Archive for the ‘organization’ Category

On GTD Systems

Saturday, December 30th, 2006

I’ve been thinking about GTD systems a lot recently, and I’m worried I’m getting another GTD itch – where I feel a sudden and insatiable urge to change my system around. Currently I’m using the same old Hipster PDA system I’ve used for about seven or eight months on or off, but there are difficulties with it – I always feel like it’s a bit of a hassle to write stuff down in it, as to really get access to the cards I have to unclip the cards, shuffle through for the right one, and then write on it. Plus, index cards aren’t all that firm, which only serves to magnify my natural poor penmanship.

So this post over at hyalineskies seems like an awesome case of serendipity. I like moleskines as it is and I constantly use one for my inbox (as well as writing and whatnot), so this has some natural appeal. I have issues with running out of space – the thing I prefer about Hipsters is the ability to move cards around in the deck – but I might work these out with some modifications (maybe writing from the back of the book, keeping Project and S/M lists on the flipped-over side of the moleskine? Possible…).

Plus, it’s not like I use contexts all that much anyway: I’ll probably label stuff, but the vast majority of my tasks are on the computer, so that card is constantly filling up.

43f podcasts roundup

Saturday, December 30th, 2006

Merlin has posted a review of his awesomest podcasts. I particularly recommend the Apostrophe one, because it’s hilarious and a great warning about procrastination

How to tag iTunes songs quickly and sanely

Wednesday, December 27th, 2006

The Preamble

So I’ve been using a song tagging system based on ratings for a while now, (more on that here), but I’ve recently started using a different system to add more granularity to my tagging – for example, tagging my ‘Inspirational’ (2 star) list to separate the up-tempo numbers good for writing action from the stately pieces for description and the sad pieces for… well, sad stuff.

I’d long decided to use the ‘Grouping’ section in iTunes to do this, but tabbing over to iTunes and getting info on the playing song and then typing in the tag seemed like too much hassle – I don’t want to leave what I’m doing for very long. Enter Automator and Quicksilver…

The Instruction

  1. First off, you’ll need Doug’s Automator Actions for iTunes, available here. Install them if you haven’t got them already, because there’s some amazing stuff in there.
  2. Next, put together a simple two-step workflow: ‘Get the Current Song’ followed by ‘Set Info of iTunes Songs’.
  3. Then, and this is important, click the ‘Grouping’ checkbox and under ‘options’ click the ‘Show Action When Run’ checkbox. This means that, when the workflow runs, it’ll pop up a miniature version of iTunes’ option box with grouping already selected and the cursor set to a-blinkin’. This is awesome.
  4. Stick the resulting workflow in a place where Quicksilver can see it. Assign a trigger (if you’re not familiar with these, Merlin’s got a great post about them or just a simple abbreviation.

Now, whenever you hear a song that fits a particular mood or tag, open up the workflow from QS and type your tag, then get back to your stuffs. Fantastic, and probably more useful to most people than ratings-tagging. (Although I still like that for being able to sort my music solely on my iPod).

A warning: Backpedalling

Tuesday, December 26th, 2006

This is a bit of a warning to you folks concerning something I’ve had issues with and am wrestling with right now. I use Steve Pavlina’s 30 day trial approach for forming new habits, and it works like a doozy, but something I found the other day is that it’s very, very easy to backpedal into an old pattern, especially if it’s particularly enforced.

For example. Ever since I’ve been a kid, I’ve lazed in bed and slept in for as long as I could. I don’t have particularly vivid dreams or anything, it’s just natural bone-idleness. I’ve shaken off the bone-idleness and subsequently installed the habit of getting up at 7am every morning, rather successfully as well.

But recently, I got a bunch of essays in at college and felt like relaxing, so I took a day off from this and sat in bed for the morning. The next day I had nothing urgent on and did the same thing. And the next day. Now I’m rasslin’ again, and trying to get back into the old habit slowly, and ease back – I was up at 10am this morning, which is better than yesterday. I’m aiming for 9 the next day, 8 the following day, and so on and so forth until I can get back to seven.

Incidentally, this isn’t time spent sleeping. Much of it is, but a lot of it is sitting in bed with my laptop (curse you convenience of wireless internet!), reading email and RSS feeds. That’s something I’d probably end up doing anyway, but the morning is my key productivity and thinkin’ time, and I’d rather not waste it on reading about what Neil Gaiman is doing for the christmas holidays. I swear, sometimes I’m like this incredibly lazy cyber-stalker.

Why become more organized?

Tuesday, December 19th, 2006

I’m not going to lie to you: I struggle with this stuff, and I always have. In primary school I was always the kind going around asking to borrow a spare pen or pencil or ruler or something off the (noticeably more organized) kids. I’d always forget my school books that had my homework in (more often than not, genuinely forgot after having actually done the work). Workloads always seemed so heavy and I was in a constant state of stress.

Then, after struggling for years through academia an eventually managing to get into University by the skin of my teeth, I found websites like Lifehacker and 43folders – sites that had cool little tips to help make life easier. Through them I found my way to David Allen’s GTD. I applied GTD over a summer and just from putting it together and following the basics of The System, I went from a C average to a B average in university, and I’m getting better all the damn time. Now workloads don’t seem so harsh because I have them on paper, and because I’m able to work out my essays in good time I’m producing much, much better work.

Find the right time to work for you

Saturday, December 16th, 2006

I had a big essay due in on Friday (2,500 words on Phenomenology in Archaeology), and I managed to get it in on time… just. But it was a stressful time for me, and I want to talk to you guys about what I’ve learned from the experience.

In looking at the weeks work, I notice one important factor – I was at my best and most motivated in the morning, normally around 9am-11am. I noticed this earlier, but that knowledge didn’t sink in, and when I meant to work in the afternoon after time at university, I found myself playing Halo instead, despite my best intentions. I got about 200 words done that day when I had wanted to do at least 500.

So, I implore you dear readers, all of you: look at your energy levels throughout the day, grade your energy levels, say – then schedule your most challenging projects for that time.

Twenty Uses for Post-it Notes

Sunday, December 10th, 2006

Awesome, I’d never have though of the keyboard cleaning fuctionality