productivity

Hat brain

illustration of brain processes, by Robert Fludd circa 1619

Do you ever get hat hair? You know, what happens when you've been wearing a hat or visor and you take it off and your hair is all dented and messed up?

I get hat brain. It comes from having to change hats so often during the work day. Designer hat. Project manager hat. CEO hat. Coder hat. Community member hat. Marketer hat. So many hats! And I have to wear many of them each and every day.

And that's hard. It's especially hard when jumping from a designer or coder hat, where I'm deep in flow puzzling out something, experimenting, totally immersed, to a project manager or CEO hat, where I'm stepping back, looking at the big picture, strategy stuff, people interactions. Each hat leaves dents in my brain. It takes a few minutes to let the dents fade, a few minutes before I can realistically and effectively wear a different hat.

Right now I see timeboxing as an answer. I'm tempted to write a quick app to facilitate it, since I haven't seen anything too useful so far. But of course that would require changing hats.

Dropbox is what iDisk should have been

Of course, if Apple's iDisk didn't actually suck — didn't actually sync at dial-up data rates, didn't actually take days to sync a few megabytes of files, didn't actually stop syncing altogether at the first file conflict it encountered (which should be conflicting at all), didn't actually corrupt files due to all of the above — then Dropbox would probably have a much smaller market, at least among Mac users.

But iDisk does suck.

And Dropbox is easy peasy.

And Dropbox is also cross-platform, so you can sync across all kinds of computers.

And Dropbox makes individualized sharing of folders possible.

So now I am using Dropbox, and when my MobileMe account expires, I'll have to see if syncing other stuff via MobileMe is worth $99/year. After all, I'm already syncing email and calendars via Google.

This whole situation boggles my mind, though. It's not as if Apple didn't have the resources to make iDisk totally rock.

How to translate New Year's Resolutions into actions

Resolution time. It's the occasion to institute changes. Or at least resolve to change. It doesn't always work out, does it? The diet gets dropped. The fingernails get bitten. The cigarettes get smoked. The exercise gets blown off. And that's that. Right?

Maybe not. If you've ever had trouble shaking an addiction or behavior that ends up not serving your needs, you might find some hope (and results) in this analysis of addictive behavior, courtesy of Hyrum Smith, founder and creator of the Franklin planning system.

This post isn't about planning or time management. It's about the five-step cycle that drives our behavior.

I know I know, you probably believe this is just a bunch of hokum. (We'll get to beliefs and how they affect behavior in a minute.) But I'm not prescribing anything here. This is just a look at how behavior happens. I think it's empowering.

EULA blues: How can I synchronize Yojimbo without .Mac?

After comparing many programs for my regular note-taking, I keep returning to Yojimbo. The tagging system and spotlight support are enough for me to find my misc notes. Syncing via .Mac has a nice wrinkle in that it will merge changes to individual files, so if you update a file on one computer, and another file on the other computer, when you sync them both changes are reflected on both machines. Still, while the tagging approach can be fast, creating more complex relationships is difficult, if not impossible. In the end, Yojimbo is not ideal, and I'm still planning on trying alternatives, but this is what I have.

What's worse, I'm kind of painted into a corner because BareBones has decided, in their wisdom, to provide no way at all to export your items except one at a time. There's also no way to export for backup, unless you want to manually back up the Yojimbo Application Support folder in your user Library.

The anti-priority dogma -- er, canon -- of GTD and OmniFocus

So I've been playing with OmniFocus alpha to see if it can work for me as a personal productivity/task manager, but as I noted before, the system lacks a way to prioritize tasks. It seems rather obvious to me that you want to identify the important must-do items before you start filling in your day. I could spend all day answering the phone, reading and writing emails, catching up on my feeds, having meetings, doing conference calls ... and not getting done the things that need to get done.

Efficiency is getting things done. Effectiveness is doing the right things.

Apparently, despite a hopeful comment from Ethan Schoonover, there seems to be little hope that prioritization will appear in OmniFocus. I'm only digging into this now, but a discussion thread on the topic revealed a dogma about the Getting Things Done "canon":

Just do it! (Do what?)

Shelley directs our attention to Anne Zelenka's SXSW-prompted rant, which includes this:

4. Too many to do list applications. As a Web Worker
Daily writer, of course I’m interested in to do lists and applications implementing them. But just because you can build one with whatever web framework you’re trying to learn doesn’t mean you should release it as a beta and expect me to write about it.

...

8. Getting Things Done. The productivity virus so many of us have been infected with in 2006 and 2007. Let’s move on. Getting lots of stuff done is not the way to achieve something important. You could be so busy planning next actions that you miss out on what your real contribution should be.

Ken Camp chimes in:

Subscribe to productivity