Ever since Alex pointed me to Keyboard Maestro, I’ve been thinking up new ways to use it to shave a few seconds – or minutes – off repetitive, mundane tasks. The latest: switching Bluetooth on and off from the keyboard.
You track your time religiously, don’t you? Absolutely. Me too. And thanks to our meticulously-completed timesheets, we’re able to bill clients quickly; tell which projects we’ve underestimated on, and which ones aren’t taking us as long as we thought; and improve our estimating accuracy over the long run.
Yep, you and I track our time religiously… except when we don’t. A crisis comes up, you’re working overtime, and you can either fill in your timesheet or squeeze in enough time to ship a quick update to the client and a request for overnight help to a supplier. Not to worry, you tell yourself; you’ll remember how you spent the hours today and enter them later.
Or maybe it isn’t your fault: the spreadsheet you’re using to track your hours got corrupted, one of the kids put a powerful magnet on your backup disk (“But mommy, it makes such a funny noise!”) and the cloud-based backup company you use disappeared overnight, replaced by a salmon cannery whose occupants insist they’ve been there for 20 years. (“What is this ‘KloudStorajPro’ of which you speak? I am a simple salmon canner, and know nothing of peak traffic prediction algorithms, hardware deployment strategies and Series B financing for infrastructure-as-a-service startups.”)
Whatever the scenario, you’re a week behind. Maybe more. And those crystal-clear memories of how you spent your time have melted into a featureless puddle of damned-if-I-know. Now you’re going to have to play detective, and reconstruct the past week or two – kind of the way amnesia victim Leonard had to do in the movie Memento. (Hopefully, the body count in your investigation will be lower.)
The obvious thing to check is your calendar, which can identify appointments, meetings and events, and your task list, especially if it tells you when you ticked items off as complete. But that may still only fill in part of the picture.
If you aren’t sure where to turn next, here are five tools for your temporal detective’s kit that can help you close the case quickly, easily and – most important of all – accurately:
- Email: Your email outbox may be your single richest source of information on what projects were occupying your attention on a particular day. But it probably won’t capture everything. If your email client supports it, set up a smart mailbox that searches for both incoming and outgoing mail between the dates you’re tracking. Then scroll through and see what jogs your memory.
- Computer file dates: Your computer logs the dates files were created, last modified and last opened. And not just work documents. Things like chat logs can shine a nice bright light on what you were up to on a given day. Search for files created, last opened or last modified on the dates in question, and see what you – or at least your apps – were up to.
- Cloud file dates: Don’t just look on your own computer. How about the files and documents you store online? What did you save to Google Docs that day, or upload to Slideshare?
- Social networks: Did you post anything to Twitter or Facebook that could hint at what you were doing? Ask a LinkedIn question? Check in somewhere on Foursquare or Yelp?
- Browser history: This is my secret weapon; we do a lot of work through our browsers, from online research to using web apps. If this was an episode of CSI, the browser history would be what I’d be taking into the interrogation room with my chief suspect. (“You’re crazy if you think I can remember what I was up to at three in the afternoon nine days ago!” “Maybe I am crazy. Crazy like a… Firefox.” No, no, wait – “You think my client’s going on a trip down memory lane with you, detective?” “Not a trip… a Safari.”)
5. Research speakers’ Twitter usernames beforehand. Keep them on a piece of paper or notepad for easy reference.
6. Confirm the event hashtag. Find out what the official hashtag for the event is, and make sure you use that watch out for typos. If there’s isn’t one, make a nice short one up check it’s not in use first.
7. Set up an automatically-updating search for your hashtag in your Twitter client. Since you are most likely on a mobile, an app like Hootsuite, Tweetdeck or Seeismic is really useful as they allow for you to save columns for individual searches.
8. Check whether your client allows you to automatically add a hashtag to tweets. It’ll save you some time and aches in your fingers. I use the Twitter app on my iPhone, which does this when you tweet from the search screen.
There’s some great advice here that you could easily turn into a live-tweeter’s checklist. If you’re having a staff member or volunteer live-tweet your next event, you could do a lot worse than point them to this post.
Mitch Joel has a lot to share with the world – including some brilliant insights and expertise on marketing, communications and community – so it’s now wonder he’s found so many ways to do it. He has a long-standing blog, a podcast that just passed the 300-episode milestone, a book… and a well-deserved reputation as one of the best keynote speakers around.
In our conversation, Mitch talks about what matters the most to him about social media and speaking, and the sheer miracle of being able to press “publish” on a blog post and share your knowledge with the world. “These are such early days, and we haven’t spent the time to appreciate the tremendous canvas we have in the palm of our hands,” he says.
Some links from our conversation:
- Mitch Joel’s blog and podcast
- @MitchJoel on Twitter
- Mitch Joel’s U.S. and Canadian speakers bureaus
- the TED 2012 Conference
- Six Pixels of Separation: “the first book to integrate digital marketing, social media, personal branding, and entrepreneurship in a clear, entertaining, and instructive manner that everyone can understand and apply”
The image on the right is a doodle I did a year or two ago.
I’m flying back from the Nonprofit Technology Conference (it was a great time – more on that soon) and we leveled off a few minutes ago.
So I thought I’d try something. I usually sketch in those minutes between the flight crew saying “Turn off your mobile devices! They are tools of the devil! Yes, you in 24A, I do mean you!” and that sweet moment when they permit us to go back to our productively wired lives (“Buh-CAAWWWWW!” “Oink, oink, oink.”).
Looking at my sketchbook just now, I wondered: could I post all of those sketches using only my iPhone? Continue reading
“Why won’t they blog?”
That’s a lament I hear from community managers, social media practitioners and communications directors who are begging, cajoling, coaxing and wheedling coworkers, trying to get them to post something to their organization’s or company’s blog.
It can be tempting to throw your hands up. “If your team hates blogging, you need a new team,” suggests one post. The author adds, “They don’t really hate blogging. They hate their job: and that’s a problem beyond the fact that you can’t get them to blog.”
True, someone who hates their job is unlikely to blog about it – at least, not in a way that would make their employer happy. But that isn’t the only reason that people say they hate blogging. Here are a few others… and some ways you can respond before you give up on your coworkers:
Do they hate blogging… or do they hate the time it takes?
If your workplace is like many others, employees have seen their workloads grow, with less support for getting the job done. If you’re expecting them to crank out blog posts, but you haven’t taken anything off their plates to compensate, you may want to look at some adjustments.
Do they hate blogging… or do they hate the kind of blogging you’re asking them to do?
Are you expecting detailed, lengthy posts from busy people? Consider starting off by asking for contributions that have a much lower footprint on their time and attention. Are you asking them to write puff pieces about what a fantastic organization they work for? Give them the latitude to be more authentic, and to talk more about their own work passions without having to pump up your brand.
Do they hate blogging… or do they hate doing something they don’t think they’re good at?
Have you offered training – not just in the technical details of your blogging platform, but in how to write blog posts quickly and easily? Do you encourage them to start out small – for instance, with one-paragraph contributions to a longer post – and work their way up? Have you considered an informal peer mentoring system, group workshops, or assigning a communications specialist to help them write their first few posts?
Do they hate blogging… or do they hate being exposed to the public?
Some people love being in the public eye (cough). Others find the idea intrusive, or even terrifying. Try finding an area of their work they feel more comfortable sharing with the world. Give them the option of starting out by blogging on the intranet, where their exposure is limited to their coworkers.
Do they hate blogging… or do they hate doing something they think is pointless?
More to the point, something that’s pointless to them. Look at it from their point of view: maybe you’re asking them to put their urgent work on hold so you can get some content for a trendy blog they suspect will be a flash in the pan. You can – and should – talk to them about the blog’s significance for the organization. But you should also figure out how the blog can advance things they care about, like a professional passion, their profile within the organization, or a cause they’re committed to.
Do they hate blogging… or do they hate being the first on the dance floor?
You’ll often find it harder to get contributors to a new communications vehicle than an established one. And even if the blog has been around for a while, people may not want to be the first ones from their department or job function to post. But there are still ways to break the ice – for instance, by writing a series of posts based on brief interviews with a few of the kind of individuals you’d like to see contributing. That can be the spark they need to jump in.
Do they hate blogging… or do they hate, well, you?
Okay, not hate. But could your relationship be stronger? Do you have bridges to build with other departments before you can start asking for their help? Have you worked as hard to understand them as you would with an external audience you want to reach?
Do they hate blogging… or do they hate what it means in your workplace’s culture?
Is yours an organization that welcomes honest conversation, or are people legitimately worried about inadvertently saying the wrong thing? Do you have a “tall poppy” culture where it’s safer to keep your head down and blend in? If you’re having trouble getting one or two people to participate, then maybe – maybe – the problem’s on their end. But widespread resistance to blogging may alert you to deeper issues. If that ends up spurring your organization to make badly needed changes, then that refusal to blog may turn out to a valuable contribution after all.
There’s a lot I like about OS X 10.7 Lion. But one big problem I’ve had is persistent difficulty logging into iChat. It’ll say “Offline”; I choose “Available”… and nothing happens. No feedback, no error message, just a messaging client that stays offline.
But I’ve found a fix (at least, one that works for me). Just force-quit the imagent process; it’ll restart automatically. Now see if you can log in.
If your reaction to that is “force-what-the-who?”, then I’ve made a quick minute-and-a-half video showing you how:
SANDDE – which stands for Stereoscopic ANimation Drawing DEvice - bills itself as “the world’s first freehand stereoscopic 3D animation software”. What that boils down to is you sit in front of a sensor, moving a stylus in the air while you view a screen through 3D glasses, and watch as a three-dimensional drawing takes shape.
Munro Ferguson, who demoed the system, walked me through some very basic line drawing. (One fun aspect to all of this: the controller for this insanely sophisticated device is the stylus for a Wacom Bamboo, their consumer-grade drawing tablet.) Between rotating the pen to alter the line width, and moving it forward and backward to achieve depth as well as my usual 2D drawing, I found myself concentrating harder than I have in ages.
But I was also more thoroughly absorbed in the sheer process of drawing than I have been in a long time, too. This feels like a completely new medium, and not one where I feel nearly as sure of myself as I do with a piece of paper and a Pigma Micron.
I’m not just talking about technical skill which I gather starts to gel after about a week of using it. I mean the graphic language of 3D compared to 2D, and the way you tell a joke or a story in pictures. Can a gag cartoon – which relies so heavily on that sudden spark of realization and unexpected connection – work as well in a 3D world, which seems to lend itself more to exploration and unfolding?
If you’re in Vancouver for SIGGRAPH, then drop by the Emily Carr booth and see what you think.