Proposed Productivity (Possibly)

Last week, I saw a thread on Twelvestone about Essential Mac Software. A few programs I was familiar with, a few I had heard about, tangentially.

One app that stood out was Quicksilver. I remember a few folks talking about this before, and speaking very highly of it.

Off the bat: the installation process is gorgeous. Right now, I’m using it mostly as an application launcher (you can create custom keystroke/triggers to launch or switch apps). But from all that I’ve read, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

It’s weird trying to integrate something new into my workflow, but I’m slowly getting used to it. I forget that it’s there still sometimes, so I’m trying to more actively train myself to “use” Quicksilver. But from the many enthusiastic articles I’ve seen online, Quicksilver is capable of quite a lot, and limited mostly by the user’s creativity.

Strangely enough? While on Liz’s laptop, I catch myself trying to use keystrokes that won’t work (it’s not installed on her machine). So I guess this is a promising sign, and that it’s possibly a greater part of my workflow than I imagined.

Earlier today, I did some more digging for intermediate tutorials. I happened across a really fun video podcast, a format I haven’t really pursued all that much. The podcast was very informative, and helped me understand Proxy Objects in Quicksilver a bit more. Very interesting stuff.

The Merlin Show is quite informative – full of good tips and hints and suggestions. But beyond that, it’s really entertaining as well. I thought his first introductory video was freaking hysterical, and pretty much got hooked from there. The Ben Franklin riff had me rolling.

And so? More digging. The author of the site turns out to be Merlin Mann, who also happens to run a site called 43 Folders (which I had heard a little about). From there, I started delving into some of the posts and articles, and found myself drawn more into the suggestions and tips on personal productivity.

I guess it’s a sequence of events that tied everything together. Finding the thread on Twelvestone led me to Quicksilver, which led me to Merlin’s post about Quicksilver, which led me to 43 Folders, which then led me to David Allen’s “Getting Things Done.” I ended up buying a copy of it, due in no smal part to Merlin’s video podcast and site.

This should be interesting reading. I know I’m not the most organized person in the world, and so far a lot of what I’ve read has piqued my interest. Here’s a blurb (from this page) that really got me hooked:

Stuff is bouncing around in our heads and causing untold stress and anxiety. Evaluation meetings, bar mitzvahs, empty rolls of toilet paper, broken lawn mowers, college applications, your big gut, tooth decay, dirty underwear and imminent jury duty all compete for prime attention in our poor, addled brains. Stuff has no “home” and, consequently, no place to go, so it just keeps rattling around.

Worst off, we’re too neurotic to stop thinking about it, and we certainly don’t have time to actually do everything in one day. Jeez Louise, what the hell am I, Superman?

So you sprint from fire to fire, praying you haven’t forgotten anything, sapped of anything like creativity or even the basic human flexibility to adapt your own schedule to the needs of your friends, your family or yourself. Your “stuff” has taken over your brain like a virus now, dragging down every process it touches and rendering you spent and virtually useless. Sound familiar?

So how does GTD work?

This is a really summarized version, but here it is, PowerPoint-style:

  1. identify all the stuff in your life that isn’t in the right place (close all open loops)
  2. get rid of the stuff that isn’t yours or you don’t need right now
  3. create a right place that you trust and that supports your working style and values
  4. put your stuff in the right place, consistently
  5. do your stuff in a way that honors your time, your energy, and the context of any given moment
  6. iterate and refactor mercilessly

A lot of what I’ve read here mirrors the advice I’ve heard from Justin over the years. He is, in my estimation, a master at organization and, on more than one occassion, has pressed me to get a label maker (which he claimed would change my life). Interestingly, I saw a similar suggestion on 43 Folders.

The main reason I never took Justin up on his offer to help me organize things? I didn’t feel I could maintain that level of organization, nor could I really see in what way it would benefit me… other than, you know, being more organized.

So far, the little bit I’ve read has helped me understand a bit more why strong organization leads to increased productivity. In particular, I like what I’ve read about getting “stuff” out of your head, and into some container. More than anything else, that process sounds really appealing to me. Getting all the small (and big) things out of your head, into an accurate container that you trust, and that you refer to repeatedly… so that you’re not worrying about other tasks while you’re attending to the task at hand.

We’ll see how this goes. And whether I’ll really get into this book, or just file it on my bookshelf. Or uh… just leave it on the floor.

This Post Has 1 Comment

  1. Ahh, organization. Beloved by librarians, lawyers, and owners of label-makers everywhere. Often when I’m in Target, I give in to the urge to stop by the office supply section and I look longingly at the label-makers. I don’t know where I would stick the labels, exactly, I just know that I loved using the one we had at the bookstore (link), aka the P-Touch.But the real question is, does being organized make you a genius? Only if you consider librarians and lawyers to be really smart people, I suppose.

    Juliet Reply

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