Author Archives: Josh Davis

About Josh Davis

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routine and process

Four productivity tips – getting deliberate with your work routine

My last posts was about “things” that helped with productivity. This time I look at routine and process. For myself, these approaches have been transformational over the last several years.

Own your first couple hours

Don’t look at emails for the first three hours of your work day. Easier said than done, and I know some people don’t have work or lifestyles that allow for this. But if you can reserve the first three hours of the day to work on what you believe is a priority, you will be amazed how much you accomplish when you look back on the day or week. It speaks to whether you are working deliberately or reactively. Email is about communication and other people. You can still meet your responsibilities to others, but you are doing it in a fashion that isn’t interrupted.

On a related note…

Eliminate (most) notifications

Owning your first couple hours and being deliberate with the rest of the day is extremely difficult if you are getting email, text, Slack or other real time notifications. The mind naturally has to process alerts and then decision need to made whether to take immediate action.

R.I.P. whatever you were previously choosing to work on.

Eliminating notifications works for me by…

  1. Having a routine where you still make time for all these communication methods, but you just batch them or have designated times for back and forth communication.
  2. Having a contact escalation method for your team to reach you and for you to reach them. As an example your key team members have IM/Text access, but only use for priority/urgent communication. The key is to find a balance where immediate communication is limited to what is truly needed.  

Get everything out of your head

Holding things in your mind and having to remember to-dos, action items, and ideas is a huge mental drain. If I think of something I need to do, I put it into my system. I use a mix of cloud-based, cross-platform apps: Trello for action items, Calendars for blocking time for key priorities, and OneNote for call notes, research and pretty much everything else.  

For myself, when I have to hold something in my head to remember, do, or consider, it will keep popping up as I do other things. If I know that it lives somewhere that is part of my process, I can let it go until I get to it with intentionally and focus.

Have a backlog

Everything can’t be done immediately. If you aren’t going to be able to do something right away, have a place where you put long term ideas or even action items. Just make sure that you work into your routine looking at these items. Later on, you may find some things weren’t as important as you thought, or you may find that you are now ready to tackle some of these. This approach lends itself to prioritization and batching the completion of similar items.

If you have found routines or processes that help you at work or in your life, I would love to hear about them. You can send me a tweet.

inkello desk calendar - things I love

Things I Love: Focus and Productivity Edition

I believe that beyond the basics and key tools, “things” actually don’t improve one’s life dramatically or at all. That said, here are a few things that I use daily and really appreciate.

inkello Matchbook Calendar

Yes, all computers have calendars, but a small physical calendar is a huge benefit to me. I don’t have to load a calendar up on the computer, go forward a month, and hope the calendar doesn’t go away when I click on another window.

I buy three inkello mini calendars each year and keep them on the current, previous and upcoming month.

They are beautifully made and quick to reference. They take up very little space and are always there.

I make many scheduling decisions and have to communicate those to the teams. Being able to see days and dates quickly is just awesome. Also, these calendars are made in my neighborhood in Lawrence, Kansas.

Bose QC 35 Headphones

I was cheapskate audiophile in my college and post-college years, so I had a slightly negative impression of Bose. When I was even younger, Paul Harvey selling their $400 radio as the ultimate audio experience didn’t sit well with me. But I now have been converted; I love these wireless, sound suppressing headphones.

The sound isolation is amazing. Actual silence. Certainly if someone yells in the room you are in or adjacent to you will hear it, but the low buzz that comes from fans, electronics, etc goes away. For a year my wife’s sister and her family lived with us. They were amazing house guests, but the ability to isolate myself off from sounds, really helped with focus. The family has left to live in their own home, but I still spend 2-3 hour a day with these headphones on. Either with no music or low volume music in the background. Also I will occasionally use them for podcasts when I am doing things around the house.

For air travel, I would consider them borderline essential. I travel primarily for leisure and learning, but even my three trips a year are so much better without airplane engine noise and the constant chatter in airports. For airplanes, Bose has a cable you can attach when Bluetooth isn’t an option.

Speaking of… wireless is a benefit that I didn’t know how much I would appreciate. I put my phone in my pocket and no matter where I go in the house or outside, the music goes with. Having no wires doesn’t seem that beneficial until you use wired headphones again. The contrast is more “death-by-thousand-cuts”, but to sum it up, you just don’t have to think about it.

They are expensive, but if you have the budget and use case similar to above, I would recommend.

Blank Black Screen

What seems like a lifetime ago, I used to be a derivatives trader. I had a seven monitor setup that was actually needed and not just for show. Now I need to be able to focus and concentrate on key tasks and strategic thinking. I have gone back and forth between two and three monitor setups. In both cases, I use this simple web page that displays nothing but a black screen to keep me focused on what I am working on. Any group of tabs that currently aren’t in use, have the above url setup on them as a tab. I can still keep key browser tabs open, but am not distracted by anything visual on my screens. I pair this page with a black wall paper to complete my own “focused view”.

I have shared the above tip with colleagues and a couple of them started using it in their routine. It is very simple, but that make it easy to test.

If you have things that help you at work or in your life, I would love to hear about them. You can comment below or send me a tweet.

Podcast - Talk Radio

What I am Listening To – Podcasts

I grew up listing to talk radio. As a child in Central Kansas I was limited to conservative talk radio, then I moved to sports. With the Internet and now specifically podcasts, I can listen to “talk radio” on the subjects I actually care about. I primarily listen via the Stitcher app on my Android phone. Currently at 3727 hours of listening since June, 2010. Thanks to Aaron Sumner and Eric Gruber for inspiring me to create this list.

Content Marketing

The best podcast in the marketing and communications space. As someone who is both a practitioner and strategist in content marketing, the two hosts are speaking to what I am living and implement in my work life.

Technology

My favorite podcast. Has gone through a variety of formats and lineups, but I still keeping going back to it for their takes on the technology news of the week. There are insider memes, and it isn’t always the most structured, but it provides a good mix of news and entertainment.
As a child with access to five TV channels, I loved watching Walt Mossberg on his PBS show covering consumer technology. 30 years later, I still enjoy listening to him cover the same space on this show with The Verge’s Managing Editor, Nilay Patel.
This podcast from the Andreessen Horowitz, a leading venture capital firm, could fall under business as well. Variety of formats, but I listen to get another informed take on cutting edge trends in the technology space, specifically enterprise.
Steve Gibson covers computer and cyber security from individual to enterprise level. He is like your grandfather, but one who shaped the Internet and then never never slowed down. I used to list to quite a few TWiT network podcasts, but this is the only one I stayed with.

Business

I don’t believe in picking stocks (Index funds all the way), but I do enjoy this podcast as it lets me keep up on broader business news. Host, regulars and interviews are solid.
Felix Salmon and crew do a good job covering more complicated financial concepts. Variety of themed shows and current news.
Harvard Business Review continues to be a dominant force in the Leadership and Management space, and this podcast is a good representation of the quality content they release.
I don’t listen to this podcast as much as I used to (not directly part of the startup world anymore), but this show really is what got me started in podcast listening. Jason is a great interviewer, and he gets quality guest. I was actually featured on the now defunct This Week in Marketing podcast on this network. I was on to get advice on my own startup.

Entertainment

I don’t play any video games at the moments, but over last three years, I have found myself listing to a number of game podcasts to keep up the industry, pop-culture and just for pure entertainment.
Focused on Hearthstone, Blizzard Entertainment’s wildly popular digital card game . This podcast covers the arena game format. I no longer play Hearthstone; I liked it too much. But I watch and follow Hearthstone like many people do sports. When I played, I did make Legend rank (not so humble brag).
One of the post popular podcasts in the space. They have been an inspiration to many podcasters, and this personality and news driven show is one I listen to each week.
Two hosts talk about poker and the other type of gaming. Things I used to do, but still enjoy keeping up on. The hosts all have great personalities. While there are many inside jokes and memes, I feel each episode still stands alone if you are interested in overall subject matter.
Went from weekly to monthly to cancelled to now yearly. My favorite personalities discussion the best video games of the year. Couple of host grew up in Kansas City.
Have a podcast you think I or others might like. Please feel free to share it in the comments.

Why Google Author Tags are important and how you can easily add them.

Note that this post is from 2013 and Google no longer treats authorship the same way.

This blog post has two purposes. The first is to explain why Google Author Tags (also referred to more broadly as Authorship) is something you should consider implement on your own blog. The second part is to introduce a new flowchart that will help you accomplish this with step-by-step instructions. If you are already familiar with the benefits of Author Tags, you can go right to the flowchart.

Google Authorship one of the best things about Google+ accounts.  Simply put, these tags allow you to associate your Google+ account with bylined content you have published on your own site (and potentially others). If your name is listed as the author of the content, you can associate it.

Here are the key benefits…

Getting your photo is Google search results

Once you associate your Google+ account with your content, this association extends to search results where your photo shows up next to results that include your content.

Google Author Tag in Search Results Example

Example of photo in search

While there hasn’t been a comprehensive study of how much additional traffic sites get from a photo appearing in search, a number of blogs have seen traffic increase from 15% to 50%. When I added author tags, I saw a 20% increase in traffic.

Getting an extra chance to engage with people doing searches

Google also provides something unique in search that is only for people using Author Tags. If someone clicks on a link to your content, spends some time on your site, and then clicks back to search, they will at times see links in the search results to additional pieces of content you have written. These additional links appear below the initial search result link that they clicked on.

You get a second chance at capturing reader interest with Google Author Tags

Example of additional chances to reach searchers with your content

Getting ahead of Google’s continued move to making Author Rank a key element of what results show up in search

Eric Schmidt, Google’s Chairman, has a new book coming out, and The Wall Street Journal published a number of short paragraphs from it, including one that points to the future value of Google Authorship.

Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results. The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance.

I don’t believe that Google will ever eliminate anonymous content from search, but for content that you feel comfortable publishing under you own name, the future value of of Google’s Authorship program becomes clear.

Now that you know the benefits of Authorship, I highly encourage you to check out the flowchart I made to get your own account setup with Google Author Tags. I feel it is the best piece of how-to content I have worked on.

 

SlideShare vs Scribd

Quick Summary

SlideShare is best for hosting high-quality, business focused presentations and documents. The clear choice if you are willing to pay for a premium account that offers analytics and lead generation. 

Scribd is for best for bulk document uploads or high-quality imbedding options for your own site. You give up a strong branded experience for free analytics.

SlideShare vs Scribd A comparison of services which one is right for you

Why use either?

  • Another way to reach customers. Both of these sites have broad reach.
  • A way to host your presentation or document with the option of imbedding it on your own site.
  • Another way to capture share of search (i.e. more search results that have your content).

How SlideShare and Scribd make money influences their sites and should influence your decision on which to use.

While both sites have advertisement on them. Slideshare allows users to select a pay option to completely remove ads from your document and user page. Scribd doesn’t offer any premium package for the brand (i.e. the uploader) and instead runs ads against all upload document. If getting someone to download your document is a goal, Scribd likely isn’t the best service for you. See this from their advertising page:

[A]fter 6 weeks, a document uploaded to Scribd it is no longer freely available for download. The user must then either upload a document to get one in exchange, or create an archive membership for unlimited downloads.

Traffic and the kinds of traffic

Both sites get similar amounts of traffic with Slideshare increasing getting more, but I think the key is the kind of traffic each site get and how they brand themselves. Slideshare is focused on business information including presentations and reports, while Scribd seems to allow almost anything. If you have a look at the Scribd home page and featured sections, most of these pages focus on consumer oriented books and textbooks.

I rarely see Scribd rank for Google searches I do. It could be that I am not doing the right kind of searches, but I have done thousands of various industry, marketing and general searches in the past year and have seen one or two Scribd result from all of those. This could be because they lean toward books and government documents (thus why I don’t think they are the ideal fit for myself or many clients). So that gets them some serious volume.

On the other hand, I routinely see Slideshare in the first page of results for many searches.

High volume uploads favors Scribd

One advantage of Scribd is that their code for embedding provide a superior presentation of content. This has resulted in online publishers like TechCrunch and Mashable using Scribd to imbed documents on their own sites.

Scribd is also the best choice for bulk uploading and hosting of documents. When you have hundreds of documents that need to be shared, Scribd is a superior solution to Slideshare. This is reflected in Scribd being the official document share site for the U.S. Federal Goverment including the White House, Congress and FCC.

The Experience

Slideshare offers the ability to pay a premium to remove ads. Scribd does not.

In addition, Slideshare premium users can control their own pages look which allow brands to better control the user experience.

That said, if you don’t want to pay a premium for hosting or analytics, Scribd is a good choice since they provide analytics for all their accounts and don’t charge any fee.

As I mentioned earlier, if getting someone to download your document is a goal, Scribd likely isn’t the best service for you due to them forcing readers to pay for a premium service or upload a document in order to download.

Downloads can be particularly important for larger purchases in the B2B space where the researcher might not be the decision maker.

Summary

Both services do an exceptional job of doing what they do. If you are focused on lead generation, promoting thought leadership and are willing to pay a premium, SlideShare is the site you should choose.