Elephants Don’t Bite. The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy

“Have you ever been bitten by an elephant? How about a mosquito? It’s the little things in life that will bite you.” -Darren Hardy, The Compound Effect

I love this quote.  Yep, It’s the little things that bite me.  The negative or lazy things.  But Darren Hardy points out that little, positive choices add up to a big difference over time.  It may take a while for the cumulative, compound, effect becomes evident, but it will happen.

I started reading this on the advice of Vemma President BK Boreyko. He recommends making the conscious choice to do something positive to maintain a healthy body and positive mind every day.

It fits in with the  Vemma philosophy of making a positive difference with people helping people.  If you make a positive difference every day, we can make the world a better place, starting from improving ourselves.  (People Helping People is also central to the Credit Union philosophy.)

I’m re-reading Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity (GTD).  Actually, I’m listening to the CDs in my car.  I have a copy on my desk, but I’ve been too busy to pick it up.  I first went through GTD a few months ago.  After an initial burst of enthusiasm, I started slacking off after a month or so.  After missing a couple of important deadlines I realized that I needed a boost. (Or kick in the seat of the pants!)

So I went back to the El Segundo Public Library to pick up the audio again.  The ESPL is the only one out of the five libraries I use that has the audio version.  So if you want to check it out and listen in your car, stop by the next time you are near LAX.

Listening to GTD a second time has been really worth it. I’m just wrapping up the last disk now where David Allen gets into the deeper stuff about transforming companies with GTD.

Implementing GTD is just one of the many possible positive choices you could make to activate the  The Compound Effect.

What positive changes do you have in mind for the coming year?  What small, positive changes will make your resolutions stick this time?

Should You Kill Your Mouse?

Magnet for Foolishness got me started thinking about frustrations with technology.  The gizmo that I most want to abolish is the mouse.  Not the squeaky kind, but the computer kind. The second thing that drives me absolutely batty is software without keyboard shortcuts.

About fifteen years ago I discovered web page design on AOL. After about a month of intense work I came down with a bad case of carpal tunnel syndrome.  I tracked the pain down to excessive use of the my computer mouse. I bought a couple of wrist braces and started looking into ergonomic fixes.  I got a trackball and a Microsoft Natural Keyboard.

The next thing I did was to force myself to use keyboard shortcuts for as much as I could. It slowed me down in the beginning. As I got used to using shortcuts and memorized the majority of Excel Keyboard Shortcuts, I noticed my speed pick up dramatically.

This is the source of my frustration.  When there are missing shortcuts in an application and I have no choice but to reach for the mouse I want to tear my (non-existent) hair out like Mr. Pocket in Great Expectations.

For example the main software package used at work has a print queue function.  There are shortcuts to navigate to the print queue, open the drop-down menu, hit G a couple times to get to my report, but nothing to execute the job.  The job name is highlighted, but <Enter> or <SpaceBar> won’t work to start the report.  I have to reach over and find my trackball, roll it around to click on the report that is already highlighted, then I can keyboard through all of the report options.  There’s just that one little hangup in the middle where I’m forced to use the mouse (trackball).

Now this isn’t giving me carpal tunnel, ’cause I dealt with that by buying the trackball.  But still, something that should take nanoseconds now takes two or three to find the mouse and click.

I asked our tech support to submit a request for universal keyboard shortcuts.  Then I found out the software is moving to a “browser-based” platform.  Tech support thinks that keyboard shortcuts are going the way of the dinosaurs (like me).

Business Case for Keyboard Shortcuts:
1) Keyboard shortcuts pave the way for increased employee efficiency.  Users who know and consistently use keyboard shortcuts are much faster than mouse users.  Every-time a user has to take their hands off the keyboard to scroll and click with a mouse they lose several seconds. Those seconds add up throughout the day.  Just like macros speed up routine keystrokes in Excel, keyboard shortcuts speed up manual data entry.

2) Mice present a serious productivity problem in the workplace. Mouse usage is a CFO’s nightmare, not to mention a Human Resource migraine.  Mouse use is a primary cause of increased workers comp claims with all the attendant expense, lawsuits and downtime for Carpal Tunnel.  A little bit of prevention on the front end (keyboard shortcuts) save a lot of pain and moolah on the back end.  We might even save enough to buy an extra software module or two. Something for software developers to think about.

Introduction to Human Factors and Ergonomics for Engineers (Human Factors and Ergonomics)

Browser based applications programmers should find a way to build in keyboard shortcuts for every function.  It just takes a little research on Google.com and some JavaScript programming.  Check out Jason Stiles Blog for some Programming tips for Java Developers.

It should be a company standard that all tasks in the software can be run from the keyboard without ever touching a mouse.  All modules should be trained this way.  Trainers should never have to mention the words, “mouse”, or “click”.  I know this may sound extreme to some mouse addicts.  If a little time and effort is spent learning shortcuts you will see a dramatic increase in productivity.

The GTD guru, David Allen recommends learning touch typing and keyboard shortcuts to improve executive efficiency. Keyboard shortcuts take efficiency to a new level.

Let me know what you think: How do you feel about your mouse? Has mouse usage contributed to your carpal tunnel syndrome? Do you use keyboard shortcuts?

GTD Gremlins

In a fortuitous accident I discovered Tak Anderson’s Blog post, My GTD Moleskine Hacks.  I was curious, since I’m a notebook freak and always looking for new ideas.  I also wondered what “GTD” was all about.

One thing led to another and I ended up listening to Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity (GTD), by David Allen on audio CD from the County of Los Angeles Public Library.  I’ve been using journals, blank books, composition notebooks, etc., etc. to take notes, keep lists and try to stay organized. Tak’s blog and GTD gave me lots of new ideas on how to use my notebooks to stay on top of things.

I’m reading Getting Things Done for a second time this month and implementing things one by one, step by step, one day at a time, like a clutter junkie. Last week my friend Bill told me that the personal label printer really was essential, so I put in my order for a DYMO LabelWriter 450 Label Printer (See all Labeling Software)
.  I printed out labels for a tickler file system and set that up in my desk drawer this morning.   I’ve been modifying the way that I use my notebook to capture every stray thought and make a note of next actions.  My brain may not be empty yet, or my mind like water but I’m making progress.

I have been looking for a book like this my whole life. I’ve read countless “get yourself organized” books, attended seminars, purchased planners, PDAs, and on and on. . . Whew! The harder I try to get organized with these these tools the more disorganized I get.

These always seems to be a dark and dreary basement teeming with gremlins lurking in my subconscious whose mission is to sabotage my best intentions. And these gremlins always succeed.

What is the worst and most frustrating gremlin? The Amnesia Gremlin. Organizational experts recommend making a to-do lists and sorting them according to priorities. The Amnesia Gremlin Is the one who makes you forget to check your list until it’s too late. Then he wakes you up at three AM on the day after the deadline to give you the raspberry and a major dose of insomnia.

Almost as bad is the Distraction Gremlin who works in partnership with the Procrastination Gremlin. Once your to-do list is written out in perfect penmanship and sorted according to A, B & C priorities, the Distraction Gremlin whispers in your ear saying, “All those As, Bs & Cs look too boring with their tedious priority ratings. Let’s do some of the fun things down at the bottom of the list instead.”

This sets you up for the Procrastination Gremlin who gets in the act and whispers, “Don’t worry, you still have plenty of time to get to those As & Bs. And
nobody really cares about those Cs anyway”

David Allen is the Gremlin Slayer. He is the only get-organized guru who has studied these hidden gremlins. His simple solutions gracefully neutralize the gremlins. I would describe them here, but I’d have to post a spoiler alert.

I highly recommend this book to anyone suffering from gremlin sabotage. It has been a big help, a career-saver and a life-saver.

More books from David Allen:

Blank Journal: Raccoon
by Marlene Greene
Moose Blank Journal
by Nodin Press

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