[New Post] How to have an office that is almost 100% paperless!

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Do you have a stack of papers sitting on your desk right now?  Do you feel overwhelmed on what to do with all of them?
What if you had a way to organize every piece of paper that was on your desk digitally and with a few key strokes, be able to find them? Have you ever thought about having an office that is almost 100% paperless?
This is what I was able to accomplish after I purchased the Evernote SnapScan. Purchasing the Evernote SnapScan was one the best productivity decisions I have ever made.
If you are unfamiliar with Evernote, Evernote is like a virtual filing cabinet and so much more.
Wikipedia describes Evernote as:
A closed source freemium suite of software and services, designed for notetaking and archiving. A “note” can be a piece of formatted text, a full webpage or webpage excerpt, a photograph, a voice memo, or a handwritten “ink” note. Notes can also have file attachments. Notes can be sorted into folders, then tagged, annotated, edited, given comments, searched, and exported as part of a notebook. Evernote supports a number of operating system platforms (including OS X, iOS, Chrome OS, Android, Microsoft Windows, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, and webOS) and also offers online synchronisation and backup services. Evernote is available in a paid version or a more restricted free version. Use of the online service is free up to a certain monthly usage limit, with additional monthly use reserved for paying subscribers.
I use Evernote Premium version. The Evernote SnapScan syncs with Evernote and allows me to scan any documents, mail, business cards, receipts, you name it, straight in to Evernote.

After my documents are scanned, I add titles, tags, and categorize the document by moving it to a specific notebook that I have set up in my Evernote. The next part is the scary part for a lot of people, after I finish scanning, I  shred and recycle ALL the documents I just scanned. After the documents are scanned, there is no need to keep the physical documet, or piece of mail. It’s not only scanned in to your Evernote, but also backed up on secure servers. I am now able to access my documents anywhere on any device that can connect to the internet. Evernote has an app available in every app store. The app allows you to stay logged in to your Evernote making it easy to access your documents at the click of a button.  The cost of the Evernote premium version is only ten dollars per month. The Evernote SnapScan is just under five hundred dollars but well worth the investment.
Evernote and the Evernote SnapScan have helped me to become almost 100% paperless. There are always document that you will need to keep as a physical piece of paper ( i.e. Birth Certificates, Social Security Cards, etc.) at least for now! Give Evernote and the Evernote SnapScan a try and move your life from a desk full of paper mountains, to an organized paperless productivity machine!
Question: Have you ever tried Evernote? What do you like most about it? What about the Evernote SnapScan? Leave a comment on my Facebook or Twitter!

[New Post] Don’t allow this to kill your dreams

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Do you have an idea? A business you would like to start? A ministry you want to start? A direction you want your life to go?  You’re going to come up against the dream killer. There is no escaping it and you will battle him every time. He doesn’t sneak up on you. No, he gets right up in your face and tells you why you are going to fail and all the reasons your dream is stupid. The dream killer is FEAR. The only way fear can kill your dreams is if you give in, surrender and allow yourself to be defeated.
Fear only has the power you give to it.  – KC Cupp
When fear attacks your dreams, what does it actually attack? Your confidence. It works to erode every ounce of it trying to create just enough self doubt that you give up.
Henry Ford said:
“One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn’t do.” – Henry Ford
Are you going to surprise yourself or always wonder what if? I face fear all the time. I face fear as I write this blog post. I think things like “Why are you writing again…no one is going to read this”, or “Do you really think you are helping people?” and on and on and on. Here is one thing I have learned about fear:
Fear is a liar. 
Fear is the bully on the playground that throws his weight around because he’s bigger than all the other kids but has never really been in fight. His words are untrue.  Fear is insecure and he wants you to feel like he does. If he can push you down and keep you from conquering, than he feels good about himself.  It’s time to call his bluff and stand up to him.  God did not place that idea, business, life change, that dream inside of you so you could ignore it and remain normal.
Do you know what the definition of normal is? Normal: conforming to the standard or the common type.
When you allow fear to kill your dreams, you conform to what the majority is doing. You play it safe. You never take risks. You allow fear to win.
Fear only has the power you give it.
So how do we conquer the dream killer? 
  1. Acknowledge that everyone experiences fear.
    1. Fear is always in your face. It never goes away, it just gets easier the more you learn what his lies are.
  2. Remember that fear is a liar
    1. Fear will tell you all the reasons you are horrible at something and that you are going to fail.  Here is the truth, I have failed  a lot in my life. But I have had more success than failure. Why, because I tried. I would rather try and fail than always wonder what would have happened. When you try, you never actually fail. Failure only happens when you refuse to try again.  Don’t quit. If you never quit trying, you learn along the way. You never really fail when you try because you are growing in the process.
  3. The more you stand up to fear, the easier it becomes
    1. The moment we stand up to fear, he backs off and we gain the confidence to move forward and pursue our dreams. The more you stand up to fear the more he realizes he can’t push you around.
 Stop allowing fear to bully you. Stand up to him and go pursue your dreams.
Question:  In what ways does fear try to bully you? What have you done to stand up to him? Leave a comment on my Facebook or Twitter!

Be the editor of your life or someone else will

-POP-5
William Shakespeare, Stephen King, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, Edgar Allan Poe. These are a few of the greatest writers of all time.
What makes their writing great isn’t just the words on the page, it’s what the they chose to edit out. The words that never made it in to the final manuscript were good words, but not great.
The same is true with our life.
 If we want to be great, we have to edit out the good.
Warren Buffett said
“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.” – Warren Buffet
 
The only way to be able to say no to almost everything is to know our priorities. Priorities are simply the things that are regarded as more important than others.  Knowing our priorities can move us from being busy to living a focused life. 
It’s not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: what are we busy about?” ~Henry David Thoreau
Most of us know our priorities. We are usually reminded of them every time we say yes to something and we get that twinge inside that says “I shouden’t have done that”. Those are the moments we need to edit out. It’s not enough to know our priorities, we have to take action and edit out everything that takes us away from the good. 
So how can become the editor of our life?
1. Write out the top five things that are most important. 
     My life revolves around God, family, consulting, writing and speaking.  Make a list focused on the top five things you feel make your life really successful.  
2. Look at your calendar and see how much time you are actually spending on your top five things.  
Be honest with yourself. Examine everything you have committed to. You may have good things on your calendar you enjoy, but if you are honest, they are keeping you from the great. 
3. Cut out everything that keeps you from doing your top five things.
     There are times that I over commit. I’m not perfect at this. When this happens, I have to go back and get focused again on my priorities. If you have made commitments to things that you know you shouldn’t have, I am not suggesting that you cancel them. We need to keep our commitments and remember not to do it again. The best way to stay focused in the future is to ask the following question each time a new opportunity comes up:  “Does this fit in my top five?”
4. Structure you calendar around these five areas. 
     My entire calendar revolves around these five things. Anything that doesn’t fit in to these five areas, I edit out. I gracefully say no to people on a regular basis.  
It’s difficult to tell people no and to ignore good things that we can be a part of. Remember though, this is your life…your only life.  Do you want to look back twenty years from now and regret that you settled for the good instead go the great?
When we allow the good to overtake the great, we surrender the editing process to someone else. Be the editor of your life or someone else will.    
Question: What have you edited out of your life recently? Leave a comment on my Facebook or Twitter!

5 Steps to get EVERYTHING organized

How to get the stack of papers off your-2

We are inundated with so much information! Respond to email, complete this project, staff meeting at 10, lunch appointment at noon and the project has to be to your supervisor by 2:30! AHHHHH!
How can we keep everything straight and not feel like we are going to explode!
Let’s start here: Say it with me: “My email in-box is not a file cabinet”  Let’s say it again together…My email in-box is NOT a file cabinet. Breathe…Breathe…it’s ok. I’m here to help you! Let’s continue…say it with me “My desk is not a place to stack all of my papers in to piles I’m never going to get through. Ok, stop sucking your thumb, get off the floor and out of the fetal position. Say it with me: “I can get organized”  “I will  process EVERYTHING that hits my physical or digital desk and stay on top of my projects.”.  In order to stay on top of all the information we have to process in a day, we need a trusted system, a process to help us sort through it and give us the confidence needed to get things done.
I learned the following five steps for processing information from my mentor David Allen in his ground breaking book ‘Getting Things Done” : Capture, Clarify, Organize, Reflect, & Engage. 
  1. Capture 
    1. Process everything ( and I mean EVERYTHING)  that is hitting your physical and digital desk. Take time to make a list of everything that has your attention. It doesn’t matter if it’s little, big, personal, professional, tasks, to do’s or projects.  The goal is to write them all down and get them out of your brain and on to paper or a digital document.
  2. Clarify
    1. Go through each task and ask: “What is the next physical thing I need to do to move this off my desk? Do I need to : Do it? (  If it takes less than two minutes, do it now.) Do I need to throw it away? Delegate it? Delete it?  Defer it for another day?
  3. Organize
    1. Work your way through the list until each item has a next action assigned to it. ( i.e. Calls to make, errands to run, emails to send, etc )
  4. Reflect
    1. This is the key to staying on top of your stuff. Set a time to review the list. If you need a daily review of your list, than do it. The least amount you should review your list is weekly. As you review, clean up and cross off the tasks you have completed. Update it with new task and clear your head ( and your desk / in-box ) in the process!
  5. Engage
    1. This where you use your list throughout the week to take action and Get Things Done!
This process is going to feel overwhelming at first. After you capture, clarify, and organize EVERYTHING that has your attention, you will be amazed at the sense of peace you will have. Then, as you establish the habit of reflecting and engaging, you will have the clarity and control over everything that hits your desk. Go conquer that email!  Go whoop that stack of papers butt today!
Question: What causes you the most stress when it comes to process information? Leave a comment on my Facebook or Twitter!  

 

Why you should go to the movies before heading to work

Why you

 

 

Beep! Beep! Beep! Your alam is shouting at you to get out of bed. Time to start another day.
Do you wake up dreading another day or are you focused,  clear headed and ready to take on the world? It all depends on what movie you’re playing in your head.
Do you have an old VHS tape playing all of your past mistakes reminding you of all of our failures and shortcoming? It is a movie about all the reasons you’r horrible at your job and why your life is never going to change?
NO ONE USES VHS ANYMORE.
It’s time to ditch the old lies that weigh you down!  It’s time to focus on the streaming on demand movie.  The one that  focuses on your success, well-being and good things happening in your life. Anyone can choose to focus on the negative. We all have difficult situations we are going through. That’s a part of life. We may not be able to avoid tough situations or change our past, but we can choose how we play them in our head.  I am not talking about ignoring reality or looking at everything through rose colored glasses.
Not one bit.
Scientific research has found that positive thinking can aid in stress management and even plays an important role in our overall health and well-being.
Positive thinking is not ignoring reality, it’s keeping a hopeful outlook in all situations. It’s playing a movie in our head that puts everything in perspective.
Abraham Lincoln said it like this: “We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”
Choose to start your day looking at the beautiful roses on the thorn bush.  We can always fond something to be thankful for.  My wife and I support an organization called BloodWater Mission. They help in the fight to end the HIV/AIDS and water crises in Africa. Part of the movie I play in my head are images of those kids who are toddlers with AIDS and a lacking clean water. I am alive, healthy, strong and so are my kids. Do I have bad days…yes. Perspective is everything. Supporting BloodWater Mission keeps me focused on what’s most important, helps me to be grateful and  reminds me that I’m a part of something bigger than myself.
Henry Ford said “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.” You get to choose every day when your alarm goes off what sort of day you are going to have.
So how can we go to the movies before going to work? 
1. Wake up fifteen minutes early.
 Give yourself time to sit, relax, reflect on the good things happening in your life instead of just rushing out the door helps to set the flow of your day.
2. Write down three things you are thankful for. 
There is so much power in writing down what you are thankful for. It forces you to ignore the negative. When I do this I can actually feel my stress level go down and my mood change.
3. Write down three things you want to accomplish today. 
Writing out a few things you want to accomplish gives you clarity and direction for your day.
4. Write down one way you can be a part of something bigger than yourself. 
Giving of your time, talent and treasure helps to keep our life in perspective and not become so focused on what we don’t have.
5. Reframe your past.
Think about what you learned from the tough situations of your past. For me, I was molested at age 8 by a friend. That situation could have destroyed my life if I continued to play the same VHS movie over and over in my head. Instead, I reframed it and choose to focus on what I learned, how I can share my story and help other heal from similar experiences.
So tomorrow when you wake up, there is a matinee waiting to be played in your mind. Take time to watch before heading to work.
Question: What are some ways you “Go to the movies” before work?  Let me know on Facebook or Twitter

 

Cut the wire before everything blows up

-POP-4

Hands shaking as a small bead of sweat runs down his face. “Should I cut the green wire…the blue…or maybe it’s the red ?…What if I cut the wrong one…? BLUE WIRE!…SNIP!…(the clock begins to countdown faster)…red or green…red or GREEN!… 6, 5, 4, 3…RED OR G…SNIP…000.01. Red it is. Clock stopped. Bomb diffused. 

Unfortunately, this is how many leaders feel when having to confront someone about their performance or behavior.  They feel nervous and inexperienced on how to handle tough conversations so they avoid them all together…tick…tick…tick…goes the clock. Failure to address problems in an organization will lead to an explosion, it’s just a matter of time. When leaders turn their head on poor performance or behavioral issues they are inviting the potential for an even greater fallout when things finally do explode. Unfortunently, we don’t have MacGyver to go handle these situations for us.

No matter how much confidence you have, difficult conversations are never easy.

Leaders can gain the clarity and confidence they need by doing the following: 

Before the meeting: 

  1. Understand that ignoring the problem will make things worse and keep the individual from learning and improving. 
  2. Own the fact that this situation is here because there hasn’t been consistent feedback 
  3. Write down everything about the situation.
  4. From your notes, clarify what needs to change.
  5. Clearly define your expectations and  detail what the plan of improvement is moving forward. 
  6. Make the plan time bound with scheduled follow up. 

During the meeting: 

  1. Clarify what needs discussed upfront. Don’t beat around the bush. Use candor and respect.  
  2. Attack the problem not the person
  3. Present your  clear, concise,  time bound plan of improvement. 
  4. Schedule follow up performance reviews 
  5. Make this a consistent process in the organization. 

Leaders creates a culture of candor, respect and honest feedback by having difficult conversations and not avoiding them. Have the difficult conversations. Cut the wire before everything blows up.

Questions: What steps do you take before having difficult conversations? Let me know on Facebook or Twitter