Monthly Archives: January 2013

Quick Tip of the Day 1.28.13

This morning, I had an internal conversation (that happens a lot when one works alone) that went a little something like this:

“I can do that.” 

Oh yeah, well then do it. 

“Okay, I will! 

My internal voices are quite smart-alecky, but it serves them well.

While conducting the daily sweep of infographics on Pinterest, it hit me that I should be creating these myself, not just reading other people’s pins. For the past few weeks, I’ve been a little obsessed with Noland Hoshino‘s concept of infosnaps. Rather than long, data-intensive, page-long infographics, these are simple snapshots containing a single fact or message. Because most people who work in prevention barely have time to high-five themselves as they run in circles, this is the perfect concept not just for my providing information to preventionists, but also for preventionists to provide information to their communities.

Here’s my first attempt at an infosnap–just a quick, basic tip to consider when using Pinterest (the primary social network to which I’ve been connecting as of late).

PreventionGeek QTOTD 1.28.13

Using the free website easel.ly, I designed this graphic in about 30 minutes. I think that once I figure out the intricacies of this program (which is currently in beta testing), the amount of time spent on creating will be greatly reduced. Furthermore, because this site allows one to save projects, the graphic could be used as a template for future projects, further streamlining the time spent by merely inserting new text.

Infosnaps are perfect tools for tasks such presenting data to coalitions and communities, promoting events, bolstering support for policies, publicizing calls to action, and more. LaDonna Coy and I will be discussing this concept and others in our workshop “Social Media and Free Range Learning” at the CADCA National Leadership Forum next week. Hope to see you there!

Taking the 10 Tool Challenge

“Have you ever used video editing software?” he asked.

No.

“Have you ever been involved in designing trainings or curriculum?”

No.

“Have you ever assisted with the coordination of online trainings such as webinars or online courses?”

No.

Seriously, I don’t know why they hired me at my last job. I had exactly zero experience in everything that the job required, yet they hired me anyway. My only guess as to why is because after the list of no‘s, I told them, “I may not know how to do these exact tasks, but I’ve done things related to them. If you’ll give me the time and the tools, I know I’ll figure them out.” It was a bold statement, but I said it because I knew it was true. I love the challenge of new tasks, especially if it’s something in which I’m interested. Had this job been related to analyzing the stock market, I wouldn’t have made that statement (says the girl who barely eked out an A in Econ 101, and only because the final was open-book). However, I had been a teacher and a prevention specialist, so I knew I had the background for the concepts. I was also a closet computer nerd, so the idea of getting to play with software all day sounded like a great idea!

My job at DBHR morphed from one description to another throughout the course of my time there, but the one constant was that I was always given the opportunity to “figure things out.” Even better, my colleagues trusted me and appreciated those things after I figured them out. I went from going in my first day barely understanding Outlook to leaving after posting 10 online trainings, all created from scratch, all using software I’d never even heard of just 9 months before.

With that spirit and excitement, I’ve decided to take on Jane Hart’s 10 Tools Challenge, which I discovered through LaDonna’s blog post about it. (See how that Free-Range Learning ™ works in real life?!) The following 10 tools are in no particular order of importance:

10_Tool_Challenge

Infographic made using easel.ly

  1. Tweetdeck/Hootsuite–These two are combined because I have toyed with both sites and apps, and each has its own unique perks. Unfortunately, both lack app/desktop syncing capabilities (as far as I can tell), which I’m not a fan of.  
  2. Articulate Storyline–I used this e-learning software to create online courses for The Athena Forum, but there is still so much to discover!
  3. Pinterest–For over a year, I’ve been pinning recipes/funnies/design ideas, but only recently have I discovered the possibilities it holds for nonprofits and coalitions.  Please feel free to follow me on Pinterest, and let’s learn together!
  4. iPad–My iPad is about 2 weeks old, and primarily all I’ve done is watch Doctor Who on Amazon Instant Video. I hope to change that, though, by mastering its functionality as well as apps such as Evernote, Pocket, Flipboard, Keynote, and many more.
  5. Final Cut Pro–This one is a *wish* challenge because in order to learn this program, I must first have a Mac. Hopefully some paying gigs will come my way and my wish will come true!
  6. InfographicsNoland Hoshino (one of my new geek crushes) has some amazing Pinterest boards full of ideas and tools for creating what he calls “infosnaps.” These small infographics are perfect for attracting attention while educating the viewer. It’s my goal to learn more about infographics and these newly coined infosnaps to see how prevention providers can do something creative with all that data we’re buried under!
  7. WordPress–I’ve been blogging on WordPress.com for a while, but I also want to learn more about WordPress.org. I know nothing about building websites, but now seems as good a time as any to figure it out!
  8. Linkedin–The only thing I know about Linkedin is that I seem to get a ton of spammy-looking emails from people who supposedly want me to connect to them. I know there are networking opportunities in this site, and I plan on testing the waters once I receive my copy of Linkedin Log in the mail from SMO Books.
  9. Wikispaces–LaDonna uses this all the time for training, learning, and networking. It’s a fantastic resource that I think is under-utilized in our field (myself included).
  10. Audacity–My greatest challenge when producing online courses from videos and webinars was the audio editing. This is one piece of software that doesn’t seem to come easy to me, so I’ll probably end up going to Lynda.com and YouTube for tutorials.

There you have it! I plan on printing out the infographic above and tacking it to the ol’ vision board. Please join us in the 10 Tool Challenge, or the 2 Tool Challenge, or the 7 Tool Challenge–however many you feel comfortable taking on. After all, Abraham Lincoln** said, “He who does not open himself to Free-Range Learning ™ should not be surprised when he finds himself chasing his tail in a cage.”

**Abraham Lincoln did not say this. 

Getting (and staying) on track!

2013 schedule  so far:

Week 1

  • At-home second grader who wishes to share all the adventures that Christmas break holds.
  • Setting up all the logistics for PreventionGeek Consulting (which is a real thing now) including equipment, travel arrangements, supplies, etc.
  • Continue work on my and LaDonna‘s CADCA National Leadership Forum workshops, pushing myself to abandon old habits when it comes to PowerPoint and trainings.

Week 2

  • Assist husband during a week of convalescent leave due to having PRK (laser eye) surgery.
  • File every paper, electronic file, and scrap Post-it note to try to create order in the home office.
  • Continue work on CADCA workshop, still attempting to abandon old habits.

One of the challenges I have faced is maintaining that work/home balance, both timing and tasks. In the first two weeks, I found myself doing housework during the day and work-work in the evenings and on into the night. By nature, I feel more creative and productive after the sun goes down.

Original image source: Chris Paul Photography--Creative Commons; adapted using PicMonkey because I like creating my own memes

Original image source: Chris Paul PhotographyCreative Commons; adapted using PicMonkey because memes make me smile

However, as much as I like working in the evenings, the fact is I have a family that happens to be off-the-clock during those hours, so I need to adjust to their schedules.

Because I felt like I needed a little help organizing my day, I set out to look for tools that would make me more productive in the 8-5 hours. Some of my favorites so far are:

Tom’s Planner–This handy website allows one to map out long-term projects. So say you’re a coalition working on writing a new strategic plan, this tool could help you organize the timing of each step in the process and ultimately meet deadlines, which have a tendency to sneak up on a person. While the free version allows a single user a wide range of features, for only $9 a month (quarterly subscription), a coalition could collaborate on, personalize, print, and export these schedules. Right now, the free membership is enough for me and my smaller projects, though.

Evernote iconEvernote–I’m a list person, so this app makes me a very happy girl. You can use it to make notes to yourself  that can include check-able To-Do lists (my favorite!), pictures, audio messages, and other attachments that you may need. Then you can organize everything into notebooks for easier access and record-keeping. I think back to when I was working with 4 different coalitions and how this would have been helpful in keeping track of all the details for each group. I also think about how easy it is for me to get “squirrelled,” and this app definitely helps keep me on track.

Google Calendar–If it were up to me, I would stick with the pencil-and-paper calendar because I’m a visual/kinesthetic learner. Unfortunately, a paper calendar on my desktop doesn’t allow for much interaction and collaboration. Google Calendar allows me to create events and invite others, much like any standard calendar (like Outlook). You can also create and share entire calendars with others, which could come in handy to any group working collectively on a project. Most importantly, it allows me to integrate my home and work schedules. For example, because my husband makes quarterly trips to Alaska, I have to consider his schedule, making sure I don’t plan any travel for myself during those dates. When I worked in an office that used a networked Outlook system, I had a tendency to neglect adding personal events to my calendars since I viewed it as a “work,” tool. This led to a few scheduling mishaps, which hopefully will now be avoided.

A Post-It Flip Chart and Markers–Like I said, I’m a visual learner, so it helps me to have goals, deadlines, wish lists, etc. within eyesight. The good, old-fashioned flip-chart-sized Post-It allows me to do this. It also provides me with the satisfaction of posting a big red check mark when a task is completed. Everyone knows there’s nothing better than making a big red check mark!

Granted, most of these tools are pretty basic, and anyone who owns a smartphone has probably used them. However, my purpose in writing this blog (for now) is to chronicle the beginnings of learning to integrate technology into prevention. I’m sure as I get further along down the road, I’ll find more advanced tools to streamline life. But for now, as long as I can get a little help when it comes to balancing work/family time when I’m not punching a clock, then I’m one happy geek.