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This week we facilitated group productivity training at Chicago creative meeting place Catalyst Ranch. One of the time management tips we shared was to (you may want to sit down for this) turn off your email application when you need to insert more think time to your work day.

One concern raised…”what happens if I get so involved in my work that I forget to turn email back on??? I’ll get fired if I stop answering emails!” 

Quiet Hours, a small application that runs on PCs or Macs, is a clever solution. The following video illustrates how this free exclusive download automatically re-launches applications, files, or folders after a set period of time.

You decide what programs to re-launch…and when to do so. Quiet Time does the rest. Download your free version today, and tell us what distraction-free time does to your personal productivity.

Thanks to Derek Huyser, principal at our favorite Chicago information systems company, Apogee Strategies, for inspiring this post. And to Adam Pash for sharing his application.



Being a directionally challenged Chicago professional organizer is tough on your reputation. So I revisited the site and companion iPhone/iPad application that didn’t work for me a few months back. As suspected, they’ve worked out the kinks.

The premise: enter several addresses into the magical machine, and it plots the most efficient sequence to take as well as provide step-by-step directions from one to the next (including a map)…adding a round-trip closure if you’d like.

Since it goes a step beyond the multiple-destination mapping feature I use all the time on Google and gives my iPhone this multiple-destination genius which it previously did not have, I heart this company.

Here are two screen shots so you can see how beautiful the execution:Route 4 Me Screen Shots resized 600

Using this tool can save travel time, not to mention frustration, when running multiple errands. If your business requires a lot of travel, the opportunity to streamline your every day is enormous.

Try route4me for yourself. They offer a free version for users to plot unlimited trips with 10 or fewer stops and basic/pro/premium versions for a graduated numbers of results with greater than 10 stops.

Tell us what you think. Or tell us what other technology you use to be more efficient.

We’ve all regretted sending an email without the attachment.

Did you know there’s a simple macro you can add to generate a pop-up reminder when the word “attach” is in your email, but no actual documents are attached?

Attachment Reminder resized 600Lifehacker, a longtime Life Contained trusted source, pointed us to Mark Bird for the reputation-saving instructions and code.

What tricks do you use to keep emailing less embarrassing?

Here’s another of our favorites: stipulating messages be held for two minutes before leaving your inbox…

(If you need to, enable Outlook 2007 macros.)

If you frequently assign custom colors to Microsoft Office document elements, then you’re going to love this video. We share simple steps to follow to create a custom color theme within the Office 2007 suite so you can create your palette once, and then work from it any time you want without reselecting your color choices.

We trust this few-minute investment will yield a valuable return.

A few weeks ago we introduced the idea of dumping everything into one bucket instead of organizing your email. Today we’re posting a follow-up video so you can see the tool that makes organizing unnecessary in action–X1.


What questions do you have about X1? Is there another demo you’d like us to create?


If you’re directionally challenged like me, you’ll understand why I was so excited to test and then write about a new-to-me website with companion iPhone application.

The idea: enter several addresses into the magical machine, and it will plot the best route to hit them all in the most efficient sequence as well as provide step-by-step directions from one to the next…adding a round-trip closure if you’d like.

Since it goes a step beyond the multiple-destination mapping feature I use all the time on Google and gives my iPhone this multiple-destination genius which it previously did not have, I thought it was love at first sight.

And then I got stuck trying to get the dang thing to work.

I understand you typically have to invest time to learn and to populate technology before it delivers, but 45 minutes (a lifetime in today’s measures) later and I still have no plan for running my errands?!@#$?!

Long story short. I finally snapped out of the technology trance and called someone with navigational skills. Two minutes and a chuckle later, I was on my way.

What time management tools are you overlooking?

P.S. Hopefully I can regroup and test Route4Me again. Others have given it thumbs up, so I’m guessing I will…eventually…agree. (I did. And you’ll find that post here.)

You know it’s bad when the productivity trainer in your life is providing procrastination aids, but this is just too good to pass up!

If you haven’t already visisted Google today, go now. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Awaiting you is a fun game of Pacman…Google style.

There’s sound, so turn down the volume if you think you’ll get caught.

 pacman on google

That’s right. A productivity expert (a.k.a. professional organizer) is suggesting that you not organize your email files.

Those Mac users already know why…but most PC users haven’t had much in the way of motivation. Why? Because our search tools (especially pre-Windows 7) have been inadequate.

Introducing:…a paradigm shift for PC users into a world of Google-like search capabilities with a featherweight computer footprint.


how to organize email x1


X1 allows you to find any email or email attachment in seconds. (It can also search your Word/Excel/PowerPoint documents, calendar, contacts and photos.) It gives you a preview panel of its findings without opening a second application. And it performs more quickly than the free search tools. If you’re a Google Desktop fan, you’re going to love this more powerful and nimble tool.

Search results appear as you type, and the tool allows you to refine results on the fly without having to be a computer genius. (Although if you’re the geeky type, X1 is going to be like a toy for you!)

We’ll use this blog to demonstrate how we leveraged X1 so we could say goodbye to organizing email forever. If you want to join the revolution, you can download a free trial at Once you decide to buy it…and you will…you can get a single license for $50 per year.

One critical time management skill is to find ways to do things faster. This can encompass a variety of techniques. Delegation. Deletion! Learning new ways of doing things. (Like the speed reading class I’m taking in March.) Making use of tools which help you complete things faster.

Nowadays it seems there’s at least one technology tool to meet and/or exceed your imagination. Last week when I wanted to minimize my travel time to see the Addams Family before it left the Chicago theatre district, I thought surely there’s a web tool for that.

Allow me to introduce you to:, a dynamite site for reducing time spent looking for parking.

What tools do you use to manage your time better?

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