MavenSay What?

Every now and then, I come across a product or service that makes me ask, “Why didn’t I think of that?” MavenSay—a new social networking app– is no exception.

mavensayWith this app you’re able to share your lifestyle with a trusted community of enthusiasts and local taste makers. What pair of running sneakers do you love? Where do you get the best coffee heath bar ice cream? Where should I get my eyebrows waxed? What’s a new song I should download?

At its heart MavenSay is about knowing what’s good by sharing the latest trends — fashion, food, music, shopping — through reliable and trusted recommendations. With a soft launch in October, the six month old app is making huge strides in New York City, Los Angeles and San Francisco. More than a location based guide, MavenSay wants to be the community for lifestyle curation.

mavensay2So how does it all work? Well, one of the best things about MavenSay is how easy it is to use. Simply, find you friends through Facebook and Twitter to see their recommendations. You can also visit the weekly “Discover” section to find a curated collection recommended by MavenSay. or use the nearby map feature to view favored local finds.
And with a spokesbear named Fred the Honey Maven ¬and creative video ads like this one¬ http://vimeo.com/58834365 — it’s hard not to appreciate this bright company’s creativity to attract Mavens.

It will be interesting to see if MavenSay will stick. Are you a Maven? What are some of your favorite features? What could MavenSay do to enhance their app? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Spring cleaning tips for your email inbox

According to the calendar, spring has sprung, even if Punxsutawney Phil indicated otherwise (and, incidentally, is now being indicted by a prosecutor in Ohio for his “misrepresentation of spring!”).

But while we’re tucked away inside for a few more weeks, it’s a perfect time to work on some spring cleaning of an area that, if you’re like the majority, you’ve probably been neglecting for some time now: the dreaded email inbox.

The good news is, this kind of cleaning doesn’t require mops and buckets. But it will require a bit of time, some discipline and figuring out a method of organization that works for you. Here are five quick tips for dealing with the daily digital deluge:

  1. Get rid of old items. Do you really need that email from last year? Start with oldest first, and scan for anything important, which can be filed (more on that later) before the rest are banished to the trash.
  2. Control the incoming flow. Avoid an inbox pile-up by turning off unnecessary notifications, unsubscribing from unwanted newsletters and old Google Alerts.
  3. Set up a system. Keep a handle on new emails by creating filters for certain senders or subjects, and set up a filing system with subfolders to manage other items as they come in.
  4. Adopt a mantra. Repeat after me: “If you don’t need it, delete it!” Half the battle is keeping things from piling up in the first place.
  5. Take out the trash. Finally, don’t forget about cleaning up those oft-forgotten spots – deleted and sent items! Say, ‘good riddance’ and do a final delete on that pile of old drafts and scrapped emails.

And here’s some more advice from our team on what they’ve found works best:

“I first go through my folders and view the emails from the bottom up (oldest first) and delete anything I won’t need again). Then, I delete the folder itself. Finally, I enter my sent items folder and delete anything older than one month…I find this really helps!”

“I have a daily filing system so I clean up a lot as I go along, and try to keep my inbox limited to items that need my actions. I find that filing other emails and saving attachments to Dropbox helps, too, but I still like to go through old, deleted and sent emails to get rid of those defunct items that take up much-needed space.”

“I do a sort by name and mass delete newsletters (that I thought I would get to) and Google alerts, spam, etc. but I still have way too much!”

“I tend to save emails for months! But, two tips I find helpful: 1) Create folders and subfolders for very specific things so it’s easier to find what you’re looking for quickly. 2) Color code emails by client or category so it’s easy to sort your inbox visually.”

“DO rely heavily on folders and subfolders to organize your emails. For example, consider one folder for each client with subfolders by program, e.g., Acme Co. has 3 subfolders for media, awards, and announcements. All emails pertaining to those programs can be filed accordingly making them easy to find later.”

“My tips: A) Sort by sender and take note of any junk senders; mark as appropriate to avoid future deliveries. B) Delete anything over 6 months old. C) Review the newsletters you receive and unsubscribe from any that aren’t pertinent to your daily needs. Consider having these sent to a “newsletter only” alternate Gmail address that you can check versus having them come to your work address.”

“Not sure if my strategy would work for all, but I basically limit my Inbox messages to immediate action items only. For everything else, I immediately archive into folders. If there are things relevant to future to-dos, I make a note in my planning/to-dos calendar to revisit. But to keep my head straight, I always keep my inbox so that all messages show up on my screen and are only the most pressing.”

“Don’t save every email in an email discussion – save only the most recent email that contains the entire thread.”

“Arrange your inbox by conversation; each time a new email comes in relevant to a specific discussion, the entire thread is moved to the top of your inbox. This not only groups related emails together for easy reference, it can act as a reminder as new updates come in.”

“Edit your inbox aggressively; do not hang on to newsletters you’ll never get to. It’s like those old skinny jeans you’ve saved for three years – just get rid of them already!”

Telecommuting Tips for Those Who Don’t Work at Yahoo

This week is National TeleWork Week (March 4-8). Coincidentally this week also falls on the heels of the Yahoo decision to stop all telecommuting – so for those of you that work at Yahoo we apologize in advance, and you can stop reading here :)

Work from home comic

Whether you think Yahoo made the wrong decision or it was all ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ it does help to raise awareness for the passion people have for telework — and we are no exception. With over 15 years as a virtual business we have deep experience on the topic. So without further ado — here are our team’s work from home tips for success.

Tips for staying productive when working from home:

  • Keep the “To Do” list handy. Knowing what you have to accomplish makes it easier to plan your day and there is a huge feeling of accomplishment when you cross things off the list.
  • Take advantage of the little perks you wouldn’t have in a traditional office and customize your environment however you are comfortable and productive; wear comfortable clothing, sit on a balance ball instead of a chair, play some motivational music – heck, light a candle. These are luxuries the office worker isn’t typically allowed, so go for it. Your work environment has a huge impact on productivity, so create a space that makes you feel good.
  • Take mini breaks. Get up and walk around to get the blood flowing; check the mailbox; throw in a load of laundry; take out the trash. Take advantage of your home setting and knock out a few quick chores throughout the day.
  • Have a daily routine. Have breakfast, followed by a big cup of coffee, work through the morning’s emails, plan out your day, schedule a walk at lunch and make sure you get out of the house.
  • Plot projects based on natural rhythm. For example, perhaps try to work on writing and pitching later in the day when you can focus and dig deeper without as many distractions.
  • Eat lunch. On busy days, it’s so easy to lose track of the time, but take a brain break and eat something healthy to give you that final push for the remainder of the day. When in doubt, chocolate helps then, too!
  • Give yourself a win. In PR, we’ve got a variety of projects and priorities and things are constantly changing, but start the day with a “win,” meaning tacking at least one smaller project to completion. There’s nothing as inspiring as crossing something off your to-do list early to get the day going on a positive note!
  • Get a sounding board. If you are an animal lover consider adopting a dog or cat. If not, you could always try a Talking Tom doll. Working from home can be isolating and everyone needs someone to talk to, even if they can’t talk back :).
  • Have a back-up plan. Just like an office that could lose Internet access, power, or be shut down for maintenance, know what your back up plan is and be able to get there fast. Working from home should be seamless even when inconveniences like power outages happen.

Still not sure you are ready to work from home? Here are some direct quotes from our team members to inspire you to explore the idea further:

“I absolutely love having the ability to work from home. There’s something so satisfying about being able to dig in and get work done more efficiently without the usual office distractions, and it’s given me a better quality of life overall.”

“At one point in my career, I was commuting three hours per day (round trip) – that’s 60 hours per month of “lost” time! So I’m not only appreciative to have that time back each week, but also grateful to be able to reinvest it in things that matter, whether it’s work, family, friends, hobbies or just recharging my battery.”

“I believe that happy, fulfilled people are more productive and creative in their work, and I’ve seen that firsthand at PerkettPR. Our colleagues are able to attend functions with their kids, run marathons, blog, cheer on their favorite sports teams, write books, win Maker Faire competitions, create art installations displayed in museums, and much, much more. It’s that kind of passion, perseverance and out-of-the box thinking that makes us more interesting as people, and is also allows us to offer a greater depth of imagination and resourcefulness in our daily work.”

“As a mom of three, working from home has allowed me stay in the workforce, contribute financially to my family, all while staying an active – and visible – participant in my children’s lives every single day. The idea of commuting to the city – two hours each way, not getting home until 7pm – I couldn’t imagine a bigger detractor to my productivity than taking away those hours with my kids.”

“I love working from home because with school-aged children, I feel better knowing that I am nearby and accessible if there is an emergency such as a call from the school nurse. I don’t have to worry about waiting for a train ride home or sitting in traffic. That is invaluable to me.”

“Life is way too short to spend a quarter of your waking hours sitting in traffic in a car. There is too much to do and too much to experience with all of those wasted hours. Successful people are successful no matter where they work: At airports, in an office , on the beach…working from home is no different. You just have to be diligent about eliminating distractions.”

We believe our team’s appreciation for a solid work/life balance has a direct impact on their contributions to our success. And as Jean Baptiste Su says in his above linked Forbes piece on the subject: Happy employees make great companies.

What are some of your work from home productivity tips?