Learning Tools…

How good are you at Google Sheet?

Can you write a query? A filter? Do you know how to install add-on tools to trim extra cells or create a mail merge? If you wanted to learn those things, do you know how to find out how?

It’s an interesting litmus test.

Google Sheet is not particularly difficult to use.

You can explore it in private, with no fear of screwing up. And it’s widely applicable to just about any career or community work you might choose to do.

If you get good at a type of technology, you’ll find yourself using it often. On the other hand, if you decide that you’re somehow untalented at it (which is untrue) or don’t take the time, then you’ll have sacrificed leverage and confidence that were offered to you.

Of course, it’s not just Sheets, or the web, or even computers. It’s a posture of possibility when it comes to the tools we’re able to use.

We can ignore the tools that we have access to. We can fear them. We can understand them.

(And, after we understand them, we’re able to hire someone else to use them on our behalf.)

We can even master them.

Decide Your Meeting Agenda Before…

A good agenda is the first step to any successful meeting. If you want to make the best use of everyone’s time, turn your bullet points into questions that drive to the outcomes you’re looking for.

For example, instead of a general topic like “Budget Problems,” try a specific question like, “How will we reduce our spending by $100,000 by the end of the fiscal year”? Or replace an item like “Strategic Planning” with a challenge like, “What is the key market threat we need to be aware of, how could it affect us, and what can we do to anticipate?” Preparing these questions before the meeting will make it easier to determine who should be there and how much time you’ll really need.

Ultimately, a questions-based approach to your agenda can bring focus, engagement, and better performance to your meetings. And if you can’t think of questions to ask, maybe you don’t need that meeting after all!

Let Daily Chores be Engaging when WFH…

When you’re working from home, you may find yourself feeling distracted by your looming personal responsibilities. You don’t have to push aside nagging thoughts such as, “I really should put in a load of laundry,” or, “Isn’t it time to do exercise?” — you can use these impulses to your advantage.

Physical chores may provide welcome relief after hours of video conferences and calls, thought work, and you can build them into your schedule. For example, if you’re having trouble starting a slide deck, decide ahead of time that you’ll walk the dog as soon as you get the first three slides done.

Weaving the daily responsibilities into your workday can help you feel more productive both personally and professionally, leaving you feeling more refreshed and energized for the days ahead.

Waiting and worrying…

It’s easy for us to worry. The world is upside down, the tough period continues, a tragedy unevenly but widely distributed.

Worry takes a lot of effort. And worry, unlike learning or action, accomplishes nothing of value.

And, at the same time, due to the time-horizon of the pandemic, it’s also tempting for us to wait. To wait for things to get back to normal. But all the time we’re spending waiting (for a normal that is unlikely to be just like it was) is time we’re not spending learning, leading or connecting.

If we decided to simply reduce our waiting and worrying, just imagine how much we could discover, how many skills we could learn, how dramatically attitudes could shift.

We can still wait (even though time will pass either way). And we can still worry (even though it doesn’t do any good). But perhaps we can figure out how to do it less.

I’m bored…

If you are feeling bored. “That’s on you.”

As soon as you’re tired of being bored at work, at home, on lockdown, wherever you’ll go find a challenge. You don’t have to quit your day job to be challenged, but you do have to be willing to leap, to take some responsibility, to find something that might not work.

Being challenged at work is a privilege. It means that you have a chance, on someone else’s nickel, to grow. It means you can choose to matter.

Be glad you’re feeling bored, and now be excited to plan what you’re going to go do about it.

Way Forward…

Our experience of time always goes in one direction – Forward.

It might seem to speed up or slow down, but the outside world conspires to keep things moving from today to tomorrow.

Given that nothing is ever going to be the same, and that backward isn’t an option, our only choice is forward.
That’s always been true. As soon as we encounter something, anything, it will never be as it was.

Fortunately, we have a chance to make things better going forward. Every day, the next day.

How to Spark Your Own Creativity…

When our daily routines are geared toward barreling through a to-do list, it can be hard to set the right conditions for creativity.
Fortunately, there is a time-tested approach — that’s also quite simple — for generating creative ideas.

First, gather raw materials in your area of interest. This could mean anything from articles you’ve been meaning to read to the browser tabs you’ve left open on your computer. Then, spend time digesting the material — and looking for connections. Fill in a small index card with notes, as if you’re trying to solve a puzzle. Shuffle between the physical cards looking for patterns and themes.

Then — and this is the most important part — do nothing. Find a way to disengage your mind to allow unconscious processing, whether that’s by taking a walk, listening to music, watching a movie, or even taking a shower. This may not feel like tangible work, but clearing some headspace will make room for the ideas to come.