Working Smarter not Harder on your Mac

There are a number of books and web sites that offer great ideas as to how you can get better at doing what you do best. It’s called “working smarter, not harder.” Here are some quick answers to working smarter with your Mac.

1. Invest in yourself. By this we mean that you spend some time “sharpening your workflow saw” and find more productive ways of working smarter.
2. Print out three months of iCal calendars Printing three months of your calendar out for a quick glance of your workload and events if things don’t change often. iCal even allows you to print any number of months ahead.
3. Keyboard shortcuts. Use the Macs keyboard shortcuts to move quickly to get things done. Keyboards are always faster than mice are and Mac keyboard shortcuts are more consistent that Windows. If you need to, you can change your shortcuts. Choose Apple menu > System Preferences and click Keyboard & Mouse. Then click Keyboard Shortcuts and select the action in the Description list that you want to change.
4. Prairie Dog Viewpoint. Step back and move the the 50,000 foot level. You need to see where you are going. Getting focused is one thing and burying your head in your task gets that one thing done, but not being aware of where you are in the scheme of things is like all speed and no direction, you get somewhere fast! Take a break, step back, and see where you are, then get focused again.
5. Automate or outsource. When you have sharpened your saw, you have taken the time to becoming more productive. But once you have learned something new you need to consider outsourcing or automate some of these tasks. Learning first a new workflow allows you to see the new process, then it is a matter of finding the higher frequency tasks and either automating them on your Mac or outsourcing them to someone that either can do it better or cheaper than you can.
6. Get better organized. Think of all of the things use use daily, weekly, monthly, etc and locate items that you use more frequently next to you and those that you use least farther or put away in a closet. Same goes for your Mac. Put folder, application, or document aliases on your desktop. You can also put folders onto the dock to access frequently used folders.
7. Use Spotlight more. you can do a Command + Space Bar and type in the application that you want to run rather than using a mouse to find the icon to double click on it in your applications folder. Or, you could just put an icon in your Dock.
8. Put your Mac on a New Years diet. Most people love the fact that they can customize their Mac, but this causes valuable computer (i.e. CPU) resources to be eaten up and slows your Mac down. Keep the eye candy and widgets to a minimum. Also, get rid of old files and applications that you have not used in 2008 and delete them.
9. Use Activity Monitor. Go to Applications > Utilities > Activity Monitor and start it up to monitor your CPU usage and disk space, you can find that some of our applications are taking up way to much of your computer time and resources or you’ll need to delete for archive a number of your files
10. Clean up your desktop. Your desktop takes up a number of resources, place those files in your Documents folder for better system performance.
11. Visit Apple’s Genius Bar. Make an appointment with them. Getting another person to look at your computer can help get another viewpoint of the health of your Mac. It’s free!

There you have it, some ideas to take on the new year 2009.

Mac software sources

Mac hardware is pretty easy to find and work with because Apple makes it that way. But most often the issue is: how do I do things with my Mac? In most cases it’s the one thing that comes out each time:

It’s the software, stupid!!

Here’s some sources for Mac software

Versiontracker.com – lists update versions.
macupdate.com same as above
Macforge.com is a site for UNIX and Open Source software projects, code, and free geeky software. THE place for hard core geeks.
Tucows is a generic software site
Apple’s Download site provides a little bit more information about Mac software that others.
Download Mac, not bad
PureMac is a nice site that has helped catalog software.

Hope this helps someone look for that one piece of software that helped them be productive.

Let us know what your favorite site is. Happy New Year.

2009 – will you be growing or shrinking?

An old Cherokee walks his grandson into the woods to talk to his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

DTP + Office: Scribus and Open Office (Open Source)

Too often entrepreneurs consider that they have to buy the most popular or most expensive products in order to produce marketing pieces for their customers. Well here are two solutions that are FREE to download and try out. As a small business photographer stated to me once, if the free programs do some things that others don’t then why not install them on your computer.

SCRIBUS: If you want to do some nice desktop publishing (DTP) for a small number of projects and do NOT want to spend ANY money on anything, download Scribus, a small DTP software that runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux.

OPEN OFFICE: Another solution office solution that runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux is Open Office that could almost be compared to MS Office.

What is nice about the applications is that you can tell others about these and share documents back and forth with little problems and not be worried about whether they will work or not. It makes collaboration much easier and at a cost that is great for any start up business.

Reading Lists

I love to read, especially books that expand my learning capabilities. When I was an AF Officer attending SOS (Squadron Officer School) we were told by a senior officer that each of us should be in a reading program of some sort, preferably a book a month, but more importantly, that we read for both self improvement and to provide increased capability in applying new skills and knowledge to our jobs. Since then I have read about a book a month covering all sorts of issues and subjects.

Recently I was at my local Barnes and Noble store and got into a conversation with an man from China and we were discussing books. I told him that I read a book a month, he said I was too slow!! I should read a book a month!!!

So, without any further delay, here’s a number of reading lists that might be of help to you:

Personal MBA
Business Pundit
800 CEO Read
Conservative Reading List
IRS Small Business Reading List (I hate to add it, but pass the Fair Tax and this would become a thing for the history books!!
Project Gutenberg: over 27,000 FREE books
Great Books list
Jim Collins, Author of “Good to Great” reading list of what he reads

Do you have some books that you find helpful in your business? Let us know what you like and why.

Business Planning and your Pitch.

One of the key factors in starting a business is whether or not you need to have a business plan. It becomes the chicken or the egg issue. Some have started without a plan and done well, others have a great plan and have failed. So what’s an entrepreneur to do?

Do the plan anyway!

Guy Kawasaki in his blog states about pitching your business via 10/20/30 rule is the start of your business, your business plan comes next.

The end result is not the “plan” itself, but the “planning,” the actual homework put into going into business that makes the difference. But before you get to the plan, you need the pitch first, get your hands dirty before you find out that you may not have any customers to sell to.

One of the ideas as to whether something works or not is how you present it. Two of the more interesting books that cover this are “Made To Stick” and “The Back of the Napkin” books that help get your idea across to others.

Converting .wmv and other files to your Mac

Here’s some programs that look promising which converts .wmv and a host of other audio files into files to be loaded up iTunes and your Mac.

It’s called Easywmv (version 1.4.1) and you can find it at Versiontracker.com or MacUpdate web sites.

VisualHub is another at versiontracker.com and macupdate.com.

A lot of Windows users that are converting to Macs or people that use Macs that need to convert files that Windows users send them may need this program.

Check them out and see how they work for you.