Sometimes things work out

We took the dog to the park tonight on the way to the grocery store... we didn't have his kong or ball to throw but we figured we could at least run him. It was cold out, windy, and a little damp but we wanted to get him out but were a little disappointed we didn't have anything to play fetch with. See the park is really a big baseball field and we like to run the dog as far across the field as we can. We have a small yard and when we walk him he doesn't get a chance to go wide open (he loves to run). Well, we got to the field and started walking around when I saw what looked like an orange ball off in the distance. I went over with the dog and discovered a perfectly fine ball which we then played fetch with till the dog was exhausted. We repayed the favour the park had done for us by leaving the ball, hopefully to be found by another lucky dog. The moral: sometimes, even when things aren't perfect, you just have to go for it; you never know when things will work out.

Sleep -- nice

So the last three nights I have hit the sack at 10PM and risen at 6AM. That's 8 LONG hours of sleep. I have woken up at night, as usual, but go right back to sleep. Also, I seem to be in remission from a health issue that was causing a lot of back pain. The combo of a better diet, regular cardio at the gym, and all this sleep seems to be working. My hope is that I'll become more productive as a result of all this sleep. I was never really doing anything useful being up late or waking in the middle of the night and staying up. I might watch TV or surf the web but I wasn't crossing things off my list. The plan is really to spend 33% of my time in bed, the rest hopefully will become more productive as a result. I also plan to do less during the week when it comes to my personal goals; instead, I am saving these for the weekend. What I had been doing was trying to squeeze in an hour or so on a personal project (whether it was "check tire pressure and clean the car", or "build new XYZ software thingy") late at night instead of turning in early. This is obviously (now) counter-productive and actually feeds my sleeping troubles. I'll keep track of how well things go here. Oh, I also plan to "let myself" stay up late on Friday and Saturday nights so I don't feel like I HAVE to go to bed all the time. I should WANT to go to bed early... if things go well, I will hit the sack around the same time on weekends, too, but by choice.


Moon rise - Sleep disorder

I have been having a lot of trouble sleeping lately... Like for the last 10 or 15 years, say. Hence my love of energy drinks. For a few years here and there I have been a good sleeper but I have also had major bouts with insomnia. In the last year and a half I realized that when I was at the point where the lack of sleep was affecting my life (and you don't always notice; it creeps up on you) I decided it was OK to take sleeping pills to get the sleep I needed. I do this maybe three times a year for a couple of days running. This puts me back on track and gets me sleeping again. After that I am good to go and start sleeping between 10:30 and 11 every night (I get up at 6 every morning). This is WAY better than 12:30 or 1:30 bedtimes or rising in the middle of the night for a couple of hours. I wouldn't recommend the pills to everyone but they do work. And yes, I have tried all the standard sleep techniques (e.g. bed at the same time every night, winding down before bed, no napping, I don't drink coffee, etc). Anyway, off to bed! Once I do the dishes, that is.


Ice storm!

Holy ice, Batman! I spent some time outside scraping ice and putting down salt. The car was covered with a thick layer and was barely scrape-able. I was using my pocket knife to get in under it to create air pockets allowing it to slide off. In other news reports are in from friends in different parts of the city:
  • one was hit no less than three times with ice falling from various things over head during a short walk
  • another was "almost killed" when their car started sliding towards him on the ice; he was able to redirect it onto the grassy shoulder of the driveway where it stopped moving before "exploding in a fireball of heat and light"
Having just returned from a short walk to the drug store I have to tell you if you live near me (do you?) stay off the sidewalks. Very treacherous. Bring on the rain now.


TODO capture tool

I use TODO list all the time for work and personal stuff. Even though it is super-easy to use I find the act of opening it to make a quick note can often suck me into reviewing my lists and next actions. I think I need to make a little tool similar to Launchy. Ideally, this tool would allow me to enter a project and a TODO item. It would then add this as a line item to a TODO list file (I guess it could search for an existing item called "project" and add the todo item as a child). Every so often I could review that list and move the captured items where they belong (so yet another inbox on top of email and my physical inbox). The idea here is that all I would see would be a couple of text fields... I type the item, hit enter, and am back to work. I think this would increase my over-all efficiency. Launchy and TODO list are open-source. I should be able to make this work. :)


GTD with Thunderbird

http://entropicprincipal.blogspot.com/2005/09/using-thunderbird-to-get-things-done.html entropic principal: Using Thunderbird to Get Things Done I am going to try this out at work for a while... Seems like a good system.
I ran through my inbox with it... Seemed to work ok but the labels don't work for me. I know they are pure GTD but I don't always follow the system exactly. I never (almost never) delete correspondence so for me there is no need to mark things as deletable... Instead I mark them as "processed" which means "I read it, I can archive it, nothing further needs to be done". For my email technique these labels work better (I think):
  • Action Required
  • Archive - contains useful info
  • Archive - general (I save everything)
  • Waiting
  • Meetings/Agendas (these are in my calendar but I use a paper agenda so it is useful to see at a glance what I have coming up -- I know, I know, paper agendas are dumb... I have my reasons)
I am on day three of this system and have to say I am REALLY impressed with how easy it is to manage my inbox. I used to try to process my inbox to zero but would frequently defer filing my email. I used "important", "useful info", and "meeting/agenda" as my labels. Adding "waiting" and "processed - archive" has made it much easier to filter things.


Who's it for? Internal and external drivers for prioritizing

This post isn't about productivity in general as much as it is about prioritizing TODOs in the short term. Whether you use GTD, write lists on the back of napkins, or have a personal assistant track everything for you, at some point you need to sit down and decide what to do next. This decision depends on time, inclination, what's at hand, etc (this is familiar sounding to fans of David Allen's GTD system). Anyway, what I try to do is always ensure that I accomplish at least a couple of things for others before I do things "just for me". I know that I am supposed to put myself first, and no one is more important than me, and I need to love myself and all that crap but in reality two things motivate me to do things for others first:
  1. I can't relax and enjoy things for me if I know I am preventing others from doing this (NOTE: this is NOT always the case when it comes to external drivers for TODO items and so not everything has urgency for me in this way)
  2. If you don't get things done from other people's perspectives they are less likely to want to rely on you, work with you, trust you, etc. Sometimes this is a good thing, if they are unwanted. For those you do want in your life, though, this is a huge thing.
Anyway, it comes down to being able to enjoy downtime and not being a chump. That is one way in which I prioritize what I want to do next.


File explorer addin - quick local backup

This would be available as a right-click item on a list of files and/or directories. The UI is:

- right click to archive

- the file is archived into the local directory by making a copy

- the file is renamed "filename.ext.orig-20070308" and uses -001 -002 etc as suffix if there is already one from today or whatever.

Selling on Ebay

Lately, and uncharacteristically, I have been buying things on eBay. It started out with a cable, that led to another cable, and now I am hooked. Next purchase? Who knows? Maybe some cheap, generic energy drinks? Or something nice for home defense? Anyway, it led me to thinking about how easy it would be to be an ebay seller. If only I had something to sell. I need to think about it. My domestic partner (to use a Friendster term) sometimes sells clothing on ebay. She might see something priced low at the store or maybe has tired of an outfit. She doesn't do it very often but I think it makes sense and is a great idea. OK, 10 second brainstorm of stuff I could sell: - my old GPS (Magellan 315 w. cable and manual) - used books? is that worth it? - dirty socks... - an instructional video on how to make the best pizza ever (actually, I plan to give that away for free here on the blog soon) Anyways, I'll think of something. Whatever it is I'll need lots of it and it better be cheap. Stuff + ebay + ??? = Profit


Organize your hangers

Here is how I organize my closet. I'll use shirts as an example. In my closet I have short sleeved shirts, dress shirts, long sleeved shirts, and fleeces/hoodies. The dress shirts and fleeces/hoodies are few in number. They get hung on opposite ends of the closet with a few empty hangers on the inside of each... between them go tshirts on one side and long sleeved shirts on the other with lots of empty hangers between them. When I hang up laundered clothes I always put the clean shirts closest to the middle; short on one side of the empty hangers, long on the other. That way, I know all my favourite shirts are close the middle and the ones I never wear get shuttled off to the sides. Periodically, I can easily prune the outer shirts and either donate them or turn them into rags. There you go. This simple hack makes it easy to locate your favorite shirts and makes it easy to prune out those extra ones that accumulate in everyone's closet.


Democrat vs. Repulican - who is more interesting?

http://www.google.com/trends?q=democrat,+republican... That is a link to a google trend search for who is more interesting: Democrats or Republicans. I was just curious. Seems like interest spikes at the same time. As a layman, I would venture a guess that more Democrats search for info on Republicans than the other way around. Here is another one comparing just searches for "primary" information about both parties: http://www.google.com/trends?q=democratic+primary%2C+republican+primary... Both links are comparing searches from 2006, only.