It feels as if it’s been ages since I last wrote in my blog. Every time I come into it, the same thing happens. I apologise for the delays between posting. Then I say how it’s always been at the back of my mind. Well, it has. I thought I’d quickly jot down some things I’ve been working on and experimenting with in the last month. I feel that just because I haven’t written, it’s not as if I haven’t been doing any work – if anything, it’s been the most intensive learning experience for me in a long while
First things first.
Ah, I Get It Now…(or rather, I’m getting it)….
I’ve been with Adopt & Embrace for over a year now and finally, after all this time, I think I’m “getting it”. The learning curve has been exponential to say the least however, at the moment, now that I’m getting the hang of the Microsoft products and in particularly, how we use them for our own work, new processes and not beating myself up with the “slowness” of learning these, I’m comfortable where I’m at. This has been the first job in my career (also Navy was like this) that I’ve been in constant learning – probation-like – mode for such a long time.
Part of me thinks “this period should end soon” however, there’s a strong burgeoning feeling that it’s going to be like this from now on. In the past, we got into roles where we learned how we did them from people who had those roles before us, then we tweaked it some, established our own processes, then got into a routine until we got bored, found the next job and repeat. I think those days are gone now. It’s what I feel in this role. From servicing clients, to managing the online community, to content development to writing books, to sharing what we’re working on, it’s a constant state of flux. In this day and age, this is the norm now – we have to be multi-skilled, quick learners, excellent communicators, creative as well as process orientated, we are all things to everyone and anything.
In a way, this exhausts me to think about it – how work has changed since my days in corporate – but at the same time, I wouldn’t want to go back anyway. Reflecting on this, part of me is thankful that I only work 3 days per week. Working at this pace and momentum for 5 days a week, where we are constantly connected through our devices would have not given me the space in order to get some mental clarity, explore, work on my own projects or just my own self care.
Becoming More Organised with My Notes
I’m pretty organised (or so I thought) with my note taking but after watching Tiago Forte (Building a Second Brain) being interviewed, I went crazy to fix up my OneNote notebooks and tagging system. I’ve been using Evernote Pro for many years and have built thousands of notes. I’ve got my entire life in it however, now for work projects, I only use MS OneNote. I can’t tell what’s better over another but for user interface and experience, OneNote wins hands down. The search functionality is excellent too. Watching Tiago talk about “stacks” around projects, resources, areas made me rejig all my notebooks like what you see here.
I’ve grouped my notebooks into stacks:
- Project Stack (projects I’m currently working on eg. conference preparation etc)
- Resources Stack (currently over 54 notebooks of links and articles collected over the years since 2013 around Learning and Development. I don’t use Social Bookmarking such as Diigo as I collect everything in Evernote instead)
- Activate Learning Solutions (every notebook to do with my own business)
- Personal (notebooks to do with house and personal administration – I’ve yet to move Knitting Patterns into it)
The plan now is to move everything I find into the inbox first to be read, sorted and actioned in some way – either move to Resource or move to Project.
But there’s a step before then too.
Before any article goes into the Inbox it has to be “vetted” in Feedly Pro.
Again, I have been a member of Feedly Pro for many years. I have set up automations to have certain content filtered to different boards and I check Feedly once a week usually to sort through the articles. Many I ignore, however, ones that require some action, such as that they’re a great resource to hold onto or a project resource, I’ll move them over to Evernote into the appropriate board. However in the past, they would just be forgotten. So now, after watching Tiago’s video, I decided that the articles will undergo an additional vetting process – that is, I get to look at them a third time. (First time, I read online; second time in Feedly and third time in Evernote). By this stage, I know whether it’s worth my while to hold onto it or to get rid of it.
Anything I don’t have time to read, I’ll put into “Important Reads” or if it’s got anything to do with Microsoft, it has a folder of its own. Anything that I choose not to keep gets deleted immediately. The redundant boards in Feedly are now “To Be Tweeted” (which I’ll remove by the end of this post) and ALS Newsletter (where I basically store all the articles and links I have shared for every newsletter however, I’ve not sent a newsletter out in over a year so it’s time to delete this board.
So my process is:
Find interesting article online….save to Feedly Important Read (first reading)…..save to Evernote Inbox….(second read)…..action…move to Evernote Resources or Project.
From here, then I capture all my own notes and reflections and dump of ideas or other links into an Evernote Note. You may as well see what I do here:
It’s a long and convoluted process admittedly but I’ve come to the realisation that the more I hoard, the more overwhelmed I become and I feel bad if I don’t USE information in some way – that is, create something from it such as a new blog post, make sense of it, generate a new idea or a project for me to work on or link it to some context. The idea of hoarding digital STUFF without somehow finding a use for it does my head in. I much prefer to have quality resources – AND LESS OF THEM – then create my OWN resources that are then wholly mine.
Another project I’m working on at Adopt & Embrace is collaboratively writing a book on MS Teams.
I’m finding that I’m really enjoying the writing process – so much that I look forward to it. Why? I can dedicate HOURS to it in blocks of time where I have no distractions and just get it done. We have tight timeframes so I made this a priority to complete but at times I do feel guilty of letting my other work go by the wayside – or pushed down the priority. It makes me think of the projects I would gladly dedicate time to versus those that I’m expected to do just because it’s part of my job role. Surprisingly, I didn’t think that book writing could be so much fun and that I gladly MISS my daily walk to get it started. Maybe this is something that my body and mind telling me to do more? That is, it doesn’t seem to be a chore – whereas, believe it or not, creating instructional video for me sometimes is a chore unless I make it creative in some way.
It’s making me realise that I need to have some creative element into my work. If it starts to become a chore, I’m likely to get bored.
The final set up….all I need is a light (which I have) but for now, this will do. I seem to be accruing tripods. pic.twitter.com/PMwn2VabnB
— Helen Blunden #MSIgnite Community Reporter 🎤📸🤳 (@ActivateLearn) September 20, 2019
Recently I bought a new Canon G7 Mark III camera known as the vloggers camera so I’ve been busy learning how to use that although I haven’t posted any videos openly as yet. My main priority was learning how to use it to send photos and videos to my iPhone to be further edited and then shared to the social networks. Of course, I could have saved myself $960 and just bought a more current iPhone (I use an iPhone 6) but as I’m a luddite when it comes to technology, I much rather use it to the end of its life when it starts becoming a problem. So far, the iPhone 6 has been a work horse but I needed to have a “normal looking” camera so that I can “look the part”. One of the things I haven’t been able to shake off is constantly reaching for my iPhone to record photos and videos. It’s okay by myself but I’m aware of the perception of me using it when I’m with others. I prefer NOT to take out and record anything unless I have the permission of the person I’m with. I don’t know – might be something because of my polite upbringing and etiquette in social situations?
Anyway, recently Snapchat has been glitching for me and I’m unable to save my files every day to create the chronological video that I do to record my working out loud. Also many of my Snapchat community are now scattered across the social networks – some lost contact completely – and I’ve been feeling at a loss. I loved the community on Snapchat and it’s what drove me to share what I did however, that’s gone now (all moved to Instagram). It’s made me reconsider why I’m sharing what I’m sharing – what’s the point? who’s it for? how does it help others? is it useful or just a time waster for me?
So yesterday I decided to do something different. I simply recording my short videos on my camera app (or directly into VideoShop) then editing them all in VideoShop at the end of the day. The beauty is that I can now go back to landscape videos and upload to YouTube so I can still create my daily videos. I upload them directly to YouTube from where I can share them to the social networks such as Twitter or LinkedIn. In hindsight, I should have just started using YouTube and building a channel from many years ago. I have no interest in repeating or recording them in-app directly. I’m not out to build followers, nor a business, nor sell products and services – I’m effectively using it simply as an “album – portfolio – blog – vlog – journal – recording system.
The downside of doing this is that my community and the socialising around the content I shared on Snapchat is now gone. I had some people comment and had some lively discussions with many people but they’re all stopped now. This has been a trend I’ve seen across all my social networks and it may be as a result of me lessening my time, interaction and engagement on them too preferring more to create, reflect and work on my own projects rather than watching and commenting on others. What I do miss is the opportunity to get involved with creative collaborative projects but in order to do this, I’d need to start these up myself (and find the right people AND ideas to do) OR I need to start engaging a lot more to find out what people are doing to get involved. At this stage though, my focus is looking at my time and where I want to spend it on.
Early in the new year, I’ve been invited to speak at LearnTec 2020 in Karlsruhe in Germany and I’m greatly looking forward to it. Once I heard “Germany” I said yes, immediately. I love the country and love the travelling within it so any opportunity to get back to Southern Germany and continue my discoveries of Bavaria (and eat the food), I took the opportunity. My plan is to spend 4 days in Frankfurt and a week in Karlsruhe (with a couple of sightseeing days as well as the conference) then head over to Strasbourg in France for 5 days. I haven’t planned exactly what I’ll be doing but the plan is to learn about Alsatian history and culture, eat Alsatian food and while I’m in Germany, order food and drinks in German. I decided to do the DuoLingo in German to see how I go. I’m tracking okay – but going very slowly.
As for France, I know enough French to be able to get around without a problem.
Seriously though, who really cares? When I’m travelling – I’m in my element. Everything I do here in Australia has some end goal of getting more travel in. I can’t get enough of it – it’s addictive. I like the type of travel where I spend DAYS in a location and just walk the streets every day, visit museums and art galleries, eat their foods and just do a total immersion in culture. In some way, I want to get “lost” in it if that makes sense. It’s a pity I don’t do more travel but the plan is that when I retire (the aim is in 7 years all going well) my focus will then be on total experiences like this. (Sorry, I’m not the type of person who wants to work/hustle/grind/ forever).
So that’s all my bits and bobs projects I’ve been doing for the last month and a bit. Lot there but it was nice to get them down in writing…