Archive for category productivity
Note: This guest post by Richard Egan has a focus on education but the principles covered can easily be translated into other settings. Collaborative tools like MindMeister are powerful ways to bring people and their ideas together.
Online collaboration has become very popular in both education and business. We now have the ability to easily and freely share all file types using different cloud based platforms. People working collectively on a project or assignment no longer need to be in the same room or even in the same country for that matter.
Collaborative platforms have enabled educators to create online learning environments where students can benefit from sharing ideas and communicating with each other, their mentors and external organizations.
Mind Mapping and Online Collaboration
Mind maps are an excellent method for individuals to graphically represent and structure ideas or thoughts. It is a very valuable tool which can be used for project management, creating to-do lists, idea generation, planning articles or papers.
Mind mapping can be implemented for collaborating and brainstorming, it gives students a platform to work simultaneously and a facility for learning together. Introducing mind mapping to students is a great way to encourage group participation and when managed properly will generate great results.
Benefits of Collaborative Tools:
- Easier project management
- More informed decision making
- Promotes critical thinking
- Meetings and brainstorming sessions conducted remotely
- Develop new skills for a business environment
- Files stored in one place i.e. no waiting for a document to be emailed
- Improved communication between students, lecturers and research groups
Collaboration: Mind Mapping Uses
Using mind mapping for collaboration presents students with the opportunity to share ideas with peers and to think creatively through social inspiration. I have made a list of some of the situations where mind mapping can be used as a solution for online collaboration.
- Managing group projects
- Class assignments
- Sharing lecture notes
- Brainstorming sessions
- Study sessions
- Group presentations
The video below is an example of multiple users collaborating on one map – they are creating an IKEA shopping list for their office. All changes to the mind map can be seen in real-time by all collaborators
Mind Mapping Example: Project Management
The next time you are assigned a group project in school or college I would encourage you to use a mind map from the beginning. To get started you can follow these easy steps:
- Create a mind map with title of project
- Invite all teams members to be collaborators
- Have a brainstorming session with all collaborators
At this point you should have a map with many topics, ideas and tasks to be completed. The next step is to appoint a team leader who can:
- Sort and structure all the information in the map
- Delegate tasks, create deadlines and set reminders for each member
Once this has been completed you will have very quickly created a project plan and a great starting point for the project. In addition to this, create another mind map with all details of each team member i.e. contact details, to-do lists and daily schedules; it can then be linked to the main map. The purpose for this is that everyone can see what the other is doing, progress can be monitored and meetings can be easily scheduled to suit everyone.
Some of the mind mapping software providers also support smartphones and tablets meaning that members can literally participate whenever or wherever they may be!
Online collaboration is becoming ever more important and is being used by businesses all over the world to increase productivity and creativity. Following the principle that two brains are better than one many companies are taking advantage of new software being made available to them. Collaborating online has many benefits in education but it is also very important that students are prepared for such working environments after their studies.
New online collaborative tools are emerging every day with numerous platforms for saving and sharing files, conducting meetings and managing projects. Mind mapping is one such tool but with a bit of a difference, it is a visual tool. Not only can files be stored and shared on the cloud but you can also see and watch how the whole thought process evolved and how a conclusion was formed or how a plan was made. And because each collaborator can add to a mind map simultaneously no one person can dominate the direction or outcome!
- Improving Academic Performance with Mind Mapping (hbculifestyle.com)
- Mind Mapping Workshop (slideshare.net)
- How Mind Maps Can Help Organize and Create Content (contently.com)
Push Back: No Time
Recently I was coaching a new client on how to create new habbits associated with updating their web sites and other digital properties. To my surprise, this brought out a little push back about not having enough time to do some of the things this small business owner was being requested to do. All I was asking from the client was to put some 30 minute a day items on his Google calendar to remind him to do certain things each day.
So this got me to thinking about how to create more time in our day. As I was studying this problem, one of my old coaching sayings popped in my head. I would explain to the soccer players I coached, the game is “1% Ball – 99% Everything Else”. When we first start out learning we tend to focus on the ball, not the “99% everything else” we should be. The 1% is important, but if that’s all we focus on, then we miss all the rest.
Give me a few moments to explain how this works in business as I use this sports analogy.
Sports Analogy: Youth Soccer
I suggest if you want more time, you need to work on your fundamentals until they take up less time thus freeing up new time to do the more valuable things. Let me explain how.
When we are training youth to play soccer we focus on the basics: trapping, passing, and dribbling. These skills are not the most productive, but rather, because we need these to feel natural, almost second nature. What we want to focus on are the advanced topics: Space, Positioning, Movement, Awareness, Placement, Possession, Finishing, and Defending. In any given practice session, the more time we must spend on the basics, the less time we have to spend on the advanced, dare I say, more productive skills.
We can easily spot players who have mastered their fundamentals. ”Head-on-a Swivel” is a term coaches use when selecting new youth teams each season. If we see a person who has their head up and focusing on the 99% of the game, we know they’ve mastered the 1% (at their level of play).
So we train on the fundamentals until they become so natural that we spend less and less time on them and more on the advanced topics I listed above. Each season we expect growth in the advanced areas, and it is very noticeable when a player still challenged with the fundamentals is placed in a game with those that have mastered it.
Master your fundamentals. This is what I am recommending you do in your business and private life!
Business Example: Calendar Management
Again, I suggest if you want more time, you need to work on your fundamentals until they take up less time thus freeing up new time to do the more valuable things. Since I’m talking about time, let me explain buy using a time management tool you should be using, your calendar.
Let’s just imaging a person who spends 75% of their work hours making sure that the remaining 25% of their work hours are fine tuned to perfection. I know this is hyperbole. No sane person would do this. But it brings up a valuable point. The more time we spend on administrative tasks the less time we spend on value added tasks.
In this example, if we can improve the administrative process and thus cut the 75% time spent in half, we gain 100% of productive time back. Let’s say this person takes 30 minutes to figure out the best way to deal with a 30 minute meeting request, we would then focus on setting up a system that allows new meeting requests to flow more naturally and not take up as much administrative time to set and approve.
In the up-coming posts, we will break this down further for you.
More to Come
Part 2 – Technology Tools
Part 3 – Action Items
In part three we talk about action items for you. These will be broken down into two parts:
- Short Term Assignments
- Routines and Goals
Leave some comments and tell me what you think.
- How to Let Go of ‘Shiny Object Syndrome’ in Content Marketing: Conversation with Melissa Harrison (contentmarketinginstitute.com)
- Time management tips that’ll work for your life (penelopetrunk.com)
- Boost Your Time Management Skills with These 9 Techniques (lifehack.org)
So if you are anything like me, you are in submission to the fact that there is more to learn in this world then you currently know. The truly wise among us acknowledge that our current knowledge placed on the scale of all the knowledge will always find us wanting for the remainder of our days.
The trick is to stay on the cutting edge of information that helps us achieve our goals. One of the ways I have tried to stay sharp on specific topics is by using podcasts. I currently use iTunes (most convenient at this time) and my Android phone, with the help of iSync. There are a host of podcasts, mostly free but some cost nominal amounts, on iTunes that cover a wide range of topics.
New Updates on my Listening List
So here are latest additions to my listening list:
- BeanCast – deep dive into marketing topics
- EntreLeadership – Dave Ramsey‘s leadership and business podcast
- Let’s Make Mistakes – design but irreverent with some foul language.
- Marketing Over Coffee – quick ‘on they way to work drive’ worth of internet marketing news
- Social Triggers Insiders – on of the authors I follow on Google+
- This Is Your Life – leadership podcast
Dropped from my Listening List
- No More Weak Days – Daily prayer and Bible reading. Great concept but had a hard time struggling with the KJ and Message format in their reading plan. “1 Year Daily Audio Bible” is still my preferred choice for daily scripture reading (listening).
The important thing is to keep learning! Don’t stop. If you are starting a new project, search out a podcast and listen to it while driving or exercising.
I would love to hear about podcasts you have found helpful in your daily routine. Share them in the comments.
- Import iTunes Music Playlists to Android, Sync iTunes with Android over WiFi (ravidhavlesha.wordpress.com)
- Need help subscribing to podcast in Android (ask.metafilter.com)
- Subscribe to my award winning Marketing Podcast series. It is free! (garybembridge.com)
- DoubleTwist Adds Podcast Catalogue (geeky-gadgets.com)
- Import iTunes Music Playlists to Android, Sync iTunes with Android over WiFi (madrasgeek.com)
- Evernote Podcast #33 – Heavy Breathing Episode (evernote.com)
Have you ever just stopped and thought, “OK, exactly, what am I doing here?” Have you ever been asked to explain something and found yourself ramblings and your thoughts came out incoherent and and your thoughts are without any cohesion and almost on the verge of being labeled ‘verbal diarrhea’? (run on sentence intended for effect folks!!)
Force Some Discipline
There is a way you can attack this problem. This idea comes from a book I’ve recently read call “Drive” by Daniel Pink. (Good Read! Recommend it!) It’s one of the suggestions in the back of the book which you could easily overlook and just skiip by if you are not careful.
The concept is simple. Use a tool, like Twitter, to force you to craft a message in 140 characters. Twitter will only publish 140 characters of a person’s tweet. It provides a nice clean interface with a gentile reminder of how many characters you have remaining. It also provides you a negative number if you go over 140 characters, thus showing you how much you have to trim to have your entire message included in the twitter stream. Twitter simply provides us a clean and straightforward page with the needed feedback to accomplish this task.
Twitter is not the focus
You could use any tool that gives you the feedback to understand how close you are to 140 characters. Even the 140 characters are arbitrary and simply based on the fact that Twitter has this limitation. I could also use any word processor that provide the basic functionality of ‘word count‘ . You could write a simple Visual Basic program in minutes to perform the same task. The tool is not the important factor here. It is your ability to boil down your message to 140 charaters.
In the past we’ve talked about using elevator speeches, but this is more intense and to the point. Only using 140 characters to create focus.
Twitter Summary Application
- Front Office Staff – image the value you would bring if your responses were pithy and to the point. How many of us have wished we met some of these staff in our travels. Only to find out 2 minutes into a question answer session you picked the wrong person to ask ‘where the bathroom was?’ (exaggeration intended)
- Meeting Prep – Wouldn’t we all like to come into a meeting and with a short burst from the moderator / facilitator know how much I need to pay attention? In fact, I could then text my assistent to pull me out of the meeting in let’s say 10 minutes. (Note to self: I bet I could write a quick program so that when I text mesage a certain code to it, it would then rendomly generate a ‘emergency text message‘ to my department member’s phones so I can get them all the hell out of there before they waste another minute not doing their jobs!) (exaggeration intended)
- Event Planning – When I plan out an event, each hour has something it needs to accomplish. I would suggest having a twitter summary for each hour so that each hour can be easily reviewed by the facilitation staff and the owner / sponsor of the event.
- Calendar Management – wouldn’t we all like to look at a calendar event and not ask the question – what in the world is this here for and who authorized it to be on my calendar? Well a twitter summary would help there also.
- Instructions to Staff – I’ve also heard this one called ‘commander’s intent‘ as well. It would be a short burst stating what is the ultimate outcome or goal is for an activity. Sometimes these are needed so that if something goes wrong, the team, using autonomy, can make adjustments to still hit the mark by the end of the assignment.
- Classroom Setting – excellent use of a few seconds to start out the class. Let everyone know what’s going to happen in the class for the next hour to three hours. (Also see Meeting Prep above – for you resourceful students – but don’t try it in my class – I have you turn off your phones)
Taken to an Extreme
Would love to hear how you could apply Twitter Summaries. Leave a post and let me know.
- The art of complaining in 140 characters or less (swiss-miss.com)
- On the benefits of #macroblogging, observing a #Twitter stupidity, and the return of #stopshortening (dropsafe.crypticide.com)
- Don’t spend hours tweeting, says Twitter co-founder (telegraph.co.uk)
- How Twitter Can Improve Your Management In 140 Characters Or Less (businessinsider.com)
- Tell us about ‘the moment’ in 140 characters or fewer (timesunion.com)
The other day I was helping a new client plan out marketing materials for an upcoming event and asked if he was using QR Codes on all of his materials. I explained that many people are now scanning them and then using them to do research or deal with retention issues associated with information overload.
The items in your QR Code should be:
- Direct link to the landing page for the event or product promoted at that event so the visitor doesn’t have to hunt down what they were interested in.
- Your phone number
- Your Email Address
- other pertinent information that you wanted stored in their contact list
- hours of operation
- Your name
- Your Address
- Other web sites you want them to know about (blogs, product micro sites, etc.)
Oh, and if the back of your business card isn’t already in use, put a QR Code there. It shows you respect their time by having them avoid manually typing the data into their contact database.
Is It Important?
Well if you don’t think this is important enough to add to your marketing material, maybe this article might change your mind:
- How to use QR codes at events (clairesouchet.wordpress.com)
- 9 Unique Ways to Generate Leads With QR Codes (hubspot.com)
- QR Codes Aren’t Sweet Without Strategy (stargroup1.com)
- How To Create A QR Code [VIDEO TUTORIAL] (seanclark.com)
- Are We Really Ready for QR Codes? (forbes.com)