There’s so much to learn, so much to research and so much self-improvement we can achieve. But it takes time to read books, which is why Blinkist was invented. It takes a non-fiction book, summarizes it and reads it back to you (in audio or text) within 15 minutes! This is excellent for researching or general learning. With this app you could devour several books in a matter of weeks.
Buffer will save you hours of social media management. It’s a scheduling app that lets you pre-post your social media posts and “release” them at a specific time. Studies have shown unequivocally that Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are more active at certain times of the day. This app allows you to schedule your posts to be visible during the times and days your audience is online.
Cisco Sparks is a nifty little app that emails you every morning. It’s like having a virtual assistant that gives you a summary of what your day has in store for you. It will list your tasks and give you the times for each one, giving you a bird’s eye view of what your day will consist of. It will also has the ability to manage your team and remind relevant people of meetings, tasks and projects.
I personally use the Pomodoro technique each time I tackle a task. it’s a system that works well for me and keeps me motivated to focus on one task at a time. FocusList is a way to improve the Pomodoro technique, forcing you to focus on one task without getting distracted. It tracks the time you spend on a task and helps deepen your concentration while you do it.
ForestApp is similar to FocusList, because you can also set it to work with the Pomodoro technique. Forest differs slightly in that it encourages you to “stop phubbing” around on your phone. You set a timer (in my case it’s 25 minutes as per the classic Pomodoro system) and lay your phone down. You may not check messages, answer calls or visit sites on your phone for that period of time.
If you stick to your task without getting distracted by your phone, you grow a tree. If you fail, the tree dies. The point of the app is to build a forest of trees and look back later to see how productive you’ve been over the weeks. I love it!
Integrations: Mavenlink integrations include Intacct, Salesforce, Netsuite, Jira, Quickbooks and Google Drive; it also offers customized integrations through its API.
Pricing: The team package is $19 per user per month for up to five users and $39 per user per month for the Professional package. A Premier package is also available (contact Mavenlink for pricing). All packages are paid in full annually.
A robust online project management and task collaboration tool that helps companies of all sizes improve communication, transparency and accountability for faster results. Features include budget management, bug tracking, collaboration, file sharing, Gantt charts, issue management, milestone tracking, percent-complete tracking, portfolio management, project planning, resource management, status tracking, task management, and time and expense tracking. Wrike also provides visual dashboarding capabilities and resource and workload management to keep projects progressing on time and on budget. It is available via the web and Android and iOS apps.
Integrations: GitHub, Jira, Google Drive, Wrike Everywhere, Dropbox, Adobe, Salesforce, Evernote, Zapier, Slack, Hubstaff, Bitium, Marketo, Quickbooks and Linkedin.
Pricing: Wrike offers a free plan for up to five users; its professional plan is $9.80 per user per month. Wrike also offers a business plan for $24.80 per users per month and a Wrike for marketers plan at $34.60 per user per month. Enterprises should contact Wrike for a quote. Wrikes’ monthly plans are billed annually.
Available on Android, iOS, macOS, Windows and web platforms, and accommodates individuals, as well as small and medium-size businesses. Its drag-and-drop interface includes agile project management, budgeting, collaboration, customization, issue tracking, learning and support training, notifications, task management and traditional project management functionality. Trello also offers budget and expense tracking, reporting, resource management and project notifications; automatic backup, secure data storage security and encryption; attaching of photos, drawings, sketches and mockups; and import and export capabilities.
Integration: Zapier, Usersnap, Slack, Pivotal Tracker, Marketo, Hubstaff, Dropbox, Desk.com, Bitium, SupportBee, Catchapp and more.
Pricing: Trello offers a basic free plan for individuals, a $9.99 per user per month business-class plan (when paid annually) and an enterprise plan at $20.83 per user per month plan (when paid monthly). Priced tiers offer increased functionality and services.
(originally published in Dairy Today Magazine 2014)
As fall harvest winds down and we prepare our dairies for winter, our thoughts often turn to vacation.
In days of old, vacation planning meant a trip to the local travel agent. Now, the Internet provides many useful tools to get the job done. What follows is a 21st century guide to travel.
Where to go
With so many interesting places in the world it can be difficult to decide where to go. Tripadvisor’s Travel Inspiration tool simplifies the task by narrowing choices based on your preferences. Choose a destination by interest like shopping, romance, family fun, beaches, and others. Decide if you want to search the globe or narrow it to a region. TripAdvisor will present a list of travel destinations that best suit your needs based on millions of user reviews.
How to get there
There are hundreds of sites for booking air travel. My favorite is Hipmunk. What makes Hipmunk unique is it’s visual timeline that shows departure, layover, arrival and total trip times on a grid. The site also sorts the results by “agony” which is a combination of price, flight duration, and number of stopovers.
Where to stay
Oftentimes hotels overstate quality on their website. Oyster.com cuts through the “marketing” and shows you the real deal. Through customer reviews and special investigators, Oyster uncovers the truth behind the advertising. Oyster’s “Photo Fakeout” section shows examples of hotels manipulating images in their favor.
If you are traveling with a large family or want to stay somewhere off the beaten path, AirBNB is a great alternative to a hotel. AirBNB has over 500k listings of private residences and vacation rentals all over the world. My family rents a house on AirBNB for a week each summer in San Diego. It’s much more comfortable and costs less than a hotel.
How to get around
Ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft are a convenient alternative to taxi services. Using their mobile apps, enter your destination and a few minutes later a car shows up. When the driver drops you off, the fare is charged to your account. No tip required.
Where to eat
Yelp provides user generated reviews on restaurants and other services. You can search by neighborhood and narrow your results by cuisine, price, good for kids, and many other features. The mobile app shows the menu, directions, phone number, and in some cases table reservations.
How to keep track of it all
Tripit is a website and mobile app that tracks all your travel plans. Forward your email confirmation for flights, hotels, and car rentals to firstname.lastname@example.org to build an itinerary. Tripit will track flight delays, recommend seat upgrades, and offer alternative flights. The pro version keeps track of your travel rewards.
How to pay for it
Most of my travel is for business and often my costs are reimbursed. Expensify tracks all my travel costs and creates expense reports. You can forward receipts by email or take pictures of them with your phone. At the end of the trip you can create the report online and forward it on for payment.
Now that you have made it to the beach, it’s time to be on vacation. Try to forget about all the environmental compliance paperwork you have to do. It will be there when you get home.
“You can’t manage what you don’t measure” – W. Edwards Deming
This year California experienced the worst drought in history followed by an unusually hot summer. Yet our cows have maintained a relatively high level of production and good health.
I attribute this success to my employee’s excellent attention to cow comfort and care. Of course spending a lot of money on cooling systems, bedding, and feed ingredients plays a part as well.
But none of the success we’ve been experiencing would be possible if we didn’t have a management plan in place. And one key element is the ability to measure results.
That’s where technology comes in. Dairies have access to all kinds of technology to help manage cow comfort. Activity monitors, rumination monitors, pedometers, and milk meters are a few.
There is also the good old fashioned technique of going out in the corrals and looking at the cows. There are a few mobile apps that make managing cow comfort a snap.
Nothing has more impact on cows than heat. Understanding how heat effects dairy cows and what to do about it is the key to cow comfort.
ThermalAid is an app for iOS and Android created by the University of Missouri to help with heat stress. The app uses your local weather data and displays the Temperature Humidty Index (THI).
The app shows a scale of green, yellow, orange, and red based on the current THI. Depending on which stage your cows are in, the app suggests things to do to help reduce stress.
There is also a feature to determine the actual stress level of individual animals. Take your phone to the corral and find a few cows with different breathing patterns. Push the timer button, count 10 breaths, then push the button again. The app shows the number of breaths per minute and indicates the severity of her stress with a color.
Depending on the color, the app suggests management changes to help reduce her stress. Some of these suggestions include, wetting cows out of the barn and concentrating feed rations.
Lameness is another production killer on a dairy. There are many causes behind lameness including diet, poor coral conditions, and heat. This is an area where we depend on our employees to find and sort animals with problems.
The University of Wisconsin’s Locomotion Scorer app is the tool we use to train employees and measure lameness in our herd.
The app shows pictures and videos of cows walking next to numbers one through five. As cows come walking out of the barn we compare their gait to the videos. When we see a two, we push the 2 button on the app. The same applies for cows with a gait of three through five.
At the end of the pen, the app charts the results and compares them to what is optimal.
Other Areas of Comfort
There are other areas of cow comfort that can be measured. Hock lesion scoring, cud chew counting, Cow Comfort Index, Stall Standing Index, and Stall Use Index are all areas where data can help improve comfort. Until apps are developed for these metrics, you can use Google Drive Forms to create your own app for collecting data on the dairy.
Mobile apps can be an effective tool in any management system. But don’t forget, “The most important things cannot be measured”, like good people.
Top 4 Realistic Screen Time Solutions for Kids & Parents
1) Set Clear Limits
Whether it's once a week for video watching or 20 minutes a day be very clear with what the limitations are. Also keep in mind the limits will vary by age especially if school work is done online. One good way to make sure this is done without thinking about it is to set screen time limits.
2) Teach Them to Prioritize
Having no iPad or TV until homework is finished is one example of helping kids learn to prioritize what comes first.
3) Set the Example
Sometimes it can be hard to put the phone down but it's very important to practice what you preach. One way is keeping your phone in a separate room. If you need help setting up a family plan I'd check out the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations.
4) Encourage Other Activities
Instead of using the videos as a way to entertain try using board games, books, metal wire puzzles, or brain teasers.
"Mobile Media Time for zero-to-eight year-olds has tripled between 2013 and 2017, from an average of 15 minutes per day to 48 minutes per day. What’s more, this craving continues to rise at this crazy clip as kids age: another infographic revealed tweens log an average of four hours and 36 minutes of screen time per day, while teens spend an average of six hours and 40 minutes on a screen. One has to wonder if these kids are forsaking sleep for phone-induced FOMO. (Manning-Schaffel 2018)"
The issues surrounding kids and technology can be complicated a frustrating. Here are a few tips to help you sort it out.
Your child's brain develops rapidly in the first few years of life. By age 3, the brain has already reached almost 90 percent of its adult size. Brain development and growth depend on nutrition and lay the foundation for learning and behavior. A healthy, balanced diet can help your child reach his full potential for concentration, memory, focus and mental capacity. Avoid giving your child processed, sugary foods such as boxed breakfasts cereals and snacks and set a positive example by following a nutritious daily diet yourself. Read More..
2. Spend one hour a day in green space: biking, hiking, fishing, watching birds/insects.Playing outdoors is a form of exercise that promotes well-being and wholesome physical development. Children are naturally drawn to active play outdoors: it allows them to explore their environment, develop muscle strength and coordination, and gain self-confidence. Playing actively outdoors also increases flexibility, fine and gross motor skills and is related to the development of a wide variety of physical skills, including those involved in sports.
For children in their developmental years, family dinners have innumerable mental and physical effects. It has been proven that kids who have meals with their families from young ages eat more fruits and vegetables and learn to enjoy them. These kids are also likely to eat less fried or unhealthy food.
Additionally, meals made in the home are likely to be 60 percent smaller than restaurant meals, keeping portions in control and making for cheaper and healthier eating. American families often spend huge amounts of their yearly budgets on eating out. If some of these restaurant meals were exchanged for home-cooked family meals, parents could potentially save hundreds of dollars per year while eating healthier in the process.
Board games encourage interaction and helps kids with decision making and concentration. We particularly like educational games with a STEM focus, see our web store for some ideas.
Kids feel competent when they do their chores. Whether they're making their bed or they're sweeping the floor, helping out around the house gives them a sense of accomplishment.
Doing chores also helps kids feel like they're part of the team. Pitching in and helping family members is good for them and it encourages them to be good citizens.
Research from a well-known 75-year Harvard study examined what psychosocial variables and biological processes from earlier in life predict health and well-being later in life. Researchers found that children who were given chores became more independent adults.
Doing non-sleep activities in bed like watching TV, playing games, working or studying can be bad for sleep. Basically, the more things your brain associates your bed with, the less it thinks of sleep when you are there.
Sleep hygene experts recommend reserving the bed for rest only to train your mind for better sleep. If you can’t sleep after several minutes, it is better to get out of bed and do something like read or listen to music until you feel sleepy.
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