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The Absolute WORST Day to Take a Vacation (It’s Not When You Think!)

The Absolute WORST Day to Take a Vacation (It’s Not When You Think!)

    I need a vacation.

    For the last couple of months, I’ve been working like crazy getting my book ready for publication, and laying all the groundwork to promote it. I coordinated with my 30 contributing authors to get their chapters polished and ready, I got the books designed, printed, and then shipped out to reviewers, and I’ve written dozens of guest posts to help spread the word.

    Not to mention producing two video trailers, putting together a sweet launch offer, coordinating with reviewers… and doing everything I have to do as part of day-to-day client work.

    All to say that I’m tired, and I could use a break.

    And the book is done, launched last week – isn’t it time for me to be able to kick back and enjoy the fruits of my labor?

    When You’re Supposed to Take a Vacation

      The prevailing wisdom states that our lives should follow a pattern that looks more or less like the one depicted to the right;

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      1. We choose a new goal – something that is important to us, that we’re willing to put time and energy into achieving.
      2. We work towards that goal. A lot. There are setbacks along the way, but we keep on trucking.
      3. We evaluate our success. As long as we haven’t achieved that goal, we buckle down and get back to work.
      4. Finally, we achieve the goal. Success! Victory! Now it’s time to reward ourselves with a vacation.

      And of course, when we get back from vacation, it’s time to set a new goal, and start the whole cycle over again.

      This is the prevailing wisdom, and according to the prevailing wisdom, I should be packing my bags right about now; after all, the book is published, the guest posts are written, the marketing is all done – in other words, the work has been completed, and the goal has been achieved.

      Except that the prevailing wisdom is wrong, wrong, wrong. To understand why it’s wrong, we have to understand where it came from…

      Vacations in a Corporate Setting

      The prevailing wisdom comes from the corporate reality, and in that setting, the prevailing wisdom makes sense.

      The job of managers in a corporate environment is to make sure that other people do theirs. To do that effectively, they have to do two things (in addition to giving clear instructions and allocating the actual work, of course):

      1. Manage employees’ motivation. If employees aren’t motivated to get the job done, then they probably won’t. It’s the manager’s job to keep employees motivated to keep on working.
      2. Manage employees’ energy level. If employees are tired or burned out, then they won’t get much work done, either. It’s the manager’s job to manage workloads, and make sure that doesn’t happen.

      Putting a vacation at the end of a project helps to achieve both of these objectives; it rewards employees for their hard work, which helps to keep them motivated, and it gives them an opportunity to recharge, so that they’re ready for more hard work when they get back.

      But that logic doesn’t work if you’re running your own business, and in charge of your own income.

      For one, you shouldn’t need a vacation to reward you for your hard work; the results of your hard work should be all the reward that you need. That’s the beauty of doing your own thing – at least part of the reason why you do it is that you love it, and find the work itself to be motivating.

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      (This intrinsic motivation is also why I believe that entrepreneurs are capable of doing so much more actual work than corporate employees; if you want to learn more about that, check out Dan Pink’s RSA Animate video about his book Drive.)

      But even more importantly, because it doesn’t factor in two very important things: momentum, and the landscape of opportunity…

      Momentum is a Real Thing

      Momentum is a funny thing. You can’t touch it, or see it, but you can definitely feel it, and it can do wonderful things for your business. It is also the first big reason why you shouldn’t take a vacation after a big win.

      Here are three basic rules for understanding momentum:

      1. Wins create momentum.
      2. Action after a win multiplies momentum.
      3. Inaction dissipates momentum.

      Simple enough, and pretty intuitive, right?

      The upshot of these rules, though, is that after your big win, you should be doing everything that you can to ride and multiply the momentum, rather than taking a break and letting it dissipate.

      There’s an even better reason to work after a big win, though: wins change everything.

      The Changing Landscape of Opportunity

      Goals, by definition, are about changing something – if everything stayed exactly the same, then you wouldn’t have to work to achieve it. We have a lot of different kind of goals, but they all boil down to making us healthier, or happier, or better off. In other words, they’re about making our worlds a little bit better.

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      Better is good, but better is also different. It’s hard to change just one thing and leave everything else the same. Changing one thing changes everything. And when everything changes, new opportunities open up.

      Now let me ask you, as an entrepreneur – when new opportunities are opening up, is it time to take a vacation, or is it time to seize those opportunities? Any entrepreneur worth his salt would say that it’s the latter – that’s just a part of the mindset that allows entrepreneurs to do what they do…

      The Red Honda Effect and the Psychology of Success

      You know how when you start thinking about something, suddenly you start seeing it everywhere, as though you were “magnetically drawing it into your life”?

      Some people call it “the secret” or the “law of attraction”, but I call it the “red Honda effect”. Thinking about something doesn’t magically draw it towards you, but it does focus your attention, so that you start noticing it around you (just like when you’re thinking about buying a red Honda, you start seeing them everywhere).

      The same effect is at play when it comes to looking for opportunity. Just developing the mindset that opportunity is there, just waiting for you to find and seize it, will expand your frame of reference and allow you to see more possibilities.

      (Want to read more about this? Check out Mindset by Carol Dweck, or Positivity by Barbara Fredrickson.)

      Long story short? When things are going well, there’s always the opportunity to make them even better! :D Now, just to be clear, I’m not advocating the stereotype of the workaholic entrepreneur who never takes a break or vacation.

      What Vacations Are For, and When They’re Okay

      Entrepreneurs don’t need vacations to stay motivated, but we do need to manage our energy level, and vacations are a big part of that; it’s important for us to take breaks, breath some fresh air, and get some perspective on what we’re doing. In other words, even though we don’t need vacations as rewards, they’re great for resting and recharging – just so long as we don’t take one at a time that will take away our momentum, or kill an opportunity.

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      For an entrepreneur (or anyone who is in charge of their own income), vacations don’t come when projects are complete. On the contrary – they should come when the projects are still in progress, but you’re tired, and need to recharge to carry the ball the rest of the way:

        Celebrate, then Get Back to Work!

        Make sure not to skip the celebration box, because it’s important!

        As the diagram indicates, our projects aren’t as nice and neat as the projects of a corporate employee, with a start, middle, end, and vacation before the next one. Our projects are messy, and blend into each other in a continuum of work and the pursuit of opportunity.

        That’s great, and we wouldn’t have it any other way, but it’s also important to pause and celebrate the wins.

        After the launch, my wife and I went out to a nice restaurant, and raised our glasses to toast my book finally being done and launched to the world.

        But then the next day, I got back to work… ;)

        What about you? Do you believe in a vacation after a big win, or do you agree that this is the time to look for new opportunities, and build on your momentum?

        (Photo credit: Beach chair and umbrella from Shutterstock

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        Last Updated on November 5, 2019

        5 Learning Management Systems (LMS) for Effective Learning

        5 Learning Management Systems (LMS) for Effective Learning

        Businesses rely on talent to generate and sell value. Without skilled people to create its products, manage its operations and execute its strategies, a business would inevitably fizzle out of the game and leave better-staffed competitors to take the field.

        This is the reason why ambitious companies go great lengths to attract top talent,[1] shelling out millions of dollars in the process and bending traditional work policies just to bring highly skilled but demanding candidates into the fold.

        Clearly, the contours of business are changing. But so are the demographics of work.

        Millennials have become the dominant generation in the job market in terms of population, and some have already transitioned into leadership roles. Most millennials consider opportunity to learn and grow more important than overall compensation.[2]

        Companies also today expect employees to come equipped with razor sharp business acumen.[3] Unfortunately, there is an alarming discrepancy between the actual skills businesses need and those currently possessed by job candidates.

        To stay in the game, employers need to continually upgrade their training and skills development strategies to cover the entire employee lifecycle.

        What are Learning Management Systems (LMS)?

        Learning management systems are software-based solutions for authoring, presenting, consuming, storing, and tracking educational content and training materials. These systems aim to centralize all instructional content (e.g., lessons, training modules, instructional videos, presentation slides, worksheets, online quizzes, ebooks, takeaway notes, etc.) in one place.

        LMS enable instructors to design and deliver learning experiences to students, with the added capability of evaluating the effectiveness of the instructional materials and grading the learning progress of students.

        On the other side of the equation, learners use LMS to develop skills and acquire new knowledge virtually anytime and anywhere via the different channels and content formats made possible by digital technology.

        Over the years, a wide range of features and technologies have been integrated into learning management systems to help enhance the experience of training designers, instructors, and learners. These include cloud and mobile technology, artificial intelligence, responsive design, scheduling, gamification, data analytics, and interoperability with other applications.

        5 Best All-Purpose Learning Management Systems

        There are dozens of LMS vendors catering to the general market or to specific segments such as K-12 learning, higher education, and corporate training.

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        With so many options available, selecting the right LMS solution for your needs can be complicated and costly, especially when you end up adopting a platform that doesn’t exactly match your goals or requirements.

        Short of conducting a comprehensive audit of your needs and finalizing a learning roadmap, the safest bet would be to adopt full-featured but affordable LMS solutions.

        Based on user reviews, here are the 5 best LMS to help people gain knowledge, build skills, and achieve mastery:

        1. Canvas Network

        Launched by Instructure as an open source software in 2011, Canvas is an end-to-end cloud-based service originally engineered for the education sector.

        Widely adopted for K-12 and Higher Ed learning, Canvas can be repurposed for anything that involves an instructor, a subject matter, and a student.

        Used around the world by people of all ages and organizations of all types, Canvas arguably has the largest learning and support community in its class. It works on desktop computers, tablets and mobile phones.

        To get a glimpse of the platform’s fresh interfaces, you can visit the Canvas Network, a learning community that provides educational and instructional materials created by colleges, universities, corporate businesses, independent course developers, and other knowledge-sharing entities around the world.

        Hosting hundreds of interesting topics from data science to horticulture, the learning network also serves as evidence to the scope, capabilities, and popularity of the Canvas LMS platform.

        Canvas is hosted on Amazon Web Services (AWS) infrastructure, which enhances the platform’s reliability, speed, scalability, and overall online performance.

        Additionally, platform adopters enjoy a low-risk environment since cloud-based solutions require no hard stops for version updates, upgrades, or system migrations.

        The Canvas website does not show a price matrix but says the service adopts a simple formula for computing fees: a one-time implementation fee and an annual subscription fee based on total number of users. It also promises free basic services for teachers who want to use the platform.

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        In addition to Canvas, Instructure also offers Bridge (an LMS designed for corporate environments), Arc (a video platform for online learning), and Gauge (an assessment management system).

        Check out this video if you want to learn more about Canvas Network:

        2. Google Classroom

        This free service from Google aims to improve the teaching and learning process using cloud technology, web apps, workflow simplification, and seamless communication between students and instructors.

        Using Classroom, educators can easily create and schedule classes, distribute assignments, send feedback, and grade quizzes all in one place. By streamlining processes, Classroom helps teachers save time and organize classes more effectively. Both students and teachers can also work using any device anytime and anywhere.

        Classroom works perfectly with other Google tools, having been launched initially as part of Google’s G Suite for Education. This LMS solution taps Google Drive for content storage and distribution, as well as Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides for the creation and sharing of instructional materials. Meanwhile it integrates Google Calendar for scheduling and Gmail for communication.

        With G Suite, other communication channels such as chat messaging, video conferencing, and a dedicated website are enabled.

        Easy to set up and manage, Google Classroom is free to use. One of my very first courses was actually hosted on Google Classroom.

        Going beyond the classroom environment, Google offers G Suite Enterprise for Education for large institutions. This suite provides enhanced search and analytics capabilities as well as advanced tools for enterprise communications.

        3. Moodle (Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment)

        If budget and capability equally top your list of LMS adoption criteria, then Moodle might just fit the bill. Which is to say there’s none (i.e., bill).

        Moodle is a free and open-source learning solution for distance education, workplace training, flipped classrooms, and other pedagogical environments.

        It is also a full-featured LMS supported by a robust community and a thriving developer ecosystem. Not surprisingly, Moodle is used in more than 15 million courses by more than 130 million users in 230+ countries.

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        Among other things, Moodle enables administrators and educators to create a dynamic and dedicated website to host organic, easily accessible, and highly customizable courses that can be experienced on desktops and mobile devices anytime and anywhere.

        Moodle provides a personalized and intuitive dashboard as well as a host of collaboration tools for content designers, teachers, and learners. A universal calendar, an efficient file management system, an automatic notification system, multimedia integration, and a progress tracking tool all come with the package.

        Check out this video if you want to learn more about Moodle:

        4. Absorb

        This platform recently bagged PC Magazine’s Editors’ Choice Award for Best LMS.

        Co-designed and built by former course authors, Absorb takes learning experience to the next level. This turnkey LMS solution is responsive, full-featured, and highly customizable for maximum impact.

        Course developers can orchestrate a wide range of experiences depending on audience or learning situation. In addition to surveys, polls, and e-commerce integration, Absorb supports formal online learning and certifications standards such as AICC, SCORM, and Tin Can.

        The user interface can also be modified to match the learner’s location, group, or department, allowing for a different look and feel for customers, channel partners, management trainees, and newly hired employees.

        Absorb supports all personal computing devices from desktops to mobile phones. There are also native or hybrid apps for iOS and Android.

        The only possible drawback to the platform’s powerful feature set is its pricing. The service reportedly implements a flat, one-time setup fee depending on your business and training requirements. According to the site, any plan comes with a dedicated success team for your account.

        Although small companies are welcome to try, midsize to enterprise-scale organizations are probably the best segment to readily adopt this LMS solution.

        Take a look at some examples of Absorb in this video:

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        5. Watershed Collaborative

        Created by a group of educators, this nonprofit rethinks the priorities of an LMS, asserting that too many systems miss the most essential elements of what makes learning stick. They promise a better user experience – emphasizing Learning before Management and System.

        Watershed aims to support an inquiry-based learning experience through an integrated mix of online and in-person learning strategies and interactions designed expressly for teams – including collaboration, reflection, and dialogue.

        While Watershed was founded initially to serve the K-12 education market, the company has since expanded its scope to cater to all types of teachers and learners with its video-rich, state-of-the-art platform.

        If you’re a mission-driven educator, content creator, institution, or business, this LMS may be the one for you.

        Watershed specializes in assisting you with the instructional design of courses and provides content production services to ensure top-quality video assets with lasting value. Their LMS makes it easy for course creators to continuously update and tailor content to support small and large groups, while ensuring the technology and instructional strategy supports communities of learners.

        Pricing varies based on products and services, but revenues support the nonprofit’s ability to make its platform and courses available at little or no cost for high-need educators and educational settings.

        Honorable Mentions

        There are dozens of LMS vendors in this growing market and the brands included in foregoing list are by no means the only viable options for companies or learning institutions looking to upgrade their learning infrastructure.

        Many other excellent services are worth checking out. These include:

        1. Docebo is an LMS designed for hyper-engaging students, employees, customers, and other learners. The system helps organizations identify and resolve competency gaps with strategic learning interventions.
        2. Cornerstone OnDemand is a talent, training, and performance management solution offered as an SaaS (Software-as-a-Service). This service enables learners to create personalized playlists of instructional content.
        3. Lessonly is an LMS solution that makes it easier to recall and reinforce whatever skills or knowledge you have learned through quizzes, coaching, and constant practice.
        4. Skillsoft is an online training and corporate learning platform developed by a two-decade old and billion-dollar company with the same name.
        5. D2L BrightSpace is a learning management system that has all the basics for delivering excellent, rich-media experiences for classroom or workplace training.

        Conclusion

        There are many ways to learn but some are more effective and meaningful than others. Whether you are a teacher looking to enhance classroom learning or an HR manager creating a long-term talent development plan for employees, the key to impactful learning is to understand and bridge the needs of learners, the goals of your institution, and the actual capabilities of the learning tools you are considering.

        Note that using multiple LMS platforms is possible although not recommended. On the other hand, adopting other learning solutions beyond LMS (such as podcasts, mentoring, and onsite in-person workshops) may significantly improve learning outcomes. Always go for products and plugins that seamlessly integrate into your core LMS tool.

        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

        Reference

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