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May

13

2017

7 of the Best Mood-Boosting Websites We Could Find

Published by in category Daily, productivity | Comments are closed

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I will never forget the day I learned that watching cat videos is proven to enhance your mood.

Even to a bonafide dog person, the news was good. In a study conducted at Indiana University Bloomington, participants reported “fewer negative emotions, such as anxiety, annoyance and sadness, after watching cat-related online media than before.

And it’s not just cat videos — the same conclusions have been drawn about humor in general. Researchers at Loma Linda University found that, in aging adults, watching comedic videos correlated with improved short-term memory. In other words: Funny is good.

We believe these findings particularly apply during the work day. When our days reach a stressful climax, or we’re feeling particularly frustrated, that’s when self-care becomes imperative. But there’s time and efficiency to consider. In the middle of a winter afternoon, for example, a long walk might not be the best option. That’s where the internet becomes especially useful — it’s full of those mood boosting videos that even academic researchers have found to be mentally beneficial. New Call-to-action

But what are some of the best go-to websites for mood-boosting content? I surveyed the web and my colleagues for some favorite online sources of a quick pick-me-up, and selected the seven best ones to seek out in the middle of a hectic work day. So go ahead — click, and smile. You’ll be glad you did.

7 of the Best Mood-Boosting Websites We Could Find

1) Animal Planet Kitten Cam

Live video by Animal Planet L!ve

Sophia Bernazzani, Staff Writer, HubSpot Marketing Blog:

I’m a huge animal lover, and during a hectic and stressful workday, watching a live feed of a bunch of kittens playing is a fun way to take a quick mental break without getting too distracted.”

Visit this online destination if:

You love watching adorable things happen in real time. There’s a reason why live videos get 3X more viewing time than pre-recorded ones — it’s fun to watch things unfold as they happen, even if it’s a cat discovering yarn for the first time.

Author’s note: For my fellow dog people, there’s also an Animal Planet Puppy Cam.

2) Huffington Post Good News Section

HuffPost Good News

Aja Frost, Staff Writer, HubSpot Sales Blog:

When I need a quick reminder about all the cool, heart-warming, inspiring things people do for one another each and every day, I check Huffington Post’s Good News vertical. It’s a curated collection of happy news — often stories that are overshadowed by more dramatic (read: more depressing) events.”

Visit this online destination if:

You get overwhelmed by coverage of less-than-positive current events. This site provides great fodder for watercooler talk, but focuses on, well, the good stuff.

3) Find the Invisible Cow

Invisible CowSource: StrauberryPlays

Nick Carney, Social Media Marketer:

Sometimes, there are days when you just need a win — something to pick you up and carry you through the rest of the day. For me, there’s nothing much more satisfying than finding an invisible cow. It makes me feel more accomplished and ready to take on the world, one elusive cow at a time.”

Visit this online destination if:

You like a tiny challenge with your midday break. While it’s not exactly a mind-bending game, Find the Invisible Cow provides just enough stimulation for your brain to feel like you’ve accomplished something. Plus, the more you win, the more animal options you have to choose from.

4) Cute Overload

Cute Overload

Janessa Lantz, ‎Principal Content Marketing Strategist:

Cute Overload is my go-to rainy day pickup. Puppies wearing red galoshes and kittens snuggling with hamsters will always make me feel better about life. And even though it’s no longer publishing new content, the archive is still filled with joy.”

Visit this online destination if:

You’re the nostalgic type. In January 2016, Cute Overload decided to stop publishing new content — read more about that here — but its previous posts are still alive and well at the original URL. So if you’re the type of person who never gets sick of seeing videos about seals, bunnies, and polar bears that have been curated from a variety of sites, this destination is for you.

5) Spotify

When I told Bernazzani that I would be writing this roundup, she quickly pointed me in the direction of Spotify. The digital music provider, she explained, “has curated playlists that are specifically about mood and attitude.” Some of our favorites? “Brain Food,” “Songs to Sing in the Shower,” and, of course, “Mood Booster,” which we’ve embedded below.

Visit this online destination if:

Working in silence makes you bonkers — or, if you really do need a quick and easy mood boost. Music is known for its multiple physiological benefits, which are reviewed quite thoroughly in this study of its neurochemistry. But not only can it help to regulate your mood, but also, it can be intellectually stimulating, making it a great way to take a break before resuming a challenging task.

6) BarkPost Humor

BarkPost.png

BarkPost is one of those delightful websites full of content that either leaves you in stitches, or clinging to your pets for dear life. If you prefer to avoid the latter — which is likely here, considering you’re seeking a mood-booster and not a downer — we recommend checking out BarkPost Humor, which is packed full of trending stories, photos, and videos of dogs being unintentionally hilarious. Is it hard news? Not really, unless you consider one woman’s tale of sending her dog and cat to a marriage counselor to be heavy-hitting journalism. But honestly, who wouldn’t want to read that story?

Visit this online destination if:

You never, ever, ever, get sick of seeing funny dog videos — whether you’re in a bad mood or not.

7) Audiotree

You might be thinking, “Are all of these sites related to animals and music?” Well … almost. But hey, as per the studies cited previously, those are two of the biggest mood boosters out there.

For the latter, there’s Audiotree, the aptly self-described “artist discovery platform.” Whether you’re into studio sessions, live-streamed concerts (and remember — that type of video gets over 3X the views as others), or documentaries, this site has something for you.

But what makes this site particularly mood-boosting? For us, it’s the variety of content. It might seem like music is intuitively consumed one way — by listening to it — but Audiotree has made it a mission to diversify the way we do that. Plus, they share interesting stories about the people who write and perform it, adding a learning element to the way we enjoy a great song.

Visit this online destination if:

You love your favorite artists, but want to find something new. You may not have heard of the ones featured on this site before, but what better way to boost your mood than with a new favorite song?

Get Happy

I don’t know about you, but I feel better already. Many of these sites were unfamiliar to me when I first began working on this article, and just listening to my colleagues describe them with such enthusiasm was a treat. Experiencing them was even better — and I definitely found myself feeling slightly less stressed and preoccupied once I explored some of what they had to offer.

And if you feel like you’re too busy to take a break, know this: The top 10% of most productive employees take 17-minute breaks for every 52 minutes of work they put in. So if you feel your earlobes starting to leave marks in your shoulders, please — watch a cat video, listen to an awesome new song, or read about some good news. Take notes right afterward on how you feel, and see how taking these mini mood-boosting breaks impacts your disposition over time.

What are your favorite mood-boosting websites? Let us know in the comments.

Take me to Projects

 
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May

5

2017

The Best Schedules for Productivity (No Matter What Time You Wake Up)

Published by in category Daily, IGSS, productivity | Comments are closed

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If you’re a lover of sleeping in and staying up late like I am, titles such as the ones below might stress you out.

“The Morning Habits of 5 Fortune 500 CEOs”

“Why These Startup Founders Swear by Exercising in the Morning”

“Train Yourself to Be a Morning Person”

Download our complete guide here for more tips on improving your productivity.

To all the early birds out there, I salute and admire you — I simply can’t fathom the idea of waking up before sunrise. A lot of content about productivity and scheduling espouses the importance of getting up early, but an early alarm isn’t the only way to get things done.

Whether you wake up early or like to sleep in, the key is to schedule your tasks accordingly. You won’t see benefits from waking up early to exercise if you haven’t slept enough, and your evening routine will influence how early you’re able to get to bed. Syracuse University created the schedules below to optimize your day for productivity, whether you wake up at the crack of dawn or like to hit snooze a few times. Try them out, and see if they help you have a more productive — and restful — day.

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Source: Communications@Syracuse

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Apr

18

2017

Is Technology Actually Making Us Less Productive? [New Research]

Published by in category Daily, Editorial, productivity | Comments are closed

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After working in my role here at HubSpot for almost eight months now, I’ve started to go into autopilot when I turn on my computer every morning.

I open up my email app, my calendar app, my organization and productivity app, my grammar-checking app, my note-taking app, my analytics tool, and my blogging tool.

And that’s only when I first get into the office.

By the end of most days, my browser is full of different tabs, and so many apps and tools are running that they eventually start shutting down of their own accord. When all of these sites, apps, and tools are working, I spend a significant portion of my day using them: to write, to proofread, to extrapolate data, to keep track of what I’m working on, to update notes — all in the name of efficiency.

But as it turns out, the tools and apps that we marketers use every day could actually be making us less efficient. If you feel the pain of switching between 1,000 apps per day like I do, read on for new data from HubSpot Research.

The Trouble With Tools

We surveyed more than 2,000 business owners, salespeople, and marketers in the U.S. and U.K. The biggest finding from our research? Marketers and salespeople are using too many productivity tools and apps, and it’s actually making us less efficient.

Marketers are using a ton of tools.

You probably knew this one already from your own day-to-day experience, but it bears repeating: There are an enormous number of marketing tools out there, and marketers are using a lot of them to get their jobs done every day.

HubSpot Research analyzed our customer base of over 20,000 websites, and we found that each website has an average of 13 tool integrations — one website even had 88 tools and apps. The marketing app and tool landscape is incredibly crowded and constantly evolving, a phenomenon Chiefmartec.com chronicled in this extremely busy graphic:

marketing_technology_landscape_2016_3000px-1.jpg

Source: Chiefmartec

Now, before you keep reading, think about how many tools you use every day to do your job. Keep that number in mind as you keep reading the results of our survey.

Marketers underestimate how many tools they’re using.

When I counted up the number of tools I use every day, my initial count landed at seven tools and apps. But then, when I started digging into my internet history, I realized the number was actually higher. HubSpot’s internal communications platform is a tool I didn’t consider. The same goes for our file-sharing service, my social media scheduling tool, and an analytics bookmark.

By the time I fully audited every single tool and app I use in a given day to do my job, the number was in the double-digits. And as it turns out, I’m not alone.

When we asked our survey respondents how many technologies they used in their day jobs, their answers were surprising — and perhaps too low.

Tools-report-graphics3-1.png

Source: HubSpot Research

The majority of survey respondents said they only use between one and five tools to do their jobs every day, and we think these numbers err on the conservative side for the same reason my initial number was so low. When technology becomes a part of your day-to-day routine, it’s easy to forget you’re using it — and to notice that it could make your day less efficient.

When apps and tools are built into your workday as browser extensions, bookmarks, homepages, and push notifications, for example, it can be easy not to count them. But as it turns out, using them is taking up valuable time.

Too Much Tech = Too Little Efficiency

In an ironic twist, tools designed in the name of productivity and efficiency could be impeding those results.

Marketers are wasting time.

We asked marketers to estimate how much time they spend each day logging into, using, and jumping between the different tools and technologies they use. The results were surprising: Marketers are losing up to five hours per week managing and operating apps to get their jobs done.

Tools-report-graphics6-1.png

Source: HubSpot Research

Marketers are getting frustrated.

The two biggest pain points for survey respondents were how much time it takes to work in and operate the myriad of different marketing tools out there, and how much time it takes to switch between tools using different logins and passwords.

Tools-report-graphics1-3.png

Source: HubSpot Research

That hour lost to managing different tools and technologies each day is all the more aggravating if the tools share functional capabilities, and a majority of the marketers we surveyed think up to five tools they use could be redundant.

Tools-report-graphics10-1.png

Source: HubSpot Research

I don’t know about you, but there are definitely redundancies between some of the tools I use. Heck, I use two to-do list apps and still write my list down with a pen and paper every day. How many tools do you use that work to do different versions of the same functions?

Marketers could be using that time to do other cool things.

Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of the inefficiency of tools is that time spent managing tools takes away from time that could be spent tackling big-picture challenges, creating content, or closing prospects. Here’s what the marketers and salespeople we surveyed said they wished they could be doing with that time:

Tools-report-graphics5-1.png

Source: HubSpot Research

The three things marketers would prefer to focus on — growing web traffic, creating content, and converting new leads — might look familiar. They’re critical pieces of the inbound and content marketing funnel, and without ample time to dedicate to these tasks, marketers might not be able to generate as many leads as needed for their sales teams’ success.

What’s the Solution?

So, let’s recap.

The results of this survey aren’t great. Marketers and salespeople are having trouble being as efficient and productive as possible because they have to manage so many different tools. They’re sacrificing time to work on projects of greater impact and magnitude to log into tools and extrapolate data.

But not to worry — we suggest two steps to maximize efficiency and stay productive in the face of hundreds of productivity tools to choose from.

1) Do an audit.

If you didn’t do it earlier while reading, sit down and write down (or type) a list of all of the websites, tools, apps, extensions, and bots you use every day to get your work done. From your sticky notes app on your computer to your pen and paper to-do list, make an exhaustive list of everything you use to get everything done.

2) Consolidate and integrate.

Then, try to categorize your tools and apps into different functionalities to identify any redundancies in your productivity system. If you’re using three different types of to-do lists, as I do, can you cut two and just use one? If you’re spending time reporting data from three different analytics programs, sit down with your team to determine if there’s a more efficient way you could be reporting, or if your KPIs are up-to-date with your team’s needs.

The ultimate goal should be to create a system of tools that are easy to use and make marketers’ jobs as productive as possible. To learn more about how we’ve done that here at HubSpot, read about our completely integrated Growth Stack here.

How much time do you think you lose each day to redundant tools and apps? Share with us in the comments below.

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Apr

11

2017

How to Build a Productive Company Culture

Published by in category Company Culture, Daily, productivity | Comments are closed

Every company has a culture, much like every individual has a personality.

And like a personality, a company’s culture can develop organically over time. Or, it can be purposefully molded, shaped using specific values and practices to achieve a particular goal, like productivity.

This article is about the latter. It’s about creating a culture that’s productive by design.

Fostering a Productive Company Culture

Culture consists of set values and practices that are shared by a group of people. A club, for instance, or a company or a country.

Values are the concepts that dictate our sense of right and wrong.

Practices are the specific actions we take to reinforce our values.

For example, an honest person:

  1. Values integrity
  2. Practices leaving a note after damaging a stranger’s car with a shopping cart

Now that you know the building blocks of culture (and personality, for that matter), here’s a crash course in the values and practices proven to foster productivity at work:

1) Value: Health

People ignore their health because being unhealthy is so much easier and cheaper, so much more fun. But that’s the wrong way. We all know it is.

And while employers can’t force their people to live better, healthier lives, it’s certainly in their best interest to make it easier for them. Because, as you’re about to find out, health is the bedrock of productivity:

Practice: Sleep

At 9:00 AM, Freddie walked into his office clutching a cup of black coffee. He’s been up for about six hours.

At his desk, he took off his backpack, unzipped the main compartment and removed his laptop, setting it down gently next to a framed photo of his newborn daughter, Sofia.

He smiled at the picture and thought, She’s worth every waking moment.

TRY: Office Nap Rooms

Harvard researchers say that sleep deprivation causes creativity lapses, memory loss, and job burnout, which costs employers $63 billion a year in lost productivity. To put that into perspective, each tired worker zones out for almost 8 cumulative workdays a year.

A nap room is a designated, comfortable space employees can use to recharge. It’s a place to go if you’ve had a restless night, for any number of reasons.

HubSpot’s CEO, Brian Halligan, told The New York Times that his best ideas come to him either right before or after a nap. “I’m trying to encourage more people to have naps,” explained Brian, “because, hopefully, more people will have these brilliant ideas.” It may be unorthodox, but Brian’s pro-napping philosophy is backed by research proving that even quick “power” naps will boost memory, creativity, and energy levels.

Practice: Nutrition

“Hey Eddie,” said Marvie, my colleague. “You okay? Have a headache?”

I picked my head up off my desk and cracked a smile. “No,” I said. “Had a burrito.”

TRY: Healthy Office Kitchens

I have a problem. It’s called eating-Chipotle-at-noon-on-a-workday.

I love Chipotle. I love the way it smells when I walk in, and the anticipation that washes over me in line. I love the way it tastes when I finally bite into it, and the “full feeling” I get after I consume an entire burrito and Coke and chips and guac …

But my brain hates it — and here’s why: My body digests Chipotle burritos very slowly. In fact, my digestive system works so hard to process all the carbs and fat that the flow of oxygen to my brain becomes stifled. Grogginess sets in. I become unproductive. Of course, I’m not alone. Most people react this way after eating a lot.

Thing is, we all know that a heavy work lunch is a bad idea. We just don’t care. By noon, we’re too hungry and drained to make the right decision, so we go with what’s easiest, or most tempting. Employers that stock their office kitchens with light, healthy options are making it easier for their people to graze throughout the day. Grazing keeps employees’ blood sugar stable, which helps them make good choices come lunch time. Choices that will support healthy bodies as well as productive, healthy minds.

Think of it this way: Eating healthy isn’t about resisting temptation. It’s about making the decision to eat healthy as easy and simple as possible.

Practice: Exercise

Kim and Sarah stepped out for lunch before their 1:00 PM conference call. The two women have worked together for years.

“How much do you pay for your gym membership?” asked Kim, making conversation.

“Oh, man … ” Sarah said, “almost $60 a month.”

That much?

“Yeah,” said Sarah. “Work pays for half of it, but I still don’t go. Hard to find the energy, you know?”

TRY: Office Exercise Competitions

Recently, a team of British researchers launched an app designed to collect data on human happiness. Here’s how it works: Once a day, users receive a home screen notification asking them 1) what they’re doing and 2) how happy they are doing it.

They found that sex makes people the happiest, but exercise is a close second. Exercise also increases energy levels in the short-term while slowing brain degeneration over the long-term. These benefits, however, don’t make it any easier to start an exercise routine. The more sedentary you are, the more uncomfortable it can be to get moving.

That said, few things compel action like peer pressure: After studying elite rowers at Oxford University, researchers concluded that exercising with others releases brain chemicals that suppress pain and induce happiness. Therefore, companies that organize team exercise competitions are making it easier for people to take that first step, which is significant because happy people make productive employees.

2) Value: Autonomy

An autonomous employee is empowered to make decisions on behalf of her or his organization. They’re also held accountable for those decisions, which seems intimidating and stressful but, in fact, has been proven to increase job satisfaction and, in turn, productivity.

Furthermore, empowered workers are generally more satisfied at the end of a long day. They’re also less likely to quit, largely because they have a sense of ownership over their work and time, brought on by:

Practice: Flexibility

“Is he asleep?”

“Yeah, out like a light.”

“I’m so sorry, Matt,” said Yona. “I should’ve been there to pick him up when I said I would.”

“It’s okay, Yona. I understand. Nate’s school understands. Work’s work. What can we do?”

The electric teapot clicked off. Yona stood up to pour herself a cup of tea, adding honey and a lemon wedge for her sore throat. Then she sat back down and let the teabag steep.

“I’m exhausted,” she said.

“I know,” said Matt. “I am, too.”

TRY: Flextime

A flextime policy gives employees more freedom over when and where they work. It throws out the convention that workers must abide by a uniform schedule, which people appreciate. People value the work-life balance flextime provides, the control it gives them back over their time.

Flextime empowers professionals to focus less on time and more on deliverables, on quality. It also helps parents be parents, and caretakers be caretakers. Forcing people to choose between work and family is wrong because it’s unfair. The fact that technology makes it largely unnecessary adds bite, too.

Practice: Generosity

Genevieve was too eager to wait for the elevator. She took the stairs.

She
made
her way
down the
steps quickly.
Two flights and
a walk-down-the-hallway later, she was where she was going: Her manager’s office.

The door was open. She walked in with a smile and told her boss the good news:

“Dan proposed yesterday!” she said. She was flushed. She asked for a week off next month. Dan had asked her to take a trip together. “Something to celebrate, I guess,” explained Genevieve.

“Vievie,” said her manager, “I’m so, so happy for you. I am. But I don’t know if I can sign off on this.” Genevieve pursed her lips. Her eyes shot down to her toes. “You’re already a couple days in the hole from that last vacation you took eight months ago.”

“I know, I am,” said Genevieve, “and I hate to ask, but I just had no idea,” she smiled a genuine smile.

“I’m sorry,” said her manager. “I am.”

TRY: Unlimited PTO

In 2015, the CEO of Mammoth, a HR company, decided to give his employees unlimited vacation time. A year later, nothing really changed: His employees took roughly the same number of vacation days under the unlimited policy as they did the year before.

Interestingly, even though people hardly took advantage of the generous policy, they still cited it as one of their most valued benefits. Why? To understand, consider the message an unlimited vacation policy sends to employees:

  • You’re independent: “We hired you to do a job. How you get it done is up to you.”
  • You’re trusted: “We’re confident you’ll make the responsible choice for the company, and yourself.”
  • You’re an individual: “We respect that your situation is unique.”

Being employed under these terms is empowering. Empowerment, then, breeds productivity.

Practice: Accountability

Oliver works from home three or four days a week. He wakes up around 9:00 AM, just as his wife is arriving at her own job in a corporate office complex 45 minutes away.

Most days, he hops out of bed refreshed. He puts on a pair of sweatpants and a Henley shirt. He brushes his teeth. He fries a couple eggs. He eats. No rush. Eventually, he sits down at his desk, muttering the same two words damn near every day, his entree into work: “What now?”

TRY: Short-term goals.

While flexible schedules and generous time-off packages give people space, goals keeps people grounded and focused, accountable for their time and performance. Goals let employees know what the business expects of them, and when it’s due.

Short-term goals, specifically, are effective time-management devices because they can be refreshed every day, even every hour. Knowing exactly what’s in the work queue each morning is a comforting feeling. Plus, taking the first step is easier when you know what the second will be, not to mention the third and fourth and so on.

3) Value: Tact

Tactful people get along. They’re well-liked because they’re generally considerate and respectful. Their emotional intelligence drives healthy collaboration, which is productive on it’s face.

Organizations that value and reinforce tact are enabling employees to get more done in less time.

Practice: Respecting Inertia

John was staring again.

Not at anything in particular, just at an arbitrary spot on his desk. It had no significance, really. It just happened to be where his gaze landed as fell deeper into thought, on the brink of an idea … something valuable … something that would change the way …

“Hey, John?” said a voice.

Concentrate, John thought, still fixated on the spot. Don’t lose this.

“Hey John, so-listen-to-this …”

Fffff … it’s gone. “Yeah,” said John, deflated. “What is it?”

TRY: The “Headphones” Rule

Inertia is a terrible thing to waste because starting something, especially at work, is so difficult. But it still happens all the time, especially at work. In offices, particularly those with open layouts, sudden interruptions force professionals to repeatedly start over, losing their focus and, more painfully, their ideas in the process.

Researchers at the University of California, Irvine, who studied office workers, say it can take more than 23 minutes for an employee to get back on track after being interrupted. That amounts to more than 28 billion wasted hours every year. The cost? More than a $1 trillion.

The “Headphones” Rule is a small action that can help change this behavior. It’s rooted in a simple gesture: If a colleague has headphones on, don’t interrupt them. Instead, send them an email or a meeting invite.

You can be sure that, unless it’s an emergency, they’ll appreciate it.

Practice: Respecting Time

The conference room was quiet. Nobody wanted to start.

“Does anyone want to start?” asked Sam. Earlier that day, she had called the meeting to discuss next steps for the new eBook idea she’d proposed in the last team meeting. Her Outlook invite was brief and to the point:

Team, it started, this meeting is to discuss next steps for the new ebook idea I proposed in our last meeting.

“In that case, I guess I’ll start,” Sam said, awkwardly. “Though I’ll admit I really just wanted to spitball ideas here. Brainstorm, I guess … ”

TRY: The “Meeting” Rule

It’s estimated that unnecessary or unorganized meetings cost U.S. businesses $37 billion a year.

In fact, you’re going to waste 31 hours in meetings this month. That’s 31 hours you could be putting towards getting shit done, towards being productive. Instead, you’ll be forced to make up that company time, probably by digging into your own.

The “Meeting” Rule curtails the impact by attaching several minimum requirements to each invite. Specifically, every meeting must:

  • Start with a general goal (e.g., Generate 10 article topics for the blog.)
  • Follow a timed agenda (e.g., Mike’s Ideas: 11:00 – 11:10 | Rob’s Ideas: 11:10 – 11:20 | Cindy’s Ideas: 11:20 – 11:30, etc.)
  • End with specific actions: (e.g., Pick two topics for a next-Wednesday delivery.)

Adding these requirements to every invite will give attendees an opportunity to prepare beforehand. These minimums will also continually refocus people during the meetings, keeping them on-time and on-subject, productive.

Practice: Respecting Opinions

The family sat down to eat dinner:

“We got a call from school today,” said Mom. “She said you called someone’s finger painting ‘stupid’?”

“So?” said the kid. Mom looked at Dad.

“Son,” said Dad. “Rule #1 in life: Be nice to people.”

TRY: The “Triple-R” Rule

If you’re not nice to people, nobody will like you.

That’s why being respectful, especially at work, is so essential to productivity. The more tolerant you are, the easier it’ll be for others to appreciate your presence and consider your feedback. The easier it’ll be to form healthy collaborations.

The “Triple-R” Rule calls for employees to willingly be receptive, respectful, and reflective when confronted with a new idea, methodology, or concept. Here’s a quick breakdown:

  1. Being receptive demands actively listening to people. You know, making eye contact, leaning in, and not interrupting when a colleague is speaking.
  1. Being respectful demands empathy. Recognize that your colleague has a different perspective, one that’s shaped by unique experiences.
  1. Being reflective demands deep thought. Before rejecting your colleague’s opinion, give yourself some time to think about it acutely, alone, without bias.

This can be hard. In your personal life, it may even be impossible. But at work, remember: You want to be easy to talk to. You want to be easy to work with. It’s really good for business.

What now?

That’s up to you.

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Mar

16

2017

Good Bots vs. Bad Bots: How to Tell the Difference

Published by in category Canonical, Inbound Marketing, productivity | Comments are closed

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Navigating the web these days can make a person feel like Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz.

There’s so much to be seen here that — until somewhat recently — was fairly unheard of. And we don’t know what’s good or bad. It’s as if we’re constantly coming across a new cast of characters and are forced to ask, “Are you a good witch, or a bad witch?”

Replace the word “witch” with “bot,” and you might be summing up the modern digital landscape. There’s a lot of talk about AI, but it can be confusing. Is it helpful, or harmful? Is it going to make us better at our jobs, or take them away from us? And these bots of which we’re constantly speaking — which are good, and which are bad? Download our free guide to web design here for more tips on designing a  user-friendly website. 

As it turns out, there are ways of distinguishing them. It requires a bit of a discerning eye, but you certainly don’t need to be an expert — you just need the right information. So, without further ado, allow us to present our tips for distinguishing good bots from bad bots. 

Good Bots vs. Bad Bots

The Good Bots

Copyright Bots

These bots search the web for content that’s potentially been plagiarized. Think: Illegal uploads, copying someone else’s work without proper attribution, or other improper use of proprietary content. According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, these bots are commonly used within the realm of social media, especially where original content creation is a major part of the platform’s use. One prime example is YouTube’s Content ID, which is assigned to copyright owners on the network.

Data Bots

According to eZanga, data bots are those that provide up-to-the-minute information on things like news, weather, and currency rates. With that criteria, tools like Amazon Echo, Google Home, and Siri could be classified as data bots — especially since eZanga also calls these “media” bots. However, one technology developer, Botler, classifies one of its products as a data bot — “a new way to quickly store and access info that is important.” Its primary use, it appears, is for the academic sector, as it allows course information to be easily shared between students and faculty.

Botler.pngSource: botler

Spider Bots

Think about what a spider does — it crawls. Search engines do the same thing, by crawling the web’s content to produce query results, and using spider bots to do so. Google, for example, has its very own Googlebot, which uses the constantly-evolving Google algorithm to determine which sites to crawl.

These days, spider bots aren’t limited to search engines. The Siemens Robotics Lab, for example, has developed spider-shaped robots that combine the ability to autonomously perform physical tasks with information-crawling capabilities. How does that work, exactly? Siemens Research Scientist Hasan Sinan Bank explains:

The robots use onboard cameras as well as a laser scanner to interpret their immediate environment. Knowing the range of its 3D-printer arm, each robot autonomously works out which part of an area – regardless of whether the area is flat or curved – it can cover, while other robots use the same technique to cover adjacent areas.”

Trader Bots

These bots might be my favorite. They’re the ones that crawl the web to help you find the best deals on something you might be looking to buy online. eZanga notes that these bots are used by consumers and retailers alike — for the latter, the biggest advantage is their ability to “help inch out the competitor by posting a better price.

As for the consumer, these bots come to mind with tools like Honey: A browser extension that automatically presents coupons and discount codes when you’re about to initiate a site’s checkout process. Here’s how it works on Amazon, for example:

HoneyTraderBot.gifSource: botler

The Bad Bots

Click Bots

Each year, Incapsula publishes a Bot Traffic Report, which measures and analyzes the website traffic generated by bots. And in 2016, bad bots accounted for 28.9% of that traffic — outnumbering the good bots by 6%.

One of those bad bots is often found to be the click bot — the kind that fraudulently click on ads, causing data reported to advertisers to be skewed. But not only does that result in misinformation for marketers, but if you’re using pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns, those clicks add up to wasted dollars on fake visits that didn’t even come from humans, let alone your audience.

Download Bots

Similar to click bots, download bots also fraudulently game engagement data, but for download counts, instead of website visits. If it sounds familiar, it might be because of a 2012 incident involving Apple, in which many iPhone app developers were using “third-party advertising services guaranteeing top rankings,” according to AdWeek.

Imposter Bots

It’s easy to confuse imposter bots with click bots, since the former work by “masking themselves as legitimate visitors,” according to the Incapsula report. But the intention of imposter bots is much more malicious than generating a false clickcount. Instead, their purpose is to bypass online security measures. And of the aforementioned traffic generated in 2016 by bad bots, imposter bots accounted for over 84% of it. They’re often the culprit behind distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks — in fact, you might recall a day in October 2016 when it seemed like half of the internet, including Twitter, stopped working. That was a DDoS attack, and an imposter bot dubbed Mirai was responsible for it.

bot-report-2016-graph-2.pngSource: Incapsula

Scraper Bots

Web scrapers achieve the opposite effect as copyright bots. Rather than protecting proprietary content, scraper bots are designed to steal and repurpose it elsewhere, often unbeknownst to its owner.

itemeditorimage_55b0075c5aaaa.pngSource: Distil

Spam Bots

You would think that spam bots (often spelled “spambot”) have been around long enough that they would have become a thing of the past, like VCRs and the plague. But it seems that they’re just getting smarter, and finding new ways to permeate our lives.

These are the bots that basically distribute “spammy” content like unwarranted emails, or senseless comments on articles and blog posts. More recently, you’ve probably come across them on social media — one 2015 study found that nearly 8% of Instagram accounts, for example, are actually spambots.

It’s worth noting that in 2014, Instagram made efforts to purge the network of millions of spam accounts — but people were less than thrilled about it. Even if they weren’t “real,” it seems that many Instagram users were upset to see their followings drastically shrink.

instagram.0.0.jpgSource: The Verge

Spy Bots

Have you ever received an email from a complete stranger, and wondered how that person got your contact information? Maybe the sender got it from someone you know, or is just particularly good at research.

But it also might be the work of a spy bot, which is the kind that mines data about individuals (or businesses) and often sells it. There’s a reason, after all, why the HubSpot Email Marketing Software prohibits the use of purchased or third-party lists. Emailing people who didn’t ask or expect to be contacted by you completely contradicts the inbound methodology.

Zombie Bots

Contrary to what the name might suggest, zombie bots don’t try to eat humans. Rather, they’re the kind that find a way to permeate your computer’s security system, but take it a step further than imposter bots — once they gain access, they operate in the background, often using your computer to transmit viruses and other malware.

It might begin with one machine, but often this type of bot activity leads to an “army” of zombie bots — a.k.a. a “botnet” — which Cloudbric describes as “a network of zombified sites [that] receive commands from the head zombie, who is likely a spammer, a hacker, or a mercenary.” Many times, the motivation behind this is financial, as these “head zombies” have been known to sell this type of hacked computer access to others, allowing them to use it for similarly malicious distribution.

But Don’t Be Afraid

As terrifying as some of these bad bots might sound, don’t let them scare you — there are ways to prevent them from encroaching on your content and technology.

First, awareness is a good first step. Now that you’ve reviewed the different types of bots out there, you might be able to more easily recognize any potentially harmful activity. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, and if you suspect any malicious bot activity, let your network administrator know as soon as possible.

But try to prevent these attacks before they can even start. Always make sure your antivirus software is up-to-date, and learn more about the security protocols available for your iOS, web hosting platform, or internet service provider.

What other bots should marketers be aware of? Let us know in the comments.

25 website must-haves

 
10 SEO Mistakes to Avoid During Your Next Website Redesign

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Mar

16

2017

Are Notifications Driving Us Crazy?

Published by in category Editorial, productivity | Comments are closed

How do you start your mornings?

If you’re like me, your morning routine might look something like this: You check email from your phone before even getting out of bed, you scan headlines on Twitter while you brew your morning coffee, and you look at Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat during your commute to work to see what your friends are up to.

I do all of this because I’m curious to see what’s going on online, but I also do it to clear out the red symbols that pop up when I have an unread email, text message, like, snap, or tweet.

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As it turns out, there could be a downside to all of the benefits mobile technology provides. We might be able to work from anywhere on our smartphones or tablets, but such mobility and accessibility come at a cost — and too much technology could actually be making us less productive.

In this post, we’ll explore how notifications impact your brain and your mental and physical health, and what you can do with your devices to help minimize the negative impacts of the little red dot.

Notifications, or Drugs for Your Mind

Studies have shown that receiving text messages and other mobile notifications triggers the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with reward-seeking behaviors and addiction. And like drug or alcohol addiction, notifications can make us feel great when we’re receiving them — and go into negative feelings of withdrawal when we aren’t. That’s right, people — notifications are sort of like drugs.

Constant information overload puts our decision-making and productivity skills at risk, too. According to Microsoft Research, it takes an average of 25 minutes to get back on task after being interrupted by an email notification during the work day. Multiply that by however many emails you receive in a given day, and think about how much time you could be wasting.

canva_notifications1.png

Push notifications, or notifications that are automatically sent to your phone, are particularly pernicious. A study of more than 2,000 workers in the United Kingdom found push notifications were causing toxic levels of stress, especially when email notifications were left unread. This issue was most prevalent among media, marketing, and PR professionals, 60% of whom used push notifications as part of their day-to-day job.

FWC_email_study.png

Source: Future Work Centre

Additionally, excessive social media use, especially Facebook, is linked to negative feelings of social comparison and the fear of missing out (FOMO). Research shows that users who check social media apps often start to believe their friends lead better lives, and these feelings of FOMO and competition can lead to social anxiety, feelings of loneliness, and mood swings.

This constant liking and seeking behavior — eagerly clicking to learn what the email, notification, or text says — is impacting our ability to pay attention to things, especially the written word, says Emily Yoffe at The Atlantic. It’s also hurting the dopamine centers in our brain and making these behaviors stressful and less enjoyable the more we do them over and over again.

To prevent all of this, there are a few steps you can take to avoid notification overload — while still being able to use your phone and do your job.

What You Can Do to Minimize Push Notification Anxiety

1) Turn off notifications for specific apps.

Turn off desktop notifications, sounds, and icons that will distract you during work hours so you only receive notifications when you choose to look at them.

How to turn Gmail notifications off:

Navigate to your Settings gear icon and select “Mail notifications off” on the Desktop Notifications menu.

gmail_desktop_notifications.png

gmail desktop notifications-1.png

How to turn Slack notifications off:

Tap the bell icon to manage your notification preferences. From there, you can customize how and if you want to receive desktop notifications by clicking “Notification Settings.”

slack notifications.png

You can even turn off the pesky red dot that indicates any unread activity if you really need to focus.

slack desktop notifications.png

You can also manage notifications settings for specific channels by tapping the gear icon at the top of each channel.

slack_channel_notifications.png

2) Turn off notifications entirely.

Turn off push notifications for every app you don’t absolutely have to check immediately. A recent study showed push notifications can be as distracting as a phone call — even if you don’t immediately check the notification. Turn them off entirely for apps where you can manage how often you jump in to check on things, like social media or gaming apps.

How to turn off notifications on iOS devices: 

Navigate to your Settings menu, tap Notifications, and scroll down the list of your apps. There, you have the option to turn off “Allow Notifications.”

steponeiphonenotifications-1.png

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How to turn off notifications on Android devices: 

Navigate to your settings menu, select “Sound & notification,” tap into “App notifications,” and block notifications from specific apps, as shown in the second image below.

androidstep1-1.png

block-toggle-1.png

3) Customize notifications.

Customize the sound or vibrations patterns different applications make so you know what messages you receive without having to check your devices. For example, create a longer tone for text messages, and a shorter tone for incoming emails.

How to customize notifications on iOS devices: 

Navigate to your Settings menu, select “Sounds,” and scroll down to “Sounds and Vibration Patterns.” From there, you can click into different events (“Ringtone,” “Text Tone,” “New Voicemail”), and choose a specific pattern for each.

mobile notifs 2.png

mobile_notifs2.png

mobile_notifs3.png

How to customize notifications on Android devices: 

Navigate to your Settings menu, tap “Sounds and notifications,” then “Vibrations, and click “Vibration intensity” and “Vibration pattern” to change how different events sound and feel when you receive alerts.

android_vibrations_final.png

Source: Inside Galaxy

4) Change how your mobile device displays are organized.

Organize your mobile device desktop and move less important apps to your second screen off your default phone screen. That way, when the notifications do pop up and start flashing, you’ll only have to access them by choice when it’s time to see what’s going on.

For example, if you’re an iOS mobile device user, you know the App Store has a near-constant red notification symbol indicating an available app or device update. This isn’t an exact science, but I’ve organized my iPhone’s two screens by moving my notification-prone apps to the second screen. This way, I have to decide to go look at them instead of getting stressed and distracted when I open my phone to make a quick phone call or text.

homescreen_1.png

homescreen_2.png

The notifications are still there (unless I turn them off), but at least I’ve achieved some separation and minimized distraction from the dreaded red number icon.

5) Designate specific times for answering emails, texts, and social media messages.

Try turning off your email push notifications when you leave the office at the end of the day. Set time limits on when you can use your social media apps during your personal time. At the very least, try to enforce one limit on yourself so you feel like you have enough time to check your notifications, and enough time to enjoy life without notification stress.

You could also monitor your usage habits on a productivity tool to restrict the amount of time you spend on websites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and others — especially while at work. Here are a few you might like using:

6) Delete apps you don’t use.

This one’s simple enough. It’s easy enough to forget about an app you’ve downloaded but aren’t using anymore. If there’s an app that’s sending you notifications you don’t use, just delete it from your browser or mobile device.

How to delete Chrome browser extensions:

Tap the three dots on the right-hand side of your browser to access your Chrome settings on the drop-down menu. Then, go to the Extensions menu, and either disable notifications or delete the extension altogether by clicking the trash can icon.

chrome_extensions.png

How to delete iOS apps:

Delete iOS apps by holding your finger down on an app icon until all icons start floating with small gray x symbols in the upper left-hand corner. Then, simply tap the x icons of the apps you want to delete.

delete ios apps.png

How to delete Android apps:

Head to the Settings menu, click “Apps,” then tap on the name of the app you want to delete. From there, tap “Disable” or “Uninstall.”

uninstall.jpg

Source: UpToDown

How do you deal with push notification stress? Share with us in the comments below.

Productivity Guide

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Mar

9

2017

A Tale of Two Teamwork Apps: Microsoft Teams vs. Slack [Infographic]

Published by in category IGSS, productivity | Comments are closed

TeamsVsSlackIG-compressor.jpg

Confession: I am a bonafide productivity junkie. It seems like there isn’t a hack I haven’t tried — from calendar tricks, to new break-taking structures, to time management experiments, I love trying every get-more-done-in-a-day tip I come across.

Among them are different app recommendations, especially the ones designed to make teamwork more efficient. In fact, 74% of teams say custom apps like these boost their productivity. But which apps are the best?

There are two apps of this kind that are making headlines at the moment: Slack — which, in the interest of transparency, we use here at HubSpot — and Microsoft Teams, which is due to launch this quarter. And many people, it seems, have been curious as to what makes each one different. That’s why TechWyse examined the features of both, and compiled them into this side-by-side comparative infographic. Download our complete productivity guide here for more tips on improving your  productivity at work.

So, where does this each app stand? Feast your eyes, and decide which one might be best for you.

Slack-vs-Teams (1) (1).jpg

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Dec

8

2016

28 of the Best Chrome Extensions for SEO, Productivity & More

chrome-extensions-productivity.jpg

For all of the greatness that the internet affords — cute animal videos, GIFs, and interesting blogs — I think its biggest downside is how distracting it can be. How many times have you sat down to work and been pulled into a pit of procrastination?

Perhaps you get absorbed in updates on social media, or maybe you click through Wikipedia trying to determine what exactly Gina Rodriguez’s first TV role was (it was on Law & Order). No matter where you click online, it’s easy to be pulled into a black hole of distraction and low productivity.

Enter Google Chrome browser extensions. The Google Chrome web store offers a variety of different tools that help you be more productive with just one click. We can’t guarantee that they will make YouTube videos less tempting to watch, but we recommend them for busy marketers who want to make their time online more efficient. We’ve broken them down into different categories if you want to jump ahead:

Social Media, SEO, Content Sourcing, Blogging, Productivity

Please note: All of these are free tools, but some of the services that they work with have paid features or subscriptions, and those prices are included below.  

28 of the Most Useful Google Chrome Extensions for Marketers

Social Media

1) bitly

This extension lets marketers quickly and easily shorten links and share them on social media directly from their browser. This is particularly useful for social media marketers, given that Twitter has a 140-character limit.

bitlygif.gif

Image courtesy of bitly.com

Price: Free; bitly Enterprise pricing varies depending on company size

2) BuzzSumo

BuzzSumo provides insight into how content is performing. When you’re on a web page, click the extension to show metrics such as the number of social shares and backlinks to a piece. This tool provides an easy way to see how much engagement your content is generating. You could also use BuzzSumo to perform competitor analysis to uncover strategies that might make your content more shareable.

buzzsumoextension.png

Price: Free with limited number of link analyses; BuzzSumo Pro starts at $99/month

3) Pinterest

This extension allows you to easily save items onto your Pinterest boards without navigating away from what you’re doing. What’s neat about this tool is that it shows you multiple pinnable items available on each website so you can save more than one item to your board at a time. (Normally, you would have to click into each blog post or image in order to separately pin each to your boards individually.)

pinterest-5.png

Price: Free

4) Save to Facebook

Facebook’s new “Save” feature lets users aggregate links, images, and videos they find on Facebook in one location in their account. This bookmark allows you to do the same from anywhere on the web, making Facebook a centralized place to save content you’re interested in checking out later. (As you can see, in addition to inbound marketing, I’m also interested in learning more about footwear and vegan recipes.)

savetofacebook.png

Price: Free

5) RiteTag

RiteTag shows you how hashtags are performing on Twitter and Facebook before you post content. Once you log in to RiteTag using your Twitter or Facebook credentials, it checks the hashtags you begin typing in real time and color codes them: 

  • If your hashtag is green, it means the hashtag will help your content be seen now.
  • If your hashtag is blue, it means the hashtag will help your content be seen over time.
  • If your hashtag is gray, you should select a new hashtag because it has low levels of engagement.
  • If your hashtag is red, you should select a new hashtag because it’s so popular, your content will disappear into the crowd.

rite tag.png

Price: Free

6) List Builder for Twitter

If you’re following a hashtag or event on Twitter, you may want to make a list of users tweeting about topics you’re interested in, which is time-consuming to do manually. With the List Builder for Twitter, you can navigate to a hashtag or trending topic and build a list of all users tweeting, or you can select which users you want to add to a list. Here’s an example of the tool in action: I built a list of all users tweeting “#INBOUND16.

listbuilder.png

If you’re a HubSpot customer, you can easily create lists using the social streams featuring in the HubSpot Social Monitoring tool

Price: Free

7) Instagram for Chrome

Want to keep tabs on Instagram notifications without having to constantly check your phone? With this extension, users can see what’s happening on their Instagram content directly within their browser.

instagram-5.png

Price: Free

SEO

8) MozBar

The MozBar is a Chrome extension that allows SEO marketers to easily get insights about different websites without leaving their web browser. With one click, you can find search ranking and link coding information about all of the search results on a Google results page.

mozbar.gif

Image courtesy of Moz

Price: Moz subscriptions start at $99/month

9) Check My Links

Check My Links does what it says it will: It quickly scans web pages and shows you which links are working properly and which are broken. With this extension, marketers can ensure that their own websites are functioning properly for their visitors. Additionally, marketers can check for broken backlinks to their content on other websites to build backlinks to their content and increase their domain authority.

checkmylinks.png

Price: Free

10) NoFollow

NoFollow quickly indexes web pages and identifies links that are coded with the nofollow metatag. Nofollow links aren’t crawled by search engines and don’t contribute to search engine authority, so SEOers can use this extension to determine if external sites are backlinking to them with followed, or indexed, links. Additionally, you might use nofollow links on web pages you don’t want crawled, such as a landing page or thank you page, and this extension can easily double-check if you’ve coded links correctly. In the example screenshot below, nofollow links are highlighted in red.

nofollow.png

Price: Free

11) Impactana

Impactana’s Chrome toolbar offers a wealth of SEO, social media, and content marketing information about any web page. Its two biggest metrics are “Buzz,” which measures a website’s reach on social media, and “Impact,” which measures SEO metrics such as clickthrough rate, backlinks, and time on page. It also shares details like author and publisher contact information that are useful for PR professionals.

impactana.png

Price: Impactana subscriptions start at $99/month

Content Sourcing

12) HubSpot Collect

Whether you’re conducting research for a project or simply reading different articles online, you most likely come across resources that you want to save and return to for later use. That’s where HubSpot Collect will come in. Instead of saving content to another application or document, you can save it directly to your HubSpot software for easy reference when you sit down to write a blog post or web page. Coming soon to HubSpot software, Collect will automatically generate author attributions and citations if you want to cite a link you saved for a blog post.

collect-1.png

Price: HubSpot Marketing Software starts at $200/month

13) AwesomeScreenshot

AwesomeScreenshot is a screen capture extension with capabilities for annotation and photo editing while staying in your browser. Once you take a screenshot of a selected area of your screen or an entire web page, you can crop, highlight, draw shapes, and blur sensitive information.

awesomescreenshot.png

 Price: Free

14) Evernote Web Clipper

Evernote is a note-taking and organization app that can be shared across teams for content collaboration. With the Evernote Web Clipper extension, users can save links onto a clipboard within their Evernote app for later reading and reference.

webclipper-1.png

Price: Free

15) Giphy for Chrome

Everyone loves animated GIFs. They make emails, blogs, and social media posts engaging and funny, and with this extension, you can easily grab a GIF from Giphy’s huge database for whatever content you’re working on without navigating away.

giphy-1.png

Price: Free

16) Bookmark Manager

Manually bookmarking websites can sometimes be a tedious process, so Google created this extension to organize websites you want to save without having to open a new tab. Save websites to bookmarks, create folders, and add notes for later reference.

bookmarks.png

Price: Free

17) OneTab 

When you conduct research for a piece of content, it’s easy to get swamped in multiple open tabs with great resources you want to cite. The trouble is, once it comes time to write and refer back to the sources, it’s hard to navigate between all of the tabs. Luckily, OneTab lets you put multiple different URLs into a single tab for easy reference.

onetab-1.png

Price: Free

Blogging

18) Grammarly

Grammarly is my go-to app for reviewing blog posts for proper spelling, grammar, and word use. You can drop large pieces of text into the desktop application for review, or you can use the handy Chrome extension to call out any grammar errors you’re making while typing on the web. Here’s an example of Grammarly pointing out an error I was about to make in a tweet:

grammarly.gif

Price: Free with subscription upgrades for more in-depth reviewing

19) Google Dictionary

Have you ever come across a word you’re not familiar with while doing research online? Instead of Googling it in a separate tab, quickly highlight the word and click on the Google Dictionary extension to get the definition.

google dictionary.png

Price: Free

20) Office Editing for Docs, Sheets & Slides

For those times when you and your coworkers are working on computers with different operating systems, or want to collaborate on a live document together, check out Office Editing. This extension lets you easily drop Microsoft Office files into Google Drive to view and edit them without needing the software installed on your hard drive. Here’s an example of an Excel file that I dropped into my Google Drive:

officeeditor.png

Price: Free

21) QuickWrite Text Editor 

Sometimes it’s hard to free yourself of distractions to write productively, especially if you’re writing online. This extension quickly opens a new tab for a clean and neutral text editor that auto-saves while you’re working if you need a break from where you normally write.

quicktext.png

Price: Free

Productivity

22) ToDoist

ToDoist is a project management tool that lets you create highly organized and visually appealing to-do lists across all of your devices. What’s neat about the Chrome extension is that you can see your to-do list, or your team’s shared lists, and add tasks to it without having to open a separate tab, app, or device.

todoist-1.png

Price: Free for Basic; $29/year for Premium

23) Rapportive

Rapportive uses LinkedIn account information to provide details about the recipient of an email you’re drafting. This is a great way to get details about someone you’re trying to connect with and to ensure that you’re contacting someone on their correct email address.

rapportive.png

Price: Free

24) Momentum

Momentum is a simple Chrome extension that replaces blank new tabs with beautiful photography, inspiring quotes, weather reports, and a space for you to write down a priority for the day when you open up your browser for the first time. (Don’t worry — the temperature is in Celsius, it’s not that cold in Boston.)

Momentum-1.png

Price: Free

25) StayFocusd

StayFocusd lets you budget your time on specific websites so you can eliminate distractions when you need to buckle down and work. It’s highly customizable — you could set your time limit to 20 minutes on Twitter and only five minutes on Facebook, for example. It also has neat features like the Require Challenge: Once you set time limits on sites, if you want to go back and change your settings, you have to complete a challenge (think: retyping a piece of text without typos or answering questions).

stayfocusd.png

Price: Free

26) LastPass

LastPass is a password manager that auto-fills in passwords for all of the accounts you save with this extension. You only have to remember one password: your LastPass password. This saves you time, headaches, and increases the security of your personal data.

lastpass.gif

Image courtesy of LastPass

Price: Free

27) Add to Trello

If you use Trello for project management, team collaboration, your content calendar, or just a personal to-do list, this extension lets you easily add links as cards to your Trello boards.

addtotrello.png

Price: Free; Trello subscriptions start at $9.99/user/month

28) Extensions Manager

We couldn’t give you 27 different extensions to try out without also suggesting Extensions Manager. Try this tool to organize all of your extensions so they don’t take up half of your browser’s screen. It shows you what extensions you have operating on Google Chrome and gives you the option to hide some of the icons to keep your browser better organized.

Extensions Manager.png

Price: Free

Now that your browser is loaded with extensions to make marketing easier on a day-to-day basis, test them out to see what time and efficiencies you’re able to save. When you’re ready to work on your next piece of content, try these content curation hacks and tools to make that process simpler, too. 

What’s your favorite Google Chrome extension? Share with us in the comments below.

Learn about all the product launches from INBOUND 2016

Nov

28

2016

How to Turn a Bad Day Around [Infographic]

reverse bad day.png

“I had a bad day.”

How often do you find yourself saying that? Once? Twice? Several times throughout the day?

If it’s more than once each week, you’ve got company — 29% of people say that they have at least two bad days at work every week

Well, shoot. That’s not good. I mean, I can understand having a “bad day” after you’ve spilled coffee all over your new jeans, or got a wicked papercut. But that same study says that these bad days go beyond little accidents — they’re caused by factors like negative co-workers, a lack of recognition, or generally poor work-life balance.

This stuff has got to stop.

But what is a person to do? It turns out, it’s possible to turn around a bad day — and, some might say, kind of easy with the right kind of approach. And luckily, the folks at Headway Capital put together this nifty infographic that shows you all the ways to do just that. So go ahead — turn that frown upside down. Today doesn’t have to be bad.


How-to-turn-a-bad-day-around-DV2.png

 

free productivity tips

Nov

28

2016

How to Turn a Bad Day Around [Infographic]

reverse bad day.png

“I had a bad day.”

How often do you find yourself saying that? Once? Twice? Several times throughout the day?

If it’s more than once each week, you’ve got company — 29% of people say that they have at least two bad days at work every week

Well, shoot. That’s not good. I mean, I can understand having a “bad day” after you’ve spilled coffee all over your new jeans, or got a wicked papercut. But that same study says that these bad days go beyond little accidents — they’re caused by factors like negative co-workers, a lack of recognition, or generally poor work-life balance.

This stuff has got to stop.

But what is a person to do? It turns out, it’s possible to turn around a bad day — and, some might say, kind of easy with the right kind of approach. And luckily, the folks at Headway Capital put together this nifty infographic that shows you all the ways to do just that. So go ahead — turn that frown upside down. Today doesn’t have to be bad.


How-to-turn-a-bad-day-around-DV2.png

 

free productivity tips

Nov

11

2016

The Science Behind a Happier Commute [Infographic]

Science of Happier Commute.jpg

Here’s what you definitely shouldn’t do the next time you’re stuck in traffic on your way to work: calculate just how much time you spend commuting to and from the office.

Seriously, don’t do it. The realization that you spend weeks of your life behind the wheel (or choice of public transport) could just be enough to ruin the rest of your day.

But what if your commute didn’t automatically have to be the worst part of your day? The people at job search website Adzuna put together an infographic that claims to have the answers — backed by science — to a happier commute. Check out the tips below.

Happier Commute.jpg



Productivity Guide

Nov

11

2016

The Science Behind a Happier Commute [Infographic]

Science of Happier Commute.jpg

Here’s what you definitely shouldn’t do the next time you’re stuck in traffic on your way to work: calculate just how much time you spend commuting to and from the office.

Seriously, don’t do it. The realization that you spend weeks of your life behind the wheel (or choice of public transport) could just be enough to ruin the rest of your day.

But what if your commute didn’t automatically have to be the worst part of your day? The people at job search website Adzuna put together an infographic that claims to have the answers — backed by science — to a happier commute. Check out the tips below.

Happier Commute.jpg



Productivity Guide

Oct

27

2016

Planning Social Media Content? Ask Yourself These 9 Questions

Scheduling_Social_Media.png

It’s no mystery that social media is a crucial part of any marketing strategy — regardless of industry, company size, product, or service.

We’ve all been there. Back in the day, I had to make the case for some businesses to even have a social media presence in the first place. But finally — finally! — it seems like folks are catching on. After all, 69% of marketers are using social media to build a following.

Now that most marketers really do understand that social media is a strategic must-have, how can we make it more manageable? Like many other things in life and in business, planning ahead is the way to go. Manage and plan your social media content with the help of this free calendar  template.

To avoid becoming one of those brands whose Facebook page hasn’t been updated in months — and we’ve all seen them — learning to plan and schedule your social media posts in advance is key. But how? We’ve outlined nine crucial questions to ask when you start this planning process, along with some helpful tools and resources to help along the way.

9 Questions About Planning and Scheduling Social Media

1) What are you promoting?

Part of planning your social media presence is knowing what you’re there to talk about. Maybe you have a looming product launch to promote, a holiday special, or a particular piece of content to get in front of the public eye.

In any case, knowing what you’re promoting should run in tandem with your social media schedule. Do you have multiple product or content launches taking place over the course of the year? That’s where a calendar is particularly useful — not only to announce the launches themselves, but to drop “teasers” leading up to them.

That’s also a good place to plan other pieces of your online presence, like your blog, around these launches — especially considering that 84% of marketers integrate social media with their overall marketing plans.

Let’s say you’re launching an annual report, and you want to use social media to push a high number of downloads. In the days leading up to it, your blog can feature smaller pieces of content pertaining to the different findings within that report. That creates a top-of-mind presence of your brand and your content, among your audience — just in time for the big launch.

2) What are your goals?

In 2015, Google did a study of Digital Leaders — the folks who have seen success with digital marketing — versus Digital Learners — those who have not. Out of the two, a whopping 92% of Leaders had clear digital marketing goals, compared to only 69% of Learners.

Those numbers illustrate the importance of outlining goals when planning social media posts and campaigns. That doesn’t mean they have to be dry or boring — it just means that even funny or out-of-the box posts still need to be aligned with what you’re trying to accomplish.

Just have a look at this collection of Twitter success stories, and the subhead introducing them: “Learn how businesses from around the world achieved their goals with Twitter.”

In the Greenhouse software case study, for example, there’s a very clear objective stated: “The marketing team at Greenhouse was focused on acquiring new subscribers for their weekly newsletter,” which was “focused on increasing brand awareness and purchase consideration.”

Notice how there are three pieces to the Greenhouse goal:

Increase awareness → newsletter subscription → purchase consideration

In addition to overall greater brand awareness, Greenhouse experienced 15% increase in newsletter subscribers within one short month. But remember — it was a two-pronged approach. In order to drive purchases, Greenhouse knew that its digital marketing would first have to aim for brand awareness, which would drive newsletter subscriptions.

Think about your ultimate goal — be it sales, downloads, or event attendance — and consider the smaller pieces that will lead to it. Then, shape and schedule your social media presence around those variables. Social Media Conten Template

3) Who is your target audience?

Here at HubSpot, we’re big on buyer personas — the semi-fictional “characters” that encompass the qualities of who you’re trying to reach.

Outlining your personas is a vital part of planning your social media presence. It’s one of the best ways to determine the needs, goals, and behavior of your potential customers, which can dictate how you digitally convey a product or service. In turn, that can help you understand the voice to use when trying to reach that audience. It works — 82% of companies with better value propositions also use buyer personas.

When you plan and schedule your social media, think about your personas. What are they looking for? What motivates them? What’s going to help them? How are they going to feel at a given time of year? Answering those questions can help determine what kind of media your personas are consuming. To get started, check out HubSpot’s MakeMyPersona tool.

4) What can your audience do with what you’re promoting?

Earlier, when asking about your personas, I posed the question: “What’s going to help them?”

That’s part of the reason why it’s so important to know who your personas are — to make sure that they can actually do something with the content you’re posting on social media. When you plan or schedule a social media post, ask yourself if it’s going to interest, benefit, or ultimately delight your target audience. If the answer is “no,” reconsider sharing it.

Also consider what’s wrong with it. Is there something specific that’s making your social media posts less sharable or engaging? Even the network you’re using can have an impact, since different types of content have varying results, depending on the platform.

Which brings us to our next question …

5) Are you planning accordingly for each network?

Not all social media is created equal. Different platforms attract different audiences. Plus, each one has its own “secret sauce” of when to post, and how often — check out the best times to post to each network.

Remember your buyer personas? As you figure out who they are, it’s also important to determine where they “live” online, and what kind of media they’re consuming — that will help you plan your social media presence for each individual network. It might be helpful to review the Pew Research Center’s Demographics of Social Media Users, which profiles the users of five major social media platforms — Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

While you’re at it, have a look at HubSpot’s Social Media Content Calendar. With a tab for each social network, it’s easy to plan posts by month, week, or even day. That’s an asset when it comes to the networks that require multiple posts per day, and can aid in planning for seasonality.

And speaking of seasonality …

6) Are you promoting seasonal content?

I don’t know about you, but I love the holidays. But I also like them with the right timing — in other words, I don’t get excited when I hear carols and bells in October. Too soon, right?

That said, it’s still a good idea to start planning your social media holiday presence early on. And, it’s important to understand how your personas behave during certain times of the year — there’s a big difference, for example, between B2B and B2C audience behavior during the holidays.

For B2C, it’s a bit more clear-cut. Brands see more first-time buyers during the holidays than they do during the rest of the year, when shoppers are “more influenced by brand allegiance,” writes SocialTimes’ Kimberlee Morrison.

For that reason, it’s important to use a calendar to schedule posts that will both engage potential first-time buyers, and keep them coming back after the holidays. That’s called reactivation — and according to Monetate, it’s imperative if you don’t want to your first-time customers to be part of the 86% of them who never come back.

In the B2B sector, it’s less about influencing purchases and more about increasing brand awareness. Around the holidays, for example, B2B companies are encouraged to promote sharable content that’s both seasonally-oriented and branded. That’s especially true on Facebook, which people browse 4.2X as much as they do search engines before shopping. So while you might not be offering a holiday promotion, you’re still aligning with the mood of your buyers — and keeping your brand at the top of their minds.

7) Are your posts agile enough to be replaced or rescheduled on short notice?

Despite our best planning efforts, unexpected things still come up. The world keeps turning, despite what our social media schedule dictates — which is why it’s important to keep it flexible.

When you plan your social media presence, it’s generally a best practice to leave open slots for things like breaking news or the content that you develop around unexpected current events.

My colleague, Susannah Morris, uses HubSpot’s Social Inbox app to flexibly plan social media this way. “I schedule out evergreen content and curate it as I go,” she says, “leaving slots to fill in with new content, newsjacking, or other interesting things closer to the time.”

In other words — things come up, so be sure to allow for them as you plan your posts ahead of time. But make sure you have a back-up plan, too, and a backlog of timely, sharable content to use as an alternative.

8) What’s performed well on your social networks in the past?

There’s a reason why 72% of marketers analyze their social media activity — they want to see what’s working.

But conversely, only 42% of marketers believe they can do such an analysis. Measuring the ROI of social media is known for being a bit tricky. Which network performs best? What kind of posts? What time of day? It’s answering all of the questions we’ve posed so far, and finding out if your answers to them are effective. And that data on what’s working — as well as what isn’t — will ultimately influence your future social media posts.

Digging into that data doesn’t have to be so complex, and there are quite a few resources that can help. Some social media platforms, like Facebook and Twitter, have their own analytic tools that provide some insights into post performance. And in your HubSpot software, you can use the Sources report to measure the ROI of your marketing campaigns, including details on how social media is driving traffic to your site — those are things like visits from links clicked on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and more.

But in the case that you also have to illustrate the effectiveness of your social media — especially when using that data to plan and schedule future posts — it can be helpful to compile a monthly report that can shed detailed light on performance. Not sure what kind of data to include? Check out our ebook on how to present and prove your social media ROI — it comes with some templates to help you get started.

9) Have you identified influencers?

When it comes to genuinely reaching your audience, trust is huge. That’s why so many of us seek the advice of friends and family in choosing a product or service — 83% of people trust their recommendations more than anyone else’s.

But then, there are influencers — people considered to be leaders and trendsetters in their respective niches (think: bloggers). Many times, brands partner with influencers because the public listens to what they have to say. In fact, 49% of Twitter users say they count on recommendations from influencers first.

There’s a reason why it’s called social media. We’ve come to think of contacts on these networks as reliable acquaintances, even if we’ve never met them in real life. That’s why people like influencers have earned a so much consumer trust, and why marketers are partnering with them.

In fact, many businesses say that they earn $6.50 for every $1 they invest in partnerships with influencers. That’s because influencer campaigns are a bit like economical celebrity endorsements — people have come to recognize, follow, and trust what they have to say.

But many marketers say that finding the right influencers to work with can be challenge. For that, we recommend following a process similar to identifying your buyer personas, to make sure the influencers are aligned with what your brand represents, as well as your goals. And be sure that it’s a mutually beneficial partnership — much like a co-branding agreement, it’s important to determine what you can offer an influencer in return.

Ready to start planning?

With the right tools, managing social media isn’t so overwhelming. And planning ahead can help to create that peace of mind, especially when you allow for the flexibility we discussed earlier.

But make sure you’re not overdoing it. The amount of time spent on social media can vary from marketer to marketer, and can even depend on your industry. Answering these questions and following the right steps accordingly will help determine what works for you.

And as social media continues to evolve, we’ll be here to let you know about it, and what it means for you.

How do you plan and schedule social media? Let us know in the comments.

free social media content calendar template

 
free social media content calendar template

Oct

25

2016

15 Easy Ways to Make Your Commute More Productive

commute

It’s easy to think of commuting as a total waste of time. When you’re standing on the train platform or waiting at a traffic light, every minute that ticks by can seem like a minute lost from an already jam-packed day at work. But there’s good news for those of you who wish you could spend that time more productively.

There are a lot of fun, creative apps out there that help you make use of that time — whether it’s a 10-minute walk or a 60-minute bus ride. (Drivers: We don’t advocate the use of any of the apps on this list that involve reading or typing.) Download our complete guide here for more tips on improving your productivity.

Check out this roundup of 15 easy ways to make your commute more productive, and the apps that will help you make it happen. Try them out, and hey — you might even start looking forward to your trips to and from the office.

15 Ideas for Increasing Productivity on Your Commute

1) Create your to-do list for the day.

Apps: Wunderlist, Evernote, Dragon Dictation

If you’re the kind of person who likes to get organized first thing in the morning, spend some time listing the things you need to accomplish that day. Taking that extra time to think about each task can help you prioritize and set realistic expectations.

There are a number of to-do list apps out there, but Wunderlist and Evernote are among the best. They sync between your mobile devices and your personal computers and allow you to drag and drop tasks between days and categories, as well as set alerts and due dates. You can even share lists and notes with others. Here’s a look at the Wunderlist app:

IMG_0897.png

For you drivers out there, you can use the free app Dragon Dictation to get your to-do list (and any other thoughts) down on your phone. Simply speak while the app is recording, and your text content will appear. If you’re an avid Evernote user, note that Evernote also has a voice recording function, too.

dragon-dictation-screenshot

Source: OT’s with Apps & Technology

2) Clear your inbox.

Apps: Gmail, ASAM

There’s something so satisfying about arriving at the office with a clean inbox. That’s why I like to go through emails and delete anything extraneous before I even get in to work. It saves me at least a half hour and a loss of momentum during my most productive time of day.

If you’re driving, you can use ASAM — a free app from AgileSpeech — to “read” your emails. The app will read your emails out loud and word-for-word. (And when I say word-for-word, I mean it reads everything — disclaimers, signatures, and other information you might’ve skipped otherwise.) When the message is finished, the app will “ding” and you have the option to dictate a reply.

ASAM screenshot

Source: Google Play

3) Set and check in on your goals.

App: Coach.me

Believe it or not, there’s a new year right around the corner. And if you’re into resolutions, checking your progress regularly and finding ways to stay motivated is key to maintaining them. The free version of the Coach.me app lets you set personal and professional targets, get reminders, and choose whether to make your achievements visible to a community of active users so you can give and receive support. And starting at $15 per week, you can hire a coach to actually help you achieve them.

coach-me-appcoach-me-app

Source: iTunes

4) Learn a language.

App: Duolingo

Once upon a time, maybe after college, you were almost fluent in Spanish. Or French. Or something else you learned in school. But then, you stopped practicing.

Want to get your language skills back on track? Duolingo is a fantastic (and free) app that makes (re)learning languages fun. Each lesson is short, painless, and super visual. Slate called it “the most productive means of procrastination I’ve ever discovered.” Be warned, though — it can get addictive.

duolingo-screenshotduolingo-screenshot

Source: iTunes

5) Listen to a podcast or audiobook.

Apps: Stitcher, Podcasts, This American Life, Audible

If you’d rather not spend any more time staring at a screen during your commute, then listening to a podcast or audiobook can be a really pleasant way to spend any length of time. Plus, you’ll learn a lot of really cool information you can impress your friends with later.

The free app Stitcher lets you make playlists of all your favorite podcasts.

Stitcher-1.png

As for which podcasts to listen to, our favorites include:

Looking for something else? Take a look at Stitcher’s list of Top 100 Podcasts.

6) Read an actual book.

Apps: iBooks, Kindle, Zinio, Apple News

I don’t know about you, but I constantly lament how little time I spend reading. You know, actual books, newspapers, or print magazines. And while I also enjoy turning a physical page, I always forget to pack my print materials before I leave for work.

Luckily, there are numerous apps that address that issue, and let you read any book, newspaper, or magazine you choose from a mobile device.

For news and magazines, we like Apple’s News app, which lets you choose from a vast catalogue of publications that you can read right from your phone. You can store your favorites and choose from them with a simple tap.

Apple News.png

But for actual books, there are the Kindle and iBooks apps, which let you download full reading materials and enjoy them from your phone or tablet. Kindle transfers any ebook purchases you’ve made on Amazon right to your device, so you can take in whatever great literature you please, right from the bus or subway.

Kindle1 Kindle2.png

7) Read the articles you’ve bookmarked.

App: Pocket

Using the Pocket app, you can save articles (and videos, and pretty much any type of content) in one place for easy reading on your commute. You can save content directly from your browser, emails, or from over 500 apps like Twitter, Flipboard, Pulse, and Zite. So while Evernote is a great app for long-term content storage, Pocket is perfect for bookmarking stuff to read later.

Pocket app.jpegpocket-app-screenshot

Source: iTunes // Just the Best Apps

8) Read the newest posts from your favorite online sources.

Apps: Feedly

We’ve covered how to catch up on the latest content from your favorite publications. But what about your favorite blogs or other online news sources? Feedly is an RSS reader that lets you subscribe to the publishers whose posts you never want to miss. You can separate them into different lists, mark articles as “read,” share your favorite pieces, and even browse for new content.

Feedly1Feedly2

Source: Google Play

9) Get your social media fix out of the way.

Apps: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and more …

Not all of us are lucky enough to include browsing and posting on personal social media accounts in our job descriptions. Help resist the urge to check your news feeds and notifications at work by doing it to your heart’s content during your commute.

Instagram fix

10) Brush up on your marketing & sales progress.

App: HubSpot Mobile

Remember those days when you absolutely had to be at your desk to get your work done? Those days are close to being gone, thanks in part to the new HubSpot Mobile app. 

With this app, you can take advantage of your HubSpot software, even if you’re on the go. It starts with a customizable dashboard that gives you an at-a-glance breakdown of the most important metrics to you — landing page, blog, and email performance, as well as deals and sales tasks.

You can also easily access your contacts database, marketing insights (like email analytics) and your sales pipeline. For that last part, you can use the app to add notes, activities, or tasks, and keep track of deal stages.

HubSpot Mobile contacts  HubSpot Mobile Email

11) Clean your house.

App: iRobot HOME

Weekends: The perfect time to catch up with friends, family, the TV you missed last week and house-cleaning. Okay, how many of us really get around to that last one? (Hint: I don’t.)

But my colleague, Eric Peters, let me in on a little secret about the internet of things. Thanks to its HOME app, if you own a iRobot device like Roomba, you can remotely clean your house from your mobile device.

“My new favorite productivity app is from iRobot,” he told me. “I can turn on my Roomba and clean my floor, and not have to vacuum later.”

What’s more? You can even set a cleaning schedule for the week, in case you forget to spontaneously turn on your devices.

iRobot2 iRobot1 iRobot3

Source: iTunes

12) Clean up your Twitter feed.

App: Twindr

Ever scrolled through your Twitter feed and realized you’ve been just a bit too generous in how many people you follow? Twindr is a free app that works kind of like Tinder, but for unfollowing people on Twitter. All it takes is a few quick swipes to clean up your follower count.

twindr-screenshot

Source: Gizmodo

13) Get zen.

Apps: Insight Timer, Personal Zen, Headspace

Mondays, amirite? Suddenly, in the midst of pre-workday standing nap among the subway masses, you find your mind flooding with a mental to-do list of all the stuff you didn’t get done when you left the office early last Friday.

If this scenario sounds familiar, you’ve got to breathe — which can be tough to do on a Monday morning. But there are apps out there that can help you get zen during your commute, no matter how long it is.

We especially like Insight Timer, since — as its name suggests — you can actually set a timer for the window you have to meditate and select a combination of ambient sounds to use in the background. Or, you can select from any number of the app’s guided meditations. Om…

Insight Timer Custom Insight Timer Guided

14) Set a step goal for the day.

Apps: Fitbit, Withings, Jawbone UP, Apple Health

A great way to get more exercise and burn more calories throughout the day is by building incremental physical activities into your daily routine. If that sounds like your style, use an app like Fitbit or Withings to set step goal for each of your commutes. (While these companies sell expensive devices that sync with their apps, they have the ability to measure your steps for free.) And if you have an iPhone, the Health app will track any steps you take when you have your device with you.

Each morning and afternoon, try to hit your goal. If you drive, park your car some distance away from the office and walk the rest of the way. If you take the train or a bus, get off a stop or two early and walk the rest of the way. If your mode of transportation gets delayed, get your steps in by walking back and forth on the platform.

UP24goals.png

Source: Jawbone

15) Plan your meals.

Apps: Eat This Much, Pepperplate, BigOven

You work hard. Your days are long. That’s why it’s so easy to resort to something that’s quick and already prepared for dinner. But you don’t have to fall victim to the easy way out — if you plan ahead. There are apps out there that can help you do that, by making it simple to plan your meals for the week in advance.

We get especially geeked-out over the Eat This Much app, in part because it’s linked to grocery-delivery apps, if they’re available in your area. Plus, it lets you set nutrition goals and set parameters for any dietary restrictions you might have, like vegan, gluten-free, or specific food allergies.

EatThisMuch2 EatThisMuch1

Source: iTunes

Get Appy

See? Your commute doesn’t have to be so bad, after all. 

And even if you’re lucky enough to love your work, it never hurts to have that time to yourself to take care of the things that these apps are made to do. So get happy, get healthy and get “appy” — it’s one of the best ways to make the most of your precious time.

What do you do to make your commute more productive? Share with us in the comments below!

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in February 2015 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

free productivity tips

 
free productivity tips

Oct

13

2016

The Productive Marketer’s Guide to Better Team Collaboration

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How many different productivity tools do you use?

And how many hours have you spent searching for an email, assignment card, or document, simply because you have so many tools and systems? Maybe that’s why there are project managers — the person dedicated to managing these tasks. But guess what? With the right approach, you might not actually need one.

Optimal productivity really boils down to efficient team collaboration, especially for SMBs. So what does that look like? Download this free guide to learn how to maximize your workplace productivity.

Well, it requires a strong communication plan across all parties working on the project, as well as the tools — in moderation — that help you do that. Check out the tips below on how to collaborate better, and more productively.

The Productive Marketer’s Guide to Better Team Collaboration 

1) Avoid designating a project manager.

As we just suggested, it seems counter-intuitive to avoid hiring a single point person to oversee a project, right? But for SMBs in particular, says Marcus Andrews, HubSpot’s senior product marketing manager, using productivity tools — instead of a project manager — can actually help teams be more productive.

In these environments, “project management should be a shared responsibility,” he says. “It doesn’t make sense for SMBs to buy clunky project management software and to hire a person dedicated to managing their work. It’s overkill, and will slow them down and cost them money.”

Andrews suggests using a cohesive, automated productivity application — one that eliminates the duplicate efforts and distraction of multiple tools. That’s what 51% of people expect such apps to be able to do.

Here at HubSpot, we have a built-in app that does those things called Projects. Each team member is able to own his or her responsibilities, but monitor the different project pieces at the same time. That’s part of the reason, Andrews says, apps like these are so good at boosting team communication.

And hold that thought about automation — we’ll touch more on that in a bit.

2) Define a clear purpose and motivation.

Be honest. Have you ever been mid-task when you asked yourself, “Why am I doing this?”

That question should be answered from the very beginning of the project. What is its purpose? Why is it important to us and the client? And what excites us about it?

Outlining a project’s purpose and motivation can help your team stay engaged throughout the process. Disengaged workers have a drop in productivity — that’s why it’s important to not only define a clear purpose of the project up front, but also, to maintain an awareness of that purpose throughout its stages.

Have project team member identify a genuine reason why the project matters to them, and record it somewhere conspicuous. That way, if they feel overwhelmed or disengaged, they can go back and remind themselves of the work’s purpose.

3) …but, assign specific roles.

While eliminating a project manager can aid your team’s productivity, it’s still crucial to make sure everyone understands the role they’ll play.

When that isn’t clearly defined, it’s a huge blow to productivity. According to Gallup, only half of employees actually understand what’s expected of them at work — and out of that half, only 4% feel engaged at work.

We already know that disengaged teams are less productive. So to avoid it, leave no room for confusion before your team begins a project. It might be helpful to go over roles as a group before the work begins, to make sure there’s no unnecessary overlap or duplicate efforts. That’s also part of the point of removing the superfluous, multiple project management tools that we discussed earlier — we want to remove any unnecessary functions that hinder the team’s focus.

That goes for your team and your technology. Like having one automated app that keeps a project’s moving parts organized, clearly defining roles keeps your team running like a well-oiled machine.

4) Understand how work will move from role to role.

Not only is it imperative to clearly define roles, but it’s equally important to understand the next steps after each task is completed.

To me, project workflows are like baseball batting rotations — the order in which players are supposed to bat against the opposing team. Now, imagine if there was no such list, and a game stopped in the middle of an inning because no one knew who was supposed to hit next. A number of things could happen. The team could stand around waiting for someone to volunteer to step up to bat, or wait for someone in charge to make that decision. Or, it could be complete mayhem, with everyone on the team clamoring to take over. In any case, the game — like your project — would experience a delay, and nothing productive would get done.

For that reason, it’s important to have a workflow and sequence of steps in place. Sometimes, that can be tedious, which is why automation is so helpful in productivity. In fact, 55% of employees feel positive about the prospect of automation replacing tedious workflow tasks. Instead of taking the time to hand off a task and explain its next steps, or move it from app to app, a productivity tool that works within your existing workflow program can help seamlessly execute a sequence of tasks.

It also helps to get things done on time, by assigning deadlines to deliverables that are all organized in the same place. And that can be good for morale — 37% of employees equate meeting deadlines with productivity.

5) Avoid having to teach the same thing repeatedly.

By now, you get it — multiple project management apps = duplicate efforts = unproductive.

But another thing about managing projects with multiple tools? They require your team to learn multiple pieces of technology, many of which are actually built to accomplish the same thing. And learning, as well as remembering all of those different pieces takes time away from — you guessed it — getting your work done.

That repetition can be avoided by using a tool that already exists within your current CMS, CRM, or workflow platform. HubSpot Projects, for example, is already part of the HubSpot Marketing Platform, so it’s connected to our existing productivity apps, like Calendar.

Plus, it’s worth noting that Projects was developed in tandem with HubSpot Academy, says Eric Peters, senior growth marketing manager, which gives it a central repository of marketing resources and knowledge. That’s “part of being more productive,” he says, by “not needing to teach people things over and over.”

And while it’s good to make sure your team knows they can ask questions — 75% of people feel less stressed when they can get the help and support they need — it’s also nice to have these built-in resources for them. That reduces the time they might have otherwise spent searching for information, making them more productive in turn.

6) Hold “help wanted” meetings.

Sometimes, we get so wrapped up in our tasks that we forget to check in and ask each other the questions that help get things done.

That’s what Beth Bridges, a Marketing Manager for J – I.T. Outsource told Wrike. “I ask: What do you need to move forward on this project? Where is it stuck? What can we do to get to ‘done’?”

Plus, when teams receive consistent, voluntary help from their leaders, they’re more likely to help others in turn. But when it comes to these help wanted meetings, we suggest asking attendees to leave their devices behind — 75% of employees say that their smartphones get in the way of productivity.

7) Gather consistent feedback.

We know that your team needs to be able to ask for help and have resources at hand. But other than that — how’s everybody doing?

Earlier, we mentioned that there are times when projects might not go according to schedule. We suspect that has something to do with a lack of two-way feedback. During these help-wanted meetings, or even one-on-one meetings between teammates, use that time to welcome feedback on how the project is generally going.

Are the tools working? Are you better suited for a different phase of the project? Does someone have a new idea?

Having a dedicated time to exchange this feedback avoids spontaneous traffic jams and conflicts that can hold up progress and productivity. And, according to research done in Germany, teams that received the most constructive feedback were three times more engaged in their work.

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

It might seem like we’re asking you to do a lot at once. But really, these are all items that you can plan for before your work on a project even gets started.

To break it down:

  • Avoid the using multiple project management tools that duplicate efforts. Instead, look for a single productivity app that can integrate with your current workflow, resource database, and CMS/CRM.
  • The same goes for designating a project manager. An app like the one described above eliminates that person’s work, conserving time and other resources.
  • Clearly outline the purpose, motivation, roles, and steps/schedule of a project.
  • Create opportunities for your team to ask questions and exchange feedback.

And to learn more about how a productivity app can help you, check out HubSpot Projects.

What helps your team work more productively? Let us know in the comments.

Productivity Guide

Oct

10

2016

Early Birds vs. Night Owls: When’s the Best Time of Day to Write? [Infographic]

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While many people dread the sound of their morning alarman early start to the day could actually be the best thing for your writing. 

To shed some light on this concept, the folks at Grammarly analyzed over one billion words corrected with the help of their writing app, and gathered some fascinating insights about how time of day impacts writing ability.

Here are just a few of their findings:

  • Misspelled words made up more than half of all email-writing mistakes. 
  • Writers were three times as likely to make spelling and grammar errors in social media posts compared to any other type of writing.
  • Apostrophe mistakes were the most common.

Do you notice yourself making more writing errors at a certain time of day? Check out the full infographic below to learn more about the rest of their observations.

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Sep

30

2016

How to Master a Successful Marketing Campaign in Trello [Free Guide]

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Efficiency, collaboration, communication, and meeting deadlines — these all seem pretty relevant to your team’s success, right? Especially when running big marketing campaigns with a lot of moving pieces.

Whether you’re the solo marketer at your company or part of a 25-person team, staying organized and accountable is super important to executing marketing campaigns. That’s where Trello comes in.

Trello is a free, easy-to-use organization and project management tool that just so happens to be an awesome tool for marketers. It can help you keep your company’s largest and most involved marketing campaigns organized. (If you’re not sold, it might be convincing to hear that 16 million other users are already taking advantage of it.)

HubSpot went ahead and teamed up with Trello to bring you a free, step-by-step guide on How to Master a Successful Marketing Campaign in Trello to streamline your efficiency and collaboration beyond belief. Say goodbye to multiple shared Google Docs and never-ending email chains once and for all.

More specifically we’ll touch on:

  • Establishing a productive workflow for getting from start to finish that keeps your whole team involved and on track.
  • Developing key channels of communication within your team and across the organization.
  • Gaining perspective on success with visual retrospectives, accessible resources and a winning framework that can be recreated for your next campaign.
  • Achieving focus on the ultimate goal: more leads, sales, and buzz for your business.

Download your copy of How to Master a Successful Marketing Campaign in Trello.

free guide: how to manage a marketing campaign in Trello

Sep

29

2016

15 Time-Saving Email Templates for Marketing & Sales [Free Guide]

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We waste a lot of time reading and responding to emails at work. So much so that many people have become obsessed with optimizing their time spent “dealing” with email — whether that’s putting limits on the number of times they check their inbox during the day, using a productivity method such as inbox zero, or investing in tools to manage the mess of incoming communications. 

One effective way to reduce the amount of time spent writing and perfecting emails while also improving the chance of your message being opened, read, and responded to is to create a library of email templates you’ve found to be effective.

And you’re in luck because we’ve got a guide to get you started building out this repository. 

In our new ebook — 15 Email Templates for Marketing & Sales — you’ll find sample copy for commonly sent emails you can customize for your own communications. Included in the guide are templates for: 

  • Pitching a co-marketing campaign to an influencer
  • Requesting a customer reference
  • Reaching out to speaker
  • Pitching a guest post to an editor
  • Following up after an in-person meeting 
  • And more!

Cut down on the time you spend writing emails and improve your response rate by downloading the templates here.  

free email copy templates  

Sep

27

2016

How to Make the Most of Your To-Do List: 7 Styles to Try

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In my family, memory is an asset.

It’s not that we’re senile. It’s just that our minds move too quickly. We’re so busy jumping ahead to whatever’s next that we forget what we were doing in the first place.

So if we want to remember anything, we have to write it down. We are a to-do list family.

To-do lists have quite the history. They date back at least to the 1700s, as you’ll see below, and have been the subject of glee, contention, and productivity advice alike ever since. And while they’ve evolved significantly over the years, they still stand to serve a pretty similar purpose: To plan what we need to do.

Download our complete guide to productivity here for more tips to improve your  productivity.

What did that look like, once upon a time? And what does it look like for us today? As it turns out, the answer to the latter is different for everyone, and we’ve identified some of the ways people make to-do lists work for them.

The Earliest To-Do Lists

In his 1791, Benjamin Franklin recorded what was one of the earliest-known forms of a to-do list. But his intention behind the list wasn’t exactly to get stuff done — instead, he used it as a way of making sure he contributed something positive each day. He started his list with the question, “What good shall I do this day?”

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Source: Daily Dot

I won’t lie — Franklin’s to-do list doesn’t look entirely far off from mine. Granted, I don’t usually include the words “diversion” and “contrive” to describe what I need to do on a given day, but our respective lists achieve the same thing. I also schedule time in the morning to eat, and often use the lunch hour for my own version of “overlooking accounts.” You and I aren’t so different, Franklin.

What’s really changed are the different options available to us for creating and organizing to-do lists. Though not nearly as ancient as Franklin’s style, many of us can remember owning a paper day planner — those actually date back to 1924, with the debut of the Wanamaker Diary.

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Source: Boston Globe

But the age of the digital to-do list really started when computer operating systems were including calendar programs in their ensuite software packages, like primitive versions of Outlook Calendar. Those were followed by a 1992 version of a smartphone called Simon — which included scheduling features — and then came calendar-ready PDAs, or personal digital assistants. The first generation of online calendars came along in the early 2000s, which eventually evolved into programs like Google Calendar that could be synced with their smartphone counterparts.

In other words, it’s been a long time since we needed a pen nearby to take note of something — as long as we have a mobile device nearby, we can text reminders to ourselves, enter events into its calendar program, or use a voice search feature to set a reminder.

But I find it so interesting that something that now seems like antiquated technology — the PDA/personal digital assistant — is now become more applicable than ever again. We’re seeing more and more programs that were originally intended to be voice search platforms evolve into virtual personal assistants. So we’ll definitely touch on those, and how they come into play in the modern age of the to-do list.

How to Make the Most of Your To-Do List: 7 Styles to Try

1) The Classic Handwritten List

Around here, we joke about what an old-fashioned gal I can be. I go to bed early, have a collection of film noir, and reminisce for cartoons of the early 90s. I also keep a handwritten to-do list, which — with all of the bells and whistles available to us these days — is almost archaic.

I have a weird system for using my handwritten to-do list, too: I use it in tandem with Google Calendar, which we’ll get to later, and I use it as a shield from distractions.

When I’m working, I might get a random thought of something that I want to look up on the internet, or a personal message I want to send, or an errand I need to run. More often than I’d like, I respond to those thoughts in one of two ways: 1) Dropping what I’m doing to address it, or 2) saying, “I’ll deal with it later,” and forgetting about it.

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But having a notebook beside me while I’m working gives me a place to store these things, without completely interrupting my work to deal with them. Some of them are more important than others, but this way, I have a place to “put away” any distractions. (You’ll notice I use cartoonish exclamation point to indicate “fun” tasks.) And with the rapidly-dwindling attention span of humans, any hack to stay focused is welcome, especially in a deadline-driven line of work.

2) Bullet Journals

It seems like Bullet Journaling is the to-do list du jour. Everyone is talking about it, and yet, so few people seem to understand it.

Even when I surveyed my colleagues who have been giving it a shot, the reviews were mixed — most were falling behind on using it, and the others weren’t sure if it was actually benefiting them. One of them, my fellow marketing blogger Sophia Bernazzani, was kind enough to share a picture of hers:

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A Bullet Journal, Bernazzani explained to me, works for her, “because it easily lets me see my big-picture priorities and daily to-dos all in one place.”

According to a semi-official Bullet Journal website, the strategy is best described as a “customizable and forgiving organization system” that works as an all-in-one “to-do list, sketchbook, notebook, and diary.” Here’s what I was able to deduce from the remainder of the website content:

  • It’s a list of tasks, events, and miscellaneous notes.
  • Lists can be daily, monthly, or yearly.
  • Symbols are used to indicate the category and importance of each item.

What sets it apart from other to-do lists is its purpose to keep people from going nuts over the stuff they didn’t get done. It matches some research performed by a productivity app called iDoneThis, which found that 41% of to-do items are never completed. With the Bullet Journal system, nothing is ever crossed off — it’s just labeled with a new symbol that indicates it needs to be migrated to a future date.

The other differentiator is Bullet Journal’s advice to take daily logs one day at a time, instead of listing those items too far in advance. It also recommends not making these lists too long, which also aligns with research — studies have indicated that the more items on our to do lists, the less we’re likely to get done.

3) The 3-Step To-Do List

Earlier this year, my colleague, Christine Ianni, spoke with Pultizer-winning author and journalist Charles Duhigg about how the most productive people manage their time. He revealed a three-step process that breaks down larger, more difficult steps into micro-steps.

It looks something like this. Start with a blank sheet, and then:

  1. Think of your stretch goal for the day.
  2. Write your goal at the top of your page.
  3. Break your goal down into actionable/measurable steps.

Basically, this method decreases the intimidation factor of big projects. When larger goals each have their own to-do list, they’re re-organized into the smaller steps that lead to it being fully complete.

Curious to learn more about how that works? Check out our interview Duhigg on HubSpot’s The Growth Show.

4) Online Calendars

Here’s where my to-do listing is a bit more hip than an old-fashioned, handwritten inventory of distractions. I’ve written before about my tendency to schedule my day down to the very last detail — my online calendars are great for that.

Notice that I pluralized it — “calendars.” That’s because I have multiple online schedules, for both work and personal items. But thanks to cloud technology and the ability of calendars to merge together in one place — like iCal or my phone’s calendar software — I can have all of this information on a single platform.

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Like a few of my colleagues, I later found out, I use my online calendars in tandem with another to-do list format. Instead of just listing what I need to do, the calendar breaks down how much time I have to complete things throughout my day, from walking the dog to getting my writing done in the morning.

It also helps me remember to take breaks throughout the day. I’m not always so good at actually taking them, but since the most productive people remember to take 17-minute breaks for every 52 minutes of work they put in, I at least include it as an action item for myself. And by aligning them with my handwritten to-do list — where I write down reminders to look into otherwise distracting things — it helps to ensure that those 52 minutes of work aren’t severely interrupted.

What’s also cool about Google is its “Goals” feature, which lets you schedule out longer-term items — like learning a new language, for example — and dictating how much time you want to dedicate to them each day, month, or year. And, Goals keeps you accountable. If another commitment is scheduled during the time originally set aside to work on that longer-term item, Google will automatically reschedule the latter for you. So no excuses — it’s time to learn Japanese! Or, you know, whatever it is that you want to take up.

5) Virtual Personal Assistants

Last week saw the launch of Google Allo, a “smart messaging app” that also comes equipped with Google Assistant — a virtual concierge, if you will. It’s preemptive to the rumored October 4th launch of Google Home, which sources say is likely to use similar technology.

So why does that matter? Well, Google Home is another addition to the growing list of stand-alone virtual assistants that don’t require the use of a mobile device. And among their many capabilities, these in-home virtual assistants should be able to help set reminders.

Google Home will play in the same leagues as Amazon’s Echo, which uses its own voice search technology, Alexa, to assist with these requests and queries. I’ll let Alec Baldwin — who, by the way, you can come see at INBOUND 2016 — help explain:

Google and Amazon aren’t alone in this technology — let’s not forget Siri, one of the original voice search platforms that was programmed to create to-do lists and set reminders.

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Digital personal assistants tend to accomplish different things than the other types we’ve covered thus far. For me, at least, Siri is a great tool for creating or adding things to a to-do list when I’m on-the-go, or don’t have time to go through the process of adding a new event to my calendar.

We anticipate that this method of virtual to-do listing might continue to gain popularity — after all, look at how many major names are entering the space.

6) The “I Did” List

My colleague, Mike Renahan, is rumored around here to know a thing or two about productivity — you can check out some of his articles here. Naturally, I asked him how he organizes his to-do list.

His answer? He doesn’t, really. Instead, he uses what he calls an “I Did” list.

“You write down all the goals you accomplished in a given day,” he explains, “and those dictate what goals you set for yourself tomorrow.”

Here’s an example of what that looks like for him:

I_Did_List.jpg

As you can see, Renahan keeps this running list in a note in his phone so that he can update it whenever, wherever. “I update this list every day when I’m on the train,” he told me. “It helps me reflect on how productive I was in a given day. And from there, I can start planning realistic goals for the following day.”

Renahan’s approach works to resolve the emphasis on the incomplete by focusing on the good things we did on a given day. And instead just adding more and more things to an existing list, his theory says to use the good things to dictate what you’ll do tomorrow.

7) Task Management Apps

Finally, we reach the inevitable “there’s an app for that” method of organizing to-do lists.

Make no mistake — these apps are different than digital personal assistants. Rather than dictating reminders and scheduling items to a separate platform, many of these apps allow you to be in full control of your tasks.

There are tons of task management apps out there — Wunderlist and the aforementioned iDoneThis are two of the more recognizable names.

But among my colleagues, like the Section Editor of the Hubspot Sales Blog, Leslie Ye, it seems like Todoist is the most popular.

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She’s written about it before, and says that being able to triage the items on her to-do list according to their priority is major benefit. Plus, unlike a lot of other task management apps, Todoist has managed to gamify these tasks — the more you successfully complete, the more “karma points” you can earn.

“And accumulating karma points,” Ye explains, “is a fun way to gamify something that is usually a source of stress.”

Feeling organized?

At a time when we seem to be busier than ever — which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as that’s been said to improve our cognition — staying organized can become a challenge. But that’s only if you don’t have the right tools and, as we’ve illustrated, there are plenty of those to be found.

As we noted before, not every method is perfect for everyone, and whichever one makes you most productive might not look conventional. These methods can be combined and used in tandem with each other — like I do with handwritten lists and online calendars — or maybe there’s just a singular method that works best for you.

And maybe there’s a really cool, unknown to-do list organization method out there that we need to know about. Got one? Let us know in the comments.

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Sep

23

2016

Why Business Travel Is Making You Sick (And What You Can Do About It)

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I recently read that 45% of Millennials want to travel more for business.

Are they crazy? I mean, I get it. Travel is an opportunity to do something different — to have an experience. But as someone who spent considerable time in seemingly endless business travel, I understand the frequent (non-recreational) flyer’s lament.

While it’s necessary in moderation, it takes its toll — studies show that frequent business travel makes us age faster, not to mention, more prone to cardiovascular disease. And as if that weren’t enough, constant flight exposes us to what the Harvard Business Review calls “pathological levels of germs and radiation.”

It doesn’t have to be that bad — there are ways to stay healthy on the road. By turning these tips into habits, you might not only decrease your chances of getting sick, but business travel can even become an exercise in prioritizing effectively, sleeping better, and learning to make time for yourself.

(Note: These tips are not intended to be substitutes for medical advice — they’re for educational purposes only. Consult your healthcare professional before making any health, medical, or other decisions based on the data within these tips.)

Why Business Travel Is Making You Sick (And What You Can Do About It)

You’re not eating healthily — which is trickier than it looks.

While your brain might require more calories during these intense periods of travel — and want to reward itself with airport junk food — you have to feed it the right kind of sustenance. That means consuming healthy snacks, and not the salty, sugary ones that we usually find on the road.

HubSpot’s VP of Marketing Meghan Keaney Anderson recommends packing healthier options for yourself. “They don’t take up much room,” she says, “and will get you through those long trips.”

Back when I had to travel nearly every week for work, if I didn’t have any meals planned with colleagues or clients, I would bring homemade freezer meals: Portable containers with grilled chicken strips, green beans, and sweet potatoes that I would freeze and throw in my carry-on when it was time to leave.

Make-ahead meals like that are especially helpful if you’re going to be on the road for several days — just call your hotel ahead of time and ask if there’s a refrigerator or microwave in your room. If there isn’t, you can request one — hotels are usually happy to oblige.

You don’t know what’s nearby.

To piggyback on the importance of healthy eating, it helps to know what’s near the place you’ll be staying. That might not be up to you — it’s often up to your client and boss to dictate lodging, especially when you have to stick to places that have a specific corporate rate.

However, with the help of sites like Yelp and Google Maps, it’s easy to make a spreadsheet or list on your phone of what options are available near each hotel you stay at.

If you are able to pick where you stay, “book hotels in downtown areas,” Anderson recommends. “It might be tempting to book the hotel closest to the airport, but staying downtown will minimize your reliance on cabs and let you see the true city.” 

You’re not working out.

The benefits of exercise aren’t exactly a secret. Not only can it help you stay healthy on the road — especially if you find yourself tempted by food that you wouldn’t normally eat at home — but exercise can even mitigate the effects of jetlag.

Depending on how early your day starts — and any evening obligations you might have — that could mean getting up at 4:00 a.m. to fit in a workout. That can be tough if you’re out the night before, trying to impress your boss and schmooze with clients.

But there are ways around that. Try to sneak in a workout after dinner, especially if you just can’t bring yourself to get up so early the next day. (Don’t like going to the gym? Toss some 2-lb dumbbells into your suitcase and find some short exercise videos online that you can do from your hotel room.)

These workouts can be quick — my colleague Lindsay Kolowich has some tips for effective spurts of exercise that add up when you do them throughout the day, even if you’re stuck at a desk (and won’t make you look weird).

Finally, try not to drink too much with dinner. Not only can alcohol derail your efforts to eat healthily, but it’s known to impair your sleep quality by messing with your sleep cycles, especially the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) stage — that’s crucial to things like learning and balancing your mood.

(And if you’re being pressured to get boozy with colleagues or clients, maybe it’s time consider a career change.)

You’re not sleeping enough.

This step can be tough — see above.

Some people just don’t sleep well in hotels, and that’s completely normal. It’s actually the result of what researchers call the “first night effect,” and it results from a tendency of mammals — like dolphins and whales, for example — to sleep with just one half of their brains at a time, while the other half stays awake and alert.

Humans do this, researchers believe, when we’re in a new environment — we’re more alert, so we can respond to unusual stimuli, or “signs of danger.”

When I noticed that was starting to happen to me, I found it helpful to do something completely unrelated to work before turning in for the night. It can be hard to step away — after all, that’s why you’re on the road. But as a start, don’t look at any of your devices, as that’s been known to disturb your circadian rhythm and keep you awake.

Instead, take advantage of the hotel’s free HBO, or read something relatively mindless — for me, that was usually a home and garden magazine. At the very least, it distracted me from any stress leading up to my commitments the next day, like a big meeting or presentation. And since stress often leads to sleeplessness, as it does for 33% of adults, that helped to mitigate the “first night effect.”

You need to chill out.

We’ve already covered how important stress management is when it comes to your quality of sleep. But remember all those healthy eating tips we shared? Stress can seriously hinder those efforts, too.

There’s a reason why phrases like “stress eating” and “comfort food” are common in our vernacular — in the period of one month, nearly every two in five adults admits to overeating or indulging in unhealthy foods as a result of stress. Combine that with being in a less controlled environment — where there’s a stocked mini-fridge, for example — and we’re much more likely to turn to unhealthy snacks for relief.

But between packing your own food, getting a workout in between client obligations, and getting enough sleep, how the heck are you supposed to find time to even breathe, let alone relax?

Well, here’s where you might have to switch around some priorities. If healthy eating is more of a priority to you than fitting in exercise, then you can use that time to unwind. Maybe the hotel has a pool where you can decompress for a bit, or even a spa that you can use to your advantage.

Otherwise, fit in the relaxation where you can. It might sound impossible, but studies have shown that even 16 minutes of relaxation exercises can help people more effectively cope with stress.

Plus, there are several stress management apps that make it possible to take a mini-relaxation break anywhere. Check out our rundown — a lot of them are free.

You’re not planning your time wisely.

We’ve all heard about the benefits of time management — and I don’t know about you, but I feel better when I have at least a rough idea of what my day will look like.

I use a technique called time blocking, which means I put appointments in my calendar for my own time — things like working out and taking a coffee break, for example. According to some studies, writing down your goals like this can actually improve the likelihood of you actually achieving them.

So while our plans might go awry, scheduling things in advance, at a minimum, gives us a better idea of how much time we have to get them done.

That’s why time management is so valuable during business travel. There’s a lot to fit in during a condensed period of time — by planning these items out on a calendar, you can better prioritize what’s most important to you, whether that’s exercising or using that time for relaxation.

And if you’re having trouble setting priorities, try this two-minute test that will help you determine them.

Time to hit the road …

It might seem like a long list. And it might seem like way too much to take care of when your time is already limited. But it’s okay if you have to pick and choose different tips here, and that’s why we keep harping away at prioritizing. If you have to skip a step, don’t beat yourself up for it — when it comes to correcting less-than-desirable habits, self-forgiveness is much more effective than guilt.

Before you head out, know what’s available to make your trips a little easier. Find out if your hotel offers things like laundry service, in-room yoga, or something as simple as an in-room coffee maker. Having those resources on hand will reduce the amount of time you have to spend looking for them or retrieving them elsewhere.

Happy trails! We’re here to provide tips wherever we can. Do you have a favorite business travel hack? Share it in the comments.

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