Productivity Wednesday #5 : Boomerang for GMail

Sometimes when Getting Things Done, you need a little more power in your inbox than the default.  Boomerang for GMail is the extra horsepower you need.  A few things that Boomerang provides.

1. Send Mail Later

Sometimes you want to send e-mail in the future, but you are authoring them in the right now.  Instead of creating drafts and having to set reminders to come back and send them. You can just schedule your emails as you compose them.

2. Remind Me to Followup

It is common that I will respond to someone via email and hope that they respond back.  I have gotten pretty good in Things for handling this, but for many this is still a problem.  Boomerang let’s you set an email to come back in your email box based on several conditions.  For example, if by a certain day the recipient doesn’t reply.

3. Recurring Email

If you have a recurring email you want sent Boomerang can handle that too.  I never use this feature but it is available if you have the need to send recurring emails.

You can install the GMail plugin or if you are using Mailplane it only takes a second.  Give it a try and add some horse power to your GTD arsenal today.

Sunday Book Review : Simpleology by Mark Joyner

Simpleology: The Simple Science of Getting What You WantSimpleology: The Simple Science of Getting What You Want by Mark Joyner

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This one was a little too self help, buy into my product for my liking. I think that the sections on logic and reasoning as to why people fall into traps was quite good. They made for several great lunch time conversations with coworkers. I was left expecting more. I think David Allen’s Getting Things Done is a better “system” and articulated more coherently. This book is good if you are wanting to understand how to debate and use logic better.

View all my reviews

Hierarchy of Reading

Abraham Maslow made the concept of hierarchies of progression in systems popular via his work on a hierarchy of needs.  Below is a theory about the hierarchy of different types of readers.

HiearchyofReaders

Survival Reader
Only reads when critical to survival.  This type of reader regularly denounces the benefits of reading.  They are often too busy to read and can’t see any value in spending time to read.

Procrastinator Reader
Wants to read more.  Understand reading provides pleasure and opportunity.  Asks for book recommendations and has good intentions, but doesn’t make the time to start reading.  Often afraid of the commitment of finishing a book.

Active Reader
Reads semi-regularly for pleasure and social acceptance.  Doesn’t have any focus to the books that are being read and doesn’t process what they read outside of themselves.

Engaged Reader
Takes time to engage with others on meaning of books and reads with a purpose.  Is excited about what they are reading and want to share with others the excitement.  Starts thinking deeper about the meaning of the works and are curious about how it relates outside themselves.

Remix Reader
Assembles content from multiple sources to create new works and/or actively applies to daily life.  Reading enough to find common strands among multiple works.  Actively connects ideas, thoughts, works and people to push boundaries of changing things well outside themselves.  Is able to put read works to practical use.

So where do you sit?  Are you okay with where you sit?

10 Steps for Planning a Great Event

The most difficult part about planning an event is knowing where to start. At Gangplank, we plan a lot of events. We have created a simple process that allows us to jump right into planning.

We assemble those involved in the event planning (it could be 1 person or 20) in a room with a white board. We put each of the following 10 steps up as columns on the white board. We start on left (first step) and work our way to the right. The steps are in an order because generally knowing the item(s) in previous steps makes answering the following steps easier.

  1. Purpose: This is where you brain storm the “why”. What is the goal of this event. Why do you want to do it? What does success look like?
  2. Audience: Based on our purpose who do we invite to the event? This can a list of specific people or as board as general groups. (ex: Phoenix Area CEOs)
  3. Format: What is the format of this event? Is it a traditional one track conference? Multiple track? Open Space? Bar Camp? Is it multiple day? Half-Day? Weekday? Weekend?
  4. Content: What are the primary topics? If you were to do a call for speakers what would you want them to speak about?
  5. Schedule: Since you know the format, you should be able to set a loose schedule. This helps give you an idea of how long to make sessions and how many there will be. Whether to include breakfast, lunch, dinner, etc.
  6. Venue: Since you know the format, audience and schedule you should now be able to brainstorm a number of potential venues. Be liberal here, because you will need options.
  7. Speakers: This is a brainstorm of potential speakers you would like to invite to the event to speak, assuming your format requires it. This could also be persona’s of type of speakers you would like to accept on an open call for papers.
  8. Time Frame: This can be a very specific date or it can be a general time frame (ex: early March 2012). This will allow you start finding a venue. Generally the closer the event the more specific this will be.
  9. Sponsors: Who will help make this event happen. We usually split this into three categories. Media sponsors, those that help us get the word out. Partners, those that let us use resources (including their mailing list). Financial sponsors, those that are financially contributing.
  10. Determine Next Steps: Now that you have all this brainstorming done. You create a punch list of action items to do based on what has been discovered.

We find that this exercise takes anywhere from 15 minutes to 1 hour. Tasks can usually be distributed and fairly quickly the event is ready for promotion.

Hacking Standups – I Feel Exposed

At Integrum we regularly find new things to try as a result of our regular team retrospectives.  Recently, the team had a lot of discussion about what it takes to make teams great.  There was a lot of discussion about the necessity to be vulnerable with each other in order build deeper levels of trust.

The team decided to add something to our daily stand up.  We added the question “I feel exposed because…”.

The results were interesting.  We found that often times the things that left people feeling exposed were early warning signs to problems in getting the work done.  Seeing these before they became road blocks actually had the effect of increasing productivity.

Additionally, it allowed many team members to express fear in a safe way.  Allowing others on the team to help them move through it.  Ultimately, we did not stick with the hack because our team changed significantly and the new team was much closer and didn’t feel the need to explicitly state how they felt exposed.

How are you hacking your SCRUM ceremonies?

40 Sleep Hacks to Get Your Sleep On

Working in an industry with people that seem to be incapable of being up at a reasonable time regularly always fills me with ire.  Recently, I stumbled across a free e-book of 40 sleeping hacks.  It made me realize that I adhere to quite a few of these hacks without ever knowing about them and why I fail to understand the struggle with getting up on time regularly.

A few hacks that have been passed down to me by my parents.

  • Wake up at the same time every morning.  This is key for me.  Probably the best hack in the list.  I also go to bed at roughly the same time every night.
  • Understand what zeitgeber’s can do to impact your sleep patterns.
  • Learn to take naps effectively.
  • Set two alarms, especially when training yourself for a new wake up time or when waking up at a time other than your normal time.
  • Figure out how your diet affects your sleep.
  • Use Getting Things Done or something similar to free your mind to sleep.

Two interesting hacks that I want to explore:

  • Using sleep logs.  In order to really improve at something you have to measure it, analyze it and practice it.
  • Dream manipulation.  Currently I don’t remember my dreams often, but when I do they are amazingly vivid.  Being able to tap into them could be beneficial.

I think the author says it well, “Our brain runs on habits. Half of it just runs on auto-pilot. If you spend some time programming a new habit for your brain, you can let that habit run on auto-pilot for the rest of your life and effortlessly enjoy the benefits.”.

Notes From Fierce Leadership

Quotes and notes from Fierce Leadership by Susan Scott.

Great things are not accomplished by those who yield to trends and fads and popular opinions. — Jack Kerouac

Your most valuable currency is relationship.  Emotional capital.

Conventional measures of business success shouldn’t be ignored.  Human connectivity, as opposed to strategy and tactics, is the next frontier for exponential growth and the only sustainable constitute edge, more visibly useful than ever before.

From 360 anonymous feedback to 365 face to face feedback.

What is it we fear?  The consequences of authenticity– intimacy and vulnerability.  We fear being real, being ourselves, disclosing our real thoughts and feelings, being seen, being known.  It’s time to change all that.

WE GET WHAT WE TOLERATE!

Appreciate people more.

The first company in any industry that significantly improves it’s human connectivity skills will take the field.

The three primary de-railers are difficulty handling change, not being able to work well within a team and poor interpersonal relations.

Building high performing, enduring, profitable relationships with employees and customers requires that we explore, embrace and ultimately rely on emotion in work that is, at the end of the day deeply human.

The great differeterator going forward, the next frontier for exponeital growth, the place where individuals and organizations will find a new and sustainable competitive advantage, resides in the area of human connectedness.

In my view the best reasons are the worst excuses.

Unconsciously are always choosing deep growth or slow death.  Sometimes even sudden death.

Master the courage to interrogate reality.

Sunday Book Review: Making It All Work by David Allen

Making It All Work: Winning at the Game of Work and Business of LifeMaking It All Work: Winning at the Game of Work and Business of Life by David Allen

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Really good content, but a lot of rehashing from original GTD. If you haven’t read GTD in a while or are on a GTD kick this is great supplemental material.

It is pretty dry so unless it’s a topic you are really interested in you will have a hard time getting through it.

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Four Adaptations for Ubiquitous Capturing of Your Ideas

Remember you mind is a pattern matching machine.  There is no switch to turn it off.  In fact, the further out of your routine you get the more active can become.  In order to take full advantage of it, you need to be able to capture it’s output no matter where you are.

iPod OS 3: Voice Memo, the app

I find my brain really likes to process information while in the shower, while driving in the car, while enjoying the great outdoors and while reading.  These are all places where I don’t often have access to my computer or my legal pad.   I have learned to adapt because I understand how important ubiquitous capture is to being effective.  A few ways I have adapted are:

  1. I have Things installed on my iPhone/iPad to allow capture when I am mobile.
  2. I have a voice recorder installed on my iPhone so I can capture while driving or am not in a position to use Things.
  3. I have learned to write on the steamed glass in the shower to brainstorm especially when I need to calculate numbers or spatially arrange ideas or concepts.
  4. I carry pens in the car along with a scratch pad in case my digital collection devices are dead.

Your capture tool(s) need to be available where ever you go.  Think of them like you do your keys, wallet, watch or glasses.  You should know where they are at all times for easy retrieval.  Certainly your ideas are more valuable than any of these things and should be equally as ready for use.

Capture something good, somewhere out of your norm this week.  Share it here!