February 7, 2014 – Productivity and Focus

This week’s newsletter is on productivity and focus, a few tools, tips and stories around just doing it. Remember though, reading about productivity is not really being productive.

{ Techniques }

xkcd reminds us to ask is it worth the time to optimize a routine task – take into the account the time it takes to do the optimization.

“The most productive people I know don’t read these books, they don’t watch these videos, they don’t try a new app every month. They are far too busy getting things done to read Getting Things Done.” from James Bedell’s look at The Trap of Productivity Porn

As much as I know the above is true, I still come across things like Bullet Journal and fall for it and its beautiful stationary, photography and penmanship; epic todo lists of beauty. Who cares about getting stuff done when your todo list has so much style!?

Don’t set goals, they just make you unhappy. James Clear writes “the problem with the goal mindset is that you’re teaching yourself to always put happiness and success off until the next milestone is achieved”

{ Avoid Distractions }

A popular method to maintain focus is the Pomodoro Technique which you dedicate 25-minute intervals to a single task, set a timer and when it goes off take a short break. You can put off any interruptions or distractions for that short-period.

The pomodoro technique seems counter to getting into The Zone which may take 15 minutes to reach and once there, you want no interruptions. However, if you get stuck and can’t get anything done as Joel writes, pomodoro might be a way to kick your self in the butt.

A tip from me is try to avoid the Stats Refresh Compulsion, you know the hour after you post something and you check 30 times if you received a like, a re-tweet, views or some sort of validation. You don’t need to see each one come in and you’re going to check again in an hour, just wait.

{ Tools }

Inbox Pause is a nifty tool to do just that put a pause on your email. If you are trying to get work done reading and answering emails, getting new ones in is distracting. Inbox Pause helps remove that distraction but putting new mails on hold.

A quick tip, don’t login to a remote machine to just run a single command. You can easily send a remote command using ssh.

Need to run the same command on multiple machines, check out dsh: the distributed shell. An easy to use tool to send commands to many machines. Available in most package repositories, just an apt-get install dsh away.

Get instant coding answers via the command line using Benjamin Gleitzman’s howdoi tool. This handy utility pulls answers from Stack Overflow and displays nicely all on the command-line.

{ Bits & Bytes }

Save yourself some time and just trust the experts. There are a few electronics and gadgets that interest me, which I’ll research and spec out a bunch. However, the majority of devices, I just want a quality product. Now I’m using the Wire Cutter as my trusted source. If I’m looking for something I just trust whatever they say is best.

Along the same lines, don’t research basic things such as the best pen to buy some of us have problems, pen addicts, and as enthusiasts can read and write in depth about a mundane topic. Sometimes you just need a Bic and go. The Wire Cutter says, the Uni-ball Jetstream is the best.

A time sink, but in my research for this edition I came across Behance articles 99U – Insights on making ideas happen a whole slew of productivity porn articles – be careful you don’t spend too much time reading about how to save time.

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