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Pixelated Conference – Creativity, Inspiration, Productivity and Success

Via Chris Brogan whose blog post suggestion was via Mitch Joel whose suggestion was via OnClick, here is my suggestion of a “Pixelated Conference.”  The premise is having an online conference of various videos to take advantage of resources at hand.  At least that’s my interpretation.  It’s a way of keeping up with what’s cool, hot and rocking on a few topics – all at NO CHARGE.  So, here are my favorite presentations that impact success, creativity and productivity.  This is who I’d have speak if I had my druthers.  Enjoy!

PIXELATED CONFERENCE – Creativity, Inspiration and Productivity

David Allen – Speaking on GTD

Garr Reynolds on Presentations

Merlin Mann -Inbox Zero

Richard St. John – 8 Secrets of Success

Jonathan Harris – Stories of the Internet

Anand Agarawala on the Bump Desktop

Jeff Han – Touchscreen Technology


Thanks to Chris and Mitch for passing this on.  If you have a collection of conferences you’d suggest, post them in the comment section and let’s share.


Embrace GTD and Gain Momentum


The last two weeks for me have been a time for experimentation.  I attempted to put a few changes into my work style, I pulled back on my blogging, on my blog reading and noticeably increased my productivity.  I found different ways of getting things done and I met an old friend – momentum.  

When things go bad, they can go horribly bad and life seems to spin out of control.   Note the key word in the last sentence – seems.  Seems is an interesting word in that phrase, but to use another cliche – nothing is always as it seems.

I am a firm believer that no matter how bad a day may seem or appear, we always have a choice on how we respond to it.  For those of us who wish to be both creative while productive, there is a solution to turning things around from bad to good and I believe it to be momentum.  

Think about the worst day you’ve had and what made it so?  Did you have ANY control over how that day went – any control over how you chose to respond to it?  Were there things you could have done differently to transfer the burdens of the day to another time?  Of course there were!  A meeting with the boss that went south, a burdensome project due in a few days, you name it – we’ve all been there.  So when that day occurs, how do we respond?  Then more than ever you must embrace a philosophy like GTD to get your mind away from a panic mode and into one of a productive mode – determining the next action(s). And when you embrace your overwhelming project by breaking it down to its next action, delegating the work, putting timelines to it all, you soon find that in the mix you have magically shifted your…momentum.  

It’s time for some hard love:  Stop making excuses for why you can’t get things done.  Too much email, too many voicemails, too many meetings, blah, blah, blah.  Do something about it!  Say no.  And don’t be afraid to.  Wait longer between email responses or voicemail responses so you can batch your responses and keep your focus on a task at hand.  But let’s go back to the bad day you’re having.  At the end of it all, try this:  Lay out the project you were given (or projects), determine your next action steps, priorities and where you will pick up or begin the next day.  Is that so hard?  I like to use index cards because as I get something done on my list I can throw that card away and feel accomplishment (momentum).  Put a note on your computer that tomorrow’s email WILL wait until 10 AM or even later.  Email is a facade that takes us off the mark, so be the boss and manage it better.  Then enjoy the feeling you get as you go home – that you’re ready for tomorrow, you’re ready to take on the new challenge you’ve been assigned and how you will accomplish more before 10 AM than you’ve ever done before.  Imagine the feeling of security as you go home knowing that you’ve laid out tomorrow’s project, you know where to begin and how you managed to make a bad day a good day.  You’ve started some momentum.

The following day you keep that momentum rolling.  You get to work (maybe even earlier than normal because you have greater confidence on what you’re going to be doing on your project).  Your mood is improved ten-fold over the previous day.  You grab some coffee, fire up the computer and sit down.  You see your notes, you instantly recall where you left off and what you need to do – and then you get crackin’.  In the blink of an eye you see it’s 10 AM and you realize how much you’ve gotten done.  Sound nice?  You found your groove.  And it’s doable, too, isn’t it?  What’s even better is that since you got so much done, you can then think to carry this forward to tomorrow.  In the meantime you know there are pending emails you should respond to, but you feel better responding to them because you got the big part of your workday out of the way.  As you’re doing your emails you’re feeling confident.  As you’re doing your voicemails you’re feeling confident.  And when you see your boss, you’re feeling confident because you nailed your assignment and you had more fun doing it.  

OK…so that’s a perfect picture of momentum.  Of course that could all be spoiled by a few interruptions, a new assignment that came on top of the one you were given the day before, etc.  Manage it.  Manage the interruptions by turning off the phone or putting a sign on your door – or doing your work off-site if you’re able.  A newer assignment came in – but you can’t do two things at the same time, simply file it until you’re done with the other.  Cut any co-worker interruptions short and tell them you can talk at lunch after you have finished your report.  Manage it.  On your calendar, don’t just use it for meetings – schedule yourself time to get your projects done.

Whenever you read this, try to set yourself up for the next day incorporating all that’s mentioned here.  Manage the interruptions and find your groove.  It’s closer than you think.  And then so is the joy in the work you do. 

Moleskine (try to pronounce that!)

Finally, it’s time to post a little on one of my favorite topics, GTD – or as those in the dark would know it – Getting Things Done.  A wise and controversial man by the name of David Allen wrote a book many years ago called “Getting Things Done.”  If you’ve not read it yet and are interested in productivity, put your keyboard down and run to the nearest bookstore.  A few years ago I sat at my desk in utter despair.  I was surrounded by projects, cast into chaos at the sheer number of items I needed to get done to make my life more prosperous.  With emails and voicemails by the 100’s, life was stressed to say the least.  Like you I suffered through, somehow surviving, but wondering what was the secret that so many others must have had in their arsenal to get them by.  GTD is the answer for me.  And we could blog on and on about GTD as many do.  But, let’s start with a simple tool.The themed picture for this blog entry is the Moleskine, a basic tool for most GTD’ers.  GTD teaches that you must clear your head of all ideas, tasks, projects, events, etc.  You feel less stress once you get these items out of your head and onto paper so that you can refer to them later in life.  I strongly concur!  For $15-$20 a Moleskine can be yours, or if you prefer a cheaper route, your local Target has a lower priced version that I’ve used as well.A Moleskine has about 100 pages or more, depending on the size.  The paper is nice to the touch and many who use them comment on the sensory experience of writing in them given the right pen.  I like others have used the Pilot G-2 when writing and it completes the experience altogether.  Odd blog here, you may say, but try it and you’ll know what I’m talking about.Subsequent blogs will discuss this topic.  In the meantime, capture your thoughts, your dreams, your ideas, your tasks onto paper before your forget them.  Don’t rely on your brain so much.  You owe it a break.

Homage to 43 Folders – where it all started

This will be short but sweet.  Hail to Merlin Mann and his site, 43folders.com.  The long story on discovering all about Getting Things Done, GTD, came about through Merlin’s site.  His clever, witty, dry sense of humor is all we need in this world to put a wry smile on your face, whatever the time of day.  

Best of all, Merlin leads the way – not only is his material fresh and welcome, he has recently updated his site to include more material more bloggers and a great interface.  He gives hope to mere mortals that one day all us amateur bloggers might one day aspire to his level and fame.  

Jott This Down & You Won’t Forget It!

Let me start by saying I am not affiliated with “jott” in any way, but let me say without a doubt that when you visit www.jott.com, it will be a moment of astonishment.  For productivity lovers like me, I almost had to grab the nearest box of Kleenex (well, I do have a cold in addition to…).

Jott is an application unlike any other I’ve seen and they have even gone so far as to begin to list ways you can use it.  I’m sure upon further thought there might be even more.  But for now, let’s start with a simple explanation.  After starting up an account with Jott (which is free at this point in beta, but expect a price in the near future once you’re hooked), you enter the phone number(s) that you call from the most, your email address(es) and then we start to scratch the surface.  You can enter your contacts by importing them from many different mail applications or by typing them in.  At that point, you call the Jott number,  1-866-JOTT-123.  Following a short prompt, you can say ME or a friend’s name.  From there, your speech is converted to text and then that message is emailed to the appropriate party.  In other words – we’re talking about a virtual Blackberry minus the need to type.  Whether you have a list of tasks you want emailed to you or a rash of emails to send, it can now all be done with the use of your cell phone or nearest landline.  Need a reminder?  It will send you one on the date you request.  Set up folders and you can send messages into that folder – tracking expenses, to do’s, etc.
Amazing, huh?  But it doesn’t stop there.  You can lump names into a distribution list, work or personal.  One call to Friends means everyone on your list now knows you got that new job or your baby was born.  If you’re a fellow blogger, you can actually call in your blog and have it converted to text.
Is there more it can do?  Oh Yeah!  Stop wasting your time and check it out at the link provided above.  It’s a tool any GTD’er will salivate at – so enjoy this great tool while it’s free.

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Play Doh Marketing

No, I don’t work for Hasbro and no, I’m not one who sits and plays with Play-Doh all day.  Truth be told, I’m not particularly fond of the feel and how it gets dry if you leave it out.  What I am fond of is the concept of what I call Play-Doh Marketing.  If you’ve never heard of PDM, it’s a new and exciting form of marketing.  So, congratulate yourself for having discovered the latest form of marketing that just might change the way you approach things.  
Before we get too far into this, let’s give credit for where credit is due.   One of my favorite blogs, www.43folders.com, is based on the writings of David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done.  Merlin Mann is quick to give credit to Mr. Allen,  So, like Merlin I must give kudos for PDM to its real founding father, Doug Hall, the author of How to Jump Start Your Brain.  This concept and example using Play Doh is actually in one of his chapters and has changed my life in many ways.
If you crave creativity and creative ideas, you may seek it in the most desperate of places… OK, alright…yes, I admit I watch a lot of TV and it was there last year or so that I found the show American Inventor.  Like American Idol, inventors came on the show, got judged and the winner was able to take his invention, develop it and make gajillions.  Doug Hall, the instigator of PDM, was the Simon Cowell of the show, the harshest of critics, but highly successful nonetheless.  Now that you have this useless point of reference, let’s get on with it.
PDM is the use of external means to create.  Many that I have worked with are gifted with the means to just come up with a wonderful idea, the Michael Jordans of marketing.  Others, like me, have a little of that talent, so to offset it I enjoy seeking out ideas from multiple sources…and then making them my own with a subtle tweak or taking a few jumps to the left or right.
If you’re still with me, PDM traces its real routes to the creative toy of childhood choice – Play Doh.  Imagine a container of it is in front of you right now.  Close your eyes (after you complete this sentence) and imagine it’s really there.  Can you see the small can, imagine the cardboard body, the plastic top and the metal bottom?  
OK, now open it.  
What do you do?  
While some may simply dig in, I would wager many of you would do this – you’d smell it. Perhaps inhale it.  And if a can of Play Doh were really in front of me and I took in the aroma, I’d be able to transport myself back into the time of my life when anything was possible – 7 years old.  Can you go there yourself?  Sometimes a perfume smell may remind you of your wife or loved one.  An odd smell may remind you of that time you tried something new on the menu and frankly you should have stayed with that Big Mac you were going to get in drive-thru.  So, allow yourself to go back in time to the most innocent of times – your childhood.  Childhood allowed you to create and childhood allowed you to ask a ton of questions so you could understand.  And if you didn’t understand, you simply made it up.  Anything was possible.
And, when anything is possible, the nay-sayers of the boardroom brainstorming sessions don’t exist.  That supervisor of yours who has no imagination isn’t there to tell you no.  This is your time.  And while you’re in this euphoric state with a can of Play Doh still in your hands and the world has become a different place, you need to immediately grab a pencil and start writing down ideas.  Good ideas, bad ideas – it doesn’t really matter.  Just start writing them down.  We’ll deal with what to do with them later.   Remember anything is possible.  Budgets don’t exist, resources are plentiful and any staff you might need are all there for you.  You can make it happen.
This is the basis of PDM.  In this blog I will give you other ways to create, other ways to open your world.  It will be a journey that I look to enjoy with each of you.  Until next time, go to your closest toy store, Target or Wal-Mart and buy a 4-pack of Play Doh.  Sit it close to your desk and when you’re struggling for the next best idea, pop open a can…and inhale.

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