How to Get Things Done

Everyone likes getting things done. There is a simple but rewarding sense of gratification once you can mark something off of your list.

Take for example making your bed. You might say in your head, “oh I don’t see any sense in making my bed, I’m going to move all of the pillows and get under the covers anyhow.” In the morning when you have a million things to do, you might not realize the benefit of making your bed and consider it something that doesn’t really need to be taken care of.

My brother taught me something a while ago, if you make your bed every morning, not matter how bad your day was, no matter how little you are able to accomplish, or whatever setbacks you face, when you return home to your bed to retire, you will be rewarded with one thing where everything is in its place, pleasing and relaxing. You will be rewarded for your smallest investment and it may be your day’s greatest achievement.

Making your bed serves as a good example of what you can accomplish when you commit yourself to your goals. Keeping track of them, though is another story. If all you had to do every day was make your bed, brush your teeth, shower and go to work, you wouldn’t have much trouble keeping track of it. Unless you’re playing Will Farrell’s role in Stranger Than Fiction, that’s probably not the case, though.

In order to accomplish of the millions of things that we task ourselves with, we need to keep track of them.

We know that the human brain is powerful, in fact it is the most efficient computing device in the world, capable of of processing 2.2 billion megaflops on only 20 watts of energy. However, despite its efficiency, it isn’t always the most organized means of storage.

Sometimes we need to rely on ancient technology to tackle of some the hardest tasks.

What am I proposing? Taking a drastic measure. Uninstall your apps, ditch the Task manager in Outlook, stop fretting over your Gmail tasks not syncing with your phone and leave Evernote to tracking minutes from meetings.

What I am proposing is that you get a sheet of paper and a writing utensil and write down the things that you need to get done.

Image Courtesy of Betsy Weber by Creative Commons 2.0

Nothing will give you the satisfaction of getting things done better than taking a pen and striking a line through them as you accomplish them. As more of your tasks become completed, you will see your progress by the growing number of strike-throughs on your page. Unlike software, those completed tasks that you spent your time and effort on won’t simply disappear or transfer to your recycle bin, they will remain on the page as a visual reminder of your accomplishments.

As the page grows and more and more is crossed out, give yourself a pat on the back, you’re getting things done.

How to Better Manage Your Circles in Google+

With the release of Google’s new “Community” feature on Google+, you can take a deep breath and stop trying to sort each and every person you come across into the right interest-based circle. The community function allows you to focus on not only who you are interested in, but what you are interested in. As communities begin to develop and mature and you continue to use them, you might find yourself spending less time managing your circles.

Photo By Leo Reynolds used under Creative Commons 2.0
Photo By Leo Reynolds used under Creative Commons 2.0

Communities take the guesswork out of circles.

Up until this week, you were charged with the task of keeping up with people on Google+ exclusively through circles. If you found someone that was also interested in Technology, you might have added them to your Tech circle, but realized they are also passionate about cats. You hate cats. Communities solves that problem. Sometimes we aren’t as interested in the people we interact with as we are interested in the topic at hand.

Now with communities, you can focus on conversations focused around topics that interest you and not just people that may have said something interesting at one point in time. No longer do you need to blindly create circles centered around topics in fear of “missing” something relevant. With communities, you can rely on quality curation of the content you’re really looking for.

So what should you do with all of those topical circles, or the random circle shares you added? Give them a rest. Go into the individual sliders and pull the volume down to ‘Mute.’ Give it a week or two. Notice a difference? Less noise? I guess you can live without that circle after all…

5,000 People, That’s It?

The notion of being able to “follow” 5,000 people is ridiculous and if you claim to be able to do it with any sort of consistency, then you have super-human powers. In fact, a study with Facebook users found that if you follow too many people, you might become unhappy.

“Among the group who read updates, the study revealed that having 354 Facebook friends seemed to be the tipping point after which people were increasingly less happy with their lives.” – Menshealth.com

When you look at the way you manage circles on Google+, ask yourself “Why did I follow these people?” Maybe you thought that keeping in touch with a group of people could lead to a new job. However, if you were following people just because you thought the picture they posted that one time was interesting, you are probably circling for the wrong reasons.

Today I chatted on the phone with Laurie DesAutels, a talent acquisition expert that specializes in connecting with people based on their skills and talent. “If I’m going to be interacting with 5,000 people in my circle, I’ve got to be kind of picky. I want it to be people that post regularly and people that I want to see in my timeline.”

She went on to say “It’s not all about quantity, it’s about quality.”

Use your circles to connect with the people that you care about.

Keeping your topical correspondence and your personal/business correspondence separate has just become that much easier. Focus less on strangers that only peak your interests 10% of the time and start focusing on the people you care about through your circles and the topics that interest you through communities.

Now that you have a degree of separation between relationships and interests, you should be able to better strengthen and develop your relationships while enjoying more relevant content centered around your topics of interest.

Give it a try, hit the mute button on your random circles and leave the Home stream to people you care about.

What do you think? Are Google+ Communities the best thing since sliced bread, or just another distraction? Will Communities help you turn down the noise and turn up the volume on the things you love?

Easy Steps to Help You Manage Your Overloaded Inbox

Need a Vacation Now That You’re Back from Vacation?

Now that you are getting settled back in t your office, there was probably a mountain of e-mail, voicemail or paper awaiting you when you walked in yesterday.

Customized Priority/Task Flags
Photo by Peter G McDermott

How is it going so far?

Coming back to the office after a vacation or the holidays can be a real shock to your system. It can easily feel like all of the benefits of your vacation have been negated by the amount of pressure on your shoulders from when you first walk in the door on your first day back.

Don’t let it. The whole point of your time off is to solidify your work-life balance. If you are spending 14 hours a day working (one way or another) and 8 hours sleeping, you’re only giving yourself 2 hours to relax.

Continue reading Easy Steps to Help You Manage Your Overloaded Inbox