Tuesday Tech Tip: 3 Evernote Tips for Business

Instant Gratification: By using the slick Evernote iPhone app and unobtrusive browser plug in, you can capture images, audio and text on any device and easily find things later. Evernote even searches the text inside of pictures so it’s perfect for scanning notes or business cards.

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20130126-140545.jpgFor the uninitiated, Evernote is a simple way to keep track of your digital life. You can store notes, pictures, ideas and just about anything else. It’s absolutely free and available on any device. However, if you upload a TON of stuff, you’ll need to upgrade to the premium version for around $45 a year. I want to tell you about my three biggest uses for Evernote.

1. Store Business Cards
I’m not a fan of collecting business cards. But, because you’re a wedding entrepreneur, you’ll inevitably end up with a drawer full of business cards from photographers, DJs, planners and limo drivers. Instead of digging through the drawer when you want to find that florist you met last year, scan the cards with the Evernote iPhone app. Since Evernote has an ever-improving OCR (reading text from pictures) technology, you can search your entire collection and Evernote can find what you’re looking for, just from the words in the picture. It can even read (legible) handwritten notes. How badass is that?

2. Research
Whether I’m doing research for a blog post or trying to find someplace to live, Evernote is awesome for keeping all of the pieces organized. I can create a “notebook” to store everything for my project, which we’ll call “Jeff’s awesome new house.” As I’m walking down the street, I’ll remember that my new house simply must have space for a fireplace. I can use the iPhone app once more, but this time to record a quick audio note saying, “deal breaker: house has to have a fireplace.” *Note: I don’t think Evernote can search (the content of) audio files yet, but I’m crossing my fingers that they’ll roll this out soon. After all, the technology to transcribe voicemails has been around (even if it’s terrible) for years. All you need to do is create a title for your file and slap on a tag like “deal breakers.”

3. Stay Productive and Never Forget
Have you ever found a super interesting article online and didn’t want to lose it so you just read it, even though you meant to be working on something else? Who am I kidding, you probably did that today. In fact, you might be doing right now. Never fear. You can use the Evernote WebClipper browser extension to easily clip things from the web that you want to find later. I have a “movies to watch” tag as well as a “fun for later” tag. Anytime I need a movie to watch, I just search Evernote for anything tagged “movies to watch” and I’ve got a good list of things I want to see. I use my “fun for later” tag to store articles, websites, concepts and TED videos I want to watch later. The power in this is less in being able to find good stuff later (which is completely awesome) and more in my newfound ability to save something for later so I can stay focused on whatever I’m currently working on.

Everyone has a different use for evernote. You can store meeting notes, recipes, ideas, plans and just about anything else your little heart desires. One alternative I’ve been pretty impressed with is GetPocket, but I haven’t used it enough to recommend. I’d love to hear what others are using and why they like it better than Evernote.

I’m dying to know. How are you going to use Evernote?

*I only endorse products I use and love. I don’t get paid for it. I’ll let you know if that changes. -Jeff*

Here’s Why You Don’t Have Enough Time

Nobody in the wedding industry seems to have enough time. Ask anybody how they’re doing and the answer is, “busy.” So why don’t you have enough time?

You’re trying to do too much.

Call me captain obvious, but the truth is that you’re lying to yourself about what’s realistic. You pretend that you can get eight (okay, five) hours of sleep, get the kids to soccer practice (and ballet and art and yoga), answer every sales email with a personal, customized response, take care of your current bridal clients, have dinner on the table and prep for the coming weekend all in less than 24 hours.

I call bullshit.

Even if you manage to get all of those things done, there’s no way you’re doing all of them well in a healthy, sustainable way. I’m not trying to make you feel bad. To the contrary, that’s my point. When you give yourself an impossibly long to-do list, you set yourself up for disappointment. You end up with the least useful, least productive feeling of all: guilt.

Here’s my suggestion: Do less. Pick something on your list that just “has to get done” and ask yourself, “what exactly will happen if I don’t do this?” My hunch is that most of the things on your to-do list are wants, not needs. Get ruthless about what you’re willing to do in one day. Commit to doing nothing for an hour or even two. This isn’t just about what you’re cutting out, it’s really about what you’re making time for: the good stuff.

What do you think will happen? The truth is that most of us waste at least an hour each day on things like Facebook, TV, blog surfing and worrying. What if you spent that time on something that left you feeling recharged? That made you at peace and inspired?

I dare you to pick something seemingly vital on your to-do list and not do it. I’m not asking you to screw over clients or miss deadlines. Re-evaluate your to do list. It’s time to get serious about what’s really essential and what isn’t.

What’s at stake? Your sanity, your business, and your life. Cut out some of the noise. Because if you don’t, it will overtake you, and 2013 will look dangerously similar to 2012.

What are you cutting out today to get your life back? And more importantly, how will you fill that space with something good?

Tuesday Tech Tip: Use GetHuman to Talk to a Person

Wedding entrepreneurs simply do not have time to waste being on hold with corporations. If you’ve never used gethuman.com, you’re going to love it. I’ve known about the service for years, but for reasons I don’t understand, I keep forgetting to use it. So if you know about Get Human but you haven’t been using it consistently, this is your friendly nudge.

I’m temporarily living in Canada and my Verizon contract is on hold. They only let you suspend your account for three months at a time (but they’ll set it up to automatically go on hold again if you beg them) and there was a glitch so I got a bill. I don’t like getting bills for service I’m not getting. I wanted this resolved asap and while it wasn’t a huge deal, it was definitely a nuisance.
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Real Vendor Talks: Emily Steffen Photography

Yeehaw! We’re ringing in the new year in style. I couldn’t have thought of a better wedding pro to help me kick off the new Real Vendor Talks video series than the one and only Emily Steffen of Emily Steffen Photography.

Emily is known for gorgeous wedding pictures, her whimsical style (slash) brand and her ability to juggle roles as a successful mompreneur. Or momtrepreneur, if you want to french it up a bit.

In this video, Emily speaks about dealing with the tragic loss of her parents, finding work-life balance, building an authentic brand and preparing for parenthood as an entrepreneur. Don’t miss this valuable small business advice in our chat below.

Guest: Emily Steffen of Emily Steffen Photography

Real Vendor Talks is a video series where Cake Coaching founder, Jeff Hellenbrand, engages in gutsy conversations that matter with passionate wedding pros and the entrepreneurs who serve them.

Tuesday Tech Tip: Develop Better Habits

Develop better habits with "Lift"It’s time for me to share yet another secret weapon with you. I’ve been using the iPhone app Lift for three months now and it’s definitely a keeper. Lift is a clean and simple habit-tracking app with a social element. In the book “Willpower” the authors explain that people with more willpower actually use willpower less. By using their willpower to develop better habits on the front end (like flossing), they don’t have to expend the energy each day to floss, they just do it without thinking. This is a huge concept. It means you don’t need more willpower. You need better habits. Unfortunately, you’re going to need to use some of that willpower to get the ball rolling.

I’m a big fan of measuring everything (see the Quantified Self). Why the excitement around keeping track? For me, it’s motivating to look back at the last week or month and see how I’m doing. Just checking in every day reminds me of my goals and the habits I’m trying to develop.

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Happy New Year, Hungover Vendors!

Happy New Year, peeps! I love the fresh smell of a new year. We’ve had a chance to reflect on the good, the bad and the awesome of last year and now we turn our full attention to the bright, shiny promise of a fresh set of 365.

I don’t want to talk about resolutions today. Instead, I want to talk about something I’ve personally been wrestling with lately: over-thinking about work at work.

It happens like this: I start thinking about all the things I want to get done. And instead of getting everything into a system and working through each of them without another thought, I dwell. I’m not talking about useful thinking (like planning, organizing or brainstorming). I’m talking about thinking instead of doing. And it usually happens when we’re stressed out or overwhelmed by the amount of things we have to do. Continue reading

Tuesday Tech Tip: Google Maps Returns to iPhone

Google Maps ScreenshotHere’s a quick run-down on Forbes.com of the new Google Maps app. I was one of the many early-adopters who jumped on the new iPhone update only to realize that Apple had swapped the near-perfect Google Maps app for Apple’s own (infamously disappointing) take on maps. Having the iPhone 4 (and not the 4S) means that I still didn’t get turn-by-turn navigation.

If you’ve been missing a decent navigation app, Google has finally delivered for the iPhone. It’s not perfect, but at the perfect price of free, this app should replace Apple Maps in your iPhone dock ASAP.

Download the new Google Maps app.

Stressed? Here’s the Complete Holiday Stress Toolkit

Image from iconarchive.com

Don’t let the holidays kill your joy. Make them awesome. Here’s some help.

Fill out my online form.

Your Stress Tool Belt


Resources from the Skillshare Class

First lecture (65 min)
Q&A Session (30 min)
Five-Part Blog Series on Beating Holiday Stress

Jeff’s Favorite Tools

Gratitude Journal. Make a list of things you’re grateful for daily. Try to list 3-5 things. I personally like this iPhone app ($.99) #mind #spirit (Hear Jeff talk about this)

Exercise Creatively. Getting exercise is key to staying healthy mentally, physically and spiritually. You don’t have to go to the gym to work out. Start a snowball fight, take a dog for a walk or offer to help bring chairs up from downstairs. #body #mind #spirit (Hear Jeff talk about this)

Sleep Better.  The holidays are a great time to catch up on sleep. It’s not just about quantity, though. For better sleep, try limiting caffeine and alcohol as well as avoiding exercise, tv and eating before bed. #body #mind (Hear Jeff talk about this)

Drink Water. This is always a good idea. It’s hard to remember to drink enough water when we’re celebrating the holidays. Buy a water bottle and take it with you everywhere. Keep it full and close-at-hand and you’ll have no problem staying hydrated. #body #mind (Hear Jeff talk about this)

Love Your Stomach. It’s easy to punish your stomach with so much “good” food that’s so bad for you. Don’t beat yourself up for indulging. Instead, drink more water, eat a big, healthy breakfast and try to sneak in some fruits and vegetables with every meal. #body #mind (Hear Jeff talk about this)

Do Some Good (Random Acts of Kindness). I can’t think of a better way to get into the spirit of the holidays and to get out of a funk than to do something kind for someone else. Volunteer at a homeless shelter, read to kids, hold the door open for someone or pay for another customers groceries. Don’t ask for thanks in return. Do it just to do it. #spirit (Hear Jeff talk about this)

Centering. Whether you’ve got half an hour or thirty seconds, centering is a great way to calm your mind and help you relax. Use it after you ring the door bell until the in-laws open the front door. Step away and use it when you get upset. Use it when you need to recharge at work. Here’s the direct link to the centering exercise from class (video starts playing automagically). #mind #spirit

A Bunch More Ideas

See Ashley J’s Project for some clever and funny ideas #body #mind #spirit

Learn how to deal with Button Pushers (Direct link to button pushers section of video. It starts playing automatically.) #spirit

Let go of expectations (Direct link to Expectations section of video. It starts playing automatically.) #spirit

Meditate #mind #spirit (Here’s a great Youtube Tutorial on meditation if you’ve never tried it before.)

Yoga (If you haven’t tried it, take a free class today. This is too good to miss. Yoga leaves me feeling centered, calm, rejuvenated, at peace, warm, connected and happy. Yoga is not just for the ladies. Man up and feel awesome.) #body #mind #spirit

Laugh More (In one scientific study of happiness, this video proved to make people the happiest) #body #mind #spirit

Learn to Say No #spirit (Hear Jeff talk about this)

Take Mini Breaks to Recharge #body #mind #spirit (Hear Jeff talk about this)

Visualization #mind #spirit (Read the short article on using visualization to prepare for success. Hear Jeff talk about this)

Turn Off Technology #mind #spirit (Hear Jeff talk about this)

Cut Yourself Some Slack #spirit (Hear Jeff talk about this)

Connect with People You Love (Family or Not. If spending time with family is stressful, make sure to carve out some time for friends you feel totally at ease with. Far away? Use Skype or Google Hangout. Though nothing beats picking up the phone and actually calling them.) #spirit

Stop with the Assumptions (We all have a bunch of assumptions about other people and the holidays we’ve collected over the years. Challenge those assumptions this year. Talk to your family about traditions and expectations for the holidays. You might be blown away by how your assumptions are killing your chances of a relaxing holiday.) #spirit (Hear Jeff talk about this)

Pick Your Battles (When Uncle Rico makes an offensive comment, ask yourself if now is the right time to respond. Consider approaching him in private to tell him why his remarks hurt you. That said, don’t be afraid to stand up for the things that truly matter. Remember that in the end, you can almost always find common ground. That’s even more important during the holidays with family.) #mind #spirit (Hear Jeff talk about this)

Pray (Have someone to pray to? Now might be a good time to do more of that kind of thing.) #spirit

Be Honest & Vulnerable (This has to be the best way to deepen relationships any time of year. Instead of gloating about business successes, real or imagined, try being more open and honest about the good, the bad and the ugly – in business and in life. You might be surprised by the response.) #spirit #mind (see Brene Brown’s solid Ted Talk on vulnerability)

Watch Christmas Movies #spirit (my favorite is Elf, with Will Ferrell).

Beating Holiday Stress: Part 5

Do what your uncle says and take ownership of your holidays.

Take Ownership of Your Holidays

I’ve had some frustrating experiences during the holidays. I’ve put my foot in my mouth. I’ve had to suffer through church programs I really didn’t want to attend and generally do things I wasn’t in the mood for. Then there is the completely demoralizing and exhausting exercise of trying to decide if the “adult kids” should give each other gifts or just draw names. If you don’t know what I’m talk about, just be grateful.

I don’t know what it is about the holidays. Maybe it’s because we often spend time with our parents. Maybe we’re just completely overloaded. For some reason, it always seems easier to feel like the victim or like we don’t have any say. We go along with what other people want to do, begrudgingly, of course. We put up with something, then complain for a day. After all, everyone else is out to ruin what could have been a perfect holiday for us.

Hey, it’s easier to blame everyone else. But it feels terrible. Instead, take ownership of your holidays. Want to do something different this year? Recruit a couple of people to do it with you. Really don’t like one of your traditions? Speak up. Maybe nobody else does either, they just thought you loved it. You might be surprised.

The bottom line is you always have a choice. The next time you start to feel like you “have to” do something, ask yourself, “what are my options?” They won’t always be great. And if your only alternative to going shopping is jumping out of a moving vehicle, I suggest you just go shopping. But it’s still a choice.

As you live more consciously this season, remember to be extra kind to those who are feeling like the holidays are happening to them. They’re not usually jerks. They’re just not usually this stressed out.

This is the final post in the “Beating Holiday Stress” series. In the holiday spirit of giving, Jeff is offering a free class on beating holiday stress at Skillshare.com. The class starts tonight, Dec. 3, 2012! Register Now.

Beating Holiday Stress: Part 4

Setting a Powerful Intention

Does Christmas make you feel like the pug in the picture? Don’t feel like that pug. Instead, set a powerful intention to make this holiday season exactly what you want it to be. First, though, we’ve got to talk about expectations.

The holidays are stressful for a bunch of reasons, but the main one is that we have crazy-high expectations. We also take on the expectations of others (for example, what does your mother think you should be doing this year?). What are your expectations for Christmas this year? For yourself? Are they realistic? What are your expectations about? Food, friends, presents, emotions? How would you feel if things don’t turn out like you want them to?

As wedding entrepreneurs, you work weddings. You know that things never go (exactly) as planned. So how can you set yourself up to have a great month no matter what? Well, you can start by setting a powerful intention for yourself.

As a life coach, I help clients set powerful intentions and I know they can make a huge difference. Let’s set one now:

What is your intention for the holidays this year?

There’s no wrong or right answer, but it is important that you focus on something you can control. Unmet expectations make us sad. If we expect things to happen that we can’t control, we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment. But there is a ton we can control. For example, my intention this year is to embody the spirit of the holidays. To be generous, to laugh easily and to give off a warmth that draws others to me. That’s a lot. Your intention could be to have fun with family. *Note: Always set intentions in the positive (not negative). Psychological studies show that your brain has trouble telling the difference between “I don’t want to get fat” and “I want to get fat.”

Your thoughts largely control your reality. Do you know anyone who is negative all of the time and bad stuff just keeps on happening to her? Intentions work the same way. The point is that you already have intentions for the holidays (“I will not eat all the cookies”), you maybe just haven’t thought about them much. Take control, decide for yourself what your intentions will be.

Picking an intention isn’t enough. At least that never works for me. Write down your intention somewhere you’ll see it every day. Or write it again every day. Or record yourself saying it and listen to it before you go to bed each night. Or say it out loud when you wake up. It takes just seconds, but it’s the difference between living your intention and completely forgetting about it (and spending another December stressed out and exhausted).

How will you remind yourself of your intention every day?

This post is part four of a five part series called “Beating Holiday Stress.” In the holiday spirit of giving, Jeff is offering a free class on beating holiday stress at Skillshare.com. The class starts Dec. 3, 2012. Sign up here.