A few productivity ideas…

Thought I’d do a post, or several, on some personal productivity ideas. There are literally billions of lists or sites that will share with you the 11 things, or the 12 ways, or the 10 habits and I don’t want to add to that list. But resistance is futile and I must share some things that I use. So, here are some habits or methods or tools that I recommend. Feel free to ignore.

  1. Use Evernote. Get in the habit of saving receipts, pdf files, great articles, things you write, key things to remember, etc. to Evernote. Spring for the premium version and turn on 2-factor authentication and then use it as part of your memory. I can’t stress enough the benefit of using tools to remember and find things instead of depending on your memory. Change how you remember and find things and use Evernote.
  2. Use collaboration centric tools instead of stand-alone tools. Start using Google Apps(or similar) for work with others. Presentations, documents, lists, etc. No offense intended, but if you are doing things with the old office productivity tools and not using tools that are designed for teams, then you are locked into the past. There is a risk that you might be a dinosaur. Don’t be a dinosaur. Use the Google tools or similar.
  3. Manage your calendar and don’t let it manage you. Keep it correct and be looking ahead the next few days. If you can’t do something, even months in the future, then cancel it off your calendar. Respect those you deal with by honoring their time and yours. Be there on time and finish on time. If you are late to an appointment, then apologize. If you know of something years in the future, go ahead and put it on your calendar.
  4. Use a todo app on that smart phone in your pocket. Then everything you need to do, or must happen, or is related to an important deliverable, etc. is recorded on that todo application. You can use Reminders on the iPhone or you can use something far more powerful like OmniFocus which I use.
  5. Use https://www.instapaper.com(or an app like it) to save articles you want to read later. Install the app on your smartphone and you can read on the go.
  6. Use Feedly to aggregate all the web site you want to read. Then go there to catch up on the sites you want to follow instead of visiting all the different sites. You can use Feedly on your smart phone or Reeder to then read articles offline. Highly recommend. Then use Instapaper to save things you want to read later or send things you want to keep to Evernote. I use Evernote to save articles I want to save indefinitely. I use Instapaper as the holding place where I want to think about it further or I want to think about saving it longer. Evernote is only for the gems.
  7. If your todo app can accept email actions and put them in an inbox (like Omnifocus) then learn how to use this feature to forward emails that might require action later and turn them into todos.

There you go. Some thoughts on getting things done and staying organized.

Deep Integration

I watched the Apple WWDC today online. I think that today’s announcement was far more significant than it seemed. Releasing the iOS 8 developers kit with something like 4000 new APIs is stunning. Letting apps talk to one another and leverage services from one another is huge. The possibilities that are going to come from this can not be foreseen. Today didn’t seem like much, but I think it was. We’ll see later this year.

Seamless integration is a huge deal. Apple does that better than anyone.

 

Constraints

Been reflecting lately on Goldratt’s constraint theory books and ideas which I read years ago. The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement was the famous one, but he wrote several others and they are pretty good. I’ve thought about managing to the constraint ever since.

I am amazed how we forget these ideas over and over again. We ignore the constraints and just blindly plan to execute assuming a miracle will happen. Projects (and teams) that don’t even consider where the bottle neck is located in the process.  Not even one second of thought is given to the constraints.

If you’ve not read the The Goal, I recommend you read it. It applies to everything. Critical Chain is another good one.

Security Apocolypse

This week’s news about the Heartbleed bug is just a sign of things to come. And the resulting hassles this is causing the same.

Having to rush and change all your passwords is nothing short of an enormous hassle. And then realizing that likely I need to do this again in a few weeks makes it worse. I tend to think these things are going to keep happening and likely will get worse. The reasons are:

  1. Older systems that perhaps we thought to be secure, like this situation, can in fact be exposed as insecure at any time.
  2. IT shops (and everyone and everything) has an enormously difficult time keeping up on patches. Patches at the OS layers, equipment firmware, database layers, various services, etc. Some vendors bundle these up and do them less frequently which then means known problems are not patched for longer. Other vendors publish new patches all the time and it is practically impossible to keep the application of patches up-to-date because they keep coming out.
  3. Computing power to find vulnerabilities is increasing. Brute force attacks are getting easier.
  4. Using higher caliber password management tools like LastPass are great and add some levels of confidence. However, they too require a lot of focused attention to use. Having to go through 100+ different online services and change each of their passwords is a chore. And these tools, like LastPass, work well with some of the sites and others not so much. It is far too easy to get out of phase on which password is valid at which site. Sometimes the password change doesn’t work right for various reasons. It is just too complicated to manage these for many people.
  5. Two-step authentication is a great step addition to use where possible. Lots of high-end sites now provide this level of authentication and I recommend you use it everywhere you can. However, again, for many users this is still too complicated.

There is going to be more and worse problems with wide-spread security issues. I fear that the good guys are losing.

What do you think?

 

 

Weak Signals

There is a wonderful post called the strength of ‘weak signals’ which I must recommend specifically. Usually I just retweet articles that catch my eye, but I’ve thought about this one for days now and just wanted to highlight to those who might stop by.

The thought that “spotting weak signals is more likely when companies can marshal dispersed networks of people who have a deep understanding of the business and act as listening posts” is true. There are signals in your operations, in your sales locations, in your design centers and from your entire supply chain in both directions (suppliers and customers) and a successful company must get better at spotting those signals and that information.

The article talks about social media and senior leaders being engaged in such, but it applies to everything and everyone, not just social media channels. IT plays a role in making it easier for teachers to share and collaborate and learn from one another. This might be one of the most critical roles for IT in this age.

We’ve all got to be better listeners and we’ve got to purposely and actively be listening, watching, reading.

Good stuff.