One of my resolutions for 2012 was to take a Find 15 approach to my personal development, and use my blog to record what I did with my 75 minutes each week.
Last week, I mostly used my daily 15 minutes to organise myself so that I can use the 15 minute slots more efficiently in future. Before I share my new approach, let me start by telling you about the fairly inefficient approach to managing my various online sources of inspiration and information that I’ve used up till now.
I used Google Reader to collate all the blogs I’ve ever been interested in, and marked anything I wanted to come back to again as ‘unread’. I used Hootsuite (on the computer) and Tweetdeck (on my phone) to help me manage my Twitter feed, with separate columns for mentions, direct messages and any searches or backchannels I was following. If a Tweet included a link to something I wanted to look at later, I emailed it to myself. (I’m not sure why, but I’ve never really got into ‘favouriting’ Tweets.) I also emailed anything else I found online that I was interested in to myself, again marking them as ‘unread’ to keep them near the top of the pile. And I used Evernote to draft and store blog posts.
That’s a lot to keep track of, and I decided last week was the week to do something about it.
First of all, I tackled Google Reader. I deleted subscriptions to blogs I tend to skim over rather than read or to blogs that haven’t been updated for a very long time. I then sorted the remaining subscriptions into four categories: L&D, presenting, writing/blogging, and entertainment. Finally, I took the time to go through everything I’d marked unread because I had intended to come back to it in more depth: anything that was no longer of relevance or interest, I marked as read; anything that I still wanted to explore, I emailed to my Evernote account.
Evernote itself was my next target. I got rid of all the notes that were just one-liners I jotted down, initially blog post ideas but now fairly meaningless for various reasons. Everything that was left got cleaned up into three notebooks (draft posts, ready-to-publish posts, and published posts) and I grouped these three notebooks under the heading ‘Good to Great’. I then added four new notebooks, corresponding to my four Google Reader categories, and grouped these under the heading ‘To read’. Now, whenever I see a Tweet or blog post that I want to come back to later, I email it to one of these four notebooks in Evernote. I also have an Evernote notebook dedicated to recording (very briefly) what I do with my Find 15 slot each day.
All in all, I’m trying to make Evernote my personal development centre, rather than having numerous emails-to-self, unread Google Reader articles and open browser tabs. I’m sure this more streamlined approach, as well as having inspiration and reference material in the same place I draft my blogs, will really help me maximise my daily 15 minutes set aside for personal development.
(Everything I’ve described above I did during my Monday and Tuesday Find 15 slots. I used the time on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday to draft and polish this blog post and my last one, about the use of language in learning design.)