The power of Pomodoro (or, how to slice your time to stay on task)

If there is a single conundrum of working with technology it’s how to stay on task with so many little distractions vying for your attention. How to stay focused? Well, it may be as simple as turning off notifications, trimming open apps down to only those required to get your job done, and keeping a timer ticking in the background to help keep you on task.

To be clear, I’m not one of those “Getting-Things-Done-inBox-Zero-Make-A-List-And-Don’t-Let-Go-Until-It’s-Done” kind of folks. But, sometimes I do need a simple tool to help kickstart my focus, particularly at the beginning of a project. For that, I use a timer.

App Store Pomodoro Timers

There is a wide variety of Pomodoro timers in the App Store. You should be able to find one to your liking.

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How to view the ~/Library folder in Mavericks and Yosemite

Mavericks Library folder

Inside your home folder is a Library folder—commonly written in Unix syntax as ~/Library, which means “a folder named Library at the root level of your home folder.” This folder is accessible only to you, and it’s used to store your personal settings, application-support files, and, in some cases, data.

The files and folders in ~/Library are generally meant to be left alone, but if you’ve been using OS X for a while, chances are you’ve delved inside. Perhaps you wanted to tweak something using a tip from Macworld, Mac OS X Hints, or elsewhere on the Web. Or maybe a developer asked you to delete a preference file, or grab a log file, while troubleshooting a program. Whatever the case may have been, up until Lion (OS X 10.7), you simply opened your Home folder to access the Library folder.

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QuickBooks Online Self-Employed review: Untangle your business and personal expenses

QuickBooks Online Self-Employed is a thinned-down version of QuickBooks Online with a very specific focus: Sole proprietors and small business owners who mix business and personal accounts, who pay quarterly taxes, and who need to do quick triage on business and personal income and expenses. QuickBooks Online Self-Employed performs its magic with the combination of a Web app and an iOS app and makes it easy to quickly separate your business and personal expenses.

QuickBooks Online Self-Employed is small business focused, which is to say that it’s aimed at business owners who are sole proprietors or LLC owners without partners, and who write off business expenses using a Schedule C when filing their personal taxes. The assumption on Intuit’s part is that the people who own these types of businesses often have a commingling of business and personal credit card and bank accounts and that it is often difficult using traditional accounting applications to quickly and easily separate business expenses from personal expenses.

Getting started

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How to simplify overlapping cloud storage services

There’s no shortage of choices for cloud storage, but that leads to another problem: how do you decide which services you truly need, and which files to put where? If you’ve signed up for as many cloud providers as you have files, it’s time for an intervention (or at least a moment of clear-headed contemplation).

I’ll admit it: I’m an online storage junkie. At one time or another I’ve synced files to the cloud using Amazon Cloud Drive, Amazon S3, Bitcasa, Box, DollyDrive, Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, SpiderOak, SugarSync, Wuala, and probably a few others I’m forgetting—not to mention using online backups from Backblaze, CrashPlan, and Mozy, and storing photos with services such as Flickr and SmugMug. Some of these services are free (at least for a limited amount of data) while others are inexpensive, but inexpensive times a dozen or more starts to hurt. Meanwhile, I had the same folders syncing to three or four services simultaneously, which slowed down my Mac, wasted bandwidth, and tested the limits of my ISP’s monthly data transfer allowance.

The challenge was what to do about it. “Just pick one!” you may say. Fine, but if I pick Dropbox, then Google Docs can’t see my online files. If I pick Google Drive instead, then my iOS apps that support only iCloud won’t have access. And so on. Companies like Apple, Google, and Microsoft benefit when you stay within their respective ecosystems, so they tend to make it easier to use their own cloud storage services than those of their competitors. (Microsoft’s recent decision to integrate Dropbox support in its Office apps for iOS—supplementing OneDrive—is a welcome exception.)

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