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Great Apps to Keep You and Your Clients Organized and Stress-Free in 2013

get-organized

“If you’re appropriately engaged with your life, you don’t need more time.

If you’re not, more time won’t help.” –David Allen

 (Named as one of the “Top 100 Thought Leaders” by Leadership Magazine)

 It’s almost year end with reports due, performance reviews, client surveys and organization seems to disappear with chaos in its place.

Use some of the apps listed below to provide structure, create order out of chaos and reduce daily stress in your office and personal life. Share these tips with your team, your clients, friends and family. They will thank you for it!

My overall favorite organizational app is Get it Done. David Allen, productivity consultant, introduced the Getting Things Done (GTD) method in his 2002 book Getting Things Done: the Art of Stress-Free Productivity. The Get it Done app focuses on the creation of a workflow process, tracking, storing and monitoring of tasks. This ranks as my favorite app but comes at a small price, $39/year. Considering the time I save and the relief of not worrying about things falling through the cracks, it is well worth the money. Get It Done is a task manager for your web browser and your smart phone. Tasks are always in sync.

 Here are some other favorites used by advisors – don’t forget to share with

 your clients, your team and your family!

Calendars

ical

For calendars, I use iCal with iCloud. It works great because it will sync to all of my devices and I can share calendars with other iCloud users. Create an office calendar the entire team can access. If someone adds or edits the calendar, it will sync to all devices. Ical also allows notification of upcoming events either on screen, by e-mail or SMS.

Google Calendar

For Google lovers, this calendar allows you the ability to track business and personal events in one place. The added bonus – you can share calendars with family or co-workers and access calendars from your mobile device with its built-in calendar or mobile browser. You can also set up reminders via email or have text messages sent right to your mobile phone. Google Apps for Business is available for $50/user/per year.

To-Do Lists

Cozi

I like the free Cozi app for iphone, ipad, and Android. It keeps everyone on the same page by allowing you to add recurring activities, appointments and events to a calendar that can be used by your family or the team at your office. You can also send messages to your spouse, kids or co-workers and make and share shopping lists. Cozi has a calendar that will support automatic syncs with Microsoft Outlook. Mac users will need to have Mobile Me to sync iCal and Cozi. I love the calendar feature which offers monthly and three-day views.

Workflowy

Workflowy is a free organizational tool organizing office and personal to-dos. You also have the ability to collaborate on team projects, take notes, write research papers or keep a journal. Workflowy is available for all of your mobile devices.

Remember The Milk

This is a simple (and free) “to-do” list and available on your iphone. You can add, manage and set due dates for your tasks as well as incorporate the map feature to locate where your tasks will take place.(ex: gas station)

Astrid

This is a great app for a beginner “to-doer” or for someone who just likes to keep things simple. This free web app comes with pre-set lists that are easy to click on and fill out. Manage your list online via the app and automatically sync between your desktop and mobile devices. Astrid will also automatically sync with Google Tasks and calendars such as iCal. You can also share or assign tasks.

reQall

reQall is one of the favorites among advisors and myself. This app makes a to-do list easy by telling your smartphone what you want to remember.  I love this!! You can also e-mail, text, IM or call reQall with information. Each morning you will have a summary alerting you of what lies ahead in the day. It gets even better, if you let reQall know where you need to pick something up, it will remind you when you drive by! reQall also offers integration with your calendar via iCal and aggregates important data from various web services you are already using. There is a free version and a pro version available for purchase.  Check this one out, there’s so much more!

Brainstorming Tools

MindMeister.com

Advisors like this free web-based collaborative mind mapping app for collaborating and project management. Teams can brainstorm, discuss ideas (timelines, designs, marketing, etc) type them in the app and MindMeister will turn the idea into a visual map. Teams can share and start thinking sessions easily by inviting users via email or sending a unique and secure direct link. Color-coded effects will highlight changes by other users and the integrated live chat will let you exchange thoughts with peers directly. MindMeister is also available for mobile devices  iphone, ipad and Android.

The Brain

Another free popular app for team collaboration is The Brain. With this app, write notes, save files, web pages, images and emails for instant access on your desktop, web browser or mobile device. It is easy to find a file in seconds and gives you the big picture by bringing your ideas and information together. The Brain also uses visualization to discover information that may normally be overlooked. Keep your data local and have a backup online for remote access and sharing with other team members.

Capture Tools

Evernote/Evernote Business

Evernote seems to be the most popular choice of the advisors we researched. Evernote is a free app that works with nearly every computer, phone and mobile device. It allows you to keep track of nearly everything; from what you find interesting, research for your next vacation and store all of your favorite websites. Search capabilities are easy through your library or groups of items related to a particular topic. You can even take pictures of your written to-do list and locate it through search and tags. Evernote will keep you from ever purchasing a notebook again…with Evernote, you have a notebook for everything you need!

While I’ve utilized Evernote for personal use, Evernote Business is now available. The business version is $10 per user, per month. Users of Evernote Business can discover and share ideas and research within a team to create an effortlessly productive workplace.

Streamline Your News

Zite and Pulse

These free apps help you find news feeds, blogs, newspaper articles and sites that interest you. Who has time to scroll through facebook, twitter and multiple web sites throughout the day? With these apps the news is delivered to you.

Presentations

Documents To Go

Financial advisors find this app handy to edit word, excel or other presentation documents while on the road. This a free app with a premium version available which will sync files stored in Dropbox or other cloud-based document storage services. To edit documents, you will need to purchase Docs To Go Full Version for around $30.00.

Storage

Dropbox

This application is a free service that lets you store your photos, documents and videos anywhere and share them easily. If you have files living all over the place – your office computer, home and your laptop, download Dropbox now to sync all of these files! With Dropbox you will avoid having to ever email yourself or team member another document!  The application makes it easy for advisors to view files on a smartphone, iPad, PC or Mac. Dropbox allows you to share documents with someone who does not use Dropbox via a link. I love the idea of never having to send another email with a document attached! The application is password protected and free with 2GB of storage. You can upgrade (with a fee) to 100GB of storage for heavy users.

Conference/Video Calls

Freeconferencecall.com 

Need to meet with a long-distance client, attend a meeting while out of the office or bring virtual employees together? Free Conference Call is exactly what you need. Free conference calls are simple and easy to use, requiring only a name and an e-mail address to open an account. Once you enter your name and e-mail address, you will be instantaneously provided with a dial-in number and access code for immediate phone conferencing. Your teleconferencing line is available to you 24/7 and there is no need to schedule or make reservations.

Free Conference Call is just like its name….free! Screen sharing for online meetings is available for $19.95 a month, up to 50 participants with instant online meetings.

Skype

Simple Skype! I use this religiously almost every week. With two users you can access screen sharing. It’s hard to beat a free communications network.   Enough said.

Fuze Box

This one comes with a price at $69 a month with a discount if you purchase an annual subscription. This solution will allow you to meet with long-distance clients and employees plus add presentations, word or PDF documents, movies and images. It is free for ipad and Android devices.

Money Management

Pageonce

If you’re looking for a true mobile wallet, Pageonce securely stores all your cards, reminds you when to pay bills and supports bill payments for $0.30 per transaction. If money management stresses you out, Pageonce makes it much easier.

Nest Egg Estimator

Nest Egg Estimator has been rated as one of the Top-10 Financial Planning must have apps! This app will project finances and allows you to try different scenarios for financial planning, retirement planning and more.

Conclusion

Take control of your time and your life. The skills you apply will ensure you are productive and accomplish your goals. The applications will aide you in prioritizing and organizing daily demands. Choose the applications that work best for you and fit your lifestyle and your firm.

A place for everything and everything in its place.

Let us know what apps you use in your firm!

Which ones work the best and which ones aren’t all that?

Ironstone’s Vision is to forge and guide the personal and professional lives of entrepreneurs and business professionals alike to realize their full potential. Coaching and consulting allows us the opportunity to form an environment where success happens and goals are reached.

Read more about our coaching and consulting program here >>

Start your transformation with Ironstone as your Partner for Performance

Contact Ironstone with your questions & let’s get started! 

Have a question or comment for Ironstone? Contact us!>>

• Email us at info@ironstonehq.com
• Call our office at 800-917-8020
• Connect with us:


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The “I’m too busy” copout! Create TIME for results

Beware the barrenness of a busy life style

Socrates 470BC-399BC Greek Athenian Philosopher

For most of us, the holidays are the busiest time of the year. Make simple changes starting today to truly transform your work and personal life. We all wish for more time in the day. There is no better time than NOW to incorporate these tips to increase productivity, reduce stress and gain time!

How many times have we read articles on time management or referred to checklists only to put them in the “I’ll get to that later” pile?  STOP! Actually incorporate these tips into your life and reap the benefits of effective time management.

  1. Decide what you really want– Write your goals down on paper. Make certain your goals are clear, specific, time sensitive and measurable.
  2. Use a priority 5 list– Every day, before you leave the office or go to bed, write down the 5 most important tasks you want to accomplish the following day. Having your priorities in order reduces stress and will provide direction, organization and more time.
  3. Stop Multi-tasking– I have repeated this one over and over. Multi-tasking is gone. It is unproductive, results in errors and is a huge time waster. Single-tasking will increase your productivity and quality of work.
  4. Focus– Place relentless focus on the task in front of you. Avoid interruptions, apply “thought-stopping” and FINISH the project you have in front of you. (More information on thought-stopping)
  5. Turn off the noise– By turning off the noise you implement a “do not disturb” philosophy. Set your phone to silent, turn email notifications off (you can really do this so the pop-ups don’t show), turn off the music or tv in your office. Remove yourself from any potential distraction.
  6. Design your office to inspire Create a relaxing environment. Design your office to inspire you by adding comfort. I like to adorn my office with family pictures, candles and soft lamp lighting. Use items that work for you! You will increase focus, engagement, motivation and production. However, you may have to kick people out of your comfy cradle!
  7. Create an SOP for your day– This really works! Take time to record everything you do in your day and assess time values. Refer to your SOP (standard operating procedures) daily and track your time on each item. This will give you a clear view of where your time is spent and how you can improve your time management. The trick is to be totally honest with yourself. If you spend time on emails, phone calls and idle chit-chat, implement ways to reduce wasted time by creating time-blocks.

I have incorporated these tips into my day and found a drastic change in increased productivity, less stress and additional time.  This time, instead of putting this article in your “I’ll get to this later pile”, write down the tips and keep them in a spot where you can look at them daily. Go a step further by incorporating all or some of the tips into your business and personal life. By doing so, you will achieve the same results I have. Who doesn’t what more time, less stress and increased productivity?

Ironstone’s Vision is to forge and guide the personal and professional lives of entrepreneurs and business professionals alike to realize their full potential. Coaching and consulting allows us the opportunity to form an environment where success happens and goals are reached.

Read more about our coaching and consulting program here >>

Start your transformation with Ironstone as your Partner for Performance

Contact Ironstone & let’s get started! 

Have a question or comment for Ironstone? Contact us!>>

More on Time Management:

Learn Common Mistakes You & Your Team May Be Making In Time Management

Put Time On Your Side, Not On Your Back

 

• Email us at info@ironstonehq.com
• Call our office at 800-917-8020
• Connect with us:


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Learn Common Mistakes You & Your Team May Be Making In Time Management

Learn Common Mistakes You & Your Team May Be Making In Time Management

You are a fantastic multi-tasker!   What used to be a benefit is now in the top 10 of common time management mistakes!

We listed it in our New Years Resolutions NOT to make- ”Do Not promise to multi-task”.  To view our newsletter:   http://eepurl.com/ilLek

Have you hired a new employee because they are great multi-tasker? Are you praising your office manager who is always busy doing five projects at once?  The results of multitasking are documents and projects full of errors.  Survey’s are showing that there is a sixty to eighty percent reduction in productivity levels and a lack of concentration when employees try to multi-task.

What other areas are eating away at your day without you even realizing it?  Like many others, you have probably considered these to be assets to productivity, but in reality they are draining your employee and wasting time.  Do you value the employee who:

  • Has time to take on every project
  • Thrives on busy
  • “Never-takes-breaks”
  • Can never say “no”
  • Micro-manages
  • Gets a rush when they are busy or when the team is on overload

All of the above listed so-called qualities will lead to lower performance levels, lower team morale and stress in the firm.  They are merely misleading you to believe that effective people are busy.  The reality is that this busy addiction rarely means that you are effective and again leading to more stress in your firm.

Consider each of these so called assets in your employee a waste of time!  Train yourself, your managers, and your team to re-evaluate their time management systems.  Have everyone in the firm take a personal time-management quiz, and learn to slow down, focus, and provide quality instead of quantity.

 Other areas that you will want to evaluate:

·         How You Manage Distraction – employees can lose up to 2 hours a day from distractions

·         Procrastination – if a task seems too big, dedicate a small time each day towards the task and complete the task over time.

·         Scheduling Tasks – schedule low-energy work (like checking your email, returning calls, etc.) to the time of day when your energy level is at its’ lowest

·         Goal Setting

·         To-Do Lists

Time management really boils down to knowing how you can schedule your time effectively.  Know what your daily priorities are and know your goals.  By being aware of priorities and goals you will be able to create a schedule that is beneficial for you and your firm.  The next quality to teach your current employees or to look for in a new hire is……time management skills.

 

Ironstone has several aides available for your firm in developing healthy, productive time management skills.  Download our Time Management Survey Here!   TimeManagement

 

We want to hear from you!  What strategies are you using to improve your time-management skills?

 

Follow us as we explore each of Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™!

  • Strategic Planning
  • Business Development
  • Operational Effectiveness
  • The Human Element

 

You won’t want to miss our next in the series:  The Human Element-Culture In Your Workplace: What Culture Are You Cultivating At Your Firm?  Healthy or Toxic?

 



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Learn How To Create A Unique Value Proposition For Your Firm

Learn How To Create A Unique Value Proposition For Your Firm. 

Do you have a defined clear answer that inspires questions?  If you can describe to someone in a sentence or two what your business does and why it is valuable, you probably have a strong unique value proposition. 

Branding and Value Propositions create a distinct fingerprint that sets your practice apart.  Ensure your firms brand uniqueness while effectively meeting client needs and creating the value promised.  You need to think about the value you offer to clients by determining;

What are their needs and how will you satisfy those needs?

Position yourself as someone who understands where your clients and prospects are coming from, where they are going, and what they need along the journey to reach their destination.  Some examples:

  • Ease nervousness during market volatility
  • Relieve their major concerns about retirement
  • Ensure their legacy will live on for the next generation

A value proposition cannot be a vague description of the products and services that you offer.  YOU need to tell them the results they will get from you.

To help you- here are a few guidelines to follow while creating your value proposition

  • Create Interest
  • Differentiate yourself from your competitors (You will not be able to accomplish this based on products alone.)
  • Focus on your client’s point of view

Keep in mind that your value proposition should identify solutions to meet the needs that your clients are facing.

How does your brand fit in with your value proposition?  If your brand position is successful, overtime, your brand logo will symbolize your value. 

Many firms do not convey their message in a clear and concise manner.  Ironstone will help you make sure you are not in that situation.  

We want to hear from you!  What is YOUR unique value proposition?

 

 

Follow us as we explore each of Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™! 

  • Strategic Planning
  • Business Development
  • Operational Effectiveness
  • The Human Element

 

You won’t want to miss our next in the series:  Operational Effectiveness-Time Management

 

 

 


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What Exactly Is Leadership?

What Exactly Is Leadership?

The purpose of this component in Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™ (The Human Element), is the development of individual and team efficiency and effectiveness for the benefit of the business.  The evolution of this fundamental revolves around organizational skills, management of teams, refined roles and responsibilities, and accountability for performance.  This opens the lines of communication throughout a team to create a positive culture.  “Everyone is on the same page” is very simple to understand but in reality, there are many directions and agendas driven by egos, greed, and lack of leadership.  Leaders don’t merely take charge.  They make the tough decisions while motivating and empowering others to succeed.

Are you an effective leader and do you really know what makes a great leader?

It has been said that on average, we influence 250 people in our lifetime.  You can increase that by becoming an effective leader and in turn helping your team members develop good leadership qualities.  An empowered work force will have ownership and in turn, productivity levels will increase.

Qualities of a good leader:

  • Motivates by using the team’s common set of values
  • Empowers others to be part of the solution
  • Has confidence in individuals to achieve
  • Understands the audience: i.e. gender, personal interests, generation dynamics, work priorities, etc…
  • Inspires confidence in the future
  • Help you through a particular difficult time and displays empathy
  • Ethical, honest, and trustworthy
  • Humble
  • Strives for excellence and inspires you to do the same

 Actions of a good leader:

  • Makes the firm direction and goals transparent for everyone to be on the same page
  • Executes programs to develop leadership and communication skills
  • Encourages focus by outlining common purpose and providing accountability
  • Provides training and coaching to enhance expertise
  • Leads by example and serves as a positive role model
  • Delegates to talent and skill
  • Provides a platform for input and ideas to affect advancement and improve strategies
  • Asks for advice or takes direction from your team
  • Walks alongside the team, not out in front
  • Sweats it out with the team

 Go beyond the management level and promote yourself to a leadership role.

                 Think of the end before the beginning. ~Leonardo da Vinci

We want to hear from you!  What strategies are you using to empower your team?

Contact us for assistance in building an effective leadership development program.

Follow us as we explore each of Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™! 

  • Strategic Planning
  • Business Development
  • Operational Effectiveness
  • The Human Element

You won’t want to miss our next in the series:  Strategic Planning-Succession Planning, Begin With The End In Mind