Just don’t sit there, Spartan Up!

Spartan-Up-Book_300x250This past week I was given the opportunity to take a look at the soon to be released book written by Joe De Sena, Spartan Up!

Let’s get one thing out of the way up front, I’ve never run in a Spartan race but I have great respect for those that do. If you’re not familiar with them you should definitely look them up.

So why would a desk jockey like myself read a book like this? I asked myself the same question as I started reading and to be honest I’m glad I did.

This isn’t a book about tips and tricks, how to write a better “to do” list, or even how to set up your email account so you can get to “inbox zero.” This book is about driving forward, facing the obstacles that are ahead of you and driving through them.

In writing this book, Joe takes the approach of sharing experiences from his own life as well as from the races themselves and it makes the book that much more interesting to read. He takes those examples and uses them as lessons to help you question your comfort zone, to get you to pick action over sitting still, to get you to see the Spartan way and adopt it.

I know the above sounds a lot like a sales pitch, and to be honest I will be receiving a copy of the book when it’s released in May, but I honestly feel this book would have been on my reading list anyway. I’ve grown tired of seeing the same ideas and thoughts recast so that another book can be written and sold. Spartan Up! is different and I think is worth your time.

Don’t just take my word for it though, here’s Joe telling you why you should Spartan UP!

 

Use a home screen shortcut to access Evernote notes

2 steps to create home screen shortcut(Tested on Android 4.1.2)

If you’re like me I have notes for a lot of different things in my Evernote account and sometimes I need to access one repeatedly (phone access codes for example). You can open up Evernote, and search it out or create an in application short cut but for even quicker access add it to your home screen.

After finding or creating the note in question
1. Select the menu button at the bottom of the note.
2. Select ‘Add to Home Screen’

 

 

At this point you should have shortcut icon on your home screen which give you one touch access to the note.

An Evernote shortcut on the home screenDon’t have an Evernote account? You can get one here (referral link).

 

Planned Server Maintenance

Server MaintenanceI’ve been notified by my hosting company that they are doing server maintenance tomorrow night, January 22, between the hours of 8-10 PM MST.

During that time period it is expected that this site will not be accessible for about 15-30 minutes along with my email.

Hopefully all goes well and the outage will be minimal. My apologies for any issues this may cause.

 

Project Reboot – September Check-in

It’s been about 6 weeks since I started Project Reboot and I thought I would check in and let folks know how things are going.

Task Management

I’m still rocking the Evernote solution I decided on. I’m still not using it as consistently as I would like but I do find it easier to use it than some of the other solutions I’ve used in the past. I did sign up for another solution a couple of weeks back to check it out but caught myself before going to far down that rabbit hole. It’s the common problem of “productivity porn” and I’m still working on not falling into that trap.

Social Media

So far I’ve managed to keep this from ruling my life, I’m still trying to iron out all the wrinkles though. I’m not living in it like I use to and I’m not constantly trying to keep up with it either. I spend very little time with Google+, facebook is limited to just family and friends (and then only once, maybe twice a day max). LinkedIn and Twitter are seeing more emphasis but between the two I’m only dropping about an hour or so.

RSS

In my last update I mentioned that I was going to tackle my RSS backlog and look at my options for keeping up with it. The first thing I did was look at my feeds and realized that there were a number of them that were either not updating any longer or I wasn’t reading so I decided to drop those. Then I looked at the remaining volume and found I had a couple that were being updated so often everything else was getting lost in the mix. I nixed those as well as I found I was reading only a few articles out of the whole feed – I can go to those websites for that (they are topic specific or series).

The final decision I made was on the reader. After giving it some thought I decided to roll my own with Tiny Tiny RSS. Does it have all the features of Feedly or the now defunct Google Reader? No. Does it give me what I need without the fear of being shut down or the need to pay to use it? Yes. Okay, there is a mobile app that costs $2 but at least it’s not a monthly subscription.

Email

Along with the need to bring my RSS under control I started work on email. I know I’m not as bad as some but I’m averaging about 1200 inbound emails a month to my main account so it needed attention. The first thing I did was switch the bulk of the mailing lists I’m on over to digest mode – instant reduction. I’ve also been going through and unsubscribing to those that I no longer read or no longer want.

One of the changes I’m working on is to move to other forms of communication where I can. Obviously phone calls work along with text messages and I’m using both where I can – going to try and push more folks to using those along with messengers and direct messages through Google or Twitter (check out this post recommended by Greg in my last post).

My Office

I’m not talking about my work office or the office I have as Secretary for the Masonic Lodge I belong to, I’m talking about my home office. The best way to describe it – controlled chaos. Most of the time I have to move something to get to something else or have to go digging for hours to find it. So, while I was on vacation the last couple of weeks I’ve been spending a few minutes here and there to try and eliminate some of the chaos. I know there are those that would say I’m doing it wrong, that I should block a few days, empty the office and then ‘rebuild it.’ Wasn’t going to happen. I wanted to actually enjoy my vacation and, to be honest, emptying my office wasn’t going to work as you need somewhere to put it all. So I’ve been scanning (storage in Evernote), shredding (that whole security/privacy thing), tossing out (yeah!) and rewiring (zip ties anyone?) – it’s a work in progress but as least now I have a bit more open desk space and don’t trip over something every time I get up.

Things are far from complete, some of the things I still need to iron out:

  • My social media policy
  • A clean up and refresh of the blogs I work on
  • Tools – make some decisions and get rid of the rest

I also need to finalize what constitutes the completion of this project (and put a date on it) as if there’s no criteria for completion it’s really a process not a project.

 

7 Ways to Manage Email So It Doesn’t Manage You

Is it just me or does email always seem to be able to grow like weeds in your inbox? I know it does in mine, in fact it’s next week item for my Project Reboot.

Jeff Weiner, the CEO of LinkedIn, shared seven of his tips to manage the email onslaught today. His first is something I wish a number of folks I know would follow.

1. If you want to receive less email, send less email

As ridiculously simple as it sounds for such a pervasive problem, I’ve found this to be the golden rule of email management: Send less of it.

I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve received multiple messages about the same topic – usually because the sender didn’t take a few minutes to collect all their thoughts before sending.

Tip number five is a good one too.

5. Give some thought To: the recipients

It seems like for many people, the To: and Cc: fields in email have become largely synonymous. They’re not

Jeff talks about making sure the right person is on the To: line – I’ve experienced the opposite issue, having been called out in a meeting for not responding when I was on the CC line, go figure.

If you have a few moments you should check out the whole article on LinkedIn.