Anyone who knows me knows I love apps. There’s the software that I use every day, and then there are tools that I WANT to use, because I really like them, but I may at times struggle to find a use case for them that is… well… useful. Sounds crazy right? Most people are trying to use as few applications as possible, and they just want to run their business. Me? I am ALWAYS looking for a better, faster way. Sometimes I may even be looking for a more enjoyable way of doing things.
I can guarantee you this. If you find a way of getting things done that you enjoy, you will be 500x more productive. My peers in the accounting industry are always asking me how it seems like I get the work of 10 people done every day. Maybe this is the answer: I play a lot.
I’ve written about The Brain on the BQE blog before:
- Increasing Profits and Productivity – Using a Mind Map to Achieve Balance and Reach Your Goals
- Increasing Profits and Productivity – How to Make Your Brain Look Sharp
I love this tool, and my use of it has gone in and out quite a bit over the years. One of the things that always stopped me from getting too committed to using The Brain was that there wasn’t a mobile app.
Story time: I read. A LOT. Every day, first thing when I wake up, I am on my Feedly app, reading the latest news, and much of that news is about business. I read Inc, and Fortune, and Forbes. I also read Lifehacker, Tim Ferriss’s blog, The Wall St Journal, and Bloomberg. Feedly helps me aggregate these and many other feeds. I read all of the headlines, and then decide which articles I want to read entirely.
Then there are the emails I read. I get many, but there is only one person whose email newsletter I always take the time to read because there is ALWAYS useful information. So flipping that coin for a second, remember that if you want people to always read your content, make sure the information is always useful. I’ll come back to whose emails I read a little further down.
Last week, one article that caught my attention was about the top 10 mind mapping programs according to someone. My love for The Brain, and my desire to have one that was mobile, drove me to read the article. Much to my dismay, The Brain was not included on this person’s list.
A day or two later, it was bugging me, so I decided I should search the Play Store for mind maps. Maybe I would find something I could use. Sometimes you just want to lay out your ideas in a manner that’s more consistent with how your mind actually works, as opposed to bullet points, or any linear structure like that.
So searched, and started swiping up on my mobile, and there it was!
All of a sudden, years of ideas flooded back in. I explored the app, and immediately found that it can pretty much do anything you can do on the desktop version.
I decided to start a completely new Brain (you can set up as many as you want). Next thing I knew, I was exploring some of the old ones I had in there, and then something occurred to me. I have often wanted to do a vlog where I shoot daily videos talking about what I am doing, how I am developing different processes for clients, and so on. In the end I have always decided it would be boring. I don’t move around much. Most of my days are spent at the computer.
At the same time, though, people are often asking me what tools I use on a daily basis, especially as someone who uses a LOT of apps.
I invented “the Brain Vlog.” It’s a bit of a daily dump of what I am doing throughout the day with links to thoughts that are relevant, including the apps I’ve used. You start to get an interesting perspective. I can click on an app from my apps thought, and see all the days I’ve used it.
Then I noticed something. This process was keeping me much more focused. I am already pretty focused when I want to be, but this was making me that much more aware of what I am doing, and most importantly when I am doing something that isn’t what I should be focusing on.
Awareness is the key to removing distractions, and this process, besides creating a really interesting resource, was also raising my awareness about what I am doing throughout the day.
Last Sunday I got the email that I get every Sunday from the one person whose emails I almost always read: Chris Brogan. This one was about how to write headlines that get engagement. As I was reading it, I started documenting it in my Brain. When I read something like this, I don’t just read it. That’s useless. I study it, and I make notes. Then I immediately begin implementing it. That’s how we actually learn. By TRYING it out! He didn’t link to the article he was referencing, but g-d bless Google. I quickly found a related article, and then I found THE article that was the source of his email. I documented all of this, and outlined it in my Brain.
Oh, you’re wondering when I am going to share this link with you? I already did. Chris’s name, linked above, will take you right to that part of my Brain. You can download a PDF of his email right form there. Then you can click on the “children” thoughts, which lead to each of the two articles on Buzzsumo that I found. One of those, “We Analyzed 100 Million Headlines” is the one Chris was referencing in his email.
If you click the ‘thoughts” for each article, you will find the link to the original article, as well as a PDF you can download. For articles like this, I always print them to a PDF and save them, in case the original article goes away.
If you start to document your life the way that I have here, you will find that you are really aware of what your processes are. This raised awareness is incredibly meaningful. You will start to see where things are working well, and where you need something because you don’t have a process. You will also create a resource that is incredibly useful for you, and probably others, because you are documenting what’s helpful for you.
Incidentally you can mark a thought private in case you don’t want others to see everything that you write.
If you haven’t already, watch the video above, and see what this all really looks like.