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Three tech tools to boost your productivity

Wasted time is the bane of any decision maker, so with these three tech tools, boost your productivity to reinforce your bottom line. They’re simple to use and maximize your effectiveness in your business.



Wasted time is annoying

Needless to say, there are some aspects of your day-to-day activities that are somewhat annoying and feel like a waste of time. These tasks include:

  • Sending the same emails, memos, and proposals over and over again.
  • Having to log on to Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn every single time you want to post something to your profile.
  • Keeping track of all your projects and everything that you have going on right now.

Regardless of your industry, these are all elements of your business that are necessary but can seem tedious to deal with day to day. When more pressing and urgent things come up, you don’t want to have to keep these things on the back burner and worry about responding to emails or updating your Facebook page. Another time-waster can be trying to find the file folder or emails regarding a specific project you’re working on. If all of these things were in one place, wouldn’t it be a bit easier? The short answer is yes, but there’s another word that can prove to be a solution to this ever-present problem of wasting time on menial tasks, and that is technology.

All of us have more or less embraced technology. We all buy iPads or tech tablets, have joined a social media site and have more or less become addicted to our smart phones. What many haven’t been doing, however, is using the technology tools available to actually boost productivity in their business. That’s where some of these services will come in handy.

Problem #1: Redundant Emails

Solution: Yesware. This Chrome extension allows you to save email templates, and it will also track the open rates of each email you send. Think of how much time you’ll save: instead of having to type out the same, redundant email you’re already typing out five times a day, you can go to the template and have it ready to send instantly. The tracking feature is also great for promotional emails or campaigns. You can see which emails are getting opened and which aren’t and tweak your marketing efforts accordingly.

Problem #2: Logging in to each social networking site in order to post

Solution: A social media dashboard. Have you heard of HootSuite? How about Tweetdeck? These are social media dashboards that are free to install. Essentially, all you have to do is set up your dashboard by linking it up to all of your social media profiles, and from there you can maintain every profile in one place. You can schedule tweets or Facebook posts or LinkedIn updates to go out throughout the day, making it look like you are active online. You can also monitor mentions, wall posts, new fans and followers and direct messaging. Essentially, you can spend 30-45 minutes per day scheduling posts to go out and maintaining your online presence without logging in to each site individually. It’ll save time, and you can pick and choose when you want to spend time on maintenance.

Problem #3: Keeping track of too many projects at one time.

Solution: Trello. This project management system is perfect for those who have a marketing team or have outsourced various marketing tasks and projects. Essentially, this a free service that you can use in which you create a variety of project cards on one dashboard. You can add notes to each card per project, to keep up with the status of it and add reminders and to-do’s to each card. You can even break down each card by process and keep track of who is working on what.

Each account can have several team members access it, meaning that anyone on the team can add updates and notes to each project at any time. It’s a great way to see where you are with multiple, ongoing projects all at once. Organization is the huge benefit here. Instead of looking through a bunch of files for the information you need, you can simply log in to Trello and take a peek at the notes. It will save you tons of time AND boost your productivity.

These tech tips are just the beginning of how you can use technology to boost your business’s productivity, become more organized, and save time on some of those menial, day-to-day tasks and responsibilities. This will free up your time to focus on the important and urgent elements of your company. In today’s business landscape, technology is your friend. Embrace it and use it to take your business to the next level.

Carrie Gable & the Real Estate Virtual Assistant team at RealSupport, Inc. work virtually for many top real estate agents & brokers nationwide, offering marketing campaigns, branding, website & logo design, listing marketing efforts, lead management, technical support, marketing presentations, social media setup & management, copywriting, blogging and much more.

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  1. Avi Kaye

    April 12, 2012 at 9:19 am

    Always good to know about new tools that can help you be more productive :).
    Just started using Yesware myself, and I think it’s an excellent option.
    For social media tools you should also check out Sendible or SproutSocial.
    For an online project management tool check out HappyTODOS.


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Business News

Price-predictable subscription to legal help for startups

(BUSINESS) Startups in growth mode need extra help, and legal services is not where successful companies cut corners. Check out this subscription option for your growing company.



legal help for startups

If you’re running your own business or are planning to start one, legal help is probably low on your list.

Most of us have access to free resources from your local Chamber of Commerce or state website, or may have a “friend” who can help you with the forms and other things.

For a lot of things, a DIY attitude won’t cost you much. You could float your own drywall for example. But when it comes to the law, you must trust an expert. Trying to cut corners on legal expenses can cost you a lot in terms of liability or lead to a few headaches, disputes, and litigations. And even if it didn’t cost money, it will cost you time.

Fortunately, you may not have to pay a lawyer directly, as there are several online solutions, including LegalZoom or LegalShield that can help you with forms, provide advice or help you get your business started. Legal advice could cost you hundreds per hour, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Although online legal services are available, one thing that may be challenging for startups is that it can be difficult to budget for: cost transparency isn’t always available and it may be contingent on demand, time and resources.

Atrium is legal firm specifically designed for startups. This firm was founded by Twitch founder Justin Kan, and Silicon Valley lawyer, Augie Rakow in response to what his needs were as a startup: fast, reliable, and transparent services.

To date, Atrium boasts 890 completed startup deals; $5B raised by companies, and 10 companies started by it’s members. Atrium breaks down its services into four areas:

Atrium Counsel – which provides standard day to day legal processes, including board meetings, NDS, contract/personnel review, etc. – this is available as a subscription service or if you have unique needs, there are special projects available.
Atrium Financing – to help work with venture capital transactions and help explain the deal and it’s process, including upfront price estimates for advice with pitches.
Atrium Contracts – to help with contract review and form generations.
Atrium Blockchain – to help provide legal advice on the many regulatory issues involving blockchain issues.

Atrium’s major competitive advantage is the end of the billable hour paradigm and the focus on subscription models. This is great for a startup in growth mode because you can get a lot of value for a fixed price.

That said, Vitality CEO, Jamie Davidson said, “Just had a call with these folks. You pay a minimum of $1K a month (based on your company size) to be able to ask them questions. You then pay above-market prices for actual legal needs, like privacy policy/TOS generation ($5K), GDPR ($10+K), etc. Our current lawyer does not charge me to ask him questions, but he does charge for actual legal work.”

Others have noted Atrium’s technological advantage and expertise, so mileage could vary.

If you find that community resources aren’t available or not meeting your needs, Atrium could be the service that helps take you to the next level. If you’re considering shopping for legal services, check out Atrium’s site, get to know their team, and see if it’s the right fit for you. The bottom line is that there are a lot of places to cut corners for your growing business, but legal services are not one of them.

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Business News

Courts to decide if ‘overqualified’ is being used as a code word for ‘too old’ to hire?

(BUSINESS) Many have long held that job seekers are told they are “overqualified” when some employers mean they’re just too old and they’ll carry higher cost and leave quickly. The court system is considering this contentious topic as we speak.



overqualified woman

According to AARP, “age discrimination in the workplace is alive and well.” But a case before the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago questions whether older job applicants can sue for certain biased recruiting practices.

The Chicago Tribune reports that the case “raises a critical question about whether job applicants can pursue” a lawsuit raising the argument whether the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) protects external job applicants.

Therefore, the question is, does 'overqualified' truly mean an applicant doesn't have the right qualifications, or is it a code word for someone being too old to hire?Click To Tweet

The case is Kleber v. CareFusion Corp digs into this challenge. Dale Kleber applied for a position with CareFusion. The job description asked for “3 to 7 years (no more than 7 years) of relevant legal experience.” Kleber had decades of experience, after all he was 58. The company never even interviewed him.

They ultimately hired a 29-year-old to fill the position. CareFusion insists that Kleber’s age had nothing to do with him not being considered for the role. Kleber argues that “overqualified” is a code word for “too old.”

The case has been working its way through the courts. The first judge dismissed the claim, ruling that the statue doesn’t cover external applicants, but that decision was reversed on appeal by a three-judge panel of the 7th Circuit which stated it “could not imagine” that Congress intended to only protect internal applicants from age discrimination.

CareFusion was given a rehearing in front of the full court in September. Depending on their ruling, the case could go before the U.S. Supreme Court.

What does this mean for you?

This case is just one of many that attorneys are filing with various courts. There is a case in Arizona in which two firefighters, the oldest in the district, were let go due to their age. Age discrimination could affect anyone, because everyone eventually becomes eligible. The courts are conflicted over the types of protection offered by the ADEA, but it’s also difficult to prove when age discrimination has occurred.

For small business owners, it’s imperative that you look at your hiring practices. Think about your recruiting practices. Do you simply look for talent at your local college? You miss valuable talent if you’re not looking at older applicants, and people are working well into their 70s these days, no longer retiring early. Think about the connections and experience an older team member could bring to the job.

If you (or your company) refuse to care about any of those things, fine. But consider this – based on the results of this and other lawsuits, you could be opening your business to being sued if you overlook age in the recruiting and hiring process.

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Business News

Killing the 9-to-5 work day can improve workers’ output

(BUSINESS) Doing away with the tradition of working 9 to 5 in a cubicle can work wonders for a team’s productivity – let’s discuss why this isn’t an imaginary dream, but today’s reality.



work productivity

As we’ve seen in recent years, many of the old concepts about work have been turned on their heads. Many offices allow a more casual dress as compared to the suit and tie standard, and more and more teams have the option of working remotely.

One of these concepts that’s been in flux for a bit is challenging the norm of 9-to-5 work days. Offices are giving more options of flex hours and remote work, with the understanding that the work must be completed effectively and efficiently with these flexibilities.

Recently, I got sucked into one of those quick-cut Facebook videos about a company that decided to test out the method of a four day work week. This gave employees the option of what day they would like to take off, or, it gave employees the option to work all five days of the week, but with flex hours.

Despite the decrease in hours worked, employees were still paid for a 40-hour work week which continued their incentive to get the same amount of work done in a more flexible manner. With this shift in time use, the results found that employees wasted less time around the office with mindless chit-chat, as they understood there was less time to waste.

The boss in this office had each team explain how they were going to deliver the same level of productivity. The video did not share the explanations, but it could be assumed that the incentive of a day off would encourage employees to continue their level of productivity, if not increase it.

This was done with the goal of worker smarter, rather than harder. Finding ways to manage time better (like finishing up a task before starting another one) help to stay efficient.

During the trial, it was found that productivity, team engagement, and morale all increased, while stress levels decreased. Having time for yourself (an extra day off) and not overworking yourself are important keys to being balanced and engaged.

There is such a stigma about the way you have to operate in order to be successful (e.g. getting up early, using every hour at your disposal, and using free time to meditate).

Let’s get real – we all need a little free time to check back in with ourselves by doing something mindless (like a good old fashioned Game of Thrones binge). If not, we’ll go bonkers.

Flex hours and remote working is not all about having time to do morning yoga and read best-seller after best-seller. Flex hours gives us the time to take our kids to and from school and comfortably wear our parenting caps without fear of getting fired for not showing up to work precisely at 9 AM.

Bucking the 9-to-5 cubicle life can improve the quality of work and even increase quantity of work.Click To Tweet

The 9-to-5 method is becoming dated and I’m glad to see that happen. So many people run themselves ragged within this frame and it’s impossible to find that happy work-life balance. Using flex options can help people manage every aspect of their lives in a positive way.

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