The Future of Work Devices

My kids don’t want computers. They want iPads. They want screens they can touch and comfortably hold six inches away from their faces. They are more comfortable doing homework on an iPhone than a computer. My oldest son even wrote a paper using dictation on his phone and then corrected it with the phone keyboard. The tools our kids use to get work done won’t be laptops and desktops.

I’ve been noticing a lot of criticisms about the new iPad. Tech YouTubers are mostly united in the conclusion that it ‘s the best hardware and speed ever, but that it fails at being a computer replacement because computer workflows don’t work. I think that’s the point.

The iPad is meant to be the “computer” of choice for the generation of people whose first “computer” was a phone. People who feel uncomfortable sitting down at a traditional machine with windows and unnecessary steps to get done what they want to get done. In the same way that employment is changing with the Gig Economy, remote work, the devices, and workflows used to get things done are going to change. We are going to have a generation of people who are post- computer.

This is important for business leaders for two reasons.

First, you are going to have to rethink your business systems, tools, processes) and most importantly, your attitude about devices to optimize for, attract, and keep the next generation of workers. This goes beyond devices and expends into software and services as well. You are going to have to disassociate a phone, texting, etc. from shouting off or being unprofessional. You are going to need to embrace and learn this new style of work and he a champion of it.

Second, the products, services, and solutions you are developing and selling need to be thought about through the lens of mobile-first. Your customers will not be stationary. They won’t be in one place physically or digitally for too long. Your solutions and products need to help them where they are and also move with them to where they are going.

By the way, this post was handwritten using an app called Nebo, exported to text, edited in Grammarly in a browser, and then lines added and posted wherever you are seeing it now.

Changing My Relationship with Learning

Raising kids is like having a bunch of parrots–or instant replay monitors–or whatever other metaphor applies to seeing a reflection of your own behavior lived out right in front of you. Like when one of your kids scolds another one of your kids for bothering him, his voice ripe with condescension, and you scold him for too. Except 4 words in to your monologue you realize you are doing the exact same your kid was doing. And he’s looking at you, confused, wondering what is wrong. He is just copying your behavior.

I have a 13-year-old son. He has a phone. He is always on his phone, or his Xbox. When there is nothing to do, there is a screen in front if his face. He swipes more than he types, or takes photos, or does any other output. It drives me nuts. Why is he wasting so much time? Why does he consume so much more than he creates? Why doesn’t he go outside and play. And I tell him. He looks at me, confused, wondering what is wrong. He is just copying my behavior.

I have a laundry list of things I want to do–things my ideal self-image does. My ideal self is a writer, a teacher, a strong leader, a programmer. My ideal self works hard every day, has a strong group of friends and a giant business network.

The real me spends too much time learning–my euphemism for consumption. There is more information in my brain, information that I have consumed, than I could take action on in a decade. Still, I look for new things to learn. The content criteria gets lax. I am wasting time.

I see it in my kids, in the way they choose to spend their time. They are a reflection of my poor habits–my good ones too, yes–but it’s the poor habits that limit us in life. I can’t allow this to continue, and I can’t change it with words that don’t match behavior.

So I want to change my relationship with learning. Learning through action, through creation, through building things and making a contribution. Learning to work through fear and imposter syndrome and quieting the inner critic.

Learning through action.

Creating Room For Boredom

I read about the idea of reengineering your habits towards producing by creating room for boredom. When we are waiting for something, sitting around, and even when we are supposed to be working, we tend to reach for our phones.

The author posed this question: “When is the last time you focused on a single task for one hour straight without reaching for your phone or checking email?” I can’t say that I remember doing that outside of being on a run. And even then, I usually turn on a podcast.

In my meditation app, Headspace, there is a meditation on dealing with distraction. The idea it proposes is that when we are bored, we are focused on what we are missing out on instead of focusing on what is going on in the present. Boredom is a symptom of FOMO and a major driver of discontent.

But boredom is only bad when I succumb to my impulses. I am finding that when I force myself to work through my boredom and resist the compulsion to check what else is going on, I create the right environment to think more deeply. I am able to access thoughts and ideas, and do work that is impossible with an occupied mind.

My action step from this idea is to decide on an important project or task, dedicate an amount of time to work on it without distraction, and then work until the time expires.

The Right Way To Ask

Hey Everyone!

I just published my latest podcast called “The Right Way To Ask For Something” on my Anchor page.

Take 10 minutes and listen, but if you don’t have time, here are the 3 points I cover:

  1. Know what you want.
  2. Ask for more than what you need.
  3. Put the problem on their plate to solve.

I break it down with more detail and a couple of examples on the show, so be sure to listen in if you want to learn more.


Voice Dictation

In my effort to use my computer less and my mobile device more as my primary work tool, I been to relying on voice dictation more than I do typing.

There are a few things that I like about this approach.

It is faster. Speaking is way quicker than using my thumbs to type something out on the keyboard. So, if I need to get something out fast, speaking into my phone is going to be the best way to do it.

Speaking into my phone helps me to connect more with what I’m actually saying. I find this very similar to what it’s like writing my words down on paper with a pen. I have to be more thoughtful about what I’m saying.

It allows me to practice communicating verbally. This is incredibly important especially with the fact that our workforce is now 100% remote, and it’s very easy to rely on written communication.

I find my thoughts flow more freely out of my head when I’m speaking into my phone. Sometimes I’ll get into a topic that I’m trying to communicate to one of my team members, and I’ll be able to express what I mean more clearly because I’m not constantly editing what I’m saying. I’m allowing what I mean to just flow. I’m a verbal processor, and I work well this way.

One limitation with dictation, especially with the iPhone, is that there’s a time limit on how long you can speak into your keyboard. One way I get around this is by using the Drafts app by a company called Agile Bits. I’m using Drafts 5, which is their newest offering. There is a feature to do voice dictation directly into the application instead of the keyboard. There’s a button that you press with a little microphone on it which allows you to speak for as long as you want. What’s neat is I can actually leave this running in the background. If there’s a thought I’m trying to get out, and I can’t get it clearly get it out of my head. When there’s a long pause in my speech, it will actually add in a special set of characters, so I know that there was silence at that point.

Another limitation is that you have to remember to add punctuation verbally. So, at the end of a sentence you actually have to say the word period. If you need a comma, or an ellipsis, or any other form of punctuation you need to say it out loud.

Finally, dictation is not perfect yet. There are frequently words that my phone doesn’t understand. For example, it can’t tell the difference between writing and riding. I can see this being a major problem with people with very strong accents. Still, it’s much faster and way more convenient than trying to type out everything. From my experience this is an area that is getting better all the time.

So, if you struggle with typing in your phone, definitely experiment with voice dictation. Just like anything else, it does take practice. What you’ll find in the end is that it is a more convenient way of getting words from your head into your phone.

One final note: this entire blog post was originally transcribed using voice dictation and the drafts app. I then put it into another app on my phone called Ulysses where I fixed typos, added links, and ultimately published to my blog.

Embracing A Mobile Based Toolkit

The more I lean into a focus on the work I am uniquely good at and enjoy, the harder look I take at the tools I use.

My tech fascination gave way to an obsession and has caused an increase in the amount of devices I interact with on a daily basis.

My daily carry alone has is 3 devices, laptop, tablet, and phone. This is despite the fact that I only use my laptop for a couple tasks that are easier on the computer. Basically, it’s more of a hassle to carry the thing around all the time than it is to take an extra minute or 2 on those couple of tasks. I continue to try to leave the laptop behind as much as I can to both force myself to find easier ways to get the same work done, and delegate what I don’t need to be doing anyway.

And apps are catching up to what I need. There is a learning curve, or an in-learning curve rather, where the app designers build in features that make so much more sense than simply copying laptop and web based work flows.

The QuickBooks app is one of these that is catching up. I love how they are thinking through what it’s like working on an iPad or mobile device and then providing simple workflows. I received 4 payments in the QB app on my iPad (one of the tasks I needed the web based version on my laptop to do), and it was so much faster and easier.

The other app that is incredible is the podcasting app, Anchor. Their iPad app is a very simple, yet powerful podcasting studio built into the app. I can record straight into the app, edit, and publish without needing to transfer files and such. It’s a different work flow that Logic or other audio editing software, but it makes sense on an iPad. I can’t wait to see where they take this.

It’s great that tech is catching up and I can start leaving my laptop behind without compromising functionality.

What mobile first workflows are you experimenting with? Can you leave your computer behind and remain productive?

Reverse Engineering Your Goals

The best way to accomplish anything is start with the end and work backwards. It’s called reverse engineering.

  1. Close your eyes. Imagine where you want when your goal is accomplished as if it is real today.
  2. Write out your goal like this: Goal by date.
  3. Get out your calendar.
  4. Write your goal down on the date it will be accomplished.
  5. Back up to the date halfway between today and the goal date. Write down where you need to be at that time.
  6. Do the same for the three quarter point and the one quarter point.
  7. Fill in all of the gaps until you have a daily plan for the first 1/4 of your goal.
  8. Wake up do what you planned.
  9. When you get 1/4 of the way there, plan the next 1/4.
  10. Repeat until you have accomplished your goal.

Note: Here is what to do when you don’t feel like it.

Feeling and Doing

I bounced out of bed this morning. I hadn’t been able to run for the last week due to my schedule, so I was optimistic about how well I was going to perform with fresh legs. Halfway into my run, though, my attitude began to change. I running about 1:30 per mile faster than my goal pace, and all of the overly optimistic feelings gave way to reality of the work ahead of me.

Each step was a chore. Pain from sore muscles shot through my hips and hamstrings. The feeling of defeat and unmet expectations consumed my brain. All I could think about now was how bad I felt, and how much I wanted to quit.

There are going to be days when you feel great. Your energy levels will be high. You will be excited to embrace the days challenges. There will also be days when you don’t feel like doing the work. You are tired, uninspired, or, if you are honest, scared.

The best piece of advice I have ever received about progressing towards a goal is this:

When it comes time to do the work, it does not matter how you feel. It only matters that you do.

Simple right? The greatest thing about this idea is it works on any goal, whether it’s finally mowing the lawn after your wife has been asking you for the last 2 weeks or earning $3 million in the 12 months.

Decide what needs to be done, and then once it’s decided, do it. Don’t worry if you feel like doing it or not. Just take action.

I promise you, take this advice and apply it right now. What’s the next thing you have to do? Do it. Then do the next thing, and the next thing.

It’s crazy to me how often we overestimate the impact our emotions have on our performance. I do this all the time. I did it this morning. I went out too fast because of how I felt.

I ended up finishing my run, but I only beat my goal pace by 7 seconds per mile. I had to slow down a ton to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I never felt better about doing it. I wasn’t even successful in beating a goal by huge margin.

But I finished which is what I originally set out to do.

Disabling Notifications

I shut off almost all of my notifications on my phone, tablet, and computer over the weekend.

One of my themes right now is creating more than I consume. I have noticed my habits trending towards being less intentional, and even realized some of this was a result of good intentions.

I have read about people deleting everything off of their phones, which doesn’t work for me. I use my phone to make things. I work from my iPhone…a lot. I publish to my blog from my iPhone. I do most of my content distribution and sharing from my iPhone. I don’t want to cripple my device.

I have just found that when I start working, I will turn away from the task I am working on with every buzz and ding. My attention span has suffered considerably.

So the only thing I have notifications for now are:

  • Phone calls
  • Text messages
  • Emails from by VIP list
  • FaceTime calls.

Everything else gets a notification badge and that is it. I keep any consumption prone app off of my home screen. This way I have to go to it to check it vs. be distracted by the little red numbers on the icon.

The lack of distraction is pretty freeing. I hopeful I will be able to stay focused on a task longer.

Finding Time

Man looking at watch

I am married.

I have four kids.

I run a company.

I coach baseball.

I attend my kids sporting events.

I volunteer at church.

I teach myself Spanish.

I read over 4 books a month.

I take training courses to level up on my strengths.

I play on a men’s softball team.

I am a part of a small group rom church that meets 3 times a month.

I am leading my oldest through a multiple month long mentoring group with 4 other dads and sons.

I know what busy feels like.

I get asked all the time, “How do you find the time?” The truth is…I still don’t think I am using my time well enough.

I was speaking at a conference earlier this month about making things better when you are too busy when I was asked this question.

How you find the time?

I told this person…You have to audit how you really work and be honest. I guarantee there is a lot of “work” you do that feels like work, when in reality, you are just complaining about work. Or you are “planning” or “thinking” about work. It may feel like work, because it’s about work. But…it’s not work. It’s just complaining and procrastinating.

I see it everywhere. People tell their coworkers, “I am so busy!” And then they proceed to them everything they are busy with. They spend 20 or 30 minutes doing this before they walk away and tell someone else.

Cut it out. It’s robbing you of a future filled with the progress you want in your life. And I am not even starting on the time wasters in other parts of your day. This is just the work day. You have the time. You just need to cut out all of the fake work.