Four Stages of Increasing Focus

Last week, I was at the Platform Conference in Colorado Springs. It was fantastic! I had a great time. The speakers were brilliant; the Broadmoor was gorgeous, even when it was 15º and snowing; and I enjoyed connecting with many wonderful, talented people who are trying to be heard in a noisy world.

One of the great things about the long weekend was that it was a complete change of pace. I got to leave all the distractions of everyday life behind and focus on learning how to be a better communicator. I was on vacation out-of-state. I wasn’t checking email. I was only checking Twitter for tweets with the conference’s hashtag. For three days, this was my entire world, and I was able to focus at a much higher level than I usually do.

There are four stages to increasing your focus. They work best when done in order—it doesn’t make much sense to isolate yourself physically when people can still interrupt you electronically. These can help you whether you need to go heads-down to meet a deadline, or you’re trying to step back and see the big picture while making long-range decisions.

©iStockPhoto/Grufnar

Photo courtesy of ©iStockPhoto/Grufnar

A Moment of True Character

Your character is revealed in what you do when you think no one is watching.

I was going through the photos I took at the Platform Conference this week, and I discovered I’d captured a beautiful moment in the background. In the corner of a photo, silhouetted on the darkened stage, you can see Stu McLaren dancing with his daughter.

StuMcLarenDances

Way to go, Stu.

Eight Ways to Remember What to Do When

For the last two weeks, I’ve been conducting an experiement. (It didn’t start as an experiment, but it’s become one.)

I’ve been carrying two Starbucks gift cards in my pocket. Breast pocket if I have one, or right by my wallet, so I pull them out with my wallet. I figured if I stuck them in my pocket, I’d have them on me, and when I found a spare moment, I could sign in to starbucks.com and roll the balances onto the card I use with the Starbucks app.

It hasn’t worked yet. I’ve seen them 2–3 times a day, but it’s always at the wrong time. I see them when I’m paying at the pump, or confirming the location of the meeting I’m heading to. I have yet to notice them at the computer, where I could do something about them, when I have the time.

I know I have a task to perform, but the trigger is wrong.

Don’t Forget Note

Photo © 2014 Colter Reed

You have had a dream for so many years. Let today be the day you make a plan for it. Just think about how much more likely you are to hit your target when you finally aim at it.

Steve Maraboli

How to Scan Business Cards with Evernote

Evernote is a great way to capture information and complements your planning system nicely. Their business card scanner takes a very specialized type of information and makes capturing it easy, fun, and beautiful. It’s part of the Evernote app for iOS and Android.

Like any other type of information, a business card won’t do you any good if it’s trapped in a pile of loose papers on the corner of your desk. Here’s how to use Evernote to get the information off the card and into your planning system.

Evernote Business Card Scanning

Respond Like Shaun, Not Bitzer

One of the favorite TV shows in our house is Shaun the Sheep, a children’s show about the animals on a farm in northern England. The two central characters are Shaun and the farmer’s dog, Bitzer.

Shaun and Bitzer present an interesting dichotomy in how they respond to adversity. Bitzer is easily overwhelmed and paralyzed by fear when things go wrong. Shaun, on the other hand, will leap into action, rally the flock, and perform nothing short of a miracle to get things back to normal before the farmer notices anything is amiss.

Two very different responses, representing very different ways of looking at not only the world, but yourself.

Shaun and Bitzer

©2009 Aardman Animations. All rights reserved.

Is That a Task or a Project?

A common question when getting started with OmniFocus (or GTD) is “is this a task or a project?”.

The short answer is that it doesn’t matter. Either way, you have the idea captured. In OmniFocus, you can convert back and forth at any time. What’s important is that you have it written down and are clear on the next action necessary to move things towards completion.

The long answer is to start with the simplest thing that could possibly work, then let it grow from there as needed.

©iStockphoto/tab1962

©iStockphoto/tab1962