We're almost two weeks into 2013 and whether you've made New Year's resolutions or just looking for a way to better organize your ongoing goals, we’ve got apps to help you get – and stay -- on track this year.
Organize Your Work and Personal Life.
Dropbox allows you to store files, photos and videos in the cloud and access them on all of your devices. It also allows you to share files with business partners, customers and service providers. Atlanta-based personal productivity expert Peggy Duncan recommends Dropbox to her clients. "The key to using it is to organize files the right way," Duncan says.
She suggests using broad categories and then narrowing them down into files (for example: Administrative, HR, Legal, Marketing, etc.). By creating a file structure, Duncan says, "people find what they need when they need it, without looking through rows of search results." To protect sensitive data, Duncan recommends using a free apps like AxCrypt or Wickr to encrypt files. Wickr and AxCrypt are only available for iOS at this time, while Dropbox is available for iOS and Android.
Someone close to you is probably suffering from the flu -- a loved one, a co-worker, or the guy who was breathing on you on the train this morning. It's been an early, and especially nasty, start to this year's flu season.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the illness has arrived five weeks early, sweeping across 41 states. In Illinois, the flu has killed six people.
Hospitals nationwide are swamped with patients. The CDC says the percentage of people seeing their doctors for flu-like symptoms has doubled to 5.6, from 2.8 percent last month.
For many professionals, falling ill simply isn't an option. As you recover in bed, work piles up and emails continue to pour in.
Bottom line: If you haven't gotten the flu, do everything you can to avoid it.
Dr. David Scheiner, an internist in Chicago Hyde Park's neighborhood, kept President Obama healthy for 22 years. Here, the veteran physician offers tips for avoiding the flu:
LAS VEGAS – The Consumer Electronic Show (CES) is beginning to wind down, and while there haven't been any show-stopping announcements -- like a flying, electric car or even just a rebooted Microsoft Xbox -- there have been plenty of shiny gadgets to ogle. Each year, the advancements on display at CES change how we interact with technology.
These four developments were the talk of the show, and might point the way to the future:
Some leaders have a powerful presence, seemingly dripping charisma from every pore. They engage easily with others, and give moving persuasive talks even under duress. In his book, Infectious: How to Connect Deeply and Unleash the Energetic Leader Within (Allworth Press, 2013), performance coach Achim Nowak looked at this elusive quality and gives five tips for upping your X-factor.
1. Be prepared. You can't be compelling if you're worried about what you're going to say next, says Nowak. If you have time, review the key points you wish to make before your meeting or presentation to ensure you're versed in the topic.
When there's no time to prepare, make a quick assessment of your audience and what will resonate with them. Talk about issues that matter to you: Tell employees about your passion for creating a great workplace and prospective investors about your vision for growth.
Related: How to Project Confidence
Combining mobile and location-based services, social tools such as Foursquare and Yelp have been changing the way customers interact with the physical location of a business. These services offer more information for consumers, helping them make more informed decisions on where to eat, sleep, shop and relax.
But a new crop of location-based social startups has emerged, going beyond the initial wave of innovations to build upon the experience of a customer who is about to visit or is currently visiting a business.
From a company that provides indoor GPS services to another that curates social information about specific neighborhoods, here are three new trends and the startups that are changing the way brick-and-mortar companies do business:
In the past few years, the cost of health care for employees in the U.S. has gone up, while the number of small businesses offering health insurance has been on a slow decline, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, known as "Obamacare," aims to reduce health-care premiums for both individuals and small businesses by increasing the number of healthy people with insurance.
Still, many parts of the law don't sit well with small-business owners, especially the employer mandate, a requirement that employers with 50 or more workers must offer health-insurance coverage or face fines ranging from $2,000 to $3,000 per employee per year.
For a breakdown of the health-care costs your business will face and insight on the future of healthcare for small-business owners and their employees, take a look at the infographic below from the accounting software firm Intuit.
LAS VEGAS – Ushering in an array of technology that you never knew you needed but can't live without, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is about more than the newest smartphones and biggest, skinniest televisions. The giant tech show also introduces innovative new tools for the workplace, changing the way companies get things done.
We've combed the exhibit floors looking for the tech that would appeal most to business users. Here are four tools we think may rock your business' world this year:
The days of lifetime employment at a single company are long gone, so business leaders today need to make an extra effort to retain talent and foster employee loyalty.
Loyal employees are the heart of successful companies. When people feel fulfilled at their jobs, they go above and beyond to help the organization improve. They share expertise, resolve conflicts, suggest improvements, boost morale, help co-workers, conserve resources, and more. "Those behaviors make groups and organizations more effective -- sales are better, production loss is lower, everything is better," says Diane Bergeron, an assistant professor at Case Western's Weatherhead School of Management in Cleveland.
To become one of those lucky companies, take time to understand what your employees need and provide it for them. "As in any relationship, if you get what you need, you're more likely to stay," Bergeron says.
Loyalty is largely inspired by flexibility and individual attention. These four techniques can help you offer that to every employee:
Switching gears is common for people who work in social media.
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Among the greatest challenges is determining exactly when to post a given piece of content so it attracts the most “likes,” comments, and retweets. A recent infographic from LinchpinSEO could help crack that code by showing the best days to post to Facebook. Even better, it organizes the information by industry.
For instance, companies considered “general retail” will find more engagement on Mondays, whereas nonprofits will see greater success on weekends, according to LinchpinSEO, which analyzed the user engagement of more than 1,800 Facebook pages from the world’s top brands. The data were collected from April 1 to May 31.
Will power might sound like the super hero of resolve, but it's actually a fallible contender. "When you're trying to stick to a New Year’s Resolution, you can forget about relying on will power," says Alex Lickerman, assistant vice president for Student Health and Counseling Services at the University of Chicago, and author of The Undefeated Mind (HCI, 2012). "Will power is a weak mental force. The more you use it, the more fatigued it becomes. That’s why it's easier to stick to a new diet earlier in the day versus later at night."
If you're making changes in your personal or professional life, Lickerman says there are stronger tools at your disposal. Here are four tactics he suggests to change unconstructive behavior with good habits.
To run a successful business, your mental fitness is just as important as your bottom line or your marketing plan. It takes work to stay sharp, but learning how to get smarter will make you a more agile, creative business leader.
Intelligence is a use-it-or-lose-it commodity, so exercising your brain needs to be an ongoing effort. “You can't just play a [brain-training] game for ten minutes and think you'll be sharper for the rest of your life," says Susanne Jaeggi, a cognitive psychologist at the University of Michigan. "It takes dedication and practice [to get smarter]."
You may already know about the most effective strategies for improving your brainpower: exercise, low stress, and continued learning. But it's hard to commit to doing them when your business takes all your time.
Here are three strategies to work brain-boosting activities into your busy schedule:
You've just returned from a fabulous, relaxing vacation and suddenly you're bombarded with a deluge of emails, meetings and phone calls. While you may be tempted to grab your bag and head back to the beach, Toronto-based business and life coach Joshua Zuchter says there are a few things you can do to ease your way back into your work daily routine without ruining your post-vacation bliss.
• Take two-minute mini-vacations. It's just as important to ease back into your work routine as it is to pace yourself when returning to the gym after a few weeks off. "When you go on vacation, you're changing your pace," says Zuchter. Taking short breaks throughout the day to clear your head or go for a short walk can make the transition to your work routine less aggressive. "Otherwise, whatever [stress-relief] you gained from your vacation is lost in the first day," says Zuchter.
Related: Need a Vacation? 4 Steps to a Business That Thrives Without You
Apple is reportedly exploring development of a watch-like product. Some might scoff at the idea of Apple building a watch. After all, who needs watches when you have a smartphone. Further, Apple is a company with $200 billion in annual revenue. A $100 watch which will sell in limited quantity is barely going to move the needle.
While all of those are fair points, they're missing a much bigger picture. There is a line of thinking that the smartphone era will perish almost as quickly as it began.
This is, after all, the natural way of technology. It's defined by creative destruction. Just as the smartphone killed the flip phone, and the iPad is killing the traditional PC, something is going to come along and kill the smartphone.
The same way that personal computing became a hotbed of innovation in the early 1970s, 3-D printing seems to be experiencing a similar renaissance.
While 3-D printers were once huge, pricey devices reserved for the industrial elite, they have lately been adapted to fit on your desktop at home. All over the world, hobbyist manufacturers are extruding plastic objects for prototyping or simply for fun.
But how important is 3-D printing? And should you even care about it?
This week's need-to-know social-media news.
Even social-media powerhouses aren't immune to common startup troubles. The latest: A New Jersey attorney is suing Pinterest and its early investor Brian Cohen, alleging that Cohen stole his concept for a similar social site and passed it along to Pinterest's co-founders. In his complaint, Theodore Schroeder says that he and Cohen were business partners in 2007 and 2008 when Schroeder developed a website, Rendezvoo, that was a precursor to Pinterest. Two of its elements -- content boards and so-called "infinite scrolling" -- are now key features of Pinterest.
Meanwhile, Pinterest reached another startup milestone this week by making its first acquisition -- recipe-sharing site Punchfork. Like Pinterest, Punchfork uses an image-based pinboard interface. The site will be closed and its personnel incorporated into Pinterest. -- AllThingsD and SocialTimes