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.

Flashback Friday - Future Computers in 1981

In 1981, BYTE Magazine's cover featured the first concept of a wearable device... the computer watch.  The image is kind of funny because the world had not encountered touchscreen technology yet, so the image showing a small screen with a virtually unusable mini keyboard and the awesome rendition of a side-loading floppy drive is classic.

Now, I was 3-years-old when this cover ran, so I would be curious as to what the readership thought. Most readers of BYTE Magazine were true hobbyists, so I am sure this drew some excitement of the possibilities.

Follow my "Tech History" board on Pinterest.

BYTE Magazine, April 1981

BYTE Magazine, April 1981

Productivity App Updates for July 1-8, 2014 [Android Edition]

Several productivity applications on Android got some much needed updates last week.  Here is a breakdown of some of the big ones...


Google Docs - Google split out several of the components within their Google Drive app, and Docs was one of them.  Some have complained about Google doing this, but overall it makes complete sense AND it has enhanced performance of the individual components.  Docs allows you to created word documents right from your mobile device and it is pretty slick. Version was uploaded to the Google Play store on July 2nd, and you can grab the app here.

App logos for the new Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides

App logos for the new Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides

Google Sheets - This is the second of three apps that got split out of Google Drive.  Create, edit, save, and share spreadsheet files.  Version was uploaded to the Google Play store on July 2nd, and you can grab the app here.

Google Slides - The third app in the Google Drive suite to get its own app was Google Slides, allowing users to create their own presentation files on the go.  Grab version 1.0.783.22 on the Google Play store now!


Google Search - For device owners running Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean), Google updated its search app with a few different enhancements, including:

  • Recommendations for things to watch on Chromecast
  • Public transit riders can now set an alarm to remind them when it is their stop (great feature for those that like to sleep on their commute!)
  • General bug fixes and enhancements

If you haven't gotten a chance to check out my Google Now articles, you can find those here. Version 3.5.16 was uploaded to the Google Play store on July 7th - grab it here!

Feedly - The RSS reader service, which has been having some denial-of-service attacks to deal with lately, issued a bunch of new updates this past week, including:

  • Fixing duplicate image issues
  • Bug fixes for Android 2.x and 4.x that was causing crashes
  • Long press to save and custom font size bugs
  • Fixes "pull to refresh" issues and left-to-right swipe lag issues
  • Implemented better support for Samsung 10" tablets
  • Smoother image rendering
  • Faster start up experience

You can grab version 22.0.0 on the Google Play store here.

IFTTT - This awesome app, which is still relatively new to Android, is one that I have written about a few times (here and here).  A recent version update (Version 1.1) that got released last week implements an Android Wear channel that can trigger recipes and notifications right to your wrist!  You can grab the 1.1 version on the Google Play store.


Personal Capital - This is a new application for me personally, as I just installed it this week.  The Mint competitor released two small updates, which consisted of:

  • Fixing a bug that was causing its widget to crash
  • Android Wear compatibility

Grab the latest Personal Capital updated app on the Google Play store!

Those were some of the most notable app updates from the previous week. Did I miss any big ones? If so, drop them in the comment section below!


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.