6 Uncommon Ways to Use Evernote

53 days ago 4 minute read
6 Uncommon Ways to Use Evernote

If you thought Evernote was just for jotting down occasional notes, you haven't scratched the surface of what this powerful organizational tool can do. In this post Natasha Vorompiova, Evernote Certified Consultant and award-winning GoSkills instructor, shares six uncommon uses of Evernote that will help you be more productive in a flash.

Make the Best of Evernote

When it comes to tools, the power is not in the tool itself, but rather, in how you use it. Evernote, which I often recommend as an all-in-one solution for running a business, can be used for far more than just business needs. For example, do you remember that awkward time at the doctor’s office? The receptionist handed you a clipboard with a stack of papers to update your information… but you didn’t have all of it with you. So, you called your spouse to get them to read you some numbers and send over a picture of your insurance card -- except they didn’t answer and you had to sort through archived emails to find the information.

Besides being inconvenient, situations like that waste your time and unnecessarily stress you out. However, when you have all of the information you need in one easy-to-access place, you’ll be able to spend your energy in more enjoyable and beneficial ways. To help you get started, here are six ways to use Evernote in your daily life.

Uncommon Ways to Use Evernote

1. Capture ideas on the go.

You can quickly create text notes -- thanks to the fact that Evernote is accessible on all devices both online and offline. But, have you tried audio notes and reminders for yourself? If your thought is lengthy or complex, use Evernote to capture a recording of it. Then you can set a reminder with an alarm for reviewing it or completing any of the tasks you may have mentioned. While you may use this at work for things like capturing product ideas or meeting discussion points, you can also use it for events like planning a party or remembering what you want to tell a friend later when you see her. This way, when inspiration strikes or there’s a to-do that keeps distracting you, you have somewhere productive to put it.

2. Collect gift ideas.

Regardless of whether we need gift ideas for our relatives or clients, it can be frustrating to come up with something on the fly. With Evernote, you can collect gift ideas all year around and pull up the list to choose from when necessary. What’s even better about this is that you can set reminders for important dates that correspond to gift-giving, like birthdays and anniversaries. Say “so long” to the days where you forget to send a card for a friend’s birthday or don’t have enough time to find the right gift.

3. Use your Evernote email address to subscribe to newsletters.

By using your Evernote email address, emails will appear within the app instead, keeping your inbox clutter free. You can find your incoming Evernote email address under Account Info in the desktop versions of Evernote, under Settings in Evernote Web, and in the Sync tab of Evernote for iPhone. Just don’t forget to set a reminder for yourself to review the new articles. You can set those reminders directly in Evernote.

4. Store information you need occasionally.

While none of us looks forward to emergencies or going to annual checkups, medical visits are a part of our lives, and with Evernote, we can always be prepared with the information we need. Keep snapshots of anything you don’t buy regularly but need to have records of, like tech parts or medication labels.

5. Save copies of important documents.

Save copies of your contracts, warranties, or certificates. Take photos of them or save them as PDFs and add them to Evernote. That way you have important information handy with you no matter where you go. In fact, with Evernote you can go entirely paperless. To make this even easier on you, create one master note to serve as a Table of Contents with links to all of your important documents.

6. Create lists of everything.

Keep lists for groceries, goals, to-dos, ideas, projects, people to keep in touch with, clients that you work with, your bucket list, etc. These lists will save you time by avoiding multiple trips to the store and critical pieces of a project. Plus, when you pair them with the reminder and alarm features, you can be sure that nothing will be forgotten.

Get creative! There are as many uses of Evernote as there are Evernote users. Now it’s your turn to put it to work.


New course release - 7 Essentials to Excellent Customer Service

73 days ago 1 minute read
New course release - 7 Essentials to Excellent Customer Service

Every business needs people who can deliver outstanding customer service. For business owners and entrepreneurs, improving the quality of your customer experiences can give you a loyal client base, spread the word about your stellar reputation, and ultimately increase your business revenues. If you are a customer service representative, consistently impressing your customers can boost your paycheck, increase job satisfaction, and progress your career towards supervisory and management roles.

In today's competitive business environment, there are a lot of similar products and services at similar price points. So how can you stand out from the crowd and get customers to choose your business? Studies show that customers will choose the business with the best service when several businesses have the same items. Customers don't just shop around for the best price, they also shop around for the best service, with 9 out of 10 customers willing to pay more to ensure a superior customer experience.

Discover the 7 essentials to excellent customer service in the Customer Service Training course. Award winning speaker, author and instructor David Brownlee's expert tips and motivational coaching can help you gain more repeat and loyal customers, get better reviews and higher ratings, and distinguish your business from the competition.

Special introductory offer

Customer Service Training for $29 (Save 57%)

Offer includes 12 months premium access. Offer expires December 06, 2016.


The Evolution of Project Management

79 days ago 6 minute read
The Evolution of Project Management

There have been many advancements in project management over time, from the way technology has transformed the way we work, to techniques and methods devised to improve the status quo. In this post, resident project management expert, PMP and author Ray Sheen looks at how project management has evolved alongside the ever-changing business environment into the 21st century. This article was first published over at Ray Sheen's blog.

A New Era

21st century project management is fundamentally different from 20th century project management. Yes, there are still start and end dates, activities and deliverables, and budgets and project teams. But the management of those project attributes is different. And if you don’t understand those differences, your projects will struggle in the 21st century business environment.

Project Management Has Been Around for Ages

Now to be clear, project management has been around for thousands of years. The pyramids in Egypt, the Roman aqueducts, and the Great Wall of China all had project managers who planned and organized the work. They may not have had the title “Project Manager,” but someone was in charge. As far as we know, none of them held the PMP credential. Since Henry Gantt did not introduce the Gantt Chart until the beginning of the 20th century, that was not available to them. And we are certain that none of them used either Microsoft Project or Primavera. Nevertheless, the projects were successful.

So if projects were successful thousands of years ago despite not having project managers with a PMP, Gantt Charts, or project management software, we can conclude that project management is more than just tools and certification. There are components of the business and project environment that must also be considered. So if the business environment of the 21st century is markedly different from the 20th century, it follows that project management must also adapt to the new reality.

Let’s start with a definition of project management. I will cite the one used by the Project Management Institute, “Project management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements.” This definition illustrates the point that was just made. Project management relies on knowledge, skills, tools and techniques. If these change in the business environment, the project management practices should also change.

Early 20th Century

Sample Gantt chart, courtesy Wikipedia.com.

Let’s consider some of the ways that the 21st century business environment is different from the 20th century business environment. At the beginning of the 20th century, Fredrick Winslow Taylor and scientific management was all the rage. This meant that activities were planned in detail and standardized. Everything was planned and tracked. Performance targets were set and measurements were seen as the key to good management.

This was a perfect environment for the introduction of the Gantt Chart and Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) to plan and control project activities. Organizations were hierarchical and functions operated in separate “silos” that were managed for functional excellence. Techniques like Critical Path were introduced to analyze and optimize project schedules. Other techniques like Earned Value Management came along and provided strict accountability for cost and schedule on every aspect of the project. Project management was now part of scientific management and all managers were expected to be able to use these techniques

Late 20th Century

In the latter part of the 20th century business was transformed by computers and revolutionary changes in communication and transportation technology. These advances in science led to changes in how business systems operated. Computers dramatically improved the performance of almost all products, processes and systems. Communication and transportation changes resulted in almost all industries becoming global and operating 24/7. With respect to projects, the speed of change and the decentralization of project teams compounded the effects of project complexity and urgency. To address these issues, companies turned to project management certification and new project management tools and techniques that managed complexity.

At the end of the 20th century, project management had reached a new level of professionalism. It was now a recognized management discipline and career field. Project managers had to manage complexity in a fast changing environment. They were often required to operate both strategically and tactically. Sophisticated project management software applications were used on large and small projects.

In addition, an entire industry had sprung up around project management. Many project management consultancies, training programs, books, journals, magazines, and certification programs abounded. Researchers were analyzing projects to identify best practices and project management gurus were out on speaking tours. Not to mention the numerous project management software applications which were on the market. Project management was no longer an additional duty of operational managers; it was now a stand-alone management discipline.

21st Century

We are now well into the 21st century and we can see further business transformation. Big data and the internet of things is transforming business again. In the 20th century it was impossible for a manager of a global business operation, or even a global project, to have all information about all activities instantly available. Therefore, management disciplines focused on how to discern business performance and issues from summary information or how to infer it from a narrow slice of actual real-time data. But that is all changing.

Companies can now get real-time data about all business processes, including what is happening at customers or suppliers, and make that information immediately available to managers. Computers can be constantly sifting the data looking for special conditions or patterns that the managers specify. And decision and actions can be implemented faster than most people can keep up with. The role of the manager is changing. The manager must now spend their time engaging with customers, suppliers, and employees to ensure alignment of activities and interests. The arts of negotiation, motivation, conflict resolution and empowerment are the hallmarks of good management, not directing, controlling, and analyzing.

This is especially true for project managers. The project management tools and systems can now do all of the analytical side of project management. However, the diverse and decentralized project teams need a project manager who is focused on the team alignment and integration. The project manager must build a relationship with team members to ensure they are appropriately engaged.

For those of us who started project management using the methods of the early 20th century (which in many cases were still the standard until the 1980’s) and have gone through the transition to the methods of the late 20th century, the thought of another transformation is daunting. But that is the reality of our today’s business environment. Will we still have certifications and project management software applications – of course. But those will just be tools in the tool box, not a measure of project management acumen. Project managers will be totally connected with technology – but the technology will not be what is managed, rather the technology will be the enabler for the project manager to work with stakeholders and team members. The more technically advanced we become, the more important the inter-personal relationships become.

So the new 21st century project manager is first and foremost a “people person.” They are great communicators and motivators. Yes, they are technically savvy with respect to the use of project management software and communication technology. But these are just tools, the discipline of project management is not resource alignment and empowered engagement across functional and organizational lines.


7 Skills You Need to Get Hired and Promoted

93 days ago 8 minute read
7 Skills You Need to Get Hired and Promoted

Whether you are new to the workforce and want to get hired, or you are looking to climb the corporate ladder, there are essential skills you need to possess to be considered for your ideal role. While technical skills will vary by your job description and industry, there are some universal skills that everyone can use to succeed in their careers. Payscale’s 2016 Workforce-Skills Preparedness Report sheds light on the hard and soft skills most lacking – and most needed – in today’s job market. Read on to find out how you can help close the skills gap and demonstrate to employers you’ve got what it takes to get hired and promoted.

The Skills Gap

The skills gap is the divide between the skills employers need and expect from prospective or current employees, and what skills employees actually possess. Payscale's report found that there was a large gap between the skills hiring managers were seeking and the skills recent college graduates possessed. However it’s not just fresh grads who are lacking these skills. Many people don’t learn the hard and soft skills they need to be job-ready through formal education, and don't receive the training required to learn these skills on the job.

What is the difference between hard and soft skills?

Employers look for two sets of skills when considering a candidate's job application and interview performance. Hard skills are measurable abilities that can be evaluated or tested, such as typing, accounting, programming, writing or proficiency in a foreign language. Your hard skills generally demonstrate you have the specific knowledge required for a particular job. Soft skills are interpersonal skills such as listening, creative thinking, time management and working well with others. Soft skills are less measurable, and less commonly taught, but just as important for success. Payscale's report found that poor soft skills in particular prevented people from getting hired, even with impressive resumes. The following hard and soft skills have been identified as the most lacking and therefore the most needed to help you close the skills gap.

What hard skills are managers and recruiters looking for in new hires?

Writing proficiency

This hard skill took first place on Payscale's report, with 44% of hiring managers stating this skill was sorely lacking. It's not only professions like marketing and journalism that require good writing skills. Daily email communications, business memos, reports and giving feedback on performance all require a high level of writing proficiency.

How to demonstrate: First of all, make sure your resume and cover letter are grammatically flawless, with no spelling errors. A whopping 63% of managers surveyed by Robert Half said they would reject candidates whose resumes contained one or two errors. Be professional in any email correspondence before and after your interview by using full sentences without excessive 'text speak' abbreviations and slang.

Public speaking

An estimated 3 out of 4 people suffer from speech anxiety, and many people fear public speaking more than death itself. With those stats, it's hardly surprising that 39% of hiring managers found public speaking skills seriously lacking in candidates. Public speaking is not restricted to the realm of huge auditoriums, instead we use it every day when giving presentations, interacting with clients, and participating in meetings.

How to demonstrate: Your interview will be an assessment of your public speaking skills, so prepare beforehand by practicing your answers to some of the most common (and dreaded) interview questions. Body language is also a big part of public speaking, so ensure you establish eye contact and try to relax - if you appear to be at ease, it will make your audience feel comfortable. On your resume, highlight examples of your experience, for example presentations you have given or if you were in a debate or Toastmasters club.

Data analysis

From the ubiquitous Excel to Python and Tableau, data analysis is paramount in virtually every industry. Companies need skilled employees who can organize and analyze data to give them meaningful insight on their sales, clients, finances, and virtually anything else that can be measured. 36% of hiring managers felt that data analysis skills were lacking in candidates. Chances are these skills weren’t required in college, and once in the workplace many people get by with what they manage to teach themselves.

How to demonstrate: If the job requires Excel skills, give specific examples relevant to the job, for example how you used Pivot Tables to analyze trends in monthly sales data. Potential employers can also gauge your skills from any training courses you have completed, so be sure to add your Excel certification to your resume and LinkedIn profile for greater recognition.

What soft skills are managers and recruiters looking for in new hires?

Critical thinking/problem solving

This soft skill took first place, with a whopping 60% of hiring managers finding critical thinking and problem solving skills absent in the majority of candidates. Problem solving skills show employers that you are able to work independently and think critically to find solutions to obstacles. While problem solving skills are not generally formally taught, we all learn to solve problems every day, like taking a route with less traffic to work or finding the best priced plane ticket. All you need to start developing problem solving skills is a curious mind and a desire to get to the bottom of a good mystery like Sherlock Holmes.

How to demonstrate: Prepare for the interview by thinking of an example of a problem you faced, and explain the steps you took to resolve it. This could be any life experience from handling a difficult customer to fixing a software bug, but choose something with measurable results for the most impact. The STAR model comes in handy here to break down the Situation you faced, the Task you had to complete with any challenges involved, the Action/s you took and the final Result of your actions.

Leadership

Good leaders are always in high demand, with 44% of hiring managers wanting to see more candidates with this skill. Leadership encompasses a lot of different qualities and skills like communication, delegation and vision that can steer a team or company in the direction of success. Employers want to know if you have the potential to contribute to the company and the team by taking on the responsibilities of a leader.

How to demonstrate: Detail some formal and informal leadership roles you have had such as mentoring, heading up a group or volunteer project, and training or managing staff. The STAR model can be useful here as well to quantify your results from times when you motivated others, improved efficiency or raised funding to ensure a successful outcome. For example, if you organized a fundraising campaign that exceeded the collection goal by 20% and doubled membership to your association or club, these stats brilliantly illustrate your achievements.

Teamwork

Regardless of the position, being able to work well with others is crucial from entry to C level. 36% of hiring managers chose teamwork as a key skill missing in many candidates' repertoires. Your experience as a team member is a good indicator of how you communicate, collaborate and generally how well you get along with others.

How to demonstrate: Everyone has some experience being part of a team, whether in an education, extracurricular or working capacity. Being a productive team member involves knowing your responsibilities, using your strengths to the advantage of the team, and reliability in seeing things through to completion. Specify who you worked with, how you contributed to the team, and use the opportunity to highlight other skills you displayed such as negotiation or conflict resolution. Again, having a measurable, positive outcome will make the best impression.

What skills can help you get promoted to management, executive or director levels?

Management skills

Unsurprisingly, management skills are the most important here, whether financial management, business management or knowing how to train and manage teams. Every company wants managers who can consistently produce great results from themselves and the resources they manage. Management skills are vital for a company to run not only smoothly, but to retain a competitive edge in today's business environment.

How to demonstrate: In addition to any experience you get on the job, training is key here to apply the industry standards and best practices to improve your management skills. For example, undertaking PMP Certification Training with the aim of getting certified by the Project Management Institute is the gold standard to demonstrate your project management skills. The benefits of showing you are top management material are tangible - obtaining a PMP Certification has been shown to result in a 20% increase in salary compared to non-certified project managers.

Summary

While the skills gap continues to plague the global workforce, the hard and soft skills identified above can be learned and developed to shrink the divide between what employers are seeking and candidates have to offer. Knowing what hiring managers are looking for gives you an edge to increase your chances of getting hired or promoted, and improving your skills will ultimately make you a more well rounded, star employee.


Watch the Project Planning Top 10 Tips webinar + free download

94 days ago 2 minute read
Watch the Project Planning Top 10 Tips webinar + free download

Watch the webinar on demand

Thanks to everyone who joined us for the Project Planning Top 10 Tips webinar! If you missed it live, watch below as certified PMP, Scrum Master and award winning GoSkills instructor Ray Sheen shares the top ten project planning tips to help you keep your projects on track.

Watch the webinar

Project Planning Top 10 Tips

  1. Begin with the end in mind
    Stakeholder goals & Project Charter
  2. Clarify your boundaries during Initiation
    In scope – out of scope
  3. Kick-off aligns the team
    The W’s
  4. Risk Management precedes the final plan
    Risk register
  5. Uncertainty drives the plan
    Uncertainty matrix
  6. Grammar counts
    Every item of scope needs a verb
  7. Competent Core Team
    Training, experience, & relationship
  8. Float is your friend
    CPM aids the analysis
  9. Organize for execution
    WBS organized the way you intend to manage the project
  10. Plan for change
    Buffers and Charter updates

Free download

Get a free download of the top 10 tips slides as shown in the live webinar to use as a helpful resource to plan your projects more effectively.

Download the Project Planning Top 10 Tips

Special offer

For a limited time, enjoy 60% off 12 months access to any project management course by entering the code PROJECTWEB60 at checkout.

The courses go more in-depth into the topics covered in the webinar, and feature useful resources to help you manage your projects from start to finish, including practical video tutorials, reference guides, downloadable exercise files and unlimited testing. All GoSkills project management courses allow you to earn contact hours or PDUs to put towards certification with the Project Management Institute.

Offer includes 12 months premium access. Offer expires November 2nd, 2016.

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