What's the best way to develop a new daily/weekly routine?

Looking to develop a new habit or routine in your life?  One of the individuals I follow on the Q&A site, Quora, asked that very same question, looking for the best way to get started.  I took a brief moment to give my best answer on the post, but also wanted to share it here as well.

My recommendation was to check out the mobile app, Lift.  I used Lift briefly in the past when I worked at Life Time Fitness and was researching mobile applications that could help members build and maintain their workout routines.  Lift was a newcomer on the scene then, and has since enhanced their service by adding several community functions and a coaching element.  I may looking at giving Lift another try, but first have to work through a backlog of other apps I want to try first that offer a similar solution.

Do you use Lift, or any other habit-building/routine-building app or special technique?  I would love to hear about them in the comment section below.


What's the best way to develop a new daily/weekly routine? [Quora]

Lift | Succeed at everything.

Book Review: Experience Curating by Joel Zaslofsky

In general, I do quite a bit of reading in my spare time.  Between my RSS feeds, Google Play magazines, and my Amazon Kindle books (not to mention my vast collection of audio books for my commute and workouts), it is fair to say that I fill quite a bit of my down time reading.  The amount I read increases quite a bit in mid-July each year when I head up to northern Minnesota for a week-long vacation.  Usually I go into vacation with a plan on what two or three books I want to get through, but this year I was less prepared!  Instead, I threw my Nexus 7 in my bag knowing that my Kindle app was loaded with some reads to choose from when I got to the beach.

Book image from Value Of Simple website

Book image from Value Of Simple website

One of those books on my Kindle was "Experience Curating" by Joel Zaslofsky from ValueOfSimple.com, which I had grabbed several months ago but had not even touched yet.  Given my experience in content strategy, I was excited by the title because of my interest in curation, but otherwise had no idea what to expect from the read.  Honestly, the reason I purchased the book was more of a personal commitment I have.  See, Joel is a fellow Minnesotan, and since I believe in supporting the strong local talent we have here in the great state of Minnesota, I wanted to support Joel, whom I had learned about through another friend of mine, Justin Piehowski.  I figured if anything, even if I didn't particularly enjoy the book, I was still helping a Minnesota guy out.

However, I can say that after finishing Experience Curating last night, there is nothing disappointing about the book at all (You can check out my Goodreads review here as well).  In fact, it opened my eyes to several opportunities to enhance my already existing practice around Quantified Self.

In a nutshell (and in my best personal opinion), Experience Curating is about capturing experiences in life, documenting them, and storing them in a place that best suits retrieval and sharing purposes.  Let me give you a couple of very simple examples...

As I stated above, I love reading.  For the most part, I don't keep track of all the books I read even though I really want to (this is a to-do list item for me, actually).  Sometimes, when time permits, I will log my reading on Goodreads, but I would prefer something a little more customizable.  This is where a spreadsheet might come in handy.  On top of that, my books are all over the place - some on my Kindle app, some in Google Play Books, some in audio format in Audible, etc.  I would love to be able to curate all of that in one place.  Joel's suggestions gave me some ideas for a starting point.  Secondly, I am currently looking into transforming an interest in donuts into a more organized information source for other donut enthusiasts, and I got some ideas for that as well through this book.

I already track a lot of my personal interactions through my Quantified Self practice, so Experience Curating made sense to me.  However, this book will not be enjoyed by all, which is okay. In my personal opinion, this book will be perfect for those who are interested in documenting their live experiences to better live in the moment and enjoy and share those moments later, but have not started yet.  I can best define this as putting your experiences into context with other experiences.

It is a quick read, and at $4.99 for the Kindle version, it is worth a look. Plus, no matter where you live, you can never go wrong supporting a Minnesotan.

How to activate Google Now's "Everywhere" feature

During my week-long voice command-only experiment, I am trying to find every trick in the book to become more effective using voice commands, and ultimately to become more productive.  My primary tool has been Google Now, which has proved to be very good.  Then yesterday, things got even better...

I activated the "Everywhere" setting in Google Now.

The "Everywhere" setting allows Google Now to recognize your "Ok Google" voice command from any screen on your device, including when it is charging or when the screen is off.  Below is a step-by-step guide to activating the Google Now "Everywhere" feature, which the latest Google Now app update makes available.

There are four slides in the gallery.  You start by opening the Google Now app, and go to the menu options.  From there, click on the options the yellow arrows are pointing to, and on the last slide make sure the two circled checkboxes are selected.

After you select the two boxes on the last screen, Google Now may ask you to do a three-step voice test. From there, I gave it a shot and have had pretty good luck.  Occassionally I have had some issues with it recognizing my "Ok Google" voice command when the screen is off, but in all those cases I may have had too much background noise.  Still testing, but overall, it works great from any screen I am on.

The Voice Command Experiment

I have decided to give my thumbs a break this week.

After having just about mastered the stock Android keyboard and several 3rd party keyboard apps on my various Android devices over the past several years, I am going voice command-exclusive this week.  From Google searches to composing text messages and emails to checking the weather forecast, every action I take on my smartphone or tablet will be conducted via voice command where applicable.  I started yesterday and so far, so good. I have found voice commands to be much better than I expected, but it is early yet!

For the most part, I am using Google Now as my main voice command service.  Occasionally I have used the stock Samsung voice command app, and definitely will try it out some more, but Google Now is available on both Google and Apple devices, so in order to give my best assessment to all my readers, I will primarily focus on Google Now.

Want to jump in and give Google Now voice commands a try before I complete my week-long experiment and share my feedback?  Below is a great infographic that can be used as a starting point for good commands to start with.  Would love to hear your feedback in the comment section below!

How Evernote Can Capitalize on All of Google's I/O Event News

One week later and I am still breaking down all the great stuff that came out of this year's Google I/O event.  As I pour through all of the tech blogs doing recaps of the event, I can't help but think about how other devices and services will play into the new things Google will be rolling out in the coming weeks and months. Specifically, how Evernote can capitalize further on the enhancements of Google platform.  Here are some of my thoughts...

Android One can bring Evernote to more individuals and businesses

Android One is Google's attempt to bring lower-cost smartphones to developing countries. Google will have direct say over the hardware and experience of the devices, which it probably wishes it could have over the carriers here in the U.S.  While exact specifications have not been defined yet, the hope would be Evernote would continue their tradition of supporting all devices, including these Android One models.  This would open up new markets of growth for Evernote.

Version "L" of Android offers a new design approach

Image courtesy of Lifehacker.com

Image courtesy of Lifehacker.com

The new flavor of Android is currently being referred to as "L" and it features a new cross platform UI called Material Design, which offers app developers more precise tools to make customized typography, grid, color changes and add smooth animations. The version looks to also support better lockscreen notifications and context-based authentication features (for example, if you’re wearing a paired Bluetooth watch while using your phone, it won’t prompt you for a pattern lock pass).  Battery life should also be improved in "L".  Evernote has always been ahead of the curve on design trends. For example, when iOS 7 came out, Evernote was one of the first apps to have the new design.  Here is another opportunity for Evernote to show of its design skills utilizing the Material Design approach.

Android Wear: Bringing the next generation of smartwatches

This is a no-brainer for Evernote. With Google releasing the details on Android Wear, their platform for hardware companies to include in the next generation of smartwatches, now Evernote can be right on your wrist.  This would not be Evernote's first appearance on a smartwatch, however. I was an early adopter with the Samsung Galaxy Gear last year and was happy to see Evernote had an app for that at release. Below is a video I published showing how the Evernote app works on the Gear watch.

I can't wait to see what Evernote puts together for the next generation of smartwatches, especially the ones running Android Wear.

Android Auto could bring Evernote to your car

The tech battle for the automobile is just getting heated up.  Google introduced Android Auto last week.  The completely voice-enabled Android Auto is designed to create a safe and seamless solution for using connected devices while driving. By connecting your smartphone to a compatible car, Android Auto will cast on the car’s screen quick shortcuts to location searches, suggestions and navigation. Drivers can also send and receive text messages using solely voice command features to keep their hands and eyes on the steering wheel.  Now imagine this with Evernote.  I can't tell you how nice it would be to create notes, checklists, and listen to the content of notes while in my car.  Considering all that Android Auto really needs is a smartphone device paired with it, an Evernote instance should already be existent.  It is the display on the dash that I am curious what Evernote engineers can come up with to display.

Evernote on your TV? Android TV could have an app for that

Display your notes, PDFs, photos - whatever you have in your Evernote account - could be displayed right on your TV. What about saving TV content or data to your Evernote account? Maybe that is a possibility.  So no matter if you are engrossed in a movie or TV show, Evernote could be one button away on your TV remote control.  Let the Evernote engineers dream up the possibilities!

Integrate your Google Fit with Evernote

Google announced its Google Fit platform that will be able to bring in health data from devices and services and put them all together.  I envision a two-way communication stream between Google Fit and Evernote to push and back-up health data to Evernote, and vice versa.  Tons of possibilities.

There was a lot more that came out of this year's Google I/O event, so I would expect those Evernote designers and engineers are gearing up for lots of great additions to the service for us loyal users!