Who need Inbox Zero! and why you should consider it

20121113-061701.jpgThink about it, why do you need such thing as Inbox Zero? You already have enough work load, responsibilities, work out of balance, stress and lack of enthusiasm. You don’t need another pressure, another responsibility, something more to worry about. You are right, actually you should go to your email right now and select and delete all; even better create a filter that delete any new email that arrives, and voila from now on, you will always have inbox zero! The great news with this is that in certain companies you will not even receive your pink slip as they will send it to you via email.
Now that you and I vent a little, lets go back to why and how get to Inbox Zero. I also wish that my inbox sometimes get cleaned and purged by it self, but it doesn’t. Regardless how much you don’t like it, controlling and managing your inbox is part of your responsibilities, part of what it is expected that you need to do for work.
Try to avoid go into email just to see ifs something arrives. It is ok, to get into email for the next 10 minutes because it is the free time i have, but make sure that if you open any email, don’t leave it there without any action.
The only way to clean email is to go one by one, and sometimes stop and think. We read the email sometimes so quick, looking for stuff that can explode in our hands that don’t stop to identify those things that came into our hands that are basically time bombs, that in many cases if we stop for a second and think for another two, will get out of the way for good.
My favorite device to check email is the iPhone, I get headsets, music and go one by one. No, I can’t solve everything in the iPhone, but I can solve more issues that what I am consciously aware of, and the background music make the process much more nicer.
Email is a necessary evil, and it is true that you don’t need to have it on zero in order to move forward. The difference comes in how much mental space you need to be calm and relax. There is people that have the ability to go weeks, months without ever reaching zero. There is people that will never see zero. I work with an Account Manager once, that he never clean is inbox. At the end of the day he select all and archive it. His theory was that it was important people will email again. Every time I need anything from him, I sent him the same email every 30 minutes. I got asked more than once, how I was always getting my stuff done with this person. I simply discover a system that works. Emailing him every 30 minutes guarantee that he will get at least one of my emails.
The reality is that for the majority of us that it is a luxury we don’t have, that we can’t afford. The trick for my email zero success had been music, get for whatever time you have, headphones in hand and clean the inbox, every day, multiple times a day. I have 3 thirty minutes block in my calendar, just to clean email. You will think: HOUR AN A HALF… I DON’T HAVE THAT KIND OF TIME and it is true. What you don’t see, is that it is that kind of time that allow me to avoid the fires and emergencies that consume most of my old days, and also not every time I require the half an hour, sometimes in ten minutes I am out. (Others I stay until the song ends)
I like to move fast, to be relaxed, in order to work better and it is because of that reason that I have incorporate systems and tricks in my daily life that allow me to move fast and with the least amount of friction possible. An Inbox full it is simply one of those things that create a heavy friction on my system.

The Random Post: Microsoft Office and the iPad – Vapor Ware or a late correction

Image Courtesy of: http://modmyi.com/content/7844-report-microsoft-office-coming-ipad-november-10th.html

Interesting that I pick to write about Microsoft mistakes with Word and Excel regarding the iPad. Later on the day The Verge announced that Microsoft is planning on bringing Word and Excel for Android and iOS. According to The Verge, march 2013. Microsoft it is going to need to be incredible competitive in the price, or bring a set of features that are going to be unique; but based on Office for Windows RT, it is not going to be. It is going to be a failure, or a cheap program, anything over $10 it is going to be dead on the water.
Why so late? Why now? Who knows. At this moment is vapor ware and we will need to see if anything happen, and if Microsoft it is going to bring anything attractive.
This is also an opportunity to Apple to update and improve their Pages/Numbers Platform, and make it a really strong product, but I am not sure that will happen either. For know I am so glad I discover how nice is to write in Plain Text Files!

Working on MY iPad: "Word" & "Excel" & Microsoft Mistake

Without a doubt one of the most repeated tasks in a worker day goes around, create “Word” documents and “Excel” spreadsheets. I believe that aside from email, working on an spreadsheet or a word processor is probably where most people spend their time in front their computer at work.
For years Microsoft Corporation convince us that the only way to accomplish that task, was using Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel. That was the only way to actually accomplish work. Came the iPad on the market and to this day Microsoft had decided not to release those two applications for the iPad, in some way, that it is sad. (and even saddest, they release a light -not full feature- version for their own Tablet, the Microsoft Surface)
That it is what I am calling Microsoft mistake. Before the iPad, a lot of people was convinced that in order to do a letter you need Microsoft Word, and in order to do an spreadsheet you need Microsoft Excel. That was a fact for a lot of people, that was the status quo. If Microsoft would had release a “light” version of Word and Excel with the iPad, for $150 most iPad users would had bought it; but they didn’t and the people began looking for the alternatives. If Microsoft would release today a “Light” version, most people will not buy it. Hence the big mistake, after Bill Gates convinced people that the only way to write a document or do an spreadsheet was using Microsoft products, Steve Ballmer teaches people that they can accomplish the same without buying Microsoft products. Sad without a doubt.
Well since we learned that we didn’t need Microsoft products to do spreadsheets and word documents, we get into the need to jump into the Apple App Store to find a Word Processor and a Spreadsheet application. Since the idea of this post is how I work, I will mention the three applications that I use. I am sure there are better ones, with more or less features. This fit my needs well enough, and therefore I have been using them without the need to change them. In my case are Office2 HD, Apple Pages and Apple Numbers.

Let me begin with Office2HD. I got this application with one objective on hand. This was the first application that allow me to work with tack changes on a document in the iPad. When you are working on agreements, or editing books, there is nothing better that be able to work on documents that you can use the “track changes” feature. This was the first application to my knowledge that was able to do this, and I use it when I need to work in this kind of documents. Another cool feature of this software is the ability to access and save directly in DropBox, that allow and facilitate the exchange of documents.

Pages: This is Apple solution to Word Processing. My use of word processing is light, even that I am writing constantly, I never write on pages, I write my books, articles, posts and more on plain text, because reduce the number of distractions and therefore I can work better. Again for the use I have of word, receiving .DOC or .DOCX is not a problem. Editing text, formatting, adding images, all can be done in the iPad without any problem, fast and easy.

Numbers: let me begin saying that if you need to use Macros, this is not your software. If you don’t know what a Macro is, this application will do plenty. I use to run complex macros on spreadsheets that without a doubt would had limit my use of spreadsheets on the iPad, but this days I think I am limited to calculations and graphs. For those things, Numbers had more than enough power, I can run formulas, create graphs and more on a simple and friendly application.
I don’t remember when was the last time that I was forced to pull the laptop in order to work with a Word Processor file or an Spreadsheet, the reality is that this three applications do the job for me, even in some cases more than what I need.

REPOSTED&UPDATED: There’s no reason to have a Plan B because it distracts you from Plan A

The road to Plan A, had been rocky, different, and complex in many ways. I post this on February 2011. Since then I had publish 3 books, and are almost ready to release two more (Translations of the First Novel, and my most recent Non-Fiction Book, 25 Tips of Productivity in Spanish) I quit Plan A for too long, and the road to track back many of the details and add new ones had been interesting.
Do you remember your plan A? Do you remember why you went to Plan B? Are you Already on Plan C? Why?
When I was a teenager, I had a great Plan A, a Plan A that I was in love with. I was convinced that I was crazy, and I should have a Plan B. So I did went out and get a Plan B, and then a Master for the Plan B, and life went on.
It was Will Smith that said “There’s no reason to have a Plan B because it distracts you from Plan A.”
I had fun playing with my Plan B, I learn about computers, software, sales, deals, good ones and bad ones. I learn a lot, but in the process of getting good on my Plan B, I leave my Plan A apart, I forgot about Plan A, I put it in the back burner and stop paying attention.
The good news is that I found the crumbles I left to my other me to find this Plan A, and the better news was that I found it. So I begin looking for more clues on that Plan A, and I begin working hard on that Plan, and in the process I re-discover the Writer inside! The more I found and remember about Plan A, the more resentful I got about Plan B, not because was a bad one, but because wasn’t Plan A. I decided to follow Will Smith advice, and forgot about Plan B, and focus on my Plan A.
I begin tracking my daily word count per day, I did 17,931K words this January and finish my first (for the public eyes) novel. Even better, I am planning the next one, and will begin drafting on February first.
Being a Writer is one of those jobs that are hard, ungrateful and everyone think they can do. I quit on this job sometime ago, because was so ungrateful and I was afraid. I follow Plan B, succeed in other jobs, while I dreamed that someday I will be back to be a writer. I was living the Plan B, instead of killing myself in the Plan A.
Did you remember your Plan A? Are you living your Plan A or you settle for Plan B?
I regret only few things in my life, leaving Plan A behind is one of those. My plan here is to write, talk about writing, show my writings, and share the experience of bringing back my Plan A to live.

Working on MY iPad: Typing, Keyboard and more.

No doubt that typing per se, it is one of those things that are complex, it is simple to hit the keyboard, but touch typing is complex. We tend to avoid learn to touch type, but regardless we are using the keyboard all the time. On my book “25 Tips for Productivity” I spend a chapter explaining how, learning to type was key to gain over two hours of free time per week.

When I got my iPad, I also got an Apple Bluetooth keyboard, and took me a while to find the perfect accessory for it. It was a keyboard case called ‘Origami’ from Incase. This one works as a cover for the Keyboard as well as a stand for the iPad. Those had been a been a good combination for long typing.

I had use this case, and travel with it, since have two important purposes, one it work as stand and second avoid that the keyboard turn on when in the bag. This had happened to me before I got the case, and was really frustrating to get to work and discover that you have no battery. (Both times I had extra batteries on the Bag.) I have been able to touch type for some time, so having a keyboard was key for me to use the iPad for certain things, therefore was a no brainer for me to get the keyboard.

It took me a while to understand that typing on the keyboard but be deficient on the screen was not in my own benefit. It wasn’t allowing me to be as productive as I could be. After a friend recommend me an iPad app called TapTyping I began learning. I remember the first time I try it. I did 15 words per minute. I almost cry. But I had practice, and I can type today around 60 on the screen of the iPad. One of the things that I like about this app, is that you can have different profiles, so you can do a Keyboard Profile and a Screen Profile and improve both. Also other people in your household can also create their profile and learn to type. The application provide you with a Beginner, Intermediate, Advance as well as Extra Credits levels and Statistics for you to track you progress. It is a really complete application.
In my expirence, learning to type can save so much time. People tend to convince themselves that they don’t need it. I did it too for a really long time. I even avoid to learn how to type effectively in the iPad screen even when it was my main machine. We tend to beleive that the time we will spend lerning will not pay back, therefore we avoid working on it. Honestly, if we stop trying to convince ourselves and working on learning to properly type we will discover a couple of hours per week, every week. Can you imagine that?

Working on MY iPad, because I don't know how you work on yours: Introduction

20121029-062739.jpg When Apple release iOS 5.0 something changed on the kind of things you could do on the iPad. It was on that moment that it changed from being used forty to sixty percent of the time to eighty to ninety percent of the time. In other words, it convert itself into my main machine. Behind were the PCs and MacBooks and since then I have no interest in going back. The idea of this series of posts, is once a week talk about something I do on the iPad. Somethings I had to learn, some tricks so I don’t use the MacBook or the PC, others they simply work better on the iPad.
I decided to call this series: “Working on MY iPad, because I don’t know how you work on yours:” for a simple reason. There are many people out there, that when you mention that the iPad is your main machine, Immediately they consider it impossible, and try to convinced you why you need a PC or a MacBook. This series is dedicated to my work, to what I do daily and week over week. There are going to be moments in witch I will explain why use the MacBook or PC where simply was necessary.
Again, the idea is simple, my iPad represent ninety percent of my working hours, but there is a ten percent that happen on the PC or MacBook, I am not sure if it is possible to use the iPad for those, but I have not spend the time to found out, so it happen there.
The applications that you will see, and the ones I will talk about are the ones that I use daily or constantly. In general I try to keep my iPhone as well as the iPad without excess of applications.
I got my first iPad on launch day. It was a 32GB iPad. Recently replaced for an iPad2 of 16GB. The reason I mention this, is because a good friend once he finish reading my book “25 Tips for Productivity” told me that in my list of “Things I don’t need” I had the iPad2. When I wrote the chapter of that book, my iPad1 was in perfect working conditions. When the screen crash I was in need of a new iPad. There was a really good deal for my current iPad so I got that one instead of a newer one. I though that if the iPad1 was enough for my needs, most likely the iPad2 will be too, without any problems.
Maybe it is important to understand who I am, to understand how I use the iPad. I am first and foremost a father. That means that my daughter play with my iPad once in a while. It also means that you will see mention of applications that are appropriate for her. I am a writer. As I publish this post, I had publish two novels in English, “The Writer” and “Putsch” and one Productivity book, “25 Tips for Productivity“. In november the spanish version of “The Writer” and “25 Tips for Productivity” will go for sale. I also have a little productivity book that will come out before the year ends in English and Spanish, as well as a series of interesting projects for 2013. I also, work as an investor in the Stock Market as well as in the real state market, therefore they will be mention of things I used for that purpose. Finally I am a consultant in Productivity, Sales and Marketing. (I was a Sales Manager for Latin America, Canada and the US for over eight years.) In 2013 maybe we will also add Public Speaker. Seems like destiny is providing interesting prospects on that matter. As you can see, I can do my job from anywhere, I work at home by choice. This has his own set of challenges, but without a doubt is wonderful.
My work begin at 4:00AM, at that time I had coffee and get ready. From 4:30AM to 7:30AM are my first three hours of work. At 7:30AM I get my daughter ready to go to school. After I return, the second part of my working hours begin, until 12:00PM. The third part begins between 1:00PM and 2:00PM and ends around 4:00PM. At that time we go to Ballet, Gymnastics, Spanish and Swimming Lessons. At night I read for pleasure.
I think this explain a little who I am and what I do. Like I said, the idea of this Series is explain how I work on my iPad. I hope to obtain comments on how to do it even better, ideas, software and more.
The idea is to publish it on Wednesday, once a week. The reason that this post is on Tuesday is to introduce the series and not give the readers a week to the first one.
Until then, I will be working on MY iPad.

25 things you can do in 2 minute or less

20121026-063520.jpgI love the 2 minute rule. I believe that it is one of the best cures for procrastination, and can really move things that we believe stuck.
The first time I remember reading about it was on David Allen’s book Getting Things Done, and honestly change many things. I am a believer that if more people would to focus less on other stuff and finish more two minutes items, we will all be a much happier crowd.
In my experience we have no clue how long are two minutes. I am constantly setting an alarm to use better that time, because it is always longer and allow me to do more than what I believe it is possible.
1.- Review my list of Next Actions
2.- Send a text to my wife and tell her that I love her very much
3.- Breath and enjoy Peace
4.- Pick the trash and take it out
5.- Learn a new word in the Dictionary
6.- Drink a glass of water to replenish myself
7.- Write a Thank You note
8.- Play: Paper, Rock, Scissors, Shot with my daughter
9.- Read a little bit more of the book I am currently reading
10.- Fast walk to make blood flow into my body
11.- Listen to a Power Song on the iPhone
12.- Play a move of Chess, LetterPress or Word with Friends
13.- Clean one of more of the items of my Next Action list
14.- Check the news * Not first thing in the morning or last thing at night
15.- Read one or more of my Instapaper articles
16.-Enjoy 2 minutes of silence *You don’t know how long they are until you try this
17.- Stretch your body
18.- Clean your desk to continue working
19.- Purge your Wallet and dump the appropriate stuff in the Inbox
20.- Clean your glasses
21.- Do a mind dump * It feels great!
22.- Clean the screen of your devices
23.- Check the next two weeks of your calendar to spot land mines
24.- Process some items of your Inbox
25.- Close your eyes, relax and try to clean your mind
What else can you do in 2 minutes or less?

We are doing it backwards

As simple as that sound, we are doing everything backward and we are suffering because of that.
Let’s see the following for a moment. We wake up in the morning running, prepare lunches so our kids can take them to school. We shower and dress up trying to beat the tic tack of the clock. We work all day. Return home and the race begin again until we collapse on the TV or on a book until the next day. I have done that myself, in many occasions. My parents did the same, as well as my aunt and uncles. When I was a kid if you sleep over a friend house was the same… so, we assume that was: normal.
The problem is that maybe it is. Normal not always means: the best. Let’s assume the following scenario: You wake up calmed. Have enough time to have breakfast. Don’t have the need to beat the clock. No need to stress before you leave your home. No need to fight with your kids. Read a little, maybe even do a little exercise.
Sound like a magazine ad. Sure only someone without responsibilities can do that, but for me is simply impossible. Certainly it is, because you and I are doing it backwards.
What will happen if you wake up two hours earlier? (I know it is impossible under the current conditions, but bear with me for a moment) We will had two hours to do all those things that today are impossible, not only that, since they will be the first things of the day, we will be full of energy and in many cases we will be able to enjoy them even more. I know we don’t have two hours and that we are exhausted in the mornings. But those two hours, are the same ones that we are doing when we get home from work. My proposal is to do it backwards.
If we go to bed two hours earlier, even if that mean miss that TV show that we sleep trough regardless. Instead of do that stuff when we come back exhausted from work, we do it at the beginning of the day. What do you think will happen? What it is more important? TV or your Objectives?
I know it is impossible, because we are exhausted, because we are not sleeping enough hours as it is. Because it is almost impossible to wake up in the morning. Think if for a week, you could do those things first, you will be calm, no stress, and begin the morning as if it comes from an Ad on a Magazine. Maybe then you will discover as I did that we are doing it backwards. At least that happened to me.
I made many excuses to avoid it doing this, but the reality is that the experience had been incredible. Also I don’t miss those 2:00 AM nights and even less the morning after.

When life change. Waiting for Tomás


Problem: It is black turn and they can do check mate every time they wish to

Almost four years ago our life radically changed. My wife and I were pregnant of our first daughter. Alicia had been one of those wonderful things in our life, she has come to change realities and disarm truths; while creating a new reality and a new truth.
I never thought that life would had change so much when you have a daughter, but I am the first one to admit that the journey had been incredible. See how they do things that you had try to change and improve for years on yourself. When they answer you with that ingenuity that only a child can use to answer. When they disarm you with a simple: I love you.
Our life is going to change again, Tomás is on his way to change it even more, change the truths that we have left y disarm the realities that we thought were established with new ones. I am sure he and Alicia will find ways to make us understand, that what we think we know is not true.
When we learn that Alicia was on her way, I remembered how I thought that out life wasn’t going to change much and I continued laughing at myself on how much everything had changed, how radical the change had been and honestly, I will not changed for anything in this world.
This time I am ready for everything to change and I am counting the hours to see how everything transform itself into incredible and unexpected again.