Monday, December 31, 2012

December 31st! Time for another annual summary and recap of the past year, 2012.

Monthly Notes from using PmWiki:
Books read this year: 126 (tracked by Shelfari )

Web Tools Stats:
Wiki pages at 399 (24 in 2012)
Posts on this blog = 4
Twitter account at 156 posts (16 in 2012)
Delicious bookmarks at 782 (1 in 2012 as I'm switching to Evernote for saving URLs)
Evernote notes at 1,218 (424 in 2012)
Google+ (counting mechanism isn't obvious!)
Picasa photos (85 photos, 63 added in 2012)
Flickr photos (60 photos, none added in 2012)
Tumblr (new in 2012, 19 posts)
Pinterest (new in 2012, 9 pins on 9 boards)

Travel & Events:
And that's a wrap on 2012.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Productivity principles reviewed in 20 minutes

At Google Talks is always a great resource for current info and in this case an excellent summary and overview of productivity principles.  The talk is by Jared Goralnick and is titled Productivity, Happiness, and Avoiding Sudden Death.

Slides used in the presentation are at Slide Share:  Google Tech Talk: Productivity, happiness, and avoiding sudden death.

Some key quotes from the presentation:

  • productivity is actually kind of like language in that way, in that if you have fluency, there is a lot more depth that is possible in your experiences. And without that, you all still can get a lot done, but what happens is there's certain things you just can't choose to do.  
  • And I personally believe that Google does not pay you to be productive. That's not their goal.  Their goal is for you to do something that achieves real scale.

Tweaks - tools for productivity (have more freedom and choice in how you spend your time):

  1. turn off notifications from social networking sites  Notify Me Not
  2. turn off mobile alerts (instructions and link to Not Checking Email document)
  3. archive email (Gmail specific; also consider Merlin Mann Inbox Zero concept)
  4. delete
  5. stop checking email


  1. Purge your mind (make a long list, mind like water)
  2. Measure.  Measure.  Stop.
  3. 50/10  (work/rest)
  4. In the stream/out of the stream - get your value and go home
  5. Unplug.  use paper to think.
  6. Silence and focus, uni-task
  7. The essential (Goals) vs the incidental
  8. Be Remarkable, not productive

Jared's blog, Technotheory, has a wealth of good content.  For example, the importance of keeping your eye on the big picture rather than the many small details of a list.  The Critical Path is one good method for managing at that level.

I would also recommend

  • a big picture diagram such as a mind map
  • a weekly review of projects and lists
  • an "evening before" review and prioritization

See my comments from last week on work schedules and tasks

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Work, Schedules, and Tasks

Work is part of life.  Choose the work that you love and follow your bliss of course!  Two interesting ideas for a Saturday morning:  1. Deep work (writing, creating, thinking) requires a big picture focus that is obsessive to pursue the long term payoff.  2.  Scheduling time effectively depends on whether you are a maker or a manager (or some combination of the two).  Schedule time in big blocks for the maker, and traditional appointments for the manager (placed at the end of the work day for a maker!).

6-15-2012 from my "A Day" submission

  1. Getting Things Done is excellent as a methodology for capturing tasks and next actions (lists) but at the expense of task universalism. Consider the idea from Cal Newport, aka StudyHacks that Not All Work is Created Equal.  In Allen’s world, in other words, everything reduces to clear and easy-to-accomplish next actions.

    Allen preaches task universalism: when you get down to concrete actions, all work is created equal. I disagree with this idea. Creating real value requires deep work, which is a fundamentally different activity than knocking off organizational tasks.

    Flipping through my notebook, about every 4 or 5 weeks, I redraw a big picture block diagram (boxes with project names and interconnections) or a mind map. My purpose is to find focus on the big rocks that make a difference in long term success. This is somewhat similar to my weekly church attendance and daily meditation which help to focus spiritual life and purpose. But deep work or big picture diagrams are necessary as methods (philosophies?) for focusing on obsessive (and often messy) pursuit of something new.

    Deep work is fundamentally different than the shallow (though still important) work of keeping on top of the little things required to function personally and professionally.
    Quotes from Getting (Unremarkable) Things Done: The Problem With David Allen’s Universalism.

  2. Maker's Schedule, Manager's Schedule makes a coherent distinction between scheduling norms for creators vs managers.  I've been in both positions and have to juggle both hats so I can relate to the examples.

    The manager's schedule is identified by an appointment book, with hourly time blocks. When you use time that way, it's merely a practical problem to meet with someone. Find an open slot in your schedule, book them, and you're done.

    The maker's schedule is common for programmers and writers who generally prefer to use time in units of half a day at least (time blocks).  A single meeting can blow a whole afternoon, by breaking it into two pieces each too small to do anything hard in. Plus you have to remember to go to the meeting.

    Each type of schedule works fine by itself. Problems arise when they meet. Ok, that certainly makes sense.  But the kicker here for retaining a maker culture (or helping keep productivity for maker's) is the following:

    How do we manage to advise so many startups on the maker's schedule? By using the classic device for simulating the manager's schedule within the maker's: office hours. Several times a week I set aside a chunk of time to meet founders we've funded. These chunks of time are at the end of my working day, and I wrote a signup program that ensures all the appointments within a given set of office hours are clustered at the end. Because they come at the end of my day these meetings are never an interruption. (Unless their working day ends at the same time as mine, the meeting presumably interrupts theirs, but since they made the appointment it must be worth it to them.) During busy periods, office hours sometimes get long enough that they compress the day, but they never interrupt it.

    Scheduling to balance maker vs manager tasks and responsibilities may have some payoff to consider.  Consider blocking off the beginning of the day or entire days for maker activities.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Thoughtful quotes for the day (12-21-12)

Live as long as you may, the first 20 years are the longest half of your life. They appear so while they are passing; they seem to have been so when we look back on them; and they take up more room in our memory than all the years that succeed them.
Robert Southey, English poet 1774-1843

Impressionist painting of blue flowers and vase
Creative day out with Jackie and Megan ... my first "painting"

Several quotes from Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin

Take notes without a purpose.

Cram my day with what I love.

Technology is a good servant, but a bad master.

Paraphrased from Gretchen Rubin writings:

  • Focus on loving what I have.
  • Focus on doing what I value.
  • Forget about results.

a cup of tea and a composition notebook.  A Day 6-15-2012
6-15-2012 from my "A Day" submission

Quotes from Anthony Trollope, English novelist from the Victorian era, 1815-1882

A small daily task, if it be really daily, will beat the labours of a spasmodic Hercules.

What on earth could be more luxurious than a sofa, a book, and a cup of coffee?...Was ever anything so civil?

That I can read and be happy while I am reading, is a great blessing.