Posts Categorized: Productivity

Habit Forming

Posted by & filed under Productivity.


“Look further down the road, you’ll have more time to prepare.” – my driver’s ed instructor I floss my teeth every morning. For at least a decade, I didn’t. I had my excuses. None of them sound. Then, about 2 years ago, I had a bit of a tooth scare and committed to finding a […]

No Client Work Before Lunch

Posted by & filed under Productivity, Work.

Photo by Cult Gigolo

Patrick and I have been meeting for a Monday morning coffee for years now. It’s an excellent way to start the week. As good as it is, it still fell by the wayside when my new daughter was born. Once we reconvened, he asked me what I found valuable about our conversations. Without thinking I […]

How to Empty Your Email Inbox

Posted by & filed under Email, Productivity.

TL;DR: The calendar is the vessel, not the inbox. According to my email service, I receive approximately 1 non-spam message for every 4 spam messages. Everyday 400 obviously unwanted messages are destroyed for every 100 allowed through. Many of those 100 are easy enough to delete as well. Over the course of any given day, […]

$20 Standing Desk

Posted by & filed under Productivity.

I’m no longer frustrated that I’m not comfortable in the chair – I got rid of it. A couple months back, I started a serious and deliberate re-work of my office. While the introduction of a monitor extension arm helped – I was still uncomfortable. By the end of the day, I was achey, cranky, […]

Introducing: The Daily Reality Planner

Posted by & filed under Productivity, Projects.

“Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.” – President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Nov 14, 1957 If you’re like me, you’ve continually struggled with answering 1 question: “Where did today go?” To Do lists are helpful in identifying what should be done. Assigning those To Do items a date and time on the calendar declares when […]

Corkboard Productivity

Posted by & filed under Productivity.

There’s a corkboard downstairs in what I enjoy calling the ‘machine shop’. In fact, there are 2 corkboards. A big one on the main wall, behind a heavy, wooden desk with a dozen perfectly sized drawers – and a second, smaller one on the back wall. When we moved into this house 3 years ago, […]

How I Reached Inbox Zero(ish)

Posted by & filed under Email, Productivity.

Something must be in the air. Like Dave, I’ve been making a concerted effort to clean out my email inbox over the past couple weeks. All year, I’ve been fluctuating between 80 – 140 messages, not including the hundreds sitting in my ‘Respond to’ folder. For the past week, I’ve been steadily at Inbox Zero. […]

Distraction Elimination Week: Day 4: Visual Field

Posted by & filed under Productivity.

There are 2 major visual field distrations; inside the monitor, outside the monitor. First, inside the monitor: Since 1997, my desktop background has been “Solid Gray Medium”. I’ve played with other shades of gray, but always found SGM to be the most neutral, keeping the focus on the applications I’m working in and making screenshots […]

Distraction Elimination Week: Day 3: Applications

Posted by & filed under Productivity.

I normally have around 10 different applications open and running at any given time – a persistent set of communications apps (Adium,, SpamSieve), a couple browsers (Safari, Camino), and the 2-4 apps necessary for whatever I’m doing at the time. Adium’s Preferences really let you dial it’s presence down. In Advanced > Contact List […]

Distraction Elimination Week: Day 2: OS X Finder

Posted by & filed under Productivity.

The human eye is extremely sensitive to changes in the visual field – especially in the periphery. The OS X Finder places quite a few distractions – changing things unrelated to the task at hand – in the edges of the screen. Let’s eliminate them. Start by opening up System Preferences: Dock: Check “Automatically hide […]

Why I Prefer Working Outta the Home Office

Posted by & filed under Productivity.

“You’d think working in close proximity to your co-workers would keep you accountable, but most times it has the opposite effect. We actually attempt to hide ourselves in a cloud of co-workers hoping no one notices our lack of speed and productivity.” – Arik Jones Unless everyone in the office is working on the exact […]

Distraction Elimination Week: Day 1: Audio

Posted by & filed under Productivity.

Each day this week, I’m minimizing some distraction on my MacBook Pro. Today, it’s the unnecessary and often redundant audio noises. In the OS X Finder, go to System Preferences > Sound and make sure all three checkboxes are unchecked. In, go to Preferences > General and select “None” in the New mail sound: […]

Productivity Tip: Quicksilver Not For Long, Slow Scripts

Posted by & filed under Productivity, Quicksilver.

After reading LifeHacker’s excellent Beginners Guide to Quicksilver I thought I’d try somethings I haven’t asked Quicksilver to do before. Like shell scripts. I know I’ve got one lying around – here’s one – my backup script. Bad idea. Quicksilver is unresponsive while the script is running and completely ignores my increasingly frantic key invocations. […]

Failed Ideas as Fuel

Posted by & filed under Lean Thinking, Productivity.

“Ideas are easy, so let’s have lots of them.” “Invest in them incrementally.” “Make sure that the ideas we invest in can be “recycled” by adding to the collective intelligence and business capabilities, so that if they don’t work out individually we have created food for other groups to use.” – Adam Richardson

How I’m Getting Things Done – Part 2

Posted by & filed under Productivity.

It’s been 3 months since my concerted effort to be more organized and productive. Some pretty good progress. Email Inbox: 0 Flagged Emails: 0 Flagged Newreader Items: 0 ‘Clean Out’ directory contains: 12 items Physical Inbox: ignored 43 Folders: ignored As I mentioned in my previous post, every next action is goes into the stack […]

When Not To Do a Holiday Logo for Your Software

Posted by & filed under Productivity, Software, Worst Practices.

Earlier this week, graphic designers everywhere swapped out regular logos for Halloween-themed ones. Google, MacUpdate are just two I bumped into within my browser. Outside of my browser – TextMate – also changed it’s normally non-descript logo earlier this week to a glowing jack-o-lantern. The difference is huge. Each day, I ignore Google’s logo microseconds […]

How I’m Getting Things Done

Posted by & filed under Productivity.

After years of using Apple’s Stickies as my standard To Do list organizer, I’m a month into an entirely new productivity system. It’s working out pretty well. With David Allen’s Getting Things Done as a foundation, here are the modifications I’ve made: Next Actions:This is a stack of index cards. One thing per card – […]

“If It’s in iCal, It’s Real”

Posted by & filed under Productivity.

Part of yesterday’s desk cleaning was taking a critical look at my Thing To Do stickie and committing to trimming it down. All the To Do List things I’ve looked at are independent of calendar – aside from some vague notion of deadline. A while back in scheduling a conversation with Dave Slusher, he said; […]

Good Prototypes Remove Everything Else

Posted by & filed under Productivity, Prototypes.

Back in ’97 I spent some time at a Shockwave game boutique (didn’t we all). One day, a technology vendor sent over a prototype game – highlighting a new interaction model. The game was obviously a prototype but we weren’t sure of what. All the elements on-screen very simple shapes and a random color (is […]

What is Failure?

Posted by & filed under Productivity, Thought of the Day.

The other day, I was talking with a software engineer about a potential project. During the conversation, he asked if I was ever on a project that failed. “Failed?” I’ve worked on thousands of projects and given that more than 50% of project fail. I asked for a definition. “The project didn’t launch,” he responded. […]

Productivity Tip: Empty Your Dock

Posted by & filed under Best Practices, Productivity, Software.

Back in the pre-OS X days, I used DragThing religiously to keep applications, websites, and documents at my finger tips. That mentality migrated with me to OS X – put everything in the Dock, keep it handy. Today, I shed it. Inspired partially by my preparation for the Tiger upgrade and partially by my proficiency […]

Greater Productivity By Turning Things Off

Posted by & filed under Productivity, Work.

A couple weeks ago, I was having a tough time focusing. The culprit turned out to be a little red dot in my NetNewWire dock icon – the unread post count. I’ve unchecked that count in the preferences and my ability to focus has increased (Manton Reece did the same). First, biologically, our peripheral vision […]

An Unexpected Yak Shaving

Posted by & filed under Lean Thinking, Productivity, Work.

One of the bathtub faucets has leaked for a couple weeks. Monday, I could no longer ignore it. That same day, Seth Godin introduced me to Yak Shaving. yak shaving: Any seemingly pointless activity which is actually necessary to solve a problem which solves a problem which, several levels of recursion later, solves the real […]