Category Archives: Productivity

How To: Focus On Doing One Thing At A Time

Focus on doing one thing at a time.

Focus

Copycheating Links

I do this frequently enough on my other blog, but I don’t really do it that much around here, despite being a huge Copycheater. It’s time for a Link Roundup!

Productivity

Zen Habits: Take Lots of Breaks – I actually try to do this when I find that I’m trying to do too many things at once (aka: trying to Multitask) and feel my brain energy draining and my thinking getting fuzzy.

Self-Improvement

The Simple Dollar: 10 Unusual Ways To Improve Your Appearance of Confidence – While I am not really sure about all of these, it’s certainly a good idea to take a look at what your body language communicates and what you can do to make sure you are communicating what you want to be (which, for a lot of people, I imagine, is the appearance of confidence).

Tech / Web / Media

TechCrunch makes a brilliant point that Hulu’s content owners are missing a major opportunity this summer. I understand that there are often contract and legal limitations, but I think that as new shows come out with new contract negotiations behind them, more of them will make their first seasons available on sites like Hulu. As Jason Kincaid puts it:

If I can’t begin watching a show from the start, the odds of me watching it at all plummet. Sure, I could probably buy the first season on iTunes, but I’m not likely to pay for TV unless I’m quite certain I’m going to like it. Studios should be doing everything they can to introduce Hulu users to new shows during these summer months, perhaps going as far as enabling access to a show’s entire first season. Yes, I might wind up skipping buying the first season on DVD, but I’m also far more likely to go out and buy seasons 2-3 so I can continue watching from the comfort of my couch.

He’s definitely not the only one who feels this way (because I’m at least one other person).

Buzzed Multitasking is Drunk Multitasking

I’ve said it before (and by said, I mean written), and I’ll say it again: Multitasking Doesn’t Work.

In Brain Rules, John Medina points out that the brain cannot multitask:

We are biologically incapable of processing attention-rich inputs simultaneously.

I like the specificity of that sentence and how it gets the point across in so few words.

Yes, we can do more than one thing at once (i.e., breathe and type), but breathing is not an attention-rich task. Our society would orders of magnitude less advanced if that were the case.

No, we cannot do things like lead a phone conference while checking email and responding to IMs (though I’m sure many of my and your co-workers have gotten good at making you think they can do this).

I love the picture they used in the Lateral Action post:

multitasking-arms

How To: Make Your Own Don’tBreakTheChain

Musical Accompaniment:

kid break dancingThere is a site called Don’t Break The Chain based on the Seinfeldian wisdom that if you a) have daily task, and b) mark days on a calendar in which you completed that task, you c) build up a chain on the calendar that you don’t want to break.

I signed up for the site, but you have to add a separate calendar for each goal that you want to track. (That, and it’s yet another tool you have to add to your web app arsenal) Since I only have a few things that I want to do every single day, it wouldn’t be that big a deal, but I have a few other things (such as posting to this blog) that I want to make sure I do a few times a week, but not necessarily every day.

So, I went to a tool that I already use for things like my finances, car maintenance, book notes, etc.: Google Docs. Since GD is already part of my workflow, I find it easier to integrate new spreadsheets and docs even though it does basically just involve opening another web site.

Since I was creating my own spreadsheet though, I could add some customizations not available in Don’t Break The Chain. I not only addressed my ability to track more than a one goal on a page (eliminating the few seconds it takes to flip between calendars to update your chain), but also made it so that I could track my weekly goals in addition to my daily goals.

Implementation

daily_to-doIt was very easy to just throw in two dates that were a week apart, and then drag that little blue square in the bottom right of the cell down so that GD copied weekly dates for me for several months at once. From the picture over there you can also clearly see that I have color-coded the cells so that the colors change depending on a) the number of times I want to do something each week, and b) the number of times I have done that thing this week.

So, you can see I’m doing well with Exercise, need to do some serious Meditation, and am falling behind on my Jammin’ and Groovin’. I’ve posted once to this blog – and since I’m only aiming for 2 per week, that gets me to Yellow already; I’m good on Friending Natalie Portman; and need to get in a little more Humping of Mannequins.

Here’s what it looks like in GD when you select Format -> “Change colors with rules…” You can change the text color in addition to the background color, but I find that just makes it hard to read.

color_rules

break_dancer_flip_crowd


Gravity Time Breakdance

Originally uploaded by homardpayette.

Post To And Read Your TO READ List From Anywhere With Email

I don’t know how this is going to work once we start Waving everybody, but for now, this is how I populate my To Read List without using Delicious or Instapaper or {Your App Here}, but rather with a tool that requires no additional sign-ups: Email.

Okay, I lied a little. You’ll need an RSS Reader too. Because, if you didn’t have one of those, really, what would you be reading? Hardcopy newspapers? Get outta here! Anyway, I use Google Reader, but any RSS Reader with an “Email This” function will do (I know that Bloglines has one).

Here we go:

  1. Set up filtering mechanisms for articles to add to your To Read List
      • For this, I added a contact in Gmail called Filtered Reader and added a “+asdfasdf” to my email address for that contact
      • Then, I added a filter for that particular version of my email address that will skip my Inbox and apply the To Read label
  2. Then, you go to Google Reader and as you go through items, if you don’t feel like opening it in a new tab to read (I know this is a common practice), you can instead just email it to yourself
  3. Do the same thing in your Twitter client by emailing yourself Tweets that you want to follow up on (ones where people post links to things you want to read)

Okay, now, I guess the “Anywhere” part of the subject will take some additional work. I.e., it will probably require a smart phone if you really want to read your To Read List anywhere. Of course, you can get an iPhone 3G for only $99 (at the time of this writing), and the normal 3G is plenty fast enough, because all you’re going to want to do now is make sure that the emails sitting in your To Read label or folder are downloaded onto your phone. *POOF* You now have your To Read List with you anywhere you bring your phone!

And! You can post to it using your phone as well because Google Reader has a very nice web interface. That will, of course, only work in places where you have 3G access, but I’ve heard talk that they’re going to develop off-line capable versions of the web apps, so if/when that becomes a reality, it will solve that problem.

Why Use This Jacked Up System Instead of The Glorious {Your App Here}?

Well, basically, because when I use {Your App Here}, I only use one end of it. That is, I post to it. But I never actually read it. My Delicious bookmarks To Read tag has 58 links going back as far as 2006.

But {Your App Here} Has an Awesome iPhone App!

So does Email. In fact, Gmail has two awesome iPhone apps: Mail.app and the Gmail Mobile Website. This allows me to download email to my phone for off-line access or apply multiple colored labels to emails. And as we (should) all know, everyone sits their with their email app open all day, but I would imagine that most people don’t sit with Delicious or Instapaper open all day. A To Read List in your email is ready to go without doing anything but switching folders.

Added Bonus: Instead of deleting a read item as you would have to do with Delicious or some other bookmarking services (not sure how Instapaper works for that), you can just remove the To Read label and you’ll still have the full article accessible if you want to refer to it later.