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Adobe Moves Closer to Online Office Suite with Presentations, Spreadsheets, Premium Plans for Businesses

Adobe Moves Closer to Online Office Suite with Presentations, Spreadsheets, Premium Plans for Businesses

Lifehack_Presentation

    Long-time readers of Lifehack know of my ongoing love affair with Adobe’s online word processor Buzzword, since last year part of the Acrobat.com suite of online applications. “Love affair” is not too strong a phrase, either – I like the interface and ease of use so much that I was inspired to write a book, Don’t Be Stupid: A Guide to Learning, Studying, and Succeeding at College, just for an excuse to have something to use Buzzword for.

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    Last year, Adobe integrated Buzzword into Acrobat.com, adding online file storage and sharing, an online meeting space, and a file-to-PDF convertor, all accessible either through the website or through a very slick AIR application that runs on your desktop.

    I’ve been waiting for Adobe to take the next step with Acrobat.com by adding spreadsheets and presentations, and now they have. As Acrobat.com comes out of Beta, an online presentation editor and spreadsheet has been launched in Adobe’s Acrobat Labs.

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    Adobe has also announced premium plans for businesses, offering unlimited PDF conversion for their Premium Plus subscribers and 10 conversions a month for Premium Basic users (free users are limited to 5files per month), the ability to host larger meetings using ConnectNow (up to 20 for Premium Plus, 5 for Premium Basic users, and 3 for free users), and an unspecified (as far as I could find) increase in ability to store and share files. The rates are a little steep: $15 a month for Premium Basic and $35/month for Premium Plus – I think we have to assume that more features will be available down the line for business users.

    Presentations and Tables

    I won’t be upgrading to a Premium plan, since I’m just a guy, you know? I will be looking rather closely at the spreadsheet and presentation editors, though – that’s something I can use! Currently I use SlideRocket for presentations, and was hoping that Adobe would being something like SlideRocket’s very Adobe-esque interface to the Acrobat.com suite, and from first impressions, it looks like they have. It’s quite similar to Buzzword’s interface, as is Table’s (Adobe’s name for the spreadsheet editor), and since that interface is a big part of my love for Buzzword, I think I’m going to like this. A lot.

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    Acrobat_Table
      Tables incorporates a bunch of automated features – for example, columns automatically inherit the data format of the first cell entered. Take that,Excel! Better yet, it offers great collaboration features. Several people can work on a spreadsheet at the same time, with indicators showing you which cells other people are working on at any given time. If you need to sort or modify a table, you can enter “Private View” so that your changes won’t be reflected in the table others are working on.

      Unfortunately, tables isn’t exactly a spreadsheet – yet, I hope. It’s an easy way to present and organize data, but there is no way to add formulas or automate functions. But it’s a great table editor – hopefully spreadsheet functions will be added soon, and it would be nice to see the table editor as it stands incorporated into Buzzword, too.

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      Presentations is a little more refined, with a good set of tools and themes for producing quality presentations. Unfortunately, you can’t export to PowerPoint, only to PDF. However, the built-in presentation mode is pretty slick, and you can share the presentation online with anyone via email. Collaboration is slick, as in Tables – several people can work at the same time with suitable safeguards to prevent conflicts.

      With Photoshop Express, Adobe is creating a pretty nice suite of online apps. They are by far the nicest-looking and most pleasant to use of the recent crop of Web-based apps. I’m still waiting for Buzzword to add support for styles so it can be fully compatible with Word, and for all the Acrobat.com apps to be integrated with the Acrobat.com file storage and sharing repository – it’s simply odd that documents created with Buzzword are saved separately from all the documents you’ve uploaded, or that documents you’ve uploaded can’t be opened in Buzzword.

      But all in all, Adobe is putting out top-notch apps and deserves a lot more attention than they’re getting so far. Try out this latest crop of applications and see what you think!

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      Last Updated on July 8, 2020

      3 Techniques for Setting Priorities Effectively

      3 Techniques for Setting Priorities Effectively

      It is easy, in the onrush of life, to become a reactor – to respond to everything that comes up, the moment it comes up, and give it your undivided attention until the next thing comes up.

      This is, of course, a recipe for madness. The feeling of loss of control over what you do and when is enough to drive you over the edge, and if that doesn’t get you, the wreckage of unfinished projects you leave in your wake will surely catch up with you.

      Having an inbox and processing it in a systematic way can help you gain back some of that control. But once you’ve processed out your inbox and listed all the tasks you need to get cracking on, you still have to figure out what to do the very next instant. On which of those tasks will your time best be spent, and which ones can wait?

      When we don’t set priorities, we tend to follow the path of least resistance. (And following the path of least resistance, as the late, great Utah Phillips reminded us, is what makes the river crooked!) That is, we’ll pick and sort through the things we need to do and work on the easiest ones – leaving the more difficult and less fun tasks for a “later” that, in many cases, never comes – or, worse, comes just before the action needs to be finished, throwing us into a whirlwind of activity, stress, and regret.

      This is why setting priorities is so important.

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      3 Effective Approaches to Set Priorities

      There are three basic approaches to setting priorities, each of which probably suits different kinds of personalities. The first is for procrastinators, people who put off unpleasant tasks. The second is for people who thrive on accomplishment, who need a stream of small victories to get through the day. And the third is for the more analytic types, who need to know that they’re working on the objectively most important thing possible at this moment. In order, then, they are:

      1. Eat a Frog

      There’s an old saying to the effect that if you wake up in the morning and eat a live frog, you can go through the day knowing that the worst thing that can possibly happen to you that day has already passed. In other words, the day can only get better!

      Popularized in Brian Tracy’s book Eat That Frog!, the idea here is that you tackle the biggest, hardest, and least appealing task first thing every day, so you can move through the rest of the day knowing that the worst has already passed.

      When you’ve got a fat old frog on your plate, you’ve really got to knuckle down. Another old saying says that when you’ve got to eat a frog, don’t spend too much time looking at it! It pays to keep this in mind if you’re the kind of person that procrastinates by “planning your attack” and “psyching yourself up” for half the day. Just open wide and chomp that frog, buddy! Otherwise, you’ll almost surely talk yourself out of doing anything at all.

      2. Move Big Rocks

      Maybe you’re not a procrastinator so much as a fiddler, someone who fills her or his time fussing over little tasks. You’re busy busy busy all the time, but somehow, nothing important ever seems to get done.

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      You need the wisdom of the pickle jar. Take a pickle jar and fill it up with sand. Now try to put a handful of rocks in there. You can’t, right? There’s no room.

      If it’s important to put the rocks in the jar, you’ve got to put the rocks in first. Fill the jar with rocks, now try pouring in some pebbles. See how they roll in and fill up the available space? Now throw in a couple handfuls of gravel. Again, it slides right into the cracks. Finally, pour in some sand.

      For the metaphorically impaired, the pickle jar is all the time you have in a day. You can fill it up with meaningless little busy-work tasks, leaving no room for the big stuff, or you can do the big stuff first, then the smaller stuff, and finally fill in the spare moments with the useless stuff.

      To put it into practice, sit down tonight before you go to bed and write down the three most important tasks you have to get done tomorrow. Don’t try to fit everything you need, or think you need, to do, just the three most important ones.

      In the morning, take out your list and attack the first “Big Rock”. Work on it until it’s done or you can’t make any further progress. Then move on to the second, and then the third. Once you’ve finished them all, you can start in with the little stuff, knowing you’ve made good progress on all the big stuff. And if you don’t get to the little stuff? You’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you accomplished three big things. At the end of the day, nobody’s ever wished they’d spent more time arranging their pencil drawer instead of writing their novel, or printing mailing labels instead of landing a big client.

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      3. Covey Quadrants

      If you just can’t relax unless you absolutely know you’re working on the most important thing you could be working on at every instant, Stephen Covey’s quadrant system as written in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change might be for you.

      Covey suggests you divide a piece of paper into four sections, drawing a line across and a line from top to bottom. Into each of those quadrants, you put your tasks according to whether they are:

      1. Important and Urgent
      2. Important and Not Urgent
      3. Not Important but Urgent
      4. Not Important and Not Urgent

        The quadrant III and IV stuff is where we get bogged down in the trivial: phone calls, interruptions, meetings (QIII) and busy work, shooting the breeze, and other time wasters (QIV). Although some of this stuff might have some social value, if it interferes with your ability to do the things that are important to you, they need to go.

        Quadrant I and II are the tasks that are important to us. QI are crises, impending deadlines, and other work that needs to be done right now or terrible things will happen. If you’re really on top of your time management, you can minimize Q1 tasks, but you can never eliminate them – a car accident, someone getting ill, a natural disaster, these things all demand immediate action and are rarely planned for.

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        You’d like to spend as much time as possible in Quadrant II, plugging away at tasks that are important with plenty of time to really get into them and do the best possible job. This is the stuff that the QIII and QIV stuff takes time away from, so after you’ve plotted out your tasks on the Covey quadrant grid, according to your own sense of what’s important and what isn’t, work as much as possible on items in Quadrant II (and Quadrant I tasks when they arise).

        Getting to Know You

        Spend some time trying each of these approaches on for size. It’s hard to say what might work best for any given person – what fits one like a glove will be too binding and restrictive for another, and too loose and unstructured for a third. You’ll find you also need to spend some time figuring out what makes something important to you – what goals are your actions intended to move you towards.

        In the end, setting priorities is an exercise in self-knowledge. You need to know what tasks you’ll treat as a pleasure and which ones like torture, what tasks lead to your objectives and which ones lead you astray or, at best, have you spinning your wheels and going nowhere.

        These three are the best-known and most time-tested strategies out there, but maybe you’ve got a different idea you’d like to share? Tell us how you set your priorities in the comments.

        More Tips for Effective Prioritization

        Featured photo credit: Mille Sanders via unsplash.com

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