At first glance, routines, habits, and even rituals can seem like they describe the same thing – regular repetition of an action (or series of actions). When we look below the surface though, we find a subtle yet impactful difference between these concepts.
A routine is a series of regularly performed actions that take some effort to establish, e.g., checking emails and all incoming communication first thing in the morning. Another example is creating team goals or OKRs for each product release or business quarter. We are often conscious of the actions we take in our routines.
A habit is a little bit different by nature. It starts as a conscious choice but develops into an almost unconscious pattern that tends to happen “naturally”. A good example is the habit of reading a book before bed or drinking a glass of water after waking up.
A ritual on the other hand is a routine with a little bit more of a “spiritual” flavor. This is a series of actions connected to a more meaningful moment, usually requiring heightened awareness or mindfulness. An example might be a daily mantra or affirmation, a weekly meal with the family, or an annual trip to a beloved place.
Routines usually require more intention, effort, and energy. Yet, with discipline, time, and the right techniques, we can build routines into habits or even convert them into rituals. From a productivity standpoint, habits are the most important type of regular activity, since they become natural drivers for automating actions, which conserves our brain’s resources. Preserving our brain’s capacity, as we already know, is a major key to productivity.
Why Do Habits Improve Productivity?
Habits are valuable because we perform them automatically, without any particular thought. As mentioned in the first article of the series, context switching is the biggest productivity killer; if we can carry out necessary yet repetitive tasks without needing to actively think about them, we can avoid context switching.
Obviously, it is impossible to create habits related to complex or unique tasks. However, we can definitely transform small, repetitive actions into supportive habits. Small, incremental habits are the secret to life-long productivity and achievement. Want to learn a new skill? Simply develop a habit of spending 15 minutes maybe four times a week on the subject – results will follow.
How to Develop a New Habit
Now that we’ve explored what habits are and how they contribute to productivity, let’s figure out how to develop a new habit. The process of creating a new habit can be complex, requiring a combination of time, discipline, and attention. Fortunately, there are many great books on the subject. Two classics include Atomic Habits by James Clear and The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. These resources describe some techniques that can help simplify the process.
Building a habit can be divided into four steps: cue, craving, response, and reward. Those steps are the building blocks of every habit – our brains go through them, in the same order each time.
The first step is the cue, which triggers our brain to start the behavior. This process lays deeply in human nature. In short, a cue indicates that performing a certain action will likely be followed by a reward. Once we identify the action, it leads us to the reward (which can be anything like food, love, satisfaction, money, fame, power, etc.). The cue naturally leads to craving.
Cravings are the motivational force behind every habit. There is no real reason to act without any level of motivation or desire behind the action. The important thing to understand is that we don’t desire the habit itself but the state it delivers. I.e., we’re not motivated by reading the book but by the entertainment (or knowledge improvement) it brings. What’s more, each person is different and people are motivated by distinct cues. For addicts, a glimpse of a cigarette would most likely trigger the desire to smoke. For a non-smoker, the sight of a cigarette would not trigger a craving. Cues and cravings are usually a combination of experiences, thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
The third step is the response – the actual habit we perform. This is where internal motivation comes into the picture since the response highly depends on the intensity of the craving. If a particular action requires more effort than we’re willing to expend, we simply won’t do it. What’s more, we need to be fully capable of performing the action first. (This concept links nicely with the “divide and conquer” strategy presented in the previous article from the series). If we’re not able to run for 20 minutes, we can’t think about creating a habit of running for an hour straight.
Once the response happens, it leads us directly to the reward, which is the end goal of each habit. From the habit-creation perspective, rewards have two purposes: (1) they provide satisfaction (apart from the benefits the response may bring, like better health). (2) They reinforce behaviors that lead to the reward. The second purpose is the most important one to recognize in successfully developing a habit. Once our brain links the cue to the reward, it becomes much easier to find the will to perform the required action.
These four steps, repeated over and over again, create the habit loop. Interestingly enough, all four stages are equally important. If we eliminate the cue, the habit will never be initiated. If we reduce the craving, we won’t be able to find the motivation to act. Making a response difficult to perform will lead to dropping the habit after a couple of repetitions only. If the reward doesn’t match the desire, there is no point (at least from the brain’s perspective) in repeating that action again.
Let’s present an example of the habit loop:
Cue – an obstacle blocks your progress on a project.
Craving – you feel stuck and frustrated.
Response – you check social media to ‘take a break.’
Reward – you lowered your frustration levels (craving).
With repetition, this cycle can become a habit loop where checking social media becomes associated with feeling blocked or stuck at work.
Yes, the above example is very real. The problem with habits is that it’s usually much simpler to create bad habits than good ones. The term “bad habit” is a familiar one, especially compared to the term “good habit” (usually only heard in mindfulness or productivity discussions, like this one).
Building Good Habits
Considering the habit loop helps us improve our process for building good habits by taking some conscious actions. As we analyze each step, we can associate it with the most important feature:
The cue has to be obvious so our brain can spot it. The craving should be attractive enough to spark sufficient motivation. The response should be as easy as possible to perform. Lastly, the reward must be satisfying enough to encourage repetition. Those are the main guidelines for a single habit to succeed.
Based on these ideas, we can form a couple of reasonable statements that will reinforce the whole habit development process.
Focus on one new habit at a time – each new habit requires time and motivation, and it becomes a lot easier if we can focus on one habit at a time.
Be consistent with the new habit. The required time to form a new habit can range from three to even nine weeks. The key here is repetition and consistency.
Try to anchor your new habit to an already established routine. Your established routine can then serve as a reliable cue that will make the whole process a lot easier. This is especially true when we can specify the time and location. “I will read a book for fifteen to twenty minutes before going to sleep” is a clearly stated habit that is relatively easy to develop. Another classic one is: “I will do 20 push-ups after brushing my teeth in the morning”. Since everyone likely already has a routine in place to brush their teeth in the morning, it’s a lot easier to start a new habit using the routine as a cue.
Start small – focusing on tiny habits first, which usually require much lower motivation, the required response is much easier to accomplish. By successfully building smaller habits, you can then cultivate the necessary discipline and confidence to take on larger goals.
Track your progress – the power of habits comes from their consistent, repetitive nature. To become successful, we want to perform actions as frequently as planned (daily, weekly, or a set number of times a week, etc.). The frequency itself is not as important as the consistency of the response. There are many apps out there that can help you track progress for each habit you create. Highly recommended!
Creating a habit and keeping it active for a long time is not always an easy task. However, with the knowledge and techniques presented in this article, it should become much more achievable.
In this article, we briefly explained the importance of tiny, repetitive actions that can push our lives forward. These kinds of actions can help us meet long-term goals in that magical, unnoticeable, but constant manner. I think there is no better way to end this article than citing a wonderful line written by an American philosopher, Will Durant (though frequently misattributed to Aristotle).
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit”.
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. 2012, RandomHouse.
Technology influences and informs the ways we express our identity and engage with others.
Interests Feed Identities, Which Grow Communities
A fascinating aspect of modern-day society is how we develop our interests and how these interests become a shorthand code for our identities. As people have more time and resources to flourish instead of being consumed by the plight of survival, our interests and identities are becoming increasingly complex, as we understand more about ourselves and each other.
A related point is how we associate with others based on our interests and identity affiliations . Even in a professional environment, we tend to cluster with others who share our interests or who align with our identities. We create networks of connections based on the mutual understanding of shared or complementary interests and traits.
Technology has enabled us to widely publish our identities and provided new avenues of interaction within our communities. It has also changed how we synthesize and organize the never-ending stream of information and content, which further feeds and reinforces all these different interests. The way in which we process and assimilate content into our identities influences the connections we make within our social groups. In short, different people assemble information in different ways , and that affects who we connect with.
How We Connect
The method or manner of connection is almost as important as the content over which we connect. As our content evolves, so too do the platforms where we consume content and engage with one another. These platforms are becoming ever more digital; meeting someone new is as likely to happen online as it is to happen in a workplace, campus, or social meetup .
Communication and organization technology has come a long way, even in the past few years. Now we have incredibly sophisticated messaging and social media apps, integrative Kanban boards, collaborative calendars, endless online forums, and resource blogs. We have transitioned our physical tools and meeting spaces into a digital landscape, and we heavily rely on this landscape to support more and more of our daily functions.
The Digital Impact
Yet the convenience of life online has also resulted in digital experiences taking bigger and bigger bites out of our days. We have begun to notice the influence of digital platforms on our expressions of identity, as in the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis. This linguistics theory (also called Linguistic Relativity) suggests that the structure of our language shapes not only what we think, but how we think it. Which, in turn, influences how we perceive the world .
These technological conveniences have become life-altering tools, especially for marginalized groups whose access to resources has been historically curtailed. People can look up information, search for resources, learn more about their and other communities, develop new ways to play, work, and create, and find new methods to improve their quality of life.
This last point will be particularly significant as the global population continues to age; studies show that currently, over 1 billion people rely on assistive technology . That market is projected to grow to nearly $8 billion between 2021 and 2025, with an extra boost from the COVID-19 pandemic .
The Tools that Shape Us
With that conceptual underpinning out of the way, let’s explore how we can use these tools to explore our interests, profess our identities, and assemble meaningful social groups without becoming lost in the blue light of our screens.
It comes down to the quality of the tool. The more streamlined and intuitive a tool is, the more we lose sight of the platform itself. With a smooth enough interface, a tool can become an extension of our own minds and bodies.
When we want to talk to a family member or friend, we don’t have to trace out all the steps involved in opening an app and typing the message. Our brains carry out these support tasks almost without thinking because we trained ourselves to use these devices. We spend our energy, instead, on the heart of communication – composition.
What am I going to say, and how am I going to say it?
Investing in User Experience
Companies designing our hardware and software technologies have invested in the “User Experience.” After all, the easier it is to use something, the more likely we are to do so. That means more money for the company, through paid services or advertising revenue.
One of the main strategies to reduce our awareness of technology is to have that tool become ubiquitous. We don’t notice something if it’s everywhere we look. Furthermore, we have positive reactions to tools when they spring to our fingertips to fulfill a need or task. All the better if these tools slip back under the surface of our awareness once we’re done with it. No mess, no fuss.
This is one reason why Google has developed its own digital toolkit through Google Workspace, which aims to supplant the familiar Microsoft applications. It has also pursued integrations with nearly every interface, adapting to the mobile lifestyles of its users .
Microsoft is also trying to expand its empire by building into cloud computing and AI, taking advantage of the computers, large and small, all around us . By immersing us in “tech intensity”, the company aspires “to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more” .
The focus of these industry giants emphasizes the importance of application integrations. Businesses that provide these nimble responses to clients and consumers preserve profits and grow in the market.
A survey run by Cleo found that failure to support modern integrations leads to “annual revenue losses of $250,000 to $500,000 for 57 percent of those surveyed and upward of $1,000,000 for others” . Similarly, the Forbes Technology Council cites “Near Perfect Digital Experience” as number five in their list of critical trends expected to dominate the software development industry. “Progressive Web Apps” and “User Experience Design” were also listed .
The Pandemic Effect
The COVID-19 pandemic painfully highlighted all the lackluster avenues of technology that failed to advance with the general tide. Even though we had access to communication and collaboration technologies, they weren’t enough to keep up with our need for such tools when we could no longer safely gather in person.
As companies adapted and new software tools were churned out, our reliance on technology increased. For those of us working from home (about 42% of the U.S. workforce, according to this analysis ), our professional and personal lives were almost entirely translated into the digital landscape.
Voice-over-Internet-Protocols (VoIP) or videoconferencing are both prime examples of an avenue of sluggish advancement that exponentially improved in response to the pandemic. At first, the technological capability to call anyone in the world and chat over video – so long as you both had accounts and a solid internet connection – was revolutionary. Skype dominated this niche for years, with modest upgrades and improvements, particularly with Microsoft’s acquisition in 2011 .
Mostly though, this technology was implemented by consumers rather than businesses. Professionals preferred to meet in person or use phone conferencing to collaborate as these were the more stable options. When video conferencing was attempted, Skype For Business or Cisco’s WebEx filled the need.
In practice, these solutions could be difficult to implement, with unreliable performance. Yet there was no major push to innovate from the business market or from within the technology companies. They had other fish to fry, which promised greater returns on profit or tech development.
The pandemic forced huge populations of the workforce to work via remote connections and improvised desks at home. Meetings still had to happen though, and video and audio quality were no longer negotiable.
We can tolerate some degree of robot voice or having to reconnect after a dropped call when we’re chatting with a friend; when it’s a business deal literally on the line or a meeting with the team to discuss a project, we’re not so willing to chance misunderstandings and delays.
In these scenarios, a stable connection is a prerequisite to accurately present our professional identities, create rapport, and exchange information. That meant tech companies had to step up their game.
Microsoft had its own solution through the Teams application. Launched in 2017, this app was designed to compete with Slack as a collaborative messaging and file sharing platform. Mass conversion never really happened though. Google threatened to end Google Hangouts for years, in favor of splitting the service into two applications, Google Chats and Google Meet .
Hop into a Zoom Call
That was where Zoom came into the picture: a simple, feature-rich, and accessible video conferencing solution. As the pandemic continued to spread around the world, analysts cited Zoom as significantly outperforming financial expectations, with one of the most significant leaps in growth and implementation for a software development firm, possibly in recent history.
Following the surge in customers and necessary upgrades to respond to business requirements, Zoom’s stock skyrocketed, with an “all-time high of $223.87 at market close on June 3, up more than 200% from $68.04 at market close Dec. 31, 2019” . In 2020, the company showed continued, exponential growth, with a net profit of $671 million .
The reliance on Zoom waned when security concerns came to light. These ranged from compromised data to a lack of encryption, as well as increasing incidents of “zoom-bombing”. The company implemented security patches, but for some consumers (especially those with ready access to other options), the damage was already done .
We Want it All
Security features, ease of access, coordination with existing software and applications – these components are critical for tech products entering the market now.
It’s not enough for software to solve a problem – it must do the job with such exceptional results that it beats out all the competition (to make the download worthwhile). Or, it must offer such a rich spread of features that the convenience is too tempting to ignore.
People may be willing to use a select handful of apps or tools, but it’s easy to become overloaded by all the choices out there. This overload kicks in earlier when the stakes are higher; for example, when our choices influence how we present ourselves to others and how others perceive us.
Add in factors of cost, redundancy, and specialization to the mix, and the choice becomes even harder to make. Evaluating all these options and features can be exhausting, resulting in people choosing not to choose at all .
Spoiled for Choice
The reality of decision fatigue is especially true for people trying to decide between similar paid technologies, like streaming services . It’s one thing to have dozens of rarely-used apps on our phones. It’s another thing entirely to shell out money on a monthly basis (since most applications these days function on a subscription model).
Yet opting out of the decision-making process means we risk alienating our social connections, as we fail to meaningfully participate in the digital landscape.
If everyone in a social circle has a Netflix account and has been talking non-stop about Geralt’s moody vibes and how the stories compare to the game experience, anyone without this subscription will be left out of the conversation. It becomes a technological “keeping up with the Jones” balancing act. We can only afford (mentally and financially) to engage with certain platforms, but we must engage to feed our connections and perform our carefully cultivated identities.
The only way for a new technology to break through all that noise is to:
solve as many problems as possible (seamlessly),
have few to no barriers to access,
offer plenty of strong security measures,
feature a small learning curve, and
enable integrations with everything else we’re already using.
The reality is that as technology products and tools have developed from their humble roots, their base functions no longer impress us. When MySpace and Facebook were released, we marveled at the ease with which we could connect and talk with friends and family. We could even form new communities with people online and share the things we love (or love to hate).
Then we turned these platforms into opportunities to mold, curate, and present our identities to friends, families, communities… and prospectively the world.
The App Web
Now, we have a plethora of specialized social media apps that intersect and yet are distinct enough that it’s not enough to just have one.
We use Instagram to upload (and modify) pictures of our vacation, which we then share with Facebook to talk to a different set of communities. We switch to Twitter for our regularly scheduled doom-scrolling; maybe we’ll run across an interesting link to an AMA on Reddit that takes us to a series of YouTube videos. Our “Recently Watched” serves as fodder for reaction videos that we record and share on Snapchat or TikTok, to see how our friends (or followers) react. There might be time for a Zoom birthday party or baby shower, because it’s still Pandemic Times™ (and perhaps we’ve forgotten how to interact with people in person anyway.)
There are scads of apps for every purpose imaginable, all competing for attention and downloads. Professional environments have seen a similar boom, with productivity and collaboration tools trying to outbid and out-feature their competition to earn lucrative enterprise contracts. These commercial apps have learned from the social media giants, offering simple implementation and flexible integrations, which directly contribute to a blending of our personal and professional identities while online.
Simply responding to and mimicking existing technology isn’t enough to survive though. Technology and software tools can’t afford to mess up or slow down. Otherwise, they’ll lose our attention and become buried under the mass of notifications.
The Joy of AirSend
Naturally, we here at CodeLathe believe AirSend is a real solution for real people. It’s the ideal collaboration and communication platform for the modern identity, suitable for any project, personal or professional.
The weight of our decisions makes itself known when we become aware of how much time we lose switching between tasks. We go from our email to our calendar to a word document and realize it’s already been an hour with little to show for it.
The weight increases when we struggle to find a file we know exists, but the file explorer is convinced it does not. Or when we try to share said file (resurrected from the email archives) during a video conference, but the “share-screen” option isn’t working. Even though we’re not in person, we can feel everyone’s eyes boring into our soul as they all wait for the technical difficulties to be sorted. Politely though, because they’ve been there too.
This is not a unique scenario. Nor is it ideal. As our connections become ever-more digital, technological issues or dysfunctions are harder to tolerate, because they stymy our communication and distort our identities. The technology we use can become a barrier rather than a facilitator. There are plenty of options, certainly, in the tech- and app-saturated landscape. Yet few give us a truly holistic solution.
Where AirSend Shines
AirSend integrates all the features we’ve come to rely on throughout the pandemic and all the best aspects from social media, content sharing apps, and VoIP tools, organized into a free, easy-to-use (and easy to look at) platform. Here are just a few features represented by the deceptively simple dandelion icon:
Security features and protected data (2FA, password-protected channels, encrypted file shares)
Ease of access through integrations with Google Workspace and Microsoft-365 (more in the works)
Responsive messaging platform between groups and individuals, with VoIP functionality
Kanban-style board to manage actions, reminders, and goals
Wiki section to store relevant information, files, and links
The application is organized around the spirit of communication, which is the most important ingredient when it comes to collaboration. Open the account and the first screen is a view of all your channels, arranged in Kanban-style boards. By clicking on one of the channels, you can dive into some of the more sophisticated functions.
Within each channel, the main view enables users to easily send messages, links, or files to the channel recipients. You can also start or join a video call. Better yet, everyone can share their screen and use presentation tools, without the struggle of transferring host rights. You can even set up a channel for you alone, as a repository for information, reminders, and specific files.
The left sidebar provides a list of all your channels, which can be organized into groups. Select the options icon to add to a group or drag-and-drop for a more tactile experience.
The right sidebar includes tabs for Actions, Files and Links, and the Wiki. Saved reminders or tasks can be viewed under the Actions tab (with the option of adding due dates and assigning actions to team members). Shared files or links are found under Files and Links, auto-added when sent as a message in the channel. Last but not least, the Wiki fills a vital function as the channel’s unique library of reference material. As an added touch, you can format text and add separate pages or folders for better organization.
These channels are malleable and accessible, not just to peers within your network. Each channel has a unique email identifier, so anyone can send files and text to a channel. No account necessary. Channels can also be shared via link with external users, with the option of password-protecting it for extra security.
AirSend recognizes the value of your time and effort. For channels loaded with information that needs to be shared with new team members or external clients, AirSend offers the “Template” functionality. Channels can be duplicated for different sets of recipients while stripping out channel-specific messaging history. To protect and retain data, you can archive channels, and these channels can even be exported!
When you need to buckle down to accomplish major tasks or projects, it’s easy to swap the messaging platform for an expanded Kanban view of the Actions bar. This view enables drag-and-drop features for better sorting of actions and sub-actions.
Choosing the right technological tools and apps to balance your diverse needs and interests can have a major impact on your life. They influence not only how you present yourself to the world but also how you interact with your communities. Why waste time entertaining sub-par solutions?
AirSend offers the best of both worlds through simple and dynamic features. With a constant eye toward optimization, this tool only gets better with time. To sign-up for a free account and explore what AirSend can do for you, click here.
This post explains how to improve another aspect of productivity – task selection. We will explore the subject of long-term planning, how to set ambitious, yet achievable goals, and how to act around those plans.
Align Goals With Your Interests
Let’s start with long-term goals, since these are the goals that shape your life and guide your actions throughout the years. For example, a decision to enter a university will determine the structure of several years of your life but will affect your whole adulthood.
The first important observation about long-term planning is related to perception. People usually overestimate how much can be accomplished in six months or even a year, even while they underestimate how much can be accomplished in a 3-, 5- or 10-year span. The reason is that people are usually optimistic about their capabilities, without considering their own constraints (i.e., unexpected events, side-tasks, etc.), but they do not operate well on a grander-scale of events. This makes sense though if you think about someone in their 30’s – five years is 1/6 of their entire lived experience!
As a result of this perspective skew, long-term goals should be planned over a long timeframe and SHOULD be ambitious – e.g., planning to complete a marathon in six months might be very ambitious for some, but planning to complete an ultramarathon in four years might be perfectly achievable. This looks like a paradox, but we’ll explain why this works later.
The second very important observation is that our long-term goals should be aligned as much as possible with our ideology, beliefs, and personality. This is not always possible, especially in work-related areas (unless you work at a company that you love like we do at CodeLathe), but the better you feel about what you do, the bigger the chance that you’ll reach your goals.
This observation is also very important when setting goals. Maybe you hate to run but you want to include some activity in your life. Set a different yet related goal like cycling or swimming. The idea here is to really think about what you enjoy and what is important to you and then to set goals around those concepts.
Another example – perhaps you want to earn a lot and you love cars. Having an abstract goal to earn millions of dollars per year may not be enough motivation, but envisioning a collection of luxury cars may do the trick. That’s what this whole exercise is about – we will aim to end with 20-30 long-term goals, grouped into categories like health, work, social life, personal growth, etc. These can change over time – these goals are meant to be easily reviewed in the following years and adjusted as needed.
I mentioned the list should contain around 20-30 ambitious goals. How can we determine whether those goals are good or not? This is relatively simple. A good goal should be SMART. Let’s explain the concept:
Specific – the goal is well-defined and leaves no room for interpretation
Measurable – it should be possible to measure progress toward the goal
Achievable – the goal should be possible to achieve (even while being ambitious!)
Relevant – it should have meaning for the person
Time-bound – the time-frame for completion should be predefined
Let’s discuss briefly why it is important for a single goal to be SMART. We’ll also go over some examples that are not SMART and may be harder to accomplish.
If a goal is not specific enough, it will be hard to plan the next steps. The statement “I want to own a company” doesn’t say much about the actual goal. In some countries, opening a company takes a couple of hours. This is also closely related to measurability – a goal that says “I want to travel more” is not really verifiable; we need to define what “more” means. For example, “I want to spend two months a year abroad for three years straight” has clear and measurable details.
As I mentioned before our goals should be ambitious, so there is always something pushing us forward. On the other hand, the goal has to be achievable; otherwise, it will inspire a feeling of failure and defeatism, which are major demotivators toward any goal.
Let’s take running as an example. Is completing the Ultra Trail Mount Blanc (UTMB) run ambitious? Sure, it is. Is it achievable? Of course – hundreds of runners complete this run each year. On the other hand, a plan to complete a Mars landing in the next three years is not achievable with the current state of our knowledge and technical capabilities. The same is true for swimming underwater for 45 minutes without the aid of diving gear – some things are just out of our technical and physical abilities, and we should set our goals accordingly.
We touched upon relevance in the previous section – once you align with your goal, it’s much easier to pursue it since you have that internal drive factor.
Setting time constraints on when the goal should be accomplished is another very important parameter. It’s human nature to procrastinate and push off actions, unless the deadline is close. With a well-defined boundary, it is easier to plan smaller steps that contribute to your overall goal within shorter timeframes.
Divide and Conquer
Once our long-term goals are defined, we need to start working toward completion. This is a critical step in all planning: what should be our next action? Time is limited, and productivity is mostly about being able to navigate between those limitations.
As mentioned in the previous paragraph, goals should be ambitious (remember – those are long-term goals). The problem is that they can seem unachievable when you start. Let’s use the UTMB run as an example for this section. This is a 170km run with a 10,000m elevation gain. Seems impossible when you think about it, doesn’t it?
The magic is to divide that “impossible” long-term goal into smaller, digestible chunks. The best way to do that is to set a couple of intermediate sub-goals. Let’s say that you’re able to run 10km without huge effort. The ideal first step might be to complete a half-marathon. This could be an appropriate six-month target. The next step might be to complete a marathon the following year. Another one, to complete a sky marathon in two years, and the last one before the main goal could be to complete a shorter ultra-marathon in four years. Considering this outline of goals, you could plan to complete the UTMB in 6-7 years.
With time and a lot of motivation, this goal suddenly becomes doable, which is the most important factor. You start preparing for the half-marathon, than for a marathon, and so on. In the end, you might not even finish the main goal, but the actions you’ll take on the path to completion will still benefit you in significant ways – you will create a healthy habit of running regularly and you will most likely adjust your lifestyle to find time for long activities.
So how do we define those intermediate steps? This is a very hard question with no golden rule. It depends on each task, and that’s why it is so important for each goal to be measurable.
Once we define a couple of in-between steps, we should start planning around them within a shorter timeframe. In our example, we’ve planned to complete the half-marathon in six months. That would most likely require three-four runs per week on average, each taking 30-90 min of your time. You find a good training schedule, apply it on top of your calendar and you’re good to go. If you do that for all 20-30 long-term goals, you’ll find yourself very busy, yet productive! All your actions will guide you toward accomplishing meaningful goals that enrich your life. And that’s a wonderful feeling!
Once all shorter-term plans are identified and planned, you must then be responsible for carrying out these plans. This is really the hardest part – we are confronted with many random tasks and issues that show up on a daily basis. Take these into account and do not plan your days from 6 am to 11 pm. Giving yourself room in your schedule to respond to unexpected events will make your road less bumpy and easier to follow. You can use all the low-level techniques described in the previous blog posts.
There is another very good way to improve in many areas – create habits. This is an important topic and will be covered in the next article of the series.
In this blog post, we explained how to think about long-term planning. Set ambitious goals, aligned with your principles, and you’ll build a lighthouse that will guide you throughout your life. Additionally, you will gain a greater sense of meaning and purpose for all your actions.
When the COVID pandemic first began many people thought that remote working would only be temporary—a week or two—and didn’t worry about getting tools together that would make remote working easier. After all, what was the point?
Now, we’re close to two years into the pandemic, and remote work isn’t slowing down. In fact, many companies are remaining remote even after they were able to return to traditional work settings. In fact, it’s estimated that in some advanced economies, 20-25% of the workforce might be working remotely most of the time.
Larger companies are taking note of this as well, with places like Slack, Dropbox, Twitter, and Google allowing employees to retain at least some (if not full-time) remote work.
There are many industries that thrive in a remote work environment, like marketing, media, and design, but there are other industries you might not have thought of that are also moving to remote work. These include project management, engineering, and construction.
Teams that are now working remotely either full or part-time are having to rethink many of their processes to facilitate remote teamwork. Many of these processes include the tools they need to succeed at business.
Remote Work Benefits and Challenges
There are many benefits of working remotely, including the ability for employees to work anywhere in the world and not needing to pay for an office. Many employees enjoy the lack of a commute anymore and having more flexible hours as well as the ability to focus without the distractions of an office.
However, that doesn’t mean that remote work is not without its challenges, especially for companies that haven’t gotten the tools they need for their teams to succeed.
One of the biggest issues that can make remote work difficult is communication. It’s often easier to walk up to someone in an office and begin chatting or collaborating. It’s even simpler to ask a colleague where a file is or for help with a task. Remote teams, on the other hand, may struggle to communicate properly or engage in meaningful collaboration without the right tools.
The good news is, there are many tools that can help with remote team collaboration, sometimes with even better results than in-person processes.
What Tools Are Available for Remote Work?
Teams use a variety of different systems to make remote work viable for their team. Some of the most important are video conferencing, collaboration tools, secure file sharing, and communication tools.
Teams mostly use video conferencing systems for meetings that used to be in-person.
There are many different video conferencing tools now, but the ones you’re probably familiar with are Zoom, Skype, and Google Meetups.
Other Communication Tools
Communication is a vital part of working on a remote team. There are many tools in place that help teams communicate. For daily interactions, many remote teams use email and/or other communication technology like Microsoft Teams, Slack, and Discord.
Collaboration Tools for Task Management
Collaboration tools are used so that teams can work together on tasks, track the progress of projects, and generally know what everyone on the team is doing.
Commonly used tools are Trello, Basecamp, and Asana.
Secure File Sharing
Secure file sharing is a critical element of the remote working world. Teams share files with each other constantly and often need to extend shares with clients or outside vendors. However, not all file sharing methods (like email) have the necessary security measures in place to protect your teams’ data. It’s important to consider security when selecting tools for remote teams.
Top options for secure file sharing include Dropbox, Google Drive, and FileCloud. In fact, your team can even get a free trial of FileCloud right now.
What Tools Does My Remote Team Need?
Your head might be swimming after learning about all the different tools that are available, and often necessary, for remote work.
The problem with all these tools is that you usually need to purchase them to obtain full access to all of their features (though some have free options or trials).
Another issue is that each one of your remote workers will need to have each of the systems downloaded and installed on their computers. You’ll also need to make sure each of these systems complies with your company’s security requirements.
It’s overwhelming to see all the options and decide which ones will work for your teams. The good news is, you don’t have to go through all of them to get the communication and collaboration you need for your remote team.
In fact, we created AirSend— our all-in-one, free collaboration tool—with remote teams in mind.
What is AirSend?
Here at CodeLathe, we all work remotely and have teams and employees across the globe. We understand both the benefits and challenges that come with remote work; one of the biggest challenges is context-switching.
Context switching (like constantly shifting from Slack to Zoom back to Slack) is tiring and kills productivity.
Research says context switching can cost up to 40% of your time (one to three hours of an eight-hour work day).
AirSend is an all-in-one tool that allows you to chat (via the video, voice, and messaging system), collaborate (via boards and customizable wikis), and share files securely, with integration available for your current systems.
Say goodbye to the lost productivity of context switching, and say hello to AirSend.
It’s going to change the way you work.
The Features of AirSend
AirSend can be used by teams anywhere they have an internet connection. It’s available in a web browser, as a desktop app, and also on iOS and Android, so you can stay connected, no matter where you are.
Meetings and Calls
With AirSend, there’s no need for other video conferencing tools. Instead, just click the call button within any channel and choose whether you want a voice or video call. You can also use this functionality to share your screen and show team members what you’re working on.
Collaborate with your Team
Team collaboration is one of the places where AirSend really shines. It’s easy to work with your teams in simple-to-create channels that you can use for one-on-one collaboration or for a team hubs. Other collaboration tools include:
Quickly and easily share files with anyone in your AirSend channels, and use the search function to quickly find previously shared links, media, and files.
One of the core functions of AirSend is the messaging system. Use it to collaborate on projects or for some old-fashioned water cooler chatting. You can react to messages to show you got them, tag specific people, and use common emojis.
It’s easy to manage all your projects within AirSend’s system. Create Trello-style boards, assign people tasks, and create to-dos all within your channels.
We at CodeLathe created AirSend, but we also created FileCloud, a secure file sharing and cloud storage solution—so we understand the vital importance of secure file sharing. With AirSend, you can send and receive documents and media securely within your channels and easily search and find the documents and media with our file management system.
Say goodbye to sticky notes. Within AirSend you can create team Wikis for important information like style guides, or create your own personal Wikis for project notes or personal reminders.
AirSend allows you to keep your current systems in place, with Office 365, Outlook, and Gmail integrations.
AirSend allows you to stop context switching and focus on your real work, allowing your remote team to become productive and stay that way. It’s great for a variety of different teams doing different tasks, but these teams can use the AirSend system in ways that suit their unique needs.
How Teams Use AirSend
Marketing teams use AirSend to collaborate with team members, agencies, and clients. They also use it to track content, create style guides, and track projects.
Community Building Teams
These teams use AirSend because it’s a great way to build community with unlimited messaging, free guest accounts, and customizable and public channels.
Consultants use AirSend to meet and work individually with clients, create roadmaps, and track projects and deadlines.
Many different teams use and love AirSend. You can see just a few of the brands that trust us below and check out our reviews here.
Remote Work is Here to Stay
Remote work isn’t going anywhere. It’s vital for all remote teams to collaborate and communicate without constantly context switching, costing your teams time and money.
As an all-in-one application, AirSend has all the tools you need for success in a remote world. Get your free version of AirSend today and support your remote team on the path of successful productivity and rich collaboration.