Some productivity ideas from Quantified Self

January 6th, 2011 by Demian Turner

Thanks to a friend was just turned me on to Quantified Self, a site dedicate to exploring tools and technologies for tracking your activity, goals and productivity.

Colin Schiller – Time Management Experiments from Steve Dean on Vimeo.

Peter Robinett – Quantifiying productivity from Quantified Self Amsterdam on Vimeo.

I’ve also made some good progress on the next update to DorisDesktop. You can now drag and drop URLs to your task list, and re-ordering tasks is almost done. A new release will be ready within a week or 2.

Links for September 10th through October 4th

October 4th, 2010 by Demian Turner

Recommended reading

  • What’s your coding APM? – amix.dk – Again my bias for programming is coming out, but this is a really neat OS X app for capturing your actions/min
  • Make Your Business Card Stand Out – Forbes.com – Don Crowther thinks you should put your picture on your business card. Not only that, but he wants you to include a mini-résumé, your Twitter handle and some sort of special offer that entices each recipient to get in touch
  • 10 Tricks for Improving Your Memory – One of the keys to productivity is in fact a good memory – here are some interesting tips, but take the girlfriend talk with a grain of salt 😉

Links for May 19th through September 10th

September 10th, 2010 by Demian Turner

Recommended reading

Bookmarks for May 12th

May 12th, 2010 by Demian Turner

Recommended reading

Seven Weird Habits That Will Change Your Life

April 26th, 2010 by Demian Turner

I really enjoyed this article – still falls under productivity but may be more appealing to the philosophically inclined.

How to Block Flash

December 7th, 2009 by Demian Turner

ClickToFlash IconI wish I hadn’t waited so long to install the ClickToFlash plugin, it totally improves the web experience.  The idea is simple, all flash animations are paralyzed by default 😉  To view flash, including videos like youtube, etc, you have to click to play.  A lot healthier for the laptop, no more CPU running at 100% nor mindless distractions when you’re trying to absorb valuable content.

Mobile workers can discover best places to work

November 20th, 2009 by Demian Turner

Thanks to Pam for the heads up about this new app in the app store, WorkSnug.

WorkSnug uses Augmented Reality to connect mobile workers to the nearest and best places to work in the city. We’ve visited and rated hundreds of workspaces, assessing noise levels, power provision, community feel, even the quality of the coffee. London has been launched first. San Francisco, New York, Berlin, Madrid and several other cities are on the way in the coming weeks

Covered recently in Web Worker Daily, check out the video to see the app in action.

Multitasking is a myth

May 22nd, 2009 by Demian Turner

multitasking

multitasking

Quite an interesting article from the New York Times in which the author, whose life priorities were brought sharply into focus after being diagnosed with cancer, describes how important it is to rid oneself of distractions like facebook, email, twitter, etc in order to start being effective:

Ms. Gallagher advocates meditation to increase your focus, but she says there are also simpler ways to put the lessons of attention researchers to use. Once she learned how hard it was for the brain to avoid paying attention to sounds, particularly other people’s voices, she began carrying ear plugs with her. When you’re trapped in a noisy subway car or a taxi with a TV that won’t turn off, she says you have to build your own “stimulus shelter.”

She recommends starting your work day concentrating on your most important task for 90 minutes. At that point your prefrontal cortex probably needs a rest, and you can answer e-mail, return phone calls and sip caffeine (which does help attention) before focusing again. But until that first break, don’t get distracted by anything else, because it can take the brain 20 minutes to do the equivalent of rebooting after an interruption. (For more advice, go to nytimes.com/tierneylab.)

“Multitasking is a myth,” Ms. Gallagher said. “You cannot do two things at once. The mechanism of attention is selection: it’s either this or it’s that.” She points to calculations that the typical person’s brain can process 173 billion bits of information over the course of a lifetime.

“People don’t understand that attention is a finite resource, like money,” she said. “Do you want to invest your cognitive cash on endless Twittering or Net surfing or couch potatoing? You’re constantly making choices, and your choices determine your experience, just as William James said.”

During her cancer treatment several years ago, Ms. Gallagher said, she managed to remain relatively cheerful by keeping in mind James’s mantra as well as a line from Milton: “The mind is its own place, and in itself/ Can make a heav’n of hell, a hell of heav’n.”

Multitasking photo by Les Chatfield

Then along came Doris…

May 20th, 2009 by Pamela Poole

There I was, after over a year and multiple failed attempts, still without a solution to my task management problem. So what did I do?

legalpad2I went retrograde. Back to paper. But not Post-Its. For me, they’d gone the way of the dinosaur years before, when I got a laptop (those big monitors were good Post-It holders).

Once again, I had my trusty mini legal pad within easy reach, beside my computer. I’d completely given up.

Until I met Doris, that is.

Now I no longer have to write my urgent to-dos in giant letters with a Sharpie, scribble out completed to-dos, or flip back and forth through tattered pages to make sure I haven’t forgotten anything. I no longer have to kill trees. It’s all good.

With such an effortless system for managing tasks, my productivity has increased immensely. More importantly, my ability to concentrate is significantly greater, simply because I do not have random tasks floating around in my head distracting me and stressing me out. Doris is indispensable for productivity, but also for peace of mind—literally.

Still not a believer? Read the whole series of articles on my quest for the perfect task-management app:

  1. Doris saved my sanity
  2. Goldilocks and the Holy Grail
  3. What do you have to do to get a decent to-do list around here?
  4. More complex does not mean more robust
  5. Then along came Doris…

More complex does not mean more robust

May 19th, 2009 by Pamela Poole

Wondering at this point if I just had special needs that defied the limitations of the “simple” to-do list format, I thought maybe what I needed was a mindmap… The word kind of captured what I was looking for: a “place” to record and organize all the random stuff that was always cluttering up my head.

bubblusSo I went mindmap shopping. First of all, they’re all ugly, and I don’t do ugly. And surprisingly few of them are free. The least horrible one I found was bubbl.us.

I spent several hours creating my map: color-coding things to group them, creating sub-bubbles and co-bubbles and bubble bunches and linking them with arrows… When I was done, it felt good to have all that stuff out of my head.

But it had been a very painful process (color coding, editing, moving bubbles—all very user-unfriendly), and the end result was barely adequate. The freeform layout made it hard to parse at a glance. There was no way to keep track of your history. And every time I wanted to go back to the map and add something, I’d spend five minutes attaching it to its group, color-coding, rearranging existing bubbles to make room and prioritize… All for one to-do.

Unacceptably inefficient. As a to-do list, at least, it was useless. So it never became part of my workflow either.

(It took me about 20 minutes to enter and organize in Doris all the info I’d spent hours putting into a mindmap. And it takes about 5 seconds to add something new. No brainer.)

After I gave up on the mindmap idea, I found a partial solution: a collaborative project management app that at least took care of the details of my two large, ongoing projects.

However, because I have multiple smaller, short-term projects going on all the time (personal and professional), with at least as many details to keep track of, I still desperately needed a solution…

Still not a believer? Read the whole series of articles on my quest for the perfect task-management app:

  1. Doris saved my sanity
  2. Goldilocks and the Holy Grail
  3. What do you have to do to get a decent to-do list around here?
  4. More complex does not mean more robust
  5. Then along came Doris…