The Idea Pump http://www.theideapump.com Are you ready to start being productive? Thu, 22 Jun 2017 00:10:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.5 https://i2.wp.com/www.theideapump.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/cropped-small_logo_square.png?fit=32%2C32 The Idea Pump http://www.theideapump.com 32 32 40986566 Stainless Steel Templates for Journaling don’t live up to their reviews http://www.theideapump.com/2017/06/stainless-steel-templates-journaling-dont-live-reviews/ http://www.theideapump.com/2017/06/stainless-steel-templates-journaling-dont-live-reviews/#respond Thu, 22 Jun 2017 00:06:51 +0000 http://www.theideapump.com/?p=1258 I decided to order a set of these stainless steel templates from Amazon after taking a look at them from various distributors and looking over the provided review s which seemed to indicate they were an […]

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I decided to order a set of these stainless steel templates from Amazon after taking a look at them from various distributors and looking over the provided review s which seemed to indicate they were an excellent value for the price. I can’t provide a specific vendor name because, as you will find with many items of this time, there are literally multiple vendors you can buy them from through Amazon.

The package of templates arrived in short order, with two alphabetic brass-style bookmark templates, one that looks like an iPhone, one that is general shapes and icons, one more focused on flowcharting, and one that looks like a cat. Yes. A cat.

Quality

They are made of stamped steel, thick enough to be sturdy but thin enough to fit comfortably in the back of most journals. I slipped one into the vinyl pouch in the back of my Travelers Notebook without an issue and didn’t notice it was there for the entire day. They are a little heavier than their equivalent plastic counterparts, but being stamped steel are thinner which balances the scales in my book.

The edges on the shapes are clean and smooth, making for an easy drawing experience when using the templates. The steel is polished without obvious blemishes or mistakes. Any lettering is clean and clear on the surface. At first glance I would definitely say these look to be high quality templates that will catch the eye of anyone watching you use them.

Usability

Unfortunately usability is where these templates fall down. Due to the detailed nature of some of the shapes, unless you are using an extremely fine point mechanical pencil (.05 or better) or a fine point pen you may not even be able to complete some of the shapes. In other cases the shapes are easy enough to recognize on the steel but when drawn they lose their definition.

It’s this lack of usability that prevents me from using these templates on a daily basis (or even less frequently) and also prevents me from recommending them to anyone. It’s a shame because where their design and quality excels it is let down by the execution.

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5 Ways Interns can use Bullet Journaling http://www.theideapump.com/2017/06/5-ways-interns-can-use-bullet-journaling/ http://www.theideapump.com/2017/06/5-ways-interns-can-use-bullet-journaling/#respond Wed, 07 Jun 2017 12:49:12 +0000 http://www.theideapump.com/?p=1255 How can an intern use a bullet journal? Bullet journaling is an excellent way for interns to demonstrate organization, flexibility, and planning skills to the group where they are interning. Often information is shared intermittently, […]

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How can an intern use a bullet journal?

Bullet journaling is an excellent way for interns to demonstrate organization, flexibility, and planning skills to the group where they are interning. Often information is shared intermittently, incompletely, or not at all and the intern is left wondering what to do. Here are five recommendations on how an intern can use bullet journaling to their advantage.

Employer information

As a intern there is a ton of information you will need to know just for your internship.  Contact phone numbers, employee IDs, building schedules, help desk information, and so on. Keeping a page (or more than one) in your bullet journal will keep this information at your fingertips and keep you from fumbling around trying to find something they told you on your first day.

Pro tip: Fight the urge to write down your passwords for network logins directly in your journal.  This is typically a security no-no and will not get you in the good graces of the company. As an alternative, come up with a secret code you can encrypt your password into.  A pass phrase is a great way to do this.  For example, if your password is Banana1, write down “King Kong’s dinner is the best!”.  That should be enough for you to remember your password without violating security protocols.

Track your schedule

Interns usually have a fixed schedule for their time on site, but sometimes this can flex depending the type of internship they have.  If you’re working on a flexible schedule, keep track of your schedule and internship hours in your bullet journal not only for reference but also for validation you are getting credit for the hours you put in.

Professional contacts

You will likely meet a number of people as an intern, most of whom you won’t remember after a few days.  Use your bullet journal to record who you have met, how you met them, and if you have additional contacts with them, especially around projects and work. Through this record keeping you’re building your professional network, something that is critical for success in the working world.

Things you’ve learned

Part of the objective in internships is not only to get exposure to jobs and work, but also to learn new skills and put them to use.  As an intern you should be cataloging your new skills and how you have used them so later on you can share these accomplishments in resumes and interviews.  If you don’t capture the details when they happen, you’re most likely to not do it later and then they’re lost for good.  Set your self up for success by making note of your growth as you proceed through your internship.

Company insights

If you’re looking to spin your internship into a job at the company, the more information you have about the organization come interview time the better off you will be.  Take advantage of your bullet journal to capture information about the company’s organization, mission and values, possible areas you would like to work in, and so on.  This information will prove invaluable when it comes to prepping for the interviews that will inevitably come as a result of your hard work.

Bonus tip – Conveying professionalism

It’s not often I am impressed by an intern since for the most part the ones I interact with are all smart, capable people who are motivated to take on the challenges I face.  The ones I remember are the ones who demonstrate a professional maturity beyond the normal intern stereotypes. Show up at a meeting with with a pen and legal pad and you’ve met my expectations. Pull out a journal during a conversation and say, “hang on, let me write that down” and you’ve exceeded my expectations.  It’s a little thing but little things add up.

Internships can be a mixed bag of successes and disappointments.  What you get out of your internship and how it helps your career growth is up to you. Using tools such as bullet journaling can tip the process in your favor and keep you moving forward.

 

Other articles you may find of interest:

Bullet Journal Resource Center

Using OneNote to organize a college student

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Using OneNote to organize a college student http://www.theideapump.com/2017/06/using-onenote-organize-college-student/ http://www.theideapump.com/2017/06/using-onenote-organize-college-student/#comments Thu, 01 Jun 2017 12:17:04 +0000 http://www.theideapump.com/?p=1238 It’s that time of year when we’re in the final stages of getting our new college students ready to head to their school of choice (hopefully) in the fall. Forms, emails, schedules, and reminders all […]

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It’s that time of year when we’re in the final stages of getting our new college students ready to head to their school of choice (hopefully) in the fall. Forms, emails, schedules, and reminders all come flooding in with many of them not due for weeks.  How do you keep the firehose of information organized so both your student and you are confident nothing is falling through the cracks? My recommendation…turn to OneNote. As the father of one graduated college student and one starting in the fall, I’d like to share some insights and ideas around how you can put OneNote to use in keeping everything organized and removing one stress point from the life of a new college student.

Create a college notebook

OneNoteTo begin, create a OneNote notebook dedicated to just college information.  I don’t recommend integrating into another notebook due to the sheer volume of information you’re going to be managing combined with the fact you will be sharing this notebook between two or more people. Once you have the notebook created, share it to everyone who will need access (usually the student and parents/guardians/adult roles of choice). This structure will also work if you are managing only your own information, as you just eliminate the sharing step.

Create sections in the notebook

You will need sections for each major area of college life in the notebook. I recommend at a minimum:

  • Housing
  • Financial
  • Transportation
  • Schedule
  • Enrollment
  • Scholarships
  • Forms
  • Action Items
  • Quick Reference

You may be wondering how you handle the overlap between sections such as Forms and Financial.  That’s one of the strengths of OneNote. If it is easiest for you to have a section of all the Forms you have submitted to the school, you can use the linking capability of OneNote to create links in the other sections back to those original forms.  If it is easier for you to keep the forms in the sections where they apply, such as Scholarships, you can create a page in the Forms section with links to the forms spread out in the other sections.  The objective is to make sure information is at your fingertips when you need it.

The Quick Reference section is typically only one page in the section.  On that page put everything you might need frequently and quickly. Student ID, office numbers, professor email addresses, emergency contact numbers, pizza delivery numbers, whatever you find yourself looking up more than twice is worth putting in the Quick Reference section.

Install the mobile OneNote client

Make sure you have OneNote installed on your smartphone so you have access to your information at all times. Once you have installed the mobile client (iOS or Android) open your new notebook to make sure you have access and everything is syncing. Here’s a pro tip…press and hold on the name of the notebook and then add the notebook to your home screen for quick access. Now that you have the mobile client set up you can use it to capture information whenever you need to and best yet take pictures of important things for later recall.  Any text in pictures you take becomes searchable so finding that course syllabus again after two weeks is a simple matter.

Capture everything

Make it a habit to capture everything into your OneNote notebook.  It is far easier to delete something later when you don’t need it than to go searching for it when you do. Notes, photos, illustrations, whatever you need to keep on hand is best stored in OneNote rather than taking up that valuable brain space you need for your classes.

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Batting Practice for Contractors http://www.theideapump.com/2017/05/batting-practice-contractors/ http://www.theideapump.com/2017/05/batting-practice-contractors/#respond Wed, 24 May 2017 12:52:02 +0000 http://www.theideapump.com/?p=1228 If you’re a contractor working in an environment where you aren’t 100% busy all the time, but still requires you to meet billable hour contractual requirements, I suggest you take some batting practice. Having been in […]

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If you’re a contractor working in an environment where you aren’t 100% busy all the time, but still requires you to meet billable hour contractual requirements, I suggest you take some batting practice. Having been in these situations before I’ve seen how leveraging the work you are doing as an opportunity to refine and hone your skills can make all the difference in your personal satisfaction as well as your client satisfaction.

Years ago I was embedded as an on-site trainer for a large pharmaceutical company. The purpose of the engagement was to act as an on-demand resource: running training classes and individual sessions at the request of the company staff. In principle the concept was sound and interesting.  In execution, the client staff had rare need for my services due to the work they were doing. Literally I would spend weeks with no direct engagements with the staff.  It was time for batting practice.

Turn work into professional development

Since the amount of idle time was excessive I reassessed the value I was delivering to the client. When I came on-site the first day I, to quote Liam Neeson, “had a particular set of skills.” Since those skills weren’t being leveraged I decided to expand on the ones relevant to the client. One of their primary needs was around the Lotus application suite (told you it was years ago) so I started deep diving into the capabilities of the tools far beyond what the normal users would ask for.  Why? Because by taking “batting practice” I was able to not only grow and deepen my skill set, but I was able to remain engaged and enthused about the possibilities at the client.

Make sure you’re staying relevant

It’s important to make sure the “batting practice” is relevant to what the client needs and wants. To continue the analogy, if I’m a designated hitter for a baseball team and the manager finds me out shooting baskets rather than swinging a bat, there’s going to be questions.  However if the manager finds me trying different bats, working on my stance and swing, and reviewing game footage of opposing pitchers, then there’s no question I’m contributing to the long term goals of the club. For myself, I’m building my skills and value so if I do get traded, I’m worth more to the next team I’m on.

Your engagement is your responsibility more than others

Being in a situation where so long as you are fulfilling the base requirements of a contract you are termed “successful” remaining engaged can become a difficult challenge. You need to take personal ownership and remember no company or organization can force you to be engaged. No number of perks, no matter how great, can buy that level of mental commitment. You must be committed and engaged to yourself first. Once that stands on it’s own can you then focus your attention on your client and your company. Operating every day with the expectation the company will keep you engaged is setting yourself up for failure, because it’s a rare company indeed that doesn’t struggle mightily with employee engagement, much less contractors.

Work on developing your skills within the context of your contractual obligations, but do that for yourself first, client second. Swing that bat, but do it to become a better batter, not just because someone said you should be doing it to look like you’re contributing to the team.

 

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Productivity Habits – Answers to #prodchat http://www.theideapump.com/2017/05/productivity-habits-answers-to-prodchat/ http://www.theideapump.com/2017/05/productivity-habits-answers-to-prodchat/#respond Mon, 08 May 2017 12:45:04 +0000 http://www.theideapump.com/?p=1195 Recently the #prodchat group discussed the topic of productive habits. Unable to make the live chat (this is becoming a recurring issue) I’m taking some time to respond to the questions en masse. What makes […]

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Recently the #prodchat group discussed the topic of productive habits. Unable to make the live chat (this is becoming a recurring issue) I’m taking some time to respond to the questions en masse.

What makes a habit productive?

This is a more complex question than you would think.  When you look at habits as a whole, they often carry the connotation of being negative rather than positive. The challenge to this notion is you can make a habit focus on positive outcomes rather than negative ones.  It’s a matter of repetition and reinforcement.  What makes a habit productive is when it works within the confines of your productivity solution, garners a positive outcome, and is reproducible without adding work to your solution. A daily morning recap of your task list is an excellent example of a productive habit because it reinforces a positive outcome, can be done with minimal effort within the cycle of repetition you’ve outlined, and does not add work to your processes.

What is the benefit of making lists?

Not everyone thrives through list making, but I find it invaluable in keeping on task with what needs to be accomplished.  The important habit in regards to list making is not a matter of making the list, but checking the list after it’s made.  You need to not only capture the work to be accomplished but also record when the work is completed so you have an indication as to your degree of progress.  There is a positive reinforcement aspect to checking things of your lists; this strongly enhances the value of your list making habit through that reinforcement.

Do you have a routine and does it make you more productive?

During the work week I take an hour each morning to recap the work from the previous day and update my lists of work for the coming day and week.  This planning / processing time is invaluable to me. Through this I can make sure I’m on mission with my tasks, deal with new items and changes, and walk into the rest of the day with a clear plan.  Some people do this on a weekly basis but I’ve found the dynamic nature of my schedule and requirements compel a daily level of introspection.

I can tell this is a productive habit because of three measures. One, I feel a negative impact to my productivity and my mental state when I don’t complete this exercise. Two, I can track changes and adapt to new needs over an extended period of time. Third, and most important, I can see results improve when I perform this activity as a daily habit.

What are some productive workplace habits to develop?

This answer could go on for pages, so I’m going to focus on three key habits I recommend to everyone:

  • Capture interruptions but do not process them immediately.  If you are interrupted, acknowledge the interruption, gather the high level details as to what is needed, and communicate a time as to when you will get to the item.  Unless it is an absolute, drop-everything-else kind of emergency, the habit of capture is usually enough to keep you on task.
  • Practice “Follow-Up Friday” when it comes to your email.  During the course of a week we always have things we are waiting on from others. To be realistic, we often don’t get responses back or updates in a timely manner because, well, that’s just life. So what kind of a habit keeps things from falling through the cracks? Each Friday set aside 15-30 minutes to go through your emails from the previous week that have follow up items (which you should have tagged or flagged for easy reference) and send out a quick reminder to the recipient as a follow up. This keeps things flowing as part of your solution, avoids things being left behind, and demonstrates that you are on top of the work going on.
  •  Scanning time. Take time each week to convert the paper materials you have received into digital assets.  They’re easier to manage, easier to search, and available to you at all times.  Whether it’s photos from your smartphone or a dedicated bulk-scanner, allotting a period each week to convert those assets makes them part of your trusted system rather than wondering where they are when you need them.

What are some technology habits to make it’s use more productive?

Technology habits are a tougher area because in most cases they are not mutually exclusive from analog habits.  With that in mind though you can turn some analog habits into solid digital ones:

  • Purging old records
  • Updating and organizing tags and labels
  • Tuning your solution to your changing needs

Self care is so important. What are some productive habits to maintaining mental, emotional, and physical health?

For me the most important catalyst for physical and mental health is down time.  I need time to clear my mind and reduce my stress levels so they don’t wear on me both physically and mentally. I can tell a huge difference when I know my systems and habits are working well as compared to the times when they go off the proverbial rails. (We all know what that feels like.) Holding to my habits around set times for reflection as well as consistent maintenance of my tools makes all the difference for me.

What are some productive habits that make you resilient to unproductive forces?

It’s less of an actual habit and more of a requirement in my execution of activities, but taking stock of what needs to be done and creating clear punch lists indicating what has been done, what is being done, and what needs to be done helps prepare me for uncertainty. The drive-by check in by a manager or family member around if something has been done or worse yet throwing another thing on the pile can derail the most carefully managed solution unless you have the strength of repetition that a habit brings.

What productive habits motivate you through your workday?

I’ve touched on these a number of times before but one I neglected to mention is to take advantage of journaling to give negative thoughts an outlet. We’ve all had those nagging things that chew up mental cycles; the clueless referee from last nights game, the inept driver on the way in to work, the carefully laid plan ruined because of last minute changes. Using a journal to vent into is my habit for clearing the mental cobwebs and staying on point.

Now I just need to make getting to the #prodchat live discussions more of a habit…


Other articles you may find of interest:

My answers to the #prodchat about focus and productivity

Regaining your momentum with @kickstart

 

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Using OneNote instead of Evernote for Project Management http://www.theideapump.com/2017/05/using-onenote-instead-of-evernote-for-project-management/ http://www.theideapump.com/2017/05/using-onenote-instead-of-evernote-for-project-management/#respond Thu, 04 May 2017 12:35:40 +0000 http://www.theideapump.com/?p=1158 Some thoughts around steps you should take when using OneNote for Project Management.

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Dann Albright over at the MakeUseOf.com blog wrote a great article about how to use Evernote for project management.  In the interest of equal time, I’m taking his points one by one and translating them to how to accomplish the same things in OneNote.

Clean out your notebooks

OneNote allows you to create multiple notebooks as individual files and then store them either locally or in the cloud. When it comes to managing projects, I recommend creating one notebook for each project being managed.  Doing this gives you granular control of the notebook for your project team as well as preventing accidental changes between projects.  If you have a large number of projects you are managing, you can create a notebook and use it as a “program notebook” providing connections to each of the other projects for easier management.

Create Project Notebooks and Stacks

Within OneNote’s notebooks, you can leverage sections and section groups to organize your content.  I suggest starting with defining a standard naming convention for your notebook and a basic structure for where you are storing them.  If you’re keeping your notebooks in a shared drive, OneDrive, or SharePoint is less important than being consistent and organized.

Create a Master List

The first page in your notebook’s main section should be a table of contents for all the related key information about your project.  Adding links (Ctrl-K) to sections and pages on that main page turns OneNote into a mini project website and keeps your team from having to search to find content.  I recommend including links to pages such as:

  • Team directory
  • Project Requirements
  • Schedule
  • Document Libraries
  • Reference Links

The key with the main page is it becomes the dashboard for your project. Team members can easily check the status of the project as well as connect to information they need in short order.

Organize Project Notes

Using the sections in OneNote makes it easy to group your content around common areas such as requirements gathering.  You can also use tricks such as the [[Page Name]] approach to generate new notes pages on the fly while you are working. The most important features are the searchability of all the notes from within OneNote as well as the addition of file printouts directly into OneNote for easy reference.  Keeping your notes in a common space and allowing the team to update and access the information as needed.

Add Shortcuts

Using the link keyboard shortcut (Ctrl-K) on the desktop application gives you an easy access dialog to all the content in your notebook. These links are great shortcuts to your content, making it easy to consolidate rapid access around different topics without having to duplicate content.

Create pages in your notebooks focused around specific topics or requirements and use the shortcuts to connect in relevant content. You can use this strategy to keep meetings on task and on target. The less people have to search and wander around in your notebooks the better off your project will be.

Set up reminders and due dates

Unfortunately reminders and due dates are one of the weaknesses of the OneNote solution. There is no built-in functionality for this so you’ll have to look outside the product to have this capability. The one saving grace is the ability to copy links for pages or notebooks and then paste those links into other tools for easy access.  For example, I copy links from OneNote and paste them into Todoist to manage my task list.  The same thing can be done for tools such as Trello or Toodledo, with the only requirement being the reminder tool being able to accept links to outside systems.

Develop a tag system

OneNote does not have a “natural” tagging system as per say, but you can leverage the search capability in place of dedicated tags. Add text tags to your page and then search for them to get the main listing of pages that contain that unique phrase.  Be aware though that the OneNote search ignores special characters so adding a hashtag to the beginning of a text phrase does not uniquely identify it as a tag.

You can also use the Tags capability within OneNote for easy markup of your documents, but there are several concerns with using the embedded tags you need to consider.  I reviewed some of these concerns in my article about Tags and OneNote.

Integrate your other apps

OneNote strongly integrates with other members of the Office suite including Outlook, Excel, and Visio. If you work within the Microsoft ecosystem you can leverage features such as shared meeting notes, embedded spreadsheets, and direct capture of emails into OneNote Notebooks. Unfortunately if you’re not living 100% in the Microsoft universe many of these features are not available for you.

You can also use tools such as IFTTT to tie OneNote in with other external systems for managing your information.  For example using IFTTT you can have any emails that come into your Google Mail account including a specific set of text in the subject line routed to a OneNote notebook for record keeping.

Collaborate

One of the biggest strengths of OneNote is collaboration WHEN the notebook is placed in a shared area such as a network file share or, even better, OneDrive / SharePoint. You can see what has been edited by whom, review previous versions, and receive visual notifications when changes are made.

One Note for Project Management

OneNote is an exceptionally powerful tool for project managers, as is Evernote. Where the success or failures of the tools come down to is the strategy, implementation, and follow through on their use. Make sure no matter what tool you choose, you have a plan and put it to work.  If you have questions about using OneNote for Project Management, feel free to let me know and I’ll be happy to chat with you about your needs. If you’re a Facebook user, you can also join the OneNote for Professionals group to find other ways to get more out of OneNote.

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Microsoft returns to the long game in education http://www.theideapump.com/2017/05/microsoft-returns-to-the-long-game-in-education/ http://www.theideapump.com/2017/05/microsoft-returns-to-the-long-game-in-education/#respond Wed, 03 May 2017 12:43:12 +0000 http://www.theideapump.com/?p=1146 Has Microsoft returned to a long game strategy for education?

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Microsoft announced yesterday their release of Windows 10 S for education and the free availability of Office 365 for teachers and students. Rather than digging into those I’d like to challenge part of the common wisdom as to why they are doing this.

Google has been making huge inroads into the education space on the back of Chromebooks and their Google Suite of applications. Both falling within price points that until this time (and possibly continuing) Microsoft and Apple couldn’t touch. The announcements from Microsoft signal to me a recognition of the importance of the education market not only as a revenue stream, but as a long term investment.

As students traverse high school and graduate from college and other schools, the familiarity they have with specific applications guides their decision making processes and comfort levels in the working world. To phrase it this way, how many businesses are running on Google Apps and how many are running on Microsoft Office? If you have a generation of people coming into the workforce more comfortable with Google’s offerings, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain that massive market share Microsoft has spent decades cultivating.

Will the new devices and offerings flip the education market back to Microsoft’s favor? I don’t think we’ll see a massive shift in influence and implementations but it does mean that Microsoft is back in the game and is serious about competing. Will Windows 10 S devices beat Chromebooks?  My gut says no unless they can get to a ridiculously low price point and offer capabilities Google hasn’t even thought of yet. Will Office 365 supplant Google in the classroom? Again I have to say no, but I do see it taking a much larger bite of the pie.

When playing the long game strategically it becomes important to consider not only immediate investment and market share but also long term influencers and loyalty. Decision makers who grew up Apple helped Apple take a big bite of the education market for a long time but that is changing now.  Who will be next? Microsoft wants to be sure their name is in the running and remembers that the classroom is an excellent place to begin.

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I’m so busy I must be important http://www.theideapump.com/2017/05/im-so-busy-i-must-be-important/ http://www.theideapump.com/2017/05/im-so-busy-i-must-be-important/#respond Mon, 01 May 2017 17:00:56 +0000 http://www.theideapump.com/?p=1141 Ever wonder why when you ask someone how they are the reply is, "Busy" we nod and agree that yes, we are busy too even if we may not be? Busy is worn as a badge of importance and success.

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Ever wonder why when you ask someone how they are the reply is, “Busy” we nod and agree that yes, we are busy too even if we may not be? Busy is worn as a badge of importance and success. It’s as if you’re not busy, you lack value and are not contributing to society as a whole. People “hustle”, or “work their side gig”, and we acknowledge with a little sympathy their level of activity as a measure of their importance. But how true is this?  Are we disguising our inability to manage our time and activity levels with updated jargon to make overwork appear to be a good thing? Why do we candy coat the fact we are working two or more jobs with the perception that one of them is us “hustling?”

In Episode 69 of NPR’s Hidden Brain, the idea of busyness being worn as a badge of honor is discussed briefly as part of the overall concept of value based on public perception. Think about the last small talk conversation you had with an acquaintance. If you asked them, “How are things going?” and they replied, “Good.  Not much is going on so I’m just taking it easy” how would you react?  Perhaps a twinge of jealousy at their available time because you’re so busy.  Maybe a question or judgement about why they don’t have more going on? Or just maybe a thought, “Wow, I have so much going on. Too bad he/she can’t achieve more like me. I need to do more things to make sure I’m even more busy, because busy is where happy is.”

It’s the last sentence where the lie lies. Some people are exceptionally happy when they’re busy; running full speed all the time. Others, not so much. What kind of a person are you?  Do you prefer to be busy, always ticking off boxes and updating your lists as you knock down one task after another? Are you a person who would rather savor your idle time over finding ways to fill the hours? It is the false equivalence that busy people are happy people that trips up so many.

We wait longingly for the idle paradise of our vacations, but then take our computers with us to check on email and statues because, if we’re not busy, we’re not valuable. Many cultures encourage and praise the concept of idle time as a matter of success, or at least did in the past. We’ve taken the concept of working to have non-work time and turned it into non-work time being a nigh impossible goal. This isn’t just employment focused either. We watch our children’s sporting events with smartphones in hand, checking social media and text messaging to line up the next activities for the day and week. We measure our lives based on our activity level over our satisfaction level. What can we do to flip this equation and focus on the value of not being busy?

If you want to truly revel in being productive you have to look at completed tasks as successful accomplishments, not as openings to stick something in their place. Taking time to not “do” anything but rather focus on resetting your mind, your body, and your goals can be the best “busy work” you could do for yourself. The next time someone asks how you are, try answering “Busy, but I’m getting better” and see how they react. It’s a good use of your time no matter what.

 

 

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The sorry state of Android upgrades http://www.theideapump.com/2017/04/android-upgrade-rant/ http://www.theideapump.com/2017/04/android-upgrade-rant/#respond Fri, 07 Apr 2017 13:20:21 +0000 http://www.theideapump.com/?p=1111 This is going to be a bit of a rant today so be prepared.  I’ve been an Android fan for a long time, using phones, tablets, and wearables since early in the alphabet of software […]

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This is going to be a bit of a rant today so be prepared.  I’ve been an Android fan for a long time, using phones, tablets, and wearables since early in the alphabet of software versions.  It’s those software versions causing my pain and anguish today.

Android updates – Hurry up and wait

It’s unacceptable that it takes so long, if ever, for Android devices to receive software updates.  Now before you break out the flamethrowers understand that I get the idea some devices are too old to support upgraded operating systems. Those devices that are out of date I don’t have a problem with being left by the side of the road (unless they’re only a couple of years old, then I start sensing the ugly head of planned obsolescence). Where I do have an issue is when a flagship device (something sold at the high end of the pricing scale) either does not receive updates until long after other devices more recently released of possibly not at all in their lifecycle.

Apples and Androids

This is usually where I get told, “Well, if you used Apple devices you’d have your updates.” Yes, and if I cared about Apple devices I might do that, but I use Android. It’s not a difficult concept. To have to change platforms, both hardware and software, just to keep your devices current is poor engineering, plain and simple.  I know this can be accomplished.  Look at how Chromebooks are kept up to date.  Hell, even Windows manages a better update cycle than Android devices.

Would you like a two-year contract?

There are so many benefits to the open Android environment from not only an application but also a flexibility position. You would think that one of those advantages would be the ability to not abandon devices by the side of the road when it comes to operating system updates.  Yes, I’m aware the carriers are a major obstacle in the upgrading cycle. But yet, they’re not an obstacle in the Apple world?  Hmmm, seems selling Android’s soul to the devil continues to cost the users when it comes to the lifespan of their devices. Take a look at Android Wear devices as another example. Updates are rolling out to older, less popular Android Wear devices, leaving flagships from key companies such as ASUS languishing.  Is this any way to treat a loyal customer base?

Enough is enough

Google, get your act together when it comes to software updates.  Find a way to fix this problem. The issue only continues to grow and your lack of response is an ongoing embarrassment to the Android community. Hell, it’s not like this is a complicated as unifying your messaging strategy.  Oh, wait…strike that.

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Create a bullet journal index in OneNote http://www.theideapump.com/2017/04/create-a-bullet-journal-index-in-onenote/ http://www.theideapump.com/2017/04/create-a-bullet-journal-index-in-onenote/#respond Thu, 06 Apr 2017 14:27:23 +0000 http://www.theideapump.com/?p=1092 When you’re using the Bullet Journal approach in OneNote, one of the things you’ll want to build as you go is a table of contents for your notes.  I don’t recommend relying on the page […]

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When you’re using the Bullet Journal approach in OneNote, one of the things you’ll want to build as you go is a table of contents for your notes.  I don’t recommend relying on the page and section listing as your table of contents because they don’t facilitate referencing your content if it is in other notebooks. Rather I recommend creating a page in your main notebook as the index for your Bullet Journal and then using links to create the connections.

Creating links in OneNote

The easiest way to create links in OneNote 2013 or OneNote 2016 is to use Ctrl-K. This will pop up a window of your open notebooks, sections, and pages and allow you to create the link by just clicking on the destination.  If you have  content you want to link to outside of OneNote, you can enter a URL directly in the same dialog box.

Moving things around

One of the struggles of Bullet Journaling is if you’re using a notebook that allows you to move pages around (such as a Discbound Journal) keeping the index relevant and accurate becomes almost impossible.  That’s not the case here.  By creating an index page with links, it doesn’t matter where you move your destination pages to because OneNote will update the links accordingly.

Pro tip

You can create index lists at the notebook and section level quickly and easily, but I’ve got a twist I use all the time.  If I need an index page around a specific topic such as a project, I just create a link page with all the relevant links I need and save that to my notebook. From then on when I need related content on the topic, I just have one page to go to rather than trying to track my information down across all my notebooks.

Other helpful articles:

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