Tag: productivity

New year, new tools

2021 is a new year! I’ve been slowly ramping up my logging and notebooking routine, and this year I’ve reached new heights of pretension for my analogue note-taking setup:

From bottom to top:

Keeping productive with a tiny zine

I’ve been having real problems focussing on doing stuff during the evenings this last year or so. It’s a real shame since I’ve spent the last ten years or so investing heavily in GTD and fancy tools in my computer to keep track of my projects, but all this goes out the window when I’m sitting down at 7pm after finishing up all those chores that comprise adulthood. In fact, my normal process is:

  1. Review tasks on the to-do list
  2. Get overwhelmed
  3. Watch youtube all night

Which isn’t the best way of dealing with the situation.

Quantified self through little fill-in boxes

Except for a period of about eighteen months in my early twenties, I’ve generally been a bit sceptical of the whole quantified self movement. In theory, sure: it can be useful to know some hard facts about how you make your way through your day, week, or year. But in practice I suspect that most people, if faced with every measurable facet of their lives, would change exactly nothing.

And yet we persist in quantifying our lives. Perhaps it’s part of our obsession with optimisation and squeezing the value out of every minute of the day. Perhaps it’s because numbers, like lists, give us a way to escape our thoughts about death.

Books and trust

Breaking the radio silence. My spare time recently was taken up with both the new job, and one coding project that I really, really wanted to get done. Now that it’s done, I hope I can push some things I’ve been thinking about to the blog.

Lately1 things have got shaken up. I’ve moved countries and started a new job, and I’m still feeling the ripples. One unexpected consequence is that I stopped trusting my notebook as much.

Surviving a conference without your laptop

Travel these days for me means this:

  1. I pack all my stuff, including laptop (for serious work), iPad (for non-serious work, optional), Kindle (for reading) in my somewhat-bulging Belkin travel bag (an old model probably closest to the Larchmont Messenger out of their current range).
  2. I go to the airport and hit security.
  3. I take everything out of my bag for scanning, put it back in, spend prescious mental RAM + ego keeping track of everything.
  4. I get to where I’m going and then spend the rest of the trip making sure I don’t lose any of my devices.
  5. I pack to leave, and triple-check everywhere to make sure I haven’t left anything behind.
  6. Going through security, I once again have to dismantle my stuff to have everything scanned.

GTD: Creative Workflows

There’s been a decent bit of discussion on the internet recently regarding the place of GTD in modern workflow, starting with Dave Lee’s post on GTD’s applicability for creative projects and then morphing into an ongoing discussion on its suitability for the modern tertiary sector workflow at all, given the fact that it was designed about ten years ago1. Since I’ve recently revamped my GTD system to deal with so-called “creative workflows”, I thought now might be an interesting time to codify and publish something on the topic.

Unsurprisingly, my workflow got altered a considerable amount after reading Kourosh Dini’s excellent book, Creating Flow with Omnifocus, which you should go out and buy because it’s awesome2. The problem, as has been pointed out, with many creative projects is that they’re not really divisible into atomic, two-minute tasks. If I need to write a chapter of a book, I need to write a chapter of a book. At some point I’ll have to spend several sessions pounding out words, and that really doesn’t mesh with the GTD ideal of discrete next-actionable tasks. Plus, one of the most discouraging things I’ve found with GTD is picking a task, spending half an hour to an hour doing it, then coming back to your computer and being unable to check that off.