“I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately, I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, To put to rout all that was not life and not when I had come to die Discover that I had not lived.”

- Henry David Thoreau, 1817-1862

Effexis Achieve Planner

I have been on a look out for an effective planning software. Something a bit more than the standard to-do list one find in the Microsoft Outlook.

Then I happen to bump into the RPM Life Plan system by Tony Robbins. Its a great concept, makes a lot of sense on how it should work. But when I tried out the software - boy...this is one tough planner to LEARN! Yes, you will need to learn how to use it and it came with a lenthy manual and god knows how many hours of audio tapes in order to fully appreciate the application of RPM. I spend many hours trying to figure it out and finally, I gave up. The software was too buggy to begin with and the concept of top down life planning was taking up way too much time for it to be efficient in anyway. Its like trying to understand how and why a car can or should move, while all you wanted to do is move from one place to another. Its getting senseless, so I decided to drop it.

Then I surfed the net and came into the Achieve Planner software. Similar to the RPM, using the same methodology but this window based software is much more user friendly. Its also not as buggy as the RPM. Its still my first day of using this, which means that I am still learning and have not been able to do a great deal yet but thus far, this has been the best planner software I have came across.

Heres some info on the Achieve Planner.

Achieve Planner Summary / Description

Achieve Planner is a personal time management software application for Windows that helps you get organized, increase your productivity, and make better use of your time.

Some of the main features include hierarchical project/task outliners, a weekly calendar with support for weekly planning, ABCD prioritization of projects & tasks, comprehensive life planning, and synchronization with Microsoft Outlook.

Achieve Planner is designed to help busy people take control of their schedule, organize projects and tasks, and get things done using sound time management principles.

By combining project management functionality with a weekly schedule and hierarchical to-do lists, Achieve Planner goes a step beyond what traditional planners offer. Its clean and intuitive interface helps you easily capture everything that you need to do in one central place.

Achieve Planner works by separating projects from their tasks. Instead of having a single to-do list full of unrelated activities, Achieve Planner provides a project list that gives you an overview of the various projects you are working on.

Each project then gets its own task list to store the individual action steps for that project. You can break up big items into smaller steps using as many levels as you need, and easily hide unwanted details.

The resulting project list is much smaller and easier to manage than a traditional to-do list because all the details are stored separately.

Achieve Planner allows you to concentrate on your major outcomes, and only look at the low-level details when you actually need them. You can then use the color-coded ABCD system to prioritize your projects and tasks and focus on what is most important.

After you have organized your projects and tasks, you can use Achieve Planner's calendar to schedule meetings and appointments, and to perform weekly planning.

In general, it is more effective to work on related tasks for a block of time, rather than jumping from one unrelated task to another. The reason is that it takes a certain amount of time to "switch gears" when you work on several unrelated tasks.

Achieve Planner uses "project blocks," which represent blocks of time that you have committed to a particular project, to help you focus on project specific tasks.

You can think of project blocks as appointments with yourself to get your important work done. Achieve Planner even provides a weekly planning wizard that allows you to choose how much time you want to commit to different projects during the upcoming week, and then schedule corresponding time blocks in the calendar.

During the week, you can easily rearrange your schedule in case your priorities shift, or something unexpected comes up.

It's easy to learn to use Achieve Planner. The Getting Started wizard gives you an overview of all the main features. Plus, there is extensive documentation available in the training center, which includes a comprehensive time management training course with video tutorials that guide you through every step of the process.

Whether you are an entrepreneur who has to work with several projects, a professional working from home who needs more structure to get things done, or a busy corporate professional who needs to make better use of his/her time, Achieve Planner has all the tools that you need to work more effectively and take control of your time.

Achieve Planner runs under 2000/XP/2003/Vista, costs $79.94(US) for the Pro edition and $99.94(US) for the productivity suite edition that also includes life planning features.

You can download a free 30-day trial version of Achieve Planner at http://www.effexis.com/achieve/

Also visit our sponsor links at http://www.avaxel.com

For a quick tour of Achieve Planner, check out:

Paradox of Choice

Last weekend I was at a Japanese buffet restaurant. Located in an up market district, this restaurant probably offers the most extensive array of choices I have ever seen in a buffet dinner. And it made me nervous.

Seriously, there were moments of discomfort as I enter the premise with my family and look at their 3000 sq feet seating area with the huge crowds fleeting around popular dishes like the sashimis and the oyster bars. There were literary hundreds of choices just from the Japanese section itself, not to mention the arrays of Chinese and Indian food added to the variety. I was actually feeling discomfort at not knowing where to start.

Not having choices should the mark of misery but on the contrary I actually thought that perhaps we would have better off headed off to KFC for a bucket of fried chicken. Why should this be?

Research has shown that a large array of options may discourage a decision to purchase because the effort to make the decision has significantly increased. Or even cause depression.

Not long ago, a study was conducted in a foot store where customers were accustomed to trying out new products. Researchers set up a table featuring high quality jams and encouraged customers to taste them – giving each taster a coupon so that he or she could get money off when they purchase a jar. In one sample of the study, six varieties of jam were available for testing and in another sample of the study 24 variety were available. In either case all the 24 varieties were for sale.

The result is mind blowing. Obviously the larger arrays of jam attracted more tasters than the small array. But when it comes to purchases, 30% of the customer exposed to the small array bought a jar of jam while only 3% of those exposed to the larger array did so.

It appeared that a large array of options may discourage a decision to purchase because the effort to make the decision is significantly increased – so customers decide not to decide.
One of the reasons we don’t feel good about choices is the concept of regret. Post decision regret or buyer’s remorse. What if you should have purchase the laptop with the additional memory and extended warranty rather than a standard package. Darn, how stupid was that now that something is wrong and you need to pay a bomb to get it fixed. We have all had that before.

So marketers next time around when it comes to decision on product mix, forget about the product length, the product depth and the product width. Focus on your best products, after all its common sense that your best products are often the most profitable one because you made it the best and customer tends to buy a lot of it. Forget about being everything to everybody, not in this era, at least. After all, it was not all arrogance that made Henry Ford quote “You can have any color you want so long that it is black”.

How I Upgraded This Blog

I was surfing around the net until I came across this professional looking blogger template at http://www.eblogtemplates.com/. I simply could not resist from changing my dodgy looking old template. Then again I thought about the hassle to reinstall all the widgets and hacks which I have collected throughout the months. But heck, I thought why not just do it.

The followings are some of the cool widgets and hacks which I added to this blog:

1. Related articles hack by Hoctro. This is extremely useful to show relevant articles in the same categories.

2. Add this social book marking. Instead of posting tons of buttons all over, a simple add this button will include all the social bookmarks you will ever need.

3. Intense Debate commenting system. I was browsing through this and found that it offers much more than the traditional blogger comments. Its easy to install and looks great!

4. Translate this widget

5. Label showing title only (instead of entire posts). This is a very useful hack, as often when you have too many posts under one label, it is much easier to see if only the titles are display. Also another benefits is that, your viewer will have to click additional pages to see the post that he have selected.

6. Sitemeter

7. Top commenter widget

8. Top post widget

Some mandatory widgets which I had all along including:

1) Email me form

2) Technorati Widget

3) Who is among us

4) Cluster Map

5) Mybloglog recent visitors

It took me close to a day to rebuilt my entire blog, including reinstalling all the hacks and widgets. But overall, it has been an extremely sastifying process.

Post me some comments on what you think about the new look.


P.S: Here is a picture of how it looked before.

When Death is Certain, They Will Live

After a victorious battle, a group of soldiers asked the general, ” according to the art of war, we are told have a hill to the right rear, or a river of mash on the left front. You on the contrary ordered us to draw our troops with the river to our rear. How do you manage to gain the victory?

The general replied “I feared you gentlemen have not studied the art of war with care. Is it not written there? Plunge your army into desperate straits and it will come off in safety. Put them in deathly peril and they will survive. Had I taken the usual course I would not have been able to bring my men out alive. If I have not put my men in a situation of live and death and leave each men to fight for their lives, there would have been a general discretion and it would be impossible to do anything with them.”

This is a psychological method derived from observations that when common man is being thrown into desperate situation, they will exert maximum effort. The scenario also exemplifies many of the failures of our modern day strategies. When performing strategic planning, many corporate thinkers uses tools such as ‘scenario planning’ to map out all possible methods of execution of their forthcoming plans. From there, they will seek the best strategy.

But when they encounter an obstacle or challenge in their executions, often due to their ‘paralysis through analysis’, their first thought would be to switch to an alternative plan. Often time, it is the degree of effort into a executing strategy that fails, not the strategy itself. Once a strategy has been chosen, the leader should focused and ensure that ‘all bridges’ are burned and all efforts are focused 110 percent onto a perfect execution. Wondering about the enemy’s reaction and pondering to change as enemy responses, will often lead to poorly executed maneuvers.

In business, unlike in war – sometimes it is not about the killing of each other in order to declare victory. You will win when you deliver unsurpassed value innovation to your customers. You will win when you delight your customer by being able to solve their problem or deliver a solution they need at the right price. These may be simple strategies. But observation shows that many large multinational businesses fail despite a showcase of fancy and carefully planned strategies. Whereas, in the cases of desperate entrepreneurs, a simple strategy will be defended and executed to death, leading to success.

The secret lies in ensuring that once a strategy is formulated, it is followed through at 110% without looking back. Even if another competitor turned copy cat emulate the exact formula, the response should be to move full charge ahead and out do him. Often in life and in business, it’s the one single degree of efforts that made all the difference. When you have sunk all your ships, depleted all your rations and find yourself in fatal enemy terrain facing certain death, there is no other possibility but to fight your way out. Failure will not be an option. In such situation, you will perform and survive.

It is the micro seconds of a 100 meter race that makes the world champion. It is the one degree of extra heat that turns water into steam to power locomotives. One of the most applied, simplest and most successful strategies of all, to burn all bridges and force full steam ahead. When you have no other options, you will fight beyond what you thought was possible. And by this, unconsciously you are generating efforts that will outdo most people who thought they have options. False options.

The question to these people is - what good are your options if they are only second best?

Before You Armour Up For A Price War

Competition in business are unavoidable. However competition can also afflict an industry like a cancer. Left undetected, competition may intensify and spread, threatening the survival of all but the hardiest competitors. Although it is important to have early detection and anticipation of the competitive market conditions, it is also equally important to understand a few basic underpinning theory before we draft a response.

Think of the value and profit as a pie as as shown by picture above, to be divided among competitors and consumers. Were it not for competition, this value may be shown as picture in the top pie above. Consumers would get some share of the value, but the lion's share would go to the competitors.

If businessmen want to partake from the pie at the top instead of the one at the bottom (which is common sense, really), they should keep the following ideas in mind:
  • An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Create conditions for your firm and the industry to minimize the intensity of price competition.
  • Be thy brother's keeper. Your actions may harm competitors. Their response may do the same to you.
  • People who live in glass houses should not throw stones. Some markets are more prone to price wars than others. If you cannot eliminate the conditions that precipitate price competition, then try to avoid throwing the first stone.
  • He who laughs last laughs best. In the worst case scenario, price wars devolve into wars of attrition. If such a battlelooms, it is essential to determine if and how you can win it.

Of course, it never hurts to increase the size of the pie . Or, have additional pies on your plate perhaps.

"We do not have a crisis of competition, we have a crisis of creativity"-KS Lye.

Reference: Dranove,D.& Marciano,S.(2005), "Kellog on Strategy", John Wiley and Son. Canada.