Productivity Tip: Avoid Distractions By Timing Yourself

Distractions are everywhere. But what if you only challenged yourself to pay attention for short, manageable bursts of time? Would you be more productive?Pomodoro Technique Logo

That’s the theory behind the Pomodoro Technique, which prescribes 25 minute burst of attention. That means you set a timer, and for 25 minutes you concentrate on just one activity, and don’t check email, Twitter, your eBay auctions, nothing. Just one task. And if you’re interrupted, you start the timer over. Just the threat of being forced to start over (and going an extra few minutes without Twitter) should be enough to scare some people into 25 minutes of attention.

After 25 minutes, you take a break of five minutes, give or take. Then after four Pomodoros, it’s time for a longer break. The idea is that consistent breaks in your attention saves your brain from burnout, and that setting small, manageable goals helps ward off the anxiety of the overwhelmingly long to-do list.

Frencesco Cirillo, Pomodoro creator, has made a basic introduction to the technique available as a free pdf on the website There are also testimonials from other Pomodoro users, program updates, meetups for practitioners and even t-shirts for the true believers.

Cirillo recommends using a standard kitchen timer, but for the connected professional there are also digital and mobile alternatives. Pomodairo is a free Adobe Air app that lets you make intuitive to-do lists, a timer for pomodoros, and helps you keep track of your work (and any unanticipated interruptions). For just a timer, try, which works in the browser and doesn’t require a download, even on iPhone and Android.

For an app proper, iDevice users can try Pomodoro Time Management Light for free to see if they’re ready for the full version. The full version is only $1.99, so if you decide to upgrade it won’t be a huge pain point. Android users can try Pomodoro Tasks, available for free in the Google Play store.

If you’ve tried the Pomodoro technique before, fill us in on your experiences in the comments. We’re all looking for ways to be more productive – help us out!

Box Cloud Storage for iOS adds App Compatibility Menu

Box One Cloud for iPad

Nowadays, picking a cloud storage service so your mobile devices can have access to the same documents as your desktop/laptop can very well depend on how many other mobile apps are compatible. The major cloud storage services recognize this and have made sure that the majority of the apps you already use to “get things done” play nice with their offerings.

Box just made it easier for users to discover compatible 3rd Party apps by releasing an update to their iOS apps that includes the OneCloud menu that lists and allows users to download all compatible apps. Read More

Financial Management on the Go with Freshbooks and ReportAway! app for BlackBerry

Do or Die, I love the cloud. The reason being is that all of my gadgets can access information I store in the cloud. One of the services I use to manage client financial information is FreshBooks. I can manage clients and projects, track time spent on jobs, and create invoices and whole host of features I can’t begin to mention. More importantly, FreshBooks ties into my other financial software services (also cloud), and I can download apps that I can use to access and manage FreshBooks account information from my smartphone.

I’ll give you another little tid-bit about me – Even though I am an Apple supporter (I’m too grown to be anybody’s fanboy), I really want BlackBerry to come out on the other side of this “funk” they are in. So when I found out that ReportAway! offers BlackBerry users access to their FreshBooks account, I made sure to spread the news.

Similar to MiniBooks for FreshBooks for iOS, ReportAway! for BlackBerry smartphones allows you to create invoices and track time to your FreshBooks account. Read More

How to Manage Your Small Business Reviews

Just about every review site has a mobile app and many small business owners have a love/hate relationship with these apps.  On one hand, a slew of negative reviews could wreck a budding entrepreneur’s vision.  On the other hand, well-placed positive reviews could sway a potential client and gain their trust.  Online reviews are a big part of any small business’s web presence, and can require careful, attentive management.  This task is made more difficult when online review sites don’t play nicely with each other, causing headaches for even the most tech-savvy owners.

Take my sister, for example.  She just started her own small photography business, and of course wants to generate good initial buzz.  So, several of her happy clients offered to post positive reviews to get her off on the right foot.  Pre-July 2011, this was simple – Google embedded reviews from other review sites (Yelp, Trip Advisor, Yahoo! Reviews etc) directly on a business’s “Google Places” page.  So, she could just smile, thank her customers for their help, and let them review on any site they wished – no muss, no fuss.  Post-July 2011, however, Google stripped out all reviews from other sites, leaving only reviews left by Google users.   Read More

AT&T’s Cloud Architect Is A Bold Step Into Public IaaS

Ed Lucente is a Sr. Product Marketing Manager at AT&T. You can find more blog content from Ed and other experts on emerging technologies on the AT&T Networking Exchange Blog. AT&T has sponsored the following blog post.

IT professionals like selecting computer or storage resources in the cloud using an intuitive, self-service portal and convenient configuration aids. AT&T’s Cloud Architect is a good example that appears to have addressed these two primary features.

This wide array of configuration options is what I think IT professionals and others will find most striking about Cloud Architect. It is important to have the structure to support all major hypervisors, including VMware, Citrix and Microsoft. A multitude of operating systems are supported, like CentOS, Debian, Fedora, Microsoft Windows Server 2008 and 2003, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and Ubuntu Linux. Deployment models cover public, private, dedicated and “bare metal” servers.

Perhaps most intriguing is how rapidly applications can be deployed. Within five minutes, deployment for public or private instances and bare metal servers can occur. Dedicated servers deploy within two-to-four hours. Read More

New iPod Touch – Business Productivity Tool?

One of the many announcements during this week’s Apple event was the fact that the popular iPod Touch will now come in white, will get the iOS 5 platform, and the price has been reduced to $199 for the entry-level 8 GB version.

Now that sounds all well and dandy for the parent looking to get a gift for their tween… they can download apps that will let them txt message with their friends who are too young to have a full-blown smartphone. Said tween will also be able to play games, listen to music and movies, etc. without destroying their family’s wireless minutes. All in all, at $199 the iPod touch is a great gift, and is now a better value than ever.

But allow me to present another option for the iPod Touch – it can double as an outstanding mobile business productivity device.  That’s right, with the help of the 400,00 titles strong App Store, you can turn a “fun and games” device into a business expense. Read More

New YouSendIt Cloud Storage – Dropbox Killer?

I feel kind of dirty writing this since I am a major fan of the Dropbox cloud storage service. Nevertheless, as a “jack of ALL tech” as I feel compelled to inform our readers about the new YouSendIt cloud storage and file sharing service that’s sure to give people even more options as to where they store and share their files in the cloud. Read More

TripIt Travel App: Good – But the Best?

If your job, profession, or small business keeps you in different cities on the regular (or, if you’re just a jet-setter like that), the free TripIt app for iPhone/iPad, Android, BlackBerry or WP7 ($40/year for TripIt Pro) can be a valuable tool for laying out all of your traveling plans in one place, in addition to notifying you if your plans suddenly change. Whether you need to adjust your plans, or the hotel, airline, transit, etc. changes them for you, TripIt can keep you in the know when it comes to your complete travel plans. Some of the apps features include:

  • Viewing all of your itineraries in one location, even if your are offline
  • Put in an address or familiar location, and get maps and directions straight from your itinerary at the tap of a finger
  • Phone number links to airlines, hotels, restaurants and more, directly from your itinerary. Tap to call
  • View other TripIt users close to you via the TripIt Network

Of course with any app (or anything for that matter), there are be some bugs, fixes, or just plain ol’ annoyances that if worked out, could make the experience awesome – TripIt is no exception. So my main man Rod over at Simple Mobile Review has outlined some of his suggestions on how to make TripIt the best travel app on market today.

Read More: How To Improve TripIt: 8 Features For The Best Travel Companion App

Tablets are all about Mobile Productivity

As a techie who bought both the iPad and the iPad 2, I get this question often: “Why do I need a tablet device?” The quick answer is “you don’t.” Tablets, just like any other business tool, are merely aids to help you get things done, but not a necessity. Now a better question for a person to ask me (Certified Tablet Advocate) is “What benefit do you get from using a Tablet?”

Tablets are all about mobile productivity. Laptops and even NetBooks are pretty fast and portable these days. So to whip your laptop out of your bag, turn it on, wait for it to boot, and wait for it to connect to a WiFi signal; or whip out your own MiFi device or connect to your hotspot feature built into your phone is getting…faster? Or you can grab your tablet – chances are it’s already on and connected, and you are off to doing whatever you need to do in half the time.

Now don’t get me wrong, tablets are no where near completely replacing a laptop. There are still some tasks that need raw computing power to accomplish; but, tablets are changing the way we do business in general. The advancements in web and mobile apps/services, cloud computing/storage, and networking/communication/collaboration practices are all starting to make it very easy to handle a great deal of tasks with just an internet connection.

So if you can conduct a team/client meeting using apps like Webex, network with associates or colleagues over Yammer, create and send official documents or invoices with Documents To Go, organize and sync files with Dropbox, manage business accounts and finances with Kashoo, and get paid faster with Square…with just access to the internet and a tablet device; going through the process of hoping on a traditional computer in many cases is just not necessary in this new age of computing…And don’t even get me started on the cool ways businesses are using tablets to display their artwork, check guests in at hotels and restaurants, entertain patients at medical offices, etcetera.

In conclusion, you have to do what’s best for your business. A tablet may not be in the immediate fiscal budget; but the productivity and mobility advantages are real and getting more evident as more companies and consumers start to “buy in” to the whole mobile computing era that our society is QUICKLY moving into.

– Terrance Gaines, C.T.A.

Samsung MobilePrint adds Mobile Printing from Android and iOS Devices

HP was first to build AirPrint capabilities into select HP printers for mobile users who want to print directly from their iOS devices. Now Samsung has unveiled its MobilePrint app for Android and iOS devices that allow direct printing all WiFi and network-enabled Samsung printers. The MobilePrint app allows users to print emails, web pages, maps, photos, and Microsoft Office and PDF files faster when traveling for business, working remotely, or visiting with friends and family.

Announced at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the MobilePrint app will detect and connect directly to Samsung wireless printers in the area via WiFi or a network link. Samsung Mobile Print/Scan app users can then print directly from their devices with the click of a button, eliminating the hassle of driver installations and network configurations.

The MobilePrint app will also allow for mobile devices to see images that were scanned by a local Samsung Printer. Users can quickly review and edit documents that have been scanned into a local Samsung printer. Using this feature, mobile devices can detect documents scanned to a local multifunction printer or, alternatively, be sent the scanned document by the MFP user.

The Samsung MobilePrint app is available for Android smartphones, Android tablets and iOS devices and can be downloaded from the relevant application store or marketplace.