applications.
Taymar Pixley, lynda.com live action director, shares her team's experiences after working on our new time management course.
Time management is something that I have always struggled with personally, so I was a little nervous about directing the course Time Management Fundamentals, which released to the lynda.com Online Training Library® this week. I imagined that the author, productivity expert Dave Crenshaw, would be a highly organized, type-A personality who might look down on my less-organized self.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that Dave is a very down-to-earth, approachable person. He has had his own struggles with staying organized, and these led to his success in creating such an effective system and teaching it to others who struggle with the same problems.
What a relief it was for me to realize that Dave wasn’t a naturally organized perfectionist teaching principles that would never work for someone like me. Because Dave is a renowned author, presenter, and consultant on the topic, I took every opportunity to glean as much information as I could from him while we worked together to create this course. And since I figured everyone on the crew would probably also benefit from Dave’s expertise, I asked Dave to assign us a bit of homework each day of the two-week shoot based on the movies we had shot that day. We learned a lot, and I asked the crew to share some of their favorite tips they picked up while working on this course.
The team’s tips
Loren Hillebrand, production lead
“Organizing always seemed overwhelming to me because I wouldn’t know where to start. While working on this I was able to see what steps I could take, and it feels doable now. My wife and I are planning on watching this together to tackle some of our clutter.”
Josh Figatner, production lead
“What I learned from working on this course helped me to organize my email inbox, which was no small feat. I had over 4,000 unsorted emails. Now my inbox is one of my main gathering points. When things come in I’m able to get to them quickly, instead of it just functioning as a big generic bin for all of my messages, it’s all sorted. Stuff comes in and I’m able to see it and take care of it in a timely fashion.”
Jeff Layton, training producer
“One action item I took while working on this course was to consolidate my voicemail accounts. As a producer, I often returned to my desk after a stretch of days in the recording booth and found that I had new messages awaiting my response. After working on this course, I programmed my desk phone to automatically forward all calls to my cell phone. Not only do I not miss any calls, but I now have only one voicemail account to check.”
Kirk Werner, senior training producer
“After working with Dave and the rest of the team during our course prep, I set up a consolidated email inbox where my desk phone calls are forwarded as an audio file to my work email. I also built more than a dozen email rules where non-essential emails are shuffled to a folder to be dealt with during my daily email processing. Now I can focus on the important messages and deal with them appropriately.”
My favorite tip from Dave is something that is not in the course, but that he mentioned to me in conversation. Since Dave works at home, he schedules a half an hour at the end of his work day to play video games. This allows him to switch gears so that he can be really present for his wife and children. I think that this is a great tip for anyone who works at home or who has trouble turning their brain off after a long work day.
Swtiching gears and making time
Working on this course was really life-changing for me. The weekend after we finished I bought supplies and set out to apply some of the principles that I learned. I have a seven year old whose room was out of control. Together we gathered everything that was out of place, and created a home for it just as I had learned from the course. It was an amazing transformation, and since then my son has been able to keep his room organized because everything has a place. (Content manager Bonnie Bills recently blogged about how she too was able to apply the techniques in the course to her home life as well as her work life.)
Now that the course has been released I am excited to watch it again, and apply more of these techniques to my life. I hope you will take the time to watch it. I can’t think of anything better that you could do for yourself than to give the gift of more time.
As a mom with a full-time job and two young daughters, I am obsessed with time management. But as much as I think about how I must manage my time more effectively, I haven’t always succeeded in coming up with ways to do so. As the pace of work increases, I’ve found myself losing track of important tasks. Inboxes and to-do lists that were supposed to keep me sane have become sources of stress. I’ve struggled to strike a happy balance between work life and family life.
Then I met Dave Crenshaw, author of the upcoming lynda.com course, Time Management Fundamentals. In working with Dave—a time management coach and best-selling author—I realized how ineffective all my obsessing was and how what I really needed was some practical strategies to apply to my work and life. (It became clear something was really wrong when I missed my first scheduled phone call with Dave, of all people. Luckily he’s as understanding as he is organized.)
In Time Management Fundamentals, Dave shares eminently practical techniques for doing more in less time: how to develop habits to be more organized and reduce the clutter in your workspace; how to stay mentally on task and eliminate the to-dos you have floating in your head; how to develop a time budget to get the most done during your workday and focus on your most valuable activities.
Here’s a little preview:
The techniques I’ve picked up from just watching the course in development have made my work more productive and my life less hectic. I’ve even been able to pass Dave’s techniques along to my kids.
We’ll be bringing Dave’s time management strategies to the lynda.com Online Training Library® later this month. In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you about what other kinds of courses we could offer to help you develop the skills you need to succeed in business.
Microsoft finished rolling out Office 2010 to customers this week, making the suite available to purchase in retail stores and online. lynda.com has been rolling out courses on Office 2010 since it launched to business customers last month, and I’ve been talking with our Office 2010 authors about their experiences with this latest version. Today’s Q&A features David Rivers, author of many lynda.com courses including OneNote 2010 New Features and the upcoming OneNote 2010 Essential Training.
Q: What’s your favorite new feature in OneNote 2010?
A: I would have to say my favorite new feature in OneNote 2010 is actually two features that work well together. First, there’s the new functionality that allows you to share a OneNote notebook over the web. With your free Windows Live account, you can share a notebook using SkyDrive. With your notebook stored and shared on SkyDrive, you can access it from any computer that is connected to the Internet.
Second, with the new OneNote Web App, you don’t even need to have OneNote installed to view and edit the notebook shared on SkyDrive. You can even create new notebooks with the OneNote Web App.