Productivity advice from a real expert

I purchased the first edition of Passion Planner in 2014 when Angelia Trinidad started her business on a shoestring. With a great product, she’s grown — by a lot. Now, she’s doing weekly videos to help people get more stuff done and realize their goals. This is what Passion Planner helps you do.

In the episode that I watched today, Trinidad shared productivity advice that she uses everyday. This includes a couple of iPhone apps that keep you focused: Flipd and FocusKeeper. They both look useful, and I am going to give them a try.

In this video, she also shares how she uses Google Calendar to keep herself and her team in sync, while still relying primarily on the discipline of her “hard copy” Passion Planner book.

Active shooter situations: six things everyone should know

Medical staff evacuate during active shooter drill.
Medical clinic staff practice evacuation during active shooter exercise. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Senior Airman Chandler Baker)

Just as school shootings have become frighteningly routine in the years since Columbine and Sandy Hook, the horrific mass-murder in Pittsburgh on Saturday, October 27, 2018, removed any doubt that mass casualty shootings are a thing in the United States. As terrible as this may be, we also have learned from recent incidents how people can reduce the risk and improve their safety if someone starts shooting. Read more in my LinkedIn post.


Seven things to know about long-duration emergency communications

By Doug Levy and Tim Conrad

There are many things we can learn from past emergencies to help us when facing any long-duration emergency, especially for situations that last more than a few days. Here are some of our best tips:

1.       Don’t count on the media to stay with your story. Identify – or create your own – channels for communicating with people affected by the emergency or at risk.

2.       Decide on your main communications channel early and let the media and everyone else know. Community Facebook pages, agency or municipal Twitter streams, or low-power radio or TV stations are among options that have worked in other communities. These work best if people know which one you will use before an emergency starts.

3.       If the information command includes multiple agencies and communicators from different jurisdictions, make sure to consult a local expert before issuing any updates. Nothing hurts credibility more than getting a geographic reference wrong, giving incorrect directions, or mispronouncing a significant local name.

4.       Nobody performs at their best without a break. Even in an “all hands” emergency, hold back one or more people to come in as the relief shift. And think ahead about who is going to come in on day 5, day 6, week 3, etc.

5.       Let colleagues from other areas know that you may need their help as soon as you can foresee the need. Transportation during emergencies may be more challenging than usual so allow extra time.

6.       In addition to all the usual items in your PIO “go kit,” pack these extra essentials for a long-duration situation: eye shade, ear plugs, paper road map, printed copies of key media, interagency and community contacts.

7.       In situations with many casualties or major damage, include welfare checks for your own personnel. Even just an occasional, “are you doing OK?” can help prevent long-term PTSD or post-operational stress as well as keeping performance tops.

To learn more, get The Communications Golden Hour: The Essential Guide to Public Information When Every Minute Counts, available at or Or, order from your favorite bookseller or

Doug Levy is principal of Doug Levy Communications LLC in Sausalito, California.

Tim Conrad is principal of Butterfly Effect Communications of Grande Prairie, Alberta.

© 2018 Doug Levy Communications LLC. “Seven things to know about long-duration emergency communications” by Doug Levy & Tim Conrad is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at


Resource List: Book Editors

Several of my friends and clients have asked about editors to help them with their writing. While I do some editing and enjoy working with non-fiction and business writers, there are others who specialize in long-form narrative or editing fiction or non-fiction books. Here is a list, in no particular order, of book editors to consider.

In order to make this list, a person must have been recommended by someone I personally know. In other words, I am not vouching for them specifically, but the list is culled from recommendations of people in my circle. I will do my best to keep this updated. If you have feedback on any of the individuals, please post a comment or contact me privately. The list is in no particular order.

Also, Alicia Dunams is a super smart book consultant who has a network of editors and other professionals. She’s worked with several of my friends, and my work with her has been terrific. Here is my referral link if you are interested in working with her or attending any of her workshops, including her Bestseller in a Weekend workshops or online programs.



Five great productivity tools for writers and office workers

Digital kitchen timerEveryone needs help focusing now and then, so I thought it might help if I share a few productivity tools that help me get a lot of stuff done. Those of us who work independently probably get pulled in even more directions than those who have bosses telling them what to do right now, but these tools may be useful for just about anyone who works in an office.

Sellers of products may pay commissions on sales from links in this post.
  1. Boomerang is an add-on to either Gmail or Outlook that lets you pause your inbox for designated lengths of time. The default is two hours, but you can make this longer or shorter. Blocking out the distraction of constant email is a powerful way to boost productivity. The free version is pretty robust, or you can subscribe to get additional features. There even is a way to allow urgent messages or email from specific people to get through during your pause.
  2. Noise canceling headphones or earbuds. There is plenty of research that indicates that the human brain gets pulled off task just by sensing certain sounds, so the loss of productivity adds up fast if there are phones ringing or people talking around you. A friend gave me a pair of Pioneer Rayz noise canceling earbuds for Christmas. These are amazing, and not just when I am on an airplane.
  3. Focus@Will provides a huge selection of focus music (or ambient noise) that has been a big part of my ability to power through projects in the past year. Lately, the classical music options have worked well, but sometimes the cafe sounds help me get into the mood for writing.
  4. RescueTime app: This is a downloadable piece of software or a Chrome or other browser plug-in. You can set it to block social media or other counter-productive websites for certain time periods. It also can track your activity so you can get a report card on your online time.
  5. Kitchen timers. I recommend having two. Set one for a longer interval, maybe 18-30 minutes, and the other for a short interval, 3-5 minutes. Use the long intervals for focused work. Alternate with breaks using the second timer. This interval method is one of the best ways to power through just about anything.

There are many other tools that may be useful depending on the kind of work you do and what your style is.

What tools do you find helpful? Let us know by leaving a comment.