Hit the reset button in your brain

What does it say that this article was one of the most shared NYTimes posts?

If you want to be more productive and creative, and to have more energy, the science dictates that you should partition your day into project periods. Your social networking should be done during a designated time, not as constant interruptions to your day.

Email, too, should be done at designated times. An email that you know is sitting there, unread, may sap attentional resources as your brain keeps thinking about it, distracting you from what you’re doing. What might be in it? Who’s it from? Is it good news or bad news? It’s better to leave your email program off than to hear that constant ping and know that you’re ignoring messages.

Increasing creativity will happen naturally as we tame the multitasking and immerse ourselves in a single task for sustained periods of, say, 30 to 50 minutes. Several studies have shown that a walk in nature or listening to music can trigger the mind-wandering mode. This acts as a neural reset button, and provides much needed perspective on what you’re doing.

Hit the Reset Button in Your Brain by Daniel Levitin of the New York Times.

What did you do in the summers during college and high school?

A former executive at the National Geographic Channel, A&E and Animal Planet says that he’s learned more about a candidate from one single question than any resume will tell him.

He asks early in the interview: What did you do in the summers during college and high school? Here’s why:

As a boss, I realize that summer jobs don’t have to be gritty or humbling to make an impact. But for those summers, my janitorial job taught me the basics of all employment: You have to show up every day, and on time. You have to appreciate everyone who works around you. You should acknowledge — and learn to deal with — the pecking order in the working world. You have to exert yourself in ways you may not have learned in school. And you often have to do things that have nothing — and everything — to do with your career and your life ahead.

In high school and college I detasseled corn (by hand), cut grass, had a paper route and worked at a local miniature golf course. And yes, I’ve cleaned my fair share of toilets.

Read more from Michael Cascio in The New York Times.


Weekly catchup: October 24

The Internet is a big place and it’s hard to get through everything. Here’s the best stuff I read, watched and listened to for the week ending October 24.


10 Predictions for the Future of Content Marketing Technology – Marketing geeks unite! Now is the time to push the limits of marketing automation and digital technology. We must learn to innovate beyond boundaries and take advantage of social media platforms, cloud and mobile to connect with our audience in new and exciting ways. Bob note: I’m particularly fond of points 2,4,6,8 and 9 on Celia’s list.

The 7 Essential Digital Planning Ideas for Breakthrough Results in 2015 -With budgeting and planning season upon us, now is the time to go in-depth on what will really make an impact on your digital marketing efforts in 2015. Bob note: Can I get an Amen on points 4 and 1?

A Better Way to Introduce Your Friends at Parties – Introducing your friends for who they are rather than focusing on what they do will remind them they are loved before and beyond their titles. It’s an easy way to remind them that you see them for their hearts instead of their accomplishments.

The Answer to Your Career Questions May Already Be in Your Hands – One simple, practical, and cost-free way to process your emotions, gain insight, and clear your head is through journaling. It is particularly good for liberating yourself from self-limiting beliefs and thoughts, healing emotional pain, finding new meaning and purpose, and supporting spiritual growth.

Maria Popova on Writing, Workflow, and Workarounds (podcast) – Thirty-one minutes into the interview, Popova explains how she takes notes on books:

  • As she reads, she creates an index at the front of the book that lists its most interesting ideas.
  • Every time she encounters a passage relevant to one of these ideas she adds the page to the relevant line in the index. If its a new idea, she creates a new line for it.
  • As she reads more, the index grows.

Here’s what’s I think is so great about this idea index method: When you pick up a book read long ago, you can quickly recall what it has to offer by glancing at the index. No more reading every annotation, if you want to grab a quote about one of the ideas, the index tells you exactly where to look.

Read something you really liked? Send me a tweet about it!

Professional development in the digital era

Content Marketing Institute does a twitter chat every Tuesday at noon. You can follow along at #CMWorld.

Yesterday, they asked an interesting question related to professional development without falling behind.

It’s damn hard not to feel overwhelmed in the digital marketing space these days. Heck, most jobs move at 1,000 miles per hour. A lot of people are up to their eyeballs in an ocean of information, anxiety, fear and complexity. You want to do good, but by the time you get started, the game changes. It’s tough and I’m right there with you.

Here are my tips on how I stay motivated and informed.

  1. Keep a separate bank account devoted strictly to personal development. Use these funds to purchase books, attend conferences and grow yo’ mind! It doesn’t have to be much. Get a $10/month Skillshare membership, use the library or scour Youtube for learning opportunities.
  2. Set aside time in your daily schedule. Each morning I try to sneak past my 11-month old boy and get 30 minutes of uninterrupted reading. I’ve read 20 books since January with this trick. Don’t have time in the morning? Listen to a podcast on the drive in or schedule a meeting with yourself and escape to a park bench or empty cubicle. Your boss can’t possibly get mad if you’re using this time to improve your capabilities and value.
  3. Find a handful of blogs, newsletters and personalities that you can trust. Keep this to a manageable number. If you want to add a new information source, then you have to cut a current one. Unroll.me is a great service to consolidate your email newsletters into one daily message. 
  4. Chill and calm your mind. You can’t possibly know and do everything. You can’t read every tweet, every book, every post. Even if you did, you wouldn’t have the time or budget to execute it all. Be a life-long learner and be OK with not knowing every detail.


How-to craft the perfect blog post

Business2Community.com has developed a well-mannered blueprint for crafting the perfect blog post. Being really good at the items in blue below will put you ahead of 80% of your competition.

Because things change over time, here are a few additional points I would consider to take that next step.

  • Give some love to your images. Pick compelling images and optimize (ALT text, anyone?) for search engines.
  • Ensure that your site plays nice with mobile devices.
  • Add rich snippets to your HTML (like twitter cards) so your content looks good and is super compelling when shared. Here are 6 WordPress plugins to help with that.
  • Balance and test the benefit of having comments on your site.
  • Don’t go overboard with the sharing buttons. Too many can slow your site down. If you’re spewing great information, people will find a way to share it.
  • Test, test, test.

If you’re looking for additional reading, Moz has an intense master plan to optimize your page for search engines.

Blueprint for the perfect blog post

How to quickly erode customer trust

Apple’s customers trust the company with much of their daily lives. Sneaky promotions quickly erode that goodwill. See how things snowball in the eyes of the customer?  An auto-downloaded album leads to them lamenting about small storage limits which leads to poor storage management systems… possible hacks…future distrust.

The right way for Apple to do a big U2 promotional deal like this would have been to simply make the album free on the iTunes Store for a while and promote the hell out of that.

Instead, Apple set everyone’s account to have “purchased” this album, which auto-downloaded it to all of their devices, possibly filling up the stingy base-level storage that Apple still hasn’t raised and exacerbates by iOS’ poor and confusing storage-management facilities. And when people see a random album they didn’t buy suddenly showing up in their “purchases” and library, it makes them wonder where it came from, why it’s there, whether they were charged for it, and whether they were hacked or had their credit card stolen.

via Marco, Anger Over Songs of Innocence