Weekly Learnings Roundup (May 17, 2016)

Weekly Learnings Roundup (May 17, 2016)

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.

This week, I really appreciated reading through Charles Duhigg’s post on What daily habits can someone adopt to lead a more productive life? via Quora. He doesn’t provide any specific habits that will make you productive, but he does recommend we all develop a “contemplation routine”. From Duhigg’s perspective, having a routine to regularly connect ourselves with the bigger picture – our priorities – is an important habit to develop.

This activity can take many forms whether it’s meditation, journaling, going for a walk, etc. and the intention is to take a moment to contemplate how the work we do that day, week, or month connects to the bigger picture. I think this is great advice and highly valuable. If you haven’t read Duhigg’s first book, The Power of Habit, it’s well worth the read and may help you with the implementation of this type of routine.

Productivity tip of the week:

Weekly Big Rocks

To complement Duhigg’s recommendation for a contemplation routine, something I do every Sunday is setup my Weekly Big Rocks. You may be familiar with this phrase from Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The idea behind it is simple: set your priorities (your big rocks) first. When you spend time planning out the important tasks for the week, you focus on what’s most important rather than just diving into the minutia. Here’s a quick video of what that looks like.

Every week I look at the major roles I play in my life such as being a team leader at my organization, a friend, a boyfriend, a blogger, etc. and setup 1 or 2 big rocks to accomplish in that role for the week. It helps me look ahead at the week and schedule in the time to make sure I accomplish those goals. While not every week will be one where I have a major priority for every role, having the awareness that I’m skipping a major priority for that role that week helps me loop back at it the following week. I hope to write more about this in a longer post.

A quote that’s inspiring me:

I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times. – Bruce Lee

Product or service I’m loving:

humangear GoToob

When you’re traveling and need a reliable container for your liquids, this is the best container I’ve found yet. The tubes are really easy to fill and the liquids you put in pour out very consistently. I travel with MCT oil when I travel and I put them in these tubes. I’ve never had a spill or leakage thanks to these guys. They’re a bit more expensive than your typical container but well worth it considering they’re BPA free too.

Favourite links from the week:

Employee Engagement

Four Myths Most Bosses Believe About Employee Engagement (Fast Company)

What Enterprise IT Leaders Can Learn From the NBA About Employee Engagement (Samsung)

Health & Well Being

Why The Biggest Loser is Everything Wrong with Weight Loss (Bulletproof)

VIDEO: What really matters at the end of life (TED)

A Bank of England analyst wants people to use mindfulness to be happier with less (Quartz)

What daily habits can someone adopt to lead a more productive life? (Quora)

The Secrets of Gymnastic Strength Training (Tim Ferriss)

Millennials

How millennials earn success with struggle (CNN)

This new ETF demonstrates Wall Street’s unbridled hunger for millennial money (MarketWatch)

What Millennials Want from a New Job (Harvard Business Review)

 

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

Weekly Learnings Roundup (Apr 24, 2016)

Weekly Learnings Roundup (Apr 24, 2016)

Hey there!

Thanks for checking out the Weekly Learning Roundup. This week, I want to highlight Harvard Business Review’s piece on A Step-by-Step Guide to Structuring Better Meetings. Many of us have experienced poorly planned and executed meetings; all it takes is a little bit of forethought and planning to make a meeting much more effective for everyone involved. A couple of ideas that I’ll be using moving forward is address the urgent issues right from the begining of the meeting and scheduling “overflow” time in case there is additional discussion time required – only with team members who it concerns. Check it out – you may find some useful tips in the article along with all the others listed below.

Have a great week!

Favourite links from the week:

Leadership

A Step-by-Step Guide to Structuring Better Meetings (Harvard Business Review)

A Mini-Guide to Not Being Frustrated All the Time (zen habits)

How Working in Teams Builds Employee Engagement (Business 2 Community)

Brain Science

10 Common Brain Health and Brain Training Myths, Debunked (Huffington Post)

Creativity Is Much More Than 10,000 Hours of Deliberate Practice (Scientific American)

How to Parent Like a Master Strategist [Q&A] (Scientific American)

Brain Training – Can We Really Enhance Our Cognitive Skills? (Brain Blogger)

New Evidence Points to Personal Brain Signatures (Scientific American)

Other

Make decisions with millennials in mind, researcher urges Toronto (CBC News)

Justin Trudeau’s Canada is the best hope for the global economy (Quartz)

A 15-ton computer aims to provide clean water, electricity, and the internet to thousands of Africans (Quartz)

Productivity tip of the week:

Creating a packing list template on Evernote

This week, I’m off to New Orleans for the Collision conference. As part of my prep process, I need to make sure I’m packed and ready to go. So I’m using a packing list template I made in Evernote to help me keep track of all the items I need to pack. I specifically like Evernote as the home of my packing list template because you can create a check-box which makes it easy to confirm whether you’ve packed the specific item yet. It’s also quite easy to duplicate the template note and make it specific for the destination.

Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 4.06.48 PM
My New Orleans packing checklist

Yes, not brain science I’m doing here but creating checklists for activities you know you’ll be repeating (e.g. traveling) is well worth the time. Hope this helps!

Product or service I’m loving:

Day One Journal

I recently began incorporating a reflection period every morning as part of my morning ritual. I give myself two options to reflect: leave a message with my therapist via TalkSpace or write for 5-10 minutes in my Day One Journal. Giving myself the option to speak or write out my thoughts makes it a lot easier for me to get started with my reflection. Often times I find myself resistant to digging into my feelings but having the option lowers the starting hurdle just enough for me to get started.

Either way, the preferred tool I use for writing down my thoughts is the Day One Journal. I know some people like to write in a physical journal but I prefer typing. I’m a much faster typer than a writer and I feel like I can get more of my thoughts out by typing them out. After all, to me, seeing the thoughts and feelings somewhere outside of my head is the biggest benefit.

Day One Journal has a simple, beautiful interface. It has the ability to password protect your journal. It can also allow you to add photos to your posts if you want to add any additional context. I particularly like how it tags your location with the post to see where you were when you wrote a particular entry.

Reflection is a key component of becoming a better version of yourself so carve out the time to make this happen. It’ll give you a better understanding who you really are and allow you to look at the successes and challenges you face in a more objective way.

Books, documentaries, or podcast episodes I’m enjoying:

Cooked

A beautiful look at the history of food in our civilization. Michael Pollen, who wrote the book The Ominvore’s Dilemma, navigates the viewers through four themes: Fire, Water, Air, and Earth. If you’re interested at all in food preparation or the history of food, this is a visually stimulating and informative documentary. Available on Netflix.

A quote that’s inspiring me:

“Your world is a living expression of how you are using—and have used—your mind.” —Earl Nightingale

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

Weekly Learnings Roundup (Apr 3, 2016)

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!

Weekly Learnings Roundup (Mar 27, 2016)

Weekly Learnings Roundup (Mar 27, 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 I had over the previous week.

This week’s learnings roundup is packed with awesome links. In particular, I loved James Clear’s new blog post around The Evolution of Anxiety – how we, humans, have brains wired for an “immediate return environment” when we actually live in a “delayed return environment”. It’s a great awareness-raising piece around how your brain works and how to hack it to excel in a delayed return environment.

What I’m reading this week:

What Happens When Millennials Run the Workplace? (New York Times)

The Employee Engagement Problem No One Is Talking About (Business 2 Community)

[Audio] How to Avoid the Busy Trap (and Other Misuses of Your Time) (Tim Ferriss)

[Video] A comedian has the perfect response to people who call millennials entitled and narcissistic (Vox)

How Will Young People Choose Their Religion? (The Atlantic)

In Search of Forty Winks (The New Yorker)

[Video] How to stay calm when you know you’ll be stressed (TED)

How we used to die; how we die now (Exopermaculture)

The Evolution of Anxiety: Why We Worry and What to Do About It (James Clear)

How to Get Busy Influencers to Share Your Stuff (Tim Ferriss)

Productivity tip of the week:

The Seinfeld Strategy

You may have heard of this one. When Jerry Seinfeld was asked by a young comedian for the #1 tip to become a successful comedian, Seinfeld told him to write one joke every single day. Then, draw a big “X” on that day on a calendar and make sure the comedian did that every single day.

It’s a powerful strategy because it makes “become a successful comedian” much more tangible – write one joke every single day. It also reduces the potential of procrastination because one joke is much more attainable than “success” or the “best standup set ever”, for example. If you have a goal that’s going to take some time to realize, consider adopting the Seinfeld Strategy, it might help you take the small steps necessary to achieve a big goal.

Check out The Hustle Calendar for the calendar I use to track my progress.

Product/service I’m loving:

The Hustle Calendar

IMG_0255

The Hustle Calendar (CDN $28.99) is probably one of my favourite tools that I use to help me stay accountable and keep on track with my goals. It gives you an all-in-one view of all the days in the year which allows you to keep track of daily progress you make towards a certain goal. For me, this year, it’s spending 15 minutes everyday on this blog (that’s my real calendar above). It’s a great tool to be able to notice trends on certain days when I don’t get around to completing my goal (see the days without the “X”s) and be proud of the streaks I’ve been able to put together so far.

If you’ve got a goal this year to achieve and you’re willing to put together a small amount of attention to it everyday, pickup this calendar. It’ll be pretty inspiring how much you’ll be able to achieve over a month, quarter, and a year. It’s also really difficult to break a streak when you’ve got a good one going!

A quote that’s inspiring me:

A good man will not waste himself upon mean and discreditable work or be busy merely for the sake of being busy. Neither will he, as you imagine, become so involved in ambitious schemes that he will have continually to endure their ebb and flow.

– Seneca

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

Weekly Learnings Roundup (Mar 13, 2016)

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!

Weekly Learnings Roundup (Feb 28, 2016)

Weekly Learnings Roundup (Feb 28, 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 I had over the previous 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!

Productivity tip of the week:

Smiling for 10 seconds at the start of your day

This week, I decided to add a wrinkle to my meditation practice. After I finished my meditation, I took 10 seconds to smile. Most of the time I needed to fake my smile but just the act of smiling put me immediately into a good mood. In fact, the rest of the day felt lighter and more playful just because I took a moment to smile. Try it out yourself sometime this week. You might be surprised!

A quote that’s inspiring me:

“When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everyone will respect you.” —Lao Tzu

Product/service I’m loving:

Bulletproof Coffee

I’ve been drinking Bulletproof Coffee for the better part of the year now and it’s been such a revelation for me that I can’t go without it every morning. Bulletproof Coffee is a mixture of high-quality coffee, grass-fed butter, and concentrated coconut/palm oil. It’s a powerful alternative to regular coffee as it puts my body into a state of ketosis and a feeling of consistent energy all morning.

Documentaries/books I’m enjoying:

Amy – A look into the tragic life of Amy Winehouse. Whether you lover her music or not, it’s a deeply moving documentary. Nominated for an Oscar this season as well.

In The Heart of The Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick – The incredible story of the whaleship Essex and the incredible challenges the crew faced after being shipwrecked in the middle of the Pacific. So many lessons on leadership and human resilience. Definitely worth a read.

Top links shared on Twitter:

On Employee Engagement: Life’s a Bucket (Inquirer.net)

Canadian Millennials Sick Of Their Jobs: 55 Per Cent Want Career Change This Year (Huffington Post)

McDonald’s secret sauce for employee engagement (The Globe and Mail)

Use Digital Technology to Improve Employee Engagement (Business 2 Community)

Effective Strategies to Measure Employee Engagement (Huffington Post)

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

Peter’s Links of the Week (Jan. 24-30)

Peter’s Links of the Week (Jan. 24-30)

[Assorted] Links of the week:

Employee engagement – improved performance (The Telegraph)

Luis von Ahn on Learning Languages, Building Companies, and Changing the World (The Tim Ferriss Show)

As Boomers Retire, Companies Prepare Millennials for Leadership Roles (BloombergBusiness)

Productivity tip of the week:

Apple has this cool feature called “Spotlight Search” that allows you to search a myriad of items in your computer. You can also use Spotlight to do some quick calculations. Hold command + spacebar and the Spotlight will activate. From there type in any equation (e.g. 837*30). You’ll see that the solution pops up right in the search bar. Cool eh?

Quote of the week:

As long as you live, keep learning how to live. – Seneca

Product/service I’m loving:

Duolingo. If you haven’t heard of it, you may have been living under a rock over the past 4 years. This is perhaps the best language learning tool that I’ve come across to date. If you’re trying to learn a new language or improve upon a language you already know, this is worth downloading. Oh, and not to mention it’s free.

The co-founder of Duolingo, Luis von Ahn, appeared on The Tim Ferriss Show earlier this month. Check out the link above for the interview. There’s some fascinating stories about Luis and how Duolingo came to be.

Videos/documentaries I’m digging:

I just binge watched Making a Muderer on Netflix last week. If you enjoyed the Serial podcast series, you’ll enjoy this show. It’s a story that will take you in multiple directions and ultimately question how our very own criminal justice system works.

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