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!

Two Lessons to Survive Your Work and Get Things Done

Recently reading “The Survivors Club: The Secrets and Science that Could Save Your Life
taught me a lot about the skills we use everyday that when adjusted can increase our chances for survival.  Two items that were cited as significantly increasing your chance for survival were:

  1. Eat the elephant one bite at a time. Lots of small steps get you through.  Trying to solve the whole problem as on action/task leads to panic that ultimately can kill you.
  2. Safety in numbers. Having someone else around to help you out and keep you accountable from doing stupid things can keep you alive.

Survivors Crew
Both of those principles translate directly to agile software development or getting things done personal productivity.  It is necessary to decompose large ideas/features into smaller manageable units of work.  If you live in the 40,000 foot view it will paralyze you from being able to complete anything.

Additionally, having a peer group to support your efforts and keep you accountable is the only way to stay on task.  Accountability is necessary to build the discipline to achieve bigger objectives and stretch yourself.  When you tackle your work this week remember these two things:

  1. Break it down to smaller bites for easier consumption.
  2. Share it with someone else so they can support you and keep you accountable.

Kick ass.  Take names.  Stretch yourself to do more!

Todays Emergencies, Were Yesterdays Ignored Requests

Stop lighting your own house on fire. Every time you find yourself dealing with a fire (emergency or crisis) in your work, remember it was lit with your own match.  In fact, while you are fighting that blaze, I bet one or more people have asked you for your time to do something or you have put off something on your todo list.

Fire

We justify this by saying fighting this fire is more important than a perceived unimportant request that comes up.  We think we can delay the request and deal with it later, but we often forget to do so.  That request is the fuel for your next fire.  You just don’t realize it.  The minute you put it off and don’t deal with it, you have authorized someone to light a match and drop it on the gasoline.  *POOF*  Now you are surrounded by fires everywhere.  It’s not long until all you can do is fight fires.

This madness will only stop when you no longer provide an ignition source.  Break the cycle.  Stop putting off today’s requests and start preventing tomorrow’s fires.

Want a Different Outcome? Change Your Focus.

Feeling stuck in a rut?  Wishing your company was more successful?  Thinking your start-up should have a million users already?  Does it seem like you can’t get where you want to be?

E pluribus unum

Our brains are pattern matching machines.  Have you ever bought a new car and then miraculously it seems like 1 in 10 cars on the road are just like your car?  There is a reason for that.  Your brain is unconsciously focused on the car you just bought.  Therefore, it pattern matches to highlight all instances of that style of car.  Our minds work that way for bigger things in life as well.  Whatever you are focused on the brain will start pattern matching and highlighting instances it finds.  With practice you can learn to key into those matches and appropriately act on them.  Some might call this serendipity.  If you want to achieve your desires you need to start focusing on things that will get you there.  This will allow your mind to start producing opportunity for you.

Why are some people lucky?  Maybe it’s not luck.  Maybe it’s deliberate focus and preparation.  If you are looking for different outcomes then you might want to consider changing your focus.

Being Organized Increases Creative Potential

Your ideas need air to breathe.  If your mind is consumed worrying about all the things you have to do; how can you expect it to have cycles to be innovative? In order to be creative you need to have capacity available to open up and stretch your thoughts.

brain

A lot of people seem focused on getting organized, but in reality they usually are just playing the game of “getting organized”.  They complain life is out of control and they are feeling overwhelmed, but don’t make the time to deal with what is causing it or result to ineffective todo lists.  When they aren’t over stressed they feel there is no need to spend time getting organized.

However, if you want to unlock your full potential you need to to have a system that is automatic.  One that allows your mind to process new information in creative ways instead of rejecting them straight away because it is already over loaded with data that could be managed in a more reliable external system.

Your mind deserves to be set free.  How are you going to do that today?

Is Your Moleskin Keeping You From Getting Things Done?

The problem with Moleskins is that they are good collectors, but bad for processing.  Ever seen an episode of Hoarders?  That is what Moleskins tend to make us.  When we use them to take notes in meetings or collect thoughts for things to do they end up holding us back.

tag cloud on Moleskin Pocket

It’s really quite simple.  When we jot something down in a moleskin, then we hold on to that moleskin forever because we are afraid of throwing it away.  It might have some magic information that we could use later.  The problem is how often do we actually retrieve meaningful data at a later date from one of them?

More often than not we never process what is in them and thus we are ineffective at getting things done.  Failing to actually do the things we are taking the time to collect.  The trick in a collection system is being able to process it efficiently.  Quarter sheet legal pads work nicely because you can tear the page off and put it into your inbox for processing.  Once processed and in your system you can throw the sheet away.  Index cards (hipster notebooks) also work nicely because they can also be thrown into an inbox for processing.  Getting the concept yet?  You need to be able to process what you collect and then discard it.  No more hoarding!

Note: Moleskins for doodling, wire framing, writing, etc make sense, but for getting things done they do not! Unless they have tear away pages you are willing to part with.

Passion Fuels Greatness. Apathy Fuels Mediocrity.

Borrowed from Sir Ken Robinson‘s 2010 TED talk.  There are two types of people in the world.

  1. Those that simply endure what they do.  Can’t wait for the weekend.
  2. Those that love what they do.  Their work is who they are.

To do great things I think it is important to surround yourself with people in the second category.  Personally, I am finding it demoralizing to work with people that don’t love what they do.  Life is too short.  If you are miserable, quit what you are doing and find what inspires you. I hope there is a double rainbow in your future.

Getting Things Done: Area of Focus vs Project

I had been struggling to define when something should be an Area of Focus versus when it should be a Project in my Getting Things Done (GTD) system.  If a completion date can be applied to it, even one a year or more out, then it is a project.  If it is something that never ends but something you are just responsible for it then its an Area of Focus.

063/365 - getting-things-done thursday

I find it easiest to throw things into an area of focus when I am brainstorming or when they randomly come to me.  This gets them out of my head and into my system.  Then weekly I am able to go through my areas of focus and move those thoughts to an appropriate project or more likely create a project from them and determine the next actions.  I would suspect that most people  have a small number of areas of focus and a much larger number of projects (potentially hundreds).  My current areas of focus are Blog, Integrum, Gangplank, Gangplank Academy, Home, Downtown Chandler Community Partnership, Chandler, Local Bites, Agile Podcast, Productivity Wednesday and MADPHX.

Each of these areas has a number of actions associated with them.  Most of those actions are too vague to act on and need to be refined.  Usually that refining results in a new project with several actions.  An example of this was an action under Gangplank Academy titled “upload old videos”.  This was turned into a project called “Upload Old Brownbag Sessions”.  The next action was to catalog all old talks.  After that action was complete I was able to make an action for each session to find the source file.  Then another action for each session to encode the source file for upload.  Then another action to upload each encoded session.  So a single entry in my Area of Focus turned into a project with nearly 100 actions.

5 Steps to Achieving Great Things

If you want to achieve really big things. The kinds of things that people believe to be difficult, improbable or even impossible.  It will require passion, purpose, planning and the ability to execute actions. To accomplish them you have to have a plan. That plan has to has to be fueled by passion. The plan has to have an ultimate purpose. Most importantly you have to have the discipline to take the actions necessary to achieve them.

It takes time to map out a plan and be purposed. However, you can’t plan forever, at some point you have to act. When you do, expect people to freak out on you. They will question you. They will tell you it can’t be done. Hell, they will even tell you that you are wrong or stupid. The best innovation comes when the goal you are reaching for is seen to by others as impossible to achieve. You have to have the courage to set a course and stick to it.

The things that are the most worth doing are the ones with the biggest risk. The more impossible or likely to fail the more worth doing something probably is. The only way to ultimately succeed is to take massive risk with the utmost of determination. Performing action while others stand by and mock, laugh or ridicule isn’t fun. It isn’t glamorous. It won’t win you friends.  However, it will allow you to achieve great things.

To achieve great things you need to do the following.

  1. Find what you are passionate about.
  2. Redirect that passion into a purpose. (what to achieve)
  3. Plan what it would take to fulfill that purpose.
  4. Execute the actions in your plan.
  5. Have the courage to stick to it until complete.

When you learn that the world is your oyster, then all have to do is just take it. When you understand that the only thing keeping you from doing the impossible is you, new doors open up. Fear can be replaced by action. Several actions chained together with purpose can do tremendous things.

It is important to remember that the most important achievements were done by someone taking some sort of action. Leonardo da Vinci expresses it well, “I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.”

I urge you to stop trying to know everything. Stop just saying you are willing to make change. Instead, get up and start applying what you know and start doing the change you want to see.

Company Records in Linked In

I realized today there is all sorts of functionality around “companies” in Linked In.  I have never noticed it.  The feature that caught my eye was the ability to “follow” a company and set notifications.  There is a wealth of information to be mined on companies of interest.  Here is quick tour of interesting items.  What are ways you could use this data?  To earn business?  Find a job?  Get a leg up on the competition?  Build partnerships? etc?

Searching for companies

Company Record

Ability to Follow a Company

Set Notifications

Related Companies

Current Employees

New Hires

Key Stats

Former Employees

Recent Promotions

Popular Profiles

Recent Activity

Stock Info

Promotion