Tag Archives: productivity

Triage email for iPhone

With Mailbox opening up to everyone, and thus devouring the media attention for email clients, I thought this might bear mentioning. Triage is a simple email client designed to very quickly work through only the new mail in your inbox. With a flick you decide to archive or keep a message. If you keep it, it stays unread in your inbox, but you won’t see it again in Triage. You can also type out a quick reply. Works with anything that uses IMAP. I’ve sent the developers an email to see if it’s possible to have Triage delete rather than archive. If so, it’s a definite buy for me.

UPDATE: Just heard back from the developers, and the app can indeed be set to update rather than just archive.

Weekly link dump

How I Learned Enough Ruby On Rails In 12 Weeks To Launch Freelancify

There are a lot of posts these days about folks who learned coding driven by a personal project they wanted to complete. This is one of my favourites.

Toggl

I’ve had nothing but problems from the all-in-one time tracking, project management, and invoicing apps I’ve used. This year I’ve gone back to basics. Toggl is the tool I use to track my time, and create a report at the end of the week.

aText

If you don’t already own TextExpander, and don’t need the iOS integration it offers, aText may be a much cheaper option. It includes advanced features like clipboard integration and shell scripting, and is only $5.

Lenten web fast

Last year I observed a web fast during Lent. It was really successful, so I’m doing it again this year. I want to share a bit about my thinking.

Most people are familiar with the Lenten practice of forgoing luxuries or fasting. The purpose of this practice is penitence, and to prepare the mind for Easter through contemplation. It’s this second point that really resonates for me. My mind is full of a lot of garbage. I want to spend more time on reflection, but instead I’m tapping the “j” key, powering through long lists of stories debunking the same dumb Apple rumour. Or I’m reading something political that’s tweaked to provoke outrage. Or I’m stuffing yet another interesting tutorial into Instapaper, where it will languish until I declare Instapaper Bankruptcy.

Last year I set aside time I would usually spend on these things to read Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl, and Do Nothing and Change Your Life by Rev Stephen Cottrell, Bishop of Reading. Both were very powerful, and directly related to my desire to be more mindful in how I spent my time and mental energy.

This year I am spending time in my mindfulness meditation (I’m taking the Headspace training programme), and journalling. The other time I free up will be spent blogging, and trying to make the most of my six-month membership in Learnable. It will actually be pretty challenging; I would describe mine as a “mind forever voyaging through strange seas of pointless kitten gifs alone”.” At the end, though, I know I will find it profoundly energizing.

The tools

The most important part of this is Mindful Browsing for Safari. This is an extension that allows you to add sites to a block list. When you visit a site on your list you first see a message telling you that you have chosen to block the site. After a configurable number of seconds (I’ve chosen 15), you have the option of continuing to the site. For me, this short-circuits the habit I have of popping to the offending sites whilst waiting for huge Photoshop file to open, or a git push or file transfer to complete.

I have a Concentrate license that I was going to try to use for this. Unfortunately Concentrate can only block entire domains (blocking happens with ipfw), which means that to block Google Reader, I’d have to block everything Google.

I really wish I could find a good, solid whitelisting tool that worked system wide. I have a Little Snitch license, I may try that.

The rules

Google Reader – This is the main offender, and it’s gone from Monday to Saturday inclusive. Instead, I’ve picked a few sites to visit once a day for important stuff. Important does not include Apple rumours, gadgets, indie games, or Cheezburgers.

Social Networking – I don’t visit Facebook or Twitter very often. Instead I interact through the Mac and iPhone’s built-in connections, and a fantastic summary service called NutShell Mail. I’ve suspended NutShell Mail.

Last year I had access to a thrice-a-day summary mail called Summify, but Summify is dead after Twitter bought it. I haven’t replaced it with anything.

I am allowing myself some access to social networking. If I receive a message, I can reply to it. I have some clients who contact me regularly through FB and Twitter, and I don’t want to go dark on them. I can also wish friends happy birthday on FB. That’s it.

Political sites – these need to go anyway. They’re information light, and manipulative. No access at all. I can read the front page of the Star, or the Toronto region page on the CBC.

As I mentioned before, I found this a really profound experience. Six weeks of not being able to indulge in mindless distraction had a very dramatic impact on my state of mind. I was actually happier, and felt more peaceful, and my ability to focus improved. You don’t have to be religious to give this a shot. I’d encourage everyone to set their own parameters for a web fast. When you’re done, hit me up on Twitter or App.net and let me know how it went.

GTD Incompletion Trigger List in OPML

Update: the link to the Organise IT trigger list seems to be pretty popular. Unfortunately it’s gone from their site. You can see an archived version of the list on the Wayback Machine.

As part of my 2013 planning, I’m doing what David Allen’s book Getting Things Done calls a “mind sweep”. It’s a process of dumping everything that’s floating around in your head in an unfinished state into some kind of system where it can be evaluated and organized. To help you do that, the book has a list of “incompletion triggers”, things to dredge up the stuff from your brain. I had the list from the 43 Folders Wiki open, and two things occurred to me. First, man, some of the stuff on this list hasn’t aged well. Second, I wish I was doing this is MindNode.

Those thoughts lead to this: gtd-opml. It’s an OPML list suitable for importing into an outliner or mind mapping application. My hope is that folks will be able to use it to simplify getting organized, and that they’ll contribute updates to the list to modernize it. Enjoy!

(Incidentally, in looking for something illustrative to link for “incompletion triggers”, I found a more updated list at Organize IT. I may try and incorporate some of this down the road.)

Weekly link dump

SocialCount

Despite pointing out that “Share this” buttons on most sites live between 0-24 shares, I still get plenty of requests for them. Next time I think I’ll forgo AddThis for SocialCount. It’s very lightweight (provided you’re already including JQuery), customizable, and loads in such a way that it won’t block the display of your content.

Sharpologist

When I switched from plasticy, billion-bladed abominations to safety razors, I used Mantic59’s YouTube channel. Now he has a group blog, and it’s really informative.

Back to Work’s Three-parter on Getting Things Done

Merlin and Dan have started a refresher on David Allen’s productivity classic Getting Things Done. Worth a listen, and the show notes are brilliant.