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Bloom: A Different Kind of Productivity App for the iPhone

Bloom: A Different Kind of Productivity App for the iPhone
    Photo courtesy of Mindbloom

    Seattle-based Mindbloom has made waves with its digital inspiration and productivity web app, adding a gamification element to the niche that was both unique in approach and in accessibility. Now they’ve added a standalone app to its arsenal with Bloom, a free app that gives users a real kickstart in doing what really matters in everyday life. It offers a fun and simple way to transform photos and music into a private or shared digital inspiration. Bloom brings what’s really important in life to the forefront, enabling users to connect better with their lives as a whole as opposed to just their to-do lists. I’ve had a chance to play with the app while it was in testing, and the Mindbloom team definitely are onto something with Bloom.

    The digital inspirations that are the foundation of the app are called (fittingly) Blooms, and the app comes pre-loaded with several of them. You can set reminders that will notify you when it’s time to “Bloom” them – and those reminders can be randomized or set for particular dates and times. You can associate different images from your iPhone with each Bloom, and do the same with music from your iTunes library. Each Bloom comes with imagery attached already, so you can choose to go with those defaults or pick photos from your own library that fit the Bloom best. As for musical selections for Blooms, each one comes with a preview of a suggested iTunes song (and offers a download link so you can grab it straight away), or you can go with your own song if you want.

      The "Edit Bloom" Screen

      Blooms can also be shared socially via your Facebook and Twitter accounts, or can be sent to friends and family via email. Once shared, Blooms can be saved in the Bloom app, played, or be used as the starting point for a new, personalized Bloom. Here’s an example of how I’ve used varying privacy settings with Blooms:

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      1. I sent a private Bloom to my wife to be sure that we share a hug every day.
      2. I have prepared a share group-only Bloom with fellow NaNoWriMo writers on “staying the course”.
      3. I’ve got a public Bloom that ready to be “socially shared” (Facebook and Twitter followers) that suggest they give Bloom a look as soon as they can download it.

      Bloom notifications are one of the things I really took advantage of during my testing of the app. It reminded me to reflect, take a break, or trigger an action that kept me focused on what mattered to me most. I’ve never been really good at keeping up with water intake, but Bloom has allowed me to do this.

      I’d never enter something like “Drink water” into my task management app of choice, but since I don’t look at Bloom in that manner, I’m able to do it here. What I consider Bloom to be is a life enhancement app, a companion piece that I can use (along with Mindbloom) to keep augment mindfulness while I let my task manager handle all of the other stuff. It’s part of my combined system, and it works well for me because each component does what it does better than the others.

      But why should you grab Bloom? And more importantly, why should you use it – or Mindbloom, for that matter?

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      Unlike any productivity-type application I’ve seen, Mindbloom basically makes achieving what might be usually considered an ordinary thing quite an extraordinary digital experience.

      Parks Associates, an industry research firm, is studying a growing demand for health entertainment and lead analyst, Harry Wang believes Mindbloom can be just as entertaining as it is beneficial.

      “Many health and wellness applications often take a prescriptive approach when designing the user experience. But we’ve seen that people tend to become less engaged with these types of applications over time,” said Mr. Wang.  “Mindbloom takes a more personal approach, entertaining even, which makes the overall experience more inviting, relevant and rewarding.”

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      I had the opportunity to speak with Mindbloom founder Chris Hewett when Mindbloom first launched and just days before Bloom was scheduled to go public. What I discovered is that he is among those who are developing a new generation of productivity/task management apps that “gets it”.

      It brings to mind this quote, which, much like Steve Jobs, I’ve been a fan of:

      “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” – Wayne Gretzky

      Hewett and his team are doing just that with the Mindbloom web app – and now, with Bloom on the iPhone.

        The "Reminder Prompt" Screen

        “Everyday, more than 250 million photos are uploaded to Facebook, Instagram recently celebrated 150 million photos being shared and iTunes recently surpassed 16 billion song downloads,” said Hewett, a former executive producer for Monolith Productions who developed blockbuster hits such as No One Lives Forever, Tron 2.0, and F.E.A.R. ”Photos and music are a powerful way to express ourselves and to share experiences, but we believe there’s an untapped opportunity to use photos, music and inspiring words to remind ourselves and express to others what matters most to us and what we’re doing about it.”

        As mentioned, Bloom can act as a standalone app, or can work in conjunction with the Mindbloom web app through the recently launched free-to-play “life game”, which serves to inspire people to define what’s important, discover what motivates them, and take meaningful daily actions in all areas of their life. Users can connect Bloom with their Mindbloom life game, where it builds on these goals by focusing on the science behind behavioral change – integrating technology, art, and human psychology to make personal growth more effective on-the-go.

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        Bloom is now available as a free download in the iTunes App Store .  I recommend you give it a look – it’s not your ordinary productivity and lifestyle app.

        In fact, it’s quite extraordinary.

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        Last Updated on August 15, 2018

        25 Most Useful Excel Shortcuts That Very Few People Know

        25 Most Useful Excel Shortcuts That Very Few People Know

        Imagine if you could use 5 simple shortcuts while working in Excel, and increase your productivity without wasting time for searching information in huge tables, writing long formulas, and sorting the data.

        Or even better:

        What if you would get 25 useful shortcuts… and each of them could simplify your work, so you could do much more every day?

        You’d definitely feel excited to read about them.

        Today is your lucky day because we are going to share with you in this article 25 great Excel shortcuts you can use in your work every day! This is your lucky chance, so go ahead and become a real professional in Excel without wasting your time.

        How important are Excel shortcuts for you?

        The most effective thing to check out if people really need something is to release a survey and look at the results. So, according to the anonymous survey, 99% of people said Excel shortcuts are critical or important for them.

        In general, there are more than 200 shortcuts in Excel. But when we have analyzed the data about how many shortcuts people know, we got the next results:

        • 26% of people know 10 or fewer shortcuts;
        • 61% of people know 10-50 shortcuts;
        • 10% of people know 50-100 shortcuts.

        As you can see, not so many people know a lot of shortcuts. Probably, some of them never think about increasing their productivity in such a simple way.

        Of course, it depends on how deep you use Excel. Some people use this powerful application just for making simple tables or graphs, others use it for everyday work to count something.

        Most of the accountants and businessmen use much more Excel functions for more complex tasks such as creating VBA macros, managing PivotTables, recalculating huge workbooks, outlining data, etc.

        But even those people who work with Excel every day very close may know a few shortcuts. Needless to say, they can do their job without shortcuts, but it usually takes for them much more time. T

        his sounds not funny, especially if you must finish a huge amount of work urgently. There is a great opportunity for you to increase your productivity in Excel and do your job faster with our useful shortcuts.

        5 Main reasons to learn excel shortcuts

        Many people don’t understand why they should use shortcuts if they can work without them. Of course, if you use Excel twice per year to make a simple table or a graph, it is probably not so important for you to know many shortcuts.

        But if you work in Excel every day, sorting huge tables and managing with tons of data, then shortcuts will help you to reach the next five goals:

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        1. Work efficiently and faster in Excel
        2. Manage big amounts of data easily and fast
        3. Stay calm and concentrated even while doing a tedious job
        4. Make your work accurately and properly without errors
        5. Get a better understanding of Microsoft Excel

        Who can use Excel shortcuts?

        There are a lot of people who can simplify their life with Excel shortcuts, and here are the groups that will definitely love using them:

        • People who work in banks, finance organizations, etc.
        • Businessmen who make tons of various reports and presentations in Excel for meetings and briefings.
        • Students who usually are lazy and impatient to make their homework because they don’t want to waste a lot of time working in Excel.
        • Private entrepreneurs who keep various data in Excel tables.

        Whether you are a student who hates Excel because it seems a time-wasting and boring application, or you are an accountant who must recalculate huge worksheets every day without making errors, we recommend reading and learning these Excel shortcuts to make your work simpler and save some time.

        With these simple but useful tricks, it is so easy to finish your job and get more time for yourself.

        25 Excel shortcuts to increase your productivity

        Here are 25 great Excel shortcuts you should learn and use for work or studying to make your job faster and simpler. Try to use them all and you will realize you were totally blind before while working in Excel:

        1. Format whatever object fast with Ctrl+1

        If you select any object in Excel – a cell, a chart, a chart axis, a drawing object – then press Ctrl+1, and you will get the Properties dialog for the certain object. This shortcut offers a very quick and easy way to format whatever object you’re working with.

        2. Use range names with Ctrol+G or F5 key

        If you use range names (which we strongly recommend to do) and you want to choose the range with a specific name references, press either Ctrl+G or the F5 key, which launches the GoTo dialog.

        If the name is simple, you can click on it in a list in that dialog. But if it’s at all unusual, Excel won’t list it; so you will need to type in the name. Then press OK.

        3. Use a range name in a formula with =sum( and F3

        Suppose you want to use a range name in a formula. For example, you want to sum the Sales range. Enter…

        =sum(

        …and then press F3.

        When you do so, Excel launches the Paste Name dialog. Just choose “Sales” from the list, press the OK button in the dialog, then enter the SUM function’s closing “)” to complete the formula.

        4. Launch Function Arguments dialog easily with Ctrl+A

        Suppose you want to check the help topic for a worksheet function. For example, you want to read about the MATCH function. In a cell, type…

        =match(

        …and then press Ctrl+A, or click the Insert Function (“fx“) button to the left of the formula bar.

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        When you do so, Excel displays the Function Arguments dialog, which might offer all the help you need.

        But if you still want to see the complete help topic, click the blue “Help on this function” hyperlink in the lower-left corner of the dialog. This technique works with all documented Excel functions.

        5. Copy stuff down the column without scrolling with Ctrl+D

        If you added a formula in a new column on the right of a huge dataset, and you want to copy that formula down without scrolling, do these steps:

        • go to the right to the column that has data (the column to the left of the new column with the formula);
        • press Ctrl+Down – to get to bottom;
        • move one cell to the right (with arrow key naturally);
        • press Ctrl+Shift+Up to select the new column, at the top of which is the formula you just created;
        • press Ctrl+D to fill down the formula.

        6. Quick access to any function with Alt+

        By customizing the quick access toolbar, you can create simple shortcuts to commands that you would otherwise have to find in the Ribbon tabs, or macros you have created yourself.

        The keyboard shortcut is simply selecting Alt+ (the number of the command you wish to select).

        For example, if you have customized your quick access toolbar to have Calc Sheet, Save, Open. To calculate sheet you would hit Alt+1, for save Alt+2, and for open Alt+3.

        A lot of people are unaware of this useful function, and it’s a great time saver.

        7. Format cells with Ctrl+1

        When you need to format cells, use Ctrl+1. Most people know this as the shortcut for the Format Cells dialog, but you can also use it to format almost anything in Excel, without a care about the state of the ribbon. Try this amazing and simple shortcut!

        8. Choose visible cells with Alt+

        When you need to choose visible cells only – use Alt+. This is the trick to copy only what you see. It is a priceless shortcut when you’re manually hiding rows and columns in the table.

        9. Use filtering

        Filtering – it is a powerful way to slice, dice, and sort through a huge table of information.

        It’s amazingly effective when you’re participating in a meeting to discuss something like a sales forecast, and everyone is looking in real-time at your spreadsheet projected on a screen (or on their monitors).

        To some people, you will be seen as the God of Spreadsheets, and this is not a joke!

        10. Insert or delete column/row easily with the Ctrl key

        Some people waste a lot of time even for simple operations, for example, when they need to insert/delete columns and rows in Excel.

        Use this shortcut to insert: with an entire row or column selected, use Ctrl+Shift ++.

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        To delete: with an entire row or column selected, use Ctrl + –.

        11. See formula results with F9

        If you want to check formula results within multiple formulas, highlight the formula and select F9 to see formula result.

        Don’t forget to undo before exiting the formula.

        12. Use ALT+Enter for more text within a cell

        If you want to add a second line of text within a cell, use ALT+Enter.

        13. Use EDATE to move a date on by a full calendar month:

        Here’s how to use EDATE:

        =EDATE(15/01/16,+1) = 15/02/2016 (15th Feb 2016)

        =EDATE (15/01/2016,-2) = 15/11/2015 (15th Nov 2016)

        14. Use EOMONTH to move a date onto the end of the month:

        Here’s how to use EMONTH:

        =EOMONTH(15/01/2016,0) = 31/01/2016 (31st Jan 2106)

        =EOMONTH (15/01/2016,-2) = 30/11/2015 (30th Nov 2015)

        15. Remove spaces with TRIM

        TRIM is a useful function known by few people. It removes any spaces at the beginning of a value. This is useful if you are pulling in values from somewhere else.

        16. Repeat commands with F4 or Ctrl+Y

        In many cases, you may need to repeat your last action. Use F4 or Ctrl+Y; you can repeat many commands like applying the same borders, format, or insert a worksheet again.

        17. Quick access to cells with the Ctrl key and Shift key

        When you need to go to the first or last cell of a worksheet, no matter where you are, use Ctrl+Home, Ctrl+End combinations.

        And here is a pleasant bonus for you: add the Shift key to select everything on the way!

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        18. Use Ctrl+ to create a timestamp

        If you need a date stamp and/or a timestamp in your document, there is no need to type a date and time! Use shortcuts Ctrl+ ; (date) Ctrl+Shift+ : (time). It works like a magic and helps to save your time and nerves.

        19. Use autosum shortcut for sum function anywhere

        Autosum shortcut – use Alt =. It is a “magic” shortcut of Excel to automatically insert a sum function.

        You can use this shortcut to sum rows, columns, or even an entire table in one step without wasting your time.

        20. Use data validation

        This is an amazing but underutilized tool in Excel, which can be used for a variety of things:

        • Create dependent drop-down lists;
        • Create drop-down lists;
        • Protect/restrict data input of specific cells (without the need for VBA macros).

        21. Use conditional formatting

        It can be used for various purposes such as color format or cell format of cells, rows or columns based on dependent cell values or formats.

        22. Use formula auditing

        This is a great tool to analyze and trace precedent or dependent cells, check errors and evaluate formulas.

        The “Watch Window” is a feature to keep a snapshot of an area of the spreadsheet, and then move to another area of the workbook – particularly valuable if you’re managing large spreadsheets or don’t have a second screen.

        23. Use Scenario Manager to generate summary outputs of a spreadsheet

        Scenario Manager (under “What-if Analysis”) enables users to generate high-level, summary outputs of a spreadsheet – without the need to replicate the entire workbook.

        It will present multiple scenarios of a spreadsheet in a succinct, high-level summary worksheet.

        24. Use INDIRECT to set up large tables

        INDIRECT makes it easy to set up tables which reference larger tables without a lot of referencing work or cutting and pasting; especially for dynamic spreadsheets.

        25. Use OFFSET for complicated calculations or formulas

        OFFSET can be useful for things like calculating YTD numbers or creating formulas that take data in rows and using in columns.

        The bottom line

        As you can see, when you have a boring or tedious job to do, the best way to do it fast is not looking for a way how to avoid it, but searching for the shortest variant to do it!

        That is why we suggest keeping in mind these Excel shortcuts that will help you to save a lot of time and nerves.

        If it seems hard for you to remember all them, you can print out the list of shortcuts and keep it on your worktable. Use it to search for some help when you need it, and over time, you’ll remember all shortcuts easily.

        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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