Here is a collection of what has piqued my interest in the productivity sphere this week.
- Project Shoebox: Making a Physical Filing System David Seah is best known of his paper based productivity tools. In particular I like his emergent task planner and the compact calendar – more on printable calendars below. But the main link here is to a really engaging blog post about his recent excursion into filing his physical stuff. A good read
- The small calendar 2012 Grafish Design produce this great version of a printable, compact, full year calendar. There is a knack to reading the calendar. You use the colour coding of the months to figure out the date and day. It is also a great replacement to reciting ‘30 days hath September …’. I print them on to large self adhesive labels to use in notebooks and to give to friends. I also have one printed on an index card and stored in my wallet.
- Productive desktop wallpapers If you store working computer files on your desktop (you shouldn’t but lets gloss over that for now!) then these wallpapers are a great way to help you organise those files for easy retrieval. There are a few more here. You could even combine this idea with a personal kanban, like the author of this article.
- How to Stay Focused When You’re Tempted to Slack Off – in 3 Simple StepsI’m not usually a fan of the blog posts with titles like ‘8 ways to remove stones from a horses shoe’, or ‘10 ways to avoid list’ but this post offers good solid advice on how to force yourself to stop procrastinating and just get your stuff done. It boils down to:
- think about the immediate goal
- get rid of distractions and
- trick yourself into ‘just spending a few minutes on task x’.
- How to Build New Habits with Mind Maps The Asian Efficiency crew have come up with a great article on using mind maps to build new (good!) habits. A fun introduction to the concept of habit building and how to develop better practice.
- What Is ‘The Zone’ Anyway? Lifhacker tackle the concept of being in the zone and explain how to get there. The zone, for me, is that state where I just ‘do’. I’m totally engrossed, focused on the task at hand and time seems to fall away as I work. The feeling is great and allows you to reach levels of productivity you never thought possible. The more often you can get there the better.
- Do the work is a manifesto by Steven Pressfield. Think of it as the little brother of his excellent book The War of Art. It takes around an hour to read and I keep it on my kindle and read it about once every 6 weeks. Written from the perspective of a creative writer it offers some really useful advice on how to just get on and ‘do the work’. Just do it and ship it. This is highly recommended reading.
So, a fair bit to get your teeth into there. If I had to pick the best two I would go for the zone and do the work – one really useful and one inspirational.
I’ve not posted here for a while because I’ve been away on a family camping trip. The great outdoors emerged as a bit of a theme in my web surfing as the first two links show.
For me the best find of the week was from the guys at the always outstanding Asian Efficiency. If you use both Omnifocus and Evernote then I think you will agree with me.
Finally there are a smattering of other useful links for you to consider.
- Boost Your Creativity, Happiness, and Focus by Stepping Out Into Nature Here lifehacker discuss the restorative effect of getting away from your desk and out into the big wide world. You don’t have to go native for a month – just 30 minutes in a local park can have a huge impact on your level of focus. No more gobbling your lunch ‘as you work’!
- Mom Was Right: Go Outside And this is the science bit from a ‘real’ newspaper to back it up.
- How to Automatically Transfer Evernote Notes to Omnifocus This is my big find of the week. If you rely on Omnifocus to organise your tasks and use Evernote as your external brain then I think you will like this too.
You need a certain knowledge of using Applescript but the excellent guide from Asian efficiency takes you through all the steps.
Once you set up the system you can tag any note in Evernote with the word ‘review’ and when the Applescript triggers it sends the note to Omnifocus (and clears the ‘review’ tag in Evernote). But here is the magic bit – the new Omnifocus task has a url link back to your Evernote note – not the web interface to evernote, but to the actual native client note! If you have an iOS device in the mix it gets even better. The Omnifocus link will take you straight from the Omnifocus app and into the note in the Evernote app.
This is amazing.
For extra geek points you can skip installing Lingon, follow the comments thread and set up a cron job to run the Applescript on a regular basis. You need to be comfortable with using terminal.
- Simple-for-Ever Keeping on the Evernote theme you might be interested in this web app that keeps an evernote notebook synced to your simple note .txt notes. This is a great way to keep your text notes within evernote but keeping the simplicity and portability of plain text. I urge you to give it a try.
- 3 Ways to Be Less Busy and More Productive This post at Lifehack caught my eye. One of the methods they champion is to develop the habit of journalling. It is a goal of mine for the month to journal on a regular (daily) basis. I’m 14 days in and already finding it a great way to clear out my head at the end of the day and to gear my self up for upcoming the day ahead. Good, solid advice – as I’ve come to expect from lifehack
- How to Make Good Use of Time Pockets This is an old 2010 article from the Dumb Little Man. It is a quick five minute read that does a good job of making you realise just how much you can get done if you just stay present, focused and put systems in place to make sure you can take advantage of the little bit of time that we all have during the day.
Well that should keep you going for a while and I’ll post my regular original content soon.
Here we go again with another dive into the things on the internet that I have found interesting….
- Mac service AppleScript for word count Mac OS X Hints has published a guide to adding a character, word and paragraph counts service in OS X. This works on any block of selected text in any application (except MS Word for some reason!)
- Learn to Listen Art of Manliness has a post on how to listening. This is a personal hobby-horse of mine. Far too often we are forced to attend meetings where some of those present are inattentive or just plain rude. If you are in the company of someone then give them your attention. Even the dullest of meetings are an opportunity to learn something, strengthen relationships and leave the room with a different perspective. All you have to do is listen!
- Memories of the Tandy WP–2 The always excellent David Sparks. I love old tech and David clearly thinks the same. It’s just a nice read
- The Productivityist Manifesto Mike Vary has an interesting take on what it means to be productive and how best to achieve it
- The rolling to-do list Lifehack have an alternative to the traditional to-do list. Take a read and see if it’s something you can use
- Mark Forster’s Final Version Despite sounding like a thinly veiled totalitarian global take-over bid this is actually a variation on the rolling to-do theme and well worth a look. You do need to subscribe to Mark’s newsletter to receive the instructions but in my experience he does not spam or bombard you with email. You can always unsubscribe later
- Why I look at OmniFocus Give that this is about Omnifocus you might think that this is a Mac only post. Well, oO=n the face of it this is a discussion about OmniFocus – but really it is about developing the habit of looking at your lists and acting upon them
- The Weekly Review: How one hour can save you a week’s with of hassle and headache Lifehacker is not as good as it used to be but there is still some good content mixed in with the ‘make your own toothpaste from bacon rind’ posts. And this is one of them. A really concise, clear set of instructions to either introduce you to the weekly review or get you back on track if you skipped a week (or 2, or 3)
- Why I write about bathroom fans and pillowcasing strategies Not about productivity, just an entertaining read from Marco Arment, creator of instapaper
Web finds, Tuesday 01 May 2012
This week’s deep dive into the internet has revealed some interesting posts….
- Simplify seasonal activities with checklists A primer on what activities can be made into checklists and how to do it. I find Evernote to be a really good place to keep these
- Looking at your todo list Mike Vardy offers up some good advice on how to beat todo list paralysis
- How to start and keep a journal If, like me, you thought that journaling is only for people of a Pepysian persuasion, think again. This is a good read and has prompted me to start keeping a paper journal
- Filofax address book software updated Again on the theme of analogue productivity this is a link to the official Filofax address book software. If you have lots of contacts in your electronic address book then this will be a huge help
- Fantasy GTD offices Have you ever planned-out your ideal ‘GTD compliant’ office space? Then this might give you a few ideas
- Your ideas and how to move them forward Brett Kelly ruminates on the process of getting from gonna do to done. You might want to check out his Evernote ebook while you are there
- Why men should read more fiction This is very timely for me. I have a goal to read 36 books during the course of this calendar year. I also decided that 24 of these should not be self help books, technical guides or biographies. I just finished 11/22/63 by Stephen King and went straight into Daemon by Daniel Suarez. It must be over 20 years since I read two fiction book ‘on the bounce’ but I’m really enjoying this. Maybe those guys at Art on Manliness are on to something