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Weekly Learnings

Weekly Learnings Roundup (July 2, 2017)

Happy Canada Day and a Fourth of July everyone!

Thanks for checking out the Weekly Learning Roundup. These bite-sized, weekly posts are designed to give you a quick hit of interesting learnings and articles I came across this week.

It’s a motley assortment of tips, resources, and links that will hopefully give you a bit of inspiration for the upcoming week. Enjoy!

What I’m reading —

This Is How To Have An Amazing Relationship: 7 Secrets From Research by Eric Barker

Well written, well researched piece on relationships. The author does a great job simplifying the keys to a great relationship – and they’re all fairly simple in theory. In particular, “express appreciation frequently” and “support your partner’s goals” are two secrets that I need to work on.

A quote that’s inspiring me —

It is a simple matter of what you will do when the chips are down, my friend. When the fat lady is singing. When the walls are falling in, and the sky is dark, and the ground is rumbling. In that moment our actions will define us. And it makes no difference whether you are being watched by Allah, Jesus, Buddha, or whether you are not. On cold days a man can see his breath, on a hot day he can’t. On both occasions, the man breathes.

— Zadie Smith

“ah-ha!” thought of the week —

Keep your phone off your desk.

An easy way to increase your focus during the day is removing distractions from your immediate area. And one of the easiest ways to be distracted is by your phone. Let’s say you see a text come into your phone and you take 2 minutes to send a response. While it might seem like a 2-minute pause, the actual cost needs to include the time it takes for your brain to get back on task, which takes, according to a study, is upwards of 25 minutes.

If possible, keep your phone off your desk. Yes, disabling notifications is good but putting the phone away from your casual reach is way better.

Product I’m loving —

Inbox by Gmail

I highlighted Inbox by Gmail back in the February 28 Roundup but it’s worth bringing it back again for another review because they’ve made some key improvements that I love.

First, the Bundles feature has really made my life easier. Not only can I now categorize emails based on Social, Updates, Promos, etc., I’m able to bring them into my inbox just once in the morning to review. I don’t need to keep tabs on these categories multiple times a day and knowing they’ll arrive once in the morning at 7 a.m. makes it easier to stay focused on the right emails.

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Second, the Trips category in the bundles is amazing. It not only automatically recognizes when I’m going on a trip through flight or hotel confirmations, but I can also add certain emails to the specific Trip if it’s missing. This is really helpful when I’m on the fly and need to access certain information right in my email. (I’ve used tools like Trip Case which are also great but I love the convenience of this information right in my inbox better).

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Featured image by Jonathan Denney.

As always, thanks for checking out this Weekly Learnings Roundup. Follow me on Twitter @peternakamura to see the full list of articles that I share on a daily basis.

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Weekly Learnings

Weekly Learnings Roundup (Apr 3, 2016)

Welcome to the first April 2016 edition of the Weekly Learnings Roundup! Happy spring… or, at least here in Toronto, happy mid winter? We’re getting a nice little blast of snow this weekend to kick off April.

Lots of interesting links this week. The two I want to highlight are from HBR and Inc 42. Both around organizational development. The HBR article, A Manager’s Job Is Making Sure Employees Have a Life Outside Work, is super relevant for anyone working in Silicon Valley or any particularly demanding job. It’s really nice to hear from VCs who believe in the importance of a balanced life and a 80 hour workweek is not an ideal or a badge of honour. The Inc 42 article comes from Kevin Kruse who has written extensively about Employee Engagement. I love the way he simplifies the philosophy of engagement into a single sentence. I won’t spoil what it is – but I think every organization should consider making it their mantra.

That’s about it from me this week. If you like this post, please leave a comment below with your thoughts or give it a like. It’s nice to know that I’m providing some morsel of value through these posts. Have a great week!

Favourite links from the week:

Organizational Development

A Manager’s Job Is Making Sure Employees Have a Life Outside Work (Harvard Business Review)

The One Sentence Employee Engagement Plan For Startups (Inc 42)

Career development most important driver for employee engagement (Workplace Insight)

28 Years of Stock Market Data Shows a Link Between Employee Satisfaction and Long-Term Value (Harvard Business Review)

Enough of the ‘why’ on employee engagement, give me some ‘how’ (Fast Casual)

This is What Engaged Organizations Do Differently (Huffington Post)

Personal Growth

On The Shortness of Life: An Introduction to Seneca (Tim Ferriss)

Why You Need a “Deloading” Phase in Life (Tim Ferriss)

Random

A Cambridge professor on how to stop being so easily manipulated by misleading statistics (Quartz)

6 Reasons Platforms Fail (Harvard Business Review)

What you think about Millennials says a lot about you, nothing about them (Boing Boing)

Productivity tip of the week:

Using your email as a to-do list

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Here’s my email inbox setup with tasks like a to-do list.

I’ve tried a lot of to-do list systems in my life. Count me in as having been a user of Evernote, Trello, Things, Post-It Notes, etc. Despite my best attempts at trying to incorporate them in my life, the habit just didn’t stick. Now, I know a ton of people who have incorporated to-do list apps and systems (e.g. Getting Things Done) successfully. But the biggest issue for me in incorporating a to-do list was the time it took to manage the list. I probably spent more time managing and organizing my lists than actually getting things done. On top of that, I was trying to incorporate a system that I didn’t use other than for the purpose of organizing the to-do list. Which mean I was having to go out of my way to manage my to-do list.

Over the past year, I’ve switched my to-do list items from the aforementioned list applications to my email. “Email? It’s already cluttered enough in there. Why would I make it a to-do list as well?” It’s a fair point. But I would argue that email is probably one of the most used everyday tools. I’m basically on email already so why wouldn’t I try to maximize my value from it?

Now, if you’re someone who is dealing with email overwhelm, this tactic may not be for you. However, if you’re someone who is consistently reaching Inbox 0 to 10, this system can be ideal. Besides, your email inbox IS a to-do list already anyways. You need to reply, defer, or delete emails coming in. Much like how you need to complete, defer, or cancel tasks.

Next time you have something to do, try writing an email to yourself starting with the subject line “Task: (enter task name)”. It’ll be way better than having to flip-flop between all the other tools you use.

Product/service I’m loving:

FollowUp.cc

I’ve talked about this service before and I still believe hands-down it is one of the most useful add-ons I have for my email. FollowUp.cc allows you to follow-up with emails without any manual searching through inboxes for you. All you need to do is put a specific date or amount of time in the BCC column of your email (e.g. “Sunday, March 31st” or “1 week from now”) and have the email pop back up in your inbox at the requested time.

It’s an immensely helpful tool for me when I’m sending client emails or looping back on tasks that I’ve sent to my team members. It’s even helpful with personal emails with friends and family that I want to make sure I hear a response from. The less you have the remember the better it is. FollowUp.cc lets you do that.

Documentaries/books I’m enjoying:

Built to Sell by John Warrilow

This is an awesome book for anyone building a business that they want to sell at some point. It’s written in a realistic story format which makes it a breazy read and highly informative. Even as a non business owner myself, the tips are eye-opening and very helpful in understanding what makes a business sustainable and attractive to buyers. There is knowledge in this book that you likely won’t be able to find anywhere else unless you go through the process yourself. Highly recommended!

A quote that’s inspiring me:

“To escape criticism: do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.” —Elbert Hubbard

As always, thank you to those that liked, re-tweeted, or commented on my Tweets. See you on next week’s round up!

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Weekly Learnings

Weekly Learnings Roundup (Mar 13, 2016)

Hey there! Thanks for checking out the Weekly Learning Roundup. These bite-sized, weekly posts are designed to give you a “hit” of interesting learnings from the past week.

This week, we explore articles around the benefits of checking email first thing the morning, how sensory deprivation tanks (i.e. “float tanks”) can help with stress, and how the Millennial generation can get their earnings back on track. Lots of other great articles too around employee engagement – which seemed to be a hot topic this week.

Notable links from the week:

Actually, You Should Check Email First Thing in the Morning (Harvard Business Review)

The stupid, avoidable mistakes that make good employees leave (Quartz)

Eliminate Stress With Sensory Deprivation (Bulletproof Executive)

How to 10X Your Results, One Tiny Tweak at a Time (Tim Ferriss)

Can Millennials Undo What the Recession Did to Their Earnings? (The Atlantic)

The Culture Within: How Employee Engagement Impacts Customer Experience (1to1 Media)

Are sterile goals preventing viral employee engagement in your business? (SmartCompany)

Productivity tip of the week:

The Pomodoro Technique

I wrote about the Pomodoro Technique in a previous post but I think it’s worth revisiting it because it’s such a useful technique. The premise is simple: work for 25 minutes and take a 5 minute break. Repeat until you reach your 3rd or 4th pomodoro and take a 15-minute break. It’s a useful technique because it gives you the space to focus on a task for a certain time period with a guaranteed break at the end. It also lowers the hurdle for you to begin a certain task because you don’t necessarily need to finish the entire task – just do 25 minutes and stop.

Personally, I’m a fan of a 15-minute pomodoro compared to 25 minutes. It lowers the starting hurdle even lower to overcome the initial procrastination. It’s also surprising how much you can get done in 15 minutes and allows you to see how much work you can actually get done in such a short amount of time. I currently use the Pomodoro Technique during my morning routine – 15 minutes for reading a book, 15 minutes for checking personal emails, 15 minutes for working on my blog, etc. – which helps to prevent things from getting carried away.

For more information about the Pomodoro Technique, check out this post on Lifehacker. There are also a ton of pomodoro apps available on Android and iPhone so getting started is really easy.

Product/service I’m loving:

Amazon Subscribe & Save

I’m all about reducing the amount of time that I spend doing errands and increasing the time I have available to doing things that I enjoy doing. Part of making this strategy happen is by using a service like Amazon Subscribe & Save. Instead of having to go to the store to pickup toilet paper, laundry detergent, paper towels, etc. Subscribe & Save allows you to order the items that you need and have them delivered to your door without any additional cost for shipping. In addition to that, you get 15% off for everything in your order (as long as you order 5 items per month) which can add up to significant savings.

Aside from the the cost, though, to me it’s the amount of time and mental energy you save from using a service like this. The less time you have to worry about picking up a 12-pack of toilet paper, the better it is for you. They’ve also got a pretty wide selection of items you can choose from including pantry items, baby care items, and even vitamins and other nutritional supplements.

Documentaries/books I’m enjoying:

The Tao of Seneca: Practical Letters from a Stoic Master, Volume 1

Over the last 6 months, I’ve heard a lot about Stoic philosophy and how entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley to executives and players/executives from the New England Patriots in the NFL apply it to achieve a grounded, high-performance mindset. Tim Ferriss is a big proponent of Stoic maxims which further piqued my interest in it. Recently, he released an audiobook which compiles the hundreds of letters Seneca wrote that helped clarify many aspects of the Stoic philosophy.

For me, The Tao of Seneca: Practical Letters from a Stoic Master, has been a fantastic introduction to the world of Stoicism. The letters are fairly easy to understand and the lessons are incredibly powerful. I find myself thinking how I can apply the lessons from the letters constantly as I listen through it. I highly recommend it if you’re at all curious about the Stoic philosophy or about living better and truer to who you are.

A quote that’s inspiring me:

“Ponder for a long time whether you shall admit a given person to your friendship; but when you have decided to admit him, welcome him with all your heart and soul. Speak as boldly with him as with yourself.” – Seneca

As always, thank you to those that liked, re-tweeted, or commented on my Tweets. See you on next week’s round up!