Archive for Technology

At the park, I decided I would blog again.

It’s that simple.  I turn 39 next month.  Too much time is spent rolling ideas and what ifs around my over intellectualizing mind.  It’s time to just do it.

It won’t be perfect.

It won’t be anything I picture in my head.

But too often I hear “you should share that” when I come across something cool, helpful or awe inspiring.   Why not simply share?
So that is what this is about.  HowWeCanGIVEitAll.   (I will get back to my new blog name later but in a nutshell, life is about giving, not having.)

My plan to keep it simple?  I rarely go anywhere without a device in my hands.  A blog post can be scratched out anywhere.
One word.
Two pictures.
A 5 part novel.
That’s me and that’s what you can expect.
Randomly applying what fits the moment.   Parenting, Marriage, Technology, Working Moms, Artsy Crafty, Sporty Fitness, Religion and Politics (yes, I’ll go there), Organization, Deals, Steals and Recommendations.   Global topics.  Poverty. Starving children.  Social Injustice.  All in the name of giving more and more of ourselves to make this world a better place.

This is not a rash decision.  I have struggled heavily with a purpose for my blog.  Who wants to hear me?  Why ME?  I don’t want to be prideful or arrogant or appear like I am in the know because I am so not.
And I don’t want to just fill the web world with more worthless info.   DON’T LET ME!   Will it make money?  Should it make money?   I am SO not a writer, nor a people person.  I’m a problem solving, crazy creative analytical engineer.    This ought to be interesting.

I’m turning that all over to God (ok, so I reached it gently in his direction but I still have a tight grip) and trying to be obedient now so that this does not become a sin by what I have left undone.

So here I am.  Back to blog.  And it only took 5 glorious end of summer minutes on a park bench watching my kids play.   (Ironically I look like that out of touch mother with her head in her phone….see? NOT perfect!)


Mind Mappin’ Mama

I have a Mindmap for practically everything. Sometimes it is a mindmap I make and manage for a long period of time – like my personal scheduler. Other times it’s a quick throw away mindmap that helps me think through a difficult conversation.

What is a mindmap?
Here’s the official definition from our generations “Encyclopedia Brittanica” AKA Wikipedia:

A mind map is a diagram used to represent words, ideas, tasks or other items linked to and arranged radially around a central key word or idea. It is used to generate, visualize, structure and classify ideas, and as an aid in study, organization, problem solving, decision making, and writing.It is an image-centered diagram that represents semantic or other connections between portions of information. By presenting these connections in a radial, non-linear graphical manner, it encourages a brainstorming approach to any given organizational task, eliminating the hurdle of initially establishing an intrinsically appropriate or relevant conceptual framework to work within.A mind map is similar to a semantic network or cognitive map but there are no formal restrictions on the kinds of links used.

The elements are arranged intuitively according to the importance of the concepts and they are organized into groupings, branches, or areas. The uniform graphic formulation of the semantic structure of information on the method of gathering knowledge, may aid recall of existing memories.

Here is an example of a hand drawn mindmap:

And one that is generated with a computer:

All the way back to Junior High School, my class notes looked like a mindmap. There’s just something about this format with multiple colors and lots of arrows and boxes that helps me really process information more quickly, not dwindle on decisions and be most productive and effective.

Here’s just a short list of how I’ve used Mindmaps recently:

  • My personal organizer mindmap I use at least 3-4 times a day. It tracks my meetings appointments, goals, tasks, idea brainstorms, bible verse to memorize, personal journaling, notes from meetings, you name it. It is like command central for me.
  • Brainstormed a website layout
  • Organized my thoughts for writing an eBook
  • Focused myself for a difficult conversation
  • Created a meeting agenda
  • Picked apart ideas for a marketing plan
  • Took notes during a phone conference
  • Put together a presentation outline before moving it into Powerpoint

Why I like Mindmaps:

  • It’s fast and easy to add items. Mindmapping actually keeps up with the pace of the thoughts pouring through my brain!
  • The levels, branches, legs make it easy to separate and differentiate ideas
  • There is no wrong or right way to organize! You can start quick and get your thoughts out then very easily drag and drop to move your ideas around

Mindmapping allows you to be more efficient in organizing your thoughts. You can focus on the outcomes you are trying to achieve and not be distracted when your brain runs in another direction. I can spend 5 minutes mindmapping in preparation for a difficult conversation that will lead me to a better outcome in a shorter period of time.

My personal favorite Mindmap Software is by Mindjet. There are also a variety of free mindmapping applications but I do not use them so I can’t give a personal recommendation. But I do suggest you visit Mindjet’s website to understand the potential of how it can used.

100 emails a day and a fear of deletion

I came home from the office today looking like a zombie. My husband kept asking me what was wrong and it took me a second to figure it out. I was tired. I went straight to making dinner, cutting up bite size pieces of chicken for everyone 5 and under (that’s 3 people!), dishing out the appropriate portions of peas and carrots, buttering dinner rolls and pouring milk. I couldn’t even force a smile across my lips. Because I was worn out from my day and not able to enjoy my family! That is clearly NOT having it all!

So I thought and thought what the heck was wrong with me and came to this conclusion. I was mentally and emotionally spent from my day at work. Not all days are like this but today was exceptionally challenging with some high intensity meetings and emotional co-workers over projects gone way bad and……..over 100 emails! Yes, that’s how many I received today. Starting at 12:35 AM actually and ending, well, do they ever really end? There’s one from Australia popping in as I write this.

So, that’s just my ‘corporate job’ email. My personal pictureyourlife email is equally overwhelming. Because I manage my own website, I control the size of my mailbox. That has led me to frequently increase the capacity instead of deleting. Most people would have a panic attack to know that I have now 2099 emails in my inbox Friends and family I haven’t touched base with in forever, the obligatory 3 or 4 jokes a day (thank goodness there were none chiding my alma mater Ohio State Buckeyes after last nights no show at the BCS Championship game!). And of course the spam. Do I care that Kohl’s is having Super Saturday AGAIN? Do they really think I’m going to spend one of my only sleep in days to be there for the doorbusters at 6 AM? Why am I still subscribed to this stuff?

How do I get a handle on this? DELETE, DELETE, DELETE and UNSUBSCRIBE! We all need to get this excess noise out of our lives and focus on what is really important and necessary. In comparison to what I received, I only sent 14 emails today. And to the credit of some of my thoughtful teammates, a few emails were eliminated by a quick trip to my desk to shore up some strategy. How about that? We actually spoke to each other face to face!

Ultimately, I think I am my own worst culprit. The email overload is so bad that I’ve gone into survival mode. I don’t delete! Our company policy is 200 MB and 60 days. So I just manage from the top of the stack and let the system weed out the old. So far so good on that method. I haven’t lost anything important with this approach (which makes me wonder, if nothing important happened over 60 days ago, does what I’m doing right now really matter at all??) But even as I process through emails while I’m reading, I just can’t bring myself to deletion. I have this false sense that I will go back and check something, forget a date, want to log that person’s email address, maybe do something about that sale, etc, etc. But it really rarely happens.

On the positive side, the quantity of email I receive is in direct proportion to the number of people in my own circle of influence. Let me tell you, before email, I wasn’t receiving 100 phone calls or letters a day! Thank God for this technology that helps keep us all connected!

So here is a new resolution for the year……read and process, read and process, read and process!

Read your email and do one of the following:

  1. If it requires only a short reply (< 30 seconds), do it right away then delete the original
  2. If it will take some time, effort, research to reply to, tag it as a task and add it to your task list so it does not get lost in the shuffle
  3. Have a system in place to capture email addresses so you can feel comfortable deleting one from somebody new (if in doubt, keep an email address. you never know!)
  4. Just delete it and don’t feel guilty! You’ll forget about it by tomorrow anyhow

Happy deleting!