Find a common thread to tie unrelated jobs to your career plans. (via @Lifehacker) This article was the impetus for Monday’s post, Don’t Waste Your Day Job. If you’re working a job that’s not necessarily your dream, you need to read this:

Whether you worked retail, then helped a friend start a corner store, and delivered pizza at night, and now you’re going in for an office job, you can highlight how retail helped you learn to work with difficult people, how building that store from scratch got you familiar with the pace and stress of a fledgling, startup business, and how delivering pizzas at night taught you a thing or two about dedication and off-hours work.

 

How to set up your desk: an introduction. (via @MattPerman) God bless the What’s Best Next guy. Matt makes me feel better about being obsessed over stuff like this. Fellow org nerds, unite.

I don’t want to say here that there is only one right way to set up your desk. There are some pretty tricky situations given the setups that are often thrust upon us, such as odd-shaped cubicles or, if we have an office, uncooperative room layouts. And personal preference also plays a huge role as well.

The problem I found, though, is that these factors lead many to give the advice of “just do what works for you.” Which really gives no guidance at all. The result, I found, was that I had to think about my desk a lot more than I wanted.

 

Guy covers “All By Myself” during an insanely long layover. (via @22words) This will make you rethink your next night alone at the airport.

Think about the things that end up on your to do list every day: there are emails to answer, phone calls to return, a hundred little tasks that compete for your attention, and probably a half dozen major projects that need your focus.

Out of all of those things, what’s on the list that only you can do? What are the things that most need your brain, your vision, your passion, influence, and direction?

For years I’ve struggled with trying to do it all…doing things that I’m not great at, but doing them anyway because I’m s’posed to. Thankfully, God has surrounded me with a great team who know when I’m operating out of my zone. I have an administrative assistant who is gutsy enough to say, “You stink at that. Let me handle it.”

And because people on my team do what they do, they free me to do what do.

So what’s on your to do list that you don’t need to do?

And what’s on the “do what only you can do” list?

When you figure that out, you begin to operate out of the giftings that God has given you. Crank up your “you do” list today.

 

For more on this subject, read the helpful and handy little book The Next Generation Leader by Andy Stanley.

Leaders Light the Way. (via @JasonYoungLive) A post by a new friend over at his newly-launched blog. If you’re a guest services geek, go ahead and add Jason to your RSS feed. Trust me.

1396360931764 I recall being in the middle of significant changes in my own area of responsibility. I shared a new vision with my staff and 850+ volunteers. As we rolled out the plan, there were elements that worked really well and other elements that created pain for both the team member and my staff. Having been in situations like this several times, there are five helpful reminders I have used and continue to do so when communicating vision with volunteer team members. and staff.

10 Things Organized People Do Every Day. (HT @BradHoffmann) I wanna be this when I grow up.

6. They spend 10 minutes at the end of each day tidying up. It’s easy for your space to get a little messy as the day progresses, and in all likelihood, by the end of the day you may have accumulated a pile of dirty clothing in one corner and scattered papers in another. Set a timer and commit to tidying up for 10 minutes. It will make you feel accomplished, up your productivity for the next day, and you’ll sleep better too.

Evernote’s Espresso Bar. (video) (HT @evernote) I share this not only because the concept is cool, but because of the CEO’s attitude towards serving his team members:

The original idea is that we would hire people to staff it, but when the espresso machine actually showed up, I thought, it’s just not the right image, [to hire baristas to run it]…so I thought the thing to do is now that we have this very expensive espresso machine is to staff it with the world’s most expensive baristas. …All of our [executive level employees] are required to serve at least one hour a week.

Windows

My firstborn, Jacob, and I grabbed lunch at a local pizza place a few days ago. Without knowing it, we were walking in to dinner and a show: a window washer who was wowing everyone in the place with his mad skills.

He was super fast: he cleaned massive picture windows in no time flat. He was super talented: one minute he’d be washing with one hand and squeegeeing with the other, the next he would have both the brush and the squeegee in the same hand, knocking out the same work in half the time.

And all the while, he was keeping up a running dialogue with anyone who’d stop to talk: “I work fast because I hate to work. I want to get back home and get on the couch!”

For all of his anti-work braggadocio, I have a feeling that Mr. Window Washer likes his job a little more than he was letting on. He worked with a smile, he added a bit of theatrical flair, and he left the glass sparkling when he finished.

Today is Monday. Most of us are going back to our 40 or 50 or 60 hour workweeks. The question: how can you turn what you have to do into what you love to do?

Loving your work takes work. It’s not impossible, but it is countercultural. How can you highlight the work of God in the work you’ve been given?

Discuss amongst yourselves.

Outside-In Approach to Design and ROI of Patient Experiences(via @Zhecho_BeyondP) It’s a long article, but there are nuggets in there well worth the read. What can a hospital’s MRI machine teach you about your weekend guest experience?

Dietz went in and designed an experience to appeal to children and overcome the feeling of “fear”. He and his team created “the adventure series”. Before the child goes to the scanner room, it will be told that it’s about to go on an adventure. Doug’s team then redecorated the room so it looks like the kid is about to step into a “canoe” and to be careful not to “rock the boat” and if it stayed still it may even see fish jumping on top of the boat. The design also made use of other human senses e.g. smell and sound. They injected water and lavender smells in the room and as they had painted a waterfall on the wall they played the distant soft sound of water running which we all know is calming. In a word they designed a complete experience.

Automating Small Decisions(via @trenttsd) Like life hacks? Here’s the reason they work:

…our lives are full of decisions and our minds can only successfully handle so many of them in a given time period. Once we reach that cap, we become more and more subject to “decision fatigue.” The decision making parts of our mind are tired and thus are more susceptible to making errors when making little decisions.

Milky the Marvelous Milking Cow(via @LaughingSquid) Yep…I’m a proud child of the 70’s. And yep…I had one of these. You kids can keep your GameBoxes and XBoys. I’ll take Milky and her milk pills any old day…literally minutes of by-yourself-enjoyment.

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(photo credit: David Cosand)

If you need me to do something for you, the best way to get ‘er done is to send me an email. You can send me a text, but it’ll likely get buried and forgotten. You can leave me a voicemail…if you don’t mind waiting a few weeks until I remember that I never did anything with your voicemail. You can have a passing conversation with me in the hallway, drop me a note in the mail, DM me on Twitter, or leave a post-it on my desk, and it might just get done. But nothing is as effective as a request via email.

For all of my digital to do lists and productivity hacks, nothing works as well or is as (almost) foolproof as my inbox. My daily goal is to hit Inbox Zero. And I don’t delete it or move it until I’ve taken some sort of action on it: answer it, put it on my calendar, etc.

So why does that matter?

Well, it doesn’t, if there’s nothing you need from me. But there’s someone you’re going to communicate with today. There’s an “ask” you’ll need to make: be it of a co-worker, a client, a spouse, or a friend. And if you don’t know their preferred communication gateway, your request may be doomed from the beginning.

If you’re a leader, chances are good that different people on your team have different styles. One person may be able to keep up with a random string of text messages; another may be more comfortable with a pad and pen in a face to face meeting. Caring about their preference means you care about their success, so do what it takes to figure it out. It’ll pay off for both of you.

So what’s your preference? Comment below, if you’d like. Just don’t leave me a voicemail.

Let’s ease into the 2014 edition of the ol’ blog, shall we?

(Yes. We shall.)

It’s a new year, and new years mean new resolutions, new resolve, new get-out-there-and-kick-your-day-in-the-face type of stuff that will cause you to explode in a fiery cloud of awesomeness, because you’re so doggone on top of things.

(That’s the theoretical you, you understand, not the in-reality you, the you that couldn’t separate the coffee filters this morning because your eyes hadn’t yet opened, leading to a catch-22 for the ages. Been there.)

So I thought it would be fun to crank out the first post of the year with my three of my favorite productivity tips & tricks. Granted, two of these are brand new to me, and I’ve just started experimenting this week. I’ll let you guess which.

Get out of the inbox death trap. Here’s what I know: there are more days than I can count where I do nothing but manage an inbox. It’s like a whiny, digital child, constantly screaming for another cup of juice. That’s why I love the “three a day” rule: I spend 15-45 minutes reading and responding to email (depending on volume) three times: in the morning, right after lunch, and the end of the day. The rest of the time, I set my email to “offline” mode. I refuse to sneak a peek at the inbox on my phone. And the emails that I do need to send simply sit in the outbox until I go online again.

Confession: I don’t nail this every single day. It’s a discipline I’m still working on. However, I know two things that are true when I do this:

  1. I almost always get to the elusive “inbox zero.”
  2. I always get lots of other stuff done.

For more ammunition against the insanity, see Peter Bregman’s Coping with Email Overload over at Harvard Business Review.

“But what about…?” I know where you’re going with that question. If you really do implement the three-a-day, what happens when you’re cranking out your other stuff and realize there’s an email you really need to send? One that just can’t sit in your outbox until you start working online again?

That’s why I’m excited about Let.terLet.ter is a “send only” app that ties to your contact list so you can send an email without receiving any emails. Genius. There are a few quirks: you have to use keyboard shortcuts to get to specially formatted text like bold and italics. You don’t have the benefit of an automatic email signature. But other than that, I think I’m gonna like it. ($4 from the App Store, only for Macs. Sorry, PC peeps.)

“But I like my email signature.” So do I, kids. So do I. An email just feels a little nekkid without it. That’s why I’m also excited about a great little text expander tool that I found called aText. At $5, it’s a steal over the much-more expensive options out there. And so far, it worketh just fine. Let’s say you have an email signature that you just have to include, or a few standard lines that seem to always make their way into a bunch of your daily emails. I don’t know, something like: “I’m so sorry that our Student Pastor made your seventh grade son cry because he said he reminded him of a more feminine version of Justin Bieber. Rest assured he has been reprimanded, and we have cancelled his subscription to Field and Stream as punishment.” (You know, in theory.)

With aText, you slap those sentences in the app, assign a short code (such as *Gaston) and when you type *Gaston, the entire sentence pops up. Genius.

How about it, fellow nerds? What did I miss? What are your best tips and tricks to get junk done? Comment below.

Feeling lazy? You’re in luck. I’m not even going to make you do the heavy lifting of reading this week. You’re welcome.

(Remember, click on the bold print to see the original video.)

It’s called a lilac chaser(via Kem Meyer) Mind. Blown. This must’ve been what it was like to live in the 60’s. (Follow the link to get the instructions.)

 

Power-tripping preacher rebukes the video guy for having a bad attitude. (via TwentyTwo Words) Dang. This guy wasn’t paying attention in the “How to Win Friends and Influence People” workshop.

 

A couple’s quintessential conversation about dinner(via TwentyTwo Words) This is a great follow up to It’s Not About The Nail.