Maximize Your Productivity

Posted on

At 1:00pm on 4/22/2017, I attended Maximize Your Productivity, presented by Cameron Campbell, at the 2017 Wordcamp Conference in Raleigh, NC

Maximize Your Productivity

Everyone wants to get more done with their day, but we’ve fooled ourselves into thinking that putting more hours in at work results in more productivity. I’d like to dispell that myth and offer practical solutions for freelancers and teams to maximize their productivity while working less hours.

Productivity Misconceptions
Working more hours makes me more productive. There is a tipping point where you care less. We don’t actively think about productivity

Habits & Routines

There is not magic hat or map. Unfortunately it is really more about putting in some routines. The penny is worth millions if doubled every day for a month. Every small adjustment which keeps happening can bring you to a much better place over time. If an hour is saved each day, 5 hours a week, 40 hours each month…


Why are distractions so bad? You lose your focus. YOu don’t just lose the time of the distraction, you lose the time of getting back in, to the focus. CHanging over to email often gave them the ability to be further distraction.

Multitasking is a lie. It doesn’t work. Those distracted in the middle of a task took 4 times as long to complete their task as those who worked through from start to finish.

Schedule All Things

Rather than being reactive, be proactive to distractions. Schedule everything in 20min blocks for your time schedule. Schedule in some “Focus Blocks”, times you cannot be reached. Set aside time for items. He showed some pomodoro times.

Task Lists & Project Management

As a freelancer, he used email. That was a trainwreck. Basecamp, trello, teamWork, Asana. Set up project templates that have all of your most-used tasks and to-do lists ready to go. Organizae your tasks and assign them out to people and add due dates. Assign things to yourself and give them due dates. Try to keep client discussions inside the app as opposed to chat or email. This will save your sanity.

Give them some training for how to use this. (Give a link, give a screenshot, and give clear instructions – browser, device, etc.) In addition to basecamp, he also keeps a to do list. its a 3×5 card with the top 3 items on it. the notecard is too small to fill out, and starting this habit is very helpful.

Better Routines

Routines provide rhythm to your day. Brain triggers are sensory cues to your bear that it needs to shift gears, ASAP. It used sight, smell and even taste. His morning brain triggers use coffee music and computer. This helps him get into focus. The morning is his most productive time. Every day, he sits down with coffee, instrumental music, and the code editor. Its something which took time to ramp up into.

Stopping for the Day

When its time to quit for the day, he has a brain trigger of closing the door and stepping away.

Getting Away From the Screen

Your body can only focus on high function for 90 minutes. Schedule in a time or two for recharging the battery.


Getting Started with Video

Posted on Updated on

At 1:00pm on 4/22/2017, I attended Getting Started with Video, presented by Jeff Jacobson, at the 2017 Wordcamp Conference in Raleigh, NC

Getting Started with Video

Why use online video?

  • Product demonstration
  • travel video
  • instructions
  • performance
  • vlogging

What makes a good video?

  • Tells a story effectively and efficiently
  • Good picture
  • Good Audio
  • Good Host

Effectively tell a story

Planning. Write a script. Storyboard your shots. Adobe Story is a fine program to assist building these out. Its clunky to write these 2-column scripts, but its very useful.

Good PIctures

  • Properly exposed
  • accurate colors
  • well framed
  • properly focused

Good Audio

  • microphone close to or on subjecyt
  • volument properly adjusted, microphone not “Clipping”
  • no extraneous sound

Basic Video Concepts

Field of view. How muc h of the shot can you see, and what does that tell us? Wide angles give the atmosphere, the short field is more personal.

Dept of field: How much is in focus? with shallow, the subject is in focus. A wide depth of field shows everything to setting mood.

Aperture: The amount of light let into the shot.

After a few minutes of this presentation, I honestly started having trouble focusing. The materials were extremely basic. I hoped to take a class about getting your offline business online, but that session cancelled. Important points like “Use a Tripod” didn’t really inspire confidence. Several people had fallen to sleep because of the heat and proximity to lunch.

Taming the Whirlwind

Posted on Updated on

At 11:00am on 4/22/2017, I attended Taming the Whirlwind, presented by Nathan Ingram, at the 2017 Wordcamp Conference in Raleigh, NC

Taming the Whirlwind

Simple strategies to use to move your company on the right track moving forward. Nathan is a freelance webdeveloer using wordpress exclusively since 2010. He loves seeing freelancers move forward.

Slides can be seen


The Common Struggle
Freelancers face common challenges. In four years of coaching conversations, I’ve found very few unique issues.
You are not alone.
The details are different, but the problems are the same. You’re not alone. If you think you’re the only one who is too busy with client work, isolation, billing, stable income, new clients, you’re not alone. No one has it together. None of us do.

Strategy vs. Execution: Execution is what we do, Strategy is how and why we do it. Both are Critical. Most Freelancers Appreciate Strategy. Become more efficient, more productive, more profitable.The common struggle is Strategy vs. Execution. Execution is what we do, and Strategy is how and why we do it. Both are critical. Most of the time freelancers are great with execution, but are poor at strategy. Not many of us have business backgrounds. You want to do the things which really matter to you.

We’ll name the issues, and then we’ll talk about how to make this happen.

As freelancers we appreciate strategy. Become more productive, more profitable. SO, why is it so hard to keep strategy in focus. WHy do we go to such great info, but we never implement it. Its not that you didn’t have the intention its that life got in the way. Years up the road, there isn’t a big change in the way things have happened.

The Whilrwind

The Whirlwind is the urgent- the energy and attention needed to run your business. Its the half hour client meeting that turns into an hour and half. You have things you want to do, and your time to do it, seems to last 2 minutes. While goals and strategies are important, the whirlwind is urgent, and urgent wins every time.

As important as goals and stretegies are, they seem to get pushed to the future.

Consider using the sheets. You are your most important client. If you aren’t moving forward, you’re in the same place next year. Set a calendar point, with a time and 2 alarms. DOn’t get intimidated by the strategy session. Schedule it and keep your appointment. If you fail to do this, you can become an evaporating web developer.

Identify your Goals (2-4 hours)
In a 2-hour goalsetting session, unplug your phone, laptop, etc. Print the material on paper and fill this by hand. Decide on what it is that you really, really need to do.

>ADVANCE Goal Worksheets: to download these.
The first page here is a declaration template, and there is a second page which includes a pre-filled form. IF you have found a way to create a recurring revenue (maintenance contract), that pays your salary, you just made things much easier.
Be specific in here and match the SMART system. What is the difference between the dream and the attainable goal? what will you need to understand? What templates can you build to make this easy. Don’t forget the R- the RELEVANCE. If you don’t have a WHY in the mix, you will not be able to keep out the whirlwind.

Time setting allows you to require a timeline. The declaration template says: I will__ by__ because__.

Initial Planning Session
Build out a weekly action item setup where you are setting aside 2-4hrs actionable tasks to keep you on task.

What are the changes I most need to make?
• Prioritize: which bring immediate results?
• Pick your top 3 goals
Don’t pick what you like, but the thing which will bring the most immediate result. You probably won’t enjoy it, or you would have done it already.

Initial Planning Session
What are the changes I most need to make?
• Break down top 3 goals into action items
• Plan action items that will take 2-4 hours each
Top goals will have 12-15 weekly action items. Good. NOw you have several months of material to do. and you’ll do it. Its small action steps, but if you look back, you’ll see how far you’ve come. If you’re just thinking, it could be month before your finished thinking.

setting and seeing results brings momentum. and built momentum is harder to slow.

Weekly Planning Session
30 min – 1 hour planning each week.
Plan time to execute on at least 1 action.
Planning a week is a great concept. If you don’t have the week planned when the week begins, you will not have an easy time getting started because the whirlwind is already waiting. If you’re too busy to plan in advance, you need to plan more than you can possibly imagine.

Weekly Planning Session
Most of us are too busy not to plan.
Without a plan, the whirlwind always wins.

Weekly Planning Session
Plan the week before it starts
– Friday afternoon?
– Sunday Evening?
-Early Monday morning?
As soon as you hit the desk, there’s distractions waiting.

Weekly Planning Session
Plan the week before it starts
It’s hard to plan
in the middle of the whirlwind.

Weekly Planning Session
Plan the week before it starts
Schedule time to accomplish
your objectives
Strategy Overview
Initial Planning Session
Week 1
Week 1
Week 1
Week 2
Week 2
Week 2
Week 3
Week 3
Week 3
Week 4
Week 4
Week 4
Week 5
Week 5
Week 5
Week 6
Week 6
Week 6

You really can do this.

Two Final Suggestions
Priorities are Critical
You will always have more goals than time, so make sure you prioritize well.
• Focus on immediate impact
• Probably not the things you enjoy doing.
There’s no way to fit everything in. So prioritize. Some times good ideas get put on a shelf because its not the best thing for today. Its hard to keep track of incoming pay, but it will bring the best solutions

Two Final Suggestions
Don’t Overdo It
Our tendency is to try to accomplish too many goals.
Keep the goals simple. and if you can keep it under control you will avoid suffocating yourself.

The Law of Diminishing Returns
Number of Goals
In addition to the Whirlwind

Number of Goals
Achieved with Excellence

Franklin Covey
2-3 4-10 11-20
2-3 1-2 0
How many plates of food can you eat in a day? 2-3 can be doable. 4-10 you’ll get about half done. 11-20 goals will bring you zero completed goals.

Two Final
Don’t Overdo It
Our tendency is to try to accomplish too many goals.
One or two action items a week.Plan for 2-4 hours.
THere will always be up and down time. if you’re planning in advance, it can be helpful in downtime.

The whirlwind never goes away
When urgency and importance clash,urgency wins every time.
Develop a strategy to accomplish your goals in the whirlwind.
In 6 months, how would your business change if you put this into practice? if you moved up 2-3 items each week, what can you offer then which you don’t now? How much more could you accomplish?

In 6 months, how would your LIFE change if you did? With structures in place, how much better could your life be. Its just goal setting and setting aside the time to do it. Everyone in here can do what has been described, or something like this

Brian Moran’s 12-week year. Is not a problem with strategy, its measuring your execution as part of your strategy.

Will my clients notice if I take time for strategy? its 2-4 hours each week. If your clients notice that 2-4hr block stops you from being able to take calls, then you need to hire someone. One participant noted that they don’t take any client calls on Friday.

Is there a higher-order process of checklists that you work through with your clients? Yes. Proprietary though.

Trello is a checklist site. Nathan runs his life out of there. THere is a board of home projects, and he and his wife checks through those.

Nathan is the creator of >ADVANCE Coaching. He works with WordPress web developers individually and in groups to help them become more successful in their freelance businesses.

He is also the Host at iThemes Training where he teaches WordPress and freelance business development topics via live webinar.

Nathan has been a freelance web developer since 1995, and is based in Birmingham, Alabama where he is the co-lead organizer of the Birmingham WordPress Meetup and WordCamp Birmingham.

You can learn more about Nathan at

Wordcamp Opening Keynote: Seven Stories, One Point with Chris Lema

Posted on Updated on

At 9:15am on 4/22/2017, I attended Where’s The Wordcamp Opening Keynote, presented by Chris Lema, at the 2017 Wordcamp Conference in Raleigh, NC

Wordcamp Opening Remarks: Seven Stories, One Point

Opening remarks were given by Ben Merideth, and Chris Lema immediately began with a story. A texi driver saw smoke and called the fire department, who had already received 6 calls. There were no sprinklers, no clearly marked exits. 10 people died. People from the 6th, 5th, 4th, 3rd, 1st floor were easily evacuated. the 10 were trapped in the bathroom on the 2nd floor. It was not an issue of evacuation, windows or bars, but what was it that caused the problem.

Here he stopped the story, and gave a small motivational talk about how easy it can be to get intimidated. And there is really no reason for that. lunch was the hardest– because he didn’t know anyone. Its easy to be intimidated because you don’t know or are unsure. All of that is normal. Its easy to get intimidated. Here’s seven stories with one point.

In the community, you will find people who are smarter than you, disappointed in you, ignoring you. Chris grew up with a brother who was smarter than him. In the workplace, we see people smarter than us all the time. the important point is to avoid the negative self-talk. There are people within any community who will have expectations that you cannot hit. Certain expectations are good. Others are not. Especially when the expectations are based only on someone else’s expectations when they don’t know you. Others may ignore you. In the community, it is easy to be intimidated when the situation is awkward.

There will be people who highlight your mistakes. Turning on debugging is like bringing in your worst nagging. After dropping a plug-in, he was given numerous mistakes in return. This is especially true in the opensource community. People will take any chance to make adjustments. You can’t take that specifically to your heart. Don’t forget that you can delete comments. At I used to think that was wrong. But if you want to pontificate, go somewhere else. Others will hustle more than you. A friend runs , and he’s 20yrs younger than him. People push harder, work harder, than you. You should be able to hustle smarter, or just less, but that’s ok. Others will disagree with you. 6 months ago, Chris quit his job at Crowd Favorite. Others disagreed, telling him that he can’t quit a job while you have no plan. He took about 9 months with cigars in hot tubs. There are tons of problems that open source isn’t solving. Its hard to find free workers on large projects when there’s no payout at the end. Everyone says “There’s no way”. So he joined a hosting company called Liquid Web. He gave them a roadmap and they agreed.

THe point here is that there’s always going to be someone who disagrees. The suggestion or trick here? GET INVOLVED. Get involved and keep showing up. All the stress and narratives go away. “When its your turn to be picked, you have to be within pointing distance”. You have to go to where the action is, because at some point the older people die off. And you have to be in pointing distance, keep showing up. Don’t get distracted, don’t copy/paste. without context, its all a sham.

Comparison Kills

Why did they die in the restaurant n 1979? why would they have a problem exiting the restaurant? it was 1:30pm. THey had eaten their lunch, but hadn’t gotten their bills. THey didn’t want to be first to leave. The peer pressure caused the smoke inhalation to kill them. Comparison kills. If it doesn’t kill you physically, it can kill you emotionally. Don’t let comparison or someone else’s ideas govern what you can or can’t do.

Its easy to get intimidated, let someone’s beliefs or actions get you down. THis can be intimidating, but comparison kills and this is your show. Engage, get involved, and you’ll defeat that intimidation.

Where’s The Fun in Serious Games? Key to Developing an Effective and Engaging Game with Planned Positive Impact

Posted on Updated on

At 11:30am on 4/19/2017, I attended Where’s The Fun in Serious Games? Key to Developing an Effective and Engaging Game with Planned Positive Impact, presented by Bradley Tanner, at the 2017 East Coast Gaming conference in Raleigh, NC


Not a big fan of lectures, and more on interation and personal engagement.
Is this going to be the most fun thing they’ll do today? Do you seriously think it will compete? Gmaification in the classroom works- passing out chocolate to those who agree. “I think you’re laying” he states. “I think you just want the chocolate.”

Even if you raised your hand, did it change your real attitude? in short, extrinsic rewards hold little value. the reward must be intrinsic to the activity.

WHo wants to go back to scheduled classes, tests and homework? We want to be dynamic and doing fun things and living in the moment.

He created a program called Clinical Tools using modern computers to create modern training. Lately, they’ve moved into training with games.

Ask Yourself:

How can I make education more interesting?
How can I use games to keep people involved?
How do I reward people for gaining knowledge or a skill?

The answer is “Training and education first”

Can we reward questions during the lecture and reward participation and correct answers and way to highlight leaders?

Gamification is an interesting idea, but it eventually put the game first and the education second. If you can engage and educate first, you’re on the right path.

The Challenge

Who’s ever played a contemporary game? Raise your hand if its only on smartphone
Who has learned something and explored something tangible
Who belongs to an institution that uses games
In the non-gamer world, some people aren’t enthusiastic about it.

Games have a positive impact. So how can you PLAN to have a postivie impact.

the first myth is that fun is bad. Fun should be built in to the process. I find few people saying “I wish I was in a lecture”. This is not a puritanical day. We can have fun and learn at the same time.

the second myth is that games aren’t having a positive impact. Games don’t isolate us, rot our brain or keep you sedentary anymore. The rise of movement and exploration games and connecting socially in games dispells most of this. It doesn’t rob your creativity, enforce competition, passive, etc. Gamers know that failing or losing is OK. There are some things such as modeling and hand-eye can be best taught in gaming.

If your game is Planned,much of the positive impact of a game is pulled from having a good game.

we can go deeper

What could a game “teach”. what could make a fun, challenging, engaging game confer skills or knowledge outside of what value a game provides?

Can it teach something students don’t know? Can you teach laparoscopy vai a tool to:
hold back attackers (move things out of the way)? Stop attacks (cauterize arteries)? build bridges (close bowel loops)?

Long term games have a big market. Short term games teach short skills. In an example called “papers please” you match documents and tell who’s appropriate and who’s not. At first its about what’s proper, and shortly it becomes about different stratas of societies and communist societies.

Most people can remember about 3 things from what they’ve seen. Television is like a lecture, and after a 30 minute show, most people did not learn enough or even remember what they’ve seen

Planned Positive Behavior Examples

With Food Blast / Opioid Blast, players learn to tell unhealthy materials and destroy or reject unhealthy choices and seek out healthy choices or healthy opportunities in order to do better. By engaging people and modeling their behaviors, a planned positive impact can be achieved.

With BrainPilot, keeping positive things have downstream effects and blocking bad things also have positive effects. THis teaches how the data is assembled and data is used.

WIth a visual novel or roleplaying game, people learn coping mechanisms for med students. in BurntOut, students learn to explore challenges and responsibilities with managed care and guide them through coping strategies to move them through the longer term resiliency methods that seem to work or may work for them.

In Grocery Hnt, assess food choices, make accept/reject decisions to build a winning strategy for healthy food choices. Players learn to read the labels and find out what is the best to eat. there’s plenty of data outlining what’s good to eat and labels.


I was a little disappointed here. The speaker was funny, and I think his start was good. As it moved into the presentation, there were repeated asks for input on how to improve the ideas they were working on. What I would have rather seen, was a clear delineation of ways in which we as educators and trainers could approach our own projects.

Question: Since this was touted as a way to “Develop an engaging game with a planned positive impact”, how should we do this?

Begin by understanding your audience. Based on the understanding you have. Set a goal for the audience, approach them in a way they would be receptive to (such as get them to put on a vr headset if its a VR game). Further, create a game mechanic in which you are building the positive behavior you are trying to bring to bear (such as pushing away negative things). And then build out your game so that they are constantly using the mechanic to reinforce the behavior.

Al Madrigal – Internet Summit 2016 – Opening Keynote

Posted on

At 1:15pm On 11/16/16 I attended the Opening Keynote:  presented by Al Madrigal at the 2016 Internet Summit located at the Raleigh Convention Center in Raleigh, NC.

Al Madrigal- Internet Summit 2016 – Opening Keynote

keynote1A correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart since 2011, Al Madrigal has been named Best Stand-Up Comedian by the HBO/U.S. Comedy Arts Festival and his material dubbed “dynamic” by The New York Times. His unique, spontaneous and fast-paced lyrical storytelling style has made him a regular on television with numerous appearances on Comedy Central including his own half-hour Comedy Central Presents Special and appeances on John Oliver’s New York Stand-up Show and Pretend Time with Nick Swardson. Al has also appeared with Conan O’Brien (as one of the first 20 guests during his stint as host of The Tonight Show, and on Conan on TBS) as well as multiple appearances on Lopez Tonight, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson and Jimmy Kimmel Live.

Using comedy as a methaphor and explaining option, Al walked us through some of the intricacies of working with technology in the environment. It was a funny and humorous way of interacting with tech and seeing our interdependence. He was a fine MC

All The World’s A Stage: Applying Live Action Roleplaying Design Principals to Augmented Reality Games

Posted on Updated on

At 10:15am on 4/19/2017, I attended All The World’s A Stage: Applying Live Action Roleplaying Design Principals to Augmented Reality Games, presented by Heather Albano, at the 2017 East Coast Gaming conference in Raleigh, NC

Augmented Reality Business Card

All The World’s A Stage: Applying Live Action Roleplaying (Larp) Design Principals to Augmented Reality Games

She does most work as a freelance writer for choice of games in text-based choose your own adventrure game, only better. She had a great history with LARP in college and from then on its been a game design paradise.

Live Action Roleplaying

LARP is an enactment experience where players enact characters in an alternate setting. Rotating GMs help to keep the story rolling, and while each event is a story in itself, all games follow along in the same vein. Heather has run 5 interlinked LARP games, and then branched out to several other gaming sessions.

Within the 20 years she came to one conclusion: LARPS are the most frustrating medium ever. Rather than being constrained by the system and rules, LARPs are often stopped by conflicts, personality conflicts, venue closings, sickness, lack of bathrooms, etc.

So why would anyone tell stories this way? Larping gives people a more deeply experienced event than something which is merely imaginative or shown to the viewer.
They experience BLEED- the border between player and character become more transparent, and they seem to identify with both at the same time.

Game immersion types:

  • Tactical: feeling in the zone, sensory-motor
  • Strategic: Mental challenge
  • Narrative
    • Emotional- investment in the story
    • Spatial- being in the story

In gaming, you need to make the player overcome the illusion and actually believe it. Actually living the adventure makes it real. LARPs have been the quickest way to achieve this in the past, but with AR, things are different now.

Augmented reality

AR is anything technological or otherwise which adds a layer of anything over the reality of the world. GPS or GEOCACHING can all be parts of Augmented reality. While virtual reality creates a totally artificial environment, Augmented reality is the overlay of anything within reality. Many VR and AR groups used to be a single group, but they’ve split off into their own groups.

Mixed Reality seems to be a subset of Augmented Reality. It is discussed as an augmented experience in which items can be treated like real ones. So how can we combine these items together?

Combining in 5 steps

  1. Work with the environment
  2. Work with the tech
  3. Use kinesthetic gameplay
  4. Give NPC roles that play to their strengths
  5. Learn to let go

Work with the environment

Don’t use a forest to be an office. Find an actual office. if you have a spooky house, use an actual house.

When you have to work with the imagination, people suspend their disbelief all the time. Consider the AR Application: Coderunner. You take to the street with real GPS, go to actual locations. Uses Foursquare and other materials to adjust your materials to be like your location.

Work with the tech

Don’t work against the technology. In a LARP it is easy to simulate some things, and difficult to simulate others- like flight. Rules to simulate this are unnatural and hugely unfair. Similarly, AR has problems.

GPS might work in some spaces, but not others. YOu can guarantee a bank, but not a door. A specific thing (qr code or illustration) can be done. General objects (scan a vase, place a chest at a “tree”) will not work well. SOme items will not work well in bright light. While you’re waiting for tech to catch up, work with it. Consider ghost stories.

Use kinesthetic gameplay

Also called full-body gameplay. It is easier to understand in devices. To run from monster, run. To swing sword, swing the device. To simulate doing the thing, do the thing. Extract the gameplay. Rather than tokens for a missing clock, consider a jigsaw or plastic gear to as pieces to create the item. How do you know how to get to the place? Surprise: Go to the place. Kinesthetic really covers the brain as well as the body.

Give NPC roles that play to their strengths

Don’t give your friends roles they cannot do. while its easy to keep your friends close, it may not be prudent. Don’t cast leaders who don’t like to speak in public. Don’t cast wizard roles with someone who doesn’t know about the spells. Cast people who know what to do. Make it easy to keep people on track.

In AR, its easy at rules, not easy with improv. While getting better, its not close to human level. This seems like a variant of rule #2. Rather than trying to stop a player from conversing with a character, make them not WANT to discuss it. You’ll need to build in a way for this to stop or by giving penalties for missing. Just act normal.

learn to let go

VR is very philosophical. Augmented builds on things which are already there. Heather is a narrative designer. If you’re following the guidance, you’ll have a great time. If you don’t you’ll end up elsewhere and off-point. In VR, its all illusion. In AR, you are part of the story without being Captain Kirk. You’re not in control, so go ahead and embrace that.

Rather than railroad them and force them into your own plot, let them experience the fun they want. Ambiguity is part of the immersion. Let them connect the dots. The human brain is good at that.


Speaker was knowledgeable, but read off of her notes for most of the this. It was a bit difficult to hear, and most of the info was already on the screen. Would’ve liked to see more personality in there, but it was a good talk.