Category Archives: Productivity Tools

Top Ten Ways Your Privacy is Threatened

Each year, January 28 is designated as Data Privacy Day. Don’t bother looking for Hallmark cards, it’s not that kind of day. Canada, the United States and 27 European countries, mark this occasion as a means of raising awareness and generating discussion about data privacy practices and rights.

Most people aren’t aware such a day exists. This probably speaks to the fact that too few people realize they are leaving an trail of data behind them for others to collect, merge, analyze, massage and sell, often without their knowledge or consent. Furthermore, on any given day, millions of people will send sensitive personal information over the Internet; thousands will likely be affected by a data breach, and hundreds will probably fall victim to identity theft.

To commemorate Data Privacy Day, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada offered up these 10 ways your privacy is threatened:

10. Surveillance cameras, swipe cards, Internet searches – as you go about your daily routine you actually leave a trail of data behind you for others to collect, merge, analyze and even sell, often without your knowledge or consent.

9. New and exciting technologies are emerging daily; but often your personal information is the cost of admission. Think about the information you have surrendered just to play online games, join virtual worlds, or even shop online.

8. Millions of people post all sorts of personal information about themselves, their family and their friends on social networking sites without reviewing the privacy policies, modifying the privacy settings, or considering how this information can be used or misused by others.

7. Governments are indiscriminately collecting mountains of personal data in the name of national security and public safety.

6. Businesses are collecting more and more information about an ever-greater number of people, often without having appropriate means to protect the information or dispose of it.

5. Data breaches happen every day in both the public and private sectors. Recent incidents have exposed the personal information of millions of people. In fact, you could already have been one of those people, but due to the lack of mandatory breach reporting laws in Canada, you may never even be informed.

4. Fraudsters have become extremely devious and technologically savvy. From the other side of the planet, they can steal your personal information. These days, you need to shred documents, protect your computer, watch out for fraudulent e-mails, be on guard against pretexting and much more.

3. Identity theft, which is fuelled by excessive personal information collection and failure to protect it, is rampant – and it is becoming a very lucrative business for criminals.

2. We live in a global society where information flows freely around the world – from person to person; jurisdiction to jurisdiction; public sector to private sector – and all privacy protection laws are not created equal.

1. The notion that “if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear”. Privacy is an essential freedom that shapes our society; an internationally recognized human right; and the foundation of modern democracy – but if we don’t value our privacy or stand up for it as our right, it will be eroded over time.

If you want more information on protecting your privacy—at least, from a Canadian perspective—here are a handful of fact sheets in PDF format:

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Time-Saving Tools for Busy Lives

Amazing, isn’t it? Every day, you’re given 24 hours. Some days, you feel like you’ve lived every hour. Other days, the time seems to slip through your fingers like grains of sand.

Even though time can’t be pinned down, we live in a society that tries to do just that. Schedules, timetables and deadlines are the framework of modern life. But being organized doesn’t necessarily mean living by a lot of rigid rules. It means making choices—your choices—about what’s important to you and then arranging your time and space to focus on those choices.

Take a moment to reflect on the pace of your life. Does it feel like you are rushing from task to task and worrying about how you will ever get everything done? When you start to feel overwhelmed, it’s time to pick up your organizational tools and create some time and space in your own life. Here are five easy tools to get you started.

Make it easy for employers to see what you can do for them by going a couple of steps further:

The daily planner

Many busy people find that they cannot get along without the help of their daily planner. A useful daily planner:

  • is both a calendar and a notebook
  • should be small enough to carry with you
  • should be big enough to hold your to-do list, appointments and plans
  • has a section for phone numbers and addresses
  • doesn’t have to be expensive—you can find one for around $10.

The daily planner helps prevent the urge to leave notes all over the place and keeps all your vital information together. By glancing at your daily planner each evening, you can plan the following day. You could also write out your goals in your daily planner at the beginning of each month to help you stay in touch with what’s most important to you.

The to-do list

Time management experts say that list-making is one of the most useful kinds of tools because it helps you visualize your plans. Once you have made your list, try to sort the tasks according to how important each one is. You can assign ratings or underline the most important items on your list. If you manage to get only those things done, you have still made the best use of the time available to you.

The done list

Reward yourself for all your hard work. At the end of each day, take a moment to write out or just think about your “done” list. Include all of the items on your to-do list that you’ve completed as well as other important things you did. If you’re a worrier, your done list can show you how much you have actually accomplished.

A place for everything

This well-known saying has been around a long time because it’s true: A place for everything and everything in its place. When you think of all the time spent frantically hunting for your keys or your wallet or the bill that needs to be paid today, it really makes sense to organize your living space. This may take some effort at first, but putting things in their proper place can become a habit before you know it. Try telling yourself: don’t put it down—put it away. This simple rule works wonders.

Escape from the phone and TV

This may be the hardest thing to do, but it can make a big difference in the time you have to spend on more important things. You can start by keeping track of the time you spend in one week in front of the television—the number of hours may surprise you. When you think of how much time in a month or even a year is spent watching TV, you may decide it’s time to make some changes. You might decide to turn off the TV while you’re eating dinner. Or you may choose to make certain days of the week TV-free. The extra time can be spent with friends or on hobbies or maybe taking a course at a local college.

The same strategies can be used for deciding when to use the phone and when not to. You can choose to take calls when you have the time to talk. If you don’t have an answering machine, you can unplug your phone or turn down the ringer when you don’t want to take calls.

Making time, saving energy

Take some time to find out which time-saving tools are right for you. You can sometimes make very simple changes in your life and discover that you had much more time available than you thought. Then, you can effectively use the time you do have to accomplish what’s most important to you.


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How to Use Evernote: 22 Ways

Last year, Evernote announced they had passed ten-million registered users. I don’t know how that stacks up against active users, but I suspect the ratio is high.

What is Evernote? If you’re not familiar with Evernote, it’s an application that helps you get organized and remember everything.

Here’s a short description from the Evernote website:

“Evernote allows you to easily capture information in any environment using whatever device or platform you find most convenient, and makes this information accessible and searchable at any time, from anywhere. Did we mention that it’s free?”

In a nutshell, you can save anything to this program and access it from your computer, from the web, or even your phone. The short video below demonstrates some of the key features.

How do you get the most out of Evernote?

First, you need an account. The basic account is free and would meet the needs of many users. However, apremium account is only $45.00/year.

Once you have an account, what can you do with it?

  1. Giant Inbox – This is how I started using Evernote. Everything that comes into my head goes intoEvernote. I can add things to Evernote via the iPhone client, desktop client, or on any computer usingEvernote’s web-based version.
  2. Sticky Note Repository – If you have sticky notes plastered around the edge of your monitor, or scraps of paper floating around the desk, one of the simplest uses of Evernote is to store these day-to-day snippets of information in a more organized, uncluttered manner. Evernote can clean your office.
  3. Web Clipping – When you come across something of interest on the web, skip the bookmarks. Instead, use the Evernote web clipper to store for later reading. If you select and capture the content, you don’t have to worry about finding the material when sites disappear or change the URL structure. You will have have captured the article once and for all.
  4. Share Information – Instead of filling up everybody’s e-mail inbox with all the bits of information you feel it is important to share, store that information in Evernote. Create a shared notebook,  give access to the relevant people and they can decide when and how to view.
  5. Take Notes – Taking notes in Evernote is far easier than searching for the pad of paper that’s lost or not with you. If you organize and tag your notes as you go, they will be easier to find, using Evernote’s powerful search.
  6. Take Pictures – Had a car accident? Take pictures of the vehicles, the damage, license plates, driver’s license and insurance information. See a book you want to read? Take a picture of the cover. TheEvernote iPhone app makes it easy to upload these pictures directly to your account.
  7. Research – Instead of bookmarking your resources when you do research online, compile the relevant information from each page into a research note in Evernote.
  8. Meeting Notes – Type away as your boss drones on and before you’re back at your workstation, the notes are on your desktop. If you take hand-written notes, scan them into Evernote where the search function can recognize words in images.
  9. Idea File – Ideas strike at random times, in the oddest places. Evernote gives you a capture device almost anywhere. (I’ve never used an electronic device in the shower.) ;P
  10. Document Storage – When I receive a document (PowerPoint, Word, Excel, or PDF) that I’ll need again, I forward it to Evernote. Evernote provides a unique email address to send information to your account. Evernote can also monitor a designate folder on you computer. Save recognized file formatsto that folder and Evernote will upload to your account.
  11. Project Planning – Create a new Stack for a project. Sort different tasks and research topics into notebooks and make good use of the tags feature. Everything you need to recall or act on regarding a project will be in one spot.
  12. Store Business Cards – Instead of collecting a pile of business cards that you’ll lose, photograph or scan them send the images to Evernote. Evernote recognizes text on the card, so you can search for names such as “Staples” or “Henry” when that’s all you can remember about the person. Evernote on a mobile phone can geotag the photo. If all you can only remember you met the person in Vancouver, you can still find it. You can save trees: When someone hands you their card, take a picture and hand it back.
  13. Track Expenses – When you get a business receipt, photograph or scan it, and send it to Evernote.
  14. Track Personal Spending –  When you make a personal purchase, scan or photograph the receipt, and send it to Evernote. When I buy something online, I use the web clipper to send the invoice toEvernote.
  15. Store Passwords and Account Information – It can be difficult to keep track of all your on-line accounts, passwords and PINs. Evernote requires a password to log on. You can also increase the security by encrypting the contents of a note, using a separate password. All the usual cautions applyto storing and encrypting sensitive information. Make sure you understand Evernote’s encryption process before setting this up.
  16. Store Warranty Information – When buying a new item under warranty, store the information in a note. You can manually enter the data, scan the warranty card, photograph the serial numbers, or clip the on-line warranty page.
  17. Archive Twitter – Thanks to the Evernote-Twitter integration, you can easily capture the tweets you like: your own or those showing up in your stream. Plus, as an added bonus, you can now send yourself a quick note right from Twitter –no need to do any of that pesky app switching. Here’s how…
  18. Keep a Journal – I kept a daily journals for a long time. Eventually, I got to a place where I was keeping more information electronically. Now I can put journal entries directly into Evernote: things I notice, find interesting, or want to reflect on, get entered into my Evernote. Using a numerical format for the date and tagging with “Journal” makes it easy to update and to find what I have written.
  19. Create Lists – Grocery lists, to-do lists, movies to watch and gift ideas, these are all lists I update regularly and like to have handy. I have a notebook called Lists. All my lists go into that notebook, and are always accessible on any of Evernote’s many platforms. Using Evernote’s checkbox feature, I can make these lists, and check things off as I do or buy them.
  20. Blogging – Evernote for blogging is great because it keeps all blog-related ideas together in one place. For example, you can create a notebook to keep a list of blog post ideas, articles about blogging, and drafts of articles for use in future blog posts. Whenever you want to save something blog-related, put it in here.
  21. Hand-write/Sketch Notes – One of the lesser-known features in Evernote is the ability to create a “handwritten” note, called an Ink Note. Using your mouse or a tablet, you can write text into a note. This feature comes with a full range of tools for you to use. For example, you can select the color of ink you’d like to use. You can also select the width of the pen. You can pick a pen, a pencil, or if you make a mistake you can pick the cutter tool to remove your error.
  22. Go Paperless – Using an combination or permutation of the above ways to use Evernote, you can work towards being completely paperless.
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10 Lotus Notes Tips

IBM Lotus Notes 8 Welcome Page
Image via Wikipedia

Lotus Notes is the groupware of choice for my employer. It is coupled with my BlackBerry via the BlackBerry Enterprise Server. This allows me to keep my e-mail in-box, calendar, to-do list, address box and journal synced between my desktop and handheld.

Lotus Notes works somewhat differently than other types of productivity software. Here are some of the tips and resources I’ve taken advantage of to enhance my usage.

  1. You can quickly create a new e-mail memo by pressing Ctrl+M anywhere in Lotus Notes.
  2. You can create numbered lists within lists. To do this, enter the sublist with the first list, then select it and press F8. This indents and numbers the sublist within the main list. You can also do this on the fly by pressing F8 at the line you with to indent. Pressing Shift+F8 will return you to the previous level.
  3. Lotus Notes Calendar and Scheduling explained!
    1. Part 1
    2. Part 2
  4. Here’s a great way to save space in your Notes form or memo — create a collapsible section. This feature allows you to put portions of text into sections users can expand if they want to read the whole paragraph. In Edit mode, highlight the text you want to collapse, then select Create, Section. That’s it– the text automatically collapses into a section. Clicking on the twistie (point) beside the section expands the text.
  5. You can move to Notes documents while you’re still in another document without going to the view. All you have to do is click the Next icon in the SmartIcon bar or press Enter when you have the first document in read mode. You immediately go to the next document in the view.
  6. The previous tip explained how to move to the next document in a view without going to the view. You can also do this to get to the next unread document in the view. With the document in read mode, just click the Next Unread icon from the SmartIcons bar. The first document closes and the next unread document in the view opens.
  7. Like most programs, Lotus Notes allows you to do some things quickly by pressing certain keys or combinations of keys.
    Shortcut Description
    Alt+A Access actions from within a document
    Alt+accelerator key Access top level menus (for example, Alt+F opens File menu)
    Alt+Down Open drop-down controls such as the Select Names dialog box from name fields, combo boxes, date pickers, color palettes, and collapsed list box controls.
    Alt+Minus Opens a Size menu for pane borders. Press the s key to activate the menu, move the Up or Down arrow to select the border to move, and then press the Left, Right, Up, or Down arrow to move the selected border.
    Alt+Spacebar Opens a menu that lets you perform standard window operations such as Restore, Minimize, and Maximize. Use the Size and Move commands with the arrow keys to size or move the Lotus Notes window.
    Arrow keys Navigate days via date picker in calendar
    Arrow keys, Left and Right Navigate tabs or a horizontal list
    Arrow keys, Up and Down Navigate a vertical list, such as a menu, navigator, calendar time slots, or items in a list view
    Alt+B Access Open menu and open the applications and bookmark list
    Ctrl+F7 Access the sidebar
    Ctrl+F Opens the Find dialog box from views
    Ctrl+F1 (Linux® only) Get Help on current feature
    Ctrl+F7, then Up and Down arrow keys, then Enter Move to selected window panel
    Ctrl+F8, then Up and Down arrow keys, then Enter Move to selected window tab
    Ctrl+Page Up and Ctrl+Page Down Navigate pages in calendar
    Ctrl+Shift+L Open list of available shortcuts
    Ctrl+Tab Navigate forward in tab order
    Ctrl+W Closes current tabbed page
    Enter Expand or collapse a category or folder
    Esc Closes current tabbed page, collapses current thread, or exits current element
    F1 Get Help on current feature

    Linux users: Use Ctrl+F1 instead.

    F6 Cycles through all panes in the open perspective. (In views such as mail and calendar list views, for example, moves focus from view navigator to list view to preview pane (if open) to mini-view and back to view navigator.)
    Minus Collapse a category or folder
    Shift+F10 Open a context menu
    Shift+Plus Expand a category, folder, or thread
    Shift+Tab Navigate backward in tab order
    Tab Navigate forward in tab order
    Tab Give focus to Refresh schedule information icon in Scheduler in a meeting entry. Then, to access the Scheduler, press Tab again to give focus to entire Scheduler, and press Spacebar to give focus to the first item in Scheduler. Then do any of these:

    Press Tab to give focus to different items within Scheduler.

    Press Ctrl+Left arrow and Ctrl+Right arrow to move the time bar when it has focus.

    Press Esc to remove focus from the Scheduler, and then press Shift+Tab to give focus to previous items in the meeting entry.

  8. For security reasons, it’s usually not a good idea to leave your Lotus Notes open when you leave your desk for any length of time. Rather than having to close and then re-open several times a day, you can just hit the F5 key – the next time you try to do anything in Notes such as opening or sending a message you will have to type in your Notes password.
  9. The easiest way to get text from an e-mail message in Lotus Notes to an MS Word document… copy and paste. For example:
    1. Select the text you want from the message

    2. Press Ctrl-c (to copy)

    3. Go to the document in Word

    4. Press Ctrl-v (to paste)

  10. Notes allows you to work in more than one database at the same time. When you have several databases open simultaneously, you can move between them by pressing Ctrl+Tab.

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Win a GTD Productivity Package from Daze End Software

One of the most popular New Year’s resolutions is to “get organized,” and one of the most broken New Year’s resolutions is to “get organized.” Daze End Software can help people achieve their goal this year by giving both the process and tools necessary to become more productive.

Daze End Software is giving away productivity packages including: David Allen’s best-selling book “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity“, and copies of Daze End Software’s popular iPhone and iPad apps, Action Lists and Action Lists for iPad, which implement the Getting Things Done system.

To enter write your own productivity story and share why you need to get organized in 2011. Alternately, tell how GTD has made them more productive. From the entries, three will be selected to win a $40 productivitypackage including an Apple iBook edition of David Allen’s “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-FreeProductivity” and both the iPhone and iPad editions of Daze End Software’s Action Lists apps.

The contest is open for entries until January 1, 2011, and can be entered through the Daze End Software website.

The rules are at the end of this post: Get organized in the new year with GTD and Action Lists.

Action Lists for iPhone