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3 Ways to Reach Inbox Zero

email globeI envy people that talk about “Inbox Zero“. The event that happens when you have read or disposed of all of your email. My problem is trying to keep my email manageable enough to reach “Inbox 250″.

Reading, writing and disposing of email takes up about 28% of the average office worker’s day. For people in service industries and sales, the number is probably much higher, and the need to handle email efficiently and in a manner that allows us to find and review important correspondence is crucial. All of us seem to have signed up for email lists that send us things we just don’t need to clutter our days with, so we need to find some way to organize our inbox in a rational and efficient manner. Thankfully with the deluge of email comes an avalanche of apps to help you handle the email more efficiently (ok, so maybe its not enough to be called an avalanche, but it sounded better in my head :)

None of us read terms when we install new platforms or sign up for information we want online and we end up with an awful lot of email subscriptions that we didn’t know we were participants in. Here are some great tools to handle your subscription woes and organize your inbox;

Unroll.me - End Email OverloadUnroll.me provides a simple platform to allow you to unsubscribe from lists you are no longer interested in, and then sends the remaining subscriptions to you in one simple “rollup” . An email digest that allows you to pick and choose what you want to read and ignore. The platform supports Gmail and Yahoo mail. You can review and redirect emails that you want directed to your inbox, and simply review and delete those you don’t. In addition you can organize your rollup by category to see specific items of interest.

TheSwizzle.com - Clean up your inbox!theswizzle.com is a similar site, but it supports not only GMail and Yahoo, but Gmail, Google Apps, Mac.com , and – Me.com This site is a lot more graphic than unroll.me. The process is the same, and the difference for users will be in their email provider or their preference for the user interface of each site.  As you sign up for theswizzle, you have the option of unsubscribing from the service, or unsubscribing and deleting the emails (an option I preferred). Swizzle also allows you to subscribe to brands through their interface so you can add brands to your digest, giving you the option to browse coupons and offers to your heart’s content while keeping your email load down.

 

 

Mailstrom- The smarter, faster way to clean out your inbox.Mailstrom.com, a site that is still in Beta, may just be a case of saving the best for last.

If you’re like me, you keep emails because you a) want to deal with them later, b) because you want to keep the email for some business purpose or c) because you read it and neither archived nor deleted it. After a while, you have lots of emails cluttering up your inbox when they should be stored in some organized manner. Having multiple email addresses just complicates the issues. Mailstrom  helps organize the thousands of old emails you have in a number of different accounts by creating archives using a number of categories. You can sort and review emails by sender, subject, date, time, lists you appear on,  and even the emails you receive from social networks. In just a short time you can archive and organize thousands of emails , keeping everything in easy to find folders.

You may not get to Inbox Zero today, but with these tools, you’ll get a lot closer! Have tips of your own? Please leave them in the comment section so others can benefit from your advice.

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Stop Wasting Your Time on Social Media

facebook did you get your fixn darkerAs social media has become a form of mainstream communication and marketing, small businesses and professionals , driven by their desire to be relevant a forward thinking, have become enamored of Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and more recently Pinterest. Fueled by people that claim that Social media Marketing is the next greatest thing, and aided by hyperbole about “game changers” and “thought leaders” who trumpet warnings that without social media, you will be out of business, or even worse irrelevant in the years to come. To all of them I say “Nonsense – Stop wasting your time on social media and worry more about your business and less about the shape of the tools you use to move your business forward. And when I say social media, I mean the entire interactive online universe where people interact , not just the larger three or four channels I mentioned above. Don’t think for a moment that I am not a proponent of social media. I’m not only the CEO of company with the words Social Media in its name, but I’m an engaged participant in social media, to advance relationships in my personal life, advance my personal business goals, and to further my company mission and vision. Properly employed, I think that we have magnificent platforms for communication and the amplification of voices, both personal and business that have existed in the history of mankind, but like anything else, a tool that is used poorly or improperly can’t save the workman from creating a poor product. The key to all of this however is that you need to be thoughtful about what , when and how you engage. My social media involvement and yours are probably not the same. You and I might need to be on different channels, have different interest, different goals, and different communities we want to interact with. In fact, our interaction in the communities where we intersect might not even look the same. But we do have several things in common, and if you keep them in mind, you will stop wasting your time on social media and begin to see your desired results. 1. Define Your Community and then find them – Know who you want to reach and then find where they are. Those are the channels you need to use to reach them. Today’s consumers want to be reached when they want, where they want, in the manner they want. Remember that and you are more than halfway home when you want to reach them. 2. Have a purpose – Being on Facebook to stay in touch with friends and family is a great purpose – possibly not a business purpose, but a great purpose nonetheless. Any social media engagement should have a purpose. Are you trying to drive traffic to your company website? Do you want to increase your business profile? Do you want people to think of you as a trusted advisor in your field? Do you want your business to be identified with a local community? Do you want to fund raise for a local charity? All important purposes, all achievable through effective social media engagement. 3. Have a strategy- random postings on Facebook, sporadic tweets, self-serving hyperbole are less self-serving and more self-destructive. This is a permanent record of engagement and “ready, fire aim” is a fool proof way to damage your public image. 4. Review Analyze and Refine and don’t get distracted by shiny objects. every great new thing is new, not necessarily great for your purpose, but keep reviewing and seeing how your social media plan is working. Any good plan requires revision periodically, and with the speed of social media engagement, continual analysis and revision as needed is crucial. And here’s the neat part – since you had a measurable purpose and goal, its easy to see if you’re reaching it? Simple right? Easy as that, you’re ready to stop wasting your time on social media and start being more effective right away.

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7 Steps to Creating Your Own WordPress Blog

Content marketing is the focus of small and large businesses alike, and through the power of Blogging, everyone can play very inexpensively. But the technology challenge faced by the new entrant sometimes leads them to start generating content on hosted blog sites where they become a digital sharecropper, building more value for the host site than they might be building for themselves.

In my speaking and teaching, I have always recommended that the new blogger create a self-hosted blog, but people are often intimidated by the process. Here is an awesome infographic on how to set up your very own self-hosted blog from the good folks at CopyBlogger . Following these simple steps take you through the process with little effort and no intimidation.

When three things I enjoy (Infographics, self-hosted blogs, and Copyblogger)come together, all I can do is share the joy.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Your Self-Hosted WordPress Website
Like this infographic? Get more WordPress and hosting tips from Synthesis.

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Republican vs. Democrat 2012 by DonkeyHotey

5 Apps to Make You A Political Expert!

Republican vs. Democrat 2012 by DonkeyHotey

Republican vs. Democrat 2012 by DonkeyHotey

Social Media was made an important part of the political scene way back in 2008 when then Candidate Barack Obama used it for grass roots fundraising and to engage sectors of the voting public that had been notoriously disengaged. With social media being so main stream, this year sees numerous ways for people to become informed about the issues and candidates, monitor their progress and even amuse themselves with the grand circus that politics often devolves to. Here are a few different apps that will help you stay in the know when you’re on the go;

  • Politify ; If you’re a political dunce like I am, this might be the app to help you determine which candidate would be best for your pocket book. It takes your marital status, zip code, income, age, and number of family members to illustrate for you the impact of each candidates policies. It will ask for your approval or disapproval of the candidate and even allow you to make a donation direct from the app.
  • Politix ; This beta mobile site aggregates news feeds from all over the web to provide you with political news tailored to you specifically. You enter by signing in through Facebook and then sort by geography, political figures you care about , or issues that are important to you . You can then comment and share articles to your social graph, creting, I’m sure, some very spirited conversations.
  •  270towin and electioncaster can help step you up to the status of political pundit by helping you make informed forecasts of who is carrying what states and who should be leading in various elections. 270towin refers to the number of electoral votes needed to win the presidential election. The app shows you the predications being made by NBC news, or allows you to look back at which candidates carried which states since 1789 – you can even share your own predications in mad form with your social community. Electioncaster acts as a political news aggregator, even providing you with tweet from the top democrats and Republicans, and the results of various polls about the election. With a feature called talkback, you can even send messages directly to elected officials.
  • Comedy Central’s Indecision Election Companion is my favorite app of all of these, with an interactive Peanut Gallery that allows you to react to clips from the Daily Show and the Colbert Report, as well as debates and political events. There is a calendar and reminder feature, and you can , as with all the other apps share anything that piques your interest with the members of your online communities.

If the greatest asset our country can have is an informed electorate, these apps can certainly help you become part of that group, and even entertain you a little on the way.

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Five Awesome Photos Apps for Your Phone

Five Awesome Photo Apps for Your Phone

Five Awesome Photos Apps for Your PhoneIt seems that wherever you go, people are using their phones as cameras more and more. New phones have amazing cameras as part of their hardware package, whether you carry an iPhone, and phone with the Android operating system, or the new Windows 8 operating system. Cameras in our phones have even generated a new industry as hardware add ons are designed to give us different lenses, , microphones, and cases. But the place most people need to start to generate terrific photos is by choosing apps for their phone’s cameras. Here are five great options that can increase your creativity even if you’re just getting started.

Instagram – Available for both iPhone and Android, Instagram allows you to take existing photos, do simple scene editing, and then share them to a large social network to share. You can even modify the photos in your existing gallery or camera roll for sharing after the fact if you prefer to keep your location more private.  The app is free , easy to use , and creates great online engagement.

 

 

Cinemagram – A more sophisticated App, Cinemagram allows you to animate small sections of your photos to make captivating visual art. More complex than still photos, and not quite video, these pictures occupy their own interesting space in online photo sharing. You take short videos and then animate only a section of them for some pretty interesting results.

 

Flickr – This photo communities apps for sharing and exploring their huge online network is worth mentioning because of the way it allows you to share your photos – and frankly, after memorializing a moment in time for ourselves, sharing is the second largest reason for taking photos. Easily browse through the huge number of photos from others, or just view your own online images simply and swiftly.

 

Camera+ Possibly one of the most versatile photo capture and editing software, by using Camera+ you can easily shoot, crop, adjust light after the fact, or use the auto focus or auto-exposure features to adjust light and focus easily during the photo taking process. This is simply what your camera app should have been in the first place. You can immediately share to Facebook, Twitter and other networks.   For only $ .99 this may be the best camera app around.

 

Paper Camera , $1.99 for Android, and a mere $.99 for iOs phones, is a fun application that allows you to add realtime cartoon and painting effects to your photos. I love using this to make special use copies of existing photo s, though the app will allow you to take photos as well, creating interesting photo and video effects.Like Camera+ and Instagram, social sharing is a simple task.

 

Photosynth as a mobile app is for iOs phones or phones using Windows 7.5 or above. Taking overlapping shots, you can create terrific panoramas stitching series of photos together to , in the words of the site, “Capture strange incidents at local businesses, incredible vertical drops in the Norwegian fjords, or whatever places or events inspire you.” The desktop version of the app will also allow you to generate 3D images, using “synths” or overlapping photos.

 

Hopefully you will find as much enjoyment and utility as I have from these apps. These and other Apps are making our phone cameras the “go to” for vacations and special events in our lives. I hope you’ll feel free to share your favorite photo apps in the comments below.

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