The Freelancers Show 089 - Productivity & Social Media with Erik Fisher
The Freelancers' Interview Erik Fisher of the Beyond the To-Do List Podcast about productivity and social media.
[Hosting and bandwidth provided by the Blue Box Group. Check them out at bluebox.net.] [You're fantastic at coding, but do you have an action plan to take it to the next level? The upcoming book, Next Level Freelance, will help you optimize your freelance business for happiness. The book is packed with actionable steps to make more money, case studies, tips to find more clients, and exercises for you to establish your desired lifestyle. Extras include nine interviews with freelancers who make great money while enjoying great work-life balance, videos on strategies to find quality subcontractors, and videos on making more free time by outsourcing your daily tasks. Check it out today at nextlevelfreelance.com.] [This episode is sponsored by Planscope. Planscope is a project management and collaboration net built for freelancers in the way they work with clients. It makes it easy to price out new estimates and once you’re underway, helps answer the question, “Will this get done on time and under budget?” I’ve been using Planscope to do my estimates and manage my projects and I really, really like it. It makes it really easy to keep things in order, and understand when things will get done. You can go check it out at Planscope.io.] CHUCK:** Hey everybody and welcome to the episode 89 of the Freelancer Show. This week on our panel, we have Reuven Lerner. REUVEN: Hi everyone! CHUCK: Curtis McHale. CURTIS: Good day. CHUCK: Eric Davis. ERIC: Hey. CHUCK: Jim Gay. JIM: Hello. CHUCK: I'm Charles Max Wood from devchat.tv and this week we have a special guest and that’s Eric Fisher. He's the host of the Beyond The To-Do List podcast. I've been listening to him for several years. He used to do a podcast called Social Media Serenity with Cliff Ravenscraft, and he's the social media, awesome boss guy over at Indiana Wesleyan University. ERIK: Hey, glad to be here. CHUCK: Did I get all the important points in there? ERIK: Yeah, you did. CHUCK : I left out handsome devil, I guess. ERIK : That’s in the details. CHUCK: All right. So you do a show that’s focused mostly around productivity? ERIK: Yeah, productivity is the Trojan horse, I guess. [Chuckles] It’s mostly to talk to cool people about how they get awesome work done. But once I've realized, “Uh-oh, you know what? There's this whole productivity market out there that I've paid attention to for a long time.” And I thought, “Yeah, you know what, I bet I could say that it’s somewhat like productivity.” And then when the idea of the name, Beyond The To-Do List hit me, it was like, “Yeah, that’s it. It’s got to-do list in the name.” CHUCK: Yeah, I hate to do list though. ERIK: [Chuckles] Well, you can go beyond them. CHUCK: Ah, got it. [Chuckles] So it’s kind of interesting. One thing that I've struggled with a little bit and this is kind of in the wheelhouse that you deal with you is doing all of the right things and managing my processes; both in social media and just in general with my marketing. Are there specific tips or tricks that you use that make a big difference for you? ERIK: You mean in terms of like spending time online versus creating content or marketing it as well, and all of the above? CHUCK: Yeah, all of the above. ERIK: Okay. One tip is honestly set aside time and create stuff that is awesome, and then automate to a certain extent. Now I don’t say that lightly; I know that there is people out there that are like, “But you got to be there; be part of the conversation on social media and all that.” And I'm like, “Yeah, but there are certain things you can automate.” Because not everybody, if you tweet once and say, “Hey, new episode of the podcast is out,” are going to see it. So you tweet it out and schedule it out to be tweeted in different ways, in different phrasing so that if other people see it, they aren’t ticked off by it. One of the things that I do is I grab quotes from that people who have spoken in my shows and I´ll use those as the tweets to buffer out. I just buffer app and so, that’s part of it. The other part is just knowing where your margins are. Knowing if you can book it at a certain time of day and just knock a ton of stuff out and have focus then, that’s what you deal with. And if you haven’t figured out when that is yet, then you kind of need to pay attention to what's your daily rhythm like. It’s 2:30 time of day, what you always go need a cup of coffee, you feel like you need a nap, then that’s not the time to do it. So it’s figuring out if some stuff is possible to batch process and you can knock a week or two’s worth of content or more out all at once, or if you need to take a half day out of the office or depending upon context and job and all that kind of stuff. This is all very circumstantial, but those are all everything I just mentioned are things that I do to make it work for me, for sure. So if you wanna get more specific, you'll have to ask more questions. CHUCK: [Chuckles] REUVEN: [Chuckles] CHUCK: I guess I'm going to go down the rabbit hole of social media first. I really enjoyed both of those shows and wanna kind of get your expertise on both. But if we keep asking questions about both, I don’t think we'll get very far. So we had Leslie Samuel on last week and we talked about blogging. So let’s say that I have the blog, I have my content out there; maybe its podcast, who knows. You mentioned buffer app, but what you is your process for getting the word out about that stuff. ERIK: Yeah, I mean I know Leslie. He's an awesome guy. He and I actually spoke together on a panel at blog world back in 2012 in June. Honestly, I think it depends on what the content is; if a blog is daily, then you know what, you are going to have to come out with depending upon five days or seven days a week, you are going to have to write a bunch of that stuff well in advance and have it scheduled. And so part of that is, if you are using the primary blogging platform that’s out there WordPress, luckily you can schedule posts to post on their own and schedule them on Wordpress. The thing is then at that point, you are kind go stuck with either using a native plugin from Wordpress to automatically tweet out or Facebook post out or things like that. Or something that I've really gotten into lately and dug a lot into is this If This and That. That's IFTTT, is that right? Anyway, its either two or three t’s and you can go there and there's all these recipes. And you can say, “If I did this thing, then go and do this thing.” And so for example there's one where it’s like, if I post to instagram, but don’t share it out, then it will… or the sharing part not necessary. If I post to instagram, since instagram doesn't share nice and images don’t show up in twitter’s timeline anymore, if this and that can take that and send out the link to the image as a twitter pick, and so then people can actually see the image, and so it’s kind of an automated process. There's a lot of different things. So you could say okay, if this RSS feed is updated, then take whatever the post title is and then a link to it and then via or something along the lines or like this hash tag or whatever; like you can bake in all that stuff. And so as soon as you posted something, it will tweet it for you or even throw it in buffer, so that you don’t have it come out right away. So its maybe it is delayed or added to the buffer at some point. So there's different things like that in terms… so that’s some automation. If you create a weekly podcast like I do, so for example I have an episode right now that’s ready to go out. And as soon as that does I'm going to: 1. Tweet about it, 2. Go over to Facebook and post about it manually to get the best rank and most visibility. And then probably at some point later, go to Google+ and post it there for the heck of it. And then, I will schedule some different tweets; like another one that’s a variation of, “Hey new episode!” Another one or two that are, “Hey, (that are quotes from the guest)” and then leave it at that, so that it’s fresh out of the gate. It’s got a couple of different times so that people see something new is out there. Meanwhile, in terms of a weekly podcast; if you're doing weekly content, I tend to try to batch process a bunch of interviews all at once. So if I can, if I've got the stuff set up, then I´ll try to schedule like 3 or 4 or more interviews all at once, so that I'm in interview mode, people can that I'm used to them asking questions and I've got my game face on and all that kind of stuff. I'm ready, I'm in the game, I'm ready to talk to them. And once I've got those, then I can sit down and hopefully… I'm an early riser most of the time, and so what I've got those, I can sit back and get up early, listen to it, grab my quotes, get my show notes, trim here and there, have the interview complete and ready to then have my in and out portion of the show recorded by myself at a later time. And then again, what I´ll do then is once I've got 3, 4 or 5 of those, I´ll sit down and record the in or out for all of those, and then just piece them together. And then it’s a matter of upload them all, create show notes and then schedule them, and then they are ready to go. So then, I don’t have to worry about. I set it and forget about it, so to speak. I hope that helps. [Chuckles] CHUCK: Yeah, it does. The other thing that I know some of us are dealing with, is with things like writing books or other products that are kind of a one off thing and getting the word out about that. And since you spend so much time on social media, how do you tweet about it without people getting tired of hearing about it? Because I've been tempted to go out and say, “Hey, go and check out my class!” Or you know, “Go check out my eBook I'm writing!” You know, I just don’t wanna tweet that over and over again because people get tired of it. ERIK: Part of what you do is you get people that are your friends on the internet to share it for you, if you can. One of the things you didn’t mention in the intro is my book that I co-wrote. CHUCK: Oh, I forgot about that. ERIK: No offense taken, but when we worked on that, when we pushed that out, we actually had a group of about 50+ people who were our close knit friends that we knew would read it, would go through and critique it, will give it back and make it better, we can make it better. But then, the bonus is they get that book early and for free. And exchange for if they really like it… I mean we didn’t require this; we said, “Hey, for an honest review, we'll give a free copy.” And so we got a bunch of really good, honest, well written reviews. But a number of those people were friends of either Jim or I, or both of us, and they wanted to see it succeed, so they just share it themselves. They would say, “Hey, check out this book by Eric and Jim,” and all those stuff. And so that helps. So I think as time goes on and you get better and you get more of a following and a tribe, like they naturally share your stuff anyway; whether it’s via re-tweeting you yourself, when you've tweeted about it or shared it, or if they just found it. At least two times today, because I just did this super giant 50th episode with a bunch of different guests to all talking tools. I had two different people today just tweet out and say, “Hey, you really must listen to this episode by Erik J Fisher,” and they give a link to it. And so that’s not me sharing it; that’s them. I get what you're saying; it can be overkill to be like, “Hey, go check this out.” “Hey, go check this out.” “Hey, go check this out.” And so if you have to do that, at least sprinkle it in to where your sharing interesting things by other people more often than you are promoting your own stuff. But then when you do promote your own stuff, at least vary it up and use maybe quotes from the book or if it’s a class like a quote that’s a testimonial from somebody or different things. Think about how you can keep pointing to the same place, but vary the method or the delivery. CHUCK: That makes sense. ERIK: Yeah, I mean, that’s what I've had to do. CHUCK: One other thing that I've been wondering for a while after listening to your Beyond To Do List podcast is what does your system for managing the stuff you’ve got to get done look like. ERIK: Well, it is very simple and laid back. I've gone through a season of really pairing back the tools that I use so that I could decide… instead of focusing on what tools do I use, I focused on what needs do I have? And so it’s very much a… I mean obviously, I need some way to manage my calendar, the commitments and things and expectations of where and when I need to be, because that’s just a hard landscape. But then also it’s okay, what projects are at work? What projects are with the podcast? And so I've actually split out different task management systems; like there's one called OmniFocus, there's one called Nozbe, there's one called Clear. And I'm actually using those all three of those for different things. For example Nozbe is one that’s cross platform. I actually think most of them are cross platform. So for example, one of them will be one where my wife has access to it and she’ll throw stuff on there and that’s home and family stuff. And also access to Google calendar. Work stuff all stays in OmniFocus. And then the Clear is what I use for the podcast and personal branding type stuff. And so, by having those all in different places, some people say, “Oh man, that’s crazy. How can you do that?” But for me, it’s like I wouldn’t wanna see all the stuff all in one place or I´d go crazy feeling overwhelmed. But at least if I know, okay, I've got a place where okay it’s work mode, do work. Or it’s hey its home mode or family mode, that’s where that is. And what's great is you can check it all on your phone or your laptop or your tablet or whatever. But depending upon what it is I'm doing, I´ll have certain things on certain devices only, and then that way I don’t mess with them too much. I mean, that’s basically the system. I mean I've scaled back and then I started to add stuff back in. CHUCK: Yeah, that makes sense. I think the issue I've had with a lot of these systems and tools is that I try to put everything in OmniFocus, and then yeah it’s kind of overwhelming because it’s like, I'm not really in the place where I care about some of these stuff right now, so. ERIK: Yeah, it’s almost a paralyzing fear of, “Okay, there's so much to do. Where do I start?” And by not knowing, you kind of do nothing. But at least if you say, “Okay, I feel like I haven’t done anything with say the podcast in a while,” so I just open that app only and then none of my home stuff and none of my work stuff are in there. CURTIS: Why did you go with different apps over top of OmniFocus context right? And you could set context for your podcast and then only see the podcast entries when you're looking in OmniFocus? ERIK: Because I get distracted easy. And so, I didn’t wanna have the ability to like click and say, “Oh crap, there's all these podcast stuff.” Or like, “Oh, there's all these home stuff,” and then suddenly feel like waves of guilt or spend time on them suddenly go down the rattle and be like… I mean, even if I'm productive and I do knock some stuff off some of the other contexts or lists, “Oh yay, at least that was productive” But the problem for me is I have an issue… confession, I have an issue where I´ll do stuff but it’s the wrong stuff. And then the right stuff didn’t get done -- and that's what stinks. And so I try to separate them out. Some people are like no, you should have a life where your work and you play, you can't distinguish between the two. And I'm like, that’s great, but if I don’t compartmentalize to a certain extent, then I can't focus. And personally, that's just me; other people may not be that way, but there are definitely other people like me that know that. CHUCK: Yeah, I can kind of see splitting it up to the effect of I found that on OmniFocus and this may have changed, but I can't just share one context with certain people; so I can't share certain context with my virtual assistant, I can't share other context with my wife. It’s kind of an all or nothing deal. So you know, I don’t necessarily want to have my wife in there worrying over all of the other stuff I've going on. I don’t want my virtual assistant to have to know my to do list is. ERIK: Yeah, exactly. Like my wife doesn’t care about all my work stuff or even my podcast stuff. So why keep it in a place where she can do stuff with that. CHUCK: So you work at a big university; have you talked to any freelancers or solopreneurs and what kind of things they do differently than you do in your job? ERIK: I think the biggest thing, the biggest difference is with solopreneurs and freelancers, and entrepreneur, they are all “their own boss”. Whereas me, I'm not my boss; my schedule is very much dictated by what's the expectation others have of me and my position. And the thing is is that at first, that seems like a big shift or a big difference, however if you are your own boss, in terms of freelancers or entrepreneurs, if you are your own boss… I mean it all comes down to relationships, basically and what the relationship is with yourself. And that’s kind of the weirdest part. That’s one of those weird things where it’s like I ask myself this, I'm like, “Can I ever be an entrepreneur really, like where I'm my own boss?” Because sometimes I don’t like myself very much, you know? [Chuckles] And so I’d have a hard time working for this jerk of a boss is me. So I think that’s the biggest thing is just thinking in terms of having time set aside to have like a communication meeting with yourself. Like if you are your own boss, if you sit down on a regular basis and have a check in time with a “real boss” at a place where you work, that’s great. Sometimes not having that is the difference between success and failure. But, are you really doing that in terms of meeting with yourself and deciding, “Oh, you know what, I wasn’t even aware.” Like its almost a self-discovery in a sense or self-improvement or all these other… whatever. But I firmly believe in it. Journaling is a great thing to do daily for me and that way the thoughts and emotions and things that I know it actually sounds a little bit touchy feely, but you then discover, “Oh you know what, I wasn’t even thinking about the need for this one product that I think I would really like.” And I guess that’s a problem I have. I bet others will enjoy me creating that and selling it to them.” That’s one of the random things that comes out from that. But yeah, it definitely is this whole difference between are you aware what the expectations of yourself are, no matter where they are coming from? CHUCK: Yeah, that’s one thing that’s hard for me sometimes is just to figure out why am I unhappy with what I've gotten done or not gotten done, and figuring out that yeah, my expectations for myself weren’t clear. And I know we all hate it when our clients do that to us, but we do it to ourselves. ERIK: Right. Think about it. it’s one of those things where if I'm at a job where I have a literal boss and I'm unclear about what I'm supposed to be doing or what the expectations are of me, then I'm not going to perform well. Well, translate that over then into the boss is you and you are the “worker” as well. How do you bridge that gap between knowing what you are supposed to do, because it’s all in your head and you have to talk to yourself to do it. JIM: The other thing other people do is that they put way too many things for each time block, right? Because they only assume they are going to do the best, the fastest thing and nothing will go wrong. ERIK : Yeah, we overestimate our productivity all the time. [Chuckles] CHUCK: I'm really good at that. And then I'm really good at being upset when I don’t get stuff done. ERIK: Yup. REUVEN: Right, exactly. I can't tell you how many years I've had to do list and that everyday I'm like, “I should do this, and this and this.” And realistically, I´ll get maybe half those things done. But if I don’t put down all the things I feel I going to do, then I feel like, “Oh well, I have so much to do today and I have to get through all of these. It’s all of these urgent.” But clearly, the world does not stand still because I did not get to everything. CHUCK: The other issue that I have is that, I´ll put together a to-do list and I´ll pay close attention to it for like three days and then I´ll come back to it after a few months and I'm like, “Well, none of these stuff really applies anymore and I'm doing these other things,” and just being able to check in with myself and just see where things are and, “Okay, these are the stuff that’s really important and I'm going to let this thing drop,” and being really deliberate about it. It makes a difference when I'm good at it. JIM: The point is, if you are following GTD method -- which I do – to review is an important part, that is one of the biggest things that I have found help my productivity overall is doing that for every review all the time and not missing it. Because then I feel like I saw the handle on everything that’s going on or I've just killed the project because I'm not going to do them; as opposed to getting my list get monstrously huge because I never looked at it and just kept adding to it. REUVEN: I think that’s kind of where I operate out of is if things get crazy, that’s fine but if I can at least check back in and do the review, then at least I can do a hit reset for the next week. CHUCK: Yeah, absolutely. And again when I'm good at it, it works out great; and when I don’t, then I feel like everything is out of control. CURTIS: I know for myself I notice like a 5% or 10% drop in billable hours in weeks where I haven’t done the review on the Friday before, because I'm just not sure what is going on. So spending my 20 minutes or half hour reviewing is worth it financially for my business every time. REUVEN: That right there is a very compelling argument. I was just thinking in the back channel that, “Oh yeah I should really do the review, I said I was going to do it.” And it’s always a matter of trying to find time for it and trying to justify that time. But I think Curtis, you were saying that it more than makes up for itself in billings and business productivity, then that right there is a great reason to do it. CHUCK: Yeah because you have a direction for the rest of the week or next week. See, my issue too is that Mondays are usually a lost for me. This Monday, I had a doctor’s appointment, so that kind of blew it all up but a lot of times I´ll come in and I'm not really sure what to do. Or even if I know I'm going to sit down work on client work, just getting to the groove and knowing exactly, I wanna bill so many hours, I wanna get these tasks done. If I don’t have that figured out, then it really hurts. JIM: Yeah, one part of my Friday and the end of every day is decide my most important task for the next day. So on Friday, I can tell you what I'm going to do on Monday my first task, that way I don’t come in and say, “What's all these stuff in front of me?” I just say this is what I need to do first. And getting that ball rolling at the beginning of the day is so useful for you all the time. ERIC: I've been trying to do that actually the night before, when I'm like brain dead and like okay, I have to close up some stuff. I´ll write down like… I do the Pomodoro technique, so I write down like 4 or 5 different things that I wanna do tomorrow. And so when I come in kind of half asleep or whatever, I just start working and I´ll use a lot of mental process into review and think about what I'm doing. CHUCK: One other thing that makes the difference for me, and this is going to go back to one of the points that Erik gave and that is finding that time where you really can get stuff done, the insanity of it all getting up early in the morning, but 5 to 7 am, oh my gosh, I get so much more done when I actually drag myself out of bed and come in here and work on something as opposed to throughout the rest of the day. I know some of it because there are distractions are around and some of it is… I don’t know… I know that I can go out and do other things because people are up and at it, but 5 to 7 in the morning, it just seems to be that time. And if I make it out of bed then, then the rest of the day seems more productive. ERIK: Yeah. And I don’t know where the research is to support it, but there's about on average, 4 highly productive hours that a person can really put in a day, and the rest is really just kind of busy work or passive work. And so, I try to, even in a certain sense, try to do almost a weekly review in small bytes at times where maybe my energy is a little bit low and so I don’t wanna do work, but I can kind of if I talk myself into, “Oh you know what, I can sit back and relax with a coffee and just kind of hold the iPad.” And it feels like I'm consuming and just relaxing but really, I'm pushing stuff around into the boxes in places needs that needs to go, so that I've done some of the weekly review in that way as well. CHUCK: Yeah, that's kind of interesting too. I also help sometimes like the other Eric was saying, if I make a list of the things I wanna get done tomorrow at the end of the day. ERIK: Yeah, closing up the day for the preparing of the next day is pretty key as well. CHUCK: But I really like the getting things done approach of just knowing some of the things that you need to do and being able to evaluate what's important. Our mutual friend Cliff Ravenscraft, he's actually… I talked to him yesterday I'm in the podcast mastermind and he mentioned that he only focuses on like 3 things; so he'll have three things that he is working on and if it’s not on that list, then you know, it just doesn't make it into the day. ERIK: Yeah. And for me, that’s the same thing; I've got basically two things that I've working on today of the three and I still have time to do third one. And so, by not having like millions of things to do by… well, it’s not to say there's not a millions of things to do, it’s more about… again here's where it goes back to talking with your boss whether that’s a literal person or it’s yourself, and staying on track and knowing what is the thing that needs to be done now, versus some other time. And by knowing those things, then you are more able to say, “Okay, well then that means that today, and tomorrow and maybe this week like here is what the landscape looks like.” And I know that me, sitting and working on this other thing, though it might be where suddenly I get distracted and work on, and it’s good and right to do that work, it’s not the right thing now. It would have been better for me to have done it following week because it was as pressing or fill in the blank of why it’s the wrong thing, and the other thing is more important. And again, that’s what it kind of takes is being aware. CHUCK: Yeah, absolutely. So speaking of being aware, we've talked about some of these things, but how do you measure whether or not something is increasing your productivity or making you better off. ERIK: So a lot of times it’s honestly, do you feel productive? Do you feel like you can look back and say, “Oh look I've done that, I've gotten this done, I don’t feel super stressed, I feel like I'm on track.” A lot of times it really is do you feel emotionally or do you think, had knowledge-wise that you’ve been productive. And that’s really where it comes down to. A lot of times it’s where it comes down to for me. And it’s actually a pretty good gauge to a certain extent, if you're feeling stressed, if you are feeling overwhelmed, then it means you are probably have skipped some reviews or you've probably not prioritized or let things just sit and pile up for a while. But I mean if you wanna go past that, I think look and see people if people are enjoying the things that you do. If people are giving you feedback saying, “Hey, great work on this,” or “I really enjoy this,” then you know, if you are consistently getting that, then that’s good too. Not that we do it for the praise, but we do it for the… I guess we do it for the praise, but we do it for the fulfillment of doing good work and knowing we did good work. And I think that’s also the key is, can you look back and say, “Oh, you know what, I've done these things and it’s good. And I'm proud of myself.” CHUCK: Yeah, one other thing that I've done is I've actually gotten one of those little white boards at Wal-Mart and it’s got magnetic things on the back, so I can actually stick it to around my office. And I´ll write down the two or three things that I need to get done today, on it and then I get.... I don’t know why I get such immense satisfaction but you know, just checking stuff off. It’s just like, “Woo hoo! I'm done!” ERIK: Yeah. You’ve done a good thing and it was the thing you were supposed to do. and so, I'm a firm believer in a literal, written short to-do list that’s kind of your focus items for the day, and being able to really with a pen and pad, just cross it out. It feels so good. CHUCK: So how much of this stuff, and do you have any other tips for… I mean the reason I hate to-do lists is that I´ll make out the to-do list then it’s like everything that I ever wanted to do. And so by the time I'm done with the to-do list, I'm completely and totally overwhelmed. How do you cope with that? We've talked about some strategies for that, but I mean overall, how do you get to the point where you are not looking at the list of the gazillion things you need to do and going, “I'm never going to get this done.” ERIK: Well, one thing that I do is capture everything, but then put it where it’s supposed to go. And what that means is basically like.. do you have a Mac? CHUCK: Yes. ERIK: Okay. You know how you can have a folder that’s got a ton of other little other folders in it and you can have 100 different files in one folder, but then you can also have all these other folders. And if you go through and say it’s your download folder and you downloaded a whole bunch of mp3s; well, you can throw all these mp3s into one folder and then suddenly the whole folder feels a lot less cluttered. And basically take that and apply that to the rest of the stray files and folders, but it’s straight tasks that really belong in projects. And then projects that say, “Oh, you know what, that would be great to do that back deck thing in all the list of tasks that would take to have that be a completed project. However, it’s not time for that.” So it goes in a folder call, “next year” or something maybe or different things like that. And it’s knowing that one, it’s okay to have that thought but then to put somewhere where you don’t have to do it right now. It’s the good kind of procrastination, where you put it off because it’s not the thing to do right now. And so then suddenly, you are throwing all these things in the right place to where you look in that original top level folder of the to-do list and only the stuff that belongs on there is on there. Like so for example to go back to your white board thing, you are not writing of the three things that you maybe wrote on there, you are not writing all the miniscule tasks that make up that one thing; you are just writing that one thing. You see what I'm saying? Like you are basically writing the project on there instead. So look at it that way as your to do list is more thematic than task and project oriented. And you know that whatever that top level thing is… give me an example. Give me one. CHUCK: Of something that I wanna do? ERIK: Yeah, give me one of the things you would write down on your white board. Take over the world? CHUCK: [Chuckles] So you are familiar with Wordpress? It’s got the five minute install thing. Most open source Ruby on Rails don’t have that, so you actually have to go in and set it up from the command line. And I think it would be really nice for Ruby on Rails apps if they hit some kind of problem related to configuration to actually just bring up a wizard and let you set it up. So I've been thinking, I’d like to make a plugin that does that. But I haven’t had the time to get around to even starting it. ERIK: So I think one of the things that you could to do, say on a brainstorming session is just to write down, “Well, to have that be in existence, it’s going to take this, this and this.” And you know, you have your project list. In other words, you hit the little arrow next to the folder if you understand the geek speak, here as the listener. You hit the arrow and you inside that folder of build that wordpress installing Ruby on Rails thing, it folds down and suddenly you see all the contents of the folder, like the coding and the making sure it works and all the different pieces; if you are going to sell it how would you sell it, all those different pieces are inside that folder. But when you hit the arrow, it either opens or closes it and folds it open or down, so you can see what's in there. And what I'm saying is if you’ve done the homework, if you’ve done the thinking and if you’ve got all your tools ready and you are ready to go, and that’s the thing; if on your white board it says, “Build it,” or “make this thing,” then you are not writing all the contents of the folder or the to-do list, the project list on that white board. You are just writing the one thing and you know that’s the thing I'm doing today. And when you get two or other things that are smaller or whatever, that you can also… again, don’t overestimate how productive how you really going to be. If that’s one thing all day, it’s cool if you wrote that one thing and did that whole thing in one day and then cross that out or erased it. How much better will you feel if you just got that one thing down versus, did halfway three things and none of them were done. CHUCK: Right. And I like the idea too of having that list of the “someday maybe”. And you know, that is mentioned in Getting Things Done and several other productivity folks mentioned it as well. And so you can kind of just get it off your mind by putting it in the list and realizing that you are going to get to it when it is a priority. ERIK: Yeah, definitely. That’s the way I approach it is I don’t necessarily do a to-do list of, “Here's all the little tasks I have to do today,” because that can feel very overwhelming. But if I have one list that’s all the task for one project and I'm crossing those off, I feel better doing that, and then going back to the big list saying, “Okay, that one is completely done.” And so now these other two things and one of them is two tasks and that product is done, and the other is literally a single task thing. But just knowing that, and planning ahead for it time-wise and energy-wise even. CHUCK: Yeah, that makes sense. ERIK: I mean, I used to hate to-do list too, but then once I figured out, “You know what, if I manipulate it to where psychologically, it feels like I am less overwhelmed by them, then I actually can start crossing stuff off.” CHUCK: Related to social media, I'm really curious; a lot of the community that I kind of catered to is programmers and I don’t really see them doing much on Facebook but I keep hearing from a lot of the social media people out there, that you have to be on Facebook and you are really missing an opportunity to be on Facebook. And so I'm really curious. I see a few groups related to some of the topics that we covered in some of the podcasts, but we I really need to be on Facebook? Am I missing the boat? ERIK: [Chuckles] There are people who ask me, “Should I do social media or should I do Facebook, should I do Twitter?” And when they ask I'm like, “No.” If you don’t feel like you need to do it, then don’t do it. Honestly, if I weren’t already in trenched in Facebook as like the main way I can connect with only a certain people like family, but not the only way obviously I could call them, but it’s the easiest way for me to stay in touch with that big of a swath of people. That’s cool, but those are not the same people that I talk to with on Twitter or other places. And so, it’s very much… you need to know what it is to you think you are going to get out of it. I mean if you’re just going to go on Facebook to post stuff and that’s it, I don’t know that that’s going to be an amazing experience for you, but I mean it’s a bit narcissistic honestly, just to go on feel like you got to post things. But yeah I think honestly, it depends on what you are wanting; if you are wanting to network there is… I guess every every social network is good for networking, I was going to say there is Linked In, but that’s good for more of an online really… I mean I wouldn’t say anybody is missing out if they are not doing a certain social network, because again, if you are doing work instead of spending time there, and you really were aiming to strategically get specific things out of using those networks, then you are better off not. CURTIS: And that’s kind of how I look at it too, like some people can do social networking good on a specific one or across them all. But some people in some businesses, it just doesn't work for. It’s like as a freelancer, I'm not going to go buy a billboard on the highway because that’s not going to work for my audience and people I wanna reach. But for me, social media might work better. And I think you kind of have to try it and see how it works and then make a decision. But yeah, this isn’t worth by time. There is more productive things I could be doing instead of being on here. Kind of excluding the fact if you use it for like personal contact and that sort of thing. ERIK : Yeah, exactly. CHUCK: Right. So which social networks do you use primarily to get the word out about your projects? ERIK: Primarily, it is Facebook and Twitter. Those are really just the two biggest ones really, despite people saying that Google+ is biggest. I just don’t get as many people that whatever plus one or share my stuff there as other places. And so, you know Facebook and Twitter. Those are the easiest ones for me. I understand how to do them and I can even kind of do the same thing in both places but manually do it and have it work where it gets the most views or strategically seen and things like that. CHUCK: You mentioned Buffer app, but do you use any other programs to post those? ERIK: I'm an Apple person. I'm not an Apple fan boy; I wouldn’t say that. I just have felt a much better and had less issues with my computing since I went all Apple. I've got a MacBook at home, I got a MacBook at work and then we're all iPhone as far as phones go, and then I've got the iPad air. So on iOS, I'm like my phone and my tablet, I'm using tweetbot. Actually, I used my tweetbot on my Macs as well. I really like it. I just likes the way it works and everything, but let me think… I use Buffer app, Tweetbot for twitter, Facebook I just use their native apps on the mobile side of things. Because again, if you are posting via something else, unless you don’t have time to go and post manually and you have to automate it, you are better off posting manually, because the edge rink and how it gets seen. I don’t know if you know that is, but I mean it’s basically the Facebook newsfeed algorithm, that you get knockdown pts. for automation Certain things. I think instagram is one that has the least amount of “degrade” in terms of visibility because it’s owned by Facebook, and so they want that to be something that people see. But yeah, like tweets that are going over to Facebook from Twitter itself, like it’s just automated, that’s not going to be seen as much. So yeah, I use the web basically. In terms of Facebook I try to use it as raw as you can without filtering it through something, so that it’s the stuff I post that gets seen the most; whether it’s images or texts or links or whatever. Twitter is a whole nother story; you can automate that to death, at least in terms of making sure promotion stuff goes out there. But I still try to a set time to like just hop in and have certain list where I check those and like hey, don’t miss. And so some certain people I´ll never not see everything they do because I wanna make sure I comment on their stuff or help them if they need it. CHUCK: Awesome. So one last thing, you are working for university and so generally, you are trying to make a brand around the universities in social media. And to some degree, I think you wind up doing that too, though it is usually around ourselves or if we are actually trying to build out a consultancy or build a brand around a book or a podcast or something, we are trying to do that. Are there things that you do differently when you trying to build a brand for the university or the brand for the Beyond the To Do List as opposed to the brand for Erik J Fisher? ERIK: I think it’s easier for me to do myself because I can tweet about bacon and things like that. I can have those things that are through my personality. And I don’t have to think twice about it. Well, I do think twice about it. I think is it worth tweeting is I think before I tweet. I don’t tweet angry, things like that. And in terms of the university’s brand, that’s something where to a certain extent, I am not the university myself, so it’s needs… not that it needs to get bogged down and red taped, but we talk about the voice of it and the different strategies behind them; how to craft tweets that are professional without being dry or things like that. But also because we tweet back and forth with students, how can we joke around with them but not go like inappropriate or tweet something that could be taken out of context and seem not in line with the voice of the university. So it’s harder that way. Because it’s not me, but it’s easier to be me. CHUCK: All right. Should we get into the picks? Curtis, what are your picks? CURTIS: My picks first off is Vitamin-R. If you are familiar with the Pomodoro technique where you have 25 minute time and then 5 minute break, Vitamin-R helps automate that. It is actually 25 minutes. It also integrates with OmniFocus as well, so if you’ve finish a task in 25 minutes, you can check it off right inside the Vitamin-R and it will go away. And it also keeps track of like how you feel at the end, if you are focused or not and watch other couple of steps. So you can look at like the overall week of your statistics and how you are doing and you felt doing the different tasks. The second thing is Monoprice Lightning Cables for your idevice, I guess. I grabbed two. They were only $14 a piece and they are properly certified and everything as opposed to like $30 from Apple. CHUCK: Interesting. All right, Rueven what are your picks? REUVEN: Okay, well I was listening to our sibling podcast, for lack of a better term, Ruby Rogues a few days ago, and it was all about learning and education. And I decided well, I was not there but I'm going to provide picks for that topic anyway. [Chuckles] So given that I'm doing educational, I figure I might be able to offer some interesting things on that. So first of all, there's a great book from the national academy I think it’s sciences called, How People Learn. And it’s all the latest research on how people learn, what goes into good learning, learning by yourself, learning in groups. Also they are really, really interesting stuff. And it’s written very, very well. I mean, theoretically used by researchers for researchers, but really the writing is very plain spoken. And there's a book that just came out which I'm just about done with, which is totally amazing, called The Smartest Kids in the World. And basically, this reporter Amanda Ripley found three American students who were going abroad for a year of school; one who is going to Finland, one is in South Korea and one was going to Poland. And she talked about what school is like there and what those countries all which were higher than in the US and many other countries on an international test called the PISA. So she talked about what is this PISA test, what does it mean, what are these countries doing right, what they are doing wrong and what can other country learn from them. And I just found them to be incredibly satisfying and insightful. And then two sort of slightly more academic text, but I think they are interesting and accessible, one of them is called Cognitive Apprenticeship. And this is sort of a ground breaking paper that was written a number of years ago by someone who program in North Western Allen Collins and few other people. And basically the idea is that if you want to learn something, work with someone else who knows it really well. By the way, pair programing strikes me as a really great sort of practical use of this in the programming world. It’s actually a very, very sort of easy well written in paper. Allen writes very well. And then finally, you might have heard, I know the Rogues podcast talked about this a bit, sort of telling people that they are smart because telling that they are smart is really as effective as telling that they’ve worked really hard and good for them. And a lot of that work has been done by someone named Carol Dweck. And she came out with a book a few years ago called Mindset, which she really goes through that in a great detail. So if you just… how you learn, how other people learn, how you can get your kids to learn, I definitely recommend one or all of these. CHUCK: Awesome. Eric, what are your picks? ERIC: Well my pick is a book by a cartoonist, so it’s probably not as intelligent as his. It came out a little bit ago; How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life. It’s by Scott Adams. It’s actually I read it in a couple of days. It’s really good book. It’s kind of productivity, personal success, don’t screw up or stop screwing up as bad. Really interesting, but one of the reasons I liked it was there's a lot of humor in it, so if you don’t like a lot of the self-help books, like this one is actually pretty interesting. He kind of goes in depth on a lot of stories and a lot of like really bone headed mistakes he makes, but he actually pulls out some good lessons from each one. So it’s a good read. It’s really interesting. It’s on Amazon, also on Audible and all that. I´ll put the link in the show notes. CHUCK: Awesome. All right Jim, what are your picks? JIM: I'm usually scrambling to come up with picks, but I actually had some prepared this time which is amazing. I did a course called Tiny Habits, which came out couple of months ago. Tinyhabits.com and it just helps you… it’s a little email thing that helps you focus on figuring out what your triggers are to change you behaviors. And I had some success with it but I also have this other app called Habit List, which just something you have in your phone and every day, you do something and just hit it and say that I've done it. My biggest problem… I’ve never had a lot success with that app. I'm actually going to give it another shot. I've had it for a while just sitting there. My biggest problem was I would never like make the effort to use something long enough, so that I would really understand whether or not if it’s working for me. So I feel like I really need to commit to like trying something for several weeks at a time and making sure I'm doing it on a regular basis, and then stopping and reevaluating. And then totally unrelated, my wife and I have a couple of these humidifiers; they are called Venta Airwashers, and they basically help humidify your house, particularly when we have the heat on in the winter, its good but what it does is it blows the air down into the water. And so it actually collects dust as it does it, so sort of take dust out of the air and then add water to it. CHUCK: You know, that’s why they put filters on furnaces, right? JIM: [Chuckles] Exactly. CHUCK: All right. I've got a couple of picks. The first one is I had been using my wife’s credits on Audible to get books that I wanted to listen to and I got in trouble, so I went and signed up for my own Audible account. So my first pick is Audible. My second pick is a book I've been listening to on Audible. It’s called Remote. It’s by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson. You might know them from Rework, 37 Signals. David is the guy that wrote Ruby on Rails. Anyway, it’s a terrific book and it talks about how they run their company remotely, and there are a lot of great tips in there as far as managing teams and keeping communication up and things like that. I've actually got a team of subcontractors working for me right now. So as I listen to it, there were things in there that I definitely picked up and got excited about. And so really, really enjoying the book. It’s only like 3 hours long, so you can go pick it up. Eric, what are your picks? ERIK: I wanna pick two books here. Actually, I´ll do three. : One Man’s Fundamentals for Delicious Living by Nick Offerman . If you know who that is, he plays Ron Swanson, Parks and Rec. And if you are not watching that show, then this is completely useless to you. But it is Ron Swanson because so much of Nick Offerman is in the character of Ron Swanson, reading this book is like reading the book by Ron Swanson. So if you know what that would feel like, this is what that would feel like. It’s just cool to read about… it’s almost half satire, half comedy, half… that’s more than two halves. But anyway. The other two that I'm checking out right now is You Are Stronger Than You Think and Crush Your Procrastination, which are two eBooks that are just out by my friend, Craig Jarrow. The time management ninja from time managementninja.com. And those are both very awesome; they are collected works of some of his best posts from the site. And so if you are not a fan or of if you’ve never read the posts in their original context of being a blog, having them themed and strung together in those two context of motivation, as well as eliminating procrastination, those are really good things to pick up. I'm loving them. CHUCK: Awesome. Thanks for sharing and thanks for coming on the show. We really appreciate it, Erik. ERIK: You are welcome. Thanks so much. It was great to talk with you guys. I even figured out a little bit of some of the stuff that I hadn’t written down yet, in terms of my workflow. CHUCK: Awesome. You should write a book on it. ERIC: Yeah, I´ll have to do more on that. [Chuckles] CHUCK: So if people want to follow you or get your book or whatever, what's the best place to do that? ERIC: Okay well, where I'm active is Facebook and Twitter.com either of those /erikjfisher. And then the podcast is at beyondthetodolist.com and the book is beyondthetodolist.com/goals. CHUCK: Awesome. Well, thanks again for coming. We'll wrap up the show and catch you all next week!