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Design an Online Workflow

Design an Online Workflow

There are countless wonderful, free, online tools out there that help you with productivity, and give you a pretty good way to manage your projects, your small business, and more. But how do you design your workflow, such that you actually make use of the tools consistently, and to their best effect? Let’s set something up.

First, let’s make this a system you can use to manage your projects, personal or otherwise. Second, let’s make it a system that gives you full network communications and collaboration capability. Finally, let’s make it free from start to finish (at least at the base levels of all these products). Here are a few setups:

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Web-Based Toolbox

  • Build a Protopage- I went to Protopage and built a START PAGE. The logon is lifehack and the password is demo1. Protopage lets you do all kinds of things. You can have sticky notes. There’s a calendar. There’s widgets to put up photos, to display web pages, and to show RSS feeds.
  • Get a Voo2Do Account- Go to Voo2Do and get an account. This will be your todo list. (or use tadalist, or remember the milk, or toodledo, or a gazillion other great products).
  • Use GMail and Google Calendar- Gmail and Google Calendar are just easy. They’re fairly uncluttered as apps, and both have all kinds of functionality. I’m still not over Gmail not letting me have folders, but otherwise, they’re the best. I forward my domain email accounts to a Gmail account for ease-of-use, and one-stop collection. The Calendar has lots of great features, like group calendar and all kinds of easy drag-drop create feelings.
  • Set up AIM– An IM client puts you in touch with people for quick fast discussions. I actually recommend using a multi-service client, like Meebo (web-based) or Gaim, so that you don’t have to do the “do you use AIM, or Yahoo! or MSN Messenger” conversation.
  • Set up a Campfire– It’s probably easiest to send you to 37Signals itself, and you can pick up Campfire, their group chat app, as well as BaseCamp, their project management software.
  • Get SkypeSkype‘s a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) product, which use can use as either internet-only, or you can combine with SkypeOut service and SkypeIN service to connect it to the greater telephone network. You can by handsets that make it act like a regular phone, or you can just use your microphone and speakers on your computer.
  • Check out ZohoZoho makes all kinds of free online office application tools, including a word processor, spreadsheet, a presentation tool, and more.
  • Get a Wiki- A wiki is a web-based data site that allows you to build easily edited webpages where you can store information (see Wikipedia). There are some great free ones. I use PBWiki the most.
  • Use an RSS Reader– No, they’re not just for blogs any more. RSS readers let you track important information, keep abreast of targeted data, and allow for collection and aggregation into a reading platform best suited for your needs. (I use Bloglines– do you have a more favorite web-based client?)
  • Set up a Blog– Internal blogs or external, using a tool to capture information in a journal format with dates is really darned useful, especially when coupled with search tools. If it’s external-facing, then your blog is also your press release engine and your public advertising channel #1. (WordPress for internal or external, WordPress free and hosted, Blogger).

Sample Morning Using our Tools
Once you select all your tools, you’ll need to build a workflow that maps to what you need to get done. Here is a sample flow for a few fictional hours in a workday.

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  • Arrive 8:45AM, drink coffee #2. Set digital timer. Pop open Gmail for 15 minutes. REFUSE to check Gmail for 15 minutes.
  • 9:00AM Open Protopage. Check Voo2do list. Projects are showing some next actions involving calls, and some involving editing a nearly-finished proposal. Handle the proposal first, writing it up in Zoho Writer or Writeboard, and share it using BaseCamp with your client. They’ve subscribed to your RSS feed, so you might not have to call or email until later.
  • 9:20AM You finished your proposal, and you uncovered some great points you want to copy and use again later. Post those into the wiki. Get up for a stretch and a walk to the coffee pot.
  • 9:30AM Double-check Gmail. There’s a note from Surya about traffic overheating your server in Ohio. Get on IM, find Surya, and ask him if he’ll cover it. Mark yourself busy when you’re done and post a blog entry marking down what you and Surya did, deciding on a final course of action.
  • 10:05AM Go over some “Friends-only” pictures in Flickr of your prospective new data center in Vietnam, shot by a friend you met on Craigslist who was going that way anyway, and who you paid no more than a case of beer for his involvement in finding the data center and snapping pictures. Tag a few to remind yourself, and make a note in the wiki, linking back. Post about it on the blog, too.
  • 10:42AM Check off 3 things so far in your Voo2Do. Double check them against your BackPack master list of your project, mission and goals, and consider using Zoho’s spreadsheet software to calculate out the savings between what you spec’d the job to cost in hours versus what you saved by flowing so smoothly.

Keys to the Scenario

You can change any of the software options I’ve listed, but the premise is this: hook them all together in a meaningful way and consider the SUM TOTAL of those products the platform. Consider it all related to what you’re doing. Remember that the goal is to accomplish things, to move yourself forward on the goals you have for yourself and your business. It’s not to master a foolproof system that you can never change again.

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Check out the demo ProtoPage, if it’s lasted this long. And if it has to come down, build your own. It’s fairly intuitive. Then, try incorporating all those rich, free, easy-to-use online tools, and build a workflow that supports the lifestyle you’ve dreamed up for yourself. Feel free to load the comments up with modules you’d add instead, with defences of why your tool is better than the ones I recommended, and finally, whether using this methodology does something for your productivity.

–Chris Brogan has his own accounts on nearly every one of the web-based software tools out there. He also has accounts for [chrisbrogan.com] , Grasshopper Factory, and Podcamp.org .

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Published on November 9, 2018

How to Improve Your Computer Skills to Get Ahead in Your Career

How to Improve Your Computer Skills to Get Ahead in Your Career

Technology has taken the business world by storm. People and businesses are progressively reliant on technology world these days. As a result, the people with impressive knowledge and experience with a computer are in demand.

Considering this growing market trend, if you too wish to bag a profitable job, this article is apt for you. Here, we will dig deeper into the business and technology world to look into what are the best computer skills one should invest in and what resources to get help from.

So, are you ready? Here we begin.

6 Most-In Demand Computer Skills This Year (and Beyond)

When talking about computer skills, following are the 6 computer skills that can fill your mailbox with endless job opportunities (besides, having an English and Hindi typing speed of 40+ WPM):-

1. Spreadsheets and Databases

Considering the treasure trove of data companies are handling these days, Spreadsheet and Database management skill tops the list. It is considered the most wanted job skill in the market, with a salary of around $53,129/yr for an entry-level position. However, the spreadsheet skill does not confine to auditing data from cells.

To get hired based on this computer skill, you need to become a Spreadsheet ninja. From storing data to organizing them, applying complex mathematics formulas, and creating complex macros, you need to be an expert at all.

In other words, you need to have an expertise at working with:

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Access
  • Statistics
  • Data Analytics
  • Adobe Campaign
  • Quickbooks
  • XML Database management system
  • Filemaker Pro
  • MATLAB
  • Hive
  • FORTRAN
  • RDBMS (Relational Database Management System)
  • SAS

2. Social Media, Email, and Blogging

Though people are socially active, not everyone knows how to use the social media tools on the professional front. In such a scenario, having an expertise at writing engaging yet professional emails, writing blogs, and managing social media activities is a ticket to entry in reputed organizations.

Some of the skills related to social media, email and blogging that will have a leg up in the hiring process are:

  • Content Management System (CMS)
  • Google Analytics
  • Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)
  • Email Marketing
  • Web Page Design
  • WordPress
  • Digital Media
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Campaign Management Software

3. Graphic Design and Word Processing

A solid grasp of skills to present the gained information in the much readable form is another market need. When considering this computer skill category, you need to enhance your skills at:

  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Adobe InDesign
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • AutoCAD
  • CorelDRAW
  • Microsoft Visual Studio
  • Maya
  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Publisher
  • Operating Digital Cameras

4. Software and Hardware Design and Development

The Software and Hardware development, in simpler language, means designing, implementing, and testing the computer software/hardware applications. It is the most profitable computer skill, with a different job opening, including Software Architect, Software Analyst, Software programmer, Hardware configuration, etc.

To be capable of developing and testing the software and hardware, you need to peruse your users’ needs and build an application that hits their pain points. You need to work with different web and mobile app coding languages for gaining the attention of your audience, some of which are:

  • HTML
  • C/C++
  • Java
  • Python
  • XML
  • UI/UX
  • LINUX
  • CISC and RISC architecture
  • Embedded Processor Hardware Design
  • Memory Management
  • PCB Layout
  • SQL

5. IT Troubleshooting

Working on computers is one thing and having a knack of looking into the associated issues and resolving them in real-time is another. There are various employees and graduates who work with computer systems in their daily lives, but get confused when it comes to dealing with frozen programs and performing routine maintenance.

So, if you are familiar with the basic anatomy of computers and machines and know the tricks to perform such tasks to streamline the working process, enter the IT support arena. The prime IT troubleshooting skills one needs to work upon are:

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  • Backup management
  • Diagnostics
  • End User support
  • Client-Server management
  • Installation and configuration
  • Issue tracking system (ITS)
  • System administration
  • Tech support

6. Enterprise Systems

Many Enterprises have their own enterprise solutions like PeopleSoft for managing their data and operations.

Becoming a master at using the enterprise solutions mentioned in their ‘Requirements’ area can also lessen the barrier to get a job.

The Roadmap to Excel Your Computer Skills

Now that you know the 6 most popular computer skills in the market, the first decision, you need to take is which computer skill you want to work upon. All the skills are equally considerable for making a career ahead. So, choose one as per your interest.

Once done, look forward to the following resources for boosting your computer skills and getting a reputed, handsome job.

Depending on the computer skill you opt, here are the online courses you can turn to for elevating your career opportunities:

1. Become a Spreadsheet and Database Ninja

a. Microsoft Excel Training Online Course – Basic & Advanced

Whether you are a beginner, intermediate or expert at working with spreadsheets, this online course has something new for everyone to become excel efficient users.

Divided into 48 interesting lessons, the course empowers you to learn the technique of using mathematical, statistical, logical and text functions, sorting and filtering the data, creating Pivot Tables, building macros, finding a value with VLOOKUp, and much more.

b. Excel- Online Courses, Classes, Training, Tutorials on Lynda

This is another impressive course to unlock the power of Excel. Designed for people from all walks of life and familiarity with Excel tools. This course helps you gain in-depth knowledge from the experts about this data-analyzing tool and make the magic in spreadsheet creation and management process.

c. SQL & Database Design A-Z™: Learn MS SQL Server + PostgreSQL

Build a successful career in the data analytics world with this online course.

Revolving around the two top databases, MS SQL and PostgreSQL, this course will give you a comprehensive knowledge of the working of the databases and understanding of all the related elements, including how to create, update, organize, and safeguard the data.

2. Rule the Social Media World

a. Free Social Media Course by HubSpot

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Introduced by the top experienced inbound professors from Hubspot, here you will get a comprehensive knowledge of Social media marketing.

From understanding how to build relationships on different social media platforms to creating a perfect strategy to engage them, leveraging the benefits of social advertising, and analyzing your social media ROI, this course will bring out the best out of you.

b. Write Professional Emails in English by Coursera

This online course will be the right weapon to look into the differences and similarities between different email styles, improve your English writing skills, write effective subject lines, maintain the formality tone in emails, and more to make a powerful impact on the receivers with your email.

c. Ninja Writing: The Four Levels of Writing Mastery

Founded by Udemy, this online course will excel your skills to build a masterpiece everytime you write.

Here, you will get the guidance from the editors of the top newspapers and websites, and understand what kind of words and tone to use for leaving a spellbinding impact on the readers.

3. Launch Your Own Software or Hardware Equipment

a. Hardware and Software Courses by Coursera

From Big Data to IoT, Sensor Circuit Design, Embedded Software and Hardware Architecture, and Motor Control Circuit, this course will give you a glimpse of all the hardware devices, equipment, and programming languages to build wonders.

b. Free Software and Web Development Certifications Online by Alison

Become the software developer market demands with Alison’s Java, C#, Python, R, PHP, or MySQL database course. From backend to frontend development and software testing.

The course helps you to learn how to design, develop and test software and working in a team while contributing to the team success.

c. Free Online Software Development and MOOCs Course by Class Central

The Class Central online course will make you a master of software development. Here, you will learn the basic concepts of development like Agile, Design Patterns, and Version Control with Git, along with gaining experience of working with the top programming languages.

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4. Live and Breathe Creativity

a. Udemy: Introduction to Graphic Design

It is a top-rated program for the new learners and designers to explore the Graphic Design world.

From the history of communication to the design principles, the course will help the students to learn everything specifically and implement in the real world.

b. Canva Design School

From a beginner to advanced level, this course will provide you with an elaborated and comprehensive knowledge of graphic design. In the form of 4 modules, this course will help the interested graphic designers to try out their skills at Graphics, ranging from fonts to colors, backgrounds, images, shapes, and layouts.

c. Microsoft Word – Basic & Advanced

62 personalized lessons, premium video tutorials, and unlimited tests and quizzes – this certified course has everything that will make your entry to the business world easier.

d. Microsoft Office: Word, Excel and Access Productivity Bundle

The course will make you productive in Word, Excel, and Access through video lectures, articles, and various other supplemental resources.

Besides, it will offer you exclusive tips and tricks to enhance your skills at using Microsoft office.

5. Raise Your Reflexes to IT Troubleshooting

a. IT Troubleshooting Skill Training by Udemy

IT Troubleshooting Skill Training will upgrade your logical concepts over technical components to find and repair faults.

It will provide you with a methodological approach to learn the basics of troubleshooting, practice them via exercises and drills, and enhance your IT troubleshooting intelligence.

b. IT Help Desk Online Course on Lynda

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The Lynda’s IT troubleshooting online course will train you how to respond to the issues related to Windows 10, Office 365, JIRA software, and more, from a local as well as a remote location.

Mobile Apps and Websites to Enhance Computer Skills

The aforementioned online courses will undoubtedly train you for a successful career ahead. But, in case you want a long-term support, turn towards the following websites and mobile apps:

  • Duolingo – Duolingo app will improve your spoken and written communication skills in different languages. With the magic of gamification added to the study, the app will make learning a fun and addictive task.
  • Hemingway – Hemingway app defines the length, complexity, and common errors associated with the sentences. In this way, it helps you to write effectively and go ahead in the career.
  • Udemy – The Udemy, with its 2000+ courses, is a great platform to master new skills, advance your career and explore the newer technologies and programming languages. Enrol a course as per your budget and make a brighter future.
  • eDX – eDX is yet another commendable platform you can look forward to. The platform offers you the best of the tutorials prepared by the business professionals and technology experts, ensuring a great boost in your computer skills.
  • Excel Easy – Excel Easy, as the name depicts, will make working with Excel easier for you via their detailed tutorials and 300+ real-life examples.
  • GCF LearnFree.org – It is a one-stop platform for accelerating your future in the computer world. From graphic design to Microsoft Office, resume writing, enhancing adaptability, and much more, the top experts will guide you with everything on this platform.
  • QuarkXPress – The QuarkXPress will aid you to add soul to your design with its unparalleled collection of font style, size, and typography. The best part is that it is avails all the options in different languages, including English, Spanish, German, French, and Italian to name a few.

Bonus: Tips to Accelerate Your Approach For a Better Career Ahead

Though these resources will make you stand out from the crowd and get hired at once, you need to focus on various other things, such as:

1. Practice, Practice, Practice

It is common to forget what we learn. To ensure that you do not miss any opportunity just because you forgot, keep practising.

Make it your routine. Polish your computer skills and you will surely end up getting an offer letter from a recognized firm.

2. Work on Your Efficiency

Remembering what you learned is not enough; practice to enhance those skills to do better.

For example, if you take around 50 minutes to create a design, target for 40 minutes.

3. Look for Shortcuts

Smart work rules over hard work more often. So, look forward to learning shortcuts to do any task. This will increase your chances to crack an interview and get selected.

4. Apply for an Internship

Last but not the least, apply for an internship to see what’s trending in the market and how much you are ready for it. While doing an internship, pay attention to your weak points and work on them. This will ensure a success when you apply for your dream job.

By the late, it’s never too late to be an intern or grab whatever opportunity to learn something new! Here’s how:

How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late

The Bottom Line

Seeing the current market scenario, it is evident that having computer skills is a boon for a better career ahead.

So, rather than struggling with thousands of other things and trying to crack interviews, focus on the computer skills mentioned in this article. Utilize the resources and experts’ tips shared and look forward to having a successful and prosperous future.

Featured photo credit: Glenn Carstens-Peters via unsplash.com

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