Joshua Wilner http://joshuawilner.com A Writer Writes Wed, 04 Mar 2015 19:58:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.1 National Grammar Day Ain’t a Joke http://joshuawilner.com/2015/03/04/national-grammar-day-aint-a-joke/ http://joshuawilner.com/2015/03/04/national-grammar-day-aint-a-joke/#respond Wed, 04 Mar 2015 19:58:39 +0000 http://joshuawilner.com/?p=4724 I have a love/hate relationship with technology and its impact upon communication. There has never been a time where it has been easier for people to communicate their thoughts, ideas and dreams to a large audience than now. Social media platforms have made it simple to send a thought 10,000 miles but technology has not […]

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right word
I have a love/hate relationship with technology and its impact upon communication.

There has never been a time where it has been easier for people to communicate their thoughts, ideas and dreams to a large audience than now.

Social media platforms have made it simple to send a thought 10,000 miles but technology has not solved the challenges presented by misunderstanding caused by spelling and or grammatical errors.

While I don’t have any issue with the occasional error I won’t lie and say I am ok with it either.

The reason being it feels to me like our standards are slipping and even though we have more tools to help prevent these mistakes we don’t seem to use them.

This troubles me and it is not because I am a writer.

Poor Communication Leads To Conflict

It bothers me because poor communication leads to conflict.

I can’t tell you how many fights I have seen develop between people because a poorly written email, post or status update led to a giant misunderstanding.

It is unnecessary and part of how I am trying to help out is by promoting National Grammar Day.

You are invited to join me by taking the quiz below that was kindly provided by the fine folks at Grammarly.
Grammarly Grammar Nerd Quiz Feature Image

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The Great Facebook Purge of 2014 http://joshuawilner.com/2015/03/02/the-great-facebook-purge-of-2014/ http://joshuawilner.com/2015/03/02/the-great-facebook-purge-of-2014/#respond Mon, 02 Mar 2015 22:34:13 +0000 http://joshuawilner.com/?p=4707 Someone once asked me if my confession would make a priest blush and I laughed. Laughed because this Jewish kid doesn’t go to confession and though I have my share of things to confess about they are run-of-the-mill stuff that any priest who has been doing his job for more than a day has heard. […]

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six year oldSomeone once asked me if my confession would make a priest blush and I laughed.

Laughed because this Jewish kid doesn’t go to confession and though I have my share of things to confess about they are run-of-the-mill stuff that any priest who has been doing his job for more than a day has heard.

Laughed because I am not someone who carries around much in the way of guilt or regrets. Ok, that is not entirely true because the few regrets I have in life tend to be large and the guilt when it hits is the same.

But I spend very little time thinking about or paying attention to either one of them because I don’t see much of an upside.

When you make a mistake you do your best to learn from it and try not to repeat it. Give a heartfelt apology and move on.

With some effort and a little luck there won’t be any mistakes that require more than that but that is a discussion for a different time.

More Facebook Friends Needed

Some years back I had an idea for a business proposition that required substantially increasing the number of Facebook friends I had.

It was at the height of the Zynga Facebook games moment so increasing the number of friends was simple.

Most of the games offered benefits and advantages to players who recruited other Facebook subscribers to join their team.

All you had to do was join a few Facebook groups and you could move from one to 5,000 friends in no time at all.  I think 5,000 was the maximum number of friends you were allowed then.

I never did reach 5,000 but there was a time when I had more than 2,500.

I remember thinking how cool it was to have friends all over the world and the kind of insight it provided into how they lived. It was like visiting a foreign country and staying with locals so you weren’t just another tourist.

Most of the time it was pretty cool but there were moments where it was not. There were some comments that crossed the lines.

People who had issues with race, religion and creed.

It made me a bit nervous about them having too much access to personal information about my family and I so I unfriended some and changed my privacy settings.

As time passed I stopped playing the games so I didn’t need a ton of friends to help me become a more powerful player.

Since I didn’t need them for the business proposition either I began to think about whether it made sense to have so many Facebook friends especially those I had no interaction with.

One day my daughter asked me a bunch of questions about who I knew and how I knew them. When I told her why she looked at me and asked me to explain how I could be friends with so many people I hadn’t met.

I thought about speaking with her about how people can become friends online without meeting in person but wasn’t sure how I wanted to approach it.

That is because even though I believe in and have experienced it I was concerned about how it might play out with a young child who might encounter bad people online.

It is not always easy for adults to pick out the bad people online but it is even harder for kids who don’t have the same life experience we do.

It is part of why I have been very careful with my kids and social media.

Anyhoo, that conversation eventually led to the great purge.

The Great Facebook Purge of 2014

Facebook doesn’t make it easy for mass unfriending so I decided since there was no rush I would do it in chunks.

This is where we revisit my comments about guilt and regret because during the purge I think  I accidentally removed some people who had legitimate reason to be included as Facebook friends.

They weren’t people who I knew from playing games online but people I had gone to school or worked with.

Some were people who have met my family and even if they hadn’t we had a real connection of some sort.

Now we can bandy about definitions for friendship or suggest that if got swept up in the net it means I probably wasn’t very close with them.

We can talk about whether I was so gung ho on pairing the list down I didn’t pay enough attention or come up with a million other rationalizations for why they were unfriended but what is the point.

I am not going to do that or try to use weasel words to get out of it.

I unfriended them and I sort of feel badly about it.

Sort of.

Like I said before I am not big on guilt that doesn’t lead to some sort of positive action.

I suppose I should add I am not entirely sure how many people were accidentally unfriended. Maybe that means you weren’t real active on Facebook and I didn’t interact with you there or maybe it means I offended you and you aren’t speaking with me now.

Probably doesn’t help to say I haven’t noticed now does it. ;)

You can tie it back into the topic of what would happen if you stopped blogging and ask whether people notice when you are on or off Facebook.

In my world what I want people to notice is when they haven’t spoken with me. It is more important to me for them to recognize we haven’t seen each other in person or spoken on the phone, but that is me, doesn’t have to be the same for you.

The Last Word For Now

I once thought about trying to enlist some priests for a different business proposition. I thought it might be interesting to write a book based upon the confessions they had heard.

Didn’t do it because I wasn’t sure it hadn’t been done in one way or another and because I was uncertain about the propriety of it.

Were you caught in the purge? Are we friends on Facebook?

Should we be?

What do you think?

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What Would Happen If You Stopped Blogging? http://joshuawilner.com/2015/02/25/what-would-happen-if-you-stopped-blogging/ http://joshuawilner.com/2015/02/25/what-would-happen-if-you-stopped-blogging/#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 01:20:25 +0000 http://joshuawilner.com/?p=4698 Another blogger once asked me what would happen if I stopped blogging. I told them I am a writer and a writer never stops writing. Is it possible I might stop blogging? Sure, it is possible but I won’t ever stop writing. It is like breathing, I’ll do it in one form or another until […]

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photo-1418479631014-8cbf89db3431

Another blogger once asked me what would happen if I stopped blogging.

I told them I am a writer and a writer never stops writing. Is it possible I might stop blogging?

Sure, it is possible but I won’t ever stop writing. It is like breathing, I’ll do it in one form or another until I die.

But I like turning these questions upside down, inside out and around just to see what I come up with.

What Would Happen If You Stopped Blogging?

I see the real question as would people notice that you stopped producing content.

I see it as asking yourself to answer whether your content is valuable and to whom.

You don’t need to be a professional blogger or doing this for business purposes for it to be valuable either.  There is merit in doing so even if you use your blog as an online journal to record your thoughts.

My blog isn’t just my online hub or a place to promote my brand. It is a tool I use to work on my skills as a writer and a storyteller so I like asking the hard questions about whether my presence and my content adds value.

I like asking if people would notice my absence not to stroke my ego but because it helps me measure whether I am meeting the standard I set for myself.

It is worth noting that a lack of engagement on your blog isn’t always indicative of whether the content is useful, educational and or entertaining.

Remember the Tyranny of Social Proof lies in trying to use analytics that can be both useless and or meaningless.

The focus of the initial question here is more on your internal feelings about your blog than anything else.

It is a gut check where you ask and answer the question.

Be Yourself

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Sometimes Analytics Are Meaningless http://joshuawilner.com/2015/02/22/sometimes-analytics-are-meaningless/ http://joshuawilner.com/2015/02/22/sometimes-analytics-are-meaningless/#comments Sun, 22 Feb 2015 20:34:24 +0000 http://joshuawilner.com/?p=4682 Sometimes Analytics Are Meaningless is the kind of headline that I try to avoid because it puts me to sleep but there are moments where it makes sense to be direct and not try to capture attention with traditional link bait. I stumbled onto a discussion today in which people were talking about importance of […]

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Understand
Sometimes Analytics Are Meaningless is the kind of headline that I try to avoid because it puts me to sleep but there are moments where it makes sense to be direct and not try to capture attention with traditional link bait.

I stumbled onto a discussion today in which people were talking about importance of having detailed analytics for every part of their blog and I rolled my eyes.

That was because it was clear that the person pushing it didn’t understand there is no point in tracking information unless you understand what you are looking for and why it is important.

For example I can provide you with links to what Google Analytics says are the top ten posts here for the last month (based upon traffic) but that information lacks some substance.

Why Do We Care?

A list of the top ten posts based upon traffic doesn’t answer the question about whether this is useful or significant information.

A list of the most heavily trafficked posts doesn’t tell you what happens after people end up there. It doesn’t tell you whether people read and respond to a call-to-action or if they just click their way through to something else.

It is like eating a salami sandwich with two pieces of bread and no salami.

Show me a list like that and I’ll ask if the posts are the ones we want representing the site. I’ll ask if they promote the right brand image/messaging or if they lead the reader in a direction we’d rather they not go.

It is nice to have numbers but far too often we waste time looking at numbers that don’t tell us much of anything important.

If the idea is to provide content that is useful, entertaining and or educational so the readers will choose to spend time on our sites we need to be smarter about how we use our analytics otherwise we are just wasting our time.

Why should we care is one of the first questions I ask when I look at the homework my children bring home. It is followed by what purpose is it serving and what are they learning?

That is a topic that deserves it is own post so we’ll let that one go for now.

This Is Not A Waste Of Time

You don’t have to be a Led Zeppelin fan to appreciate the video below. It is definitely not a waste of time.

What do you think? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

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What Would Happen If Your House Was On Fire? http://joshuawilner.com/2015/02/18/what-would-happen-if-your-house-was-on-fire/ http://joshuawilner.com/2015/02/18/what-would-happen-if-your-house-was-on-fire/#respond Thu, 19 Feb 2015 01:06:40 +0000 http://joshuawilner.com/?p=4672 Have you ever thought about what would happen if your house was on fire and you had moments to get out the door? It is not something I wish to experience first hand but it is worth thinking about because if you take it seriously it will help you identify what is important to you […]

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Knowledge
Have you ever thought about what would happen if your house was on fire and you had moments to get out the door?

It is not something I wish to experience first hand but it is worth thinking about because if you take it seriously it will help you identify what is important to you what is…less important.

I have been evacuated from a forest fire and been through several large earthquakes so I have had experiences that I can fall back upon to help motivate me to consider what it is I would take.

Concept Versus Reality

I didn’t lose my home in any of the experiences I mentioned above so we are still dealing with concept versus reality but if you pushed me too list things today I could do so.

What you would find is a short list of items that have sentimental value whose loss would pain me.

Other than those things there is little that is irreplaceable.

This revelation begs the question of whether I need as much stuff as I own. The answer is no, I don’t need as much as I have so I have been trying to reduce my footprint.

Somewhere in the mist lies that mythical creature we call balance. While there is reason and purpose in shrinking the number of possessions owned some things deserve a place even though they are not used daily or of sentimental value.

Business and Parenting

Ask me how all this applies to business and parenting and I’ll be happy to explain how I want my children to learn to value their education over possessions.

You can lose your possessions but you can’t lose your education.

As for business, well I’d tell you it ties into determining what metrics are most important to track and what aren’t.

Sometimes I think we lose focus and spend so much time trying to track every odd and end we forget that not all of them are significant or worth paying attention to.

What do you think? If you had to flee from your home do you know what you would want to take with you?

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The Power Of Pictures & Video http://joshuawilner.com/2015/02/15/power-pictures-video/ http://joshuawilner.com/2015/02/15/power-pictures-video/#respond Sun, 15 Feb 2015 23:58:00 +0000 http://joshuawilner.com/?p=4663 If you have never seen something so breathtakingly beautiful it rendered you speechless you need to put down your phone and or push yourself away from the computer and go outside. That is not hyperbole because I know not just from personal experience but from the tales and stories other people tell there are places […]

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Shot by  CheWei Chang Tunnel View
Shot by CheWei Chang Tunnel View

If you have never seen something so breathtakingly beautiful it rendered you speechless you need to put down your phone and or push yourself away from the computer and go outside.

That is not hyperbole because I know not just from personal experience but from the tales and stories other people tell there are places worldwide that epitomize magnificent and or majestic.

Some of them are natural creations and some are man made but I am not here to serve as an advocate of either. I am just a man who loves a good story and believes some of the best come from the experiences we have during our days and those created during vacations.

I am most adept at sharing those moments via posts and stories using the written word or tales we share over a meal but I know some of them are diminished by not having pictures or videos to share.

A Picture Is Worth A 1000 Words

My children have heard me speak about Yosemite and the view of the valley and other places within the park. One day soon I’ll take them to see it first hand and try to help them understand why their dad loves it.

There is a long list of other places I want to take them to but not all are places I have had a chance to see yet.

Africa has long been on that list.

Yesterday we watched Virunga and I haven’t stopped thinking about what I saw and how many teaching moments I found within the movie but most of it was centered upon the beauty of the land, people and animals.

Gorillas fascinate me. Look in their eyes and it is hard not to wonder just how intelligent the creature looking back at you is.

The way they play and interact isn’t all that different from us.

 

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Do You Still Handwrite Letters? http://joshuawilner.com/2015/02/12/still-handwrite-letters/ http://joshuawilner.com/2015/02/12/still-handwrite-letters/#comments Thu, 12 Feb 2015 19:14:45 +0000 http://joshuawilner.com/?p=4660 My 10.5 going on 30-year-old daughter says I won’t be really old until I turn 50. It is hard not to laugh when she says it mainly because I remember the days when 50 sounded really, really old and I am not that. It is still hard for me to reconcile the face in the […]

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Sometimes 'ancient technology' is more effective than new.
Sometimes ‘ancient technology’ is more effective than new.

My 10.5 going on 30-year-old daughter says I won’t be really old until I turn 50.

It is hard not to laugh when she says it mainly because I remember the days when 50 sounded really, really old and I am not that.

It is still hard for me to reconcile the face in the mirror with the guy I see in my head because they don’t look alike.  The only time I feel old is when we talk about school and I mention how many times my teachers criticized my penmanship.

It is an expression that is lost upon my children. They received basic training in cursive but it is something they rarely use if at all.

That is because all of the big assignments are typed on a computer and either shared via Google Docs or printed out and submitted.

After our latest conversation it made me think about hand writing and how many people still send out handwritten notes.

Is Handwriting Dying A Slow Death?

Do you still send letters via snail mail?

Do you think handwriting is dying a slow death and that we’ll reach a time where people don’t use it?

Let’s talk about it in the comments.

photo by: Willy D

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How Marketers Killed Social Media http://joshuawilner.com/2015/02/09/marketers-killed-social-media/ http://joshuawilner.com/2015/02/09/marketers-killed-social-media/#comments Mon, 09 Feb 2015 08:27:55 +0000 http://joshuawilner.com/?p=4639 People tell me because I am both a writer and a marketer I should take responsibility for killing social media. They say in the name of the almighty dollar my fellows and I have lost focus of what social media is about and have created pay-to-play venues that don’t provide access to the millions of […]

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Shakespeare
People tell me because I am both a writer and a marketer I should take responsibility for killing social media.

They say in the name of the almighty dollar my fellows and I have lost focus of what social media is about and have created pay-to-play venues that don’t provide access to the millions of readers we are entitled to unless of course we are willing to pay to reach them.

Sometimes I nod, smile and ignore those that sling those terrible barbs and sometimes I tell them to find a sharp stick and stick it in places both soft and warm.

Other times I ask them if they are interested in engaging in a conversation or if they just want to complain about something they have no interest in changing.

How Marketers Killed Social Media

It is a convenient to blame marketers for the ills of social media but it is not entirely accurate because it ignores the common blogger whose desire to monetize their blog and become a superstar at any cost.

You don’t think Brian Williams is the only person who has embellished, elaborated and or disremembered doing so now do you.

It wouldn’t be hard to point fingers at the common bloggers who were caught manipulating the truth for the purpose of reaching more eyeballs and generating more engagement.

Ask me if I have ever wondered or dreamed of this blog being the conduit to a book or gasp, movie deal and I’ll say yes.

I won’t even hesitate.

Why wouldn’t I want that?

In concept it sounds both exciting and romantic because when you hear/read book/movie deal you have an image of affluence and success.

Why shouldn’t I hold such a dream in my heart? What harm could it do.

You Didn’t Answer The Question

Hold on Jack, don’t get ahead of yourself. The question you are referring to is what is the purpose/goal of social media and how did marketers or common bloggers kill it?

If the idea/purpose is to connect people who might not ever meet than social media has been successful in making that happen.

I’ll pick on my friends Tim and Jens as proof of that.

Tim is in the UK, Jens is in Norway and I am in the U.S. which makes us neighbors in the sense we are humans who live on the earth.

But thanks to the magic tubes of the Internet we have had the opportunity to meet and get to know each other.

That screams success to me.

If I wanted to use fancy marketing terms I’d talk about engagement and conversions. We found each other online and decided it was worth our time to talk and here we are years later still hanging out.

****

 Now if the question is in regards to who owns the Internet and whether social media platforms should be allowed to charge an access fee or require you pay for advertising that is a different question.

Flip through the pages here and you’ll see more than one post about whether you should pay for using Facebook to reach prospective readers/customers.

But if you want to save time I’ll tell you now I don’t believe in digital sharecropping and that I think every person/business should use their own self hosted website as their online hub.

When you put all your eggs in one basket you take a substantial risk. If Facebook decides your page violates their TOS (terms of service) they can pull it down and you have no recourse.

Facebook could change its algorithm and or business model in a way that makes it difficult or impossible to participate and you could lose too.

Technically that argument extends to any platform that you don’t own with own referring to a self hosted website.

And since you have me talking about Facebook from a marketing perspective let’s remember even though it is huge you still need to determine if it is a good place to reach your target demographic.

There are tons of people who signed up for accounts but never or rarely use them.

Again, same argument can be applied to any platform.

Social Media Isn’t Really Dead

My kids will tell you when they quote facts I ask them how they know those facts to be true.

That is because people like to believe that whatever works or doesn’t work for us is something that is true for everyone.

When my middle sister tells me social media is a waste of time I always remind her it hasn’t been for me professionally or personally.

Those of who have been around for a while like to reminisce about the good old days when you could measure influence by blogrolls and comments.

The days when every blogger took the time to write their posts and go read what other bloggers had written. That may or may not be true.

It might just be the opinion/memory of some old man/woman who joined the digital world in 1999 and has watched it evolve.

If you circle back to the beginning when I ask people if they want to complain or have a real conversation it is because I see the purpose of social media as a place/tool for conversation.

The question I ask myself and others is if our actions are promoting engagement or killing it.

Blame it upon my desire to follow the lead of Albert Einstein the Social Media Genius. I want to understand.

And if I understand any one thing about social media it is that you build relationships by talking with people and not at them.

That is where brands fail and that is where some bloggers do too.

Be a person online.

That doesn’t mean everyone will love or even like you but it is the most effective way to build trust and create a relationship.

What do you think?

 

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Albert Einstein Was A Social Media Genius http://joshuawilner.com/2015/02/05/albert-einstein-social-media-genius/ http://joshuawilner.com/2015/02/05/albert-einstein-social-media-genius/#comments Thu, 05 Feb 2015 23:57:15 +0000 http://joshuawilner.com/?p=4623 Albert Einstein died in 1955 so he didn’t come close to living long enough to see the Internet or any of the other technological marvels of the digital age. I won’t presume to tell you what his opinion about social media would have been but I feel confident he could have been a social media […]

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fishAlbert Einstein died in 1955 so he didn’t come close to living long enough to see the Internet or any of the other technological marvels of the digital age.

I won’t presume to tell you what his opinion about social media would have been but I feel confident he could have been a social media superstar and not just because he is responsible for a ton of witty and insightful quotes.

imagination

Social media is powered by people and by imagination. Einstein’s quote about fish and bicycles ties in very nicely and so do his quote about the importance of imagination.

If you are of a certain age it is probably hard to imagine a world without cell phones, computers and social media platforms but the same can be said for other people of a certain age.

It takes imagination to move people and to change the world.

stupidity
Remember that line about witty and insightful quotes? The one above is a perfect example. It is the kind of thing that is easy for people to relate to and it is one that could just as easily anchor a deeper conversation.
UnderstandIf my good friend Albert were here he would tell you about the importance of analytics and metrics.

One of the central themes here is the need to identify your goals in blogging and social media.

It is of paramount importance for businesses and social media professionals to do so and it is a worthwhile endeavor for the people who are just doing this for fun too.

Why?

Because goals help provide structure and structure is part of what you need to determine if you are spinning your wheels in cyberspace or building an empire.

When you establish your goals and create an objective you open an opportunity to build a road map to success and analytics help you figure out if you are on the right path.

Good old analytics like the number of users, pageviews, time spent on page, conversions and all of that other crap are all a part of the mix or at least they should be.

And that my friends leads to one last quote by Einstein and a comment as a father and student.

six year old
My children often ask me to explain why learning XYZ in school is important and though I want to say they never stump me there are times where I shrug my shoulders and say because it is tied into your grade.

I hate that.

Not the question part but the feeling that I can’t respond with an answer that I find to be satisfactory. It reminds me of my time in school and how I asked certain teachers to explain the importance of learning some particular lesson/topic.

It wasn’t always done because I was trying to be adversarial or difficult but because I wanted to give the lesson some context and understand how it might be of use.

The importance of understanding and not just knowing– it has always resonated with me.

What do you think? It doesn’t have to be about those last few quotes, it could be any, share it in the comments.

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Get More Done- 17 Workplace Productivity Hacks http://joshuawilner.com/2015/02/04/get-done-17-workplace-productivity-hacks/ http://joshuawilner.com/2015/02/04/get-done-17-workplace-productivity-hacks/#respond Wed, 04 Feb 2015 21:55:33 +0000 http://joshuawilner.com/?p=4613 Confession And Commentary There is an ongoing battle with homework in my house and in spite of my being a college graduate I am still involved in it. That is because my middle schooler receives a huge amount of work each day and though he works very hard it is not unusual for it to […]

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Confession And Commentary

There is an ongoing battle with homework in my house and in spite of my being a college graduate I am still involved in it.

That is because my middle schooler receives a huge amount of work each day and though he works very hard it is not unusual for it to include some kind of parental involvement.

Some of that involves my helping to teach him his own set of productivity hacks so that he can take care of his work in a faster and more efficient manner.

One of those is to find ways to repurpose and reuse information. The goal is to work smarter and not harder and if you have solid material you can use again there is no reason not to consider it.

That is a lesson that is tied into both Bloggers Must Evolve Or Die and Is Commenting On Blogs Dead?

How?

Well most of us have limited time and resources so one of the ways to help keep blogging enjoyable is to make it easier and repurposing content does that.

That also provides more time for visiting and commenting upon other blogs and if you want to drive comments on traffic on your own there is no better way than commenting on others.

Here is where the confession comes in on this post:

I think the hacks in the presentation are basic and obvious but that kind of content drives traffic so I figured it is worth including.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not trying to day it is a bad presentation because it is not. It definitely has merit and is useful and that is a solid reason to include it here.

I was hoping to find a little more meat there for me to chew on.

But since it still has substance and will pull traffic I figured there is no harm in using it.  If things go as I want not only will it pull more people in but some of those will come will like what they read and decide it is worth continuing to visit.

And maybe you’ll even share some of your favorite productivity hacks in the comments too.

The post Get More Done- 17 Workplace Productivity Hacks appeared first on Joshua Wilner.

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