New Financial Year, New Ideas, New Goals, New Projects

Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality

Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality

Given it’s a new financial year for those of us living in Australia, most businesses will have a new set of goals and projects for the year ahead.

I thought I’ll start the “year” by recommending a book which sits on my desk, and one that I refer to quite often. “Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality” by Scott Belsky is a book full of tips on how to take an idea and turn it into something real.

We all have ideas, but most of us struggle when it comes to execution. Scott provides practical ways to ensure these ideas don’t just die off and the techniques are easy to follow.

Personally, I always treat my professional and personal initiatives as small projects and Scott advocates a similar approach for everything we do. If anything, it’s a good read. Hopefully it will also be a guide and help you accomplish a few more things in the next 12 months.

What I love about Evernote

EvernoteI’ve been earning a reputation as an Evernote “Junkie” lately due to my constant use and sometimes overuse (if there is such a thing) of Evernote.

Rather than describe what Evernote is, I thought I’ll share what I actually love about the product and how it helps me in a practical way.

Tagging Notes

Every note can be tagged and filed away with useful terms, that not only aid organisation but also searching. I tag note with information such as what a document is about (invoice, receipt, letter, etc), who it is from (supplier name for invoices, doctor’s name for medical receipts), the type of expense if it’s a receipt, the name of the project or client if it is work related, and so on.

The beauty of tags is that it can be anything as long as it makes sense to you and you can use as many tags as is practical.

Searching Notes

The most useful functionality as far I’m concerned is the ability to search through all notes inside Evernote. As I understand Evernote indexes all the text it can find/read, making searches a breeze. Premium users can also search through PDF text, be it from a converted document or a scanned document.

Editing Notes

Evernote has become my default note taking and editing platform. I write most things in Evernote and if it’s something I want to send out, I email it from Evernote or copy it to another medium. Examples include this blog post which I drafted using Evernote.


The ability to create shortcuts to notebooks, tags, notes or even search criteria means that you don’t have to repeatedly keep looking for the same thing. I only have a few shortcut items but these are things that I refer to atleast once a day, if not more frequent. These include, the current project I’m working on, my “follow up” tag, and my “inbox”.

Multi-Platform Capability

The fact that Evernote works very well across multiple platforms and devices is a blessing. I no longer need to carry a laptop or even a tablet around as all my notes are accessible via my phone, with all the same capabilities.


It does take a bit of investment in terms of time to tag notes and file them in different notebooks, but that’s just what works for me. You could simply have one notebook, and let everything collect in there without putting any additional effort and still get the same benefits. I just like things being organised.

If you haven’t tried it already, I encourage you to go sign up and start using Evernote straight-away. It’s uses are limitless!

Pain and Leadership

pain chartHaving spent a bit of time hanging around in hospitals lately, I’ve come to appreciate the pain chart on the left.

This chart tells the doctors and nurses the level of discomfort a patient is in, and they can decide what can be done to ease the pain and whether the treatment strategy needs to be reviewed accordingly.

What if in an office environment, everyone is given a similar pain chart which charts out the level of pain or frustration they feel in simply trying to do their jobs.  Pain points in a working environment could be someone being difficult, a lack of resources, or simply being overwhelmed by unreasonable expectations and the like.

The more pain there is, the less productive staff are likely to be as they will be fighting the pain instead of doing the actual work.

What if leaders focus on eliminating these pain points? Wouldn’t it simply pave the way to greater productivity?

Bring on the pain charts to the office environment I say!

Task Management Tools


I’ve always been on the lookout for a task management tool that works for me. The challenge has been I believed (and I still do) that I work in a particular way and I want the task management application to work with me rather than force me to change how I work.

Some of the tools I’ve tried so far include:

  • Notepads (I can’t make do without this)
  • Outlook Tasks,
  • Google Tasks,
  • MindJet Tasks,
  • Producteev,
  • A series of Project Management tools, and
  • About 10 years ago, I even resorted to developing my own piece of software!

None of these have satisfied my needs or my curiosity for finding a better way to manage tasks until around mid-last year when I came across Nozbe. Nozbe is a tool that closely follows the Getting Things Done® (GTD®) framework that was made famous by David Allen.

As stubborn as I can be, I’ve adopted my ways of working to align with the GTD® concepts as well as many of the recommendations by Scott Belkin in Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality.

I’d love to hear if you have any other suggestions for Task Management tools that can be shared with other readers.

Why bother with Checklists?

Checklist Image

Checklists are a great way to make sure you don’t miss anything, be it whether you are going shopping, organising a party, going on holiday or have a project to finish.

Checklists can be seen as being cumbersome and creating more work, but to me the value is in knowing that everything that has to be done is accounted for. This may not be seen as critical for our day to day lives, but there are countless occasions where you simply cannot afford to miss a single step or item. An often quoted example is when a pilot gets into the cockpit of a plane, he or she has to run through a series of questions to ensure everything is properly checked. Any omissions could mean the difference between life and death if something goes wrong at 30,000 feet.

I’ve used and continue to use checklists for various things, including travel, moving home, tax returns, monthly reviews, and all aspects of projects that I work on. I use Evernote to maintain my checklists and each time I need to use, I simply make a copy, update the title and tags, and use that copy. If I find that I’ve missed anything, I go back to my original checklist template and update accordingly.

Here are some handy tips from Josh Kaufman of The Personal MBA fame.