Productivity

Bye Microsoft Office 365, Hello Google G Suite

I’ve been an Office 365 user for a number of years now. My main usage was to manage my personal email account/s as I wanted a bit more freedom than what the free providers offer and much more professional looking. I got the Office 365 account without the actual software subscription to Microsoft Office as my girlfriend has that already, so I was paying around let’s say 13 EURs per month for the that package.

A couple of things annoyed me with the Office 365 experience, the main one was how hidden away a lot of the admin elements are. For example I used shared mailboxes to set-up “fake” email addresses that are under my main account to be able to better manage various things such as travel, finance, paypal and newsletters for example. Not only is the option hidden away, but this specific feature is not really supported in many third party email clients (especially on iOS). The second thing that annoyed me was the clunky Outlook.com interface, being big and bold left me wanting more and it reminds me of the UI style introduced with Windows Phone OS. . . . it was hard to manage the multiple accounts and I was put off from day one utilising the web interface.

 

Quick Rant: I think Microsoft really need to overhaul their interface design to be much more minimalistic and pleasing to the eye, without hindering the user. It seems like the current UI was designed by people who don’t actually use the software.

 

So, as of today, I switched to G Suite by Google. This already will save me around 9 EURs per month straight out of the box and the tools on offer are way up my street than what Office 365 offers. The way Google handles “aliases” (Shared Mailbox in Office 365 World) is much friendlier as well and is supported by a nearly all third party email clients (*cough* Airmail) and the interface for the tools are way better! I can also look at how I adapt my workflow now to utilise tools such as Hangouts for consulting sessions as well as tools like Forms. I will for sure look at the Slides application to be able to move my presentation design workflow their as well (my thoughts on the tools coming soon)

Realtime Board Experiment

I've been testing out various platforms for collaborating with remote teams for various projects I'm working on in my spare time. I really found it hard to get something simple that also provides depth at the same time as giving some ability to have a high-level overview of whats going on. 

Roll onto last week and I was browsing Product Hunt, I found a platform called Realtime Board which on paper seemed to address all of the points I was talking about above:

I've started to get deeper into this tool and will provide some rough overview in the coming months . . .

Desktop

I often find it interesting what people have on their computers and how they lay out their desktop. As I use my iPad Pro as my main computing devie I live by the apps I have installed. Below is the latest screen grab of my current iPad screen. I only have 1 screen as I like to organise apps into folders. 

 

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My main apps are:

Evernote for document scanning, note taking and article reading

OmniFocus which is my second brain

Calendar which helps me focus my time effectively  

YouTube is my main consumption tool

Great Music to Work To

Book Recommendations - How I Developed

I get asked quite a lot about what books I recommend for productivity and what books helped me get the current mindfulness I have currently. Below are the books in the order I read them, that led me on a journey to where I am now:

1 - The Beginning

To start with I read the following 3 Books from 99u, they are relatively small reads and are quite easy to consume. These books helped me get into the mindset of a freelancer, treating everyone as a customer and how I should act with that.

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Links:

- Make Your Mark - https://www.amazon.de/Make-Your-Mark-Creatives-Building/dp/1477801235/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1517246947&sr=8-3&keywords=99u

- Maximize Your Potential - https://www.amazon.de/Maximize-Your-Potential-Expertise-Incredible/dp/1477800891/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1517247029&sr=8-2&keywords=99u

- Manage Your Day-To-Day - https://www.amazon.de/Manage-Your-Day-Day-Creative/dp/1477800670/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1517247044&sr=8-1&keywords=99u

2. The Method

The following books helped me then start work on my second Brian (my system) for being able to tackle the tasks that my clients / customers through at me.

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Links:

- GTD - https://www.amazon.de/Getting-Things-Done-Stress-Free-Productivity/dp/0143126563/ref=sr_1_1?s=books-intl-de&ie=UTF8&qid=1517250082&sr=1-1&keywords=GTD

- Making Ideas Happen - https://www.amazon.de/Making-Ideas-Happen-Overcoming-Obstacles/dp/1591844118/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1517250048&sr=8-1&keywords=Making+ideas+happen

 

3. The Mindset

Next came a long these 3 books. Each one targets a specific growth area and enabled me to grow as an individual. They really open your eyes to a new way of thinking and allow you to gain a different perspective.  

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Better Effective Time for Book Reading

I ofhen get asked “how do you manage to read so much?” And people seem to be expecting some kind of magic formula for this. But actually it’s even simpler than that. What I did for a few months is track how long I was doing pretty much everything, and what this showed is that my walk to and from work wasn’t being utilised effectively. I was just listening to some music on the walk, and I also noticed that this ended up just amplifying whatever mood I was in (good if I was feeling awesome! Head if I wasn’t) I firstly decided to listen to some podcasts instead, this solved the mood amplification topic but still wasn’t a truly effective use of my time.

Many people I follow and respect always talk about how they manage to read more by utilising audio books, so this was something I was actually wanting to play around with. But one of the main sticking points was “when?” Could I listen during the day and this is something that always put me off, and then a light bulb clicked! I can utilise the 40 minute commute block a day for listening to audio books and what did you know, in a 3 week period I complete an audio book quite easily, this means with reading one book the old fashioned way and utilising audio books I was averaging reading 2 books a month. This entail made 2017 the year I read so much and I really enjoyed it and learnt a lot.  

So, to summarize! Look at your day, and see what activities you do which aren’t requiring your full attention (like walking to work) and utilise that time much better!