Setting Aside Critical Time for Processing

These days, we’re all scattered in at least a few different directions. It seems we have more distractions, more responsibilities and more, in general, to just do. The challenge is focus. We can’t operate at a high level if we can’t focus. This has been a major issue for me in recent years, and especially since I quit the day job in 2012. I’m constantly doing work for clients or handling family responsibilities. Rarely do I find, or take, the time to focus on my own stuff.

I look around my office and see a giant, distracting mess. The mess itself doesn’t bother me from a visual perspective. It’s the fact that it’s unfinished business. Papers that need scanning and filing, computer equipment that needs to be repaired or recycled. Hard drives that need to be tagged and archived. Stuff everywhere, and each with an unfinished task item (or four) associated with it.

This happens in business and in life. I need to manage this better. I’ve gotten help from services like Shoeboxed, but I don’t even use them as often as I should. Part of my “Better Brian” experiment is to recognize these issues and take action to make them better, if not rid myself of them altogether.

How? Process. Strict times to process information. Not do any work, just processing. Friday afternoons are typically filled with last second work to meet a deadline, or just abandoned altogether because a cold beer is sitting right outside my office. Being more disciplined to stick to my scheduled planning/processing time on those days will certainly help. And, I can still enjoy that beer.

In addition to a shorter daily reflection and processing time, I need to stop working at noon on Fridays, and use those 3-4 hours to clean up, plan for the next week and process any outstanding documents, invoices, etc. that will bug me all weekend. This is clearing the mental clutter and giving me a sense of accomplishment at the same time. Plus beer!

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And Acquaintances Turn To Friends

And acquaintances turn to friends
I hope those friends they remember me
Hold the night for ransom as we kidnap the memories
Not sure there is a way to express what you meant to me
Sit around a table and use those years as the centerpiece

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis: “Cowboy Boots”

This is my first full day back from Up To All of Us 2013, an unconference focused on “Co-creating revolutions in learning and technology.”

I chose that verse from Cowboy Boots because this event was all about connections: making new ones and strengthening old ones. We learn from each other and share experiences, like telling stories of risk around a campfire. We can encourage and say “do it”, or respectfully disagree (“yes, and”) and move on to the next topic. It’s an open format, and almost anything is acceptable, except excessive negativity.

Comic Panels

How does something like this come together? How does something like this work? Planning and good people. This kind of event does not happen with out fine human beings. Herding those humans? Coordinating the event to make sure each of these complex, brilliant beings has his or her needs met? That is a challenge, and one that Aaron and Megan met head on for the second year in a row, with great success.

Brian's DuckI’m amazed at the talent I’ve been connected with over the last two years at these events, and the willingness they all have to help me solve a problem, work through an idea, or simply draw a duck. After last year’s event, several attendees took new jobs, made the leap into entrepreneurship or freelancing, or did something else that made them happy. I can’t wait to see what comes out of this year’s event.

How does one come down from this high? For many of us, it’s back to reality, back to the grind, back to chores and articles and research and development. This is the time to keep cranking. To build upon what we’ve already built. To finish those projects we demonstrated. To learn even more about topics that we were introduced to. To find a way to make that thing we want to do actually happen.

I quit my job last September, but it was last February that I made the decision. I don’t have a job to quit this year, but I do have things to build and people I want to work with. I’m not waiting until September. This is accelerating.

The Seven
Photo courtesy of Kris Rockwell

“Not sure there is a way for me to express what you meant to me…”

But I know we’ll all sit around a table next year and use last weekend as a centerpiece for what WE built in 2013.


Judgement Matters

“In order for information to become knowledge, an internal transformation must take place that allows connections to be made, and information to become usable.”

“I think that real talent knows the rules, can rely on them for guidance, and then steps outside expectations to use expertise and judgment to come up with novel solutions.”

HE Thoughts

(Via Harold)

Design For How the Brain Functions

Great article on UX (at Smashing Magzine) from Charles Hannon.

We should not be held to existing patterns just because the human brain prefers it. But we can design according to our developing understanding of how the brain functions.

This is simple, really. We need to better understand the primary receiver that we’re transmitting to: the human brain, and adjust to it as it evolves. Otherwise, we have no clue what kinds of signals to transmit to make sure our message is received.

I recall a keynote from Dr. John Medina in which he highlighted how very little we actually know about the human brain. But we’re learning more at an increasing pace. We need to use that information to improve communication, learning, design.

We can progress gradually, building on fundamental elements of existing designs so that new interaction designs retain enough of the old that our brains still recognize them.

We’re seeing this with mobile navigation. Which navigation pattern should we use? Which icon do we use? The brain never really needed an icon for a menu until smart phones came to be. We can introduce something new, but in most cases, we need to relate it to something old and familiar.

Most importantly, we need to understand the brain (as much as possible), and how it functions, in order to design for it.

(via Judy)