Bane of Your Existence: Email from Coworkers Part 3 - Another Delay

 I remember back in my earlier days of dating I was “that guy”, and by that guy I mean the guy that was insecure, like many teenage boys. I had to regularly get affirmation throughout the relationship that things were going okay. I’ve heard there is nothing a female likes more than a boy that keeps asking, “Do you still like me?" and "Is everything okay?”

I don't know how I ended up in the friend zone all the time??

I don't know how I ended up in the friend zone all the time??

 Funny thing is that horrible relationship habit follows many of us into our daily work. Hopefully we aren’t asking our co-workers if they still like us, but instead that's how many of us act around our email. It is one thing for a tween to act that way about a boy or a girl, completely another thing for a grown adult. Metaphor aside our obsessive nature with email is a productivity killer at best and unhealthy at worst. Many of us sit at our computer or with our phone in hand and keep hitting refresh. I have seen more than a few people take their phone out of their pocket to check email, put the phone back in their pocket, and in less than 5 minutes they will take the phone back out just in case they missed an email coming in. We act as if we are validated in our role for our company, because we respond quickly to that next “urgent” email.

 The crazy thing about the vast majority of email…it isn’t urgent. I have never received an email from someone that was so critical that it couldn’t wait an hour. For immediate communication people normally call or text. You don’t email 9-1-1 when a burglar comes into your house for good reason. There are also no Nobel Peace Prize, Sales person of the year awards, or Grammy’s that pay tribute to the speed in which you respond to email. 

 We have already discussed the value of delaying email delivery and helping figure out when you are finished with email. Today I want to talk about a different type of delay… purposefully delaying checking your email.

 We are going to talk about “Scheduled Email Checking”.

 Just like our other email behavior changes, we are going work on this taking one baby step at a time. There is no reason for your heart beat to quicken or your blood pressure to rise. 

 I want to first answer the question of why we should work on this as a strategy. So we don’t confuse the issue, I don’t want to include the other email strategies for the sake of this conversation. I just want to look at this single strategy in isolation, which has significant value, because it helps set expectations around your communication style.

 Let’s hypothetically say you have a project due in 2 weeks. You have been put in charge of building 1,000 paper airplanes. The most important part of this project will be to actually create the airplanes, but you will want to invite others to help. To solicit people to your cause, you send out a mass email to 50 friends. This does 2 things for you, it helps lessen your actual workload, but it is also sets up a firestorm of potential email back-and-forth. You could easily spend 6-8 hours a week immediately responding to each email that comes into your inbox. Everything from “How have you been?” to “When/Where are we meeting?” the quality of email will land on a spectrum of concise to conflated. Instead of responding to each email as it trickles in, what would happen if you let your emails come in and build up a sufficient workload? You may only spend 1-2 hours a week at that point, which would allow you to complete your 1,000 paper airplanes in record time. This method is called batching. This is very similar to how most of us approach laundry. We wait until we have a sufficient sized load, then we do our laundry. Think about it, how much time would we spend doing laundry if we washed/dried every article of clothing each day? It would take substantially more time.

 When I searched the Internet a few days ago for ways to better approach email, there were a cornucopia of different strategies to approach this subject. I am going to meld them together and give them a tiered level of difficulty. This will help you spend less time in your inbox. You may start at any level, but know that it won’t be easy if you haven’t done this before, and depending on the severity of your obsessive nature around email this approach allows you to slowly dip your toes into this particular pool of productivity. 

 Level 1 - More Work, Less Notification

 This is the lowest level of change. This is a 2-step process.

 Step one, change the interval in which your phone checks for email. The longest interval you can set for an Apple device is an hour. On Android you can move it to checking once a day. Since we are talking bout dipping our toes into the pool of productivity, for either mobile OS, let’s start with an hour. You can also change the frequency of your email client on your computer, but your mobile device is the best place to start with this practice.  Below are a few screen shots of how to get to these settings on an iPhone.

Go to Settings, Scroll Down to Fetch New Data, Select Hourly

Go to Settings, Scroll Down to Fetch New Data, Select Hourly

 Your phone will now check your email accounts once an hour. This is a very simple change and probably an unnoticeable change for 80% of you. 

 Level 1.5 - More Work, Less Notification

 The second step is a little harder. I want you to navigate to your phone’s notification center, select Mail, and simply remove the notifications for email. This very simple act will help relieve you from seeing/feeling/hearing any buzz or ding in case an email does comes in. I know you are still going to check your email regularly, these 2 steps help create safety nets for you that help you maintain your focus.

 Level 2 - Scheduled Checking

 Now let’s get to the meat of the subject. There used to be a great piece of software that would analyze your email account and tell you when you receive the bulk of your email. This gave you data so you knew the best time to check your account. Sadly it is gone, but we can still use the same idea. If we take an average 9-5 work schedule we can begin to make a few assumptions about when the bulk of your email comes in. If you do not work a 9-5 job, I feel confident you can apply this same approach shifting the hours. In the morning most people check their email first thing so by 10am they’ve probably sent off their morning emails. Checking your email after 10am, allows you to spend from 9am-10am planning your schedule, what tasks need to be accomplished, and creating a game plan. While everyone else is sending out his or her flurry of emails you are preparing for your day. Another barrage of emails typically comes in just after lunch. So you will want to check your email closer to 1-2pm. This gives you time to enjoy your lunch either quietly or with a friend, with no distractions. The last time slot you want to check for email is when the day is almost over. Around 4pm check your email again. You can send out your responses immediately or schedule them to go out the next day. Given those time frames this is what your email schedule would look like:

 10am –Respond to email then close your email client

 1pm - Respond to email then close your email client

 4pm - Respond to email then close your email client

 It is important to close your email client, to help reduce the overall distraction. We have now moved you from checking your email several dozen times a day down to three. Think for a moment of how much more productive you can be, if your head isn’t in email all day long? How much time during your day do you get back? 1hr? 2hrs?

 Level 3 - Auto Responder

 We have narrowed your email down to 3 times a day, which is phenomenal progress. If you stopped there you would be more effective that 80% of your co-workers. Go You!

 If you want to take the next step, ask yourself “What would happen if you checked your email once a day or once every 10 days?" It seems completely unrealistic for many, but let’s put this into perspective. Have you gone on vacation? Vacations typically span more than 3 days, and it might span several weeks.

 What do you do while you’re on vacation? You set up an out-of office message. Why can’t you set up an out of office message for all the time? But let’s give this practice a different name, since you are in the office, we will call it an auto-responder. Tim Ferriss, who is a teacher of many things, has a great article that talks about creating strategies for auto-responders, but put very concisely. Someone sends you an email, and the auto-responder mentions you are trying to be more effective with your time, and you will respond to your email in 2-4 days or something of the like. Rather than re-hashing all of his advice, if you are ready to take this step, read his article. 

 http://fourhourworkweek.com/2007/03/22/how-to-check-e-mail-twice-a-day-or-once-every-10-days/

 This gives you the ultimate freedom from email. People aren’t upset about your out of office, because you are on vacation, are they? If you discuss your new communication strategy with your boss there is a great likelihood she/he will be very supportive of you being more productive. 

 Each of these levels is about setting expectations. Either setting your own expectations, or by helping set other’s expectations of your communication frequency regarding email. For most business communication, answering emails within 24hrs is very acceptable. I know many people that go several days in between answering emails, and don’t have an auto-responder to help set exceptions. When you go the extra step and help set their expectations for you, people are generally appreciative of your clarity of communication and respect your intent to be more productive. 

 I would love to hear your feedback on this topic. I know it can be a struggle to make change, but if you pull this one off, I would love to hear how it has impacted your day to day life.  

Improving Your Home - Part 1

Have you ever stopped at a local gas station and asked for directions? I know in the age of GPS and Smart phones, this experience is one that is leaving our population. I remember stopping at a gas station recently and asked the clerk a question about the town. I asked, “Where can I get a good bite to eat?” Not quite in the realm of directions or how you used to be able to ask how do I get to someone's house, but as close as you can get into today’s experience. The clerk looked at me completely bewildered, and said, “I don’t know let me check my phone.” I said “No thanks, I have one of those too”.

gas_station

 Today this picture I am about to paint looks different. Back in the day you could stop at any local gas station and grab some town gossip, a good gravy recipe, and directions. I remember in my childhood asking for directions was a normal experience. Especially if you forgot your map or simply weren’t familiar with the area. You would stop at the gas station and ask things like, “how do you get to the library”. The question seeming so simple is about to unlock a reflection of a time gone by. The magic begins, my journeyman tells me, “You need to take this road until it dead ends, Go right about 5 min, you’ll be on some curvy roads, just keep going straight, you’ll see a stop sign, go left, and the library will be on your left in a few yards, if you reach the mill you’ve gone too far.” Listening and comprehending this barrage of information was always difficult, but these short stories add color to a wonderful part of a personal interaction. The words were often laced with land marks, things not to do, things you will see, and sometimes things you won’t see, and also the actual directions. 

 In today’s world of GPS we like succinct instructions, but still overshoot our destination many times. Today rather than giving you a succinct set of instructions, I am going weave in and out of multiple points. The question I want to tackle today is purposely vague. Much like asking for directions you don’t know what you are going, until the other individual starts speaking. Sometimes asking a vague question, with a unique perspective can give you a better answer than you intended. The question I want to tackle today is:

 How do I make my home better?

 If you ask a real estate agent, home designer, or architect this very question, you will more than likely get varying answers about outward appearance, kitchen, bathroom, etc. The problem is that this isn’t a home improvement blog, this is a tech and productivity blog. If I started exposing the benefits of granite over marble, I would quickly bore you and myself. I am going to take a particular perspective on this question, which the very valuable professionals above, normally don’t think about. Most of us enjoy lives in a home or apartment. We like the security, stability, and we usually add a little personality to our dwelling space. We don’t enjoy the day to day parts of running a home. I’ve never heard anyone, myself included, mention how much they love adjusting their thermostat when it gets cold outside. We like being warm, but the act of changing the temperature, usually isn’t a joy. I don’t enjoy making sure that my furnace filter is clean, but I know that it is a part of regular maintenance. 

They just changed their furnace filter, could you be any happier?

They just changed their furnace filter, could you be any happier?

 Don’t worry I’m not going to pretend to inject joy in these activities. Much like our strategy from the email articles we’ve discussed earlier most activities can be thrown into 3 categories. Below is a quick comparison to email and real life choices.

 1.) Respond to the email - Do Them

2.) Delete/Archive the email - Don’t do Them

3.) Research and respond - Gather information and do it. 

 I want to throw another concept into these three ideas: Let someone (or something) else deal with it. In the work-world we call this delegation. In a household it is similar to the chore list that is passed out every week. Regularly having someone else do the work assigned to you, is frowned upon.

 When dealing with household/office minutia, I can’t recommend it enough. Automating aspects of your home/office not only makes it so you don’t have to deal with items, but the beauty of it, is they are still being done. 

 I put this type of automation in the same category as auto-ship. Auto-ship is a great feature from many online companies that make it so you don’t need to remember to get a particular item from your grocery list. Imagine you have a product you take daily (vitamins are a good example). Rather than having to search through the vitamins in your local store every 30 days, you just get more vitamins shipped to you. Does it save money? Yes and No. No it doesn’t save cash flow, unless you find a great deal, which are out there for auto-shipped products, but for the sake of argument we will say they cost the same. What you do save is Time. One thing I have learned over and over again is that money is a renewable resource, time is not. If I can save 1 minute every 30 days for a year, there are 12 more minutes I can spend with my family. Is it a huge amount of time? No, but it all adds up. 

 With heating and cooling you can save both money and time, but you have to approach it on a longer term scale than your visit to the grocery store.

money_leaning

 Let’s attack the money side first. Old thermostats have one set point and they sit there all day either heating or cooling your home to that one temperature. If there are people in the house, you have it set to a comfortable level, you go to sleep and don’t change it, wake up the next day and leave for work, and still don’t change it. So your empty home is very comfortable all the time. This is a waste of energy. A better practice is when you are home, have it set to a comfortable setting and when you’re not, allow it to get warmer or colder, so that you aren’t heating or cooling an empty home. That would mean you need to change the thermostat multiple times a day, but if you did that you would save considerable cost on heating and cooling your home. 

 Sounds simple right? Who has time for all that interaction with a thermostat? I’ve now added a chore to your list of things to do that you would rather just delete if it were an email. The savings isn’t worth it, but if I made the savings automatic you’d be happy to take them, right?

 Now let’s talk about time. No one has time to fiddle with his or her thermostat on a daily basis. What we want to do is find a way to automate the process. We need a way to tell the thermostat if you’re home or if you’re not. 

 This feature is specific to smart thermostats. Two of the products that are out there are the Nest and Lyric. These two products are rather different. I won’t go into a full blown review of either, since there are lots of places to find that information. 

Nest_and_Lyric

 The important aspect of why these thermostats save you money is based on automation. Nest either changes its settings from Home to Away based on sensing you in the house, schedule, or geo-location (w/Skylark). Lyric primarily automates based on geo-location. Geo-location means your thermostat knows where you are based on where your phone is. That way if you went down to the closest gas station it won’t change. On the other hand if you went camping this weekend, it would switch to away mode and it wouldn’t run the air conditioner the entire time you’re out of town.

 What is important is we wanted to make your home better. So how can using these thermostats make your home better? In a nutshell we are using them to reduce the cost of operating your home, along with automating a best practice for heating and cooling. There are other benefits, but these are the main ones.

 Now let’s look at cost [Nest & Lyric - $249]

 WOW! These thermostats are expensive! How in the world is that making a home better? As I mentioned we need to look longer down the road. We need to look at the ROI (Return on Investment). How quickly does the money you save from using a smart thermostat make up for the expensive nature of this particular technology? We need to look at the price it takes to heat and cool your home using your current behavior and compare to the new behavior. Typically it takes 2-2.5 years to make up the cost of a smart thermostat. After that time span the thermostat is simply saving you money each month. 

 This wasn’t like a set of GPS directions on how to improve your home, because I needed to share other aspects of technology adoption. Sometimes we need to step outside the box, and take a look at the overall technology impact.

 You will also find links below to help you purchase these units. If you have questions about installation or don’t feel comfortable replacing your existing thermostat, Tech Effect can help you replace your existing one, as well as train you on how to get the most from your new thermostat. 

To Buy the Nest

To Buy the Lyric

 If you’re worried about selling or moving to a different place, don’t worry you can easily put your old thermostat back in its place before you leave.

 

 

 

 

Bane of Your Existence: Email from Coworkers Part 2 - Archive

 “Timmy, take your medicine”, a concerned mother pleads with her son. There Timmy is, hand trembling holding a spoon of red sludge, which smells reprehensible. Mouth clenched shut, his eyes letting in only enough light to see the vague shadow of a spoon. Timmy brings the spoon to his mouth, hesitantly opens it, and down the hatch the medicine goes. And its over, all of Timmy’s muscles relax, the after taste of the red syrup trickles down his throat. It wasn’t pleasant but it is finished. 

medicine

 Welcome back to our conversation about the atrocities of email. If this is your first article you’ve read, feel free to move around the blog, there isn’t any necessary sequential order to the posts. You may be asking yourself what a dramatic opening like that has anything to do with email. I have seen more than a few people wince at their email account as if they are about to consume something wretched. Imagine coming back from vacation opening up your email with your laptop or mobile device, and you simple shake your head as the email comes pouring in. The problem is unlike Timmy our muscles don’t get a chance to relax. 

 Take a look at your inbox right now. What does it look like? Like most people, your inbox is full, whether or not you have emails to respond to or read. If you scrolled down far enough, you might just find the beginning of the Internet. 

 We never give ourselves the satisfaction of relief, the sweet satisfaction of being done. That relief is an actual chemical in your brain. You get a little boost of dopamine, when you feel enjoyment or complete a task. Imagine if Timmy just had to keep taking medicine. His body forever tense and the enjoyment he had in life would quickly slip away, the poor kid, all he wanted to do was play outside that day. 

 How can we give ourselves that sense of accomplishment? There are many strategies and multiple productivity systems that talk about how to manage email. Email is a very ineffective form of communication, as I have said before, but we use it all the time. There are many websites dedicated to setting up productivity systems. Due to the complexity and uniqueness of each person’s situation I am not going to discuss any of those productivity systems today. They definitely take time, and Tech Effect can help you set up those systems, but today I want to focus on one crystal clear topic. 

 “How do you know when you’re done?"

 So let’s start with your email. A new email comes in, or a group of emails, if you haven’t checked it recently. They sit in your inbox staring at you in bold font that they haven’t been read yet. You read them, and then what do you do? 

sandwhich.jpg

 Most people do nothing. If they respond to the email, they will reply, but then the email that they replied to just sits there, like a rotting sandwich. A week goes by, and the email compost pile continues to grow. If you have to search for an email you have to wade through tons of rotting sandwiches to find the one valuable email you need. It wastes time, wastes space, and it also wastes space in your mind. Your brain is trying to tell you that email is finished, but how can email possibly be finished when there are 100s emails in your inbox. There is definitely a conflict going on.

 It would be very similar to walking into a teenager’s bedroom. The teenager announces to you “My Room is clean”, but you see all the laundry and food wrappers on the floor. "Dad don’t worry, it is clean under all this stuff”. So we are going to fix this conflict, and make the teenager actually clean his room.

 We are going to create a folder in your email account, simply called “Archive”. You can find a cleverer name like, “Emails I’m too scared to throw away just yet”, but Archive will do just fine. I want you to create only ONE folder, because there are 2 things to keep in mind, we need to make this easy and quick. If you start creating lots of sub folders for Larry, John, or House Stuff… you will never put anything in them, and your inbox will stay full. So we want to create a simple way to clean out our inbox. Also the beauty of email is that it is searchable. Yes, you might have to go back and forth between archive and your inbox a few times early on, but that relatively small action grants you a satisfaction with your email, you possibly have never had. 

 You can do this in any email account. The idea behind this is any email that isn’t actionable or that you have already responded to goes into the archive for later or you simply delete it. The whole concept is that you want email to leave your inbox as quickly as possible. 

 This approach to email isn’t novel, and as I mentioned before this is a piece of a much larger productivity strategy. This is an important step, but not the whole journey.

 Let’s now start with your email again. To begin with you have a clean inbox and a new email comes in. It is from your friend sharing the latest in cat video hilarity. You read it, and watch the video, you laugh for days at the absurdity of cats in a box. After you have watched the video, you throw that email into the archive. Your inbox is now pristine, and you know you are finished; you get a small natural dose of dopamine, close your email application, and do something else. 

 What if you aren’t starting with a clean inbox? As we mentioned many of you quite possibly have thousands of emails in your inbox. Let’s pretend you have 1,700 emails in your inbox and all of them are sacred. The solution is quite simple. In your inbox press Control+A (for Windows) or Command+A (for Mac) and move them over to your newly created Archive folder. You have now started with a clean slate, and you are ready for new email.  

 Let me pause here, and rationalize with some of you that are having a mild anxiety attack right now. We haven’t deleted a single thing. You’ve simply moved it from its current location to a new one. I want you to just sit with this experience for a moment. I want you to stare at your inbox, and meditate. It is empty. You’re done; you’ve taken a very important step.

Let's take a breath together. 

Let's take a breath together. 

 We will now take a breath and look inside our archive. Let’s see if there are any emails that do have items we need to work on, and move them back individually to our inbox. We will respond to them, and then send them right back to the Archive. 

 I have witnessed many people manage their email accounts. This one strategy can have a huge impact on the clarity of information that is available to you.

 In the example before if your email is filled with promotions and unimportant conversations they will quickly mask the important emails. The important emails get buried in the mess, so when you need to search, you get a lot of erroneous emails matching your search. On the contrary using this archive method; when you get 4 emails that come into your pristine environment. You can quickly delete 2 that are promotions that you have no desire to use, respond to one and send it to archive, and leave the last email which requires research or additional thought in your inbox until you are finished with it.

 Adopting this method is very low risk and easy to implement. Give it a try; I would love to hear your feedback after you adopt this little change in how you deal with email and how it impacts you.

 

 


How to know what Tech you aren't using

 

 This particular article came from a customers’ request. Their question was “How can I help determine what tech I’m not using, but should be”. I've thought long and hard about this question, it isn’t easy to quickly answer. Also, answering this question thoroughly is like revealing what the secret ingredients in KFC's or Coke’s Cola recipe for how I approach questions and problems. For every company there is something that’s their “secret sauce”, so here I will lay it all out and tell you my secret, but first a word from our sponsors. 

 A term that has been thrown around a lot lately is the idea of IoT or Internet of Things. This concept is very complex, dense, and many people have very different opinions about what it is and what impact it will have on our civilization. I am not going to dive deeply into that particular subject, but I will say that the Internet of Things is growing and more and more devices have intelligence. From our cars, to our vacuums, mobile phones, etc. This creates some unique challenges along with opportunities. There are billions of devices out there that have intelligence. It is impossible to have a technology strategy that encompasses all devices and software; however it is relatively easy to come up with a strategy that effects you. This concept is at the heart of what Tech Effect does, helping find technology that matters to you. 

 So what is this secret sauce?

 Let’s think about a favorite meal for college kids. We are going to dissect a technology strategy using Ramen, don’t worry the secret sauce isn’t the flavoring packet.

 I want to first pay attention to how the manufacturer suggests you create your fine dining experience. Here are the instructions:

 

1.    Boil 2 cups of water in a saucepan

2.    Add noodles, and cook for 3 min, stirring occasionally 

3.    Turn off heat, Add contents of seasoning package

4.    Stir well for 1 min. Serve when seasoning is fully dissolved

 I know in my college years I ate my fair share of ramen. There were weeks where that was my predominant sustenance. During four years of college you will prepare and eat a lot of ramen. To help determine what tech you’re not using, but should be, we will take this list of instructions and break the process into a few parts. So we will simultaneously find a way to optimize preparing Ramen along with finding better tech solutions. Probably the first time in human history this comparison has been made. 

 The steps are as follows:

1.    Be Specific

2.    Look for a current process that is repetitive or needs optimized

3.    Curate and Evaluate Options

4.    Implement/Experiment

5.    Ask a better question

 Step 1 and 2 of the process are hidden in our introduction of this example. We will actually start with step 2, because it is the most obvious at the moment. We eat a lot of Ramen in college that alone is repetitive. Given the instructions and the amount of Ramen consumption we have discovered something that may benefit from being optimized. 

 Step 1 is even more critical. You must BE SPECIFIC. Step 1 narrows in on the problem you are trying to solve. If you make the question too wide then it becomes much more difficult to look for an answer. If we asked a generic questions for example, “How to make eating more efficient?” We are asking a very different question, and depending on the actual technology question you are trying to solve it may make it impossible to answer. So first you have to be very specific about what question you are trying to answer. If we were to make this question about technology the question might be about how you use email every day, what music you listen to daily, or how your settings on your devices effect your security? What specific aspect of how you go about your day-to-day life do you want to look at? Remember as I mentioned in the beginning it isn’t about creating a technology strategy, it is about creating a strategy about you. You can never be too specific if there is still a problem that needs solving. That’s how some of the world’s largest companies have been formed. They start with a specific question. 

 I want to return to Step 2 in the process now. Once you have been specific and find a process that is iterative. Ask; is there a more efficient way to complete the task that either gives me the same outcome or very close to the same outcome with significantly less work? A good rule that helps explain input with results is Pareto’s principle, which is the 80/20 rule. 

 The Pareto principle (also known as the 80–20 rule, the law of the vital few, and the principle of factor sparsity) states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pareto_principle

  When we step back into our Ramen analogy we are ready for Step 3 (evaluate options). There is no reason to wait to put the noodles in, Noodles in cold water or hot water…the end result is that you don’t want to eat crunchy noodles. Same thing with the flavor packet, why not put it in first? And as the water boils and the noodles become soft that helps mix in the flavor a little. 

 If we look at our Ramen instructions, can we simplify them? Yes! What if we put the noodles and seasoning in the cold water, boil the water in the microwave, stir, and serve? We’ve now taken 2 steps into practically 1. 

 In steps 1 and 2, narrowing your question and finding areas in need of optimization allow you to identify what can be changed. That is, what areas you might benefit from Tech that you are not using! Step 3 of this process, there is no magic bullet for it is curating or evaluating possible solutions to your problem. We are making an assumption right now that our “improved” process will minimize our time to prepare Ramen. In the real world Google searches work for finding way to fix or speed things up. The problem is that they are often disparate information with no real effort or business case to give you all the information about all the options. What they do well is give you most of the information about a single option, which you then have to process and evaluate. This can be a daunting and for many, time consuming process.

 Once you have all the information Step 4 is about making a decision and integrating it into your life. Step 4 simply puts our decision into action. Creating or changing habits is tough from a behavioral perspective. Hopefully the time saved is worth the pain of implementing a new system. This, at times, can be the toughest part of the process, change is hard and we generally like things that are familiar. This stage is as much about implementing as it is about experimenting with our change. We don’t have to commit to this change yet, but we should be able to tell if it is effective. If it isn’t effective, there is no reason to continue doing it.

  Step 5 in this process is to go back to step 1, and find another specific problem. Learning is a non-stop process. Albert Einstein said, “Once you stop learning, you start dying. “After you have chosen a solution, there is nothing that says you can’t stop using it or choose another solution. If you want technology to help you be more effective, it is good to look at your decisions around technology to see if anything has changed every now and then. 

 As helpful as Ramen was in helping make this process approachable, I want to give a historical real world example related to technology changing our habits, because technology changed. The example is once again going to be specific. “How do I capture family moments?"

 Step 1: Be Specific - I want to find an easy way to capture moments of my family

Step 2: Current Repetitive Process - I use cameras of all sorts for different activities, some that are water proof, some that are for fast action, some for good lighting, poor lighting. I even use a video camera at times as well. On any given vacation I may bring 2-3 cameras

Step 3: Curate/Evaluate - You look at all the top brands of cameras, read the reviews, features, and capabilities. Many Smart phones come with cameras, maybe that’s an option

Step 4: Implement/Experiment - You decide on the next vacation to only bring your smart phone. You now have less luggage, less time worrying about all the different batteries, film, lenses. And you just take photos to your heart’s delight. 

Step 5: Return to a Question: How can I store all these photos now?

 As I mentioned this is a relatively dated example, but don’t be fooled, people are still making this decision and going through this exact process today. Over 80% of the moments you want to capture can be captured with your smart phone. For other people, because of hobby or occupation, they prefer to capture photos using traditional cameras, but once again that goes back to creating a strategy individualized for you, not for technology. 

 Now you have it, Tech Effect’s secret sauce and a quick way to make Ramen noodles. I have given you the recipe so you can help yourself, or so you can better understand what we do. Through our consultation service we ask specific questions about your day-to-day activities, discover  ways to make it more effective, more efficient, and more automated. Then help you implement those solutions so that technology handles the boring ramen noodles of life, and you can spend more time doing what you enjoy.