Step Away from the Computer: Why Your “Breaks” Aren’t Boosting Productivity

We've all heard the same advice about taking small breaks during the day – you will be more productive if, instead of working on one task for hours and hours on end, you take small breaks throughout the day. This advice can be applied differently depending on the type of work you're doing. Many jobs that take a lot of creative energy also require “the zone,” so you may stop to breathe every few hours.

Regardless of what kind of work you do, you're probably taking this advice to some extent. Perhaps you're on a “break” right now, this very second.  Did you find this post when you were taking a quick Twitter break?

These little productivity “boosts” aren't working.

When you work on a computer, your short computer breaks don't really constitute a break. Sure, you're looking at something different, but there's nothing to really note that break. How long are you going to read that blog? How are you going to refocus your attention when you come back? Jonathan Milligan wrote a great post about how he doubled his productivity, in part by taking real breaks.

A real break is not reading blog posts, checking emil, or watching an educational video online. A “real” break for me is anything that is away from the computer.

Your brain reacts differently to a screen than to the rest of the world, that's why looking at TV, computer and phone screens before you go to sleep results in sleep deprivation. The same goes for breaks. If you want to give your brain a rest, let it do something different.

Step 1: Move one foot, Step 2: Move other foot

If you want a break that will actually help you focus on the task at hand, do something that requires you to stand up and move your body away from your desk. Go get a coffee. Walk around the block. Do some stretches.

Sometimes this can be a bit awkward in the middle of the day, so if you want to be more subtle, try just walking around the office. You can even pop by someone else's desk and get a few questions answered while you're at it.

The point is, a lot of productivity tips, like taking a break, end up being a distraction when they're not done properly. They leave you less productive than before. Why do more harm than good? Just take a moment to stop, get up, breathe, and take a real break.


Tout Partners with Salesforce to Bring You the Information You Need to Close Sales

Tout was proud to partner with Salesforce yesterday as we both shared exciting tools that help you improve communication. Marc Benioff's keynote addressed the Social Revolution – how quickly it's changing and how quickly businesses have to adapt. After the keynote, we talked with a lot of Salesforce users about how they're spreading their message, and we showed them how Tout can help them sell smarter – especially with our deep Salesforce integration. Not only is Tout in the cloud, easy to use on mobile, and fully integrated with social media, and it's a powerful way to give you real, actionable data and analytics on a process that takes you hours a day – your email.

Tout + Salesforce = The Power of the Cloud

Benioff has famously advocated cloud computing, but this year, he warned users to be wary of tools that he called the “false cloud”. It's important for businesses to understand the true cost of implementing software systems that live on their servers, and more importantly, the savings they're missing by ignoring cloud computing. We totally agree. The fact that Tout exists in the cloud means that we can offer Tout at a great price, there's no setup, and users never have to concern themselves with a software update. Tout just works.

Tout + Salesforce = Embracing Mobile

According to Morgan Stanley, the number of CEO's who allow mobile tablets at work has more than doubled in the past year, an unprecedented rate of adoption for new technology. It's become absolutely necessary for companies to embrace mobile, despite the fact that sharing rich information is challenging on a tiny mobile device. For Tout users, sharing information is easy, because your templates are saved in the cloud, and with our mobile app, you can access them from anywhere, combining the consistency of templates with the flexibility of mobile.

Tout + Salesforce = Selling with Social

Salesforce announced an innovative new Chatter tool to allow customers to interact with companies on Salesforce instantly, emphasizing the importance of social interaction. It's obvious that social tools are quickly becoming a central part of the sales process, as salespeople prospect more and more over LinkedIn and Twitter. The problem with social selling is that the fast pace and informal nature of social media creates gaps in your messaging. Tout solves that by allowing you to share a templated message across social media platforms. Not only is it faster, it brings your complete message straight to your customer, right where they want it.

Tout + Salesforce = Information

The true key to the Social Enterprise is information – your customers are doing everything they can to get the right information, right away. As a salesperson, the best thing you can do  is share information, quickly, consistently, and effectively. Tout gives you the tools you need to share information, and it also gives you the analytics and key data points you need to make your sales process smarter and faster. If you're ready for an email tool that works where you work, helps you do your job faster, and gives you the information you need to close sales, check out Tout.


Why Chris Johnson, Co-Founder of Simplifilm, is on Track to do 6 Figures in Sales with Tout in Less than a Year

Chris Johnson is a pure salesperson.  He's the co-founder of Simplifilm, a bootstrapped startup that makes amazing demo videos for web products, mobile aps, and other places where humans interact with technology. Even though Simplifilm is less than a year old, it's on target to do some incredible numbers. One look at the work that Chris and his co-founder, Jason Moore produce, and it’s no wonder. The work that they do is fluid and it tells a story without getting lost in the metaphor.  Says Jason,

We want to make sure that we translate what the product does and we can make people feel like they know it.  Our style is more focused on the actual product than a lot of other folks that make web demos, and we think it pays off.

Many companies that contract Simplifilm find that the film pays for itself in under a month – one customer even saw sales double the day his Simplifilm video went live!

Simplifilm Doubles Sales for Web Companies

All this is to say that Chris has a great product, one that people want and need. Still, like the companies he makes demo videos for, he has to find a way to market to the right people and show them what a great product Simplifilm is.

Simplifilm Demo Reel from Simplifilm on Vimeo.

Managing Simplifilm's Targeted Outreach

That's where Tout comes in. Simplifilm needed a tool that would help him manage his email activity, by scheduling emails, tracking views, and helping him increase his reach. There's a huge number of new tech companies, but sometimes organic search and reading tech articles are the only ways to find them. In order to reach as many of the right people as possible, Chris used the  Tout Chrome extension to target company founders over email. Tracking and analytics helped him easily follow up, and scheduling allowed him to send mail whenever he wanted – he knew it would arrive in normal business hours. In just a few short months, Simplifilm's sales skyrocketed with Tout.

The third e-mail from Tout led to a sale.  We’re on track to do 6 figures from what I call ToutReach- a simple, semi-custom email when we see a startup we might like to work with.

Once Chris started using smarted email, he began to think of other ways to improve his email engagement. For example, when Chris wants to reach out to someone he knows on Twitter, he waits until they've posted a tweet before sending a message.

You know that when they're on Twitter, they're either at their computer or on their phone, in a spot to read and respond to an email.

Needless to say, Simplifilm is seeing a huge level of engagement with his emails. It just goes to show that having a great product, a great message, and perfect timing go a long way. And while Simplifilm is generally booked 6-10 weeks out, they're always lining up new projects so get a quote when you're in need of a powerful demo video. If you're ready to start reaching more of the right people- at the right times – like Chris has, give Tout a try today.


How Alexis Tryon, Co-Founder of Artsicle, gets Customer Feedback – Fast

Ah, the life of a startup founder. On the one hand, you’re living your passion each and every day. On the other hand, it’s seemingly impossible to get it all done, and your business – and your livelihood – hang in the balance.

If you’re looking for an example of someone who’s doing it all, meet Alexis Tryon, the co-founder of Artsicle. Alexis left her job in finance to pursue her passion for art. She co-founded Artsicle, a totally ingenious way to share art with the world, especially with new art collectors.

For the love of Artsicle

Artsicle allows members to rent original art for a small monthly fee, with the option to buy if they find a piece they’re in love with. The Artsicle artists are a group of hand-selected, up and coming artists in the New York area and beyond, and Artsicle provides them with a new way to be discovered by those who are passionate about (and often new to) the art world.


For Alexis, building Artsicle from the ground up with her co-founder, Scott, was truly a labor of love. One of the most critical parts of building a new business, especially one that is centered around providing top-quality service, is getting feedback from customers. Still, with one-to-one emails, it was impossible to for Alexis find the time to reach out the way she wanted.

Individual outreach like our customer feedback campaign didn’t happen because it was too tedious.

This was a huge problem – if Artsicle wasn’t getting feedback from customers,  how did the team know what they should build or change next?

Creating A Scalable Customer Outreach Campaign

Alexis decided to try Toutapp very early on – she was one of our first customers! Once she started using Toutapp, she was able to quickly send necessary emails, without sacrificing an entire day’s work.

With Toutapp, I get incredible feedback from users I have never met on how we can make Artsicle better. We get email responses, calls, surveys completed, etc., all from a short email.

Now that Artsicle is improving and growing like crazy, Alexis has started using Toutapp in more and more parts of her business –  including in the hiring process!

She even found a pretty clever way to describe Toutapp:

Toutapp makes repetitive email stupid simple, with great data to boot.

Toutapp helps Alexis do it all. If you want to find a way to stop writing the same emails over and over, try Toutapp. Faster emails, better results. And if you know someone who’s looking for a job at a great startup, be sure to pass the message along –  Toutapp and Artsicle are hiring! 


Business Development Specialist T.J. Jones Doubles B2B Sales with Toutapp


TJ Jones certainly knows a thing or two about working with small businesses. He’s gone from working in his dad’s family business to growing a career in SaaS business development: he’s a linchpin at Monk Development.

MonkDev is a software development company that truly works for the greater good – they specialize in providing software and web development for non-profits and ministries across the country.


TJ Jones: Business Development

It’s TJ’s job to reach out to potential clients, identify how and why they would find value in Monk Development’s software, and build a relationship with those groups. He’s able to take a group that was once primarily in-person, and provide them with a robust online presence, expanding their impact in the local community and beyond.

TJ’s job requires him to spend a lot of time building relationships over email. Like most people who spend a lot of time in their inbox, it was a challenge for TJ to keep up with – he was constantly asking the same questions: Who did I email? Did they reply? When should I follow up? Plus, between sending an email and receiving a reply, there’s no way for him to understand what was happening to his emails.

TJ uses Tout to beat his sales quota

TJ wanted to find a better way to manage his emails, but he needed something that would work with his existing workflow. He started using Tout and it was a perfect fit – it allowed him to send the same emails he was writing before, standardize and track them, and send them much, much faster.

“The ability to move back and forth between different templates in order to reach multiple audiences has cut down the amount of time it takes to process email during my workday.”

For TJ, it wasn’t a matter of changing his business process, but rather finding a way to manage his day-to-day interactions.  As it turns out, making one small decision to use Tout made a huge difference:

At Monk Development, TJ’s business development role is critical, and the fact that Tout helped him double his sales in one month has had a huge ripple effect in the company. TJ is able to make an even bigger impact at a growing firm, and do it faster and more efficiently than before.

Are you tired of rewriting the same emails? Need a way to sort and track the templates you’re using? Try Toutapp.


How Gilbert Zammit, Founder of IT Channel Insight, Creates Real Value from his Network using Toutapp

Throughout his career, Gilbert Zammit saw a need for a better place for IT channel news and industry information. That’s why he created IT Channel Insight, a site that helps providers of IT managed services run their business.

Tons of New Contacts, but No Easy Way to Build a Relationship

Like all professionals, Gilbert relied on the insights and opportunities provided to him by his ever-expanding network. On a daily basis, he met new people who truly had the potential to impact his business – but only if he managed to establish a genuine relationship with them. In order to do that, he spent hours writing and re-writing different emails to his new contacts, and then he could only hope that people would see and read his emails.

Toutapp Saves the Day!

Once Gilbert started using Toutapp, he was able to write different templates to reach out to his new contacts. Using Toutapp templates saved him a lot of time, and the added analytics solved a huge problem for him. Now when Gilbert sends emails about IT Channel Insight, he knows if those emails have been opened, clicked or left unopened in someone’s inbox, and he can follow up accordingly. Now Gilbert can take his networking and relationship-building to the next level, which in turn helps make IT Channel Insight even better.

Why You Should Check Out IT Channel Insight


Gilbert has really made use of all his professional contacts and relationships to build his website into an extremely valuable wealth of information for IT professionals. He recognizes the importance of building ideas and growing a business by learning from the experiences of others, and that’s exactly why IT Channel Insight is such a well-respected site. If you’re looking for information about IT channel partners and MSPs, IT Channel Insight is the place to go. You can follow IT Channel Insight on Twitter

Tired of writing the same emails over and over? Give Toutapp a spin! 


500Startups Demo Days: Behind the Scenes

After a long summer of hard work and anticipation, 500Startups presents… DEMO DAYS! Yes, that’s right, last week, it was finally time for the 24 fabulous startups in the summer accelerator program (and a few in the seed fund) to present their pitches to investors and to the press. TK, Toutapp‘s founder, went first on the first day, and his Toutapp pitch was on point.

There are a bunch of pictures on our Facebook page, but we thought we’d include a few more here!

We want to send a special thank you to everyone who watched the Demo Days livestream, and a shout-out to those who were watching in other countries! We’ve started to see a lot of users in Latin America in particular, which is really exciting. Of course, lots of love to our batch-mates and the entire 500Startups team. It’s been an awesome summer.

A beautiful, sunny, California day!

… just a little pre-show mingling!

TK’s view from backstage

TK pitching Toutapp!

Did any of you watch the live stream?