Remainders 04.07.2008

Here are more random whisperings I picked up in overheard conversations in the crowded and overpriced pick-up bar that is called, The Internet:

There are some new and updated GTD Apps that may be of interest to you.

First off, if you live in GMail and have yet to give GTDInbox a try, now may be a good time. This Firefox extension converts GMail into a “productivity and personal management powerhouse”. It has recently been updated to version 2 and contains a bunch of new features.

If GMail is not your thing, maybe you want to give GTDAgenda a try. It is a new GTD based web application that is aiming to be the solution to all of your GTD needs. It contains it has all the tools required for getting your Org-fu on, like goals, projects and tasks, contexts, next actions, checklists, schedules and calendar.

Then again, maybe you have a Mac running Leopard (Mac OS 10.5). Well then, Dennis Best says that you really don’t need a specific GTD application – you have all of the tools you need right there in Leopard. He makes a pretty convincing argument for using iCal, Mail.app, smart folders in the Finder, and many other default tools to string together a pretty workable system.

Whither Productivity

The Growing Life is a recent favorite new blog of mine. One of the things I have enjoyed in the past few weeks of checking it out is the often “alternate” takes on productivity Clay, the author, offers. He often counters many of what has become accepted ideas about productivity and lifehacking – sleep hacking for instance – with reasoned, and well researched, counter arguments.

Recently, Clay laid down the gauntlet, by making this “Alternative Productivity” the main focus of the site – “Anti-Hacks” if you will. I love some of the ideas he is trying to express here:

> Albert Einstein correctly started that “problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.” Anti-hacks attempt to solve problems by approaching them at a higher level of thinking. For example, while David Allen says that peace of mind (i.e. mind like water) comes from creating exhaustive todo lists and getting everything out of your head, an anti-hack might involve meditation, because all the list-making in the world will not bring you to a meditative, mind-like-water state. An anti-hack might also involve quitting your job or taking the inefficient but nevertheless effective high road.

I think there is really something to this and am excited to see a different angle taken on the productivity/lifehack meme that I consider myself a member of. I recently posted about the trend I have noticed of productivity/lifehack bloggers becoming increasingly interested in Zen, Buddhist and Mindfulness practices. Some might argue that these ideas are in fact the opposite of what we in the western world have come to accept as “productivity”.

Then, there is the idea of asking the question – To what end are we desiring greater productivity? I often wonder if there would be less need for productivity and lifehacks if we did not feel the need to do so much. If such demands were not put upon us (expected of us) by the society we live in, the companies we work for, and the people we are accountable to. Some more food for thought – How is it that Americans work more, take less vacation, shorter breaks, yet still do not best many countries (Japan, Europe) in “productivity”. Is it because, perhaps, by doing more we are actually so stressed that we get less done?

What if, as the metaphor of “Atlas Shrugged” suggests, we simply give up on the weight of our worlds on our shoulders? What if we commit to going the other direction? This means doing less, not more. Doing it all slower, with greater attention and mindfulness, and, perhaps, actually getting things done.

Link: On Alternative Productivity and Anti-Hacks for Living | The Growing Life

The Today Page Experiment

In a post last week, I discussed my strategy for using a Today Card. That is, an index card with three tasks that I would like to accomplish with some room left for additional tasks, notes, and scratchpad items that come my way. One of the things that I find fascinating about blogging is that, sometimes, the real interesting things said are in the comments, not in the original post itself. That was very true in this instance and it spurred a new iation of this idea that I am experimenting with. It was mentioned by Damon in the comments and I am calling it the Today Page (I have a picture of it posted here).

Instead of an index card, I use one of my Cornell Ruled Circa pages. Title and date go at the top, then I divide it thusly:

* Action – These are the same three items as on the index card before. Three things I would like to try to accomplish that day.

* Agenda – I write down any and all calendar items that I may have going on that day. Even though they are on the calendar, I use a web based calendar and that tab is not always front and center in my browser. Writing them here helps to keep them front and center so I am mindful of them.

* Notes – This are is for anything I need to jot down for the day. It ends up being both scratchpad and short form journal of the day.

So far, this is working out very well. Some of the advantages are that, due to the left hand whitespace, I have an area for metadata. Also, by collecting everything together on one page, at the end of the day I have a pretty good top level view of the course of my day and how the time was spent. While not as small and portable as an index card, I have my Circa on my desk anyway so why not use it and ditch the card?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this, if you have tried anything similar, and how it has worked for you. Special thanks once again to Damon for spurring the idea.

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