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June 14 2011


‘Hacks for hacks’ Carnival of Journalism results are in

The Carnival of Journalism results are in and I’m furious with myself that I just thought of ‘hacks for hacks’ as a semi-clever title for the project. … Anyway, last month we asked for your suggestions on the best life/workflow/info/journalism hacks to help us all get faster, better, smarter and working harder. Thanks to everyone who contributed. There’s so many awesome tips, tools and techniques here, please check them out and then get to back to rocking out productively!


5 more productivity tips for the Carnival of Journalism

For the Carnival of Journalism this month, we’re looking for productivity tools and info/work hacks. Besides the 18 or so tips I offered to kick start the conversation, here’s 5 more that have been especially helpful for me this year managing all the projects I’ve been working on (ONA Board, SND St. Louis, Multimedia Immersion, speaking and consulting gigs, etc.):

1- Android
I’m sorry all you iPhone folks, I’m not trying to start a civil war here, I’ve used both the iPhone as a personal phone and it’s good, but Google’s Android integration with all Google’s products has saved massive time and frustration this year, especially with all the travel I’ve been doing. Specifically:

  • Google Calendar (be careful with time zones though, change them manually to be sure)
  • Google Voice (Saved me massive amounts of cell phone minutes because I can use Voice seamlessly as my phone’s native calling service — no app opening, my phone can just default to always use Google Voice. Also loved being able to direct my calls to where I was, auto voicemail transcriptions and mp3′s of voicemails are awesome)
  • Gmail (one email archive, easily integrates with other services)
  • Google Docs (especially with the awesome new Android app, great to use a personal Dropbox with their ultra cheap storage space – $5 fo 20 GB!)
  • Gtasks (Google Tasks third party app, that allows me to sync my desktop tasks with mobile tasks, I use it for my to do lists.)
  • Free Android tethering also rocks (while it’s more up to your carrier this has saved me many times avoiding $13.99 a day hotel wifi charges.. or even free “wireless broadband” at hotels that isn’t broadband at all… not even DSL speeds.)

2- Boomerang for Gmail

Taming and managing email has been a critical skill I’ve tried to master over the past year and this tool has been a godsend. This tool for Gmail is fantastic for sending email reminders to yourself (especially if people haven’t responded to previous messages — critical in project management) as well as sending scheduled email messages. They’ve also created an interesting game to learn and practice better workflow (who would have thought email could be a game?). Fyi, Don’t worry about the Boomerang website (the design is a little weird, especially the font on the customer testimonials, which made me nervous initially) but I’ve been using it and this tool is the real deal. If all of Android’s brilliance has made me admire Google, the fact that they haven’t bought up this company and integrated it into Gmail makes me question if they really are in it to win it. :)

2- Gmail prioritization management and filters
There’s no quick and easy tip for this, but I’ve spent a lot of time optimizing my email to do pre-sorting before I see it. It can be dangerous though if you have a filter being a little bit too aggressive and deleting things automatically. So I’ve started to clean this up and move them to a “possible junk mail folder” that I go through occasionally.

4- Google Reader plugin from PostRank
This helps you dive through your RSS feeds quickly and see what the most popular posts are. You must keep in mind, that this is popularity, not interestingness to yourself though.

5- My 6 Sense
Awesome tool that learns your interests and customizes feeds for your preferences and it only gets better with time!

May 11 2011


Carnival of Journalism: Life hacks and how to rock your journalism information workflow

Greetings Carnies!
For this installment of the Carnival of Journalism we’re going to go ultra practical:

What are your life hacks, workflows, tips, tools, apps, websites, skills and techniques that allow you to work smarter and more effectively?

As a recovering RSS-aholic, (my Google Reader account peaked around 2,100 about a year and half ago, I’ve paired it down to 931 currently and am looking to drop that by a half this summer) I’ve always marveled at people like Robert Scoble who seems to be everywhere and tracking everything. Part of this is because he’s an information hound, part social media addict and it’s also part his job to be out there in the conversation with the tech industry. Tim Ferris interviewed him four years ago about his 600+ feeds and how he digs through them for good information.

In my effort to cull my RSS feeds, I’ve relied much more on social networks for network curation but in that transition I realized I was doing it wrong, again. This Winter while meeting with a group of news nerds talking about their workflows, most confessed that they read only a very small portion of their Twitter alerts. At this time, I was close to reading around 70-80+% (obviously that fluctuated but on the average day I’d hit that number or higher); almost everyone else in the room was in the 5-15% range.

So during 2011, I’ve tried to focus on finding more tools and techniques to help boost productivity and save time, while not compromising the quality of information/work completed. Everyone has different ideas on what makes their workflow work, and while sites like Lifehacker.com does a fantastic job, I believe journalists especially manage and filter a lot of information every day, so it would be fascinating to share some of our best practices with the JCarn community.

So for instance, what tools, plugins, apps and websites do you use to get the most out of the day?
For example, here are a few that I’ve tried at various times:

What work techniques and strategies have you learned over the years that help boost your productivity and effectiveness?
More examples of things I’ve tried to get you thinking:

Other ideas?

Our deadline for publishing will be Friday, June 10th. I hope we can all help each other become better, more productive and informed journalists.

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