Insights For Success

Strategy, Innovation, Leadership and Security

Tasks

Google launches New Tasks App (Mobile & Web)

GeneralEdward KiledjianComment
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In a blog post entitled "With new security and intelligent features, the new Gmail means business", David Thacker (Google VP Product Management, G Suite) announced, "We’re also introducing a new way to manage work on the go with Tasks."

The new refreshed Tasks system will be available on the web and have accompanying mobile apps (Android and IOS). The new updated Tasks system will allow you to create tasks & subtasks with due dates and notifications. 

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The current tasks was an anemic stand-alone product that barely worked. The new one will integrate into the G Suite and allow you to drag & drop emails from GMAIL, files from Google Drive and more. 

Now you can quickly reference, create or edit Calendar invites, capture ideas in Keep or manage to-dos in Tasks all from a side panel in your inbox.
— David Thacker

The announcement is happening in the G Suite (Enterprise blog), but this update will flow to the free consumer-friendly version as well. 

The Google help centre provides additional information about how all of this will work.

Download the new Android version here and the IOS one here

Astrid Tasks acquired by Yahoo and will be shutdown

technologyEdward KiledjianComment
Yahoo has bought the popular task manager Astrid for an undisclosed amount. Yahoo has been busy buying smaller software manufacturers and revamping its existing properties (Yahoo mail, Flickr, etc).
The Astrid announcement was made on its blog. They have informed annoyed users that the service will be shutdown in 90 days and that they will allow users to download exisiting data. 

Astrid was a well designed software that whose loss will be felt in the productivity sphere.

 

How to find what really matters in YOUR life.

ProductivityEdward KiledjianComment

In January, I wrote an article entitled “Do Less, Accomplish More” where I stress the importance of asking “What’s most important to you about […]”. This is an extremely powerful question that will help you make the right decisions. I recently used this question to help a former colleague and wanted to share that experience.

Recently I had an interesting discussion with a former colleague who seemed exasperated and overwhelmed with life. He was so swamped he didn’t know what to do next. He felt was living an information overload life which meant he had lost his bearings and didn’t know how to navigate his life going forward. It was both his work and personal lives.

So after calming him down and bringing him back down to earth, I asked him “what’s most important to you in life?” The first couple of attempts, he went on tangents and started giving me form answers without taking the time to really think about my question. I had to reset the situation, explain the purpose of the exercise and asked it again. I prefaced the question by saying “If you knew tomorrow was your last day on earth, what would most important to you?” I asked him to “allow himself to play this game with me”. I asked him to “take the time and really think about the situation and his answer”.

After 5 minutes of calm and controlled reflection, he smiled and talked about his wife and children. He talked about how he had meet his wife many years ago and how much she helped him grow as a person. He then explained how his children were his single greatest accomplishment and joy. How a smile from either of his kids could make his entire soul smile.

Life often seems uncontrollably overwhelming. You may get the feeling that you are in the passenger seat of this car called life and don’t like where it is heading. The above exercise may seem simple but it is very powerful. It is a great way to periodically ground yourself and remember what really matters in your life. Everyone has a different answer and each person’s unique answer is the right one for them. The important result is to know what really matters in your life and encourage the activities that get you closer to those/them. 

Does productivity hurt creativity?

ProductivityEdward KiledjianComment

I love the Chinese concept of yin and yang. It reminds us that all things in the universe must be in balance. Good with bad, positive with negative and productivity with creativity. What?? You heard right, productivity and creativity are at opposite ends of the spectrum. The part of your brain that handles organized productive thought is the opposite side of the one that comes up with the crazy out of the box thinking that creates revolutionary shifts.

I often hear comments like “I was on the plane and all of a sudden, I had this great idea”. People seem to be most productive when they are disconnected from the world and not working against a fixed timeline.

Productivity is a creativity killer!

A Silicon Valley startup even moved its operations (temporarily) to Hawaii to gain more creativity and come up with breakthrough ideas. 

We all have “dead time” in our lives. Time we spend waiting for the bus, subway. Waiting at a checkout counter or restaurant. Before the era of always connected smartphones, many of us used this time to think about issues that needed to be thought about. Today we spend that time trying to be more productive by responding to emails and conducting web research on the go. Smartphones are a great help but if you need creativity, you should learn to put it away once in a while and just ponder and day-dream.

There was an interested 2009 article about the benefits of ineficiency for creative thinking.

My approach

As the Chief Information Security Officer of a large multinational, my job demands efficiency and control [most of the time]. Yet to truly add value for my company, I need to come up with Big Hairy Audacious Goals that push everyone outside of their comfort zone but that deliver the real long term strategic wins.

When I want to be creative, I follow a flow:

It’s play time

I block out a 4 hour chunk to play with my ideas and often lock  myself in my office. I decide on my first main idea and then use mind mapping to develop and flow. Non-judgmental, honest and fast moving. I have tried mind mapping software but for truly creative thinking, nothing works better [for me] than an analog experience on a whiteboard.

Daydream          

Allow yourself to daydream. Whether it means starring out from a window, bouncing a ball on a nearby wall or taking a random walk, allow yourself to be “non productive”. This unproductive time has been shown to spark big-picture thinking. It allows your brain to process thousands of pieces of unrelated information and produce a masterpiece of original thought.

Some may feel like they are wasting time but this couldn’t be further from the truth. As mental activity decreases, valuable brain activity increases. This has been proven in countless research papers and is the main concept behind meditation. Give your brain a chance and it will amaze you. It will interconnect unrelated bits of information and then will bubble up wonderful ideas to your conscious mind.

Trust that it will happen and get out of the way. Allow yourself to daydream.

 

Do less, accomplish more

ProductivityEdward KiledjianComment

We are in the tail end of January and many have already given up on their new year’s resolutions. In life just like in business, too many people “fail” at accomplishing the goals they set up for themselves.

This is a great time to remember one of my favorite questions “What’s most important to you about […]”

Doing less accomplishing more

This is a simple sentence that has been used to turn around dying companies and turn around marriages. Forget about trying to accomplish 500 things simultaneously and distill your commitments to the real value-add goals.  By doing what’s really important, you do less but achieve more. That is the essence of efficient time and goal management.

By making the number of goals more achievable, you set yourself up for success. Your subconscious will be more calm and relaxed because you will be tackling something it believes is achievable (10 goals instead of 100). Not only will this seem more achievable but it also means hundreds of less important distracting activities or decisions points are eliminated, which leads to clearer decision making.

You will do less but complete a lot more value add tasks. By concentrating on the elements that deliver the biggest bang for the buck, you’ll waste less time and receive many more rewards for the tasks you do accomplish.

By doing less, you free up time (which everyone needs more of anyway). You can then decide how to effectively spend this newfound time. It can be used for relaxation, education, spending time with loved ones or accomplishing other meaningful work.

How can I be lazy today?

When planning your schedule, take a minute and ask yourself “how can I be lazier today?” What activities can you get rid of without too much impact? Most people assume everything on their calendar is critical and must get done. Is that really true? Do you have to be in every one of those meetings ? Can they be delegated or refused?

I recommend building in YOU TIME into your calendar. This is time for you to just sit down and relax. Having meditated for over 15 years, with a couple simple breaths, I can put myself in a very calm and relaxed state.

Even if you don’t meditate, take a couple of minutes to sit still on your chair, close your eyes, take a deep invigorated breath, hold it for 10 seconds then slowly exhale. As you are doing this, concentrate on the inflating and deflating of your chest. With every breath, feel the muscles in your body relaxing and releasing all of their tension. Start at the bottom of your feet and work all the way up to the top of your head. This should take no more than 10 minutes (even for a newbies) but will yield hours of benefits in increased productivity.

If thoughts crawl in while you are relaxing, just acknowledge them and tell yourself there will be plenty of time to think about it later and get back to your breathing.