Second Brain Crash Course

Recently Forte Labs launched their first ever Second Brain Week. Bringing in experts in digital note taking from around the world, founder Tiago Forte lead a free week of training on how to up your electronic productivity game. Their promise was simple:

Come join us to learn about digital note-taking, organizing, productivity, knowledge management, and online education, and how creating a system of knowledge management for yourself can help you do all of them far more effectively.

While the live sessions are over, everything was recorded and available for free on the Forte Labs web site. So if you want to take your productivity up to the next level, take advantage of the free Second Brain Week sessions available now on demand.

Brutal Truths About Productivity

The feeling of being productive is awesome. There is a deep satisfaction in checking stuff off our to-do lists. However, there is a difference between being productive with simple tasks versus complicated projects. In the book Joy at Work, which I summarized last week, Marie Kondo makes a distinction between the urgent and the important. Urgent things are usually the small tasks that are easy to do but ultimately make little difference to our lives. The important tasks are hard to do, but make the most impact towards our larger goals and objectives. True productivity comes down to focusing on the latter and not the former. But how do we do this?

In an article in the Pocket web site, Thomas Oppong share 6 Brutal Truths about Productivity that can help people focus on what is truly important. For example, one of the six truths has to do with power of getting started.

The biggest hurdle for many of us is simply getting started. Making that important decision to take a step. You can be as big and successful as you can possibly imagine if you build that mindset you need to push yourself to make that all important decision to just start.

You have everything you need to make an impact in the world if you can get past the many reasons why should postpone that task. Don’t think too far into the future.

Use what you have right now at where you are and witness the magic of getting things done.

Read the other five truths on the Pocket web site.

Is this what Productivity is Missing?

Let’s be honest, if you search for productivity books in Amazon, the majority of titles shown in the results are written by men. Why is this so? It can’t be that men are the only ones worried about getting things done quickly and efficient. Also, what does this mean for our understanding of productivity itself? Is there something missing if only men are writing about it?

In a recent article at Forte Labs, Lauren Valdez explores this question. She believes one reason for this result is that books written by women are placed into the “organization” category. For example a search for decluttering books in Amazon produces almost the exact opposite result with women being the predominant authors. However, Lauren believes the truth runs deeper than just a matter of odd cataloging.

Productivity is not about optimizing every aspect of your life or being well-versed on the latest and most flashy new app. The point of productivity is to do what brings you pleasure and to have more freedom. We aren’t machines. We are humans.

To be productive, we all need to balance the logical, technical side with the emotional, intuitive side. These can be understood as masculine and feminine energies. I define masculine-energy as associated with logic, order, and the technical, whereas feminine energy is associated with intuition, self-awareness, and creativity.

Another way we can think about this is using the left-side and right-side of the brain. Most productivity advice lies on the masculine side, but you need the yin and yang balance between both these energies. No matter where on the gender spectrum you fall, we all can tap into our masculine and feminine energies.

Read the rest of the article on the Forte Labs web site.

How to Stay Positive in Stressful Times

With the daily onslaught of tough news in the midst of the pandemic, is it possible to stay positive in these down times?

Last month our regional library cooperative SEFLIN offered an answer with the help of Positivity expert Shola Richards. I had the good fortune of meeting Shola in person at the Florida Library Director’s meeting in Tallahassee. His energy and enthusiasm for making our workplaces better is refreshing and inspiring. In his webinar, Shola laid out the keys to staying positive in the face of adverse conditions. Below is my understanding of two important keys to achieve peace in this crazy world.

Shola Richards

Focus on What You Can Control

Shola suggested we let go of the things outside of our control and recognize all the things we can control. Whether it is helping others, being kind, cleaning, talking a walk, or starting a new hobby, we can always shift ourselves with the right intention. Specifically, he identified three things we have power over:

  • Our Actions – What can I do to make a difference?
  • Our Effort – Am I doing my best?
  • Our Attitude – Is what I am doing filling me up or draining me?

Practice Self Compassion

Shola encouraged participants to recognize that life is hard right now. So it is okay to lower your expectations and celebrate small wins. We simply cannot do all the things we use to do. Slowing down provides us time to be kind to ourselves and others. We can enjoy small indulgences, like that extra piece of chocolate or another episode of your favorite show, knowing that it is helping us get through another day. Self-compassion not only helps you, but also everyone you are living with as it creates a less stressful environment.

To learn more about Shola and the Positivity Solution, I encourage you to visit his web site and sign up for his weekly newsletter. While there, you can also view his TEDx Talk.

Where to Find Good Ideas

When was the last time you had a good idea?

Think about that question for a moment. Does something strike you as odd? Most obvious is the problem of how can we judge if the idea was “good.” What seems awesome in the moment can turn out to be faulty later. Conversely, what was dismissed as so-so now could have great merit when applied.

Most striking for me, the question implies that each person is solely responsible for creating their own ideas. But the funny thing is that ideas are not commonly born straight out of divine inspiration. Even if it seems that the idea come from nowhere, it likely has mundane origins. The truth is that ideas require other ideas to give them form and to evolve.

After all, fires don’t start just by thinking about them. They originate from the combustion of different elements, be it two sticks rubbed together or a match and lighter fluid. It is the same with originality. New ideas do not appear on its own, but show up when different ideas are combined together to produce something new.

Photo by Vlad Bagacian on Pexels.com

This means the fastest way to create “good” ideas is to expose yourself to as many ideas as possible. Whether they come from books, articles, conversations, or observations, having an abundance of ideas to work with greatly increases the chance of finding one that is transformational. Like puzzle pieces, pick up as many as possible and place them together in different combinations. Play long enough and you soon end up with a beautiful picture.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

So when was the last time you had a good idea?

Don’t worry about answering that question. Instead ask, “Where will I find the next great idea?”

Then expose yourself to as many ideas from as many different fields as possible to see what sticks. Don’t wait, this post has ended, so start looking now!

The Culture Secret – Legos!

Did you play with Legos as a kid?  I grew up with those multi-colored blocks carelessly scattered around as my siblings and I took them from room to room in our endless youthful play times.  Those plastic building block toys have been entertaining children for generations.  

However, did you know that Legos hold the secret to understanding why some organizations develop strong dynamic cultures while the majority of others flounder?

For my final Write of Passage assignment, I prepared a short article based on my research on how to build a strong culture at work.  Read the article to learn how Legos provide a vital clue to creating a motivated organizational culture.

When you are finished reading, you might be inspired to build one of the biggest Lego sets available – the Millennium Falcon!

The Kernel of Creativity

We use the word a lot, but what exactly is creativity?  It seems like everyone wants more of it from ourselves and our colleagues, but it is not like a faucet that can be turned on at will.  David Allen used a recent blog post to ponder the subject:

“The time and energy required for creating something goes through a cycle, one that is seldom as easy or as immediately evident and as clear as I would like to imagine it is. … I still don’t know much intellectually about the nature of that creative process. What is the underlying principle at work here? Why do we seem to have to work so hard to get the kernel? And my interest in productivity causes me to ask how I can get to it faster, easier, more effectively, with less mess and the frustrations that often accompany it.”

blur business coffee commerce

While reading David Allen’s post, I was reminded of an article from David Perell.  He explored the topic in a post called, The Magic Moment.  In the article he brought up the idea of inspiration.

“The Magic Moment is a moment where you have the freedom to create without the demands of publishing. You can’t predict a Magic Moment. They’re spawned by long periods of incubation, but they strike when the mind is at rest. They’re likely to come when you’re showering, driving, or exercising because that’s when the mind is at rest and you can finally hear yourself think. Like a surfer in the ocean, when a special wave swells up, you have to catch it and ride it to shore.”

Creativity is a large and fascinating topic.   I challenge you to think about your relationship with creativity?  When is it easiest for you to be creative?  When it is hardest?  Finally, what do you do when the moment of inspiration strikes?