Tips for Staying Organized and Efficient When on the Go

Helpful article by Gina Trapani presenting techniques of how to stay organized when travelling for work. She calls on David Allen, author of Getting Things Done with whom she co-created a clever little Popplet* with some easy tips to implement.

*Note that since this blog post was made, the Popplet stopped working, even on Fast Company’s site. A PDF of the Popplet is however available for download.

I’d add that being on the plane is actually a very opportune time to get things done as you can’t receive any distracting email or phone calls. Take advantage of that time.

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Initially published on Brandon Hall’s Workplace Learning Today

Practice Makes Perfect, or at Least Expert

The premise of Tony Schwartz’s article is that any talent, skill or ability can be developed like a muscle, that is by working it out, by pushing past the comfort zone, breaking it and then resting. It reminds me very much like Steven Covey’s 7th habit, Sharpen the Saw.

Schwartz refers to Aristotle’s “We are what we repeatedly do” explaining that repetition and practice is the key to real performance improvement as well as overall benefits for focussing, being creative, empathic and less stressed.

If you want to be really good at something, it’s going to involve relentlessly pushing past your comfort zone, along with frustration, struggle, setbacks and failures. That’s true as long as you want to continue to improve, or even maintain a high level of excellence. The reward is that being really good at something you’ve earned through your own hard work can be immensely satisfying.

Here, then, are the six keys to achieving excellence we’ve found are most effective for our clients:

  1. Pursue what you love.
  2. Do the hardest work first.
  3. Practice intensely.
  4. Seek expert feedback, in intermittent doses.
  5. Take regular renewal breaks.
  6. Ritualize practice.

He details these keys in his post, giving tips on how one might start on this path of self-improvement.

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Social Networks for Lifelong Learners

Jeff Cobb recommends 20 social networks for lifelong learners. He states that:

When most people think of social networks, they think of Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, or similar sites, but there are many other types of social networks popping up on the web. Some of the fastest growing networks are designed specifically for education. These sites allow people to learn in a social context through discussion, file sharing, and collaboration.

While many are school-based networks, the following I find are well geared towards workplace learning:

LearnCentral – LearnCentral is an open environment that is half social network and half learning community. The site can be used to create courses, host meetings, connect with other education enthusiasts, and find learning resources

Udemy – Udemy encourages members to teach and learn online using the site’s many free tools and applications. Members can create their own online courses or search for courses that have been created and posted by other people.

Academici – This web-based site for academics and knowledge workers makes it easy to network, collaborate, and conduct commerce online. Members can post articles, share resources, and much more.

Academia.edu – Academia.edu is an online community that helps academics connect with colleagues and follow the latest research. Members can also share their own research and be notified when someone searches for them on Google.

iMantri – iMantri is a peer-to-peer community for people who are seeking mentors or offering coaching in a particular area. Members can use the site’s tools to assess their competencies and find people who are either willing to help or in need of help.

Check out Jeff’s full list for other novel sites for life-long learners.

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Initially published on Brandon Hall’s Workplace Learning Today

Learning Management Skills

One of the areas where I’ve often seen people struggle is when they move from being technical experts to managing a project team. The following article which addresses moving from technical expertize to management expertize is one of a series of phenomenal articles which can be found at http://www.mindtools.com/.

Any management promotion can be a challenge, but it’s especially hard on people with strong technical skills, but who have little or no management experience. In this article, we’ll explore how to make the transition, and what you can do to excel in your new role. We’ll also include links to several other resources that can help you strengthen the skills you need for success.

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Intrinsic and Extrinsic Influences on our Digital Identit(y/ies)

Great reflection piece by Andy Coverdale about Digital Identities.

I’m convinced that both the intrinsic (critical practice) and extrinsic (confessional practice) influences are necessary for properly forming identity. I’m still wondering what the particular influences are in the digital realm. I might have to dig out Sherry Turkle’s Life on the Screen

Coverdalle's Diagram of Postmodernist Social Practices

In researching approaches to digital identity, I recently came across a model which i found particularly interesting. In their schema of experiential learning, Usher, Bryant et al. (1996) describe how lifelong learning can be understood in relation to two continua (autonomy to adaptation, and application to expression) which create four specific contemporary social practices: lifestyle, confessional, vocational, and critical.

The idea of identity formation is particularly evident in the two opposing practices of the confessional and the critical

So how does identity formation within these two practices translate to the formation of digital identities and reputations, and to the representation of self on the social web?

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How to Avoid Presentation Overload

I’m a huge fan of clean, streamlined presentations with just a few key points. Not yet an expert myself, I have made huge efforts in reducing the amount of content in my presentations, as well as on my support slides.

So how exactly does one go about fighting the urge to overload their audience with everything they know about a subject? Olivia Mitchell offers a few tips to start you off:

  1. A presentation is the worst possible way to deliver lots of information
  2. Just because you say it doesn’t mean they will get it
  3. The more points you make, the less points they’ll get
  4. Stop seeing your presentation as a one-off event
  5. So what is a presentation good for?

Above and beyond face-to-face presentations, Mitchell’s tips are applicable to Webinars. I can also see them being extremely useful for planning and delivering face-to-face and online synchronous training sessions.

In addition, Mitchell offers “The Quick and Easy Guide to Creating an Effective Presentation“, an excellent step-by-step guide for planning your next presentation and your first step in being a more effective presenter.

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Initially published on Brandon Hall’s Workplace Learning Today

5 Ways to Use Social Media for Professional Development

It is interesting to see Byrony Taylor’s take on how to use social media for professional development. I personally don’t listen to podcasts (number 3) but I do all the others most definitely. I would add that I also use Amplify, Twitter and LinkedIn as professional development tools.

  1. Be part of an online community
  2. Attend a conference or an event remotely
  3. Listen to podcasts
  4. Take part in a tutorial or watch a video
  5. Start writing a blog

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Filters to Avoid Being Flooded by a Wave of Content

When I was approached two weeks ago to be part of the Workplace Learning Today team, I was both flattered and thrilled to take on a new challenge. In preparation for delivering weekly insights, I decided to do a major cleanup of my Google Reader Feeds. And before I knew it, the wave of content hit me and I was flooded. There had to be a better way.

And then the perfect article pop-up this morning thanks to one of my strategic filters: Filter or Be Flooded: Do You Need a Content Strategist?

Though this FastCompany blog posts refers primarily to content for Website design, the lessons learned are transferable to our own Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) strategy as well as larger organizational Knowledge Management (KM) strategy.

Some of the key criteria for a good content management strategy which are pulled from Kristina Halvorson’s book Content Strategy for the Web include

  • Content purpose (i.e., how content will bridge the space between audience needs and business requirements)
  • Content gap analysis

Instructional designers, sound familiar?

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Initially published on Brandon Hall’s Workplace Learning Today

Defining Moments are Born from Uncertainty

This is a great piece by Tsun-yan Hsieh is Director Emeritus at McKinsey & Company about how to let yourself be vulnerable and embrace uncertainty to acheive breakthroughs.

Are You Prepared for Your Next Defining Moment?

These critical moments are often characterized as “moments of truth,” but in real-time, they’re usually a moment of uncertainty, not clarity. So how do we make the most of the defining moments coming at us in the near future?

The advice above is somewhat geared to eliminate uncertainty. But uncertainty actually can help you achieve breakthrough results in your upcoming important meetings. To be sure, uncertainties drive all of us crazy. They paralyze most of us because our plans often become invalid; we feel exposed and vulnerable as we lose control and fear for the worst. This is the same whether we are talking about a situation broadly or a meeting specifically. Uncertain moments become frozen moments.

The guidelines are simple: embrace the uncertainty, make a conscious choice to act on it through mental preparation, and, most importantly, stand by your principles when you make your choice.

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