April 2013

The Best Days

April 30, 2013 •

The best days are the ones when I don’t do anything in OmniFocus. What do I mean? When I’m living, I’m not worrying about my task list. I know that nothing is due. Nothing is going to fall apart while I’m away. This is the best part of GTD – the mind like water.

Whilst it’s not something that happens as often as I would like, I really appreciate it when it does happen. It makes me strive to improve the way I manage my “open loops”.

Daring Fireball ⇒

April 24, 2013 •

The iPhone has an easy mode too. It’s called “Using the iPhone”.

I removed Daring Fireball from my Google Reader for a while – the post volume is high, and to be honest, I’m more interested in “productivity” than technology news – but I recently resubscribed, and I’m glad I did!

John’s snappy comments, and insightful view into the business side of technology make it well worth following.

Day One Templates ⇒

April 20, 2013 •

Tulio Jarocki has a great set of TextExpander snippets for writing reviews in DayOne. I think keeping reviews of books and movies in DayOne is a great idea.

Small Wins

April 16, 2013 •

When watching the video of Koroush Dini speaking at The OmniFocus Setup, one thing that came to mind was how GTD (and OmniFocus) lets you accomplish small wins, where you knock a load of tasks off your list early in the day. This frees you up to tackle what Koroush describes as creative tasks, tasks where you don’t know what you are making until you have made it.

I love taking lots of small steps to make progress on projects early in the day, and feel like it removes the obligation to “accomplish” anything when I’m working on a more creative task later in the day. Creative tasks that I come up against are normally writing papers and debugging code, both of which can make it hard to feel like you’ve achieved much. When I’m safe in the knowledge that I am getting stuff done, I feel better about working on these open-ended challenges.

On Keeping a Notebook in the Digital Age ⇒

April 13, 2013 •

Elizabeth Spiers over at Lifehacker has some interesting thoughts on reasons to keep a physical notebook:

For those of us comfortable with the digital age, the plethora of note-taking apps makes idea capture fingertip-convenient. I’ve used Evernote for work purposes and keep most of my idea files in Google Docs. But that said, my first medium for idea capture is still pen and paper—usually in a highly disposable three-by-five paper notebook that I carry everywhere and fill up at a rate of about one a month. This is partly a function of immediacy (I don’t have to open an app and find a file) and partly a function of the fact that I’m terrible at typing on a smartphone and it takes me longer to get the words down if I try to do it digitally.

This is a good reason to prefer paper. Whilst apps like Drafts do make it easy to quickly capture (and later process) text snippets on iOS, there is still a delay between thought and capture.

But I also like the romance of physical handwriting, even though my atrocious penmanship falls somewhere between “five-year-old” and “average medical professional” and this sometimes means I’m unable to decipher pieces of what I wrote. I concentrate less when I’m typing and my first drafts often have missing phrases because my fingers have failed to catch up with my thoughts. Writing things down enforces slowness, and by extension, thoughtfulness.

This romance, the nostalgic desire to use paper and pen, is probably one of the most compelling. Despite writing from a productivity context, there is something enticing about the feeling of abandoning systems and processes, and just capturing ideas like people have done for hundreds of years.

My main issue with keeping a paper notebook, as I’ve mentioned before, is the fear of losing something. Without the powerful searches that are ubiquitous in our digital tools, what might happen to those thoughts?

This ties back to the romantic aspect of the notebooks - locking thoughts away in a notebook, waiting to be liberated.