In the episode:
00:57 – Quick recap
03:17 – Are you missing out on Hangouts?
04:29 – Hangouts vs. Slack
07:29 – Power moves for managing emails
11:28 – 2 things to get out of your inbox
16:20 – Day-to-day inbox management
27:27 – Goodbye to Evernote
32:51 – Is simple enough?
34:34 – How attentive are you?
35:56 – Quick recap
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James: James Schramko here. Welcome back to the Productivity Using Google series. This episode, we’re talking in more depth about productivity. Of course, I’m not doing this episode by myself. I brought back Peter Moriarty from ITGenius.com. Welcome Pete.
Peter: Hey James.
James: So, we have already covered quite a lot in this series. The first series was just getting to the basics of email and why it’s such a good solution, and we talked about my journey from Outlook, and how it really freed me up and how it’s a more professional solution, and it gets you off your server.
In the second episode, we went into a lot more depth into the other tools that come with the suite, Calendar, Drive, and Docs, and Sheets, and Forms, and we slightly touched on Hangouts and Sites. We might just delve into that just a little bit more. In this episode, we’re going to be talking about some productivity ideas. How to use some of the tools to get an even more advanced output because now you’ve got a lot of these things in just one place, they’re all one click away from your email account. They are probably going to cost you $5 per month per person in your business, so they’re ridiculously low priced compared to some other solutions. I talked about how I’m not using tools like Dropbox so much anymore.
In this episode, I want to share why I moved away from Evernote, and how I’m using a Google sheet to replace most of the things that I was using Evernote for, and also, I want you to talk about Hangouts because I don’t use them. I didn’t like my experience with it. I want you to convince me why I’m making a terrible mistake or at least set me straight about that experience.
Let’s start with Hangouts because the things that I found awkward were when people were trying to call me, I couldn’t see them ringing, and I think it was trying to send it to my personal account and not the new business account, and I think I had to activate it, and it wasn’t activated. And secondly, people in my team, we don’t do video. I’m dealing with lovely people in the Philippines. They’re very chatty and instant messagey. We’re not video people.
And when it comes to customers, I’ve been using GoToMeeting for probably nine years. It’s such a good solution allowing people to phone in and or to log in using their VOIP and share screens and things in real time, and it records. It does all the things I need it to do. Am I missing out with Hangouts?
What’s good about Hangouts?
Peter: James look, we very much wear the Google underpants, but you’ve got to use the right tool for the job. I agree with you that, I believe that GoToMeeting, GoToWebinar is the best product out there to run webinars from for live webinars. I also believe that there are other options out there that people may be using because all of their friends are using those options, like perhaps Skype. Working with Skype, if all of your friends are using Skype, then that might be the best thing for you to use.
Now Google have a little bit of work to do on getting Hangouts to a level where it’s usable for everyone and it’s easy for someone to start jumping in and using it because it’s part of the Google apps ecosystem. Well, it hasn’t necessarily been given the right kind of birth and introduction to everyone using it on a day-to-day basis. So what Google have done is they’ve set up Hangouts.google.com, which is now the one place you go to to use Google Hangouts.
There’s two kinds of parts to Google Hangouts. There’s text-based chat, which is a little bit like Skype chat or Facebook messenger, and there’s also the video calls as well, which is a little bit like the kind of video side of Skype.
Hangouts or Slack?
But the big question that we get is, should I use Hangouts or should I use Slack? What’s better? Slack is super popular at the moment, and you know, it’s free, which is really cool. Lots of people are now using it for their internal teams. On that question, our recommendation is, use what’s going to work best for your business. If you haven’t used instant messaging before in the business and you’re just getting started, if you’ve rolled out Google apps, well give Hangouts a go. It’s got a great chat functionality. The chat synchronizes across your different devices. And so for text-based communication, you get a push notification on your mobile. If you’re not by your computer and vice versa, if you’ve got your phone in your pocket but you’ve got your computer open, you get a notification there.
“Use what’s going to work best for your business.”
But where it kind of falls down is when you’ve got a larger team. If you’ve got more than 10 people on your team, and you’re doing a lot of these conversations in Hangouts, in the group threads, it can be easy to lose track of exactly where you’re up to. So what something like Slack allows you to do is set notification preferences for the different chat rooms that you’re a part of, the different areas that you’re a part of. So if you don’t really need to be involved in the finance side of your business and you want the finance team to be kind of chatting away in there and just have the ability to mention you and pop you in when you need to be brought in, well Slack is a better tool for that.
Same as with other areas of the business. So they’re two tools that do something similar. Slack obviously doesn’t have video calls or anything built in yet. Hangouts is great for audio calls and video calls.
James: I think Slack actually integrates some of the other tools, doesn’t it?
Peter: It will certainly integrate. So with Slack, you can have a button there to launch a Hangout with this person. If you want to use Hangouts just for the audio or the video calling, and great for internal stuff, not as much market penetration of something like Skype, so you’d probably be less likely to have a Hangout with someone outside of your business. But for internal audio and video calls, absolutely brilliant for team meetings, absolutely brilliant. But with Slack, it really gives you the power of a little bit more control over your notifications, to cut down the noise.
James: So it’s a case of a tool that’s, it might be additional to what you have in the Google suite, but it can certainly harness that. And I’ve found also, it’s easy for us to just paste links in there in a chat that’s relevant and then we go back to Google to share it. It’s a nice tool sitting on top of a Google platform for you to extend the power of the tools within the Google platform.
Peter: Yeah, totally.
And there’s additional things like the integration with GIPHY for example, to throw random gift-animated images into the chat while you’re chatting to your team members, and that really brings alive the chitter chatter and the day-to-day office communication that you would miss out on if you’ve got a remote and a geographically distributed team. So that’s something that’s really important for the culture side of the business. And Slack does a really great job of that, is emulating what would you normally do if people would be sitting in an office during the day, we’d be cracking jokes, we’d be talking about off-topic stuff, and Slack does a great job of allowing you to do that.
James: Well, thanks for explaining that, Pete.
Managing your email
Now, let’s talk about some power moves when it comes to managing email for productivity. You and I both did a course covering the thinking behind managing your email. For me, it started with the foundation that your inbox is a to-do list that other people add things to. So with that foundational thinking, you have to be prepared to be super disciplined around what you allow into there.
So step one is being mindful when you subscribe to everyone’s newsletter or mail letter that you’re actually committing future time to processing that. So that being the case, you should most definitely make rules that send those marketing messages to a separate label. One easy way to do that is to look for the word “unsubscribe” because those emails are generally part of an email system or they’re using a professional email sending system like an Ontraport or Infusionsoft, Mailchimp, etc.
You can certainly search by that. It’s also a great way to get yourself off lists is to use that one-word search and to find all those subscriptions, and just unsubscribe before you go hitting that spam button. You did sign up for it. So unsubscribe and then if you want, you could delete old messages if it’s bothering you. The most important thing is it’s not coming to your general awareness. You only want things that require action. That’s the main rule of thumb that I have. If it doesn’t need action, it shouldn’t be in your primary inbox.
So my second thing is I created a filter called second layer. That’s stuff that I want to look at, but it’s not requiring an action. It might be a Google alert, which is another great Google feature, where it will scour the internet looking for mentions of your business. I might want to see what sort of things are triggering that alert, but I don’t have to do anything about it. Ninety percent of those, I’m just going to be aware of it. I don’t have to respond to it unless it’s a theft or it’s someone saying something nice where I want to go and comment and say thanks, then it’s something I want to be aware of but not necessarily take an action on.
So over to you Pete, what are some of your power moves?
Peter: I think the most important thing that you’ve just touched on there with your second layer methodology is that they are emails that aren’t timely. They don’t require a timely response. A Google alert, you can check out now, or you could check out in three days, and it’s probably not going to have too much of a difference unless it was a bad news article about you or something like that. So that second layer, we’ll sometimes call the optional mailbox, and that’s business things that I could look at if I wanted to, but I don’t have to look at today.
Our philosophy is really around the inbox, and what makes it to the inbox is, the inbox should only be emails from real people sent by real humans actually typed out, because there is a cultural expectation that within 24 to 48 hours of receiving an email, you’ll action it or you’ll respond to someone. It’s a bit of a courtesy.
With the second layer, that’s something that’s not timely. It’s not sent by a real human so it could probably wait a bit. And with the unsubscribe, it’s definitely, this is stuff that I want to filter, this is stuff that is just going to distract me, and I definitely don’t need it in my mailbox. You might check that unsubscribe filter once every two or three days and just make sure there’s nothing important in there. Make sure that you don’t have for example a credit card that’s expired, and you need to go ahead and update those details. You might start getting those kind of alerts.
James: Or a domain name renewal about to expire.
Peter: Or a domain name renewal, hosting, something like that. Those kinds of notifications are going to go there. But the end result that you want is an inbox that each morning, you’re not having inbox anxiety about actually waking up and opening up your emails. You want to have inbox happiness, and you want to be excited with it.
“You want to have inbox happiness.”
James: So there’ll be very few emails there, and they’re only things that require attention.
2 things to get out of your inbox
James: A couple of things that really help that is you think about your inbox as a metabolism, like a human diet. Some people are trying to eat 27 meals a day, and it’s just overwhelming, and you’ll get worn out. So I try and have very few things coming in there.
The best way to do this, two things to get out of your inbox, which I think stops people from scaling to bigger companies: one is support. Your inbox is not the place to be doing company support. You should have a dedicated help desk, something like Zendesk, or Help Scout, or any number of solutions. Get your customers over there to deal with your team, and if your team means it’s still you, at least you can go over there and do it. So you’ve got one place to go for all customer support, not your inbox.
Secondly, get your team out of your inbox. We talked about how to do that with tools like Slack. You go to Slack to run your business. They run the support desk, and you check your inbox. That way, you can actually put things on an email that you send out to customers like, “PS. I reply to emails.” And then you’ll get people replying to your email saying, “Hey, I was interested in such and such. Could you help with that? Do you know anyone?” or “I’m interested in buying your membership. Do you think it’s right for me?” And then you can have those sort of conversations. They’re the ones I want to have in real time, and I want them to be able to get through to my attention rather than 27 marketers sending me their unscheduled, unimportant news update. So it’s absolutely critical that you give your best to the best.
“Give your best to the best.”
Peter: That’s a great point there James. Our philosophy is really, keep focused on your high value tasks. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted by the low value tasks because the marketers sending you the emails or whoever else is flooding that unsubscribe filter, those are all mails that are going to give you fatigue. If you think about, well what will the difference be between just triage and manage 20 or 30 emails per day from real people that required real actions versus the 300 to 500 you might be receiving on a daily basis now, and you’re clicking delete, delete, delete, bin, spam, delete, delete, file, file, delete, delete, which is what people usually do and usually spend their days doing. Think about the decision fatigue that’s going to set in.
James: Well the thing is, Google will do this for you automatically. You can program it to be very intelligent with your rules and filters. Just some basic rule and filter technique will help you. Click on that cog on the righthand side called Settings, and you go down to your settings feature, and you can check all of your filters and rules in there, which is called Filters and Blocked Addresses, and you can review your filters and rules.
I’ve got quite a few now because I’ve trained my inbox. Occasionally, when I’m feeling really ready for it, and I’ve got a huge amount of attention to devote to it, I’ll go and prune back some of those rules and just make sure I got them all right. And if I find one that’s not working perfectly then I’ll refine it. But over time, you can train your inbox to be an intelligent delivery system and then you’ll find that you get to your inbox, it’s quite manageable.
So if you keep getting the same email every day or every few days, and you never action it, and you don’t want it, you can train it to get rid of that. You can either delete it, or you can move it into a label that you may or may not ever view again. The reality is, and it’s in The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes, the reality is we will never look at most of the stuff that we store or archive. We just actually never get to it.
That’s cool if you put it to the side. You know that it’s there if you want to go and get it, but you probably won’t. I’m looking here, I have nine and half thousand emails that are unread in my shopping cart label. These are sales that have come through. I don’t really need to look for it. I only need to search for it if I’m trying to determine if there was a synchronization issue between PayPal and my shopping cart, or if I want to find out someone’s billing address so that I could send them something. I could just quickly pop in there and easily find it by customer. So there’s a few cool reasons why you might want to do it.
And also you can check if someone suspends. What caused it, and we can check if it was intentional or if it was a credit card expired, that sort of stuff. There you go.
Peter: I guess the idea there is that you’ve got the information there if you need to search for it. But if you don’t need it today, it can be filtered until that time comes that you do need it.
James: Yes, and you may never need it again.
Peter: Correct. You may never need it.
2 tips for managing your inbox
I wanted to share two tips with actually managing your inbox on a day-to-day basis. One of those is triaging and archiving. With using Gmail, you’ve got a button there, which is called Archive, which is kind of right next to the Delete button; I think Spam might be in the middle. But what Archive does is it takes the email out of your inbox and it puts it into a folder called All Mail. If you imagine the All Mail folder, it’s an archive, emails that go there are never deleted, but that All Mail folder is kind of like sweeping up the lounge room, and lifting up the rugs, sweeping a bit of dust under the rope, but you’ve got an unlimited or virtually unlimited rug to sweep dust under.
Now it’s always searchable to bring back those emails if you need to find something that’s in your archive. But archiving an email takes it out of your inbox. Now the reason we say archive your emails that don’t require action from the inbox instead of say, deleting them, is it comes down to decision making. If you’ve ever got to the end of the day at 3 p.m. and, thought, wow you know what, I’ve made too many decisions today, I’m just over it. If anyone asks me a question, I’m going to tell them to sort it out themselves. That’s decision fatigue.
It’s said that you can only really make five or six really, really competent, high-level decisions each day. Now if you think about Albert Einstein, Barack Obama, Mark Zuckerberg, they all wore exactly the same thing every single day. Even Steve Jobs did the same thing. The reason they did that – Einstein had seven pressed suits exactly the same, Zuckerberg wears a hoodie and a tshirt, all the same color, Steve Jobs had his turtleneck, and his jeans, and his New Balance sneakers – these high performers all wore or wear the same thing every single day because they don’t want to waste the decision on what to wear each day. That’s a bit of an extreme level, but it’s a powerful concept that you shouldn’t be distracting yourself with low-value decisions, which may set in decision fatigue and stop you from making effective, high-value decisions.
So if every day, you’re looking at 100 emails in your inbox and you’re deciding, ‘Should I archive this or should I delete this? Should I archive this or should I delete this? I know, I’ll hit the spam button on that one.’ Each time you do that, you’re wasting one of those little micro decisions. So make the decision now, the one decision that each email that hits my inbox that I no longer need again, I might need to search for it, but I don’t need it in my inbox because there’s no action. I’m just going to hit the Archive button. I’m not even going to bother deciding whether or not I should delete it, because if you remember from our first episode when we talked about email and how much storage you can put into Gmail, you know that there’s really no reason for us to delete emails to keep our inbox nice and trim. That’s like a 90’s ideology that we just don’t need anymore. So stick to archiving rather than bothering to delete, and that’s going to help you to keep things nice and trim but also keep your focus on the high-value tasks.
James, I assume you’re also liberal with the Archive button?
James: Yeah absolutely. I’m happy to have an archive because I’ve got quite a lot of capacity there to store stuff. But I also think it’s important to put aside time to train your inbox. It’s like training your pet. If you put more time into it, you’ll get a better output. Give it really good decision making capacity by empowering it. So better inputs, better outputs.
So a rainy weekend with an extra hour or two at your computer, you can actually sit down with your inbox, and start training it. So for this one, decide, do I need to see this at all time? Like I’m looking here, medium daily digest, for some reason I started receiving that. I don’t need to see that in my inbox, but it could go to a news label. And then if I want to come up with some news ideas, I’ll just log to my news thing.
I noticed, you can also access a label from your phone. You can click around your phone button, instead of all inboxes, you can go to mailboxes, and you can actually select your Gmail tab and then you can collect which boxes within there that you’d like to actually see. So there’s a whole bunch of different mailboxes here, from rubbish to junk, to second layer, to shopping cart, to all sorts of other ones; sales, sales receipts. So it’s a great way to be able to do that is to have these things and not worry about having everything come to your inbox. When you look at your inbox, it should be almost nude.
Peter: I agree. It should be nice and fresh each morning. I do recommend if you’re using a mobile device to use the Gmail app rather than the Apple mail app because the search in the Gmail app will allow you to go back years, and years, and years with your search rather than just being confined to what’s being downloaded to your phone. And if you’ve got 10 gigabytes of email in your Gmail account, then it might be a little harder to search for that right from the phone. So use the Gmail app, and you’re going to get a better experience.
James: That was a top tip.
Automating follow ups
Peter: Top tip. The second tip that I wanted to share for working in your email is having a reminder system to follow up on emails that you’ve sent. Now James, I know we’ve got slightly different opinions on this, but we’ll be able to extrapolate them together. You can use little apps that sit inside your Gmail, they’re plugins, and they will help you remind yourself to follow up.
If you’re in a business where you’re sending email and you don’t have a particularly automated system or sequence to, for example, follow up on a proposal that you’ve sent to a customer or check in with a customer after they’ve purchased your product after a couple of days or maybe even after a month, you want to send someone an email and just remind yourself to follow up at the most pertinent time at a point in the future. There’s a couple of tools that you can use to automate those reminder follow-ups.
Now one of those is Yesware.com. That’s Y-E-S-W-A-R-E.com. And there’s a free alternative, that’s W-I-Z-Y.io. Wizy.io. Now these two tools sit inside your Gmail, and as you compose an email, you can set a time when you have a smart reminder that will automatically remind you to follow up on that email that you’ve sent at the most appropriate time.
So for example you’re sending off an email to Mister prospect, and you want to remind yourself to follow up after, for example, two days time, now you can set with either Yesware or Wizy to set an intelligent reminder that only if that person hasn’t replied to your email, automatically pop the conversation back up into your inbox, in effect which will remind you to send that person a follow-up or maybe even pick up the phone. Now what these apps do is they help you to supercharge your reminders and your follow-ups, because what we normally do when we want to remind ourselves to follow up an email is either leave it in the inbox, which might clog up the inbox, or we might make a note in our diary or put a little event on our calendar. And so these apps will let you be a bit more productive with your email right from within your Gmail.
Peter: James, I’m interested in your system because you’ve got a slightly different system. Have you got a label that you use for follow-up? I know you’re a ruthless triager of your email. Do you just send off the emails and let them go and wait for them to come back? What’s your method?
James: A few things there Pete. One is I’m not sending quotes or proposals so you have to apply this to different types of business models. Two is because I’m mostly on waiting lists for my coaching, if someone doesn’t follow up, that’s kind of a filter against them.
James: So that might sound pretty callous, but if someone’s asking me about coaching and I replied back and they don’t reply back, I won’t follow them up because they’re not going to be a very good student.
Peter: Yup, yup. That’s a good filter.
James: I want someone who can execute and is persistent. Even though I’ve had a waiting list of three and half years for SilverCircle, some people find their way into the coaching group, and that’s because I might meet them face to face, or they’re referred by another member, or they just keep asking me, “Hey, when will the waiting list be ready because I’m keen to get going?” And I might reply back and say, “Well, tell me a bit about your situation.” And they reply back with their details and then I might reply back and say, “OK. Why don’t you go ahead and schedule a call.” If they don’t schedule a call then I won’t follow them up. And if they do, then they’re going to more than likely be in.
So it’s been a really interesting thing to observe. It’s probably highly counterintuitive. And the third one, and this is, it’s going to be hard to say without coming off sounding a little bit arrogant or what have you, but I actually, through so many years of being a salesperson and a general sales manager and then a general manager and now spending 10 years online and as a coach, I’ve actually got a really good ability to remember things without being prompted. It’s just a skill that I think I’ve built up.
I’ve got a strong muscle in my brain for follow up. I think it’s because of so much time in sales. I’ll often just be sitting there thinking, I wonder what happened to Pete. I’m sure he said he’s going to come back to me, and it’ll just pop into my head, and then I can send off an email. So I’ve actually found by not having a tool like that, I’ve built up that muscle or that discipline to remember things. It could be the zeitgeber effect. You often hear about that research with the waiter who holds open an order until it’s delivered. I think I’m good at remembering open loops.
Peter: I like that James, and I think something to strive towards for the listener is to, when you have a simpler life and a simpler existence and that you’ve reduced the distractions of phones beeping and notifications all over the place, and you’ve got your team running well and systems in place in your business, and you’re not running around like a crazed ADD person, your mind actually has the space to remember those things. I think that’s an important point to make.
James: That’s true. I remember our first call.
James: Your phone was beeping and beeping, and I’m like, “What’s that?” And you go, “It’s alerts.” I’m like, “Pete, turn that stuff off.”
James: I’m sure you found it a little bit easier with less stimulation going on. To be fair, you are of the generation who grew up with devices. And I’m of the generation where we didn’t have these things. They became an interruption for me. Certainly I harness the positives of technology, but I can also remember a time when all we had was our BMX bike, and we’d ride out until the lights came on at night and then we’d go home and have dinner. We didn’t have all of the games, and the phones, and laptops, etc. as a kid.
I really appreciate non-tech time in my routine. And of course, there’s one thing that’s never really failed me, and that’s having a pad and paper and a pen to go and write down something that’s vitally important. If there’s something very important, I will write it down either on my whiteboard or on my pad here with a pen and then it’ll definitely get done. That’s my system. But I don’t really have many systems.
Migrating away from Evernote
One that I want to share, and I talked about this before is how I’ve been migrating away from Evernote. I really enjoyed Evernote. It was good to use on my computer, and the big thing that happened was last year, when all my stuff got stolen in October when I was in California, I had Evernote on my computer, and I was concerned about if they were able to open my computer, like they can probably see a lot of my notes, I didn’t like that. So from then on, I don’t install apps on my computer. I haven’t installed Evernote, I haven’t installed Dropbox, and we talked about that in the previous episode, I work off the cloud for everything now.
If I’m on a plane, I don’t need to access my computer. I need to sleep. I’m totally cool with being in the cloud. What I wanted to do is to just get back to a simple system. If I went back to a decade, Pete, in 2005, I had one Excel spreadsheet that ran my life. It had my budgets, it had checklists, it had sales copy prompts, it had logins and passwords back then, and it was a protected spreadsheet on Excel, and it had a business audit that I’d been building called a business profit accelerator. It had all the frameworks I was using to run the car dealership. That was the master document. And here we are, a decade later, and I’ve now created a life sheet with Google.
James: Again, it is just one document that is one shortcut away from access, and it has all the things that are important to run my life. Now these days, you don’t need to use it for passwords. We talked about that before. You don’t really have to do anything for a password because pretty much every website is a one-password site. It’s just hit password reset, and it comes to your inbox. That’s why all these stored passwords and everything are really a bit of joke because any password is really just your inbox.
But secondly, I’ve come up with a very good memory system for passwords, which means I don’t really need to store them anywhere. I’ve been able to create a system that is very easy for me to remember and very hard for anyone else to figure out, so just to answer that one, I don’t keep passwords in my life sheet.
What I do keep in my life sheet are the things I was using Evernote for. So I just have tabs along the bottom, and I have everything, from personal inventories of things that I want to keep track of, I’ve got formulas and calculations in there, like how to calculate effective hourly rate, profit per hour, I’ve got goals in there, I’ve got quick links to my business assets like those asset registers we talked about, I have my call notes from our weekly coaching call, and I’ve got all my call notes from one-on-one coaching. And as I coach someone, I just make bullet points as we go down the page. And anything interesting, I bold.
And of course, it’s super searchable. I can search this entire document, and it will highlight things for me. So I can collate things. So in a way, it’s actually more powerful than Evernote in its searchability. It forces things to be crunched down into simple black and white words, so I’m not just dragging images and things into it anymore.
The other thing I found with Evernote, it was starting to duplicate things and delete things in a scary manner. I wasn’t able to control it properly. But I’ve also got things like travel SOPs, I’ve got book notes, I’ve got a catalog of my library in there, I have blog topic ideas, I’ve got my event checklist, I have project stream, which is my start to finish, from business idea through to complete sale on exit. Everything is in there step-by-step.
I’ve found this one document is all I really need. So it’s been great in terms of a central thing, and I can access it from one button on my phone, that Sheets icon, I click on that, and it’s usually the first one showing. So I’m referring to this on all my coaching calls. When I think of ideas or I want to strain my intellectual property into a format, then I’ll just go in there and open up the checklists tab. And in there, I have incredible checklists, from selling checklists to business diagnostic checklists, to follow up techniques, sales ideas, a webinar structure, sales page structures, ideas to grow a business, increase conversions, increase retention, increase frequency, I’ve got an email subject line swipe file, you name it. It’s in this one sheet. And over time, this one sheet is going to be the most powerful document that will nuclear power my life and business.
It can have social goals in there, and it can keep tabs of things. But I’m basically back to something that I knew worked well for me before after trying all these different tools, all these different systems, and templates, and sheets, and stuff, and I’m back to just one document in my life, and I couldn’t be happier.
Peter: Well as you know, a lot can be said for simplicity. There are lots of tools that will do specialist things. We chatted earlier on, I’m not sure if it was this episode or the one before that we did about a tool that tries to be an all-in-one will sometimes only get 80% of the way there for different areas. However, the other side to that argument and the response to that is well, if a tool is simple enough to get 80% of the job done, it might be enough. It might be all that you do need.
James: Right. So if we just take a little snapshot of some of the things we talked about over the last three episodes, I’ve pretty much eliminated Evernote, and Dropbox, and Outlook from my life, and I’ve become less dependent on things like iCal, and I’ve really appreciated the power in just having a few little add on things. I’ve used GoToMeeting and Webinar for almost a decade, they’ve been so good. And I’m using Slack to run the team.
Peter: And I’m sure you’re no less productive using some of the Google tools even though they may be simpler than what you were using with Evernote, or Outlook, or anything else.
James: Well I’m actually more productive, because I have no transfer cost. I can access it from one login. It is according to that saying that “Perfection is when there’s nothing left to take away,” by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. I like that saying.
Peter: And I think Einstein said “Make everything as simple as possible but not simpler”.
James: But no simpler. I like that. I’m a simple guy.
Peter: [laughs] I wanted to share one more quick thing.
Attention & Concentration
Peter: I think we’re running short on our time James. The philosophy that we have around this is that if you think about your attention span and your ability to concentrate on multiple things as a big jar of jelly beans, every time something takes your attention, that’s one of your jelly beans out of the jar. Until that loop is closed, the jelly bean doesn’t come back into the jar, and so you end up with the jelly beans all over the place, and your jar is kind of half empty. If you’re waking up in the morning and you’re starting up with a jar half empty because you haven’t closed loops from yesterday, well you’re going to be a whole lot less effective.
So if you’ve got notifications switched on on your phone, and they’re pinging about as you’re driving down the road, and you see the subject of an email, and just a little bit of your concentration is stuck on that for the next hour. Or for example you open up an email and you don’t deal with it right there and then, you leave it in your inbox or you put it away in a folder and try and go back to it, you’ve just got the additional bandwidth required to manage five different apps. Outlook here, and Evernote, and all these different apps that you’re using.
The ability for you to do less and to say no and try and say no two times for every time you’re saying yes, well that’s going to allow you to keep more jelly beans in your jar and then be more effective in what you actually need to be doing.
James: Well put Pete. So that brings us to the end of this series.
A little recap
Let’s just have a little recap because in this Productivity Using Google series, we have covered in episode one, email and why that’s so important and powerful in getting you off your server, giving your professional brand name, allowing you to set rules and filters. We talked about how you can make it secure with two-step verification.
In the second episode – flexibility, we talked about getting organized with your Calendar, how to harness the power of Google Drive and why that might replace Dropbox, using Docs with your team, and Sheets and how they can replace project management tools, and Forms – how really powerful they are for surveys, whether you’re doing deep-dive surveys for the Ask method or whether you’re using a team survey or you want to just have a simple form that populates the spreadsheet. We talked about some of the automation tools you can add onto that as well. We talked about how easy it is to use from a mobile device, and why I was interested in running my business from a mobile and how effective that’s been for me.
And then in the third episode, we talked about some productivity tips. This episode, we talked about Hangouts, and Slack adding onto your Google suite, some simple tools and idea for filtering, and archiving, and managing your inbox better. Pete’s favorite plugins for follow-ups. We didn’t quite cover but we mentioned in episode two that you can actually synchronize your calendar with other tools like Schedule Once to automate your meetings, and that’s been a power play for my business. And you can actually have your Google Calendar talking to iCal if you’re still using that at the end of your calendar fingertips, then it still will work with other things.
I talked about how I’m ditching Evernote in favor of my life sheet and how powerful that one document has become for me, just giving me a central place to manage my ideas and thoughts, and get frameworks, and structure at the tip of my fingers. And I used to use other things like reminders on my Apple product because it was on every device. But the one thing that changed that was the ability for my Sheets app to be on the phone where I can just touch on that icon and it’s right there infront of my fingertips.
Pete shared some really good ideas on how to think about your inbox.
So I’ve been speaking with Peter Moriarty from ITGenius.com. If you need help with any of this tech stuff, that’s what he does. He’s a self-confessed geek, very good with all of this stuff. Peter and I have been working together for quite some time. Peter is in my SilverCircle membership where we talk about growing businesses. Pete, how has that experience been for your business?
Working with James in SilverCircle
Peter: It’s been tremendous James. We posted up a success story on one of the other podcasts, SMP, and I’ve been two years clean without notifications on my phone. [laughs] And I really, really enjoy being part of your group. The biggest takeaway for me, which is what I’ve shared in my case study and my success story is the implementation of OwnTheRacecourse, content syndication, and sending a lot of value to our audience and our community and engaging with them as well on our blog and via social as well. It’s been a great, great thing for our business.
James: Very cool.
Peter: Yeah. I enjoyed it.
James: Pete did a great presentation at SuperFastBusiness Live this year, and that’s inside the SuperFastBusiness membership. If you want to get a window into what he’s been doing, how he’s been able to grow his business so quickly, IT Genius has been expanding rapidly, very successfully. I’m thrilled to have been able to tap into such an expert in this topic. I was really excited to do this series because even though at first view, it might seem simplistic that we’d do a whole three-part series on some very basic tools, but the reality is, these tools are things that I use every day to run my business, and I’ve been able to harness the power of it, and it’s something that Peter is involved with every day helping business owners get sorted because as frightening as it might appear, a lot of businesses are sitting there with old systems with big black boxes sitting in the corner, running internal intranets and complicated Wikis.
It doesn’t need to be like that anymore. Go cloud based, go Google suite of products, get help if you need it from Pete at ITGenius.com. If you’ve got any questions or comments regarding this series, firstly we’d appreciate any lovely reviews on iTunes or Google Play. That will be greatly appreciated. Certainly ask questions here at SuperFastBusiness.com. You’ll be looking for the Productivity Using Google three-part series. So if you use the on-site search, you’ll find those episodes. We actually have a list of all episodes on the blog there, SuperFastBusiness.com/blog. You’ll be able to see on there a menu for a list of all episodes.
Thanks Pete. Great to catch up. Go out there and enjoy your day because you’re not bogged down in your inbox.
Peter: James, thank you so much. I appreciate it and I look forward to coming on next time. Thanks a lot.
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