Full Disclosure: Evernote

Welcome to my first Full Disclosure post. I gotta be honest, I got this great idea from Kevin Mahan. He did a series of posts called Full Disclosure last year that were filled with great information. I’ve been wanting to write a few posts on how I use some different tools (separate from the Best Practices posts) and thought this would be a great way to make it happen. To start, I thought I’d hit up Evernote. Evernote is an app that I’ve been learning about and implementing into my workflow more and more each day. Recently, I’ve been getting a number of questions from friends on how I use it. So, let’s jump right in!

If you don’t yet know what Evernote is, check out this quick video.

How I Use It

I really use Evernote for a quite a few things. First, I rely on it for the storage and retrieval of creative ideas. I tend to find myself in a lot of meetings where I’m trying to come up with ideas. Most of the time, meetings don’t lend themselves to creativity. On top of that, creativity can be totally random and happen whenever. What I try to do when I come across ideas I find online or ideas that pop in my head is to clip them into a creativity notebook in Evernote. I do my best to tag the note with a few words that tie into the theme of the idea. That way when I’m looking for ideas for “teaching about money”, I can just type that in and see if I have anything saved yet.

The second thing I use Evernote for is ideas and content for my blog. When I’m disciplined I take some time to schedule ahead on what I’ll be writing about. (see image below) I’ll type that up in Evernote so it’s there ready to go. Also, if I come across content or ideas that inspire a post I’ll clip them in Evernote and again tag them so they are easy to find.

A third way I use it is to take all my notes from conferences or things that have made an impact on me and scan them into Evernote. Typically, I write everything into a Moleskine, even notes when I’m at a conference or meeting with a mentor. These notes are things I want to remember. So I’ll scan them into Evernote. The cool thing about Evernote is that it searches text in images as well! So, if there is a quote from a conference I can remember but not who said it, I can type it in search and it will bring up the notes I scanned in from that person.

Those are just three quick ways I use Evernote. For the sake of keeping this short I’ll stop there for now. The key to using it well is creating a system to organize it in a way that will work for you. Use folders, tags, sub-folders, etc.

How about you? Have you ever tried Evernote? If so how do you use it? If not, what questions do you have? Let me know below! 

Who Are You? (Let Us Know!)

I’ve been consistently blogging here at AdamHann.com for about 10 months now. It’s been really good for me to be able to share some of the things I’m learning and also to hear back from you who read the posts. The encouragement and challenge has been good. Hopefully it’s been something that’s beneficial for you too.

Since we are still kind of fresh in the year I thought I would take a break from my normal posts and do one that features you! I know that a lot of you also have blogs and write killer content for them. Maybe you don’t have a blog, but there’s that one blog you make sure you read every day.

Here’s how this works, in the comments below copy in the address to your blog (or favorite blog) and let us know what it’s about. If that’s to much work, just copy the link and let us know the author. Can’t make it much easier then that!

My goal is to try to make sure I visit all of the blogs shared, and hope you check others out too. So, share away! Pimp your blog out below!

(Photo Props)

Stewards Of Inspiration

Inspiration. Sometimes it seems like it comes and goes like the wind. Other times you can feel it like the sun hitting your back. It obviously comes in cycles. Some of us have probably learned ways to keep it around longer. Make the most out of it. Those who can do that seem to also be able to bend it to their favor.

For those of us who can’t seem to get any inspiration can get frustrated watching others have a cup overflowing of it. That’s what this post is for. Those of us looking for inspiration. I obviously can’t tell you what inspires you, but I can ask a simple question.

When was the last time you felt inspired? What was that one thing? An Instagram picture? A note played on a cello? That one book you were reading? That one, incredibly designed website? A warm sunny day? That last movie you saw? Or maybe it was the view out of your last plane ride?

That’s the thing. Inspiration can come from anywhere. I’ll give you two examples of where I’ve recently been inspired.

A book. It’s called “Communicating For A Change” and is written by Andy Stanley. I wanted to brush up on my communication skills, but I’m finding I’m finishing this book inspired and wanting to impact people’s lives with what I have to say.

A Dobro guitar. Also can be known as a resonator guitar. This past weekend at LCBC someone played one. They played it really well. It was incredibly inspiring and moving. I walked away from the gathering changed a little bit because of that instrument.

Those are two simple examples that moved me deeply. They have brought me some inspiration. Now it’s my job to make the most of that inspiration while it’s here. To be a steward of it.

Stewarding inspiration can be just as important as finding it. What we do with an idea, a song, a different way of working, really matters. I often think that the way you are inspired is dependent on the way you steward inspiration. (I could be wrong on that, but I think I’m finding it to be true more often then not)

I’d really love for you to take a minute and think of the last time you were inspired. What was it that inspired you, and what did you do with it? How are ways that you can look for that inspiration in similar places again?

Feel free to share any inspiration you have had or any thing you have done with the inspiration below. Link to that inspiration if it’s online!

(Photo Props)

What’s Ahead For 2012

Last week I wrote a review of my goals from 2011. This week will be a bit of a look ahead. Why do I do this? Mostly to put it out in the open for accountability and for encouragement. One of the things I’ve learned over the past few years is that we aren’t made to do things alone. It’s ok to have personal goals, but who’s going to keep you accountable?

Here’s what I’m thinking goal wise for 2012.

2012 will be a year of tough decisions, finishing through the breakthrough year of 2011. I will have the opportunity to follow up and really live out some of the things I worked on. 2012 will really show if I laid the foundation for those goals well.

My three focus areas for 2012.

1) Priorities – One of the biggest things I need to work on is my priorities. I have them, they are just in the wrong order. I think they are in the right order but they aren’t. I can tell by the way I live my life and the decisions I make. It’s very frustrating. It’s humbling. I need to work on them. I think this would be my ideal order of priorities.

  • Relationship with God.
  • Relationship with my wife.
  • Relationships with others.
  • Relationship to myself . (Health, eating, physical fitness, continued learning)
  • Relationship with Employer (Excellence @ work)

2) Intentional Investment – I’m going to be looking for 2-3 men that I can be investing into. One hopefully from a work standpoint and 1 or 2 from just a general life standpoint. Most importantly, I’m looking for people who I can learn from as well. This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time but have never had the guts to do it. I’ve come to realize that I don’t have to have it all figured out to help and invest in others.

3) Discipline of Prayer – I want to build into my life the discipline of connecting with God often. It’s vital to a relationship with God. It’s a big part of the Christian faith. I don’t do it. I flat out just ignore communicating with God. It’s easy to do because I think I’m in control and God isn’t the most fore front and center thing in my mind. I’m really wanting to work on connecting with Him more.

Some thought filters for 2012.

  • Take risks.
  • Think different.
  • Others focused.

That sums up the direction for my 2012. We’ll see how I do. Feel free to ask me at anytime how I’m doing with these things. I’m not doing this to show off or brag. I really want to work on these areas and it takes the work of everyone to do that.

What are some goals/themes/focus areas for you this coming year? 

Listen to a great podcast on goals and goal setting here.

What Happened In 2011?

It’s that time of the year where I take some time to review the past year and look ahead and plan for what’s to come. Last year when doing this I decided that I’d write out some of my goals and keep them in front of me for the whole year. I did that, and it helped a lot.

I thought I’d take this post and list out a few things, accomplishments I’m proud of. Mostly so you can see the process I go through but also to see where I fell short. I’m learning that accountability with ideas is extremely important.

My goals for the past year were:

1) Intentional Leading – Actively embrace the opportunities of leadership I’m given and invest in them appropriately. - I felt like I really excelled in this area, thanks to the help of Paul Atkinson. I still have room to grow, but this year I felt like I worked this one well.

2) Healthy Living – In three areas: Physically, Relationally, and Vocationally. - I was doing really well Physically at the beginning of the year, eating and working out well. Then it tanked. Relationally and Vocationally, setting healthy boundaries and investing in relationships, I feel like I kept a better, consistent curve year long. Still, this area was probably my weakest, and hardest growth area.

3) Better Time Management – First, make better use of my day at work, which means working harder & smarter. Secondly, make the most out of my mornings & evenings. Don’t wast time on things that don’t count or don’t have value. – This was probably one of the better out of the three. I was in some dire need of reworking my time and felt like I did that well this year. I’m still working out a good schedule while at home, but definitely feel much better about how I approach my job. A major theme of 2012 will continue to influence this area.

4) Create Something – That I’ll be proud of in 10 years. This is a challenge I received via Twitter from Jason Sherman. - Jason laid this challenge out at the end of 2010. For the first few months, I thought I needed to make my own musical creation, because that’s what I thought I could make. But, it ended up being two things that I did for work with the SaturateOnline team that I’m most proud of, and one other personal accomplishment.

  1. Press Record – A live, community album we did at Saturate on a Tuesday night. It consisted of Michael Ferrari leading in worship via acoustic, and then recording the voices of everyone who sang. Super cool community project. Check out video and download Press Record here.
  2. Movement – A very different, worship experience we did in November for the Saturate Community. We wanted to create a unique way for 20somethings to connect with others and with God. We took some risks and I think it paid off. Very fun project to try. Check out a time-lapse of the day and check out the songs we used.
  3. AdamHann.com – I’ve been blogging off and on for three to four years. This year, in May I took a very targeted step in trying to focus my blogging, my writing, and investing in people. It’s not perfect, I don’t get tons of traffic, but I love that I can influence and help people. Even if it’s just a couple!

That’s a quick recap of 2011. Over the next couple of days I’ll be working on goals for 2012. You can probably expect them next Monday.

So here is a question for you. What are you most proud of this past year? We can we celebrate together? Let us know below and link out to a site/song/video whatever it might be! 

The Serving Leader

When you find yourself in a position of leadership it can be somewhat overwhelming. You may have been working hard to get there or it may have just come upon you. Either way, you have a decision to make. How will you lead?

If this is something that you have worked hard for then you might have the tendency to lead with more of a deserving, demanding, “I’ve worked hard for this” type of leadership. We have all had those types of leaders. The kind that let us know they deserve to be in the spot they are in and because of that we (their underling) are now subject to all the grueling punishment they had to go through.

Guess what? It doesn’t have to be this way.

The Serving Leader does not lead this way. It’s a practice and a mindset, but it’s one of the most rewarding ways to lead. It takes a paradigm shift in the way you view the organizational chart. Because you are on top does’t mean that your employees work for you, it means you work for them. Any bad decision, poor judgement, misuse of resources can effect each and every one of your employees. It effects their families and their future. You see, when we are leading we are (should be) doing it through a lens of serving others.

So what are a few practical ways to do this?

1) Take Time – Spend time with those you lead. You can’t lead from a distance. When you are a leader it’s easy to think you are alone, and sometimes you will feel that way because of decisions you need to make. But, it doesn’t mean you separate yourself from those you lead. What would it look like for you to stop by an employee’s office and instead of adding another thing to their plate, let them know how much they mean to the organization.

2) Pitch In – I used to think that once I got to a certain point in the organization I wouldn’t have to do things I didn’t like to do anymore. It is possible to do that, but it’s not worth it. I’m blown away when I have leaders who help out with things that are my responsibility, and are things that are annoying to do. The serving leader is not afraid to pitch in and help when employees are overwhelmed or being stretched by the organization. Even when it’s not on their job description.

3) Follow Through – Probably one of the biggest things and the one that would make the most sense. Follow Through. Nothing says you don’t value an employee more than not following through on something for them. Maybe they need more hours, maybe they need less. Maybe they need some more training or for you to deal with that one organizational problem that’s above them to fix. Serving those you lead means following through and letting those you lead know that you are for them.

Have you ever experienced a Serving Leader?

Challenge for this week: Look for opportunities to do one of these three things for those you lead. It will be one of the best Christmas gifts they could get!

So, You’re Starting A Blog?

Blog is one of those ambiguous words that you don’t know is a verb, noun, adjective or all of the above. When it comes to actual blogging, a lot of people feel the same way. We get into a blog and start feeling frustrated, or think it’s not working, or hate what we type.

I wanted to give you a few things to think through when starting a blog. Wether it’s for personal or business, the same things apply. I do want to give one quick resource. Bryan Allain has some of the best advice on starting a blog AND maintaining one to create a killer community. I highly suggest you check out his ebook 31 Days to Finding Your Blogging Mojo.

So, here are a few things to think through when starting that blog.

1) The first question to ask yourself is who’s going to be posting and who is the blog for? If you are doing this personally, then it will probably be you who will be doing most of the posting. If you are on a team or creating a blog for a church/ministry, then who’s going to be posting? A good way to think through that is to ask yourself who your ideal reader is. In the perfect scenario, who is typing in your blog address and coming to read your stuff?

2) A lot of times bloggers start off with way to big of a blogging schedule. The second question you need to ask yourself is how often will I post? It’s easy to think about blogging 5 days a week because when you first start out you have the energy and material to do so. But after the first couple of months all of the sudden it starts to tank. If you start off with lots of posts, then start to dwindle down to fewer and fewer it might give the impression that you are giving up on it. Start small, once or twice a week. With this blog I decided to post once a week on Monday’s. Other then a couple of posts (this one) I’ve been able to keep that schedule. When the New Year rolls around I’ll re-evaluate to see what’s next.

3) The last question I would ask is what is your win? Very similar to the first question where you are asking who the ideal person is coming to your blog, this question is the result of the first one. If the ideal person (or any person) comes to your blog, what do you want to have happen? Do you want them to do something? Share a story? Leave a comment? Buy a product? Do you want them to feel apart of a community? This is a huge question to answer. Try to be specific so you know how to measure your effectiveness and know where to make tweaks.

There are three simple ways to start off on the right foot. They aren’t the only three things to think through, but they are three major ones.

What have been some of your biggest blog frustrations? And, if you leave a comment, leave a link to your blog too!

5 Tips To Make Email More Useful

Email may possibly be one of the greatest and worst things ever created. For most people, it dictates their day and controls their emotions. As leaders, we are probably always diving into our email to check up on things. There are so many other tools out there similar to email that are better, but still email has remained constant in most of our lives.

Instead of talking about what should be different I’d love to give you five tips to make the most out of this tool. Learn how to tame it like a wild horse and it will make a world of a difference.

1) Use Email For The Right Conversations – Most times we use email for the wrong conversations. We’ll send emails when we are to lazy to pick up the phone. We might send the email when we are to afraid to confront that person. We’ve all done it, mostly because it’s very easy to do. But somewhere along the line this has become the norm and creates major communications problems. Use email when it’s appropriate, otherwise pick up the phone or have a face to face conversation.

2) Keep Them Short – There’s no reason to make an email 5 pages long. Especially if you want it read. When writing an email, keep it short. People typically don’t have or don’t want to spend the time reading a long email. Every now and then you may come across the need to write a longer one but make sure you think through the best way to say what you need in the least amount of words.

3) Find The Right Tool – When I say tool, I mean program or email reader. Find the application that will help you handle email the way that you like. There are so many different options out there, so just pick a couple and try them out.

4) Create A Schedule – There’s no reason that we need to be checking our email 24/7. But, we do it anyways. We think we are going to miss something. One of the best things I’ve done is create a simple schedule of when to check emails. For you, maybe hourly or 4 times a day. Just try it out. What you’ll find is that you start working on the things that need to get done instead of putting out fires all the time. This will be hard and will take discipline, but try it out. Maybe try it with your team so that everyone can see the benefit.

5) Try Inbox ZeroInbox Zero is a way, or practice of approaching email. In it’s simplest forms, it’s keeping your inbox to zero at the end of everyday or every time you check it. I started trying Inbox Zero a few years ago and it has helped tremendously. It takes a little organization (which if you are bad at that, ask a friend who is organized to help) but pays off. It changes your attitude towards email and how you use it. I highly recommend trying it out!

What is one tip that you’ve come to find when using email that’s been a game changer? What’s your favorite tool or app to use for email? Share below!

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