Saturday, October 24, 2009

Tips and technologies to improve your efficiency

Though I don't have any formal IT training or designations, I've stumbled across a few tips and tricks to save you precious time and become more efficient.

1. Work off of two monitors
I wish that I had a citation to reference or some data to share regarding the increased productivity and reduced printing costs. Ever since I got my work laptop I've been working off of two monitors at work and at home. To do this, dock your laptop, run it, and open it up. Once you log in, right click on your desktop (PC) and click Properties, then settings. you should see a second monitor grayed out. Click on it, then check the box that says "extend my Windows desktop onto this monitor". In my work, I tend to keep my e-mail on my left monitor, my calendar and other programs on my right monitor.

2. Create a PDF instead of printing a piece of paper
This is a huge timesaver for me and helps me archive my files. If there is a website that I want to reference again, I'll print the page as a PDF, then create a note within the PDF that contains the URL of the website. You can use a program like MS Access, MS Excel, or Endnote to manage your references.

3. Get to know your keyboard shortcuts
There are so many keyboard shortcuts for almost everything that you don't even need a mouse. Save yourself some time by using a shortcut instead of reaching for the mouse to save a document, open a new webpage, or move between programs. you'll find that holding down Alt + Tab will be your friend and move you much faster around your computer.

4. Put your follow-up items or your to do's in your calendar
In passing in our hallway, someone will ask me if I can get back to them by the end of the week. I'll jot it on a piece of paper and then put the task or a few keywords for recall on my calendar with a reminder.

I hope I've saved you some time and made you slightly more efficient. Give these tips some time and feel free to share what else works for you. I'm always looking for a gold nugget that will make it more productive.

Friday, October 9, 2009


If it's one thing that I've learned from individuals involved with the American Society of Association Executives, it's that an individual should always make time for networking. I'm attending a meeting this weekend where I'm capitalizing on the networking opportunities; shaking hands, collecting business cards, and continuing relationship building. Here are some of the tips to make your more successful in your networking.

1. Bring business cards
I bring at least a 1/2 inch of business cards to distribute and plan to collect just as many.

2. Collect business cards (try for 5)
I also have a few pens available in which I'll write a few keywords on the back of card to jog my memory when I'm back at the office. When I collect cards, I tend not to show the stack that I'm accumulating. Shake their hand, enjoy the conversation, collect the card, write a key word on the back, then shove it into your pocket. Don't let the individual see how many you're collecting. They may have the fear that you'll be spamming them later instead of trying to build a relationship.

3. Practice your pitch
After meeting people for the first time, the worst thing you want to do is tell your entire personal history from birth to present. Start slow and feel out the conversation. Begin with neutral subjects, find commonalities between you, and expand the conversation gradually.

4. Hold something in your hands
If you don't have something to occupy your hands you might be fidgety or over gesture during your conversation. Hold something like a glass, a piece of paper, a conference brochure, or even your cell phone (silence it or put it on vibrate) and use it as your buffer between you and the individual you're conversing with.

What techniques do you use when networking? I welcome your feedback

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A typical Saturday

This morning has already turned out to be quite a productive day. I've consumed three cups of coffee (and will have another at Caribou Coffee with my wife and in-laws), I've taken Marty (my golden retriever) for a walk, and I'm going to enjoy a movie at home with friends on this dreary Saturday. Here's a picture of this fun loving, crazy dog.

What's left you ask? Well, I'm currently enrolled in a six week self study course though the American Society of Association Executives titled Smart Marketing for Associations. The format of the course is quite simple; read the required materials every week, post your thoughts on two discussion questions, respond to others, repeat for six weeks and earn the 18 CAE credits. I need 100 CAE credits by mid-2010 to quality to sit for the CAE exam.

I also need to practice piano for a youth musical my church is performing in November called "The Bible Tells Me So Show". It's quite fascinating and great for kids of all ages. The congregation acts as the game show audience while musical numbers and solos complete the rest of the performance. More to come on this musical in the future!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

My First Post

I've recently been approached by a number of colleagues and friends and asked why I don't have a blog. My response to each of them was that what do they think is happening in my life that would make people interested in reading a blog from me? The minutiae of my day? The songs I write for my Epiphany Children's Choir?

I'm excited to see where this blog takes me. I hope I feel inspired to share updates in my life and to post meaningful content that spurs great discussion, makes you think, makes you laugh, or makes you cry.

All in all, welcome to my life.