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Productivity

Update – Monday morning. Smoke is clearing. Dave is smiling. I can’t believe I got nearly every frigging thing on my list done. Thanks to those that helped, especially J and S. I feel caught up and a tremendous weight has been lifted from my formerly overwhelmed shoulders. Maintaining a house is no joke and I’m learning a lot. The most important lessons so far, which I’d like to share, are 1) Make lists (further explanation below in the original post) and 2) Be doing something everyday to make that list shorter – thereby avoiding the aforementioned (and inevitable) “overwhelmshion”. Tasks which could not be completed have notes in red below, and I just made the final list update if you’d like to check my score.

Over my nearly 6 years as a blogger I have seen and taken part in some of the many ways in which your website can cross over and effect your real life. I was nearly lynched in the North End. You may remember the semi-successful Pork Ass Challenge. Recently I’ve been writing a lot about productivity and workflow. Less about Blade Runner.

Although I myself haven’t had a cigarette since New Year’s Eve 1999 there are many blogs devoted to nothing but the author attempting to quit smoking. These, usually futile, attempts are the perfect example of this post’s purpose – calling your shot in public. If you fail to quit the lung rockets, the drinking, the over-eating, the necrophelia – everyone is going to know because you publicized your intentions. Not wanting to appear like a weak windbag in front of your friends can enable you to move mountains. A simple blog post declaring your noble intentions then becomes enormous motivation for completing your mission. And I’m going to need all the motivation I can muster this weekend.

This is all, word-for-word, from a text file I’ve had open on my desktop and have been adding to since I got back from Gooch’s wedding on Tuesday. If you’re a GTD fan you’ll notice some of that methodology (next steps, context lists, etc.) ingrained. If you don’t know what GTD is, and you’re feeling overwhelmed by tasks at work or in your personal life, you absolutely have to buy and read the book I’ve listed to the left. It’s saved my life, and if I were a richer man I’d buy it for you – but I shouldn’t have to because it’s under $10. That, my friends, is a testimonial of which you should take heed.

 

June 20th & 21st Task List

Phone
Call Wentworth
Call Spencer re: laptop & dartboard
Call Steve Brig & Schedule alternate trailer deliveryCall Bob re: trailer rental and his truck
Call Erynn re: dates for visit
Call Brooks-Cryderman re: radiant heating – will do today. Not in office on weekends.
Call Mike Bell re: satelitte installation
Call Best Buy re: laptop and hard drive repair

Yard
Finish staining dock – Got the supplies I need but wanted to wait for sunny weather to paint.
Get stain & brushFinish dock trim
– Paint trim and install – See above.
Call Don re: tractor and whipper-snipper repair
– Repair tractor – Got the belt and took the tractor apart with the help of my neighbor and noticed a crack in one of the very dull blades which has puppy behading-potential. Going to get two new blades then re-assemble tonight with new belt in place.Repair whipper-snipper
Get belt for tractor
– Take whipper-snipper to small engine repair shop – Ended up investing in a SICK new one with an 18″ snipping diameter, brush cutting and edging features. This property needs a serious whipper snipper.
Fix lake pumpGet new foot valve. Bring old one for sizing– Add new valve, prime, get taps working – Lost the primer cap while working on it Saturday and the new foot valve shot off the end of the hose like the Nautalis. Realized I needed thread tape and got some Sunday when I went to Home Hardware to replace the cap. Almost over the finish line.
Pickup dog pooPickup loose trash
Store all tools and hardware
Clean up mess by basement door
– Burn wood – Was too wet to burn over the weekend, but everything scheduled for incineration has been moved to the fire pit. All I have to do is light a match.
Add glass and refuse to outgoing trash for Monday
Move deck umbrellaMove ladder to garage

Office
Clean office
Store boxesHang picturesOrganize Mom’s deskFile all loose documentsMove current files back onto clean desk area
Fill bank shelves and then mark for actionMove fax machine
Move hard driveGive laptop to Spencer
Scan trust documents for Janet
Clean out work and personal email inboxes

Winchester
Clean Winchester
– Sweep
– Mop
– Change bedding
Install strike plate – I forgot this can’t be done until a proper door frame is built. Shouldn’t have been on the list.
Put tread on stairs – Couldn’t find any. Will likely just cut bathtub tread to fit.

Garage
Sort trash
– Recyclables
– To be burned
To be returned
Return bottles
Mark garbage with tags for Monday a.m.
Burn the burnable

House
Laundry
Master bedroom, sheets only
Loose clothes in Dave’s room
Winchester bedding
Hang, beat and store mats
Clean back deck
Assemble umbrella
Return kegs and tap for deposit
Move bins to garage
Store satellite equipmentChange side lightbulb
Sort Dave’s room
Fix closet door
Hang mirror
Clean out closet
Hang pictures

Basement
Hang dartboard
Cover pool table
Brush pool table
Clean pool table coverClean rest of photo glass and rehang
Reclean floor re: dog and cat urineClean out and restock fridge

Smiths Falls
Get dock stain & brushGet new wallet
Get foot valve
Get laundry detergentGet stair treadGet belt for tractorTake whipper-snipper to repair shop

Miscellaneous
Go visit Dad on Sunday. Check times in letter or phone ahead.
Clothes to GoodwillGet fucking hydratedTreat head wound (long story)
Don’t get distracted (shitfaced)

I won’t get everything done this weekend. I say that because some items, such as launching the boat, are dependant on weather or other people over whom I have no real physical or mental control. Yet. I’m going to get damn close, though, and I’ll update you on Monday, beaming proudly and feeling a whole lot better than I do right now. Dave is in the weeds. Dave needs a “life” whipper-snipper. Don’t believe me? Just see item #3 under “Yard”.

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First Day with the New Workflow

by Dave on May 7, 2009

in Worky

Hearkening back to my post last week about how to best integrate an iPhone with an existing, primarily Microsoft-based work process – I think I may finally have it. And I say ‘finally’ because I’ve been hammering away at this like one of the Seven Dwarves ever since. This whole mess really deserves a graphic of some sort, but part of the new flow is that I start work promptly at 9am – so that will have to wait.

I get up at 7:30, shower, feed the dogs then 8-9 is for blogging, RSS feed reading and personal email. At 9am the whistle blows and currently I’ve got only 9 minutes to finish this post. If that sounds rigid it’s because it is – and I need it to be that way.

dopey-dwarfEmail: I’ve abandoned Outlook for Thunderbird – a free, open source and lightning-fast email client with many of the same features and none of the ridiculous loading or lag time. I’ll write more on all these new cogs in my workflow wheel later.

Calendar: Google Calendar was the hands-down winner due to the fact it’s compatible, or has a plugin, for just about every productivity application out there. It plays well with others.

Contacts: Still working this one through. I’d love it to be Thunderbird, but it’ll likely end up being Plaxo as I already have a well-worn account there and the import/export and networking features are slick. Ideally I’d like something that can sync comfortably back-and-forth with my iPhone.

Tasks: This is the discovery I’m really excited about, as I am a GTD disciple and list-making maniac. You name it and I’ve tried it – Remember the Milk, the native Outlook task list, SimpleGTD, etc. After my own painstaking research and reading about 100 blog posts on the subject there is a very clear winner: Toodledo. Thank goodness I found this wonderful site, its iPhone application, Google Calendar and FireFox plugins and iGoogle gadget. My task list nerdery will now know no bounds.

I’ll revisit this post throughout the day (but only during scheduled breaks for personal time, mind you!) and update you on how the new workflow is working out. Wish me luck, and if you feel a need to remark “Gee, Dave. I remember my first beer,” I’ll understand.

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In an attempt to better utilize my new Apple-flavored device for work-related tasks, I am attempting to transfer my email universe completely out of Outlook and into Gmail/Calendar. Last night I installed Remember the Milk on the phone and also added plugins for it to Gmail and GCalendar. This quad-fecta should conceivably connect my task list, calendar, email addresses, phone numbers, email accounts and all in a mobile-friendly manner.

juggleThere is, however, a problem. I’ve been using Outlook for over a decade and I’m having a really hard time envisioning GMail ever having the fanatical level of organization that I’m used to and require – lest I lose the plot, tear off my shirt and go sit at the end of my dock for the rest of the business day.

There are no folders. Filters can replace Outlook rules, but there are no folders to sort mail into. I don’t like the way the conversation threads have the most recent emails at the bottom of the page. Having all 7 of my frequently used email accounts aggregated into GMail should be convenient – but I don’t like having it all bundled together on the same screen – even with GMail’s “labels” attached to each separate account. Am I doomed to return to Microsoft’s diabolical fold? I’ve attempted similar transformations in the past.

Here’s what I’d like. Nay – what I’d love. Share your systems. We all have one. Especially if you use GMail. Share your personal processes and workflows here in the comments and list any online or application based tools you depend on to get the job done. How does everything talk to each other? Phone syncs? IMAP? POP? Let’s get it all out on the table. I’ll get the ball rolling with some specific items to address:

  1. What do you use for email?
  2. How do you manage your contact list?
  3. To what extent is your mobile device part of your workflow?
  4. What do you use for a calendar?
  5. Have you modified any of the above with plugins or addons?

Take it from there, if you dare. You’ll feel better, I’ll blatantly steal your best ideas and we may all learn something useful in the process. You make me want to be a more productive man.

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