August 8/ 2012

Stop Skype Stealth

Although Leah’s computer automatically logged her into various online messaging applications, like Skype and MSN Messenger, she was diligent about focusing on her work and ignoring the temptation to chat. Little did she know, distractions were her least cause for concern.

The real danger of revealing her online presence was in the potential to expose too much information about her patterns of behaviour. When we shared this concept with Leah, she recalled an evening when she was watching a movie on her laptop and a client phoned her, because her online presence implied that she was available to talk. As a contractor, she often worked at strange times, but was surprised that a client would try to contact her at such an hour.

After reflecting on this, Leah decided to adjust her computer’s settings to prevent programs from opening and logging online when starting up. Now her contacts know that her online presence indicates her availability, but they don’t need to know every time she sits down to work at her computer.


July 11/ 2012

Share What You See, With Screenshots

Our client Ivan wanted to receive his technology productivity training through remote desktop sharing to ensure he received maximum value from his time and money. Although his computer didn’t connect with the online meeting software right away, we were confident that we could resolve the issue and proceed with the lesson.

After asking Ivan a few questions over the phone, it became clear that he wouldn’t be able to quickly resolve the problem without assistance. We told him to use the “PrtScn” button, to capture an image of his computer’s screen, and to send it to us via email. The picture revealed an error message from another program, which was stopping him from running the online meeting software.

Ivan was thrilled that we were able to deliver his coaching session, as he couldn’t wait to begin saving time. Best of all, he has continued to use this valuable trick to overcome technical troubles with minimal cost and inconvenience.


June 25/ 2012

Smart Shoes Support Success

Jocelyn always looked stylish, but her appearance came at the cost of comfort. Often irritable and distracted by her sore feet, her productivity dropped, her professional image was compromised, and she sometimes offended her coworkers.

She’s now replaced her impractical shoes with ones that are better suited to her weekly visits to jobsites.

She still enjoys her fashionable footwear at the office; however, to accommodate her wardrobe of high heels in comfort, she adjusts the height of her chair each day to bring her knees to at least a ninety-degree angle.

Now that Jocelyn has stopped suffering shoe strain, while sitting and standing, she’s seizing success without sacrificing style.


June 4/ 2012

Clean Up To Speed Up

There are few people who claim to never experience computer problems. For the rest of us, it is important have tech solutions that are cost effective and are applicable without expert assistance. Try the following technique, which worked for one of our clients.

Denise noticed that her computer had been growing progressively slower and was occasionally acting up.   It wasn’t in her company’s budget to upgrade her hardware. Instead, she purged the email on her computer’s hard drive and transferred a lot of it from her computer onto a USB hard drive.

She started by clearing the junk mail and deleted items, and then she used the Search Folders, along the left side of her Outlook window, to find and remove the Large Mail items that were hogging memory space.

But Denise didn’t stop there. She gradually worked through the rest of her old mail – while watching her favourite TV shows – and succeeded in clearing 20,000+ messages, tasks, and calendar appointments from her Outlook. She has noticed her old computer running significantly faster, and it seldom gives her trouble anymore. The best part though is that Denise didn’t spend a dime.


May 23/2012

Bend, or You May Snap

It’s not a secret that change can be frightening.  Whether you’re moving to a new city or changing the way you process email from your inbox, unfamiliar territory can cause us to cling to old habits that no longer serve us well.  Such was the case for our client, Bryan.

He had been using email for years and was accustomed to flagging them for follow-up.  Although Bryan was eager to keep his projects more organized and reduce the amount of time he spent searching for emails into tasks rather than flagging them.

Bryan defended his position, that flags had always worked for him and there is no need to fix what isn’t broken.  There clearly wasn’t a rational cause for his allegiance to flags, and so we explained how tasks work as “smart flags” – flags that are more versatile – and he agreed to try using them until the next coaching session.

Sure enough, when we spoke with Bryan a week later, he was converted.  He had developed an appreciation for the connectivity that tasks allowed amoung his coworkers when delegating and following projects, and he loved the ability to keep all of the emails for a project together in a task.

Since then , we’ve spoken with Bryan, who reports that, “I always have many tasks on the go, and I haven’t lost track of any of them!”


May 2/2012

Talk On Topic

Does it ever seem like you’re the only one interested in getting any work done?   Of course work has a social element, but when talk about the previous night’s episode of Survivor takes centre stage, you need to know how to get the conversation back on track, which can sometimes be difficult.

This was especially the case for our young client, Anne, when she began participating in management meetings.  As the youngest player on the team, it was nearly impossible for Anne to politely or pointedly bring the focus of the conversation back to the business at hand.

Few people are practiced at keeping conversations on track, but the solution is to follow your high school teacher’s essay-writing advice: “Tell me what you’re going to say. Say it.  Then tell me what you said.”

So if you’re the listener, be sure to ask, “What are you wanting me to listen for?”  In Anne’s case, she started asking this question at the beginning of each meeting, and she found that she – and most of the other attendees in the meeting – more clearly understood the purpose of the discussion.

Although Anne is young, and this technique is new to her, she was happy to report that she has found the team meetings less frustrating and more focused, and more people contribute ideas now.


April 23/2012

Remember Electronically

We all know it’s impossible to remember everything ; Grocery lists, accounting codes, or the hockey play-off schedule. This leaves us with the option to either forget about it all and live in blissful ignorance (although the blissfulness may be brief) or to record it somewhere. But where?

You’ve seen the notebook your grandpa keeps in the front pocket of his shirt. There’s pages and receipts falling out of it, and he wastes a good chunk of time searching through it when he needs to find something.

If you do still where shirts with pockets, then we advise you to refrain from carrying that collection of scrap paper with you. Nor should you bring all the stickies with you when you leave the office, as they don’t fit that executive image you’re trying to portray, and filing them can be difficult when they don’t keep their stickiness.

To store your information electronically, just create an electronic note in your Microsoft Outlook or a memo in your smartphone. The notes in both of these virtual locations will mirror one another when you synchronize your smartphone with your computer, which makes it easy to create notes on your computer, using a full keyboard, and to bring those notes with you on your smartphone.

So next time you have one of those “lightbulb” moments, unload your good ideas into your Outlook or smartphone instead of putting pen to paper. You’ll feel much less weighed down by the things you need to remember and the pieces of scrap paper you’ve been using to record them.