Author: admin

Managing Phone Notifications

Managing Phone Notifications

Over the past few months, you may have noticed that a lot of my posts have focused on different ways that you can use technology to save time and work more productively. As a father of two little kids, my time has quickly become one area of my life that I protect. Making sure I am around for their activities and to see them grow up is something that I feel is super important for both them and my wife and me.

Today I wanted to share some thoughts about an area that I still struggle with but feel like I am getting better at.

A few years ago I read Nir Eyal’s book Hooked. The book is about how to positively build habit-building products. In the book, Eyal shares that in order to build a habit-building product you need to have some sort of internal or external triggers.

One of the worst external triggers we face is the dreaded phone notification. Something like a push notification or red dot can be extremely distracting and take us out of our current situation. I know myself I have found myself stop mid-conversation with someone to check my phone because I got a notification.

A few years ago I went through all of my notifications and tried to cut out the ones that I felt were not really needed. One of the first to go was email notifications, then Facebook (ultimately I purged the entire app from my phone), and then anything else I felt was causing me to get distracted. While this helped a lot I still had a hard time sometimes choosing which notifications to turn off.

A few months ago Nir Eyal published a new book about being indistractable. Since I enjoyed Hooked so much I had to pick this book up. In the book Eyal shares about how to master your internal triggers, make time for important work, and how to hack back external triggers.

In the introduction to the section on hacking back external triggers Eyal shares a great test, you can use to determine if you should mute a notification.

Is the trigger serving me or am I serving it?

Indistractable by Nir Eyal

If you are not sure if you should turn off a notification ask yourself is the trigger serving you or are you serving it? In the book Eyal points out that not all notifications are bad. Notifications that remind us about healthy habits (Apple Watch’s stand notification, meditation reminders, food logs, etc.) can be super helpful for building good habits or staying on track to meeting a goal. Notifications about what a celebrity recently did or who liked your picture are distractions and keep you from meeting your goals.

A notification is a great tool. When used correctly they can inform us about important things. When used incorrectly they can become distractions that keep us from meeting our goals. If you are looking for more ideas on how to regain your focus I highly suggest checking out Indistractable.

Managed Bookmarks in Google Chrome

Managed Bookmarks in Google Chrome

A few weeks ago I attended the CUE Rockstar Admin camp in San Diego. While I was there I was able to connect with a few other Directors of Technology and share some best practices. Today I wanted to share a very easy to implement tip that I learned during one of those conversations.

One of my big goals this year is to help people work more efficiently. There are only so many hours in the day and most of us have lives and outside of work commitments that need our attention. This means that working efficiently is very important. One of the ways that we can work more efficiently is to be organized. This is especially important for leaders because we get bombared constantly with requests and people wanting our time. If we are unorganized it becomes very difficult to work efficently when we do get free time to work. Don’t believe me? Check out this quote below.

Many workers spend as much as 20% of their work week looking for internal information that they need to accomplish tasks, whether that’s digging through folders of documents or tracking down a colleague to answer their questions.

Source

When I was a site administrator I always stressed that we needed to be organized so information was easy to find. I introduced to my organization the idea of creating a staff portal to act as a table of contents for our Google Drive and important websites. I also made sure that we pushed people towards using the portals….not an easy task at first. Now as the Director of Technology for multiple sites I am looking at ways that we can globally manage our information and make sure that people have the necessary information on Day 1. That is why I was very excited to learn about managed bookmarks in Chrome.

Why Managed Bookmarks?

Below are some of my goals in pushing out manged bookmarks to my staff and ultimately students.

  • Never have to hear “What’s the url again?” when it comes to our day to day organization websites.
  • Make sure that it is easy for people to find new web resources we want them to use.
  • Make onboarding easier. Instead of having to provide a piece of paper or email with all of the websites we use, I now can log them into Chrome when I am setting up their laptop and have everything ready to go on Day 1.
  • For my teaching staff, they will no longer have to wait for students to manually try and enter a website into the Omnibox which of course they end up spelling wrong which means valuable class time is lost. Now they can just instruct the students to log into Chrome and then automatically get the list of sites they need.

What are Managed Bookmarks?

Imagine that you had the time to go around to all of your computers and put a custom bookmarks folder that contains all of your important websites. While this would take forever to accomplish it would, in the long run, save you so much time because users would be able to quickly get the information that they need. Lucky for us Chrome makes setting up these custom bookmark folders easy with Managed Bookmarks.

Managed bookmarks are bookmarks that your G Suite administrator creates that can be pushed to users. When you push the bookmarks to a user it shows up in their Chrome Bookmark bar as a folder like in the picture above. The folder is dynamic so any time you make modifications in the admin console they are quickly reflected for the user.

Pushing out Managed Bookmarks

To push out a folder of managed bookmarks you need access to the Chrome management section of the Google Admin Console. To access the Chrome management section click on the three lines in the top left-hand corner, then scroll down to devices, click on the > next to Chrome management, and then click on settings. That will open up the screen below. Once you see this screen click on User & browser settings.

The first thing you will notice on the next screen is that your organizational units are brought up on the left-hand side. When creating managed bookmarks you can differentiate what bookmarks people get by selecting on the different OUs. For example, in my domain, I have our middle school and high school staff in separate OUs. Since it was set up this way I was able to push out two different sets of bookmarks to each school. This allows me to customize them to meet their needs. One of my goals next year is to push out a series of managed bookmarks to our students so they have all of the links they need.

After you have selected the OU that you want to push the bookmarks to you will need to find the section called User experience. It is pretty far down on the page of settings so I would suggest using a Command + F to open the find search. I normally find this section by typing “exper”.

The next step is to name your Bookmarks folder. Keep in mind that the end-user will see this name so you want to make sure you keep it professional. In my organization, we have titled our folder YPICS Bookmarks since YPICS is the name of our CMO. After you have named the folder you can click on the plus sign to add bookmarks.

To add a bookmark you need a name (this will show up for the end-user) and a URL. One frustrating part of adding bookmarks is that you can not drag and drop to reorder the bookmarks. I ended up creating a list in a Google Sheet of all the names and URLs so I could do all of my organizing before I entered them into the system.

When you are done entering all of your bookmarks make sure you hit save in the top right-hand corner.

Troubleshooting Tips

My experience so far is that it takes maybe 2-3 minutes for end-users to see the bookmarks in Chrome. Below are some common issues that came up when I pushed out the folders

  • If they can not see the bookmarks make sure that they are logged in using your school domain account.
  • If they are logged in and still can not see the bookmarks make sure that they are syncing Chrome.
  • If they still can not see the bookmarks pull up their account in the Admin Console and make sure they are in the correct OU.

If you need any help setting this up please don’t hesitate to reach out! You can reach me by visiting my contact page.

3Tips for Organizing your Google Drive

3Tips for Organizing your Google Drive

If you don’t spend some time organizing your Google Drive it is very easy for it to become a mess. A messy Drive can lead to extra time being wasted trying to find important files. Below are 3 of my favorite tips for organizing your Google Drive.

Organize your folders by school year and have an organizational documents folder

One of the easiest ways to organize your Google Drive is to create a folder for the school year. At the beginning of ever school year I create a folder for that year and label it with the school year (e.g. 18-19, 19-20, etc.) Everything that I create during that year is placed into that folder. Even if you do not create sub folders this will help with making sure everything is organized by school year.

For your documents that do not change year to year you can create an Organizational Documents folder.

Create an archive folder

If the sidebar of your Google Drive is starting to feel crowded consider creating an 🗄️ Archive folder. Place any files or folders in your Archive that you still need but do not need to see on a daily basis. For example, at the end of every school year or big project, I move my school year folder to the Archive. Since the Archive folder is a regular folder in your Google Drive you can still view everything in it by navigating with the sidebar.

Use a common naming convention

Like most Google products the search feature in Drive is super powerful. One way I have found to make it even better is to use a naming convention for your files. Naming conventions allow us to quickly see important information about a file before we even open it.

For example, if I just called a Google Sheet Bell Schedule there would be no quick way to identify what year it is for or if I work at multiple sites what site it is for. Instead, consider naming your file 19-20 My School Bell Schedule. By only looking at the file name you can quickly identify what the file is about, who it is for, and when it is for.