JanRezab / Blog

Founder & Executive Chairman of Socialbakers.com


efficiency articles

Future of Calendars – Google, Apple, and Microsoft – Please connect

Published: June 16, 2014

Time, hours, days, weeks – time represents a key dimension in our lives, and I am extremely passionate about planning it right. My average week looks something like this (see screenshot below), and when it looks like it, I am probably a key power-user of the calendar in general. A calendar is at the center of our lives, yet for the last decade (possibly 2), the calendars are all the same. If only Microsoft, Apple, and Google, who ultimately own this space, came together and worked on a new standard, it would be my dream come true. Many of these are basic things.

So what features are missing in todays calendars, and a suggestions for this “standards” meeting at Apple, Google, and Microsoft?

1) Integrations in general –  with apps / notes / better URL integration, cross-application links

2) Contact links (several) included straight in the calendar note – I can’t believe this is not possible today, you have to copy paste the phone numbers inside the calendar link. Small one, but helpful.

2) Perfect mapping – not only mapping the location. A location can be a phone number (click to call), but also a location can be a Map (+ delivers map) + a special field on instructions (or a possibility to add a comment that does not “map” on the map). Often a meeting is at an address + telephone, so that is also the “Location”, or a certain app with login credentials (that shared calendars can or cannot see depending on settings).

3) Reminders – perfectly linked with reminders and meeting notes that are immediately sharable.

4) Type of meeting with separate actions
– Call (+ who is calling who or if its a dial-in) – your phone would ask 30 seconds before – Dial number, automatically dialing the designated extension or entering the code
– Online Video Call – your phone would alert you, depending on the app, and would click to the app and dial the “extension” and simply activate the meeting
– Personal meeting – with address and specific actions (building actions, who to contact, how to get through the front-desk, estimates from other people that have had meetings in that destination on that floor on how fast the security process can take)
– Movement (From / To / By [Car, Train, Foot]) – Google could dynamically alert you

These would be differently marked possibly by different icons.

5) Categorization – Types of reminders, and I don’t mean just personal or closed, I mean literally a category that you would put things in.

6) Letting them know you are late – by phone GPS, if its a personal meeting, your phone could ask you 15 minutes before the meeting if it should alert the person that you are late, where you are, and how fast you are getting there, or the option to cancel or move the meeting to later.

Guys, get together and figure this out, please!

Screen Shot 2014-06-15 at 23.01.29


Time management and work life balance: What does my average working day look like?

Published: March 9, 2014

If you monitored my yearly overview of 2013 earlier, you might have seen the chart of how I do things and how I work, I would like to clarify some of that today.

First, the infographic shows the “average” day very mathematically, it just puts the time behind each other, but I would like to share how it really is. Of course, that is, outside of my travel schedule (I travel 133 days in the year – last year).

  • I go to sleep in fact typically much later, my I would say average is at about 1 – 2 am (or later), because I just like working at night, its calm
  • Most day, I would wake up around 8 am (some days earlier, some later), if I am in Prague, take my son to school, and go to the office
  • In the office, on average, I would have a few hours of meetings, few hours of “computer time”, which is typically email and other activities (see below)
  • Then, at around 6 pm (sometimes earlier, some later), I would go home (yes, go home!), to my kids, play with them, put them to bed, have dinner with them
  • At 8 pm, my kids would be in bed, and sometimes (1 – 2 days in a week, I would go out), but most days I would work from 8 pm till later). The days that I would go out I would then typically start working for another 1 – 2 hours later)

So, thats my day. No rocket science. I try to keep weekends, I work maybe 2 – 4 hours per day on an average weekend.

For monitoring time, I use RescueTime, for calendar I keep everything perfect in Google Calendar, and for productivity and logging I use Freemind (might switch to another mind mapping software).

Screen Shot 2014-03-09 at 23.49.46

 

From a computer perspective, this would look like this:

Number of hours (logged 6 – 8 pm)

Screen Shot 2014-03-09 at 23.56.30

My daily chart (some “Facebook” means testing), look at the Comms decrease during the day, and Business / logging increase during later in the afternoon, and Entertainment increase at 11 + 12 pm, yet again returning to productivity in the evening (Comms, cleaning up, scheduling, like I am doing now).

Screen Shot 2014-03-09 at 23.58.27

 

Also for your interest, my most used programs in these categories (note, I watch everything I can on VLC +30% speeded up):

Screen Shot 2014-03-09 at 23.59.06


How to set up Android tablet for grandparents to Skype and receive messages

Published: January 17, 2014

Last week, I set up my kids great grandmother (my wifes grandma) a new Android Nexus tablet. I first looked at full solutions like BIG Launcher, but it wasn’t what I really wanted. It didnt have the functionality and the ease of use for the key use-cases: 1) Receive Skype video call, 2) Make Skype video call, 3) Receive Telegram message/video/photo, 4) Be able to see battery, 5) Big icons. Once you get to the apps, Big launcher is ultimately just a launcher, it does have a few of these functionalities, but for example its not customizable when your app is not intended to be a phone (just a tablet), I would need more customization at set-up level with it.

So I went ahead, deactivated a bunch of system apps to simplify it, and downloaded a app to make my icons bigger (Giganticon), downloaded Skype, Telegram, and set it all up on the homepage. Then, I had to find a battery indicator, because of course the one on the top right is 100% invisible and not understandable. I then trained and explained our grandma how exactly to open the apps, set-up a few quick call buttons, increased text sizes in the entire system, and gave it over.

Our grandma can now receive messages, Skype video calls, and for the last weeks, she was able to see her grandkids more (she lives further away from the city). My wife also overheard her on the phone telling a friend how she can now “video call” with a “tablet” :)! So good!

You can see below that I have made the interface amazingly simple:

Screen Shot 2014-01-17 at 8.13.05

I also limited the programs to almost nothing:

Screen Shot 2014-01-17 at 8.13.54


Please Apple, we want Mac Mail to how it was pre-Mavericks, its still broken!

Published: December 17, 2013

I used official channels, support channels, back channels, I tried everything, waited for bug fixes patiently and NONE of them worked (bug fix 1, and yesterdays 10.9.1 Mac update). Its no use. Mac Mail IS NOT compatible with Google Apps. Well, at least with moving, archiving, and labels (which is a pretty damn big part of Google Apps if you ask me). Mailbox is still having the same issues it had.  Please, I am done with this. Why am I still trying? I love Mac Mail (and hate it at the same time…). Check an entire thread on Apple Forums on the Mac Mail problem.

Mac Mail is the best email client on the web, and let me tell you why: I have 30 GB of email on Google Apps, and thats quite a lot of email (actually the previous limit was 25 GB, and I was lucky because the week I hit 25 GB Google allowed just buying more space, yeeah!). That was until the Mavericks (Damn you Mavericks, I would have NEVER updated you, I am thinking of actually downgrading from Mavericks and never installing another update again – thats how far badly this update has gone for Mac mail).

Whats broken?

  • Moving messages (it blinks through so many times, happens sporadically)
  • Archiving
  • Inbox behavior – weird counts, brutally delayed synchronization

On the last version, it worked JUST fine!

Basically since the launch of Mavericks, people have been complaining about Mac Mail.

Screenshot from the same time, absolutely inconsistent mailbox (rebuild, synchronize, get new mail, even waiting for a LONG time connected doesn’t work anymore):

Screen Shot 2013-12-17 at 14.15.48

Screen Shot 2013-12-17 at 14.16.01

I even installed the update, it didnt do anything. Please, Apple, I am hopeless. Just RETURN it to the way it was before Mavericks.

Screen Shot 2013-12-17 at 18.23.55

Parameters: I have 30 GB of email (but ready to even archive some old ones, but since Mavericks, I have to have ALL MAIL turned on, so I would really have to DELETE old mail, which I am certainly not ready to do), I am a heavy Google Apps user. It takes a week or two for Mac Mail to download and sync my entire account (not to mention the true activity on the progress is not really reflected / true… Especially downloading new email is frustrating as you dont know whats what.

For more on how I set up my email and manage tips and labels, check out this article.

See some comments from the Apple thread on the recent update, that was obviously not a working update for anyone really…

Screen Shot 2013-12-17 at 18.31.42

Screen Shot 2013-12-17 at 18.31.09 Screen Shot 2013-12-17 at 18.31.22 Screen Shot 2013-12-17 at 18.31.30

 

 


How to use Podio in the best way possible – open manual on best practices

Published: December 17, 2013

Internal social networks are becoming a huge thing if you want to decrease the world of email. Podio helps with this.

Best practices of implementing Podio inside an organization
Its very tricky to implement a social network in the organization right. Many (even in a young lean startup) have a feeling that its something extra, that its an extra layer of work and a new communication channel for them. Using an internal social network does decrease efficiency for about a few days to a few weeks for someone, but think of it as it was switching from Windows XP to Mac. It took you a bit, but then you counted the hours you saved!

Some best practices on implementation:

  • Put it in the HR process – 100% of employees should have Podio
  • Not only should they have it, they should have at least their name, picture, department, phone number, office where they sit, email, and a few other contact details
  • Explain to employees in an all hands meeting what this means, why you are doing it, and be open about it
  • Lead by example, really use it yourself as a leader
  • For us this must be coming: Ban CC emails with more than 5 recipients. If you are sending it to more, it probably belongs in Podio
  • Make a workspace for each DEPARTMENT
  • Make a private one – for your own department chatter (don’t let anyone join) – private workspaces are very powerful and very important to have
  • Make specific BIG projects one (but don’t “overworkspace” for every taks)
  • Make a public workspace for your department – a place others will be able to see information
  • Make one person a central admin of all workspaces

Apps – Podio has a number of cool apps you can build, you can even build an app for yourself if you have the right use-case – this is great if you really want to understand something.
This is our set-up of walls on Podio:

Podiosetup

Few highlights:

  • Wall – thats for everyone
  • Office – X – very useful for different offices
  • Off-topic – definitely make one so people can “post away”, put something more personal to them, etc.

How to collaborate in individual workspace

  • Make sure you use apps for different regular things like requests
  • If you are an INSIDER (of that department), make sure you only address issues that are relevant to all
  • Don’t over-comment on Podio – rather than saying “Great” (unless its for cheerleading, just like the update)

Personal PODIO set-up & Best Practices on usage

  • Set-up email notifications – in the best way possible
  • Mandatory email notifications on mentions
  • Act on being mentioned – this is very important, having a 100% response rate on Podio
  • Have Podio always open, it has nice notifications
  • Use Podio chat for “smaller” things
  • Celebrate your colleagues successes
  • Announce launches
  • Discuss ideas and issues – its always better than an email chain

The BEST thing about Podio which reverses the logic of email is, that when you have an email, you have a chain from emails and if you get 10 of them after a meeting, you are trying to find out where you should reply. With Podio, you immediately see a notification and you only see where you should be responding and to what (you can read up from where you were mentioned if you dont understand, rather than reading emails down).

Screen Shot 2013-12-17 at 8.40.14

Rules

  • Always consider, is it for more than 50% of the workspace
  • Do not post smaller updates – remember they go to all people (if you have a smaller update, maybe post it as a comment)
  • Mention people if the comment is addressed to them
  • Dont over-use mentioning workspaces – this is a powerful, yet spammy tool

Why I love Podio:

  • Contacts – You have everyones contacts in 1 place – we made it a company rule (and integrated in HR process) to have your details there, fantastic. Click to call anyone in the organization from the iPhone/Android app. Love it.
  • Communication “to many” – the fact that you can communicate to many (see above my most favorite thing about Podio)
  • Social organization – helping create a social organization to be able to communicate better with each other, having better clarity on who does what

Top 3 things Podio should do to make itself better:

  • Better ability to drill down into the details and notifications (mentions, split mention of the workspace and myself)
  • Better setting of email notifications (again, split mentions) – I am very interested if someone mentions @Jan Rezab, but not if he mentions @Super Sales Hub (where I am member)
  • Mobile – Emails are mobile adaptable (!!!) – I hate the scrolling! & Mobile Mentioning via app. Mobile app should have local caching for contacts (big use-case)

How do you think we have this set-up? Are other tools like Chatter, Yammer, or others better for you and why?