Ever have one of those days where every time you turn around, thinking you have things finally under control, the universe’s twisted sense of humor shows up and throws everything sideways? Ever have one of those weeks? Those months? Yea, I’m with you.

No matter how much we plan and prepare the world will do what it wants to. Motivational speakers will claim that life is what you make of it, but yet we all know there’s times where life seems to have it in for us. How we deal with this is critical to how we make our way in this world and I’m by no means egotistical enough to suggest I have any magic solution to the challenge of life for anyone. What I can do is make a couple of suggestions I have learned through this year so far.

Put the small stuff on autopilot

Looking back at the year so far, the things that have been in my control have been the little things I’ve let get away from me. Send an email here, file a document there, make a follow up phone call and so on. They’re little things but when they fall by the wayside and later rear their ugly heads they can be huge.

Any time I can put something on autopilot now I try to. Bill pay, reminders, scheduled activities, even down to the lights turning on and off in my living room at the right times, if I can get something else to handle it reliably I do so. The reliably part is critical, but if I can trust the tool doing the work, it’s one less open loop to deal with.

Simplify

I’ve been through this one in the past but it’s becoming truer every day. We’re always looking for the better tool, the better process, the better strategy for making things work in life. Usually what winds up happening is either disappointment or worse yet dysfunction.

Evaluate change carefully

A concerted effort I’ve been putting myself through this year is evaluating the benefit of change. As an expert on Microsoft Office 365, my job is to help people put change into motion using the tools whether it’s personally or professionally. It’s easy to fall into the trap of focusing on the short term benefits of a change without thinking about long term impacts or if those benefits scale over time.

For example, I’ve been going back and forth in an active comparison of two note taking tools this year: OneNote and Notion. While I’m not going to go into the details here, let me just say there’s no clear winner in this fight and that’s what makes things difficult. If one were clearly superior to the other the decision would be easy, but since one isn’t the cost of the change takes a higher precedence.

How much time will it take to change? How long will it take to learn? Will it provide short term and long term gains as well? Do the gains blind me to a potential liability brought about by the change? What’s the cost?

The questions go on and on, but they all come back to one key question now: is the change worth the effort?

Four more months

The year still has a fair amount left and the pace only picks up as the clock ticks by. I’ll try to keep posting as frequently as possible to share my successes and failures in the hopes they’ll help you or others with your challenges.

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