Tag Archives: learning

Extraordinary Productivity

Book Cover: The 5 Choices: The Practical Path to Extraordinary Productivity

I love the book, The 5 Choices: The Path to Extraordinary Productivity by Kory Kogon, Adam Morrill, and Leena Rinne.  The authors explain what they mean about there being a “productivity paradox”.  It is both easier and harder than ever before to achieve extraordinary productivity and feel accomplished in our lives.  We all experience three challenges:
  • The overwhelming flow of decisions we have to make in daily life
  • That our attention is under unprecedented attack with modern technology
  • We feel a drain on our personal mental energy

The authors propose that we make five choices in order to experience extraordinary productivity. Choice 1 is to act on the important, but not to react to the urgent (what feels like it has to be done now, but may not lead to any results).  Borrowing from Stephen Covey, they use his 4 quadrants of how people spend their time.

  • Quadrant 1: Necessity: crises, emergency meetings, last minute deadlines, pressing problems, and unforeseen events
  • Quadrant 2: Extraordinary productivity (what we want to focus on): proactive work, high-impact goals, creative thinking, planning, prevention, relationship building, learning and renewal
  • Quadrant 3: Distraction: needless interruptions, unnecessary reports, irrelevant meetings, other people’s minor issues, unimportant emails/tasks/phone calls, etc.
  • Quadrant 4: Waste: trivial work, avoidance activities, excessive relaxation, TV, gaming, internet surfing, gossip, and other time wasters


They explain that the results we achieve in life are impacted by our discernment.  With practice we can rewire our brain to become more discerning and less reactive.  They recommend settings these goals:

  • Minimize the time spent in Quadrants 1 and 3
  • Eliminate entirely all of the Quadrant 4 time
  • Maximize what we invest in Quadrant 2
  • Speak the language of importance to those around you

The authors say that it takes three steps: pause, clarify, and decide.

  • Is this important?
  • When does this really need to be done?
  • How will this impact what we are currently working on?
  • Is there another resource for getting this done?
  • Where does this fit relative to the other priorities I am working on?

Choice 2 is to go for the extraordinary and not settle for ordinary.  They quote brain expert, Dr. Daniel Amen, “To harness your brain’s power, it needs direction and vision.  It needs a blueprint.”  According to the authors, most people do not take the time to clarify what is most important to them and do not end up spending their time on those things.  They recommend that those seeking to be more productive identify our few most important roles and define what success looks like in each role.  These roles should be:

  • Represent our key relationships and responsibilities
  • Be relevant to our life right now (not the future)
  • Be meaningful to us
  • Give a balanced perspective of our life
  • Be limited to about five to seven (maximum)

We should then determine our vision of success in each role.  Anchor our purpose and passion in a role title and craft a role statement for each role.  Decide what contribution we want to make in each role.  As (role title), I will (extraordinary outcomes) by (specific activities).  The authors remind us that roles are dynamic therefore constantly changing. They discuss the importance of setting SMART goals.

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

Extraordinary productivity means going to bed each night feeling satisfied and accomplished.  By identifying the few most important roles we play, this gives us a framework for balance, motivation, and fulfillment.  Anchoring our role titles and statements strengthens our ability to make good decisions about our time.  Setting specific Q2 goals helps us direct our brains in the most productive ways.

Choice 3 is to schedule the big rocks, and don’t sort gravel. This is a figurative illustration.  The big rocks represent the important Q2 priorities in our lives.  We are to put those first.  The gravel represents the distractions (Q3) and time wasters (Q4).  If you start with the gravel, then there is no room for the rocks.

Everyone has the same amount of time, but some people can cram more in the spaces than others.  The key is to focus our very best attention and energy on the few priorities that really matter. The authors recommend that we spend thirty minutes each week and ten minutes each day in Q2 planning so we can dramatically increase our ability to be and feel accomplished at the end of every day.

  • Review our roles and goals to see if they connect with our vision for our Q2 life
  • Schedule the big rocks (the 1 or 2 most important things you can do this week)
  • Scheduling a specific time and place to do something represents our higher-level commitment
  • Organize the rest of our time

The bottom line is that we should decide what is most important and get those activities already scheduled before our week begins.  Schedule Q2 times during the week to proactively protect your Q2 priorities.

Choice 4 is to rule our technology and not let it rule us.  Technology in and of itself is not the problem.  It is how conscious and deliberate we are about how we use it that can be a problem.  The book discusses sorting tasks into one of the Core Four.

  • Our appointments set at specific times
  • The tasks we need to do that are not scheduled
  • Our information about people we interact with
  • Other information we want to keep track of that does not fit into any of the other 3 categories

The book asks readers if we know that over 196 billion emails are sent and received EVERY DAY?!  At the moment of choice, we can act to make an appointment or schedule a task or file away contact information and notes.  If this is not something we need, we can trash or delete the email.  No need for our emails to pile up!

Choice 5 is to fuel our fire, but not burn out.  The book discusses five energy drivers:

  • Move (exercising improves memory, brain health, and physical fitness)
  • Eat (choosing healthy foods and supplements over junk food and sugary food)
  • Sleep (we must get enough rest and not be sleep deprived which leads to poor decision making and even accidents)
  • Relax (to turn off our stress responses and restore our energy by taking regular breaks)
  • Connect (to make positive social interactions)

The 5 Choices: The Path to Extraordinary Productivity states that our brain is our number one asset in a knowledge-work world.  Being conscious and intentional throughout the day takes a lot of energy.  We need to have a clear and motivating purpose and a healthy physical body (be as healthy as we can be) in order to fulfill our purpose.  Thus, we should invest regularly in the five energy drivers above to keep us from burning out. By implementing the five choices recommended in this book, we can be on the path to extraordinary productivity!

  • Act on the important and do not react to the urgent
  • Go for the extraordinary and not settle for the ordinary
  • Schedule the big rocks and do not sort gravel
  • Rule our technology and not let it rule us
  • Fuel our fire to not burn out

The Power of Visual Storytelling: Shaping

visual storytelling shaping

 

According to the book The Power of Visual Storytelling: How to Use Visuals, Videos, and Social Media to Market Your Brand by Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio, companies need to do visual storytelling shaping.  Each piece of content needs to have a clear theme and point of view as well as a take away message for the reader.

 

Content needs to be aligned with who you are as a company: voice, personality, and values. Once woven together, these themes shape your story.  It is important to list your goals and determine how visual content can help achieve them.  Ask yourself, if your company were a person, what would it look like in real life?

Embrace social media’s more personable, human side.  Look for the most commonly discussed conversation themes from your online consumers.  Shape your story and identify major themes to craft your visual content mix.  Look at your goals, company voice, and customer feedback by social media platform.

Determine Your Visual Content Mix:

  • The magic is in the mix to keep storytelling fresh
  • It allows you to deliver more personalized content to target audiences across different platforms
  • Evaluate your desired frequency per platform for posts, tweets, pins, etc.
  • Have a formula and clear plan of what steps you will take
  • Frequency varies by company and by social media channel
  • Quality content always trumps quantity and volume
  • Content must be interesting, important, and relevant to your audience
  • The usual shelf life of a tweet is considered an hour at most
  • The shelf life of a Facebook post is around 24 hours
  • Prioritize by social media platform the most important content themes that go into crafting your visual story
  • The mix needs to balance what is important from an ongoing visual storytelling perspective with goals, current events, questions, and general conversation from your customers
  • Content goals will likely change each month depending upon how much news your company has or tweets your making in response to fan engagement
  • Content should aim to be mostly upbeat, fun, motivating, and engaging
  • Outlining content themes makes it easy to identify what messages will be best conveyed as photos, videos, infographics, presentations, etc.

Authors Walter and Gioglio remind us to be listening and responding to what is being said about our company as well as learning the most commonly asked questions.  When we know that, companies can better respond to their own target audience.  This means setting goals and developing a strategy.  Our content will adjust in response to real time as we get live social media feedback.

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

25 Ways To Write Creative Blog Posts

If you are reading this, then I assume you are looking to be CREATIVE (and definitely not boring) when you write creative blog posts.  This way you will have plenty of admiring fans! 25 ways to write CREATIVE blog posts:

1. ADVICE You have unique advice that only you can offer to your readers.  Once you understand who your audience is, then you can write like you are writing to a friend.  They will feel like they know you and you will develop a huge following.

2. CA– USE– Why not rally your readers behind a cause you support?  Let them know what you are doing to make a difference and how they can help. Give a call to action. Seriously, don’t leave that out.

3. COMMUNITY Your community could be defined by your local area or it could be people who share a common interest or goal.  Reach out to “your peeps” and connect with them!

4. COMPARISON Take two things and compare them.  Whether you compare two breakfast foods or two fun activities, the fun is in comparing and contrasting them. This could be educational, entertaining, or funny as well. Speaking of…

5. EDUCATIONAL– People like learning about things.  That is one reason why search engines are so popular.  Tell them something that not everyone knows, but you know because you are an expert at it.  Everyone is an expert at something.  Blog about what you know best.

6. ENTERTAINING Everyone likes to laugh and have fun.  You could blog about entertainment that is coming to your community whether it is a music concert, sporting event, or theatrical production. Be sure to make it “entertaining” to read!  Since blogging is writing that is typically less formal than say a report, let your personality shine in the post.

7. EVENTS People like finding out about events–ones that will happen and ones that already happened.  If you have the “inside scoop” on the latest, you can “tell all” in your blog!

8. FAQ This common acronym is short for “frequently asked questions.”  Many websites have an FAQ page on them.  Blog about commonly asked questions.  Blog answers to familiar questions so you can refer your readers to when they ask them.  Saves you time in the process!

9. FAMILY Some of your best material can come from your family members and others with whom you are close. As long as you make it generic enough that you don’t single out any one person or you know they won’t mind your sharing it, go ahead.  You know you want to!

10. GUIDE A guide-type blog post could be a collection of tips about a specific topic. While similar to advice blog posts, they are different in that these tips can be applied by a variety of different people–not advice for one type of problem.  Example: Simple Tips to Get Clients To Pay on Time, Quick Ways to Find Just What You Want Online, etc.

11. HYPOTHETICAL Ask your readers what they would do in a hypothetical situation. Maybe answer that question as well. These types of blog posts tend to get a lot of comments because people like to imagine, “What if….?” Sometimes I imagine, “What if I win a ton of money in the lottery and get to quit my day job?!”  I kind of have to buy a lottery ticket first. Oh well.

12. INSPIRATIONAL Share something motivational with your readers.  Help them connect to you in a powerful way through your telling of someone overcoming a challenge and beating the odds.  Maybe that someone who overcame something big is you.  Don’t be afraid to share since it could encourage someone else!

13. INSTRUCTIONAL or “HOW TO” Give instructions on how to do something that others want to know how to do, and suddenly you have a captive large audience.  You can be creative with your titles of these posts as well. Two examples: How To Teach Your Dog Fun New Tricks, How To Make Delicious Homemade Ice Cream, How To Make a Memorable Family Scrapbook, etc.

14. INTERVIEW If you don’t have any famous celebrities you happen to know (most of us are in this boat), then you could always interview a person notable for what they do. A person who is accomplished in a career or sport or another area of life.  If you interview a person who has an inspiring story and then you have an “inspirational interview“! Wow, two different ways to write a blog post combined! You are an overachiever!

15. LISTS People love lists.  Examples: 10 Ways You Can Change Your Spouse, 20 Best Party Appetizers, Top 40 Bestselling Books About Fitness, etc.  You get the idea and they will too!

16. MEMORIES Often, we like to recall fond memories or retell funny situations.  We may even want to remember how we overcame a trauma for the sake of helping another person who finds themselves in the same emergency. When you blog about a memory, be sure to create a vivid picture in their minds of all the important details of your experience.

17. NEWS Did you know that sometimes bloggers are the first to break a news story? There have been cases where a blogger has gotten in trouble for sharing some kinds of sensitive information.  Keep your day job and don’t blog about company trade secrets. Another word of advice is to keep your love life private so no one tries to sue you for disclosing personal details.  However, if you are in attendance at an exclusive event that you have permission to be blogging about, then by all means SHARE!

18. OPINIONS If you loving sharing your opinions, then blogging is right up your alley!  As long as you are tactful and the topic is appropriate, it is alright to share what you think. You don’t have to have all positive comments from your readers.  In fact, it makes it more interesting when some of your readers do not agree with you.  Usually readers who do agree with you, will come to your defense when you are criticized by others.

19. PHOTOS If you took a great picture or want to share several incredible pictures, then you may want to have a photo blog post.  When your text is all about what is in your photo(s), then you have a photo blog post.  Whether your pictures are of smiling people, grand buildings, gorgeous nature, or something entirely different, there are others who would love to learn about how you managed to capture the photos and the techniques you used in getting it to look the way it does.

20. PREDICTIONS It is common at the end of the year (or the beginning of the new year) for people to come up with their predictions about some topic.  Examples: The Future of Technology, 10 Social Media Predictions, What is To Come in American Education, etc. Similar to the hypothetical “what if” posts, these are your thoughts as to what will come about in the next year (or whatever time frame you select) concerning a particular topic. Inquiring minds want to know!

21. PROBLEMS Life would not be nearly as exciting if there were no glitches.  Inevitably, snags come along.  You spill chocolate ice cream on your brand new white dress shirt.  You get a ticket for speeding on your way to work early one morning.  Your problem post could be written to be a funny look at everyday life or it could be a solution post in which you address how to solve a particular problem with a specific idea, product, or service. People are always looking for solutions!

22. QUIZZES Some people love taking quizzes for fun.  Why not write a blog post that is a quiz about something interesting?  Examples: 15 Questions to Discover the Vacation of Your Dreams, How Well Do You Know Yourself?, etc.  The point is to make your quiz blog post appealing enough to your audience, so that they want to take it.

23. REVIEW Everybody loves reading reviews.  You could blog a book review, a restaurant critique, or a movie screening.  Reviews help other people who, for example, were thinking about reading the same book, dining at the same restaurant, or watching the same movie; decide if they want to based on your review.  When you write a review blog post, you have the power to influence your readers to take action or avoid it.  Don’t let the power go to your head!

24. SECRETS This could mean quick shortcuts, little known facts, or juicy details.  Like news posts, people like finding out things they would not normally know had they not read your blog.  Same cautions apply!

25. STORIES People love reading fascinating stories.  A story blog post captures the attention of your audience yet is brief enough to be the length of a blog post. Stories with important lessons for your readers earn you loyal readers.

Try one (or a combination of several) of these types of blog posts the next time you write! Don’t be afraid to write CREATIVE blog posts. Most importantly, enjoy the process that blogging requires.  It always helps me to visualize my readers reading this.  Will they think this is funny?  Does that tell them everything they need to know?  etc.  Feel free to share your CREATIVE blog post ideas or to ask me a question related to this post.

How To Get Started Blogging

how to get started blogging

 

I recently received a comment from a reader asking about how they could get started blogging. As a professional blogger and librarian, the first thing I recommend to get started blogging is to read successful blogs and to read about blogging. I recommend the following resources:

 

 

Technorati is a website that lists the top 100 blogs.  Since it is updated daily, the list stays current.  By reading the top blogs, you can get a feel for different blogging styles and techniques as well as what is popularly read. You will have your own style of writing, but this is a great place to start. This website also offers a directory of blogs.

When you do read other blogs, ask yourself:

  • What do I like about this blog?  What do I dislike?
  • What sort of content does it provide?
  • Does the blogger put a unique spin on the topic and/or share their opinions?
  • Do the readers give comments?  Does the blogger respond to the comments?

Another cool website is ProBlogger.  On the home page, you can sign up for free blogging tips to be sent to your e-mail.  This website is run by Darren Rowse, co-author of the very informative book Problogger: Secrets For Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income.

Some other blogging books I recommend:

Bloggers Boot Camp: learning how to build, write, and run a successful blog by Charlies White and John Biggs

Blogging for Creatives: how designers, artists, crafters, and writers can blog to make contacts, win business, and build success by Robin Houghton

Born To Blog: building your blog for personal and business success one post at a time by Mark W. Schaefer and Stanford A. Smith

Creative Blogging: your first steps to a successful blog by Heather Wright-Porto

A couple more websites about blogging I recommend:

Daily Blog Tips, Daniel Scocco

CopyBlogger, Brian Clark

In upcoming blog posts, I plan to write about how to blog and why some blogs become very successful.  I appreciate your comments and questions below.

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

B&B Guests: History Buffs

history buffs

 

History buffs could want to stay at your bed and breakfast because they want to tour historic buildings as well as monuments or local museums in your area.  You can take advantage of your prime location, and contact these places ahead of time to make arrangements for your guests to have tickets.

 

For example, in Asheville, North Carolina, the largest private mansion in the United States called the Biltmore Estate is located near a number of bed and breakfasts.  Many of these bed and breakfasts emphasize their close proximity and include tickets to the estate in a package they offer.

You may not have a huge estate in your area, but hopefully there is something historic that people tour in your local area.  If your bed and breakfast is historic, then play up your knowledge of its history and previous owners. History buffs love gaining a better appreciation for times long ago and learning about the past!

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

PAII Conference January 14, 2014

We are focusing on the yearly conference held by the Professional Association of Innkeepers International.  Their annual conference is in January.  The following includes some talks and events that occur on Day 2 of the conference:

  • The Magic of Content Marketing to Build Your Brand, Business, and Bottom Line
  • Fresh Ways to Get Your Guests Buzzing About their Experience
  • Personal and Professional Success Strategies
  • Innkeepers and the Innkeeping Industry
  • Trade Show Grand Opening with Vendors (from all over North America), lunch and dessert served
  • B&B Technology Product Demo
  • E-Commerce Management
  • The Well-Dressed Plate
  • Eco-Friendly Low-Cost Housekeeping Solutions
  • Beyond Burnout: Rekindling the Fire
  • DIY Public Relations: How to Get Noticed By the Media
  • Build vs. Buy Decision
  • Do You Have Digital Baggage?: Search Engine Marketing
  • Entrepreneurial Marriage
  • The Family Business
  • 2013 Taxes: What It Means for You and Your Inn
  • Creative Side Dishes
  • Acquisition of a Bed and Breakfast
  • Website Strategy: Responsive Design
  • Your Own Gift Shop and Packaging
  • Stop Wasting Time and Start Making Money
  • Essentials to Financial Record Keeping
  • One Page Marketing Plan Guaranteed to Increase Your Bookings
  • How to Cash in On the Barter System
  • Food Truck Rodeo Dinner in the Trade Show

Another day of learning profitable strategies for your bed and breakfast, networking, meeting vendors, learning about products, and being inn-spired!

The Love of Learning

If you have the love of learning, you might say yes to any of the following:

  • You read books titled “Useless Information” or other trivia or fact type books
  • You still take classes (even though you may already have one college degree or more)
  • You read the books from recommended reading lists
  • You know your library card number by heart
  • You watch Jeopardy on TV and play board games that make you think
  • You solve word puzzles and logic puzzles
  • You listen to audio books or lectures while you ride in the car or exercise
  • You like to ask people in-depth questions about anything and everything
  • You watch all the educational type programs on Net Flix versus mindless entertainment
  • You have taken an online class (or earned a degree online)
  • You love to ask questions and tend to be philosophical
  • You know the difference between a hold and an inter-library loan at your public library
  • You have continued reading this far
  • You love to make lists, set goals, tackle projects
  • People ask you for advice because they consider you to be “a smart person”

I confess that I will never stop learning!  There is absolutely too much exciting information to know!!  I wish you happy reading, listening, and watching if you have the love of learning!