The Idea Pump http://www.theideapump.com Are you ready to start being productive? Thu, 20 Apr 2017 15:20:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.4 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 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 versions.  It’s those software versions causing my pain and anguish today. Android updates – Hurry […]

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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 Those devices that are out of date I don’t have a problem with being left by the side of the road (unless they’re only a couple of years old, then I start sensing the ugly head of planned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 and section listing as your table of contents because they don’t facilitate referencing your content […]

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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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Getting the most from a Millenial – Part 1 http://www.theideapump.com/2017/04/getting-millenial-part-1/ http://www.theideapump.com/2017/04/getting-millenial-part-1/#respond Thu, 06 Apr 2017 13:13:12 +0000 http://www.theideapump.com/?p=1059 Millenials have developed a significant reputation in the workplace often through no fault of their own. Rather than harm on the challenges of working with Millenials, this series is going to focus on ways to successfully work with Millenials. Now to level set, I’m not a part of the Millenial generation, but […]

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Millenials have developed a significant reputation in the workplace often through no fault of their own. Rather than harm on the challenges of working with Millenials, this series is going to focus on ways to successfully work with Millenials. Now to level set, I’m not a part of the Millenial generation, but rather Generation X, a.k.a. the MTV Generation. Being part of this generation we’re starting to see men and women entering the workforce placing us in an awkward position since they are of the age, for many of us, of our own children. How do you work with men and women without adopting a parental mindset?

Experience wanted

There is the general assumption Millenials do not have much to contribute due to their lack of experience in the workplace. Aside from resisting reinforcement of this ageism stereotype, this is a chance to change the conversation right away and leverage that “lack of experience” when it comes to work. Most Millenials are coming to the workplace having learned the popular “best practices” in college, something that can be a reminder and level set for those working on long established processes.  While there are always reasons for processes to be what they are, taking advantage of the new eyes of Millenials can help in providing a reset perspective when evaluating how things operate.  The most important thing is to level set how their provided insights will be used from the beginning.

Take me seriously

One of the common complaints of Millenials is that their ideas aren’t taken seriously. This perception is created as a  reaction to three things: their perceived lack of experience, their lack of business knowledge for existing systems, and our natural resistance to change. If you’re going to learn to leverage a Millenial to provide a new set of eyes you both need clear understanding from the beginning that just because insights are made it doesn’t mean changes will also be made. Communicating and helping them understand the value of critical evaluation and researching all aspects of a problem rather than locking into the “obvious” answer goes a long way towards keeping them engaged without undue effort on your part. Many of these men and women grew up in a time when their parents demanded they be acknowledged just for showing up, a.k.a. “The Participation Trophy”. We’ve come to associate that with Millenials and assume if they don’t get acknowledged for everything they do they won’t be happy.  This so often is not the case.  Usually the last thing they want is a participation trophy. What they really want is opportunities to contribute, make a difference, and THEN be recognized for their contributions.  When you look at it that way it doesn’t sound all that unreasonable now does it?

Find common ground

Another way to battle the “lack of experience” label is to take a little time to learn about where they do have experience.  While they may not  have your years in the field, they may have participated in activities in college or early in their career that you can leverage as part of the process.  Millenials want to contribute.  They want to feel like they are making a difference (don’t we all). What they aren’t normally willing to do is to wait quietly until their contributions are recognized.  It is still common for members of our generation to be in roles lasting for years; the “company man/woman” has not gone by the wayside just yet.  Part of this comes with the shifting mindsets around risk and stability as we age, but assigning those same mindsets to someone not at the same stage of life is a critical mistake on our part. Mentoring them on how to self-actualize their contributions rather than relying on affirmations through business channels goes a long way in helping them fit into the up and down environment of most traditional businesses. Recognize though if you personally, professionally, or organizationally are unable to move beyond the traditional “cog-in-the-machine” mindset, you will always struggle for common ground with a Millenial.

When I was your age

Those of us not of the Millenial generation have to accept some blame for aspects of the mindset Millenials are commonly stereotyped with such as not appreciating experience. For the past 20 years we have idolized the “startup” mentality, whether it’s from the Dot Com era of IPO millionaires or or the social media moguls who accomplished all their goals before 30 after dropping out of college.  What we haven’t done is reinforced the understanding these are the equivalent of the Heisman Trophy winner who then wins the Super Bowl in his rookie year.  They’re feel good stories but they’re not reality.  Unfortunately we tend to take a small bit of perverse joy when we see someone we think feels they are “entitled” to success we ourselves would love to have accomplished but have not gotten even through all our hard work. Their “lack of experience” is our excuse to dismiss them and go back to work.

Things change and things stay the same

Don’t spend your time trying to change their thinking to your way of thinking.  They grew up in a different time with different rules and goals.  Rather, look for the commonalities you share and the aspects of their personalities that offset or strengthen weaknesses in your own and you’ll find a Millenial need not be the problem the media and blogosphere would have you fear.

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Could Visio have met it’s match? Meet Lucidchart. http://www.theideapump.com/2017/03/could-visio-have-met-its-match-meet-lucidchart/ http://www.theideapump.com/2017/03/could-visio-have-met-its-match-meet-lucidchart/#respond Fri, 24 Mar 2017 12:24:50 +0000 http://www.theideapump.com/?p=998 In the world of diagrams and flowcharting, Visio by Microsoft has been a standard go-to tool for years. Due to the new way I work (heavily cloud centric) I wanted to see if there was anything out there that could hold a candle to the capabilities of Visio.  Lucidchart looks to […]

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In the world of diagrams and flowcharting, Visio by Microsoft has been a standard go-to tool for years. Due to the new way I work (heavily cloud centric) I wanted to see if there was anything out there that could hold a candle to the capabilities of Visio.  Lucidchart looks to be a worthy alternative to the long standing Microsoft application.

A brief history

Now Lucidchart is by no means new to the diagramming game, with the company having been founded in 2008. In cloud years that makes them an old and stable player in the space. They have raised funding over the years to continue their growth and offer both free and paid packages of their service.  It’s always good to find a company on the web who has a solid revenue model, especially when you’re counting on them to help you generate your own revenue.

Getting started

Working off an interface similar to the majority of tools in this space, I’ve found Lucidchart to have a short learning curve and enough functionality to meet the needs I have in creating flowcharts and process diagrams. The traditional collection of shapes are available leveraging drag and drop to make placement and reorganization a simple matter. You’re not limited to the standard set though as Lucidchart has collections of shapes to meet almost every need.

Creating a new document is a simple click and you’re off and running creating your diagram. One of the nicest features I’ve found is how well Lucidchart handles when you move objects around. Part of my work involves dynamically building process flows with a team on a projector and that is not someplace you want a clumsy user experience.  I’ve left meetings and had people asking, “What’s that tool you were using?”

Working together

One of Lucidchart’s strengths is it’s ability to facilitate collaboration. Being cloud based, Lucidchart has built into their tool effective controls for letting more than one person work on a diagram at a time. Preview links, embedded comments, and multiple types of sharing all build to helping your team coordinate on the diagrams you are constructing.

For example, I have taken diagrams in initial stages, created shared links allowing commenting, and posted those links to team discussion threads to get feedback from the team. By doing this we avoid the waterfall of emails and lost discussion threads. Focusing on efficient communications and collaboration is a strong differentiator between Lucidchart and Visio, but it’s also one of those areas I could see Microsoft sweeping in with their Office 365 offerings.

Lucidchart supports importing and exporting Visio formats as well as SVG and PDF versions of your charts. Couple that with multi-browser support and you wind up with a tool useful regardless of what machine you’re using or where you happen to be.

Worth the price?

At the Pro level for a single user, the price of Visio Standard 2016 will pay for two years of Lucidchart. To me that’s a good investment (subscribing to Lucidchart that is) since you get all the updates automatically as well as an easy way to keep growing as your needs grow. I recommend Lucidchart to anyone who needs to work with diagrams and flowcharts and doesn’t want to drop a large chunk of change on a platform locked application.

 

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Can you be productive in 40 hours? http://www.theideapump.com/2017/03/can-you-be-productive-in-40-hours/ http://www.theideapump.com/2017/03/can-you-be-productive-in-40-hours/#respond Tue, 21 Mar 2017 12:49:09 +0000 http://www.theideapump.com/?p=958 Our modern work culture has trained us to think the only way we can be successful is by working extraordinary numbers of hours each week. I have to wonder, are they being as productive as they can be, or are they compensating for poor productivity with increased hours.

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Our modern work culture has trained us to think the only way we can be successful is by working extraordinary numbers of hours each week. People working their “hustle” (honestly I don’t care for that term) will all but brag about the 70, 80, 90 hours each week they put in. I have to wonder, are they being as productive as they can be, or are they compensating for poor productivity with increased hours.

Many people in the technology field work as contractors, obligated by said contract to a 40-hour billable period each week. However, as is often the case, they are limited to not “over-bill” a client if they need to work more hours.  How do you balance a hard limit of hours with milestones and deliverables set in conjunction with staff personnel who do not have that hard limit?

Learn how to estimate

One of the best tools in a consultant / contractor’s toolbox is the ability to estimate work accurately and consistently. Building this skill takes experience and effort but there are some hacks you can use to help this along. First, write down how long it takes you to do each task no matter how long or short.  What you’re building is a historical record for you to use for reference in estimating your workload and what can be done within a fixed amount of time.

Let’s say for example you’re working on a spreadsheet and one of the requirements is to create a Pivot Table and accompanying chart for analysis. When finished you found it took you about an hour to create the table and chart to a level of completion suitable for submission. That hour number becomes a reference measure for your future estimates. Now when asked to create three Pivot Tables and accompanying charts, you could comfortably respond it will take four hours.

Wait, your math is off

If you’re paying attention you’ll notice I added an extra hour to the estimate.  There’s three reasons for this. First, there is start and stop time to be included when transitioning from one objective to the next. Second, you need to provide a buffer to allow for unknown problems that will likely creep into your work. Third, any task longer than an hour is likely to get interrupted, so you need to allow for the loss and regaining of focus.

Things start to add up

Working from a fixed pool of 40 hours, you start to subtract from that number rather than adding up task estimates to get there. So at this point we’re at 36 hours after estimating our three table project. Factor in meetings (1.5 hours for a 1 hour meeting – including prep and recap), recurring administrative tasks, and known scheduled activities such as SCRUM sessions to get to a realistic number of hours you have available to work that week.

It’s important you keep those estimates recorded as the week progresses so you can be sure not only are you not overextending yourself, but that you’re also not overbilling your client AND you’re getting done the work you’ve committed to.

But I’m not restricted to 40 hours

If you’re in a position where there is an expectation you will keep working until the job is done regardless of the number of hours you have to put in (whether that comes from management or yourself is a different article) using the 40-hour measure can be just as useful. By tracking your time, refining your estimates, and projecting your workload you can balance your effort against your periods of peak productive flow.

How do I get started?

Begin by recording the time you’re spending on the work you’re doing. Keep notes and at the end of the week do some analysis around creating the building blocks for your estimating system. If you can get your time under control, you’ll be able to use it more effectively and treat it like the non-renewable resource it is.

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Regaining your momentum with @kickstart http://www.theideapump.com/2017/03/regaining-your-flow-kickstart/ http://www.theideapump.com/2017/03/regaining-your-flow-kickstart/#respond Fri, 17 Mar 2017 12:31:40 +0000 http://www.theideapump.com/?p=945 Regaining your flow when you’ve been interrupted or have lost focus can be an almost herculean effort if you haven’t planned in advance. There’s a hack I recommend regardless of the system to get your momentum back with some quick wins in being productive. It’s all about preparation Personally I use […]

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Regaining your flow when you’ve been interrupted or have lost focus can be an almost herculean effort if you haven’t planned in advance. There’s a hack I recommend regardless of the system to get your momentum back with some quick wins in being productive.

It’s all about preparation

Personally I use Todoist to track my tasks but this hack works for almost any system. The hack is a simple one. When reviewing my tasks if I find one that can be accomplished in under five minutes but doesn’t need to be done right away, I tag it with @kickstart. I usually have anywhere from 5-10 @kickstart tasks in my lists waiting for me. Where the hack comes in is when I realize I need to get back on track.

Using the hack

Part of regaining momentum comes from a few small successes to act as a positive motivator. By filtering my list for @kickstart I can find a few tasks I can knock off the list right away, have a sense of accomplishment, and get back in the being productive flow so I can move on to bigger and better things.

Being productive is about more than just checking off task boxes.  It’s about putting yourself in the right state to continue to be productive again and again in a constant and predictable manner.

Pro tip for analog people

If you’re not a digital person but rather an analog one, you can duplicate the same type of effect. Create a list in your notebook of @kickstart tasks and then just refer to the list when you need to restart your flow.


Another article you may find helpful is Regaining your momentum.

 

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Five minutes with the Samsung Chromebook Plus http://www.theideapump.com/2017/03/five-minutes-with-the-samsung-chromebook-plus/ http://www.theideapump.com/2017/03/five-minutes-with-the-samsung-chromebook-plus/#respond Sat, 11 Mar 2017 15:17:25 +0000 http://www.theideapump.com/?p=910 I took five minutes in Best Buy to check out the new Samsung Chromebook Plus that’s getting all kinds of attention in the press. Designed to be a solid performer in the $500 price range, I wanted to know if it had the features to be a daily driver for […]

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I took five minutes in Best Buy to check out the new Samsung Chromebook Plus that’s getting all kinds of attention in the press. Designed to be a solid performer in the $500 price range, I wanted to know if it had the features to be a daily driver for someone like me. Now this isn’t a comprehensive review by any means, just my initial observations:

  • It has a nice build aesthetic with curved corners and edges. Definitely designed to create a premium feel.
  • The screen is a beautiful high resolution display but feels a little awkward with almost a square aspect ratio to the layout.
  • The stylus is a traditional Samsung stylus that slips into the edge of the screen. I can see it being useful with Android apps, but it’s a bit hard to pick up if you lay it down. It also seems to be an easy thing to lose so replacements on hand would likely be in order.
  • I didn’t care for the feel of the keyboard but I know that’s a very personal, subjective opinion. I use an ASUS most of the time and love the keyboard so anything else isn’t quite right for me. As usual, your mileage will vary.

If your looking to get a Chromebook for a daily driver or laptop replacement you could certainly do worse than the Plus. If you have a Chromebook already I found the Plus to be lacking in enough compelling reasons to upgrade.

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Three problems with tags in OneNote Online http://www.theideapump.com/2017/03/three-problems-with-tags-in-onenote-online/ http://www.theideapump.com/2017/03/three-problems-with-tags-in-onenote-online/#respond Fri, 10 Mar 2017 14:05:52 +0000 http://www.theideapump.com/?p=902 If you’re a user of OneNote Online and OneNote desktop you’ll have noticed the inconsistency with which tags have been implemented between the two platforms. Let’s take a look at some of the differences between the two you need to keep in mind. Custom tags The desktop version of OneNote […]

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If you’re a user of OneNote Online and OneNote desktop you’ll have noticed the inconsistency with which tags have been implemented between the two platforms. Let’s take a look at some of the differences between the two you need to keep in mind.

Custom tags

The desktop version of OneNote supports custom tags (creating your own). This is a powerful feature giving you control over how your information is marked and accessed quickly. Problem is custom tags do not carry over to OneNote Online at this time. If you even change around the order of tags on the desktop, these changes won’t be reflected online.  Personally I find this a huge limitation to the functionality between the two platforms (since I use both equally as often.)  At this time the only option is, if you are using both platforms, to limit yourself to the tags and order available online. This way you can be sure you’ll have the same tag experience on both platforms.

Finding tags

On the desktop application you can search across pages, sections, and notebooks for specific tags and generate lists and pages for easy reference. Unfortunately this functionality is not available online. I think this is something they should be able to implement in the near future, but then again when I look at the limitations of searching online notebooks I have to wonder. Online, tags are useful at the page level, but aggregation beyond that is just out of reach.

Tag Hotkeys

On the desktop you can access tags while writing by using hotkey combinations of Ctrl-1 through Ctrl-9. You can do the same online (though the application doesn’t tell you that fact in any obvious way). You are also limited to the default order of the tags and their hotkeys. This can cause a significant issue if you customize your tags at the desktop level as I mentioned in the first section.

What can you do?

If you’re using OneNote Online and OneNote desktop, just remember to stick to the functionality available online for now. If you’re going to be using both, remember many of the powerful aspects of tags just aren’t there yet online and you could be setting yourself and your team up for a disappointment.  Hopefully soon Microsoft will unify the tag functionality between both platforms.  Only time will tell.


Are you having a challenge with OneNote? Stop by at The Idea Pump and let me know!

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How I created an online newsletter http://www.theideapump.com/2017/03/creating-online-newsletter/ http://www.theideapump.com/2017/03/creating-online-newsletter/#respond Thu, 09 Mar 2017 13:42:48 +0000 http://www.theideapump.com/?p=897 Earlier this month I started “Being Productive”, a weekly newsletter from The Idea Pump focused on both original articles as well as curated content about productivity. I knew from the beginning if I was going to take this from an idea to a reality I needed a flow strategy. Creating […]

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Earlier this month I started “Being Productive”, a weekly newsletter from The Idea Pump focused on both original articles as well as curated content about productivity. I knew from the beginning if I was going to take this from an idea to a reality I needed a flow strategy. Creating a process and collecting a set of tools for the efficient curation of a weekly newsletter, managing mailing lists, and providing a clean and efficient format took planning and research (and more than a couple of mistakes.) Let’s take an in-depth look at how this came about.

Getting everything in one place

The first challenge in forming Being Productive was answering the question of how to gather all the curated content into one location. For me this is a challenge because of the volume of content I go through in a given week. In the past I’ve written about my processes for “consuming mass quantities” of articles in a given week, but I never created a clear flow for sharing the cream of the crop. That oversight had to change for the newsletter to come into being.

News and information on the internet balance between immediate relevancy and a long term value depending on the topic. Since most of the topics I find about productivity pop up in my news feeds each day, I needed a way to get those articles out to people quickly and with a minimum of flow resistance. Here enters two of my tools: Feedly and Buffer.

Read all about it

Feedly is a RSS feed aggregator that took the place (for me at least) of the defunct Google Reader. Newsfeeds are updated constantly, grouped into categories I define, and marked for later reading or read immediately. Buffer is a content publishing tool for scheduling content releases to social media channels such as Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus (yes, it still exists.) Buffer publishing queues take the content you want to share and release it on a timed schedule based on what you set up in the system. One of the nice aspects of Buffer is the option to have Buffer determine when is the best time to post based on your followers’ engagement.

So if we begin to look at this as part of a productivity flow we have:

RSS Feeds -> Feedly -> Buffer

If I were to stop there this wouldn’t be a bad way to get individual posts in front of social media followers with a minimum of manual effort. However, the objective is the publishing of the weekly newsletter so there are more steps to be considered.

Bringing things full circle

Since the articles I have curated and written are all being shared to Twitter through Buffer, it occurred to me this could be the connecting pipe for the content to an online newsletter. Next step was to find a way to turn my Twitter feed into just such a newsletter. I looked at a number of automated tools to turn my feed into a periodical I could email to subscribers. The tool I settled on is a service called Paper.li.

Paper.li provides gathering feeds and content from multiple sources into an editable “newspaper” that can be read on demand. At a bare minimum, you can configure Paper.li to automatically “publish” a newsletter on a scheduled basis from the content sources you designate with no additional curation or work from you. Now since I share various types of content to my Twitter feed, not all of them productivity focused, I need to be able to pare down the content to only the most relevant and interesting each week. An added benefit is not having to worry if conflicts arise and I can’t provide that extra level of touch and know the newsletter will still be generated.

Paper.li provides a clean, easy to manage interface for curation and design resulting in a professional looking newsletter accessible from my own domain (news.theideapump.com). But yet, this wasn’t quite the end of the requirements. Not only did I have a newsletter but I still needed a way to efficiently get the newsletter into my subscribers’ inboxes each week. At this point the flow looks like:

RSS Feeds -> Feedly -> Buffer -> Twitter -> Paper.li

Email is not dead

The last step was managing the email subscriptions and sending. For this I turned to a tool I was already familiar with, Mailchimp. Mailchimp is one of the most popular email management tools on the market. It has a powerful and well designed interface allowing not only for sending and managing email campaigns but also tracking email lists and generating analytics from the results.

The primary reason I turned to Mailchimp for this is the feature in Paper.li to automatically generate your newsletter as a Mailchimp campaign rather than having to do this manually. While not perfect (I haven’t found a way to have this happen truly automatically but I’m working on it,) the Paper.li / Mailchimp integration is a big step towards smoothing the flow for the newsletter. In the end my flow process is:

RSS Feeds -> Feedly -> Buffer -> Twitter -> Paper.li -> Mailchimp

Now you may be looking at this and say, “Good grief that’s a lot of moving parts” and you’d be correct. If I wasn’t taking advantage of other features at each step in the flow it would be overkill for the creation of a weekly newsletter. If you’re familiar with these tools you could also call out points of flow efficiency improvement such as loading the RSS feeds directly into Buffer or Paper.li rather than passing through Feedly (something I may eventually try) but one of my key drivers was to use the tools I had already in place when possible.

How much time does this really take each week?

If we look at the amount of time it takes for one article to go from RSS feed through the entire flow and wind up in the newsletter we get:

RSS Feeds (0) -> Feedly (2) -> Buffer (1) -> Twitter -> Paper.li (1) -> Mailchimp (0)

(Numbers refer to minutes taken)

Each article yields roughly four minutes of effort, so a newsletter published with 10 articles takes about 40 minutes from beginning to end during the week. From a flow evaluation that does seem to be a bit much, but when I look at it more closely I see that 50% of that time (Feedly -> Buffer) can be done from my mobile device which means I can do it whenever and wherever I am and not have to dedicate a block of time for the work.

All in all I’ve found this flow to have several benefits:

  1. Content for the newsletter is gathered quickly and efficiently.
  2. The publishing queues for Buffer stay full because I know not only am I sharing content but I’m also staging content for the newsletter.
  3. The result has a consistent message across social media, my web site, and email for anyone interested.
  4. I have eliminated a number of manual touch points that could result in mistakes or missed content.
  5. The flow is efficient and consistent making it easy to repeat.

The Being Productive Newsletter is going to be a long term addition to the information I make available to people looking to be more productive. Without taking time to design and test a productivity flow that works for me and the goal as a whole, it would become just another good idea with a flawed execution.

If you’re curious what the end result of this flow looks like, check out Being Productive at news.theideapump.com. Better yet, you can subscribe right from the newsletter and make sure you get all this great content delivered to your inbox every week. Now can you be much more productive than that?

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Todoist tip – controlling natural language dates http://www.theideapump.com/2017/02/todoist-tip-controlling-natural-language-dates/ http://www.theideapump.com/2017/02/todoist-tip-controlling-natural-language-dates/#respond Wed, 08 Mar 2017 23:08:16 +0000 http://www.theideapump.com/?p=834 Todoist has a great method of scheduling reminders through a natural language interface when you create a task. Sometimes though you’d rather not have Todoist grab the date you just entered because it’s part of the task rather than the reminder. If you want Todoist to ignore a piece of […]

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Todoist has a great method of scheduling reminders through a natural language interface when you create a task. Sometimes though you’d rather not have Todoist grab the date you just entered because it’s part of the task rather than the reminder. If you want Todoist to ignore a piece of text as a date or a schedule prompt, just press Esc right after the text to make Todoist to ignore the real language recognition. You can continue to add text and have a reminder added later on the line so you get the best of both worlds.

Todoist – one of my favorite tools for being productive.

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