Gary Bacon

complex_problems

Solving Complex Problems & Dispelling Anxieties

How’s that for a headline? Rolls right off the tongue. Let’s dive into creating solutions, getting rid of clouded thinking, and making forward progress.

Artfully Frustrated, Again

There are times where I find myself being Artfully Frustrated, again. I have to remind myself that others experience this, it’s a sign that I’m still growing, and to push on forward.

That frustration comes from a drive to constantly be improving. As with all things in life, there is a balance. When that drive escalates to perfectionism, then it can be a problem. Dysfunctional perfectionism is at the heart of depression, anxiety, workaholism, procrastination, and suicide.

How do we change for the better? By focusing on what we do have, being thankful, expressing gratitude, and being authentic.

Authenticity & Gratitude

Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we are supposed to be and embracing who we really are.

When we are focused so hard on expectations, even those that are imposed by our own self, it leads to anxiety.

Instead, we should trade those expectations for appreciations.

The best way to get rid of that worry is to express gratitude. The two can not coexist.

In the book Flourish, author Martin E. P. Seligman suggests keeping a gratitude journal or the Three Blessings Journal. At the end of every day write down three things that went well and why they went well.

When I worked at the Apple Store for a summer in 2010, we were trained to ask customers open-ended probing questions. It gets at the heart of why a customer is shopping and how best to meet their needs. This Forbes article paints a clear picture:

Probe politely to understand all the customer’s needs. This simply means to ask a series of closed and open-ended question so you can match the customer with the right product, not the most expensive product. In the Apple Store, a closed-ended question elicits a simple yes or no such as, “Will this be your first Mac?” An open-ended question is more general and gives the sales associate (specialist) more information to guide the conversation. For example, “What will you be using the iPad for?”

Asking why probes further and gives clarity. That’s why we do it in the gratitude journal. I’m thankful for my brother. Why? He is always there to talk with me when life seems overwhelming. Even further…Why? It’s great to have someone to talk to when you feel alone in your experience.

Finding What Challenges You

Finding What Challenges You

In an interview, Neil deGrasse Tyson talks about science boosting the economy. He goes on to say, most companies and politicians don’t have the tolerance for the long term view.

You don’t motivate a group of kids, saying “Who wants to be a mechanical engineer and help improve flight efficiency by 15% compared to the airplane your father flew?”

But instead, ask “Who wants to be an engineer and help develop airfoils to help fly in the atmosphere of Mars?” With the latter, you get the best students in the class.

Flow is the intersection of what you are good at and what challenges you— where difficulty and competency meet.

When your competency exceeds the difficulty of a task, you are bored. And when the difficulty exceeds your competency, you are anxious. That was my problem: I was bored.

— Jeff Goins, The Art of Work

There are times where the day job requires me to do the mundane. That’s fine. We can’t always have constant excitement. It’s called work for a reason.

For inspiration, this is one of the reasons that I have side projects. To keep pushing my limits. It allows me to play. To find out how to make user interfaces for VR, tinker with implementing the Acelerated Mobile Pages Project on content, create a landing page for Snapchat, write books, and so much more.

These all funnel back into the collective of who I am. When you hire me, you get a wide variety of experiences. All of which have added something to my career over the years.

custom_snapchat

How to Customize Your Snapchat Snapcode

Snapchat made a pretty standard landing page for adding people. Here’s mine. It shows your username, snapcode, and a link to download the app.

As an experiment, I made a Snapchat page to promote what I’m snapping about. Turned out pretty sweet.

Snapchat Page

As you can see, I’ve customized my Snapcode. You can do this with your brand, image of yourself, favorite pet, or the theme of what you’re snapping about.

quitting_too_early

Quitting Too Early

A common theme that I see reoccurring in success stories is:

“I stuck it out. I didn’t quit early.”

Weird Lucky Thing

In a 1988 interview, the then 38-year-old Bill Murray said there were lots of actors that were better at “The Second City” who quit it before it even got to a paying status.

That extra mile, that commitment, that desire, the action of pushing on when everyone else says you are crazy.

That’s what it takes to succeed.

Finding just one hour a day to work on what you love adds up. It ends up being 7 hours a week or roughly 28 hours a month. Have weekends off? Great, more pockets of time.

Budgeting Time

It’s budgeting your time. Like Amy Hoy said in her Year of Hustle course, “Time isn’t money. Time is an opportunity cost.”

Brilliant Itteration

Brilliant Iteration

The wonderful thing about design concepts and patterns is that they can be reused. Whenever you hit on a core idea, it can be expanded to many different applications.

Recently, Apple has introduced Force Touch or haptic feedback into their products.

On the iPhone, as you press harder, you get a slight buzz on your finger and then a contextual menu pops open for a given app. As well as a feature called “peek and pop” that allows, on a harder press, the app to render a bubble with a contextual preview.

On the Mac, when you “click” something, the trackpad feels as if you are pushing it down, but it’s not moving. The click sound is coming from the speakers. It is tricking your brain into thinking that there was a click.

Amazon’s Persistent Cart

The shopping cart, when the user hits a larger viewport size expands and becomes persistent. This is a nice touch.

Click to Zoom

The items in the cart show you price, Prime status, and an image thumbnail. Hovering over each product image displays: product title, price, quantity, delete, and “save for later”.

There is also a save for later panel under the cart as well, which expands accordian style.

This experience and the cooresponding interactions are not included on iPad/tablet.

Sanebox

iCloud Email Out of Control? Sanebox

I’ve had my Apple email address since it was Dot Mac. Then it became Mobile Me, and now it is called iCloud.

That’s @mac.com @me.com @icloud.com — so many different aliases, domains, etc. It ends up being a history of junk emails.

On top of that, I’m tied to my Apple email address because it’s now your AppleID.

As that email grows out of control, it becomes harder to find relevant emails. Not to mention notifications from Apple themselves.

Buy something online? You’re now on a newsletter list.

Unsubscribe from a newsletter? Ha! That rarely works.

Have an email address long enough and it will be sold to various “marketing lists”.

Sanebox to the Rescue

It’s super simple. Sanebox scans your emails, then moves the miscellaneous ( sales emails, confirmations, etc ) from the Inbox to a folder called “SaneLater”.

Then it will email you a digest of your emails so that you can glance at them once a day. Anything important is left in your Inbox per usual.

It really is that smart.

Yak Shaving

Say No to Yak Shaving

This one concept has meant so much to me over the years. I continue to share it with friends and family members to this day. The reaction is always the same, “Wow. I do that!”

I like Seth Godin’s version of the story best:

Yak Shaving is the last step of a series of steps that occurs when you find something you need to do. “I want to wax the car today.”

“Oops, the hose is still broken from the winter. I’ll need to buy a new one at Home Depot.”

“But Home Depot is on the other side of the Tappan Zee bridge and getting there without my EZPass is miserable because of the tolls.”

“But, wait! I could borrow my neighbor’s EZPass…”

“Bob won’t lend me his EZPass until I return the mooshi pillow my son borrowed, though.”

“And we haven’t returned it because some of the stuffing fell out and we need to get some yak hair to restuff it.”

And the next thing you know, you’re at the zoo, shaving a yak, all so you can wax your car.

This happens all the time.

It even happened while writing this post. My internal dialog: “I am going to write a post on Yak Shaving. [ Writes two sentences. ] I should try and find a featured image that has a yak in it. [ Google ] Wait! Back to writing!”

In an environment where many things are on demand and distraction is at an all-time high, this is a technique to be mindful — pause — and place focus back on the task at hand.

Push through Resistance.

Taking a few small steps is better than taking no steps at all.

stay_in_play

How to Survive Melancholy: Play

Anxiety tends to result in a negative feedback loop.

Having anxiety on an issue, which causes more anxiety for having anxiety, and then thoughts spiral from there.

In her book Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert says,

Find something to do— anything, even a different sort of creative work altogether— just to take your mind off your anxiety and pressure.

Going for a walk, taking a new class, or even trying a new hobby can alleviate pressure.

Search Your Own Facebook Posts

For the Desktop version of Facebook go to:
https://www.facebook.com/[yourprofilename]/allactivity

Or click in the top right menu and choose Activity Log:

Activity Log

On the next page, you’ll see the following:

Facebook Profile Search

At the top right from where it says “Activity Feed” is a smaller search field. This will allow you to search any previous post that you’ve made on Facebook in the past.

This is a great way to find old posts quickly.