All Posts in Productivity

May 20, 2013 - No Comments!

Read it Never

A web & mobile app that holds all articles you don’t want to read now.

“Pocket”, “Instapaper”, and “Readability” are all amazing tools for nothing. I love to use them, same as you. But they help you not to read anything. Problem is a combination between people and the concept. Whatever application you choose at the end the result is the same. You will endup not reading anything.

It all started with a cool concept of reading things later because people are too busy to read now. So something came up, others thought they could do better, created mobile app, came up with minimal UI, another rebranded, and so on. But no one actually stopped to think for a solution to the real problem. What all those services do is making the their interface is better and easier. But what is the real problem?

You start off with a new cool read it later. You start collecting interesting stuff whenever something comes up. At first, RIL is very handy and you’ll keep up for a while; until you get busy with something. You’ll keep adding, until it becomes unreadable. All those article and videos, important and unimportant one will be in one nest, too scare to even look at. So you endup leaving this service for another new one and fresh one, and the cycle begins all over again.

Procrastination. I don’t know if that’s really their goal. But they are not really about reading it later, they are about getting your mind of distractions. Which is pretty cool, but what about important articles and stuff you kept saving.

It’s not easy to come up with something that will revolutionise procrastination. Something that understands you. But lets see what we need. A service that can save article and media for later, gives you important stuff relevant for you, and doesn’t accumulate.

1. Social. It doesn’t need be with relations but it needs to know who are you connected to and see what they save, see what everyone saves, and connectes you with people with same interest. This graph is private for the api to get recommendations and rate articles for you.

2. Sorting mechanism. Like Hacker News and layervault’s Designer News, first thing you see should be popular —base on your interest not views and likes of everyone. So you don’t miss anything important, and if you are starting to read, its better to start off with something interesting to get you started with reading.

3. Maintain itself. With all the data it have from your graph, it should have pretty good understanding of what you want and don’t want to read, also with the rating for each article it would also help know which one to discard. Think of it like a garbage collector. If the rating is low, and there is no interest based discard it after a week. If it just just one of the variables leave it for a month, then discard, but if the rating is high it can be left for couple of months. The longer its there the less rating it will get.

The good thing about this, is that you’ll get motivated to read before things disappear, and if you can’t read now, you know you can catch up in no time.

Apps should be smarter than just a database, and not being social is not acceptable anymore. This is just a draft of a problem many of us are having. I believe RIL services can do better because they have more data, and people who can test this hypothesis. They can ignore the problem but at some point, someone will stop and think “Read it Later is broken, How can I fix that?” then act on it. Same as what Mailbox did.

April 14, 2013 - No Comments!

Forget everything, and immerse in isolation

By default, people multi-task. It’s been proven ineffective by many researchers; yet people ignore all those evidence and keep doing it. Anyway thats not the case with me.

I know that i’m a uni-tasker, and I was happy doing it for a while, but multi-tasking just can’t accept that. It keeps buggin in from time to time, asking me to check this, and do that, and with the easily distracted mind of mine, I lose the battle most of the time.

Problem lies in external and internal distractions.

Internal

The solution I found for internal distractions is to …

  • Clean your desk for only papers and stuff you’re using, and everything else out of sight
  • Use one paper to contain all tasks
  • Other papers for detailed representation of your thoughts.
  • Empty your Desktop, but keep documents that your working on or folders that your regularly access. (I use aliases for internal folders and put them on desktop)
  • Dock for apps that run 80% of the time
  • Launchpad for regularly used apps, one swipe away (Typing is fast but i’m lazier than to type 2 letters for opening an application)
  • Fullscreen Apps
  • Fullscreen browser with relevant tabs, or Presentation Mode with random ones
  • One mode at a time. If you design, then leave only design related apps, if you code then leave all code related apps. Don’t leave apps running in background.
  • Downloads is my inbox for everything. Dump is for random stuff that I don’t need, nor i want to delete them

Desktop

Launchpad

External

This kind of distraction seems inevitable, because anyone can call you for needing something, or co-workers interrupts to ask you about something.

For me I solved it by …

  • Flight mode or Don’t Disturb for focus periods.
  • Setting time for conversations. If your chatting, have a time limit for it. Then close your client, then check in after 3-4 hours depends on your time of focus
  • Closing personal email or notifications. I mainly use it for newsletter and registration
  • Silent work email. Close desktop client, but leave your phone client on silent, so after you finish your focus session, you can check it out
  • Leave email open for a specific period of time, if you’re having conversation. (It’s rude to leave someone hanging on the other end)
  • Avoid chatting. Because it takes a lot of time in side conversations. If want to communicate written words, email is very efficient, but if you want to explain something long and complicated, have a voice chat.

What’s the point?

Focus

Focus is the most important thing while working is to have those pure couple of hours. You can spend a day trying to solve a problem while it could’ve been done in just one hour. It’s not by the amount of time you give in, it’s the quality of work you get out.

Even if you love your work so much —as most of us do— Work is work, it’s tiring and sucks the life out of you. Try to grab best time to work, and dive right in for couple of hours, get back up, take a breath, connect with others, then get back down.

I tend distribute work across the day. To have couple of hours in the morning from 8-10, another session after my workout at 12-4. And final one at night around 7-9. This I consider too much work. So for you may be as short as 4 hours a day (If you are a designer). Change all you want but try to keep time from 20 minutes to 4 hours.

Respect your time before you ask others to respect it.

January 11, 2013 - No Comments!

Focus vs Goals: And The End of Resolutions

I’ve always been the man with the plan, always wanting to do something, change something, or learn something and planing ahead A, B, and even C. But most of the goals don’t get achieved and plan don’t work in any near way.

Happy New Year, I have 20 Goals to achieve this year, I want to do blah blah blah, and blah blah blah, …etc. This makes me feel bad every year, goals unachieved and can’t commit to something, but thats not reality.

People change, at least most people. I had a goal to start reading Novels, I tried to read everyday but at the end I couldn’t take it, it was just boring for me and I got distracted a lot, so I stopped. On the other hand, working out is pain during and after, and fear before starting, but I enjoy doing it, not because I want to look bulky, but to be in good health that allows me to do anything.

Goals. They are about having 1,2,3 goals that you want to achieve and having a plan to achieve them. Also goals allow having multiple goals under the same section of your life. Plans here work by having a plan, a backup and a backup backup plan.

Focus. They are about having an action that you want to do right now, next month, next year, or the rest of your life. You don’t say “I want to be the best weight lifter in the gym”, or “I want to have the best startup in my region”. You just say “I want to be healthy”, “I want to build my own startup”. Both may seem like an unspecific goals, but they are about having not expected outcome of what you do, they are just about having something you want to do, and you go do just that, let the outcomes surprise you. Planning just goes along the way, “what are the necessary steps that I need to take now to be healthy?”, “How can I build a successful startup?”. If the environment change and it will, be flexible enough to change your plans too, it not written in stone.

I want, and you want. Wether it is goals or focus at the end we all have something out of this life. A lot of people have a lot and big goals & dreams in their life, but they don’t work on it. They just want to be the best in their field and they don’t want to sacrifice neither time nor effort to be the best. They don’t do the most basic thing —which is reading— to become better. When you do your homework a lot of random things will happen, and give you amazing opportunities that you could never plan or anticipate, but you need to work hard first in order to receive them. There is no way around that.

December 28, 2012 - No Comments!

Sticky List: Get your todos on sticky notes

For me there are lots of todo lists everywhere, Clear, Github issues, Evernote, and Sticky notes tasks that come up while working like small bugs, or an small export for design. For me this is madness. It is hard to keep up with all this, so here is what I do.

  1. Before working I review all the tasks that needs to be done by the day and leave room for any incoming tasks.
  2. Get everything in one simple sticky note and finish it through the day. If it doesn’t fit the sticky note then you need to break it into simple tasks to be able to finish
  3. Go through tasks like your working out, warmup with with easy tasks, move on to heavy weight tasks, then finish up with easy and errand tasks.
  4. Throughout the day any incoming tasks append it to the end of the list. Never interrupt what your currently doing.
  5. If you finished early have fun, and if your late smack your self 😛

November 16, 2012 - No Comments!

Information Diet: We Are Not Data-centers

I’m guilty of being information sucker, always wasting my time reading blogs, and surfing the internet for something I don’t know about. There is no problem in reading blogs, and surfing purposeless for little time. The problem is when it keeps you distracted. Filtering hundreds of blogs in your RSS reader, and tens of daily newsletter emails coming to the inbox. Notifications on your iPhone and on your Mac, and if you have iPad too, you’re kinda damned — All you need is one notification and three devices will make a party out of it.

CTC or Cut The Crap

Ask yourself, what do I really need? How to get best information without being overloaded with other crap? For me I always choose 1-3 maximum of things to follow under that same category. I know I will loose a lot of good information, but I’ll be left with the best, and all the crap will be cut off.

When in doubt, Save for later

Saving for later is awesome, because 90% of the time you will just delete what you’ve saved because it is irrelevant. It seems stupid at first — Why would you save it in the first place, because sometimes you come to something that appear awesome to you because your doing something boring or looking for excuse not to work. So if you stumble upon something important procrastinate distractions.

One Medium

Setup all your information to endup in the same place. It doesn’t matter if it is email, rss, or twitter as long as they all endup in the same place. This will destination will act as an inbox, so when you have free time you can just scroll without jumping applications.

Kill Notifications

Notifications are awesome when they are just used for couple of apps. Because most of the applications just abuse notifications with reminders to use the app, or do something for them, so unless there is a value, notifications will remain off. So for me only couple of applications are allowed to distract me.

Disappear from time to time

When things go tight, you can always disappear for couple of days, weeks, or even months. As long as it takes to be focused. Close your phone, notifications, or even close your internet — if your work doesn’t depend on it — and just go things that matter.