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Redesign Your Life Interface | Orange Nomad

Your Life Interface Is Broken. Here’s How To Fix It.

If you’ve ever tried to use a smart phone, or a website, you’re using a user interface. If done well, this interface has been designed to help you do what you want: check your messages, read an article, find information, get stuff done.

Our lives have interfaces too. We just don’t often think about it.

And just like with badly designed websites, a bad interface for your life can be frustrating, grating, full of friction and confusion.

The good news is … you’re the interface designer of your life! You can redesign the interface.

Let’s think about a few examples:

  1. Life’s popup boxes: When you work, are there a dozen things trying to get your attention? Email, phone messages, social media, blogs, news, other favorite websites … while you’re trying to get an important task done? These are like popup boxes asking you to subscribe, that get in the way of your reading. You can redesign it so that you have only the task in front of you, no popups or distractions.
  2. Simplify the steps: If you want to work out regularly, how many steps does it take before you can actually do the first exercise? For many people, they have to get their gym clothes together into a bag, close down a computer, drive to a gym, check into the gym, change, find an available spot in the gym, then do the workout. That’s like if you wanted to send an email message but had to click through seven different pages to get to the send message screen. Instead, think about simplifying it so you can get right to the task — get down on the floor and do some pushups and planks, have a chinup bar near your bathroom so you can do some every time you pass, go outside during a work break and walk quickly for 10 minutes, several times a day. You can look at other things in your life that take too many steps to accomplish a goal, and remove steps.
  3. Annoying ads or sales pitches. How often have you been on a site with annoying ads, or constant sales pitches from the blogger? You just want to read or get stuff done without all the pitches. The same is true of your regular life — you don’t want people walking into your office giving you sales pitches, nor do you want to hear or see ads in your radio or TV or magazines. Consider “ad-blocking” your life, by finding ways to avoid sales meetings, people who are soliciting, meetings where someone is trying to pitch you. Pay for ad-free music streaming and video, stop buying magazines (just read articles using read-later services that strip out ads), unsubscribe from ads disguised as newsletters in your inbox. Unfriend people who are trying to get you into multi-level marketing and the like.
  4. Make your important goals be easy to find. One frustration on websites is when the thing that matters most is buried in a hard-to-find page, not easy to find. With a good user interface, the most important goals are front and center, obvious and easy. But in our lives, we make the least important things easiest to find and do (TV, Facebook, distraction, junk food), while the most important things are hidden behind layers of distraction (your most important project, exercise, eating healthy, spending time with loved ones). What if we put these important things in front of the rest? Bury Facebook and other distractions, and have the important project be the only thing that shows when you open your computer. Get rid of junk food and have your healthy options be out in the open for when you get hungry. Put the TV in the closet, and have dumbbells there instead. To spend time with loved ones, put the activity that you want to do with them just inside the front door when you get home — put the book you want to read with your kids, or the rollerblades you want to use with them, just inside the door. Or put the coffee cups you want to use with your wife as you talk and have coffee together, in the middle of the living room.
  5. Beautiful design. When an app or website looks beautiful, it’s not just for the sake of gloss and glamor. It’s to create a mood, an experience, a feeling of delight or peace. Each action with a good app or website should give you an experience you enjoy, rather than a feeling of clunkiness or frustration. The same can be true of your life — remove distraction and clutter, and find ways to bring peace and delight to your life.

Obviously these are just a few examples, a few abstract ideas. The actual implementation depends on your goals, on the experience you want to create for yourself. But these are good to think about.

In truth, we can never control everything about our experience in life, nor should we try. But spending some time thinking about a smarter, simpler, more lovely interface for your life is about rethinking the unconscious, and living more consciously.

As always, thoughts, comments and sharing are strongly encouraged!

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How to achieve exponential growth by debriefing the past

I’ve never been a huge fan of dwelling on the past.  What’s done is done.  However, I am a big fan of learning.  I’m a huge believer in learning in order to grow.  Life is about growth.  Growing mentally, spiritually and emotionally are not things most focus on.  The crux of personal development comes from evolving who we are as leaders, fathers/wives, entrepreneurs.  Sometimes we need to reflect on the past to continue that growth.  However, there is a big difference between reflecting and dwelling.  Those that dwell on the past unfortunately tend to get stuck there.

So, how do we reflect on the past without getting stuck there?  A few years back I came across the concept of the “Debrief” at business conference.  The concept involves taking a recent experience, and examining the good/bad/ugly from it.  What did we do right?  What did we do wrong?  How can we improve?  Since then, I’ve tried to implement this in most areas of life.  This has been especially useful in my business and personal life.  It has led to exponential growth both personally and professionally.

June 30, 2014: The day that changed everything

Two years ago today I issued a press release announcing the sale of my IT business, Network Logix.  It was a bittersweet day to say the least.  The 10 years of blood (sometimes literally), sweat, tears, sleepless nights and many cups of coffee had finally culminated to a conclusion.  At least for this chapter.  It was on to the next chapter.  The next chapter for growth.

Many of you reading this were likely in the room back in April for Robin Robin’s Boot Camp.  During one of the presentations, the question was asked whether anyone in the room would like to eventually sell their business.  Nearly the entire room raised their hands.  This got me thinking.

I’ve always attempted to be as efficient as possible.  Learning from others allows me to expedite the process, and possibly side-step any pitfalls along the way.  Learning from coaches, mentors and peers has led to exponential growth for myself and many others.

After selling my business, I did a Debrief of what I learned.  Boiling this down to just a few items was pretty difficult, as you can imagine.  10 years is a long time, and I could almost write a book about all the adventures.  (Stay tuned for that, it’s in the works.) Below are the 7 lessons I learned along the way.  I’m happy to share them with you.

7 Lessons I Learned From Building, Growing and Selling My MSP

  1. Find a niche and OWN it!
  2. Sell, sell, sell
  3. Fire Rotten Clients
  4. Ruthless Productivity
  5. Document and Systematize All Processes
  6. Focus All Your Attention On Your TOP Clients
  7. Run It Like You’re Going To Sell It

I sincerely hope that there is at least one thing that you can draw from my debrief.  I’d also love to hear how you use past experiences to further your growth as an entrepreneur, parent, father or any other roles you are privileged to play.  Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.  Feel free to share this with your network too.  I’d be eternally grateful.  Have an awesome day!

 

 

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I’m Returning to Single-Tasking

I have a confession to make: I haven’t been single-tasking lately.

I’ve returned to multi-tasking and distraction.

I’d like to blame my smart phone (I long for the days of my sweet dumb phone), but in all honesty I constantly switch browser tabs too. I’ve been pulled by the allure of so many interesting things to read on the Internet, email, Slack, always something to check or read or respond to.  Not to mention the ultimate time-suck…..FACEBOOK!

As of today, I’m returning to single-tasking.

Why? Because I think giving in to constant switch and distraction is a way to run away. It feels busy and productive, but it’s an avoidance. Not just an avoidance of important tasks, but of whatever boredom or bad feelings I might be having in the moment.

So here are the rules I’m going to try to follow:

  1. One browser tab open. I want to focus on reading one thing, responding to one email at a time, doing one task in my browser at a time. I realize that I might have to open multiple tabs to work on something, and that’s fine, but if I have tabs open that don’t have anything to do with my current task, I’ll bookmark them for later, add to Trello, or add the task to my to-do list.
  2. Know what I’m focusing on. When I open a tab, I have to consciously pause and think about what I’m trying to accomplish. That might be looking up some info, or writing something, or answering an email … whatever it is, I have to try to pause and make sure I’m being conscious about it.
  3. Read to completion. Unless there’s an urgent interruption, if I open an article to read, I have to decide whether I want to invest the time to read it right now. That means giving it my full attention, and reading to the end (if possible — unexpected interruptions are fine). If I don’t really want to read this article to completion, I’ll save it for later or just close it.
  4. One app on my phone at a time. Just like browser tabs, I often have multiple apps open on my phone, and I switch between them often. I’m going to try to close my phone except when I consciously want to do something on it — send a message, reply to emails, read something. And I’ll only have one app open whenever possible.
  5. Be mindful of interruptions & switching. I think my mind is easily distracted, so I’m going to try to practice noticing when I’m about to switch, and make a conscious decision to either follow or not follow that urge to switch. It’s OK to switch, if I’m ready to leave what I’m doing and focus on this new thing instead. And it’s OK to be interrupted (by a call, my son, my wife, etc.), but I’d like to try to make a conscious note that I’m switching my attention, leave behind what I’m doing, and give my full attention to whoever is calling for it (without resentment that they’re interrupting me). Now, I realize I’m not going to be perfect at this (I was interrupted as I was writing this paragraph, btw), but I’ll try to practice is when I remember.
  6. Consciously close my computer & phone. I don’t need to always be working, always be distracted, always be checking. Sometimes, I can consciously close things for awhile, read a book, go for a walk (without headphones), do something with a loved one. I’ll try to consciously tell myself, “OK, digital-free time for the next 30 minutes” (or hour, or two hours, or whatever).

These aren’t hard and fast rules, but things to shoot for. I will fail at them often, but I’m going to try to follow them for at least a week, and hopefully longer.

I’m not doing this to be more productive, more focused, more disciplined, more perfect. I just want to explore mindfulness and consciousness, and not avoiding by distraction. Wish me luck!

If you have the same issue, or have more to add, feel free to leave me a comment below.  [I know I’m not the only one out there ;-)]

Here’s a funny video on the subject too.  Enjoy!


Credits: Photo from sharazza.com

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