Pitching the e-Calendar, plus That Won’t Fit There!

Today I learned:

1. That won’t fit there! Earlier today our 2 year-old pooped on the potty – no small achievement in itself – and after an excited potty dance our 4 year-old examined the output from multiple angles and proclaimed, very seriously, “well…I think we’re going to need this…” She then went and pulled out the plunger from under the sink. Flushing proved her hypothesis correct.

What did I learn from all this?

  1. We need to buy the 2 year-old some prunes.
  2. The 4 year-old’s spatial reasoning is really improving. She already knew the square peg, round hole thing, but now she’s good to go with round peg, round hole too. Cool.

2. Pitching the e-Calendar: My wife won’t use an electronic calendar. I have my schedule online. We are forever destined not to know what the other is doing.  If things don’t improve we may need to actually talk to each other to ensure we are on the same page.

Taken from: http://oggsync.com/img/google.png

Ok, it’s not that bad. We do speak, but we certainly aren’t on the same page with our calendars. This was highlighted for me today when I missed an activity that was on her calendar, but wasn’t on mine.

The truth is, I couldn’t live without my online calendar – the reminders (via email and pop-up) keep me on track and it is a constant reference accessed via phone, laptop and iPad. I don’t do task lists. I do calendars. If there is a task to do and it’s not scheduled, it’s not going to get done.

My wife actually has one too. I created a google calendar for her and it syncs perfectly with mine. The only problem is she won’t look at it. I have been trying for months – years maybe – to get her to make the shift but I haven’t ever been successful at getting her to shift for more than a couple days.

Today, I realized why.

It’s Marketing 101. I’ve been trying to sell her on the features, not the benefits.

In a renewed effort to get her on the bandwagon I did some brainstorming into why an e-calendar will make life better for her. 

  • It’s like a purse for your schedule. Sure, it doesn’t have a nice little pocket to hold receipts, stickers and fruit bars like your Mom-Calendar, but it holds a crazy amount of stuff. Each entry will hold links, clipped articles, recipes and other information so you will have it in the right spot when the time arrives.
  • It will save you time. Synching events automatically will save copying between home and work. Recurrence settings will move birthdays etc. from year to year.
  • It will save your butt. Automated reminders by email, pop-up or text will mean next year you won’t forget your parent’s birthdays and anniversary.
  • It will always be accessible. Events come up when you are out and about, not when you are standing next to the fridge.
  • It will keep you in the loop locally. Schools, sports leagues, dance companies and all sorts of organizations we are involved with use online systems, so their calendars can be aligned with ours.

To summarize my new sales pitch:

How would you like a product that will save you time, carry everything you need, cover your butt when trouble crops up, help you keep tabs on the neighbourhood and always be at your side?

Now, if I could just find a pen I would be able to get myself an appointment on her calendar to deliver my new pitch!

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45-Minute Meetings and Reflection on the Crisis in Syria

Today I learned:

 45-Minute Meetings: Last night I listened to a new podcast put out by Manager-Tools.com on 45 minute meetings.

There were a number of good reminders, such as:

–      circulate an agenda in advance

–      start and end on time

–      maintain an eye on the clock and a militant hand on the agenda

The advice, while good, was for the most part not new (and they admitted as much in the podcast). The simple concept of 45 minutes is an interesting one though.

The basic premise is this:  Meeting best-practices aside, whatever you can do in 1-hour, you can probably accomplish in 45 minutes. Essentially it is just a MS Outlook default setting that causes us to book most meetings for an hour, and when we truly put thought into the time required we will typically realize less is more. I decided to give this a run today, and re-booked a meeting I had scheduled with 8 people from across the company for 45 minutes instead of an hour.

The result? Success.

Would we have ended that fast anyway? Possibly, but there is risk in taking that approach. Conversations tend to fill the time available to hold them.  Today, I made the timeline very clear at the start, and the end result is that 8 people saved 15 minutes. Put another way, the company gained 2 hours additional time for other matters. Not a bad start.

All-in-all, more valuable insight from the guys at Manager-Tools.com. Highly recommend.

The Crisis in Syria: I read an article in the Economist this morning about recent events in Syria, and it occurred to me it had been awhile since I had spoken with a friend of mine originally from the area.  I decided to see how he is doing.

He told me his parents and siblings are living in a “war zone.” Shops and businesses are generally closed, opening only  periodically and briefly to help get citizens critical supplies.  The only time his family has left the house in the last 7 days was when they were smoked out due to fumes from a pipeline which exploded in the area. The internet and phones lines are intermittent, and while he is speaking with them daily, it is often after dozens of attempts to get through.

I asked what he thinks the outcome will be and he said lessons from other countries in the region will not be translated directly to Syria’s President – “when you believe you are a god, you dismiss similar events, as you can not believe they relate to you.” In the end, he feels the tide is slowly turning and the outcome will be no different than in other places, such as Libya.  One man hidden in an ever shrinking strong-hold, surrounded by an ever shrinking army of supporters.

Personally it is having a huge impact on him.  At this point he said “ I can’t sleep. I get up at 2am every night to watch the news of what is happening during the daylight hours there.” Most telling though, his final comment: “Despite all that, in the 16 years since I left Syria, this is the first time I wish I was home.” He would rather leave a quiet life in Canada to enter a war zone, just to be near his family.

Day to day problems at home don’t seem too bad…


Email: Butt-covering and Productivity Measures

Today I learned:

1. Covering my butt:  I spend alot of my day preaching transparency, open communication, and the need to nurture trusting relationships. Simultaneously I save just about every incoming and outgoing email, and am I required to call on my stash all too often to cover my butt. I don’t like it, and never have. Today I learned I still need my stash and I have not figured out how to kill the endless loop. If only we could all delete them and start actually talking instead of documenting.

This gives me an idea: Would it be possible to go one single day at work without sending an internal email?  A worthy experiment for next week maybe…

2. First thing in the morning: On Seth’s Blog yesterday there is a post about the first thing when we sit at the computer in the morning. Essentially the question is this: Do you consume or do you create?

This got me thinking about a simple change I made a few months ago and how it is truly working. I setup my Outlook to open to a folder I labelled as Priority Inbox which holds those items that I decide are critical for the day ahead. Before I leave at night I make sure my Priority Inbox holds the key tasks for tomorrow and, most importantly, absolutely nothing else. That way when I sit down the first thing I see is what I need to see, and not what other people might want me to see.  Seth’s Blog help remind me that this little trick is working like a charm.

(Note: I don’t use task lists – I email myself things that need to be done, calls to return etc. If it is important enough, then those “tasks” are in my Priority Inbox, along with everything else.)