Increase Focus and Productivity with these Online Tools

In February CNN asked, “How Can We Cope with Information Overload?” The point of their article was to comment on the incredible state of information management one needs to perform in today’s environment of RSS feeds, blog posts, and social streams. To combat the pressure of information overload I’ve started this series of posts and plan to share a short list of tools and resources to help the online aficionado maintain high productivity and focus.

Decreasing the Noise, Dialing in on the Signal

I’ll start by saying, “there are a fair number of quality articles available that present solid advice on disconnecting and gaining focus in the hyper-active world of the social media practitioner and user.” Obviously, disconnecting for a long period of time isn’t always possible.

Some tools to consider…

Tungle.Me A Real-Time Calendar with Collaborative Features.

“Scheduling Made Easy” is a scheduling application that connects with your existing calendar. Invite others to schedule with you, without having to sign up. Easily schedule meetings, inside or outside your organization. Eliminate double-bookings, time zone mishaps and the back-and-forth of finding a time to meet.

“ lets my friends and family see my calendar and add new events to it in a way that leaves me in total control. It’s a HUGE productivity increasing service!”
– Robert Scoble

RescueTime You Can Monitor the Time You Spend on Websites, Applications, and More.

RescueTime is a web-based time management and analytics tool for knowledge workers who want to be more efficient and productive. Find out more at Rescue Time.

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RescueTime Time Tracking Overview from Tony Wright on Vimeo.

“…for those who are serious about increasing their efficiency and finally getting a handle on their technology-driven life. I give RescueTime an A+…” – The Tech Brief

Gist A Digital Rolodex with Influence Scores and User Data
I’ve written about Gist once before, now there is an android (as well as an iPhone) app to help you monitor your closest contacts. This really is a great application for seeing who I’m interacting with through my days; and it provides some great insights to help one better manage their time. Find out more about Gist and how it can help you simplify life online.

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Gist overview by CEO T.A. McCann from Robert Pease on Vimeo.

“Gist allows me to cut through the noise and manage my contacts directly. I am able to monitor what matters… the relationship.”
Kevin Spidel

Post Rank Save Time and Increase Focus on What Matters with this in-board Article Grader

PostRank (formerly RSSAide) provides [for FireFox users] a way to grade existing feeds to help identify important articles in a users RSS reader. Basically, an in-the reader tool that places numbers from 1 to 10 next to content articles whether they be blog posts, news articles, podcasts, anything sent to you through an RSS feed. The grade allows you to see at a moment’s glance which articles are trending well, and which aren’t as well received. While no filter is quite like the human filter, PostRank provides a valuable service to those interested in maximizing productivity and time.

The PostRank data service can be used in many different ways. One example is filtering existing feeds to reduce the quantity of items a feed reader is presented. PostRank helps you engage with information that interests you. Read what matters and learn as much or as little as you want about topics, from every little bit to just the hottest news.

I hope you find something here that you’re able to use. The tools – like so much of the online space – do continue to evolve to better support user needs. If you have tools that you save time with please let us know about them. This is the first installment in a series of posts to discuss the use of filters in today’s online experience. Thanks for reading; and here’s to staying organized online!

Organizing Your Online Space and Time

Originally posted on the netSpray blog.

One of the beauties of being online is in clicking around, traveling from one location to another. The ease with which one can move from document to photo to video back to comment space is intoxicating, and something we’ll be forced to deal with as online activities continue to push into our daily lives and workplace situations.

world-onlineWith the massive amount of information being created today it is more important than ever that filtering tools and practices continue to evolve.

To that purpose I’ve committed to writing three posts on tools and practices that will help you organize, maximize and better enjoy the ever-evolving online space.

Decreasing the Noise, Dialing in the Signal
is a post that will reflect the state of information overkill. From a litany of networks to streams flowing with information, I’ll show you how to capture what matters and eliminate the annoyances.

Where did I leave my brain last? Is a post that will center on the evolutionary tales of this technology soaked, Internet-influenced age. What are the implications of our new found addictions, what positions might we take and where things appear to be heading are matters we’ll delve into during this discussion.

And finally, Conquering the World with Your iPhone will feature a hodgepodge of tools, techniques and case studies to help you gain control of your online time with clarity and style. We’ll provide you with a bird’s eye view of the techniques and tools used by power-users to organize and maximize their time online.

In conclusion, I hope you’ll bookmark this and the coming posts, give them your full consideration and comment on, share, and post your favorites as we unpack important aspects of the online space, how it relates to you, and how you can better navigate the space to maximize your time online.

Attention Apnea, New Technologies and Steve Rubel

Below is a post by Steve Rubel on the potential for slates (ie. iPad). In it he brings up an number of discussion-worthy topics, like this one here:

We’re deep into a crisis of attention. Slates will accelerate attention apnea. We will start and stop tasks, jumping from one to the other. The end result, more media snacking, fewer meals, And when we do consume meals, it maybe quality content like movies, news apps and TV shows that reign. Time will tell.”

If you can, sharing what you’re thinking. It’s an interesting time, and technology continues to challenge and shape our habits, our lives. Glad to open this to discussion or if you have a discussion item of your own, leave it and/or a link in the comments box and I’ll read through it and reply. Thanks for stopping by, & enjoy!


A little over a week ago I moved my MacBook Air off my desk at home and jumped in using a slate to cover 90% of my work/personal needs (basically I just use my laptop to manage the slate). In the office, I only used my HP desktop for complex tasks that required it – like PowerPoint.

My verdict: if you are a knowledge worker and your computing needs center mostly around the web and text, as mine do, slates are ready for prime time. I am going to continue using my iPad as my primary device. And I hope to try HP’s slate when it comes out (HP is an Edelman client).

I believe the slate format is the future – perhaps not mainstream today, but they will be soon. However, as the slates take off they’re going to have an impact on marketing and media as well. Here are the three trends that I believe the format will accelerate…

1) Media Reforestation

Media is in a rapid state of evolution as consumption moves from atoms (e.g. print) to bits. I believe all tangible forms of media – everything you can see, touch, taste and smell – will be in sharp decline or extinct by 2012 in the US, and eventually globally.

Mobile devices, especially slates, are going to accelerate this trend. The experience of reading the Wall Street Journal on the iPad is better than the web site or the print edition. If News Corp. prices it reasonably, I will subscribe. I believe many millions will too.

Everyday a newsprint reader dies and is not replaced. However, newspaper readers will be around forever and slates give the medium a real shot in the arm. However, that’s not to say there won’t be pain – the economics are different.

2) The Attention Crash

On my iPad right now I have four feature-length movies, 2500 songs, two email accounts, Facebook, Twitter, six ebooks, dozens of articles I want to read (thank you Instapaper!), many news apps, games and more.

Now I am an extreme information junkie. Not everyone is. But these devices put infinite choices at our disposal. Yet the fact remains, we only have one brain.

We’re deep into a crisis of attention. Slates will accelerate attention apnea. We will start and stop tasks, jumping from one to the other. The end result, more media snacking, fewer meals, And when we do consume meals, it maybe quality content like movies, news apps and TV shows that reign. Time will tell.

3) Work-Life Blending

The great thing about slates is the value they offer for the cost – $500 – as well as in their portability. This week I attended several meetings inside and outside the firm and I spotted iPads at every single one. Yesterday I attended a brainstorm at a major NGO that included people from around the globe. At one table of six there I saw four iPads. Most of these devices I suspect were purchased by individuals not their employers.

Slates, like instant messaging, Twitter, Facebook and the like, are going to sneak into corporations via the back door, though I suspect some employers will buy them for knowledge workers.

The trend here to note is that these devices blend our work/personal lives. Slates didn’t cause blending but as more of us bring them to work, it accelerates. IT managers will need to provide sound guidance to ensure these devices and smart phones protect corporate information, while not stifling productivity. A byproduct: this is will likely encourage companies to become more social since slates and smart phones bring social networking deep inside the firewall.

That’s what I see in my crystal ball. Slates largely accelerate trends that smart phones started. Now I may be wrong of course. Time will tell. But I see a lot of promise for these devices and potentially many winners, not just Apple.

Posted via web from My Posterous Blog

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