In Defense of Fiddling

Some one sentence thoughts in defense of fiddling with your system…

I often find that switching things up a bit, to a new task/productivity application or cool new paper product, often brings the “interstingness” in my productivity system back to life for me and gives a whole new spark to my productivity.

In other words, I am so excited by the shinny new car that I tend to drive a little faster, turn up the radio and sing along with a joy an exuberance I have long since lost.

While the basics of the system (capture, review, do) never really change, and neither do some of the tools that just plain work for me, I like changing things up a bit for freshness.

Don’t get me wrong, there are certainly people who are more interested in searching for the “perfect productivity system” then in actually implementing and sticking with one.

There are also people who think that the perfect piece of software or someone else’s methods will solve all of their productivity problems like the holy grail.

I am not defending this behavior.

What I am defending is people who have a system in place who regularly change out the tools they may use to implement that system just to try out new things and keep it all fresh.

It is all about developing a system you trust after all, if you have that then the tools should be fairly interchangeable.

Dropping the Science on Dropbox

I have been an active user (and mostly a fan) of Apple’s iDisk feature. It is probably the main reason I have kept my .Mac membership for so long. With the recent increases in storage there I thought I would never even look in any other direction. That being said, along with the recent storage increase has come even more flakiness. Sometimes, my iDisk will go for days with a “failure to sync” and then, mysteriously, just start working again. After trying everything possible to fix this, it still remains and has become something I just have accepted as “part of doing business” with .Mac because, well, I know I am not alone in my troubles.

Dropbox is a new file synchronization service that has just entered into private beta, and boy is it exciting. It takes all of the features of of other similar services (Box.net, FolderShare, and the aforementioned .Mac iDisk feature) and does them better, faster and more elegantly. I have been happily using it for a couple of weeks now and, dare I say, I am about a few days away from disconnecting my iDisk and never looking back.

In my mind, here are the ways that Dropbox beats iDisk:

* Syncing is faster. Way faster. As in “I can’t believe it synced the files that fast. I better open the file to make sure” faster. This is due, in part, to the fact that once a file is synchronized, and you then make changes to that file, only the changes are then synced. It is also due to the fact that the underlying technology is not Apple’s slow-as-dirt implementation of WebDav.

* It keeps a copy of any and all changes to your documents and files. Make a change that you wish you had not? Delete a file or folder by accident? No problem. Just log into the web interface and revert to a previous version – any pervious version. Or if it was a deletion, undelete it. That change will then sync to your machines. Awesome!

* You can login to the web interface and have access to your files from any machine. Therefore, if you are not on your machine and need to retrieve a file and have synced it with Dropbox, you can do so using a web browser. You can also upload new files via the web interface and those will then sync to the machines you have interfaced with Dropbox.

* You can also share any folder in your Dropbox with others, even if they do not have Dropbox. Simply enter the e-mail address of the person you wish to share with and they will get an e-mail with a link to that folder, granting them the access you have per the permissions you have given them.

To get an even better idea of Dropbox, they have a video demo up on their site that is worth checking out. As stated, this is still in beta and there are many more features coming down the pipe. The beta is closed right now but keep this service on your radar screen and sign up for an invite if any of this stuff may be even remotely useful to you.

Remainders 03.25.2008 – Zen Edition

A little something different for the remainders this time around. As some out there may know, I have been a long time practitioner and subscriber to Buddhist philosophy. While I am certainly no zen master, I have used these practices to keep a whole lot of daily stress (and many a personal demon) at bay.

I have recently been impressed by the number of great posts on meditation, mindfulness, zen practices and Buddhism that have been popping up amongst my productivity blog brethren and sisterhood. Here are just a few of the better ones that have caught my attention:

* 43 Folders: Video: Jon Kabat-Zinn on mindfulness and “falling awake” – This is a great commentary and link to a fantastic video of noted meditation and mindfulness expert, Jon Kabat-Zinn. The video was taken at a recent talk he did a Google. If you would like some sort of low impact introduction into the practice of these techniques, I can think of no better place to start than here. The video is longish (about an hour) but well worth tuning out for a bit to tune in.

* Zen Habits: 12 Essential Rules to Live More Like a Zen Monk – A few things that you can take away from the way a buddhist monk lives their daily practice. These include, doing one thing at a time, doing these things slowly, completely and with a deliberate effort to do less in order to appreciate and enjoy more.

* Dumb Little Man: Meditation Techniques for the Busy or Impatient – Meditation does not have to be some difficult, time consuming, years to master task that a lot of people perceive it to be. As a matter of fact, you can incorporate simple meditation into many ordinary daily activities. This post covers exactly that. The shower meditation is a particular favorite of mine. Good stuff.

Kudos to all who continue to allow this stuff to bubble up to the surface. I deeply believe that freedom from stress and worry is only achieved when we learn to let go of the past, allow the future to remain in place, and take real, honest, compassionate, right minded, action in the present. After all, if you waste energy worrying about things you can’t change, then you miss spending that energy right here and now – in this very moment- on the things you can.

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