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November 2007

Getting Things Done - A Review

Gtdbook

I recently re-read and listened to the audio book by David Allen Getting Things Done - The Art of Stress-Free Productivity.  The difference this time - I was ready to put the techniques to use and have discovered a system that works for me.   The major aha for me was realizing my "to do" list is not enough.  The key step I was missing was taking the time to think about and record the "next action" to take in order to move a project forward to my desired outcome.

The basic premise of the book is to get everything out of your head, off your mind and into a trusted system you know you will use.  Older time/resource management systems are inefficient in today's fast-paced, multi-tasking world.  Our minds are powerful instruments - constantly reminding us of things to do, unfinished projects, seemingly endless "open loops" of information.   Our stress levels are increased when we don't have a method of emptying these thoughts and collecting them in a system that we individually trust and know we will use.  The book goes into detail on how to do exactly that. 

A review of key principles that I've integrated into my Action Management System:

Two key questions to ask for all projects and to do.

  1. What is the successful outcome?  What has to happen so this can be checked off as completed? If it takes more than one step it's a project.
  2. What is the next action?  If this was the only thing you had to get done, what is the very next physical thing you would have to do?

5 Phases of the Workflow Process

  1. Collect - capture everything you need to remember, track or act on in a container or bucket - a physical inbox, to do list, a mobile app, voice recorder, email inbox. You must empty the buckets regularly. Keep the collection buckets to a minimum.
  2. Process - Deal with one item at a time. Never put anything back into "in". 
    • If the item requires action:
      • Do it (if it takes less than two minutes) OR
      • Delegate it, OR
      • Defer it
    • If the item does not require action:
      • File it for reference, OR
      • Throw it Away, OR
      • Incubate it for possible action later
  3. Organize and keep track of items awaiting action
    • Next actions - every project always has a next action to move it forward
    • Projects - every "open loop" that has more than one action needed to accomplish it
    • Waiting for - Items you have delegated to someone else
    • Someday/maybe - Things you want to do at some point in the future
  4. Review - as often as needed to keep your head empty
    • Loose papers
    • Process your notes
    • Calendar items
    • Projects, Next Action lists, Waiting for lists, Someday/maybe lists
    • Empty your head
  5. Do - in the moment, guided by intuition, supported by the four previous phases, influenced by the reality of current situation
    • context
    • time available
    • energy available
    • priority

There are abundant resources, blogs and fans of GTD on the Internet.  Here are a few I recommend:

 


How to Easily Use Video and Multimedia to Market your Listings and You!

Istock_000001098270xsmall_2 For Real Estate Professionals, there are a variety of video services to promote your listings, your services, create client testimonials, educate your clients, and more.

RealEstateShows.com  Use your own digital photos to create video tours of properties or commercials - $125/year, unlimited use, easy to use

VirtualTourStore.com  The next generation in custom virtual tours and webmercials from local real estate professional Steve Matthews.

TurnHere.com   Full service internet video solution provider

WellcomeMat.com  Put your place on the map - users can upload video, send us video tapes for upload, or hire a videographer

YouTube.com  Use your own video camera or hire someone to do it for you and post one YouTube.  You can embed the video in your blog

Blinkx.com  Another site to upload and display your videos, video search engine   

Blip.tv  A free service to host your video show or series - for those more serious videobloggers

Vimeo.com Upload and share your videos online      

TubeMogul.com A free service that provides a single point for deploying uploads to the top video sharing sites, and powerful analytics on who, what, and how videos are being viewed.   

Slide.com  Free service to make your own slideshows and share online

Slideshare.net A service to post and share presentations and embed them in your blog/website

      


Blogworld Expo - Secrets to Vlogging (Video Blogging, Podcasting)

This session by Gary Rosenweig of MacMost.com and DeveloperDispatch.com was informative and thorough.  Here are my notes...

Why video?

  • Differentiate yourself
  • Easier than writing for some
  • Express yourself better
  • Reach new audience

Potential Cons

  • Time to make
  • Bandwidth issues, hosting
  • Equipment

Types of Video

  • Vlog - you, in camera, talking, easy to use, posted on your blog
  • Screencast - great for demos, tutorials, powerpoints, slideshows
  • Newscast - you at desk or set, interviewing, reporting, more editing required, set-up, lighting
  • Show - more creative, skits, series, production

Considerations

  • Budget
  • Motivation
  • Time

Equipment & Production

Distribution

  • Post in your blog
  • Video Podcast setup within your blog platform or get plugins to support it
  • Video-sharing sites - YouTube, Wellcomemat.com, Blip.tv
  • Use Feedburner.com for RSS feed - create podcast feed and to track stats
  • Submit to iTunes where people can find it, subscribe to your feed, get the podcast downloaded to their iPhone or iPod

Other Resources:

For Gary's Secrets to Great Video Production...

Continue reading "Blogworld Expo - Secrets to Vlogging (Video Blogging, Podcasting)" »


Blogworld Expo - Best Tips on Podcasting

Here are my notes from 2 different sessions on podcasting at the Blogworld Expo in Las Vegas, November 8-9, 2007.

Scott Bourne - Podango Productions and  Craig Syverson -  Grunt Media presented tips and strategies on Podcasting.  Visit this page on GruntMedia for more information, links and presentation materials from this session.

A few notes from this primarily Q&A session...

  • Concept - what are you trying to accomplish - what is your outcome?
  • Strategy - how does this fit overall; how will you grow? how will you assess value? what are its unique qualities? 
    • Audio: Longer. Focus, specialized content.  Casual and candid. 
    • Video: Shorter. Non-fictional.  Shows 5 minutes or less. Simple.
  • Format - Repeat programs (show) require a format. Consistency = professionalism.  Tie in with your concept.  Tightens it up.  Content is king. 
  • Pay attention to the sound quality for audio and video recording.

Glenn Reynolds - Instapundit, GlennandHelenShow.com

  • Interviews via telephone  - use a landline for best sound quality.
  • Script - introduction, questions (for fill and stucture if necessary), let conversation develop and flow
  • Production - numerous software editing programs - Audacity, Acid, Garage Band
  • Distribution - Post on your blog; iTunes; Podango, PodcastAlley and other Podcast directories
  • BlogTalkRadio.com (phone -based application)
  • Explore Two-way video conferencing applications for video podcast.  BloggingHeadsTV; iChat
  • Copyright issues - use original content, music or get proper permissions.
  • Podsafe Music and Podsafe Audio

Blogworld Expo - Using Analytics to Measure Your Blog's Performance

Avinash Kaushik whose web analytics blog - Occam's Razor presented a great session on Understanding Your Numbers and Using Analytics.

Key points:

•    Use Google Analytics or similar tool

•    Six Tips for Measurement

  1. Raw Author Contribution - Check out Website Grader for your blog/website marketing effectiveness. Use plugins to assist you in analyzing your content and post stats.
  2. Audience growth - both onsite  (measure visitors and unique visitors) and offsite (feedreaders; use feedburner.com for stats).  Avinash defined a key stat he tracks as "unique blog readers" - unique visitors + average daily feed subscriptions (which you can get from Feedburner).  Look for trends.
  3. Conversation rate  - track stats on comments.  Find and use plugins to assist with this task. Conversation Rate = # number of visitor comments / number of posts
  4. Citations.  Your authority rank on Technorati.com measures the number of unique links to your blog in the last 6 months.  Unique blogs that cite you.
  5. Cost.  Track your expenditures in technology (hosting, other services); your time spent; and opportunity costs (if you weren't spending time blogging what would you do and does that equate to dollars earned/lost?)
  6. Benefits.  Know your comparative value.  Are your creating an asset?  What is the direct value - products, services sold?  Is there any non-traditional value to consider as a benefit?

I loved this comment.......SET SOME GOALS – THEY MOTIVATE!

Measure:
•    Feed Subscribers
•    Conversation Rate
•    Unique Blog Visitors


Blogworld Expo Las Vegas (part 2) - Search Engine Optimization for Blogging

Update from Blogworld Expo, November 7th - SEO for Blogging session.  Panelists: Vanessa Fox, Stephan Spencer, Andy Beal and  Aaron Wall.

The four panelists presented a wealth of information and useful tips on the key topic of Blog SEO .  Vanessa posted each speaker's powerpoint presentations on her blog - Blogworld Expo:  SEO for Blogging Slides.  Check out this video of highlights from the session from WebProNews:

Some highlights and takeaways for me...

  • Research what your audience is searching for - use keyword tools like Google Adwords, Overture Keyword Tracker Tool or Wordtracker - and write your posts using those relevant keywords
  • Check out Google Trends to gain insights into search patterns and trends
  • Blog Post Titles and Title Tags are key for SEO.  Write short, attractive, enticing, descriptive and use keywords for your niche, buisness, market.
  • Google Webmaster Central is an excellent resource center for all things Google as it relates to your website or blog functionality, traffic, analytics, questions and more
  • If you have a Wordpress blog, consider using the SEO Title Tags plugin to optimize your blog posts
  • Contributed content - guest posts, writing contests, blog carnivals, other writers
  • Monitor your statistics/analytics; watch trends, traffic spikes; make adjustments in posting schedule and topics based on what you learn
  • Stay on your topic(s)
  • Use Google Alerts to have information come to you on the subjects you are interested in - get new post ideas
  • Save your post as a draft and refine it before publishing
  • Actively solicit feedback; reply to comments
  • Write for others - syndicate your content
  • Don't be afraid of controversy
  • Don't monetize your blog too early

Blogworld Expo Las Vegas - Nov 7 - Best Tips and Strategies

I'm attending the Blogworld & New Media Expo at the Las Vegas Convention Center.  I attended 3 informative sessions on Wednesday, November 7, 2007 and came away with these tips, strategies and insights:

Business Blogging 101 - Andy Wibbels and Jennifer McClure

  • Initial considerations when starting a blog:
    • Is it internal (for your company) or external (open to the public)?
    • What is the purpose or your outcome?
    • Who will be responsible for the blog?  Is it collaborative?
  • Current trend in social media is integrated campaigns, multiple channels, more innovation
    • It's moving from text-based blogging to podcasting; vlogging (videos); online communities - forums; virtual worlds (Second Life); Micro-blogging (Twitter)
  • Facebook is emerging as a powerful business networking online community.  I would also add LinkedIn to that category.

Grabbing the Market by The Long Tail - Jory des Jardins of BlogHer

  • I recently read the book The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More by Chris Anderson.  According to Anderson, "Our culture and economy are shifting away from a focus on a relatively small number of hits (mainstream products and markets) at the head of the demand curve and moving toward a huge number of niches in the tail." 
  • Blogher is an example of the longtail in action.  A network of women bloggers generating a lot of traffic not only because of the most popular blogs at the front of the longtail - but for the many niche blogs that make up "the magic middle" to the long-end of the tail.
  • A new twist on the 80/20 rule...perhaps the bottom 80% of products, markets, niches, etc is > or = the top 20%.

Coming tomorrow - Part 2  - Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for Blogs


How to Thrive in the Current Real Estate Market

4067306_thumbnail_2 Our current real estate market in Las Vegas (and around the country) presents an interesting test for all involved... from the buyers, to the sellers to the practicing real estate agents and also for the brokerage firms  I've been living and working in Las Vegas since 1992 and this is my first experience in a "challenging market".   Fueled by local and national media with a slant to reporting the negative, "newsworthy" hype of doom and gloom, buyers are afraid to purchase, waiting for the  elusive "bottom of the market" before jumping back in.  Sellers are holding on to every ounce of equity and hope which has led to only about 30% of the current inventory of available homes to be priced properly for a sale based on current supply and demand.  And real estate professionals are either thriving, surviving, trying to adjust or in many cases giving up.

The following points are my observations and best advice on how to Thrive  (not just Survive) in Today's market.

  1. You ARE the Creator of your Reality.  Check in with yourself often.  Are your thoughts positive or negative - towards or away from what you desire? Do you find yourself slipping into the negative muck and mire - from the media or the glass is half-empty real estate agents around you?  Be deliberate and intentional in your thoughts and actions.  Focus on what you want not what you don't want.
  2. Educate yourself  about the market, understand the stats and trends.  Become an expert in short sales, REO, foreclosure process.  Make sure you are receiving current market data from local sources.  For Las Vegas, I recommend the Equity Title Market Condition Report and Salestraq Fast Facts. Read Forrest Barbee's recent post on the Las Vegas Market October 2007.   Check out the great information including audio conference calls on Mark Stark's Blog.
  3. Learn how to better present the history and current market story to your buyers and sellers.  Update your buyer and listing presentations with supporting graphs, statistics, etc.  Take sale-able, properly-priced listings!  Use all of your available company marketing and advertising tools.
  4. Get back to the basics now.  Do you have a solid SOI/Referral system in place?  Are you prospecting  daily?
  5. Have a written business plan with specific goals.  Track your expenditures and return on investment.   Know what's working and what is not and make the appropriate adjustments.
  6. Adopt a daily ritual to start your day in a positive mindset.  Some suggestions...morning meditation, prayer, exercise, read your affirmations, review your goals, eat breakfast, review your day's tasks and schedule.
  7. Exercise and eat properly for you.  I recommend yoga!
  8. Show up - Mentally, Physically, Emotionally and Spiritually.  Now more than ever it's important to get up, do your morning mindset ritual, get dressed for success and go into the office or that first appointment.
  9. Have a daily activity plan and work it - know how many calls, face-to-face contacts, emails, mailers, contacts you must make before you call it a day.  Challenge yourself with daily goals - don't go home until you have at least one appointment for example.
  10. Get an accountability partner or hire a coach. Ask for help.  Help each other.  Form a support and accountability group.