13 apps for a more productive 2013 Day 7: Google Drive

Heading out of 2012 and into 2013 I am highlighting one app/program a day that helps me with my productivity. This is Day 7 and today I’m going to introduce you to Google Drive.

So in my last entry in the series I mentioned the app CloudOn and how I don’t use it much because I use Google Drive. So here is my quick intro to Google Drive and how/why you should use it for a more productive 2013.

I am usually an early adapter, but with Google Drive, I was kind of a late bloomer, well for me at least.

Google Drive was out for about 6 months before I really started using it. But now I find myself using it more and more. If you are new to cloud based computing, like my Dad who still uses a thumb drive (FacePalm) then Google Drive would probably be the one I recommend you use for document storage.

Google Drive is the next step in the continuting eveluition of Google Docs, Google’s webbased office suite to compete with Microsoft Office. But Google Drive added a lot of new features to Docs.

One of the new features Drive added was a folder you can place on your computer to sync with your Google Drive cloud based account. If you are familiar with Dropbox this acts in a similar manner as your Dropbox folder on your computer.

A big advantage that Drive has over Dropbox is the ability to edit documents, including Microsoft Office documents, right in Drive. Drive also starts you out with a free 5gb of storage space.

Drive is fantastic for collaboration as you can start a document, share it with a team member and you both can have access to the files and the ability to edit and see what the other person is editing.

While Dropbox may be the gold standard in online cloud storage, I believe within a year or two tops Google Drive will pass Dropbox.

Full list of 13 apps for a more productive 2013

13 apps for a more productive 2013 Day 6: CloudOn

Heading out of 2012 and into 2013 I am highlighting one app/program a day that helps me with my productivity. This is Day 6 and today I’m going to introduce you to CloudOn.

CloudOn is a free app that brings the power of Microsoft Office to your iPad or Android powered tablet. Yes, it also works on phones.

I have not been a Microsoft Office user in many years now using GoogleDocs/Drive, but I know I am in the minority. Teaching many iPad and Evernote classes to agents I have learned most real estate agents are still using Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

From within CloudOn you can edit an existing document or create a new one then email it stairght to someone else for review.

Cloud on will also sync with Dropbox, Box.net, Google Drive and iCloud.

So if that is you, and you want a simple, easy to use and free app to manage your Office documents then CloudOn is going to help you have a much more productive 2013.


Full list of 13 apps for a more productive 2013

13 apps for 2013 Day 5: Google Voice

Heading out of 2012 and into 2013 I am highlighting one app/program a day that helps me with my productivity. This is Day 5 and today I’m going to introduce you to Google Voice.

Of all the apps I am going to mention in this series, this is probably the one I use the most. I use Google Voice several times a day for sending and receiving calls and text messages.

Google Voice is a free (for now, they will be charging at some point I am sure) phone number which you can send to any phone or multiple phones.

You can set up so Google Voice is the account your cell phone dials out on, or you can set it so it asks you each time do you want to use Google Voice to place the call or your regular cell phone number.

Google Voice is great for forwarding office/business phones to a friend or partner while you are on vacation. With the ability to send to more than one phone it makes handling calls a sinch.

If you miss a call and the call goes to your Google Voice voicemail, Google will do an automatic transcript for every voicemail. OK, so this is not perfect, just ask Nick Bastian about funny typos within Voice, but it does a good enough job to usually figure out what the message is about.

You also get unlimited text messages with Google Voice. When you get a text message you can also respond to the text message from within your email account as a copy is sent to your email inbox.

And Google Voice does so much more than that. What else can you do with Google Voice?

  • Save all voicemails and text messages forever
  • Search inside voicemails with the text recognition
  • Create individualized voicemail recordings for different people or groups
  • Initiate calls and text messages from your computer with the plugin
  • Forward your voicemails and text messages to your email or another promgram such as Evernote
  • Set up widgets on your website so people can call you by clicking
  • Set up a special widget so people can click and get more information on something such as a specific listing
  • Record phone calls
  • And much more

I really do love Google Voice. I have used Google Voice as my primary cell phone number and business line for a few years now and could not imagine ever using something else to handle calls and text messages.


Full list of 13 apps for a more productive 2013

13 apps for 2013 Day 4: PDF Expdert

Heading out of 2012 and into 2013 I am highlighting one app/program a day that helps me with my productivity. This is Day 4 and today I’m going to introduce you to PDF Expert.

If you are an iPad user, I highly recommend you check out PDF Expert.

I am always looking for the latest and greatest apps when it comes to things that help me be more productive. I have been looking for the latest great PDF program since I got my first iPad.

There are many PDF programs for the iPad, I have at least a dozen of them installed on my iPad. I have tried just about every PDF program that has been recommended to me and I am still looking for one that has as much power and is as easy to use as PDF Expert.

Does this mean PDF Expert is the only PDF program worth using and you should go buy it today even if you are happy with your program?

No, not at all.

But if your PDF program has a few bugs and/or you just think it should do more or be easier to use, then by all means I recommend you check out PDF Expert.

PDF Expert became even better this month with the latest update. PDF Expert now has Google Drive sync, allows you to convert files to PDF and is now faster than it used to be.

For editing pdfs, splitting, merging and for a quick signature, PDF Expert is a productivity app I use almost daily.



Full list of 13 apps for a more productive 2013

13 apps for 2013 Day 3: TextExpander

2013 is 11 days away. Over the final 13 days of 2012 I am highlighting one app/program a day that helps me with my productivity. This is Day 3 and today I’m going to introduce you to TextExpander.

First let me start by saying that TextExpander is a MacOS program. There is a Windows equivillant called Texter.

So what is TextExpander?

TextExpander is a program that allows you to write out long sentances or repetative text with a few short keystrokes.

As a real estate agent I spend a lot of time replying to emails and often those emails are similar to other emails that I send out. TextExpander saves me a lot of time by creating short cuts so I do not have to type the same thing over and over.

With TextExpander I can create a short cut such as ‘!newlist’. When I type that in here is the text that shows up replacing ‘!newlist’

Check out the newest properties to hit the market that match your saved search. Please feel free to email me if you would like any additional information. Or, call my cell at 480–270–4990. Let me know if any of these properties catch your eye!

Now when I set up a new home search I can just type a few letters and the full text will show up. This is a HUGE time saver.

Here is a list of some of the things I have recated short cuts for:

  • Real Estate license number
  • Home Address
  • Brokerage Address
  • Brokerage NAID
  • My lenders
  • Scheduling a home inspection email
  • Title Company address
  • Many more

There are many things we need to type often. Anything you will ever need to type more than once or twice I recommend you set up a short cut and save yourself a whole lot of time.

Full list of 13 apps for a more productive 2013

13 productivity apps for 2013, Day 2: Crashplan

2013 is 12 days away. Over the final 13 days of 2012 I am highlighting one app/program a day that helps me with my productivity. This is Day 2 and today I’m going to introduce you to CrashPlan.

Nothing can kill productivity for the next week like a computer crash. Many of you probably have a copy of most of your files in the cloud, but still you can never be to safe when it comes to all your data.

There are many offsite backup services available, my favorite is CrashPlan. Set up CrashPlan once and never think about it again.

When you do your initial backup it will take some time. As a matter of fact it could take a few days. That is okay though, every time your computer connects back to the Internet, your backup will continue running in the background.

Once you are backed up CrashPlan will continue backing up all new and changed files so you never need to think about it.

CrashPlan has many different packages which you can see here.

Are you a user of their competator Carbonite? While there is nothing wrong with Carbonite, as a former user I am much happier with the interface and controls of CrashPlan. Here is a page CrashPlan has with special offers for Carbonite users. If you are a Carbonite user you will notice you can get your first year of CrashPlan for free.

Does it matter which online backup service you use? Not really. Just make sure you have something. You may never need it, but if you do, you will be very happy you have it.

Full list of 13 apps for a more productive 2013

13 productivity apps for 2013, Day 1: Everbot

EDITOR’S NOTE: Everbot is now Powerbot!

2013 is 13 days away. So for the next 13 days I am going to release one app/program a day that helps me with my productivity. This is Day 1 and today I’m going to introduce you to my newest app, Everbot.

If you have ever taken one of my Evernote classes, or seen my video on how I manage my task management in Evernote, you know I forward numerous emails a day from Gmail to Evernote.

Over time I have become very efficient at doing so. I have mastered the short cuts of adding @NotbeookName and #Tag to send the note directly where I want.

But now there is a new tool that will do that for me, and more.

Introducing Everbot!

Everbot is a browser extentension that works with both Google Chrome and Firefox. I hear it works with Safari too, but I have not confirmed it. And if you are an IE user… time to move on.

Everbot works directly with my Gmail account. I have the Google Apps version of Gmail and have heard some people have had problems installing it. It took me about 3-4 times of opening and closing Google Chrome, but eventually it installed.

And while it was a pain to get working the first time, it is a pain I would gladly go through again to get the final results.

What does Everbot do?

Send threads or individual emails

As you can see in the image above, Everbot will add two new buttons to your Gmail account. With those buttons you can either send (1) a full email thread or (2) just a single message from an email thread straight to Evernote.

Everbot will bring up all of your Notebooks and allow you to pick which you want to send the message to. You can also add tags and notes as seen below.

My one complaint about Everbot, I am not sure what they are using to order your Notebooks when they give you the list. I think the newest Notebooks are at bottom, but I am not 100% certain that is always the case.

The one thing they should change with the next release is at least putting the Notebooks in alphabetical order.

But wait, there is more…

Another great feature with Everbot is the ability to add a Note from your Evernote account into an email you send from within Gmail.

Insert Notes from within Gmail

As you an see, when you hit Compose you now have the option to Insert Evernote Notebook/Note.

Many times I will email a note to a client or cross agent or my broker from within Evernote. One of the drawbacks from this is Evernote does not have my email signature inside the program.

Now I can just go to my regular email account, select insert and select the note I want to send to someone.

This feature is fantastic for sharing!

Linking Everbot to your Gmail and Evernote account

If you are like me, you may have multiple Google Apps Gmail accounts. One of my favorite things about Everbot is it will link to all of your accounts.

When I was linking Everbot to my Evernote account I had to open Evernote.com in one tab of Google Chrome and log into my account. This was the only way I could get it to accept my account. Also I had to shut down and restart Chrome completely once during the setup, your results may vary.


So getting Everbot to work the first time was not the easiest thing in the world. But after a few little stuggles I have to say it was well worth the effort. I have only had Everbot for two days as I am writing this post, but already it is becoming one of my favorite apps.

Also Everbot is new, and with new comes some performance issues. If you run into any give a shout out and maybe the guys from Everbot can help.

Are you using Everbot? If so let me know if you are doing anything out of the ordinary.


Full list of 13 apps for a more productive 2013

My number one tip, and 10 others from fellow productivity bloggers

Last week Ciara Conlon wrote a post on her site collecting the #1 productivity tips from ten of the best productivity bloggers on the web.

While all were good tips, there are a few that would be near the top of my list
While all the tips were worth reading, those stood out as the ones I most agreed with. That being said, no one mentioned what I would consider as my number one tip.

Control your inbox, don’t let it control you. 

When I sit down with people and discuss their workflow clogs it almost always comes back to email.

(Follow Dean On Twitter here)

They may not realize it at the time, but the email inbox can throw them off their productivity groove faster than just about anything.

How often do you look at an email, an hour later look at it again, and by the time the day is done you looked at the email four times and it is sitting there.

Touch an email once. And only once and do something with it.

Another common issue is should are working on a task and you phone buzzes, you stop what you are doing just to see if it is anything “urgent.”

Of course it is not urgent though.

But you sure gave it urgent status for a few seconds when you stopped what you were doing to check it out. And good luck getting back on track.

I cannot explain to you the feeling of change you will notice about your email if you just shut off those dang notifications.

Check your email when you are ready. Don’t let your email dictate your activities.

Email is a tool. A great tool at that, but just a tool.

When you shut off your notifications you will realize this. You have no idea how much of a stranglehold email has over you until you learn to take control back.

And guess what, it is easier said then done until you make it a habit.

This is one of the things I teach in my productivity class. If you are interested in booking me for an upcoming meeting you have you can contact me here.

I double-dog dare you to prove me wrong

I don’t care what you think, you are not a good multi-tasker. I am even going to give you a chance to prove me wrong.

I remember when I used to pitch my services to people a decade ago and they would ask me my strengths there were two things I always said. Getting the job done and multi-tasking.

The funny thing is, if someone said to me now that their strength was multi-tasking, I would say to them thanks for your time, we are going in a different direction.

Cant happen

The problem is, and it has been proven over and over, your brain cannot do two things at once.

Your brain will jump back and forth between tasks, but it cannot think about two tasks at the same time.

Now for the test, go grab a piece of paper and a stop watch. Any clock/timer like on your computer or smart phone will do. I will wait right here.

Did you grab them? Because I can wait, I am not going anywhere.

OK great so now let’s begin with the test.

I want you to put the paper in landscape mode so it is long from left to right.

Now put a line across the middle of the paper. We are going to work on just the first half of the paper for now.

Put one more line across the middle of the top so you have two sections to work.

When I say go I want you to hit the timer, then write out “Multitasking is worse than a lie” above the top line then drop below the line and write out the numbers 1 through 27 across, so 1, 2, 3, 4, 5… all the way to 27.

Dont forget to time it!

Ready, set…. go.

What I should do is hire an official Olympic timer to time people, they are mostly unemployed for the next 4 years and I can probably get them cheaply. Wow, talk about lack of job security… sorry back to task at hand.

Ok you done? You have your time?

Great now below on the bottom half of the page you are going to do the same thing, so make a line for your two sections.

This time though what you are going to do is multi-task. You are going to jump back and forth between the two. So do your first letter “M” then your first number “1”. Then your second letter “U” and then your second number “2”.

You are going to do this all the way down to “E” and “27”.

Ready. Set. Go.

When I do this in class the average person takes nearly twice as long to get all 27 letters and 27 numbers down on paper.

Your first time is your brain, the second is your brain on multi-tasking.

Any questions?

This is one of the reasons I ended up developing the system I did for running my business in Evernote. I was jumping from system to system and it was time to get cut back on my systems I was using and get everything in one place.

With my position at Thompson’s Realty I help our agents who are looking for help put systems into place so they can try to avoid multi-tasking as much as possible. If you are looking for help shoot me an email and we can see if there may be something I can help with.

If you are looking to help your agents in your office with productivity systems like iPad for real estate, Evernote or a general productivity class contact me and we can arrange me coming in and doing a class.

I am having an amazing Monday, hope yours is even better!,

PS – If you are a Phoenix agent make sure you click here and get moved to the Phoenix list.

The perfect productivity system

Stop looking, it doesn’t exist.

I spent years and countless hours looking for the perfect systems to make my life more productive and organized in my real estate business.

The used dozens of task management, to-do, productivity systems. I was always looking for better ways to do things.

Don’t get me wrong, I still try many new programs when they come out and I still tinker, But that is mostly because I want to be able to talk intelligently about these services when I am talking at conferences, in classes and with consulting clients and working with real estate agents on growing their business.

What I want to stress to you is the constant search for a better program or app could be killing your productivity. 

For about a two year period my constant search for the ultimate, easiest to use, most powerful program out there kept me spinning my hamster wheel like crazy, but getting nowhere.

Simpler is better

One of my biggest discoveries was the more specific the app was for a certain function, the more advanced options it had, the less productive it actually made me.

An example would be a kick ass to-do list with great reminders, tons of features and more power than any other to-do app out there.

Sounds great right?  Well you are right it is.

My problem is this app with all these features made it more complex to use and on top of that all it did was manage my to-do list.

I would develop a great workflow system inside this app, but the systems I set inside the app were not transferable to my other programs.

End result 

The end result was me having a killer to-do list, a great system for managing my consulting clients, another great system for me managing my short sale negotiations, a yet another system for my prospect and even one more system for my transaction management.

So many great systems, none of which actually worked well together.

When I spent all day working in all these different programs I can’t tell you how many times a day I would jump from one, to another, to another and back again. I have to assume it was well over 100.

I don’t care how well you “think” you can multitask, the truth is you can’t. it took me many a moon before I finally accepted that as gospel truth.

So what’s the solution? 

Stop looking for the perfect apps and the perfect programs to manage things. Instead look for simple, flexible programs that are easy to use and can be customized to fit your workflow.

That is what I did with Evernote and why I wrote my Evernote real estate book.

I know, I know… I’m an Evernote fanboy. It doesn’t have to be Evernote it can be anything that works for you. Spend time figuring out ways to make less programs work in more ways and I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

Spending to much time trying to become more productive with more programs will usually result in the opposite results.

KISS- Keep it simple stupid!

I have had people asking if I teach classes or do 1-on-1 consulting. The answer is yes I do both. If you are interested check out my speaking page and shoot me an email.