Review: The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results

The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results
The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s about focus. Focus on the most important thing that will take you to the next most important thing. If we’re capable of directing our attention to the important questions and important actions that we need to do, then we can accomplish a lot. It is also about unlocking your purpose and how that purpose is the foundation of success.

There’s nothing revolutionary in this book, but it is put together in such a way that it makes you think about your own focus. “What is the one thing that you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?” This is a good question and a valid one to ask repeatedly. Too much time is wasted doing things that are unnecessary and will not make things easier or more efficient.

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Adding Kanban for Outlook Tasks

Outlook tasks are good on their own, but sometimes you want a bit more.  Since I’ve been using Kanban, a project management method, I wanted my Outlook tasks to reflect that style.

First, I checked Outlook itself to see if there were add-ons that would accomplish this goal.  There was one for Outlook 2013 that provided Kanban for tasks.  It was a great idea and I tried it. However, there were a few limitations:

  • It was based on mail rather than tasks, so it required being in a mail item to view Kanban.
  • In Outlook tasks, it was not available.  This was the major limitation.

I continued my search and encountered a good implementation on LinkedIn described by DMA/Donna Michelle Anderson that uses the source files found on Frederik’s GitHub.  I appreciated the detailed step-by-step implementation guide.

 

First, follow implementation guide:

It was a good guide. I followed the implementation as closely as possible.

Time: I took about 15 minutes to get it all working and it was as expected. I was impressed and knew I needed to try it out a bit.

Second, review the results:

I liked the setup and it worked overall, but there were a few things that needed to change so that it would work better for me.

  • Dragging tasks: It’s great to drag a task from one folder to the next, but I wanted my tasks to always appear on the Outlook Today screen.  Only tasks that appear in the “Tasks” folder show up on the Today screen.  Dragging tasks to other folders meant that those tasks wouldn’t appear on the Today screen.
  • Task Status: Although Kanban view folders are status based, Outlook tasks also have a status. Moving tasks in Kanban view does not update the Outlook task status. Thus, only in Kanban view would the status of a task be known.
  • Multiple Projects: Using Outlook categories is a great way to organize projects.  The Kanban view took advantage of this, but if you work on multiple projects at once, it would require updating the code with each category.  Every new project would always require this update.

Time: I took the rest of the day to use it while working on my daily projects.

Third, personalize it:

There was no need for multiple folders.  Only one folder was important (“Kanban View”) and even that folder was not necessary (It can be implemented directly on the tasks folder). However it was better to have Kanban View as a separate folder so that I can continue to have my original tasks folder with an alternative view.  I disabled dragging by remove multiple folders.  I used task status to move tasks from one place to the next. I removed category from the code and used Outlook views to display multiple projects.

Here’s what I did:

  • Modified the index page as follows:
    • <param name=”Folder” value=”Tasks”>  – Every folder in will now look at the same tasks folder.
    •  <param name=”Restrictions” value=”[Status]=’Not started'”> –  Changed the category parameter so that the view can display all projects regardless of category.   For each folder, set the value to the status that appears in Outlook.
      • Backlog = “Not Started”
      • In Progress = “In Progress”
      • Waiting on Someone Else = “Waiting on Someone Else”
  • Modify the CSS to change the background colors.
  • In Outlook, modify the tasks view to display categories when I’m in the Kanban View.

Time: I took a few days to think through the implementation and a couple hours to implement and test.

Now, there is no drag and drop in Kanban View but when I update the status of a task, it automatically goes to the correct board in Kanban view while still showing up on my Today screen. When a task is checked as complete, it disappears from my Kanban view.

I very much appreciate finding and using this Kanban View.  I hope my tweaks help someone else to create their version as well.

 

Posted on LinkedIn

Review: Running the Books: The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian

Running the Books: The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian
Running the Books: The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian by Avi Steinberg

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It started well and I was very interested in it, but ultimately I decided to stop reading Running the Books. It takes a lot for me to stop reading a book and decide that I will not go back to it. I read just about everything. Anyhow, a few reasons why I stopped:
1. Although the adventures were interesting, they were repetitive. I felt as if I was reading the same things over and over again.
2. Chapter 1 lasted 120 pages, which means that I barely scratched the surface of chapter 2 by the time I reached page 138.
3. I put the book down months ago with plans to return to it. I returned to it, but could only read it for a few more days. It was a sign that I really needed to stop reading the book. So, I stopped yesterday.

The characterizations were good.

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Review: Care of the Soul: A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life

Care of the Soul: A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life
Care of the Soul: A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life by Thomas Moore

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Art teaches us to respect imagination as something far beyond human creation and intention. To live our ordinary life artfully is to have this sensibility about the things of daily life, to live more intuitively and to be willing to surrender a measure of our rationality and control in return for the gifts of soul” (p.300).

“The brain is depressed to find itself described as a computer and the heart surely doesn’t enjoy being treated as a pump. There isn’t much opportunity to exercise the spleen these days, and the liver is no longer the seat of passion. All these noble, richly poetic organs, teeming with meaning and power, have been made into functions” (p.165).

In Care of the Soul, Thomas Moore draws from mythology, religion, spirituality, psychology and art to provide a guide to living a daily life that is concerned about the soul and allowing that soul to be. In today’s fast-paced world, people tend to forget about how to care for their souls. As Moore puts it, “The soul has no room in which to present itself if we continually fill all the gaps with bogus activities” (p.122). People also tend to forget the beauty and art of daily life. Living today and caring today is very important to understanding life and spirit. “Soul doesn’t pour into life automatically. It requires our skill and attention” (p.xvii). We should provide that attention daily.

An understanding of Greek and Roman mythology will come in handy as Moore uses myth to explain ideas and concepts. He does a good job of describing the myth so that you understand the connection, but if you’ve read the classics , it will be a plus. There are amazing ideas throughout the book that if cultivated would certainly care for your soul.

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Review: The Adventures of Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You’ll Ever Need

The Adventures of Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You'll Ever Need
The Adventures of Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You’ll Ever Need by Daniel H. Pink

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“The last Career Guide You’ll Ever Need” might be right. Here are the six lessons:
1. There is no plan
2. Think strengths, not weaknesses
3. It’s not about you
4. Persistence trumps talent
5. Make excellent mistakes
6. Leave an imprint

It is a quick manga read with lots of fun! We all think about where we are right now in our careers and where we want to go next. This is a good way to think about it.

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Tech Tips: Batch Create Folders (PC)

Welcome to Tech Tips!

Tech tips is a place to share ideas for getting work done faster and more efficiently.  If it is possible to reduce the amount of time and manual work it takes to accomplish a task, then I like to find a way to do so.

Today’s topic is about batch processing.  I rather enjoy batch processing because it is an opportunity to learn the intricate nature of a process and then design a method to automate that process.  The batch process below is quick and easy to do on a PC.

Batch Create Folders

Why?  Because you have to create dozens or hundreds of folders for a project you’re working on and don’t have the time or resources to do it manually. You want something quick and easy to use.

FolderCreate

Text file of folder names.

  1. Folder Create Location: Navigate to the location where you’d like to create the batch of folders.  This process is focused on creating single directories.
  2. Create & Save Text File:  Create and save a text file with folder names where each line in the text file represents a folder that needs to be created. The text file can be named anything. The content of the text file should be in the format: md foldername
    1. md – the command to make directory
    2. space – separator between command and folder name
    3. foldername – the name of your folder. If you want to include a space in the foldername, add quotes around the name (i.e “Folder Name”)
  3. Change File Extension: Change the file extension from .txt to .bat to make a batch process that you can run.
  4. Double-click Batch File: Run the batch file by double-clicking it.  Once the batch is run, the folders with the name in the text file will be created in the current directory.
  5. All Done!

 

A Personal List Notebook

Personal List Notebook

Personal List Notebook

Write it down!

Writing things down has always been my way to learn and to remember, and as such, I have developed habits that help to keep me productive and reflective.  I write lists.  I find lists to be exactly right for being productive and for keeping track of what I’ve done, what I’m currently doing, and what I’m planning to do next.  Some of these lists turn into checklists, but they mostly record my thoughts and plans.

Get a Notebook  

 

The notebook can be digital, but I find that the physical notebook has more affordances than the digital, for that reason, this post will focus on the traditional physical notebook.

The notebook should be something you like, something you can have with you frequently, and something small enough to carry, but big enough to hold your thoughts.   Paired with the notebook is a great writing instrument: pen/pencil/maker.  There’s a certain pleasure in finding a notebook with great paper and a pen that writes wonderfully on it.  It will make the process of using the notebook more pleasurable, so spend the time to find exactly what suits you.  You’re going to be using it a lot. Continue reading

Government Shutdown 2013 – Website Announcements

Updated 10/17/13: After 16 days, the Congress has stopped the shutdown before the country goes into default on the 17th day.  Shutdown: October 1 – 16, 2013.


The Congress of the United States shut down the government on October 1, 2013 over the new Health Care law.   On that day , I took a picture of the sign in front of the Smithsonian’s Native American Museum at Bowling Green.

IMG_1957

I decided to take a look at the website representations of the shutdown.  How are they using language to describe the shutdown?  What are the variations in the terminology?  What were the design choices?  What were the functionality choices?  Did they close the website completely (no content but the shutdown information) or did they simply provided an announcement?  These questions and more lead me to take screenshots of how governmental organizations are communicating the shutdown on their websites. Continue reading

A Visual Resume

Although the traditional resume/cv has a chronology, it is difficult to express overlapping work experiences in a way that shows multiple levels of engagement, particularly non-traditional and diverse paths.  As a reflective experiment, the traditional resume/cv is re-imagined in a way that turns chronology on its side.  It is a simple timeline that visually expresses work experiences sans bullet points.

 

image

 

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Job Rejections

Today’s job application process is badly designed, convoluted, and a test of sanity.  It is designed not to hire, but rather to check boxes and create negative experiences.  Going through the process, it is easy to notice that the systems and the humans don’t work well with each other.  The human-computer interaction is missing the user research necessary to make it useful and easy to use.

When thinking about job rejections, it is necessary to think about applications both as applying one’s self and applying to organizations.  In both cases, a decision occurs at a moment in time and space and can be visualized on a number line.

Number line

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