Last week I wrote this thought experiment on Loving Messages. It didn’t take long before I had the opportunity to put the thought experiment into action. In most cases I will probably not name the cast of characters involved, for pretty obvious reasons; and I still want to share my results.
In a previous post I discussed bacon–emails that I’ve signed up for, yet aren’t a high priority. I’ve been fine-tuning my bacon-wrangling, and thought I’d share my progress in case others would find it useful.
[Oh, do you think you know where this is going? I’ll bet you don’t.]
On March 24 a group is going to be starting an exciting adventure in Madison. We’re going to be holding a MasterMind program. For those not familiar, a MasterMind program is a monthly meeting of individuals who are focused on making their goals into reality. We start the group by defining our goals, and meet the 4th Tuesday of every month (Except December 29) for a couple of hours in the evening. Between these meetings participants have a weekly meeting with their coaching partner that lasts about an hour.
I think I got this from Merlin Mann. It works.
In a previous post I described the trials and tribulations of floods of email and living in that lake for way too long. I also described slashing and burning and emptying my inbox.
Part 3 of a 10-part series on spending LESS time administrating your life and more time LIVING it!
I’m sure you’ve had this experience just like I have: I got an email… about that thing… from that guy… where is it? Is it in the marketing folder? Nope. Events? Nope. Where IS it?
It can be very frustrating to not be able to find things on the computer: an email, a link to a website, a document. Have you ever thought, “When I look for something on the internet, I use Google. Wouldn’t it be nice if I could do that on my own computer?”
Guess what: You can.
The Solution: Google Desktop
What Google search does on the web, Google Desktop does on your computer: it goes through all the files on your computer (you can customize the directories) and emails on your system, as well as pages you view on the internet, and indexes them.
The next time you want to find something, you hit ctrl-ctrl, and a “Quick Search Box” appears in the middle of your screen. Type the words you’re looking for, and as you type a dropdown list dynamically updates with each new word you type. Hit the button, and a browser window opens and shows you the results of the search, just look Google for the web.
An example of the Quick Search Box (click on it for a larger view).
You can also refine the search: emails only, graphics, documents, and within each of these, even finer granularity. For emails, all those TO me, FROM me, or to or from any of the individuals who are listed with any of the emails that match your search.
There is even more to Google Desktop, including Google Gadgets and Sidebar. I don’t use these much, although others might find them enjoyable.
I do have one warning: If you have a HUGE amount of emails and documents (and I mean huge: I have 700 MB of emails), Google Desktop may slow down computer performance. So, YMMV (your mileage may vary) and proceed at your own risk.
That said, I’ve never had problems with Google Desktop. Google makes great products—easy to install, intuitive to use. And yes, it’s available for Mac and Linux.
I no longer worry about not being able to find things, as long as I can remember a fairly unique combination of words contained in the document, email or web page. This is a great way to turbo-boost your tech life!
Your Next Steps
- Learn more about Google Desktop and how it works.
- Go to Download it now and get started!
- Have questions? Leave them in the comments below and I’ll answer them in a future blog entry
- Have other technology that makes your life easier? Please leave me a comment—I’d love to learn more tips and tricks, and may share it here in the future!
Next issue: A truly amazing way to organize specific information on your computer, even words in graphic images, to quickly find it, then share it on the web with others!
This is a copy of a blog I keep on BigLife.
Part 2 of a 10-part series on spending LESS time administrating your life and more time LIVING it!
The quote “Free your mind” comes from the movie The Matrix, when Morpheus wants Neo to let go of the limitations of his beliefs to see new possibilities.
While this column may not allow you to stop bullets or leap hundreds of yards, I believe it will show you new possibilities that you can attain quickly to spend less time adminstrating and more time living your life.
The title of this entry is quite literal. I used to carry so much junk around in my head: groceries I needed, errands to run, dates to remember, and a bunch of other to-dos. Given that my memory isn’t all that great to begin with, it took a lot of energy, and wasted a bunch of “RAM” that I could be using for more creative endeavors.
So I started using systems: I started keeping a calendar in Outlook, grocery lists and to-do lists on paper. That helped. And there were still way too many things I kept in my head.
Or, worse yet, I’d be driving my 17- to 20-minute commute to work and remember, “oh yeah, gotta get the car serviced… oh yeah, gotta email Beth… Oh yeah, I need milk…” and a thousand other oh-yeahs.
Listen, the RAM comment may seem like hyperbole, but I mean it. Do you know how much creative energy you spend remembering stuff? I’d be willing to bet it weighs you down more than you think.
What do you do with your oh-yeahs, especially when you’re driving? Simply attempt to remember it better—maybe use a mnemonic device? Write it down on one of those pads that’s sunction-cupped to your windshield (yikes!)? Leave yourself a voicemail? Record a voice memo on your cell phone?
The Solution: Jott
I no longer do any of those things. I use a free service called Jott to put the information right where it belongs. This is an ultimate “touch it once” method: no longer will you have to write down or record something so that you later have to transfer it to your schedule, to do list, etc. Jott it and be done!
Jott receives your phone call, converts your words into text, and then sends the words where they need to go. No training of the system is required to recognize your voice. Some examples:
- Email: Above I remembered I needed to send an email to Beth. I would call her, but I need to make two other calls while I drive, and Beth likes to talk (I do, too; just not right now!) I call Jott via the speed dial on my cell phone (using my Bluetooth headset for safety!), say Beth’s name, confirm, then speak what I want her to read: “Hi Beth. Would you like to meet at Monty’s—M-O-N-T-Y-apostrophe-S—Blue Plate for lunch on Thursday at noon? Let me know. Thanks!” Beth gets an email with these words, and Monty’s will be spelled correctly. If the transcription wasn’t perfect, she can click the link to listen to my original audio message.
- Email a Group! On the Jott site you upload all of your contacts, or define them on the site. You can then arrange them into as many different groups as you like, each with as many members as you want. When Josh and I went on vacation to Palm Springs in February, I remembered on the way to the airport that I had forgotten to email everyone when I was leaving and returning, which is my custom. I called Jott: “Family members… Yes… Hi all: Josh and I are getting on a plane in an hour for Palm Springs. We’ll be gone until the twenty-sixth. I’ll post some blog entries of the fun stuff while we’re there. Enjoy the snow!” An email was sent to all of my siblings (I’m the youngest of seven) and my parents.
- Update your schedule: In Part 1 of this series. I talked about keeping a schedule in Google Calendar. Check this out: I call my mechanic to make an appointment for maintenance on Thursday at 8 am. I don’t want to simply remember this, so I call Jott: “Google Calendar… Car maintenance Thursday at 8 am.” That’s it! Jott allows links to more than 20 different online services, including Google Calendar. When I go to look at my calendar, there will be a one-hour appointment Thursday at 8 with “Car maintenance” as the subject. How cool is that!
- Other Online Services: of the 20+ services to which Jott connects, there are several online to-do lists, including Remember the Milk. So I Jott: “Remember the milk… yes… Buy a gallon of milk.” and it appears on my to-do list.
- Blog! This one may seem silly, yet it actually works well: I have Jott hooked up to my Blogger account. Officially you can record up to a 30-second Jott, although i’ve gone for up to a minute and not be cut off (yet I have been cut off before). When in Palm Springs I used Jott twice to make blog entries. See the last three entries on the bottom of this page. Once again, Jott puts a link in the blog entry so that readers can hear the initial recording if something is unclear.
- Remind yourself: I’m going through my day and I want to remember before leaving work to run an errand on my way home. I don’t want to put it in a to-do list, I just want a reminder. Jott to the rescue: “MYSELF… Stop at Home Depot and get more varnish… [do you want a reminder?] Yes [what date?] today [what time?] 4:50 [am or pm?] pm [setting reminder for today at 4:50 pm. Is this correct] Yes… [Jott sent]” Between 4:35 and 4:50, Jott will send a text message to my cell phone with the reminder. It’s like having my own secretary!
Every time you Jott, Jott sends you an email to confirm the Jott. This gives you an opportunity to confirm the transcription, and the email even contains a confidence level of the transcription (high, medium or low). If it got something wrong (and it does sometimes; it’s not perfect), you can then correct it if necessary by sending another email, etc. And I almost never need to do this.
I’ve covered the highlights of Jott, and there’s more. Go to www.jott.com to learn more and sign up for your free account. Oh yeah, free? Yes, they are officially in Beta. I’m guessing at some point there will be a fee, and for now, I’m lovin’ it for free.
Once you use Jott, email me and I’ll send you my trick for Jotting in loud places like restaurants with 95% accuracy!
Your Next Steps
- Learn more about Jott and how it works.
- Go to http://www.jott.com/ and sign up for a free account.
- Have questions? Leave them in the comments below and I’ll answer them in a future blog entry.
- Have other technology that makes your life easier? Please leave me a comment—I’d love to learn more tips and tricks, and may share it here in the future.
Next issue: find that one email from that one guy about that one thing…
This is a copy of a blog I keep on BigLife.
Part 1 of at least a 10-part series on spending LESS time administrating your life and more time LIVING it!
After listening to Victory’s interview of Melissa this morning, I was inspired to do some blogging in here to share some of the tools I’ve used to turbo-charge my own life.
You know, to be honest, I haven’t been doing coaching in the strict sense of the word in several years, although I do lots of informal coaching of folks. And I’ll tell you why I do it: with anyone I have in my life personally or professionally of any significance, I want them to share some of the systems I use so that I/we don’t have to muck around on mundane tasks, and can instead get on with spending time together! Since I’m a geek who enjoys camping out on the leading edge of software products, I can sometimes push right past people’s comfort zones with technology. I’ve since learned to tone it down and get more buy in. Anyway–enough about me; you are likely more interested in the technology.
Are you the Master of the Slave?
Right now I have at least 10 ideas of things you may or may not use already, but I’d be willing to bet you don’t use most of these things! How would you like to turbo-charge your life in these areas?
- Do you waste time scheduling with the people close to you, or do the back and forth of setting meetings with clients or associates?
- Would you like greater mastery of all of the valuable information that you are flooded with on a daily basis? Do you ever waste time looking for that one email from that one guy about that one thing?
- Do you have a great EASY way to organize and clean up pictures?
- Are you a blog master? Have you dabbled? Do you not know what I’m talking about?
- Do you have a lot of documentation (fancy word for information, procedures or instructions) that you’d like to keep organized for your own use and perhaps share with others?
- Would you like to have a greater number of quick, easy, “soft” connections with people, that allow you to know what’s up in their lives without spending a lot of time?
- How much time to you spend on the administration of your life when you’d rather be spending it on living your life!
How about we work together to minimize some of that could-be-better-spent time, eh?
Stop spending time scheduling—Use Google Calendar!
I’m sure you already have a calendar of some kind, be it paper or Outlook or something else, and your first response to my suggestion to add yet another makes your stomach hurt.
It’ll be ok—stay tuned.
When I was first getting serious with my boyfriend Josh, we were having one helluva time finding time to spend together because we’re both pretty busy people. I’d always used Outlook and he’d always used Yahoo! for his calendar. Well, I’d just begun playing with Google Calendar, and I had a great idea.
You see, Google allows you to create multiple calendars for yourself, and SHARE them with others! And you select the access you want others to have: see only free/busy information, see full schedule, make changes to your schedule, manage sharing of your schedule. See my public calendar (new window).
Considering what I mentioned above about pushing people too hard with technology, I suggested we try it. It was a smashing success from Minute 1. Here’s a typical screenshot of a week in my calendar:
(I’ve” shrunk the image to protect privacy.)
The gold is my personal schedule. Blue is Josh’s. Brown is time scheduled for ME, sleep and work. Me, sleep and work—are you kidding? Nope. If you don’t schedule EVERYTHING then visually it seems like you have a lot of free time that you don’t actually have, because you have to sleep! I also schedule two ME! nights each week, which are nights that I DO NOT allow myself to work. I can do laundry or read a book or see Josh, but it’s time I invest on me. I hope I don’t have to say how valuable that is here… I can also move them around in the week as much as I want, but they have to stay on that week!
Josh and I simply check out our shared calendar when getting an invite from friends, send the other an appointment, and when accepted, accept the friend’s invite! Or we plan the time we will spend together, etc. It’s been a real godsend.
The green in the upper right marks Memorial Day Weekend. Now look at the list at the left, which is of calendars that I keep with other organizations. I can’t tell you HOW USEFUL this is! Others who are involved in the same organization can have these listed on their calendars, and life gets a whole lot easier!
You can also send invitations for any event, and if you use Gmail, all of your contacts are already available (you can also import them).
I keep calendars for: a monthly dinner group of friends, instructors at the Center for Creative Learning, the public calendar for the Center, the Detroit instructing calendar, my half-marathon training schedule (big success!), a public calendar (where others can see my important travel, etc.), and a monthly video group I like to attend.
Don’t want to give up your calendar? You don’t have to!
Google has a program that will automatically synch many calendars directly with the Google Calendar: either your calendar or Google’s can “win”, or it will synch both ways. Problem solved!
Don’t feel like there’s a need to keep as many calendars as me—if you keep just one and use some of the techniques I’ve mentioned, you’re way ahead of the game!
Your Next Steps
In each of these columns I will give you some suggested action. If you don’t take action on new information soon after learning it, it’s as good as gone.
- Read about Getting Started with Google Calendar
- Do you use Google Calendar? Please leave a comment below on a great trick you have, or just share how you enjoy it!
- Have you tried it and gotten stuck? Leave a question below and I’ll answer it in an up-coming entry.
- Do you have a technology tip that would be good for this blog? Please share it below or email me directly.