The value of “clear space”

I was reading an article from Intel recently saying they have noticed a decided drop off in innovation with the advent of interruptions (linked to things like email). They believe that because people’s head are so full of things that are perceived to be urgent that there is little room for new ideas to form. Intel are trying to foster the idea of “clear space”. Time simply devoted to thinking rather than doing.


I can’t but equate this back to the eastern philosophy of meditation. Many people I know laugh meditation off as some ‘new age hippy’ treatment and would never be caught engaging in the practice. To these people I’d content that it far more difficult to empty your mind of thoughts and keep it empty for a period of time. If you don’t believe me then try it for yourself. See how long you can go without thinking about anything. I’m certain you’ll find all sorts of things popping in there. Maybe then you’ll appreciate that finding ‘clear space’ is far more difficult that first imagined simply because we have become so accustom to filling it.


If your mind is a cup and constantly overflowing how is anything else ever going to get in? If you feel your mind is always preoccupied with ‘stuff’ perhaps you need to look at exactly what ‘stuff’ is in there. The problem is that most people believe they have to remember everything they need to know in their heads. For example, some time during the day you drill yourself into ‘remembering’ that you need milk. Later on, you find yourself standing in the dairy isle of a supermarket trying to rack your brain for what you needed to remember. Everyone’s been there.


The simplest way to empty the cup of your mind and allow it some ‘clear space’ is to move information from your brain to a trusted location where you can retrieve it if necessary. Where this information ends up doesn’t really matter, what matters is that your brain is confident that it is somewhere safe where it can be retrieved later and so no longer was to worry or ‘think’ about it.


Personally, I find a pen and paper to be the fastest, most convenient and flexible way to get things down however electronic means like OneNote, Evernote or whatever can achieve the same result. The secret is you have to find out what works for you. You’ll also find that you’ll improve the system that you use as you go along, which is exactly what is supposed to happen. The important thing is to take steps to free you mind from the mundane issues that can easily be dealt with in other ways.


I think that you’ll be surprised at how quick it is to create some mental ‘clear space’ and how easier things become once your mind has room to accept and process information. Your mind is like a high performance engine. If you keep filling it with crap fuel it is never going to reach its potential. If however, you highly refine what goes in then you are guaranteed of top performance.

SharePoint subsite basics video

You’ll find a new video at This one give you an overview of the basics of SharePoint subsites.

Subsites are basically just normal SharePoint sites that live underneath the original SharePoint home site. They can be created using an existing template (40 of these are free from Microsoft) so that you don’t have to start completely from scratch. SharePoint sites also have the ability to have unique permissions and navigation if desired.


As always I welcome feedback on what’s been created.

Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 Starter Kit now available

How to Sell, Deploy, and Build Business with Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 and SBS 2003 R2

Overview: A new partner enablement tool helps you create solutions using Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 and Windows Small Business Server 2003 R2. Access the toolkit?s resources?including a process cookbook, technical documentation and marketing materials?to learn how to build your business by selling and deploying customized solutions

In case you were not able to get your hands on one of those fantastic WSS Starter Site Toolkit DVDs, the files are now online here.

Free team portal site

The Computer Information Agency is proud to offer a fully supported, free portal site to non-business teams. This will allow your soccer team to quickly and easily see when events are on. Your swimming team can quickly upload documents that everyone can access. Your team portal provides a quick and easy way for everyone to always be up to date.


Why is it free? What’s the catch? I hear you say. Your portal remains free for you to use provided you are not a business and you provide at least one converted referral per month. Otherwise, you will be charged $5 per month to cover basic hosting costs. Alternatively, if you provide a converted commercial referral then you’ll receive 12 months portal use and support for free.


For information about the conditions and how to take advantage of this offer Contact us or download a brochure.

SharePoint Starter Pack

Do you want to get your business into using SharePoint but don’t know how? Why not try our new SharePoint Starter Pack, that for a fixed price we will deliver a configured SharePoint site including training and support.


This is a great opportunity to start improving the productivity of your business by utilizing the tools that are available in SharePoint. Best of all it is all done for a fixed price so you know exactly how much it is going to cost. For more information download the brochure or email


If you are a technology provider then you can also resell this pack and increase your revenue while introducing your customers to the benefits SharePoint can provide their business. For further information about reseller opportunities please contact the above email address as well.

Is your business ‘email qualified’?

We all make the assumption that everyone we know, including people that work for us and with us, knows how to use email, but is that really the case? Have you ever been taught how to use emails or have you simply picked it up along the way? So what’s to say that you haven’t also picked up some bad habits along the way and are simply reinforcing them constantly? Have you ever stopped to consider whether you and your business are actually using emails in the most productive and appropriate manner?


When a new person in your business commences, are they simply given an email address with the businesses domain attached and left to their own devices? Do you appreciate that it is now possible for that individual to send totally inappropriate emails to any place or person on the Internet? Better yet, do you appreciate that they are doing this with the business details attached? So all that hard work the business has invested in building up goodwill and reputation can be dashed by an employee who has been there less than a week.


Does you business help people understand when it is a appropriate to use Carbon Copies and Reply to all? Do they appreciate that anything they send via email will be retained, not only on your systems but also on whomever they send it to? Do they realise that any email information is easily searchable and can’t be recalled or deleted once sent? Do you let people send and receive personal emails from their business accounts? Most importantly, has the business ever made it clear to employees what they should and shouldn’t do? Has it explained to them the email ‘standards’ of the business, such as appropriate subject lines to be used, how they should address emails and how they should sign off? And importantly, when it maybe more appropriate to speak directly with the person rather than using email. Probably not.


It is amazing to think that email is probably the most used tool in business today and yet there is next to no training on how it should be used. There are next to no business standards about what is appropriate or acceptable usage. There is next to no understanding that information in emails that leaves the business from anyone, provides a direct reflection of that business in the minds of the receiver, wherever that may be. There is next to no effort or investment placed into the idea of using emails to improve the productivity of the business. Strange isn’t it? When businesses spend so much money on getting their corporate logo and stationery right, proof reading any document that leaves the business but almost no care is placed on what impact emails have inside and outside the organization.


We still seem to see email is a toy. We fail to treat it as a real business tool, although it has been that for a long time now. The most likely reason is that email transcends our lives. We use email to correspond with friends, family, strangers and business colleagues. What we have failed to appreciate is that the context in which we use email is very, very important. Businesses need to be mindful of this fact and should be reinforcing the correct context to its staff at all times. Email, like most technology is a tool. Used effectively it can garner great efficiencies. Used inappropriately it can not only be a weight dragging productivity down, it has the potential to cause real problems for any business.

Are you a bargain?

How easily do you give away your time and attention? Have you ever considered the cost of obtaining your time and attention? I’ll bet that most people give it away for next to nothing.


If you pass a colleague and they ask you for $100 the first thing that you’re going to ask them is probably, “What for?”. However, if someone comes to you and wants to interrupt you most people allow it automatically, for no charge. Even worse, it doesn’t even have to be a person that gets your time and attention for next to nothing, it can be a machine.


By default what happens when a new email arrives? Your machine goes ‘ding’ and you may see something flash on the screen. That’s your machine interrupting you. Most people typically stop what they are doing and like the ‘Pavlovian dog’ go and check to see what the email is about Problem is, the ‘ding’ isn’t very smart is it? Any email that arrives will solicit the same response from your computer. Sure, you may get a small preview, but does that actually prevent you from checking it? In most cases it makes it more likely because you want to see the whole message! Human beings are curious creatures. So, you’ve now allowed anyone, anywhere at anytime to interrupt you. It could be your boss, your partner, your mother or a spammer, it does matter. They all make the computer go ‘ding’ and obtain your attention. Should they all have the same access and priority? How cheap are you?


Wanna actually get something done? Maybe its time to challenge the defaults you currently accept. Why does your email program have to check email every 5 minutes? Maybe 15, 30 or even 60 is more productive. Here’s a radical thought, set the defaults to ‘manual’ so you can check the email when YOU choose! Why do you need to be notified of every email the instant it arrives? Why do you allow your machine to interrupt you with noises, flashing signs and the like when most of what you receive in email does not warrant immediate instant attention. You are giving low priority stuff much greater priority than it deserves. How cheap are you?


Don’t believe me? Try turning off all the notifications and increasing the retrieve times for email. Better yet, try a morning when you have something important to do, even a few hours, without opening your email program at all and see how much more you get done. If it works then maybe you’ve become too cheap and need to re-evaluate the value of your time and attention, because guess what? They’re far more valuable than you think, because they’re FINITE!