Microsoft Simply Rebrands Acompli as Outlook for iOS & Android — and That’s a Good Thing

Acompli for iOS & Android

Unlike Google, which a while back snatched my previous favorite email client Sparrow, and seems to be folding it slowly if at all into the Gmail app, Microsoft has, within two months of acquiring Acompli, rebranded it to be the Outlook app for iOS & Android.  And that was an excellent move.

Acompli had already become my default email client on both platforms, because of its savvy with both Gmail and Exchange.  It works seamlessly with both, with email as well as calendars.  It can manage attachments between email, Google Drive, OneDrive, and Dropbox.  And it has a People tab that consolidates all of your interactions by person.

So, in the short term, I’m pretty happy with this development — other than that I now have to migrate my data.  It’ll be interesting to see whether the product improves or declines on Microsoft’s watch.

The One Thing: Is That Even a Thing?

Thing 1 & Thing 2

All of you who know me personally know that it’s not in my nature to be involved in only one thing.  Work, church, music, gadgets, family…and each of these encompass multiple streams of activity.

I’m on Day 7 of the 15 Days to Freedom Blog Challenge by Natalie Sisson of Suitcase Entrepreneur, and the topic for today is to describe the one thing I will focus on in 2015.

Juggling multiple things is true of everybody, I’m sure.  Who among us these days has the luxury of ignoring some aspect of a multi-faceted life?  We as a culture look disapprovingly of those who do, for example those who ignore their family to single-mindedly focus on their work.  And I wouldn’t want to be that kind of person anyway.

I think it becomes a question of picking a main theme, and devoting a significant portion of my time and attention to that one theme.  Specifically carving out time to work on it, and being able to devote concentrated energy and passion to it.  And cutting back on other activities to make that possible, if necessary.

My one thing in 2015 is to build up my businesses to provide value to clients and customers.  This is key to overall success for me this year, and really is one thing that will make many of the other things possible.

So even if One Thing isn’t a thing, then the Number One Thing can be a thing.

This Year’s Model

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I decided last year that it’s not a good bet to rely — or at least to rely solely — on traditional employment for your livelihood.

I’m on Day 6 of the 15 Days to Freedom Blog Challenge by Natalie Sisson of Suitcase Entrepreneur, and the topic for today is to identify my ideal business model.  In this case, she means which of three types:  active, having a direct correlation between the time you spend and the revenue you make; residual, where once a product is put in place, it continues to earn revenue with minimal additional time investment; or a combination of both.

It’s a bit of a trick question, or a rhetorical question—this challenge is called “15 Days to Freedom” after all.  My answer, though, is “both”.

I’m committed to helping my consulting clients succeed.  This in itself already gives me more freedom of schedule and location than being an employee, which is a great benefit.

At the same time, I’m interested in building up initiatives in Internet marketing and in app development.  This will give me residual income in the future, to diversify my income sources and styles.

That’s the plan; now it’s time to go and execute!

 

The Habit of Having Habits

Remember that distraction we talked about yesterday?  I think this can happen at a higher level, a life level, too.

I’ve always been an early adopter of technology.  That mindset can also bleed over into other areas of life.  I like to look for and try out the latest diet, the latest productivity system, the latest lifestyle app…even the latest entrepreneurial system :-)  I can do this even in areas where I have an existing solution that I’m perfectly happy with.  It’s an engineer’s mindset, always in quest of a better mousetrap.  Or a form of FOMO.  Or maybe both.

It can be enriching to gain the benefits of new research, new advances, and new techniques.  But there is a cost in switching gears, in retooling to adopt the new methods.  If done too often, one can spend more time learning and converting to new systems than actually using them to accomplish something productive.

I’m on Day 5 of the 15 Days to Freedom Blog Challenge by Natalie Sisson of Suitcase Entrepreneur, and the topic for today is to describe one habit I’m replacing, and what I’m going to replace it with.

So my new habit this year is to pick a horse and ride it, for long enough to reap some benefits from it.  Change incrementally, tweak as necessary, but not to radically change the underpinning, unless it’s absolutely necessary.  And not to enjoy the journey so much that it delays the results.

The Challenge of Not Being Distra…oh, look over there!

Detour sign

There are so many things to distract us from concentrating for long periods of time these days.  And the problem with many of those things is that they are enjoyable, or at least addictive to some degree.  Watching TV, checking social media, playing games on your smartphone—one could easily do these for hours.  But we all also need to get Real Work done.

I’m on Day 4 of the 15 Days to Freedom Blog Challenge by Natalie Sisson of Suitcase Entrepreneur, and my assignment today is to tell you about one distraction I’m going to remove from my daily life.

Since I already employ several anti-distraction techniques, such as only checking my email at periodic intervals, turning off email notifications, to name a couple, I have to dig a bit deeper for this one.  And my distraction is…

Browser tabs!  I usually open a Gmail tab, a Facebook tab, a LinkedIn tab, and have those open all the time.  I also tend to pull up articles that came to me via email, and leave those tabs open until I read the articles.  While I’m doing research, I tend to open up websites in new tabs, and leave those open as well.  I can end up with multitudes of tabs open in multiple windows, any of which are able to distract me at any moment if I’m trying to find an excuse not to do what the f*** I’m supposed to be doing.  Or, for the procrastinator’s jackpot, get compulsive and decide that I need to take care of all of those tabs right now.  Of course, some people like to work this way, but it’s not the most productive for me.

Fortunately, all it’s going to take to eliminate this distraction is a little willpower, and what my mother taught me:  it’s OK to make a mess while working on a project, but put everything away as soon as you’re done.  Take care of those pesky tabs.  Read them if they must be read, or if they need to be saved for later, save them to Pocket (for reading) or Evernote (for reference).  Or create a task to deal with it, and paste the URL into the task (I currently use OmniFocus).  Start the next task with a clean browser slate.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some browser tabs to take care of.  Unless something distracts me from that.

 

 

The Challenge of Using (and Not Being) a Productivity Tool

Assorted work tools on wood

I’m on Day 3 of the 15 Days to Freedom Blog Challenge led by Natalie Sisson of the excellent Suitcase Entrepreneur fame. And her topic for us, the challenged, is to describe one tool that I will be using to become more productive.

Since my MIA (Most Important Action) from yesterday is building relationships, that’s what today’s tool is going to be for.

I’ve been using a tool called Contactually, which is a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool that’s designed to be as effortless as possible.  You connect the web service to your Gmail, Exchange, LinkedIn, etc. and it will not only import your contacts, but it will track your communications with your contacts across all of your social media.  This eliminates needing to enter a summary of the communication afterward, or having to do all your communication from within the CRM, which is what you would have to do with other packages.

You can also set up Buckets, and put people in those buckets.  Say for example I set up a bucket called “Hot to Trot”.  You can then set a time on that bucket, say one week, and Contactually will remind you if you haven’t contacted someone in that bucket within that period of time.  This is perfect for making sure you touch base with certain people on a regular basis.

Contactually also of course does pipelines, if you want to track steps in your sales cycle or other phased communication activity.  It also does Programs, which are a scripted set of interactions with a person, either totally automatically, or by prompting you to do it.  It has many other excellent features that you can see here.

Pricing starts at $29/month, with a 30-day free trial, so it isn’t cheap, but it provides excellent value in time and effort savings, and in improving the quality of your most important relationships.

So, as I ramp up my relationship-building this year with Contactually, hopefully this tool will help me avoid being a tool.

The Challenge of Doing What the F*** I’m Supposed To Be Doing

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“What the f*** am I supposed to be doing today?”

I ask myself various forms of this question — most of them more polite than that — throughout the day, every day.  I’m sure I’m not the only one.

It’s often not an easy question.  Right now I count 40 active projects across the work and personal domains, each of which has one or more next actions.  And there’s new stuff bombarding us constantly.  It’s impossible to work on all of those simultaneously, or even in a single day.  So what’s a guy or gal to do?

Narrow down the list, of course.  Some projects are always more important than some others.  Some deadlines are closer than others.  Some wheels are squeakier than others.  And above all, some tasks will get you closer to your goals than others.  I like to sit down with my list of tasks and my list of goals for the year, and pick the 3 tasks that I must do today to gain yardage on my goals.

It’s Day 2 of Natalie Sisson’s 15 Days to Freedom Blog Challenge, and she calls these tasks MIA’s, or Most Important Actions.   (Definitely the opposite of Missing In Action; don’t be that!)  And the challenge for today is to identify the one Most Important Action that’s, uh, the most important to achieve in the next 15 days.  Mine is…drumroll please…

Building relationships.  I became less active in my networks during 15 years of working for the same company, particularly those outside the organization, as if somehow I didn’t need them anymore.  But having mutually-beneficial relationships is important to the success of the ventures I’m embarking on now.  So, my MIA is to reach out to at least 3 people every day, and see if I can re-kindle a friendship, renew an acquaintance, and help them in any way.

So, if you hear from me, you’ll know that talking to you is exactly what the f*** I’m supposed to be doing today.

The Challenge and Miracle of Getting Me Out of Bed Early

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Ever have a pleasant surprise when two independent things you’re working on align perfectly? I feel that today as I write this post, which suggests to me that I’m meant to be doing both right now.

I joined Natalie Sisson’s 15 Days to Freedom New Year Blog Challenge, where she guides her readers to post to their blogs for 15 consecutive days. I wanted to do this to jump-start my momentum in this new year. Her Day 1 topic is to outline my Daily Success Plan.

At the same time, since I’ve left the world of standard corporate employment, there hasn’t been much routine, because the schedule and demands of each day can be so totally different.  I’ve been looking for a way to keep some rhythm and momentum in each day.  Ideally at the same time, I’ve wanted to find a way to avoid the distractions of modern life and carve out some time each day to work on myself.  For this, I have decided to follow Hal Elrod’s The Miracle Morning.

The gist of Hal’s plan is to get up an hour earlier than you would have otherwise, and spend that time practicing the 6 habits he calls the SAVERS:

  • Silence – prayer, meditation, etc.
  • Affirmations
  • Visualization
  • Exercise
  • Reading
  • Scribing – what we would usually call “writing”, such as journaling.

All of these are things I wish I did more of, so the idea of combining them all into a single morning routine sounds extremely powerful.

The problem being that I am so not a morning person.  To the point where I believe that this is genetic.  But even I know that with sufficient motivation this can be overcome.  At one point in my life, I was getting up early to go to the gym every day before going to work.  But nothing of that sort has been happening recently.

Well, I’m in Day 2 of the Miracle Morning, and I’m happy to report that the results so far are encouraging!  I’m making the attitude shift that convinces you that getting out of bed is going to be much better for you than hitting snooze several times.  And while it’s early enough that I’m using the time for Affirmations and Visualization in deciding/writing up/composing what those will be, that in itself is very empowering.

So there you have it:  a happy confluence, reinforcing new habits for what will be an excellent day, and an excellent year!  May you also be able to create the same for yourself.

Ten Things to Know About Android 5.0 Lollipop

Even though my primary phone is the Pop Tart, a.k.a iPhone 6 Plus, I really like what Google has done with Lollipop, so I’ve gone back to carrying my Android phone with me also. Here’s 10 things that are cool about Lollipop. Now, if Asus & Google could get their act together and push the update out to my Nexus 7 tablet… (Yes, I know I could update it myself from the factory image, but I’m not so much into starting from zero. Although if the push takes long enough, I might.)

Ten Things to Know About Android 5.0 Lollipop