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6 Ways to Use a Wiki

6 Ways to Use a Wiki

You know how it goes: everyone around you gets all giddy about a new technology, so you go and check it out. Sure, you admit that it looks and feels neat, but then you think, “Well, what will I do with it? I felt that way for a long time about wikis.

The reason was that the most popular wiki out there is Wikipedia. (If you’re not clear on the concept, a wiki is a type of website that allows for easy editing of information, usually by multiple users). Well, that’s a huge implementation. It’s a friken encylopedia, people! So, I just imagined there was nothing much a wiki could offer me. Wrong.

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First, I should state that there are a gazillion interesting implementations and variations on the wiki theme. There are GTD wikis, by the way, and all kinds of other specialized implementations (Have you seen Jot.com?). For my piece, I’ll use PBWiki. Why? Because it’s free (you can pay to upgrade). Because it’s low-effort. Because it’s hosted. You can share your favorite wikis in the comments and explain why.

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  • Resume (CV)– I often stick my full resume up online complete with contact information. It’s useful instead of sending attachments, and I find that I’ve received interesting and useful contact with people, even when I’m not looking for a job. It’s also a good way to remind me to keep the document current, as opposed to fishing around for the Word document and updating it whenever I think about it.
  • Snips of HTML code– I’m lazy, and a little forgetful. There are certain things I need repeatedly that I haven’t built into a form, or that I want to be able to quickly copy/paste to a variety of sources. Using a client-side application means I have to be on my computer at home (or work). I like just having that bit in the wiki for re-use (even if it looks ugly on the wiki when you hit save).
  • Stuff you’ll re-use– Along the lines of the HTML code, I usually like having a picture of me (for various site profiles- flickr, myspace, etc), a quick “bio” part for the “About me” in such profiles, etc. Because I log into lots of stuff and create accounts, instead of using an auto-form thing (which often fails me), I copy/paste from my wiki.
  • Contact Database– I make little wiki spreadsheets for certain types of contact lists. I have a “go to guy” list, where I keep name, email, telephone (if I have it), and specialty for various people I’ve met and befriended online. This way, when I think, “Hmm, how do I go about finding a lawyer to check my terms and conditions,” I can look up my list and pick Matt to ask that question. You could, if you chose, use it for your regular contact list, too.
  • Event Coordination– It worked for Barcamp, and it’s working for PodCamp. Having an open wiki is allowing us to organize an event virtually, and though we keep an email stream and other communication open, the wiki has proved immensely valuable for stuff we’ve stored, stuff we need to reference, and stuff we want to share with everyone else. It’s pretty much the simplest site design tool to use when you have to get lots of people to use one.
  • Parking Lot Items– I have lots of project ideas that I can’t really get to, but that I don’t want to drop altogether. Call it my “someday/maybe” list (to use GTD terms). Those go in my wiki for future review. I usually order them in terms of interest/priority, and then adjust that list once a month or so.
  • BONUS: Tracking– I use the wiki’s basic spreadsheet functions to track simple things, like weight loss, or money spent, or the like, for specific, targeted things. In one, I tracked my expenses for setting up new podcasting gear.

Those are my ideas and thoughts on other ways to use wikis. What are yours? What are you doing with a wiki? Oh, and while we’re at it, check out the Lifehack wiki and contribute. Leon will thank you for it.

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–Chris Brogan writes about self-improvement at [chrisbrogan.com](rss feed). He’s helping organize PodCamp Boston, a FREE unconference in September.

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Last Updated on January 2, 2020

How to Break Out of Your Comfort Zone

How to Break Out of Your Comfort Zone

Over time, we all gather a set of constricting habits around us—ones that trap us in a zone of supposed comfort, well below what our potential would allow us to attain. Pretty soon, such habits slip below the level of our consciousness, but they still determine what we think that we can and cannot do—and what we cannot even bring ourselves to try. As long as you let these habits rule you, you’ll be stuck in a rut.

Like the tiny, soft bodied creatures that build coral reefs, habits start off small and flexible, and end up by building massive barriers of rock all around your mind. Inside the reefs, the water feels quiet and friendly. Outside, you think it’s going to be rough and stormy. There may be sharks. But if you’re to develop in any direction from where you are today, you must go outside that reef of habits that marks the boundaries of your comfort zone. There’s no other way. There’s even nothing specially wrong with those habits as such. They probably worked for you in the past.

But now, it’s time to step over them and go into the wider world of your unused potential. Your fears don’t know what’s going to be out there, so they invent monsters and scary beasts to keep you inside.

Nobody’s born with an instruction manual for life. Despite all the helpful advice from parents, teachers and elders, each of us must make our own way in the world, doing the best we can and quite often getting things wrong.

Messing up a few times isn’t that big a deal. But if you get scared and try to avoid all mistakes by sticking with just a few “tried and true” behaviors, you’ll miss out on most opportunities as well.

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Lots of people who suffer from boredom at work are doing it to themselves. They’re bored and frustrated because that’s what their choices have caused them to be. They’re stuck in ruts they’ve dug for themselves while trying to avoid making mistakes and taking risks. People who never make mistakes never make anything else either.

It’s time to pin down the habits that have become unconscious and are running your life for you, and get rid of them. Here’s how to do it:

1. Understand the Truth about Your Habits

They always represent past successes. You have formed habitual, automatic behaviors because you once dealt with something successfully, tried the same response next time, and found it worked again. That’s how habits grow and why they feel so useful.

To get away from what’s causing your unhappiness and workplace blues, you must give up on many of your most fondly held (and formerly successful) habits. and try new ways of thinking and acting. There truly isn’t any alternative. Those habits are going to block you from finding new and creative ideas. No new ideas, no learning. No learning, no access to successful change.

2. Do Something—Almost Anything—Differently and See What Happens

Even the most successful habits eventually lose their usefulness as events change the world and fresh responses are called for. Yet we cling on to them long after their benefit has gone.

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Past strategies are bound to fail sometime. Letting them become automatic habits that take the controls is a sure road to self-inflicted harm.

3. Take Some Time out and Have a Detailed Look at Yourself—With No Holds Barred

Discovering your unconscious habits can be tough. For a start, they’re unconscious, right? Then they fight back.

Ask anyone who has ever given up smoking if habits are tough to break. You’ve got used to them—and they’re at least as addictive as nicotine or crack cocaine.

4. Be Who You Are

It’s easy to assume that you always have to fit in to get on in the world; that you must conform to be liked and respected by others or face exclusion. Because most people want to please, they try to become what they believe others expect, even if it means forcing themselves to be the kind of person they aren’t, deep down.

You need to start by putting yourself first. You’re unique. We’re all unique, so saying this doesn’t suggest that you’re better than others or deserve more than they do.

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You need to put yourself first because no one else has as much interest in your life as you do; and because if you don’t, no one else will. Putting others second means giving them their due respect, not ignoring them totally.

Keeping up a self-image can be a burden. Hanging on to an inflated, unrealistic one is a curse. Give yourself a break.

5. Slow Down and Let Go

Most of us want to think of ourselves as good, kind, intelligent and caring people. Sometimes that’s true. Sometimes it isn’t.

Reality is complex. We can’t function at all without constant input and support from other people.

Everything we have, everything we’ve learned, came to us through someone else’s hands. At our best, we pass on this borrowed existence to others, enhanced by our contribution. At our worst, we waste and squander it.

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So recognize that you’re a rich mixture of thoughts and feelings that come and go, some useful, some not. There’s no need to keep up a façade; no need to pretend; no need to fear of what you know to be true.

When you face your own truth, you’ll find it’s an enormous relief. If you’re maybe not as wonderful as you’d like to be, you aren’t nearly as bad as you fear either.

The truth really does set you free; free to work on being better and to forgive yourself for being human; free to express your gratitude to others and recognize what you owe them; free to acknowledge your feelings without letting them dominate your life. Above all, you’ll be free to understand the truth of living: that much of what happens to you is no more than chance. It can’t be avoided and is not your fault. There’s no point in beating yourself up about it.

Final Thoughts

What is holding you in situations and actions that no longer work for you often isn’t inertia or procrastination. It’s the power of habitual ways of seeing the world and thinking about events. Until you can let go of those old, worn-out habits, they’ll continue to hold you prisoner.

To stay in your comfort zone through mere habit, or—worse still—to stay there because of irrational fears of what may lie outside, will condemn you to a life of frustration and regret.

If you can accept the truth about the world and yourself, change whatever is holding you back, and get on with a fresh view on life, you’ll find that single action lets you open the door of your self-imposed prison and walk free. There’s a marvelous world out there. You’ll see, if you try it!

More About Stepping Out of Comfort Zone

Featured photo credit: teigan rodger via unsplash.com

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