Food for Thought – Work Smarter, Not Harder

Walgreens Drives Productivity The Sunday paper contained an insert produced by Walgreens. It listed ways to boost brain power. Five of the suggestions focused on the food we eat. Avocados contain medium-chain fatty acids, which increase our brainpower by reducing inflammation. Fish contains omega-3 fatty acids, which boost memory by spurring structural brain changes. Wine & Peanuts both[…]

What I Learned About Email While on Vacation

Yellowstone_August2015_12_copyThe Epic Montana Adventure

Our 2015 summer vacation took four of us through the wilds of western Montana. We camped in the southern reaches of the Bitterroot Valley before traversing deep into the Ruby River outback. We enjoyed Yellowstone National Park next. Our return path took us through Bozeman before heading north back to Whitefish.
Internet connectivity was sporadic throughout the trip, with the longest disconnection occurring for 72 hours. Valuable lessons were learned about our connected lives.

Observations on Modern Connected Lifestyles

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Two Flavors of Email – Open & Closed

EmailMedicKitEmail use continues its upward climb. The Radicati Group recently reported that email is growing at five percent per year and will to do so through 2019. Though growth is slowing, the existing volume makes any increase problematic.

Sorting through email takes a lot of time each day, and keeping track of what needs our attention is overwhelming. What if there was a quick and easy way to decide what to do with every email? […]

Gamify Your Day By Taking Smart Breaks

PhoneGameBe Smart, Take Breaks
The mind is not a marathon runner; it’s a sprinter. Decision fatigue sets in and performance suffers. Filling the mental energy tank back up is easy, just take a break.

Think of it this way: The mind is a product of the brain. The brain is an organ. Organs need rest and nutrition to perform at peak levels.

As obvious as this seems, we persist in believing that working longer and harder produces the best result. The reality is that success – of any kind – comes from working better and faster.
The first step to better/faster is to keep the main engine functioning properly. Take regular breaks throughout the day. Even a short break of five minutes gives the mind a chance to recharge.
Break Smart, Play Mind Games 

Recharging the brain doesn’t require taking a nap, though there’s nothing wrong with napping. Simply redirecting the mind’s focus can produce the desired energy replenishment.
A fun way to take a break and improve our wordsmithing at the same time is to play one of the following mobile word-based games.
  • Quizzitive. Free with in-app purchases. An entertaining quiz, an addictive game, and a new way to test and improve your vocabulary. iOS only, Android alternatives available.
  • Red Herring. Free with in-app purchases. Red Herring is a unique new puzzle game. Each puzzle has only one correct solution and there’s no time limit. Three difficulty levels make it suitable for the whole family. iOS, Android, Widows.
  • 7 Little Words. Free with in-app purchases. If you enjoy crossword puzzles, word finds, and anagram games, you’re going to love 7 Little Words. iOS, Android, Windows.
Bonus – Monument Valley. Free with in-app purchases. If you want to take a different kind of mental break, download this stunning maze game. iOS and Android.
Note: These games are free, so buck-up the $1.99 or whatever for the in-app extensions to take full advantage of everything these games have to offer!
Mind Games for Success
Taking breaks helps us work better and faster. We produce better results in a shorter period of time. Gamifying those breaks with mind games sharpens the tool we depend on to perform at our best.

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A Baker’s Dozen on Traveling Productively

HappyAirTravelerEasy Ways to Make Business Travel Better

Traveling for business is often a consequence of career success. Making the experience comfortable and productive can be challenging. Ten years of traveling has taught this road warrior a few tricks for achieving that result.
Best Gear
Here are some arrows for the business travel quiver.
  • Duplicate Toiletries Kit. Investing and maintaining a travel-only toiletries kit ensures that everything needed is present. The investment is minimal and the return is high during the packing and the traveling stages.
  • Noise Canceling Headphones. Jet roar leaves ears ringing and who knows the long term consequences. Get a set of noise canceling headphone or ear buds. Consider the Audio Technica QuietPoint. They’re super compact, 90% as good as the comparable Bose set, and only $43.
  • Dual Port Mobile Charger. Charging gear is a necessity. Carry a dual port charger so one outlet can do the work of two. Make sure both ports are 24W/4.8A so it charges all mobile devices. Check out iClever’s for a good example.
  • Phablet & Mini Laptop. Trying to work on a tablet is inefficient. Better to invest in the right tools for the job. A phablet plus a mini laptop ensures content can be consumed (phablet) and hardcore work can be performed (laptop) in a lightweight combo. Examples are the iPhone 6 Plus and a Macbook Air 13.
Best Services
The travel industry is full of service providers to ease the traverse from Point A to Point B.
  • TSA Pre[check]. Schedule an appointment at the local TSA office to secure the Pre[check] designation. Getting through airport security hasn’t been this easy since the 80s!
  • Airport Lounges. Get away from the frenetic activity in the airport via an airport lounge. The lounges are quiet and comfortable. Most offer refreshments and all have electrical outlets. The lounges are generally run by the airlines and require daily or annual membership. However, they partner with each other, so one membership can often be used in many different airports. Moreover some credit cards, like the American Express Platinum, provide access to most lounges around the world.
  • Loyalty Programs. The travel industry is littered with loyalty programs. The credit card industry only adds to the confusion of which programs are best. Study them to determine which works best in your scenario. The author is a Starwood member for hotels (Westin, Sheraton, etc.) and Alaska Airlines member (who partners with Delta and American). The end-game is free stuff and status. Hey, if travel is a must, it might as well come with some perks!
  • Ride Sharing. The taxi industry should’ve seen this coming, but it took an outsider (Uber) to connect the GPS on our mobile devices with the need for a ride. Regardless of whether it’s a true ride sharing business – Uber, Lyft, Sidecar – or the racing-to-catch up traditionalists – Carmel, Curb, Easy Taxi – the on-demand livery experience beats standing in the rain waiting for the cab you called 30 minutes ago!
Best Practices
Here are some “shoulda known that” suggestions for making road life easier.
  • Mobile Checkin. Save a tree and never print another boarding pass. Download the major airline apps – all free – and checkin via the phone before heading to the airport. It makes moving through security and boarding soooo much easier.
  • Two Hours in Advance. Head to the airport at least two hours in advance of flight time. Traffic, TSA lines and sundry other delays can absorb a lot of time. It’s better to have thirty quiet pre-boarding minutes than it is to sprint through the concourse hoping to catch the plane.
  • Hotel Rules. Three quick rules to use in the hotel –
    • High Floor Away From Elevators. Street noise and people passing by the hotel room door can be noisy. Avoid both problems by requesting a high floor away from the elevator.
    • DND Sign Out. Always put the do not disturb sign out. It reminds passersby that someone is in the room, encouraging them remain quiet.
    • Hotel Alarm Off. ALWAYS confirm that the hotel alarm clock is “off.” It’s amazing how many people (1) still use them and (2) fail to turn them off after use.
If Travel is Required, Travel Well
Business travel is never the luxurious experience the marketers promote. Employing a few of these tricks can make it easier and more productive.

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