Search Your Favorite Sites From The Browser

Everyone of us has sites we visit regularly to reference the information found there. For me, these sites are:Add to search bar

  • Flickr – to search for Creative Commons Licensed images to use on blog posts
  • WordPress.org Codex – to search for code snippets, functions and template tags
  • WordPress forum – to look up solutions to problems
  • Youtube – to find videos that I can blog about or add to my site/resources etc
  • Internet marketing forums – to see what people are saying about a topic I want to write about and question they are asking

Each one of those web sites have their very own search feature so what is the problem? No problem. I just like to cut out a few steps and clicks if possible because some of these sites especially WordPress, I search several times a day. Bookmarking and navigating to these sites take time.

So, I installed this cool little Firefox plugin called Add to Search Bar. This lets me add the search function for any web site to my Firefox Search Bar. Which means less looking up for a web site in the overloaded bookmarks folder and less clicking to get to the right page to search.

8 Tools For The Productivity Junkie

If there’s one thing I learned working around children, it is, you can’t expect 100% productivity all the time. Which means, during the times you can give your work your undivided attention, you’ll want to squeeze every bit out of every single minute. While I don’t see myself as a productivity junkie, some people in my household may beg to differ :) anyways, always one to look out for better ways to do things, I’ve scoped out a few tools that may be helpful.

A timer – it truly is super weird. For someone who works hard not to be ruled by a punch clock, the timer often helps me focus the most. Not only that, it also helps me track billable hours. Yeah I’m old school like that. While I do have a physical timer – preferred for offline work, I also use a digital and tiny timer on my computer. The best in my humble opinion is a simple, dirt cheap but very functional timer, Egg Timer Plus from Sardine software (love the name). Only $5

Evernote – *sigh* I could write a book about Evernote. It is a web clipper (clip text, images etc from the web), a note taker, a task planner, a recipe organizer – you name it, you can probably find a way to use it for that. To me it’s a huge virtual inbox but that’s nothing new. What I love best about this is, you can capture almost any kind of data from anywhere. From your desktop and directly from your cell phone this is a huge selling point for me. The only thing it doesn’t have is a calendar but it is definitely a 2nd brain.

Filebox eXtender – got tired of clicking and clicking and clicking through folders to find the file I want. If you make a concious effort to notice it, you usually revisit a couple of folders pretty regularly throughout the day, week and month. I wanted a way to quickly jump to these folders which are also contained within many parent folders. Filebox eXtender does that. Love it. Sadly, it is no longer being actively support. There have been some reported issues for some people but they do have a Windows Vista and Windows 7 version. It is free.

Filebox eXtender

QTTabBar – lets you have tabs in Windows Explorer. I have not installed it yet, will definitely install it shortly. Going by my love of tabs on Firefox, QTTabBar may quickly be a must have.

Gmail Labels, Filter and auto Archive feature – The sky will not fall on your head if you don’t read every single email that comes through your inbox. A big volume of our emails are probably not supposed to be acted upon anyhow so just – stuff them. You don’t have to see them but you may need them at some point in the future. Create a label and make sure you check the “Skip inbox” checkbox, mark as read and assign it a label – e.g. Receipts. Then filter all PayPal emails or even emails you get from the ‘Gurus’ or subscription list this way. Let Gmail to that petty work for you.

GridMove - this is one killer app – at least for me. I used to call GridMove the poor (wo)man’s 2nd monitor. Now that I have a 2nd monitor, I find I need it more! It separates your monitor into grids – you can even create your own layouts or download the many contributed by users. When you click on the middle mouse button and drag a window, it will show you the many grids you can drag the window to. It will ‘snap’ into place. Eliminating the need to manually resize windows. This is great for working with code and web sites – see the effect of your changes on one side and the code on another. It’s also come in real handy during household budgeting day. I can see my own spreadsheet on one side and the checking account on the other.

Gridmove

A Macro – Feels like Deja Vu. I’ve mentioned this one before ;-) Oh yeah! Right here. See, they all tie in together. A Macro does repetitive tasks for you so you don’t have to remember or do it manually. Saving you tons of time. It can launch applications for you, perform certain functions on a schedule and even type for you. Get it. Use it. DirectAccess has saved me 17 hours of typing. How do I know? Because it gives me a neat little chart estimate. It’ probably more than than though because I use it launch programs and open folders, I save the time required to search for the program from a programs list – or the time to find that elusive folder.

A Workflow or system if you prefer to call it that – Some people respond better to mindmaps, some people prefer lists – whichever you decide, using tools like wikis and Bubbl.us and Gliffy help you create a workflow faster and also edit them easier so if there are changes in your workflow, everyone else on your team won’t be stuck with archaic versions.

Sparkplugging Swap Your Labor Weekend

virtual-swap-meetLast year I held a virtual swap meet on the WAHM 2.0 blog and opened things up for readers to share what they have available to barter with the focus being on virtual services that they provide and products that they create or sell.

Bartering your valuable skills is a fantastic way to get the products and services you need to move forward with your business goals.  It’s especially attractive with your business budget is tight!

Get What You Need!

Since this is Labor Day Weekend, and since last year’s swap meet was so successful, I think this is a perfect time to revive the fun and open up the comments for you to share what you have to offer and what you’re looking for in return.

Are you a skilled writer in need of a new blog header graphic?  Offer to write a couple of killer articles for a graphic designer in need of content.  Are you a virtual assistant in need of a gift for your best friend’s birthday?  Offer to provide your services in exchange for personal care products.

The options are endless – just make your pitch and see what happens!

Let’s Swap!

Leave a comment below that shares what you have to offer for barter in enough detail that someone can make a decision about it.  If you know exactly what you’d like to barter for, lay that out to.  If you’re not sure, you can say that you’re open to creative offers.

Be sure to include contact information!  Your Twitter user name would be good.

Who knows what sort of swap connections we’ll make this weekend :)  Let’s go for it!

Tools That Make An Affiliate’s Life Easier

Kelly’s inspirational post about dreaming bigger, has really got quite a few of us riled up and ready to go. For me, it couldn’t have been better timing because this week is also the same week my kids start school again. I am excited to reclaim those hours and pour 100% of it into my business once again. Since Kelly talked about affiliate marketing and working harder on it, I thought it would be good to follow up with some tools that can help make your lives as affiliates easier, better, more productive which hopefully leads to more profits. So here goes.Tools

Password manager – I use Roboform on the PC and 1Password on the Mac, others I know use LastPass and Xmarks. Whatever you decide on, a password manager really helps logging in and out of those many affiliate accounts a breeze.

Affiliate link plugin for WordPress – there are a few out there. What does it do? You set a keyword for example “SparkplugU” and tell it to link to your affiliate URL each time SparkplugU is found. All automatic and works for older posts too.

Zemanta – this is a Firefox plugin that will make photo, books, DVD and website resources suggestions for you based on what you are writing about. You can link it up to Amazon – if you’re still their affiliate – and make it easy to add links to products found in Amazon.

A macro utility – Tired of typing your affiliate URL again and again? Copying and pasting is OK but still takes time to open your file, look it up, copy and paste. Too many actions. Use a macro utility. I use something called DirectAccess that helps me do a bunch of things, but one of my favorite uses is for it to help me type in URLs. Instead of typing, I enter a short code and hit ‘End’ the software types the links for me, reducing the amount of typing I do.

Image by sanja gjenero

Lynette enjoys discovering new ways to use technology or new technologies to use in a business and in turn help her clients apply them. You can find also Lynette at her blog, Twitter and Facebook

What Good Is A Wiki For Your Small Business?

According to Wikipedia…

A wiki is a website that uses wiki software, allowing the easy creation and editing of any number of interlinked Web pages, using a simplified markup language or a WYSIWYG text editor, within the browser.

So, in other words, it is a web site builder. What’s so special about that?

The web site building feature is not the interesting part. The interesting part is the fact that anyone can create, edit, add on and correct the information on the page anytime, anywhere using just a simple web browser. It’s kind of like Bob writing a proposal which he then sends out to Nancy and Jack for them to look over. They scribble their notes or cross out lines of text and send it back to Bob. Many people working on one document. The only difference is, the document is web based and everyone who has access to it can view it – instead of being passed around.Meeting

Yet how does something like this fit into a small, solo entrepreneur business like most of us have? The best answer – a wiki would make a fantastic knowledge repository. Here’s why.

We solo entrepreneurs carry an awful lot in our heads. I used to think this was great but these days, I don’t want to remember. I want to offload because my memory is not always accurate or reliable ;-), it helps a lot to unload what’s in our heads onto writing. Writing (or in this case typing) things down makes us more relaxed since we know the information is filed away safely and not forgotten. When you have less to remember, you’ll also function better. Kind of like our computer memory. The more you load it, the slower it becomes until it finishes processing everything.

Writing things down is also great when you outsource your tasks. Now, you don’t have to spend so much time training someone. We still have to invest a little bit of training to get someone new up to speed but if you have tasks and procedures documented, your personal time commitment is reduced. You can tell them to study/read the document and ask you questions if unclear. Great time saver.

Again, where does the wiki fit in? I think a wiki is perfect for internal documentation like this especially when you outsource your tasks because then, the burden of keeping accurate documents is distributed. Sure you can just as easily write up documentation on your word processor and send it out but if your VA makes a suggestion that you decide to implement or if there’s a change in policy or a simple edit for clarity, you still have to edit the document.

Using a wiki, your VA can edit the document without having to wait on you or have files sent to each other. This can reduce email volume plus, any edits become live immediately. The result, your team always has access to the latest information.

How do you set up a wiki? You have the option of installing the scripts on your own web site. This is probably better if you’re not comfortable storing information on a third party site and aren’t afraid of a little geek speak. You could check these out:

Or you can have completely hosted wikis like:

Image by Sigurd Decroos

Lynette enjoys discovering new ways to use technology or new technologies to use in a business and in turn help her clients apply them. You can find also Lynette at her blog, Twitter and Facebook

Making Client Appointment Scheduling Painless

Have you ever called up your hairdresser or fitness trainer, got the voice mail, put on hold and wished they could just go online to set up an appointment yourself? You’re not alone. Playing phone tag is a pain and not very efficient. The good news is, there are many, many appointment scheduling systems you can take advantage of, some with very little investment.Schedule

My favorite is Genbook. This is a pretty complete system. They offer a free basic account where you can take advantage of most of their features. You can start scheduling appointments online in a matter of minutes. I love the ability to assign staff to certain services. It is super simple to use but not lacking in customization. Just tons of features for free. Premium accounts start at $39.99 a month and you also get the ability to take payments before scheduling the appointment. Perfect for any offline service who doesn’t have an e-commerce component yet.

Other services in this area include

  • Acuity who also offer a free account have have two other levels at $10 and $19 a month.
  • Schedulicity at $29/month for one user and $49/month for 2-20 users.
  • Appointment-plus who has three plans beginning at $39/month.

Prefer to do it yourself? Whenever there are fully hosted software, you will usually find standalone software that you can pay for a one time fee, get it installed on your own web site and managed yourself. Here are a few I came across.

Photo by jenny w.

Lynette enjoys discovering new ways to use technology or new technologies to use in a business and in turn help her clients apply them. You can find also Lynette at her blog, Twitter and Facebook

9 Useful Twitter Search Phrases

There are so many social media networks these days it is beginning to be really hard to choose. Some of my friends love Facebook. It’s OK, despite all the redesigning, I still find it difficult to navigate. Also, because of privacy settings. I am not able to reach or tap into the crowd like you can on Twitter.Twitter Search

If you ask a question on Facebook, you’ll only get responses from your own network of friends. That may not be a bad thing, yet, I believe in the wisdom of the crowd. I’ve received some really good answers to my questions I get from Twitter come from people who don’t know me, don’t follow me and vice versa.

This is not saying my peeps don’t have good answers. They do but throwing a question out on twitter is like polling the real public whereas asking your fans/friends is like – well, asking your friends which can skew your results depending on what you ask. Anyhow, I’m going down a different rabbit hole here so let’s get back to the point.

Besides asking questions myself, I like to search Twitter. Sometimes it is to find questions that I can answer or write a blog post about. Sometimes, to find people or experts whom I can feature. Other times, to find good stuff to share with others. These are just a few search phrases that can be used to achieve all that.

Find questions to answer or to blog about

  • “Does anyone know”
  • “Anyone know”
  • “How do I”
  • “How do you”

To find experts

  • “Available for interview”
  • “Expert available”

Finding holidays/events to blog about

  • “Month is” e.g. “August is”

Looking to hire someone?

  • “Hire me”
  • “Available for hire”

More search options

If you think you will be searching some of these phrases over and over again, you can also save your search. After you complete your search, just click on the “Save this search” link on the top right corner of your search results list.

Twitter Search

If you want to narrow down your search, filter out the noise, consider using these search operators.

Lynette enjoys discovering new ways to use technology or new technologies to use in a business and in turn help her clients apply them. You can find also Lynette at her blog, Twitter and Facebook

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