Simplicity

At the core of Heroik Culture is our mantra: Mission Ready For Life. This is an attitude and dedication to growth personal and professional and it has many implications. One of the key practices boils down to this: cultivate that which serves you, and proudly hit the eject button that which does not.  Bruce Lee, the Martial Arts legend said “Empty your cup so that it may be filled; become devoid to gain totality.”

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So, you want to make like the lord of kung-fu, empty your cup and get trigger happy with the eject button? Read on.

It’s amazing to me how many ambitious upstarts have the passion for new endeavor, yet hate to read and learn to reach their goals. If reading is a barrier to improvement for you; perhaps because you find it slow-paced, difficult or uninteresting, then you’re in luck. With the help of some new technology, you can speed read your way at 2-4x your current speed. This is a real time saver.

How Speed Reading Works

Reading text in the traditional form (in print or on the screen screen from left to right) requires moving your eyes sequentially from word to word. For each word, the eye seeks a certain point within the word, which we call the “Optimal Recognition Point” or ORP. During a reading session, after your eyes find the ORP, your brain begins to process the meaning of the word that you’re viewing. With each new word, your eyes kind of wiggle rapidly (or “saccade”) between the words. Your eyes then seek out the ORP for that word. When your eyes run into punctuation, your brain goes back brings it all together to form a single thought.

80% of the time spent reading is spent physically moving eyes from word to word, scanning for the next Optimal Recognition Point. By reading in ways that limit eye movement, and making it easier to find the ORP, your brain can process and understand the words faster.

Traditional speed reading tactics involve intense brain training to get your eyes to stretch what they process (enlarging the peripheral vision), avoiding sub-vocalization (talking to yourself while reading) and reading a page at a time by mental snapshot.

I’ve used these methods on and off to increase my reading speed. One thing I can tell you is that it requires time, commitment and continuous training. If you’re like most people, that sounds like more work than reading itself. The good news is there’s some great technology out there to help you.

Enter Spritz

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Spritz offers a cool technology called “redicle” that helps you speed read by doing all of that mental math for you. Rather than requiring your eyes to move and scan a page of text, Spritz gathers all of the text and gives it to you one word at a time. It also quickly pinpoints and identifies the optimal recognition point (ORP) (think focus point) your brain looks for to make sense of each word and it highlights this letter in red. Red of course draws the eyes attention immediately. The technology also uses horizontal lines and hash marks that direct your eyes to the red letter to ensure your eye quickly goes to the right point. Since your eyes don’t need to wander the page and don’t need to wiggle as you scan for ORP’s, you can read much much faster.

And in case you’re wondering, Comprehension is about the same as regular reading.

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First time users were able to read up to 40% faster.

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To see more findings check out the full study here.

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Spritz works so well it’s integrated with many mobile apps and even wearable technology (Samsung Galaxy Gear) and more to come.

  1. If you want to use the pure Spritz on the web, simply add the Spritzlet (click here to get it) to your browser. Additionally, there are other apps taking advantage of the technology including items 2-6 below.
  2. ReadMe! ($1.99) is an E-Pub reader with Spritz. With ReadMe! you can enjoy e-pub format books from Project Gutenberg (45,000 books), Manybooks (29,000 titles), Feedbooks, OpenLibrary (1M+ books) and the Internet Archive (2.5M+ titles). That should keep you busy for awhile!
  3. Quickipedia – Spritz Wikipedia (the whole darn thing!) ($0.99) – A Spritz reader for Wikipedia.
  4. Rapid Reader ($2.99) Read all of your Pocket, Readability and InstaPaper articles that you’ve saved for later with Spritz!
  5. Sparker ($0.99) – SparkNotes (http://www.sparknotes.com) are condensed versions of some of your favorite literature meant to aid you in studying the material after you’ve read it. Now you can spritz all of your SparkNotes on iOS!
  6. BibleGist (Free) – Interested in spritzing the Bible? This is the iOS app for you!
  1. Spreed is a Google Chrome extension and Spritz knock-off with some added features. It allows you to control the number of words shown on the app. This is great for training your brain to speed read with or without an app. It’s great for say, quickly binge reading our book The Heroik Power of Headlines, and others you’ve been meaning to get through as well.

All of the these apps work well. This technology hopefully will bring people back the wonderful world of reading. Try them out and tell us which one is your favorite.

Bonus: Speed Reading Power Tip

let’s talk about subvocalization – sounding out the words in your head actually causes you to read slower. Most people can only speak at about 180wpm, max. In order to speed this up, you’ll need to stop saying every word to yourself. To do that, try lightly humming to yourself (quietly). Murmor and mumble. If you’re humming, you can’t be talking to yourself, freeing your brain to process the information faster.

Email has been a great tool, revolutionary even, but times have changed and so have our expectations for modern communication and collaboration. After considering a wide market of new options to traditional email dependence, does good ol’ email measure up anymore?  Is email the right tool for collaboration? Is it the best? At the very least, the leaner and more efficient our inbox, the more productive your team can be. So read on and discover new ways to cut down on the pile.

Here are the 4 email obstacles that are keeping you from getting things done: 

1. The way email behaves. Sometimes the message and attachment are separate, or put another way, the context is separated from the content. This means that plenty of time is spent mapping out which comment matches which item on the attachment. Plenty can be lost in translation when you are trying to match information in the message with the content of those pesky PDF’s, images, and all those other attachments. This is slowing you down.

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2. When communicating with groups, the back and forth of group threads is difficult to track. Also, you’re permanently involved in the conversation regardless of relevance. Long after you’ve metaphorically left the conversation, you still receive notifications of every exchange. By keeping people in the loop who don’t need to be there, that’s another layer of distraction. It’s the virtual equivalent of being sucked into the pointless meeting to nowhere. Is this really a benefit?

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3. Also lost in that exchange is the constant upload and download of attachments, keeping track of them all is tedious. Historically, it creates a dependency on systems like Exchange and Outlook for organization. These systems add their own complexities, costs, and sloth.

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4. The social niceties prevent people from saying what needs to be said and often distract from the work. I’ve read countless articles about email etiquette and have to ask, “at what point do you bring your team, client, or customer to a place where you work together, building whatever it is, as efficiently as possible? In many an email discussion I’ve noticed psychological behavior equivalent of that found in committees. The shift in focus away from the business and on the egos and feelings ensures nothing gets done.

Imagine two teams of 3 individuals per team, a blue team and a red team. The members of the blue team are standing in the same room handwriting formal letters to one another, discussing how to build a rocking chair. In each exchange they write things like “Dear sir, how are you? I’m really excited about this project. Included in this letter is a proposal to…” It goes on and on, back and forth, with emphasis on ensuring there are personal tidbits that inspire each message to get read and responded to. Meanwhile, the red team is talking directly to one another, grabbing tools and getting started. Who finishes first? The red team of course. I’m not saying etiquette is a waste, but I am calling attention better forms of communication and collaboration for getting things done.

The email productivity discussion to date has been focused on how-to get more buy-in, be more considerate, build rapport, and is centered on answering the question “What tools are most efficient to enhance the email habit?” Very few people challenge the premise altogether by asking “Is email the best, most efficient communication or collaboration tool for the job?

Many would argue that email is what there is; that this simply is the way things are, but it’s not true. At least, not anymore. We live in an age where we can get granular and collaborate on the attached item itself, in real time or our own time. And compared to email, the innovative tools and methods we use to collaborate blow it out of the water, saving organizations boatloads of time effort and energy.

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So I’m going to say it; email is slower and more expensive than newer sportier models. I know that may sound crazy, but in terms of the time it takes to comprehend information, connect the dots and convey ideas, it’s slower than other options out there. I don’t have time for that. Neither do you. So where’s the eject button? Beam me up. Mr. Wizard, get me the hell out of here!

The good news is that the answers are out there. The tools, processes and methods are out there. The bad news? Your competitors are already using them. Below are 5 tools that I encourage you investigate and try.

5 Tools that will keep the Inbox lean and you on top!

  1. Slack allows for real time collaboration with integrations for Google Docs and Dropbox.
  2. Google Docs allows real-time collaboration in documents themselves: so no need for the back and forth.
  3. Dropbox syncs files and provides access on just about any device. This also provides a backup system and keeps files available even when you’re offline.
  4. Trello offers visual project management and workflow design.
  5. Asana offers a robust project management system that’s less visual but allows you to create and implement templates for repeated processes.

These apps save time and increase mobility. More importantly, they scale for teams of any size. They offer speed and responsiveness to pass on to your customers or pass up the competition. They may seem like novel, cutting edge innovations for top tier firms and big companies, but they most certainly are not. These aren’t optional anymore. Lean companies are using them everyday. If you want to move at the speed of a global, information economy you’d better learn to get lean and keep up.

Don’t worry, we’re here to help and can guide or facilitate any roll out of these tools for your organization. Learn more here.

Are you tired of email? Tell us in the comments.

 

Picture Batman robbed of his utility belt. He’s still  more than able whoop your ass, solve the riddle and save the day. You too, should aspire to cultivate your skills to the point that  armed with only the most primitive of tools, locked in an 8×10 room with a magic marker, you (your ideas, filters, lenses and processes) can be just as dangerous and powerful. Do you want more mental clarity, focus, less anxiety and stress? This year, this month, this week, try something different and get back to the basics. Brush the dust off a pen and paper, visit ye olde staples, follow along, get involved, and  measure your gains. Spend the $10 on a pad of paper and something to write with. I recommend a moleskine notebook and a good pen. Just as a fool trusts his life to a weapon, do not place ultimate faith in your gadgetry. I’m not anti-tech. I’m a thrivalist.  Read on if you want to become a bare knuckle  biz champion of  productivity.

I prefer to operate lean, mean and mobile when it comes to tech. I live by the Principles of Digital liquidity – A discipline for the digital lifestyle consisting of  constant pursuit of 6 factors; speed, simplicity, independence, mobility, control and tactility. The tools that make it onto my utility belt help keep me free and in control of my digital lifestyle. All of these applications are cross-platform, synchronized, mobile-reachable from the web as well as via apps for iOS, Android, etc. Though I use many apps and solutions, these are kept in my pocket and on call everywhere I roam- digitally speaking. Here are 5 I never leave home without:

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