Productivity and the Space Beyond the Hand

The Space Beyond the Hand

The Space Beyond the Hand

How do you stay on top of all the things you have to do?

Productivity systems and books. To-do lists / apps, daily planners and date books. I have used and tried a good number of these over the years in a effort to get a better grip on “getting stuff done”, which is the goal of almost all of us these days. We read about the “5 Things the Most Successful People Do Everyday”. We try out yet another focus / productivity tool or app, attend workshops on time management / prioritization, and make lists of lists. So much of what we do feels like busy-work, even if it isn’t.

I’ve been thinking about this topic lately, especially in the context of “wasted time” or “wasted effort”, the definition of “productivity” and the holistic truth of our lives. One of the works that came to mind is the book Slack by Tom DeMarco.  I read it a couple of times after I first got it 14 years ago, in the context of working for a large corporation, and now I return for consideration in the context of being an entrepreneur approaching, one hopes in the next several years, something that looks like retirement.

There are a lot of things to be said for getting the numerous things you need to get done for your business and you life “gotten down” someplace. The nature of our lives today is information-driven, and the resulting tsunami of stuff to get done and make headway upon is generally too much to try and hold in your head without dropping a bunch of them along the way. I know several people who have cascading lists…that is, lists of lists….YIKES!

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Focus and Productivity: Get Some Help!

Work Focus & Productivity

Work Focus & Productivity

The battle for productivity and getting stuff done is never-ending.

So many of us spend a LOT of time in front of computer monitors and accomplish a lot of things. However, the temptation to give yourself just a TEENSY break and take a quick glance at Facebook, or your favorite news site, or a live feed / video….or a quick game of Solitaire…that’s a constant thing.

I have this problem as much as anyone. My business revolves around the Internet, digital media and marketing, and a lot of my deliverables for clients require my heavy use of tools and sites that are Just One Click Away from making a comment on someone’s post on Facebook, starting a conversation on Twitter, following link after link from an interesting article, my Inbox, and so on. Suddenly, the day has evaporated…

Don’t tell me this never happens to you (unless, of course, your role is such that you rarely are in front of a screen….).

I have done a lot of study and research on focus (cognitive science and “discipline-building” science / studies), building habits, priority management, personal productivity and so on. There are a number of systems out there that can help you if you adhere to the discipline and utilize the tools and workflows  However, many times they can seem cumbersome, or costly (in set-up time and, if there are tools involved, cash…and sometimes they just don’t feel natural, so they don’t get used…). I have launched a number of personal programs to better my use of time and attention over the years. Especially in the past few years, it has become even more critical to my success in getting things done that NEED to get done. My real-world success with these has been spotty.

I’ve mentioned in other articles about the affect that the book Deep Work by Cal Newport has had on my understanding of the problem and the options for creating a solution that works for me. I have incorporated a few things, and of those things a couple have worked for me. Nonetheless, my self-discipline has lagged in really making headway. I even tried working with a coach, which had some success, but, being human, generally made me annoyed at the coach.

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White Knuckle Deadlines

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Deadlines

Deadlines

Deadlines for your business are driven by different things.

Sometimes they’re built-in, more or less. That is, the In-Real-Life (IRL) aspect of making a delivery date, or cranking out a report, or arriving at a service appointment on-time make a deadline almost immaterial.

There are a lot of times when it’s a bit squishier than that. Think of all the business and planning work you need to do to stay ahead of your competition, the industry, your profession and just “regular business” (think updating your CRM, or doing your books, or building out a marketing campaign…). You may create deadlines for yourself, and even set aside time periodically to get them done, but so often you are sabotaged by life. You get an emergency call from a customer, or a big order comes in that you HAVE to fill, or you get sick (or someone in your family does…). These all keep you from doing what needs to be done.

Then, of course, there’s the fact that you’re usually a lot more enthusiastically engaged in doing what you love to do (the part of the business that drove you to start a small business in the first place!) rather than the dull, gray “business grind” that you KNOW needs to be done, but is pretty uninspiring and, frankly, easy to put off until tomorrow….or later.

There’s a great quote by Leonard Bernstein:

“Two things are necessary for Great Achievement: a Plan and Not Quite Enough Time.”

Taking these thoughts together, what does this mean for you and your business?

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FOCUS: Is It Destiny or Just a Feeling…or WHAT?

Decisions and Discernment

Decisions and Discernment

How do you arrive at the thing or things to focus on every day?
There are innumerable items that float through my brain every day, usually just at the time the alarm goes off (if I’m lucky and don’t wake up early…). Living in a particularly woodsy area of the Pacific Northwest, I liken them to looking out my window and seeing all of the trees and such swaying in the wind. I can’t count them all, but they all attract some bit of attention and, at the same time, join in a constantly moving vista that can leave me a bit awestruck and frozen first thing in the morning. They are pretty as trees, but when translated into the metaphor of all the items and actions vying for my attention and prioritization, it’s overwhelming.

Some things are easy. Morning routine (everything to the point where I’m ready to “go to work”, whatever that looks like today…), followed by checking my calendar AGAIN (I’ve already looked at it a couple of times to triple check when my first meeting is, if there is one…). Like you, some days have more than others. The days that have one or no meetings are more difficult, really. Relatively “open” days require me to inspect the pile of things to do and, minding my own best times for productivity and creative work, prioritize and dig in accordingly. Not always easy.

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Across My Desk: The Best of the Month of Love & Presidents

There are a LOT of great articles published this past month. Vetting them for you is a pleasure by which I learn more AND glean the “wheat from the chaff”, so to speak.

So here we go!!!!!!

Look at the Stats!

Look at the Stats!

Normally random statistics & numbers flow past my eyes without really catching on anything. These stats are worth looking at because they are recent AND may help you recognize the criticality of have a strategy for your social media marketing, the importance of getting some expert help in this area (that IS what my company does, you know!), and the fact that it likely applies to and impacts your business more than you know.

Facebook flex targeting

Facebook flex targeting

You probably haven’t heard of flex targeting on Facebook. Flex targeting lets you serve Facebook ads to people who share a highly customized combination of interests, behaviors, and demographics. It allows you even more refined and tailored targeting to ensure that your ads get seen by the right folks and don’t get lost in the noise of the other posts and ads.  This is a particularly helpful How-To article.

Keys to Success on Social Media

Keys to Success on Social Media

Major Keys to Success on Social Media

To those of you who have worked with me and with my company, Social Sapiens (or subscribe to my newsletter), the keys listed in this article will sound very familiar. Strategy, intention, discipline, community, #H2H, content…..the building blocks and road to success. If you’d like to check out another solid point of view, read on and enjoy!

Facebook: News Feed Algorithm Now More Influenced By User Feedback & Surveys

Any business that is fully engaged with their visitors, audience, customers and community on Facebook will wish to stay on top of ANYTHING that impacts the news feed. As it states early in the article, “Facebook’s News Feed algorithm is relying more heavily on user feedback and surveys, and not in the form of the traditional signals such as likes, comments and shares.” If you want to find out how this impacts your work on the channel, read on.

Top 10 Social Media Blogs - 2016

Top 10 Social Media Blogs – 2016

Top 10 Social Media Blogs: The 2016 Winners!

One of the biggest challenges of staying on top of what I’ll call “reputable trends” in social media is carefully choosing the voices to listen to. Fortunately, every year Social Media Examiner publishes a list of the top 10 Social Media Blogs from across the industry. The selections are made based upon input from social media professionals and influencers globally. If you wish to add a site or two to your regular “keep the business marketing improving” reading every month (or week), one of these may fit the bill.

Get this kind of information more regularly – sign up for my weekly Social Sapiens newsletter.

Want even more? Like and Share the Social Sapiens Facebook page, sign up for Notifications under the Like button, and add us to your “See First in Your Newsfeed” group.

It’s Here: A Practical Way to Get Your Focus Back

English: The spotlight model of attention.

The spotlight model of attention. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Come on!! FOCUS!!!”

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard that in my life in different contexts….in musical groups who have been rehearsing a tough section, in a classroom that was a bit too warm during a lecture (or lab) that seemed to go….on….for….ever…., or that internal voice when I’ve been staring at the screen for awhile working on research or a project and notice that my eyes have blurred and so has my mind.

You’ve probably heard it too…

As an entrepreneur, you put a ton of time, attention and energy into your business, both the business pieces AND the product or service delivery (then there’s the ongoing customer service and support bit, too…..). Staying of top of everything can burn you out, leave you sleep and life deprived, and make it much harder to do the A+ job you normally do. Even making a bit of space becomes a challenge since your brain doesn’t necessarily “walk away” from your business (even if you do), so you could be “taking a moment” but you’re churning away inside. If that’s going on, you’re not in the moment of rest and relaxation, you’re distracted and those around you can tell, aside from the fact that the restorative nature of a break is severely diminished.

If you don’t take care of yourself, your life, your relationships and your business suffer.

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Is there Anything Simple About Simplicity?

English: Albert Einstein Français : Portrait d...

English: Albert Einstein Français : Portrait d’Albert Einstein (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Easy” is a temptation.

I work with many clients who take the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) approach to their digital and social media marketing, because “How hard could it be? It’s just Facebook??!” Besides, they each have a business to run, customers to satisfy and entice, meetings to attend and maybe even employees to work with.

After spending time with each of them to discern their business and marketing goals, I begin to walk them through some of the opportunities and challenges they face and the different ways to optimize and engage, based on the goals and resources available. As we begin to dig into the strategy and planning, each of these business people begin to see the advantages of “doing it right” and where their current process might be falling short, hurting their business.

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