October was a month filled with lots of annuals. No, not flowers. It’s traditionally known as the month for National Breast Cancer Awareness, and has been claimed as the time of year to focus on:
• National Dental Hygiene
• Arts & Humanities
• Disability Employment Awareness
…just to name a few. Did you know that it’s also the month for National Cyber Security Awareness? With the amount of time we spend on the internet, it’s not a bad idea to make sure that you’re doing all you can to make sure you’re not being attacked. I’ve been on the wrong end of this issue before, a few years ago and again recently. Ironically, last month, someone charged $300 to my PayPal account using their cell phone.
I was not happy. Not only did I have the hassle of having to call all the appropriate parties, I also had to change my password for just about every financial account I have. I guess I didn’t have to, but I was nervous about being attacked again, so I changed them all. Now I have to carry my password log with me everywhere I go because I can’t remember the new passwords.
I didn’t get any happier when I read a recent article in the Boston Globe that said changing passwords is a waste of time. Well, isn’t that a nice piece of news.
…users are admonished to change passwords regularly, but redoing them is not an effective preventive step against online infiltration…”
Seriously?!? So changing our passwords every 90 days is just a waste of precious minutes? What about all those cyber evil-doers and their bots?
Cormac Herley, the researcher who conducted the study (he’s also a principal researcher for Microsoft Research) says that it’s still important to protect our computers, but that it’s too time consuming because there are too many steps. Nice…a researcher who cares about time management.
Here’s what Herley suggests:
1. Create a kick-ass password surrounded by a moat and alligators. And armored guards. And a couple dobermans. And a ninja.
2. Install the most update virus software. You might think it the latest and greatest version, but are you sure? Go check now.
3. Remember that moat I mentioned earlier, well that’s your firewall. Make sure it’s activated.
4. BE CAREFUL. Unfortunately, we’re the sort that invite spyware to mingle with our computers and smart phones. We like to download stuff. We get tricked. We’re not stupid…the evil-doers are just really smart. Yeah, I don’t like that either.
‘One of the main ways people get compromised is that they open the door to an attacker themselves,’ said Herley. Someone might load software promoted as offering protection when it is actually spyware in disguise, he said, or they ‘open an e-mail attachment with a malicious payload…’”
Do you still think we should change our passwords often or do you agree with Herley?
This might be the time of year when many people start thinking about giving, but, really, you can give at any time during the year. And, you don’t have to go shopping to do it.
There are many people in your neighborhood and around the world who are in great need. So, go through your closets, bookshelves, garages, attics, supply closets, and any other place where you stash stuff you (1) never use, (2) don’t fit or flatter you or (3) that you forgot you had!
Don’t worry, collecting donations doesn’t have to clutter your home or office, and it can be very easy. Simply keep a basket or re-usable bag in your closet (or next to your bookcase or at the top of the stairs or on a shelf in the garage…you get the picture). Every time you put something on that doesn’t fit, you don’t like anymore, or just isn’t flattering – even if you still like it – throw it in your basket or bag.
Take a few minutes and go look for things that no longer bring joy to your life or serve the purpose you thought they would. You’ll feel good about clearing out your space and actually be doing something good for someone else…maybe even an entire family.
Got shoes? My friend and colleague, Scott Roewer, is making a trip to Haiti in January 2011 to donate lots of them with Soles for Souls. He’s also collecting shoes throughout the year for a huge DC event. To find a drop off location, click here.
Have you had a senior moment recently? I have. Last week, in fact.
I was sent a recording of call I hosted and I wanted to pass it on to the other people that were on the call. When I was ready to e-mail the recording, I went searching for the e-mail I had gotten originally. The link to download the recording expired so I asked to have it re-sent. When I got it and saved it to my hard drive, I discovered that I had already downloaded and saved it when I first got it.
So, what should have taken me just a few minutes, took a bit longer. It wasn’t a massive amount of time, but it was still a waste of it. I don’t like senior moments, especially when I have them. It’s no secret that our brains age as we do, but I don’t have to like it.
“Researchers who study brain scans find that as humans age, their processing speed may be a bit slower, and they might miss a beat while first trying to focus on something.” [NPR | 4.15.10]
Since we get more distracted with each birthday, this can mean that our efficiency and productivity can decline as well. Doesn’t sound so great, does it? The good news is while we can’t turn back the clock, there are are few things we can do keep distractions at bay as we get older.
1. Be Aware of What You’re Paying Attention to. Be more aware of where your mind takes you. This will probably take a bit of practice, but try to pay attention to your thoughts and how connected – or disconnected – they are from what you need to be working on.
Have you figured out the types of thoughts/ideas that distract you? Make note of the ones that soak up your attention and put them in their proper place. Write them down in your notebook or add them to your smart phone. Then, go back to them later. The more you are aware, the more control you have.
2. Do One Thing at a Time. The thing about distractions is that they can be sneaky and fun. They creep up on us and make us do things that we want to, especially when we’re really supposed to be doing something else.
Other times, they can be really major pains. We might remember an important thing while we’re doing another important thing, and then we try to do both at the same time…and then we add a third important thing. And, so it goes on.
Sound confusing? Well, stop it. Don’t try to multitask – just do one thing and save your brain cells while you’re at it. Set your timer. Start working. When your time’s up, move on to the next task.
“Focus very, very hard at the beginning of things so that you can sort of get past that moment where sometimes we are more distracted.” [NPR]
3. Turn Everything Off. Not sure what to turn off so that you don’t get sucked away from what you’re really supposed to be doing? Here’s a quick list to get you started…
- Turn off the radio, Judge Judy, your cell phone, etc.
- Put your friends, co-workers, and your dog on pause.
- Put away your favorite magazines and books…and the other important (but less urgent) project, too.
- Step away from the dirty dishes and unfolded laundry (especially if you work from home).
Remember: you can take care of everything you put on hold when your timer goes off! …just not at the same time (see #2).
4. Use Technology to Control Web Surfing. Fight fire with fire. If Facebook, Twitter, Snapfish, or other websites are huge distractions for you, use technology to curb your tech habit.
Browsers like Google Chrome and Firefox offer extensions that will block you from visiting your favorite sites for a specific time frame. They can’t reverse the aging process but they’ll give you a fighting chance at staying on task.
Have you noticed that you have a harder time focusing as you’ve gotten older? What do you do to keep from getting distracted?
Washington, DC Image Consultant, Ketura Persellin, has a few budget-friendly ways that can help you look fabulous during the holidays.
You know you’re going to be getting greeting cards. And gifts for family and friends. But have you taken a few minutes to plan what you’ll be wearing for the holiday-related events you’ll face over the next six weeks?
Here are a few guidelines to get you ready to celebrate in style — without breaking the bank:
1. Use what you have. You likely have some treasures hiding in your closet: a gorgeous ruby-red cashmere cardigan, a flirty velvet skirt or a beautiful charmeuse blouse. These are a great as a jumping-off point for your holiday outfits.
2. Add sparkle. Those basics can form the foundation for not one, but possibly several holiday outfits. With a velvet skirt, you could wear boots and a turtleneck for a low-key family gathering. Then swap those out to up your glam quotient for a more dressy affair, a sequined or beaded top and some embellished shoes would be perfect. One of my current examples of very versatile clothes that can be styled many ways is J. Crew.
3. Accessorize for interest and polish. Most of my clients, even those with closets full of gorgeous clothes, don’t have enough accessories. And you don’t need to spend a fortune to get them, but it’s quite possible you could benefit from some a few strategic, on-trend purchases.
Consider these ideas: restyle what’s already in your jewelry box (wear a few strands of pearls and chains rather than just one, or pile on the bangles); scour the bins at your local consignment and thrift stores; and visit affordable, trend-friendly stores like H&M and Forever 21 for items that will add a modern twist to the classics you own. These are good sources for a smaller, dressy, fun bag.
4. Invest in one special piece — or one great basic. You may have some lovely basics in your closet but no stand-out special piece — a sequined shawl or sweater, a shoe in a great texture or color, or a skirt with really special details. Those are the things that will give you the unique style many women crave.
Or, you may have those, so you just need some up-to-date quality basics, like go-anywhere dark-wash denim trousers or an A-line neutral-color wool-gabardine skirt — versatile pieces that will take you through a variety of social situations.
5. Plan ahead. Finding a quiet half-hour to play in your closet to see what’s there to make holiday outfits with — and what gaps you may need to fill. Then you’ll be ready for whatever the holidays send your way.
About the Author
Need help putting together a few dazzling holiday outfits? Ketura Persellin is an image consultant in Washington, DC, and surrounding suburbs, and she’ll help you find three to four holiday outfits using mostly what’s in your closet. Visit The Wardrobe Workshop for details.
Someone somewhere is probably racing off to meeting at this very moment. That person may have an alarm clock or an app on their smart phone that got them up to be wherever they need be on time. That person probably is not wearing a watch, at least, not for telling time.
What’s the point of wearing a watch these days? Perhaps it’s a nice fashion statement, but I can’t tell the last time I saw someone check their watch to (1) figure out the time or (2) keep them on track for that important thing at X o’clock. Did you know that we never used to tell people that we’d meet them at a specific time? I just learned that on NPR a couple days ago.
“Making your appointments on time wasn’t the idea behind the first mechanical clocks in the 1300s. Back then you’d just agree to meet someone by mid-morning. Time was considered a general idea.” (NPR.com | 11.8.10)
Some of us might wish for those days again. Yes, we’re a lot more particular about making it to work on time or calling the client exactly when we said we would in today’s world. Even so, I still don’t see the need for tying a piece of time-telling jewelry to my wrist anymore. I have a clock on my iPhone, in my car, on the microwave, and on the coffee maker. I’m surprised my electric toothbrush doesn’t have a built-in clock.
You might even find clothing that can tell time, like this skirt. Not really, but it’s a nice look, no? =)
Well, it turns out that some people think that watches are making a comeback because of new features, like a built-in GPS. I still don’t get it.
Why would anyone need a watch? Do you still wear one and why?
You know what it’s like when you get important tip, need to take down a message, or write down your to do’s…and you grab whatever you can find…napkin, post-it, back of an envelope, your palm. Some people, like me, prefer notebooks, but if you have more than one, it can be confusing and you may forget which notebook you wrote in.
Soooo, be exclusive and use just one. Keep your notebook or list with you always so that you can jott down whatever you need to no matter where you are (but not in the car, please). You may want to consider a compact version that can fit in your purse, bag, or briefcase.
Or, you can use a Circa notebook. These notebooks offer a level of flexibility that traditional notebooks don’t: you can move transfer pages from one Circa to another. Check them out and let me know what you think.
Of course, if you’re a gadget person, use your smart phone to record your list, messages, or to do’s. You’ll probably always have it with you.
Last Friday, I attended the the GrowSmartBiz Conference sponsored by the Washington Business Journal & Network Solutions. It was a great day jam packed with superb content and many networking opportunities.
I really liked that the conference organizers structured the sessions according to four specific tracks. This made it easy to either choose all sessions in particular track or go a la carte.
Track 1: Marketing & Innovation
Track 2: Government, Small Business Finance and Non-profit
Track 3: Technology as a Tool for Your Business
Track 4: Entrepreneur Boot Camp
Care to guess which track I focused on? Technology is my friend, so how could I pass up the chance to learn more? I heard from many presenters that mobility and how small businesses make use of mobile apps has a big impact on their productivity and efficiency.
The session that I picked up a few new nuggets was the AT&T presentation on small business mobile apps. This is not intended to be an AT&T commercial, so if you’re not one of their customers, find out if your service provider has similar apps.
“Mobile apps are a speedy way to manage sales.” ~@MobileAppGuy
Mobile apps that will make you look like a rock star
- AprivaPay. On the road a lot visiting clients? Take payments anywhere. Use AprivaPay to conduct credit card transactions via your mobile phone. This app works both in and out of wireless areas. Optional items: card reader and printer.
- ProntoForms. Eliminate paper in the field & data entry while at the office. This app allows you to create and push any form to mobile device. This app works both in and out of wireless coverage area.
- Voicemail to Text. Did you know that 70% of calls go to voicemail? We can all probably agree that this is not great customer service. With voicemail to text, you can read messages as soon as they are delivered.
- Nice Office. Use this app to track client interactions, i.e., every phone call, e-mail, text, or visit via smart phone. You’ll have the advantage of better reporting along with remote storage and online back up of your data.
- Code Scanner. This is a free mobile app that lets you easily scan 2D (QR and datamatrix codes) and 1D (UPC and EAN) barcodes found in magazines, stores, and online. Use it to deliver digital coupons to your clients.
To see more small business mobile apps that AT&T offers, visit http://att.com/smart.
“Mobility is very important. Embrace mobile tech solutions.” ~@ramonray
Here’s to the 2011 GrowSmartBiz Conference
This was my first time attending the the GrowSmartBiz conference. I had loads of fun and learned a few new things. That’s always a nice combo, isn’t it? Many thanks to the Social Media Swami and OTR friend, Shashi Bellamkonda, for putting on such a fantastic event. If you’re a small biz owner, GrowSmartBiz 2011 must be on your calendar. You won’t want to miss it!
“The Well blog’s From Farm to Fridge to Garbage Can tells of studies that show 93 percent of people buy food they never use. A major culprit…is refrigerator clutter. Fresh foods and leftovers languish on crowded shelves and eventually go bad.”
How Much Food Does Your Family Waste? | NYTimes.com ~ Education | 11.3.10