17 August 2007
Staples also carries a Mini Gel Stick pen. It's a little longer than the Sharper but a bit thinner.
Both pens are cheap. The Sharpie is $1.50/pen and the Staples Mini pen comes in packs of a dozen: $3.78/dozen (either black or colored assortment).
16 August 2007
My beliefs and attitude were the operating system (OS). And my thoughts (including those which directed my actions) were software programs. The software runs on top of the OS which runs on top of the hardware.
At the time, I thought it was hilarious to think of yourself as a computer. But nowadays I take the idea more seriously.
I would say that my OS (operating system) is at version 2.0. I made it from birth through college with pretty much the same values and attitude (OS 1.0). Grad school and various life events caused upheaval (new people, new expectations, new environment, parental problems). So I was forced to "upgrade" to OS 2.0.
As for software, I would consider my work on lifehacks to be "productivity suite 1.0". I'm pretty pleased with it in general. My one complaint is that I haven't found a good bedtime routine which helps me fall asleep. I guess I will work on fixing that in version 1.x!
So now I have finally settled on a system that works pretty well. I setup a calendar reminder every night to plug my stereo into an 2 GB iPod Nano (which I was formerly using with the iHome clock). As a backup, I also have a Sony clock radio which I use as a backup alarm. The Sony clock has nice big green digits which makes it a great clock for my room, too.
12 August 2007
Staying on task
- Do a procrastination dash and/or try the "(10+2)*5" hack.
- Break down a major project into microtasks.
- Script the first few tasks of your day.
- Design and use a productivity scaffold.
- Use Merlin's top 5 ways to improve your organization skills.
- Efficiently use your interstitial time.
- Become an email ninja. Here's my strategy and Merlin Mann's advice on writing sensible email messages and email productivity. The key idea to attain inbox zero. I also reduced the number of email folders I have (another method is the "trusted trio").
- Organize your files in a logical system. I use a hierachy of folders while Lifehacker recommends this system
- Batch similar tasks as much as you can.
- Make checklists for infrequent, but complicated tasks like packing for travel.
- Track your life with a daily checklist. I also keep a sleep log since I have trouble going to bed and waking up on a regular schedule.
- Use a box to keep items you need to remember before leaving the house.
- Keep notes in text and use descriptive filenames.
- Make a starting homepage with searchable links.
- Create a backup system and learn how to rescue your data.
Develop your mind
- Use a "30 day trial" to create an new, enduring habit.
- Learn to become mindful.
- Learn to live consciously.
- Learn how to cope with and protect yourself from difficult people who wear you down.
- Have good intentions and think positively. Here is a list of some intentions I made a while back.
If everything seems screwed up, remember you can always reboot!
For some other opinions, see these two articles from Productivity501 -- Interview: Becoming Effective and Interview: Biggest Time Waster.
First, you need to learn what GTD is! You'll want to read the book by David Allen once and then put it aside and think about it. The book is really abstract and encompasses many concepts (like theoretical physics, but not quite that hard). It will help to review parts of the book as you go along implementing your GTD system. The GTD Primer provides nice summaries of each chapter in David Allen's book. It may also be helpful to take a look at the GTD FAQ and the 43Folders getting started guide for a basic overview of GTD.
The first task is to collect all your loose ends (mental and physical) and sort them. It's called a "mind sweep".
Next, you'll want to come up with your own implementation of a GTD system. For some inspiration, you may want to see what other people have done. Some low-tech pen and paper systems: the Hipster PDA, the Moleskine PDA, how to make a GTD system for $20, Patrick Rhone's productivity whitepaper, the D*I*Y planner, my Cross ion pen and index card capture device. As for software systems, I've only used two tools: Backpack and todo.txt. Backpack is a great web-based GTD system (Patrick Rhone has a description of his Backpack GTD system). For those of you who are into Unix and command line like me, I really like Gina Trapani's todo.txt script (my current system). Download Squad has a feature article on GTD software tools and Wikipedia also has a table comparing various GTD software. If you want to procrastinate, you can look at this epic list of GTD tools.
As you spend more time developing your GTD system, you'll probably mess up and get off track. Don't worry if you fall off the wagon. It happens to everyone and the best part of GTD is that 1) it gives you breathing space to get back on track and 2) it's easy to pick up from where you left off. The most common pitfall is failing to do a thorough weekly review (or not doing them at all). Here's an article about how to go about doing the weekly review (Lifehacker has a shorter process for the weekly review). Another problem is poorly written to-do lists. 43Folders has a post on how to build a smarter to-do list. Remember that you can *not* do a to-do item and just cross it off the list. To-do lists aren't the end of the story; you also have to choose your priorities skillfully (what to-do next?). If you've come up with a wonderful GTD system for yourself and have mastered your to-do lists and weekly reviews, it might be time to examine your life goals (the "30,000 ft level" mentioned in David Allen's book). Steve Pavlina has some good advice in "how to discover your life purpose in 20 minutes", "setting your primary focus" and "living your values."
Finally, if you want to get some advice from the guru David Allen himself, check out his podcasts with Merlin Mann on 43Folders (the Productive Talk series). Another set of excellent podcasts about GTD is the first 12 episodes of the Fisher Files (the first episode "Introduction" is here). The Fisher Files is hosted by MIT physics professor Peter Fisher and has an academic leaning to it.
If podcasts are not your thing, check out 43Folders Recap: Best of Getting Things Done.
05 August 2007
One method I tried was using these orange cord clamps from Home Depot. The nice thing about the clamps is that you can easily change the radius of the clamp. And they are easy to remove unlike cable zip ties.
I also used grocery ties (in green) for a tighter fit. They are still easily removable which is nice.
For more permanent cabling arrangements, I used cable zip ties (they look like this). The drawback of zip ties is that you have to cut them off with scissors and they are not reusable. There are three power cords in the picture: laptop, speakers, and external hard drive. You can also see a coiled gray ethernet cord.
Here's one more example. In the picture, you see cords for refrigerator, extension cord, surge protector, and lamp.