Google Flu Trends + Sharing your life for the better

Google Flu Trends
Screen shot of Google Flu Trends 1-13-2013 <click image to view map>

If you haven’t seen Google’s helpful flu tracking tool, you should check it out (here). The search giant created a ‘Flu Trends’ page based of search trends found through their tool ‘Google Insights for Search’ (view page).

As you might expect, there are more flu-related searches during flu season, more allergy-related searches during allergy season, and more sunburn-related searches during the summer. – From Google Flu Trends ‘How it works’ page here

Makes sense to me. I would think that there are more searches for Santa Claus in November and December than in April, and more in areas where people recognize the jolly man.

But, how do we feel about Google logging all of our keystrokes?  

Usually, I am incredibly skeptical on companies/organizations keeping all my data and information (but yes I still ‘Google’ and ‘Facebook’). But the use of my information for good? If it’s possible, I say, do it. I know, this does beg the question: ‘where will it end?’ 

I don’t have that answer. But, I have to say, I love trend maps like this one. It really brings out the marketer in me.

What kind of trend maps would you like to see from Google?

Is email killing you? (It’s crushing me)

I have been wondering lately where my productivity has gone. I started a brand new (awesome) job that I am loving that’s really pushing me to greater heights (it helps that my coworkers and bosses are fan freakin’ tastic). However, sometimes I look down and it’s been 2 hours since I started a project. I need and want to be productive, so I decided that this has to stop.

Last week, I took an inventory of my time, and I realized that I spent WAY too much time just ‘cleaning’ and organizing my inbox.

Everyone has been there with email. You’ve been working on ‘cleaning’ and ‘organizing’ your email to ‘put out fires’ and someone calls to see if you received their novel of an email. Regardless who it’s from, your boss, co-worker, or vendor looking to up-sell  it seems that email has become a life preserver as if to say ‘I held up my end, the ball is your court’.. and I’m done.

Conversations go something like this:

Them: I emailed you that proposal 203 hours and 23 minutes ago with 7 attachments and my edits to your proposal. Have you not read it yet?

Me: Not yet. I’m overloaded from the holidays.

Them: Ha! I know what you mean. I check mine all the time and still can’t seem to keep up.

Wait. WHAT?

So not only are we ‘using’ email as a file cabinet (are those even made anymore?) to make sure that we have a record of the conversation, but we’re never leaving work because we have to constantly keep our ‘desk’ clean by checking and cleaning our email. Don’t even get me started on voice-mail.

So all this begs me to ask: Why am I doing this to myself?

Answers (justifications?):

Because I manage several vendors and it’d be a nightmare otherwise? Vendor management. Oy vey.

Because workplace culture dictates? Maybe.

Because that is the only option right now? Not good enough and not hardly.

There are SEVERAL options out there for project correspondence and collaboration. Think 37signals. But what about day-to-day communication?

My background is in communications and email, in my opinion, IS NOT great tool for proper conversation. Honestly, it’s one-way. Forget about collaboration, it’s not good with that. Maybe if you are having correspondence with one person over time, but then, let’s call that what it is, a freakin’ letter.

Companies like Hootsuite are making a day-to-day conversation tool for communications within organizations, but I can see the comments so clearly…

‘I can’t follow the thread all the time!’

‘Ugh. Not another network to maintain.’

‘I’m not on Facebook,’

You see where I am going with this. While email is crushing me (and everyone’s productivity) I’m also weary on a taking the social network approach. However, I think we MUST re-imagine what communication looks like, and like everything, communication, like culture, is unique to a company.

What does communication look like for me and my company? 

Will I stop using email? Not right now, but I will improve my time management with it so I am able to really be productive.

How are you communicating in your office? Do you use a social type network? Do you love or loathe email?