Tag Archives: Getting Things Done

Trying out Shortmail: What happens when I send a message longer than 500 characters?

Shortmail.com Screenshot of Empty Inbox

I just signed up for ShortMail.com, a service that enforces (as you will see) 500 character or less email messages. I had to have a twitter account to sign up. Right away I send myself a really long message!

Long Email I sent to my Shortmail.com email

I was hoping, actually, that the message would get delivered. But, rather, it emailed my GMail account back and told me that the message was too long and that I had to edit it! Now, right away, I can’t imagine using this at work. This extra step would frustrate me, my mom, and probably many others. I think it would be easier to just allow the long email through and limit my messages to 500 words or less.

Shortmail Response to a large message

This message doesn’t seem too rude, but “Keep it under 500 characters this time, ok,” sounds a bit brat-ish to me.

The sender has to edit their message.

I didn’t even edit the message to finish delivering it.

Use GQueues to curb Information Guilt (Alternatives to Evernote, Instapaper & Remember anything!)

GQueues Task Manager; Information Guilt

So, as I have mentioned before, GQueues is one of my favorite online tools for remembering things, tasks, and lists. Though it is task manager, it is it’s power with lists (queues) and remembering things that makes it really powerful for me. Though I do use Gqueues to complete many tasks a day, and organize them, I also use it to curb information guilt.

Information guilt is that feeling you have when you’re at work, you have about twenty tasks to get done, and you just found out Facebook is announcing video chat. So, we choose not to watch it, and continue to not to consume all the cool and informative things we find throughout the day. Information guilt personally affects my focus and, given enough of it, makes the day a lot longer. But, since I started using Gqueues as a way to remembering these things, I’ve been more productive and I haven’t been forgetting those cool or important things I find on the web throughout my day or week.

As you can see, I have an Information Guilt queue (list). I use Google Chrome, so I installed an extension that allows me to add items to my Information Guilt queue. I select “From Web Page” and click “Create Tasks” and Facebook’s Video Chat announcement is safely saved away so I can watch it later. Now I can focus on my work knowing I can read/watch it later!

Mobile

It even works on my Android Phone! They have a mobile version of their website which, even when offline, allows you to add items to your queues/lists. This works great on the run!

Tip

If you’re like me, and schedule everything, make sure and schedule time to get your information guilt fix. Typically I allot some time in the evening to consume my daily collected guilt. If you don’t plan time, and your information guilt queue gets too full, it could turn around and be as troublesome and turn into information guilt itself. This doesn’t work unless you actually plan time to check out what you’ve saved. If items in your queue are a week or two old, delete them! You won’t watch them…I never did.

Why Google Desktop (Search) Didn’t Work for Me

So, the other day I installed Google Desktop. I love search bar from Finder on OSX, and I was looking for something similar. I also like the Windows Search feature, but I found it lacking (and, mainly, slow). I also wanted to be able to do “Google-like” searching, such as Enethrie -.avi, for everything with Enethrie, except no avi movies. But, Google Desktop lacked when it came to how I store my files.

My File/Folder Strategy

So, I guess my storing strategy needs to be explained a little first. First, it starts off with the Desktop. The Desktop  is the “now” folder, and it’s what I’m working on now, or recently. Over a week I could end up with thirty folders on my Desktop that I work with throughout the week. Filenames aren’t as important as folder names. Every file, even if there is only one, gets a folder (starting on the Desktop). The folder is named based on who, what, where and when with “tags” for relationships. So, for instance, when I save this webpage as a backup, I will call the folder I create (on my desktop) Enethrie - Why Google Desktop (Search) Didn't Work for Me, folder structure, google desktop, June 22nd 2011. I name them this way because, when I am ready to find something, I don’t want to click around; I want to do a search. So, later on, I may have forgotten what it was all about, but I remembered “Enethrie” and “folder structure” or “Enethrie” and it was in “June.” This way I can find things without having to click around. I also don’t create category folders, I simply have a folder called “My Stuff” that, once my Desktop starts getting full, I move them all to the “My Stuff” folder.

Conclusion

And so, Google Desktop lacked in one thing for me: folders. When I hit Ctrl+Ctrl, I would type Enethrie and not much would show up, because it was directing me to files, and not folders. Now Windows 7 search does come up with folders when I do a search, but it’s still slow and clunky. In fact, it’s still loading a search I just did.

Getting Things Done, An Experience & Tips

Hanging out around the office (or, home office) can be either productive or very distracting. These are some of the things I’ve used to get things done around the “office.”

Use a task list, I mean really use one!

Using Gqueues

Using Gqueues

A task list has helped me more than ever when it comes to GTD (getting things done). It’s not just about “having” a task list either. Really, it’s about using one well!

Planning tasks ahead of time.

This is the most important rule for using task lists. Do not, and I repeat, do not add an item to your “to-do” list without giving it a prospective date. These items are as good and never done, ever; forever. This allows me to see overdue “things” I expected to get done at such a time. Then, I constantly reschedule them, which reminds me, bugs me and eventually leads to getting it done.

Do it Later

Yeah, most of us do not get things done because we remember a thing we need to do later, and do it immediately. This causes countless hours of work that should have been done on time to get pushed back. Pushing back work leads to stress, stress leads to a lack of interest, a lack of interest leads to another school major change. Save yourself the trouble, just click the quick add and worry about it later.

Don’t check things off!

Using a task list seems simple, right? Find a task, read it, do it, check it off. Uh, nope! That’s not quite the zen way to do it. I have a better, more efficient idea: don’t check off your tasks until the end of the day. Go ahead, load up that task list and just start “doing” and don’t check off a thing. At the end of the day, go through it and start removing items. I promise, it’s rewarding and it keeps you from thinking you’ve “done a lot” just because you’ve checked off two items.

Checking things off one-at-a-time leads to rewarding yourself with countless YouTube hours because you “feel” you’ve done a lot. But really, you haven’t done much at all. Finish the day off by clearing off a ton of items from your to-do, it’s the thing to do.

If you want to get things done using a task list, the sure-fire way to go is Gqueues. Not a plug, I seriously use this to my ultimate benefit.

Start working as fast as possible!

Don’t check your e-mail, don’t check Facebook, don’t even go visit your colleague to “discuss” something. You have your coffee, start working! Every time I fail to do this, it ends up being a distracting day full of not getting things done-ness. I know if feels messy, but that’s just your brain trying to trick you into doing nothing.

I have found that if I start doing that “boring coding” right away, I can spend an hour getting some work done. That way I get into a rhythm, I get a sense of what I need to do, and get excited about finishing something. That’s the way to start a day.

Then, check your e-mail.

Take short breaks, lots of them!

We all know the reason we love to <code> is because, before we know it, five hours have passed. If it’s what you love to do, time will fly. Then, you end up taking that long hour break that you feel you deserve. You grab a coke, watch some YouTube, check e-mail, and Facebook it up. But, the thing is, you’ll get stuck! You’ll end up arriving in the same situation you did when you got there that morning. You forgot what you needed to get done and you lost the desire to finish anything.

Lunch, away from the computer.

Lunch, away from the computer.

Take lots of short 2 minute breaks. Take a walk outside or use the time to do a video blog! Heck, even check your Facebook- but keep them short and often! Find things to do during your breaks, because you need to take them, lots of them.

Take a lunch away from the computer.

Yep, go a head take that lunch break- you have to eat don’t you? It’s the only 30 minute plus break you should get all day! I used to bring a lunch with me and YouTube it up for my hour long break distracting myself with Internet nonsense. We know why this is a bad idea already, so what I’ve done is used my lunch as an opportunity to get unacquainted with my computer and have lunch with a friend instead. When I get back to work, I miss my computer, and I feel refreshed and ready for the other half of my day.

Failure to take this break in front of your computer will result in unwanted slavery to sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Wikipedia. Guaranteed!

Track yourself.

Toggl Pie

Toggl Pie

Another tactic I’ve been using to GMTD (get more things done) is I’ve been tracking my time. Every second, even that break, and even that lunch. I use Toggl to track every second I make a change of direction. I had originally decided to track myself to help estimate how long it takes me to do a certain task or complete a project. A side-effect that I have noticed, is when I bring up that fancy report of the time I’ve been using, I feel a little guilty that the piece of pie dedicated to 60% of my time is dedicated to wasting it.

When you have bills to pay, or the cash flow is low, now you can look the guilt right in the face! I’ve even become competitive of sorts, trying to get one pie to eat the other that eats dollars.