Now Playing Tracks

Here…Not There

This week I’m visiting my old stomping grounds of Southern Ontario with my son on a brief (yet much-needed) trip.

So if you’re located in the Hamilton-Brantford-Toronto area and want to hang out sometime before Sunday, I’m game to do so. I’m currently plotting out my week, so drop me a line and let me add you to the plotting.

My brain is kind of messed up from flying through two time zones and into a third (from Pacific all the way to Eastern) – although usually it’s going west that causes problems. Then again, with a toddler along with me and my whole night owl thing in full effect, I shouldn’t be surprised.

Oh…and if you haven’t listened to the latest Mikes on Mics, we chat once again with C.J. Chilvers (although we don’t dive into what’s on his Mac this time around).1 It’s a great little chat, and you can get it over at the 70Decibels podcast network site right now. (And you might as well)

Now…to bed.

Photo credit: I like (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Powering Through

It was an awfully nice day yesterday. Sunny, warm(ish) and the type of day where you just want to be outside. My kids played outside, my wife took some time to do some outdoorsy stuff and I…well, I stayed in. 1

Why did I stay in? Because I had a lot of writing (and editing) to get done…and Sunday is a work day for me. It was really a no-brainer.

I gave up one sunny day now, but by doing so I won’t have to give up many more sunny days that are going to come later.

With a book in the works, editing duties for Lifehack that I needed to get ahead on (due to a day in the skies happening today) and packing for my trip all needing to be worked on, spending time outside yesterday wasn’t in the cards. The sunny days in Victoria are rare at this time of year (although they are becoming less rare as we get into May), but I simply couldn’t justify going outside for the bulk of the day so I could catch some scarce rays.

I decided to power through instead.

I know that June is around the corner. I’d like to have the time then to go outside, enjoy the weather and have some much-deserved free time. July isn’t too far off either. With my daughter out of school then, I’d rather power through now to get stuff done so I can spend more time doing less work then. Same goes for August and September. By doing a lot of front-end work now, I’m setting myself up for free time later.

Having the foresight to power through now will allow me to power down later.

Photo credit: Quinn Dombrowski (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Email

I’ve never been a fan of using an email application to manage tasks. That’s because I’ve tried, and know that it doesn’t work – at least not in a “standalone” manner.1 So I don’t use email as my task manager.

Instead, I have used apps that are meant solely for task and project management. They manage to integrate into email in a variety of different ways, but they keep email at bay so that I can work on the bigger picture stuff and deal with communication later.

But that can be a problem.

For those who use their email app to manage what they have to do, they tend to react and deal with their emails almost instantly – meaning they handle them as they come in and have less of a backlog. They also organize their emails in folders far more often than those who don’t use email to manage their tasks.

Basically, they consider emails to be…tasks.

For those who use task manager apps, email is a delivery method for tasks. They can contain actionable items but they don’t always do. Because they don’t spend as much time in their email app, emails tend to pile up. Unless they are diligent when they do check email, email can remain in limbo. This tends to happen with those who are moving from managing tasks within their email app to doing so with a task management app. It’s a change in habit that is challenging, and a high level of commitment is required.

(Heck, I’ve had it happen to me…and I’ve been doing this for a while.)

The other problem that can arise is that emails get “devalued” when you starts using a dedicated task management app. Not just the time you spend dealing with them (in terms of the amount of time), but the emails themselves experience it as well. That’s why I think services like Asana and Flow have got a real shot at bringing those who want to improve their productivity into the realm of task management apps. They use email differently than other more “traditional” task management apps, which gives them a leg up.

I’m not saying that I’m going to use my email app as my task manager (Asana is working out just fine for me), but I do get the frustration when someone makes the move from email task management to dedicated task management. There’s a lot to juggle, and it’s not an easy shift.

But I think it’s an important one…as long as value is seen on both sides of the equation. If it’s not, then don’t make the move – at least not yet. When you do get there, hopefully myself and others like me can help support you on the way.

I mean, isn’t that what the Internet is for?

Photo credit: Bruno Girin (CC BY-SA 2.0)

An Open Letter to AJ Jacobs

I’ve always been a big reader of non-fiction books. Heck, I talk about productivity to the point where I have dubbed myself (as well as others who do the same) as a “productivityist” and have even gone so far as to have written a manifesto for folks like me.

My wife, however, tends to read more works of fiction. She’s read The Hunger Games books, belongs to a book club and doesn’t get into reading non-fiction as much as I do. Then her book club picked one of your books as their monthly read, and she’s been a fan of yours ever since. Which is good, because I’ve been a fan as well. I haven’t read every page of all of your books, but I have read bits and pieces of each. I have read a lot of your work for Esquire, so I’d say that when it comes to writers that make me laugh and teach me something at the same time, you and Neal Pollack are my go-to guys.

But this goes beyond being a fan of your work. Way beyond. Not stalker-ish beyond, but still…

You see, my wife reads your work and can totally identify with your wife. To be fair, she’s probably more of a fan of your wife than anything else. She says the stuff you do is the kind of stuff I’d do – and do do. When she reads about you doing it, however, she laughs out loud. Not so much when I do it.

I’ve been thinking about her thoughts on this, and after looking at my writing we do tend to travel down experimental waters regularly. The readers at my weblog Vardy.me can attest to that. I’ve decluttered my devices through trial and error, wreaked havoc on my wife with my quest to get up earlier and I won’t even go into my risk-taking career shifts.

She’s read about your treadmill desk and asked me if I’d ever heard of such a thing. As Managing Editor of Lifehack, I explained to her that I “most certainly had” (and I’d actually mentioned it to her before). She noted how you were wearing Vibrams and how I wear them. She talks to me about outsourcing services now – even though I’d been talking about them for a while (and now knows I’d never use it to communicate with her…I leave AwayFind to do that for me over email). She’s told me to run to do my errands like you do and frankly…I’d rather outsource those.

With all of this in mind, I’d like to thank you for showing her that there is someone else out there – a writer, no less – who engages in the same kind of activity that I do. (She calls it crazy activity, but I preferred to remove the adjective.) I’m sure she’d love to have the chance to talk to your wife one day – if only to exchange stories of challenges undertaken and experiments conducted by you and me. Either way, she’s going through Drop Dead Healthy right now and chortling regularly as she does.

As for me, I’m adopting some of the things you’ve written about in your most recent book. I’m flossing regularly for the first time ever, have committed to getting in better shape and when I hit New York City next week I’ll be going underground into the subway to cross the street as you suggested.

I’m also feeling the need to get back into writing more humourous stuff. I waded my toe into the waters again with a recent post on a new social networking site and it felt really good to get that out there. Heck, I may even resuscitate my old Eventualism site where I satirized the very thing that brought me to the table: productivity.

So thank you for helping my wife not so much understand what I do and why I do it – but perhaps tolerating it just a little bit more than before. If we ever cross paths, I owe you a beer.

Or whatever crazy beverage we’re checking out at the time.

RIP, MCA.

I had met the Beastie Boys back in my campus radio days during a round table-style interview they arranged with a bunch of smaller media outlets, and saw them headline Lollapalooza.

So, so good.

While he was too young, and it was too soon, Adam “MCA” Yauch indeed died with “nothing to prove”.

To Tumblr, Love Pixel Union