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Displaying articles for: January 2012

12 things that make me more productive



Productivity is the result of habits and practices that we learn. Change them and you can increase it. Ignore them and you get the productivity you deserve. (See 10 myths about productivity.) Despite a lot of gurus who make a lot of money telling you how to do it, the only person who can figure out if a given technique is going to work for you is you. Here is what works for me. I hope you find some of this useful.


  1. Flow. Single minded immersion or ‘flow’ in a single task is the essential requirement for maximum productivity.
  2. Positive feedback. I try not to be too ego-led, but I know that I work harder for people if they have previously given me some positive feedback. Just saying ‘thank you’ is often enough.
  3. Concentration timer. I use the free timer on my Articulate Marketing website. It helps me re-focus every five minutes, helping me to recover if my mind wanders.
  4. One thing at a timeMultitasking can reduce productivity by up to 40%, partly because of the ‘switching cost’ as your brain reconfigures to cope with a new task.
  5. Working when other people don’t. I get my best work done on weekends, early mornings, early evenings and that lovely time over the Christmas holiday when nobody else is in the office. I’m more relaxed, more focused and more productive.
  6. Peace and quiet. I work in a quiet one-person office with a silent PC. This helps me concentrate. For more on this see: how to sound-proof your writing room. Sometimes, just ear plugs are enough.
  7. Process review. In programming, choosing a better data structure or algorithm can improve performance much more than optimising a piece of code, for example by rewriting it in assembler. It’s the same in work. There’s usually a smarter, more efficient way to store or process information but you have to stand back and think about it first. For example, I used to carefully index and file all my receipts for the year. Now I just put them into a folder and figure that the time I may have to spend to search through them later is much less than the time I save now by not filing them so meticulously.
  8. Ubiquitous task list. I use Microsoft Outlook tasks and TaskTask on my iPhone and iPad so I the same task list available with me almost anywhere. This means I can jot down tasks whenever they occur to me and filter or prioritise them later. This is David Allen’s great insight – don’t carry around your to-do list in your head. It’s too stressful and difficult.
  9. Avoiding meetings. I try to avoid them or find a better way to do them. For example, back when I was a journalist I realised that I could do a lot of my interviews by phone and save the travel time. It was a huge boost to my productivity. Now I try to do meetings using IM or web conferencing wherever possible. Much more efficient.
  10. Automating routine tasks. I’m a pilot and I love checklists, standard operating procedures and automation such as autopilots. In the cockpit the more stuff you can automate or simplify, the more processing power you have to think ahead, deal with emergencies and cope with an increasing workload. Same for work. For example, I have simple checklists for packing for a trip or getting ready for a presentation etc. and I have a series of operations manuals for stuff like updating my blogs, booking trips etc. This means I don’t have to figure everything out from first principles every time and that it is easier to delegate tasks.
  11. Delegation. I hired a PA. Best decision I made last year. She takes care of dozens of routine tasks that used to take me hours each week. The way to be maximally productive is to spend more time on tasks that only you can do.
  12. Removing distractions. I try (*try*) to clear my desk and email inbox every day and my paper in-tray every week. I know that I find it hard to concentrate when things are piling up.


How to increase your office's efficiency



Small businesses depend on the motivation and productivity of their staff. With fewer employees, the work rate of each person – and especially the boss – is vital. These tips will help you use IT to become more effective.


  • Keep track of all your tasks in one place. . If you want to get on top of a growing list of things to do, gathering all your tasks in one place is a great way to start. Microsoft Office Outlook makes it easy to track tasks and emails that need follow-up.
  • Take action now. Each time you pick up a piece of paper or open an email, make a habit of dealing with it there and then. Do something about it, file it for future reference or bin it. Putting papers back into your in-tray is a recipe for procrastination.
  • Purge unnecessary stuff. Clutter and irrelevant papers get in the way of what is important. Spend some time sorting out your office and get rid of anything that you don't actually need.
  • Go wireless. Wireless networks are great for growing businesses. You can connect to the network and the internet without expensive fixed cabling. People can use their HP Notebooks anywhere in the building – at other desks, in meetings and for presentations. Choose wireless access points and routers that support the latest high-speed Wi-Fi standards because this gives greater range and speed (and it's compatible with older wireless networks).
  • Share information. Using an intranet is a great way to share key information in a team. It's like a private company-only internet site. Setting up an intranet is a great way to get people to rethink how they store and share files.
  • Choose productive notebooks. Look for Notebooks that have built-in productivity features. For example, HP Business Notebooks include HP QuickWeb, which lets you boot up your computer and get online in a matter of seconds, and HP QuickLook, which displays your Outlook diary and email without having to boot Windows.
  • Use collaboration software. Email isn't the only way to collaborate digitally. Microsoft Office Groove lets you create workspaces that you can share with colleagues. They can include file libraries, image libraries, calendars and other kinds of information. When you're online, you have access to the latest information, but when you are not connected, everything is stored on your computer and remains available and gets re-synchronized the next time you're connected.
  • Go paperless. Save paper: don't print unnecessary documents and emails. Save space and filing time: scan documents in rather than photocopy them.
  • Centralize your filing. Set up a central filing system, under lock and key if necessary, so that all your company's important files are kept together (and can be copied and taken offsite as a backup). Similarly, consider investing in a file server and Windows Small Business Server software to run it, so that you can keep all your computer files in one place and control access to them.
  • Set up a filing system that works. Create a structure for your paper files so that it is easy to find things. Consider scanning important files into a central computer server using a scanner with a sheet feeder.
  • Choose productive computers. The latest PCs are more powerful than ever before. Batteries last longer, processors run more applications at the same time and they come with more storage. Perhaps it’s time to upgrade?


24 Tech Trends for 2012: A free HP White Paper



The breath-taking scope of IT innovation may produce business disruption greater than that caused by the introduction of the PC.  The time has come to adopt or perish. Find out more about the tech trends that are going to shape the business world in 2012 in this free HP white paper. Just click on the link below to download your copy.

Intel's Tomorrow Project: Imagining the future

What kind of future do you want to live in? What are you excited about and what concerns you? What is your request of the future? Brian David Johnson, Intel’s Futurist, asks these questions and more with The Tomorrow Project, a fascinating initiative to investigate not only the future of computing but the broader implications on our lives and planet.


This is a unique time in history. Science and technology has progressed to the point where what we build is only constrained by the limits of our own imaginations. The future is not a fixed point in front of us that we are all hurtling helplessly towards. The future is built everyday by the actions of people. It's up to all of us to be active participants in the future and these conversations can do just that.

The Tomorrow Project engages in ongoing discussions with superstars, science fiction authors and scientists to get their visions for the world that's coming and the world they'd like to build.


Well, that's the official Intel introduction but I found some really cool stuff on this site, such as sci-fi author's imaginative stories about the future and a free downloadable lecture on science fiction prototyping.


Gamification: Game On For Your Business?

As technology becomes more interactive and social, one of the biggest challenges for businesses is striking a balance between engaging with customers and asking too much of them.


Entrepreneur Magazine recently discussed new business ideas and how they might impact us in 2012. One of the topics explored in the article is gamification, which is “the concept of applying game-design thinking to non-game applications to make them more fun and engaging,” according to Nathan Lands, creator of and co-founder of Gamify. We aren’t just talking Foursquare badges and mayorships here. Traditional companies such as Nike have been hugely successful with gamification to engage with their customers.

Badges Image.jpg


So, does gamifying your site and your brand make sense? If you’re an advertiser, or if your business model is compatible with rewarding customers for virtual achievements, the statistics from the realm of games are compelling. One survey found that 24 percent of those who play casual games actually make purchases after clicking on an ad in the game. Equally significant, research conducted by companies such as M2 and Gartner predict that by 2015 U.S. companies will spend approximately $1.6 billion on gamification. Furthermore, games are in the plans of more than half of the world’s largest businesses.


There are plenty of success stories from smaller companies as well. An ‘upcycling’ business in New Jersey, for example, added 160,000 players to its Facebook-based game. One website business increased the number of users who complete their websites by 70 percent by making its tools more fun to use. A company that decided to try applying gamification techniques to fitness signed up 30,000 new users in two months. And a social performance management platform designed to gamify the workplace increased revenues five-fold.


If you have doubts about what gamification can do for your business, check out this profile of Kiip, a mobile advertising startup launched last year that describes its business model as “moments-based.” One such moment: A gamer has just reached a significant milestone on the way to victory and is offered a coupon for a free smoothie, which the gamer can refuse by deleting or accept by simply entering his or her e-mail address and then return to the march toward victory. Kiip’s model is far superior to selling banner ads to advertisers, which don’t work well in the realm of mobile computing. Also, advertisers in a recent pilot saw a 50 percent click through rate - when was the last time you saw a banner ad do that? Kiip’s gamification has transformed obstacles into opportunities. 


Many believe that enhancing everyday activities with games is nothing short of a cultural transformation. Gabe Zichermann, chair of the Gamification Summit and author of Game-Based Marketing, says the rapid rise in popularity of games is proof that there is no limit to how much fun something can be.


Despite the glowing data and anecdotes though, it’s important to consider gamification implications for your current customers and those you’d like to attract. Would customers really visit a dentist’s website regularly to play, for example, a tooth drilling game? It begs the question - what customer wants a daily reminder of going to the dentist? (I can see the game popup now: “Congratulations! You’ve won $50 off a crown!”)  


Is gamification in your plans for 2012? Tell us your plans below.


This is a guest post from our US sister blog, 367 Addison Avenue

Four cool Microsoft technologies for 2012

Kinect and education



Navigation with way-finding graphics


Connecting analogue things to the digital world




MIT Media Lab alumni Supermechanical have built Twine - 2.5″ rubber square which connects to Wi-Fi and enables objects to communicate using SMS, Twitter, email and HTTP requests


Hotel room of the future


(Big hat tip to Steve Clayton and the Next at Microsoft Blog)

Free HP white paper: Consumer tech for the business users



With the world increasingly working on the go, are you sure you’re packing the right tools? Technology is increasingly making it possible to work from almost anywhere. With this flexibility comes a host of benefits – enhanced productivity, better quality of life, and even improved health. But to fully realise the potential of the mobile workplace, you need to make sure you’re packing the right tools. Download our free white paper to get the latest insights, advice and tips.

Visit Intel's Virtual Booth online tech exhibition



Intel's Virtual Booth Explorer was created as a way for demo teams within Intel to extend the reach and life of the demos that they create. So much time and effort goes into creating a demonstration for a show, that it only makes sense to try to capture that demo and make it available to others that could not attend the show. 

Tags: Intel| Technology

Your Face is Your Password on the latest HP Notebooks

Think of all the passwords you have to remember on a daily basis. You have one to log on to your PC, one for your e-mail, one for your favorite social media site—and the list goes on. For many people, having a dozen different user names and passwords is normal. When you’re dealing with trying to recall all those log-ons, you’re bound to forget one or two.


We understand that you want convenience. That’s why we’ve developed a solution to help you simplify your digital lifestyle. Face Recognition is an innovative technology that allows you to log into your laptop, and all your important cloud services and websites, using a single sign-on. Because Face Recognition logs you into your websites using your most personal feature—your face— there’s no need to recall dozens of user names and passwords. It’s all done by simply sitting in front of the computer so the webcam can capture your image.


facial recognition.jpegFace Recognition works with your laptop’s webcam. Launch the setup Wizard for HP ProtectTools from the HP Advisor toolbar and select “Face Recognition.” You will now be guided through a brief enrollment, during which the software takes sample pictures of your face. If the lighting is too dark—for example, if you’re on an airplane—the software will brighten your screen, turning your display to all white in order to light up your face. It will then recapture your picture, and log you on. Once the software builds a complete portfolio, it will no longer ask for re-enrollment.


Once the software has captured a few images, you’re set to go. You can log in to your laptop, as well as your favorite sites using Face Recognition for HP ProtectTools. At most websites that require a password, a window pops up over your browser and gives you the option to log in using Face Recognition—quick and easy.


From your Windows® log-in to e-mail access, from online shopping websites to social networking sites, and even travel sites, all you have to do is look at your screen and you’re in. Thanks to Face Recognition for HP ProtectTools, your face becomes your password.


This is a guest post from Melissa Ziegler on our US sister blog, 367 Addison Avenue.

The Innovator's Opportunity



The Innovator’s Dilemma, by Clayton Christensen, is a book about disuptive innovation and business. He differentiates two types of innovation: sustaining innovations which are incremental improvements on existing products – faster, smaller, better, cheaper – and disruptive innovations which represent something completely new in the market.


Enhance or disrupt?

Following our recent post on next-generation UIs, it seemed like a good idea to think about how to turn innovation into products. In particular, what should developers do with insights from academia and research labs like Microsoft’s?


Can you use them to enhance an existing product? For example, could you add augmented reality to an existing product? Or disrupt the market, perhaps by developing an altogether new product using a breakthrough technology?


If anything’s possible what’s important?

Sometimes user interface innovation takes a while to reach the market. After all, Douglas Engelbart invented the mouse in the 60s but we only started using them with computers in the 80s. Other times, new user interface paradigms spread more quickly, as with web browsers or Kinect technology. The challenge is to pick your bets.


Innovation on a budget

Just because smaller companies can’t afford big labs of their own, it doesn’t mean that they can afford to opt out of R&D. Here are some tips for innovating on a budget:



This is a guest post from our friends at Microsoft MSDN and Ubelly.

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About the Author(s)
  • Matthew Stibbe is CEO at Articulate Marketing and TurbineHQ. He is an HP fanboy.
The opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of the authors, not of HP. By using this site, you accept the Terms of Use and Rules of Participation